GUEST COMMENTARY: The Law of the Sea treaty will sink America’s economy.


The Law of the Sea treaty will sink America’s economy.

Guest Commentary By: Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator John Cornyn

 

Americans despise taxes.  After all, one of the key issues that paved the way for the American Revolution was the unfair taxation that King George III levied against the Colonies.

Now some in the US Senate want to say yes to an international tax.  It would be the first time in history that an international organization would possess taxing authority, and it would amount to billions of American dollars being transferred out of the US Treasury.

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, or the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) is the vehicle through which such taxes would be imposed on U.S.-based commercial enterprises.

The treaty that Reagan refused to sign in 1982 is reappearing once again in the Senate.  The truth is, LOST contains numerous provisions that hurt the U.S. economy at a time when we need more jobs – not fewer.

Under the guise of being for “the good of mankind, ” LOST would obligate the United States to share information and technology in what amounts to global taxes and technology transfer requirements that are really nothing more than an attempt to redistribute U.S. wealth to the Third World.

At the center of these taxes and transfers is the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a Kingston, Jamaica based supra-national governing body established by the treaty for the purpose of redistributing cash and technology from the “developed world” to the “developing world.”

Ceding authority to the ISA would mean that the sovereignty currently held by the U.S. over the natural resources located on large parts of the continental shelf would be lost.  That loss would mean lost revenue for the US government in the form of lost royalties that the U.S. government collects from the production of those resources. According to the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Task Force, which is currently mapping the continental shelf, the resources there “may be worth billions if not trillions” of dollars.

In case proponents of LOST have not noticed, the US is over $15 trillion in debt, and we still have more than 20 million Americans who can’t find a job. The last thing we need to do redistribute funds from our country to our economic and strategic competitors.

To make matters worse, the US would have no control over how or to whom the taxes and technology would be redistributed.

Undoubtedly funds that rightfully belong to the American taxpayer would be sent to corrupt governmental regimes, make dictators wealthier, and could even be used for activities directed against the United States and our interests.

Under the treaty, the transfer of these funds does not end with nation states.  These royalty revenues would even be extended to “peoples who have not attained full independence or other self-governing status.”  That means groups like the Palestinian Authority and potentially other groups with terrorist ties.

Proponents of the treaty will claim that the technology transfer portion of the treaty has been significantly changed.  In truth, nations with mining and resource recovery technologies like the United States will be obligated to share those technologies with Third World competitors, and that is one of the many issues, which trouble those of us opposed to the treaty.

In other words, US companies would be forced to give away the very types of innovation that historically have made our nation a world leader while fueling our economic engine.

Under the best of US economic circumstances, the Senate should say no to such an egregious breach of the trust Americans have placed in us. Our current economic struggles are all the more reason to say no to a treaty that is all cost and no benefit.

Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch is the ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee. Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn is a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee.

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The reward is not worth the risk; Just Say No to new driling in the Gulf of Mexico.


The chant of, “Drill baby Drill”  and hungry looks towards the Gulf of Mexico happens a lot more often that what I would like.

In fact, I wish we would not allow any additional drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and would prefer that our current oil producing rigs were up to code in safety regulations and passed the audits of a 3rd party independent agency (something that President Obama should have pushed for  while he held our oil fields on a moratorium; but refused to acknowledge.)

Why, such a strong (and controversial; given my political leanings) statement?

First hand damage assessment of 2 oil spills that affected Florida within a 14 year period

Back during the  Maconda/BP oil spill in 2010 where 4.9 million barrels (read: 260 Olympic swimming pool worth) of oil polluted the Gulf of Mexico, I drew on my journalism strength and became an investigative reporter for my self produced investigative channel,  ClearWater Perspective, and participated in backstage teleconferences with BP, TransOcean, EPA, NOAA, MMS and the Coast Guard.

Additionally, I had close friends fly over and report on the oil spill and encounter harmed, innocent, wildlife who either swam into the oil and toxic dispersant or who ate off the oiled covered shores or were residing in a nearby tree branch when BP engaged their aerial dispersing.  The results were horrifying and something that I truly will never forget.

If you have a moment, please click into this video. A friend of mine made it with pictures of the real damage of the BP oil spill.  Warning: this is not suitable for children.

The reality of the oil spill became very real to me and contrasting and comparing my first hand experience with living near Tampa Bay  back in during the oil spill in 1996 (where 300,000 gallons of heavy oil and another 33,000 gallons of jet fuel spilled after a collision in West Central Florida) convinced me that it is only a matter of time until Florida suffers a backlash comparable to Louisiana.

Seeing the not so lucky wildlife and economic damage and how it negatively impacted the  fishermen, shrimpers, tourism industry, realtors, wedding planners, coastal businesses and coastal communities and wrecked havoc on our innocent wildlife made me vow to not allow a 3rd mistake of reckless and greedy drilling happen in our beautiful Gulf of Mexico.

Its’s like the saying– “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. ” — Fool me thrice and I should have known better than to expect that  big oil’s operations were ‘under control” and being properly scrutinized for safety precautions.

Florida is the most at-risk state in the event of another oil spill. (Economic and residential)

People of NW Florida have seen first hand, how public perception can hamper our local economy.

