agriculture

Pipeline Politics: MNGOP moves fast for fossils; Minnesota Range Congressman Rick Nolan certain Keystone XL will "support" 42,000 jobs

A tough fight is brewing at both the state and federal level over the direction of environmental policies. In Minnesota, Republicans are totally committed to expanding fracked gas, shale oil from Bakken, and genocidal tar sands bitumen pipelines from Canada.

The Sandpiper pipeline project in Minnesota is the current major project with ongoing public hearings, opposition spearheaded by Friends of the Headwaters, the Carlton County Land Stewards, Winona LaDuke's Honor The Earth group has worked on this; MN350 has also been working on this. The PUC calendar has other date info..

Pipelines in the MN political economy: To capture the House in 2014, Minnesota Republicans leaned heavily on independent expenditures from the Minnesota Jobs Coalition, which in turn leaned heavily on Northern Oil & Gas Co., a shale oil finance shop in run by a colorful family in suburban Wayzata, to pay for it all.

The joke's on Northern (NOG): as the international oil price war has taken hold their stock plummeted, but if they're going to salvage any of this they need new pipelines more than ever.

northern-oil.png

The MN House GOP isn't wasting any time fighting for their backers' needs. One of the first House bills posted in St Paul this year, HF21 would slash pipeline review to 150 days up or down - just enough time to get ahead of ticked off locals before they know what's going on.

Democrats are split over the pro-pipeline agenda in Minnesota, and the pro-industry crowd has a plan this year. The Iron Rangers are trying to wheel out "streamlining" mining regulations, willing to work with ALEC-friendly GOP. Key players here include DFL Sen. Tom Bakk, GOP Rep. Rod Hamilton for Big Ag (especially hog corporations) & the affable GOP Rep. Paul Garofalo for twitter-friendly ALEC corporate agendas.

For the top circles of people pushing this agenda, ideally environmental concerns will get flipped around — usually pollution affects poor people & people of color (POC) communities the worst — to make it appear a hobby of oblivious, elite metro consultant people. They are interested in reframing environmental justice as an elitist hobby, all the better to roll queasy and/or suburban Democrats.

Other corporate agendas: The industrial agriculture lobby wants to max out factory farm sizes with minimal oversight. Killing the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's citizen review board system is another major priority, and disinfo is already rolling out on that topic.

They've also tried running meetings without public notice (see Rural Task Force and AURI in Sept 2014 via Bluestem Prairie) in order to reconfigure obscure government organizations to their agenda.

In this context we have to wonder what you're supposed to do when your member in Congress peddles blatantly deceptive spin (Nolan represents an area where a lot of my family is from). I will highlight some major chestnuts in bold. Source from a friend on FB:

Dear [Submitter].,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your views on the Keystone Pipeline project.

The simple truth we must deal with is that the Alberta tar sands are already being developed and producing roughly two million barrels of oil per day which are then shipped by truck and rail. Additionally, the U.S. State Department and the government of Canada have confirmed these tar sands will continue to be developed regardless of this project's approval. Therefore, those of us who care about saving the environment must ensure that the heavy crudes are transported in the safest and most environmentally sensitive way possible. Pipelines – while not immune from accidents – have been shown to be a safer energy transportation method than truck and rail, producing a lower carbon footprint and preventing further rail and highway congestion. The fact is, the State Department concluded alternative rail transportation options to move the heavy crude from the tar sands would result in the release of 28-42% more carbon emissions than through the pipeline.

Moreover, the Keystone project will provide access to additional oil reserves not subject to the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, while supporting more than 42,000 good-paying jobs across our nation, translating to $2 billion in earnings for workers, substantial local and state tax revenue, and an additional $3.4 billion to our gross domestic product.

The Keystone XL Pipeline has been rigorously studied and will generate urgently needed jobs and economic development across our nation. To that end, I recently joined the majority of the House in voting to pass legislation (H.R.3) to move forward with the Keystone XL pipeline project. Unlike previous Keystone legislation I opposed in the past, this legislation requires that Keystone be compliant with all other existing EPA and other US federal agency requirements that would need to be met by a domestic pipeline application.

