Climate Change Deniers, follow the money find the truth.

             In his second inaugural address, President Obama said it loud and clear. We need action to fix our climate crisis and we need this action now. A few hours later the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (NRSC) said that they did not believe in climate disruption. Actually saying that they would attack Senators who took action on the climate crisis.

              After a year in which millions of Americans felt the harsh effects of climate change, from droughts to wild fires to Superstorm Sandy- this is not just an illogical thought process, it is a horribly irresponsible position to take. But of course in politics if you follow the money, you understand the position. Oil and Gas corporations are among the NRSC biggest monetary backers. The committee has received more than $5 million from oil and gas interests in the last 4 years. Excommunicate Mobile, Koch Industries, among others have been funding far right organizations that have been attacking clean energy and climate change while propping up anti-science climate deniers. While it is not just fossil fuel companies fueling this denial of climate change, they are donating more than others. Some of the NRSC top donors are FedEx, Home Depot, Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Wells Fargo.

                  The secretive Donors Trust has given millions to denying climate change. An analysis by Green Peace reveals Donors Trust has funneled at least $146 million to more than 100 climate change groups.  Some of the recipients were Americans for Prosperity, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the Heartland Institute and the Competetive Enterprise Institute. One of tie Committee for a Constructive Tomorrows main activities is running a website that acts like a clearing-house for articles that try and discredit the science behind climate change. They also launch personal attacks on people like Al Gore or climate scientists.  Many of these anti-climate change organizations were funded for the express purpose of spreading disinformation.

        The majority of American people recognize that climate change is real. But once again the Republican party thinks that taking a position that is totally out of line with the American people and the future of our planet is a winning strategy. Democrats recognize the peoples wants and work towards making the realistic ones a reality. Republicans believe money means everything despite all their recent strategies proving fruitless.

 

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Governor Tom Corbetts pension reform plan.

             Governor Tom Corbetts administration touted pension reforms as one of the highlights of his new Pennsylvania budgets. Bit his plan has the potential to balloon the already $41 billion unfunded liability by applying new artificial collars to how much the state must pay into the system. But those collars allow Corbett to rehabitate his miserly reputation prior to his bid for reelection.

           The currents crisis in pension funding is because the state failed to pay its share of pension costs, creating the unfunded liability. It is important now because the artificial collars are slowly being lifted to pay off the debt in an orderly manner outlined in Act120 in 2010. This year the state pays 11.5% of payroll for SERS and 12.4% to PSERS. Next year those payments will rise to 16% and 16.75% of payroll and the rates will continue to rise until payments peak at 28% of payroll in 2019, at which time the rates will stay in place for several years before beginning to decline.

              He wants to put state abd school employees into a seperate retirement system that resembles a private sector 401k. He also wants to lower the multiplier used to calculate employee pensions from 2.5% to 2.0% to keep the Public School Employees Retirement System and State Employees Retirement System viable. He is also trying to limit the amount by which the commonwealth employer contributions can be increased.

                In 2000 PSERS was funded at 123.8%, a decade later it was at 69.2%. The governor says the decline can only be fixed by abadoning the defined-benefit plan and replacing it with a 401k for new employees. This puts the investment risk on the emloyee while more than doubling the needed lifetime employee contributions. More than 70% of the PSERS value comes from return on investment. The networth of the pension was hit by $15 billiin during the recession.

              Some are questioning the constitutionality of this because of it breaking a contracts. People are also worried about balancing a budget on something that might be thrown out in court. I further question why the highest paid governor in the country doesnt take a pay cut as a show of good will. We are also in the top 10 highest paid legislatures in the country. If either took a pay cut it would help towards the budget and a show of goid will. But they are protected by the Pa. Constitution where the pension plan is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

              Why didnt Corbett try doing any of this in previous budgets, just the one before reelection. I truly question thus mans motives because if he wanted to straighten out our budget Pa. would be taxing Natural Gas Drillers and using the severance tax with them. That alone would create enough money to avoid education cuts. But I think we will find out in the future what exactly is happening there.

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Fracking Secrecy Denied.

             A judge ruled recently in favor of journalists seeking access to information about a fracking pollution case. Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca reversed an order by a Washingto County court sealing the record in a case in which a Pennsylvania family sued several gas companies over property damage and health impacts related to air and water pollution from nearby Natural gas operations. The Pittsburgh Post Gazzette and the Observer-Reporter had intervened in the case to unseal the records.

          Earthjustice, the non-profit environmental law firm, submitted anamicus brief supporting the newspapers on behalf of Philedelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Dr Bernard D Goldstein, Dr Walter Tsou, Dr Jerome A Paulson, Dr William Rom, Dr Sandra Steingraber, Dr Simona Perry, Dr Robert Oswald, Dr Michelle Bamburger, Kathryn Vennie and Earthjustice. The doctors, scientists and advocates argued in favor of greater transparency about natural gas operations and their health effects.