Florida’s main draw is tourism. When people think that Florida has oil-laden beaches; they will be less likely to come down for vacation or buy Gulf seafood; if they feel that it was tainted with oil and toxic dispersant. This change of perception, as has been proven with the 2010 oil spill, can cause a detrimental effects to the very way of life as Floridians have known to grow and love.

As stated above, many community factors suffer and have the potential to increase unemployment, causing people to vacate their home in search for income; whether it be by selling their home the conventional way or short selling their home; resulting in the housing industry value to decrease directly related to the increase in the unemployment rate.

But the possible oil spill damage doesn’t end there… (Military impact)

As many know, there is a huge military mission off of Tyndall AFB, Eglin AFB, Duke AFB and Hurlburt AFB and Pensacola NAS that run alongside the Gulf of Mexico.

The influx of news reporters and clean up crew would be too invasive for our military zone.

At this point in the game; the US cannot afford to take too many chances with nationals security.

But wait there’s more… (Loop Current, possible oil seepage to South Florida, East Florida and the Eastern Seaboard)

If there was an oil spill off the West Coast of Florida, the oil (and toxic dispersant that big oil will use to sink the oil into the water column so nobody can see it) has a chance of getting swept into the Loop Current which is a current (diagramed left) that transports warm Caribbean water through the Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico.

The current flows northward into the Gulf of Mexico, then loops southeastward just south of the Florida Keys (where it is called the Florida Current), and then just west of the westernmost Bahamas.

Here, the waters of the Loop Current flow northward along the U.S. coast and become the Gulf Stream and run northward, up the East Coast of Florida.

The Loop Current was a big concern of many Floridians during the 2010 oil spill as a handful of times, oil/toxic dispersant became dangerously close to the loop current (some reports show that small traces of oil were pushed into the loop current but weathered before it impacted land) but were swept away by ever changing warm and cold water eddys.

However, next time- we may not be so lucky.

Turn to renewable alternative energy as a primary source for our energy needs

Instead of investing in new equipment and new deep water drilling techniques to search for a resource that will eventually extinguish- let’s put that money towards the wave of the future and a renewable resources that we can draw off of for years to come.

Projects such as  energy efficient constructionoffshore wind farms, solar landfills, geothermal and aqueduct electricity can help us curb our dependence on oil.

If the US reallocated the money they have towards new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and put it towards alternative energy; we could pave the way for a new future where ultimately- we become dependent on ourselves and not at the hand of our Environment, the Middle East or even Brazil (where Obama promised we would be their biggest customer earlier this year).

The reward is not worth the risk

While I understand that drilling is needed and I fully support state’s sovereignty for wanting to drill (and am in support of drilling in places where the general consensus welcomes the drilling).

As a born, raised and currently residing Floridan. I say the reward is NOT worth the risk for new drilling to take place in the Gulf of Mexico. Not when our wildlife, food chain, fisheries, tourism industry, coastal communities, military intelligence and the entire coastline of Florida is at risk.

Especially when it has been proven that there is no way to adequately prepare for a hurricane and the precautions needed to be taken to avoid churning the oil sunken into the water column and spewing the oil onto coastal communities) until only days before the hurricane comes into the Gulf of Mexico (as remembered with the lack of hurricane preparation during the 2010 hurricane season).

If Mexico wants to drill; we cannot stop them but, more than likely, any spill in their area will not travel into the Gulf of Mexico because of the placement of eddys. Let them destroy their own country; if they so desire.

As for the United States,  I advise that we stay on the side of environmental conservation as well as to look to alternative energy as our sustaining life force as that can be renewed so we can pass on our energy capability to our children instead of banking on a non renewable source of energy that will leave our future generations in the dark.

Copyright (c) August 1, 2011. All rights reserved.

Finally, EPA makes itself useful and sets standards for mercury at coal fired power plants.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed the first ever national standards for mercury and other air pollutants emitted from coal fired power plants.

Air pollutants like mercury, arsenic, chromium and nickel have been linked to instances of cancer and can affect infant brain development.

According to the EPA, this new standard would prevent 17,000 premature deaths and 11,000 heart attacks. The standards would also prevent 120,000 cases of childhood asthma.

The EPA said the standards are cost-effective, asserting that for every $1 spent, the public will see $13 in benefits.

The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed standards.

Environmentalists and clean air advocates praised the standards Wednesday.

“This is the single biggest step for public health protection that the EPA will take this year,” Clean Air Watch President Frank O’Donnell said in a statement. “Thousands of Americans will live longer and many millions will breathe easier as a result. Not only that, but fish will be safer to eat as toxic mercury is reduced from water bodies.”

While this is great news, I have to wonder what the economic impact would be? I am assuming that electricity and power would increase due to the  excess regulation but how much is yet to be seen.

Copyright (c) March 16, 2011. All rights reserved.

The Atlantic Coast and it’s attempt to make Wind Power the new normal.


The potential for capturing wind energy off the coast of Virginia received a huge boost with an announcement from the federal government that energy companies could be allowed to install wind turbines within 3 years.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar appeared with Energy Secretary Steven Chu in Norfolk to detail a quicker permitting process and the availability of $50 million in grants for research and development of the renewable energy source.