I am disappointed we were not permitted to amend the bill to require use of 100 percent American steel in construction because it is proven to be better and less accident prone. Nonetheless, this legislation puts an end to almost seven years of gridlock, requires the pipeline operators to comply with tough U.S. environmental protections, and allows for a route change in Nebraska that will avoid the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region.

Please know I have long been a strong supporter of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Water Act, as well as other laws and regulations to protect our precious environment. To that end, during the 113th Congress I proudly cosponsored H.R.3674, the End Polluter Welfare Act of 2013 which would eliminate tax loopholes and subsidies that support the oil, gas and coal industries. Additionally, H.R.3674 would end taxpayer-funded fossil fuel research and prevent companies from escaping liability for spills or deducting cleanup costs. At a time when energy companies are making record profits, we should not be providing them with generous subsidies.

Rest assured I will keep your concerns in mind as I continue to look for ways to protect our precious environment here in the Congress.

Thank you again for sharing your views with me. I truly appreciate your advice and counsel and hope that you will contact me in the future whenever I can be of assistance.

I encourage you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and visit my website at nolan.house.gov to receive daily updates.

Sincerely,

Richard M. Nolan

Member of Congress

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"Heavy Crude": Nolan distributes disinformation here. The product thrown down these pipelines is superheated tar sands diluted bitumen ('dilbit' - wiki). It is a trade-secret laden petrochemical mixture which makes the bitumen (essentially raw asphalt - wiki) just slick enough to move along. In order to smooth the political process, diluted bitumen is reframed as "heavy crude oil (wiki)" and occludes the presence of environmentally dangerous secret diluent ingredients.

The bitumen also contains tiny quartz (sand) particles which steadily etch the pipeline interiors, as NRDC/Sierra Club mention (PDF). Whenever this mixture leaks, the bitumen sinks in water while much of the more volatile diluents tend to float - making cleanups a far messier affair than with conventional or "light crude", which does actually float and is pretty familiar in Hazmat training world. See: The Dangers of Diluted Bitumen Oil - NYTimes.com (OpEd Aug 2012) re Kalamazoo River in Michigan:

After the dilbit gushed into the river, it began separating into its constituent parts. The heavy bitumen sank to the river bottom, leaving a mess that is still being cleaned up. Meanwhile, the chemical additives evaporated, creating a foul smell that lingered for days. People reported headaches, dizziness and nausea. No one could say with certainty what they should do. Federal officials at the scene didn’t know until weeks later that the pipeline was carrying dilbit, because federal law doesn’t require pipeline operators to reveal that information.

Transcanada has its view on dilbit: "Is it really crude oil? Yes." but… "Dilbit and synbit approximate the characteristics of typical conventional heavy crude oil." Seems like they're having it both ways. And they're blatantly lying here: "Does it float or sink if it spills in water? Oil sands-derived crudes behave the same way as conventional crude oil, which floats in still or slow-moving water."

More on dilbit controversies: Will Canadian Crude Make the Keystone XL Pipeline Leak? | StateImpact Texas

Here is the actual Keystone XL State Dept thing on Dilbit:

Dilbit is bitumen mixed with a diluent so it can be transported by pipeline. The composition of the dilbit is only provided here generically because the particular type of bitumen and diluents blend produced is variable and is typically a trade secret. A common condensate stream (liquids derived from natural gas) is currently the primary type of diluent used for Canadian heavy crude. Diluent consists of condensates, ultra-light sweet crudes, and refinery and upgrader naphtha streams from several supply sources. Typically, dilbit uses approximately 25 percent of condensate, where companies use either their own supply sources of light hydrocarbons or purchase the above condensate stream. According to the Saskatchewan Condensate Monthly Report dated September 1, 2012 (Crudemonitor 2012b), the composition of gas condensate is mainly light hydrocarbons such as iso-butene, n-butane, iso-pentane, n-pentane, and hexanes. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) (for informational/planning purposes only) for two types of diluents, naphtha and natural gas condensate, assuming a maximum diluent mix, are provided in Appendix Q. It is important to note that the chemical make-up of the diluents can vary greatly from source to source. The bitumen-diluent mixture with bitumen from the oil sands is generally similar to heavy sour crude, which is discussed in more detail. SCO may also be used as a diluent for bitumen, in which case the commodity is known as synbit (bitumen diluted with SCO). Properties of generic dilbit are shown in Table 3.13-1.

