California Governor Jerry Brown Charges Middle Class for Infrastructure Damaged by Corporations

Now Nissan Leaf owners get to pay for the potholes created by trucking corporations

Global temperatures are rising at an alarming rate. Lakes are already polluted and oceans are next in line. The second largest cause of climate change (right behind animal abuse) is transportation.

In California and America’s Southwest region, temperatures are rising at alarming rates due to greenhouse gas emissions.

southwest-avg-temps

One of the easiest ways to combat transport’s effects on the climate is to transition to electric vehicles that produce zero emissions. Tesla has been attempting to do this for a decade now by manufacturing electric vehicles that are sexier and sleeker than combustion engine competitors. In addition, many other companies such as GM are Nissan are selling 100% electric vehicles to consumers.

Electric vehicles provide tremendous environmental advantages, but also provide economic advantages by having very little fuel and maintenance costs. Electricity is about a sixth as expensive as gasoline for the same number of miles traveled, and oil changes are a nonexistent expense, as electric motors don’t require oil. Basically, you plug in your car like you would your smartphone when you arrive at home, and wake up every morning to a “full tank” for a sixth the price of gassing up. Oh, and don’t forget to change your wiper fluid to clean off the carbon dioxide on your windshield from the vehicle in front of you.

Saving money was possibly the largest incentive to own an electric vehicle. But thanks to SB-1 in California, signed by Democrat Jerry Brown, owning a zero-emissions vehicle just got more expensive for tens of thousands of middle-class commuters. The bill introduces new taxes not only on gasoline (usually purchased by poor people trying to drive to work so that they can afford to feed themselves) but also adds an inflation adjustable 100$ FEE on owners of electric vehicles in order to punish them for not buying gasoline from multinational oil corporations.

Jerry Brown claims that this tax is to repair infrastructure, which is a great cause. Infrastructure creates thousands of jobs, makes driving to work easier, and gives America a more pristine look. What’s crappy is that the method used here is a common one wielded by corporations: Privatising the gains and socializing the losses.

Here’s the breakdown of new taxes for the middle and lower classes:

  • $7.3 billion by increasing diesel excise tax 20 cents (currently $0.13) on 1 November 2017.
  • $3.5 billion by increasing diesel sales tax to 5.75% on 1 November 2017.
  • $24.4 billion by increasing gasoline excise tax 12 cents (currently $0.30) on 1 November 2017.
  • $16.3 billion from an annual transportation improvement fee based on a vehicle’s value starting 1 January 2018
  • $200 million from an annual $100 Zero Emission Vehicle fee starting 1 July 2020.
  • $706 million in General Fund loan repayments.

(via insideevs.com)

Note that the total revenue expected from the new taxes is $52 billion, but the EV tax is only expected to bring in 200 million of that. I’m not a math surgeon, but it looks like the EV tax is only 0.3846% of the total revenue gain- insignificant. In other words, the EV tax is just a kick in the balls to environmentally conscious drivers. This is the kind of trash that we can already expect from the Republican Party but is now prevalent in the increasingly corporate Democratic Party.

The most disgusting aspect of this new middle and lower class tax is that infrastructure is mainly damaged by the extremely wealthy- trucking corporations. The giant semi trucks (that everyone already hates) are a huge cause of crumbling roads and potholes. The extreme pressure on asphalt is bound to cause damage, which is fine. That’s physics. What isn’t fine is sending the bill to poor people who don’t actually drive the semi trucks. That’s just more oligarchy and financial irresponsibility on the part of the Democratic and Republican parties.

I’m sure the fact that Jerry Brown has received over $9.8 million from big energy companies has nothing to do with his signing of this bill.

Advertisements

Of Indigenous American Dreams, and Oil

There’s a gentle warm breeze on my face as I look out across the seemingly endless North Dakotan Indigenous American lands and I think about my future and my hopes and dreams. The construction site in the distance seems to be approaching all too much closer by the day. They tell me that the pipeline will run over our sacred burial sites and under our River. Some of the folks in town tell me it’s progress and it’s for the good of the country. But I don’t believe them. I think oil is dirty, and it’s hurting the Earth. I hope someone will tell them that. I hope someone will help stop them?

The injustices that the the Sioux indigenous American Tribes have been subjected to across the last 500 years is heartbreaking. And now they are in a fight against the U.S. government’s plan to force a portion of a 1200 mile corporate oil pipeline to run through their sovereign lands and under their waters at Standing Rock in North Dakota just south of Bismarck. What is happening there is symbolic of a corrupt U.S. government that is forcing energy policy in the wrong direction. In the end, the fight over the construction of this pipeline is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with money in politics. It’s the result of a history of a Corporate controlled Congress and Senate and U.S. exceptionalism ideology.

