Blogtastic

Oil Spills Are Actually Good For Birds, Fish, And The Economy According To The Oil Industry

Feed Burner - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 18:25

"When a spill occurs, new economic activity occurs to clean-up contaminated areas, remediate affected properties, and supply equipment for cleanup activities," a witness testified before a committee in Vancouver, WA.

The post Oil Spills Are Actually Good For Birds, Fish, And The Economy According To The Oil Industry appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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New Utah Lands Bill Includes Massive Gifts To The Cliven Bundy Land Seizure Movement

Feed Burner - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 14:04

Conservationists in Utah, however, immediately rejected the bill as a nonstarter.

The post New Utah Lands Bill Includes Massive Gifts To The Cliven Bundy Land Seizure Movement appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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GOP Platform Proposes To Get Rid Of National Parks And National Forests

Feed Burner - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 13:29

This provision would leave national parks vulnerable to development and privatization.

The post GOP Platform Proposes To Get Rid Of National Parks And National Forests appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Did An Entire Region Of The U.S. Just Disincentivize Renewables? This Lawsuit Says Yes.

Feed Burner - Fri, 07/15/2016 - 12:00

Renewables are effectively being cut out of a multi-billion-dollar market.

The post Did An Entire Region Of The U.S. Just Disincentivize Renewables? This Lawsuit Says Yes. appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Alaska Bakes In Heat Wave While Arctic Sea Ice Continues To Melt

Feed Burner - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 19:39

One record showed Fairbanks' airport reaching 96 degrees Wednesday

The post Alaska Bakes In Heat Wave While Arctic Sea Ice Continues To Melt appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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New Oil Train Rules Would Force Railroad Companies To Plan For The Worst

Feed Burner - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 19:23

Following an oil train derailment in Oregon, the Department of Transportation is looking to strengthen rules surrounding the shipment of oil by rail.

The post New Oil Train Rules Would Force Railroad Companies To Plan For The Worst appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Exercise In Futility: There Is No Way Obama Will Sign The EPA Budget The House Wants

Feed Burner - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 16:57

The bill intended to fund the EPA restricts spending on the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States Rule.

The post Exercise In Futility: There Is No Way Obama Will Sign The EPA Budget The House Wants appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Fire From New Mexico Fracking Site Explosion Keeps Burning Three Days Later

Feed Burner - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 16:48

The fire started Monday, forced evacuation and as of Thursday morning it is still burning.

The post Fire From New Mexico Fracking Site Explosion Keeps Burning Three Days Later appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Americans Are Becoming More Worried About Climate Change. Here’s Why.

Feed Burner - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 16:00

The public is increasingly alarmed and concerned about global warming. They should be.

The post Americans Are Becoming More Worried About Climate Change. Here’s Why. appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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These Deep Red States Are Going Green

Feed Burner - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 15:21

Yet in historically conservatives states at the forefront of clean power, public officials have opposed policies aimed at advancing low-carbon power.

The post These Deep Red States Are Going Green appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Soul Traders

George Monbiot Blog - Thu, 07/14/2016 - 10:29

If we saw it anywhere else, we would recognise our political funding system as utterly corrupt

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 13th July 2016

Is this a democracy or is it a plutocracy? Between people and power is a filter through which decisions are made, a filter made of money. In the European referendum, remain won 46% of the money given and lent to the two sides (£20.4m) and 48% of the vote. Leave won 54% of the money and 52% of the vote. This fearful symmetry should worry anyone who values democracy. Did the vote follow the money? Had the spending been the other way round, would the result have reflected that? These should not be questions you need to ask in a democracy.

If spending has no impact, no one told the people running the campaigns: both sides worked furiously at raising funds, sometimes from gruesome people. The top donor was the stockbroker Peter Hargreaves, who gave £3.2m to Leave.eu. He explained his enthusiasm for leaving the EU thus: “It would be the biggest stimulus to get our butts in gear that we have ever had … We will get out there and we will be become incredibly successful because we will be insecure again. And insecurity is fantastic.”

No one voted for such people, yet they are granted power over our lives. It is partly because the political system is widely perceived to be on sale that people have become so alienated. Paradoxically, political alienation appears to have boosted the leave vote. The leave campaign thrived on the public disgust generated by the system that helped it to win.

If politics in Britain no longer serves the people, our funding system has a lot to do with it. While in most other European nations, political parties and campaigns are largely financed by the state, in Britain they are largely funded by millionaires, corporations and trade unions. Most people are not fools, and they rightly perceive that meaningful choices are being made in private, without democratic consent. Where there is meaning, there is no choice. Where there is choice, there is no meaning.

Politicians insist that donors have no influence on policy, but you would have to be daft to believe it. The fear of losing money is a constant anxiety, and, consciously or subconsciously, people with an instinct for self-preservation will adapt their policies to suit those most likely to fund them. Nor does it matter whether policies follow the money or money follows the policies: those whose proposals appeal to the purse holders will find it easier to raise funds.

Sometimes the relationship appears to be immediate. Before the last general election, 27 of the 59 richest hedge fund managers in Britain sponsored the Conservatives. Perhaps these donations had nothing to do with the special exemption from stamp duty on stock market transactions the Chancellor granted to hedge funds, depriving the public sector of around £145m a year. But that doesn’t seem likely.

