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Leaked Docs Expose ALEC’s Operation “Prodigal Son”

2:27 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

The Guardian, now famous for its abilities to get a hold of damning secret documents, has released a pile of of files today that outline major funding issues at the right-wing lobby group, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Protest against ALEC at Palmer House, Chicago

New docs about ALEC’s bad deeds leak during their latest meeting.

Most interesting, is ALEC’s operation called the “Prodigal Son Project” outlining the organization’s financial troubles and the plan to woo back more than 40 corporate members.

According to the Guardian, the ALEC leaked documents show that:

• ALEC has set up a separate sister group called the “Jeffersonian Project” amid concerns over possible government inquiries into whether its activities constitute lobbying – which would threaten its tax-exempt status;

• the network has suffered a decline in its membership among state-based Republicans and among big corporations following the Trayvon Martin controversy;

• its income raised from conferences, membership fees and donations has fallen short, leaving the group with a potential funding crisis;

• a draft agreement prepared for the board meeting proposed that Alec’s chairs in each of the 50 states, who are drawn from senior legislators, should be required to put the interests of the organisation first, thus setting up a possible conflict of interest with the voters who elected them;

• Alec also considered extending its remit to include the gambling industry, particularly online gambling, as a possible source of new members and revenue.

All this is happening while ALEC is holding their 2013 “States and Nation Policy Summit.” I am sure the Guardian article is causing quite the buzz in the halls there.

ALEC is using the twitter hashtag #alecsnps if you want to jump in the conversation there.

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New Study: Koch’s Could Make $100 Billion on Keystone XL Pipeline Deal

1:17 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

One Hundred Billion Dollars

A new study released today concludes that Koch Industries and its subsidiaries stand to make as much as $100 billion in profits if the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is given the go-ahead by U.S. President Obama.

The report, titled Billionaires’ Carbon Bomb, and produced by the think tank International Forum on Globalization (IFG), finds that David and Charles Koch and their privately-owned company, Koch Industries, own more than 2 million acres of land in Northern Alberta, the source of the tar sands oil that will be pumped to the United States via the Keystone XL pipeline.

IFG also finds that more than 1,000 reports and statements in support of the Keystone XL pipeline project have been made by policy groups and think tanks that receive funding from the Koch brothers and their philanthropic foundations.

“The Kochs have repeatedly claimed that they have no interest in the Keystone XL Pipeline, this report shows that is false.” Said Nathalie Lowenthal-Savy , a researcher with IFG. “We noticed Koch Funded Tea Party members and think tanks pushing for the pipeline. We dug deeper and found $100 billion in potential profit, $50 million sent to organizations supporting the pipeline, and perhaps 2 million acres of land. That sounds like an interest to me.” Nathalie continued, “We all know they will use that money to fund and expand their influence network, subvert democracy, crush unions like in Wisconsin, and get more extremists elected to congress.”

Download a PDF copy of the study here: Billionaires’ Carbon Bomb: The Koch Brothers and the Keystone XL Pipeline Read the rest of this entry →

Shell Containment Dome Fail Draws Fire from Democratic Heavyweight

2:22 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass), has penned a letter to Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, looking for answers about a Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) containment dome that “crushed like a beer can” in tests earlier this Fall.

Official Portrait of Ed Markey

Rep Markey was critical of the containment dome failure.

Markey, who is the Ranking Member the US Committee on Natural Resources, is referring to a story first broke by Seattle radio station KUOW, that in September Shell performed tests on a containment dome that was to be deployed as part of the company’s controversial Arctic offshore oil drilling operations.

According to government reports obtained by KUOW, the dome “breached like a whale” and then sank to the bottom of Puget Sound off the coast of Washington State. When the dome was recovered a government official described the dome as “crushed like a beer can.” The containment dome is a key piece of emergency spill equipment that is used to cap an oil well when a pipe burst occurs, like the one we saw in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Markey describes the failed test in his letter to Salazar:

“Remotely operated submersible robots became tangled in rigging lines, warning indicators were dismissed as defective, and divers were requested, even though using divers would likely not be possible during an actual disaster in the Arctic. The test was conducted in Puget Sound, far away from the actual Arctic environment.”

Markey goes on to ask the question that should be on everyone’s mind given this disturbing revelation:

“Shell’s unsuccessful test in Puget Sound raises new questions about the company’s ability to successfully drill offshore in the Arctic and, more generally, about the ability of containment devices to function properly in the harsh Arctic environment.

The outcome of the containment dome test, the fact that Shell may have missed warning signals that something was wrong and Shell’s problems using ROVs, which could be required in an Arctic environment, raise troubling questions about whether Shell can drill safely in this harsh and sensitive area.”

You can read the full text of Markey’s letter here: Markey Questions Interior on Failed Arctic Spill Containment Test.”