Sunday, February 23, 2014

PNN - Spring Surprise - Feb 23rd

RWS - News Director / Executive Producer

Dr. Karen Dwyer - Clamshell Alliance

Rob Abston - PLAN

Janet Keating - Executive Director OVEC

Steve Horn - DeSmog Blog


                       TRIBUTE TO MEREDITH OCKMAN


                           HON. LOIS FRANKEL

                               of florida

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, February 11, 2014

  Ms. FRANKEL of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor Meredith 
Ockman, recipient of the Palm Beach County National Organization for 
Women (NOW) Blood, Sweat, and Tears Award and tireless advocate for 
justice and equality.
  Meredith, who currently serves as Vice President for Florida NOW, has 
truly dedicated her career to community service. She has worked with 
Compass: The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of the Palm Beaches to 
teach safe sex education, and has bravely defended women seeking 
abortion care from harassment and intimidation.
  Her impact includes grassroots advocacy as well. She organized 
participants for the March for Women's Lives, and has served NOW in 
several capacities, including as Legislative Director for Florida NOW 
and President of Palm Beach County NOW.
  With her limited spare time, Meredith volunteers with several 
organizations and is the President of the Women's Health Foundation of 
South Florida. In honor of her tireless efforts on behalf of South 
Florida women, I am pleased to recognize Meredith Ockman for her 
amazing achievements and wish her continued success.

1. Amendment 1 stands for Clean Water

Senate President Don Gaetz disapproves of the Land and Water Legacy Amendment — Amendment 1 on your November ballot — on Big Gubmint grounds. As a spokesman put it, he "believes the amendment is based on a core belief that more land of some kind somewhere needs to be controlled by the government and not private landholders."
Gaetz needs to read the amendment again. What it actually does is save the beautiful and wild places people come to Florida for in the first place: the creeks peaceful as dawn, ancient cypress stands, lands where bear and panther roam, and springs which, as Marjory Stoneman Douglas said, are like "bowls of liquid light."

The state would have to dedicate 33 percent of document stamp revenues, collected on real estate sales, to acquiring sensitive lands. It's not a new tax; it doesn't impinge on your freedom — unless your idea of "freedom" is wholesale destruction of nature. It simply ensures funding for the old bipartisan Florida Forever program, instead of leaving it to the whims of the Legislature and the governor.

Your elected officials jealously guard their whim-privileges. House Speaker Will Weatherford also dislikes Amendment 1: "Legislating via constitutional amendments doesn't work in California," he tweeted, "and it won't work here!"
Funnily enough, just 18 months ago Florida's Republican leadership larded the 2012 ballot with no fewer than seven amendments, trying to restrict women's reproductive rights, cripple Obamacare and weaken the separation of church and state.

While there's a principled argument to be made against stuffing the state Constitution with amendments, the speaker isn't making it; he's merely ginning up the tea party tendency by invoking the dreaded Democratic Socialist Republic of California, font of such abominations as emission controls and renewable energy.

Gaetz, Weatherford and their profit-uber-alles allies in the Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries should listen not only to the citizens (more than 700,000 of whom signed the Legacy Amendment petition) but their legislative colleagues, many of whom have taken to sounding like born-again greens: lamenting dead manatees in the Indian River Lagoon, expressing outrage over compromised drinking water in Southeast Florida, and promising action on the toxic algae choking the St. Johns, the Santa Fe and the Caloosahatchee. Some have gone so far as to suggest doing something about leaky septic tanks.

Even Gov. Rick Scott seems to have undergone a Damascene conversion, going around saying he wants to heal our springs, save Apalachicola Bay oysters and fix the Everglades.

It is, of course, an election year.

If that LED light bulb has finally switched on in their brains, good. Still, I wouldn't break out the organic champagne just yet: These are among the same legislators who gleefully shut down the Department of Community Affairs — the agency which stopped a habitat-destroying marina in Taylor County and refused to approve high-rises on barrier islands in the gulf — the same legislators who behaved with uncharacteristic but welcome good sense in 2010 when they passed a bill mandating septic tank inspection every five years, then, after the tea party commenced to caterwauling about government intrusion, turned tail and repealed it two years later.

This is the same governor who fired a slew of scientists from the Department of Environmental Protection and installed development-friendly types who tried to declare that dry pine uplands were really wetlands — until a judge stopped them — the same governor who thought it a fine idea to raise money for conservation lands by selling off conservation lands.

Okay, maybe they've evolved. The trouble is, they keep telling us they don't believe in evolution.

The big talk about springs cleanup and genuine water quality standards starts to smell like nothing more than campaign-season, er, manure. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi (also up for re-election) are spending taxpayer money to join a lawsuit against cleaning up Chesapeake Bay. That's right: Florida is weighing on the side of Big Ag, Big Development and an outfit called (I am not making this up) the Fertilizer Institute.

They argue that if the Environmental Protection Agency can force polluters to clean up the junk they've been dumping into the largest (and once the most productive) estuary in the United States, why, EPA might make Louisiana get those dioxins out of the Mississippi. Or insist Florida stops using Lake Okeechobee as a sewer.

I mean, what's more important: clean water or states' rights?
Pro tip: If you want to test the governor's and the legislators' commitment to Florida's environment, follow HB 703, recently filed by Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City. Patronis, the polluters' BFF, thinks it would be a fine idea to privatize drinking water, give developers precedence over local governments, forbid municipalities to protect wetlands and refuse to follow federal regulations designed to address sea level rise.

Thank God real people aren't waiting for politicians to get a clue. In addition to working hard to get Amendment 1 on November's ballot, more than 100 citizens' groups drafted a "Clean Water Declaration," which states: "The people of Florida, the state government, and the industries that benefit from Florida's natural resources" must stop pollution at the source, fight "overconsumption and privatization."

The declaration, however commonsensical, can't force Florida politicians to do the right thing. Amendment 1 can. Put Florida's leaders on notice: You can't be for dirty water in Maryland and clean water in Florida; you can't take money from polluters and tell us you're an environmentalist; you can't swear you love this state, then turn around and try to destroy it.
Diane Roberts is a member of the Florida Wildlife Federation board. The author of "Dream State," a memoir of Florida, she teaches at Florida State University. She wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.

2. US Sinks to 46th in Global Press Freedom Rankings
By Oliver Knox, Yahoo! News -  17 February 14

he United States did not live up to the promise of the First Amendment last year, "far from it," sinking to 46th in global press freedom rankings, a respected international nonprofit group said Wednesday.
The U.S. plummeted 13 slots to 46th overall "amid increased efforts to track down whistle-blowers and the sources of leaks," Reporters Without Borders warned in an annual report.

"The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest," the organization said.

The group, known by its French initials, RSF, also cited the Department of Justice's seizure of Associated Press telephone records and a court's pressure on New York Times reporter James Risen to testify against a CIA staffer accused of leaking classified information.

"The whistle-blower is clearly the enemy in the U.S.," Delphine Halgand, who heads the RSF outpost in Washington, told Yahoo News. "Eight whistle-blowers have been charged under the Obama administration, the highest number of any administration, of all other administrations combined."

It's "a clear strategy of the administration" to "avoid any other version than the official version on what the administration is doing," Halgand said.
Overall, RSF said in its report, "countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it."

"Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result," the group said.

So who does a better job than the U.S. of protecting press freedoms?
Here, in order of rank, starting with No. 1 Finland: Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden, Estonia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, Jamaica, Canada, Poland, Slovakia, Costa Rica, Namibia, Belgium, Cape Verde, Cyprus, Uruguay, Ghana, Australia, Belize, Portugal, Suriname, Lithuania, Britain, Slovenia, Spain, Antigua and Barbuda, Latvia, El Salvador, France, Samoa, Botswana, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Papua New Guinea and Romania.
Italy was 49th. Israel was 96th. Afghanistan was 128th. Russia was 148th. China was 175th.

3. Highly Radioactive Water Overflow at Fukushima
Leak follows recent reports of skyrocketing groundwater contamination
- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Highly radioactive water flowed into the ground from a storage tank at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant on Wednesday, in what officials said was the largest contamination leak in roughly six months.
The water, reading high levels of radiation, overflowed from a large storage tank after a valve that had been mistakenly left open allowed excessive amounts of contaminated water into the tank.
The overflow was discovered Wednesday night, but before the valve was closed the tank is estimated to have spilled 100 metric tons of water containing 230 million becquerels per liter of "beta-emitting radioactive isotopes, including strontium 90."

The water quickly seeped into the ground, TEPCO officials said, but claimed that it was "unlikely to have reached the ocean."

Last week, TEPCO, which has been criticized repeatedly for its mishandling of the nuclear catastrophe, announced that samples taken from a groundwater well near the plant contained a record-breaking 54,000 becquerels per liter of the radioactive substance cesium, a number which doubles all previous records of cesium in groundwater near the plant.

It was also recently revealed that the company was withholding vital data that showed surging levels of the highly radioactive strontium-90 in a separate groundwater well.

4. Tokyo (CNN) -- A large amount of radioactive water has leaked from a holding tank at Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, its operator said Thursday.

The leak of an estimated 100 metric tons of highly contaminated water was discovered late Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said in a statement.

