Day: September 28, 2011

Cleaning Our Hands of Dirty Pipelines

  This article was co-written by Marcus Denton, a second year master's candidate at the LBJ School for Public Affairs, studying social and economic policy. President Obama generates controversy with nearly every one of his decisions. But if he gives in on the most important environmental decision in years, we’re all going to feel the heat. By December 31, 2011 the president must decide whether a 1,700-mile pipeline carrying the dirtiest oil on the planet from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas is in the best national interest. This Keystone XL pipeline is not only an environmental disaster waiting to happen, but potentially a political one as well. The strip mining and drilling that will be employed to extract crude oil from the tar sands will have devastating implications for Alberta’s sensitive boreal forests, ecosystems and aquatic life. Furthermore, tar sands crude is mixed with highly volatile natural gas liquids and pumped at high temperatures to flow through the pipelines. This mixture is extremely corrosive. John S. Stansbury, a University of Nebraska professor and environmental engineer, predicts 91 major spills over the 50-year design life of the pipeline. One such leak could spill an estimated 7.9 million gallons of toxic crude into aquifers such as the Ogallala, which supplies drinking water to millions of Americans as well as supports 30 percent of the...

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Re-Election Thanks to a Do-Nothing Congress

  If the president wants to win reelection, he needs to pass his jobs and debt bills. And by that I mean they need to fail. Since his election in 2008, the Republican Party has routinely come out against nearly everything the president has championed through Congress. Even when the president proposes policy ideas that the GOP would normally vote for, they vote against him. For better or for worse, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) best summarized their attitude toward the president when he said his goal was a one-term Obama presidency. So with the knowledge of the last two years, the president should learn that the GOP will vote against anything coming out of the White House. Now that compromise is next to impossible, and cooler heads will not prevail within the Beltway, why not, well, use that against them? In 1948, President Truman was faced with an opposition Congress hell-bent on taking back the White House. They even went so far as to override a presidential veto on a labor-relations bill that was anti-union. In fact, Truman was so far down in the polls that the Republican Convention adopted a platform they felt was advantageous to getting a Republican elected president. Among the policy proposals that year: federal aid to states for slum clearance and low-rental housing, extension of Social Security benefits, anti-lynching legislation, federal civil...

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