Beaver County Blue

Progressive Democrats of America – PA 12th CD Chapter

Archive for February, 2015

U.S. Geological Survey: Fracking Waste Is the Primary Cause of the Dramatic Rise in Earthquakes

Posted by carldavidson on February 24, 2015

By Jen Hayden
Beaver County Blue via DailyKOS

Feb 23, 2015 – The U.S. Geological Survey has backed-up what scientists have been suggesting for years–that deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes:

    Large areas of the United States that used to experience few or no earthquakes have, in recent years, experienced a remarkable increase in earthquake activity that has caused considerable public concern as well as damage to structures. This rise in seismic activity, especially in the central United States, is not the result of natural processes.

    Instead, the increased seismicity is due to fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas from previously unproductive reservoirs. These modern extraction techniques result in large quantities of wastewater produced along with the oil and gas. The disposal of this wastewater by deep injection occasionally results in earthquakes that are large enough to be felt, and sometimes damaging. Deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes and the corresponding increase in seismic hazard in the central U.S. 

    “The science of induced earthquakes is ready for application, and a main goal of our study was to motivate more cooperation among the stakeholders — including the energy resources industry, government agencies, the earth science community, and the public at large — for the common purpose of reducing the consequences of earthquakes induced by fluid injection,” said coauthor Dr. William Ellsworth, a USGS geophysicist.

Emphasis added. In the last five years alone, Oklahoma has detected a staggering 2500 earthquakes. Scientists involved in the study are calling for a dramatic increase in transparency and cooperation:

    “In addition to determining the hazard from induced earthquakes, there are other questions that need to be answered in the course of coping with fluid-induced seismicity,” said lead author of the study, USGS geophysicist Dr. Art McGarr. “In contrast to natural earthquake hazard, over which humans have no control, the hazard from induced seismicity can be reduced. Improved seismic networks and public access to fluid injection data will allow us to detect induced earthquake problems at an early stage, when seismic events are typically very small, so as to avoid larger and potentially more damaging earthquakes later on.”

Posted in Environment, Fracking, Marcellus Shale | 1 Comment »

Postal Workers Propose Public Banking Option

Posted by randyshannon on February 17, 2015

(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Banking Goes Postal

Sixty-four unions and community groups are demanding a banking public option—at the post office.

BY DAVID MOBERG

In one year, the underbanked and unbanked pay out more in financial service charges than the federal government spends on all domestic food aid.

American Postal Workers Union (APWU) president Mark Dimondstein has an offer that should be hard to refuse, especially for the 10 million American households, mostly low-income, that do not have a checking account or other basic banking services.

Through its network of 30,000 post offices and other outlets, the United States Postal Service (USPS) could readily and cheaply provide many banking services (just as it now provides money orders), no matter where you live or what you earn. This could save people without bank access from paying the exorbitant interest and fees at currency exchanges, payday lenders, rent-to-own dealers, pawn shops and other subprime financial institutions.

Postal workers would also win: Expanding postal services would create more jobs. Moreover, the additional revenue would strengthen USPS’s finances, bolstering the four major postal unions’ ongoing fight against management’s austerity measures. Although the postal service earned a surplus on operations in 2014, it ran a deficit overall because of perverse requirementsCongress imposed in 2006 that retiree healthcare benefits for the next 75 years be fully pre-funded within a decade, a standard far more demanding than those required by any other retirement systems. Much more than the decline in first class mail, that manufactured budget crisis has fueled USPS management’s campaign of job cuts. The postal workforce dropped from about 700,000 in 2006 to less than 500,000 last year, and management hopes to reduce it by as many as 15,000 more this year. USPS management’s campaign of job cuts also involves service degradation, post office closings and privatization—such as delivering postal services at the office-supply store Staples, where jobs are low-wage and non-union. If postal unions can implement banking and roll back the retiree pre-pay requirement, they will return the postal service to solvency while expanding the public sector to address private market shortcomings.

When talks for a new APWU contract start in February, Dimondstein intends to make establishing postal banking a major demand, even though it falls outside the bread-and-butter issues unions typically bring up in bargaining. He plans to argue that creation of the bank would profoundly affect the mandatory bargaining issues of wages, hours and working conditions.

The negotiations come on the heels of a new campaign, launched this week by the postal unions—in partnership with community groups such as National People’s Action, Public Citizen, USAction and Interfaith Worker Justice—to mobilize the public in favor of a postal bank.

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Bernie Sanders Lights a Fire under Pennsylvania Democrats at Keystone Progress’s Annual Summit in Harrisburg

Posted by carldavidson on February 10, 2015

By Carl Davidson

BeaverCountyBlue.org

Feb 8, 2015, Harrisburg, PA. If the vote were taken for the Democratic presidential candidate at the Harrisburg Hilton on Saturday, Feb. 7, Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, would likely have won by a landslide.

That was the spirit in the hotel ballroom as Sanders addressed the 800 people gathered for the PA Progressive Summit. The annual meeting, sponsored by Keystone Progress, brought together progressive activists—community and trade union organizers, women’s right and civil rights groups, hopeful candidates and door knockers—all of whom made up the democratic wing of the Democratic Party, from all across the Keystone State.

“I’m going to try something a little different this morning,” said Sanders to start things rolling, “I’m going to tell you the truth.” He got a wave of laughter and cheers from people who often got something else from politicians.

