Category Archives: Environment/Energy/Oil

If I am a crazy environmentalist, does that make you a polutist?

People who believe in environmentalism often get stereotyped as liberal- atheist-granola eating-vegan-hippies, but environmentalism is a forward thinking, big picture plan for how to keep the earth that God created, entrusted to us, and asked us to care for, viable. I read recently that four out of five people believe in environmentalism.  If the percentage is that high, why are we who want to save the earth called environmentalists, instead of calling that 1 in 5 person who doesn’t a polutist?

Congressman Kline gets angry for all the wrong reasons

I thought this MPR headline was kind of interesting when I read it:

“Kline and Cravaack angry over dropped wolf provision”

The headline refers to a policy rider that was attached to a spending bill that would limit judicial review of US Fish and Wildlife decisions.  By the way, the gray wolf, or timber wolf, is still slated to be taken off the endangered species list in the next few weeks regardless of this rider to a spending bill.

I’m annoyed by two things here.  First, the real purpose of this policy is to make it more difficult for environmental groups to challenge decisions made by the US Fish and Wildlife Agency.  It’s funny that Kline and Cravaack want less government control, but here want the government to have all the control.  As I said, the gray wolf is still scheduled to come off the endangered species list by the end of the year, maybe they shouldn’t be upset, and tie their anger to wolves, maybe they should admit that they are upset that private citizens who value the environment and God’s creatures still have a say in what our government does.   By the way, I will also add that I read an article recently that reported that less than 1% of Wisconsin farms in gray wolf territory have had a wolf attack livestock.  I’m not saying’, I’m just sayin’.

The second thing I am annoyed by is that my congressman, John Kline, and the 8th district’s representative, Chip Cravaack, are angered by this.  I did a Google search of other things John Kline might be “angered” by, and nothing came up.  He is not angry about poverty levels rising in the US, or the terrible job market, or even the uber-partisanship that has developed in Congress.  I also looked at what he might be “disturbed” by, just to cover my bases.  He wasn’t disturbed by the fact that the Iraq war was not paid for, nor was it included in budget shortfalls.  He wasn’t disturbed that medical insurance rates are rising faster than even college tuitions, or that millions of people have lost billions of dollars thanks to greedy and unscrupulous bankers and investors.

You might think he just doesn’t get upset unless it means protecting farmers from the big bad wolf, but that isn’t true.  Recently, Congressman Kline was upset when for-profit colleges were being asked to prove that they were actually teaching students, not just taking their money.  He is disturbed that we are subsidizing wind energy, the problem is I’m not sure he is quite as disturbed about subsidizing the oil industry, or the corporate farm industry.  And he is upset that it is important to a majority us that we provide affordable healthcare for every American.  Most of all, I think Kline is upset that the president is Obama, and not an extremist TEA Party Republican who would return the country to a time like the Guilded Age when the rich were rich and the poor were really poor. When giant mansions held giant weekend long parties, and tenements in dirty cities held giant masses of sick and beaten down people.

I wish they could get angry at things most of his constituents might get angered by, not topics that only the most extreme and partisan Republicans who support him get angered at.  Way to go Congressman Kline, keep fighting for everything but the people.

More than 8 years of blogging and my environmentalist roots

When I first started blogging, technically when I first started it was an email list that became an email newsletter, then a blog, I started because of two specific actions that were occurring in tes country, the widespread rollback of environmental protections, and the unilateral decisions being made in Washington by one party and one president whose first term would be up in about a year.

George W. Bush was president, he had just started what seemed like an unwise second war in the oil rich Middle East, environmental actions removing restrictions were regularly happening with the sign of his pen, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Area Refuge (ANWAR) was continually popping up in emails from conservation groups.

So much of what we were doing seemed to be revolving around energy, oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.  The price of gas was approaching $2 a gallon, and instead of doing what previous generations did by investing in Universities and solving problems, many in the country seemed content to delay the problem for further generations by drilling now and using up the dwindling resources rather than daring to consider how to fix the problem.

Never mind that just two decades earlier foreign countries in the Middle East exercised the leverage they had on our economy by restricting oil sales.  An OPEC decision could literally thrust us into the beginning of a deep depression immediately.  Yet we continued to ignore and delay logical changes in how we live, and float in the breeze of an unstable Middle East that doesn’t really seem to like us very much.

I was frustrated and began blogging (or newslettering) about how important it was to replace Bush with Howard Dean, Wes Clark, John Edwards, John Kerry or whoever.  I was literally an ABB person – Anybody But Bush. And as we approached the 2004 election, blogging became mainstream and a logical place to write.  Sites popped up that made it easy to blog.  I used one site for about a 2 years, I don’t remember what it was, maybe Homestead, then Blogger for many years before the current incarnation in WordPress.  And what happened over those years is that I increasingly ignored the environmentalist base and core of what is important to me, my three boys and any grandchildren I might eventually have, in favor of partisan political blogging activism.

Today I am entrenched in partisan activity — in my blog, volunteering for the DFL, and in the candidates I support.  And where has that gotten me?

A friend from church recently said about the current state of politics:

“No respect, no creativity, nothing constructive, nothing positive. I just struggle to engage in a process that has become so divisive and so destructive.”

I used to think that that was exactly why we should be involved, to change that.  Now I am beginning to think that it won’t change and I have better things to do with my time.  I know one blogger who has already done that.