The tainted water flowed over a barrier around the tank and is being absorbed into the ground, TEPCO said. The plant has shut off the inflow of water into the tank and the leaking has stopped, it added.

The company doesn't believe that there was any leakage of the radioactive water into the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Since the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan in March 2011 set off meltdowns at three of the reactors at the nuclear plant, TEPCO has been storing the enormous volumes of water contaminated at the site in a steadily growing collection of containers.

The company has struggled to manage the vast amounts of radioactive water, with a number of leaks reported last year.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government vowed to step in to deal with the toxic water crisis at the plant that caused concern in Japan and abroad about the scale of the problem faced by TEPCO.
The leak reported Thursday is one of the largest since TEPCO reported last summer that about 300 tons of radioactive water had leaked from a tank.
CNN first learned about the latest incident on Twitter.

5. Next week we will be starting a new segment - Each week during the LEGISLATIVE SESSION - We will feature a weekly UNION REPORT from TALLAHASSEE - In solidarity with our Union Brothers and Sisters

6. Duke Energy will try to make ratepayers pay to clean up coal ash disaster -  19 Feb

Duke Energy’s executives want you to know they’re sorry for the tens of thousands of tons of coal ash they spilled into the Dan River in the third-largest disaster of its kind in US history. They’re sorry for the water that officials now admit is tainted with arsenic and is unsafe even to touch, no less for swimming, boating or fishing.

They’re sorry for the little animals — the clams, mussels and crustaceans — that form the base of the river’s ecosystem and are suffocating in a river of sludge. They’re sorry for the big ones — the birds, fish and turtles – that eat those little things. And most of all they’re sorry to the people living near the Dan who depend on all of it, directly or indirectly, for much of their local economy (and, as anyone who’s ever lived near a river knows, for much more than that.)

They’re just not sorry enough to pay to clean it up.
After all, why would Duke ask its executives or investors to pay to clean the mess they created when they can do what they always do when they screw something up: get their customers to foot the bill.

According to the Associated Press, George Everett, Duke’s director of environmental and legislative affairs, told state legislators on Monday:
that the company is sorry for the spill and will be accountable. Any costs incurred because of the cleanup will likely be passed on to ratepayers, not shareholders, he said.

“We have paid absolutely no attention to costs, to this point,” Everett said, responding to a lawmaker’s question about who will pay. “We’re focused on stopping the discharge and initiating the remediation of the river. But when costs do come into play, when we’ve had a chance to determine what those costs are, it’s usually our customers who pay our costs of operation.”
It takes audacity to say with one breath “we will be accountable” and also “but we won’t pay for it.”

If an intruder kicked in your front door, vandalized your home, got caught, and sent you the bill to repair the damages, would Everett call that “acountability” as well?

Sadly, hypocrisy won’t surprise many Duke customers. This is standard operating procedure for the country’s largest utility.

When Duke decided to shut a nuclear reactor in Florida that it broke during a botched repair job, and when it scuttled plans to build another that had run billions of dollars over budget, it was “accountable” for those mistakes too — it charged its Florida customers over $3 billion to pay for it all.

As if all of this weren’t hard enough to swallow, Duke bragged to its investors yesterday about how its profits jumped 58 % in the last quarter of 2013, thanks to rate hikes to its customers in multiple states. It’s not like they can’t afford to follow the basic lesson we all learned in kindergarten and clean up their own mess.

Perhaps wary of further political backlash if Duke announced it intended to charge ratepayers for the cleanup with the spill still so fresh in everyone’s minds, the company’s CEO, Lynn Good, told The Charlotte Observer yesterday that no, Duke would pay for it all!
But given Duke’s history of dishonesty around this spill — and, quite frankly, most everything else — Ms. Good hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt. More likely, Duke is trying to appease the public with some vague promises of accountability, wait until the scandal passes, then ask regulators at the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) to let Duke charge customers for its mess once national media interest has cooled and fewer people are paying attention.
The worst part? Duke will probably get away with it. The NCUC is appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, former Duke employee of 28 years. The other McCrory’s Administration agency charged with regulating Duke, the Department of Natural Resources (DENR), helped Duke sweep its coal ash problem under the rug. That agency is now under federal investigation.
If the NCUC is as beholden to Duke as DENR was, we can expect that they will let the company get whatever it wants. And that means a year or two from now, North Carolinians will be emptying out their pockets to pay for Duke’s mess.
But don’t worry. Duke’s sorry.

7. Former general: Forget the sword; Jesus will return with an AR-15
from the Stars and Stripes

WASHINGTON — A former Army general believes that when Jesus returns, he’s gonna be packin’ heat.

Retired Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, now the Family Research Council’s executive vice president, says the Son of God will be armed with an AR-15 assault rifle when he returns, in a speech at the Pro-Family Legislators Conference in Dallas.

“[Jesus is] coming back as a warrior, carrying a sword,” Boykin said. “And I believe now, I’ve checked this out — I believe that sword he’ll be carryin’ when he comes back is an AR-15.”

Many in the audience laughed and some applauded, according to audio of the speech released Tuesday.

“Now I want you to think about this: Where did the 2nd Amendment come from? Where did the 2nd Amendment come from? I ask my students this; I ask men’s groups. I ask, ‘Where did the 21nd Amendment come from?’”
Boykin, in a somewhat comic voice, replied: “ ‘From the Founding Fathers! It’s in the Constitution!’

“Well, yeah, I know that. But where did the whole concept come from? It came from Jesus.”

The speech, made in November, was broadcast courtesy of Wallbuilders Live, whose mission, according to its site, is to “educate people of faith with an understanding of the role of faith in our Nation’s history.”

As an officer in the Army’s elite Delta Force, Boykin participated in many of the United States’ high-profile missions throughout that 1980s and ’90s, including the failed rescue attempt of U.S. hostages in Iran and the apprehension of Manuel Noriega in Panama. He helped advise Attorney General Janet Reno regarding the stand-off at Waco, Texas, with the Branch Davidians.

(from Stars and Stripes) an obviously unimpeachable source
WASHINGTON — On March 11, 2011, an enormous plate of the Earth’s surface plunged more than 160 feet toward the deep-sea Japan Trench — about the height of a 10-story building — releasing so much energy that, two years later, scientists could still measure a nearly half-degree centigrade temperature increase along the Tohoku-Oki fault. What had been at "sea level" for millennia was, in an instant, plummeting toward the depths.
On the nearby islands that form the nation of Japan, the massive movement of the Earth’s crust caused the fourth largest earthquake ever measured, hitting a magnitude of 9.0 and shaking buildings throughout the entire length of Japan’s main island.
The ground shook below Japanese feet for roughly six minutes. Centered off the coastal city of Sendai, 230 miles from Tokyo, the quake would have devastated most nations. But Japan, a nation built on faults and volcanic mountains, has the toughest seismic building codes in the world, and few buildings toppled.
Forty minutes after the earthquake, towers of water slammed Japan’s Pacific coastline, with the largest wave reaching the Sendai region at a height of 133 feet. Combined, the earthquake and tsunami claimed about 19,000 lives, destroyed or severely damaged nearly 1 million buildings, left 4.4 million households without electricity, and created the nation’s worst catastrophe since World War II.
These events were only the prelude to what has come to be known as the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, which ignited a series of radiation horrors that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is still struggling to cope with nearly three years later.
Today — just a few weeks before the three-year anniversary of the disaster — the radiation problem is not contained in and around the Fukushima plant operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). Thousands of gallons of radioactive water have leaked into the Pacific, or have been stored in containers that Japanese authorities know will not survive intact for years — much less for the decades of their radioactive timeline. But the water-storage challenge is simply the most public struggle the Japanese government and Tepco are confronting.
They now face a series of radiation challenges that no nation in the world is prepared to cope with — least of all, perhaps, the United States.
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
In December 2013, I visited Fukushima prefecture, where government-hired contractors were charged with personally bagging 250,000 tons of low-level radioactive topsoil and piling these bags outdoors in 30 locations around the prefecture - and where local citizens were left to ensure that these bags do not break, leak or fall over. Stored atop manmade plateaus built on nearby mountains and around people’s homes and rice fields, the bags are temporary and designed to withstand the environment for five years.
But, then, after that? Therein, as they say, lies the rub.

During my visit, Tokyo Medical University professor Shinzo Kimura, his associate Yukako Komasa, and I piled into a vehicle and headed into the Iwaki City mountains in Fukushima prefecture. We navigated some rough dirt roads until we encountered a large sign in Japanese that read: "Temporary Disposal Area for Contaminated Soil."

Yoshiro Yanai, whose construction company is under contract with the Japanese government to remove the soil, was ahead of us, leading the way in his truck. Yanai explained that all the soil we drove over was "clean," meaning it was imported from outside the radioactive zones to make the road. About five minutes into the drive, we pulled up to an almost incomprehensible sight: Crews of construction workers manned 18-wheeler diesel flatbeds mounted with four-story tall cranes, which lifted 40,000 tons of radioactive soil. The cranes moved identical blue plastic bags — each containing one ton of earth — and neatly stacked them, one by one, along the plateau.

