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Climate Science Denial Group GWPF Rejected by Scandal-Hit EPA Chief Scott Pruitt

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 09:22
Scott Pruitt

Even Scott Pruitt — the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief known rarely to turn down a freebie — doesn’t want to have anything to do with the UK’s premier climate science denial group.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) invited Pruitt to give its annual lecture in 2017. Pruitt either rejected or ignored the invite, as it was ultimately former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott that took to the stage.

Tags: Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)Scott Pruitt
Categories: News

Louisiana Court Says State Wrongly Issued Permit for Bayou Bridge Pipeline Through Vulnerable Town

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 08:12
Tank farms and a railroad terminal surrounding neighborhood in St. James, Louisiana where the Bayou Bridge pipeline is proposed to end.

A Louisiana judge ruled that state regulators violated guidelines when they issued a coastal use permit to build the Bayou Bridge pipeline in the town of St. James. The judge’s decision, made on April 30, could halt construction of the final 18 miles of the pipeline, which is part of a network carrying fracked oil that begins with the Dakota Access pipeline.

Tags: Bayou Bridge pipelineLouisianaSt. James ParishPastor Harry JosephEnergy Transfer Partners
Categories: News

Fossil Fuel Interests 'Coached' Conservatives to Reject Climate Science in US and Australia, Study Finds

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 00:38
Rick Perry, Ryan Zinke at CPAC

There’s a widely held belief that when it comes to human-caused climate change, you’re far less likely to accept the science if you lean toward the right of the political spectrum.

But a new study just published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that this link between conservative values and climate “skepticism” holds strongest in the U.S. and Australia, and less so in Canada, where fossil fuel vested interests are high.

Tags: matthew hornseyclimate changeclimate science denialclimate scepticism
Categories: News

As Rest of World Moves Towards Renewables, US Keeps Offering Exclusive Tax Breaks for Fossil Fuels

Sun, 05/06/2018 - 10:58
Schedule K-1 tax forms

About a half decade ago, as the shale drilling rush was sweeping across the U.S., drillers needed upfront cash — and quick — to let them snap up acreage, drill and frack exploratory wells, and hone their skills at the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that fueled an oil and gas boom.

Bankers and financiers began attending shale industry conferences, marketing a clever idea. By dusting off an obscure part of the tax code, drillers and pipeline builders could attract a different class of investor than would usually look at a boom-and-bust prone industry, an investor hunting for stability and predictability. Form a Master Limited Partnership, or MLP, shale drillers and pipeline builders were advised, and you'll be able to access that capital.

Tags: shalefrackingpipelinesinfrastructuretaxestax breakssubsidiesrenewable energyMLPMaster Limited Partnership
Categories: News

Scott Pruitt's Secret Science Plan Was Developed to Defend Tobacco and It Could Be Coming for Clean Air Rules

Sat, 05/05/2018 - 13:28
Powell Tate Secret Science action plan

In early 1998, lobbying and PR company Powell Tate was busy with a strategy to protect its tobacco industry clients from health and safety regulations.

Costing roughly $200,000, the plan was called “Secret Science” and would be a public affairs campaign “mounted in three phases” to influence the public, scientists, corporations, and policymakers. 

After “laying the groundwork,” the plan was to build “a critical mass of outrage” and then offer a solution to all the outrage and division the campaign had whipped up.

Tags: Scott Pruittsteve milloyTASSCthe advancement of sound science coalitionLamar SmithStrengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science
Categories: News

How Wall Street Enabled the Fracking 'Revolution' That's Losing Billions

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 17:34
Oil pumpjack in Nevada

The U.S. shale oil industry hailed as a “revolution” has burned through a quarter trillion dollars more than it has brought in over the last decade. It has been a money-losing endeavor of epic proportions.

In September 2016, the financial ratings service Moody’s released a report on U.S. oil companies, many of which were hurting from the massive drop in oil prices. Moody's found that “the financial toll from the oil bust can only be described as catastrophic,” particularly for small companies that took on huge debt to finance fracking shale formations when oil prices were high.

