Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

State department: not building the Keystone XL pipeline could increase greenhouse gas emissions

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Not building the 875-mile Keystone XL Pipeline could result in the release of up to 42 percent more greenhouse gases than would be released by building it, according to the State Department.

Not building the pipeline “is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the [Canadian] oil sands or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States,” the department noted in a long-awaited environmental report released January 31st.

But the “No Build” option is likely to result in an increased number of oil spills, six more deaths annually, and up to 42 percent higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the State Department concluded.

The proposed 36-inch pipeline would transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day from western Canada through the Bakken oil fields of Montana and South Dakota before connecting to an existing pipeline in Nebraska on its way to Gulf Coast refineries.

The project will create an estimated 42,100 jobs and add $3.4 billion to the U.S. economy.

This report follows last week’s report showing that the pipeline would have no major environmental impact.

Excerpt:

The long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared a major hurdle toward approval Friday, a serious blow to environmentalists’ hopes that President Barack Obama will block the controversial project running more than 1,000 miles from Canada through the heart of the U.S.

The State Department reported no major environmental objections to the proposed $7 billion pipeline, which has become a symbol of the political debate over climate change. Republicans and some oil- and gas-producing states in the U.S. — as well as Canada’s minister of natural resources — cheered the report, but it further rankled environmentalists already at odds with Obama and his energy policy.

Now the State Department is one of the most liberal departments in the government. Unfortunately, this has not appeased the great climate science experts in Hollywood, who donate so much money to Democrat election campaigns. So long as the money keeps flowing from the high school drop-out celebrities, don’t expect this pipeline to get built. For the Democrats, it’s all about staying in power.

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Wisconsin judge defends free speech rights of conservative groups against Democrat fascists

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

From the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Chalk up a big victory for the First Amendment. On Friday a Wisconsin judge struck a major blow for free political speech when he quashed subpoenas to conservative groups and ordered the return of property to the targets of a so-called John Doe campaign-finance probe.

John Doe probes operate much like grand juries, allowing prosecutors to issue subpoenas and conduct searches while gag orders require the targets to keep quiet. We wrote about the kitchen-sink subpoenas and morning raids by special prosecutor Francis Schmitz that targeted dozens of conservative groups that participated in the battle to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker (“Wisconsin Political Speech Raid,” Nov. 16, 2013).

Now we learn that Judge Gregory A. Peterson ruled on Friday that at least some of those subpoenas were improper. They “do not show probable cause that the moving parties committed any violations of the campaign finance laws,” he wrote. His opinion remains under seal but we obtained a copy.

The quashed subpoenas were sent to Friends of Scott Walker, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Inc., the Wisconsin Club for Growth, and Citizens for a Strong America, as well as their officers and directors. Judge Peterson’s order doesn’t apply to other subpoena targets, but they can presumably get the same result if they file a motion with the judge and have a similar factual basis.

[...]“There is no evidence of express advocacy” and therefore “the subpoenas fail to show probable cause that a crime was committed,” Judge Peterson wrote. Even “the State is not claiming that any of the independent organizations expressly advocated” for the election of Mr. Walker or his opponent, he added. Instead they did “issue advocacy,” which focuses on specific political issues.

This means that prosecutors essentially invented without evidence the possibility of criminal behavior to justify the subpoenas and their thuggish tactics. At least three targets had their homes raided at dawn, with police turning over belongings, seizing computers and files, and even barring phone calls.

The judge’s order vindicates our suspicion that the John Doe probe is a political operation intended to shut up Mr. Walker’s allies as he seeks re-election this year. No one has taken public credit for appointing the special prosecutor, but we know the probe began in the office of Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Bruce Landgraf.

Charlie Sykes, the famous Wisconsin-based radio talk show host, had more to say about it on Right Wisconsin.

He writes:

The IRS scandal — which is ongoing — is not that Tea Party groups may have engaged in political activities; it is the abuse of government power to target, harass, and intimidate political opponents. It involves singling out conservative Tea Party groups for special scrutiny and harassment if they sought tax exempt status. 