The dirt was extracted from radioactive farms and gardens in an area outside the immediate "hot" zone encircling the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. Workers hauled this soil through the sea-level plains and pine-covered Fukushima foothills and up the mountain, where they ultimately sealed it in the blue "weatherproof" bags guaranteed to hold the contents safely inside for five years. Some of the soil was bagged in 2011 — months after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant — so the clock is already ticking on bag integrity.

The thousands of bags neatly stacked on this plateau will eventually be loaded back onto the trucks and hauled to a permanent burial place — that is, as soon as the Tokyo bosses can figure out where that will even be.
In total, 250,000 tons of soil are bagged and stacked in 30 locations throughout Fukushima prefecture. But not all the bags are up on a mountain, conveniently removed from the Japanese population. Thousands of bags are in the middle of communities, waiting to be relocated.

One evening in December 2013, an elderly man named Toshio Okoshi showed me around his village in the Shidamyo district of Fukushima. He took me to a vantage point where I could see piles of thousands of blue bags, from village to village, rice field to rice field, home to home.

Upon taking in the sight, I yelped so loud that Okoshi had to adjust his hearing aid. He explained that the region’s village have been abandoned by the young — with elderly like himself left to farm the rice, hoping its radiation levels will be low enough to allow commercial marketing. "Our only hope," he told me, "is that we will restore farming so that the young will return and bring life back to Shidamyo."

In Shidamyo, about 140 elderly residents are left to manage 45,000 tons of blue-bagged waste, ensuring that the bags don’t spill or break before they are trucked up the mountain.
Though Tepco and the Japanese government have been at pains to downplay the ongoing dangers related to the Fukushima power plant, containment water leaks in October and November 2013 doubled, and oceanographic studies showed that cesium-137, which has a 30-year half-life, has leached into the sea and is being carried on Pacific currents.
On Feb. 8, 2014, Tepco conceded it had grossly understated the levels of strontium-90 in emitted water: The radiation is five times higher than previously stated. A variety of laboratories along the California, Oregon, and Washington coastlines have begun routine testing of Pacific and sea-life samples, looking for cesium-137 and strontium-90. So far, the labs have not found anything dangerous.
The Japanese government and Tepco have considered everything from creating a wall of ice to contain the nuclear plant (to stop the flow of contaminated water) to mass burial of gallons of radioactive water — but concrete plans have yet to be presented that would actually solve the waste problem. In January 2014, Reuters reported that Tepco, desperate to find cleanup workers willing to brave the Fukushima power plant crisis, is recruiting from among the homeless population of Tokyo.
All over the world waste disposal is the primary conundrum facing the nuclear power industry: Though there are more than 400 nuclear plants in some 30 countries, there is no repository anywhere in the world for high-level nuclear waste and few sites or standards apply to lower-level radioactive substances like the soils of Fukushima.
Japan is learning that cleaning up a mess requires moving trash to a dump.
But where does a nation dump hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive trash and millions of gallons of isotope-emitting water?
Since March 2011, the Japanese government, along with every local governance sector in the affected region, has struggled to cope with a seemingly unending series of questions and controversies related to the economy, radiation, land use, displaced people, and the overall stability of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station.
Koji Omi, the former Japanese minister of science and technology policy, said that Tepco successfully shut off all its 11 nuclear reactors before the tsunami slammed into them; however, the towering wave destroyed the Fukushima plant’s cooling system, causing a nuclear meltdown. After the water receded, clouds of radioactive steam and dust spewed into the air and onto the soil of the Fukushima district. On March 15, just four days after the disaster shook the prefecture, one of the nuclear reactors exploded, raining radioactive iodine and forcing mass evacuations of all 160,000 residents living within a 20-kilometer distance from the plant.
Kimiko and Fumio Iwakura owned a house and garden 10 kilometers from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, and they stayed put through the earthquake and tsunami. Before the government issued local evacuations some 18 days after the meltdown, the Iwakuras had been exposed to 80 millisieverts per hour (mSv) of radiation — the measure of how the human body absorbs radiation. By comparison, a routine X-ray for a broken bone emits about 3 mSv and the concrete sarcophagus that has encased the storied Chernobyl reactor since its 1986 meltdown emits 5 mSv. The World Health Organization estimates that at its worst meltdown point, the Chernobyl reactor emitted 5,000 mSv per hour, causing terminal radiation sickness in all the exposed workers. And what does the WHO deem to be safe exposure? 3 mSv per year — 2.4 mSv of which is accounted for in the existing radiation found in the environment.
Ultimately, the prefectural government relocated the Iwakura family to a shelter in Nihonmatsu City, high in the mountains of western Fukushima, where they remain still today, three years after the disaster.
The Iwakuras are gray-haired, friendly people in their early 60’s who spent six months living a nomadic existence, forced to abandon their ancestral farm for one emergency shelter after another, eventually ending up in a mobile home that is strikingly reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina FEMA housing. They are a jobless, homeless couple with nothing more substantial than their two-room, cramped steel shelter, set alongside identical homes for other evacuees.
As of November 2013, nearly 95,000 evacuees remain displaced, some having managed to establish new jobs, houses, and friendships. But because most of the evacuees were, like the Iwakuras, over 60 or farmers, the majority have had a terrible time rebuilding their lives.
Japanese nuclear authorities say that the area within 30 kilometers of the power plant was showered between March 12 and March 24, 2011 with enough radioactive iodine to deliver a dose as high as 10,000 mSv per hour to every child.
Epidemiologist Eriko Sase, who has appointments with both Harvard and the University of Tokyo, estimates that those who are the most psychologically devastated are the mothers who did not leave the hard-hit areas right after the tsunami, but stayed with their children in Futaba, Iwaki, and other suburbs and towns. The government estimates that these youth will have double the risk of developing thyroid cancer compared to their peers in Tokyo, Sase said.
But people did not understand the gravity of these dangers at the time of the nuclear accident, and Tepco and government authorities were slow to reveal the scale of the radiation devastation.
The Iwakuras were hunkered down in a community center with neighbors long after the power plant exploded, feeling safe until Kimura, the Tokyo Medical University professor, showed up, measured radiation dosimetry in and around their shelter, and told them that they had to leave.
"Kimura-san was our lifesaver," Kimiko insisted. Fumio added that, "After the incident we didn’t have any communication: No TV, no Internet. So we hadn’t imagined that we were in a dense radiation level." After they were tested the following day, on March 30, 2011, they were forced to evacuate.
Fumio Iwakura calls the suburb they came from Namie-machi (or Namie-town), and says some 21,000 people inhabited the area. "My own house is solid, it’s strong. But we cannot return," he said, fighting tears. "That feeling I cannot express — it’s difficult to say. ... We are just having a temporary rest now," he said, forcing a joke. Fumio’s livelihood was in his suburb. A handyman by trade, his clients and his business were both in Namie. Now, he has nothing.
Last December I sat with the Iwakuras in their home, where we gathered around the kotatsu table that stood just inches from the ground, while Kimiko prepared something of a feast on a propane stovetop. After eating, Fumio rose from the floor, where he had been sitting, his legs folded beneath the low table, and pointed to his Japanese maps taped across the wall.
These renderings tracked the vast 13,800-square-kilometer region of Fukushima, which included the now-abandoned Futaba zone closest to the power plant and the Iwaki City area — 350,000 people live in this 1,200-square-kilometer tract of land, which includes a dense urban core, rings of village-like suburbs, and the mountain forest in which we were perched at that very moment. He had spent many hours staring at these maps, writing down radiation-detection levels, and dragging his finger gently over the place he once called home.
"That map contains many mixed feelings," Kimiko said. "All the feelings we have are concentrated in those maps. Now we can go back to Namie-town for very short periods of time. It’s abandoned. We have to cut all the weeds and deal with the mice and other animals." The duo grew agitated describing how all sort of rodents, feral cats, snakes and birds have invaded homes across Namie.
For the time being, however, the Iwakuras showed no signs of radiation-related illness. And for that, they said, they have Kimura to thank.
Today, Kimura runs a small clinic in Iwaki City dedicated to monitoring radiation and teaching people how to test their food, water, housing, and land. He has invented a device called "Food Light" for cooks, which measures the radiation levels of all ingredients before preparing meals.
The young bespectacled physician estimates that much of the land within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant cannot safely be reoccupied for at least 165 years — a bleak future the Abe government has never shared with the evacuees.
Now working with Kimura is Yukako Komasa, a petite former NHK broadcast journalist who saw the tsunami devastation, quit her job, and enrolled in public-health training at the University of Tokyo. Kimura was formerly an official with the Ministry of Health. Now an independent academic, Kimura splits his time between Tokyo, Fukushima, and Chernobyl in faraway Ukraine. There is a tinge of zealotry in Kimura. Since the Fukushima explosion, his research and clinical pace have accelerated so that his wife has filed for divorce, separating him from their children. Though there are other researchers concentrating on the site, his decisions have left him to feel as if he is the only one. Kimura has chosen to live on the edges of the forbidden zone, "so I am able to share the pain," of the locals. "Why am I so desperate?" he asked. "Because I am all alone — the only researcher here to help Fukushima — so I can’t rest."
One of the most stunning parts of this trip was that — upon seeing these blue bags piled high and wide — I realized that no country would do better than Japan. And, in fact, many might perform worse. No nation is equipped to handle the human displacement, anxiety, and waste-disposal crisis Japan now faces.
Where in the United States of America would a power company or government authority safely bury 250,000 tons of radioactive soil, millions of gallons of high-radiation water, and the detritus of abandoned homes and farms across thousands of acres of land? How would the U.S. government alert families like the Iwakuras, hunkered down after an earthquake and tsunami without electricity or any connection to the outside world? How would it compassionately relocate 160,000 people and help them rebuild their lives?
The United States has one deep cavern site outside Carlsbad, N.M., which houses highly radioactive waste from weapons programs. And in parched clay land near Andrews, Texas, a private company buries very low-level waste, such as the uniforms worn by lab technicians. There is no location in America designated to handle the sorts of water, soil, and radioactive detritus that Japan is now struggling to cope with.
After the Fukushima Dai-ichi explosion, all the country’s nuclear plants were shut down, returning the nation to its pre-2002 state of near total dependence on fuels purchased from outside the country — a tremendous burden on the national commodity exchange rate and trade balance. In 2013 Japan imported nearly $80 billion worth of fossil fuels, more than double the pre-tsunami level.
As the third anniversary of Japan’s greatest post-WWII catastrophe looms, it behooves Americans to pay close attention: Consider the questions that now stymie scientists and government authorities, and think about just how ready and wise we are in the good old USA.
Laurie Garrett is senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Pulitzer Prize winning science writer.

