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Exxon’s Conspiracy Charges Aim To Derail Climate Lawsuits

February 20, 2018 - 9:28am

by David Halperin, crossposted from Republic Report

Oil giant ExxonMobil is engaged in unprecedented efforts to sue and harass in court the very people who are investigating and suing the company over global warming. Faced with determined efforts by states and localities to hold it and other fossil fuel companies accountable for contributing to, and concealing the evidence of, climate change, Exxon is crying foul, contending that it’s the victim of politically- and financially-motivated conspiracies.

But in reality there are no improper schemes behind the cases against Exxon. Instead, what’s troubling is an apparent effort by Exxon, one of the world’s wealthiest corporations, and its powerhouse corporate lawyers, to avoid a courtroom reckoning by making specious legal arguments and outspending their foes in the legal arena.

Tags: ExxonKnewclimate liabilityclimate change lawsuitExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM)

In Year of Trump, Climate Science Denial Group GWPF sees Membership Income Double

February 19, 2018 - 10:22am

The UK’s main climate science denier thinktank has seen its income from membership fees double over the last year, its latest accounts show.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has consistently argued against the climate science consensus and was set-up by former Chancellor Nigel Lawson to combat what it describes as “extremely damaging and harmful policies” designed to mitigate climate change.

GWPF’s latest accounts published on Companies House last week show a rise in the income generated from membership fees from £5,479 in 2016 to £11,937 in 2017.

Donations were also reported to have increased from £257,044 in 2016 to £284,141 last year — raising the foundation’s total funds to £743,959.

Tags: Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)GWPFSir Nicholas Bonsor

Safety Officials Order Partial Shutdown of Sabine Pass LNG Export Facility After Discovering 10-Year History of Leaks

February 18, 2018 - 8:36am

Sabine Pass, for now the only liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in the country, has reportedly been experiencing safety issues for the past decade, and yet federal safety officials were only informed of this history while investigating the terminal's latest leak in January. Owned by Cheniere Energy, Sabine Pass is located on the Gulf Coast on the border of Texas and Louisiana.

Tags: Sabine PassCheniereLNGPHMSAliquefied natural gas exportsSafety

Is This New Tar Sands Technology a Game Changer for Exporting Canada's Bitumen?

February 18, 2018 - 8:02am

A new technology has the potential to transform the transportation of tars sands oil. Right now, the already thick and slow-flowing oil, known as bitumen, has to be diluted with a super-light petroleum product, usually natural gas condensate, in order for it to flow through a pipeline or into a rail tank car. 

However, scientists at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering inadvertently found a way to make tar sands oil even more viscous, turning it into “self-sealing pellets” that could potentially simplify its transport.

Tags: tar sands oiloil by railcanadaalberta tar sandstar sands spillsdiluted bitumen

Wind Farms Are Hardly the Bird Slayers They’re Made out to Be. Here’s Why.

February 17, 2018 - 10:10am
By Simon Chapman, University of Sydney

People who oppose wind farms often claim wind turbine blades kill large numbers of birds, often referring to them as “bird choppers”. And claims of dangers to iconic or rare birds, especially raptors, have attracted a lot of attention.

Wind turbine blades do indeed kill birds and bats, but their contribution to total bird deaths is extremely low, as these three studies show.

Tags: anti-windwind farmsfossil fuelsmigratory birds

West Virginia Candidate Ousted From Hearing for Reading Industry Donors. But Bill She Opposed Just Passed in House.

February 16, 2018 - 6:03am

On Friday, February 9, Lissa Lucas — a Democratic Party candidate for West Virginia's House of Delegates — was forcibly removed from a Senate hearing for calling out how many thousands of dollars legislators backing a pro-oil and gas industry bill have received from that very industry.

The video of Lucas's public comment and removal has gone viral and served as a launching pad for her campaign, which has raised more than $46,000 since the incident. Previously, she had raised just over $4,000. Coincidentally, Lucas supports a publicly funded campaign finance system. 

The bill (HB 4268) she opposed, however, has passed in the West Virginia House of Delegates.

That law, “forced pooling” legislation which makes it easier for the oil and gas industry to obtain mineral rights from private landowners as a precursor to drilling, has the support of the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. It enables oil and gas companies to perform more hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) on private land in the state by mandating that, rather than securing land lease contracts from all landowners, companies only need 75 percent of those living in an area to sign leases and are granted the remaining 25 percent by default.

Tags: Appalachian Ethane Storage Hub Study ActDow ChemicalMonsantoExxonMobilchevronWanhua Chemicalfrackinghydraulic fracturingForced PoolingCo-Tenancywest virginiaAppalachian Storage HubAmerican Chemistry CouncilJoe ManchinJim JusticeDepartment of Energy

In Trump's First Year, EPA Is Fining Polluters 49 Percent Less

February 15, 2018 - 3:29pm

The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency has seen a measurable difference in the way the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been holding polluters accountable compared to the past 25 years. Under Scott Pruitt, the EPA has collected, on average, 49 percent less in civil penalties against violators of federal environmental laws than in the first year of the previous three administrations, according to a new report from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project.

