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Trump Names Climate Denier Kathleen Hartnett-White to Head White House Environmental Council

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 16:32

President Donald Trump, as first reported by EnergyWire's Hannah Northey‏ on Twitter, has named Kathleen Hartnett-White to chair the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). 

Hartnett-White, as previously reported by DeSmog, is a prominent climate change denier and former Chairman and Commissioner of the Texas Council on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) under then-Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry now heads up the U.S. Department of Energy and is reported to have advocated for her to run CEQ. She is also an outspoken advocate of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and of exporting oil and gas to the global market.

Long seen as the presumptive front-runner to take the CEQ role, Hartnett-White also worked on President Trump's presidential campaign on his Economic Advisory Team. And her name was once floated to head up the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well, currently led by Scott Pruitt.

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Shark Tank's Steve Baxter Joins Climate Science Deniers and Islamophobes for Australian LibertyFest

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 15:04

What do you get when you bring together some of Australia’s most fervent climate science deniers with anti-Islam activists, fledgling right-wing political groups and an American “free market” Libertarian?

The answer, apparently, is the one-day conference titled LibertyFest scheduled for Brisbane this Saturday.

Two mainstays of Australia’s “fever swamp” of climate science denial, Professor Ian Plimer and Jennifer Marohasy, are set to kick-off the proceedings on Friday evening.

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How Oil Hijacked Alberta’s Politics: Behind the Curtain With Former Liberal Leader Kevin Taft

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 20:00
Oil's Deep State Kevin Taft Alberta DeSmog Canada

For decades, Kevin Taft has served as a thorn in the side of Alberta’s provincial government.

In his new book, Taft, who served as a Liberal MLA between 2001 and 2012, and as leader of the Alberta Liberal Party — the province’s official opposition — between 2004 and 2008, maintains his course.

Oil’s Deep State: How the Petroleum Industry Undermines Democracy and Stops Action on Global Warming — in Alberta, and in Ottawa is a controversial read.

Notably the book implicates the Alberta NDP, which was elected in 2015 with promises to challenge the sector’s dominance over political processes. To help explain why that didn’t happen, Taft deploys concepts of institutional capture and deep state — a term used when institutional capture occurs with several different entities and is maintained for a long time.

It’s a challenging and insightful read, one that will likely spark many debates about how we talk and think about the oil and gas sector.

DeSmog Canada chatted with Taft about the book.

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Top Trump Official for Pipeline Safety Profits from Selling Oil Spill Equipment

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 17:14
Drue Pearce

A newly appointed federal regulator charged with overseeing pipeline safety personally profits from oil spill responses, a DeSmog investigation has found.

Drue Pearce is the acting administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency in the Department of Transportation responsible for ensuring oil and gas pipeline integrity. However, she is also associated with a company specializing in the sale of oil spill equipment.

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Experts Who Sold the Idea of Oil Exports Proven Very Wrong Very Fast

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 16:27

As Bloomberg put it recently, today “crude oil gushes out of the U.S. like never before.” U.S. exports of crude oil just hit a new record: nearly two million barrels per day. And while at DeSmog we predicted that “lifting the oil export ban will result in large increases in fracking for oil in the U.S.,” most industry experts at the time were making very different claims.

“It’s universally agreed in the short term that we won’t see a flood of ships leaving for foreign ports because the economics aren’t right,” Sandy Fielden, director of energy analytics at respected consulting firm RBN Energy, said in December 2015, just before the ban on crude oil export lifted. Fielden was explaining why lifting that ban wouldn't result in a sizable and ongoing rush to export American crude.

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Climate Scientists Attack Tony Abbott's 'Misleading' Speech to Global Warming Policy Foundation

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 00:07
Tony Abbott

Australian climate scientists have hit back at their former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, describing his speech to a London think tank as being laced with distortions, falsehoods, misrepresentations, and misdirection.

Abbott told the contrarian Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) that rising carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning could be “beneficial” and compared acceptance of human-caused climate change to religion.

The GWPF, founded by former Thatcher government treasurer Lord Nigel Lawson, consistently pushes positions on climate change that fall well outside the established science.

