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Updated: 13 hours 49 min ago

Sizing Up Trump’s Dirty Replacement for the Clean Power Plan

August 17, 2018 - 1:55pm
Read time: 3 mins

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup.

Thirteen months ago, we made some guesses about what a replacement for the Clean Power Plan might look like. We speculated the new rule would be the sort of “inside the fenceline” policy preferred by the industry–one where coal plants are only required to make marginal improvements, basically just upgrading existing plants to run more efficiently.

Such an approach, which makes coal plants more profitable to run and would keep them running for longer, would ultimately lead to even higher levels of pollution than if there was no policy at all.

Tags: Clean Power PlanCoal Power PlantsTrump AdministrationU.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Judge Orders Full Environmental Review of Keystone XL in Nebraska

August 16, 2018 - 7:32pm
Read time: 3 mins

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

TransCanada's long-gestating Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline was dealt another setback after a federal judge in Montana ruled Wednesday that the Trump State Department must conduct a robust environmental review of the alternative pipeline route through Nebraska.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris sided with environmentalists, landowners, and tribal plaintiffs in their challenge to the Trump administration. Pipeline opponents argued that the State Department's approval of the KXL was based on an outdated Environmental Impact Statement from 2014 of the original route, and accused the administration of trying to short-cut the permitting process.

Tags: Keystone XLNebraskaTrump Administrationtar sands pipelines

Supercharged by Pollution, Florida’s Toxic Algae Crisis Continues Unabated

August 16, 2018 - 6:57pm
Read time: 8 mins

“Covering stuff up doesn’t make it go away,” said Lilly Womble, an 18-year-old on vacation on Florida’s Sanibel Island. The island is world renowned for its sea shells but that day we were watching employees from the Sanibel Moorings Resort pull a sheet over a dead loggerhead sea turtle on the beach behind the hotel. One of the men covering the turtle said that people had seen it long enough, and he didn’t want it to scare kids.

“I think it is better if kids see what we are doing to the planet,” Womble told me. “Maybe seeing the dead turtle will make them pay attention to the environment.” Her 9-year-old sister Ellie agreed, adding that “covering the turtle won’t stop other turtles from dying.”

Earlier that day the sisters had been on a charter fishing boat 10 miles off Sanibel Island’s coast, where they saw lots of dead fish, large and small, and another dead sea turtle floating on the Gulf of Mexico’s surface. Though they caught some fish, their father, an avid fisherman, had his daughters throw them back. He explained to them that it may be years before marine life can recover from the impacts of the ongoing explosion of toxic algae that already has killed hundreds of tons of fish and other sea life washing up on Florida’s southwest coast.

Tags: Floridaharmful algal bloomsalgae bloomsblue-green algaered tideSea Turtlewater pollution

Fracking Wastewater Spikes 1,440% in Half Decade, Adding to Dry Regions’ Water Woes

August 15, 2018 - 7:51pm
Read time: 7 mins

Between 2011 and 2016, fracked oil and gas wells in the U.S. pumped out record-breaking amounts of wastewater, which is laced with toxic and radioactive materials, a new Duke University study concludes. The amount of wastewater from fracking rose 1,440 percent during that period.

Over the same time, the total amount of water used for fracking rose roughly half as much, 770 percent, according to the paper published today in the journal Science Advances.

Tags: frackinghydraulic fracturingwastewaterToxic WastedroughtDuke UniversityAvner VengoshPermian Basin

DNC Will Take Fossil Fuel Money After All

August 14, 2018 - 7:38pm
Read time: 4 mins

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

That was fast. Just two months after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) unanimously prohibited donations from fossil fuel companies, the DNC voted 30-2 on Friday, August 11 on a resolution that critics say effectively reverses the ban, The Huffington Post reported.Tags: Democratic Partydemocratic national conventionfossil fuel industryPACs

All the Battles Being Waged Against Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Are Following a Single Strategy

August 14, 2018 - 3:08pm
Read time: 6 minsBy Luis Hestres, The University of Texas at San Antonio

The activists holding a growing number of protests against oil pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure projects from coast to coast are winning some courtroom victories.

For example, a federal appeals court recently struck down two key decisions allowing a natural gas pipeline to cut through Virginia’s Jefferson National Forest, just days before a three-judge panel nixed two permits for another pipeline intended to transport natural gas in Virginia because it would compromise efforts to protect endangered wildlife. At the same time, Oregon’s Supreme Court declined to revisit a lower court ruling that let Portland’s prohibition of big fossil fuel export projects stand.

