Posts Tagged ‘Keystone XL pipeline’

House approves shale plan

Posted on: February 17th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments

A bill designed to encourage oil shale development cruised through the House on Thursday evening. But a wind production tax credit didn’t fly, and now layoffs and abandoned projects loom.

The Republican-controlled House approved U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn’s bill to increase oil shale development on public lands in addition to plans to drill onshore in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore in the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico waters. But the representatives didn’t stop there. They also voted to try to force the approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

The energy package passed 237-197 with 21 Democrats joining the GOP majority and an equal number of Republicans siding with the minority. It will now go to the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Oil shale is a commercially unproven commodity. It requires immense quantities of water and energy to heat the rock, which ushered in what became known as “Black Sunday” in 1982 when ExxonMobil pulled the plug on a huge oil shale operation in western Colorado that left the region in disarray.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, tucked Lamborn’s oil shale bill into a broader transportation package, most of which hasn’t made it out of the House. Despite efforts over the last century that failed to make oil shale profitable, along with a Congressional Budget Office report that projects oil shale leases will total less than $100,000 annually over the next decade, Boehner has said energy drilling will fund his $260 billion transit package. The Congressional Budget Office report, however, projected Boehner’s bill would, over 10 years, leave the highway trust fund $78 billion in the red.

Shell in-situ oil shale research project in Colorado's Rio Blanco County (USGS photo).

“Oil shale will not fund a single road or bridge repair,” said Matt Garrington, the Colorado-based deputy director of the Checks and Balances Project. “I’m afraid the Speaker and Rep. Lamborn have sold Congress on a plan that will actually increase the national deficit. Oil shale is a failed resource which will generate zero revenues, and Americans will have to pay the price.”

Whereas Lamborn’s bill authorizes up to 2 million acres of public land for oil shale exploration in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, the Bureau of Land Management recommends a half million acres be set aside for leasing.

U.S. Reps. Diane DeGette and Jared Polis, D-Colorado, argued against Lamborn’s proposal, saying that Coloradans oppose oil shale leases since they would hurt the state’s agriculture and recreation economy by depleting limited water resources and allowing oil companies to lock away more public land at fire-sale prices. The last time oil shale production went bust in Colorado, $85 million in annual payroll disappeared in Garfield and Mesa counties over two years, DeGette said on the floor.

“Shell Corporation estimates it could be 2020 before a company could be ready to develop a federal oil shale lease,” DeGette said. “We need real solutions for funding our nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure. Using H.R. 3408 as a funding source for the surface transportation reauthorization is not a good faith effort to create the jobs Americans so desperately need.”

Polis introduced an amendment to strike the oil shale legislation from the highway bill but it failed.

Indeed, it was a good week in Congress for fossil fuels and a bad one for renewable energy.

An extension of the wind production tax credit was initially folded into an earlier version of a plan to extend the nation’s payroll-tax cut and unemployment insurance bill. But when a deal was reached Thursday, the wind production tax credit was left out. All of Colorado’s congressional delegation except Lamborn support the extension of the wind tax credit, which debuted in 1992.

The wind power tax credits could still be tied to other bills or come as stand-alone legislation.

“Colorado will suffer tremendous economic dislocation if the wind production tax credit is not renewed on a timely basis this year because our state has become a hub for wind industry manufacturing,” said Craig Cox, executive director of Interwest Energy Alliance. “Colorado is also the nation’s eighth-largest generator of wind power and hosts the world’s leading national laboratory in wind and other renewable energy technologies. … If Congress fails to renew the production tax credit on a timely basis, many of Colorado’s 5,000-plus wind industry jobs are at risk, along with tens of thousands of jobs nationally. We have developed a truly American industry in the past five years, with over 60 percent of a typical wind turbine’s components manufactured right here in the United States. Failing to renew the production tax credit puts these jobs, and America’s international competitiveness, at risk.”

Obama’s push for ‘clean energy’ elicits partisan reaction from Colorado lawmakers

Posted on: January 25th, 2012 by The American Independent 1 Comment

President Obama’s call to increase domestic energy production Tuesday received a rosy reception from Colorado’s lefty lawmakers but was all but ignored by its conservative congressional delegation still smarting from the commander-in-chief’s recent blocking of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. (more…)

On Florida stump, Gingrich calls Obama a ‘Saul Alinsky radical,’ pledges to eliminate Agenda 21

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by The American Independent 1 Comment

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in Sarasota, Fla. (FLORIDA INDEPENDENT/Cooper Levey-Baker)

Updated Jan. 25, 9:20 a.m., with audio clip.