dilbit-chart.png

Huh Toxicity is Class D Division 2 Subdivision A: Very Toxic Material. Interesting, didn't see that on Transcanada's page. Also "BTEX = benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes". Benzene is definitely carcinogenic.

See also: Keystone pipeline's 'dilbit' moment - Los Angeles Times - Dec 2012.

A Dilbit Primer: How It's Different from Conventional Oil | InsideClimate News - June 2012

Keystone XL Primer: Secrecy Still Shrouds Diluted Bitumen Risks | InsideClimate News - Nov 2011.

"supporting more than 42,000 good-paying jobs": This is another block of disinformation and reaches into the more dishonest level by adding "good-paying". This has been heavily debated since it counts temporary and partial work, and general economic ripples, as partial equivalents to a full job.

The most recent mainstream coverage on this spin chunk: Will Keystone XL pipeline create 42,000 ‘new’ jobs? - The Washington Post - Glenn Kessler Jan 6 2015 (reported by wapo in 2013 originally)

See: Keystone XL Job Claims Wouldn't Live Up To Hype, Experts Say - March 2014.

TransCanada CEO says 42,000 Keystone XL pipeline jobs are 'ongoing, enduring' | PunditFact - "Girling said, 'the 42,000 jobs is in ongoing, enduring jobs.'" Sure buddy. Even his spokester had to walk that whopper back.

This figure comes from the State Department study which, for example, claims that 300+ entertainment jobs indirectly get supported by pipeline construction, and assumes that the actual construction jobs last 19.5 weeks. These are batched together to count as one full "job", and the totals for the physical pipes that have already been completed are also included in this figure.

"these tar sands will continue to be developed regardless of this project's approval": That is not necessarily true - on two levels. The projects have been hitting the skids and losing investors, and funding is getting pulled as rapidly as they can from early-stage projects. Saying they "will continue to be developed" when they're losing investors is inaccurate. And of course, the projects only move if they are financially feasible. If they get priced out from transportation due to lack of capacity, then the overall statement is also false.

There is not some magic way to make these projects profitable without export capacity - and even with more export capacity the whole thing is going over the cliff anyway. See:

“Citizen Interventions” Have Cost Canada’s Tar Sands Industry $17B, New Report Shows | DeSmogBlog: "The report said market forces and public opposition have played a significant role in the cancellation of three major tar sands projects in 2014 alone: Shell’s Pierre River, Total’s Joslyn North, and Statoil’s Corner Project. " Yeah sounds like they are continuing to be developed, for sure.

Tar sands industry faces 'existential' $246 billion loss - The Ecologist- Nov 27 2014: "The report suggests that that investors are being misled about the economic viability of oil sands production… CTI calculate that 92% of future oil sands production will only viable if oil prices are $95 per barrel. However, prices stand at only $85, so producers are losing money for every barrel of oil they sell - unless they are cushioned by existing higher-priced contracts, which will sooner or later expire."

Is it time to panic in the oil sands? - Macleans.ca - Nov 29 2014 - graphic shows that bitumen is lower-priced because it requires so much processing, making it even worse of a business prospect. Plenty of industry details in this story.


ab_oil.jpg

As Oil Prices Drop, Canadian Oil Sands May Be Wasted Investment

Tar-sands industry loses $17.1 billion thanks to public opposition | Grist Nov 4 2014

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It is also worth noting that the anti-pipeline candidate, Green Party American Indian elder Skip Sandman got 4.3% or 11,450 votes. The diligent efforts of many at least forced Nolan to cover his flank with some better votes — frustrating but hardly wasted. Nolan received 48.5%, narrowly edging Stewart Mills at 47.1%. (Side note: the cheesy DCCC messaging to pigeonhole Mills as a rich guy seems to have backfired, this district shouldn't be that close really.)