Just like when activists refuse to leave their treetop perches to stop oil companies from axing an old-growth forest or when they lock their bodies to bulldozers to prevent the machine from making way for a new coal mine, these legal challenges are part of a coordinated strategy I have studied for years while researching the movement to slow down and address climate change.

Tags: keep it in the groundnatural gas pipelinesoil pipelinesKeystone XLDakota Access PipelineTrump AdministrationJordan Cove LNGObama administration

How the Federal Government Came to Control Your Car's Fuel Economy

August 13, 2018 - 6:03pm
Read time: 5 minsBy Brian C. Black, Pennsylvania State University

The Environmental Protection Agency in August announced a plan to freeze fuel economy standards and revoke the ability of California to set more stringent rules than the national ones, prompting a legal showdown between the state and the federal government.

The proposal, which would keep fuel economy at planned 2020 levels, is the most significant step to halt the rise on the mileage standards of the U.S. passenger vehicle fleet in decades.

But how did fuel efficiency even become mandated? After all, manufacturers go to great lengths to analyze the consumer marketplace and build in the most tantalizing features to create top sellers, whether it’s great acceleration or a deep bass sound system. One feature is different, though: Carmakers are legally bound to innovate more efficiency into their vehicles.

Tags: california waivercafe standardsCorporate Average Fuel EconomyTrump Administration

The Fracking Industry Is Cannibalizing Its Own Production, Increasing Spill Risks

August 10, 2018 - 3:51pm
Read time: 6 mins

In the climactic final scene in There Will Be Blood — arguably the greatest movie about the oil industry — the main character played by Daniel Day Lewis explains how he sucked the oil from a neighbor’s land by using horizontal drilling. To help his neighbor understand what has happened, he explains it by saying he took a very long straw and “Drank your milkshake!”

Well guess what is happening with the fracking revolution that is built on the concept of horizontal drilling? Not only are oil producers drinking each other’s milkshakes, they are drinking their own, and in the process losing even more money and raising the odds of dangerous environmental risks.

And unlike in the movie where the main character knew what he was doing, the modern fracking industry really has no clue what to do about the problems caused by the combination of horizontal drilling and greed. 

Tags: frac hitschild wellsfracking

Will Energy Efficiency Stall Climate Disruption?

August 8, 2018 - 12:40pm
Read time: 4 mins

In the race against the increasingly widespread and devastating consequences of climate change, solutions tend to focus on products and technologies. Renewable energy, electric vehicles, biofuels, carbon capture and storage, and geoengineering get much of the attention, in part because they lead us to believe we can continue acting as usual. Those technologies must be part of the solution, but we must also consider our wasteful behaviors.

Conserving energy means consuming less, which isn’t a hallmark of our consumption-based economic system. Technology also comes into play with cutting energy use. Many experts argue that energy efficiency could play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially in industrial nations like Canada and the U.S., where we tend to waste a lot. Others point to a paradox whereby climate gains from efficiency are offset by reduced costs that increase energy demand.

Tags: energy efficiencyUN Sustainable Development Goalsenergy consumption

Sempra Energy Plans to Export Fracked Gas on the West Coast — via Mexico

August 7, 2018 - 5:36pm
Read time: 15 mins

By Steve Horn and Martha Pskowski

The Costa Azul liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal sits on an isolated stretch of the Pacific Coast north of Ensenada, Baja California, in Mexico. When Sempra and its Mexican affiliate IEnova sought to acquire the land in 2002, the site’s remoteness worked in their favor. It was only frequented by fishermen, a few surfers, and a handful of beach-front property owners.

“That was the last stretch of coastline between Tijuana and Ensenada that was pristine and undeveloped,” Bill Powers, a San Diego-based energy engineer and founder of the Border Power Plant Working Group, told DeSmog. “There was just a little fishing village.”

After breaking ground in 2005, the Costa Azul LNG plant opened in 2008. Despite Sempra’s messaging strategy that the U.S. was running out of gas, the terminal has imported limited amounts of natural gas since. Now, San Diego-based Sempra hopes to build an LNG export facility at the same site.

Tags: Sempra EnergyBill PowersBorder Power Plant Working GroupCarlos PascualMagnum DevelopmentfrackingTrump Administrationhydraulic fracturingTransCanadaEnergía Costa AzulLNGLiquefied Natural GasMexicoIEnova

China Threatens 25% Tariffs on US LNG in Trump Trade War Escalation

August 7, 2018 - 12:57pm
Read time: 7 mins

China threatened to slap U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports with a 25 percent tariff on August 3, escalating a trade war by threatening an industry closely allied with President Donald Trump and potentially benefitting a $55 billion Russian gas pipeline project.

