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In Photos: The Canadian Mining Boom You’ve Never Seen Before

Mon, 10/30/2017 - 15:08
Red Chris mine

“If you’re in Vancouver this is way out in the middle of nowhere, but way out in the middle of nowhere is our backyard.”

Those are the words of Frederick Otilius Olsen Jr., the tribal president of a traditional Haida village on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

When I met him, he had travelled to Ketchikan, Alaska, to meet with officials about the risk posed by the mining boom across the border in British Columbia.

He stood on the boardwalk overlooking Ketchikan’s fishing fleet and waved his hands animatedly while he told me about how his culture — and southern Alaska’s economy — depends on salmon.

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These Unsigned Comments Supporting a Gas Exports Rule Are Recycled Industry Copy-Pastes

Sun, 10/29/2017 - 13:58
Copy machine

A review of the comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on its proposed rule to fast-track the export of small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) shows that roughly two dozen of of the 89 comments were directly copy-pasted from either industry itself or else pro-industry materials written by the DOE or Congress.

Furthermore, all of those copy-pasted comments are anonymous, a hint that the oil and gas industry may be behind an astroturf-style comment-submitting campaign for this rule. Only one letter favoring the proposed rule, written by the American Petroleum Institute and the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, has the industry's name on it. Three other comments supporting the rule have actual names of individuals, a law school student, a college student, and an individual who DeSmog confirmed wrote the comment out of personal interest and for a public policy course at his university. 

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Categories: News

American Petroleum Institute Failed to Respond to Concerns of Oil Train Safety

Sat, 10/28/2017 - 16:15
American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard

On July 29, 2013 Thomas J. Herrmann of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) wrote a letter to Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API). The letter was in response to the oil train disaster that occurred earlier that month in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people and reduced the downtown to a vacant lot (and it remains so over four years later).

Herrmann was writing to Gerard because the oil tank cars hauled by trains are actually owned or leased by members of the American Petroleum Institute, not by rail companies.

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Alberta Approves Suncor Tailings Plan Despite Reliance on ‘Unproven Technology’

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 16:40
Oilsands tailings pond

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) has approved a tailings management plan from oilsands giant Suncor, despite the plan relying on “newly patented, unproven technology” that will require decades of monitoring.

Wednesday’s decision came only six months after the AER rejected Suncor’s proposed plan for the same project because it relied on unproven technology and a 70-year timeline for reclamation. The regulator only later agreed to re-review the plan.

So what changed? Uh, nothing.

“Suncor really hasn’t budged an inch in terms of actually changing anything,” said Jodi McNeill, policy analyst at the Pembina Institute, in an interview with DeSmog Canada.

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Minority Communities Suffer from Storms as GOP and Trump Admin Promote Oil and Gas

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 23:32
Pat Harris in her storm-damaged housing complex in Port Arthur, Texas

While victims in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico are still reeling from the devastation of three hurricanes worsened by a warming climate, the Trump administration and GOP senators in the Gulf continued to push fossil fuel extraction.

On October 18, two senators who reject the science of climate change, Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), teamed up to introduce a bill to fast-track the regulatory process for exporting small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG). And on October 24, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke proposed the largest ever sale of oil and gas leases in the United States. The plan would offer nearly 77 million acres of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico for auction to the fossil fuel industry.

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Shell, BP Climate Disclosures 'Just a Marketing Tool' — Report

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 07:00
Shell, BP shareholder climate resolutions

Two years after BP and Shell shareholders resoundingly passed resolutions requiring the oil majors to factor climate change risks into their corporate strategy and accounting, the two companies are disclosing no more than bare minimum, a new report has found.

The report, published by responsible investment nonprofit ShareAction – which was involved in the push to pass these climate resolutions in 2015 – found that while they have taken the necessary steps to meet their new disclosure commitments, the two oil companies are failing to plan for a more rapid transition to a low-carbon economy.

As ShareAction’s report argues, the companies may be publicly supporting the Paris Agreement, but their actions are not living up to their words.

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7 Reasons Why Jeff Flake Is Awful on Climate Change and Energy Justice

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 23:48
Jeff Flake

This week, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) made national headlines by dramatically announcing his retirement on the U.S. Senate floor. Flake focused his speech on the erratic behavior of President Donald Trump and the nationalistic, anti-immigration turn taken by some Republican Party politicians in recent years. 

“I have decided that I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself from the political considerations that consume far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles,” said Flake. “To that end, I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.”