There are three issues.
First, the pipeline would pass under the Missouri River just half a mile upstream of the tribe’s reservation boundary, where a spill would be culturally and economically catastrophic. Second, the pipeline will pass-through areas of great cultural significance, such as sacred cultural sites and burial grounds. Incredibly, these are sacred sites and burial grounds that federal law is supposed to protect. And third, oil pipelines and fossil fuels are catastrophic to this planet.

In 2011, the Supreme Court upheld the Citizens United Ruling which allows corporations to give unlimited contributions to political campaigns. It’s important to first understand that the relationship between giant corporations and Congress is nothing more than a circle of favors. Powerful Corporations such as oil companies contribute unlimited amounts of money to elect pro-oil sympathetic politicians who will then vote in favor of anything the oil companies want them to legislate.
Our government is corrupt and has become nothing more than the strong-arm of the corporations.

The consequence of this led directly to the decision by president Obama, the Department of Justice’s Loretta Lynch, and the Army Corps of Engineers to standby and do nothing for the last 3 years since 2014 while the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, known as Energy Transfer Partners, or ETP, bulldozed their way towards Sioux sovereign territory at Standing Rock in North Dakota. Many feared that the Dakota access pipeline was simply a back-up solution to the Keystone XL Pipeline, which Trump has now also fast-tracked towards approval.

We should not be building more pipelines at all. Possibly one of the biggest misconceptions of people in the United States is that this oil would be used in the United States. In actuality this oil will be exported to countries across the world and only profit the oil companies. The Media is hiding this from us. Also of importance is that this oil is produced from extracting it from the massive tar sand mines in Alberta Canada, which is one of the most atmospherically harmful methods for producing oil. We need to be investing that money into less expensive renewable energy infrastructure instead.

And of course money in politics goes much deeper than that. The Sioux indigenous Americans brought a lawsuit against the Army Corps of Engineers in July of last  year in an attempt to stop the pipeline from crossing their land and from endangering their waters. But the Army Corps of Engineers has also succumbed to the influence of money in politics. Instead of ruling quickly in favor of the indigenous Americans who were the proprietors of this country’s land in it’s entirety just 400 years ago, the Army Corps brought in the National Guard to protect the interests of the oil companies instead. The National Guard put the Water Protectors through hell.

It’s here you probably wonder why the Sioux would file the lawsuit specifically against the Army Corps of Engineers. So here’s why.
The Army Corps of Engineers regulates and oversees all work in the wetlands and waters of the United States. And this is a dispute about a pipeline crossing a river. The Army Corps of Engineers’ environmental branch program has four functions; compliance, restoration, prevention, and conservation. Therefore, they are the only agency that has the legal power to stop the pipeline from being built across the Missouri River right next to the Sioux territory. It is the Army Corps of Engineers’ responsibility for protecting US waterways and cultural resources. And the request of the Sioux tribes to protect their land and waterways is falling on deaf ears.

First…the Army Corps of Engineers did not do a full environmental impact study, which is the law in the U..S whenever projects like this are initiated. Instead there was an Environmental Assessment Study done. The difference between an Environmental Impact and Assessment study is that with an Assessment study, the oil company is allowed to choose who will do the study. So Energy Transfer Partners hired a known pro-oil climate denier firm to do the study, who of course concluded that there was not an environmental impact to the Sioux tribes from the pipeline.
And this is in conflict with EVERY assessment from EVERY other environmental scientist. In January of 2017, Trump signed an Executive Order for the impact study to be waived.

And then there’s this. Initially the proposed route for the 1,200-mile pipeline had it crossing the Missouri River just north of Bismarck North Dakota…which has a largely white population. The citizens of Bismarck simply voted no. They rightfully rejected it in the interest of protecting their communities and water. So the pipeline was instead rerouted 20 miles south through the Sioux tribal lands. And so our corporate controlled government was doing what they have always done to the indigenous Americans; disregard their rights and sovereignty. This is environmental racism. And when future climate change begins affecting billions of people on this planet, it will once again be environmental racism as the underprivileged will suffer and the rich will be able to avoid and minimize the impact of climate change on their privileged lifestyles. If any of you remember learning about Custard’s Last Stand in grade school, please be aware that these are the same Sioux American tribes that were slaughtered by Custard in the 1800’s to gain access to gold that was found on the small pieces of lands that criminally imposed treaties had left them with.