             Earthjustice attorney, Mathew Gerhart said ” This case pitted the Natural Gas Industries insistence on secrecy against the history committments of the courts to public access to judicial proceedings. The courts ruling affirmed the importance of public access to the courts. This is a victory for everyone who believes we need more information and health consequences of frackin.”

                     Michelle Bamburger and Robert Oswald published a peer reviewed paper linking fracking with illness and the death of livestock. They cited 24 cases in 6 states, all the cows died or suffered serious health or reproductive problems after being exposed to fracking chemicals. The paper described cases of cows dalling sick, appearing to recover then a year later giving birth to still born calfs, to swelling limbs, infections, tails falling off and a healthy herd of 17 dropping dead 1 hour after fracking fluid spilled into their pasture.

               The latter herd had died of necropsy- respiratory failure with circulatory collapse. Petroleum hydrocarbons were found in their small intestines and lesions in their tracheas, lungs, livers and kidneys. Vasculitis, inflamation in the walls of the blood vessels . When blood vessels get inflamed they get narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow through them. Sometimes they close off completely, cutting of all circulation, which can lead to a tail falling off.

              The Natural Gas Industry is very displeased with this ruling, leading many to believe that they are hiding something bigger. Transparency cannit hurt a company that is not polluting. This is a victory for the little guy.

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Pennsylvania doesnt agree with you Governor Corbett.

               80% of Pennsylvanians disagree with selling the lottery to a British Company, in fact to any company. A good majority think that you are guilty if taking illegal gifts. The people Pa. want a Marcellus Shale to be taxed. Corbetts answer are to attack pensions that the hasnt been paying into, essentially punishing the employees who signed a contract with the state.

               Privatizing the Pa. Lottery is going to benefit the people of Pa., how? Penbsylvanians are decrying this effort, we do not want it, but yet you are ignoring the voice of the people. Why Governor Corbett? Some of these people put you in office, do you not work for us? You will not get another term if continuing ignoring the people as you have. Your approval ratings are in the toilet because of the actions you have taken.

              You cry poverty for the state yet refuse to tap into a very lucrative tax income. The Natural Gas Drilling Companies. 85% of the 783 companies do not pay any taxes. We do not have a severance tax on them which woul generate another $400 billion a year. This tax alone cuts Education cuts over the last 2 years in half. But apperently these tax ideas do not come to your mind. Every other state has the tax why not us?

            It is unfortunate that this man is our governer. He does not care about our people as evidenced by him allegedly taking illegal gifts and his support for the poll tax. He is manhandling the state pension plans, even after Act120 was put into effect to alleviate the problem. Corbett will end up being a 1 term governor because he knows more than the people. This is why we vote governor.

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Education, the future of our country.

               I live in Pennsylvania, our Governor Tom Corbett has not been kind to our people. He closed down the Adult Basic health care plan, leaving 40,000 working poor with out insurance. He cut spending, yet let Natural Gas Drilling Companied  go without paying any taxes. The taxes collected from these corporations would have made up the education cuts, so they would not be necessary. But he cut education his first 2 years.

            With his cuts to education he placed schools in an unenviable position. They did not have enough teachers. Teachers had to buy their own supplies, many poor families cannot afford to buy supplies. Teachers were teaching classes with as many as 40 students, t
how can you get to every kid. They have cut spanish, library , art and music programs, not in every school but it is being done. They are cutting groups and certain sports. He is promising Pa. schools an extra $1 billion over 4 years to education if he can privatize liquor sales.

             Our whole country is letting our kids down educationally. We consistently score in near the bottom in math and science. Children graduate high school not being able to read or write. We have a shortage of teachers and administrators. Our children deserve better than this.

             Republicans attack programs for the poor, they attack a raise in minimum wage and they attack our educational system. They want to privatize education, I am sorry but we privatized our prisons and they are a mess. I do not want a private company screwing up my kids education for money. Democrats need to stand strong for us, not only is a intellegent voter good for them but it is good for the country. We cannot compete in this world by cutting education. If we were to do anything we should be givimg it more money to give our kids a fighting chance.

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Is Fracking a necessary evil in Pennsylvania?

           Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is the propagation of a fracture in a rock layer by pressurized fluids. Induced hydraulic fracturing, hydrofracturing, is a technique used to release petroleum, natural gas (including shale gas, tight gas & coal seam gas) or other substances for extraction. It is widely used in the midwest, as well as in the Marcellus Shale line on the east coast.

            There are more than 600 chemicals involved in natural gas production & they are often left unclassified by companies. Some of the chemicals found seem harmless, such as water, sand, salt & citric acid. But there others that are quite dangerous. BTEX compounds, benzene, toluene, xylene & ethylbenzene wich are found in gasoline & are known human carcinegines. Diesel fuel contains toxic constituents, including BTEX compounds. Lead which is listed as a hazardous air pollutant by the Clean Air Act & a contaminent in the Safe Drinking Water Act. Hydrogen flouride which is listed as an air pollutant in the Clean Air Act, as well as absorption of any kind of a substantial amount will cause death. Naphthalene which is listed as a hazardous air pollutant in the Clean Air Act. Sulfuric acid which is corrosive to all body tissue. Crystalline silica which is harmful if inhaled, as well as a known cancer causer. Formaldehyde which is another known human carcinegen.