Beyond taking a stance in favor of corporate-backed free trade and “limited government and free markets,” Flake's speech mostly stayed away from policy. But it did include the word “behavior” eight times, pointing to that of President Trump without explicitly mentioning the president by name.

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Heartland Institute 'Red Team' Climate Lists Revealed, And Science Deniers Are Upset With Pruitt

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 17:26

The Heartland Institute has been pushing a “red team” agenda on climate for at least eight years, and claim the roots of the idea started at a meeting in Milan in 2003 organized by Fred Singer and his Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP). And the infamous den of denial has enjoyed the Trump administration's rhetoric attacking climate science. 

But now they are complaining that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt isn't committed enough to the “red team” concept. Heartland's CEO and former president Joe Bast is particularly peeved, leaked emails recently revealed.

“EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's proposal for a Red Team-Blue Team exercise is vague, probably would not be effective, and is unlikely to come about,” Bast wrote in an internal Heartland email first reported on by Niina Heikkinen and Robin Bravender of E&E News earlier this week.

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Russian Coal Giant to Lead Climate Change Discussions at State-Organised Conference

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 14:20

One of the world’s largest coal companies with a history of climate policy obstruction is set to lead discussions on the Paris Agreement and carbon emissions at a Russian state-organised conference later this year.

SUEK, one of the world’s ten largest coal mining companies, is leading two climate change related sessions at an environmental forum in Moscow on December 12 to 14, a draft programme obtained by DeSmog UK shows. 

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Deadly Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Disaster Was Avoidable Corporate Crime

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 00:39
Lac-Mégantic before oil train explosion leveled its downtown

Damning new testimony from an engineer of the locomotive involved in the deadly 2013 oil train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Canada, reveals several ways corporate cost-cutting directly led to the accident, which claimed 47 lives.

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GOP Senators, Fueled by Industry Cash, Propose Bill to Expedite Small Scale LNG Exports

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 14:07
LNG tanker

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have introduced a bill to fast-track the regulatory process for the export of small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The bill, titled “Small Scale LNG Access Act,” was introduced on October 18 and calls for amending the “Natural Gas Act to expedite approval of exports of small volumes of natural gas.” The proposed legislation follows in the footsteps of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) proposed rule which would assume that all U.S. small-scale exports of LNG, with the gas mostly obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), is in the “public interest” as defined by the Natural Gas Act.    var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12231'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: Independent Petroleum Association of AmericaIPAASmall Scale LNGkoch industriesKochAmerican Petroleum InstituteFlint Hills ResourcesAmerican Fuel & Petrochemical ManufacturersAFPMExxonMobilMarco RubioEagle LNGdoeFERCFederal Energy Regulatory CommissionDepartment of EnergyLNGLiquefied Natural Gasfrackinghydraulic fracturingChenierenatural gasTellurianBill Cassidy

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World's Largest Fracked-Gas-to-Methanol Refinery Forced to Calculate Climate Impact

Sat, 10/21/2017 - 20:24
CO2 to methanol plant in Iceland

By Stephen Quirke

Last month one of the largest fracked gas projects in the Pacific Northwest was dealt a legal blow when its development permit was canceled for failing to fully account for the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The project, backed by Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW), would refine fracked gas into methanol, an industrial feedstock used in chemical production, that would be shipped in bulk from Kalama, Washington, to China, where backers say it will produce plastics.

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5 Facts About Mike Pence's Close Ties to the Koch Brothers Not Included in Jane Mayer’s New Yorker Article

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 17:15

This is a guest post by Scott Peterson from Checks and Balances Project.

If you’ve read Jane Mayer’s deep dive into the ties between the Koch Bros. and the Vice President, “The Danger of President Pence,” you’ll understand why it’s the high-water mark of reporting about their relationship. 

Yet there are several facts that aren’t included in the New Yorker article. Here are five facts worth knowing in addition to her excellent work.

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Why Is This African American Community Living Next to a Dump for Hurricane Harvey Debris?

Fri, 10/20/2017 - 01:22
Port Arthur resident Tami Thomas-Pinkney and her daughter Trinity Handy, with a hurricane debris dump in the background

Tami Thomas-Pinkney’s house in Port Arthur, Texas, was not damaged when Hurricane Harvey soaked the city with up to 28 inches of rain on August 29. But now, a month and a half after the storm, she is preparing to move. Across the street from her family’s home is a temporary dumpsite for storm debris, which she says is endangering her family’s health and making her home unlivable. 

