Republicans Attempt to Bypass Obama with New Keystone XL Legislation
By Andy Rowell
On Jan. 30 the Republican Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) will try to introduce legislation seeking to bypass President Obama and empower Congress to approve the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
Sen. Hoeven’s bill, that would seek to take control of the Keystone decision, looks like a political non-starter. To become law it would have to be approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
And for some crazy reason, if this does happen, the president himself would still have to approve it.
But still Hoeven is pushing ahead. “We’ve been working with (the Republican) leadership in the Senate and all our colleagues, and we believe Sen. Hoeven’s bill has support from a lot of people in the Senate,” said Ryan Bernstein, an energy advisor to Hoeven.
One of the main reasons the pipeline is rapidly becoming a key election issue is over jobs. The oil industry and its friends in the GOP maintain that the pipeline is a huge job creator, but the pipeline’s critics have always maintained that those figures are highly inflated and misleading.
And now Greenpeace has upped the game in this department and written to the Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleging that TransCanada “is using false or misleading statements about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project," especially in relation to the numbers of jobs the pipeline would create.
The letter argues that TransCanada has “has consistently used public statements and information it knows are false in a concerted effort to secure permitting approval of Keystone XL from the U.S. government. In the process, it has misled investors, U.S. and Canadian officials, the media, and the public at large in order to bolster its balance sheets and share price.”
Greenpeace is arguing that TransCanada’s statements violate U.S. securities disclosure laws. The environmental group maintains that TransCanada has asserted that each mile of the pipeline constructed in the U.S. would create American jobs at a rate that is 67 times higher than job creation totals given by the company to Canadian officials for the Canadian portion of the pipeline.
“These false and misleading job creation numbers are part of TransCanada’s lobbying and public relations campaign designed to create congressional pressure on the U.S. government to issue a Presidential Permit approving construction of Keystone XL," argues Greenpeace, which has asked the SEC to make TransCanada correct its figures.
At the heart of the jobs propaganda is a report commissioned by TransCanada from economist Ray Perryman, entitled The Impact of Developing the Keystone XL Pipeline Project on Business Activity in the U.S. Based on Perryman’s report, TransCanada has claimed that the pipeline would create more than 20,000 high-wage manufacturing jobs and construction jobs in 2011-2012 and more than 118,000 “spin-off” jobs.
But Greenpeace argues these “claims are false and in conflict” with TransCanada’s own filings to Canadian and U.S. regulators, and is exaggerated by possibly more than 350 percent.
The Greenpeace letter concludes that it is “clear that TransCanada has consistently used public statements and information it knows are false in a concerted effort to secure permitting approval of KXL from the U.S. government. In the process, it has misled a large number of people—investors, U.S. and Canadian officials, state officials, the media, and the public at large—in order to bolster its balance sheets and share price. This is a direct violation of SEC public disclosure regulations and must be addressed.”
Greenpeace and many others will be watching closely to see how the SEC responds.
For more information, click here.
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They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.
When Leaders and Doctors Spread Misinformation<p>When people in charge of towns, cities, states, and countries spread misinformation, the potential for belief in misinformation to result in policies can have harmful effects.</p><p><a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor?q=Bruce+E.+Hirsch%2C+MD&insurance=&location=&query_type=provider&physician_partners=false&default_view=list&gender=&language=&sort=relevancy" target="_blank">Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch</a>, attending physician and assistant professor in the infectious disease division of Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, says an example of this is when President Trump informed the public he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.</p><p>"To approach this enormous challenge, we need some intellectual honesty and clarity, and to disregard expertise and to make decisions and model decisions based on hunches is inviting us to handle challenges on the basis of rumor and uninformed opinion. The magnitude of that error is epic," Hirsch told Healthline.</p><p>Stukus agrees, noting that the harm of this proclamation is documented.</p><p>"Early on when the president touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, people started to hoard this medicine, and state boards had to shut it down because they were getting so many prescriptions for this unproven therapy that it was not available for those who truly needed it, such as those who have lupus and autoimmune conditions," Stukus said.</p><p>He adds that calls to poison control centers increased after the president suggested using disinfectant to prevent contracting the new coronavirus.</p>
Listen to Science, Even When it Changes<p>When recommendations change or evidence flip-flops, skepticism may arise. However, Stukus says change is the beauty of science.</p><p>"That shows us that we can evolve, and if the evidence shows that our prior thoughts were incorrect, we need to be able to change our recommendations and advice based upon the best quality of evidence at the time," he said.</p><p>Pierre agrees.</p><p>"Science is an iterative process, whereby we arrive at facts and truth through repeated and controlled observations. That means that it's inherently self-correcting as we revise conclusions based on ongoing research. Scientific facts aren't immutable dogma chiseled on a tablet. They change based on the best available evidence we have at a given point in time," he said.</p><p>Because research of COVID-19 has only been underway for 6 months, information is evolving rapidly, and new information may contradict old.</p><p>"There's still much we don't know about exactly how [COVID-19] spreads, what effects it has on the body, or how to best treat it. That means that the best available evidence is preliminary, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or turn to other sources of information or opinion as if they're just as valid," Pierre said.</p><p>He explains that conspiracy theories based on mistrust lead to vulnerability to misinformation.</p><p>If people mistrust science because it sometimes "changes its mind," Pierre said, "that shouldn't be used to embrace other opinions based on no evidence at all, which are typically selected based on confirmation bias: what we want to believe rather than what the objective evidence supports."</p>
Where to Find the Best Information<p>Stukus says to start with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a> and <a href="https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus" target="_blank">NIH</a>. Then check with your local health officials, because COVID-19 guidelines may vary depending on where you live.</p><p>If you can't find information you need or have questions specifically related to you, call your primary care doctor.</p><p>"Your personal doctor should always be a resource for individual specific questions because they know best how to apply all the nuances retaining to your health, and how to incorporate all the other general [COVID-19] recommendations," Stukus said.</p><p><a href="https://www.eehealth.org/find-a-doctor/b/boyd-laura-b/" target="_blank">Dr. Laura Boyd</a>, primary care physician at Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, says her clinic receives a lot of calls about COVID-19.</p><p>"Most doctors' offices are receiving calls and answering questions, and doing phone or video visits to help clarify and/or order testing over the phone based on patients' symptoms. It is always best to call your doctor's office first instead of worrying about symptoms and waiting too long to seek treatment," she told Healthline.</p><p>If your primary care doctor has limited testing, she suggests looking on your state's public health website for available testing sites.</p><p>With a lot of unknowns related to this virus and disease, Boyd says many patients are feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a treatment.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there is no specific medication recommended for COVID for outpatient. There are a lot of ongoing studies with various drugs going on within the hospital setting. Patients should always contact their doctors about their specific symptoms as they can treat the symptoms that go along with COVID, but there is no cure," Boyd said.</p><p>While we wait for treatment and a vaccine, Hirsch, who treats patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications on a daily basis, says everyone can do their part by washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart.</p><p>"As an infectious disease doctor working in the hospital, I see the damage of the pandemic and the worst cases of what's happening. We are trying to get the best possible outcome and confronting this overwhelming biologic reality of this terrible epidemic the best we can," Hirsch said.</p><p>Everyone at home can help in the fight too, he adds.</p><p>"Follow information that is science- and evidence-based, and avoid that which is not," he said.</p>
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