Oil Change International: Petroleum Coke: The Coal Hiding in the Tar Sands

-By Elizabeth Bast

January 17, 2013- The Canadian tar sands have been called the “most environmentally destructive project on earth”, with good reason. Extracting tar sands bitumen from under the boreal forests of Alberta, Canada requires huge amounts of energy and water. It has cleared vast tracts of forest, left scars on the land that are visible from space and threatened the health and livelihoods of indigenous First Nations communities across the region.

It is a well established fact that full exploitation of the tar sands is a grave threat to the climate. Emissions from tar sands extraction and upgrading are between 3.2 and 4.5 times higher than the equivalent emissions from conventional oil produced in North America.On a lifecycle basis, the average gallon of tar sands bitumen derived fuel has between 14 and 37 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the average gallon of fuel from conventional oil.

But as bad as these impacts already are, existing analyses of the impacts of tar sands fail to account for a byproduct of the process that is a major source of climate change causing carbon emissions: petroleum coke – known as petcoke. Petcoke is the coal hiding in North America’s tar sands oil boom.

CBC News: John Kerry owns stock in Canadian pro-Keystone XL firms

Environmentalists urge Kerry to divest stocks in Sunco, Cenovus Energy

January 17, 2013- John Kerry's expected cakewalk to the U.S. State Department has delighted American environmentalists due to his stance on climate change, but the longtime senator owns stock in two Canadian oil companies that have pushed for approval of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.

Federal financial disclosure records show Kerry has investments of as much as US$750,000 in Suncor, a Calgary-based energy company whose CEO has urged the U.S. to greenlight TransCanada's controversial project.

The longtime Massachusetts senator, one of the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill with an estimated net worth of $193 million, also has as much as $31,000 invested in Cenovus Energy, another Calgary firm.

The lawmaker will likely have to divest of those holdings, or put them in blind trust if they aren't already, following an ongoing federal ethics review that is standard procedure for would-be U.S. cabinet secretaries.

But one environmentalist expressed disappointment on Thursday.

Inside The Hostess Bankery - The Movie

You've heard the Mainstream Media read you the Hostess PR sheet, now hear the truth from the mouths of the people who had their pension stolen. As the mainstream media distracted America with misinformation about Unions, the Hedge Funds got away with theft. They collected $4.25 an hour from each and every worker for the Baker's pension fund, then refused to send the money to the pension. In this 25 minute film you will hear about the causes and effects of this blatant, and apparently legal, theft. You will also learn the truth about the reason Hostess had to close. SPOILER ALERT: it's not what you've been told by your favorite news source. They have ALL blown the story.

Grist: Surprise: Shell’s rig ran aground in Alaska because the company was trying to avoid taxes

-By Philip Bump

January 4, 2013- On New Year’s Eve, in the middle of a storm, Shell was trying to tow its Kulluk drilling rig from Alaska to Seattle. Why then? Why risk the bad weather, which, as it turned out, caused the rig to break free from its tugboats and run aground on Kodiak Island?

To avoid paying state taxes, of course. From Alaska Dispatch:

A Shell spokesman last week confirmed an Unalaska elected official’s claim that the Dec. 21 departure of the Kulluk from Unalaska/Dutch Harbor involved taxation.

City councilor David Gregory said Shell would pay between $6 million and $7 million in state taxes if the Kulluk was still in Alaska on Jan. 1.

Ah, but the weather had other plans, sorry to say. Shell will end up having to pay that money after all, and then some.

Gregory said the departure of the Kulluk took money away from local small businesses servicing the rig. He predicted the maritime mishap will prove very costly to the oil company.

Alaska Dispatch: Shell hoped to save millions in taxes by moving now-grounded drill rig out of Alaska

-By Jim Paulin & Carey Restino

January 3, 2013- A move by Shell to avoid millions in Alaska state taxes may have backfired when the oil rig Kulluk ran aground Monday on Kodiak Island. The rig initially went adrift while it was being towed to a shipyard and tax shelter in Seattle. Instead, the vessel found itself literally stuck inside Alaska at the start of the new year.

The Kulluk grounded off Kodiak Island Monday night, prompting a 500-plus person response. According to Shell Operations Manager Sean Churchfield, the grounding occurred during a fierce storm that produced near-hurricane-force seas with waves exceeding 40 feet at times and wind gusts of 50 knots and higher.

“The conditions last night were very poor,” Churchfield said. “It was a really unpleasant night to be out on the sea.”

A Shell spokesman last week confirmed an Unalaska elected official’s claim that the Dec. 21 departure of the Kulluk from Unalaska/Dutch Harbor involved taxation.

City councilor David Gregory said Shell would pay between $6 million and $7 million in state taxes if the Kulluk was still in Alaska on Jan. 1.

Think Progress: What Could Have Been: The Most Important Bills Blocked by Republicans in 2012

December 28, 2012- The bills we could have passed if it wasn't for GOP obstructionism -- from a minimum wage increase to the Buffett Rule.

1. A minimum wage increase.

House Democrats proposed legislation in June that would have raised the national minimum wage to $10 an hour, but Republicans blocked it. The minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, even though it would need to be raised to $9.92 to match the borrowing power it had in 1968. If it was indexed to inflation, it would be $10.40 today.

2. Campaign finance transparency.

The DISCLOSE Act of 2012, repeatedly blocked by Congressional Republicans, would have allowed voters to know who was funding the attack ads that flooded the airways from secretive groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.

3. The Buffett Rule.

Republicans Try to Silence Senator Gretchen Whitmer As She Speaks Out on Anti-Women Legislation

 Republicans attempted to stop Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer from speaking out against extremist anti-women legislation being pushed through the legislature during lame duck session.

AlterNet: Twinkie CEO Admits Company Took Employees Pensions and Put It Toward Executive Pay

Hostess company continues to screw over its workers.

-By Thom Hartmann

December 11, 2012- Twinkie-maker Hostess continues to screw over its workers. The company is in the process of complete liquidation and 18,000 unionized workers are set to lose their jobs. More troubling – they could lose their pensions.

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Hostess’ CEO, Gregory Rayburn, essentially admitted that his company stole employee pension money and put it toward CEO and senior executive pay (aka “operations”). While this isn't technically illegal, it's another sleazy theft by Hostess executives - who've paid themselves handsomely while running their company into the ground. Just last month, a judge agreed to let Hostess executives suck another $1.8 million out of the bankrupt company to pay bonuses to CEOs.  

If there's no way to recover the money for the Hostess pension plans for workers, then the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will have to foot the bill to make sure workers get at least some of the retirement money they paid in.

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