Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Energy & Power

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Democrats plan tough votes for Republicans on Keystone pipeline bill

The Hill looks at some of the amendments Democrats plan on putting before the Senate when the Republicans bring up their bill that would force the federal government to do TransCanada’s bidding.

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A pipeline and a pie in the sky

New York Times columnist Timothy Egan chastises the Republican-controlled Congress for doing the bidding of a foreign oil giant while praising California’s Jerry Brown for getting high speed rail and improvements to water infrastructure off the drawing board.

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Most remaining fossil fuels need to stay in the ground to avoid dangerous pollution levels

New research by University College London, published in the journal Nature, concludes that humanity must keep most of the remaining known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to avoid catastrophic pollution levels. Drilling in the Arctic will need to be outlawed, and coal burning phased out as much as possible.

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Obama vows to veto Republicans’ Keystone XL grab as showdown looms

The Globe and Mail (our northern neighbor’s newspaper of record) offers a Canadian perspective on the latest developments in the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline, which NPI strongly opposes. Republicans in Congress are trying to move a bill that would give TransCanada the authority to build the pipeline. Native American tribes view it as an assault on their sovereignty; one tribe has called a previous incarnation of the legislation an act of war.


We are outraged by the lack of intergovernmental cooperation.. We are a sovereign nation and we are not being treated as such. We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.

— Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Cyril Scott, condemning the U.S. House’s vote to authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

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UW professor seeks money to study pollution from coal trains in Whatcom County


Professor Dan Jaffe finds funding outside of regular research channels to contribute to the environmental review of the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, which would ship 48 million tons of coal a year if approved.

Chat Transcript

President Barack Obama chides CBS’ Major Garrett: You don’t need to be the mouthpiece of congressional Republicans

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m happy to engage Republicans with additional ideas for how we can enhance that. I should note that our clean energy production is booming as well. And so Keystone I just consider as one small aspect of a broader trend that’s really positive for the American people. And let’s see — okay, medical device tax. I’ve already answered the question. We are going to take a look at whatever ideas — let me take a look comprehensively at the ideas that they present. Let’s give them time to tell me. I’d rather hear it from them than from you.

CBS’ MAJOR GARRETT: For example —


CBS’ MAJOR GARRETT: I’m just telling you what they said.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Conceivably, I could just cancel my meeting on Friday because I’ve heard everything from you. I think I’d rather let Mitch McConnell —

CBS’ MAJOR GARRETT:  I just asked if it was a line you couldn’t cross.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’d rather hear from Mitch McConnell and John Boehner what ideas they’d like to pursue, and we’ll have a conversation with them on that.

— Exchange between CBS’ White House correspondent Major Garrett and President Barack Obama at post-election press conference at the White House.

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B.P. may be fined up to $18 billion for spill in gulf

A federal judge has ruled that oil giant British Petroleum bears the majority of the blame for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Disaster, finding the company’s conduct to be grossly negligent. As a consequence, the company may have to pay up to $18 billion in new penalties for violating the Clean Water Act. BP executives have vowed to appeal, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “The court’s finding will ensure that the company is held fully accountable for its recklessness.”

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Microsoft aims to be greener, drops ALEC membership

CNET’s Dana Kerr reports that “the tech giant [has pulled out] of the conservative lobbying group that is known to have pushed legislation to block renewable energy development.” (Not to mention other terrible ideas – like the no consequences for opening fire law adopted by Florida and other states).


The repeal of the carbon price, whilst a sad day for Australia’s history books, provides an opportunity for the people of Australia to stand up and take back the power to determine the future of our country.

—’s Blair Palese: A dark day for Australia is our rallying call

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Conservatives in Australia push through repeal of carbon tax

Tony Abbott’s Conservative-led government in Australia has voted to repeal the carbon tax that the country has had in place for around a decade, giving Australia the very unfortunate and sad distinction of becoming the first developed country to go backwards on climate action.



Fracking, I once thought, was something that happened to other people, not mine. Hydraulic fracturing may be confined to the shale regions of the country, but the wider effects of the natural gas boom, and the pipelines being built to support it, include the feverish development of wilderness and private property.

— Ann Neumann: A pipeline threatens our family land (The New York Times)


In Boston, we have the more real-estate value at risk [to rising sea levels] than any American city besides New Orleans, Miami, and New York. And we’ve seen what’s happened there [due to storm surges and flooding]. I don’t see increasing the risk of that for about the same number of jobs it takes to build and run a medium-sized mall.

— Tedd Saunders, who runs a chain of hotels headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, explaining why he opposes the Keystone XL pipeline project (via Businessweek’s Silicon Valley’s elite comes out against the Keystone XL pipeline).

Video Clip

The Ford Motor Company has produced a brilliant rejoinder to the widely-disliked ad created by General Motors’ Cadillac division for the 2014 Super Bowl. In that ad (“Poolside“), a middle age white male portrayed by Neal McDonough glorifies work at the expense of leisure time before driving away in a Cadillac ELR.

In Ford’s spot, the founder of Detroit Dirt, Pashon Murray (who’s portraying herself!), explains that many of us feel we have a higher calling – to leave the world a better place than we found it – before getting into a Ford C-MAX hybrid. It’s an incredibly well-done parody, and worth watching. (Via AdWeek).

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Coal miners say they were surveilled, harassed after making safety complaints

The Huffington Post chronicles the legal trouble that miners like Kentuckian Reuben Shemwell have found themselves in after filing safety discrimination complaints with federal regulators. Shemwell, a man of principle and courage, has continued to identify health and safety concerns at the mine where he works, operated by Armstrong Coal Company.

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Greenpeace Canada: The fallout from the Fukushima disaster, three years later

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Yesterday, hundreds of progressive students were arrested in front of the White House in what advocacy journalists say was one of the largest youth sit-ins in support of our environment in a generation. Amy Goodman has more.

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Newspapers across America fail to identify wind power critic as hired gun for oil industry

Media Matters takes note of all of the newspapers that ran a cookie-cutter column critical of tax credits for wind energy written by the head of a fossil fuel industry front group without disclosing the conflict of interest.

GE wind turbines in California

A colorful and peaceful animation of a wind farm nestled in the mountains of Tehachapi, California. The turbines were manufactured by General Electric.

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Thirteen major clean energy breakthroughs of 2013

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A synopsis of Divided by Coal (click to watch):

Bellingham, Washington is at the heart of an intense battle over plans to build North America’s largest coal exporting facility at Cherry Point, 15 miles north of the city. This mini-doc was shot on October 27th at Squalicum High School in Bellingham during the first public scoping session. Almost 2,000 Whatcom County residents showed up to speak about the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, which, at capacity, would ship close to fifty million tons of coal every year, primarily to China.