Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ecuador's Legal Battle With Chevron Foreshadows Global Corporate Coup D'état

From:  Truth Out

Friday, 14 October 2016 00:00
By Kyla Sankey, Truthout | News Analysis

A hand covered in crude oil from one of the hundreds of open toxic pits Chevron abandoned in the Ecuadorean Amazon rainforest, near Lago Agrio, in a photo taken on April 15, 2010. (Photo: Rainforest Action Network)

In the past 50 years, the lives of Indigenous people in the Ecuadorian Amazon have been completely transformed. Since the arrival of Texaco in 1964, extensive environmental damage wrought by the extraction of oil and dumping of toxic waste has devastated the land, water and natural resources on which the Indigenous tribes of these regions have depended for more than 8,000 years.

Today, two of these tribes have ceased to exist due to the deaths of all their members, and others are at risk of being wiped out soon. In the remaining tribes, community members have suffered extensive and irreversible health problems: toxic exposure has generated a health crisis involving cancer, birth defects, miscarriages and leukemia.

Texaco's operations included drilling and systematically dumping crude in the Amazon. During its operations between 1964 and 1990, it left 880 pits of solid waste, poured 60 billion gallons of toxic water into local water sources and spilled 650,000 barrels of crude oil in the jungles and pathways. Perhaps the most striking feature in the case of Texaco is that the damage caused was not accidental but deliberate, a result of cutting costs on safety regulations and environmental technologies in order to maximize profits.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Here’s the 1 Thing Countries Have to Do to Meet the 2-Degree Climate Target

From: Moyers & Company

Unless we stop developing new fossil-fuel reserves, the Paris agreement is a joke.

Next month, the Paris climate agreement will enter into force. Major greenhouse-gas emitters, including the United States, China, Brazil and India, have approved it; the European Union became the latest to do so last week, pushing the pact over the participation threshold needed for it to take effect. The main goal of the agreement is to keep global warming “well below” a 2-degree Celsius increase from preindustrial levels, and, because many scientists believe that upper limit is still too dangerous, to try to keep warming to less than 1.5 degrees.

To have a chance of meeting either of those targets, there is one thing every single country must do: Stop drilling and digging for new oil, gas and coal — right now. That’s the conclusion of a recent analysis from the think tank Oil Change International. Using investment-grade data from a Norwegian firm that tracks fossil-fuel reserves, OCI calculated two global “carbon budgets” — in other words, two scenarios that show how much of our fossil-fuel reserves we can tap into before the resulting greenhouse-gas emissions cause catastrophic warming. One scenario gives us a “likely,” or 66 percent, chance of keeping overall warming below 2 degrees C, and the other provides a 50-percent likelihood of staying below 1.5 degrees.

Source: Oil Change International
What they found is that the oil and gas fields already in production alone are enough to raise global temperatures by more than 1.5 degrees C. Add in the coal stocks currently being mined, and we’ll blow past 2 degrees. To be clear, those are the oil and gas wells and coal mines that are already in operation or under construction (called “developed reserves”). Exploiting new fossil-fuel reserves, those that are considered recoverable but haven’t yet been tapped into, “would either commit the world to exceeding 2 degrees C of warming, and/or require an abrupt end to fossil-fuel production and use at a later date,” the report states. In order to meet the Paris goals, even some currently operating fields and mines will probably have to be closed before they’ve been fully exploited.  MORE

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we are closer than ever to catastrophe

From:  The Guardian

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon accident, the oil and gas industry has not retreated to safety. Instead, it has expanded its technological horizon in ways that make it harder to foresee the complex interactions between drilling technologies, inevitable human errors and the ultra-deepwater environment.

Before its sinking, Deepwater Horizon had drilled one of the deepest oil and gas wells. That depth has since been surpassed, and exploration continues to new frontiers. Not far from the Deepwater Horizon accident site, Royal Dutch Shell is now developing the deepest offshore oil field in history. In the Caspian Sea, an international consortium is exploring the Kashagan oil and gas field, a mega-project that the consortium itself describes as an enormously challenging endeavour. And the hunt for Arctic oil takes place in some of the most inhospitable waters in the world.

