TransCanada Hoping Bad Trade Deal Will Make Keystone XL A Reality

TransCanada is suing the U.S. government for blocking the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  The company argued in their federal court filings that President Obama had overstepped his Constitutional powers in putting the brakes on the project.

The company is seeking $15 billion in damages from the federal government in a lawsuit brought under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

This move by TransCanada was entirely predictable, as I wrote back in May 2013:

Rice University’s Baker Institute and the Academic Cover It Provides for Fossil Fuel Interests

When thinking about influential academic policy think tanks, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy doesn’t necessarily come first to mind. Slowly and steadily, however, the institute has turned into one of the nation’s most powerful outfits. In the 2009 “Global Think Tank Index Report,” a comprehensive yearly ranking by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Society’s Program, the institute was ranked 37th amongst top US think tanks. By last year’s rankings, it was up to number 18. Significantly, on the specific list Top Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks, the institute was already ranked 4th in the country.

Boasting $9.9 million in revenue in 2015 alone, the institute is located in the heart of Rice’s campus, housed in an impressive redbrick columned edifice that mixes classic beaux arts elements and byzantine ornamentation.

2015 Ranked As Second Hottest Year On Record in US

According to the numbers, 2015 ranked as the second hottest year on record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) said that the average temperature in the United States for 2015 was 54.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is only 1.1 degrees lower than the highest average temperatures on record for the year 2012.

2015 marked the 19th straight year that average temperatures in the United States surpassed the average temperatures for the 20th century.

Porter Ranch Methane Leak: Business As Usual Leads to State of Emergency

The ongoing Aliso Canyon methane leak in California — which finally earned a declaration of a state of emergency by Governor Jerry Brown — is a repeat of a story we have seen many times before.

A history of lax oversight by state regulators. Loopholes in weak regulations allowing for corporate cost cutting despite known risks. The revolving door between the oil and gas industry and regulatory agencies that oversee the industry. And politicians who fill their campaign coffers with industry donations.

The real emergency is that until this system changes, the Porter Ranch methane leak disaster in California will just be one more in a series of such events which could have been prevented with basic common sense and safety measures. 

Watch this video for more information:

California Finally Declares State Of Emergency Over Methane Leak That Forced Evacuation Of Thousands

Methane first started leaking from Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon storage facility on October 23, two and a half months ago.

More than 2,300 homes have been evacuated in nearby Porter Ranch, a suburb of Los Angeles, and many more people are reportedly applying for help relocating after suffering nosebleeds, rashes, headaches and other serious health impacts due to the gas leak and the sulfuric stench permeating their home town.

DeSmog first reported on the Aliso Canyon gas leak and the unfolding public health crisis in Porter Ranch on December 11, while California Governor Jerry Brown was in Paris attending COP21 to burnish his credentials as a climate leader.

By December 22, the California Air Resources Board estimates, as much as 66,000 metric tons of methane, a greenhouse gas that scientists believe to be as much as 35-times more potent than carbon dioxide (though it doesn’t persist in the atmosphere as long as CO2), had escaped from the well.

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