“The wind potential of the Atlantic Coast is staggering,” said Salazar, who pointed out that the nation’s only approved offshore wind farm is off the coast of  Cape Code, Massachusetts. A process that was eagerly awaiting approval for almost 10 years.

The Interior Department will issue leases by the end of the year or early 2012 in four zones off the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.  

From there, companies could place turbines in the water, but industry leaders have said it would take longer than that because the turbines are still on the drawing board and the infrastructure, such as transmission lines, are not in place.

The zone under consideration for Virginia is about 12 miles off the coast of Virgina Beach. It’s part of an area a research consortium said could provide 3,200 megawatts of electricity, or roughly 10 percent of the state’s power use.

The turbines would not be visible from shore, much to the delight of residents of Virginia Beach. The area is also outside of NASA’s Wallops’ rocket-launching range and the Navy’s live-ordnance ranges. Two problems the Nantucket wind farm project encountered.

Federal grants for the project will be awarded over the next 5 years to companies that will design turbines and conduct environmental and economic research.

As outlined in my blog, Wind Farms- Courtesy of China, China is a top runner in the renewable energy market but that is no reason why Americans cannot step up to the plate and take control, especially since this project is on American soil.

The wind farm off the Atlantic coast, if it comes to fruition, will have the blessing of the National Wildlife Federation and other environmental groups which is rather significant as opposition parties of wind energy claim that there would be too many birds that would run the risk of being hurt in the endeavor for cleaner energy.

Offshore wind farms holds great potential to create jobs, cut pollution, and reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels. It is time for America to move forward boldly and responsibly with clean energy. I realize that there are more unknowns with green energy than there is with gas/oil production but the benefit far outweighs the speculation and willingness to stay in our comfort zone.

At a time that unemployment is at a whopping 9%, wind power development could prove to be a godsend not just to ease unemployment woes but also for a decrease in energy and gas costs as well as an increase in environmental benefits.

Copyright (c) February 16, 2011. All rights reserved.

 

Report concludes, Clean up on the oil spill is over. Personal pictures and testimony state otherwise.


Yesterday, the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team released a report from its interagency Operational Science Advisory Team 2  regarding oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that remains on or near sandy beaches along the Gulf Coast left not only the Gulf Coast residents questioning but the Gulf of Mexico as well (left picture).

Federal officials indicate that cleanup operation from the Deepwater Horizon/Gulf of Mexcio oil spill have removed as much oil as is practical from the Gulf coast states by examining data sampled from four representative beaches at Grand Isle, La., Petit Bois Island, Miss., Bon Secour, Ala., and Fort Pickens, Fla.

This report is inconclusive as the oil reached much further East then Fort Pickens, FL and leached into areas such as Navarre and Destin, the later representing a huge tourist industry which has suffered greatly at the hands of big oil as well as are still seeing the effects of the oil and dispersant in their waterways and rolling onto their beaches.

Essentially, the report is intended to inform ongoing beach-area clean up operations by examining the environmental and human health risks posed by three types of remnant oil – tar mats in the shallow water, small tar balls on the shore and buried oil on beaches above the high tide line – that may remain in certain beach areas after standard clean up operations are completed. These risks are compared to the potential environmental impacts of pursuing additional cleanup operations.

Please note how they did not include oil/dispersant in the water column nor the long term affects of the toxic corexit dispersant that they used to weigh down the oil so that it would drop into the water column, out of the public’s view.

Further, the report states that oil damaged areas are “minimal”.

Are they kidding? Is this some kind of cruel joke? Living off the Gulf,
I can assure that the oil and toxic Corexit dispersant is still very much here.

Just because BP sunk the oil into the water column, doesn’t mean that it disappeared. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as now the oil has less of a chance been weathered by the sun and wind.

The report titled, “Summary Report for Fate and Effects of Remnant Oil in the Beach Environment” was drafted by the federal science advisory team studying the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf suggests the following:

Submerged mats of oil still being discovered just off the beaches in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida are considered an exception to the rule, the report indicates. Yet the report does not mention any form of removal or clean up.

Aside from the mats, the remaining oil — the report states — is either buried under a few inches of sand or present in small tarballs on the beach.

Take note parents of small children who like to build sandcastles at the beach. Dont dig too deep or you will find your hands submerged in toxicity.

Additionally, what about the the exposure risk  of buried oil and sea turtle eggs and young? That will definitely be a factor in the extinction of the sea turtle if left ignored.

A local Florida resident, Linda Carter, who resides on the Gulf of Mexico disagrees vehemently with this recent ruling and provides her own personal testimony to the ever-standing affects of the oil spill.

“My husband and I took our dog to Princess Beach, an Airforce owned beach between the Fort Walton Beach and Destin bridges in Florida on Friday, February 4th, 2011.”

“It was cold and rainy, but a perfect day to find the small sand dollars that wash in, during the winter. The effects of the oil spill never entered our minds, until we looked down and saw the tar stuck to our shoes.”

