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The Energy Equality Coalition's Koch-Fueled Attack on the Federal Electric Car Tax Credit

Sat, 12/23/2017 - 11:58
Electric car with tax credit form

The federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit has survived House and Senate negotiations and will not be repealed by Congress’s tax reform bill. The fate of the $7,500 tax credit had been uncertain after House Republicans voted to eliminate the financial incentive in their version of the tax bill.

The credit, which was adopted as part of the 2009 stimulus bill and which has strong bipartisan roots, has come under a renewed series of attacks in recent months, including from groups with close ties to the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel–funded think tanks and front groups.

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Rail Industry Still Fighting Safety Fixes That Would Have Saved Hundreds of Lives

Fri, 12/22/2017 - 20:16
Fatal Philadelphia Amtrak crash in 2015

The latest fatal Amtrak accident in Washington state was another reminder of the the reality of the cost-benefit approach to regulating safety.

When the rail industry and its lobbyists are able to argue against implementing proven safety technology because they don’t want to pay for it — that is, for the sake of higher profits — preventable accidents will continue to happen. 

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Will Canada’s Latest Boom in Tar Sands Oil Mean Another Boom for Oil-by-Rail?

Thu, 12/21/2017 - 19:14
Oil by rail accident, with tank cars burning, near Gogama, Canada in 2015

Nothing seems able to derail the rise in Canadian tar sands oil production. Low prices, canceled pipelines, climate realities, a major oil company announcing it will no longer develop heavy oils, divestment, and now even refusals to insure tar sands pipelines have all certainly slowed production, but it is still poised for significant growth over the next several years.

In March an analyst for GMP FirstEnergy commented, “It's hard to imagine a scenario where oilsands production would go down.”

But with pipelines to U.S. refineries and ports running at or near capacity from Canada, it's hard to imagine all that heavy Canadian oil going anywhere without the help of the rail industry.

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US Bank Declares End to Oil and Gas Pipeline Loans—Then Quietly Joins $4B Deal with Dakota Access Owner

Wed, 12/20/2017 - 16:49
US Bank logo

At a shareholder meeting this past spring, U.S. Bank announced it would be the first large American bank to completely stop issuing loans for oil and gas pipeline construction projects.

Environmental groups, indigenous activists, and divestment advocates hailed U.S. Bank's announcement as a triumph.

Yet that triumph — and the bank's commitment — seems less sure with the news that U.S. Bank has entered into a new $4 billion loan deal with the company building the contentious Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL).

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A 12-Year-Old Bet on Global Warming Is About to Pay Out

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 19:11
Map from 2005 showing global warming

A climate change modeler who bet two Russian solar physicists $10,000 that the world would get warmer appears to have easily won the 2005 wager with less than two weeks to go.

British scientist James Annan says he is “confident” that he has won his bet with the Russian pair Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev.

Agreed 12 years ago, Annan bet the Russians that the six years between 2012 and 2017 would be warmer than the six years between 1998 and 2003.

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Pruitt’s Plan to Debate Climate Science Paused as Science Confirms Human Link to Extreme Weather

Tue, 12/19/2017 - 10:56
Chairs floating in Hurricane Harvey floodwaters in Houston, Texas

The same week that a slew of new scientific reports confirmed just how much humans are changing the climate, and in turn, the rest of the planet, Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt’s plans for a “Red Team, Blue Team” debate of this very same science were put on hold.

The military-style exercise that would falsely pit the overwhelming majority of climate scientists against a handful of non-experts is an eight-year-old talking point of the notorious climate-denying think tank the Heartland Institute (which is likely not surprised by this development). Meanwhile, last week in New Orleans, several groups of prominent climate scientists shared their latest findings at the world's largest gathering of Earth and planetary scientists. The roughly 25,000 attendees of the American Geophysical Union annual meeting included scientific leaders from academia, government, and the private sector.

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With Tribal Blessing, Louisiana Activist Buys Land in Path of Proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline

Mon, 12/18/2017 - 03:51
Cherri Foytlin at the entrance to land in the path of the Bayou Bridge pipeline

On December 16 anti-pipeline activists calling themselves water protectors gathered in Rayne, Louisiana, on land located along the proposed route of the Bayou Bridge pipeline. The gathering occurred two days after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality granted Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) the last permit needed to build the pipeline.

The proposed pipeline would transport crude oil obtained via hydraulic fracturing (fracking) from St. Charles to St. James, Louisiana, and cross the Atchafalaya Basin, a national heritage area that is America’s largest natural swamp.

