The 20 Worst Wall Street Banks Funding Our Filthiest Polluters | | AlterNet

. . . in 2010 we had the highest CO2 emissions since the beginning of industrialization. And there’s a question of who is financing these emissions? Who is paying for the plants that are causing these emissions?

This article focuses on the financing of the coal industry because the COAL industry is the biggest polluter — from the mining operation (listening, Utah?) to the burning to produce energy.  What use is cheap energy (again, Utah?)?   I’ll just bet that the savings in power bills doesn’t offset the higher doctor bills resulting from breathing filthy air.  Talk to the parent of a child with asthma and see if they would have preferred to pay$10, 25, even 50-100 more on their energy bill rather than have their child deal with the lifelong effects of pollution-caused asthma.

JP Morgan, Citi and Bank of America top the list.  Anyone surprised by this?  Just another reason to go local with your money!

The 20 Worst Wall Street Banks Funding Our Filthiest Polluters | | AlterNet.

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PROPOSAL TO STRIP MINE COAL ON PUBLIC LANDS!

The existing Coal Hollow mine site. Copyright Ray Bloxham/SUWA.

Please see these links for background on this issue:

Save Bryce Canyon from Coal Mining

Altoncoalmine.com

Adventure Journal

Governor Gary Herbert’s shady involvement

Following is the letter I wrote to Keith Rigtrup, Director of the Kanab BLM field office, one of the decisionmakers in the Alton Coal Mine proposal to expand onto public lands.

Mr. Rigtrup:

Please say “NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE” to this proposal! 

You have the keys to the Kingdom, so to speak.  The proposal to expand the Alton Coal Development onto public lands is a heavy-handed, short-term and extremely limited proposal that will benefit a mere handful of people.  These lands are public lands, meaning that everyone in this country can consider themselves a part-owner. 

The environmental study has shown the environmental and habitat damage that will occur.  You, as BLM director in this area, know that these are marginal lands.  These lands will NEVER, in our human lifetime, recover from the damage done by this strip coal mine.  This mine proposal is not the same as discussing roads and trails.   You know this!

If a private land owner decides that he can do this to his property, so be it.  It destroys the ecosystem, disrupts wildlife habitat, and destroys the natural beauty of the land but if the owner cares more about his $ intake, it is his right, and on his conscience.  These, however, are public lands.  You are the director, the manager, the steward of these lands and what lives in them. 

I am from southern Utah.  I grew up in Cannonville, in Bryce Valley.  I know these lands, know their beauty and their fragility.  I have extreme concerns for the impact on Bryce Canyon, and other areas westward from this proposed development.  My direct concern, however, is for the land itself.  It is unbelievable to me that anyone is even willing to consider this proposal knowing the destruction, disruption and lack of recoverability of these lands.   You know how long even tracks last in these soils.  How can you, knowing this, even consider this proposal?  Please, say NO ACTION ALTERNATIVE; please!

Please write and voice your opposition to this proposal.  There is a meeting tonight, December 7 at the Salt Lake City Library at 6:00 pm.  Please go if possible.  Please write:

  • Keith Rigtrup, Bureau of Land Management, Kanab Office:  UT_Kanab_Altoncoal@blm.gov
  • Juan Palma, Bureau of Land Management, Utah State Director:  Juan_Palma@blm.gov
  • Bob Abbey, Bureau of Land Management, National Director:   Director@blm.gov
  • Department of the Interior, Attn. Secretary Ken Salazar:  feedback@ios.doi.gov

Links to other contacts:

THIS is why I Oppose the Coal Mine near Bryce Canyon!

I previously published this post on The Green Man Wanderings.

Back to Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon cabin

The cabin I lived in

Why “Back” to Bryce? Because that is what I do. I keep going back to Bryce Canyon*. Unlike almost everyone else with whom I grew up in Bryce Valley during the 50s and 60s, I was born elsewhere, my mother returning to move in with my grandmother in Cannonville following my father’s death. While very young, I spent my days with my mother at her job as postmaster at the Bryce Canyon Lodge post office, either underfoot there or wandering around the Lodge, being looked after by her and all the lodge employees. Later we actually lived in a rented apartment in the park during the summers, going down the “dump” (the affectionate term for the road down to the valley) to tend the garden, take care of things at home, etc. My summers in Bryce Canyon were glorious, free and life-shaping. Now, I go back. It’s not the same, of course, I’ve changed. As a parent I brought my children, hoping that they too would have their own Bryce Canyon experience and each, in their own way, has done so.

