Sunday Train: The Central Flaw of the Keystone XL Economic Analysis

Well, Sunday Train has the analysis of a couple of intercity rail projects in the queue, but for a weekly column devoted to renewable energy and transport issues to focus on some early stage preliminary analysis of an intercity rail corridor while ignoring the release of the updated final environmental impact analysis would be like some supposed weekend "in depth analysis" new show to ignore the release of that analysis in favor of covering the breaking news that New Jersey politicians play dirty (true story).

For those who have been following the process, the conclusions of the updated analysis are of little surprise, since they basically repeat the previous conclusion before the analysts ~ analysts connected to the oil industry, since, of course, they would know about this kind of stuff ~ were told to repeat the analysis. That is, to quote part of the Think Progress Coverage:

The newly-released report admits to the obvious: that “the total direct and indirect emissions” of the project “would contribute to cumulative global GHG emissions.” But in its final analysis, it says the proposed pipeline is “unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in oil sands areas,” and does not look at the overall greenhouse gas emissions of the tar sands oil that would flow through it.

The underlying, unstated, premise of the entire environmental and economic impact is that we will in any event produce a large portion of the tar sands that are in the ground. And that implies, of course, that we are screwed: we have to adopt policies keep 80% of existing reserves of carbon based fossil fuels in the ground in order to have a prospect of keeping global warming under about three and a half degrees Fahrenheit and have at least some chance of avoiding the kind of catastrophic climate change that will eliminate the United States as a single national society and economy.

So the analysis, including unstated premise, is: "Assuming that the nations of the world do not impose adequate policies to avoid a catastrophe with costs that dwarf the entire presumed value of the tar sands deposits, this is the impact of building or not building the Keystone XL pipeline."

But, what is the impact of building or not building the Keystone XL pipeline presuming that we do adopt policies that are adequate to keep 80% or more of current existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground? The analysis avoids that question entirely, even though the analysis delivers the numbers that allows use to evaluate those costs.




Maine Supreme Court: Transgender students must have full access toschool facilities

 photo NicoleMaines_zpscd10d3e5.jpgThe Maine Supreme Judicial Court has finally ruled in the case of Doe v Clenchy (pdf). The ruling was that denying Nicole Maines (aka Susan Doe) the use of the girls' restroom of her school violated her rights under Maine's Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. The ruling was the first time that any state court has ruled that transgender students must be allowed to use the restrooms that match their gender.

[The school] agreed with Susan’s family and counselors that, for this purpose (as for virtually all others), Susan is a girl.  Based upon its determination that Susan is a girl, and in keeping with the information provided to the school by Susan’s family, her therapists, and experts in the field of transgender children, the school determined that Susan should use the girls’ bathroom.

This is a momentous decision that marks a huge breakthrough for transgender young people. Schools have a responsibility to create a learning environment that meets and balances the needs of all kids and allows every student to succeed. For transgender students this includes access to all school facilities, programs, and extracurricular activities in a way that is consistent with their gender identity.

--Jennifer Levi, director GLAD Transgender Rights Project

Ms. Levi argued the case before the Maine Law Court on June 12.



It's never too late to discriminate

 photo Robina-Asti_CURRENTX400_zps7ad6b395.jpgRobina Asti is 92 years old and has been recognized by the government as a woman for over 30 years. She transitioned in 1976. She is a commercial pilot and the FAA has recognized her as a woman ever since they awarded her a license. She has made a living teaching people how to fly airplanes. The government issued her a passport designating her to be a woman. Her Social Security account labels her a woman.

Robina is a WWII veteran, having served as a NAvy pilot. She is currently locked in a battle with the Social Security Administration…which she is losing.

In 2004 Robina married Norwood Patton in Hanger A of Orange County Airport in New York. Norwood new she was a transsexual woman, but he didn't care. Oh, he was upset at first, but he got over it in a week. He asked her to get married every month for a lot of years.

Norwood died in 2012 at the age of 97. So Robina asked the Social Security Administration for survivors benefits. After almost a year of review, she was denied.

The reason?

[H]er marriage does not meet the requirements under Federal law for payment of Social Security widow’s benefits.

At the time of your marriage, you were not legally a woman.



Gender Prison: Documentary to watch for: My Prairie Home

 photo Spoon_zps9db88672.jpgOne of the documentaries that showed at the just-concluded Sundance Film Festival was My Prairie Home about the life and music of transman Rae Spoon.

I sure wish I was a man,
I would never go to church again.
My prairie home fits like a Sunday dress.

--Rae Spoon, Sunday Dress





Rae prefers people use the pronouns "they" and "them." They say that the people at Sundance have been very accepting of their choice of pronoun.

There haven’t been any grammar discussions yet.





Sunday Train: The Solar Photovoltaic Price Evolution Revolution

In early December, the Guardian covered ALEC's latest corporate-written attack on freedom, an effort to penalize households that place solar panels on their roof:

An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as "freeriders" – in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy, the Guardian has learned. ...

For 2014, Alec plans to promote a suite of model bills and resolutions aimed at blocking Barack Obama from cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and state governments from promoting the expansion of wind and solar power through regulations known as Renewable Portfolio Standards.

[Director of the Energy and Policy Institute Gabe] Elsner argued that after its bruising state battles in 2013, Alec was now focused on weakening – rather than seeking outright repeal – of the clean energy standards. "What we saw in 2013 was an attempt to repeal RPS laws, and when that failed … what we are seeing now is a strategy that appears to be pro- clean energy but would actually weaken those pro- clean energy laws by retreating to the lowest common denominator," he said.

So, is there a particular reason why ALEC going after rooftop solar photo-voltaic installations now, after having to beat a retreat on its 2013 effort to win wholesale repeals of Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards? Why yes, there does appear to be a particular reason for going after the economics of rooftop solar PV.




Christie vetoes transgender rights bill

Lost in the turmoil of corruption surrounding Governor Chris Christie is a day which some feel should live in infamy. In mid-January Christie exercised the "pocket veto" on 44 bills passed by the legislature.

Among the bills vetoed was a bill (AB4097) which would have permitted people undergoing the gender confirmation process to amend the gender designation on their birth certificates.

Christie did not comment on most of the vetoed bills, but he did comment on the veto of AB4097.

[The] proposed measures … may result in significant legal uncertainties and create opportunities for fraud, deception and abuse, and should therefore be closely scrutinized and sparingly approved.


Because, you know, we transpeople are just out to commit crimes through deceiving people. We're all about being up to no good.



Hellraisers Journal: General Chase Falls Off His Horse, Orders Cavalrymen, "RIDE DOWN THE WOMEN."

You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Sunday January 24, 1904
From The New York Times: Pacific Express Company of Omaha Declares War on Unions

The Pacific Express Company of Omaha, Nebraska, is now demanding that all employes sign a yellow-dog contract as reported by the Times:

Omaha, Neb., Jan. 23-The Pacific Express company will wage war on the unions and will notify all employes that to join a union will be considered as notice of resignation from the service of the company.The following pledge was handed to the Omaha employes of the corporation to-day:

"In consideration of my employment by the Pacific Express Company I hereby agree and pledge my word not to apply for membership or become a member or retain membership in the organization known as the Brotherhood of Railway Expressmen of America, nor of any other organization with the same or similar object or aims which the officials of the Pacific Express Company decide are antagonistic to that company's interests. Failure on my part to keep this agreement will be considered my notice of resignation from the employ of the Pacific Express Company."

The pledge was handed to each employee early this morning, but to-night none had signed it.





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