And even though shale companies still aren't turning a profit, Wall Street continues to lend the industry more money while touting these companies as good investments. Why would investors do that?

Tags: shale oilfracking financeswall streetHarold HammContinental Resources
Categories: News

17 States Sue EPA Over Pruitt's Decision to Weaken Auto Standards

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 16:16
EPA union employees and supporters hold signs protesting Pruitt

It didn’t take long for the first legal challenges be filed against the Trump administration’s recent move to weaken automobile emissions standards. On April 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew the Obama-era decision to retain the greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks for model years 2022-2025. On Tuesday, 17 states and the District of Columbia sued the agency, challenging Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision.

The lawsuit is short and direct — only 122 words, including the names of the 17 states — petitioning the District of Columbia Circuit Court to review EPA’s decision under the Clean Air Act.

Pruitt’s decision was immediately applauded by the oil industry and car companies through the powerful Auto Alliance trade group. It was simultaneously bashed by environmental and consumers’ rights groups who criticized the agency for replacing a comprehensive review by the Obama EPA with a shallow analysis that borrowed the auto industry’s talking points.

Tags: CAFEcarsauto standardscaliforniaU.S. Environmental Protection AgencyScott PruittTrump Administrationauto alliance
Categories: News

Kicking Big Polluters Out Of Climate Talks 'Not Very Useful', Says Poland's Climate Envoy

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:33

By Megan Darby, Climate Home News

Poland’s climate envoy dismissed calls to keep polluters out of UN talks, ahead of a controversial negotiation in Bonn on Thursday about widening participation.

Activists outside the talks put pressure on the EU to support a conflict of interest policy for businesses getting involved in the process. They argue that fossil fuel companies are a malign influence and weaken climate ambition to protect their profits.

But Tomasz Chruszczow, who has a leading role in this December’s Katowice climate summit, told Climate Home News in an interview he did not recognise that problem.

“We want everybody in this action,” he said. “Even if they are now generating electricity from fossil fuels – the majority of electricity comes from fossil fuels – still it is changing, but it is a process.

Tags: PolandBonnclimate talksfossil fuelscorruption
Categories: News

Exporting Gasoline by Rail to Mexico Likely to Recreate Mistakes of Explosive Bakken Oil Trains

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 19:51
Rusty rail car reading 'Texas Mexican Railway'

The oil industry learned an important lesson from its rush to move by train the highly flammable oil drilled in North Dakota's Bakken Shale. The lesson wasn't that those oil trains were unsafe and even dubbed “bomb trains” by rail workers (although they were). The lesson wasn't that their derailments caused several major oil spills in North America as well as the tragic accident in Lac-Mégantic, Canada, which killed 47 people and leveled the downtown area (although they did).

No, what the oil industry learned from this experience was that when it doesn’t have adequate pipeline capacity, its companies can still make money moving flammable petroleum products by rail, despite the well-documented risks outlined above. And the industry is now taking the same steps to move refined petroleum products — including gasoline — to Mexico by rail.

Tags: Bomb TrainsBakkenMexican gas by railMexicobakken oil trainsethanol by railDOT-111 rail cars
Categories: News

CNN Wrongly Blames Electric Cars for Unethical Cobalt Mining

Wed, 05/02/2018 - 16:16
A foreman holds cobalt in his hand in Rwanda

This week, CNN published a startling multimedia report on cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The investigation revealed troubling conditions in so-called “artisanal” cobalt mines, where hand mining operations are carried out with a combination of unsafe working conditions and child labor. As is all too often the case with resource extraction — whether for cobalt in Congo, oil in Ecuador, or coal in West Virginia — unsafe, unhealthy local labor practices deserve media exposure.

Unfortunately, CNN’s promotion of the investigation and headline misappropriate the blame, leaving casual readers to conclude that electric vehicles are responsible for these awful labor conditions.