           The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has taken quite a bit of criticism for providing what critics see as incomplete water quality test results to owners who are concerned about pollution from nearby fracking operations. The Pa. DEP has filed a claim air pollution has gone down because of fracking . Marcellus Drilling News recieved a copy of official numbers filed by the Pa DEP to the EPA. While aur pollution has gone down statewide, the numbers show that areas with alot of Marcellus Shale drilling  air pollution numbers have gone up.

              The Pa. DEP has blamed much of the water pollution on pre-existing conditions. Federal regulators generally do not get involved in state procedures. The Pa. DEP has recently been accused of purposely ignoring portions of its own drinking water testing results that may have demonstrated toxic metals linked with fracking. The DEP also prevented field officers from issueing contamination determination letters directly to residents, having all such letters sent to the head office in Harris burg first.

              While the midwest seems to have more occurrences of pollution of peoples drinking water than Pa., it shoukd also be said that they were fracking out there longer. There are instances of cancer, unexplained illnesses, higher than normal chemical levels in urine & tap water catching on fire. What has been noticed on the east coast is difficulty breathing when entering homes, there have also been legions found with little explanation for them. They have found Phenol levels as high as 34 in urine, where there should be none. But as of now the data is incoclusive for possible diseases or death in Pa.

            With alk this in mind pkease remember in 2010, there were 783 natural gas drilling companies in Pa. 80% of thosr companies paid ZERO taxes & others were allowed to claim under the much lower personal income tax. These natural gas drilling companies said they paid $1 billion in taxes, where in truth they paid less than $80 million. Our esteemed Govener Corbett recieved over $1 million sibce govener & ovet $300,000 while Attorney General.

           It seems to me money buys you freedom to poison people in Pa. Our government protection doesnt exist. Those near these drilling facilities should contact federal regulators & plead for help. Or possibly ban together & do so. Just another reason for Pa. to vote Corbett out. Lets get rid of this dirty man.

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Govener Corbetts new budget doesnt make up for 2 straight years of cuts.

                 Pennsylvania Govener Tom Corbett trotted out his new budget recently. It was his first out of three that didnt make huge cuts to social programs, he even gave education more money for the next 4 years only. It is a bit suspicious that this budget comes with his aporoval ratings in the toilet & an election coming up.

           In the last budgets Corbett gouged education to the tune of $860 million. That cut library programs, certain sports, not to mention certain tutoring programs. Why attack education, that is our childrens only chance to compete in this world. He cut the Adult Basic Health Care program to help working poor, leaving 42,000 people without any health care.

         Cutting programs for the poor while cutting taxes for businesses that the Corbett administration estimated cost $200 million in revenue. This was disputed by the Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, wich estimated the tax cut will translate to $833 million in lost revenue. This is preposterous, lose money cutting taxes, but cut money from needed programs.

        Pennsylvania has become a tax haven for the rich. The Institution of Taxation & Economic Policy, a nonprofit research group, say top earners pay 4.4% of income in state & local tax. This group makes $391,000 or more per year. That,is less than 4 of our commonwealths neighboring states; NJ 7%, Maryland 6.4%, WV & OH 6.3%. The poorest 20% in the state pay 12%, that is the highest for all our neighboring states. Next 20% (low middle class) pay 10.4%, on par with neighboring states save WV at 8.6%. The lowest 20% pay 3.9% in property taxes, richest1% pay 1.8%, the rest between 2.6-3.1%.

          Of the 783 Natural Gas Drilling Companies to file taxes in 2011 85% paid ZERO dollars in taxes. Other Natural Gas Drilking Companies structure business so they pay the much lower personal income tax. This Industry claims it paid $1 billion in state & local tax revenue. Pa. Department of Revenue show oil & gas industry paid $38.8 million state tax, $17.8 million in corporate net tax, $13 million in personal income tax & $8 million in stock & franchise tax. That is a total of $76.6 million, big difference.

          Pa. Budget & Policy Center $1.8 billion in savings in closing loopholes Corbett refuses to close. Such as the Deleware Loophole wich lets companies pay 3.9% tax rate intended for small businesses, raises about $450 million. Severence tax on Natural Gas Drilling like every other state would raise $400 million anually. Not to mention taxpayers pay companies bonuses to pay their taxes on time. If he closes these few I mentioned he doesnt have to cut education.

         As I have shown here Corbett is pro business, anti-people. The year before an election he changes tune & tries to become a people Govener. Most if us are aware of your ruse & soon more will be. Enjoy this year as Govener Mr. Corbett, you will be voted out in 2014.
       

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