Thursday, November 29, 2007

Who Will Be Our New Senator?

Once Senator Trent Lott officially resigns, the Governor will appoint someone to fill Lott's seat. That appointee will then have the advantage of incumbency when they have to be elected in the special election, which will be in March or November, depending on the outcome of lawsuits. There are lots of rumors about who that might be. At first, everyone assumed it would be our Congressman Chip Pickering. However, his star seems to be fading, probably because he is not beholden to Haley. Another strong possibility is Congressman Roger Wicker from north Mississippi. There are many others mentioned.

However, there is one possibility I've heard about that seems brilliant - and Haley is certainly that. Mike Espy. He was the Democratic Congressman from the Delta area from 1986 to 1992, when he was appointed Agriculture Secretary by President Clinton, becoming the first African American to serve in that capacity. He only served for two years. He had to resign because he was being investigated for bribery and other charges. When he finally went to trial, he was acquitted of all charges.

So why would Haley appoint a Democrat? He wouldn't, of course. Espy would have to change parties and become a Republican. What makes me think he might? Because Espy infuriated the Democratic party last month by endorsing Haley for Governor. Plus, they're both from Yazoo City.

So why would this be a brilliant move for Haley?
  1. Espy, if ultimately elected, would be indebted to Haley big time - and that's important to Haley.
  2. Espy would undoubtedly enjoy significant support from African Americans, which would probably keep a Democrat from being elected.
  3. Think of the national implications. Mississippi has its first black Senator since Reconstruction - and he's a Republican! He would also be the first black Republican Senator since Edward Brooke of (liberal) Massachusetts in 1978. And Haley could take credit for it.

The only problem is that some Republicans might revolt. Espy has a somewhat liberal background which would turn off conservatives - and of course the white racists (of which there are quite a few in Mississippi) would have a cow. However, Haley has the stature to bring any reluctant Republicans on board if he puts his mind to it.

I, of course, hope Haley doesn't do this. Why? Because I'm a charter member of the We Want Mike Moore club.

Cross posted at Cottonmouth Blog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Trent Departure Gets Curioser and Curiouser

There's another rumor overtaking the internet about why Trent left, but I'll get to that in a minute. Let's just look at what has to happen in order for Mississippi to have a new Senator.

Here's the law MS Code 23-15-855:

1) If a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from Mississippi by death, resignation or otherwise, the Governor shall, within ten (10) days after receiving official notice of such vacancy, issue his proclamation for an election to be held in the state to elect a Senator to fill such unexpired term as may remain, provided the unexpired term is more than twelve (12) months and the election shall be held within ninety (90) days from the time the proclamation is issued and the returns of such election shall be certified to the Governor in the manner set out above for regular elections, unless the vacancy shall occur in a year that there shall be held a general state or congressional election, in which event the Governor's proclamation shall designate the general election day as the time for electing a Senator, and the vacancy shall be filled by appointment as hereinafter provided.

Here's the problem. If Trent resigns in 2007, a special election has to be called within 90 days - or sometime in March - and Trent can lobby after a year. If Trent waits until 2008, the election doesn't have to be until November 8 - but Trent has to wait 2 years before he can lobby. So what does Trent do? Well, he got saved by Haley, who has decided as he reads the law, he doesn't have to have a special election. The Democratic Party thinks differently. Look for lawsuits!

More problems. If Chip is appointed to fill Trent's seat, then we have another vacancy, which may not be filled until January 2009 - so you and I have no Congressman for a year. (Not that Chip was much of a Congressperson to begin with.)

At least now we know why Senator Thad Cochran decided not to retire, after it was widely rumored that he would. We couldn't have two vacant Senate seats up for election at the same time. God forbid, Mississippi might vote for a Democrat for one of them, thinking it might be good to have one of each to cover our bases. Plus the national Republican Senate campaign is dead broke and trying to defend way more open Senate seats than the Democrats, who also happen to have oodles of money. Maybe Cochran will retire after a year, and we'll get to go through this all over again. What fun!

Now for the rumor about the REAL reason Trent is resigning. During Clinton's impeachment trial, Larry Flynt, the infamous publisher of Hustler magazine, offerred a million dollars for evidence of sexual affairs of Republican lawmakers. His report resulted in the resignation of incoming House Speaker Bob Livingston of Louisiana. In June of this year, he took out an ad in the Washington Post again offering a million dollars for evidence of sexual improprieties of members of Congress or high ranking government officials. This exposed Senator David Vitter, also of Louisiana. (What is it with that state?) Vitter is still in the US Senate, but will probably be gone after Jindal becomes the new Republican Governor of Louisiana and can appoint a Republican Senator.

