The Evening Blues - 1-21-22
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features Irish blues rock band Taste. Enjoy!
Taste - Gambling Blues
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
-- Lewis Carroll
News and Opinion
The imaginations of Under Assistant Western War Promotion Men are running wild.
The US has alleged that Russian intelligence is recruiting current and former Ukrainian government officials to take over the government in Kyiv and cooperate with a Russian occupying force. The US Treasury on Thursday imposed sanctions on two Ukrainian members of parliament and two former officials it said were involved in the alleged conspiracy, which involved discrediting the current government of the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
“Russia has directed its intelligence services to recruit current and former Ukrainian government officials to prepare to take over the government of Ukraine and to control Ukraine’s critical infrastructure with an occupying Russian force,” the Treasury statement accompanying the sanctions said.
The claims suggest US intelligence fears Russia is preparing a full-scale invasion and not the “minor incursion” that Joe Biden referred to as a possibility in remarks on Wednesday that triggered alarm in Kyiv. Online researchers have identified Russian troops and military vehicles within just ten miles of Ukraine’s borders, increasing the risk that Vladimir Putin could launch a military offensive on short notice.
The top US diplomat Antony Blinken will seek to clarify any confusion left by Joe Biden’s suggestion that a minor incursion by Russia into Ukraine might not be met by an allied response in a major set-piece speech in Berlin. Blinken will assert that the sovereignty of Ukraine is a sacrosanct global principle that must be protected, while also seeking to address the Russian people directly by saying the US is not seeking to imperil the security that Russian people deserve.
Blinken is in Berlin to shore up western unity amid signs of a Russian troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Biden admitted there were divisions between allies and implied a minor incursion into Ukraine might be met by a lesser response. Later the White House clarified his remarks to say he was drawing a distinction between a Russian physical land invasion over the Ukrainian border or other actions from the Russian playbook such as a cyber-attack. Biden’s initial remarks drew ire from the Republicans, who claimed he had green-lighted an invasion. They also caused concern in Ukraine, but after the White House mopping up operation Ukraine seemed to have been reassured.
Blinken is due to meet his Russian opposite number Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, but he has said he will not be bringing written proposals in response to Russian demands for a legally binding agreement that neither Ukraine or Moldova will ever join Nato. Biden on Wednesday said he did not think Ukraine would qualify for membership soon. Russia wants a US commitment to Ukraine’s permanent exclusion
Blinken will instead set out the issues on which the US is prepared to negotiate with Russia, covering stationing of intermediate missiles, transparency of military exercises and cyber-attacks. Nato is due to make a formal offer to Russia this week.
U.S. special operators are continuing with a mission to build up an elite fighting force in Ukraine, military officials said, even as Russia threatens invasion with its thousands of troops, tanks and artillery massed along their borders.
“The bottom line is that our training mission in Ukraine is ongoing,” Lt. Col. Juan Martinez, spokesman for U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, said Tuesday. ...
The Stuttgart-based SOCEUR has quietly operated out of a training center outside of Kyiv for the past several years. The mission’s focus is assisting Ukrainian forces to defend more effectively against Russian aggression.
The presence of U.S. special operators is part of a small American military contingent that remains in Ukraine. There are also more than 100 Florida National Guard troops in Ukraine in an advisory role, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday.
Martinez declined to say how many special operators are now in Ukraine, citing security concerns.
Top scientists responsible for the "Doomsday Clock" issued a stark warning Thursday about how close the world is to catastrophe due to the climate emergency, nuclear weapons, and "disruptive technologies in other domains."
Launched by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947 as a symbol for "how close we are to destroying our world," the clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight for the third year straight. The closer to midnight, the greater the risk of "civilization-ending apocalypse."
The clock is set each January by the bulletin's Science and Security Board (SASB) in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates. They warned Thursday that humanity is "at doom's doorstep," which "is no place to loiter."
"100 seconds to midnight reflects the board's judgment that we are stuck in a perilous moment—one that brings neither stability nor security," said SASB co-chair and George Washington University professor Sharon Squassoni. "Positive developments in 2021 failed to counteract negative, long-term trends."
The Chinese military has said it tracked a US warship that sailed through disputed waters in the South China Sea, accusing it of “provocative actions” and warning of “serious consequences”.
