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Exxon’s First Amendment Claims in Climate Fraud Case Draw Judge’s Skepticism

Sun, 12/03/2017 - 06:45
Eric Schneiderman

By Karen Savage. Crossposted from Climate Liability News.

Exxon’s quest to convince a federal judge that two state attorneys general are stifling their right to free speech is proving to be no easy task.

In a hearing Thursday in New York, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni said the oil giant’s rationale involved “wild leaps of logic” in claiming New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey are infringing on the company’s First Amendment rights by pursuing climate fraud investigations.

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Renewable Energy Isn’t Perfect, But It’s Far Better Than Fossil Fuels

Sat, 12/02/2017 - 16:04
Electric car charging next to a bicycle

In their efforts to discredit renewable energy and support continued fossil fuel burning, many anti-environmentalists have circulated a dual image purporting to compare a lithium mine with an oilsands operation. It illustrates the level of dishonesty to which some will stoop to keep us on our current polluting, climate-disrupting path (although in some cases it could be ignorance).

The image is a poor attempt to prove that lithium batteries and renewable energy are worse for the environment than energy from oilsands bitumen. The first problem is that the “lithium mine” is actually BHP Billiton’s Escondida copper mine in Chile (the world’s largest). The bottom image is of an Alberta oilsands operation, but it’s an in situ underground facility and doesn’t represent the enormous open-pit mining operations used to extract most bitumen.

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Virginia Won't Say Whether its Official Spoke at Gas Industry Panel on Curbing Pipeline Protesters

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 20:03
Anti-pipeline sign

A high-ranking Virginia state official was listed as participating in a gas industry-sponsored panel that discussed strategies for confronting public opposition to new infrastructure projects, including the Atlantic Coast pipeline. Yet Governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration has refused to provide any explanation or even confirm the official’s appearance on the panel.

The panel took place during the American Gas Association’s (AGA) State Affairs Meeting, held in early October this year in Scottsdale, Arizona. Also presenting on the panel was a Dominion Energy executive, Bruce McKay, who shared his company’s experience in countering protests and engaging in what he called a political “campaign to elect a pipeline.”

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How do you Spot a Climate Science Denial Blog? Check the Polar Bears

Fri, 12/01/2017 - 16:31
Polar bear and climate change

In an era of #fakenews, it can sometimes be tricky to work out what is legitimate scientific reporting, and what is, well, fake. New research suggests there's a handy rule of thumb for spotting the work of climate science deniers, however: look for the polar bears.

One of the most glaring differences between legitimate science-based blogs and those that deny the science on anthropogenic climate change is how they write about polar bears and Arctic sea ice.

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Fracking Expert: 'We Are Just Doing The Science, But We Are Being Criticised From All Sides'

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 19:10
Richard Davies

Concerns over fracking are “not as bad as people may think”, but suggesting the technology is safe is “ridiculous”, according to a leading shale gas expert.

Professor Richard Davies, a petroleum geologist at Newcastle University, is used to engaging in difficult debates.  He has repeatedly come under fire from both sides of the fracking debate for trying to shed light on the environmental and social impacts of shale gas exploration.

Today, it has been announced that he is to receive commendation for the John Maddox Prize. The prize, handed out by campaign group Sense About Science, aims to recognise the work of individuals who promote science and evidence on matters of public interest despite facing difficulty or hostility in doing so.

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How the Mont Pelerin Society 'Neoliberal Thought Collective' Is Influencing Donald Trump's Presidency

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 22:53

After Donald Trump won the US election, analysts, researchers and journalists got to work to track how this apparent political outsider would suddenly gather a team.

Despite promising to “drain the swamp” of vested interests and lobbyists, it became clear Trump was intent on refilling it with figures and ideas from the well-established network of conservative and neoliberal think-tanks.

Suddenly, staff from groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation were helping to draw up plans for a Trump administration.

Last month, Trump thanked one of those groups personally, with an address to the Heritage Foundation's annual meeting.

But those think tanks, and the people who lead and run them, have strong links to another influential group that has been trying to bend governments around the world to a particular ideology for almost 70 years.

The Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) was established in 1947 by economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek — a man considered by many to be the godfather of modern free market thinking.