About 35 people took part in a ceremony on land that Cherri Foytlin, director of Bold Louisiana, recently bought for Louisiana Rise, an advocacy group she founded that focuses on renewable energy and a just transition. During the ceremony Foytlin requested and was granted a blessing and permission from the Atakapa-Ishak Nation to use the land that once belonged to the tribe. At the gathering the water protectors strengthened their resolve to stop the pipeline, which would be the final leg of ETP’s Dakota Access pipeline  carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana.

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Definers Public Affairs, Group Known for Stalking And Harassing Climate Advocates, Hired By EPA To Run Media War Room

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 03:54
Joe Pounder, president of Definers Corp.

A Republican-aligned research group with links to a campaign to stalk and intimidate environmental groups, journalists and campaigners has been handed a $120,000 contract to help the EPA shape its media coverage.

Virginia-based Definers Public Affairs was given the 12-month “no bid” contract to provide “news analysis and brief service” to the EPA, as reported by Mother Jones.

Definers is the corporate arm of America Rising LLC, America Rising PAC and its opposition research and tracking service, America Rising Squared – known as AR2.

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Judge Sides with Big Oil in Maine Pipeline Case

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 11:55
Crude oil sign in marsh next to Maine's Sebago Lake

In a case that has national ramifications, a federal judge has ruled against the city of South Portland, Maine, in its latest effort to stop the coastal town from becoming a destination for Canadian tar sands oil.  The case centers around an existing pipeline owned by oil companies ExxonMobil, Shell, and Suncor.

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Why Has One of the World's Biggest Funders of Environmental Conservation Also Given $4 Million to a Climate Denial Group?

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 00:26
Kathleen Hartnett White

The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the world’s biggest funders of environmental conservation groups, has given almost $5 million since 2011 to an organization that rejects the overwhelming evidence that human-caused climate change is dangerous, DeSmog has found.

Between 2011 and 2015, financial returns show the Pew Charitable Trusts gave $4.7 million to the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), while giving millions more to dozens of worthy conservation causes.

Kathleen Hartnett White, who is President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, heads TPPF’s Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment.

Hartnett White, who hopes to chair the influential federal council, also rejects the science linking fossil fuel burning to dangerous climate change.

Some of the groups that have received major grants from Pew have been outspoken in their criticisms of Hartnett White, describing her as a “climate change denier” who was unfit for the role. The Pew Charitable Trusts confirmed the grants, but said they were unrelated to work on climate change.

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Climate Science Deniers and Brexit Campaigners Meet Under Banner of Free Trade

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 08:00
Ridley speaks at IFT Global Trade Summit

Brexit cheerleader Daniel Hannan has been busy since last June’s referendum set the clock ticking on his current job as a Member of the European Parliament.

His latest venture is the Institute for Free Trade, a “private, not-for-profit, non-partisan research foundation”, launched at the Foreign Office no less. The group “sees Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union as a unique opportunity to revitalise the world trading system” – a somewhat optimistic outlook that goes against the grain of what most experts expect.

The IFT’s inaugural Global Trade Summit, held in the heart of London in October, brought together prominent government ministers, lobbyists, free market idealogues, and climate science deniers from both sides of the pond.

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In the Shadow of Honest Journalism: GateHouse Media Publishes Atrocious Anti-Wind Article Devoid of Scientific Evidence

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 00:36

This week, Gatehouse Media published a long-form investigative report called “In the Shadow of Wind Farms” claiming that wind energy has caused negative health effects for residents living near wind turbines — a claim that flies in the face of actual science.

GateHouse Media’s anti-wind article leans almost entirely on anecdotal evidence compiled during its six-month long project that included interviews with dozens of people who claim negative outcomes from living near wind farms.

Meanwhile, in the realm of scientific facts, the American Wind Energy Alliance, the main trade group representing the wind power industry, points to 25 scientific reviews that document the safety of wind farms for human health and the environment.

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Study: Babies With Low Birth Weights More Likely Near Pennsylvania Fracking Sites

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 22:45

A new study published in the journal Science Advances has concluded that babies born within two miles of sites of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for natural gas in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale basin are more likely to have low birth weights.

Researchers from Princeton, the University of Chicago, and UCLA analyzed a decade of Pennsylvania birth data from 2004 to 2013 — reviewing 1.1 million birth certificates — and concluded that those babies born to mothers living in close proximity to fracking sites are more likely to weigh under 5.5 pounds at birth. Specifically, the study concluded that babies born within a kilometer (just over half a mile) of fracking sites are 25 percent more at risk of low birth weights, which comes with other health effects.

