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New York Attorney General: Feds Must Address Bakken Bomb Trains. Feds: Maybe Later?

May 26, 2017 - 1:22pm

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has joined with attorneys general from California, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, and Washington in calling for limits on the volatility of crude oil transported by rail. The failure of federal regulators and Congress to address this known safety issue has led Schneiderman to continue to pressure regulators on it.

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Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson Stands Between Nevada and a Renewable Energy Future

May 25, 2017 - 2:49pm

This is a guest post by David Pomerantz crossposted from Energy and Policy Institute

The Nevada Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would dramatically increase the growth of renewable energy in the state, but Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate and major donor to Donald Trump, is attempting to prevent the bill from becoming law.

The bill, AB 206, would ensure that Nevada gets 80 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2040. AB 206 passed the Assembly with bipartisan support by a margin of 30 to 12, but it must now pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval.

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Trump’s Budget Delivers Big Oil’s Wish: Reducing Strategic Petroleum Reserve

May 24, 2017 - 9:06pm

President Donald Trump's newly proposed budget calls for selling over half of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), the 687 million barrels of federally owned oil stockpiled in Texas and Louisiana as an emergency energy supply. 

While most observers believe the budget will not pass through Congress in its current form, budgets depict an administration's priorities and vision for the country. Some within the oil industry have lobbied for years to drain the SPR, created in the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis.

Leading the way has been ExxonMobil, which lobbied for congressional bills in both 2012 and 2015 calling for SPR oil to be sold on the private sector market. The Trump administration says selling off oil from the national reserve could generate $16.58 billion in revenue for U.S. taxpayers over the next 10 years.

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Op-Ed: Glacial Progress at Bonn Climate Talks Shows Why we Need to Exclude Big Polluters From Negotiations

May 24, 2017 - 9:48am

When it comes to the fossil fuel industry participating in UN climate negotiations, it’s clear there is a conflict of interest – and demands for this to end are nothing new. But after fierce resistance to this idea during talks in Bonn last week from the EU, US and Australia, more needs to be done, argues Pascoe Sabido of Corporate Europe Observatory. With just six months to go before November’s COP23 climate negotiations, calls for big polluters to be excluded from the talks are growing.

Last May at the same ‘intersessional’ climate talks in Bonn, a group of countries representing more than 70 percent of the world's population insisted on adding a conflict of interest provision in the negotiating text. It almost made it, were it not for an underhand move by the European Union and the USA which saw it removed.

Pulling the strings behind such moves: the world’s largest fossil fuel companies.

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Massachusetts Admits to 'Regularly' Allowing Companies to Edit Draft Pollution Permits

May 23, 2017 - 7:57pm

Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) acknowledged they regularly allow energy companies to exclusively preview and revise draft permits as a matter of common practice.

This admission follows DeSmog’s reporting on emails showing the state had quietly provided Spectra Energy (now Enbridge) several opportunities to edit a draft pollution approval permit for a compressor station in the town of Weymouth as part of its Atlantic Bridge gas project.

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National Association of Manufacturers Attempts 11th Hour Escape from Our Children's Trust Climate Lawsuit

May 23, 2017 - 3:14pm

By Dan Zegart, originally published at Climate Investigations Center 

In a last-minute legal maneuver, the National Association of Manufacturers is trying to extricate itself from a closely-watched federal climate lawsuit 18 months after it won a legal battle allowing it to intervene in the case.

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Front Group Paid by Dominion Releases Shady Poll Showing Support for Dominion’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline

May 22, 2017 - 6:56pm

This is a guest post by David Pomerantz crossposted from Energy and Policy Institute

The Consumer Energy Alliance, a front group for oil and gas interests and utilities including Dominion Energy Inc, has released a poll which it claims shows support for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a gas pipeline co-owned by Dominion.

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Rover Pipeline Owner Disputing Millions Owed After Razing Historic Ohio Home

May 21, 2017 - 4:30pm

After taking heat last fall for destroying sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the owner of the Dakota Access pipeline finds itself embattled anew over the preservation of historic sites, this time in Ohio.

Documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) show that Energy Transfer Partners is in the midst of a dispute with the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office over a $1.5 million annual payment owed to the state agency as part of a five-year agreement signed in February.

Energy Transfer Partners was set to pay the preservation office in exchange for bulldozing the Stoneman House, a historic home built in 1843 in Dennison, Ohio, whose razing occurred duing construction of the Rover pipeline. Rover is set to carry natural gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from the Utica Shale and Marcellus Shale — up to 14 percent of it — through the state of Ohio. The pipeline owner initially bulldozed the historic home, located near a compressor station, without notifying FERC, as the law requires.