Several weeks ago, Flynt announced that he had news that would rock Washington. Now the rumor is that he was going to out Trent as being gay. (NOTE Flynt claims to only expose hypocrites, ie those whose words and behaviors don't agree.) This is what his web site has to say about this:

"HUSTLER Magazine has received numerous inquiries regarding the involvement of Larry Flynt and HUSTLER in the resignation of Trent Lott. Senator Lott has been the target of an ongoing HUSTLER investigation for some time now, due to confidential information that we have received. "

I have no idea if any of this is true, and I just present it to you to make up your own mind.

UPDATE: One of the comments draws our attention to an article that debunks this rumor.

UPDATE 2: Here's another reason Trent may have resigned - and remember I predicted this possibility. Scott Horton of Harpers Magazine is reporting that:

"FBI agents are now raiding the law office of Richard “Dickie” Scruggs in Oxford. Scruggs is the brother-in-law of Trent Lott, and, as we reported earlier, several Mississippi newspapers openly questioned whether Lott had intervened to protect Scruggs in a recent criminal probe that produced the prosecution of a number of other Mississippi lawyers and judges with whom he was closely connected."

UPDATE 3: The Clarion Ledger is reporting that Dicking Scruggs was arrested.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bye Bye, Trent

To the total shock and surprise of Washington and Mississippi, Trent Lott announced today that he would resign as US Senator before the end of the year - in spite of having just been reelected a year ago. Why? There are several theories.

Trent himself said he wants to spend more time with his family and to pursue other job opportunities. (They all say that.) Some have speculated that he may succeed Robert Khayat as chancellor of his alma mater University of Mississippi.

But by far, the most popular explanation is he resigned to avoid the requirements of a new lobbying bill that will take effect next year. The bill says legislators must wait two years before they can become lobbyists. By resigning now, he only has to wait one year. And Trent could definitely make big bucks in the lobbying business. He is not a wealthy man, and much of his wealth was invested in his home, which was destroyed by Katrina. This could be his last opportunity to earn a lot of money.

Rumors were that he planned to retire at the end of his last term of office. However, he was talked into running again to help his state recover from Katrina. However, his state still needs him, but I guess he decided he had sacrificed enough.

Since he still has five years left in his term, the Governor gets to appoint his successor until a special election can be held in 2008. That is widely believed to be Chip Pickering, our current Congressman, who just announced his own retirement to "spend more time with his family".

I first developed a dislike for Trent when he was a cheerleader for Ole Miss while I was attending LSU. He did not do much to endear himself to me when he was elected to Congress and was one of the few Republicans to vote against impeaching Richard Nixon. He really didn't develop any stature until he went to the Senate, where he surprised me with his pragmatic abilities. Although I don't agree with his politics (he's a conservative, and I'm a liberal), I have to admit I kind of like and admire him.

He was not a knee jerk Republican. He was capable of being independent when he thought it was necessary. For one thing, he always did what he thought was best for Mississippi. Unlike Haley Barbour, Trent was honest about the ineptitude and incompetence of the Bush Administration after Katrina - after all, he suffered from it. Haley takes all the credit for the help that Mississippi got, but I personally give much more credit to Trent. Trent was no fan of Bush to begin with - he was very hurt by the way Bush treated him after the Strom Thurmond fiasco. Bush saw it as an opportunity to get rid of Trent as Senate Majority Leader. Bush wanted a Senate Majority Leader who did what he was told and that was definitely not Trent.

Probably one reason Trent resigned is that he really did not like the way the Senate functioned any more. He said it was too partisan and that Senators did not work together to accomplish things. That's where he excelled - he could definitely work a deal between conflicting parties. Republicans are saying he did not like working with a Democratic controlled Congress, but that's not true. After all, it was that change that allowed Trent to come back into power. The fierce partisanship started after Bush became President and has gotten worse.

This was brought home to me today by one telling comment Trent made. He was asked what his proudest legislative accomplishment was. He said that when he was Majority Leader of the Senate, he was able to work with Democratic President Bill Clinton and the Republican House to balance the federal budget and even show a surplus. He said some people think that's too hard - it can't be done - but they did it, and it's his proudest achievement. (It was also a slap in Bush's face.) Now that's an old fashioned Republican. He can work with the other Party to achieve real conservative goals. With his departure, they'll be none of his ilk left in the US Senate.

