Word on the street is that the Senate might vote on that somehow-elusive long-term unemployment extension for the first time in over a month; they could vote this week or next. I mean, what's the rush, amirite? Only two million families have gone without any sort of lifeline since long-term unemployment expired at the end of last year, and this is only an economy still creating jobs as a snail's pace. Yes, clearly, we wouldn't want to move too fast on this. (Did I need sarcasm tags for all that?) Seriously, we still have three unemployed folk for every job opening in America, so I brook no guff about how all the unemployed are "lazy" and prefer their $350 or so weekly to a job that would almost inevitably pay more. The AFSCME provides a toll-free number, 1.888.853.7037, with which you may call your Senators and tell them to get a move-on, and the Coalition on Human Needs provides an email tool with which you may do same. Remind your Senators not to try to "pay for" the unemployment extension by trying to force poison pills down the people's throats -- poison pills like, say, cuts to the Child Tax Credit or the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Meanwhile, hot on the heels of a coal ash spill into the Dan River in North Carolina measuring over 30,000 tons so far -- that's a lot of coal ash! You yourself may not drink one-sixth that much water in your lifetime! -- the League of Conservation Voters helps you tell the EPA to issue vigorous protections against coal ash contamination. What is coal ash? Coal ash is a residue from coal production, as you might guess; it usually contains arsenic, lead, and mercury, among other goodies. Used to be coal corporations just released coal ash into the air, but now they have to capture it and store it -- and, well, if they're not storing it properly, then accidents will happen. (Not incidentally, a little less than half of all coal ash gets recycled, usually into concrete -- which ain't much better, really, since all those health-hampering goodies get used again.) Guess who doesn't want the EPA to regulate coal ash and its storage? That's right, the coal corporations -- the same ones who don't want any decent clean air regulations. Well, they're not the boss of us. That's true even when our government acts like they're the boss of us.
Finally, today is the last day to submit comments to the State Department about the Keystone XL pipeline, and if you haven't submitted one yet, well, I know a few good organizations who'd like to help you do that -- like Public Citizen, the Environmental Defense Fund, CREDO, Friends of the Earth, Avaaz, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Center for Media and Democracy. Like I said, a few. You know the case against the pipeline well by now -- the pipeline will make climate change worse, by making it easier for dirty tar sands oil to move around; the pipeline's builder, TransCanada, has a not-terribly-good pipe safety record; the pipeline will deliver the vast majority of its oil to foreign customers, not American ones; the pipeline still runs over the Ogalalla Aquifer, a major source of heartland drinking water; the pipeline will actually create very, very few jobs in the long run and not terribly many in the short run; the pipeline won't create much corporate tax revenue because of tax loopholes; and the pipeline won't pay for the leaks it causes, thanks to even more egregious legal loopholes. You know the case, so make the case. Your counsel is more important than that of any corporate hack anyway.