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New Executive Order: “Obama Has Just Given Himself the Authority to Seize Your Assets”

New Executive Order: “Obama Has Just Given Himself the Authority to Seize Your Assets”.

Mac Slavo
March 19th, 2014
SHTFplan.com

shredding-the-constitution

On Monday the U.S. government took steps to seize the US-based assets of Russian lawmakers and anyone else that the US government deemed complicit in supporting the Crimean secession movement.

We’ve seen the U.S. government do this in countless cases surrounding drug and financial crimes, and sometimes even against foreign leaders like Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega.

What makes this particular instance so unprecedented and terrifying is that President Obama went so far as to issue a new Executive Order to give himself the authorization to do so, because the laws of the United States are such that our government is not allowed to simply take someone’s bank assets, home or business without due process.

Here’s the kicker.

The new Executive Order doesn’t just apply to just Russians or foreigners. It gets blanket coverage, so even American citizens could now face asset forfeiture if their actions are deemed to be “contributing to the situation in the Ukraine.”

Be careful what you say. Be careful what you write. President Obama has just given himself the authority to seize your assets.

According to the president’s recent Executive Order, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine” (first reported by WND’s Aaron Klein), the provisions for seizure of property extend to “any United States person.” That means “any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.”

Via: The Ron Paul Institute

Like most Executive Orders and government legalese, the definitions for why an individual would have their assets seized under this directive are extremely broad and they could, for all intents and purposes, be used against anyone who supports Russian interests, or simply argues against those of the United States.

You can read the full Executive Order at the White House web site. The key points are noted below:

All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person (including any foreign branch) of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(i) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following:

(A) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine;

(B) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or

(C) misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine

This new Executive Order has crossed a very dangerous line. It’s one that turns the notions of property rights and due process upside down by effectively bypassing the U.S. Constitution.

While we’re sure the President and his staff would argue that such a law would never be used against Americans who are protected by free speech, the fact is that the Executive Branch now believes it has the self-manifested authority to target any individual who engages in activities that undermine US interests abroad or at home.

If a President of the United States believes he has the authority to make it illegal for you to provide support to Russia by way of political commentary, charitable donations or other methods, could he also use similar directives to push forward other agendas?

President Obama has already re-authorized an E.O. giving him the ability to seizefarms, food, processing plants, energy resources, transportation, and skilled laborers during national emergency.

The next Executive Order could come in the form of restrictions on firearms advocacy or target those who speak out against policies like government mandated health care. All it would take is the declaration of a national emergency and they can essentially do as they please.

Is it prudent to give a single person the ability to force such actions down the throats of the American people without Congressional oversight or Judicial review?

New Executive Order: "Obama Has Just Given Himself the Authority to Seize Your Assets"

New Executive Order: “Obama Has Just Given Himself the Authority to Seize Your Assets”.

Mac Slavo
March 19th, 2014
SHTFplan.com

shredding-the-constitution

On Monday the U.S. government took steps to seize the US-based assets of Russian lawmakers and anyone else that the US government deemed complicit in supporting the Crimean secession movement.

We’ve seen the U.S. government do this in countless cases surrounding drug and financial crimes, and sometimes even against foreign leaders like Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega.

What makes this particular instance so unprecedented and terrifying is that President Obama went so far as to issue a new Executive Order to give himself the authorization to do so, because the laws of the United States are such that our government is not allowed to simply take someone’s bank assets, home or business without due process.

Here’s the kicker.

The new Executive Order doesn’t just apply to just Russians or foreigners. It gets blanket coverage, so even American citizens could now face asset forfeiture if their actions are deemed to be “contributing to the situation in the Ukraine.”

Be careful what you say. Be careful what you write. President Obama has just given himself the authority to seize your assets.

According to the president’s recent Executive Order, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine” (first reported by WND’s Aaron Klein), the provisions for seizure of property extend to “any United States person.” That means “any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.”

Via: The Ron Paul Institute

Like most Executive Orders and government legalese, the definitions for why an individual would have their assets seized under this directive are extremely broad and they could, for all intents and purposes, be used against anyone who supports Russian interests, or simply argues against those of the United States.

You can read the full Executive Order at the White House web site. The key points are noted below:

All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person (including any foreign branch) of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(i) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following:

(A) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine;

(B) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or

(C) misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine

This new Executive Order has crossed a very dangerous line. It’s one that turns the notions of property rights and due process upside down by effectively bypassing the U.S. Constitution.

