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'Clean Energy Is a Fundamental Civil Right': Major Campaign to Expand Access to Solar

Sat, 01/13/2018 - 12:03
Worker installing solar panels

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

The NAACP is launching a major environmental justice campaign on January 13 to mark the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.

The “Solar Equity Initiative” aims to provide solar job skills training to 100 individuals, install solar panels on more than 30 homes and community centers in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, and strengthen equity in solar access policies in at least five states.

Tags: environmental justiceNAACPMartin Luther King Jr. Day
Categories: News

Unfractured: A Documentary on Activism, Family and the Fight Against Fracking

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 21:10
Sandra Steingraber in Unfractured

Unfractured, the new documentary about environmental activist and ecologist Dr. Sandra Steingraber, is primarily about the personal sacrifices made by individuals like Steingraber while fighting for environmental causes and future generations.

“I try to tell my kids, 'Mom is on the job,'” Steingraber explains. “That is my job. To protect you and to plan for your future.” However, as Steingraber makes clear elsewhere in the film, we learn the reality: “It is not possible to do it all.”

While the documentary primarily follows the battle against fracking in New York, Steingraber also travels to Romania to meet with anti-fracking protesters there and then returns to New York to join efforts to stop natural gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns.

Tags: fracking banSandra Steingraberwe are seneca lake
Categories: News

EPA Considering Rule Change to Allow Teenagers to Handle Highly Toxic Chemicals

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 21:39
pesticide warning sign in park

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking aim at two rules designed to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals by workers under the age of 18. The agency has filed notices with the federal register of its intent to either tweak or outright eliminate these protections for underage workers.

Tags: PesticidechemicalsToxicScott PruittEPAEnvironmental Protection AgencySafetyhealth
Categories: News

Will Mainstream Media be Duped in 2018 by Climate Denial Spin Doctors?

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 14:49

Will 2018 be the year that mainstream media is not duped by professional spin doctors and fake experts paid to downplay and deny the realities of climate change?

Call me cynical, but after more than a decade of research and writing into the role big fossil fuel companies have played in sponsoring coordinated attacks on climate science with public relations spin, I remain unconvinced we won’t see a resurgence in climate denial.

Later this year, a major update on the state of climate change research - the impacts, solutions, scientific underpinnings, etc. - will be released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Tags: IPCC
Categories: News

New York City Will Divest Pension Funds from Fossil Fuel Companies

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 23:44
Simulation showing flooding in New York City

Today New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a goal to divest New York City’s pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years. This makes New York the first major American city to announce such a move.

According to a statement, the city’s five pension funds have approximately $5 billion invested in over 190 fossil fuel companies.

“New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major U.S. city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” said Mayor de Blasio. “At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits.”

Tags: new york cityfossil fuel divestmentBill de BlasioNew York Attorney General Eric SchneidermanExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)bpRoyal Dutch ShellconocophillipsChevron (NYSE: CVX)
Categories: News

Port of Vancouver Votes to End Lease for West Coast Oil-by-Rail Terminal

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 19:25
Port of Vancouver, Washington

This week, three port commissioners in Vancouver, Washington, put another nail in the coffin for Vancouver Energy's proposed crude-by-rail facility when the commission voted to not renew the company's lease if the project did not have all required permits and licenses by March 31. This move is expected to effectively end the project.

Momentum for this vote began in November when Don Orange joined the port commission after a resounding victory against a challenger who was heavily funded by the oil industry. Orange, on the other hand, promised to oppose Vancouver Energy's planned construction of the largest oil-by-rail facility in the country.

Tags: oil by railPort of VancouverAmerican Petroleum InstituteMaineOregonwashington state
Categories: News

2017 Weather and Climate Disasters Cost US Record $306 Billion

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 23:41
LA Firefighting helicopter drops water on a burning home near Burbank, CA in 2017

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

2017, one of the hottest years in modern history, was also an extremely costly year. According to a new reportfrom the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion, with total costs of approximately $306 billion—a new U.S. annual record.”

