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In Louisiana's Vanishing Wetlands, a Promise of Ecotourism That Locals Say Reeks of Greenwashing

Thu, 07/05/2018 - 18:45
Read time: 8 minsMetal pelican on a dock in Manchac, Louisiana

Manchac, Louisiana, is located on a narrow strip of land between two brackish lakes, surrounded by cypress trees and abundant wildlife. About 43 miles northwest of New Orleans, Manchac’s picturesque wetlands — like the rest of Louisiana’s coast — are endangered, with their latest threat, according to some, coming from a resort-style development marketed as “ecotourism” and local economic savior.

What could be wrong with building a hotel and housing development for 2,000 people in environmentally sensitive wetlands, which by their very nature, are located in a flood zone?

Tags: ecotourismgreenwashingLouisianaPort ManchacSave Our ManchacLt. Gen. Russel Honoré
Categories: News

Under Scrutiny for Astroturfing Campaign, Entergy Takes Heat for Missed Clean Energy Goals and Power Outages

Tue, 07/03/2018 - 01:27
Read time: 8 minsSite where Entergy Plans to build a natural gas power plant in New Orleans East

At a June 28 meeting, New Orleans regulators put the city’s public utility Entergy in the hot seat over increasing power outages and slow progress on clean energy goals. City councilmembers showed little patience for the embattled company, which currently is under investigation for its role in paying actors to show support for its proposed $210 million natural gas power plant, approved by the council on March 8.

Tags: entergynew orleansNatural Gas Power Plantsastroturfinghawthorn group
Categories: News

As Industry Pushes Billion-Dollar Fracked Petrochemical Projects, State Regulators Struggle To Keep Up

Sun, 07/01/2018 - 13:00
Read time: 12 minsShell's ethane cracker petrochemical plant under construction in Pennsylvania

Fueled by fracking in the region, petrochemical and plastics projects in the Ohio River Valley are attracting tens of billions of dollars in investment, but as plans for this build-out hit the drawing boards, signs already are emerging that state regulators are unprepared for this next wave of industrialization. And the implications of their inexperience could mean major threats to the region's health and environment.

One of the projects currently underway, an underground natural gas liquids (NLG) storage site — designed to support the construction of several huge petrochemical complexes — is undergoing review by state regulators who have little experience with NGL storage facilities of its size.

Tags: Marcellus shalepetrochemical developmentNatural Gas LiquidsCracker RefineryFracking Plasticsfrackinghydraulic fracturing
Categories: News

News Not to Miss: Oil Train Spill, China Petrochemical Deal, Methane Leaks

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 19:40
Read time: 4 minsOil train cars

It's hard to keep up with the flood of news these days. Here's your weekly round-up of news not to miss from DeSmog.

Justin Mikulka has been on the oil train beat for years. He's documented how the oil boom and pipeline bottleneck in the Bakken Shale has led to more, longer, and heavier trains shuttling oil across North America and how various factors also have led to another type of boom: the literal “boom” of exploding oil trains. (In fact, train operators have given them the nickname “bomb trains.”)

This week, Mikulka writes about the latest oil train incident, this time involving a BNSF train carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, across northwestern Iowa.Tags: oil trainstar sandschinawest virginiapetrochemical developmenthydraulic fracturingfrackingmethane leakspatrick michaels

Categories: News

Minnesota Approves Controversial Enbridge Pipeline Rebuild

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 18:04
Read time: 3 minsEnbridge Line 3 pipeline protester on an Expect Resistance sign

By Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a controversial rebuild of Line 3 of the Enbridge Energy oil pipeline Thursday, as environmental activists and Native American groups vowed to keep fighting, The Associated Press reported.

Opponents are concerned about the need for new fossil fuel infrastructure and the danger of an oil spill near vulnerable ecosystems in Minnesota, including areas where Native Americans harvest wild rice, which is sacred to the Ojibwe.

