In 24 hours, the 99 percent flooded the U.S. Senate with more than 800,000 messages opposing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This afternoon, 781,000 of the signatures to the Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline emergency petition were hand-delivered to the U.S. Capitol in boxes of 20,000 names each by members of 350.org, Green For All, and other climate hawks. “In Kentucky, over 2,000 people gathered at a rally opposing mountaintop removal mining picked up their cell phones and called Sen. McConnell to tell him to stop pushing Keystone XL. In New York City, dozens of people visited Sen. Schumer’s office and got him on the record opposing the pipeline. Petition deliveries also took place in Ohio, Maine, North Carolina, New Mexico, and elsewhere.”
The Empire State Building only allows wedding ceremonies on Valentine’s Day, and so today, same-sex couples married atop the skyscraper for the first time ever. Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur of Alaska were the official first couple, marrying at 8 a.m this morning:
Happy Valentine’s Day from ThinkProgress LGBT! (HT: Joe.My.God.)
More than 1.1 million people have jobs in Europe’s renewable energy sector, according to new figures released from EurObserv’ER, a renewable energy tracking project supported by the European Commission.
The numbers, which don’t even account for the massive boom in renewables development in 2011, show a 25% increase in employment between 2009 and 2010, bringing documented jobs in the renewable energy sector throughout Europe to 1,144,000.
The boost in activity in 2010 represented about €127 billion ($166 Billion) in economic value, a 15% increase over 2009.
Unlike some reports documenting green jobs in the United States, these figures only include renewable fuels, heat and electricity. They do not include jobs in mass transportation, recycling, and green building design.
They show a very healthy diversity in Europe’s renewable energy sector. According to the 2010 figures, the top three sectors for employment were biomass (273,000), solar PV (268,110), and wind (253,145). The next largest were biogas (52,810) and solar thermal (49,845). Behind those sectors were ground source heat pumps, waste-to-energy, small hydro, and geothermal.
The increase in jobs corresponded with an increase in consumption of renewable energy. In 2010, renewables accounted for 12.4% of final energy consumption in Europe — up from 11.5% in 2009 and 10.5% in 2008.
And last year saw even stronger growth, particularly in the renewable electricity sector, where 68% of new capacity in Europe came from wind and solar.
Meanwhile in the U.S., the wind industry faces an expiration of short-term tax credits that threatens up to 37,000 manufacturing, installation and maintenance jobs. Will American politicians work to create one million jobs in renewable energy for people like Nathan Crawford documented in the video below?
Or will we allow other regions create millions more while we look backward?
New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R) described yesterday’s vote in favor of marriage equality in the state Senate as “a good bunch of theater” and predicted that the legislature would not have the votes to override his promised veto of the bill, which would extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian residents in the states. “Yesterday was a good bunch of theater, but that’s all it was. It was theater,” Christie claimed in a press conference this afternoon, and said he expects the assembly to adopt the measure on Thursday. “It would be awfully embarrassing if they didn’t have enough votes in the assembly to pass it, after they made it day one. I’m assuming they will have the votes to pass it”:
CHRISTIE: They’re gonna be nowhere near the votes to override in either chamber. And so hopefully we can move on from this issue. If they pass it on Thursday and send it to my desk, believe me I will take very swift action on the bill and then we can move on to the things the people of New Jersey say are most important to them, which is creating jobs, lowering taxes and continuing the New Jersey comeback and not the last month that we spent, which really is an act of theater on their part because they know it’s not going to happen.
The Senate voted 24-16 to advance the bill, three votes short of the 27 necessary to override such a veto. New Jersey already offers same-sex civil unions, but a commission found in 2008 that “the Civil Union Act invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children.” Christie, who has previously said that he would like state residents to vote on the marriage rights of gay and lesbian couples, has claimed that he is offering LGBT equality advocates the “bargain of your life.”
By Jessica Goad, Manager of Research and Outreach, Center for American Progress Action Fund.