9. 15 American Crises
1.    Corporatism – Firmly establish that money is not speech, corporations are not people and only people have Constitutional rights. End corporate influence over the political process. End corporate welfare that enriches the few and instead treat government investment as something that all profit from, ensure corporations pay their fair share by ending corporate loopholes and tax subsidies and put in place a global tax so that off-shoring of money does not avoid taxes. Protect people and the environment from damage by corporations and end corporate trade agreements and partnerships that undermine consumer, labor and environmental protections.
2.     Wars and Militarism – End wars and occupations, end private for-profit military contractors and end the weapons export industry. War crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace must be addressed and those responsible held accountable under international law. Reduce the national security state and demilitarize the police.
3.    Human Rights – End exploitation of people in the US and abroad. End discrimination in all forms (race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity), guarantee equal civil rights, and the right of people to travel across borders to work and live. Make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a reality.
4.    Worker Rights and Jobs – Guarantee that all working-age people have the right to safe, just, non-discriminatory and dignified working conditions, a sustainable living wage, paid leave and economic protection. Put in place policies that allow worker owned and managed businesses, e.g. worker-owned cooperatives, so workers can build wealth and have greater control over their economic lives.
5.    Government – Guarantee that all processes of the three branches of government are be accountable to international law, transparent and follow the rule of law. Respect the civil rights of government employees. Create a work environment in government that empowers service to people, participation, honesty and integrity and that protects whistleblowers. Build policies and infrastructure that allow people to participate in decision making.
6.    Elections – Guarantee that all citizens 18 and older have the right to vote without barriers and establish universal voter registration. Guarantee that all candidates have the right to be heard in open debates and to run with low-threshold ballot access laws. Count all votes in a transparent method open to the public. Institute new voting systems so that more than majority views are represented, e.g. proportional representation; and voting systems that avoid voting based on fear of the greater evil, e.g. instant run-off or ranked choice voting. Create a level playing field by funding public elections with public dollars and clean election laws. Require that all donations directly and indirectly to elections should be transparent, i.e. no anonymous funding of elections.
7.    Criminal Justice and Prisons – end stop and frisk and other racial profiling police practices and respect constitutional rights against search and seizure, right to counsel and against self-incrimination. End the drug war and adopt a public health, evidence-based drug policy that respects individual rights and does not rely on law enforcement. End private for-profit prisons, end mandatory sentencing, recognize prisoners have the right to humane and just conditions with a focus on rehabilitation and reintegration into society and abolish the death penalty. Police need to protect the right to peaceably assemble to redress grievances and the right to Freedom of Speech without infiltration or other police practices that undermine those rights.
8.    Healthcare – Create a national, universal and publicly financed comprehensive health system, i.e. improved Medicare for All, which provides full health coverage throughout life with no out-of-pocket costs. Promote wellness in public policy. Recognize that health is a human right not a commodity.
9.    Education – Guarantee that all people have the right to a high quality, publicly-funded and broad education from pre-school through vocational training or university.
10.    Housing – Guarantee that all people have the right to affordable and safe housing. End predatory mortgage and foreclosure practices.
11.    Environment – Adopt policies which effectively create a carbon-free and nuclear free energy economy and that respect the rights of nature. Confront climate change with a rapid and comprehensive transition to an energy efficient, wind, solar and other renewable source-based economy that ends the wasteful use of energy. End the extractive economy and move toward a circular system where there is no waste and everything is re-used. Remake land use planning to support a healthy environment.
12.    Finance and the Economy – Break up the too big to fail banks, develop public banks in every state and major city, encourage community banks and credit unions, create local stock exchanges to allow investment in local communities and create microfinance loans to encourage entrepreneurship and support local businesses. Re-make the Federal Reserve into a transparent, democratic institution that responds to the needs of the economy and not to the needs of big banks. Put limits on the discrepancy between worker and executive pay. End policies which foster a wealth divide and move to a localized and democratic financial system. Guarantee that people’s deposits are protected and that the public does not pay for financial institutions that fail. Reform taxes so that they are progressive and provide goods, monetary gain and services for the people including creating a guaranteed national income.
13.    Media – End the concentration of media by a small number of corporations. Democratize the media by recognizing that the airwaves and the internet are public goods and recognize independent and citizen’s media as legitimate media outlets. Require that media be accurate and accountable to the people and that the internet be accessible to all people, respect people’s privacy and promote the sharing of information.
14.    Food and Water – Create systems that protect the land and water, create local, affordable and sustainable food networks, encourage community supported agriculture and farmer’s markets and diversify local food supplies so that food does not depend on transit over long distances. Encourage organic food production free of chemicals and end genetically modified foods. Guarantee the right to produce and harvest seeds. Stop commodification of water and guarantee access to water as a public good.
15.    Transportation – Provide affordable, clean and convenient public transportation and safe spaces for pedestrian and non-automobile travel. Develop land use planning that creates walkable and bikeable communities, with mass transit so that people do not depend on automobiles. Improve travel by train, rapid transit and commuter rails, so people are not dependent on air travel and automobiles.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

PNN - Environmental Special

PNN - 2/16/14

1. A New Spill in Chemical Valley
A coal preparation facility spilled an unknown quantity of coal slurry into a creek in Kanawha County, W.V. Tuesday morning, according to West Virginia officials.

As the Charleston Gazette reports, the spill occurred at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle operation, which is located near Fields Creek. The operation is near Winifrede, WV — southeast of Charleston, the state’s capitol and site of last month’s major chemical spill. The amount of coal slurry that spilled is still unknown, but a West Virginia DEP spokesman told the Charleston Gazette that the spill could probably be characterized as “significant.”
According to the county’s emergency services director, the spill was caused by a break in the eight-inch slurry line that ran between the preparation plant and the company’s refuse impoundment, which occurred sometime between midnight and 5:30 in the morning. According to the DEP, the company in charge of the facility reported the spill to the DEP at 7:30 a.m.
Workers have shut down the slurry pumps to stop the spill, but the slurry has contaminated the creek, which flows into the Kanawha River. Responders are trying to contain the spill to Fields Creek in the hopes that it does not reach the Kanawha River. Officials say if the spill does reach the river they don’t think it will affect drinking water because there are no water intakes downstream of the spill.

Coal slurry is a mix of solid and liquid waste that’s created from coal preparation, a process that includes washing coal with chemicals like MCHM. The DEP said in a statement that the facility utilizes a frothing chemical called Flomin 110-C that contains MCHM, the same chemical that spilled from a Freedom Industries holding plant and contaminated water for 300,000 West Virginians last month. Lawmakers have been grappling with how to prevent similar spills from happening in the future — West Virginia Sen. John Unger (D), introduced abill aimed at regulating above-ground storage tanks that was passed unanimously in the Senate, but Tuesday morning’s spill proves that other holding facilities, including impoundments, are also at risk of spills.

Slurry has spilled before in West Virginia — in 1972, a coal slurry impoundment dam in Logan County burst, spilling 132,000,000 gallons of liquid onto small mining settlements, killing 125 people and injuring 1,121. And in October of 2000, a coal slurry spill in Martin County, Kentucky, spilled 306,000,000 gallons, polluting 100 miles of waterways and killing aquatic life and plants in West Virginia and Kentucky


2. Got you by the cell phone

Feb 7 (Reuters) - A senior U.S. State Department officer and the ambassador to Ukraine apparently used unencrypted cellphones for a call about political developments in Ukraine that was leaked and touched off an international furor, U.S. officials said in Washington on Friday.

In the call, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland used an expletive in apparently disparaging the idea of relying on help from the European Union in negotiating a political solution in Ukraine.