Tags: Minnesota Public Utilities CommissionMinnesotaEnbridgeEnbridge Line 3 pipelinetar sands pipelines
Categories: News

Rise of the Machines: Fracking Execs Plan Profits by Using Automation to Shrink Workforce

Fri, 06/29/2018 - 15:45
Read time: 6 minsFracking rig workers

At a recent industry conference, Terry Spencer, head of natural gas infrastructure company ONEOK, made clear the direction the fracking industry was headed: “One of these days one of these big ol’ fracs will be operated with nobody there.”

Translation: Computers and robots are going to replace all human jobs at the oil and gas fracking sites of the future.

Tags: fracking financesautomationoil job lossesU.S. Energy Information Administration
Categories: News

Could Proposed Mission Statement Changes Shake NOAA’s Climate Focus?

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 17:23
Read time: 3 minsCyclone satellite image over central U.S.

By Olivia Rosane, Ecowatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is the foremost U.S. agency focusing on weather, climate and oceans, reassured reporters Monday that it would not shift its focus away from climate change and conservation after a presentation last week suggested it might do exactly that, USA Today reported.

Last week, acting NOAA head Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet spoke at a Department of Commerce summit and proposed removing “climate” from NOAA's current mission statement and replacing its directive “to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources” with one “To protect lives and property, empower the economy, and support homeland and national security,” the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) reported Sunday.

Tags: NOAANational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationTrump Administrationclimate science
Categories: News

The Latest on Pruitt's Many Scandals: Condo Deal, Emails, Hurricane Coins, and Retaliatory Firing Practices

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 20:02
Read time: 4 minsScott Pruitt

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup

It’s been 15 years since George W. Bush stood under a “Mission Accomplished” banner announcing the end to major combat operations in Iraq and becoming a symbol of an out-of-touch politician eager to end an ongoing issue that continues to cost lives. Apparently, Scott Pruitt wants to take political pointers from this historic gaffe.

Back in March, the EPA ordered a bunch of commemorative challenge coins to celebrate the agency’s response to last year’s hurricanes. EPA brass thought it would be a good idea to do this at a time when the agency was only just beginning to get a handle on the Harvey-flooded Houston Superfund site (that the press office attacked an AP reporter for covering) — and, of course, while places in Puerto Rico continued to suffer without power. Unsurprisingly, and like the news about the tragedy itself, this story has gotten overlooked by all the other Pruitt scandals. 

Tags: Scott PruittU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyTrump AdministrationAmerican Petroleum Institute
Categories: News

Derailed Oil Train Spills 230,000 Gallons of Tar Sands in Flooded Iowa River

Tue, 06/26/2018 - 01:25
Read time: 7 minsIowa oil train spill and derailment

On June 22, a train carrying Canadian crude oil derailed in northwestern Iowa, releasing an estimated 230,000 gallons of oil into a flooded river. As a result of the derailment, over 30 rail tank cars ended up in the water, with 14 cars confirmed to have leaked oil.

To put the size of this spill in perspective, an Enbridge pipeline that leaked in Michigan in July 2010 released roughly 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River. Cleanup for this spill, one of the largest inland oil spills on record, took years and more than $1 billion. 

Like the Kalamazoo River spill, the train that derailed in Iowa was carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada.

Tags: Bomb TrainsIowaoil spilloil train derailmentoil-by-rail
Categories: News

$83 Billion West Virginia Petrochemical Deal with China on Skids Due to Trade War, Corruption Probe

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 21:54
Read time: 9 minsBrian Anderson, Woody Thrasher, Jim Justice

Last November, China and West Virginia signed an $83.7 billion dollar, 20-year agreement to build a massive petrochemical hub in the state but that deal may be on hiatus in the midst of a de facto trade war spurred by President Donald Trump and a corruption investigation unfolding in the Mountain State. 