“Then we noticed that it was everywhere. Was this why our dog kept wanting to go home? ”

“After seeing the tar and foam bubbles from the Corexit dispersant, we left the beach, only to get home to a very different dog!”

“We immediately bathed her and made sure her feet were clean. She became almost catatonic.  As if she was in shock.”

“She was lethargic and would barely respond to us. Mostly she just stared straight ahead. We held her and petted her and she just laid there like a lifeless lump.”

“She went to sleep and when she woke up she was better and continued to improve. She is fine today, but I have noticed all the exposed areas (she had on a sweater) of her fur are almost mottled with, what looks like tufts of hair that have been cut with scissors.”

“I know the shedding season is almost upon us, but it’s still bitterly cold here, so I don’t really think that’s what it is. She was getting exposed to the toxins on the beach being closer to the sand than we were, and having a nose so sensitive.”

“Mother nature tells the animals when there is danger to get away from. I think this was a perfect example!”

Tell that to the federal officials and BP executives who parrot, “Cleanup operations beyond established standards may disturb sensitive habitats and wildlife — posing a greater environmental risk than leaving the residue in place. In these instances, further cleaning will likely do more harm than good to the ecosystem.”

Way to rip a response from the marshes clean up guide, BP. Unbelievable. I understand the concept of  a fragile ecosystem but not all of our Gulf coast are marshes or wetlands and even then it blows my mind that the govt is not using the foam set in a large cage that was already presented to them to soak up the oil from the fragile areas.

If you look at the NEBA report that I attached below and note the “further cleanup impact”, half the reports reads HIGH. So how did the federal officials come to the conclusion that further clean up would cause more harm than good?

Especially when all one needs to do is drag their foot to see the oil underneath the sand. Remember, if the sand covers the oil then the oil is less likely to become weathered because the sand creates a buffer from extreme elements such as wind and sun. (left picture).

Not to mention that there are ZERO reports of the long term affects of the corexit dispersant that was used in truckloads to weigh the oil down and that of the bubbly residue approaching our shore lines.

Some critics argue that the after effects are “minor” but tell that to a child or an elderly person who had pre existing health conditions who accidentally came into contact with the oil, tar or dispersant after going to the beach after the local officials gave the “all clear”.

The fact of the matter is that the oil is still here, it is not going anywhere and it provides a health risk to the people who come into submerged (via water or sand) contact with it.

Ignoring the facts will not make this issue go away and its imperative that the people of the Gulf Coasts stand up and make their voices heard or our opinion will get sunken just like the oil. Out of sight, out of mind.

Below is a great documentary on newly dispersed oil patties on the Fort Morgan Peninsula on February 9, 2011.

Have you forgotten? Here’s a recap of the after effects of the DeepWater Horizon oil spill which happened less than a year ago.

Copyright (c) February 12, 2011. All rights reserved.


New oil fields found despite possible risks to the environment.


A new drilling technique is opening up vast fields of previously out-of-reach oil in the western United States, helping reverse a two-decade decline in domestic production of crude.

Now newer fields are showing promise, including the Niobrara, which stretches under Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas; the Leonard, in New Mexico and Texas; and the Monterey, in California and North Dakota.

By 2015, oil executives and analysts say, the new fields could yield as much as 2 million barrels of oil a day — more than the entire Gulf of Mexico produces now.

This new drilling is expected to raise U.S. production by at least 20 percent over the next five years. And within 10 years, it could help reduce oil imports by more than half, advancing a goal that has long eluded policymakers.

“That’s a significant contribution to energy security,” says Ed Morse, head of commodities research at Credit Suisse.

Oil engineers are applying what critics say is an environmentally questionable method developed in recent years to tap natural gas trapped in underground shale. They drill down and horizontally into the rock, then pump water, sand and chemicals into the hole to crack the shale and allow gas to flow up.

Because oil molecules are sticky and larger than gas molecules, engineers thought the process wouldn’t work to squeeze oil out fast enough to make it economical. However, drillers learned how to increase the number of cracks in the rock and use different chemicals to free up oil at low cost.

“We’ve completely transformed the natural gas industry, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we transform the oil business in the next few years too,” says Aubrey McClendon, chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, which is using the technique.

Petroleum engineers first used the method in 2007 to unlock oil from a 25,000-square-mile formation under North Dakota and Montana known as the Bakken.

Production there rose 50 percent in just the past year, to 458,000 barrels a day, according to Bentek Energy, an energy analysis firm.

“It’s only been fleshed out over the last 12 months just how consequential this can be,” says Mark Papa, chief executive of EOG Resources, the company that first used horizontal drilling to tap shale oil. “And there will be several additional plays that will come about in the next 12 to 18 months. We’re not done yet.”

Environmentalists fear that fluids or wastewater from the process, called hydraulic fracturing, could pollute drinking water supplies. The Environmental Protection Agency is now studying its safety in shale drilling. The agency studied use of the process in shallower drilling operations in 2004 and found that it was safe.

In the Bakken formation, production is rising so fast there is no space in pipelines to bring the oil to market. Instead, it is being transported to refineries by rail and truck. Drilling companies have had to erect camps to house workers.