“President Trump’s dismantling of the EPA means violators are less likely to be caught, making illegal pollution cheaper,” said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former director of EPA’s Office of Civil Enforcement. “The president’s ‘law and order’ agenda apparently wasn’t intended for fossil fuel companies and other big polluters.”

Tags: Donald TrumpScott PruittUS Environmental Protection AgencyTrump Administration

FERC Commissioner Rob Powelson Spent Much of His First Months in Office Meeting With the Fossil Fuel Industry

February 15, 2018 - 11:28am

In his first few months at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), commissioner Rob Powelson scheduled the great majority of his meetings with fossil fuel energy companies and utilities, his work calendar shows. The calendar, obtained by DeSmog through an open records request, can be viewed below.

Nominated to FERC by President Trump, Powelson began serving on the commission last August. He previously served on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Tags: federal energy regulatory commission (FERC)Rob PowelsonAmerican Petroleum InstituteJordan Cove LNG

Climate Denier Tim Ball: Trump Approved, But Not Credible Enough To Stand Accountable For Libel

February 14, 2018 - 7:03pm

It was gratifying, today, to see a senior justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia denounce the professional “climate change sceptic” Dr. Tim Ball as incompetent, inattentive and, perhaps, indifferent to the truth.

But it was an outrage to see the same judge let Ball so casually off the hook, by dismissing a libel action that had been brought by University of Victoria climate scientist and B.C. Green Party leader Dr. Andrew Weaver.

Tags: tim ballandrew weaverclimate lawsuitlibel suit

Judge Dismisses Libel Claim, Climate 'Sceptic' Tim Ball Not Credible Enough To Take Seriously

February 14, 2018 - 4:54pm

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has dismissed a libel action against “climate change sceptic” Dr. Tim Ball on the basis that Ball’s writing is not sufficiently credible to inflict damage on the reputation of a professional climate scientist.

The libel suit was launched in 2011 by Canadian climate scientist (and now leader of the British Columbia Green Party) Andrew Weaver in protest against an article that Ball had written for a website called Canada Free Press (“Corruption of Climate Science Has Created 30 Lost Years,” Jan 10, 2011). The article belittled Weaver’s credentials, challenged his competence as a scientist and Professor at the University of Victoria and accused him of being part of a politically corrupted campaign to overstate the dangers of climate change.

Tags: tim ballandrew weaverlibel suitclimate lawsuit

Energy CEO Says Fracking Build-out in New York Not Over, Wants Regulators to 'Lay Down and Approve Every Pipeline'

February 13, 2018 - 6:27pm

At a pipeline industry conference in Pittsburgh on January 31, Robert G. Phillips, CEO and President of Crestwood Equity Partners, offered an unusually candid perspective on pipelines, fracking, environmental regulations, and how industry plans to fight back against public opposition and permitting problems.

This past May, Crestwood announced that it was halting plans for a natural gas storage facility in the Finger Lakes region of New York following a three-year civil disobedience campaign by grassroots activists and environmentalists who feared contamination of Seneca Lake, which supplies drinking water to roughly 100,000 New Yorkers. But as Phillips told the conference, the company isn't backing off for good.

“Now, this is hand-to-hand combat in this region,” Phillips told the crowd of oil and gas company representatives at the pipeline conference, dubbed Marcellus Midstream 2018.

Tags: Crestwood Midstream PartnerspropaneMarcellus shalehydraulic fracturingAnti-fracking activismSandra Steingrabernatural gas pipelinesnew yorkTrump AdministrationUS Environmental Protection Agency

Trump, Not Record-Breaking Disasters, Dominated TV News Coverage of Climate Change in 2017

February 12, 2018 - 7:51pm

Extreme weather events in the United States seemed ever-present in the media during 2017, with historic wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and droughts receiving national coverage. What was less common, however, was major TV news networks making the connection between these kinds of billion-dollar disasters and climate change for their viewers. That's despite scientific support confirming these links, and some experts even warning that such extreme events may be “the new normal.”

The conclusion about major network coverage of climate change comes from a new report by Media Matters for America

Tags: climate changemediaCoverageMedia Matters for AmericaABCNBCCBSPBSfoxNewsDonald TrumpIrmaHarveyMariaBob MurrayParis Climate Agreement

The US Added 38 Percent More Oil and Gas Rigs Last Year

February 11, 2018 - 8:17pm

By John R. Platt. Crossposted with permission from The Revelator.

