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How the Federal Government Came to Control Your Car's Fuel Economy

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 22:03
Read time: 5 minsCars wait in line for gas during the 1970s energy crisisBy Brian C. Black, Pennsylvania State University

The Environmental Protection Agency in August announced a plan to freeze fuel economy standards and revoke the ability of California to set more stringent rules than the national ones, prompting a legal showdown between the state and the federal government.

The proposal, which would keep fuel economy at planned 2020 levels, is the most significant step to halt the rise on the mileage standards of the U.S. passenger vehicle fleet in decades.

But how did fuel efficiency even become mandated? After all, manufacturers go to great lengths to analyze the consumer marketplace and build in the most tantalizing features to create top sellers, whether it’s great acceleration or a deep bass sound system. One feature is different, though: Carmakers are legally bound to innovate more efficiency into their vehicles.

Tags: california waivercafe standardsCorporate Average Fuel EconomyTrump Administration
Categories: News

The Fracking Industry Is Cannibalizing Its Own Production, Increasing Spill Risks

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 19:51
Read time: 6 mins

In the climactic final scene in There Will Be Blood — arguably the greatest movie about the oil industry — the main character played by Daniel Day Lewis explains how he sucked the oil from a neighbor’s land by using horizontal drilling. To help his neighbor understand what has happened, he explains it by saying he took a very long straw and “Drank your milkshake!”

Well guess what is happening with the fracking revolution that is built on the concept of horizontal drilling? Not only are oil producers drinking each other’s milkshakes, they are drinking their own, and in the process losing even more money and raising the odds of dangerous environmental risks.

And unlike in the movie where the main character knew what he was doing, the modern fracking industry really has no clue what to do about the problems caused by the combination of horizontal drilling and greed. 

Tags: frac hitschild wellsfracking
Categories: News

Will Energy Efficiency Stall Climate Disruption?

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 16:40
Read time: 4 minslight bulbs

In the race against the increasingly widespread and devastating consequences of climate change, solutions tend to focus on products and technologies. Renewable energy, electric vehicles, biofuels, carbon capture and storage, and geoengineering get much of the attention, in part because they lead us to believe we can continue acting as usual. Those technologies must be part of the solution, but we must also consider our wasteful behaviors.

Conserving energy means consuming less, which isn’t a hallmark of our consumption-based economic system. Technology also comes into play with cutting energy use. Many experts argue that energy efficiency could play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially in industrial nations like Canada and the U.S., where we tend to waste a lot. Others point to a paradox whereby climate gains from efficiency are offset by reduced costs that increase energy demand.

Tags: energy efficiencyUN Sustainable Development Goalsenergy consumption
Categories: News

Sempra Energy Plans to Export Fracked Gas on the West Coast — via Mexico

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 21:36
Read time: 15 minsU.S. Consulate General in Tijuana Andrew S. E. Erickson visited the Costa Azul terminal in Ensenada in March 2013

By Steve Horn and Martha Pskowski

The Costa Azul liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal sits on an isolated stretch of the Pacific Coast north of Ensenada, Baja California, in Mexico. When Sempra and its Mexican affiliate IEnova sought to acquire the land in 2002, the site’s remoteness worked in their favor. It was only frequented by fishermen, a few surfers, and a handful of beach-front property owners.

“That was the last stretch of coastline between Tijuana and Ensenada that was pristine and undeveloped,” Bill Powers, a San Diego-based energy engineer and founder of the Border Power Plant Working Group, told DeSmog. “There was just a little fishing village.”

After breaking ground in 2005, the Costa Azul LNG plant opened in 2008. Despite Sempra’s messaging strategy that the U.S. was running out of gas, the terminal has imported limited amounts of natural gas since. Now, San Diego-based Sempra hopes to build an LNG export facility at the same site.

Tags: Sempra EnergyBill PowersBorder Power Plant Working GroupCarlos PascualMagnum DevelopmentfrackingTrump Administrationhydraulic fracturingTransCanadaEnergía Costa AzulLNGLiquefied Natural GasMexicoIEnova
Categories: News

China Threatens 25% Tariffs on US LNG in Trump Trade War Escalation

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 15:43
Read time: 7 mins

China threatened to slap US LNG exports with a 25% tariff on August 3rd, escalating a trade war by threatening an industry closely allied with President Trump and potentially benefitting a $55 billion Russian gas pipeline project.