The Bakken and the Eagle Ford are each expected to ultimately produce 4 billion barrels of oil. That would make them the fifth- and sixth-biggest oil fields ever discovered in the United States. The top four are Prudhoe Bay in Alaska, Spraberry Trend in West Texas, the East Texas Oilfield and the Kuparuk Field in Alaska.

Last month China’s state-owned oil company CNOOC agreed to pay Chesapeake $570 million for a one-third stake in a drilling project in the Niobrara. This followed a $1 billion deal in October between the two companies on a project in the Eagle Ford.

With oil prices high and natural-gas prices low, profit margins from producing oil from shale are much higher than for gas. Also, drilling for shale oil is not dependent on high oil prices. It is said this oil is cheaper to tap than the oil in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico or in Canada’s oil sands.

The country’s shale oil resources aren’t nearly as big as the country’s shale gas resources. Drillers have unlocked decades’ worth of natural gas, an abundance of supply that may keep prices low for years. U.S. shale oil on the other hand will only supply one to two percent of world consumption by 2015, not nearly enough to affect prices.

Still, a surge in production last year from the Bakken helped U.S. oil production grow for the second year in a row, after 23 years of decline. This during a year when drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the nation’s biggest oil-producing region, was halted after the BP oil spill.

Within five years, analysts and executives predict, the newly unlocked fields are expected to produce 1 million to 2 million barrels of oil per day, enough to boost U.S. production 20 percent to 40 percent. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates production will grow a more modest 500,000 barrels per day.

At today’s oil prices of roughly $90 per barrel, slashing imports that much would save the U.S. $175 billion a year. Last year, when oil averaged $78 per barrel, the U.S. sent $260 billion overseas for crude, accounting for nearly half the country’s $500 billion trade deficit.

“We have redefined how to look for oil and gas,” says Rehan Rashid, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. “The implications are major for the nation.”

While I am hesitant about the environmental concerns, this comes to a great relief when there is turmoil in the Middle East, which hosts the majority of  US’s oil/gas imports.

Some people may question my supporting of this measure as I am against deep water drilling and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. My response to that criticism is that I speak on behalf of my state which resides off the Gulf of Mexico and could cause direct negative impact to the Gulf’s coast (as displayed after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April 2010)and if spilled oil got into the Gulf Stream, it could affect the Eastern side of my state as well as the Eastern seaboard.

If the Western states support this measure, then to each state their own. I do acknowledge how not only would this increase our oil supply here in the United States but also how this would create thousands, if not millions, of jobs at a time where job creation is of the utmost importance. I pray that drilling is done in a responsible and safe manner so that we do not see a replay of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Copyright (c) February 10, 2011. All rights reserved.

SotU- The Good, The Bad, The Ugly [My response]


Clips of Obama’s transcribed State of the Union speech highlighted in bold. Personal comments underneath. Issues alphabetically categorized.

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY/JOB CREATION

They’re investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.”

Great job China! Now the US should follow their lead and invest more time and “energy” into alternative means so we can reduce our foreign dependency on oil.

Interestingly, Obama failed to mention in addition to China being the world’s largest private solar research facility, they are also nearing to the top of wind energy- thanks to Obama’s sending $1.5 billion of US jobs over to China in an attempt to please them.

I wonder why Obama didnt mention that he sold our jobs to China; with only 300 jobs going to Americans in wind power production- those of which mostly consist of temporary construction jobs. With only approximately 30% of permanent positions being rewarded to Americans or that $450 million of the financing for wind energy is coming out of US stimulus funds? Selective emphasis?

“At the California Institute of Technology, they’re developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they’re using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”

This is great news! I would love to see this materialize; although, I think the goal to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015 is a little optimistic. Is the Obama administration willing to offer a tax right off for owning electric vehicles or incentives for turning in gas hogs like the Cash for Clunkers program that was instituted in 2010 but is now currently disabled? That might help make this dream a reality but without those two components- I unfortunately doubt that we will reach this milestone. I hope Im wrong.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas.

Another great idea alebit a little unrealistic. I am a major supporter of alternative energy but until we start actively engaging wind, solar, clean coal, natural gas and geothermal exploration- we will not reach that goal. Funny how Obama mentions these broad challenges yet does not outline how he intends to lead or “challenge” us in that direction.

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY, BUDGET

“I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”

I think this is a great idea! There is NO reason why big oil needs our tax dollars in subsides.  We need to start there to cut spending and give a portion to alternative energy research and use the rest of the money spent to pay down our debt of approximately $14,079 trillion (Up to date and detailed debt clock can be found here: http://www.usdebtclock.org)

BUDGET/ DISCRETIONARY SPENDING/SPENDING/DEFENSE

So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.

First, note how Obama does not state the “tens of billions of dollars” that the Secretary of Defense has supposedly suggested to cut. That should raise a red flag to any concerned citizen. Second, does Obama not hear the American people? We are not wanting to FREEZE spending, we are wanting to CUT spending. Last year, he offered the same ‘freeze’ that would maintain increased spending levels and produce an estimated $10 trillion in deficits by the end of the decade. We cannot continue in that direction.

“Most of the cuts and savings I’ve proposed only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12% of our budget. To make further progress, we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. It won’t.

