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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries tagged "pipeline"

Climate Milestones in President Obama's Speech

June 26, 2013 ·

Obama climate speech photoPresident Obama's speech at Georgetown University was a milestone on climate change. It is a milestone in two ways. First, he made it clear he is not afraid to tackle coal as the primary culprit in climate change. Second, he made a major pivot in how he framed the Keystone XL pipeline debate. He’s no longer talking about "energy security" or "jobs" when talking about the pipeline but instead linking "our national interest" with whether or not the pipeline would have a significant impact on the changing climate.

Virtually all climate scientists who have weighed in on the Keystone XL pipeline agree that tar sands oil, if exploited, would result in a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. NASA's former top scientist, James Hansen, said it would be "game over" for the climate if the pipeline went forward.

But more significantly, Obama signaled in this speech that he is ready to use his executive authority, and not willing to compromise on two key things: the climate impacts of coal and tar sands.

He made a major pronouncement in stating that public financing of coal should end, such as financing via agencies such as U.S. Export-Import Bank.

The Institute for Policy Studies was the first organization, together with Friends of the Earth, to document the significant climate impacts of U.S. Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation's fossil fuel investments in 1998. That research resulted in a lawsuit filed by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and the City of Boulder challenging both of those public financial institutions with violations under the National Environmental Protection Act, for not calculating the cumulative emissions of their projects on the global climate. Obama's statement today takes that research and legal action one step further and calls for an end to almost all U.S. government funding of coal overseas. The White House statement released today says:

"...The President calls for an end to U.S. government support for public financing of new coal plants overseas, except for (a) the most efficient coal technology available in the world’s poorest countries in cases where no other economically feasible alternative exists, or (b) facilities deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies. As part of this new commitment, we will work actively to secure the agreement of other countries and the multilateral development banks to adopt similar policies as soon as possible."

While this statement allows for some wiggle room on coal – if the carbon produced from the coal can be captured, which currently is not financially or technically feasible – it would eliminate U.S. Obama climate speech photo 2backing of coal financing in countries like India and South Africa, both of which have recently received billions of public dollars for massive coal-fired coal plants.

Obama also said he would encourage developing countries to transition to natural gas as they move away from coal, a posture consistent with what he is calling for at home. Such a statement is unfortunate as it encourages the expansion of fracking on U.S. lands, which results in fugitive methane emissions, water contamination, and health problems for nearby communities. The low price of natural gas, while welcome as a replacement for coal, is making truly clean and renewable energy less attractive financially.

Obama also continues to support nuclear power – a surprising posture in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns, a disaster that is transforming Japan, causing it to shut down its nuclear power plants and replace them with renewable energy.

And Obama was unafraid to call out the climate deniers – the "flat earth society" – and shame them, while urging the public to "invest, divest," a statement sure to warm the hearts of students and faith groups across the country, who are urging their institutions to divest their endowments of fossil fuels.

But the significance of this speech is that Obama is finally showing us he is willing to fight – on coal, on tar sands, and on climate. Obama remains an "all of above" champion who believes he can simultaneously frack and drill our country's oil and gas resources and solve the climate crisis. But his apparent feistyness and willingness to challenge the climate impacts of coal and tar sands – after years of silence on both topics – is cause for some celebration.

The 99 Percent Have Found Our Voice

November 4, 2011 ·

Could any of us have imagined that in six short weeks, the people of this country would have found our voice? Most of you reading this have likely participated in Occupy activities in your town or city. IPS board member Barbara Ehrenreich worked with IPS interns to create a massive list of phone numbers of mayors of Occupied towns. They came up with over 400 places where people are standing up to be heard.