The $60 billion in proposed retaliatory tariffs, which are also aimed at the metals, lumber, and agriculture industries, could have significant impacts for US LNG export plans — and for the domestic shale gas industry, which has struggled to turn a profit and which has staked its hopes for years on hopes of selling gas from wells drilled and fracked in the U.S. to buyers abroad at higher prices.

Tags: LNG ExportschinaTrump
Categories: News

"Doing the Lord's Work" Heartland Institute Gathers Climate Deniers For America First Energy Conference

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 02:29
Read time: 4 mins

One of the world’s most notorious climate science denial groups — the Heartland Institute — will gather its supporters and fellow ideologues this week for a one-day energy conference in Louisiana.

Aside from the conference’s fanatical devotion to fossil fuels, the line-up includes the usual pushers of junk science who are sure that every major science academy in the world is wrong about the dangers of adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

Gathering at the conference will be “hundreds of state and national elected officials, think tank leaders, and policy analysts.”

Front and center in New Orleans will be Fred Palmer, a veteran coal industry lobbyist who was behind what was probably the very first fossil-fuel funded attacks on the science linking coal burning to dangerous climate change. 

After more than 30 years with the Western Fuels Association and then coal giant Peabody, Palmer now spends his time as a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute. 

Tags: Heartland Instituteamerica first energy conferenceFred Palmerdavid legatesroy spencer
Categories: News

Led by Sempra Energy, 'Global Natural Gas Coalition' Launched with Trump Admin and Labor Union in Fold

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 23:32
Read time: 8 minsArctic Lady LNG tanker

San Diego-based Sempra Energy has spearheaded the launch of a group called the Global Natural Gas Coalition to promote exports of gas obtained via fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to the global market. Sempra is a natural gas utility giant and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export and import company.

Announced at a June 25 gathering at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the Global Natural Gas Coalition features other participants such as the American Petroleum Institute (API), LNG Allies, the American Gas Association, American Chemistry Council, and others, according to its event page on the website Eventbrite. The RSVP information for the Press Club event features the contact information for Paty Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Sempra, and the company's representatives consisted of eight out of the 78 attendees of that event, according to the Eventbrite page.  

Also attending the event were officials from several agencies in the Trump administration. They included Mark Menezes, Elise Atkins, Christine Harbin, Jessica Szymanski, and Sara Kinney of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); Deaver Alexander, William Thompson, and Stephen Morel of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (a federal agency focused on helping “American businesses invest in emerging markets”); Scott Condren of the U.S. Export-Import Bank; and John McCarrick of the U.S. Department of State.

Tags: Laborers' International Union of North AmericaOur Energy MomentSabine Passchristine harbinKoch brothersLNGLiquefied Natural GasCheniereCorpus Christi LNGLNG AlliesAmerican Chemistry CouncilInterstate Natural Gas Association of AmericaAmerican Gas AssociationTrump AdministrationSempraCosta Azul LNGCameron Access Pipelinekoch industriesCameron LNGLIUNAAmerican Petroleum InstituteAPI
Categories: News

Portland, Oregon Wins Court Battle to Ban New Oil Infrastructure

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 17:28
Read time: 5 minsPortland, Oregon

In a big win for the City of Portland, Oregon, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling that the city had not violated the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause by voting to ban any new fossil fuel terminals within its borders.

“This is a major victory for the climate and our communities,” said Maura Fahey, staff attorney at Crag Law Center, which represented environmental groups intervening in the case, in a statement. “Industry couldn’t even get its foot in the door of the courtroom to try to overturn the City’s landmark law. This sends a powerful message to local communities that now is the time to take action to protect our future.”

This ruling could have important implications for other communities fighting fossil fuel projects because the court ruled that the city's ban did not violate the Commerce Clause, which is the main argument the oil industry has used against bans like the ones in Portland, Oregon and other cities.

Tags: PortlandCommerce ClauseconstitutionOil Infrastructure BansOregonMaineAmerican Petroleum Institute
Categories: News

Fueled by Pollution and Unsound Policies, Toxic Algae Overtakes Florida Beaches and Waterways

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 22:52
Read time: 9 minsSunset over a canal in Cape Coral, Florida, filled with blue green algae.