The U.S. officials said the conversation between Nuland and ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt was likely intercepted at the Ukraine end and that they believe both Ambassador Pyatt and Nuland were speaking on cellphones.
An official familiar with the matter said State Department employees, including officials at a senior level, are not issued cellphones that use encryption.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed this at a regular briefing. "All Department of State government-owned BlackBerry devices have data encryption. However, they don't have voice encryption," she said.
The U.S. officials said Pyatt was in Ukraine at the time of the call, although it was not clear where Nuland was.

They did not give the date of the call, although they said it was recent. The issues that Nuland and Pyatt discussed occurred in the last few days of January.

The audio clip was first posted on Twitter by Dmitry Loskutov, an aide to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, a diplomatic source said. A second intercepted audio conversation, between senior European Union diplomats, was posted on YouTube around the same time.

The Obama Administration has not formally acknowledged the authenticity of the audio clip or accused any specific party of recording it.

Nuland, who met President Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev on Thursday, described the bugging and leaks as "pretty impressive tradecraft" but said it would not hurt her ties with the Ukrainian opposition.

In the call, apparently made at a time when opposition leaders were considering an offer from President Viktor Yanukovich to join his cabinet, she suggested that one of three leading figures might accept a post but two others should stay out. In the end, all three rejected the offer.
The leak coincided with accusations from Moscow of U.S. interference in Ukraine. Washington and European countries back those opposing Yanukovich, a close Kremlin ally.

On Friday one senior U.S. official in Washington said: "The quality of the recording would certainly indicate that this was not the work of simple hackers, but rather an intelligence service with an interest in distracting from the efforts of the people of Ukraine to recover their own government."
The posting of the conversation surfaced as the U.S. faces international uproar over its own electronic eavesdropping disclosed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year.

One document leaked by Snowden appeared to indicate that the U.S. had tapped the cellphone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, prompting President Barack Obama to announce that spying on foreign leaders was being curtailed.

Mark Weatherford, a former deputy under secretary for cybersecurity with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said that some senior government officials were issued mobile handsets that are capable of encrypting conversations but typically do not use them.

"It is expensive. They are different phones. They are cumbersome," said Weatherford, now a principal with the Chertoff Group, a Washington-based consulting firm led by former senior U.S. security and intelligence officials.
He said that the conversation that was intercepted would have remained private had the two officials used encrypted devices.

Chris Morales, research director with the cybersecurity firm NSS Labs, said hacking into an unencrypted mobile phone line does not require a lot of training and can typically be done using equipment and software that is widely available. (Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Jim Finkle; editing by David Storey and David Gregorio)


A new website featuring journalist Glenn Greenwald and funded by the billionaire founder of eBay was unveiled early Monday, with two stories about US government surveillance.

The site, called the Intercept, reported Monday that the National Security Agency has used cell phone geolocation to help pinpoint targets for US drone strikes overseas, and published previously unseen photographs of major US intelligence facilities.

The Intercept is part of a suite of planned sites to be published by First Look media, founded by eBay chairman Pierre Omidyar. Its editors are Greenwald and fellow journalists Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.
The Intercept will focus on reporting based on documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the site’s editors said in an introductory statement. “Our focus in this very initial stage will be overwhelmingly on the NSA story,” the statement said.

The involvement of the NSA in the drone program was previously reported, based on information found in the Snowden documents. However, the Intercept story, written by Scahill and Greenwald, appears to add significant new sourcing from inside the drone program itself, citing an unnamed “former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA.”

The story quotes the former operator as saying that innocent people have “absolutely” been killed in strikes based on geolocation techniques that can find a mobile phone but cannot verify who is holding it.

The NSA declined to respond to questions for the article, the Intercept said.
The editors accelerated the launch of the site, their statement said, to fight intensifying attacks on journalists working on stories about government surveillance and other secret programs. Director of national intelligence James Clapper told Congress last month that Snowden had committed a crime and had “accomplices,” in a reference widely interpreted as threatening to journalists working on stories based on the Snowden documents.
Congressman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who heads the House intelligence committee, last week called Greenwald “a thief.”
“None of this will deter the journalism we are doing,” the editors’ statement said. “A primary function of the Intercept is to insist upon and defend our press freedoms from those who wish to infringe them.”


4. Obama's Pussy Riot
Are the Oak Ridge Defendants Obama's Pussy Riot?
By Marc Ash, Reader Supported News
10 February 14

n February 18, 2014, Federal Judge Amul Thapar will sentence an 83-year-old Roman Catholic nun and 2 others to what could be terms long enough to ensure that all three will die in prison.

What did Sister Megan Rice, 82, and Michael R. Walli, 63, of Washington and Gregory I. Boertje-Obed, 57, of Duluth, Minnesota, do? They cut through three fences with a pair of bolt cutters, hung banners, painted biblical slogans, and threw blood on a wall. Oh yes, and they embarrassed the United States government.

Quietly, with little or no mention by the American corporate press, the U.S. cache of political prosecutions and prisoners is significantly on the rise. Lynne Stuart, Tim DeChristopher, John Walker Lindh, John C. Kiriakou, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning and more recently the so-called "NATO 3" are but a few examples of novel government prosecutions resulting in unprecedented prison sentences. In each case, as in Oak Ridge, the defendants held strong political beliefs in opposition to the U.S. government.

The government says that that Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed committed acts that amounted to sabotage, and they had little difficulty convincing a Tennessee jury. The problem is that there was no evidence of sabotage presented by the government. There was evidence of trespassing and vandalism, but the sabotage charge was pure hyperbole.

If being found guilty of sabotage were not worrisome enough, Judge Amul Thapar’s remarks regarding a recent sentencing hearing suggest that he will show no leniency: "The critical point is contrition, and I don't think any of the defendants are contrite about what they did. The defendants will not be given acceptance of responsibility."

Upon closer examination, however, Judge Thapar’s remarks are not surprising for a man with his political background. Thapar’s path to the federal bench was through staunchly Republican, right-wing political channels. Appointed to the bench by George W. Bush in 2007, Thapar, then United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, was a favorite of Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell. In fact, McConnell played a key role in recruiting Thapar from his post in Ohio and was a very vocal advocate of his appointment to the federal bench, singing his praises loudly on the Senate floor during the nomination proceeding. But perhaps the most telling indicator of Thapar’s ideological perspective was his association with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Thapar served on an advisory committee to Gonzales and came under scrutiny in the "firing of U.S. attorneys because they [allegedly] weren’t active enough in prosecution Democrats."

But Thapar and the Republicans are not alone in their zeal to make examples of American dissenters. The Obama administration appears more intent on "Silencing the Whistle-Blowers" than any White House in history. The prosecutions are often novel or even unprecedented, the type that American judges and juries have historically eyed with substantial suspicion. However, in the current climate of mass media-driven fear, American juries ask no questions. Defendants can be tried and convicted of seemingly whatever prosecutors have the imagination to conjure up.

When the U.S. corporate press reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin has orchestrated convictions and prison sentences of his political opponents, there is always an air of condemnation in the reporting. But there is more to report. It should be said that the ranks of U.S. political prisoners are growing every day and that justice is just as much a political tool in the U.S. as it is in Russia. Are Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed’s actions that much more serious than Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, the Pussy Riot members convicted and jailed for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for a protest in Moscow's biggest Orthodox cathedral." In reality, the construct and prosecution of the two cases is strikingly similar.
In the meantime we shall see if the Vatican makes an appearance on Sister Megan’s behalf or just quietly lets her go to a place the church’s pedophiles never seem to go – prison.
For reference, the following is an article written by Fran Quigly on the Oak Ridge trial. It was first published on on May 15, 2013. Fran Quigly does an excellent job of presenting the case and charges. Full disclosure: Fran Quigly is the brother of Attorney Bill Quigly, who is representing Michael R. Walli in the Oak Ridge case.
Fran Quigley | How the US Turned Three Pacifists Into Violent Terrorists
In just ten months, 

In the early morning hours of Saturday, June 28, 2012, long-time peace activists Sr. Megan Rice, 82, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Michael Walli, 63, cut through the chain link fence surrounding the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapons production facility and trespassed onto the property. Y-12, called the Fort Knox of the nuclear weapons industry, stores hundreds of metric tons of highly enriched uranium and works on every single one of the thousands of nuclear weapons maintained by the U.S.
Describing themselves as the Transform Now Plowshares, the three came as nonviolent protestors to symbolically disarm the weapons. They carried bibles, written statements, peace banners, spray paint, flower, candles, small baby bottles of blood, bread, hammers with biblical verses on them, and wire cutters. Their intent was to follow the words of Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Sr. Megan Rice has been a Catholic sister of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus for over sixty years. Greg Boertje-Obed, a married carpenter who has a college-age daughter, is an Army veteran and lives at a Catholic Worker house in Duluth, Minnesota. Michael Walli, a two-term Vietnam veteran turned peacemaker, lives at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker house in Washington DC.

In the dark, the three activists cut through a boundary fence which had signs stating “No Trespassing.” The signs indicate that unauthorized entry, a misdemeanor, is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
No security arrived to confront them.
So the three climbed up a hill through heavy brush, crossed a road, and kept going until they saw the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF) surrounded by three fences, lit up by blazing lights.
Still no security.