Of course this type of cutting wont solve the problem but I urge Obama and the rest of his colleagues from denouncing small cuts because they are not “big” enough.  Smaller amounts can add up to very large savings. We should welcome all spending cuts, regardless of their size.

BUDGET/EXPORTS

“There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Sounds like reorganization has to be done, no exceptions.  The criss cross of responsibilities is causing our tax payer money to be redirected and we could be making things for much less which would result in high profits within our exports.

BUDGET/SOCIAL SECURITY

To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

Anybody else love the generality of Obama’s statements? While I agree with this, the question still remains- how can we make this a reality?  From what I understand, raising the retirement age is not going to make a huge difference in the amount owed to Social Security. Perhaps we need to allow a smaller percentage of our taxes being taken out and give the public the option to investment in their own retirement.

BUDGET/TAX CODE

In fact, the best thing we could do on taxes for all Americans is to simplify the individual tax code. This will be a tough job, but members of both parties have expressed interest in doing this, and I am prepared to join them.

Much easier said than done although I would rather have the Fair Tax with no talk of a Value Added Tax (VAT).

BUDGET/LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you will be able to go to a website and get that information for the very first time in history. Because you deserve to know when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask Congress to do what the White House has already done: put that information online.

Obama you already broke that promise. Whatever happened to CSPAN cameras in back rooms and putting a bill online 72 hours before a bill is debated?!

BUDGET/EARMARKS

And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.

Im throwing the BS flag right now. Mark my words- Obama will sign legislation with earmarks or with an “innovation” hashtag.

Reducing the Deficit:

  • Freezing federal spending for five years;
  • Vetoing any legislation that comes from Congress with earmarks’;
  • Simplifying the corporate and individual tax codes.

BAIL OUT,  HEALTH CARE

“What’s more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea – the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny.”

How are American citizens given the chance to shape our own destiny with Obama’s attempt at global take over? We will not have the chance to shape on our financial destiny- after all the auto and wall street bailouts that Obama pushed upon us nor will we have the chance to shape our own medical destiny- after Obama pushed through an insurance mandate and control over our choice of preferred provider. These chances are being taken away from us and put in the hands of big government.

EDUCATION

“Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science.

Math and Science are fundamental to ensuring future success and long term growth; however, where is the emphasis on English and History? Without learning how to communicate and comprehend our past mistakes- we are destined to run ourselves in circle reworking old issues. A balance of all subjects Math/Science – English/History – Technology/Computers is an ideal “equation”. I applaud the decision to hire 100,000 new science, math and technology teachers over 10 years. Hoping the English/History teachers will step up a notch and remain competitive.

That’s why instead of just pouring money into a system that’s not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.  Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids.”

Race to the Top is a program by the U.S. Department of Education funded through federal stimulus dollars (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—ARRA). At $4.35 billion, it represents the largest investment in school reform ever. It will be divided among 6-12 states in a competitive application process.  6-12 states? What about the remaining states not in the competition? What was the deciding factor on letting states participate? I have yet to find the answer to this question.

And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

I fully support this idea but also in the areas of English and History.  However, our goal should be to recruit quality teachers, not focus on the quantity of them.

This year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit – worth $10,000 for four years of college.

I fully support this idea. College is expensive- even if tuition is being reimbursed, more than likely books are not covered and they can run anywhere from $60-$200 per book per class. Any sort of tax credit to help offset this financial burden would be a welcomed help.

EXPORTS, FOREIGN TRADE, JOB CREATION

To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014. Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States. And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs.

EXPORTS/BUDGET/JOB CREATION

“There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

Sounds like reorganization has to be done, no exceptions.  The criss cross of responsibilities is causing our tax payer money to be redirected.

FOREIGN POLICY, JOB CREATION,EXPORTS

It is argued that a stronger currency would increase the purchasing power of Chinese consumers and decrease the relative cost of American goods in China, spurring more Chinese to buy more American products which would result in more job creation.

Additionally, a stronger currency increases the relative cost of Chinese goods in third markets, like Europe or Latin America. Therefore,  if the yuan appreciates, consumers in other countries will shy away from Chinese products in favor of American products.

Further, a stronger currency would increase labor costs in China, making it less attractive for American companies to outsource jobs to China and thus keeping more people employed in the US.

If we want to double our exports within the next 3 years, we need to take a harder stance with China as they are pushing us out of the market. For more information on China- US currency relations, please visit my blog: https://theheartofamerica.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/us-china-debate-on-chinas-undervalued-currency-rate/.

That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.

I remain optimistic.

FOREIGN POLICY/PURCHASING POWER/CHINA WATCH

“This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas. Around the globe, we are standing with those who take responsibility – helping farmers grow more food; supporting doctors who care for the sick; and combating the corruption that can rot a society and rob people of opportunity.”

Stay tuned to the Heart of America for visitation analysis.

We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

So, by association- Obama is claiming allegiance to the Egyptian government despite tens of thousands Egyptians uprising against Mulbarak’s position and his cabinet. Read about the civil war currently happening despite Egypt’s cabinet resigning by visiting: https://theheartofamerica.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/fifth-day-of-fighting-in-egypt-despite-cabinet-resignation/

HEALTH CARE, BUDGET

“What’s more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea – the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny.”