The $60 billion in proposed retaliatory tariffs, which are also aimed at the metals, lumber, and agriculture industries, could have significant impacts for U.S. LNG export plans — and for the domestic shale gas industry, which has struggled to turn a profit and which has staked its hopes for years on hopes of selling gas from wells drilled and fracked in the U.S. to buyers abroad at higher prices.

Tags: LNG ExportschinaTrump

"Doing the Lord's Work" Heartland Institute Gathers Climate Deniers For America First Energy Conference

August 6, 2018 - 10:29pm
Read time: 4 mins

One of the world’s most notorious climate science denial groups — the Heartland Institute — will gather its supporters and fellow ideologues this week for a one-day energy conference in Louisiana.

Aside from the conference’s fanatical devotion to fossil fuels, the line-up includes the usual pushers of junk science who are sure that every major science academy in the world is wrong about the dangers of adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

Gathering at the conference will be “hundreds of state and national elected officials, think tank leaders, and policy analysts.”

Front and center in New Orleans will be Fred Palmer, a veteran coal industry lobbyist who was behind what was probably the very first fossil-fuel funded attacks on the science linking coal burning to dangerous climate change. 

After more than 30 years with the Western Fuels Association and then coal giant Peabody, Palmer now spends his time as a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute. 

Tags: Heartland Instituteamerica first energy conferenceFred Palmerdavid legatesroy spencer

Led by Sempra Energy, 'Global Natural Gas Coalition' Launched with Trump Admin and Labor Union in Fold

August 6, 2018 - 7:32pm
Read time: 8 mins

San Diego-based Sempra Energy has spearheaded the launch of a group called the Global Natural Gas Coalition to promote exports of gas obtained via fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to the global market. Sempra is a natural gas utility giant and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export and import company.

Announced at a June 25 gathering at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the Global Natural Gas Coalition features other participants such as the American Petroleum Institute (API), LNG Allies, the American Gas Association, American Chemistry Council, and others, according to its event page on the website Eventbrite. The RSVP information for the Press Club event features the contact information for Paty Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Sempra, and the company's representatives consisted of eight out of the 78 attendees of that event, according to the Eventbrite page.  

Also attending the event were officials from several agencies in the Trump administration. They included Mark Menezes, Elise Atkins, Christine Harbin, Jessica Szymanski, and Sara Kinney of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); Deaver Alexander, William Thompson, and Stephen Morel of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (a federal agency focused on helping “American businesses invest in emerging markets”); Scott Condren of the U.S. Export-Import Bank; and John McCarrick of the U.S. Department of State.

Tags: Laborers' International Union of North AmericaOur Energy MomentSabine Passchristine harbinKoch brothersLNGLiquefied Natural GasCheniereCorpus Christi LNGLNG AlliesAmerican Chemistry CouncilInterstate Natural Gas Association of AmericaAmerican Gas AssociationTrump AdministrationSempraCosta Azul LNGCameron Access Pipelinekoch industriesCameron LNGLIUNAAmerican Petroleum InstituteAPI

Portland, Oregon Wins Court Battle to Ban New Oil Infrastructure

August 3, 2018 - 1:28pm
Read time: 5 mins

In a big win for the City of Portland, Oregon, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling that the city had not violated the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause by voting to ban any new fossil fuel terminals within its borders.

“This is a major victory for the climate and our communities,” said Maura Fahey, staff attorney at Crag Law Center, which represented environmental groups intervening in the case, in a statement. “Industry couldn’t even get its foot in the door of the courtroom to try to overturn the City’s landmark law. This sends a powerful message to local communities that now is the time to take action to protect our future.”

This ruling could have important implications for other communities fighting fossil fuel projects because the court ruled that the city's ban did not violate the Commerce Clause, which is the main argument the oil industry has used against bans like the ones in Portland, Oregon and other cities.

Tags: PortlandCommerce ClauseconstitutionOil Infrastructure BansOregonMaineAmerican Petroleum Institute

Fueled by Pollution and Unsound Policies, Toxic Algae Overtakes Florida Beaches and Waterways

August 2, 2018 - 6:52pm
Read time: 9 mins

Florida is in the midst of a still-unfolding water pollution catastrophe. Many formerly picture-perfect beaches and posh waterfront neighborhoods are now surreal toxic landscapes where the smell is so pungent, it can make you nauseous.