The federal agency listed several noteworthy events, including the wildfires in the west, with total costs of $18 billion, tripling the previous U.S. annual wildfire cost record.

Tags: extreme weatherNOAAclimate change scienceTrump Administration
Categories: News

Anti-Regulation Law, Favored by Kochs, Used to Sue Wisconsin Education Agency

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 21:39
Caricature of Koch brothers and Gov. Scott Walker

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) has sued Wisconsin State Superintendent Tony Evers for what it alleges was a state education agency's violation of an anti-regulatory law — long pushed by the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers — known as the REINS Act.

Wisconsin's version of REINS, or Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny, is a piece of legislation heavily lobbied and advocated in favor of for over half a decade by Americans for Prosperity, a policy and electioneering advocacy front group founded and funded by the Koch Family Foundations and Koch Industries. The bill, which has a federal equivalent in Congress, has long been seen as the crown jewel of the Koch network. It essentially gives legislative bodies full veto power over regulations, including proposed environmental safeguards, which have been proposed by executive agencies — even when those regulations are mandated by laws legislatures have passed.

WILL's November 20 lawsuit, if successful, would be the first time the REINS Act is used to halt a proposed regulation. Tags: Lester PinesALECamerican legislative exchange councilSteve HaugaardSouth DakotaHeartland InstituteREINS ActWMCus chamber of commerceWisconsin Manufacturers and CommerceBradley FoundationAmericans for ProsperityKoch Family FoundationsWisconsin Supreme CourtWisconsin Department of Public InstructionRegulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny ActwisconsinKoch brothersKochDavid KochCharles KochWisconsin Institute for Law & LibertyTony Evers

Categories: News

Trump's Offshore Oil Drilling Plans Ignore the Lessons of BP Deepwater Horizon Spill

Sat, 01/06/2018 - 14:00
Boat skimming oil in the Gulf of Mexico during Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill

By Donald Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

The Trump administration is proposing to ease regulations that were adopted to make offshore oil and gas drilling operations safer after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. This event was the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Eleven workers died in the explosion and sinking of the oil rig, and more than 4 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists have estimated that the spill caused more than US$17 billion in damages to natural resources.

I served on the bipartisan National Commission that investigated the causes of this epic blowout. We spent six months assessing what went wrong on the Deepwater Horizon and the effectiveness of the spill response, conducting our own investigations and hearing testimony from dozens of expert witnesses.

Tags: BP oil spillNational Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drillingoffshore drillingTrump Administrationdeepwater horizon
Categories: News

Republicans Pushing Oil-Friendly Tax Bill Received Significant Donations from BP Employees

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 13:01
BP sign

Several top Republican lawmakers behind the new US tax bill received donations from oil giant BP’s employee political action committee (PAC), data shows. The bill gives big corporations in America a hefty tax break and opens up oil drilling in the Arctic.

Official documents from the Federal Election Committee and data from The Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit and nonpartisan research group which tracks the effects of lobbying on elections and is also known as Open Secrets, show the BP employee PAC financed some of the key lawmakers sponsoring the bill adopted at the beginning of December.

PAC donations are part of a wider lobbying strategy and in this instance BP’s staff are supporting lawmakers with a questionable record on climate change. 

Tags: bpBP employee PACUS tax billPaul RyanMitch McConnellLisa Murkowskijim inhofeKevin Brady
Categories: News

Exclusive: Global Sea Level Data Agency Hits Back After Unfounded Attacks from Breitbart and Climate Science Deniers

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 06:18

A British government-backed research project that co-ordinates data from tide gauges around the world has hit back at climate science deniers who wrongly accused their scientists of faking findings.

The Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level, based in Liverpool at the National Oceanography Centre, dismissed the claims made by two Australia-based scientists who both reject the well-established links between greenhouse gas emissions from human activity and global warming.

The claims gained wider attention after Breitbart’s James Delingpole, a climate science denier, screamed it was certain evidence PSMSL had been “caught red-handed tampering with raw data in order to exaggerate sea level rise.”