Ultimately a corrupt government and media and their collusion with the powerful oil companies that control them won’t change overnight. We each need to fight the misinformation in pop culture perpetrated by climate deniers and the media and speak with everyone we can about the importance of moving quickly to renewable energy alternatives. Trump’s executive order to fast-track the oil pipeline’s approval is being challenged in court. But public pressure is one of the most effective tools we have.
This fight is emblematic of the bigger fight to end the collusion of the fossil fuel industry and corporate media’s attempt to impose a journalism media blackout on climate change.
We need to move forward on a global initiative to switch to renewable energy sources.

And as Bernie Sanders tweeted….
You can call the White House at 202-456-1111 or tweet @POTUS & demand they:
-Call off the National Guard
-Stop Dakota Access Pipeline

End.

The Oligarchy of Climate Change

Antarctica, melting

The true horrors of climate change caused by the Fossil Fuel Industry is almost never mentioned on Corporate Media. Yet it is an industry that is putting us at extraordinary risk. The media is hiding this from us.

First, and what is not well ingrained in our current social conscience, is that climate change is an almost unimaginable threat to the survival of the human race and this planet.
We could eventually see a collapse of social structure and order. We’ll get to the reasons for that in a bit.

We need to start with understanding three intertwined realities! Climate change, money in politics, and the media. The fate of the vast majority of humans on this planet rests in hands of a powerful few.

It’s important to first understand the relationship between Washington politicians and legislatively powerful entities such as oil companies. Corporations are allowed to contribute unlimited amounts of money to the campaigns of pro-oil politicians who will then vote in favor of pro-oil legislation. The oil companies therefore become even wealthier and have even more power over our elected officials. It has become a self-perpetuating circle of favors. Our government is greased by corruption and has become nothing more than the strong-arm of the oligarchy.

The Media is also controlled by Wall Street, the Oil Companies and the United States Military Industrial Complex, which are comprised of this planet’s wealthiest and most powerful people.

MSNBC, CNN, FOX, NYT therefore have a vested interest in protecting that wealth and power. They do this by misleading us or systematically and intentionally withholding information from us that threatens that wealth and power.

There are two main causes of climate change. One is the burning of fossil fuels. And equally responsible are the greenhouse gas emissions caused by animal agriculture and meat consumption. And we will eventually dedicate an entire series of podcasts to the planetary climate change effects from humanities horrific industrial farming practices.

To be clear, we are at a pivotal moment where it may become impossible to reverse the effects of climate change. The ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic are melting at an alarming rate. They are white and therefore reflect the warming infrared rays of the sun. As they grow smaller, not only do they reflect less light, but the newly exposed dark areas absorb sunlight. This will be the cause of an exponential warming of the planet.Projections are for sea levels nearly 200 feet higher than today in some areas; enough to submerge an 18 story building.

Also, climate change is caused by Carbon which easily solidifies in water. This is leading to the acidification of our oceans. This increasing acidity threatens the existence of all ocean life and oxygen producing green algae. And then there’s drought and ensuing famine.

img_1396Drought stricken ground in Northern Africa

For example, the Himalayan mountains’ glaciers supply one third of India and almost a half billion people with fresh water. The photo below is of the Himalayan mountains’ glacial run off as it supplies India with fresh water. These glaciers are melting at an even higher rate than scientists had predicted even just a few years ago and that source of fresh water may dry up in as little as 50 years. A photo taken then will look quite different.

img_1398Himalayan Mountains

Drought, famine and extreme weather conditions will force humanity to migrate to the ever shrinking parts of the planet that are still habitable. There is increasing resistance to the few million refugees entering Europe recently, but that pales when we realize that mass migrations North of people from stricken parts of this planet will number in the hundreds of millions.

Some models show that in less than three decades, industrial civilization may essentially collapse due to catastrophic food shortages and widespread famine triggered by a combination of climate change, water scarcity, and an ensuing political instability. Drought and famine will cause unimaginable war and disease. It could be the beginning of a complete disintegration of complex human social structures.
People do terrible things when confronted with the instinct to survive.

Something else that corporate media won’t tell people, is that as of recently, renewable energy is less expensive to produce than energy produced using nuclear, oil or coal.
A simple Google search on renewable vs nonrenewable energy costs verifies this.

Considering that the United States is largely responsible for the high carbon levels now in our atmosphere, it is us that should lead the world in undoing it. So yes, there’s a Corporate media blackout on climate change. We need to do everything we can by talking about it with friends and on social media. We can also support the efforts of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein who are leading the way in renewable energy policy proposals.

What we have now is a Trump administration and a corporate-controlled media that will consistently put the interests and profits of large oil companies ahead of the welfare of this planet and its people.