The number of oil and gas rigs in the United States has increased an astonishing 38 percent over the past year. That’s according to S&P Global Platts Analytics, which reported this week that the country had 1,070 rigs at the end of January, up from just 773 a year earlier.

Experts expressed fear that all of this new development does not bode well for the planet.

Tags: oil and gas drillingTrump AdministrationPermian Basin

How to Use Critical Thinking to Spot False Climate Claims

February 10, 2018 - 11:13am

By Peter Ellerton, The University of Queensland

Much of the public discussion about climate science consists of a stream of assertions. The climate is changing or it isn’t; carbon dioxide causes global warming or it doesn’t; humans are partly responsible or they are not; scientists have a rigorous process of peer review or they don’t, and so on.

Despite scientists’ best efforts at communicating with the public, not everyone knows enough about the underlying science to make a call one way or the other. Not only is climate science very complex, but it has also been targeted by deliberate obfuscation campaigns.

Tags: climate science denialcritical thinkingskeptic arguments

Fines Against Polluters Drop Sharply Under Trump EPA

February 9, 2018 - 5:18pm

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

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPAannounced Thursday its annual enforcement and compliance report that boasted $1.6 billion in administrative and civil judicial fines against polluters.

“A strong enforcement program is essential to achieving positive health and environmental outcomes,” Susan Bodine, head of the agency's enforcement division said in a statement.

However, analyses show that the penalties against polluters are significantly lower under President Trump's EPA. According to The Hill, that $1.6 billion figure is roughly a fifth of the $5.7 billion in penalties collected the year before under President Obama's EPA.

Tags: Trump AdministrationUS Environmental Protection AgencyVolkswagenScott Pruitt

These are the Climate Science Denier MPs Lobbying for a Hard Brexit

February 9, 2018 - 5:51am

Almost 70 MPs have been identified as backing a shadowy parliamentary lobby group pushing for a hard Brexit. In keeping with ideological links previously identified by DeSmog UK, it’s perhaps no shock that there are a number of politicians known to spread disinformation on climate change on the list.

Described as “an aggressive, disciplined, and highly organised parliamentary and media operation”, the European Research Group (ERG) is lobbying for a hard Brexit. It hit headlines earlier this week after being accused of misusing public money.

Long operating in the shadows, Buzzfeed has published a long list of MPs it has identified as being members of the group.Tags: Jacob Rees-MoggOwen PatersonJohn RedwoodChristopher ChopePhilip DaviesBrexit

EPA Chief Downplays Global Warming as Unexpected Climate Impacts Stack up

February 8, 2018 - 10:06pm

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is well-known for his comments denying the established science of climate change, and this week he touted yet another talking point of the climate denial community.

“I think there's assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that necessarily is a bad thing,” Pruitt said in an interview with Nevada's KSNV television and as reported by E&E News. But from Cape Town, South Africa's water woes to mercury in melting permafrost, the decidedly negative impacts of global warming are already manifesting themselves, often in unexpected ways.

Tags: climate changeScott PruittSouth Africadroughtclimate science denial

Climate Science Deniers Defend New York’s American Museum of Natural History From Calls to Drop Trustee Rebekah Mercer

February 6, 2018 - 10:21pm

With friends like climate science deniers and alt-right megaphones like Breitbart, you have to wonder whether New York’s iconic American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) needs any enemies right now.

As the New York Times and others are reporting, the museum is facing calls from hundreds of scientists, its own curators, campaigners, and the public to drop rich benefactor and major Trump funder and ally Rebekah Mercer from its board of trustees.Tags: rebekah mercerHeartland Instituteclimate science deniersamerican museum of natural history

Spotlight on Kathleen Hartnett White

February 6, 2018 - 6:32pm

For more than three months, the Trump administration tried to get climate science denier Kathleen Hartnett White confirmed for a top environmental post in the White House. But last week, the administration officially withdrew its nomination of Hartnett White, a clearly unqualified candidate who could have had dangerous implications for environmental and public health.

Trump was so committed to Hartnett White that he renominated her after the Senate failed to act on her nomination the first time. But in the end he couldn’t get this climate denier confirmed as the new chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates environmental policy across federal agencies.

Who is Kathleen Hartnett White and why did she represent such a danger?

Tags: Kathleen Hartnett WhiteTrump Administrationcouncil on environmental quality (CEQ)texas public policy foundationclimate science denialclimate denial spotlight

Bill Wehrum Once Denied California's Right to Cut Auto Emissions, and Could Do It Again at EPA

February 6, 2018 - 3:00pm

More than a decade ago, Bill Wehrum, then acting assistant administrator for air and radiation at the US Environmental Protection Agency, successfully fought to deny the state of California the right to set its own standards on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

He is now back in the same position at Trump's EPA, and hoping to try once again to kill the California waiver.

Tags: bill wehrumwilliam wehrumEPAcalifornia waivercafe standardsauto emissions

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