Kevin Allison (RISK, The State, Reno 911, Flight of the Concords) stops by to chat with David and Jerry Stahl. Also on the program: Down With Tyranny’s Howie Klein, a story from Dylan Brody, plus a song from Will Ryan, Jeremy Kramer and Hal Lublin.
Next week President Obama is expected to unveil the strictest coal emission regulations in American history. Obama will demand that coal-firing plants reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent. Most experts predict this will close hundreds of power plants that run on coal, which is the primary source of greenhouse gases. All this after last month’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to enforce key provisions of the Clean Air Act. So maybe there’s still hope in Scalia Land.
There is the possibility that President Obama is attacking coal to greenwash his plans to go ahead with the Keystone Pipeline, which would transport crude oil from Canada’s tar sands through some of America’s most important farms and fresh water aquifers. The renowned NASA Climate Scientist James Hansen warns that should the world’s second largest consumer of energy, America, approve the Keystone Pipeline, the mere extraction of that tar sand oil would mean it’s “game over” for our planet.
The Keystone Pipeline may be a red herring since Alberta’s tar sand oil is already coming to America via train, which the oil industry is starting to favor over pipelines because rail is cheaper and more efficient. Just not safer. Oil Change International reports that since President Obama took office, crude oil transported by rail has grown from virtually nothing to one million barrels per day. Last year America witnessed 117 crude oil rail spills, and expect that number to increase geometrically as America opens up more and more of it’s own land for fracking.
Warren Buffet owns BNSF, which is responsible for nearly three quarters of all the crude oil in North America transported by train. So beware anyone who opposes the Keystone Pipeline, they might own a railroad.
Thanks to fracking America’s oil industry says we can drill our way to energy independence, and that in ten years we will run a trade surplus as the world buys our oil and natural gas. We’re promised fracking offers us a peace dividend. America can avoid Middle East conflicts when we no longer need OPEC. Not so fast. While the science isn’t still out on Climate Change, the science definitely appears to be missing as to just how much oil America actually sits on. Those promises of vast oil reserves underneath California’s Central Valley now appear to be grossly exaggerated.
The Department of Energy reports this week that the oil industry’s promise of nearly 14 billion barrels of recoverable oil underneath California’s Monterey Formation is really only 600 million barrels. That’s not stopping the oil industry’s plan to frack underneath some of the world’s most fertile farmland here in California, wasting 127,127 gallons of precious water to drill a single well in a part of the world known as Earthquake Country.
Meanwhile last Thursday hearings on Climate Change were held by the Republican led House Science Committee. Committee Chair Texas Republican Lamar Smith said, “When assessing climate change, we need to make sure that findings are driven by science, not an alarmist, partisan agenda.”
So who did Mr. Smith put in charge of his Science Committee? Stephen Sayle, who has generously agreed to walk away from his six figure job as a lobbyist for Chevron so he can help the House Science Committee get to the bottom of climate change. Something tells me when he gets to that bottom he’ll strike barrels of oil money.
But before those hearings were even over Speaker of the House John Boehner warned that attempts to regulate greenhouse gases would kill jobs. When asked if any carbon controls were necessary, Speaker Boehner, who five years ago opined that carbon dioxide is not a carcinogen, replied, “How the hell would I know? I’m not a climate scientist.” And either is the man running your Science Committee.
The Keystone Pipeline isn’t moving America’s crude oil, it’s the railroads, and Warren Buffett owns 80 percent of those trains.
Originally broadcast May 29, 2014
All Americans agree children need to stay away from tobacco. Apparently it’s still up for discussion when it comes to kids staying away from tobacco farms.
Human Rights Watch says American children work forty to sixty hours a week in the fields of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky helping America remain the fourth biggest producer of Tobacco in the world.
Growing, harvesting and curing tobacco is labor intensive. Children confront heavy machinery, sharp knives, toxic fertilizers, poor sanitary conditions, and abusive supervisors. Even more disturbing is that the physical act of picking tobacco, touching the plant, results in acute nicotine poisoning for 75 percent of these children who complain of nausea, rashes, headaches and difficulty breathing. Then there are the pesticides, which cause long term neurological diseases and worse.
All this is going on in North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. States that spend more time protecting Big Tobacco than they do a woman’s reproductive rights. Makes you wonder if these people really see a woman’s uterus as the source of life or just cheap labor.
Sadly the problem of child farm labor is not limited to tobacco here in America.
Human Rights Watch reports that when it comes to child farm labor America is no better than any developing nation. Deputy director of the Children’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch Zama Coursen-Neff says,
“The United States spends over $25 million a year – more than all other countries combined – to eliminate child labor abroad, yet is tolerating exploitative child labor in its own backyard.”
Not counting family farms, more than 200,000 children work our fields, constituting 9 percent of all American farm workers. Roughly 80 percent are Hispanic, and 40 percent are migrant, which means these children move from farm to farm. We’re talking about American children, who should be in the classroom. Maybe all those rich hedge fund managers touting the benefits of charter schools would like to start one for the children of migrant workers. Oh wait, there’s no government money to skim off the top and make exorbitant profits doing that.
Meanwhile a 17-year-old boy who had been working North Carolina fields harvesting Christmas trees and picking tomatoes since he was 12 tells Human Rights Watch,
“I really didn’t have a childhood.”
And many of these children sacrifice more than just their childhood. Human Rights Watch says American children toiling the fields are four times as likely to die on the job than any other work that permits child labor.
American farms operate under obsolete Depression era child labor laws written when we were still a rural society. FDR’s Fair Labor Standards Act, still applicable today, exempted family farms from work rules other industries take for granted. So Big Ag hires American children as young as 12 to pick our fruits and vegetables. And, when Big Ag convinces government inspectors they’re just running a small family farm, children can be out there working the fields at any age.
Picking fruits and vegetables, just like tobacco, is highly competitive. That means American children are exposed to excessive heat, sexual and physical abuse, often working 14 hour days 7 days a week lacking potable water, toilets, and of course an education. And let’s not forget the pesticides.
American children. That’s who is touching your fruits and vegetables. Children. These Children earn below minimum wage and are often charged for gloves, tools, and water.
One day the media might take a break from wringing their hands over the plight of Macaulay Culkin, Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan to conclude that it’s not just acting, it’s dangerous putting a child to work in any field. Especially an actual field.
Let’s stop worrying about American children eating their fruits and vegetables and start figuring out a way to get American children to stop picking them.
Thinking of becoming an NFL cheerleader? You should think twice. Then again if you’re a cheerleader you should first try thinking once.