Tags: cnnelectric carscobaltelectric vehiclesmining
Categories: News

All Paris Agreement Signatories Now Have at Least One Climate Change Policy

Tue, 05/01/2018 - 23:17
Eiffel Tower lit up green for the Paris Climate Agreement taking effect

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

A new report highlights the significance of the Paris climate agreement in pushing global climate action.

All of the 197 signatories of the landmark accord now have at least one national law or policy on climate change, an analysis published Monday by the London School of Economics (LSE) found.

Tags: Paris Climate AgreementUNFCCC climate conferenceTrump Administration
Categories: News

The 'Green' Biomass Industry Pruitt Called 'Carbon Neutral' Uses Typical Fossil Fuel Industry Tricks to Pollute More

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 15:57
Aerial view of Enviva wood pellet production plant in North Carolina

This past week, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt declared that the EPA would now consider burning wood and other forest products for energy as “carbon neutral,” despite his previous comments expressing doubt that carbon dioxide from human activity (and therefore carbon neutrality) is even a cause for concern. In his announcement about the carbon footprint of the biomass industry, Pruitt even went as far as to claim: “This is environmental stewardship in action.” 

Not surprisingly, scientists featured in several media outlets immediately pointed out the error of his statement, and a report, released within days of Pruitt's announcement, highlights the environmental and public health impacts of the biomass industry.

Tags: biomasswood pelletsScott Pruittbiomass industry
Categories: News

Melting Arctic Sends a Message: Climate Change Is Here in a Big Way

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 12:11
Scientists standing on sea ice among melt ponds in the Chukchi Sea

By Mark Serreze, University of Colorado

Scientists have known for a long time that as climate change started to heat up the Earth, its effects would be most pronounced in the Arctic. This has many reasons, but climate feedbacks are key. As the Arctic warms, snow and ice melt, and the surface absorbs more of the sun’s energy instead of reflecting it back into space. This makes it even warmer, which causes more melting, and so on.

This expectation has become a reality that I describe in my new book Brave New Arctic. It’s a visually compelling story: The effects of warming are evident in shrinking ice caps and glaciers and in Alaskan roads buckling as permafrost beneath them thaws.

But for many people the Arctic seems like a faraway place, and stories of what is happening there seem irrelevant to their lives. It can also be hard to accept that the globe is warming up while you are shoveling out from the latest snowstorm.

Tags: climate changearctic sea ice lossnatural climate variationNational Snow and Ice Data Center
Categories: News

Growing Pressure for Lobbying Transparency in Climate Talks

Mon, 04/30/2018 - 09:37

This week at the U.N. climate treaty talks, governments are poised to hash out the details needed to bring the Paris Agreement from concept to reality. The meeting is about agreeing on the process, the detail and the rulebook.

One item high on their agenda will be how the UNFCCC and its member governments address the growing problem of the fossil fuel industry’s corrosive interference and disinformation in climate policymaking.

Growing pressure from a big coalition of civil society and environmental groups is mounting to make the process transparent and democratic.

Tags: BonnUNFCCCBonn climate talksConflicts of Interest
Categories: News

Ford Touts 'Green' Image While Arguing for Weaker Efficiency Standards and Planning to Sell Only Trucks

Sun, 04/29/2018 - 21:18
Mustang tailpipe

Ford Motor Company would really like the public to believe that it supports strong emissions and efficiency standards for personal vehicles. Just ask Board Chair Bill Ford and President and CEO Jim Hackett, who recently wrote: “We support increasing clean car standards through 2025 and are not asking for a rollback.”

However, a “rollback” is exactly what EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, in his own language, has promised, and his planned rewrite of auto emissions standards has been guided almost exclusively by the input of Ford and other automakers through the powerful Alliance of Auto Manufacturers (the Auto Alliance).