While we’re sure the President and his staff would argue that such a law would never be used against Americans who are protected by free speech, the fact is that the Executive Branch now believes it has the self-manifested authority to target any individual who engages in activities that undermine US interests abroad or at home.

If a President of the United States believes he has the authority to make it illegal for you to provide support to Russia by way of political commentary, charitable donations or other methods, could he also use similar directives to push forward other agendas?

President Obama has already re-authorized an E.O. giving him the ability to seizefarms, food, processing plants, energy resources, transportation, and skilled laborers during national emergency.

The next Executive Order could come in the form of restrictions on firearms advocacy or target those who speak out against policies like government mandated health care. All it would take is the declaration of a national emergency and they can essentially do as they please.

Is it prudent to give a single person the ability to force such actions down the throats of the American people without Congressional oversight or Judicial review?

Activist Post: The College Debt Bubble Is Set to Explode (Micro Documentary)

Activist Post: The College Debt Bubble Is Set to Explode (Micro Documentary).

Mac Slavo
Activist Post

This month President Obama issued a directive that will penalize “for-profit” trade schools because students are amassing huge levels of debt they can’t pay off. According to the President and the Department of Education these specialty training schools promise to train students and prepare them for a career in everything from computer design to personal training. But when graduates get out of school they often lack the skills necessary to land the high paying jobs they were promised, leaving many without the income to service their loans.

The proposed regulations would penalize career oriented programs that produce graduates without the training needed to find a job with a salary that will allow them to pay off their debt. Schools, for-profit or not, that don’t comply would lose access to the federal student aid programs.

“Today, too many of these programs fail to provide students with the training that they need at taxpayers’ expense and the cost to these students’ futures.”

What President Obama won’t tell you is that it’s not just trade schools that promise young and optimistic high school graduates a future full of big money and easy living.

And though most universities claim they are non-profit pedagogic institutions whose goal is to serve and mold young minds for the future, the fact is that there is a ton of money to be made by everyone involved including teachers, administrators, banks and periphery industries that service colleges.

According to a new documentary from Crush the Street obscene debt levels are being amassed on all levels of secondary education – even if the college in question is not “for profit.”

If you have kids entering college, in college, or graduates living with you at home, the following documentary is one you’ll want to share – just so they know exactly how they’ve been brainwashed into believing that the road to success requires a degree. Moreover, it reveals the reasons for why college education costs are skyrocketing, as well as the end result of the trillion dollar bubble that is sure to pop in coming years.

A Must Watch For Anyone Entering Higher Education: The College Bubble

The official fiscal year 2010 default rate was 14.7% and we can only expect that to be higher for the following years. No one but the government would guarantee a loan for anyone to go to college, for any curriculum with little regards for the likelihood of the individual to repay the loan.

The government gladly invests taxpayer dollars into student grants and loans. This is what has been driving the increase in college tuition bringing it above and beyond the average student and family.

For teenagers the propaganda is so potent that high school students in many cases have blind optimism that they will land their dream career after college and have the income to easily pay off any loan balances occurred along the way.

Some graduates are left with over $100,000 in debt and can barely find any job, let alone the one they pictured themselves getting into four years ago.

For starters, we are now living in a new economy, much different from the one our parents and grandparents experienced after World War II. Many of America’s high paying jobs have been outsourced to foreign countries. Manufacturing has been shifted to slave-labor economies like China. The majority of jobs left in America are low-paying, minimum wage labor. So the competition for the few high paying jobs remaining is extremely fierce.

This is why a huge percentage of American adults – nearly 30% – are living with their parents, and that includes graduates who just got out of school with tens of thousands in debt.

The government interference that caused home prices to rise ahead of the 2008 financial crisis and saw more people buy homes than ever before, is the very same effect we’re seeing in college education.

We all remember how that ended up.

College tuition cannot rise indefinitely. Eventually something will cause the great college bubble to pop.

Outstanding student loan debt is over $1.2 trillion. This is nearly 50% higher than outstanding credit card debt.

The longer the status quo is kept, the bigger the bubble is going to get… and thus the larger the crash will be.

In the coming years student loan payments will get so high that it’ll be unmanageable… even for the students that get the dream job that they were told their degree would award them.

Massive defaults will occur and colleges will soon be worse off. Prices will need to be readjusted to maintain the maximum income when attendance levels crash. Professors will face pay cuts or layoffs, along with administration, maintenance, construction and anyone else working for or at a college or university.

