Thursday, December 23, 2010

More on Keystone XL, radioactive pollution, and DREAM

-- Charles Kuffner and Swamplot both linked to my posting regarding the Keystone XL pipeline and the environmental future of Houston's East End (like Hair Balls, Swampy was on the case back in June). FOX26's Ford Atkinson and videographer give you a look at ground zero and its residents. Ken Fountain posted also and Pin Lim has several photos from our tour.

Once again you can sign the petition to oppose the pipeline here.

Update: The news today that EPA will assume the permitting responsibilities for clean air guidelines from the TCEQ is good news for everyone in Texas who breathes. And likely bad news for Keystone XL.

-- Radioactive water in Houston isn't the only concern, if you can believe it (there's arsenic and a few other things as well), but you have to wonder if this news from Texas Vox isn't somehow connected to the local radiation developments...

Harold Simmons, whose company owns this dump, has spread his cash far and wide, giving Governor Perry over $1 million since 2000 (making him the governor’s 2nd largest individual donor) and funding campaigns for every member of the Texas Supreme Court among others. While Simmons gets to make billions off this waste, Texans will get the responsibility for managing it for 10,000 years and cleaning it up...

"The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote..."

Update (12/30/10):

A Texas judge ordered a temporary halt Thursday to a proposal that could allow three dozen states to dump their radioactive waste in far West Texas, a ruling that sided with environmentalists and caught the state attorney general's office off guard.

State District Judge Jon Wisser issued a temporary restraining order against the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, which is scheduled to vote Jan. 4 on rules that could expand how much waste could be processed at a dump in remote Andrews County.

The injunction was issued in the judge's courtroom late Thursday morning, shortly after environmentalists filed the request, with nobody there representing the commission. A few minutes later, shocked lawyers from the Texas Attorney General's Office - which hadn't been officially notified of the pending court action - showed up and persuaded the judge to order a new hearing on the injunction.

The hearing is set for Monday in Austin, one day before the commission's scheduled vote.

-- Reasons to DREAM again ...

The White House is preparing a major grassroots push to pass the DREAM Act next year, which President Obama said Wednesday was one of his top priorities after the legislation failed in the recent lame duck session. ...

On a conference call with journalists Wednesday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the President is willing to "wage a very public campaign" to push the DREAM Act, which would grant undocumented students who were brought into the United States as minors by their parents a path to citizenship through higher education or military service. He added that grassroots activism will be essential to success.

"The President always said on the campaign trail that change comes from the bottom up, and on issues like the DREAM Act, it has to, because there's some real resistance in Washington -- primarily in the other party, but some in our own -- and I think we're going to need to get people activated, and I think you'll see a lot of that over the next months and years," said Pfeiffer in response to a question from The Huffington Post.

During a news conference Wednesday, Obama said he will be reaching out to Republicans who may believe "in their heart of hearts" that passing the DREAM Act is the right thing to do but think the politics are tough.

"Well, that may mean that we've got to change the politics," said Obama. "And I've got to spend some time talking to the American people, and others have to spend time talking to the American people, because I think that if the American people knew any of these kids -- they probably do, they just may not know their status -- they'd say, of course we want you. That's who we are. That's the better angels of our nature."

"Grassroots push" means Obama for America will be recruiting volunteers to make calls, write LTE's and click petitions to sign. With Arizona-styled legislation on tap in many states -- in the Texas Lege, Leo Berman and Debbie Riddle have both pre-filed bills of this type -- only a few conscience-afflicted Republicans will be able to stop them from becoming law.

(By the way, have you read Debbie Riddle's new book on taking our country back to the 19th century? Its "simple, conversational style" makes it "easy to read" for even the most intellectually impaired TeaBagger.)

I believe that DREAM holds the one of the keys to Obama's re-election (the state of the nation's economy, of course, overriding all else).  It's a matter of triangulation: if he fights hard for it and the legislation gets passed, a large core of Hispanic voters will reward him -- and other Dems on the ballot in 2012 -- handsomely for doing so. If he fights for it and it goes down again, the conservatives by their words and actions will have cast themselves in the worst possible light. See Graham, Lindsey. And a slightly-less-large but still significant core of Hispanic voters and some disaffected independents will punish them for it.

Or should. But maybe won't, because they have decided to stay mad at Obama over his increased immigration enforcement policy. Over 800,000 have been deported during the past two years, far more than under the Bush administration, and I shouldn't need to write that this has not garnered any support from any Republican on any piece of immigration reform legislation. In fact Republican senators John McCain and Orrin Hatch both supported DREAM in the past but no longer do.

They are rightfully pissed at the five Democratic senators -- Hagan of North Carolina, Tester and Baucus of Montana, Pryor of Arkansas, and Nelson of Nebraska -- who were too cowed by the TeaBagger factions in their states (or because they are simply as bigoted as the Baggers themselves) to vote for DREAM last week. But throwing the baby out with the bathwater by not voting, or voting GOP, is a self-inflicted wound.

Latinos could -- how many times has this been written in the past fifteen years alone? -- have even greater influence in 2012, but it's pretty much all up to them. If they want to settle for another excuse not to turn out and vote, then the chances they will take with even more Republicans in charge two years from now are pretty dicey, IMO.

After the next legislative session, and after a year of Blake Farenthold as Congressman, somebody ask Latinos in Nueces County how that's working out for them.

Update: Res ipsa loquitur.
Congressional Republicans are pronouncing President Obama's proposal that the next Congress overhaul the country's immigration laws as dead before arrival.

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