The Keystone XL setup

January 19th, 2012

By now, you’ve likely heard the news that Pres. Obama has rejected the Keystone XL pipeline; though rejected may be too strong a word. Punted is more like it, since the pipeline’s builder, TransCanada, will be allowed to reapply for a new permit. But for now, it’s a victory, and everyone who protested and marched and called their Congressperson certainly deserves a thank you.

The Republicans deserved this, of course. They were the ones who placed a rider in the payroll tax cut extension forcing Obama to either reject or approve the pipeline by Feb. 21. What a ridiculously short and arbitrary deadline. Did they think Obama (and the State Department) would approve such a far-reaching project without having adequate time to study its potential risks?

The rub is: Of course not. It was a setup.

The Republicans put that provision in the legislation because they knew that Obama — or any sensible person, for that matter — would be forced to reject it, and then they could call him out for being a job-killer and make him look bad in his bid for reelection.

Nevermind that Cornell University says the pipeline could actually cost us jobs. Look for Republicans to stick to those ridiculously inflated TransCanada numbers in the months ahead.

Is anyone else insulted that the Republicans think we’re that stupid?

–Jennifer Grayson

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Photo via Flickr: MillionsAgainstMonsanto

Happy New Year! Or not: I had every intention of starting off 2012 with a bucket of rainbows, but first, some important — though lamentable — news that can’t be ignored (although most everyone else seem to have done just that; this news came out last week). Props to The San Francisco Chronicle for not letting what had seemed like a much-anticipated decision about whether to allow the planting of genetically modified alfalfa slip under the radar:

A federal judge has upheld the government’s decision to let the nation’s alfalfa growers plant the genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant strain manufactured by Monsanto Co., saying the alleged risk of contaminating other crops does not require regulators to impose buffer zones.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the use of Roundup Ready alfalfa — so named because it is designed to withstand Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide — in January 2011, ending a nationwide ban that another judge had imposed in March 2007.

The action was challenged by a group of alfalfa farmers who said they feared that the Monsanto product, spread by winds and bees, would pollinate their crops and take over their fields. Thursday, however, U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti of San Francisco said the USDA had acted within its authority.

Federal law does not require the department to “account for the effects of cross-pollination on other commercial crops” in assessing the risks posed by a new crop, Conti said.

Translation? GM alfalfa is free to blow around and contaminate (“cross-pollinate”) the fields of organic alfalfa (“other commercial crops”) that feed our nation’s organic dairy cows. USDA doesn’t have to worry about it. But you do: As Gaius Publius has reported over at Americablog, this could mean the end of organic, at least as we know it.

As of now, there are plans to appeal. I’ll keep you posted.

–Jennifer Grayson

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