This piece is published in partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 380 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.Tags: Covering Climate Now 2019
By Dan Zegart
Last week, in a historic first, the former CEO of a major oil company took the witness stand in a New York City courtroom and spent four hours defending his company against charges that it misled investors about the potential impact of global warming on its viability as a business.
Rex Tillerson, who led ExxonMobil from 2006 until the end of 2016 when he became U.S. secretary of state, was grilled by an attorney for the New York State attorney general for allegedly participating in a “longstanding fraudulent scheme” by Exxon to fool investors. More specifically, the company is charged with exaggerating the stringency of its financial safeguards in pricing risks from regulations restricting greenhouse gas emissions, according to the complaint filed last year in New York state court.
But Tillerson's appearance was just one of several recent watershed moments for efforts to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its dominant role in causing climate change.Tags: #ExxonKnewExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)rex tillersonNew York Attorney GeneralMandy Gunasekaraclimate liability
Financial Disclosures Show Why Toyota and GM Sided With Trump's Clean Car Rollbacks to Preserve Profits
It’s been a bumpy ride for the auto industry in the ongoing battle over clean car regulations and California’s authority to set stricter rules for vehicle emissions. The industry is now divided as several automakers reached a deal over the summer with California to embrace a cleaner emissions standard through 2026, while a coalition of other carmakers recently backed the Trump administration in a lawsuit challenging the administration’s withdrawal of California’s waiver allowing it to set tougher tailpipe pollution controls. That coalition, which includes auto giants like General Motors and Toyota, claims to support “year over year increases in fuel economy” but also opposes California’s authority to set tailpipe emissions standards aligned with that increase.
The announcement by the Toyota and General Motors group was “not surprising, but it’s disappointing,” according to Don Anair, deputy and research director for the Clean Transportation program at Union of Concerned Scientists.Tags: toyotageneral motorsclean car standardscalifornia waiverauto alliance
Chesapeake Energy’s Stock Falls Below $1 But Driller Plans to Spend Over $1 Billion on More Fracking
The company that for the past decade has been emblematic of the rise and pitfalls of shale drilling and fracking, Chesapeake Energy, saw its stock price collapse today, plunging by 29.15 percent in a single day.
At the end of the day on November 6, a share in Chesapeake (NYSE:CHK) was worth less than a buck, priced at $0.91.Tags: Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK)frackingfracking finances
California and Colorado’s public pension funds together lost out on over $19 billion over the past decade by investing in fossil fuel stocks, according to a report released on Tuesday.
The three public pension funds analyzed are currently worth a combined $663 billion. However, if they’d divested from fossil companies in 2009 while keeping their other investments at the same proportions, they could have amassed a combined additional $19 billion in ten years, the report published by Corporate Knights, a Canadian media, research and financial firm, concludes.Tags: pension fundsfossil fuel investmentsCalPERSCalSTRS
After revising its three-year U.S. power forecast, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has predicted major declines for fossil fuels and nuclear power alongside strong growth in renewables by 2022, according to a review of the data by the SUN DAY Campaign, a pro-renewables research and education nonprofit.
“FERC's latest three-year projections continue to underscore the dramatic changes taking place in the nation's electrical generating mix,” noted Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Renewable energy sources are rapidly displacing uneconomic and environmentally dangerous fossil fuels and nuclear power — even faster than FERC had anticipated just a half-year ago.”Tags: natural gasPower Generationcost of renewable energyfederal energy regulatory commission (FERC)murray energy
By Ruth Hayhurst for Drill or Drop
After seven years of promoting fracking, Conservative ministers have withdrawn their support and blocked the prospects of a shale gas industry.
