Bush family values still greased by the Oil Patch Boys


“Can I have a hug, too, Uncle George?”

When the latest member of the Bush family decided to foray into politics, he went with an understated entrance, attracting more headlines for his famous last name than for the relatively low-profile statewide position he was seeking.

George P. Bush — a son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush — is expected to handily win his race for Texas land commissioner in November after easily shaking off a primary opponent in March.

If he does, he will be responsible for managing the state’s vast public lands and extracting royalty fees from the oil and gas companies that drill on them.

A distinguishing feature of George P. Bush’s quest for public office: a campaign war chest totaling $2.2 million — a significant portion of that money furnished by the same industry he will go on to regulate if he wins…

Anne Marion, heiress to the fortune of Fort Worth–based Burnett Oil Co., gave $50,000, according to reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission and compiled by The Texas Tribune. Jan Rees Jones, wife of Trevor Jones, president and CEO of Dallas-based Chief Oil & Gas provided another $50,000. James Henry, a longtime veteran of the oil industry and chair of Henry Resources LLC, another oil and gas exploration firm, lent $40,000 to the effort. Syed Javaid Anwar, president of Midland Energy, kicked in $40,000.

In all, Al Jazeera tabulated that individuals tied to energy companies contributed at least $450,000 to Bush’s first political effort…

Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a campaign finance advocacy group, pointed out that Bush’s donor Rolodex is nothing if not predictable, given that the Bush family made its first millions in oil. Bush founded St. Augustine, an investment firm specializing in oil and gas extractions.

McDonald said that Texas’ notoriously loose campaign finance regulations are partly to blame for the state of affairs. There are no caps on contributions.

Sometimes the things that are most scandalous are things that are legal, and we find that situation in Texas a lot,” he said. “We do think it is a cause for concern, but it’s not unusual in the context of Texas politics.”

Give the Roberts Supreme Court sufficient time, maintain the majority of conservative justices on the bench, and the United States will end up looking like Texas, the old Confederacy, poll taxes and all.

Fire fighting air tanker fleet short of what is needed for growing wildfire risk

With a vast swath of the West primed for wildfires, federal foresters are preparing for the worst with a budget that might run dry and a fleet of air tankers that in some cases aren’t ready for takeoff.

A combination of extended drought, warming weather and an abundance of withered trees and grasses have created ideal conditions for fire — more than 22 million acres were blackened by wildfires from 2011-2013, primarily across the West…

In no place is the situation more worrisome than in California, where several years of stingy rainfall have turned forests and scrub into matchsticks and tens of thousands of homes are perched along fire-prone areas.

Firefighters battled a blaze in the mountains east of Los Angeles this week, where temperatures neared triple digits. And states from New Mexico through southern Oregon have been left sere by a lack of rain and snow.

But even as fire risk has increased in recent years, the number of large air tankers dropped.

About a decade ago the Forest Service had more than 40 of the big tankers at its disposal — the draft horses of firefighting aircraft that can dump thousands of gallons of flame-snuffing retardant in a single swoop, far more than a helicopter.

According to federal analysts, the fleet hit a low of eight aircraft at one point last year, depleted by age and concerns over the ability of the planes, in some cases flying since the dawn of the Cold War, to stay in the sky.

Be of good cheer. Contemplate the most reactionary members of Congress in your neck of the prairie – someone as backwards, say, as Steve Pearce in downstate New Mexico. You can guarantee he will shout and rail against Forest Service, state and federal fire-fighters as being Federal agents in practice and policy.

Almost as loud as he and his peers hollered when confronted with legislation in Congress which would authorize spending a few more tax dollars on those air tankers, better salaries and benefits for those first responders. They voted against it of course.

Our states may go up in flames before folks finally toss useless cruds like Pearce off his gravy train based on service to oil companies, mining companies.

Thanks, Mike

Magnetic fields in electric cars are minimal


Researchers from seven countries have concluded that we can feel safe both in electric-powered cars and in those powered by hydrogen, petrol and diesel. None of them exposes passengers to higher electromagnetic fields than those recommended in international standards. In fact, field intensity is well below the recommended value. The study is currently the most comprehensive ever carried out in this field…

“There is a good deal of public concern about exposure to magnetic fields. The subject crops up regularly in the media. With the number of electric-powered vehicles increasing, this project is very relevant,” says Kari Schjølberg-Henriksen, a physicist at SINTEF…

The intensity of magnetic fields in seven different electric cars, one hydrogen car and one petrol car were measured in order to ascertain whether they approach the recommended limiting values for human exposure. The measurements were carried out using real cars in a laboratory and during road tests.

The highest values in electric cars were measured near the floor, close to the battery itself and when starting the cars. In all cases, exposure to magnetic fields is lower than 20 per cent of the limiting value recommended by the ICNIRP. Measurements taken at head-height are less than 2 per cent of the same limiting value.

In the case of petrol and diesel powered cars, exposure was measured at around 10 per cent of the limiting value. In other words, there is little difference between electric cars and petrol and diesel cars

“There is absolutely no cause for concern. The difference between this research and similar earlier work is that we have taken into account what contributes to the magnetic fields. The rotation of the wheels themselves generates considerable magnetic fields, irrespective of vehicle type,” Schjølberg-Henriksen points out.

He probably shouldn’t have added that last point. I can see conspiracy nutballs right now preparing talking points aimed at removing wheels from automobiles.

If the travois was good enough for Native Americans, it should be good enough for us.