How are American citizens given the chance to shape our own destiny with Obama’s attempt at global take over? We will not have the chance to shape on our financial destiny- after all the auto and wall street bailouts that Obama pushed upon us nor will we have the chance to shape our own medical destiny- after Obama pushed through an insurance mandate and control over our choice of preferred provider. These chances are being taken away from us and put in the hands of big government.

HIGH SPEED RAIL, JOB CREATION

We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians.

While I initially support this idea, I hope that Obama does not include this in his permanent job equation as road and construction work tend to be seasonal and temporary and it is important to note it as such.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

I know I will differ with my Republican colleagues on this matter but I support this endeavor. Living in Central Fla, I have seen how bad traffic congestion can get and we even name one of  the more impacted areas, “Malfunction Junction”. While I dont agree with the current cost of the Sunrail- Florida’s high speed rail- I feel that a high speed rail would not only reduce car accidents but it would also reduce the amount of emissions is released into our environment. In addition, a high speed rail would create temporary and permanent jobs- which is much needed and would be greatly appreciated.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.

I am thankful that the DREAM Act was not approved as illegal aliens should not be rewarded for bad behavior. The DREAM Act allowed illegal aliens from 17-35 to apply for citizenship if they were enrolled in the US military or attend school.  What a slap in the face to the people entering our country legally as well as to the degree seeking US citizens. To avoid going off on a tangent about illegal immigration, please visit my immigration blog at: https://theheartofamerica.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/dream-act-turned-into-a-nightmare

MILITARY MATTERS

Fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.

Didnt Obama say that troops would be withdrawn a couple years ago? I caution bringing our troops home without accomplishing our mission. Dont forget the Iraq problems that Bush Sr stirred and how resentment grew while we were reloading.

We have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.

Excellent.

With our European allies, we revitalized NATO, and increased our cooperation on everything from counter-terrorism to missile defense.

How is that true when we threw together a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty which limited our missile defense in Russia? Those were needed to counter terrorism. Read more about Obama’s enthusiasm of  the START treaty by visiting: https://theheartofamerica.wordpress.com/2011/01/10/russia-to-ratify-start-treaty-with-a-few-minor-changes/

NASA RESEARCH

“Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we’d beat them to the moon. The science wasn’t there yet. NASA didn’t even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn’t just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.”

Excuse me, Obama but you are exempt from claiming ownership of NASA as you depleted the majority of the Space programs financial backing.  If Obama is so supportive of this “wave of innovation”- why was he so quick to slash funding? Isn’t that a contradictory step to his goal of innovation and job growth?

NET NEUTRALITY, TECHNOLOGY

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.

Again, Obama offers much generalities with little to no substance behind it. How would this happen? Who would pay for the cost? Not I said the US tax payer.

VETERANS, ENVIRONMENT

Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse.

Welcome to 2011, Obama.  What other paper can you electronically transmit? I applaud the Republican Party for getting all bills online. For more information on Congress getting electronic, please visit: https://theheartofamerica.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/republicans-hold-true-to-their-promise-of-cutting-spending/

[End]

Questions? Comments? Please respond below, all thoughts are appreciated.

Safety measures for oil may be tedious but dont throw them to the wayside for a quick dollar.


Four stars **** on the revamped legislation, Implementing the Recommendations of the BP Oil Spill Commission Act,  reflects the recommendations of the independent oil spill commission tasked with investigating the BP Deepwater Horizon/Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the practices of the oil industry.

The legislation includes the following major elements, which all reflect the recommendations of the spill commission:

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–Reorganizes the Interior Department and strengthens the Department’s offshore oil safety agency.

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–Creates a dedicated funding stream to the federal agencies responsible for regulating and overseeing the safety of offshore drilling.

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–Establishes unlimited liability for companies in the event of an oil spill as a deterrent against risky practices.

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–Dedicates 80 percent of the fines from the oil spill to Gulf of Mexico restoration efforts.

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–Increases the role of experts in the U.S. Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the decision-making process for where new oil drilling can occur.

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–Requires the Federal Government to develop realistic worst-case flow-rate models and for oil companies to use them when they create real, worst-case scenario oil spill response plans.

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–Creates a dedicated funding stream for oil spill research and development.

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–Increases the per incident payout from the oil spill liability trust fund.

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–Creates permanent government expertise on estimating and measuring the flow rates from deepwater spills.

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–Requires research into gaps in scientific data and response capabilities in the Arctic.

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–Requires strong new standards for blowout preventers, well design and cementing practices.

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–Requires extensive study of the potential effects of dispersant use on aquatic life and the environment.

“This legislation turns the lessons of the BP oil spill into the laws that will ensure this type of disaster does not happen again in American waters,” said Rep. Edward J. Markey, Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee.

“This legislation will allow the offshore oil industry to continue doing business while changing the business-as-usual practices that led to the Gulf of Mexico spill.”

“The lessons from the explosion and blowout on the Deepwater Horizon are clear.  Commonsense regulations are necessary to protect the economy and environment of the Gulf Coast,” said Rep. Henry A. Waxman ,one of the Ranking Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“With this legislation, we can hold the appropriate parties accountable and make sure that this type of catastrophic blowout never happens again.”