At the Conservatives’ Black and White Ball, you get the access you pay for: £5,000 buys you the company of a junior minister; £15,000, a cabinet minister. Politicians insist that there’s no relationship between donations and appointments to the House of Lords, but a study at Oxford University found that the probability of this being true is “approximately equivalent to entering the National Lottery and winning the jackpot five times in a row”. We might not have had a say in the choice of the new prime minister, but I bet there was a lively conversation between Conservative MPs and their major funders.

Among the many reasons for the crisis in the Labour Party is the desertion of its large private donors. One of them, the corporate lawyer Ian Rosenblatt, complains “I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn or anyone around him is remotely interested in whether people like me support the party or not.” Why should the leader of the Labour Party have to worry about the support of one person ahead of the votes of millions?

The former Labour adviser Ayesha Hazarika urged Corbyn to overcome his scruples. “Meeting rich people and asking for money is not exactly part of the brand that has been so successful among his party faithful. But … sometimes you just have to suck it up and do things you don’t like.” Under our current system, she might be right, not least because the Conservatives have cut Labour’s other sources of funding: trade union fees and public money. But what an indictment of the system that is. During the five years before the last election, 41% of the private donations made to political parties came from just 76 people. This is what plutocracy looks like.

Stand back from this system and marvel at what we have come to accept. If we saw it anywhere else, we would immediately recognise it as corruption. Why should parties have to grovel to oligarchs to win elections? Or, for that matter, trade unions? The political system should be owned by everyone, not by a subset. But the corruption at its heart has become so normalised that we can scarcely see it.

Here is one way in which we could reform our politics. Each party would be allowed to charge the same fee for membership – a modest amount, perhaps £20. The state would then match this money, at a fixed ratio. And that would be it. There would be no other funding for political parties. The system would be simple, transparent and entirely dependent on the enthusiasm politicians could generate. They would have a powerful incentive to burst their bubbles and promote people’s re-engagement with politics. The funding of referendums would be even simpler: the state would provide an equal amount for each side.

The commonest argument against such arrangements is that we can’t afford them. Really? We can’t afford, say, £50m for a general election, but we can afford the crises caused by the corruption of politics? We could afford the financial crisis, that arose from politicians’ unwillingness to regulate their paymasters? We can afford the costs of Brexit, which might have been bought by a handful of millionaires? Those who urged us to leave the EU promised that we would take back control. Well, this is where it should begin.

www.monbiot.com

 

 

 

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Coal Faces Decline For The Foreseeable Future

Feed Burner - Wed, 07/13/2016 - 20:53

The coal industry is expected to suffer a downward trend, even if the Clean Power Plan is defeated in court.

The post Coal Faces Decline For The Foreseeable Future appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Can A Once-Respected Science Group Give Up Exxon Funding? It Will Soon Have One More Chance.

Feed Burner - Wed, 07/13/2016 - 17:21

Oil money has tainted the American Geophysical Union, leading its board to offer slippery and slick statements to defend the indefensible -- taking money from anti-science ExxonMobil.

The post Can A Once-Respected Science Group Give Up Exxon Funding? It Will Soon Have One More Chance. appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Scientists Connect Massive Die-Off Of Australian Mangroves To Climate Change

Feed Burner - Wed, 07/13/2016 - 15:44

Australia is home to over 6 percent of the world's mangroves. Massive die-offs like this could damage the coastline ecosystems.

The post Scientists Connect Massive Die-Off Of Australian Mangroves To Climate Change appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Do The Oil And Railroad Lobbies Have Too Much Influence On Oil Train Regulations?

Feed Burner - Wed, 07/13/2016 - 12:00

When the oil and railroad industries help set the rules, can oil trains ever be safe?

The post Do The Oil And Railroad Lobbies Have Too Much Influence On Oil Train Regulations? appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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If Donald Trump Becomes President, The U.S. Will Stand Alone In One Depressing Way

Feed Burner - Tue, 07/12/2016 - 16:12

“Well, it’s a hoax. I think the scientists are having a lot of fun.”

The post If Donald Trump Becomes President, The U.S. Will Stand Alone In One Depressing Way appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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The Republican Party’s Platform Says Coal Is ‘Clean’ Energy

Feed Burner - Tue, 07/12/2016 - 15:26

But internet porn is a "public health crisis."

The post The Republican Party’s Platform Says Coal Is ‘Clean’ Energy appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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This Is Why You Could Lose Your Life Protecting Honduras’ Environment

Feed Burner - Tue, 07/12/2016 - 13:57

As deaths of Honduran environmental activists mount, so is the pressure for the country's right-wing government to step up protections.

The post This Is Why You Could Lose Your Life Protecting Honduras’ Environment appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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Exxon Is Still Helping Fund The Spread Of Climate Denial

Feed Burner - Mon, 07/11/2016 - 18:00

Even as Senators take to the floor to condemn Exxon's funding of climate misinformation, recent disclosures show the oil giant still gives money to anti-climate groups.

The post Exxon Is Still Helping Fund The Spread Of Climate Denial appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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North Carolina Congressman Wants To Ban EPA Employees From Flying For Work

Feed Burner - Mon, 07/11/2016 - 14:08

Congress is getting ready to dole out funding for the EPA and the Department of Interior, which means its time for bizarre amendments.

The post North Carolina Congressman Wants To Ban EPA Employees From Flying For Work appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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