So bye bye, Trent. Thanks for what you did. (And I don't like Bush any more than you do!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rentech Gets a $441 Million Buyout Offer

One of its shareholders, Sherwood Investments Overseas Ltd, has made a buyout offer to Rentech. Rentech's share just hit a 52 week low, and it admits it is cash strapped. Rentech has never turned a profit and admits it doesn't have the cash to fund its projects.

Sherwood seems to value Rentech's assets, and this may be the shot in the arm that Rentech needs. Read more here and here.

Debates, Fights, and Polluters

The Clarion Ledger is reporting that Ole Miss was chosen as site of first Presidential Debate on September 26. That's exciting! Anyone know how to get tickets?

Do you like a good fight? Well, there was a good one in the paper on Sunday. Mayor Philip West wrote a Top of the Morning attacking Kevin Cooper, and Kevin responded in his column. What fun! Bet we have heard the last of this. This either means the Mayor is incredibly stupid, or he's not running for reelection. Whoever heard of a candidate attacking the only paper shortly before a campaign begins?

Our illustrious Governor is making international headlines again. If you want to know how much the rest of the world hates us (or at least our President), trying reading some papers from other countries. The link above is from the Turkish Weekly - supposedly our allies. Here's the story from a couple of foriegn sources:

The Center for Global Development (CGD) just released an analysis that provided a detailed inventory of power plants' greenhouse gas emissions by countries and regions within countries. The headlines in this country were that the US was the world's largest producer of carbon dioxide, followed by China, which is gaining on us.

But the headlines around the world were along the lines of "Bush Controlled by Power Companies". Here's a lead off sentence:

Southern Company, one of the largest American power companies, which was listed among the world's top polluters, has got President George W. Bush firmly under its thumb by lavish spending on his Republican party, forcing him to turn a blind eye to global warming.

And then comes the parts about Barbour:

Haley Barbour, one of the main lobbyists for Southern Company, when Bush took office, played a crucial role in persuading him to back away from his original campaign promise to reduce CO2 emissions when he first ran for president in 2000.

According to FrankO'Donnell of Clean Air Watch, after Mr Bush became president, "he was got at by Haley Barbour, who said, 'Hey, Mr President we didn't elect you to have high energy costs'". Mr O'Donnell said: "Southern Company Lobbyists treated the president as if he was someone to give orders to and he took them. The upshot is that America's biggest polluters used their chequebooks effectively to block actions to stop global warming."

The American stories had quotes from the polluting companies, whereas foriegn news accounts extensively quote environmentalists. Interesting contrast.

By the way, the most polluted parts of the US? Texas, the Southeast (that's us), and the Ohio Valley. Those energy companies know where to go to find local yokels who welcome polluters.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What Country Are We Living In?

In Stalin's Soviet Union, in Hussein's Iraq, in Franco's Spain, in Hitler's Germany, and in many third world countries, citizens were afraid to speak against their government, because they would be arrested and imprisoned. There might be a trial, but it would certainly not be fair, because it was with their judges and their rules. We call these citizen's "political prisoners", because they did not commit a crime - they were imprisoned for their political beliefs.

In America, we are horrified by these dictators, and we're so glad we live in a country where that never happens. But we would be wrong, because there are political prisoners in America - and Mississippi - right now!

I am not joking, and I am not exaggerating. This is really happening, and it is heartbreaking to the victims and their families. I am going to tell you about only one such victim, but there are many more. The evidence and the facts are out there for anyone to read – and are listed at the end of this article.

See these little angels? Two days after Christmas, their granddaddy will become a political prisoner. How old will they be when he sees them again?

See this woman? She was a public school teacher with a Masters Degree, until she had to retire on disability. She has multiple sclerosis. Now she's about to lose her life partner and helpmate. She depends on him to take care of her, since she is unable to do for herself. On their 36th anniversary, her husband has to report to a federal penitentiary. What will happen to her?

Who is this man? He's a fairly normal, average man with kids and grandkids. He lives in Gulfport, where he's an Elder in the Presbyterian Church - and even taught Sunday school. He's a lawyer, and like most lawyers in a small town, he practiced general law, and he's had several local legal positions, like Family Law Master. He's not a big time, wealthy trial lawyer, but he's been able to provide a decent living for his family.