The US Navy said its mission was in accordance with international law and in line with its commitment to defend “every nation’s right to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows”.
On Thursday afternoon a spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army’s southern theatre command said the USS Benfold, a guided-missile destroyer, “illegally entered China’s Xisha territorial waters without the approval of the Chinese government”.
The spokesperson, Col Tian Junli, said China’s navy and air forces were engaged to track and monitor the ship and give an “eviction” warning.
“We solemnly demand that the US side immediately stop such provocative actions, otherwise it will bear the serious consequences of unforeseen events,” a statement from theatre command said.
Syria's largest dam was supposed to be off-limits during the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State, but nearly five years ago, the Pentagon bombed it anyway, jeopardizing tens of thousands of civilians' lives, the New York Times reported Thursday.
The Tabqa Dam is a massive, 18-story structure on the Euphrates River that holds back a 25-mile-long reservoir above a valley home to hundreds of thousands of people. It was also "a strategic linchpin" controlled by the Islamic State, the newspaper noted.
On March 26, 2017, a series of explosions battered the dam, knocking workers to the ground and sparking a power outage, fire, and equipment failures. As the reservoir began to rise, local authorities urged people living downstream to flee. The entire dam could have failed, experts say, had one of the bombs not been a dud.
Following the attack, Dave Philipps, Azmat Khan, and Eric Schmitt reported for the Times:
The Islamic State, the Syrian government, and Russia blamed the United States, but the dam was on the U.S. military’s "no-strike list" of protected civilian sites and the commander of the U.S. offensive at the time, then-Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, said allegations of U.S. involvement were based on "crazy reporting."
"The Tabqa Dam is not a coalition target," he declared emphatically two days after the blasts.
In fact, members of a top secret U.S. Special Operations unit called Task Force 9 had struck the dam using some of the largest conventional bombs in the U.S. arsenal, including at least one BLU-109 bunker-buster bomb designed to destroy thick concrete structures, according to two former senior officials. And they had done it despite a military report warning not to bomb the dam, because the damage could cause a flood that might kill tens of thousands of civilians.
The revelation of Task Force 9's role in the assault on the Tabqa Dam follows a pattern described in previous Times' investigations. As the newspaper noted on Thursday, "The unit routinely circumvented the rigorous airstrike approval process and hit Islamic State targets in Syria in a way that repeatedly put civilians at risk."
Phillips, Khan, and Schmitt reported:
In response to questions from the Times, U.S. Central Command, which oversaw the air war in Syria, acknowledged dropping three 2,000-pound bombs, but denied targeting the dam or sidestepping procedures. A spokesman said that the bombs hit only the towers attached to the dam, not the dam itself, and while top leaders had not been notified beforehand, limited strikes on the towers had been preapproved by the command.
"Analysis had confirmed that strikes on the towers attached to the dam were not considered likely to cause structural damage to the Tabqa Dam itself," Capt. Bill Urban, the chief spokesman for the command, said in the statement. Noting that the dam did not collapse, he added, "That analysis has proved accurate."
However, Syrian witnesses interviewed by the Times, and two former U.S. officials who were directly involved in the air war at the time, said the situation was far graver than the Pentagon let on.
According to the newspaper:
Critical equipment lay in ruins and the dam stopped functioning entirely. The reservoir quickly rose 50 feet and nearly spilled over the dam, which engineers said would have been catastrophic. The situation grew so desperate that authorities at dams upstream in Turkey cut water flow into Syria to buy time, and sworn enemies in the yearslong conflict—the Islamic State, the Syrian government, Syrian Defense Forces, and the United States—called a rare emergency cease-fire so civilian engineers could race to avert a disaster.
Engineers who worked at the dam, who did not want to be identified because they feared reprisal, said it was only through quick work, much of it made at gunpoint as opposing forces looked on, that the dam and the people living downstream of it were saved.
"The destruction would have been unimaginable," said a former director at the dam. "The number of casualties would have exceeded the number of Syrians who have died throughout the war." ...
Meanwhile, "no disciplinary action was taken against" Task Force 9, the Times reported Thursday. "The secret unit continued to strike targets using the same types of self-defense justifications it had used on the dam."