Sanders with Tina Shannon

Sanders with Tina Shannon

Sanders started off with the ‘Citizen United’ Supreme Court decision taking limits off the superrich in funding elections and candidates. “It will go down is history as one of the worse ever made in modern times” Sanders said by way of description. “By a five-to-four vote, it undermined the very foundations of democracy. I know you think the situation is bad, believe me, it’s worse than you think it is.” Billionaires are not satisfied with owning the economy, he explained. They were buying government as well.”

The Koch Brothers, with 85 billion in wealth, were taken as the case in point. Sanders explained that they alone intended to spend over 900 million dollars on the 2016 election—more than the combined total of Obama and Romney in 2012. This meant these “counter-revolutionaries with a far right agenda” would wield more power than both political parties in the recent past.

Turning to the economy, Sanders said while the economy was clearly in better shape than when Obama, first took office, it was still clearly in bad shape. He explained the different meanings of official unemployment figures, with 5.8 percent being the most common number cited, but double that, near 12%, was more accurate.

Then he broke it down further: “We talk a lot about Ferguson, as we should. But we also need to talk more about Black youth unemployment, which is 30 percent. Nobody should be satisfied with where we are today. We have 45 million people living in poverty, another word we need to talk more about today.”

For those worried about deficits, Sanders noted that they had been reduced under Obama. But he also insisted that if they were truly concerned about deficits, they would have stood up against the Iraq war. This remark got wild cheers and everyone out of their seats.

Unfair Impact of Technological Change

Sanders went on to examine ‘the explosion in technology,’ not only i-Phones and i-Pads, but robotics in factories. “All of this has led to a tremendous growth in productivity on the part of American workers.” Such changes logically might suggest workers were paid more or worked shorter hours, he added, “but all of you know, tens of millions of Americans today are working longer hours for less pay.”

This meant anger and stress among workers—impacting both men and women, even if in slightly different ways—needed discussion as a national issue. There was a time, “ancient history” said Sanders, when one worker could work 40 hours and support a family reasonably well. Now women were working along with men, sometimes at two or three jobs, at long hours and low pay, to hobble together enough to support a family. “This causes a lot of anger, and often it’s being angry at the wrong people for the wrong reasons,” he added. “The average male worker, right in the center of the economy, now makes $800 a year less in inflation adjusted dollars than he did 40 years ago. The average female worker in the center makes $1300 a year, even less. They have a lot to be angry about. They want to know why, and our job is to explain it to them.”

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Posted in 2016 Election, Harrisburg, PDA, Right Wing, safety net, Wall Street | 2 Comments »

Wolf to Expand Medicaid, Dump Corbett’s “Healthy PA”

Posted by randyshannon on February 9, 2015

Gov. Wolf to ditch Healthy PA, institute straight Medicaid expansion

Updated just now

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, long a critic of his predecessor’s version of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, on Monday took the first step toward replacing it.

That step was directing the state Department of Human Services to withdraw a pending piece of the Healthy PA program from further federal consideration. Wolf proposes to replace Healthy PA’s three benefit plans with a single one that the DHS is working with the federal government to develop.

“Today is the first step toward simplifying a complicated process and ensuring hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have greater access to the health insurance they need,” Wolf said in a news release.

Former Gov. Tom Corbett billed Healthy PA, which took effect Jan. 1, as a simplification of the state’s 14 existing Medicaid plans.

Wolf disagreed, with his release citing “people not receiving important treatment, confusion among recipients, and special populations being placed into the wrong plans” as examples of “complications under Healthy PA.”

“Our approach will alleviate confusion, remove unnecessary red tape, and streamline the system so that people can see a doctor when they are sick and health care professionals have more time to concentrate on providing quality care,” Wolf said.

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Take the fight for Jobs to Harrisburg!

Posted by carldavidson on February 9, 2015

Budget Rally Hburg 2.26

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A Step Forward on Green Jobs, But Will the GOP Block It?

Posted by carldavidson on February 3, 2015

Montgomery Locks and Dam on Beaver County: Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Dan Jones said locks and dams funding on the Ohio River in Pennsylvania and West Virginia will receive nearly $47.97 million based on President Barack Obama’s proposed numbers. The Montgomery Locks and Dam in Potter Township could be among those receiving funding.

Locks and dams funding increases for southwestern Pennsylvania

By David Taube

Beaver County Times

Feb 3 , 2015 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – An Army Corps of Engineers spokesman said the president’s proposed budget calls for significant increased spending on the Ohio River.

Spokesman Dan Jones said locks and dams funding on the Ohio River in Pennsylvania and West Virginia will receive nearly $47.97 million based on President Barack Obama’s proposed numbers. Typically, Jones added, those figures do not change drastically from what’s approved by Congress.

That compares to a previous budget of $30.8 million, he said.

The federal government also will invest $58 million in unallocated dollars to locks and dams in western Pennsylvania, which involves funding already approved by Congress and the administration, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in a statement Monday.

The unallocated money relates to the current 2015 federal fiscal year, which began Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30. The president’s budget is for the upcoming 2016 federal fiscal year, which begins this fall.

Casey had asked federal staff for that other investment so a lower Monongahela River project could begin constructing a river chamber portion and support existing contracts, he wrote in a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works.

It was not immediately clear if or how that $58 million change could benefit other locks and dams projects in the state as Casey’s press office stated it would.

Posted in GOP, Green Jobs, Infrastructure | Leave a Comment »

 
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