In what seemed to be an appropriate career move, he decided to run for Chancery Judge, where a good deal of his law practice took place. Chancery Court does not deal in criminal law and does not have jury trials. It typically deals with family law, corporations, real estate, etc. It generally decides issues and rights, not guilt or innocence. He had to borrow money from a bank for his campaign. A lawyer friend guaranteed that loan for him. He got elected and was doing what he thought was a good job, and he liked what he was doing. Then a nightmare descended out of the blue on him and his family.

Curl up in front of your computer, while I tell you a long, convoluted, and very scary story.

The main goal of the Republican takeover of America was to make the country "friendly" to large, wealthy corporations; in particular insurance, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and of course, oil. They basically want to take the country back to the age of the Robber Barons, when corporations were free to do whatever they wanted. Since the people benefiting from this were a very small part of the population, they had to court enough citizens to win elections. By giving the conservative Christians whatever they wanted and by appealing to racism, they were able to win elections without hurting their major goal at all.

They still had two problems to address. One was there were still enough Democrats around to make their dismantling of regulations a little more difficult. But far more significant was that the legal system of our country was (shock, shock) still protecting people. So they began their very successful attack on the legal system.

One of Karl Rove's first successes was to take over the Alabama Supreme Court. It worked so well, they moved to other states - Mississippi being one of the first. They hated Mississippi. This was where a lowly State Attorney General and his merry band of trial lawyers brought the vaunted Tobacco Companies to their knees big time - and cost them billions of dollars. Not only that, but the merry band of trial attorneys got wealthy in their endeavor and gave huge contributions to the dangerous Democratics. To really rub salt in the wound, their very expensive campaign in 2000 to take over the Mississippi Supreme Court failed, due largely to the contributions of those same trial attorneys.

Well, these are macho men, and they could not take this sitting down. This meant war! They had to teach Mississippi a lesson! In order to do that, they would have to break a few laws. But hey, laws are for the little people – they don’t apply to the important people like them.

So Karl Rove et al just sicced the FBI and Justice Department on evil Mississippi. (These agencies used to belong to the American people, but not any longer.) Suddenly swarms of FBI agents were in Mississippi going through the campaign records of the aforementioned Supreme Court campaigns. The biggest contributor to these campaigns was one Dickie Scruggs. However, this particular lawyer was declared off limits. For one thing he was a BIG time contributor to Bush/Cheney ($250,000!) and he was the brother in law of the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, Trent Lott. Sorry, boys – keep your hands off our guy. One of the FBI Agents that objected to this was suddenly transferred to Guatemala. Bet he learned his lesson!

So instead they decided to pick on Paul Minor. He was a major contributor to Democratic candidates and causes, and he fought like a banchee against the corporate takeover of the Mississippi Supreme Court. This guy was even a founder of a group that provided free legal assistance to the poor and colored folk. How more subversive could he be? They decided he was the perfect poster boy for the evil trial attorney. Now they just had to find some crime he committed.

Oh, goodie, he loaned money to Oliver Diaz for his campaign, one of the winning judges on the Supreme Court whom they hated anyway. Surely that’s against the law. Sorry, but not in Mississippi – it’s perfectly legal. (By the way, Diaz was a Republican. However, he didn’t render decisions friendly to corporations, so too bad about him.)

Fortunately, Washington had a very compliant US Attorney to prosecute the case. Remember that the U S Justice Department had a secret list of US Attorneys that it intended to fire because they weren’t prosecuting Democrats, like a good little US Attorney is supposed to do. Well, guess who was originally on this list? Mississippi US Attorney Dunn Lampton! Lampton may be a Republican, but he ain’t stupid – and he sure isn’t ethical. He must have said to himself, I’d better find me a Democrat to prosecute real quick, or I’ll be out of a job. Of course, the fact that he had a gazillion conflicts of interest with the defendants didn’t bother him in the least. Remember, the law means nothing to these guys.

So Lampton conjured up these unbelievably ridiculous charges against Diaz – so ridiculous that they had to include his ex wife in order for them to remotely look plausible. He also found himself a nice obediant Judge, Henry Wingate, who was trying desperately to get Bush to appoint him to a higher court.