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Washington Agency Votes to Reject Vancouver Energy’s Massive Oil-by-Rail Terminal

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 18:29
Portland, Oregon, bridge with banner reading 'Coal oil gas none shall pass'

In another major blow to the West Coast oil-by-rail industry, a Washington state agency voted unanimously to recommend Governor Jay Inslee reject the Vancouver Energy oil terminal. Proposed for construction in Vancouver, Washington, along the Columbia River, it would be the largest oil-by-rail facility in the country.

Washington State’s Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) has been reviewing the project since 2013 — reportedly the longest review period ever for the council. However, its November 28 meeting and vote on the final recommendation for the Tesoro Savage–backed project only took 10 minutes.

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Here's the Teacher-Friendly Antidote to Heartland Institute's Anti-Science School 'Propaganda'

Sun, 11/26/2017 - 14:57
The Teacher-Friendly Guide to Climate Change

On a Monday morning at the end of October, Rob Ross asked a group of earth scientists and educators a question: How many of them had received copies of the Heartland Institute book Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming?

You could feel an immediate sense of frustration in the air. Roughly half of them raised their hands. The Heartland Institute is a Chicago-based think tank that rejects the scientific consensus that humans are changing the climate and has received funding from the conservative billionaire Koch brothers and fossil fuel industry.

In March, it mailed, unsolicited, a 135-page book and accompanying DVD to tens of thousands of science teachers at public high schools across the U.S., with plans to keep that up until the report was in the hands of every last one.

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Storms Hit Poorer People Harder, From Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Maria

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 16:01
Hurricane Sandy flooding houses in New York with an American flag

By Chris Sellers, Stony Brook University (The State University of New York)

The ferocious “frankenstorm” known as Sandy that ripped through greater New York City five years ago remains one for the record books. Like this year’s hurricane season, it racked up tens of billions of dollars in economic damages.

Superstorm Sandy had another close, yet underappreciated, similarity to this year’s hurricanes: less affluent groups of people suffered more, both in the initial damage and recovery.

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Subsidizing Coal and Nuclear Power Could Drive Customers off the Grid

Sat, 11/25/2017 - 01:54
Solar home

By Joshua M. Pearce, Michigan Technological University

Within the next month, energy watchers expect the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act on an order from Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would create new pricing rules for certain power plants that can store fuel on site to support grid resilience. This initiative seeks to protect coal-fired and nuclear power plants that are struggling to compete with cheaper energy sources.

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Trump Eyes Arctic Wildlife Refuge for Oil Drilling, Alarming Gwich’in

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 20:48
ANWR oil and gas caribou trump

In the remote north-eastern corner of Alaska, just under 20-million acres have been set aside  as a federal protected area since 1960. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has recently come under threat, however, with President Donald Trump’s Department of the Interior proposing lifting restrictions on seismic exploration.

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Why Meeting the Paris Climate Goals Is an Existential Threat to Fossil Fuel Industries

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 19:01
Cars and trucks on the highway

By Henry Kelly, University of Michigan

Attacks on climate policies are not really about the science. They’re about the future of fossil fuels.

Any program with a reasonable chance of meeting the goals embraced by the 2016 Paris accords (holding global temperature increases below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels) is likely to mean drastic changes in fossil energy markets.

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The Climate Science Denial Promoters Behind Queensland's Energy Scare Election Headlines

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 11:30

In the final week before an election, the biggest-selling newspaper in the Australian state of Queensland screamed a front-page headline that cut into one of the poll’s most divisive issues.

“Nervous Energy” read the headline, claiming an “Exclusive” on a “Dire warning of power station closures, blackout.”

According to the Courier-Mail, a just-published report had warned that the center-left Labor Party’s target of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 would cause “statewide blackouts” for “up to 15 percent of the year.”

According to the report, the policy would also cut dividends to the state’s treasury and push power prices up even further. Labor rejected the claims, saying the state owned the coal power stations and it had no plans to close any prematurely.

The report was from the Australian Institute for Progress (AiP) and provided a perfect echo of the center-right Liberal National Party’s (LNP) warnings to prospective voters in the state poll. But this is not surprising, when you learn who is behind the AiP.