Anyway, I found some of those old blogs and thought maybe I need to return to my roots.  After all, I have been an environmentalist since I was a little kid.  When I was in elementary school, I was very interested in saving whales.  I think I was in 5th grade when a librarian at Fulton Elementary in Minneapolis, who knew of my interest in whales, gave me a pamphlet that had a picture of a cute baby harp seal on the front of it.  When I opened it up, it was graphic pictures of seal hunters with clubs, bloody baby seals, and pools of blood on the rocks.

Republicans may not care about the shutdown, but people with a conscience do

I predicted this would happen.  I said the shutdown would last a week or so and Republicans would start saying something to the effect that government is obviously not that big of a deal because most people are not feeling the effect.  It is the exact same reason Republicans will be able to take away people’s right to vote with a Voter ID Bill.  Because it does not affect a majority of people. 

The problem is that it is affecting people, and it is affecting them significantly.  It is obviously affecting people who receive benefits from the state to live and work, and it is obviously affecting the people that work to keep our state running and as great as it can be.  But that is a minority of people, and the people living in wealthy suburbs don’t have to deal with them on a daily basis.  Republicans have such contempt for people who can’t take care of themselves, never mind the circumstances.  And Republicans in Lakeville, Prior Lake and Eagan don’t really care about the fishing resort in Northern Minnesota who are losing guests from out of state because people can’t buy fishing licenses. 

Yeah, the Republicans are saying people don’t really care that the government is shutdown, but I’m saying even though it isn’t affecting me right now, I care.  And if Republicans cannot agree to cuts in government and tax increases on 7,700 people that make over one million dollars (that is $1,000,000.00, a one with six zeros after it) a year, then I say to hell with them.  What’s the point of trying to compromise?  Let’s just go back to the pioneer days of dirt roads and side arms.

This is hurting the state, it is hurting the economy, and it is hurting Minnesotans, even if you sit in your air conditioned family room watching cable news and eating the caviar you so richly deserve because you have proven you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  Thanks for working towards making Minnesota suck as a place to live.  Thanks for working to ruin everything that makes Minnesota better than every state around us.

A low tax on the rich does not make a state great.  Low government spending does not make a state great.  Highly educated people that come from great public schools and top notch universities make a state great.  Beautiful parks and clean lakes that draw visitors from around the country, and allow those of us to live here to enjoy weekend recreation make a state great.  The best healthcare and the ability to stay active and healthy make a state great.  Diversity in people, jobs and activities, cities and farms, open spaces and community gathering spots make a state great.  And the absence of extremist politics makes a state great.  How are the Republicans going to get any of that by spending less and making a few people richer?  People invested in making this state what it is.  Are we going to throw it away because a minority of people who are politically active and currently in power think the rest of us are worthless?

Seriously, let me know if you want to throw it all away…

What should we do about gas prices?

How do we solve the current problem of high gas prices?  Who solves the problem of high gas prices?  Are taxes a part of the problem?  Is the President to blame?

Several years ago, 1999 or 2000, when gas prices were topping $1.60 a gallon, then presidential candidate, Texas Governor George Bush said the president “must jawbone OPEC members into lowering prices.”

How’d that work out?

Admittedly, I criticized President Bush on that statement, and the resulting huge increase in gas prices ($4 per gallon) that curiously increased between elections, and dropped at election time.  So is the President to blame?  Was George Bush to blame?  Is Barack Obama to blame now?  George Bush deserved criticism for his statements and lack of knowledge about gas prices, if you recall, he didn’t even know the price of gas was almost $4 a gallon when a reporter asked him about it at one point during his presidency, but the president wasn’t and isn’t specifically to blame per se.

I’m sure I could find blame, and I guess if we had another president like Teddy Roosevelt who took on corporate crooks, the president could be a solution, but the problem is Wall Street investors buying oil futures as a short-term investment, not the president. 

Can you name one product that drives our economy as much as the cost of gas?  Not only do prices of products rise with the price of gas, but if I spend $40 more dollars on gas each month, with profits going to a foreign company, that is $40 less I am spending at local businesses that create jobs.  That means I’m not buying a pizza at Casa Nostra in Lakeville or taking my wife on a date to go see a movie at the Lakeville Movie Theater.  It means I’m not buying as much fresh locally grown produce at the grocery store, or splurging on a steak at Kowalski’s.  It means I wear my shoes longer and let me hair grow out a little more between cuts.  

Should a resource that dictates the economic success or failure of small businesses, and our country in general, as much as oil and gas do, really be an item that makes Wall Street investors rich?  When Wall Street traders think oil prices will increase, they bid more, increasing the price of oil.  So as we pay more and more, oil companies, many of them foreign, who have no significant additional costs to produce a barrel of oil, make more and more money.

I guess there are two solutions.  Drilling more won’t work, first it won’t stop speculation, and second we already have a glut of oil.  OPEC is slowing down drilling because they can’t sell it all.  So, we can work to either eliminate the use of oil and gas, or we can begin regulating investment in oil futures to some degree.  I don’t know whether either would work.  I doubt we would see a big decline in gas prices, after all, how often do we see gas prices go down 20 cents in a day like they go up?  It’s business, and it is not likely.  But regulation on oil speculation that limits gambling on oil would at least make our gas prices dependent on supply and demand rather than based on Wall Street profits.  Well, that is until radical governments take over the entire Middle East and cut us off completely…