Numerous analyses of the Deepwater Horizon accident have pointed to three contributing causes: the complexity and inherent riskiness of oil drilling systems, human and organisational factors and regulatory challenges. In the past half-decade, we have made little progress in these areas. Indeed, the risk of another catastrophic spill may be greater than ever before.  MORE

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Removing CO2 From the Air Only Hope for Fixing Climate Change, New Study Says

From:  Inside Climate News

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why are Torrance refinery activists unhappy over long-awaited meeting Monday?

From:  Daily Breeze

By Nick Green, Daily Breeze

The Torrance Oil Refinery before it was sold to new owners PBF Energy. Local activists will get a meeting with industry regulators to express their concerns over toxic chemicals at the plant on Monday, Sept. 19. File photo. (Chuck Bennett/Staff Photographer)

Local activists concerned about a catastrophic release of toxic chemicals from the Torrance refinery will finally get their wish Monday — a public meeting in town with industry regulators.

But they’re pessimistic about how useful it will be.

Hoping for a dialogue so they can present technical information they believe shows the risk of such a disaster is understated, the activists fear instead they’ll be greeted with a PowerPoint dog-and-pony show with government officials talking at them rather than with them.  MORE

"Ending Regulation Without Representation" Debate Guide

As you and your friends think about issues to focus on for an upcoming candidate debate or issues forum, perhaps you or someone you know  might consider raising the issue of ending "regulation without representation" with a question or statement like the following:

"As we think about ways to create more good paying middle class jobs, one of the most powerful things we can do to spur economic growth is to end the fear of unreasonable and abusive federal over-regulation regulation that limits the creation of new jobs and new investment in our communities.

Today's federal regulators have the ability to re-write regulations to interpret laws in ways that were never approved by Congress.  The IRS can even raise taxes without the approval of Congress just by issuing a new regulation!

Do you agree that major new federal regulations should be approved by Congress, so that regulators are more accountable to Congress and so that regulations, like laws, have the consent of the governed?

Or, on the other hand, do you believe that federal regulators should keep their current power to dictate regulations without the approval of Congress?

In 2016  the House of Representatives voted to pass the REINS Act to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress but supporters have not been able to get 60 votes to defeat a Senate filibuster.

Every House Republican who cast a vote
voted for the REINS Act.  Two Democrats, Rep. Cuellar of TX and Rep. Peterson of MN voted for the REINS Act.

Now, to help break the deadlock in Congress, more than 900 State legislators, 6 governors, the 2016 GOP Platform, the RNC, the National  Federation of Republican Women, the American Farm Bureau, the National Taxpayers Union, and 19 state legislative chambers are among those who have urged Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress.

Just as pressure from states helped force Congress to propose the Bill of Rights, and two other Amendments to the Constitution, pressure from governors, other state elected officials, state legislators, and Members of Congress could force Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment.

That is one reason why more and more elected officials and candidates for both federal and state office are joining the effort to persuade Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment.


If your opponent argues:

"Congress is so dysfunctional that if we required Congressional approval for new regulations NO new regulations would ever get approved."

Say so you think that giving government the power to dictate the rules that govern us is more important  than Democracy?

Does that make you part of the "undemocratic party"

But seriously, we require the consent of Congress for every dollar that is appropriated by the federal government.
I'm sure many Presidents would have loved to have the power to spend money without having it appropriated by Congress, but most Americans think Democracy is more important.

That is why we require that Congress and the President negotiate, compromise, and come to agreement before the President can spend money.

And guess what, for every year since the founding of our Republic, Congress and the President have come together and agreed on appropriations to spend money.  It's difficult, it's messy, it requires's called Democracy.

And if we require that consent of Congress to spend money, shouldn't we require the consent of Congress for rules that can put us in jail, take away our liberties, and take money out of our pockets?

Or do you still think those rules should be dictated by bureaucrats in Washington without the consent of Congress?

If your opponent argues:

So you oppose the Presidents regulation for __________ and ____________ (fill in the blanks) to protect _____ from _____.

Your Answer: I support reasonable regulations including regulations to protect the environment, and to protect the health and safety of workers and consumers.

What I don't support is the power of un-elected bureaucrats to make up and dictate those rules without the approval of Congress.

If your opponent argues:

It would be unconstitutional and violate the separation of powers to give Congress a veto power over federal regulations.

Your Answer:

That's why I am urging Congress to propose the "Regulation Freedom Amendment" to the U.S. Constitution to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress.

More than 900 state legislators, 6 governors, the National Taxpayers Union
the American Farm Bureau and legal experts like Boyden Gray a former Chief White House Counsel (for President George H.W. Bush), support it as well.