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TransCanada’s Safety Record Played No Role in Nebraska’s Keystone XL Approval

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 20:16
Cushing, Oklahoma Keystone pipeline sign

Today a Nebraska commission handed TransCanada the final permit it needed to build its long-contested Keystone XL pipeline, a decision which did not consider the company’s previous safety violations. The decision to approve the international pipeline comes despite a major oil spill just a few days earlier from the company’s Keystone l line in South Dakota. Pipeline opponents vowed to appeal the approval, which was for a different, slightly longer and more expensive route through Nebraska than the one TransCanada preferred.

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Did Northam’s Office Try to Hide the Dominion Executives and Lobbyists Sitting on His Transition Team?

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 02:10

Virginia’s Democratic governor-elect, Ralph Northam, announced his transition committee this week. In a press release, his office listed 85 individuals who will comprise the “bipartisan” committee, representing Virginians “from across the Commonwealth who will join him over the course of the next two months to lay the groundwork for a successful administration.”

But there is something odd about the list of people and their affiliations, or lack thereof. Dominion Energy — the state’s most powerful corporate player who will need certifications from the Northam administration for its pivotal Atlantic Coast pipeline — doesn’t appear once on the list.

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Despite Trump Plan to Ditch Paris Accord, Former US Climate Envoy Thinks America Will Be Back

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 20:11
Todd Stern

BONN, GERMANY – Even if Donald Trump successfully withdraws the U.S. from the Paris climate accord in the next three years, Todd Stern, former climate envoy under Obama, doesn’t think the country will be gone from the agreement for good.

“I just firmly believe the U.S. will be back in,” he told attendees of the United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany. “I don't know exactly when that will be, obviously, but we're gonna be back in.”

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Big Oil Companies Being Sued for Climate Impacts Could be a ‘New Normal’

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 15:59
Exxon Knew placard

BONN, GERMANY – Fossil fuel companies have known for a long time that their products significantly contribute to climate change. But it wasn’t until recently that scientists began to understand just how much of the climate crisis could be attributed to them – and, as a result, how much those corporations could be sued for.

Earlier this year, research from the Union of Concerned Scientists showed the largest 90 fossil fuel companies were responsible for about 50 percent of current warming.

Such research into how much damage can be attributed to fossil fuel companies is “vital” to bring lawsuits against those corporations, and holding them to account in the courts, Sophie Marjanac, a lawyer with Client Earth told an audience at the international climate negotiations currently underway in Bonn.

Thanks to the research, “we have evidence of the deliberate concealment of risk from some of these companies,” Marjanac said. var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12330'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: oil companiesCOP23Bonn climate talksBonn climate negotiationsUnion of Concerned Scientists

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Climate Depot's Marc Morano Returns to UN Climate Talks to Mock Activists, Spin Climate Denial

Thu, 11/16/2017 - 15:46
Marc Morano

Climate Depot's Marc Morano made his annual trek to the United Nations climate talks, where he and his colleagues like to tweak climate campaigners and delegates with their well-greased climate science-denying PR machine.

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Industry is Betting Big on CCS as a 'Shield' for Fossil Fuels at Bonn Climate Talks

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 18:34
CCS at COP23

BONN, GERMANY – Each day at the international climate talks, dozens of side events take place on a wide range of topics: from phasing out coal to the role of music in the climate action movement.

Those looking for the particular thrill of learning about carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology have been spoilt for choice. All thanks to an industry-sponsored programme run by a business lobby group tucked away at the very back of the exhibition centre.

There, four events on CCS were held in the space of just three days. The reason industry groups are so keen? Because the technology provides “a clear way forward without the need for a rapid abandonment of the world’s fossil resources”, according to the group’s brochure.

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Germany Must Phase Out Coal to Meet Merkel's Climate Pledge, Pacific Islanders Plea

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 14:23
80 meter long red banner reading 'Keep it in the ground' at the COP23 climate talks

This morning, before German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived at the United Nations climate talks in Bonn, UN staffers rolled out a red carpet.  At the same time, a group of Pacific Islanders rolled out their own red carpet, in the form of an 80 meter scarlet banner that read: “Keep It In the Ground.”

The islanders and many other climate advocates at these talks (known as COP23) had another, more specific request — that Merkel commit Germany to a full phase-out of coal by 2030.

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