You’d have to dig pretty deep into a newspaper (or website or broadcast) these days to get past the political jargon associated with the upcoming 2012 Presidential election. But underneath the stories of Newt Gingrich’s infidelity and President Obama’s steadfast opposition lie the true stories.

The Big (Jobs) Story
Keystone XL. Last year, few people knew much about the controversial pipeline scheduled to run crude from the Canadian tarsands to processing facilities on the Gulf Coast. Now, the news is everywhere. Recently, President Obama came out in opposition to the pipeline, citing environmental concerns. Environmental concerns over a pipeline traveling thousands of miles across the entire country, over drinking water supplies, ca-razy, right?

Republicans seem to think so. The big story here seems not to be the pure desperation we have reached to be processing the very-dirty tarsands into gasoline for our cars, or the potential environmental implications of such a massive and unprecedented fuel transportation center, rather the amount of JOBS that aren’t being made as a result of the President’s rejection of the project. Absurd.

In similar news, two workers are presumed dead after an offshore rig operated by Chevron exploded off the coast of Nigeria.

Hydraulic Fracturing Comes Clean
Well, not exactly. Fracking, a process of blasting rock with a mixture of water, sand and chemicals, will be more transparent after a website in Texas goes live Feb. 1 tracking the amount of water and chemicals the process uses in the state. (Read the New York Times article here)

Also, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation wrapped up its comment period on fracking this month, leaving them to sort through the more than 20,000 comments received by concerned citizens (two of which are mine).  The debate has been brewing in New York for years, with bans on the practice for the past three. Concerns over drinking water contamination, pollution, cancer and landscape transformation (as well as a plethora of issues relating to wealth disparity and rural municipal costs) kept fracking at bay until now, but companies are pushing for the state to start issuing permits. (Read the New York Times article here).  For more information about hydraulic fracturing, click here.

The Unknown Spill
Remember that huge oil spill last year that destroyed thousands of acres of vulnerable, protected habitat? The spill that destroyed an entire water system and polluted dozens of municipal water supplies? The one that company in charge of tried to blame on the Mineral Management Agency, then the piping manufacturer, then the operators? Yeah, the one in Montana.

You might be scratching your head. “I thought you were talking about the Gulf oil spill?” Nope. There were several oil spills in 2010, one of the most devastating occurring in the protected Yellowstone National Forest. Well, Exxon Mobile Corp. (the company who owned the burst pipeline that spewed more than 63,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River *by their count*) settled with the state of Montana this week for a messily $2.4 million in cleanup expenses. Read more from the Chicago Tribune here.

Vermont Loses Nuclear Fight
The state of Vermont lost its case against Entergy, energy superpower, to close down a more than 40-year nuclear plant which it considers to be a high risk to the community. The court sided with Entergy because of one reason: the federal government is the only government entity allowed to regulate the nuclear power industry. Entergy received a 20-year extension to keep their aging plant up and running.