Florida is in the midst of a still-unfolding water pollution catastrophe. Many formerly picture-perfect beaches and posh waterfront neighborhoods are now surreal toxic landscapes where the smell is so pungent, it can make you nauseous.

Parts of South Florida are being inundated by harmful algal blooms, which affect both public health and marine life, including red tide (caused by the alga Karenia brevis) and blue-green algae (more precisely known as cyanobacteria, or Microcystis, which are technically bacteria but commonly referred to as algae).

While both types of toxin-producing algae are normal parts of their environments, the crisis is not. Water pollution and climate change are fueling this supersized toxic algae mess.

Tags: algae bloomsblue-green algaeFloridaLake Okeechobeewater pollution
Categories: News

Retired Schoolteacher Arrested After Sunoco Claims She Violated Court Order in Mariner East Pipeline Dispute

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 01:15
Read time: 8 minsEllen Gerhart

On Tuesday, July 26, Sunoco Pipeline L.P. filed paperwork with a Pennsylvania court claiming that retired special education teacher Ellen Gerhart, 63, had violated an injunction. Three days later, Gerhart was arrested and jailed. She’s currently held in the Centre County Correctional Facility awaiting a hearing on $25,000 bail. She’s been kept in solitary confinement for much or all of that time, according to her supporters, who add that she is unable to afford bail.

Sunoco Pipeline obtained a right of way through the Gerharts’ land using the controversial legal doctrine of eminent domain, which allows private companies to seize land people refuse to sell that’s in the planned path of a pipeline project. Sunoco now claims Ellen Gerhart interfered with construction and alleges, among other things, that Gerhart tried to lure mountain lions and bears onto her property.

Tags: Mariner East IInatural gas pipelinesSunoco PipelineEnergy Transfer PartnersEllen GerhartpennsylvaniaTigerSwan
Categories: News

Newly Elected President of Mexico, Lopez Obrador, Vows to Ban Fracking

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:19
Read time: 2 mins

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who won the election to become Mexico's President on July 1, stated in a press conference that he will ban the horizontal drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) upon assuming the office.

The announcement would be a devastating blow to the oil and gas industry, which had its eyes set on drilling in Mexico's northern frontier in an area known as the Burgos Basin. The Burgos is a southern extension of the Eagle Ford Shale, a prolific field situated in Texas. 

Tags: frackinghydraulic fracturingshale gaspemexpetroleos mexicanosburgos basinEagle Ford Shaleshale oilMexicoAndrés Manuel López Obrador
Categories: News

Scientists Urged to Take a Stand Against BBC’s False Balance on Climate Change

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 11:31
Read time: 4 minsBBC sign

It was all a bit retro… A BBC radio presenter, looking out the window and seeing it’s (still) hot, and leaning into his microphone to ask “does this mean climate change is real?”

Do not adjust your wireless. This really is the opening question on a segment about climate change. In 2018.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s decision to have climate science denier and UKIP supporter Philip Foster on to debate a (non-climate) scientist about whether or not humans have caused climate change immediately drew much ire.

Tags: BBCBBC CambridgeshirePhilip Fosterchristopher monckton
Categories: News

Canada, US Governments Watching, But Not Intervening, in Coal Mine Pollution Controversy

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 10:36
Read time: 8 minsTeck's Greenhill's mountaintop removal coal mine in BC's Elk Valley

By , The Narwhal. Originally posted on The Narwhal.

The U.S. State Department is not going to intervene in a dispute that has split the International Joint Commission (IJC), despite a letter from U.S. commissioners charging that their Canadian counterparts are refusing to publish data showing the full effects of selenium pollution flowing from B.C. coal mines into Montana.

A State Department official told The Narwhal that there are “no plans to weigh in at this time,” and, instead, both the U.S and Canadian federal governments are urging IJC representatives to work out their differences.

Tags: U.S. State DepartmentcanadaMontanacoal minesSeleniumbritish columbia
Categories: News

Did Plans to Export US Ethane Help Fund Accused Russian Spy Maria Butina?

Mon, 07/30/2018 - 23:23
Read time: 7 minsAccused Russian spy Maria Butina

Much has been made of the ties between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and alleged Russian spy Maria Butina after the Justice Department unsealed a criminal conspiracy complaint against Butina on July 16. The investigation seems to have centered largely on whether Butina sought to use the NRA to funnel funds to the Trump campaign.

