March 25 News: State Dept. Won’t Make Keystone Public Comments Public

Secretary of State John Kerry and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird (Photo: AP)

It will be very difficult for the public to access the public comments filed for and against the final decision on the Keystone pipeline. [InsideClimate News]

When the State Department hired a contractor to produce the latest environmental impact statement for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, it asked for a Web-based electronic docket to record public comments as they flowed in each day. Thousands of comments are expected to be filed by people and businesses eager to influence the outcome of the intense international debate over the project.

But the public will not find it easy to examine these documents.

A summary of the comments will be included in the final version of the environmental impact statement when it is released, said Imani J. Esparza of the Office of Policy and Public Outreach in State’s bureau of oceans, environment and science.

But the only way to see the comments themselves is by filing a request under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, a process that can take so long that the Keystone debate could be over before the documents are made available. The public will not be able to access the full electronic docket on line.

President Obama said last month that “This is the most transparent administration in history.”

NASA is cutting back on education and outreach efforts due to sequestration. [NBC News]

Life after oil and gas is not only possible, but economical. [New York Times Sunday Review]

The AP on what President Obama is likely to do about climate change: take some steps but not nearly enough. [AP]

By 2030, half the world could face water scarcity, according to the UN Secretary-General. [Washington Post]

Chinese solar panel producers will face some restructuring after the sector’s massive expansion that could result in a much stronger global solar industry. [Washington Post]

A new regulatory agreement between natural gas drillers and green groups could be a “breakthrough” on fracking. [Washington Post]

As the Republican-controlled North Carolina state legislature considers eliminating a tax credit that would threaten the strong solar power industry in the state. [News & Observer]

The Senate voted down an amendment that would ensure any revenue from pricing carbon would go to reducing the deficit and reducing rates. [The Hill]

What happens when natural gas isn’t as cheap as it is now? [Washington Post]

The coastal United States keeps rebuilding after extreme weather event, but is not facing up to the “march of global warming’s angry waters.” [Newsweek]

Britain’s outgoing chief scientific officer said that global warming will bring much more variable weather extremes and will make other global problems much worse. [The Independent]

China plans to resume electric car subsidies next month following the previous subsidy’s expiration at the end of 2012. [Economic Times]

The assumed limit of solar cell efficiency appears to have been broken by researchers at the Nils Bohr Institute. [CleanTechnica]

28 Responses to March 25 News: State Dept. Won’t Make Keystone Public Comments Public

  1. Paul Klinkman says:

    Somewhere out there is another Lieutenant Kerry, a guy who serves his country in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He’s going to come back to the states. He’s going to organize Iraq / Afghanistan Veterans Against the War. He’s going to testify before Congress that we’re mowing down peasants over there, that the peasants don’t really support the corrupt drug lords that we installed in power. He’s going to point out that the war isn’t really over even after the White House declares that it’s over.

    Then he’s going to run for public office. He’s going to decry what we’re doing to the environment.

    Then,… This is gross!

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    Plumer’s WaPo article about natural gas

    was interesting in what it did not include. He did not mention the low gas prices driving new natural gas power plants, which will continue to burn gas even after prices hit $6 and up. This is a function of utility company beancounters looking at short time horizons, using current low price data. It was a trap set by the Tillersons and Pickens of the world, who suckered us into building gas power plants. Gas will be burned when it costs more than wind and solar, due to sunk capital which should have been spent on renewables.

    The other issue is Plumer’s repeating the rumor that gas emits far less carbon than coal. Mainstream media has clearly chosen to dismiss the Howarth and NOAA studies indicating GHG parity, in spite of their rigor.

    It’s one more indication that our media is tightly controlled, and ignores or twists scientific evidence that is critical to human survival.

  3. fj says:

    Is the president actually considering whether or not he should allow the worst of the devil’s excrement flow across America?

  4. fj says:

    Is the president actually considering whether or not he should allow the worst of the devil’s excrement flow across America?

  5. Joan Savage says:

    I’m aghast that the public comments are not more accessible.

    In New York the public comment process may be ponderous, but it is very satisfying to see a regulatory agency’s response to each comment or each cluster of identical comments.

    The Department of State may not have much practice with handling public comments but they should learn from those who do, such as states, DOI, EPA.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    Obama isn’t just considering approving Keystone, he’s decided to do so. The only reason he punted last year was to ensure he got the votes of suckers like us.

    Once again, our “leaders” are kicking the can down the road. Heroes like Sanders and Marklee need to figure out a way to win.

  7. DRT says:

    “Our Carbon, Our Climate, Our Cash”

    “We all buy stuff that generates carbon dioxide emissions and threatens the stability of our climate. We don’t directly pay the resulting costs, which are postponed to a vague and indefinite future in which none of us can be held individually accountable for a devastating increase in the level and variability of average global temperatures.

    A tax on carbon consumption could help solve the problem, bringing the prices of carbon-intensive goods and services into closer alignment with their true costs and discouraging us all from buying more of them.”