PSMSL said despite the claims, tide gauges and satellites showed that sea levels around the globe were rising and the rate of rise had increased in recent decades. Recent adjustments to the tide gauge data under scrutiny, in Yemen, had actually resulted in a decrease in the rate of sea level change, a spokesperson said.

Tags: psmslPermanent Service for Mean Sea LevelbreitbartJames DelingpolePrincipia Scientific InternationalPSIomicsalbert parkeralberto borettiCliff Ollier
Categories: News

Concerned Citizens in Cancer Alley Vow to Ramp up Battle Against Industrial Pollution in 2018

Thu, 01/04/2018 - 22:09
Robert Taylor next to an EPA air monitor

This past year in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish, a small group of residents began organizing their community to compel the state to protect them against an invisible menace: the air they breathe. Their parish, the Louisiana equivalent of a county, is situated in what’s known as Cancer Alley, an industrial corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that hosts more than 100 petrochemical factories.

At the helm of the battle is the Concerned Citizens of St. John, a diverse group of parish residents pushing back against the area’s historically bad — and worsening — industrial pollution. “One thing we all have in common is a desire for clean air,” the group’s founder, Robert Taylor, told me. Next year, the burgeoning group plans to get political and broaden its reach by banding together with similar groups in the region.

Tags: environmental justicecancer alleyLouisianaConcerned Citizens of St. John
Categories: News

Pennsylvania Suspends Mariner East 2 Pipeline Construction, Citing Sunoco's "Egregious and Willful" Violations

Wed, 01/03/2018 - 20:31

Pennsylvania today suspended permits for Sunoco Pipeline, LP's $2.5 billion Mariner East 2 pipeline project, after finding that the company committed “egregious and willful violations” of state laws.

The order directs Sunoco, a subsidiary of Dakota Access Pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners, to stop Mariner East II construction activities across Pennsylvania. The 306-mile pipeline project would carry 275,000 barrels a day of butane, propane and other liquid fossil fuels from Ohio and West Virginia to the Atlantic coast for export.

“Suspension of the permits described,” the order states, “is necessary to correct the egregious and willful violations described herein.”

Tags: Mariner East IIMariner East 2pipelineNatural Gas Liquidsplasticsexportsuspendedstoppedconstructionorderwillfulegregious
Categories: News

Mexico's Standing Rock? Sempra, TransCanada Face Indigenous Pipeline Resistance South of Border

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 20:44
A group of Yaqui people in a pavilion

Since Mexico privatized its oil and gas resources in 2013, border-crossing pipelines including those owned by Sempra Energy and TransCanada have come under intense scrutiny and legal challenges, particularly from Indigenous peoples.

Opening up the spigot for U.S. companies to sell oil and gas into Mexico was a top priority for the Obama State Department under Hillary Clinton.

Mexico is now facing its own Standing Rock-like moment as the Yaqui Tribe challenges Sempra Energy's Agua Prieta pipeline between Arizona and the Mexican state of Senora. The Yaquis in the village of Loma de Bacum claim that the Mexican government has failed to consult with them adequately, as required by Mexican law.

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Categories: News

Oil and Gas Industry's 2017 Suing Spree Could Set Speech-Chilling Precedents

Tue, 01/02/2018 - 18:07
Dimock, Pennsylvania resident Ray Kemble

In 2017, while the Trump administration absorbed media attention with its cries of “fake news,” the oil and gas industry was busy launching private legal actions across the U.S., attacking critics who presented information and opinions to the public.

Those lesser-noticed legal maneuvers, if successful in 2018, could create chilling new precedents, keeping important facts away from the public eye and making it more expensive and risky to talk about the fossil fuel industry's real and potential impacts on human health and the air, land, and water.