Doctors for the 99 Percent march from Zuccotti Park to St. Vincent's Hospital to demand its reopening and health care for all. Photo by Sunset Parkerpix.These are days of action. I've just returned with a group of IPS colleagues from the U.S. Treasury Department where National Nurses United led thousands of us in a protest for a measure that IPS has been advocating for years: a Wall Street tax that would curb financial speculation and generate tens of billions of dollars that can be used to create jobs and help the environment. Tomorrow night, IPS and the Other 98% and thousands more will march from Occupy DC to protest a gala dinner backed by the Koch brothers

On Saturday, tens of thousands will join in a "move your money" day that uses our power to defund Wall Street banks and build up Main Street banks. And, on Sunday, thousands more will create a human chain to surround the White House to demand an end to an oil pipeline that would despoil land and water from Western Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. 

The 99 percent have found our voice and at IPS we are devoting every ounce of our energy to filling this new public space with the true picture of the obscene inequality that our corporations and U.S. policy have created over the past three decades. We have a team at IPS, led by Chuck Collins, that is both putting out daily facts and figures on inequality and is steering people toward creative action. Chuck himself is now working on a book to trace the gap between the 99 percent and the 1 percent (help us decide on a title for the new book).

And, working with allies at YES! Magazine and elsewhere, we have built up a New Economy Working Group that is illuminating the path from this failed Wall Street economy to a green Main Street economy – an economy that is ecology balanced, that eliminates extreme inequality, and that nurtures the democratic expression that is blossoming across this country. IPS is producing fact sheets, leading workshops at Occupy sites, sending op-eds to papers all over the country, and giving voice to the rising tide of moral outrage.

The Occupy outpouring is changing the entire debate in this country. Newspapers are reporting on inequality. Politicians are being forced to respond to the charge that their policies lavish favor on the 1 percent. Banks are canceling outrageous fees on consumers. Conservative officials in Ohio and Wisconsin are feeling more heat to maintain protections on workers and communities. As we change the national conversation, we can dismantle the barriers to change.

This is your moment and IPS is proud to walk down this path with you. Sign up to receive our Unconventional Newsletter every two weeks.

Troubled Soldiers and Harmful Projects: Ten Years in Afghanistan

October 6, 2011 ·

At FPIF, Shukria Dellawar and Antonia Juhasz describe the quiet privatization of massive amounts of resources in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan’s known hydrocarbons are primarily located in the North. Its approximately 1.6 billion barrels of crude oil and 15.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas are minor in comparison to the resources of its neighbors (Iraq’s oil reserves are estimated at 115 billion barrels), but are comparable to those in nations such as Chad and Equatorial Guinea —and may be considerably larger, as there has been no significant exploration in decades.

Unknown to most Afghans, in January 2009 the government implemented a new Hydrocarbon Law that transforms its oil and natural gas sectors from fully state-owned to all but fully privatized. In April 2011, the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines launched the first of what it expects to be “several tenders for Afghanistan’s oil and gas resources over the next few years.”

If there is anything that Afghans never had a choice following their country's role as immediate 9/11 scapegoat, was that corporate involvement from the West would follow the armies of the Operation Enduring Freedom.

It is unlikely that Pentagon strategists sending U.S. troops half a world away are spending much time thinking about their attitudes, but they reveal a military that is confused about whether Iraq and Afghanistan merited all their investment and sacrifice. From the latest Pew numbers

Among all adults in the new Pew survey, 41% say that, considering the costs versus the benefits to the United States, the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, while 52% say it has not. Of the war in Iraq, 36% of Americans say it has been worth it and 57% say it has not. Fewer than three-in-ten Americans, 28%, say both wars have been worth fighting; 45% say neither has been worth it.

As noted, half of post-9/11 veterans (50%) say the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting; 42% say it has not. And 50% of that group says Iraq has not been worth it, compared with 44% who view it positively. About as many post-9/11 veterans say neither war has been worth fighting (33%) as view both as being worthwhile (34%).

At IPS, we are strongly on the side of decreases on military spending, internationalism based on international law and the United Nations, and local investment that gives our local communities the support they need.

Join us today at the event War Voices: Ten Years of War in Afghanistan. After 10 Years of War in Afghanistan join people building community after a decade of struggle at home and abroad. St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, 6:30-9:30pm.