Bryce Canyon ampitheater

Now I go back, not to recapture what I had, although the memories are wondrous, but to seek the peace and absorb the beauty. The canyon is still beautiful, the forest, with its pine-vanilla smell still whispers with the wind, the air almost sparkles with freshness. The blueness of the sky and sharp whiteness of the cloud against the white-pink-orange-red limestone reminds us that our world is one of kaleidoscope color, brilliant, subdued, ever-changing with the movement of sun and shadow.

Alone on the canyon rim

This canyon is a place of stillness. Its remoteness doesn’t lend well to the corporate tourist who travels according to a franchise-like itinerary. The buses still come, full to stuffed with those wanting to see in person what they’ve only seen in photo books, calendars or on Ken Burns’ PBS series The National Parks: America’s Best Idea**. I’m glad they come. If even one accepts what the canyon has to offer, it is worth it. If just one of these many feels the spirit of the canyon and remembers throughout their life, telling others what they felt, it is worth the buses, the exhaust, the temporary crowds. The crowds eventually leave, moving on to the next destination and the stillness returns.

If you come to Bryce Canyon, spend some time alone. If you come with a busload of people, go off on your own, even if for just a few minutes. Go to a place where you no longer hear other people and listen. Listen to the birds, the wind, the random rock sliding down the eroded face of the canyon. Feel the breeze, smell the freshness and drink in the beauty. You too will be changed.

Links:

* Bryce Canyon National Park

**Ken Burns, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

Save Bryce Canyon from Coal Mining!

Save Bryce Canyon from a proposed coal mine

More Valuable than Coal.

THESE ARE OUR PARKS!!  THESE ARE OUR LANDS!!!

Bryce Canyon National Park and public lands (yours and mine) managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are under attack from the State of Utah and Strip Coal Mining!  This is the “Alton Tract Lease — a proposal to mine coal on public land adjacent to Bryce Canyon. The mine would pollute the air from hundreds of coal trucks spewing dust, endanger wildlife, dirty the water and negatively impact the local tourism economy.”

“Mining would pollute the region’s clean water and air, flood Bryce Canyon’s world-famous dark night skies with light, destroy habitats and mating grounds for sage grouse, mule deer, and kit fox, create noise disruptions, and generate toxic coal dust from hundreds of trucks.

Coal is one of the dirtiest forms of energy, one that we must move beyond. Mining it right next to one of America’s most treasured landscapes is further insult to injury.”

Sign a petition against a strip mine on BLM land proposal right outside Bryce Canyon National Park.  This is dirty coal, a STRIP Mine, right next to a national park known for its pristine air.  PLEASE SIGN!!!  PLEASE TELL THE BLM NO, DO NOT APPROVE THIS PROPOSAL!

How did we get here?:

On the same day [Utah State] Gov. Gary Herbert sat down with a coal company that complained regulators were taking too long to issue a strip-mining permit, his campaign aides were cashing a $10,000 check from the company.

The pleas from Alton Coal Development LLC did not go unanswered. According to a memo obtained by The Associated Press, state regulators at the meeting agreed to fast-track a decision approving the mine near Panguitch, despite opposition from residents. source

Bryce Canyon, We are ALL owners!

The 99 Percent Movement!

Think this protest movement doesn’t include you?  Think again!  Do you think the protesters are “freaks,”fringe,”radical left,” “mobs,” “anti-American?”  I’m telling you that YOU are part of the 99 Percent so be careful what you call them!

"stars" and stripes, Credit: thinkprogress.org

Although this image is pretty telling, it isn’t the whole story.

This movement is not necessarily against Wall Street, corporations, government;  it is against Wall Street influencing Supreme Court decisions and governmental policy.  It is against corporations being called “people” and being allowed to buy politicians and votes anonymously by the Supreme Court (see Citizens United) and politicians like Mitt Romney (see: “Corporations are people, my friend“).  This movement represents people from all communities, all action groups, all people who have had their voice and vote stolen by lobbyists and special interests that are buying the votes of the representatives of you, me, WE the People!  It represents all who want their representatives and senators, both state and federal, to listen to the 99 percent rather than only the 1 percent.  This movement includes Democrats, Republicans, Tea Partiers.  This protest is not against the government, it is for the government listening to the people and being held accountable by the people.

