October 7 News: Climate Activists Occupy Keystone Pipeline Hearing

Today is the final public hearing on the Keystone XL Pipeline. Climate activists are showing up to make their voices heard in opposition to the pipeline. We’ll have coverage from that hearing later today. In the meantime, here are some top stories on Keystone XL (and other issues, too.) Please post additional stories below.

Photo courtesy of Energy Action Coalition

Final Keystone XL Pipeline Hearing Sees a Show of Force From Both Sides

Environmental groups and the oil industry will square off in their final public showdown on Friday before Barack Obama renders a decision on a controversial pipeline carrying crude from the Alberta tar sands to refineries in Texas.

The encounter promises to be contentious, with one activist Whit Jones (@whitjones) tweeting that the Occupy Wall Street movement had come to the state department.

By 9pm on Thursday night – more than 12 hours before the scheduled start of the public hearing in the basement of the Ronald Reagan trade centre in Washington – about two dozen activists had turned up with sleeping bags determined to camp on site to be the first in the room.

To their frustration, however, industry had a similar plan for the hearing, which was hosted by the state department. Activists said contractors for the TransCanada pipeline company had sent in a professional line-sitter who promptly claimed his spot in line – and then telephoned for reinforcements.

“The industry has done what they can to ensure that their voice is louder than ours at the hearing,” said Christine Irvine, an activist with

Did TransCanada Remove Rare Beetles from Keystone XL Pipeline Route Illegally?

A Canadian company that is waiting for a federal permit to build an oil pipeline through the High Plains has used a technicality in U.S. environmental regulations to begin removing an endangered species—the black and orange American burying beetle—from the proposed route.

A spokesman for Alberta-based TransCanada said the company has done nothing wrong. The beetles were removed as part of TransCanada’s “commitment to protecting the environment and endangered species along the Keystone XL route,” Shawn Howard told InsideClimate News. According to Howard, the beetle is the only endangered species identified along the pipeline’s proposed route from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

But pipeline opponents say that by moving beetles from the Nebraska sandhills and mowing miles of grass where the insects once lived, TransCanada has illegally begun construction on the project. Because the pipeline would cross an international border, the U.S. State Department is in charge of the permitting process. The agency is expected to make its decision by the end of the year.

On Wednesday three environmental groups filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Omaha against the State Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking that the beetle removal work be stopped.

Pipeline? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Pipeline

As the debate unfolds about whether to build a 1,711-mile pipeline to carry crude oil from the tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas, the focus is on the oil spills and carbon emissions that inevitably come with it. But we need to ask a more fundamental question. Do we really need that oil?

The United States currently consumes more gasoline than the next 16 countries combined. Yes, you read that right. Among them are China, Japan, Russia, Germany, and Brazil.

But now this is changing. Not only is the affluence that sustained this extravagant gasoline consumption eroding, but the automobile-centered lifestyle that was considered part of the American birthright is fading as well. U.S. gasoline use has dropped 5 percent in four years.

Four key developments are set to further reduce U.S. gasoline use: a shrinking car fleet, a decline in the miles driven per car, dramatic mandated future gains in new car fuel efficiency, and the shift from gasoline to electricity to power our cars.

Head of Federal Loan Program Resigns

The head of the Energy Department’s embattled loan program announced Thursday that he was stepping down amid an expanding probe of the agency’s $535 million loan to a now-shuttered solar company.

The departure of Jonathan Silver comes as the Obama administration faces intense pressure from Capitol Hill about whether it properly vetted the solar start-up Solyndra before providing it with taxpayer backing. President Obama used a Thursday news conference to credit agency officials with using their “best judgment” in approving the loan, part of a $35.9 billion federal effort to invest in breakthrough technologies that could create jobs and spur economic growth.

Silver had been criticized by Republicans during a House subcommittee hearing three weeks ago, and White House e-mails released this week showed that officials were anxious about the loan program and whether the agency was properly monitoring it. Silver’s boss, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, has accepted responsibility for the Solyndra decisions.

Energy officials said Thursday that Silver decided to leave the job in July, recognizing that funding for the program was expiring. His office handed out an additional $4.7 billion in loan guarantees on Sept. 30, the last day of the program.