Tags: Fordauto allianceNHTSAEPAScott PruittFuel Efficiency
Categories: News

New York Gov. Cuomo Pushes Environmental Protections While Accepting Oil and Gas Donations

Fri, 04/27/2018 - 21:03
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

By Josefa Velasquez and Alex Kotch. This post originally appeared on Medium.

Challenger Cynthia Nixon recently unveiled an ambitious climate platform and promised to reject fossil fuel campaign donations.

As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo seeks to bolster his environmental platform amid a contentious primary race, campaign finance records show that the Democratic governor has taken in more than $100,000 from the oil and gas industry during this election cycle.

On Monday, days after Cynthia Nixon  —  the Sex and the City actress challenging Cuomo from the left  —  announced she would be rejecting campaign contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries, the two-term governor declared that he plans to push for legislation banning single-use plastic bags, an apparent shift from February 2017, when Cuomo blocked New York City’s efforts to impose a 5-cent fee on plastic bags.

Tags: new yorkGovernor Andrew Cuomoindustry fundingelectionsAmocoGlobal Partners
Categories: News

U.S. Looks to Crack Down on Pollution of Montana River from B.C. Coal Mines

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 22:23
Elk Valley Teck Coal mines Garth Lenz

The continuous flow of dangerous pollution from B.C.’s Elk Valley coal mines into a Montana watershed is a top discussion item for Canadian and U.S. delegates convening at a bilateral meeting in Washington, D.C., Thursday.

Selenium from five metallurgical coal mines owned and operated by Teck Resources has been leaching into B.C.’s Elk River and flowing southeast into Montana’s Kootenai River watershed for decades. Contamination levels measured in U.S. waters exceeds maximum concentration limits outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Selenium is released from waste rock piled at Teck’s large-scale open-pit coal mines, where rainfall and snowmelt draw it into the Elk and Fording Rivers. Selenium can be harmful to biological organisms at even small amounts and causes deformities in fish and birds.

Tags: Teck Resourcesmetallurgical coalWildsightElk ValleyElk Riverminingcoal minesbcSeleniumpollutionErin SextonMichael Jamison
Categories: News

More Ducks, Hungrier Bears: Climate Change is Altering Arctic Arithmetic

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 16:44

The effects of climate change can be complex and unpredictable. For one species of Arctic duck, the result is a tense standoff between population growth and decline.

Eiders are a species best known for their light, fluffy down. Each spring the birds return to their coastal tundra colonies and build nests on the ground, protected only by a low profile.

Tags: polar beareider duckclimate changeCody DeyGrant Gilchrist
Categories: News

GOP Tax Law Bails Out Fracking Companies Buried in Debt

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 15:44
A Scrabble board spells out 'Bankruptcy' overlaid on an unconventional oil and gas rig

EOG Resources is one of the top companies in the fracking industry, and thanks to the new tax bill passed by Republicans and President Donald Trump at the end of last year, EOG had an exceptionally strong year compared to 2016.

In 2017, the company reported a net income of $2.6 billion. The previous year? A loss of $1.1 billion. That financial turnaround seems very impressive until you realize that $2.2 billion, or about 85 percent, of its 2017 income was the result of the new tax law. Without that gift from the GOP and Trump, EOG would have lost approximately $700 million between those two years. Instead they are $1.5 billion ahead of the game.

Tags: shale oildebtBankruptcyTrump tax billEOG Resources (NYSE: EOG)Harold Hammfracking
Categories: News

Is Fossil Fuel Industry Secretly Behind a New Campaign Against Fossil Fuel Divestment?

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 17:11

By Andy Rowell, crossposted with permission from Oil Change International

Last week a newly formed organization, The Institute for Pension Fund Integrity (IPFI), published its first “white paper” on the topical issue of  “getting politics out of pensions”.

Reviewing the report, the headline on the Institutional Investor website summed up the main finding: “New Pensions Group Says Forget About Climate Change”.

Tags: DCI groupInstitute for Pension Fund Integrity (IFPI)Cambridge Global AdvisorsChristopher Burnham
Categories: News