This afternoon, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to approve the Keystone XL, a proposed 1,179-mile oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. Every Republican Senator and a handful of Democrats voted in favor of building the pipeline with a final vote of 62 to 36 to pass S. 1.
“Now that we have burned through three weeks of the Senate’s time, Senate Republicans have succeeded in passing their first piece of legislation: a gift for Big Oil that the President has already said he will veto," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). "I’m glad the President will veto this bill because the Keystone XL pipeline would be a disaster for our health and environment—enabling expanded development of one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet and exacerbating climate change. I hope we can now put this debate behind us and move on to more serious legislative efforts to address the major issues facing our country.”
The Senate just passed the #KeystoneXL bill, a gift for Big Oil. I'm glad @BarackObama already said he'll veto http://t.co/JctYFjJMkf #NoKXL
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) January 29, 2015
Now the measure goes back to the House, which passed a similar bill earlier this month. House leaders will need to decide whether to pass the Senate bill as is, or make changes that would then need to be voted on by each chamber. President Obama has indicated that he will veto any Keystone XL bill that hits his desk.
“Putting the agenda of polluters ahead of the American public is bad policy and it’s bad politics," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "Remember when Senate Republicans thought moving forward with Keystone XL first would help them score political points? Now, they’ve managed to waste weeks of the American people’s time floundering around on a bill that the White House has indicated will be vetoed and they've gone on the record against broadly popular policies like protecting our drinking water, supporting wind jobs, and forcing the Koch Brothers to disclose their political spending."
Today's vote follows many votes on amendments to the Senate bill largely centered around how disastrous the tar sands oil industry is to the climate. An amendment introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Sen. Whitehouse was voted on last week, which asked Senate members if "climate change is real and is not a hoax." The amendment passed by a 98-1 vote, with only Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker voting “no.” Another amendment sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), asked if "climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change." The amendment was blocked in a 50-49 vote, short of the 60 that was needed for approval.
Forty-nine Senators—all Republicans—voted against the statement that humans significantly contribute to climate change, cementing their legacies as climate deniers. The Senators that agreed that humans significantly contribute to climate change and still voted for the Keystone XL bill, include Democrat Michael Bennet (CO), Republicans Kelly Ayotte (NH), Mark Kirk (IL), John McCain (AZ) and Rand Paul (KY).
“Now that we have clarified which Senators believe in climate change caused by human activities, clearly a vote is needed on other key issues like whether the Earth is indeed flat or whether gravity truly exists," said Kyle Ash, Greenpeace legislative representative. "The entire U.S. Congress is now a punch line. While it is certainly sad that so many climate-denying Senators reject modern scientific knowledge, we’re happy that voters will have an easy-to-read list of those willing to destroy our future in the name of dirty fossil fuel money."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced an amendment last week asking if climate change is real; if climate change is caused by human activities; if climate change has already caused devastating problems in the U.S. and around the world; if only a brief window of opportunity exists before the U.S. and the entire planet suffer irreparable harm; and if it is imperative that the U.S. transform its energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy. Sander's amendment lost the votes of every Republican, plus three Democrats and failed to pass.
President Obama has got to get out his veto pen. #KeystoneXL http://t.co/wCLfYmxeiH
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 29, 2015
“Senators who love Keystone just voted to approve eminent domain for private gain and to risk our water, all for one foreign corporation," said Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska. "The good news for landowners in the Heartland is President Obama cares about our land and water and will veto this reckless bill. Farmers and ranchers need stability in their government so they can plan crops and development of their land. A full rejection of Keystone cannot come soon enough for landowners.”
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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