“While we know pollution from hydraulic fracturing impacts our health, we do not yet know where that pollution is coming from — from the air or water, from chemicals onsite, or an increase in traffic,” said UCLA researcher Katherine Meckel in a press release

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Who’s Behind A Letter Asking Congress To End The Wind Production Tax Credit?

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 18:35

By Dave Anderson, crossposted from Energy and Policy Institute

A new letter asking Congress to end the wind production tax credit has ties to the Institute for Energy Research, a group that has received funding from the fossil fuel and utility industry and is a close ally of the Trump administration.

The Energy and Policy Institute downloaded a PDF of the letter from, an anti-wind website run by the New Hampshire-based Lisa Linowes. A look at the “Document Properties” seemed to identify “Chris Warren” as the “Author” of the file:

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UK Government Won’t Say Why Theresa May’s Special Advisors Met with a Koch-Founded Think Tank

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 08:00
UK government advisors meet with the Cato Institute

Two of Prime Minister Theresa May’s special advisers met with a libertarian US think tank founded by climate science denial funder Charles Koch last winter, but Number 10 Downing Street will not say why.

The failure to disclose the details of the meetings with the Cato Institute raises questions about whether there is a loophole regarding disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act.

DeSmog UK can reveal that on February 16 special advisors Chris Brannigan and Jimmy McLoughlin attended a lunch hosted at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. According to the think tank, trade issues were discussed.

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How Divesting of Fossil Fuels Could Help Save the Planet

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 18:36
Divest from fossil fuel light sign in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2014

By Olaf WeberTruzaar Dordi, and Vasundhara Saravade of the University of Waterloo.

Recently, a number of institutional investors, including Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec in Canada and Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, announced their intent to reduce their exposure in investments linked to fossil fuels.

The announcements show that investors withdraw their funds to either mitigate financial risks or for ethical reasons. But the question remains whether divestment and divestment announcements have a financial impact on the share price of fossil fuel companies.

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Climate Denial Campaigner Hired by Lords’ Office Fails to Declare Lobbying Interest

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 08:00
John Constable of GWPF

A leading lobbyist for a climate science denial campaign group has unfettered access to UK lawmakers by being registered as a “staff” member of an associated Lord, but does not declare his role in the official register of interest.

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ALEC, Corporate-Funded Bill Mill, Considers Model State Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protesters

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 20:19
Protesters march with a banner against the Dakota Access pipeline

At its recent States & Nation Policy Summit, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that connects state legislators with corporations and creates templates for state legislation, voted on a model bill calling for the crack down and potential criminalization of those protesting U.S. oil and gas pipeline infrastructure.

Dubbed the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, the model legislation states in its preamble that it draws inspiration from two bills passed in the Oklahoma Legislature in 2017. Those bills, House Bill 1123 and House Bill 2128, offered both criminal and civil penalties which would apply to protests happening at pipeline sites. Critics viewed these bills as an outgrowth of the heavy-handed law enforcement reaction to protests of the Dakota Access pipeline.

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Why Al Gore Fears Donald Trump – But Remains Optimistic

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:23
Al Gore

Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement – making America the only country on earth to opt out of the climate accord. Al Gore is captured in the new film An Inconvenient Sequel looking distressed at the election of Trump in 2016. Here, one of the film's directors tells The Ecologist’s Brendan Montague how Gore made it clear that he fears Trump is a danger to our planet.

Gore features in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power – which is released on DVD on 11 December – and follows a decade after his Oscar winning blockbuster An Inconvenient Truth. The film shows Gore’s increasing despondency during 2016 as Trump successfully campaigns for the presidency.

The latest documentary is directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, who spent almost two years filming and speaking with Gore – including behind the scenes during the Conference of the Parties negotiations held in Paris at the end of 2015. 

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Former Environment Secretary Promotes Post-Brexit ‘Special Relationship’ with US Climate Science Deniers

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:00
Owen Paterson, Myron Ebell, and Jim Inhofe all meet in D.C.

Former environment secretary Owen Paterson made the rounds with some of the top climate science deniers on a tour of the US this autumn to promote a “special relationship” post-Brexit.

The Shropshire MP travelled to Washington D.C. in October, DeSmog UK can reveal, where he met with infamous climate science deniers Lamar Smith, James Inhofe, and Myron Ebell. He also gave speeches at both the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the Heritage Foundation – two libertarian think tanks known for promoting climate science denial and working against environmental regulations.

Paterson’s visits are the latest in a string of meetings between pro-Brexit UK politicians (such as international trade secretary Liam Fox) and US climate science denial groups.

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