But that pales next to the Doe, which targeted dozens of conservative groups and individuals and subjected them to criminal investigations. Prosecutors cast a breathtakingly wide net –- 29 separate groups, including Wisconsin Club for Growth, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), the League of American Voters, Wisconsin Family Action, Americans for Prosperity, American Crossroads, and the Republican Governors Association, along with other innocent bystanders.

In the IRS scandal, Tea Party groups were threatened with the denial of tax exempt status and subject to legal and financial inconvenience. In Wisconsin, conservatives were threatened with imprisonment.

[...]The anti-Walker probe included raiding the homes of targeted activists, seizing their private correspondence, phones, and computers – including the computers, phones, and emails of their spouses and other family members. Under the Doe’s draconian gag orders, conservatives subjected to such raids were threatened with imprisonment if they spoke about it. And because the probe was secret, the prosecutors could not be held accountable for their conduct. 

[...]So, what is the motivation/agenda behind the witch-hunt?  The office of Milwaukee Democrat district attorney, John Chisolm, presided over a three-year-old long John Doe aimed at Scott Walker that resulted in charges only against a handful of functionaries. Dozens of members of Chisholm’s office signed Walker recall petitions; the chief investigator had a recall sign in his front yard, and some of Chisolm’s aides reportedly were panting at the prospect of charging Walker himself.  Their disappointment has been palpable.

Sources describe deputies Bruce Landgraf and David Robles as particularly vindictive and aggressive in pursuing the new probe.

I just finished reading Governor Scott Walker’s new book about his effort to limit public sector unions in Wisconsin, and their (failed) effort to recall him. I believe this man has what it takes to be President one day. I believe in experience, and Walker is getting a lot of experience passing bold, innovative reforms as governor of Wisconsin. He could. Go. All. The. Way.

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One-third of recent college graduates say they should have skipped college and gone to work

From Forbes magazine, a word of caution to young people, especially to young men who intend to marry and have children.

Excerpt:

Here’s an indication of how burdensome student loans have become: About one-third of millennials say they would have been better off working, instead of going to college and paying tuition.

That’s according to a new Wells Fargo study which surveyed 1,414 millennials between the ages of 22 and 32. More than half of them financed their education through student loans, and many say the if they had $10,000 the “first thing” they’d do is pay down their student loan or credit card debt.

That’s no surprise when you consider student borrowing topped the $100 billion threshold for the first time in 2010, and total outstanding loans exceeded $1 trillion for the first time in 2011.  Student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in the U.S. which stands at about $798 billion.

The problem sometimes is that not all college educations are worth their cost since they can’t guarantee a high-paying job to help pay off that student debt. A report from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys says the rising student debt problem can have a bad impact on the economy. Even in the best of economic times when jobs are plentiful, young people with considerable debt burdens end up delaying life-cycle events such as buying a car, purchasing a home, getting married and having children.

There’s nothing wrong with a good education in a trade school or community college.

The actual number for outstanding student loan debt is about $600 billion, and it’s gone up a lot under Obama.

Excerpt:

The outstanding balance for all of the direct student loans the federal government has issued topped $600 billion in April, according to newly released data from the U.S. Treasury.

The total balance hit $600.457 billion by the end of April, says the Treasury, up from $592.142 billion at the end of March.

The Federal Direct Student Loan Program already has built-in debt forgiveness plans for people who end up earning low incomes or for those who entered lines of work preferred by the government.

In January 2009, when Obama was inaugurated, the balance was $119.803 billion and has since increased more than fivefold.

The $480.654 billion increase since January 2009 in what is owed to the Treasury in direct student loans represents a climb of about 250 percent in just over four years.

Before Obama’s first term, federally guaranteed student loans were made both by the government directly and by private lenders using their own capital through what was called the Federal Family Education Loan program. Language inserted into the the Obamacare law signed in March 2010, however, abolished the latter type of federally guaranteed student loan, giving the U.S. Treasury a monopoly over those loans.