The corporate media, when they reluctantly give coverage to the movement at all, claim there is no coherent message or agenda.  You’ll hear and read that nobody really knows what it’s all about— is it anti-government? anti-corporate America?  Is it environmental activism, pro-jobs?  Who are these people?  Unemployed slackers? Liberals? Conservatives? Students with nothing better to do? Small business owners? Women’s and Civil rights advocates?  Who ARE these people?

THEY ARE US, FOLKS!  WE ARE THE   99 PERCENT!

That means this movement is about making OUR voices heard — even if I stand next to someone who wants something different than me, we just want our voices to be heard rather than just the 1%!  We don’t have the money to buy the votes and influence legislation (see Koch Brothers), and even if we did, we wouldn’t do it because that’s not what this country is supposed to be about!  This is a Republic.  Representatives are supposed to be making policy based on what their constituents want.

Speak up, Everyone!  Make your voices be heard, finally!  And, if you can’t attend a protest, at least support those who do!

Open Letter to Utah Senators and Representatives, and All Members of the U.S. Congress

Open Letter to Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee (Senators from Utah), Jason Chaffetz (Representative of my district in Utah), Rob Bishop and Jim Matheson (representatives of other House districts in Utah), and all other members of Congress:

I am a middle class American and refuse to stand quietly by and let you destroy this country. The budget debate you have been playing at has gone beyond the point of reason. I join with many, many others in saying that you must stop this irresponsibility. It doesn’t matter which political party you have attached to your name, you are supposedly a representative of the citizens and supposedly put country first. You should be ashamed of the partisan debate that has brought us to the economic brink of default and made “democracy” the laughingstock of the world. No one observing the current debacle would want to have anything to do with our form of government, they must view us as in a downward spiral to nowhere, and they are right.

Many of you (all of the Utahns) claim that this is the result of unchecked spending, budget deficits, etc. (something that almost all of you have been a part of for many years), and that you are now going to be the ones to put a stop to it. Rather than stopping it though, you are opening the trapdoor for the middle and lower classes in this country to fall through. Not one of you has offered a reasonable, balanced approach that includes everyone in this country — and by that I include individuals (rich, poor and everyone in between), small businesses and big corporations. You refuse to consider any kind of tax increase — including closing tax loopholes that benefit large corporations or ending oil and gas subsidies on corporations that just posted multi-billion dollar profits — or even to let the Bush era tax cuts expire. Most of what has been proposed falls on the back of those least able to make adjustments — elderly, poor, lower and middle class, and the environment. Where were your budget concerns in the pre-war debate regarding funding of two wars? Did you express any reservations regarding how those wars were going to be funded? I’ll answer for you because I remember even if you don’t: No, you did not express any concerns, in fact, those of you who were in Washington at that time were in FULL support of the wars as well as the tax cuts. You completely disregarded the voices of warning saying that it could not be done and our nation remain economically sound. You were in a full press forward, following the administration’s advice to increase spending (two wars) and decrease revenues (tax cuts). That, sirs, is why we have a budget crisis; that is why we have a deficit rather than a budget surplus — and you were in full support.

Since you played such an important role in the making of our current deficit, you need to get busy, bury your partisan pom poms, and work out a viable compromise — not a compromise like you think you have agreed upon, not one that requires a constitutional amendment, but a real, viable compromise. A compromise that cuts spending but also increases revenues. The subsidies must go and tax cuts for those with incomes over $200,000 must go. You know that 90-95% of Americans do not fall into that category so unless you are going to be elected by the other 5% you’d better pay attention here!

Now a few personal notes to each of the legislators from Utah:

Mike Lee, your constitutional amendment needs to hit the bottom of the bin. This country had a budget surplus when George W. Bush started his first term and that was without your constitutional amendment. We didn’t need it then, we don’t need it now. You profess to believe that the Constitution of the United States is divinely inspired, so stop trying to mess with it. You are not the one to “save” it from the proverbial “thread” any more than Mr. Hatch.

Orrin Hatch, it’s time for you to retire. You came from Pennsylvania thirty years ago campaigning on term limits and you are still here. It’s time to do something other than petty squabbling with Jason Chaffetz.

Mr. Chaffetz, stop acting like Mr. Hatch. Also, I don’t want to hear you say again that you haven’t heard any disagreement with your budget/deficit position from your constituents. You have and you know it.

