Other stories below: CIA Urged to be More Open About Climate Change; Lawmakers Scrutinize Foreign Aid to China
TransCanada said Monday that it will work with Nebraska on a new route for its controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would avoid the Nebraska Sandhills, a unique area of sand dunes, grasslands and wetlands.
Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada’s president of energy and oil pipelines, said he expects that the new route would stay as close as possible to the previous proposed route while avoiding the Sandhills, and in return he expects that Nebraska officials will back the project.
“We will now work with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality on a route that avoids the Sandhills, while making as much use of the existing right of way as possible,” he said.
Pourbaix said that staying close to the proposed line would be better than moving the new pipeline close to an existing Keystone pipeline. Moving it near the existing route “would waste all that existing right of way that we have already procured with agreements in place. And it would add well over 100 miles of pipeline, which would have a larger environmental impact than just jogging around the Sandhills.”
After a year of epic weather, drought, heatwaves, hurricanes and floods, America’s intelligence establishment has come out with a bold new suggestion: maybe it’s time the CIA stopped treating climate change as a secret.
A new report from the Defence Science Board – a US government agency – urges the CIA to step outside its traditional culture of secrecy and begin sharing the intelligence it has been gathering on climate change.
The report, Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security, goes as far as to recommend the establishment of a new agency devoted to the study of climate change – one that would operate in the open and transparent manner so alien to the CIA.
The report is the latest in the series of blows to CIA’s climate centre, which has been struggling to justify its existence to the public since its establishment in 2009.
Republicans in Congress have derided the very notion of climate change as a national security threat, despite the Pentagon’s view that it is a threat multiplier. Now it faces criticism that it has been hoarding data.
The report does not call for scrapping the CIA climate centre, but it does suggest that CIA’s climate experts have been going about their business the wrong way.
The CIA has a special climate change task force, but as we’ve reported here, they don’t want anyone to know about it. Now the science advisory board to the Department of Defense is recommending that the government create yet another new intelligence group dedicated to climate change.A new report from the Defense Science Board, a committee set up to advise to the Secretary of Defense, calls for the creation of a unit within the DOD that would “concentrate on the effects of climate change on political and economic developments and their implications for U.S. national security.” This new intelligence program would commission the existing CIA task force on climate to “produce an assessment of regional climate change hot spots.”
Lawmakers on Tuesday will scrutinize a portion of the U.S. budget that’s tiny but touches a raw nerve: development aid to China, America’s biggest foreign creditor.The House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia is examining $4 million in proposed assistance, mostly for promoting clean energy technology. The committee has put that aid on hold as it demands explanations from the U.S. Agency for International Development of how the funds would be used.
It is a tiny fraction of USAID’s $21 billion budget — which itself scarcely scrapes the surface of America’s $14.8 trillion national debt — but it feeds into a wider sense of outrage that the U.S. government is borrowing money from China only to give some of it back as aid.
Rep. Donald Manzullo, R-Ill., who chairs the subcommittee, also claims the aid helps boost the competitiveness of Chinese manufacturers at the expense of U.S. manufacturers and jobs, and in a sector where the U.S. has protested Chinese state subsidies. He calls it “emblematic of the dysfunction in America’s foreign aid spending priorities.”
In the past decade, various U.S. government agencies have provided nearly $275 million of assistance to China, principally to promote democracy, the rule of law and a cleaner environment and to preserve the cultural identity of communities in Tibet, whose exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is widely respected in Washington.
BP Plc (BP/) must face claims over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in lawsuits by the states of Louisiana and Alabama, a judge said.
The states can sue for negligence and products liability under general maritime law and are eligible for punitive damages, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said yesterday. He dismissed claims brought under state environmental laws, including demands for civil penalties, finding they were preempted by federal law governing the Outer Continental Shelf.
“Because the source of this discharge occurred within an exclusive federal jurisdiction, the OCS, the only available law is federal law,” Barbier said yesterday in a written decision. “The state-law claims are dismissed.”
The Macondo well blowout and the explosion that followed killed 11 workers and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The accident and spill led to hundreds of lawsuits against London-based BP and its partners and contractors, including claims brought by Alabama and Louisiana alleging state law violations.
Most of the defendants argued that the federal Clean Water Act and Outer Continental Shelf Act trumped all claims under state law and that the Oil Pollution Act displaced maritime law claims as well, the judge said in his order.
Beleaguered Australian airline Qantas might have boosted its image Monday when it announced that it is going to launch a flight using sustainable fuel. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that the flight, scheduled for early 2012, will be the first of its kind in Australia, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
“We want the flight to be an inspiration, a preview of a sustainable future for Australian aviation,” Joyce told members of the press.
According to News.com.au, the flight will be “powered by the equivalent of cooking oil.” Qantas has signed agreements with two manufacturers of alternative airplane fuels: Solazyme, which is developing algae-based fuels and Solena, which is testing water-based fuels.
Qantas has been under scrutiny lately due to a heated labor dispute in the company. In late October, the airline was forced to ground its flights due to strikes, but its flight schedule returned to normal shortly thereafter when an Australian court intervened. Labor negotiations resumed earlier this month.