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It's Official: Trump Administration to Repeal Clean Power Plan

Mon, 10/09/2017 - 21:50
Scott Pruitt at the White House

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

The Trump administration will scrap the Clean Power Plan (CPP), President Obama's signature environmental policy aimed at fighting climate change, confirming earlier reports of such a move.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said at an event in Kentucky he will sign a proposed rule on Tuesday “to withdraw the so-called clean power plan of the past administration.”

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FERC Allows Conflicted Contractor to Supervise Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge Gas Project

Sun, 10/08/2017 - 13:58

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is permitting a contractor with a known conflict of interest to monitor Enbridge’s Atlantic Bride natural gas project. This decision joins a growing list of apparent conflicts of interest involved in the project, as DeSmog has extensively reported.

In an internal FERC memorandum sent this week, FERC’s ethics officer authorized the commission’s Office of Energy Projects to continue using a third-party contractor, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), that had produced the project’s environmental assessment. While the work of such contractors is paid for by the pipeline company, they are considered independent reviewers laboring under the supervision of FERC staff who must vet for possible conflicts of interest.

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Why People Around The World Fear Climate Change More Than Americans Do

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 13:58

By Gregory J. Carbone, Professor of Geography, University of South Carolina

When asked about major threats to their country, Europeans are more likely than Americans to cite global climate change, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Just 56 percent of Americans see climate change as a major threat, versus an average of 64 percent of Europeans surveyed.

Why the difference? Like climate data itself, data regarding public concern for climate change are “noisy.” Public response can vary depending on what’s going on in the news that week. Surveys of these types of surveys find no single explanation for how the public perceives the threat of climate change.

Of course, many explanations exist. As a climatologist who has taught university classes and given public lectures on global climate change for 30 years, I find it clear that public concern about climate change has evolved dramatically over the past three decades. In the U.S., now more than ever, it seems tied to ideology.

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Five Things You Need to Know About the Cancellation of the Energy East Oilsands Pipeline

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 18:39
Alberta oilsands

TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline is officially dead.

Announced via press release on Thursday, the news confirmed long-held suspicions that the $15.7 billion, 4,500 km oilsands pipeline simply wouldn’t cut it in today’s economic context.

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We Looked at 1,154 Climate Science Results and Found No Evidence of ‘Publication Bias’

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 08:39
Stack of papers

Despite widespread acceptance of a consensus around the science of climate change, supposedly factual debates about the presence and causes of warming continue. Could climate science really be guilty of publication bias? A team of scientists led by Johan Hollander from Lund University concluded the answer was: no. This article was first published on The Conversation and ScienceNordic.

It is rare to encounter a scientific fact that stirs widespread debate and distrust quite like the matter of climate change.

Despite consensus among climate specialists about a theory that is supported by a mountain of facts from the physical, natural, and cultural sciences, the debate continues to be perpetrated by politicians, industrialists, academics, and armchair scientists.

When governments reject science, the rest of us are put at risk. By refusing to accept the facts and potential ramifications of climate change, as a society, we stand to delay or overlook actions that are urgently needed to reduce our impact on the environment and adapt our cities and farmlands to a different future.

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TransCanada Cancels Energy East Oilsands Pipeline

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 16:59
TransCanada pipeline

Canadian pipeline company TransCanada announced today it will no longer be proceeding with its proposed Energy East Pipeline and Eastern Mainline projects.

“After careful review of changed circumstances, we will be informing the National Energy Board that we will no longer be proceeding with our Energy East and Eastern Mainline applications,” said president and CEO Russ Girling in a statement released Thursday morning.

The $15.7 billion Energy East pipeline planned to transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from western Canada’s oilsands to refineries in Quebec and Saint John, New Brunswick, as well as an export terminal in New Brunswick.

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Poll Shows Majority Of Americans Want Government To Act On Climate Change, But There’s A Catch

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 21:14

New polling data provides some inspiring news about the prospects for climate change action in the United States. According to public policy polling conducted by AP-NORC and the Energy Policy Institute at The University of Chicago, 61% of American citizens believe that climate change is a threat that the federal government should actively work to prevent. The poll also reveals that majorities in both major political parties – Democrats and Republicans – accept the fact that climate change is actually happening and that human activity is making it worse.

This data reinforces previous polling data indicating that a majority of American citizens, regardless of party affiliation, believe that climate change is a serious issue demanding urgent political action.

What sets the new set of data apart from the rest is also the part that makes it slightly less uplifting.