The UK government has issued an immediate moratorium in England because of the risk of earth tremors. Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already issued measures that amount to moratoriums on fracking.Tags: Preston New RoadPreston New Road Action Group
Environmental Justice Activists Arrested Amid Growing Concerns Over Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Pollution
Mounting concerns over pollution, public health, and the expansion of the petrochemical industry came to a head when two activists were detained in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on October 30, the last day of a two-week protest against environmental racism in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley.Tags: cancer alleyCoalition Against Death AlleyConcerned Citizens of St. JohnRISE St. James
America’s air seems to have taken a turn for the worse, according to recent scientific research. Last week, a nationwide study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that the country’s air quality deteriorated in 2017 and 2018 — a dramatic reversal of improvements recorded over the prior seven years.
Today, the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) — an organization funded by oil and gas producers — released their own report that presents a different narrative about energy production and air quality in Pennsylvania, a state that’s become one of the nation’s largest producers of fossil fuels.
CEA's report first points to a drop in some types of air pollution in Pennsylvania between 1990 and 2016 and next to a rise in natural gas production in the state from 2010 to 2018.
But a look at the data presented inside that report — a two-page infographic drawing on data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Information Administration — shows that connecting more drilling to less pollution is deeply misleading, public health experts said.Tags: Consumer Energy Alliancepennsylvaniafrackingnatural gasair quality
‘Is This About the Oil Industry?’ House Oversight Hearing Explores Big Oil’s Role in Weakening Clean Car Standards
The House Oversight Committee, which last week heard testimony on the oil industry’s efforts to suppress climate science, continued to probe the industry’s deception and influence with a hearing on the Trump administration’s proposed rollbacks of clean car standards — rollbacks that stand to benefit Big Oil at the expense of consumers and the environment.
At Tuesday’s hearing of the Oversight Committee’s Environment subcommittee, the oil industry’s importance in affecting the weaker standards for vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions was front and center as Republicans led an ultimately unsuccessful effort to adjourn the hearing before witness testimony even began.
During the more than half hour delay, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised a question to her Republican colleagues:Tags: Senator Sheldon WhitehouseAmerican Fuel and Petrochemical ManufacturersTrump Administrationclean car standardscalifornia waiverAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Today Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led a hearing of Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, which examined “Dark Money and Barriers to Climate Action.” The testimony of the expert panel and the questions and observations from senators reinforced the overwhelming influence of money — and specifically untraceable donations known as “dark money” — working against action on climate change.Tags: Senator Sheldon Whitehouseus senatenaomi oreskesJustin FarrellDark Money
Fossil fuel interests appear intent on swaying public opinion about the electric vehicle tax credit, based on recent polling on the policy. A deeper look at these efforts reveals oil and gas funding behind the groups conducting the polls and blatant bias in the polling methodology, according to experts.
Survey results commissioned and publicized by the American Energy Alliance (AEA) seem on their surface to indicate that a majority of respondents are not thrilled about subsidizing EVs purchased by other consumers, particularly wealthy Americans. However, according to polling experts who reviewed the survey for DeSmog, the questions were designed to solicit a certain response and produce results to serve a predetermined narrative that supports the oil industry's interests. According to polling expert Ed Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, the surveys relied on “highly biased questions designed to elicit highly misleading answers.”Tags: kochvscleanEV tax creditIERAmerican Energy Alliancetom pyleMike McKenna
On October 23, New York Attorney General Letitia James, joined by attorneys general from Maryland, New Jersey, and California, sent a letter of support to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) over a Washington state law that would limit the volatility of oil transported by train through the state.
That oil originates in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana, where trains help take the place of scarce pipelines in order to move fracked crude oil to Washington's refineries and ports along the coast. North Dakota and Montana have fought back against Washington's law, which was passed in May, and filed a petition to PHMSA in protest just two months later.Tags: Bomb TrainsBakken crudewashington statevapor pressurePHMSANew York Attorney GeneralNorth Dakota
President Trump has made clear that he wants to move the nation's glut of fracked natural gas onto trains and then to ships for sale abroad.
In response to Trump's April executive order pushing federal agencies to make that happen, the Department of Transportation (DOT) on October 18 announced a proposed rule for what it calls the “safe transportation of liquefied natural gas [LNG] by rail tank car.”
