President Obama Vetoes Keystone Pipeline
On Nov. 6, President Obama announced his rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline request made by TransCanada, a Canadian energy infrastructure company. The pipeline was supposed to be 1,179 miles long and would transfer petroleum from Canada to the Gulf Coast. This announcement ends the proposal’s seven-year review. (New York Times, “Citing Climate Change, Obama Rejects Construction of Keystone XL Oil Pipeline,” 11.06.15).
The Keystone XL Pipeline was the fourth and final phase of project. Although much of the pipeline is already built and operational, the last phase created controversies. Environmentalists strongly opposed the pipeline, claiming that building the pipeline would significantly contribute to climate change. The crude oil extracted from Canada would be from oil sands which creates 17 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the average barrel of U.S. crude oil. In addition, the proposed pipeline would run through the Ogallala aquifer, which holds 978 trillion gallons of fresh water and supplies 30 percent of the nation’s irrigational water (NPR, “What you need to know about the Keystone Oil Pipeline,” 11.17.14).
In his address, Obama stated, “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change, and frankly, approving this project would have undercut that leadership” (CNN, “Obama rejects Keystone XL Pipeline,” 11.06.15). Advocates of the project claimed that it would move in the direction of American energy independence as well as create jobs. There was a strong reaction to Obama’s announcement from Republicans, including from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. “This decision isn’t surprising, but it is sickening,” he said. “Obama is rejecting our largest trading partner and energy supplier. He is rejecting the will of the American people and a bipartisan majority of the Congress” (CNN).
TransCanada President Russ Girling remarked that the company is still committed to the project. “We will review our options to potentially file a new application for border-crossing authority to ship…crude oil,” he said (TransCanada, “President permit denial: a disappointing choice,” 11.07.15).
—Shelia Hu, Guest Reporter
America Suffers From Fish Fraud Epidemic
In restaurants and supermarkets throughout the country, some of the most common fish people order–salmon and tuna being only a few examples–may not be the fish the people are served. Oceana, a non-profit ocean conservation group, conducted a two-year investigation on seafood purchased in 674 supermarkets, restaurants and sushi bars across 21 states. In 2013, they found that one-third of all fish bought in these locations were mislabeled. For example, across all categories, 87 percent of all snapper samples did not contain snapper, and 59 percent of white tuna was not white tuna. Sushi restaurants were particularly erroneous; 74 percent of the fish they served were mislabeled (USA Today, “Fishy fakes common in restaurants,” 02.21.13).
Fraudulence of red snapper is the most concerning. Among 120 samples of red snapper, only seven were purely snapper. Oceana senior scientist Kimberly Warner said, “The majority of fraud is various fish standing in for snapper – it’s used as catch-all name for all kinds of white fleshed-fish” (Northeast Public Radio, “One In Three Fish Sold At Restaurants And Grocery Stores Is Mislabeled,” 02.21.13). More recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated species mislabeling to have risen to 40 percent nationwide (HuffPost Green, “The New ‘Bait and Switch’ on Seafood,” 06.01.15).
Interspecies mislabeling is not the only issue in restaurants. Oftentimes, food providers blatantly lie about where the fish is from to drive the prices higher. A 2011 study from Food Research International states that one-third of the wild-caught salmon sold in Washington state is farm-grown salmon, artificially doubling prices (HuffPost Green).
One reason this problem is so widespread in the United States is the severe lack of regulation of imports. America now imports roughly 90 percent of fish and FDA regulation inspects less than two percent of these imports (Northeast Public Radio).
Some argue that the FDA must enforce more regulations, but for now, consumers can do a few things to ensure what they are eating is what they bought. Ask questions about where the fish came from. If possible, buy a whole fish to be sure it is truly the desired food. Lastly, look for logos, such as the Marine Stewardship Council, for verification that the seafood is correctly labeled (USA Today, “Fishy fakes common in restaurants,” 02.21.13).
—Derek Sonntag, Guest Reporter