"While the dam was still being repaired, the task force sent a drone over the community next to the dam," wrote Phillips, Khan, and Schmitt. "As the drone circled, three of the civilian workers who had rushed to save the dam finished their work and piled into a small van and headed back toward their homes."
"More than a mile away from the dam, the van was hit by a coalition airstrike," they added. "A mechanical engineer, a technician, and a Syrian Red Crescent worker were killed."
Although Airwars reported these civilian deaths when they occurred in 2017, they have never been officially acknowledged by the U.S. military.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition military continued its bombings in Sanaa and other areas of Yemen for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday. Its jets destroyed more civilian structures and some strikes targeted areas near Sanaa’s international airport.
The Saudi-led coalition has increased its airstrikes targeting civilian areas since the Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi in the UAE on Monday in which three migrant workers died. The coalition airstrikes on Monday night had killed at least 12 Yemenis and wounded dozens of others. According to al-Mayadeen, the death toll in Monday’s attack on Sanaa increased to 29 after the debris were cleared.
Reacting to continued Saudi-led airstrikes, Houthi chief negotiator Mohammad Abdulsalam tweeted on Wednesday that the coalition’s continued massacre of civilians and the world’s refusal to intervene and prevent such attacks cannot bring an end to the war but makes the conflict more dangerous.
Antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to humanity, health leaders have warned, as a study reveals it has become a leading cause of death worldwide and is killing about 3,500 people every day.
More than 1.2 million – and potentially millions more – died in 2019 as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, according to the most comprehensive estimate to date of the global impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The stark analysis covering more than 200 countries and territories was published in the Lancet. It says AMR is killing more people than HIV/Aids or malaria. Many hundreds of thousands of deaths are occurring due to common, previously treatable infections, the study says, because bacteria that cause them have become resistant to treatment.
“These new data reveal the true scale of antimicrobial resistance worldwide, and are a clear signal that we must act now to combat the threat,” said the report’s co-author Prof Chris Murray, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
“We need to leverage this data to course-correct action and drive innovation if we want to stay ahead in the race against antimicrobial resistance.”
In the new year, Democratic leaders have chosen to steer their ship away from their promised economic agenda and toward voting rights, ultimately crashing into the filibuster iceberg last night. Their decision to shelve economic legislation in favor of a democracy agenda reflects a deeper misunderstanding of what fortifies democratic ideals — and illustrates the Gordian Knot grinding up the gears of their political engine.
The Democratic Party is defined by a contradiction: It simultaneously promises to enrich its corporate donors and solve problems created by those same donors. That impossibility gives us drug pricing policies that would not significantly reduce medicine prices, tax proposals that never actually address inequality, corporate handouts that don’t much help the working class, and health care policy that enriches the insurance companies already fleecing sick people. It also gives us rotating villains who help the party’s rank-and-file lawmakers pull their bait and switch — they get to promise populist legislation they know is already doomed by Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema or some other designated malefactor of the day.
As more and more Americans are disgusted by this hypocrisy, here comes “voting rights” — a politically safe initiative because it does not threaten capital in an age when elections can be bought and voting rarely changes economic policy. For Democrats trying to avoid the core tension between their donors and everyone else, a “democracy agenda” is a convenient salve — a high-profile crusade that does not offend their paymasters in the way that, say, breaking up monopolies or closing the carried interest tax loophole might. ...
Of course, protecting voting rights is important at a time when Republicans deny election results and use their state legislative majorities to try to restrict voting. But the cause still has little salience as a motivating election issue, according to the latest polls showing that many Americans do not see democracy as a top priority. Why is that?
Likely it’s because a much bigger democracy crisis has been telling Americans that their votes don’t matter much.
This is the emergency that the democracy discourse rarely mentions: The problem of elections being purchased, politicians being owned, and legislation being written by the buyers. Oh, and a Senate that gives 11 percent of the population enough representation to help the U.S. Chamber of Commerce stop anything the rest of the country wants and votes for. All of that comes together to create a “democracy” in name but not necessarily in practice — a country where the “preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy,” as Princeton researchers concluded.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is trending on Twitter after making a comment related to voting rights in which he implied African Americans are not Americans.