The House of Representatives is considering a behemoth surface transportation bill this week, designed to fund the roads, highways, and bridges that connect our country. It has nothing to do with the public lands that belong to all of us, but that didn’t stop three Republicans from Arizona from filing an amendment to the bill that would override Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s January decision to protect 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park from new uranium mining requests.
Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) penned the amendment:
SEC. __ . TERMINATION OF PUBLIC LAND ORDER 7787.
Public Land Order 7787 (77 Fed. Reg. 2563) and the withdrawal of lands by that Public Land Order shall have no force or effect, and the provisions of the land use plans applicable to such lands immediately before the issuance of such Public Land Order shall remain in effect.
If this sounds familiar, it is because this trio of lawmakers has tried three times in the last two years to undo new protections for one of our nation’s great places. Here is a list of their other attempts to do the National Mining Association’s bidding:
– They added roll back language in the text of last year’s budget bill (which did not pass) where it was dubbed “the Flake earmark for the mining industry.”
– In October, Franks introduced the Northern Arizona Mining Continuity Act of 2011, an attempt to halt the mineral withdrawal.
– Franks introduced legislation in the last Congress to stop the mineral withdrawal.
As ThinkProgress has outlined before, the Grand Canyon is incredibly important to the economy of Arizona. Tourists spending money in and around the Grand Canyon create jobs. Headwaters Economics found that Grand Canyon National Park supported over 6,000 jobs in 2009 and those tourists spent more than $400 million.
It remains to be seen whether Congressional rules will allow the amendment to be considered. But House Republicans have made their position clear—despite the fact that the battle over the Grand Canyon has been fought, and these three Congressmen lost, they will keep fighting another day. Franks recently stated to E&E News that “anything that we can do to promote the legislation we will.”
A new Rutgers-Eagleton poll found that 54 percent of New Jersey voters support legalizing same-sex marriage, with less than 40 percent opposed. Despite opposition from Catholic leadership, 52 percent of Catholic voters also approve of marriage equality, but evangelical Christians are strongly opposed. The New Jersey Senate passed the same-sex marriage bill yesterday with a 24-16 vote, three votes shy of what would be required to override Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) veto. The House takes up the bill on Thursday.
It isn’t often that legislation passes through the Senate free of controversy, but a bipartisan transportation bill was on a course to do just that — until yesterday. The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA) and Republican Sen. James Inhofe (OK), easily passed a procedural vote last week and, with President Obama’s support behind it, seemed ready to pass a final vote too.
Then, yesterday, three Republican senators ignored Inhofe and Boxer’s calls to keep the bill free from controversy and attempted to attach an amendment mandating the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which Democrats warned could “kill the bill.” Now, Sen. Rand Paul (R) has put a hold on the bill until leadership promises him a vote on an amendment that would suspend foreign aid to Egypt, Politico reports:
Paul wants to offer an amendment to the Senate transportation bill that would cut off aid to Egypt if nongovernmental employees working with the U.S. government are detained or held in the country, as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son, Sam, currently is. And unless the senator decides to offer consent to move forward to the transportation bill, the Senate would be stuck in a 30-hour holding pattern.
“We’re not going to grant back our 30 hours unless we get a discussion on Egypt. We’re not asking for a lot of time; we just want a discussion and a vote on whether or not we should continue sending money to Egypt,” Paul told POLITICO.
Paul said he is taking action now because he fears his amendment won’t be allowed if he waits until debate on the transportation bill begins.
Noting the urgency of the transportation bill, Boxer and Inhofe agreed not to attach amendments or provisions that could be controversial. It contains no taxes and none of the other traditionally controversial measures included in such bills.
“2.8 million jobs hang in the balance” of the bill’s passage before the current transportation package expires, Boxer told Politico. “And we have obstruction from our friends on the Republican side.”
Less than seven hours after progressives launched a campaign to mobilize opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, the 24-hour goal of 500,000 signatures has been reached. “Um, I don’t quite believe it,” tweeted 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who is appearing on tonight’s Colbert Report show to discuss the climate crisis. “Whaddya say we just keep going?“