Since the case against Diaz was so incredibly weak, they added a couple of other judges just to be on the safe side. They added a Circuit Judge (John Whitfield) and a Chancery Judge (Wes Teel). These guys must have wondered what the hell they did to deserve this! Really nothing would have attracted them to the prosecution. They were simply a means of getting to Minor, since they accepted perfectly legal campaign loans from him.

In the meantime, the Knight in Shining Armor, Haley Barbour (one of the major architects of the Republican takeover in Washington) polished off his forgotten Southern drawl and rode back to his home state to rescue it from these evil devils, the trial attorneys. Of course, all those big corporations, who stood to lose billions more if something wasn’t done, sent BIG bucks to Sir Haley, their ol’ buddy who had also gotten quite wealthy representing these corporations as a lobbyist in Washington.

Just as Sir Haley arrived for his gubernatorial campaign, our political victims were under heavy attack from local media, with information leaked from “sources close to the investigation”. Of course, it’s against the law to leak grand jury information. But remember, the law means nothing to these guys. These leaks not only helped Sir Haley’s campaign, but they made everyone think these poor victims were corrupt criminals, which always helps with potential jurors. It sure worked with me. I admit I thought they were guilty, until just recently.

Conveniently just 90 days before Sir Haley’s election, with great fanfare, Lampton announced the indictments of our five political victims: The target Paul Minor; the judges Diaz, Whitfield, and Teel; and Diaz’s poor former wife.

Mission Accomplished! Sir Haley was crowned King of Mississippi. Remember this was a close election and undoubtedly would have turned out differently without all these illegal shenanigans. In addition, donations to Democrats from Mississippi trial attorneys disappeared, giving Republicans a huge financial advantage that exists to this day – and resulted in their control of the Supreme Court. In the old America, you didn’t have to risk going to jail just because you supported a political candidate. No longer true in Mississippi.

Diaz was acquitted in his first trial, so Lampton quickly filed new charges against him. He was acquitted again and has returned to the Supreme Court. Jennifer Diaz settled out of court – she wasn’t going through this nightmare. The first trial for the other three resulted in a hung jury. Lampton is batting zero about now and sweating bullets.

Not to worry. Lampton and his judge just changed the rules. A magic wand was waived, and the evidence that seemed to help the defendants in the first trial, wasn’t allowed in the second trial. Remember the law means nothing to these guys. This time the three remaining victims (Minor, Whitfield, and Teel) were convicted and sent to prison.

The pictures at the beginning of this article are the family of Judge Wes Teel. He has committed no crimes. He was one of many, many candidates that Paul Minor legally helped. He gave him nothing in return – the evidence proves that. Judge Teel and his codefendants are just victims of a Justice Department run amok. They are political prisoners, pure and simple.

These men will eventually be cleared, but it will take years. In the meantime, who will take care of Judge Teel’s wife?

This is a scary story, because the United States Justice Department is imprisoning innocent citizens for purely political reasons, and quieting political dissent through fear. I’ve just told you about Mississippi, but it’s happening all across the country, in Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin – the list keeps growing.

Is this America, or one of those dictatorships? What country are we living in?

If you want to help, contact the U S House Judiciary, which is holding hearings on this attack on our country’s values – and they may be the only ones powerful enough to bring justice to these political prisoners.

UPDATE: Maybe Dunn Lampton is stupid after all. Word is he's trumping up more charges on Diaz. Unbelievable!

Judge Wes Teel’s personal blog
Mississippi Corruption in the Spotlight: article in The Natchez Blog
55 articles by Roger Shuler on his blog Legal Schnauzer
Scott Horton’s column No Comment in Harper’s Magazine:
Alabama Case: 41 articles

Cross posted at Cottonmouth Blog

Monday, November 12, 2007

Vines Avoids Jail Again!

The Natchez Democrat is reporting that Binky Vines was sentenced to one year in jail. However, Judge Webster again suspended the sentence and placed him on supervised probation. What is it with this judge? Jefferson County Circuit Clerk goes to jail for six years for the same crime, but ours gets another slap on the wrist.

The only good news is the judge ordered him to leave office immediately and ordered the Sheriff to take the keys to his office.

UPDATE: Also from the Democrat, Eddie Walker was sworn in as Circuit Clerk. Poor Eddie! He sure has his work cut out for him. However, if anyone can handle it, he can.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More on Carbon Dioxide in Adams County

In my last article, I told you about an experiment involving CO2 in Natchez. Then today, the Natchez Democrat ran an article about it. (I do love scooping the paper!) This is a very complicated issue, and it could affect all of us. I strongly suggest you pay attention.