For further nitty gritty updates: Please check out Minnesota Brown for the Ranger side and BluestemPrairie.com for industrial agriculture & related political maneuvering. Both sites did a great job covering another ranger, DFL Sen. Tomassoni, trying to double dip with lobbying gig.

Disgusting new FDA rule change would let toxic aspartame in the Children's flavored milk! It fries Insulin sweetness response - Yukkk

Blah this is just worth posting quickly. There is only one public comment on there right now. I have to say the Federal Register website is markedly better than it used to be, good for them.

Saw this via: Activist Post: Aspartame in Milk Without a Label? Big Dairy Petitions FDA For Approval. Also CBCNews reported that sweeteners do affect metabolism Feb 17 2013: Artificial sweeteners tied to obesity, Type 2 diabetes - Health - CBC News

Diet pop and other artificially sweetened products may cause us to eat and drink even more calories and increase our risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, researchers are learning.

Former McGill University researcher Dana Small specializes in the neuropsychology of flavour and feeding at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Small said there's mounting evidence that artificial sweeteners have a couple of problematic effects. Sugar substitutes such as sucralose and aspartame are more intensely sweet than sugar and may rewire taste receptors so less sweet, healthier foods aren't as enjoyable, shifting preferences to higher calorie, sweeter foods, she said.

Small and some other researchers believe artificial sweeteners interfere with brain chemistry and hormones that regulate appetite and satiety. For millennia, sweet taste signalled the arrival of calories. But that's no longer the case with artificial sweeteners.

"The sweet taste is no longer signalling energy and so the body adapts," Small said in an interview with CBC News. "It's no longer going to release insulin when it senses sweet because sweet now is not such a good predictor of the arrival of energy."

Susan Swithers, a psychology professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., studies behavioural neuroscience. "Exposure to high-intensity sweeteners could change the way that sweet tastes are processed," she says.

"A number of epidemiological studies show that people who do consume high intensity sweeteners show differences in metabolic responses, have an increased risk for things like Type 2 diabetes and also have an increased risk for overweight and obesity."

This week, researchers in France who followed the drinking habits of 66,000 women for 14 years reported that both regular and diet pop increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but the risk was higher among diet drinkers — 15 per cent higher for consumption of as little as 500 ml per week and 59 per cent higher for those having 1.5 litres per week.

Not expecting TV stations and newspapers dependent on aspartame-contaminated product advertising to really talk about this much.

Hence the logical thing to do is put this crap into the state subsidized school lunch milk. Quality Industrial Eugenics in Action. I thought it was interesting the manufacturers have done psychological research to determine what labels are attractive to children -- they should really have to post all of that material on the Internet if they are going to do such creepy research. It reminds me of insane "rational" Germans.

Here it is:::

Federal Register | Flavored Milk; Petition to Amend the Standard of Identity for Milk and 17 Additional Dairy Products : This article has a comment period that ends in 87 days (05/21/2013).

Notice; Request For Comments, Data, And Information.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing that the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition requesting that the Agency amend the standard of identity for milk and 17 other dairy products to provide for the use of any safe and suitable sweetener as an optional ingredient. FDA is issuing this notice to request comments, data, and information about the issues presented in the petition.

........

The IDFA and NMPF jointly submitted a citizen petition (Ref. 1) on March 16, 2009, requesting that FDA amend the standard of identity in part 131 (21 CFR part 131) for milk (§ 131.110). Specifically, the petition requests that FDA amend § 131.110(c)(2) to allow the use of “any safe and suitable” sweetener in optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk. [1] The petition also requests that FDA similarly amend the standards of identity for 17 other milk and cream products. Those standards (hereinafter referred to as the “additional dairy standards”) are as follows: Acidified milk (§ 131.111), cultured milk (§ 131.112), sweetened condensed milk (§ 131.120), nonfat dry milk (§ 131.125), nonfat dry milk fortified with vitamins A and D (§ 131.127), evaporated milk (§ 131.130), dry cream (§ 131.149), heavy cream (§ 131.150), light cream (§ 131.155), light whipping cream (§ 131.157), sour cream (§ 131.160), acidified sour cream (§ 131.162), eggnog (§ 131.170), half-and-half (§ 131.180), yogurt (§ 131.200), lowfat yogurt (§ 131.203), and nonfat yogurt (§ 131.206). The petition asks that the standards of identity for these products be amended to provide for the use of any safe and suitable sweetener in the optional ingredients. [2]