Prior to a vote to move the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to the Senate floor failed Wednesday, McConnell was asked by a reporter about concerns among voters of color.
"Well the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans," McConnell responded.
In case you missed it, Mitch McConnell said the quiet part out loud last night: “African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.”
Make sure everyone sees this.pic.twitter.com/ReOvHGJcnI
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) January 20, 2022
The prosecutor for Georgia’s biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into former US president Donald Trump’s efforts to influence the state’s 2020 election results.
In a letter to Fulton county’s chief judge, first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, district attorney Fani Willis wrote that multiple witnesses have refused to cooperate without a subpoena requiring their testimony.
“Therefore, I am hereby requesting … that a special purpose grand jury be impaneled for the purpose of investigating the facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to possible attempts to disrupt the lawful administration of the 2020 elections in the State of Georgia,” Willis wrote.
The investigation by Willis, a Democrat, is the most serious inquiry facing Trump in Georgia after he was recorded in a phone call pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to overturn the states election results based on unfounded claims of voter fraud.
The prosecutor specifically mentioned that Raffensperger, whom she described as an “essential witness”, had indicated he would only take part in an interview once presented with a subpoena.
Hours after U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer announced his endorsement of right-wing Rep. Henry Cuellar ahead of the Democratic primary in Texas' 28th district, the FBI conducted what appeared to be a raid at the congressman's home and campaign office late Wednesday—resulting in what could be a boost to Cuellar's progressive opponent.
Jessica Cisneros, an immigration and human rights attorney, welcomed a slew of new followers on social media following reports that Cuellar was under investigation.
"Been getting a lot of new followers tonight!" tweeted Cisneros, who is running for a second time against 15-year incumbent Cuellar after coming within three percentage points of unseating him in 2020. "I'm running for Congress because South Texas deserves a representative who will fight for our dreams as hard as we do."
Valerie Gonzalez of The Monitor, a local outlet in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, reported late Wednesday that several FBI agents had arrived at Cuellar's home in Laredo. The agents took photos of vehicles at the house and "loaded large bags, plastic bins, and a computer into a federal vehicle" while others appeared to be logging the items.
Later, Gonzalez reported that agents had also visited a building in downtown Laredo which houses Cuellar's campaign office.
An FBI spokesperson acknowledged that agents were "conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity" but did not release more details, while Cuellar said he plans to "fully cooperate in any investigation." ...
Cisneros first challenged Cuellar in the 2020 election, pledging to represent working families' interests and running a campaign fueled by grassroots support and the labor movement.
The 28-year-old supports Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people, and a repeal of "disastrous" anti-immigration laws like former President Bill Clinton's Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.
Cisneros' platform starkly contrasts with Cuellar's history of voting for legislation pushed by former President Donald Trump, including Trump's border wall and an extension of the amount of time immigrant children could be held in detention. Cuellar is also anti-choice, was the only Democrat in the House to vote against the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and is a top recipient of campaign funding from the fossil fuel and private prison industries.
Despite Cuellar's anti-Democratic policy stances, Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday applauded the congressman's efforts on behalf of "working families." In 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vehemently supported Cuellar, saying she hoped for "not only a victory, but a resounding victory" against Cisneros.
Worth a full read:
In its ongoing attempt to investigate and gather information about private U.S. citizens, the Congressional 1/6 Committee is claiming virtually absolute powers that not even the FBI or other law enforcement agencies enjoy. Indeed, lawyers for the committee have been explicitly arguing that nothing proscribes or limits their authority to obtain data regarding whichever citizens they target and, even more radically, that the checks imposed on the FBI (such as the requirement to obtain judicial authorization for secret subpoenas) do not apply to the committee.
As we have previously reported and as civil liberties groups have warned, there are serious constitutional doubts about the existence of the committee itself. Under the Constitution and McCarthy-era Supreme Court cases interpreting it, the power to investigate crimes lies with the executive branch, supervised by the judiciary, and not with Congress. Congress does have the power to conduct investigations, but that power is limited to two narrow categories: 1) when doing so is designed to assist in its law-making duties (e.g., directing executives of oil companies to testify when considering new environmental laws) and 2) in order to exert oversight over the executive branch.