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China Is Showing the World What Renewable Energy Dominance Looks Like, Says New IEA Report

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 13:00

The growth of solar energy continues to outpace forecasts and this growth, according to a report published today by the International Energy Agency, “is a China story.”

While China today is far and away the global leader in solar generation, a decade ago, the country had just 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed. That’s nothing. For reference, it’s actually less than is currently installed in the city of San Antonio. By the end of 2016, China had increased its solar PV capacity by nearly 800 times, with more than 77 gigawatts currently installed.

China’s solar dominance is only going to keep growing, according to the IEA report. As Dr. Paolo Frankl, one of the lead authors on the report, said on a call to reporters, “In one year, China will install the equivalent of the total history of solar development in Germany.”

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European Parliament: Say No to Fossil Fuel Lobbying at International Climate Talks

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 11:40
EU Flag

The European Parliament has agreed to push to curb the access of fossil fuel lobbyists at international climate negotiations.

MEPs today voted for a motion that gives a European Parliament delegation to the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings license to encourage countries to limit the access of organisations that could dampen the ambition of the process.

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Welfare Kings? Study Finds Half of Current Oil Production Unprofitable Without Government Handouts

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 20:03
Oil derrick with 'welfare' spelled on Scrabble tiles

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Energy found that 50 percent of current oil production in America would be unprofitable if not for government subsidies. The study, performed by researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute and Earth Track, Inc., found that, at prices of $50 per barrel, light oil produced by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) was heavily dependent on subsidies.

In fact, forty percent of the Permian basin in Texas would be economically unviable without subsidies, and for the home of Bakken crude production, Williston Basin, that number jumps to 59 percent, according to the researchers.

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Alaskans Push U.S. Government to Investigate B.C.’s Border Mines

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 19:42
Red Chris Mine by Garth Lenz|DeSmog Canada

Fish and wildlife in Alaska’s major watersheds are threatened by six British Columbia mines close to the Alaska border, according to a new petition that asks U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to investigate the threat of acid-mine drainage, heavy metals pollution and the possibility of catastrophic dam failure originating in the Canadian province.

The formal petition, organized by a coalition of Alaskan tribal governments and conservation groups, calls for the International Joint Commission to investigate threats from B.C. mines that will continue to hang over the watersheds for centuries after their closure.

“It’s a very urgent issue and it’s important to a lot of people and their families,” Kenta Tsuda of Earthjustice, a signatory of the petition, told DeSmog Canada. “Their communities are at risk.”

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Scotland Promises to Ban Fracking 'Indefinitely'

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 16:38
A frack pad

The Scottish government has said fracking is set to be permanently banned following “overwhelming” public support for outlawing the controversial process, it was announced today.

Unlike in England, fracking has been under a temporary halt in Scotland since 2015, and an extensive public consultation on its long-term future was carried out earlier this year.

Speaking to members of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, the Scottish environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said the ban should be extended “indefinitely” and that “the Scottish Government will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland”.

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Sean Spicer's Next Act? Fracking Industry's Chosen Keynote Speaker

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 20:19
Sean Spicer at Shale Insight 2017

Sean Spicer might be among the least trusted public figures in the U.S.

After he lost his job as White House press secretary, all five major TV news networks — including both Fox News and CNN, as well as CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News — declined to hire Spicer as a paid contributor, with network insiders reportedly telling NBC News, Spicer had a “lack of credibility.”

His attempt to rehabilitate his reputation with a September 17 Emmys appearance earned him a massive backlash.

Less than two weeks later, Spicer made another, somewhat less-reported public appearance — as the keynote for the Marcellus Shale Coalition's 2017 Shale Insight conference.

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Rail Industry Slow on Safety Upgrade for Fleets Carrying Oil and Ethanol

Sun, 10/01/2017 - 13:52
DOT 117 tank cars

A new government report finds that only 9 percent of all the rail tank cars transporting flammable liquids last year met the stricter safety requirements of regulations set in 2015, which were meant to reduce oil train explosions and accidents. This confirms what DeSmog reported last year showing that the oil and rail industries were not moving to aggressively upgrade the fleet to the higher safety standards. Of course, the regulations gave them over a decade to make the upgrades and provided little incentive for industry to move faster.

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