As an example, take a high school graduate who wants to become a teacher. She’ll spend four years in school and take on around $80,000 of debt. When she gets out of school, she’ll make around $35,000 a year. At that rate it would literally take her two decades to pay off her loan. Others might not be so lucky and will end up shackled with debt for their entire life, or they’ll simply default

Consider a liberal arts major who, in essence, is being trained for a “career” that produces a service that the majority of Americans won’t have the money to pay for. How will this individual pay back tens of thousands of dollar in debt?

The simple answer? They won’t.

There are certainly jobs out there that require higher education. But even those industries, such as the medical field, are being gutted from within.

This is just another example of what happens when government gets involved in the free market. Overblown prices, life-long debt commitments, and a future of destitution is what college graduates can expect over coming decades.

What high schoolers don’t realize – and many will never be taught under Common Core’s curriculum – is that the key elements for success are, among other things, self-education, focus, adaptability, resilience, persistence and an optimistic attitude. You know, all of those things that made America great to begin with. A college degree is secondary.

You can read more from Mac Slavo at his site SHTFplan.com where this first appeared.  

Siemens CEO Explains Why Russian Sanctions Will Never Happen | Zero Hedge

Siemens CEO Explains Why Russian Sanctions Will Never Happen | Zero Hedge.

With the UK rapidly backing away from sanctions against the Russians (and the Russians suggesting the confiscation of US and EU assets should sanctions occur), it appears President Obama is becoming increasingly isolated in his calls for sanctions. As the CEO of Siemens – Germany’s massive industrial conglomerate explains Russian natural gas provides “lifeblood” to western Europe and there is substantial “dependency.”

Via WSJ,

The head of German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG said he doesn’t expect European governments will press hard for sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin’s authorization to potentially deploy  troops into Ukraine.

Siemens President and Chief Executive Joe Kaeser was asked about the situation in Ukraine during an appearance at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas. He said it was important to remember that Russian natural gas provides “lifeblood” to western Europe and there is substantial “dependency.”

“Maybe the American people or the government or whoever raises their eyebrows can say how could the Europeans be so moderate on the debate over sanctions. Guess what? You don’t want to sanction anyone you depend on,” Mr. Kaeser said.

...

Mr. Kaeser went on to say the U.S. is in a better position to consider economic sanctions against Russia because of its recent surge in oil and gas production.

Siemens CEO Explains Why Russian Sanctions Will Never Happen | Zero Hedge

Siemens CEO Explains Why Russian Sanctions Will Never Happen | Zero Hedge.

With the UK rapidly backing away from sanctions against the Russians (and the Russians suggesting the confiscation of US and EU assets should sanctions occur), it appears President Obama is becoming increasingly isolated in his calls for sanctions. As the CEO of Siemens – Germany’s massive industrial conglomerate explains Russian natural gas provides “lifeblood” to western Europe and there is substantial “dependency.”

Via WSJ,

The head of German industrial conglomerate Siemens AG said he doesn’t expect European governments will press hard for sanctions against Russia in response to the Kremlin’s authorization to potentially deploy  troops into Ukraine.

Siemens President and Chief Executive Joe Kaeser was asked about the situation in Ukraine during an appearance at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, Texas. He said it was important to remember that Russian natural gas provides “lifeblood” to western Europe and there is substantial “dependency.”

“Maybe the American people or the government or whoever raises their eyebrows can say how could the Europeans be so moderate on the debate over sanctions. Guess what? You don’t want to sanction anyone you depend on,” Mr. Kaeser said.

...

Mr. Kaeser went on to say the U.S. is in a better position to consider economic sanctions against Russia because of its recent surge in oil and gas production.

Keystone XL Decision Highlights Coziness Between Oil and Gas Industry, Obama Administration | DeSmogBlog

Keystone XL Decision Highlights Coziness Between Oil and Gas Industry, Obama Administration | DeSmogBlog.

Mon, 2014-02-03 11:59SHARON KELLY

Sharon Kelly's picture

This past week was good to the oil and gas industry. First, President Obama talked up jobs gains from drilling and labeled natural gas a “bridge fuel” in his State of the Union address, using terminology favored by natural gas advocates.

Then, on Friday, the Obama administration released a much-awaited assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline’s environmental impacts which concluded that pipeline construction “remains unlikely to  significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands,” effectively turning a blind eye to the staggering carbon emissions from tar sands extraction and expansion plans.