Industry Split Over Biofuels’ Indirect Impact

European bioethanol producers have broken ranks and urged EU policymakers to introduce rules on the indirect climate impacts of biofuels that distinguish between “good and bad biofuel pathways”, Reuters has learned.

The call is the first sign of a split within the EU biofuel industry on the controversial issue of indirect land use change (ILUC), which threatens to undermine the green credentials of some biofuels due to their role in diverting food into fuel tanks.

In a letter to the EU’s top climate and energy officials seen by Reuters, bioethanol industry body ePURE said it backs the introduction of EU rules that address ILUC directly.

A direct approach that penalises crop-specific biofuels for their indirect side-effects could wipe out much of Europe’s estimated 13 billion euro-a-year ($17.3 billion) biodiesel sector.

“ePURE will support a policy that… differentiates between good and bad biofuel pathways (and) addresses ILUC directly,” said the letter sent to EU energy chief Guenther Oettinger and climate chief Connie Hedegaard in July.

ILUC states that if food crops are diverted to biofuel production, those missing tonnes of food must be grown elsewhere to avoid increasing global hunger.

Steve Jobs, Clean Energy and Innovation

In a previous life, I was a technology reporter who covered a company called Apple Inc. and a guy named Steve Jobs. I was lucky enough to be there in San Francisco when Jobs introduced something called the iPod, the iPhone and a bunch of other iProducts in between and after.

I never really knew what the “i” stood for in all those Apple products. But certainly, it could’ve stood for “innovation.” Steve Jobs was an innovator extraordinaire in the most innovative industry in recent history, the technology industry.

So maybe it’s not surprising that a day after his death, it was Jobs who came to mind while I listened to President Obama speak about what could and should be the next great inflection point in American innovation: Clean energy.

Obama was asked at a press conference Thursday about the Solyndra debacle and the Department of Energy loan guarantee program that created by Congress in 2005 (not by Obama or the current White House, mind you) to help get the clean energy industry rolling in America.

Obama’s response, at least to me, sounded a bit reminiscent of Steve Jobs.

“If we are going to be able to compete in the 21st century, then we’ve got to dominate cutting-edge technologies,” Obama said.

That’s what Jobs did with Apple.

23 Responses to October 7 News: Climate Activists Occupy Keystone Pipeline Hearing

  1. Leif says:

    “ILUC states that if food crops are diverted to biofuel production, those missing tonnes of food must be grown elsewhere to avoid increasing global hunger.”

    Unfortunately that will not cut it either. That needs to be TWICE the amount displaced as there is already starving masses and with the population growing surely much more to come. Food sourced bio-fuels are a dead end.

  2. prokaryotes says:

    New Zealand battles to contain oil spill

    Response teams battled Friday to contain a spill of oil from a large cargo ship stranded off the New Zealand coast.
    The MV Rena, a Liberian-flagged vessel, started leaking oil early Wednesday off Tauranga, on the North Island, after the vessel struck a reef.

    Coral bleeching from ocean acidification, plastic trash, nitrogen run off, nuclear waste is not enough. HUmans are busy to use all resources to destroy the ecosystems.

  3. prokaryotes says:

    Re the story about Clean tech and Apple!

    Apple Criticized for Toxic Dumping, Pollution in China
    Written on September 1, 2011 by Chilton Tippin in Events

  4. prokaryotes says:

    Greenpeace calls for Congressional investigation of Koch’s illegal practices
    today Greenpeace has called for a full Congressional investigation of Koch Industries and the illegal practices detailed in the Bloomberg report.

  5. prokaryotes says:

    Bangkok (CNN) — Heavy rains and flooding have killed at least 244 people, left parts of Thailand submerged, and damaged businesses and historical sites, authorities said Friday.
    Flooding has affected at least 28 Thai provinces and more than 2 million people since July, authorities said.
    An emergency center has been set up at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok, said Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
    The waters have caused considerable damage to parts of the Ayutthaya province in central Thailand.
    At least 160 factories have been damaged and rains have also threatened historical temples in several areas.