The deal would be worth more than the total gross domestic product of West Virginia, which was $76.8 billion in 2017. China's sizable investment would create a sprawling petrochemical center in West Virginia, focused on storing and refining natural gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the Marcellus Shale. Full details are sealed in a yet-to-be-released Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was inked during a trade mission attended by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last fall in Beijing, China.Tags: Marcellus shaleJim JusticeLiquefied Natural GasLNGMATRICSteptoe & JohnsonBrian AndersonKathy BeckettMid-Atlantic Technology Research and Innovationwest virginiaAppalachia Development GroupWoody ThrasherThe Thrasher Groupfrackinghydraulic fracturingchinaSteven Hedrick

Categories: News

Energy Efficiency and Technology Squeeze the Carbon Bubble

Sun, 06/24/2018 - 13:56
Read time: 4 minsHomeowner installing programmable thermostat to help weatherize home

The carbon bubble will burst with or without government action, according to a new study. That will hurt people who invest in fossil fuels.

As energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies improve and prices drop, global demand for fossil fuels will decline, “stranding” new fossil fuel ventures — likely before 2035, according to the study in Nature Climate Change, “Macroeconomic impact of stranded fossil fuel assets.”

Tags: Paris Agreementstranded assetsfossil fuel investmentscarbon bubbleenergy efficiency
Categories: News

Oil Companies and Lobbyists Say They’re Ready To Solve Climate Change? Check The Fine Print

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 23:02
Read time: 8 mins

By David Halperin, crossposted from Republic Report

On Wednesday, former senators Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Breaux (D-LA) announced, with a big public relations blitz, a new campaign, Americans for Carbon Dividends, to address the threat of climate change. The effort is being heralded as a breakthrough by some because it is endorsed by big oil and gas companies Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and Total, and it calls for a $40-a-ton carbon tax, incurred at the source of emissions, with revenues to be returned to citizens as dividends, perhaps $2000 a year for each American family of four.

Tags: Trent LottAmericans for Carbon DividendsExxonMobil
Categories: News

Methane Leaks from Oil and Gas 60% Higher Than EPA Estimates, New Study Finds

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 06:59
Read time: 6 mins

Each year, oil and gas industry operations in the U.S. are leaking roughly 60 percent more methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, into our atmosphere than previous estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which relied heavily on self-reporting by the industry.

That's the conclusion of a study published today in the peer-reviewed journal Science and conducted with funding from the Department of Energy, NASA, and private foundations. The two dozen researchers involved found that the U.S. oil and gas supply chain releases between 11 and 15 million metric tons of methane per year. 

“This study confirms the growing body of peer-reviewed science indicating oil and gas extraction's methane pollution makes it as harmful to climate as coal burning's carbon dioxide pollution,” said Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell University professor emeritus of engineering and vice president of Earthwork's board of directors.

Tags: methanenatural gas pipelinesNatural Gas Bridge FuelAnthony IngraffeaTrump AdministrationU.S. Environmental Protection Agencyenvironmental defense fund
Categories: News

Scott Pruitt Is An Ethics Nightmare, But So Is Ryan Zinke

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 20:04
Read time: 10 mins

By David Halperin, crossposted from Republic Report

A Westerner appointed to President Trump’s cabinet, he’s drawn attention for his penchant for expensive travel, vanity perquisites of office, abuse of agency staff time, and cozy personal financial deals with business executives whose industries he oversees. Meanwhile, he has denied the dangers of climate change, met extensively with corporate lobbyists, and gutted the environmental protections implemented by prior administrations.

Yes, that’s entitled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, whose record of seeking personal luxuries and advantages at taxpayer expense, while gearing policy to polluting industries, and punishing subordinates who object, is breathtakingly awful.

But it also pretty well describes Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

Tags: Scott PruittRyan ZinkeTrump Administration
Categories: News

Poll by Former Koch Lobbyist Skews Public Support for Clean Cars, Electric Vehicles

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 18:02
Read time: 5 minsGas car vs. electric car

The American Energy Alliance (AEA), a free market group with close ties to the Koch brothers, just released misleading results of a poll asking voter opinions on electric vehicles (EV) and car fuel efficiency standards.