While Mr. Obama’s warm embrace of fossil fuels surprised some environmentalists, it should come as little surprise in light of prior comments made by the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API).

“It’s our expectation it will be released next week,” Jack Gerard confidently told Reuters, referring to the Keystone XL assessment, while many were still speculating that the report might not be issued until after the November mid-term election. “We’re expecting to hear the same conclusion that we’ve heard four times before: no significant impact on the environment.”

Mr. Gerard added that these predictions were based on sources within the administration.

In fact, as the Keystone decision-making process has unfolded, the oil and gas industry has had — as they’ve enjoyed for decades — intensive access to decision-making in the White House.  This access has helped form the Obama administration’s schizophrenic energy policy, in which the President backs both renewable energy and fossil fuels without acknowledging that the two are competitors. When fossil fuels gain market share, renewables lose.

While even the World Bank has called for immediate action on climate change, the API, which has worked hard to shape Obama’s views on fossil fuels, has also worked to create doubt around the very concept of fossil-fuel-driven climate change and to downplay the impact their industry has had.

There’s no question that the oil and gas industry wields enormous sway inside Washington D.C.

The API has spent $9.3 million dollars this year alone on reportable lobbying expenses, the highest amount in the group’s history, according to data from OpenSecrets.org. This summer, a DeSmog investigation found that API spent $22.03 million dollars lobbying at the federal level on Keystone XL and/or tar sands issues since June 2008, when the pipeline project was first proposed.

The API has also worked hard to convince lawmakers that voters overwhelmingly back the pipeline (despite a groundswell of grassroots organizing that has led to the project’s declining popularity).

This summer, Mr. Gerard’s group launched a massive ad campaign — featuringformer Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — that was timed to be seen by lawmakers in Washington D.C. and when they headed back to their home states for recess. API has also funded astroturf campaigns (exposed by leaked documents), cited questionable job creation numbers, and drawn fire from media watchdogs for playing fast and loose with the facts.

The industry’s influence over Obama’s administration on Keystone XL has at times been downright scandalous. Obama’s State Department hired an API member, Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM), to evaluate the Keystone XL pipeline’s potential environmental impact.

In a blockbuster investigative reportMother Jones revealed that ERM’s Keystone experts previously worked for TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone project, along with other oil and gas companies poised to profit from the pipeline’s construction. When the report was released publicly by the State Department, reporter Andy Kroll had noticed something especially odd: the biographies of each expert had been redacted, suggesting that the State Department may have known of those potential conflicts and attempted to hide that fact.

The State Department’s inspector general promised to investigate the conflict of interest allegations, but the results of those investigations are still not public.

The API has tended to strongly favor Republicans over Democrats in its campaign contributions, but over the past several years, the Obama administration hasreached out to the oil and gas industry group, soliciting its views. Nonetheless, Mr. Gerard remained unsatisfied. “At least they’re listening,” he told Oil and Gas Journal in 2012. “But they’re not following every one of our recommendations.”

If this past week is any indication, that might be starting to shift.

After Obama’s State of the Union address, Mr. Gerard was quick to applaud the President’s description of natural gas — which emits a little more than half as much carbon dioxide when burned as coal, but whose total climate impacts could actually be worse than coal once methane emissions are tallied — saying that the President was evolving.

“This year he gave a full-throated endorsement to natural gas,” Mr. Gerard told theWall Street Journal. “Next year, he’ll be giving a full-throated endorsement to U.S. oil production.”

“His words are going in the right direction for us,” Mr. Gerard added.

The API has emerged as a significant influence over the Obama administration, and its inherently flawed all-of-the-above vision for our energy future.

The reason Keystone XL matters so much is not just as its symbolic importance as the fact that it would reflect a major long-term commitment to continued fossil fuel extraction — at a moment when climate experts are saying we must takeimmediate and drastic action and leave two-thirds of known fossil reserves in the ground.

In his State of the Union, Mr. Obama talked up benefits of oil and gas and thengave mention to renewables like wind and solar, but he showed no awareness that a long-term commitment to fossil fuels is in direct tension with furthering renewable energy.

“If we are truly serious about fighting the climate crisis, we must look beyond an ‘all of the above’ energy policy and replace dirty fuels with clean energy,” the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune said. “We can’t effectively act on climate and expand drilling and fracking for oil and gas at the same time.”

For its part, the API’s stance on climate has long been one of obfuscation. A 1998 API “Communications Action Plan” reads: “Victory will be achieved when … citizens ‘understand’ uncertainties in climate science … [and] recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.'”