As the Congressional Research Service has described it, this Obamacare provision made the U.S. Treasury the exclusive “banker” for federally guaranteed student loans. Thus, U.S. taxpayers essentially own these loans.

The troubling thing is that since the schools have spent all the time teaching children about global warming and the proper use of contraceptives, it’s unlikely that they will be able to find real jobs in order to pay off their loans. They aren’t learning how to manage money in school, and parents aren’t taking the responsibility to teach kids about money at home. The sad thing is that they have been taught by their teachers to keep voting for more politicization of education and more government spending on fashionable causes. But at least they feel superior about it. For now.

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State Department report finds that Keystone XL pipeline is safe for the environment

The Heritage Foundation reports.

Excerpt: (links removed)

In Washington, a presidential Administration releases news it doesn’t like at 5 p.m. on Fridays. So it pays to pay attention when everyone is leaving work for the weekend.

Late last Friday, the State Department released a positive environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama has been delaying this pipeline—which would carry oil from Canada to refineries in Texas—for more than three years.

The delay has meant that America is still waiting on an additional 700,000 to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from a close ally, not to mention 179,000 American jobs.

Why has this taken so long, when all environmental reports thus far have been positive? Heritage’s Nicolas Loris, the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow, explains:

Given the need for jobs and more oil on the global market to offset high prices, the permit application had been moving along positively with bipartisan support without much attention until environmental activists made blocking the Keystone XL pipeline their issue to rally around for 2011. Although President Obama and the Department of State (DOS) said they’d make a decision at the end of 2011, they ultimately catered to a narrow set of special interests, punting the decision until after the 2012 elections.

The State Department, which is overseeing the pipeline because it crosses a U.S. border, has “already conducted a thorough, three-year environmental review with multiple comment periods,” Loris reported last year.

The review has been comprehensive:

DOS studied and addressed risk to soil, wetlands, water resources, vegetation, fish, wildlife, and endangered species. They concluded that the construction of the pipeline would pose minimal environmental risk. Keystone XL also met 57 specific pipeline safety standard requirements created by DOS and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

This confirms the previous assessment done by the Nebraska government, which concluded that the Keystone XL pipeline was safe for Nebraska’s environment as well.

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How much did taxpayers lose in Obama’s GM bailout?

Investors Business Daily does the math on the GM bailout.

Excerpt:

Sale of the U.S. government’s stake in General Motors Corp. ends a sorry saga. Not only were Americans lied to about the costs, but the bailout underscores why replacing market forces with federal bailouts doesn’t work.

The Obama administration says it will unload 200 million shares — or about 40% of its holdings — back to GM right away. The rest, 300 million shares, are to be sold by March 2014.

[...]Well, GM on Wednesday said it will buy back the 200 million share government stake for $5.5 billion, or $27.50 a share.

The break-even point on the government’s total holdings was $53 a share. But now, with $20.9 billion in taxpayer funds left to pay off from 300 million shares, the break-even point has risen to $69.72 a share.

In other words, at current prices, taxpayers are sitting with a loss of 61%, or nearly $15 billion, on their investment.

So where did the money go, then?

According to a study last summer by the Heritage Foundation, the $80 billion auto bailout gave the UAW and its members nearly $27 billion due to the fact that GM couldn’t shed its outrageously expensive labor contracts, something it could have done in a normal bankruptcy.

As such, Obama didn’t bail out the auto industry; he bailed out the unions. Without the unions’ added costs, taxpayers would have owed nothing.

It’s not hard to see how this happened. The UAW and its affiliates give tens of millions of dollars each election cycle, almost entirely to Democrats.

This union influence explains why Obama’s auto czars, Steve Rattner and Ron Bloom, arranged a government bankruptcy for GM that flew in the face of hundreds of years of bankruptcy law and violated investor rights.

Bondholders took huge losses, while unions got a big chunk of ownership in GM stock that they weren’t legally entitled to.

In a shocking display of favoritism and blatant unfairness, GM’s union workers kept their pensions, while nonunion workers at GM spin-off Delphi lost theirs.

Those unions paid Obama back by working hard to get him re-elected. That’s how socialism works.

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