Though the public opinion poll showed that Americans overwhelmingly view electric cars as better for the environment, and a majority believe in the necessity and value of fuel economy standards, the AEA is claiming that Americans don’t support EV-friendly policies.

Not surprisingly, most of the questions in this agenda-driven “push poll” were worded to influence the respondent’s choice, framing federal programs as anti-choice and taxpayer-subsidized.

Tags: tom pyle. american energy allianceinstitute for energy researchMWR StrategiesMike McKennakoch industrieskochvsclean
Categories: News

Colorado Adopts California Clean Car Standards in Defiance of Trump Admin

Wed, 06/20/2018 - 05:38
Read time: 4 minsColorado truck license plate

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday that his state would join 13 states and the District of Columbia in adopting California’s clean car emissions standards.

“Colorado has a choice,” Gov. Hickenlooper said in a statement. “This executive order calls for the state to adopt air quality standards that will protect our quality of life in Colorado. Low emissions vehicles are increasingly popular with consumers and are better for our air. Every move we make to safeguard our environment is a move in the right direction.”

Tags: clean carsColoradoJohn HickenloopercaliforniaEPAcalifornia waiverUS Environmental Protection AgencyTrump Administration
Categories: News

30 Years Ago Global Warming Became Front-Page News – and Both Republicans and Democrats Took It Seriously

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 22:45
Read time: 8 minsJames Hansen in 1988

By Robert Brulle, Drexel University

June 23, 1988 marked the date on which climate change became a national issue.

In landmark testimony before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Dr. James Hansen, then director of NASA’s Institute for Space Studies, stated that “Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause-and-effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming … In my opinion, the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.”

Tags: climate science denialrepublican party climate change#ExxonKnewclimate litigationjames hansen
Categories: News

These Auto Industry Companies Are Demanding Strong Clean Car Standards, Despite Trump

Tue, 06/19/2018 - 00:03
Read time: 4 minsAverage MPG on a dashboard

There’s a major sector of the automobile industry that is unwavering in its support of strong clean car standards: auto parts manufacturers.

Carmakers, through the powerful Auto Alliance trade group, have flip-flopped on fuel economy and emissions targets for cars and light duty trucks — claiming they aren’t for rollbacks even after lobbying for them. On the other hand, auto parts suppliers have consistently argued on behalf of strong national standards, going against the direction currently pursued by the Trump administration.

Tags: clean carscafe standardsborg warneroemauto parts suppliersauto allianceTrump Administration
Categories: News

Oil Giants Shell and Eni Face Trial in Milan over Bribery Allegations in Biggest Corruption Case Facing Sector in Years

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 23:01
Read time: 4 minsShell truck

One of the biggest corruption cases faced by the oil industry in recent years is due to resume in Milan on Wednesday as two of the world’s biggest oil companies Royal Dutch Shell and Italian firm Eni are facing trial.

Prosecutors are bringing criminal charges against Shell and Eni executives over allegations of corruption regarding a $1.3 billion oil deal in Nigeria.

This is the first time an oil company as large as Shell or senior executives of a major oil company have ever stood trial for bribery offences.

The case, which has been repeatedly delayed, involves the 2011 purchase by Shell and Eni of Nigeria’s OPL 245 offshore oilfield — one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks.

Tags: Royal Dutch Shellshellenicorruption
Categories: News

Sea Level Rise Could Put 2.4 Million US Coastal Homes at Risk

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 19:30
Read time: 3 minsSunny day flooding in Miami, Florida

By Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch. Crossposted with permission from EcoWatch.

More than 300,000 U.S. coastal homes could be uninhabitable due to sea level rise by 2045 if no meaningful action is taken to combat climate change, a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) study published Monday found.

The study, Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods and the Implications for U.S. Coastal Real Estate, set out to calculate how many coastal properties in the lower 48 states would suffer from “chronic inundation,” non-storm flooding that occurs 26 times a year or more, under different climate change scenarios.

Tags: sea level riseGlobal Climate Change Impacts in the United Statescoastal communities
Categories: News

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