Jack Gerard has argued that fracking represents a benefit for the environment,citing the fact that carbon emissions have dropped since the shale boom began.

Not only does this ignore the role that the recession has played in reducing energy consumption, but it also ignores the effects of another key greenhouse gas: methane. There is strong evidence that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry could make natural gas even worse than burning coal, in terms of its overall climate impact.

And, there are signs that the reductions cited by Mr. Gerard are already over. Earlier this month, the EIA announced that CO2 emissions rose 2 percent in 2013, reversing earlier declines.

Of course, if Keystone XL is ultimately approved, carbon emissions can be expected to spike. The pipeline will carry up to 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day. Opening Keystone would emit as much CO2 into the atmosphere as opening six new coal-fired power plants, the Pembina Institute estimated.

“This is a large source of carbon that’s going to be unleashed,” Larry Schweiger, the president of the National Wildlife Federation told The New York Times after the State Department’s Keystone report was released. “We’re headed in a terribly wrong direction with this project, and I don’t see how that large increase in carbon is going to be offset.”

But if you ask Jack Gerard, there’s nothing to worry about. “This final review puts to rest any credible concerns about the pipeline’s potential negative impact on the environment,” he said in a statement. “This long-awaited project should now be swiftly approved.”

Photo Credit: Oil and Gas Well, via Shutterstock.

Keystone XL Decision Highlights Coziness Between Oil and Gas Industry, Obama Administration | DeSmogBlog

Keystone XL Decision Highlights Coziness Between Oil and Gas Industry, Obama Administration | DeSmogBlog.

Mon, 2014-02-03 11:59SHARON KELLY

Sharon Kelly's picture

This past week was good to the oil and gas industry. First, President Obama talked up jobs gains from drilling and labeled natural gas a “bridge fuel” in his State of the Union address, using terminology favored by natural gas advocates.

Then, on Friday, the Obama administration released a much-awaited assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline’s environmental impacts which concluded that pipeline construction “remains unlikely to  significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands,” effectively turning a blind eye to the staggering carbon emissions from tar sands extraction and expansion plans.

While Mr. Obama’s warm embrace of fossil fuels surprised some environmentalists, it should come as little surprise in light of prior comments made by the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API).

“It’s our expectation it will be released next week,” Jack Gerard confidently told Reuters, referring to the Keystone XL assessment, while many were still speculating that the report might not be issued until after the November mid-term election. “We’re expecting to hear the same conclusion that we’ve heard four times before: no significant impact on the environment.”

Mr. Gerard added that these predictions were based on sources within the administration.

In fact, as the Keystone decision-making process has unfolded, the oil and gas industry has had — as they’ve enjoyed for decades — intensive access to decision-making in the White House.  This access has helped form the Obama administration’s schizophrenic energy policy, in which the President backs both renewable energy and fossil fuels without acknowledging that the two are competitors. When fossil fuels gain market share, renewables lose.

While even the World Bank has called for immediate action on climate change, the API, which has worked hard to shape Obama’s views on fossil fuels, has also worked to create doubt around the very concept of fossil-fuel-driven climate change and to downplay the impact their industry has had.

There’s no question that the oil and gas industry wields enormous sway inside Washington D.C.

The API has spent $9.3 million dollars this year alone on reportable lobbying expenses, the highest amount in the group’s history, according to data from OpenSecrets.org. This summer, a DeSmog investigation found that API spent $22.03 million dollars lobbying at the federal level on Keystone XL and/or tar sands issues since June 2008, when the pipeline project was first proposed.

The API has also worked hard to convince lawmakers that voters overwhelmingly back the pipeline (despite a groundswell of grassroots organizing that has led to the project’s declining popularity).

This summer, Mr. Gerard’s group launched a massive ad campaign — featuringformer Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — that was timed to be seen by lawmakers in Washington D.C. and when they headed back to their home states for recess. API has also funded astroturf campaigns (exposed by leaked documents), cited questionable job creation numbers, and drawn fire from media watchdogs for playing fast and loose with the facts.

The industry’s influence over Obama’s administration on Keystone XL has at times been downright scandalous. Obama’s State Department hired an API member, Environmental Resources Management, Inc. (ERM), to evaluate the Keystone XL pipeline’s potential environmental impact.