The Courts have given the President too much power to re-write federal laws without the consent of Congress. We need to restore the checks and balances on the abuse of Presidential power intended by the authors of our constitution.

But I guess you prefer to let the President and his appointees keep their power to issue edicts that change the meaning of laws without the consent of Congress.

And if you opponent argues:

Congress does not have the expertise to make a judgment on every technical regulation.  Drafting regulations should be left to the experts.

You answer:

The Regulation Freedom Amendment does leave the DRAFTING of regulations to regulators.  But, they must be APPROVED, by Congress.  No matter how technical, regulations, like laws that govern us, should, in the end, have the consent of elected officials that represent us.

And if your opponent argues:

Congress does not have the time to review every regulation.  They will get bogged down and nothing will happen.

Your answer:

The Regulation Freedom Amendment provides that if 1/4 of the House or Senate object in writing to a proposed federal regulation, it must be approved by a majority of both the House and Senate"

That way only the most controversial regulations will be subject to Congressional review, and non-controversial regulations can be issued in the way they are now.

But if a Regulation is controversial enough to merit the objection of 109 Members of the House or 25 Senators, then it deserves to be reviewed by Congress and should not go into effect unless, like a law, it is approved by majorities in both the House and Senate.

The House and Senate have committees and staffs that can review and study  proposed new regulations and refer them to the full House or Senate for a vote.

The House or Senate rules, if adopted by the necessary majority, could even provide that a package of regulations be submitted together for approval in one vote.

But regardless of how much work it requires, does Congress have anything more important to do than ensure that the rules that govern us have the consent of Congress?


"Whenever one quarter of the Members of the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate transmit to the President their written declaration of opposition to a proposed federal regulation, it shall require a majority vote of the House and Senate to adopt that regulation."

And if your opponent argues:

I support reforms to the regulatory process but I just don't think we need to re-write the Constitution.

Your answer:

A law passed by Congress can be weakened, repealed, or waived by a future pro-big government Congress or it could be challenged in Court.

A Constitutional Amendment, on the other hand, permanently restores checks and balances on the abuse of Presidential power.  It can't be repealed by a future Congress or overturned by a future Supreme Court majority that favors more unlimited Presidential power.

And if your opponent argues:

We can't get Congress to agree on anything, so we'll never get a 2/3 vote in both the House and the Senate, and a Constitutional Amendment will never happen.

Your answer:

Don't be so sure.

You may recall that the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, our Bill of Rights, to limit the abuse of power by the federal government, were proposed by 2/3 of the House and Senate because they knew that 2/3 of the states wanted a Bill of Rights.

In fact three times in American history, starting with the Bill of Rights and including the 17th and 22nd Amendments for popular election of Senators and Presidential term limits, pressure from the states has helped force Congress to propose Amendments that states wanted.

So 12 of the 27 Amendments to our Constitution were proposed with the help of pressure from the states.

Today there are many Republicans and Democrats in at least 34, 2/3, of the states who think that decisions about how their states are governed should be determined by elected officials, not by bureaucrats in Washington.

Polls show that by 2-1 margins voters favor a Regulation Freedom Amendment to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress.

If state legislators and governors in at least 34 states along with supporters in Congress and an overwhelming majority of the public demand that Congress propose the exact same Amendment, Congress might very well be persuaded to propose that Amendment.

19 state legislative chambers have already passed Resolutions urging Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment to require that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress.

Will you join with us in urging that Congress end "regulation without representation" or do you want to let regulators keep their power to dictate without the consent of Congress?

For more information and answers to more questions you are welcome to contact me.

Roman Buhler
The Madison Coalition
202 255 5000

Friday, September 9, 2016

CIA Says Israel Will Cease To Exist In 20 Years

From:  Your News Wire

Posted on February 23, 2016 by Sean Adl-Tabatabai in Middle East, News //

The CIA say that an “inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region. reports:
The study, which has been made available only to a certain number of individuals, further forecasts the return of all Palestinian refugees to the occupied territories, and the exodus of two million Israeli – who would move to the US in the next fifteen years.

“There is over 500,000 Israelis with American passports and more than 300,000 living in the area of just California,” International lawyer Franklin Lamb said in an interview with Press TV on Friday, adding that those who do not have American or western passport, have already applied for them.