I listened to PBO's State of the Union address with growing anger. "Drill baby drill", fast track TPP. This not what I wanted to hear!
Then I read my latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine this month and I saw something that I thought really needed to be shared here. Unfortunately, the article was not on-line yet. On Monday evening, Meteor Blades’ diary included a excerpt from the article on Obama’s hypocritical position on global warming. Unfortunately, MB didn’t add anything by way of commentary, and the piece past away with little comment. So I felt compelled to do it again in a little more depth.
Let's begin with his diary.
Rolling Stone2/13/14 How the U.S. Exports Global Warming
The greening of American energy is both real and profound. Since President Obama took office, the nation's solar capacity has increased more than tenfold. Wind power has more than doubled, to 60,000 megawatts—enough to power nearly 20 million homes. Thanks to aggressive new fuel-efficiency standards, the nation's drivers are burning nearly 5 billion fewer gallons of gasoline a year than in 2008. The boom in cheap natural gas, meanwhile, has disrupted the coal industry. Coal-power generation, though still the nation's top source of electricity, is off nearly 20 percent since 2008. More than 150 coal plants have already been shuttered, and the EPA is expected to issue regulations in June that will limit emissions from existing coal facilities. These rules should accelerate the shift to natural gas, which—fracking's risks to groundwater aside—generates half the greenhouse pollution of coal.The article concluded with a call to challenge HRC in the primaries.
But there's a flip side to this American success story. Even as our nation is pivoting toward a more sustainable energy future, America's oil and coal corporations are racing to position the country as the planet's dirty-energy dealer—supplying the developing world with cut-rate, high-polluting, climate-damaging fuels. Much like tobacco companies did in the 1990s—when new taxes, regulations and rising consumer awareness undercut domestic demand—Big Carbon is turning to lucrative new markets in booming Asian economies where regulations are looser. Worse, the White House has quietly championed this dirty-energy trade.
"The Obama administration wants to be seen as a climate leader, but there is no source of fossil fuel that it is prepared to leave in the ground," says Lorne Stockman, research director for Oil Change International. "Coal, gas, refinery products—crude oil is the last frontier on this. You want it? We're going to export it."
When the winds kicked up over the Detroit river last spring, city residents confronted a new toxic hazard: swirling clouds of soot taking flight from a mysterious black dune piled high along the city's industrial waterfront. By fall, similar dark clouds were settling over Chicago's South Side—this time from heaping piles along the Calumet River. The pollution in both cities made national headlines – and created a dubious coming-out party for petroleum coke, or "petcoke," a filthy byproduct of refining gasoline and diesel from Canadian tar-sands crude. Despite the controversy over Keystone XL—the stalled pipeline project that would move diluted tar-sands bitumen to refineries on the Gulf Coast—the Canadian crude is already a large and growing part of our energy mix. American refineries, primarily in the Midwest, processed 1.65 million barrels a day in 2012—up 40 percent from 2010.
Converting tar-sands oil into usable fuels requires a huge amount of energy, and much of the black gunk that's refined out of the crude in this process ends up as petroleum coke. Petcoke is like concentrated coal—denser and dirtier than anything that comes out of a mine. It can be burned just like coal to produce power, but petcoke emits up to 15 percent more climate pollution. (It also contains up to 12 times as much sulfur, not to mention a slew of heavy metals.) In Canada, the stuff is largely treated like a waste product; the country has stockpiled nearly 80 million tons of it. Here in the U.S., petcoke is sometimes burned in coal plants, but it's so filthy that the EPA has stopped issuing any new licenses for its use as fuel. "Literally, in terms of climate change," says Stockman, "it's the dirtiest fuel on the planet." […]
With dirty Canadian crude imports on the rise, U.S. refineries have been retooling to produce even more petcoke. A BP refinery on the outskirts of Chicago just tripled its coking capacity and is now the world's second-largest source of the black gunk. But the Promised Land of petcoke refining is on the Gulf Coast – which is part of why Big Oil is so hot to complete the Keystone XL pipeline. The Texas and Louisiana refineries that would process Keystone crude can produce a petcoke pile the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza every year, which, when burned, would produce more than 18 million tons of carbon pollution.
Despite the dangers of petcoke, the Obama administration has turned a blind eye to its proliferation. A 2011 State Department environmental-impact study of Keystone XL, commissioned under then-Secretary Hillary Clinton, treated petcoke as if it were an inert byproduct, and failed to consider its end use as a fuel when calculating the greenhouse impacts of the pipeline. According to the EPA, that decision led State to lowball the pipeline's associated emissions by as much as 30 percent.
In 2013, the post-Hillary State Department revised that assessment, conceding that petcoke "significantly increases" the emissions associated with tar sands. However, State punted on the big issue of climate pollution, maintaining that Keystone XL won't create a net increase because the Canadian crude would reach Gulf refineries with or without the pipeline.