What Congress is barred from doing, as two McCarthy-era Supreme Court cases ruled, is exactly what the 1/6 committee is now doing: conducting a separate, parallel criminal investigation in order to uncover political crimes committed by private citizens. Such powers are dangerous precisely because Congress’s investigative powers are not subject to the same safeguards as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. And just as was true of the 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that prompted those Supreme Court rulings, the 1/6 committee is not confining its invasive investigative activities to executive branch officials or even citizens who engaged in violence or other illegality on January 6, but instead is investigating anyone and everyone who exercised their Constitutional rights to express views about and organize protests over their belief that the 2020 presidential election contained fraud. Indeed, the committee's initial targets appear to be taken from the list of those who applied for protest permits in Washington: a perfectly legal, indeed constitutionally protected, act.
This abuse of power is not merely abstract. The Congressional 1/6 Committee has been secretly obtaining private information about American citizens en masse: telephone records, email logs, internet and browsing history, and banking transactions. And it has done so without any limitations or safeguards: no judicial oversight, no need for warrants, no legal limitations of any kind.
President Joe Biden this week quietly renominated a Trump-selected federal judge whose law firm represented the oil behemoth Chevron in its yearslong legal assault on environmental and human rights attorney Steven Donziger.
Biden's renomination of Jennifer Rearden to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York—announced on the White House website Wednesday—garnered little attention in the corporate press, but it didn't escape the notice of watchdog groups, climate campaigners, or Donziger himself, who said Thursday that he was "outraged" by the news.
Rearden "was paid millions at [Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP] to help jail me, attack Indigenous peoples, and cover up a massive oil spill in the Amazon," said Donziger, who in 2011 won a multibillion-dollar settlement against Chevron over its devastating pollution of the Ecuadorian rainforests.
Chevron, which never paid the settlement, responded by launching a massive—and, according to critics, entirely unfounded and corrupt—legal campaign against Donziger that resulted in his prolonged and ongoing detention.
Trump originally nominated Rearden to the federal bench in early 2020 thanks in part to support from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), but the lawyer's nomination expired at the end of that year after the Senate didn't act to confirm her.
In a statement announcing Biden's decision to re-up Rearden's nomination, the White House said that all of the president's judicial picks are "extraordinarily qualified, experienced, and devoted to the rule of law and our Constitution."
"These choices also continue to fulfill the president's promise to ensure that the nation's courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country—both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds," the White House said.
Jamie Henn, director of Fossil Free Media, called the president's move "atrocious."
"Rearden's corporate clients have included Home Depot, Uber, Lehman Brothers, Barclays Capital, and Patriarch Partners," noted Sludge, which also spotlighted the lawyer's political donations to erstwhile Republican presidential candidates Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani.
Rearden also has "deep ties" to Gillibrand, as The Intercept's Andrew Fishman reported in October.
"Gillibrand played a crucial role in the nomination of Rearden—who fundraised at Gibson Dunn for the senator's campaigns—to serve on the federal bench," Fishman observed. "In a sworn affidavit... Rearden stated that her yearslong road to the nomination began when she expressed interest to Gillibrand in one of many talks about the issue with the senator and her staff."
Even as a number of Democratic lawmakers have spoken out against Chevron's campaign against Donziger—a New York resident—Gillibrand has remained conspicuously silent on the matter.
"Sen. Gillibrand has refused for a long time to even investigate my unprecedented Chevron-orchestrated detention, much less speak out about it," Donziger told The Intercept. "Obviously, the senator's extensive connections to big-money donors with ties to Chevron might be affecting her decision to ignore what is an obvious human rights violation on U.S. soil involving one of her constituents."
The youth-led Sunrise Movement on Thursday deemed President Joe Biden's first year in office a failure on the existential threat of climate change, which the administration has vowed to tackle while simultaneously greenlighting fossil fuel projects that will worsen the crisis.
In a statement marking the one-year anniversary of the president's inauguration, Sunrise executive director Varshini Prakash said that "Biden is failing us—he's failing young people and the millions of people that took a chance on him in 2020 because he refuses to meet the moment we're in right now—from the climate crisis to the student debt crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic."
"While Biden started off his first year strong by ushering through the passage of the American Rescue Plan and undoing most of Trump's anti-climate executive orders like putting the U.S. back in the Paris Climate Agreement, Biden has stopped leading and is instead feeding us empty promises without delivering on a bold climate agenda," Prakash continued. "Stump speeches alone will not save us."