Parts of South Florida are being inundated by harmful algal blooms, which affect both public health and marine life, including red tide (caused by the alga Karenia brevis) and blue-green algae (more precisely known as cyanobacteria, or Microcystis, which are technically bacteria but commonly referred to as algae).

While both types of toxin-producing algae are normal parts of their environments, the crisis is not. Water pollution and climate change are fueling this supersized toxic algae mess.

Tags: algae bloomsblue-green algaeFloridaLake Okeechobeewater pollution

Trump Administration Officially Proposes Rolling Back Clean Car Standards

August 2, 2018 - 10:48am
Read time: 3 mins

In a long expected move, the Trump administration announced Thursday morning that it is proposing to weaken the Obama-era clean car emissions and fuel efficiency standards, and that it will seek to limit California's authority to set tougher standards.

The proposal, first reported last week, comes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and suggests freezing fuel economy targets at 2020 levels through 2026, along with a number of other less-preferred options.

Tags: clean carsTrumpAndrew WheelerEPADOTNHTSAkoch vs cleanTrump AdministrationDonald Trump

Retired Schoolteacher Arrested After Sunoco Claims She Violated Court Order in Mariner East Pipeline Dispute

August 1, 2018 - 9:15pm
Read time: 8 mins

On Tuesday, July 26, Sunoco Pipeline L.P. filed paperwork with a Pennsylvania court claiming that retired special education teacher Ellen Gerhart, 63, had violated an injunction. Three days later, Gerhart was arrested and jailed. She’s currently held in the Centre County Correctional Facility awaiting a hearing on $25,000 bail. She’s been kept in solitary confinement for much or all of that time, according to her supporters, who add that she is unable to afford bail.

Sunoco Pipeline obtained a right of way through the Gerharts’ land using the controversial legal doctrine of eminent domain, which allows private companies to seize land people refuse to sell that’s in the planned path of a pipeline project. Sunoco now claims Ellen Gerhart interfered with construction and alleges, among other things, that Gerhart tried to lure mountain lions and bears onto her property.

Tags: Mariner East IInatural gas pipelinesSunoco PipelineEnergy Transfer PartnersEllen GerhartpennsylvaniaTigerSwan

Newly Elected President of Mexico, Lopez Obrador, Vows to Ban Fracking

August 1, 2018 - 3:19pm
Read time: 5 mins

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who won the election to become Mexico's President on July 1, stated in a press conference that he will ban the horizontal drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) upon assuming the office on December 1.

The announcement would be a devastating blow to the oil and gas industry, which had its eyes set on drilling in Mexico's northern frontier in an area known as the Burgos Basin. The Burgos is a southern extension of the Eagle Ford Shale, a prolific field situated in Texas. 

Tags: frackinghydraulic fracturingshale gaspemexTransCanadaSempra Energypetroleos mexicanosburgos basinEagle Ford Shaleshale oilMexicoAndrés Manuel López Obrador

Scientists Urged to Take a Stand Against BBC’s False Balance on Climate Change

August 1, 2018 - 7:31am
Read time: 4 mins

It was all a bit retro… A BBC radio presenter, looking out the window and seeing it’s (still) hot, and leaning into his microphone to ask “does this mean climate change is real?”

Do not adjust your wireless. This really is the opening question on a segment about climate change. In 2018.

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s decision to have climate science denier and UKIP supporter Philip Foster on to debate a (non-climate) scientist about whether or not humans have caused climate change immediately drew much ire.

Tags: BBCBBC CambridgeshirePhilip Fosterchristopher monckton

Canada, US Governments Watching, But Not Intervening, in Coal Mine Pollution Controversy

July 31, 2018 - 6:36am
Read time: 8 mins

By , The Narwhal. Originally posted on The Narwhal.

The U.S. State Department is not going to intervene in a dispute that has split the International Joint Commission (IJC), despite a letter from U.S. commissioners charging that their Canadian counterparts are refusing to publish data showing the full effects of selenium pollution flowing from B.C. coal mines into Montana.

A State Department official told The Narwhal that there are “no plans to weigh in at this time,” and, instead, both the U.S and Canadian federal governments are urging IJC representatives to work out their differences.

Tags: U.S. State DepartmentcanadaMontanacoal minesSeleniumbritish columbia