44 Senators Behind Keystone Bill Took $22.3 Million in Campaign Cash from Big Oil
Forty-four Senators who introduced legislation today backing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline received $22.3 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry since 1989, according to analysis by 350.org and Public Campaign Action Fund. The figures reflected data coded by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and available on their website and include contributions through Sept. 30, 2011. Fourth quarter filings are due to the Federal Election Commission tomorrow.
The bill, which was announced on Jan. 30 by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and cosponsored by 42 GOP senators and one Democratic Senator, would approve the Keystone XL project despite the Obama Administration’s rejection of its permit following months of intensifying protest against it and studies downplaying its potential economic impact.
“We no longer can just accept business as usual on Capitol Hill—the idea that the fossil fuel lobby puts a quarter in the slot, turns the handle, and gets a shiny toy has to come to an end,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. “The nation's top scientists, not to mention ten recent winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, have explained why this is a lousy idea. That should speak as loudly as campaign cash.”
The analysis of campaign donations for the cosponsors found that seven of them have taken more than one million dollars over their careers from the oil industry. The cosponsors collectively received more than $1.1 million over the first three quarters of 2011, the last data available in advance of tomorrow’s FEC deadline.
“The introduction of this Keystone bill is not about jobs for Americans, it's about these Senators' trying to protect their own jobs,” commented David Donnelly, national campaigns director of Public Campaign Action Fund. “They're looking out for themselves, paying back their Big Oil donors, and trying to cash in for more Big Oil money.”
350.org is an international climate campaign that has helped lead protests against the Keystone XL pipeline. 350 parts per million is the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere according to the latest science (we’re now at 392 ppm).
Public Campaign Action Fund works to hold politicians who are against comprehensive campaign finance reform accountable for where they get their political donations.
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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