The purpose of this experiment is to study carbon dioxide sequestration. What?? Carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced when animals (including humans) exhale and is used by plants in photosynthesis. Unfortunately, it is also created by the combustion of fossil fuels (gas, oil, coal, etc), creating an huge excess of CO2 in the atmosphere, a major cause of global warming. One solution to this excess CO2 is to bury it. However, scientists can't just say burying, so they say sequestration.

There are three players in this experiment, and we need to look at all three.
  1. Rentech. We're all familiar with this company, which may build a coal-to-liquid fuel plant in Adams County. One problem with their process is that it produces huge amounts of CO2. Rentech intends to "capture" this CO2 and sell it to our next player.

  2. Denbury Resources Inc. This company, though headquartered in Texas, is the largest oil and natural gas operator in Mississippi. They specialize in enhanced (or tertiary) oil recovery (EOR), using CO2 to extract additional oil from oil fields. They own the largest EOR CO2 reserves east of the Mississippi, along with several oil fields, most of which are in Mississippi. Two of interest to us are the Cranfield oil field near Washington, where the experiment will take place, and the Lake St John field across the river. They are also building and buying pipelines that they use to transport their CO2 to their fields.

  3. Bureau of Economic Geology. This is a research unit housed at the University of Texas. One of its research projects is CO2 sequestration. They received $38 million from the Department of Entergy to study the process. They are working with Denbury and will use their CO2 and their Cranfield oil field.

This experiment is being presented as a tremendous benefit to the environment. This is reflected in the quotes in the Democrat, and the communications I have had with the Bureau's Director and Project Manager. However, this technique is not supported by environmentalists. Rather it is the baby of those who want to continue our addiction to fossil fuels.

As we all know, the Bush/Cheney administration is very supportive of fossil fuels. So it's no surprise that their Department of Energy would support this type of research. It's also no surprise that the University of Texas got the grant. The objectivity of the researchers at the Bureau can be seriously questioned by their refusal to discuss or admit any negative aspects at all. (In fact, some of the Bureau's own research has shown some of the problems with this technique.) It is also no surprise that this is being done in Mississippi. We are so poor that we'll take any industry regardless of its impact, we are so Republican that we'll support the current administration no matter what, and we're so uneducated that few people will even understand what's happening to them.

And there are serious concerns about this technique. First, injecting toxic gases under the ground in poor communities in order to continue reliance on fossil fuels as our energy source is just not good policy. A switch to sustainable, renewable energy and conservation is the rational long term solution to our global warming problem.

It's also not a feasible solution. Adding CO2 sequestration to a coal plant increases the energy it uses and the cost of its product. Every metric ton (M/T) of coal processed generates 3.7 M/T of carbon dioxide. Where are we going to bury all this stuff? Plus, it has to be transported by pipeline to an appropriate disposal location, and there aren't remotely enough sites available. It has to be compressed into a liquid before it's buried, using more energy. It has to be monitored forever for leaks. If the companies are not held liable for any disasters, as has been proposed, the taxpayers foot the bill. CO2 sequestration in nothing more than a delaying tactic for those who make their money with fossil fuels and don't care about the planet.

Finally, it's dangerous! Yes, CO2 occurs naturally, and yes, we use it safely in lots of products. BUT, only in safe proportions. CO2 in our air is around 375 ppm (parts per million). The maximum safe level of pure CO2 for healthy adults is 5000 ppm, and it's lower for infants, children, elderly, and those with cardiopulmunary problems. However, it's rarely pure - other gases are usually present. So in reality, at 2,000 ppm, people start getting sick. Miners use to bring a caged canary with them to work as a safety device, because it would die from carbon dioxide before humans. The CO2 being buried underground is compressed into deadly proportions and in massive amounts.

There are three lakes in the world (all in Africa) that have naturally occurring, concentrated CO2, but it stays at the bottom of the lakes and is generally not dangerous. However, in two of them, there were incidents that caused disruptions, and the CO2 escaped to the surface. In 1984, 37 people were killed, and in 1986 1700 were killed - along with thousands of animals. Additional thousands escaped, but suffered respiratory problems, lesions, and paralysis as a result of the gases. It took a while to figure out what happened, because they saw and smelled nothing.