But preventing America from morphing into the world's dirty-energy hub will likely require something more: a competitive Democratic primary for 2016. By all outward indications, the Clinton regime-in-waiting is even more supportive of the dirty-energy trade than the Obama White House. Bill Clinton is a vocal proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline, calling on America to "embrace it." During Hillary Clinton's reign as secretary of state, the department outsourced its flawed environmental assessment of Keystone XL to a longtime contractor for the pipeline's builder, TransCanada – whose top lobbyist just happened to have served as a deputy manager for Clinton's 2008 presidential run. Clinton herself, in a 2010 appearance at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, sounded fatalistic about bringing tar sands to market: "We're either going to be dependent on dirty oil from the Gulf, or dependent on dirty oil from Canada," she said.The battle lines are being drawn between the Obama/Hillary wing and the Elizabeth Warren wings of the Democratic party. Warren opposed Obama’s appointment of Michael Froman as U.S. trade ambassador. In December she co-signed a letter to him complaining about the U.S. efforts to undermine the EU efforts to place restrictions on the use of tar-sands
In a contested primary, the issue of constraining the nation's polluting exports is likely to emerge as a significant fault line between Clinton and whomever emerges to represent the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.
letter to Ambassador Forman signed by Elizabeth Warren
The Huffington Post had a recent story that bring the conflict into sharp focus.
Elizabeth Warren Comes Down Hard Against Global Warming, Separates Herself From Hillary Clinton On Climate Change
On Friday, December 20th, Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren finally separated herself clearly from former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, regarding the issue of climate change and global warming. Here is the story:The lesser known Kock brother, Billy Kock, is a big player in the export of petcoke.
TransCanada Corporation wants to build the Keystone XL Pipeline to carry oil from Alberta Canada's tar sands to two refineries owned by Koch Industries near the Texas Gulf Coast, for export to Europe; and Hillary Clinton has helped to make that happen, but Elizabeth Warren has now taken the opposite side.
Secretary of State Clinton, whose friend and former staffer Paul Elliot is a lobbyist for TransCanada, had worked behind the scenes to ease the way for commercial exploitation of this, the world's highest-carbon-emitting oil, 53% of which oil is owned by America's Koch Brothers. (Koch Industries owns 63% of the tar sands, and the Koch brothers own 86% of Koch Industries; Elaine Marshall, who is the widow of the son of the deceased Koch partner J. Howard Marshall, owns the remaining 14% of Koch Iindustries.)
William Kock Oxbow Carbon
Bill and Hillary are long time supporters of the big energy producers.
According to Nolanda Hill, the Commerce Secretary's long-time business partner and love interest, Brown, who died in 1996, endorsed a Hillary cash-for-access scheme ($10,000 for coffee with the President, $100,000 for a night in the Lincoln bedroom). However, Brown resented the discount rate the First Lady put on US executives joining Brown's lucrative trade missions. 'I'm worth more than $50,000 a pop!' he said.Of course Hillary and her backers don’t want her out in front on this. So they turn to their friends in the Third Way to do the dirty work.
One company more than happy to pony up for a cash joy-ride with Brown was Entergy International. This electric company, based in Little Rock, became one of the world's biggest power system operators on the planet under the Clinton regime. Interestingly, Bill Clinton began his political climb by running for Arkansas Attorney General campaigning on a pledge to fight Entergy's electric price hikes. His pro-consumer plan was defeated in court by Entergy's law firm - which included one Hillary Rodham.
Who Is Financing the Smears Against Elizabeth Warren?
The Third Way think tank is also known as the Third Way organization , and they have top management consisting of long-time supporters of Bill and of Hillary Clinton. In other words: Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler are Clinton-functionaries. Cowan had been brought into government during the Clinton Administration, as the Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Prior to that, earlier in the 1990s, he had sold to anti-"entitlement" billionaires Ross Perot and Pete Peterson his idea for a promotional campaign to get young people to favor weakening Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, on the argument that such "entitlements" are generational warfare against the young. Perot and Peterson just wasted some money on it. Jim Kessler was the long-serving policies-director for New York's senior U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, a friend of the Clintons, now known by some as simply the Senator from Wall Street. The Albany NY website Capital New York described the key moment in 1982 that had placed then-Representative Schumer on the rising path to his becoming a U.S. Senator: "He set about making friends on Wall Street, tapping the city's top law firms and securities houses for campaign donations. 'I told them I looked like I had a very difficult reapportionment fight. If I were to stand a chance of being re-elected, I needed some help'." And he has always kept his side of the bargain with them.I still believe that Elizabeth Warren can be persuaded to challenge Hillary, but if not, we need to find someone who can--our planet hangs in the balance. As does the financial well-being of the 99%.
As for the other three co-founders of Third Way, two of them are likewise Clintonians, and the third is closely related. Matt Bennett was the Deputy Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs throughout Bill Clinton's second term. Nancy Jacobson was an early supporter of Bill Clinton's 1992 Presidential campaign, and when he won, he appointed her as Finance Director of the Democratic National Committee. Her husband is Mark Penn, who served as Hillary's chief strategist during her bungled 2008 Presidential campaign against Obama. The fifth one, Nancy Hale, was a leading fundraiser for nonprofits -- an excellent background for political fund-raising.