However, the proposed rule does not include any new safety regulations or require any safety testing for moving large quantities of this flammable cargo. Instead, the rule, coming from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), would allow the rail industry to move LNG in rail tank cars, labeled DOT-113, currently used to ship small quantities of other flammable gases super-cooled into liquid form.Tags: LNG By RailBomb TrainsPHMSATrump AdministrationFederal Railroad Administrationliquefied natural gas (LNG)
Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil today over the company's misinformation campaign to delay action to address climate change.
Attorney General Maura Healey told reporters in a press conference today that “Exxon has fought us every step of the way,” and was “completely uncooperative,” noting that the company failed to comply with requests for documents and depositions.Tags: Maura Healey#ExxonKnewclimate liabilityclimate change lawsuitExxon Mobil
As Drillers Continue Poor Financial Performance, Shale Insight Hosts Trump Speech Touting Fossil Energy Future
When candidate Donald Trump arrived in Pittsburgh at the Shale Insight conference in 2016, he arrived with a message for the gathered shale executive: I will roll back regulation, especially environmental regulation, and you – your industry – will thrive like you were never able to under Obama.
“I'm going to lift the restrictions on American energy,” he promised the crowd, “and allow this wealth to pour into our communities, including right here in the state of Pennsylvania that we love.”
“Oh, you will like me so much,” he added.Tags: Shale Insight 2019Donald Trumpfrackingclimate changeFacts
‘The Empowerment Alliance’ and Other New Dark Money Groups Sound a Lot Like the Natural Gas Industry
Amid the crescendo of calls for climate action and rising rage directed at the fossil fuel industry, petroleum producers and their allies are engaging in an aggressive promotional push focused on natural gas. The same month that the American Petroleum Institute (API) started running ads emphasizing gas’s role in reducing carbon emissions, a new dark money group has launched under the patriotic guise of promoting “America’s energy independence” by promoting, you guessed it, natural gas.Tags: the empowerment allianceMandy GunasekaraTrump AdministrationWilliam Perry PendleyDark Moneynatural gasAmerican Petroleum Institute
William Perry Pendley wants you think that what he thinks doesn’t matter.
Pendley spent four decades advocating for the corporate exploitation of U.S. public lands. He now serves the Trump administration as the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, the agency responsible for much of those same public lands.
Over the years Pendley, a self-styled “Sagebrush Rebel,” has pushed for the wholesale divestment of public lands from federal control, denied the existence of climate change and the hole in the ozone layer, denigrated the press, and called illegal immigrants a “cancer,” among other radical, extremist positions.
But now he’d have you believe that those actions and opinions no longer matter.Tags: William Perry PendleyU.S. Bureau of Land ManagementConflicts of InterestDavid Bernhardt
This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup.
On last Thursday evening, Bloomberg reported that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is proceeding with the state’s case against ExxonMobil for “engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in its efforts to cast doubt on climate science.
ExxonMobil brass may be particularly annoyed by the notification that Massachusetts is moving forward. This Wednesday, the oil giant will appear in a New York court for that state’s case against it. As E&E explains in an (unpaywalled) story, the New York case revolves around the company’s use of two sets of “proxy costs” to gauge how much of a hit the company would take from climate policies.Tags: #ExxonKnewExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)Maura HealeyNew York Attorney Generalgeoffrey suprannaomi oreskes
Right Wing Attacks on Greta Thunberg: How Low Can They Go? Canada's Extremist Network 'The Rebel' Tries for the Prize
The Koch-funded right wing echo chamber seems obsessed with competing to insult and vilify Greta Thunberg in the most vile and disgusting ways imaginable. The sixteen-year-old climate activist has faced a coordinated barrage of bullying and harassment that started long before she set sail for America. “Freak yachting accidents do happen…” was a particularly disturbing attack, coming from British businessman and Trump ally Arron Banks.
But right now, Greta's in Alberta, home to some of the world's dirtiest oil, and also apparently some of the dirtiest mudslinging against the courageous and clear-spoken Swede.