So they cut through the three fences, hung up their peace banners, and spray-painted peace slogans on the HEUMF. Still no security arrived. They began praying, and sang songs like “Down by the Riverside” and “Peace Is Flowing Like a River.”

When security finally arrived at about 4:30 a.m., the three surrendered peacefully, and were arrested and jailed.

The next Monday, July 30, Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli were arraigned and charged with federal trespassing, a misdemeanor charge which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail. Frank Munger, an award-winning journalist with the Knoxville News Sentinel, was the first to publicly state, “If unarmed protesters dressed in dark clothing could reach the plant’s core during the cover of dark, it raised questions about the plant’s security against more menacing intruders.”

On Wednesday, August 1, all nuclear operations at Y-12 were ordered to be put on hold in order for the plant to focus on security. B&W Y-12 (a joint venture of the Babcock and Wilcox Company and Bechtel National Inc.), the security contractor in charge of Y-12, ordered the “security stand-down,” which was fully supported by the National Nuclear Security Administration.
On Thursday, August 2, Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli appeared in court for a pretrial bail hearing. The government asked that all three be detained. One prosecutor called them a potential “danger to the community” and asked that all three be kept in jail until their trial. The U.S. magistrate allowed them to be released.

Sr. Megan Rice walked out of the jail and promptly admitted to gathered media that the three had indeed gone onto the property and taken action in protest of nuclear weapons. “But we had to – we were doing it because we had to reveal the truth of the criminality which is there, that’s our obligation,” Rice said. She also challenged the entire nuclear weapons industry: “We have the power, and the love, and the strength and the courage to end it and transform the whole project, for which has been expended more than 7.2 trillion dollars,” she said. “The truth will heal us and heal our planet, heal our diseases, which result from the disharmony of our planet caused by the worst weapons in the history of mankind, which should not exist. For this we give our lives – for the truth about the terrible existence of these weapons.”

Then the government began increasing the charges against the anti-nuclear peace protestors.

The day after the magistrate ordered the release of Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli, a Department of Energy (DOE) agent swore out a federal criminal complaint against the three for damage to federal property, a felony punishable by zero to five years in prison, under 18 U.S. Code Section 1363.
The DOE agent admitted the three carried a letter that stated, “We come to the Y-12 facility because our very humanity rejects the designs of nuclearism, empire and war. Our faith in love and nonviolence encourages us to believe that our activity here is necessary; that we come to invite transformation, undo the past and present work of Y-12; disarm and end any further efforts to increase the Y-12 capacity for an economy and social structure based on war-making and empire-building.”
Now, Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli were facing one misdemeanor and one felony and up to six years in prison.

But the government did not stop there. The next week, the charges were enlarged yet again.

On Tuesday, August 7, the U.S. expanded the charges against the peace activists to three counts. The first was the original charge of damage to Y-12 in violation of 18 US Code 1363, punishable by up to five years in prison. The second was an additional damage to federal property in excess of $1000 in violation of 18 US Code 1361, punishable by up to ten years in prison. The third was a trespassing charge, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison under 42 US Code 2278.

Now they faced up to sixteen years in prison. And the actions of the protestors started to receive national and international attention.
On August 10, 2012, The New York Times ran a picture of Sr. Megan Rice on page one under the headline “The Nun Who Broke into the Nuclear Sanctum.” Citing nuclear experts, the paper of record called their actions “the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex.”
At the end of August 2012, the inspector general of the Department of Energy issued a comprehensive report on the security breakdown at Y-12. Calling the peace activists trespassers, the report indicated that the three were able to get as far as they did because of “multiple system failures on several levels.” The cited failures included cameras broken for six months, ineptitude in responding to alarms, communication problems, and many other failures of the contractors and the federal monitors. The report concluded that “Ironically, the Y-12 breach may have been an important 'wake-up' call regarding the need to correct security issues at the site.”
On October 4, 2012, the defendants announced that they had been advised that, unless they pleaded guilty to at least one felony and the misdemeanor trespass charge, the U.S. would also charge them with sabotage against the U.S. government, a much more serious charge. Over 3000 people signed a petition to U.S. Attorney General Holder asking him not to charge them with sabotage.

But on December 4, 2012, the U.S. filed a new indictment of the protestors. Count one was the promised new charge of sabotage. Defendants were charged with intending to injure, interfere with, or obstruct the national defense of the United States and willful damage of national security premises in violation of 18 US Code 2155, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Counts two and three were the previous felony property damage charges, with potential prison terms of up to fifteen more years in prison.
Gone entirely was the original misdemeanor charge of trespass. Now Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli faced up to thirty-five years in prison.
In a mere five months, government charges transformed them from misdemeanor trespassers to multiple felony saboteurs.

The government also successfully moved to strip the three from presenting any defenses or testimony about the harmful effects of nuclear weapons. The U.S. Attorney’s office filed a document they called “Motion to Preclude Defendants From Introducing Evidence in Support of Certain Justification Defenses.” In this motion, the U.S. asked the court to bar the peace protestors from being allowed to put on any evidence regarding the illegality of nuclear weapons, the immorality of nuclear weapons, international law, or religious, moral, or political beliefs regarding nuclear weapons, the Nuremberg principles developed after WWII, First Amendment protections, necessity, or U.S. policy regarding nuclear weapons.

Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli argued against the motion. But, despite powerful testimony by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, as well as declarations from an internationally renowned physician and others, the court ruled against the defendants.


Meanwhile, Congress was looking into the security breach, and media attention to the trial grew with a remarkable story in the Washington Post, with CNN coverage, and with AP and Reuters joining in.
The trial was held in Knoxville in early May 2013. The three peace activists were convicted on all counts. Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli all took the stand, admitted what they had done, and explained why they did it. The federal manager of Y-12 said the protestors had damaged the credibility of the site in the U.S. and globally and even claimed that their acts had an impact on nuclear deterrence.

As soon as the jury was dismissed, the government moved to jail the protestors because they had been convicted of “crimes of violence.” The government argued that cutting the fences and spray-painting slogans was property damage such as to constitute crimes of violence so the law obligated their incarceration pending sentencing.

The defense pointed out that Rice, Boertje-Obed, and Walli had remained free since their arrest without incident. The government attorneys argued that two of the protestors had violated their bail by going to a Congressional hearing about the Y-12 security problems, an act that had been approved by their parole officers.

The three were immediately jailed. In its decision affirming their incarceration pending their sentencing, the court ruled that both the sabotage and the damage to property convictions were defined by Congress as federal crimes of terrorism. Since the charges carry potential sentences of ten years or more, the court ruled there was a strong presumption in favor of incarceration which was not outweighed by any unique circumstances that warranted their release pending sentencing.

These nonviolent peace activists now sit in jail as federal prisoners, awaiting their sentencing on September 23, 2013.

In ten months, an 82-year-old nun and two pacifists had been successfully transformed by the U.S. government from nonviolent anti-nuclear peace protestors accused of misdemeanor trespassing into felons convicted of violent crimes of terrorism.

Fran Quigley is an Indianapolis attorney working on local and international poverty issues. His column appears in The Indianapolis Star every other Monday.


5. 4-MCHM
One month after a major chemical leak spilled 10,000 gallons of crude MCHM into the Elk River and the water supply for 300,000 West Virginia residents, private testing found the main chemical ingredient in 40 percent of homes sampled.

All of the homes tested had followed the prescribed flushing procedure — several of them multiple times, said Evan Hansen, principal at Downstream Strategies, the environmental consulting firm that carried out the testing.
“I’m not surprised that MCHM is still being detected,” said Hansen. “In talking to people in the area, people are still reporting smells and some people are reporting reactions with their skin, so it seems clear that in some locations, the water isn’t clean yet.”

Last week, several schools in the area were forced to close after staff and students complained of the licorice-like smell characteristic of crude MCHM. One teacher reportedly fainted, and “several students and employees complained of lightheadedness and burning eyes and noses.”

Though West Virginia American Water gave its customers the green light to begin flushing their systems and using the water several weeks ago, none of the state and federal officials testifying at a congressional hearing on Monday would confirm that the water is indeed safe.

Hansen also emphasized that samples were taken from cold water taps and they ran the water for several minutes before taking a sample. Thus, the results report water quality as delivered to homes from the West Virginia American Water distribution system.

Downstream’s testing detected 4-MCHM in the range of .011 to .13 parts per million, well below the threshold recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 1 ppm. The 1 ppm threshold has repeatedly been called into question, however, due to the scarce scientific data on crude MCHM and the fact that it has never been tested on humans.

“It’s really important for people to know the water quality at their home,” said Hansen. “The testing that’s being done at fire hydrants is not necessarily representative of what’s going on in people’s homes.”

Over the course of the past month, government officials have not been testing the water in private homes and businesses. After initially brushing off the idea in a press conference last week, Governor Tomblin “later directed his spill-response team to come up with a plan for testing the water in a representative sample of the 100,000 homes and businesses impacted by the leak,” the Charleston Gazette reported.