  8. Sasparilla says:

    Seems like consideration might be the appropriate term – seems like he’s trying to figure out how to give its approval the best political spin at this point.

    He approved two others back in 2009 so its business as usual for him.

  9. Sasparilla says:

    That is absolutely tragic, thoughts go to our friends down in Australia.

  10. catman306 says:

    Perhaps fossil fuels are the Genie in the Lamp or Pandora’s Box that the ancients were warning us about in literature that we’ve ignored. And the Midas Touch that turned everything into gold, i.e., economic value not intrinsic worth.

    None of these tales had good outcomes and it doesn’t seem that our present situation with climate disruption will either.

    Any idea that seems to point to a solution will be ignored or denied by the Media.

    Widespread Greed is the moral equivalent of death for our civilization and for our ecosystem.

  11. fj says:

    Is the president seriously considering allowing the purveyors of devil’s excrement to devastate the natural world that feeds us?

  12. prokaryotes says:

    Lol. To much heat makes people dumb?

  13. prokaryotes says:

    New Sinkhole Opens In Seffner, Florida, Where Man Was Swallowed In Bed (VIDEO)

    So far this year, three sinkholes have been reported in Seffner alone. State geologist Jonathan Arthur told the Associated Press that many more could be on the way, since what is unofficially known as “sinkhole season” has only just begun in Florida.

    Sinkholes are made over time as acidic rainwater eats away at underground limestone, forming cavities. According to WTSP, Florida’s “unique subsurface structure of limestone, mineral deposits and flowing water underground” make it particularly susceptible to sinkhole formation.

    Earlier in March, CNN aired a segment in which reporter David Mattingly explored a vast underground sinkhole. Mattingly reported that thousands of sinkholes “pop up” throughout Florida every year.

  14. prokaryotes says:

    Maybe Fossil Fuel companies should be held accountable? Since the car fumes make the rain acidic.

  15. Sasparilla says:

    US shale gas to heat British homes within five years

    The start of an export market for U.S. natural gas – this will be one of the reasons, over time (2nd half of the decade) natural gas will rise to world prices ~$10-$12MMBtu, we’re currently up ~100% from last year (Dec 2011) at about $4 MMBtu.

  16. Colorado Bob says:

    Dr. Jeff Masters’ : Katrina-level storm surges have more than doubled due to global warming

    Since 1923, there has been a ‘Katrina’ magnitude storm surge every 20 years, according to a storm surge indexdeveloped by Aslak Grinsted, an assistant professor at the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute. The index uses data from six tide gauges along the U.S. coast from Texas to New Jersey from 1923 – 2011, and is part of a statistical model that links global temperatures to the risk of Katrina-level storm surges. Because of global warming, Katrina-magnitude storm surge events have now more than doubled in frequency since the late 1800s, Grinsted and colleagues argue, in research published in March 2013 in the scientific journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). Their statistical model found that an increase of 0.4°C in global temperatures was sufficient to double the odds of Katrina-magnitude storm surges. Since global temperatures have risen 0.6°C since the late 1800s, “we have already crossed the threshold where more than half of all ‘Katrinas’ are due to global warming,”

  17. Colorado Bob says:

    Projecting into the future, the model predicts that if the global climate warms as expected by 2°C before the end of the century, Katrina-level storm surge events will become ten times more common, and a Katrina-level surge will occur, on average, every 2 years, instead of every 20 years. Since sea level is steadily rising due to global warming, these future storm surges will also be riding in on top of an elevated ocean surface, and will thus be able to do even greater damage than in the past.

  18. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Yes, it may be symbolic but not particularly concerning. Most staff had been working on policy and the process of implementation but that is complete. Of more importance is the question of whether the opposition can undo it if they win in September, ME

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    How come the USA doesn’t have a price on carbon? ME

  20. Merrelyn Emery says:

    They probably don’t want people counting the ‘pros’ and ‘antis’, ME

  21. Joan Savage says:

    The acidic water involved in sinkhole formation is usually from groundwater.

    Here’s a diagram–

    Groundwater withdrawal is a big problem, too.

  22. Joan Savage says:

    Prof Sir John Beddington warns of floods, droughts and storms

  23. Calamity Jean says:

    Too much heat makes people dumb. I say that as an American.

  24. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Obama doesn’t ‘decide’ anything. He’s just the PR front-man. The real deciders are elsewhere, but plain enough to see. The Keystone decision was never in doubt, not for a nanosecond.

  25. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Long live Freedom!’ Let’s destroy some more countries to set them ‘Free’, just like us!

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ME, your habitual optimism is blinding you to the bi-partisan nature of the war on environmentalism and the Greens. I agree that Abbott would be an apocalyptic catastrophe for the environment, especially if he wins big and his Messianic tendencies are given full rein, but a Gillard regime will only be a lesser evil. Tell me, why, in the name of all that is Holy, does Gillard never mention climate destabilisation as the raison détre for the carbon price, when she should preface every public utterance with that declaration?

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Wishful thinking, intended to harm the Russians. Unfortunately they have willing customers in China, a growing economy, rather than the UK, a dying society and moribund economy.