IDFA and NMPF request their proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity to allow optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk (e.g., chocolate flavoring added to milk) to be sweetened with any safe and suitable sweetener—including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame. IDFA and NMPF state that the proposed amendments would promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products. They state that lower-calorie flavored milk would particularly benefit school children who, according to IDFA and NMPF, are more inclined to drink flavored milk than unflavored milk at school. As further support for the petition, IDFA and NMPF state that the proposed amendments would assist in meeting several initiatives aimed at improving the nutrition and health profile of food served in the nation's schools. Those initiatives include state-level programs designed to limit the quantity of sugar served to children during the school day. Finally, IDFA and NMPF argue that the proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity would promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace and are therefore appropriate under section 401 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 341).

The petition acknowledges that the use of non-nutritive sweeteners in optional characterizing flavoringingredients in milk is allowed under the existing regulatory scheme, with certain additional requirements. The regulatory framework governing the naming of standardized foods that do not fully comply with the relevant standards of identity changed with the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 and FDA's rulemaking establishing the Agency's requirements for foods named by use of a nutrient content claim and a standardized term (§ 130.10 (21 CFR 130.10)). Section 130.10(d) allows the addition of safe and suitable ingredients to a food named by use of a nutrient content claim and a standardized term when these ingredients are used to, among other things, add sweetness to ensure that the modified food is not inferior in performance characteristic to the standardized food even if such ingredients are not specifically provided for by the relevant food standard. Therefore, while the milk standard of identity in § 131.110 only provides for the use of “nutritive sweetener” in an optional characterizing flavor, milk may contain a characterizing flavor that is sweetened with a non-nutritive sweetener if the food's label bears a nutrient content claim (e.g., “reduced calorie”) and the non-nutritive sweetener is used to add sweetness to the product so that it is not inferior in its sweetness property compared to its standardized counterpart. However, IDFA and NMPF argue that nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children, and maintain that consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims. Further, the petitioners assert that consumers do not recognize milk—including flavored milk—as necessarily containing sugar. Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”

As to the additional dairy standards, IDFA and NMPF state that administrative efficiency counsels in favor of similar changes. As long as FDA is dedicating resources to amending the standard of identity for milk, they argue, the Agency should also amend the standards for these products at the same time. They state that it is most efficient to consider all of the proposals together. According to the petition, the requested changes to the additional dairy standards present the same issues as the milk standard, and it is therefore appropriate to consider all of the requested changes together.

........

FDA requests that interested persons submit comments, data, and information concerning the need for, and the appropriateness of, amending the standard of identity for milk and the additional dairy standards. FDA specifically requests comment and supporting data, as appropriate, on the following matters:

1. The petition states that amending the standard of identity for milk (§ 131.100) to allow the use of “any safe and suitable” sweetener in optional characterizing flavoring ingredients would promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers by creating consistency in the naming of flavored milk products because flavored milk could contain a non-nutritive sweetener without bearing a nutrient content claim (e.g., “reduced sugar”) as part of its name. Would the proposed amendments promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers?

2. If the standard of identity for milk is amended as requested by petitioners, milk manufacturers could use non-nutritive sweeteners in flavored milk without a nutrient content claim in its labeling. Will the inclusion of the non-nutritive sweeteners in the ingredient statement provide consumers with sufficient information to ensure that consumers are not misled regarding the characteristics of the milk they are purchasing?

3. The petition states that flavored milk labels that bear nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are unattractive to children. What, if any, data are available on children's purchase habits with regard to flavored milks labeled as “reduced calorie flavored milk,” “no sugar added,” “less sugar,” etc?