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12505'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: defamationfrackingoil and gaslawsuitprecedentsDimockDakota Access PipelineDAPLEnergy Transfer PartnersACLUAmerican Civil Liberties Unionenvironmental defense fundRay Kemblegreenpeace
Categories: News

Why Americans Will Never Agree on Oil Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Sat, 12/30/2017 - 13:39
Mountains and meadows in the Arctic National Wildlife RefugeBy Scott L. Montgomery, University of Washington

After decades of bitter struggle, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge seems on the verge of being opened to the oil industry. The consensus tax bill Republicans recently passed retains this measure, which was added to gain the key vote of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

This bill, however, stands no chance of being the final word. ANWR has been called America’s Serengeti and the last petroleum frontier, terms I’ve seen used over more than a decade studying this area and the politics around it. But even these titles merely hint at the multifold conflict ANWR represents — spanning politics, economics, culture and philosophy.

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12477'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: ANWRarcticOil Drillingcaribou
Categories: News

Trump and the Rail Industry Had a Great First Year Together

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 21:13
Oil tank cars

The election of Donald Trump was a big win for the oil and rail industries. Shortly after the election, Edward Hamberger, CEO of the trade group the Association of American Railroads, addressed a conference in New York City, noting that “the policy landscape in Washington, D.C., dramatically shifted on Election Day.”

The trade publication Railway Age also reported Hamberger saying that “Washington leaders can be powerful change agents in fixing a broken regulatory system.”

Of course when the top rail lobbyist talks about “fixing” a broken regulatory system, what he means is moving to a system where the rail industry regulates itself — which is why the rail industry is so fond of President Trump. And why the American public should worry.

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12481'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: oil-by-railTrump Administrationperformance based regulationsLac Megantic
Categories: News

Exxon Mobil’s About-Face on Climate Disclosure

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 13:26
ExxonMobil protesters hold signs

By Paul Griffin, University of California, Davis

Exxon Mobil Corp. has vowed to do a better job in disclosing the risks it faces from climate change starting “in the near future” after bucking pressure to do that for years.

Until now, shareholders and bondholders had no choice but to rely on informed guesswork by outsiders to divine how the nation’s largest fossil fuel company was retooling for the future — a time when taxes, regulations and competition from renewable energy and other new technology alternatives are likely to thin consumers’ demand for its products.

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12486'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: #ExxonKnewExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Categories: News

FERC, Which Rejected 2 Gas Pipelines Out of 400 Since 1999, to Review Approval Policy

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 11:56
Beyond Extreme Energy protesters outside the FERC headquarters

The new chairman for the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Kevin McIntyre, says the agency plans to review its permitting process and procedures for natural gas pipelines.

FERC has come under fire for serving as a “rubber stamp” for these pipelines, which these days mostly carry gas obtained via the horizontal drilling and injection technique known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). The agency has rejected only two out of the approximately 400 pipeline applications received since 1999, when it last updated its gas pipeline review process. That's according to a report published in November by Susan Tierney, currently employed by economic consulting firm Analysis Group and former member of the Obama-era Department of Energy's Natural Gas Subcommittee.

“1999 was quite a while ago, particularly in the natural gas pipeline area. So much has changed. So much has changed in our entire industry, of course, since then,” McIntyre told reporters at a December 21 FERC meeting, according to The Hill. “But it would be hard to find an area that has changed more than natural gas and our pipeline industry.”

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12479'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: FERCNRDCMarcellus shaleUtica ShaleNatural Resources Defense CouncilFederal Energy Regulatory Commissionpipelinesnatural gasfrackinghydraulic fracturingKevin McIntyre
Categories: News

2017 in Photos: Capturing the Causes and Impacts of Climate Change

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 11:01
A dance troop marches past a Shell refinery in Norco, Louisiana's annual Christmas parade

The year 2017 was, in many ways, stormy. It brought more storms super-sized due to global warming and more people, including scientists, taking to the streets in response to the political climate.

This year for DeSmog I continued documenting a range of issues related to climate change, from extreme weather enhanced by it to the expanding industrial landscape contributing to it. 

var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '12470'; [Reuse options] Click here for reuse options! Tags: year in reviewHurricane Harveyenvironmental justiceextreme weatherU.S. Sen. Bill CassidyDenkaHilton KelleyPort Arthur
Categories: News