In a blockbuster investigative reportMother Jones revealed that ERM’s Keystone experts previously worked for TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone project, along with other oil and gas companies poised to profit from the pipeline’s construction. When the report was released publicly by the State Department, reporter Andy Kroll had noticed something especially odd: the biographies of each expert had been redacted, suggesting that the State Department may have known of those potential conflicts and attempted to hide that fact.

The State Department’s inspector general promised to investigate the conflict of interest allegations, but the results of those investigations are still not public.

The API has tended to strongly favor Republicans over Democrats in its campaign contributions, but over the past several years, the Obama administration hasreached out to the oil and gas industry group, soliciting its views. Nonetheless, Mr. Gerard remained unsatisfied. “At least they’re listening,” he told Oil and Gas Journal in 2012. “But they’re not following every one of our recommendations.”

If this past week is any indication, that might be starting to shift.

After Obama’s State of the Union address, Mr. Gerard was quick to applaud the President’s description of natural gas — which emits a little more than half as much carbon dioxide when burned as coal, but whose total climate impacts could actually be worse than coal once methane emissions are tallied — saying that the President was evolving.

“This year he gave a full-throated endorsement to natural gas,” Mr. Gerard told theWall Street Journal. “Next year, he’ll be giving a full-throated endorsement to U.S. oil production.”

“His words are going in the right direction for us,” Mr. Gerard added.

The API has emerged as a significant influence over the Obama administration, and its inherently flawed all-of-the-above vision for our energy future.

The reason Keystone XL matters so much is not just as its symbolic importance as the fact that it would reflect a major long-term commitment to continued fossil fuel extraction — at a moment when climate experts are saying we must takeimmediate and drastic action and leave two-thirds of known fossil reserves in the ground.

In his State of the Union, Mr. Obama talked up benefits of oil and gas and thengave mention to renewables like wind and solar, but he showed no awareness that a long-term commitment to fossil fuels is in direct tension with furthering renewable energy.

“If we are truly serious about fighting the climate crisis, we must look beyond an ‘all of the above’ energy policy and replace dirty fuels with clean energy,” the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune said. “We can’t effectively act on climate and expand drilling and fracking for oil and gas at the same time.”

For its part, the API’s stance on climate has long been one of obfuscation. A 1998 API “Communications Action Plan” reads: “Victory will be achieved when … citizens ‘understand’ uncertainties in climate science … [and] recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.'”

Jack Gerard has argued that fracking represents a benefit for the environment,citing the fact that carbon emissions have dropped since the shale boom began.

Not only does this ignore the role that the recession has played in reducing energy consumption, but it also ignores the effects of another key greenhouse gas: methane. There is strong evidence that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry could make natural gas even worse than burning coal, in terms of its overall climate impact.

And, there are signs that the reductions cited by Mr. Gerard are already over. Earlier this month, the EIA announced that CO2 emissions rose 2 percent in 2013, reversing earlier declines.

Of course, if Keystone XL is ultimately approved, carbon emissions can be expected to spike. The pipeline will carry up to 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day. Opening Keystone would emit as much CO2 into the atmosphere as opening six new coal-fired power plants, the Pembina Institute estimated.

“This is a large source of carbon that’s going to be unleashed,” Larry Schweiger, the president of the National Wildlife Federation told The New York Times after the State Department’s Keystone report was released. “We’re headed in a terribly wrong direction with this project, and I don’t see how that large increase in carbon is going to be offset.”

But if you ask Jack Gerard, there’s nothing to worry about. “This final review puts to rest any credible concerns about the pipeline’s potential negative impact on the environment,” he said in a statement. “This long-awaited project should now be swiftly approved.”

Photo Credit: Oil and Gas Well, via Shutterstock.

President Obama Warns Ukraine Against “Crossing The Line” | Zero Hedge

President Obama Warns Ukraine Against “Crossing The Line” | Zero Hedge.

The US is adding its $0.02 to the international condemnation of the actions under way in Ukraine – desparate to re-write Victoria Nuland’s narrative of “f##k the EUR” and political manipulation. President Obama, having not learned his lesson the last time he drew a red line, has come out swinging…

  • *OBAMA:`THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES IF PEOPLE STEP OVER THE LINE’
  • *OBAMA SAYS U.S. CONDEMNS UKRAINE VIOLENCE IN `STRONGEST TERMS’
  • *OBAMA:MILITARY SHOULDN’T ACT WHERE CIVILIANS CAN RESOLVE ISSUES

Of course, it’s unclear if open military action against civilians is ‘crossing the line’ but we await Putin’s response.