CO2 kills because it is heavier than air and displaces air when released into the environment. When the gas is released, it stays close to the ground, displaces oxygen, and suffocates everything in its path.

So who will monitor that storage of CO2 for leaks? What happens when the Bureau finishes its experiment and when Cranfield sells its oil field? CO2 could also infiltrate our water and our soil, and we would never know. CO2 is odorless and colorless, so it could be escaping without anyone noticing. We may be getting sick and dying, but no one will know why.

So what can we do about this? Nothing. There's no law in Mississippi to protect us, and of course, Adams County has no zoning whatsoever, so they can do whatever they like. Politicians are going to just believe whatever these people tell them. Unless you're willing to move, all you can do is pray. Oh, and be sure to tell your children, in case the leak comes after you're gone - so they'll know what is happening.

I would like to thank Jane Gardner for her help with the research for this article.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Deadly CO2 Dumping in Natchez

Imagine my shock as I read an article from the Austin (TX) Statesman that said:

"A 10-year, $38 million project to study the feasibility of storing carbon dioxide underground to combat global warming has been awarded to the University of Texas. The university's Bureau of Economic Geology will inject carbon dioxide into brine formations deep underground about 15 miles east of Natchez, Miss. It's thought that sequestering major greenhouse gases emitted by power plants and other sources could reduce atmospheric emissions that contribute to global warming. "

Does anyone know anything about this? Why is Texas sending its CO2 to us? Who gave them permission to do this? Why haven't we been told? What is going on here?

This is scary! CO2 is deadly. Once it's been buried, it will have to be monitored constantly because it might leak out and kill a few thousand people - like you and me. And it has to be monitored for thousands of years - so maybe it will kill our children and grandchildren.

A recent (2006) study published in Geology (a journal of the Geological Society of America) showed that the mixture of CO2 and brine dissolves minerals in the rock walls that could lead to pathways in the rock through which the gas could escape. The researchers also note the potential for the mobilization of toxic trace metals and toxic organic compounds. This does not sound good!

UPDATE: An article about this project appears in the Democrat. I am also gathering more information.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I Blew It Big Time!

I have to say I am truly shocked by the local election results. The two Supervisors races weren't even close. I have to admit that I overestimated the voters of Adams County. This is a sad day, and the results will be devastating.

At least the people who read this blog are smarter - just look at the poll results. Joe Joe and Sammy each got over 70% of the votes. Although only 200 people voted, we've had almost 5000 visits in the past month.

I'm also sad about the results of the statewide elections but not surprised. I know how smart Haley Barbour is. He is orchestrating the Republican takeover of Mississippi, just like he did the Republican takeover of Washington. We saw what happened to our national government after Haley's takeover, and the same thing will happen here. The good news for me is that they will give me lots of stuff to blog about.

In just a few short months, we will have the opportunity to vote in the City Elections. I hope the results are more positive.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Why You Should Care About Transportation Commissioner

In Mississippi, politics definitely controls the highways - not to mention bridges, airports, railroads, truck safety, and public transportation. And who wins the election for Southern District Transportation Commissioner will make a HUGE difference.

Here's how it works. Mississippi has three elected Transportation Commissioners for three Districts: Southern (that's us), Central, and Northern. These Commissioners hire the Executive Director (currently our former Mayor Butch Brown) who has tremendous power over the Department (MDOT).

Right now, the Northern District has a Democratic Commissioner, Bill Minor, and he has no opposition in the election. The Central District has a Republican Commissioner, Dick Hall, and he has a Democratic opponent Rudy Warnock. Our Southern District has a Democratic Commissioner, Wayne Brown (no relation to Butch), and he has a Republican opponent Larry Benefield. The two Democrats support Butch Brown, and the Republican would fire him in a heartbeat. So the outcome of the elections for Transportation Commission will determine who controls MDOT. Barbour and the Republicans want this badly. Butch Brown and the Democrats are fighting for their life.

I know there are a lot of Natchezians who aren't fond of Butch Brown. However, even they have to admit Butch has been good to Natchez as Executive Director of MDOT. If you want that to continue, you'd better vote for Wayne Brown. If not, you can let Barbour take over and get ignored again. There's another reason to vote for Brown - he's an engineer. His opponent and the other Commissioners appear to be professional politicians.

What do I predict? Both of these races are hotly contested and very close, but I'll go out on a limb and say both incumbents will win.