Rob Bishop, it’s time to realize that God didn’t say “suck the earth dry and then pave whatever’s left” when he referred to replenishing the Earth.  The dust you are made of will return to the earth but your soul will return to God, and He will require an accounting. That will not be in dollars earned for the oil and gas lobby.

Jim Matheson, I think it would be better if you just switched parties. You vote as a Republican most of the time so you might as well be honest about it.

Now a general note to all serving (yes, serving) in the House/Senate/Administration:

It is time to stop this ridiculous posturing and get some work done. If you went to school in this country you had to take U.S. history and/or civics courses. You should know that governing means compromise. Our country has 300 million people in it — no one will ever get everything they want! I won’t, you won’t, no one will. That is because if I get what I want, someone else gets stepped on. If someone else gets everything they want, the ‘wants’ of another someone else will be squashed. That is why we must compromise. EVERYONE must do their part, the poor, the middle class, the wealthy and the corporations. When you serve only one sector — even if it’s the one that provides bucketloads of campaign cash — you are hurting all others. You cannot do that as an elected official and still claim to be “principled.” You must look at the greater good for the majority. It is time to remember the other 95% of the American population. Unless I am mistaken, they are the ones who will be at the polls in the next election.

Sincerely,

Utah American

Big Oil and the Budget/Deficit Debate

There are some people who will immediately discount the following information simply because the source is  The Progress Report Banner, what is generally considered to be a liberal/progressive information source.  Whether the information comes from a liberal or a conservative source (e.g. The Wall Street Journal), the facts are the same:  the big oil corporations continue to make billions of dollars in profits even as they continue to receive government tax and incentive subsidies.  Please read closely and note that the figures below are not for a full year, say for 2010, but are for second quarter 2011, that is April to June only of 2011 and they are profits.   Three Months!

The budget/deficit debate in the House and Senate of the United States continues to slide away from the elimination of these subsidies and toward cuts to services that ALL Americans, not just corporate CEOs or shareholders, receive — Medicare and Social Security, clean air/water regulation, environmental protections and assistance to “the least among us.”  The debate has included such possibilities as doing away with or lowering PELL grants for low-income students, eliminating the mortgage interest tax deduction, defunding the EPA and Interior Departments to the point where enforcement of existing regulations that protect drinking water, mine safety and air quality, for example, is impossible.

Our government is supposed to be “of, by and for the people,” and so, unless you think this is fair (and who knows, you might), I suggest that you write/call/email your congressmen, those representatives and senators who are elected BY THE PEOPLE, NOT BY THE CORPORATION and let them know how you feel about this.  As far as I am concerned, this is absolutely unacceptable and would say, “read it and weep,” but I don’t want you to weep, weeping is generally associated with hopelessness and the facing of a situation that cannot be changed.  This can and must change.  Therefore, I say, “read it and get DAMN MAD!!!!  Call and write your congressmen and let them know how unacceptable this is!  Compromise means that both sides come together, it’s not one side of the debate completely caving!  Everyone must tighten — YES, EVEN BIG OIL!!!

Link here to find your congressional representatives:   http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

No ‘Shared Sacrifice’ for Big Oil

While the government’s coffers are nearly empty (not unlike the wallets of millions of Americans), Big Oil is still flush with cash — including some of the $4 BILLION in taxpayer-funded handouts they’ll get from Uncle Sam this year. This week, the government-subsidized oil giants once again reported tens of billions of dollars in profits.

As the nation teeters on the brink of default, the GOP wants us to “kiss Medicare goodbye” (along with Medicaid and Social Security), but they still refuse to touch a dime of the $77 BILLION in taxpayer handouts that we’ll give to the most profitable industry the world has ever known over the next 10 years.

Here are the numbers you need to know:

$3.4 BILLION

ConocoPhillips’ second quarter profit.

$5.6 BILLION

BP‘s second quarter profit, which investors called “disappointing.”

$8 BILLION

Shell’s second quarter profit.

$10.7 BILLION

ExxonMobil’s second quarter profit.

17.6 Percent

ExxonMobil’s effective federal tax rate.

20.4 Percent

The average American’s individual effective tax rate.

41 Percent

The increase in ExxonMobil’s second quarter profits.

$77 BILLION

The cost of taxpayer-funded subsidies for Big Oil from 2011-2021.

In one sentence: Even as ExxonMobil made more than $118 MILLION a day in profits last quarter, it is still paying a lower tax rate than the average American.