The sampling carried out by Downstream Strategies and other private companies is only being done in households that can afford it, Hansen points out, making it all the more important that the state take necessary steps to assure the public they are actively and transparently working to ensure the safety of the water.

After a month of unanswered questions, West Virginians are running out of patience. When asked if there was any potential silver lining that could come out of the incident, 21-year-old Charleston resident Kellie Raines said simply, “I would hope so but at this point, I really don’t see it. ”


6 Criminal investigation launched in coal ash spill
RALEIGH, N.C. — Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into a massive coal ash spill into a North Carolina river, demanding that Duke Energy and state regulators hand over reams of documents related to the accident that left a waterway polluted with tons of toxic sludge.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh issued grand jury subpoenas seeking records from Duke and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The subpoenas seek emails, memos and reports related to the Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River and the state's oversight of the company's 30 other coal ash dumps.

The Associated Press obtained a copy on Thursday of the subpoena issued to the state.

"An official criminal investigation of a suspected felony is being conducted by an agency of the United States and a federal grand jury," said the subpoena, dated Monday.

The exact crime and precisely who is being targeted for potential prosecution is not spelled out in the document.

A Duke spokesman confirmed the nation's largest electricity provider had also received a subpoena.

Thomas Walker, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, said he could not comment on the subpoenas.

The spill at a Duke Energy plant in Eden spewed enough toxic sludge to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools, turning the river water a milky gray for miles. It was the third-largest coal ash spill in U.S. history. State health officials have advised that people not eat fish from the river and to avoid contact with the water.
Prosecutors ordered the state environmental agency's chief lawyer to testify next month before a grand jury. Agency spokesman Drew Elliot said the state will fully cooperate with the federal investigation.
Duke Energy spokesman Thomas Williams said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation but said officials would cooperate with any investigation.
The subpoenas were issued the day after the AP reported that environmental groups have tried three times in the past year to sue under the Clean Water Act to force Duke to clear out leaky coal ash dumps.
The groups sued after North Carolina regulators failed to act on evidence that conservationists said showed groundwater contamination.

Each time, the state agency blocked the citizen lawsuits by intervening at the last minute to assert its own authority under the act to take enforcement action in state court. After negotiating with the company, the state proposed settlements that environmentalists regarded as highly favorable to the company.

Duke, a company valued at $50 billion, would have paid fines of $99,111 for groundwater pollution leaching from two coal dumps like the one that ruptured last week. The settlement would have required Duke to study how to stop the contamination, but it included no requirement to clean up the dumps near Asheville and Charlotte.

Among the documents targeted by the federal subpoenas are the correspondence between Duke and the state environmental agency related to the proposed deal highlighted in the AP's story. On Monday, lawyers for the state asked a judge to disregard the agency's own proposed settlement in the wake of the spill.

The criminal investigation is a serious new development, said Frank Holleman, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, the group that had tried to sue Duke under the Clean Water Act.

After the SELC's third attempt, the state also filed enforcement actions for all of Duke's remaining coal ash sites in North Carolina, which effectively blocks environmentalists from pursuing action against them under the Clean Water Act.

"The state stated under oath in August that Duke was violating the Clean Water laws because of its unpermitted discharges of pollution from the coal ash lagoons into the Dan River. That was six months before this spill," he said.
Yet during that time, the state did nothing to stop Duke from polluting the river, Holleman said.

He said he hopes investigators press regulators on why they didn't take action.
"If anything proves that this is a very serious situation, this subpoena and this grand jury do it," he said. "To date, if this doesn't get Duke's attention and if this doesn't get DENR's attention, what will?"

7. You can drink it - not me... but you can

The federal officials offered assurances about the safety of the water. “You can drink it,” said Dr. Tanja Popovic of the C.D.C. “You can bathe in it.”

But that same day, two schools in Kanawha County, which includes Charleston, sent students home after the chemical’s odor was detected. A teacher at Riverside High School who fainted and a student with burning eyes were taken to the hospital, a spokeswoman for the State Education Department said. On Thursday, three more schools closed.

The Education Department spokeswoman, Liza Cordeiro, said that water tests at the schools conducted by the National Guard did not detect MCHM at a concentration of 10 parts per billion, a threshold 100 times stricter than the level the C.D.C. has determined to be safe for use.

But residents have come to trust their noses over such tests.

“If one smells the odor, people know the chemical is in the water,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. “It’s difficult for a lot of people to drink it even if they agree with the science behind it.”

Like many others, Dr. Gupta said he was not drinking the water. He has called for long-term studies of the chemical’s effects on public health and said the official response had become “a case study of what not to do in order to manage a crisis well.”

The authorities have sent mixed messages, Dr. Gupta and others said. Estimates of the volume of MCHM that leaked have been steadily revised upward. A second chemical was discovered to have leaked as well. Dr. Popovic of the C.D.C. said the advisory that pregnant women not consume the water was issued to “empower” them. And after the governor said last week that it was not feasible to test the water in individual homes, he reversed himself and said officials would consider doing so.

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“I don’t know that I’ve seen a crisis of confidence as I’ve seen with this water crisis,” Tim Armstead, the minority leader and ranking Republican in the House of Delegates, told reporters.

With the Legislature midway through its annual session in Charleston, water quality issues have dominated discussion. Environmentalists, used to losing most battles in the state, are cautiously optimistic.

“I don’t believe they want to leave this session with the public thinking they haven’t done enough,” said Don Garvin, the chief lobbyist for the West Virginia Environmental Council. His group is pushing for a registry of chemical storage tanks and for inspections by engineers who are independent of industry and the State Environmental Protection Department, which has often been a lax watchdog.

Marybeth Beller, a political scientist at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., said, “Typical regulatory legislation in West Virginia looks good for a headline, but when you read through it, there are all these loopholes.” But this time, she said, there is “sustained outrage” because the spill occurred in the state’s largest city during an election year.

“I don’t think we’re going to have too many people running in 2014 in West Virginia who are going to be talking about anti-regulation,” Dr. Beller said.

The authorities have not been able to say how long the odor and taste of the chemical will linger, or to reassure residents about long-term health effects.

“We are one month into the disaster and our water, like the water of thousands of others in our area, still smells of MCHM,” said Jeff Haynes, who lives less than a mile from the Elk River.

Mr. Haynes and his wife do not trust the tap water for drinking, cooking or cleaning. “Showers are very few and far between,” he said. “Meal prep and cleanup is a lot like urban camping and requires a lot of patience.”

His wife has an autoimmune disease, so they try to be especially careful. “This situation has, to say the least, caused more undue stress to our already stressful situation,” Mr. Haynes said.

The federal officials offered assurances about the safety of the water. “You can drink it,” said Dr. Tanja Popovic of the C.D.C. “You can bathe in it.”

But that same day, two schools in Kanawha County, which includes Charleston, sent students home after the chemical’s odor was detected. A teacher at Riverside High School who fainted and a student with burning eyes were taken to the hospital, a spokeswoman for the State Education Department said. On Thursday, three more schools closed.

The Education Department spokeswoman, Liza Cordeiro, said that water tests at the schools conducted by the National Guard did not detect MCHM at a concentration of 10 parts per billion, a threshold 100 times stricter than the level the C.D.C. has determined to be safe for use.

But residents have come to trust their noses over such tests.

“If one smells the odor, people know the chemical is in the water,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. “It’s difficult for a lot of people to drink it even if they agree with the science behind it.”

Like many others, Dr. Gupta said he was not drinking the water. He has called for long-term studies of the chemical’s effects on public health and said the official response had become “a case study of what not to do in order to manage a crisis well.”

The authorities have sent mixed messages, Dr. Gupta and others said. Estimates of the volume of MCHM that leaked have been steadily revised upward. A second chemical was discovered to have leaked as well. Dr. Popovic of the C.D.C. said the advisory that pregnant women not consume the water was issued to “empower” them. And after the governor said last week that it was not feasible to test the water in individual homes, he reversed himself and said officials would consider doing so.

8. Highly Contaminated Water Still Pouring Into Public Drinking Source on Dan River

Waterkeeper Alliance and Yadkin Riverkeeper have obtained the results from a second round of water sampling on the Dan River in the wake of the third largest coal ash spill in recent U.S. history. Their results confirm that highly-contaminated coal ash seepage is still pouring out of the same Duke Energy ash impoundment where an estimated tens of thousands of tons of raw ash erupted into the river last week. The newly-confirmed leak is located about a third of a mile upstream of the pipe where last week’s major spill occurred.

Laboratory analysis of the discharge (visible on this map at point “D”) confirmed that it contains multiple pollutants that are characteristic of coal ash, including the toxic heavy metals arsenic and chromium. Arsenic concentrations measured .187 mg/L, more than 18 times the human health standard and more than three times the applicable water quality standard.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, Duke Energy began vacuuming ash from last week’s spill out of the river, and pumping it back into the leaking impoundment.
On Thursday, Feb. 6, Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Pete Harrison patrolled the spill site and noticed an unusual discharge flowing down an embankment at the southwest corner of of the plant’s coal ash impoundment.
“This area caught my attention because the rocks were stained bright orange and there was water cascading down, right into the river,” Harrison said.
“When I paddled closer, I could see that the rocks had a thick, slimy coating, an indication of iron-oxidizing bacteria that is often present where seepage is bleeding out of coal ash pits.”