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich accused President Obama of being a “Saul Alinsky radical” who works to “appease the Taliban” at a campaign rally held in a Sarasota airplane hangar today. (more…)

At Florida GOP debate candidates talk Big Sugar, offshore drilling

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by The American Independent 2 Comments

The four remaining GOP presidential candidates took the stage at the University of South Florida last night, to debate several issues important to Florida voters. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich tangled throughout the debate, while Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were often reduced to supporting roles. (more…)

Obama rejects fast-tracked Keystone XL pipeline, Colorado lawmakers react

Posted on: January 19th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments

The Keystone pipeline under construction near Yankton, S.D., July 17, 2009 (source: Flickr/South Dakota Tar Sands Pipelines)

President Barack Obama on Wednesday agreed with a U.S. State Department recommendation not to fast track the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would move tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast of Texas. That decision predictably drew mixed reviews from Colorado’s congressional delegation and praise from the state’s conservation community. (more…)

DeGette expresses ‘extraordinary frustration’ as House leaders reject payroll tax deal

Posted on: December 21st, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

Republican Colorado congressional members joined their House colleagues today in blaming the Senate for failing to pass a long-term extension of unemployment benefits and a payroll tax break, but senior Denver Democrat Diana DeGette scoffed at that notion on Tuesday.

“Today I join the American people in their extraordinary frustration over the leadership of the House yet again creating a politically motivated crisis and placing the financial security of millions of American families in jeopardy,” DeGette said in a statement.

The U.S. Senate on Saturday overwhelmingly (89-10) passed a two-month extension that the House rejected 229-193 on Tuesday, with House Speaker John Boehner and the conservative Republican caucus insisting on a one-year extension. House and Senate Democrats are refusing to play ball.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo.

“The Senate was in such a rush to get out of town and start their vacations that they didn’t complete their work and slapped together another stopgap, short-term measure that will do nothing to create the certainty that this economy needs to expand and to create jobs,” Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman said in a release.

“Congress can’t even agree on a tax cut they all agree with,” said Joe Miklosi, a Democrat running for Coffman’s 6th Congressional District seat. “Senate Republicans and Democrats managed to negotiate a reasonable compromise and it’s unacceptable that House Republicans continue the relentless partisan bickering. The consequences of a failure to act will have major economic repercussions.”

The only silver lining for some Democrats and members of Colorado’s conservation community is that a provision compelling President Obama to fast track a decision on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline is also caught up in the congressional stalemate. Coffman this morning was blasted by environmental groups for supporting the provision.

Colorado activists wearing Santa hats delivered coal and sang coal carols at Coffman’s Lone Tree office. They accused Coffman of pandering to energy interests, which they say have contributed more than $145,000 to his re-election campaign.

“The House brings shame on itself when its members take tens of millions in big oil money and then do the industry’s bidding,” 350.org founder Bill McKibben said in a release. “Keystone XL creates no net jobs and pours carbon into the atmosphere. That’s why millions across the country opposed it. Its only beneficiaries are the fossil fuel industry and the politicians they support.”

The Keystone XL provision was seen as sweetener in the deal to get House Republicans to vote for the payroll tax break, but apparently it wasn’t enough to overcome reservations about the length of the deal. But DeGette said that the Senate deal is the best that can be hoped for in the current political climate.

“While a two-month extension is far from ideal, given the intransigence that has marked this year in Congress, and the difficult negotiations that have already taken place on this bill, it is clear more time is needed to develop an effective year-long solution,” DeGette said.

“This short-term extension would allow time for more negotiation without forcing American families to endure a tax hike or the devastating consequences of losing their unemployment benefits.”

Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn also tried to blame the Senate: “I urge my Democrat colleagues in the Senate to return to Washington and work with the House on a bill to give a full year tax break to American families. The House stands ready to get the job done and work through the holidays, just as many other Americans are doing. We are committed to giving middle class families a tax cut for a full year as the President has requested.”

But even some Senate Republicans are calling out their counterparts in the House.