  6. prokaryotes says:

    This is a prime example how climate change is a threat multiplier

    Cambodia, Thailand Prepare for Fight Over Temple

    Thai-Cambodia border fighting ‘damages’ temple

    Cambodia accused Thailand of damaging an 11th-century temple

    What do the people think now when mother nature (god?) strikes at the temple too? My guess is, that only will make things worse.


    Floods damage centuries-old Thai temple
    Tue, Oct 4, 2011 – Reuters 1:14 | 524 views
    Massive flooding that’s caused the deaths of more than 200 people since July endangers a 400-year-old temple in Thailand. Lindsey Parietti reports

    This could mean that since 400 years there have not been such floods.

  7. Bru Pearce says:

    this in the Guardian ecocide trial

    Great stuff this could really make a difference.

  8. Paul Magnus says:

    As the world falters the crunch is coming…

    The motion, filed in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, claimed Alabama’s new law is “highly likely to expose persons lawfully in the United States, including school children, to new difficulties in routine dealings.”

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    According to economists at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, the damage amounts to 104 billion baht (3.4 billion dollars) in terms of the impact on buildings, crops, livestock, industry, tourism and trade.
    It said the impact could knock about one percent off the country’s annual economic output.
    With more storms forecast, the fear is that the economic costs could rise if the waters reach the capital’s business and economic hub.

  10. Paul Magnus says:


    Bangkok Government turning to Brahman Gods for flood help

  11. Paul Magnus says:

    Climate Portals

    Russ Girling, TransCanada CEO, Surprised At Furor Over Keystone XL Pipeline
    WASHINGTON — Wearing a nose ring and a T-shirt that read “Food not bombs,” environmental activist Spiro Voudouris came to the nation’s capital Friday to protest a Canadian company’s plan to pipe oil from tar sands in western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. Unemployed pipe fitter Ira Orenstein came t…

  12. Paul Magnus says:

    People also said there were economic benefits to tackling climate change, with eight out of 10 people saying that dealing with the problem would provide an economic boost and create jobs. Two years ago, the number was just under two-thirds.

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    A key test is expected in mid-October, when large amounts of run-off water reach the capital and high tides make it harder for the floods to flow out to sea.

    “Every canal in Bangkok is already at full capacity. If more rain comes it’s likely that Bangkok will be inundated,” Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said on television.

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2011) — In the central Arctic the proportion of old, thick sea ice has declined significantly. Instead, the ice cover now largely consists of thin, one-year-old floes. This is one of the results that scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association brought back from the 26th Arctic expedition of the research vessel Polarstern

  15. Colorado Bob says:

    Link –

    Young and Thin Instead of Old and Bulky: Researchers Report On Changes in Arctic Sea Ice After Return of Research Vessel Polarstern

  16. Paul Magnus says:

    Nestle chief warns of new food riots

    The head of the world’s biggest food company Nestle said on Friday that rising food prices have created conditions “similar” to 2008 when hunger riots took place in many countries.
    “The situation is similar (to 2008). This has become the new reality,” the Swiss giant’s chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe told the Salzburger Nachrichten daily in his native Austria in an interview.

  17. Paul Magnus says:

    Brabeck-Letmathe said another factor was water, saying humans were “using more water than is sustainable” and calling for the price of water to rise in order to encourage firms and consumers to be less wasteful.

  18. Paul Magnus says:

    New York protest spreading worldwide
    Protests are also planned in other Canadian cities such as Montreal and Calgary and Toronto.

    The protests began on September 17 in New York’s financial district when a few dozen demonstrators tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange but were turned out by police.

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, let’s hope the UN decides for it. But boy, it is going to be a very busy court, ME

  20. prokaryotes says:

    “… a crime of ecocide could force governments to change the incentive structures for businesses by redirecting subsidises for fossil fuels towards clean energy sources. In this way the dirty energy companies that are wrecking the environment today could be transformed into the clean energy companies of tomorrow”

  21. Paul Magnus says:

    Premature Births: Does Traffic Pollution Play A Role?

    New research suggests traffic-related air pollution might play a role, significantly increasing the risk of giving birth before 37 weeks.

    Researchers with the University of California analyzed the birth certificates of children born to Los Angeles women living near several air quality monitoring stations. They found that exposure to traffic-related pollutants was associated with a 30 percent increased risk of preterm birth.

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