Harrison added, “The discharge concerned me because I’d reviewed the discharge permit for this facility and I knew that there wasn’t supposed to be anything coming out of the ash pond right there.” His team returned to the area four more times since last Thursday to see if anyone had attempted to stop it, but the discharge was still flowing unabated each time they went.
On Feb. 11, officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) denied knowledge of any ongoing leaks when questioned about the newly-discovered discharge at a public meeting in Danville, VA. The officials, however, did not ask for additional details about the location or character of the seepage. Waterkeeper Alliance says it would provide its test results to officials working on the cleanup.

Prompted by the threat of enforcement lawsuits by Waterkeeper and several other organizations, DENR filed four lawsuits against Duke Energy in 2013, alleging illegal pollution from leaking ash pits at all 14 of Duke’s coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.

With respect to the Dan River Steam Station, DENR’s Aug. 16, 2013 complaint against Duke alleges that DENR had discovered illegal seeps flowing into the Dan River from “engineered discharges from the toe drains of the ash ponds.” DENR also accused Duke of contaminating groundwater near its ash impoundment with antimony, arsenic, boron, iron, manganese, TDS and sulfate. Six months after filing the suit, DENR has taken no action to force Duke to remedy the problems.

Because DENR’s court papers fail to identify the location of the “engineered discharge” at the Dan River facility, it remains unclear whether the ongoing discharge Waterkeeper identified is the same illegal outfall that DENR identified months ago, or if it is instead another leak in the impoundment that regulators failed to notice.


Water pollution discharges like the one identified by Waterkeeper Alliance are prohibited by the Clean Water Act unless specifically authorized by a discharge permit, and an intentional or even negligent violation of the Act is a federal crime, punishable by imprisonment and/or criminal penalties.
Workers began removing coal ash from the Dan River on Wednesday. Rather than moving the spilled toxic coal ash to a safer, more secure location, Duke simply began to pump the sludge around the failed pipe from the riverbed back into the leaking ash pond from which it came. The confirmation that the same impoundment has been leaking heavily from another area raises questions as to why DENR failed to stop the discharge, or if the agency had overlooked the cascade—even as its staff responded to last week’s spill.
Waterkeeper Alliance Executive Director Marc Yaggi commented, “How can Duke’s cleanup plan possibly work if regulators are turning a blind eye to an ongoing leak like this? While Duke sucks up a small amount of the ash it spilled last week, arsenic and other toxins are still pouring unabated into the Dan River just upstream. If stopping the flow of heavy metals into the Dan River isn’t part of Duke’s cleanup plan, how can the Dan River possibly recover from this travesty?”

Waterkeeper Alliance and other groups have called on the U.S. EPA to take over enforcement efforts from DENR, which has been accused of withholding information about the spill, misinforming the public about contaminant levels in the river, and failing to hold Duke Energy to the same standards as other regulated entities.

Duke Energy is now saying they released 30,000 to 39,000 tons of coal ash and 24 million gallons of polluted coal ash water. Both Duke and DENR have repeatedly been wrong:  (a) they said their coal ash lagoons were safe and stable, not true; (b) they said their stormwater pipe was reinforced concrete, not true; (c) DENR said that the arsenic in the water met human health standards when it was four times the human health levels. Whatever the actual amount, Duke Energy continues to pollute the Dan River due to its reckless way of storing coal ash. Yesterday DHHS advised people not even to touch the water or to eat fish or mussels from the river.

“This administration has allowed Duke Energy to act above the law,” said Yadkin Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks. “As long as we allow Duke to continue storing toxic coal ash in massive, outdated, unlined pits along our drinking water supplies across the state, it’s only a matter of time until the next disaster.”
Donna Lisenby, Global Coal Campaign coordinator for Waterkeeper Alliance, said DENR has also neglected to stop illegal coal ash seepage discharges from Duke’s Riverbend Steam Station. There, toxic seepage flows into Mountain Island Lake about three miles upstream of an intake structure that supplies drinking water to more than 800,000 people in the Charlotte area. “There’s no reason to think that the leaky ash pits at Riverbend aren’t going to fail like Dan River just did. If that one goes, we’re going to have a serious crisis on a scale that would dwarf even the 2008 spill in Kingston.”


9. Keystone XL Document Dump Reveals Obama Unconcerned About Global Warming, State Department Riddled with Oil Lobbyists

The Friends Of the Earth (FOE) and Sierra Club (SC) released on February 12th, the results of their Freedom of Information Act requests from the State Department, concerning the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Their document dump shows that while environmental organizations were being kept in the dark, the company that was proposing this Pipeline was regularly meeting with close aides to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This occurred while the State Department's Environmental Impact Statement on that project was being prepared. It was being prepared not actually by the State Department, but by corporations that worked for the company that would be owning the Pipeline: TransCanada. President Obama at first declined to approve the pipeline for political reasons that had nothing to do with whether or not the project would significantly increase global warming. That seems not to have mattered to him. All three of the State Department's draft Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) focus on other matters than the proposed Pipeline's impact on global warming. The Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth are therefore now requesting the Inspector General of the State Department to investigate the matter, for apparent irregularities, and even possible violations of federal laws, especially concerning apparent indications that there was corruption in the preparation of these EIS's. The chief lobbyist for the company that would own the Pipeline is Paul Elliott, who had been selected partly because he had been the National Deputy Campaign Manager for Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign in 2008.

Previously, in 2011, Friends of the Earth had requested the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Mr. Elliott's lobbying activities with his former boss, but that request was ignored.

There also were many other close aides to Hillary Clinton who were working to expedite a favorable review of the proposed pipeline, such as Kerri-Ann Jones, whom Hillary's husband had first appointed in 1996, to be the Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and whom Hillary chose to be her Assistant Secretary of State. Furthermore, Obama confidant Anita Dunn, and other Obama friends, and a few people with ties to current Secretary of State John Kerry, are also receiving money from TransCanada and working to win approval of the Pipeline.

In this new request by FOI and SC for an investigation, which is directed this time to the Office of Inspector General of the State Department, more evidence is cited of irregularities and suspicious cooperation between the State Department and TransCanada. This new letter focuses especially upon Environmental Resource Management (ERM), the oil industry contracting firm that TransCanada chose to produce the State Department's second draft Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed project (the one issued in March 2013). This letter says: 
"The State Department improperly selected ERM without conducting any independent inquiry into potential conflicts of interest, thus ignoring previous OIG [Office of the Inspector General] recommendations and its own Interim Guidance procedures."

"ERM made false and/or misleading statements to State Department regarding potential bias and conflicts of interest."  "ERM has extensive ties to the oil industry, including membership in multiple oil and gas industry trade organizations that support Keystone XL."

"ERM worked on another TransCanada project during the period covered by their conflict of interest disclosure statement, and has an extensive list of additional clients that stand to benefit from approval of the proposed pipeline, but failed to disclose these relationships."

"The State Department selected ERM based on TransCanada's recommendation." 

"ERM gave false and/or misleading answers [on their application] ... and failed to disclose its business relationships."

"ERM has an extensive list of clients that would directly benefit from the approval of Keystone XL but failed to disclose any of these relationships."

"ERM staff had oil industry experience they failed to disclose."

"ERM failed to disclose its membership in numerous oil & gas trade associations."

"The State Department failed to conduct any independent inquiry into ERM as required."

"The Department of State attempted to conceal ERM's past relationships with TransCanada."


In President Obama's original rejection of the Keystone project, on 18 January 2012 (after Hillary Clinton's first draft EIS, which had been done by another firm chosen by TransCanada), he  said  "I have determined ... that the Keystone XL pipeline project, as presented and analyzed at this time, would not serve the national interest." He did not mention global warming as a reason for rejecting it.

On 7 October 2011, The New York Times had already raised public concerns when they headlined "Pipeline Review Is Faced With Question of Conflict," and reported that Hillary Clinton's first draft EIS on Keystone was prepared by Cardno Entrix, the first firm that had been selected by TransCanada. If President Obama was rejecting the pipeline now because that choice had been untrustworthy, then the subsequent Clinton-State-Department-produced draft EIS, from ERM, was no better. Unfortunately, the third and final one, from Secretary of State John Kerry's State Department, is not much better than Clinton's were.

However, buried on page 64 of "Appendix W" in Secretary Clinton's second draft version was an admission that the prior scientific studies of the impact of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline had estimated that there would be something on the order of an additional half-billion metric tons of carbon dioxide added to this planet's atmosphere if the pipeline is built and used, as compared to if it's not built and used.

If President Obama really cares about global warming (such as his public rhetoric has indicated), then he can simply trash the reports from his State Department, and reject this project with finality, because it will add considerably to the heating-up of this planet. On the other hand, why would he do such a thing, since he is trying to force the European Union to weaken their anti-global-warming regulations so as to enable them to import Alberta Canada's tar-sands oil, half of which  is owned by the Koch brothers, David and Charles, plus, according to Tim Dickenson in Rolling Stone, Bill Koch, who has his own separate company eagerly awaiting approval of Keystone XL.