“It is harming the Republican Party. It is harming the view, if it’s possible anymore, of the American people about Congress,” Arizona Sen. John McCain told CNN. “And we’ve got to get this thing resolved and with the realization that the payroll tax cut must remain in effect.”

House Republican leaders want Senate Democrats to return to Washington and appoint conferees to negotiate a deal with the House.

“We believe there is common ground on this issue and we can provide some certainty in a full year’s worth of tax relief for the working taxpayers of this country,” House Republican Leader Eric Cantor said in a release. “Now it’s up to [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid, because the bill is back in the Senate.”

DeGette urged Reid to do the same thing:

“I had no choice but to vote against the politically motivated motion to go to conference,” she said in a statement. “However, given the dire consequences for the American people, I must now strongly urge … Reid to appoint conferees and work toward a common-sense solution for our nation before Jan. 1. I stand ready to vote at any time to help the millions of Americans who rely upon these critical funds.”

Approved GOP House bill extends payroll tax cuts, reduces unemployment compensation

Posted on: December 14th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

The GOP-sponsored “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act,” which extends payroll tax cuts and extends but reduces unemployment benefits through 2012, passed in the U.S. House Tuesday night, but it will not pass in the Senate. (more…)

Getting to know Colorado congressional candidate Tisha Casida

Posted on: December 1st, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

Tisha Casida

Tisha Casida is a 29-year-old southern Colorado-bred conservative. The Keystone XL Pipeline, she suggests, is safer and probably better for the environment than sending oil tankers across the Atlantic. The country’s conflict over carbon dioxide, she hints, may be as much a waste of time as the war on drugs. She makes no bones that she is disappointed in her congressman, Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), because he hasn’t demonstrated leadership on a few crucial issues, like speaking out against the Patriot Act.

So she is taking him on in 2012.

Even though Casida announced her candidacy at the Historic Federal Building in Pueblo on May 13, there’s a good chance you still haven’t heard of her. Political observers in the 3rd Congressional District all know the name of the other congressional candidate in the area, Sal Pace, a Democrat. But as an unaffiliated candidate, Casida doesn’t get the same attention. Her campaign is organic and in its infancy, much like her business, That’s Natural!, which promotes sustainable agriculture. Casida also has a real estate license and she publishes The Good American Post.

Despite the obstacles, Casida is getting noticed. Last month the Liberty Candidates endorsed her campaign. Former Libertarian presidential nominee and constitutional scholar Michael Badnarik recently joined her team of about ten. Several of her staffers campaigned for Ron Paul in the past.

She is not married but was once. “I was married at one time to a young man in the military and after he came back from Iraq, it was apparent that his emotional state would not allow for us to continue a meaningful relationship,” Casida told The Colorado Independent in an email. “It was devastating, and that has of course impacted my love for our troops as well as a desire to have them fighting only Constitutional wars.”

She has never run for office before. She grew up on a farm in Vineland, Colo., — she was baptized in the Arkansas River — and she says she simply wants to “represent the people who live here.”

In a recent e-mail interview with The Colorado Independent, Casida explained herself and her views.

Q. As a conservative, how is Scott Tipton failing to meet the expectations you have for the position?
A. As a representative, I expect Scott Tipton to unequivocally stand against intrusions into the American people’s rights and pocketbooks. I believe he is doing a good job of walking the party line and voting what some would call “conservative,” however he is not:
1. Speaking out against the Federal Reserve System and its effects on the nation’s currency
2. Speaking out against the Patriot Act
3. Speaking out against the National Defense Authorization Act

Q. Would you work to weaken the powers of the Environmental Protection Agency as other conservatives in Congress are doing?
A. Yes. I do not believe the EPA is doing a good job of protecting the environment – most of what they are doing is causing problems for businesses. The concept of environmental protection must be taken to a state and local level in order for such an agency to remain true to its mission and work with the people who are impacted by rules and regulations.

Q. Do you support local decision-making on all issues?
A. Yes, making decisions at a local level allows for people closer to the issues to be more involved in the processes. Making environmental decisions closer to home also allow for representatives and officials to remain transparent and accountable. It is easier to go to Denver to talk to someone than it is to go to Washington, D.C. I am not going to make a blanket statement about all federal standards – I am sure some are good and some make no sense – the fact is that people closer to Colorado, including environmentalists and leadership in Colorado – are more capable of making decisions for environmental standards for Colorado. As a matter of fact, holding decision-making and implementation closer to Colorado will likely be good for our local economies. Instead of sending money to Washington, D.C., we can keep it closer to home.