Countless trucks haul the debris —ruined building material ripped from storm-damaged homes and household belongings previously submerged in floodwater but now covered with mold — past her house. Each day they rattle down the streets around Thomas-Pinkney, dumping their loads about a hundred feet from her front porch. 

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Koch-Funded Fueling US Forward Shuts Down, But Koch Attacks On Clean Energy Continue

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 21:33

Over this past weekend, with no announcement or notice, the website for Fueling U.S. Forward went dark. The Koch-funded campaign that had set out to promote the “positives” of fossil fuels has seemingly shut down, having wiped the website from the internet and deleting all traces on Facebook and all of its videos off of Youtube.

The abrupt end of the campaign, barely a year old, comes after a summer in which the group’s messaging clearly pivoted from celebrating fossil fuels to attacking clean energy and electric vehicles.

Upon its launch in August 2016, Fueling U.S. Forward CEO and President Charles Drevna told a crowd at the Red State Gathering that the campaign would set out to promote the “positives” of fossil fuels, which he described as “reliable, abundant, efficient and sustainable.”

“We’ve got to take this to the emotional and personal level,” said Drevna.

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FERC Approved NEXUS Pipeline After Companies Behind Project Lobbied for New Commissioners

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 20:42
Powelson and Chatterjee

In one of their first major decisions on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), President Trump’s newly appointed commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson approved the controversial NEXUS natural gas pipeline.

Yet DeSmog has found that in the months leading up to the appointment of the new commissioners, the companies behind the pipeline engaged in a lobbying blitz to support their nomination and confirmation.

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Former Head of Energy, Environment at ALEC, Todd Wynn, Hired by Trump Interior Department

Thu, 10/19/2017 - 05:57

Todd Wynn, former Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s Energy Environmental and Agriculture Task Force, was recently hired by President Donald Trump to work as a senior-ranking official in the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

DeSmog discovered the hire via LinkedIn, and Wynn says on his profile page that he began at Interior in October.

Wynn worked at ALEC from 2011 to 2013 and then became Director of External Affairs for Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a trade association representing electric utility companies nationwide. Prior to his position at ALEC, Wynn served as Vice President of the Cascade Policy Institute, a part of the State Policy Network (SPN), a national chain of state-level conservative and corporate-funded think-tanks which was started as an ALEC offshoot.

ALEC's critics have described the organization, a national consortium of mostly Republican Party state legislators and corporate lobbyists, as a “corporate bill mill.” That's because its lobbyist members convene several times a year with legislators to produce what it calls “model bills” which have ended up as actual legislation thousands of times since the organization's founding in 1973.

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Fossil Fuel Misinformation Helps Quash Community Effort to Ban Fracking in Youngstown, Ohio

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 13:32
Sign reading 'Don't frack Ohio - Stop injection wells'

For the first time since 2013, a group of activists in Youngstown, Ohio, has been told it cannot place an anti-fracking initiative on local ballots, due in part to a misinformation campaign from the fossil fuel industry.

On October 6, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that two proposed ballot initiatives — one to outlaw fracking and fracking waste injections and another to regulate political campaign contributions within city limits — would not be up for a vote this November. In previous years, voters weighed in on similar initiatives, which were ultimately defeated.

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Company Behind Gas Rig Explosion in Louisiana Was Sued for Degrading Coast

Tue, 10/17/2017 - 06:52
Clovelly Oil rig on fire

Clovelly Oil is not quite a household name, as far as oil and natural gas companies go, though it recently gained attention when its oil and natural gas storage rig exploded on October 15 in Louisiana.

Located on Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans, Clovelly's storage facility erupted at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, injuring seven. Timothy Morrison, 44, of Katy, Texas, remains missing. The search for him has been suspended by the U.S. Coast Guard. 

What do we know about this company and its history in the state? Clovelly previously made headlines in 2013 when the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority sued it along with over 100 other companies for their role in eroding and degrading the Louisiana coast. 

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Louisiana Attorney General Says Oil, Gas Industry Deserve ‘a Break’ for First-Time Crimes

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 13:05
Landry at Shale Insight Conference

Louisiana's first-term attorney general Jeff Landry often presents himself as a staunch tough-on-crime and anti-corruption candidate, pushing his office's powers to the limits (and beyond) as he seeks to lock up offenders.

But when it comes to prosecuting companies for environmental crimes, Landry arrived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the Shale Insight conference with a very different message: sometimes, mistakes happen.

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