“Gone are the days of Federal land management agencies sitting on the sidelines while Big Oil is given free reign to write its own rules and run roughshod over America’s public energy resources.

Gone too is the around-the-clock coverage of oil spewing into the Gulf, but in no way should that lessen the urgency with which Congress acts to prevent another disaster from occurring,” said Rep. Nick J. Rahall Leader of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“This bill is about holding BP and other parties responsible, restoring the economy of the Gulf, and making sure offshore drilling is done in an efficient and safe manner, because no one should have to risk their life to secure their livelihood.”

Rep. George Miller, Ranking Member of the Education and Workforce Committee agrees, “This legislation includes important provisions to protect workers and the environment when companies are drilling for oil and gas. We will bar companies with a history of being dangerous to workers or to the environment from the privilege of drilling off America’s coastline for our natural resources, and we will ensure that whistleblowers are protected when they call attention to dangerous practices.”

Representatives Miller and Markey also introduced companion legislation today that would extend modern whistleblower protections to workers whose employers are engaged in oil and gas exploration, drilling, production, or cleanup on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Currently, those workers have no protection against retaliation by an employer for speaking up on hazardous conditions.

“Few legislative modifications to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 research and development program have been made since its enactment. Theresponse to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has exposed the need for an effective and coordinated research program for oil spill response and cleanup.

Additionally, the National Commission report on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling calls for “mandatory funding for this oil spill response research and development,” said Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee (D-Texas). “

While a big proponent of Alternative Energy,  I understand that natural gas and oil are imperative for our daily functions.  However, I know it to be a fact that gas companies are lax on their safety measures in an effort to save a dollar and increase their profits. Safety measures are cut and follow through is not guaranteed.

Look at the Deepwater Horizon, source of April 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  If you want, take my word for it~ The reward is not worth the risk~ not when there are alternative energy sources waiting to be tapped without little environmental risk.

As a resident on the Gulf, I plead that oil companies ahere to these new guide lines. Now that the MMS (Minerals Managament) department is broken up, I am hoping that we can have real regulations enforced to ensure safety for all.

Copyright (c) January 28, 2011. All rights reserved.

Geothermal debate “heats” up


Geothermal energy is derived from heat within the earth. People can use the steam and hot water created inside the earth to heat buildings or produce electricity. Wondering what makes the water so hot? Geothermal energy is produced in the earth’s core.

People utilize geothermal energy to heat their homes and to produce electricity. This is achieved by digging deep wells and pumping the heated underground water or steam to the surface. We can also use the stable temperatures near the surface of the earth to heat and cool buildings.

Geothermal energy is making its presence felt worldwide and Iceland is the best example of the utilization of geothermal power. In fact Iceland leads the world in the development of geothermal utilization. They have doubled their annual power supply capping it up around 500 MW as far as electricity supply is concerned.

Germany is also emerging as a major user of geothermal energy. Germany is deriving its 100 MW of heat from geothermal energy.

Italy is not far behind. A team of European scientists, in the region of Travale (Italy), is planning to tap the potential of localized geothermal reservoirs. If this project is completed it will produce energy akin to a potential of around 1,000 wind power plants.

The European Union is also feeling the “heat” of geothermal energy. The newly developed techniques have been tried at four European geothermal locations. They are combining different geological and thermo¬dynamic conditions. High-temperature reservoirs have been examined in Travale/Italien having metamorphic rocks and in Hengill/Island (volcanic rocks). They are also examining two deposits with medium-temperature in deep sediment rocks in Germany and Poland.

Looks like our foreign neighbors are on to something, perhaps we should give considerable thought to this alternative energy source.

Copyright (c) January 10, 2011. All rights reserved.

Pipeline leak forces Alaskan oil production cuts, highlights environmental concerns.


A leak discovered Saturday in the massive Trans Alaska Pipeline system has forced BP and other oil producers on Alaska’s North Slope to cut output while the problem is addressed.

Alyeska Pipeline Service Company said in a statement Saturday night that the pipeline remained shut down after a leak discovered earlier in the day, when oil was discovered in the underground section of piping that led to the basement of the pump station.

This incident could have implications that could have the Capitol feeling it’s effects – any prolonged reduction in output could renew calls for further diversifying U.S. exploration and production which, in turn, creates concern about oil production.

“If there’s no resolution by tomorrow, we may see prices heading towards $90 a barrel or higher,” stated Gavin Wendt, Founding Director of MineLife Pty Ltd. in Sydney. “The market is very susceptible to supply-side problems.”

Not only are market prices a concern but so is the environmental impact.  A spokesperson for Alyeska stated that there was “no visible oil”; however, that was also said about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill back in April of last year and that turned out to be the worst oil spill in US history with coastal residents along the Gulf still feeling the effects and who anticipate will continue to feel the effects for years to come.

It is apparent that production of oil/peteroleum is needed in the short term but when are we going to start looking for alternative energy as a long term solution to our recent environmental and financial woes?

Copyright (c) January 9, 2011. All rights reserved.

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