Since Biden took office last January, the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management has approved oil and gas drilling permits at a faster rate than the Trump administration, which was packed with fossil fuel industry allies and enthusiasts.
"Biden can't be the climate leader he claims to be when he is actively conducting major lease sales and lobbying oil states to produce more fossil fuels," said Prakash, referring to the president's November call for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to boost oil production—a demand that came at the start of the COP26 climate talks.
Meanwhile, the president's flagship Build Back Better package—a reconciliation measure that includes hundreds of billions of dollars in renewable energy investments—remains stalled in the Senate largely due to opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a coal profiteer and major ally of Big Oil.
During a press conference on the eve of his first year as president, Biden acknowledged that the climate proposals are stuck in the upper chamber but blamed Senate Republicans for obstructing them.
"What have they done to do anything to ameliorate the climate change that's occurring, other than to deny it exists?" Biden said of the GOP.
But in her statement Friday, Prakash argued that it's up to Biden to bring Manchin and other members of the majority party into line on climate action and other elements of the Build Back Better Act, whose failure could herald a midterm disaster for Democrats.
"He can't be the Climate President when he refuses to play hardball with Joe Manchin and corporate politicians who have prevented the passage of a historic climate bill that will save lives across the country," said Prakash. "And he can't be a strong climate advocate when he creates emissions goals but has yet to demonstrate how he plans to achieve them."
Manure plays a big role on American factory farms, and if not properly managed it can quickly turn into a big problem. Each year in the US livestock animals produce between 1.27 and 1.37bn tons of waste – or somewhere between three and 20 times more manure than people produce in the US.
That’s partly why devices that take manure and turn it into an energy source are catching on – as a way to manage waste and reduce methane emissions on farms. All that waste has to go somewhere, and many of the existing options aren’t great for us or for the environment. Manure from animal agriculture is a primary source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in US waterways, making water undrinkable and causing algae blooms that kill wildlife. Manure is also a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions on livestock farms – and much of its impact depends, specifically, on how it’s managed and stored. Twelve per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions from the US agricultural sector come from what the EPA calls “manure management”.
So why not turn all that pollution into something that can power vehicles and other farming equipment – or into something that can be sold and used off-farm? This is the supposed promise of anaerobic digestion. In the past five years, there has been a surge of partnerships between animal farms and natural gas companies promoting the use of anaerobic digesters, which turn manure into a form of energy called biogas. The EPA has identified more than 8,000 dairy and hog operations as prime candidates for future on-farm digesters. Amid talks at Cop26, the Biden administration pointed to an expanding biogas industry as crucial to its methane emissions action plan. Smithfield, Perdue and Chevron all announced digester partnerships in the last two years. The waste-derived biogas industry appears to be booming; globally, the industry is predicted to reach $126.2bn by the year 2030, more than doubling over the next decade.
But digesters come with their own set of problems. Some critics worry that the rise in this technology will only make it harder to curb the carbon footprint of animal farming and transition to greener energy sources – two things we must do in order to slow the effects of the climate crisis. Tyler Lobdell, an attorney with Food and Water Watch, says his group is particularly concerned that the rise in digesters only serves to further entrench both natural gas and factory farm production – two industries that are already notoriously difficult to regulate. “We’re marrying these two industries in such a way that it will become very difficult to advocate for change,” he says.
Depending on how they’re used, anaerobic digesters may also not be as effective at curbing air and water pollution as they are on paper. “We already don’t enforce regulations on the books for air and water in CAFOs,” says David Cwiertny, a professor of engineering and environmental policy at the University of Iowa, referring to concentrated animal feeding operations. “I’m hard pressed to believe we’ll do it for digesters.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Taste - Sugar Mama
Taste - What's Going On
Taste - If The Day Was Any Longer
Taste - Movin` On, Pontiac Blues
Taste - Bye Bye Bird, Baby Please Don't Go
Taste - On The Boards
Taste - Same Old Story
Taste - Blister on the Moon, Born On The Wrong Side Of Time
Taste - Catfish
Taste - Railway and Gun
Taste - Sinner Boy