4. The petition states that if FDA dedicates resources to amending the standard of identity for milk, for purposes of administrative efficiency the Agency should also amend the Additional Dairy Standards because the issues presented are the same with respect to the use of non-nutritive sweeteners. Would amending the Additional Dairy Standards as requested promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers? If the labels of these products do not bear nutrient content claims, would the inclusion of non-nutritive sweeteners in the ingredient statements provide consumers with sufficient information to distinguish between the two types of products (i.e., sweetened with nutritive versus non-nutritive sweeteners) so that consumers are not misled? [3]

5. The petition notes that ice cream is permitted to contain either a nutritive or non-nutritive sweetener without the label bearing a nutrient content claim or otherwise distinguishing the two types of products from one another. Are the considerations underlying FDA amendments to the standard of identity for ice cream [4] applicable to the requested amendments to the standard of identity for milk or the Additional Dairy Standards?

6. If the standard of identity for milk and the Additional Dairy Standards are amended in the manner requested by the petition, what will be the effect on search costs [5] for consumers who would like to determine whether a product contains a nutritive or non-nutritive sweetener?

After reviewing the comments received, FDA will further evaluate the need for, and appropriateness of, the amendments requested by IDFA and NMPF and will decide what further actions are appropriate. For a copy of the petition filed by IDFA and NMPF please go to: http://www.regulations.gov and insert “Docket No. FDA-2009-P-0147” into the “Search” box.

(Authority: 21 U.S.C. 321 et seq.)

FOOTNOTES

1. Section 131.110(c)(2) currently allows the use of “nutritive sweetener” in optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk.Show citation box

Back to Context

2. The National Yogurt Association (NYA) submitted a citizen petition on February 18, 2000 (Docket No. FDA-2000-P-0126) that requested that FDA make similar changes to the standards of identity for yogurt and cultured milk. Among other requested changes, the NYA petition asked that FDA amend the standards of identity for yogurt and cultured milk to permit the use of all safe and suitable sweeteners, while also revoking the standards of identity for lowfat and nonfat yogurt. In 2009, FDA proposed to grant the petition in part, and to deny it in part. See“Milk and Cream Products and Yogurt Products; Proposal to Revoke the Standards for Lowfat and Nonfat Yogurt and to Amend the Standard for Yogurt” (74 FR 2443, January 15, 2009). Thus, FDA has already requested comments on issues that are similar to the issues IDFA and NMPF raise with respect to yogurt, lowfat yogurt, nonfat yogurt, and cultured milk, and is addressing those issues through the rulemaking initiated in response to NYA's petition. Therefore, FDA is not currently requesting comments on IDFA and NMPF's suggested amendments to the yogurt, lowfat yogurt, nonfat yogurt, and cultured milk standards.

Back to Context

3. Although FDA requests comments relevant to the IDFA and NMPF petition, FDA does not seek comments regarding the requested amendments to the standards of identity for yogurt, lowfat yogurt, nonfat yogurt, and cultured milk. FDA has already sought and collected comments regarding similar amendments to those standards in a proposed rulemaking. See 74 FR 2443.

Back to Context

4. FDA amended the standard of identity for ice cream to allow for “any safe and suitable sweetener” to be used in ice cream. See “ Frozen Desserts: Removal of Standards of Identity for Ice Milk and Goat's Milk Ice Milk; Amendment of Standards of Identity for Ice Cream and Frozen Custard and Goat's Milk Ice Cream” (59 FR 47072, September 14, 1994) (Ref 2). Before FDA's amendment, the standard provided only for “nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners.”

Back to Context

5. Search costs include the time and energy it would take an average consumer to read a label and determine whether the product contained the nutritive sweetener or the artificial sweetener.

Bleck I will leave i there. What the hell is the difference between a nutritive sweetener and an artificial sweetener? Sweetness is a psyop and it's time to subsidize the toxic flow into the Childrens!

Previously: Apr 2011: Privatized environmental impact statements in Federal Register

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