More from the WSJ:

The Obama administration is considering sanctions against Ukraine, possibly in concert with European allies, saying the threat of penalties may push the government in Kiev to halt the deadly violence there.

“All of us are deeply disturbed,” Secretary of State John Kerry said during a brief appearance in Paris with his French counterpart. “We are talking about the possibility of sanctions or other steps with our friends in Europe and elsewhere in order to try to create the environment for compromise.”

Mr. Kerry and other U.S. officials didn’t detail what those sanctions might entail, but the administration in the past has held out the threat of individual sanctions, typically steps that freeze assets and limit travel.

The threat from the U.S. comes after violent clashes in Kiev this week have claimed the lives of at least 25 people and as the Obama administration and its European counterparts try to get a handle on the situation.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has blamed opposition leaders for the violence, while opposition leaders said the government was responsible.

Ben Rhodes, a deputy National Security Adviser to President Barack Obama, said the administration hopes the threat of sanctions will quell some of the violence. “We have made it clear we would consider taking action against individuals who are responsible for acts of violence within Ukraine,” he said while traveling with Mr. Obama to Mexico. Mr. Obama is headed to Mexico, among other reasons, to discuss trade.

China Demands Japanese Explanation About “That Other Plutonium” | Zero Hedge

China Demands Japanese Explanation About “That Other Plutonium” | Zero Hedge.

The world has grown tired of the inexorable rise in radiation levels and propaganda-talk sourrounding nuclear issues in Japan from the government in the last few years since Fukushima changed the nation’s future. However, there is another source of nuclear materials that is increasingly angering the Chinese. The tensions and rhetoric, from WWI analogs to Nazi comparisons, have risen recently; but this time, the Chinese are asking a legitimate question… “If a country claims that it sticks by the three non-nuclear principles but at same time hoards far more nuclear materials than it needs, including a massive amount of weapon-grade plutonium, the world has good reason to ask why…. After all, Abe and his cabinet have already caused too much trouble to regional peace and stability.”

Via Xinhua (Tian Dongdong),

Tokyo owes world explanation over weapon-grade

If a country claims that it sticks by the three non-nuclear principles but at same time hoards far more nuclear materials than it needs, including a massive amount of weapon-grade plutonium, the world has good reason to ask why.

As a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Japan should adhere to its international obligations. As the world’s only victim of nuclear attacks in the final stage of WWII, it should clearly understand the horrible consequences of nuclear proliferation.

However, five decades are not long enough for the island country, where some politicians wish, openly or privately, for nuclear arms, to return the 331 kilogram of weapon-grade plutonium — enough for 40 to 50 nuclear bombs — it received from the United States during the Cold War.

Some Japanese experts have said that, with necessary amounts of weapon-grade nuclear materials, their country is capable of developing nuclear bombs within a year.

Adding to the world’s concern, Japan is also reportedly hoarding more than 1.2 tons of enriched uranium and another 44 tons of plutonium, which overwhelmingly dwarf its civilian demands.

The ecological and environmental catastrophe of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011 had clearly showed that the superabundant nuclear materials are actually time bombs for a seismically active country like Japan.

What’s more, storing more than necessary nuclear materials is also against the regulations of the nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which require countries to keep a balance between the demand and supply of nuclear materials.

The somewhat obsessive possession of nuclear materials is not the behavior of a responsible and reliable country, as Japan portrays itself in the international community.

It brings nothing but doubt and suspicion to the already volatile East Asia.

If the Japanese government truly wants to play a constructive role for regional stability, it should honestly explain its reluctance to the world and return the stored nuclear materials as soon as possible. After all, Abe and his cabinet have already caused too much trouble to regional peace and stability.

As The Diplomat’s Shannon Tiezzi adds,

Currently, even though Japan has shut down its nuclear reactors (and is not using plutonium), there are plans to open a new reprocessing plant at Rokkasho. According to a report by the International Panel of Fissile Materials, this new plant would separate out about 8 tons of plutonium each year—enough “to make one thousand Nagasaki-type bombs.”

There is clear concern in China that Japan’s plutonium reserves could eventually wind up being used to develop nuclear weapons. There’s historical precedent for this—India became a nuclear-armed state after using reprocessing to gain nuclear materials. For China, Japan’s plutonium stockpile is one more piece of evidence that Shinzo Abe is seeking return to Japan’s militaristic glory days.