But Butina’s own funding could raise troubling new questions about President Donald Trump, centering in part on a multi-billion dollar deal signed in 2017 to export ethane, a plastics feedstock, from America to China.

Tags: russiaNational Rifle Association (NRA)Maria ButinaDonald TrumpethaneAmerican EthaneRoman AbramovichJohn HoughtalingKonstantin Nikolaev
Categories: News

Critics Challenge “Fundamental Flaws” in Energy Department LNG Export Study Draft

Sun, 07/29/2018 - 18:37
Read time: 5 mins

The Department of Energy (DOE) missed the mark in its newly published draft Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) study, ignoring economic costs associated with climate change and the growth of the renewable energy industry, dozens of national and grassroots environmental groups said in public comments filed with the DOE on Friday.

In June, the DOE published a draft study that predicted expanding LNG exports worldwide could double American natural gas prices by 2040 — but that would carry relatively limited costs to the overall economy.

Tags: Department of EnergyEnergy DepartmentNERA Economic Consultingclimate changeLNG ExportsLiquefied Natural Gasfree trade agreementnon-free trade agreementpeer review
Categories: News

Trump Administration to Halt Clean Car Standards, Revoke California's Right to Regulate

Tue, 07/24/2018 - 16:45
Read time: 7 mins

The Trump administration will announce plans this week to revoke California’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for automobiles, according to inside sources quoted by Bloomberg.

This directly contradicts comments made by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) air chief, William Wehrum, who said in January that the agency had “no interest whatsoever in withdrawing CA's authority to regulate.”

Tags: koch vs cleancaliforniaclean carsauto allianceTrumpAndrew Wheelerbill wehrum
Categories: News

Mapped: Whistleblower Accuses Nine Organisations of Colluding over Hard Brexit

Mon, 07/23/2018 - 15:15
Read time: 6 mins55 Tufton Street network

Nine right-wing organisations including think tanks pushing disinformation about climate change have been accused of mounting a coordinated campaign to push for a hard Brexit, according to court documents.

Whistleblower Shahmir Sanni, formerly of youth campaign group BeLeave, claims that think tanks and campaign groups held regular meeting at 55 Tufton Street — an office close to Westminster and home to the climate science denial group the Global Warming Policy Foundation — to “agree on a single set of right-wing talking points” and “securing more exposure to the public”.

Some of the topics discussed allegedly included “new policy announcement by the Labour Party, developments in the Brexit negotiations, or any other political news story”.

The accusations were made in documents from an employment tribunal setting out Sanni’s case  against pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which he has accused of unfair dismissal after he spoke out about illegal behaviour at Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit campaign group.

Tags: 55 Tufton Streetclimate science deniersbrexit climate deniersGlobal Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)institute for economic affairsLeave Means LeaveBrexit CentralTaxPayers' AllianceCentre for Policy StudiesMatthew Elliott
Categories: News

Who Needs Science Advice Anyway? Governments, for One

Sat, 07/21/2018 - 13:14
Read time: 6 minsMolly Shoichet, former chief scientist of OntarioBy Jim Woodgett, University of Toronto

There has been much consternation within the Ontario research community since Premier Doug Ford summarily dismissed the province’s first chief scientist, Molly Shoichet, after she’d been in the job for only six months.

The new government, elected on a populist wave in June, quickly fired the esteemed scientist — widely lauded for her biomedical engineering expertise and skill at communicating science — only a few days after being sworn in. Yet the new government has promised to appoint a replacement.

The move raises the question: What is the role of a “chief scientist” within government?

Tags: National Science AdvisorObama administrationTrump AdministrationGovernment of Ontario
Categories: News

The Big Apple Loses to Big Oil as Judge Dismisses Climate Liability Suit

Fri, 07/20/2018 - 19:25
Read time: 4 minsFlooded MTA train in New York after Hurricane Sandy

A federal judge ruled on Thursday in favor of a motion by five big oil companies to dismiss a lawsuit brought against them by New York City, which demanded they pay the costs of adapting the city's infrastructure to climate changeThe New York Times reported.

The ruling comes nearly a month after a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a similar case brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco.

Tags: climate liabilitynew york cityChevron (NYSE: CVX)ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)conocophillipsbpRoyal Dutch Shell
Categories: News

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