Q. What about the war on drugs? Do you support the ability of states to legalize medical marijuana?
A. The drug war is a complete fallacy and is doing nothing to stop drug use. If people are apt to use drugs, no legislation or war will stop them. You cannot legislate morality or behavior. I absolutely support the ability of states to legalize medical marijuana. As a matter of fact, it is incredibly beneficial to local economies. Constitutionally speaking, marijuana growth and use is not a federal issue at all. There is nothing stopping people from growing or using a substance, which is in effect, a plant.

Q. Given your interest in sustainable agriculture and organic foods, do you have an opinion on the raw milk raids occurring across the country?
A. I believe that organic and raw foods are products that have existed on the planet for thousands of years (maybe more) and there is no reason that federal agents should be accosting people for their choices to consume these foods. Government cannot protect us from ourselves. After being exposed to pesticides as a child and becoming ill, I went on an organic diet, that I continue to this day, in an effort to de-toxify my system. I am also a consumer of raw milk, and believe that it has many health benefits. My grandmother drank “raw milk” as a child – they called it “milk.” People have the right to consume foods and nutritional supplements that they feel are beneficial to them. Every action of a human being involves some risk, there is no way to regulate every action that may be dangerous to our own well-being. That is where free will and personal responsibility come in to play.

Q. How concerned are you about fracking?
A. It depends on the situation. I can understand both sides of this issue, and I think that it is dependent upon the area, the people, the company, and the practices – each of these variables plays a part – in some cases I believe it can be performed responsibly. In other cases, I am sure that these practices are abused. I am most concerned about the transparency of the methods and practices used, especially in instances where the public is a part of the stakeholders.

Q. Should drillers be required to reveal what is in their fracking fluids or should that be proprietary?
A. Absolutely, I believe that they should be required to reveal what is in the fluids because these fluids are becoming a part of the ecosystem.

Q. Do you support the Keystone XL Pipeline?
A. Yes. Pipelines run through the entire U.S. Although there are periodic problems with these pipelines, they have an incredible safety track record. This project would provide jobs, growth, and energy independence. From an ecological standpoint, don’t you think it is safer and less intrusive on the environment to pump oil from Canada versus loading it in tankers and trucking it across the ocean?

Q. Do you believe humans cause climate change?
A. No, I believe the climate change we are seeing is from changes in the earth itself; however, there are many pollutants other than CO2 that are incredibly dangerous to the environment and people’s health that should be mitigated – these chemicals should be the focus. People and the private sector need to step up to the task, because the federal government is doing a terrible job at it. We should also never act in fear – to my sadness, it is a tactic too often used from both “the right” and “the left” to push the American people into making decisions that intrude upon our individual liberties. Regulating CO2 is dangerous – making a fair marketplace where renewable energy can compete on the same playing ground as other types of energy is smart.

Q. Where do you stand on abortion?
A. As a female I cherish the ability to give life and find the current statistics concerning abortion horrifying. Nonetheless, the federal government can never tell a woman what to do with her body. We cannot legislate morality – instead of picketing at places like Planned Parenthood, we should get involved in our communities and help these young women so that such a horrible choice would never have to be made in the first place. Our country has a moral problem when it comes to this issue – the government can’t fix it, but we can.

Q. Which current presidential candidate best reflects your views?
A. Ron Paul – he is consistent, he is fiscally conservative and arguably more socially liberal, and he loves the people of this country. He is a statesman, a representative, someone who does not take the American people’s money and abuse it. He is humble, reflective, and a good person with integrity. We need people in D.C. who are representatives and not politicians; he best reflects that in my mind.

Q. Are you a Liberty candidate or an Independent? Do you really think you have a chance of beating the big party candidates?
A. That is up for whoever wants to define either of those – I am Tisha Casida, and people are free to label me based on their world views and frameworks – it differs for everyone. I absolutely have a chance – that is the only reason I am running – to win. People’s anger and resentment at the parties, and politicians in general, will make 2012 a unique election year. Colorado has an equal number of “Independent” voters to the two parties, and we have more and more people thinking that way every day.