This accumulation of plutonium also threatens global non-proliferation efforts, and thus runs directly counter to U.S. President Barack Obama’s emphasis on nuclear security. “We simply can’t go on accumulating huge amounts of the very material, like separated plutonium, that we’re trying to keep away from terrorists,” he said in a 2012 speech at Hankuk University in Seoul. The White House has apparently been quietly pressuring Japan to drop the reprocessing plan, and to begin simply storing spent nuclear fuel rather than separating out plutonium.

There are complicated domestic reasons for Japan to continue with the opening of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, including vested interest groups that insist on the economic benefits of continuing with construction. But Tokyo should not overlook the regional and global concern caused by opening a new reprocessing plant when Japan has no concrete plan for using or disposing of its current plutonium stockpiles.

But apart from that – everything is great in the world… it must be, US stocks are at all-time highs…

Of course, this places “ally” President Obama in an awkward position given his anti-proliferation stance… though we suspect he will have an angle: “if you like your plutonium stockpile, you can keep it.”

Why, nine years later, Keystone XL’s fate is still in limbo | Jeff Rubin

Why, nine years later, Keystone XL’s fate is still in limbo | Jeff Rubin.

Posted by Jeff Rubin on February 10th, 2014 under SmallerWorld

It’s nine years and counting since the Keystone pipeline was first proposed and TransCanada is still waiting for Presidential approval to build the line. An environmental assessment report from the US State Department that landed last week would seem to move TransCanada’s hopes forward, but the pipeline’s ultimate fate is still very much in limbo.

The State Department concluded that the Keystone XL project won’t lead to greater production from the oil sands and, by extension, more carbon emissions. Many see this overall assessment, which is more or less a restatement of earlier findings, as highly questionable. Indeed, just ask the oil industry itself how important new pipeline connections are to not only increasing production, but also the very commercial viability of the oil sands resource.

The report does envision scenarios in which oil sands development is curbed by a combination of lower oil prices and a lack of pipeline capacity. Ultimately, though, the State Department finds that an increase in the amount of oil moved by rail will allow new oil sands production to come on-stream whether or not new pipelines are built. The upshot, at least for the State Department, is that oil sands production will march ahead with or without Keystone. Environmental advocates, suffice to say, disagree.

In any event, there won’t be any cross border pipeline construction until President Obama gives the okay. And no one knows when that will be or what he’ll ultimately decide.

The President has proven to be a wily politician, particularly on the carbon front. Environmentalists were happy when he directed the Environmental Protection Agency to sanction tough new emissions standards for power generation that will effectively preclude any new coal-fired plants from being built. But he did so only after the advent of cheap shale gas had already rendered coal uneconomic, meaning many coal-fired plants would have been shuttered regardless of new rules from the EPA.

In a similar vein, the President has boldly attached a carbon standard to his approval of Keystone, but that only happened after a gush of domestic oil production made more volume from Alberta’s oil sands redundant to the US market. Indeed, the US is so awash in oil that, even as Obama ponders his decision on Keystone, the American Petroleum Institute is working hard to remove restrictions on exporting crude that date back to 1975. The lobbying effort would only seem to bolster the credibility of claims by US environmentalists that the Canadian oil shipped through Keystone won’t be burned by American motorists but instead shipped abroad for another country’s benefit.

Regardless of the pipeline’s ultimate fate, the Keystone saga highlights the enormity of the challenge that’s ahead of oil sands producers. While Keystone’s 830,000 barrels-a-day of throughput is significant, it’s still only a fraction of the additional pipeline capacity that will be needed for producers to fulfill their expansion plans. The industry is targeting 5 million barrels a day of production within the next 20 years, an amount that it, as well as Prime Minister Stephen Harper, sees as inevitable.

Inevitability, though, is clearly in the eye of the beholder. To achieve daily production of 5 million barrels will require not just Keystone, but multiple versions of the pipeline.

According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, reaching 5 million barrels a day will require a greenlight for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project and TransCanada’s Energy East line, a doubling of Kinder Morgan’s existing Trans Mountain Pipeline, as well as an expansion of the Alberta Clipper line — all in addition to Keystone. Even with those projects going ahead, the industry would still be shy about a million barrels a day of shipping capacity, a shortfall that CN, CP, and other railways would be expected to step in and cover.

Obama’s decision on Keystone, though, is up first. Contrary to the opinion of the US State Department, approving Keystone XL is indeed a necessary condition to increasing oil sands production. What happens if it doesn’t get built? Canada’s oilpatch doesn’t like to think about that scenario, but it’s one that investors need to be considering.

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