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Atlantic Coast Pipeline Corporate Backers Fund Faulty Pro-Pipeline Poll

May 20, 2017 - 11:05am

This is a guest post by  and originally appeared on LittleSis.org.

On May 9th, 2017, a group called EnergySure tweeted:

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Don Blankenship, Fresh Out of Prison, Begs Trump to Have Mercy on Coal Execs

May 19, 2017 - 1:54pm

Don Blankenship, who just wrapped up a year in federal prison for criminal conspiracy to violate mine safety and health rules — a coordinated and concealed series of violations that lasted for at least 15 months leading up to the tragic Upper Big Branch mine explosion that killed 29 coal workers — emerged from his incarceration unrepentant, and none the humbler.

On Tuesday, the former CEO of Massey Energy released an open letter to President Trump urging the administration to ignore any legislation that would strengthen punishments for mining company executives and supervisors who knowingly flout safety rules.

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Massachusetts Let Spectra Energy Secretly Edit its Pollution Permit in Atlantic Bridge Gas Project

May 18, 2017 - 7:58am

Massachusetts environmental officials allowed Spectra Energy to quietly review and edit a draft approval of an air pollution permit the state plans to grant the company for its Atlantic Bridge gas project. 

According to emails obtained by DeSmog through an open records request, this privilege of reviewing and editing the draft approval was granted exclusively to Spectra and not to the general public.   

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Famous Canadian Ice Road Melts for the Last Time

May 17, 2017 - 6:51pm

Each winter in Canada’s far north, a series of ice roads take form, providing people and supply trucks temporary access to the region’s otherwise isolated towns. But rapid changes to Canada’s north means this spring marks the final melt of one of the north’s famed ice highways, the ‘Road to the Top of the World,’ stretching across 187 kilometres of frozen Mackenzie Delta and Arctic Ocean in the Northwest Territories, linking Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk.

“It’s taking longer for everything to freeze up, and the ice isn’t as thick,” Wally Schumann, the minister of infrastructure for the Northwest Territories, told the New York Times in April. The Northwest Territories is warming at four to five times the global rate.

Under construction right now is a new permanent $300-million all-weather road — but its long-term stability is also challenged by the unpredictable, warming landscape says Phil Marsh, professor and Canada Research Chair in Cold Regions Water Science at Wilfred Laurier University.

“This area is continuous permafrost with massive amounts of ground ice,” Marsh explained.

In the spring, melting water can carve sizeable channels through the ground ice, “which can rapidly drain a lake in less than twenty four hours.”

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Trump Admin Proposes 70% Cut To Renewable Energy and Efficiency Programs at Energy Dept

May 17, 2017 - 4:44pm

According to Axios.com, the Trump Administration is proposing a 70 percent reduction in funding for the Department of Energy’s renewable and energy efficiency programs, a move that could severely dampen the recent surge in renewable energy production and job growth.

As Axios points out, a cut this steep will have trouble making its way through Congress, but it sets the bar incredibly low from a negotiation standpoint, meaning that the overall funding for the department will still fall significantly from previous years. Funding for the renewable energy programs dropped from $478 million in 2015 to $451 million in 2016, while energy efficiency programs increased from $721 million to $762 million in the same period.

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Pennsylvania School Now Doing Emergency Drills in Case of Pipeline Explosion

May 17, 2017 - 2:19pm

At the Glenwood Elementary School in Media, Pennsylvania, roughly 450 students interrupted their regular schedules one day this month for an unusual emergency drill.

Just after 1:30 p.m. on May 3, the entire student body practiced sheltering in place in the school's gymnasium, then prepared to evacuate the campus by bus, under the watchful eye of the school's superintendent, state police, and local first responders.

“Everyone took this seriously and it was reflected in how quickly they moved through the drill — two minutes to be sheltered in place and three minutes to be completely evacuated from the building,” Principal Eric Bucci told local reporters.

It wasn't fears of natural disaster or terror attack that prompted the emergency drill. Instead, worries about a fossil fuel pipeline construction project nearby left the school district drafting emergency response plans and practicing safety protocols.

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How Exxon Lobbyists Led Push to Deepen US Ports and Increase Natural Gas Exports

May 16, 2017 - 6:50pm

The U.S. has signed a major deal with China to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia, adding further momentum to America's hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom.

The deal, which includes the export of other commodities from the U.S. to China, was signed about a month after President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Much of the LNG in this deal will move across a recently expanded Panama Canal, offering a fast-track route to Asia for larger vessels, an expansion for which the oil and gas industry lobbied.

A DeSmog investigation has revealed that expanding the Panama Canal was part of a two-part process, which included an oil and gas industry push to deepen ports in the Gulf of Mexico as well. Emails obtained under the Texas Public Records Act show that lobbyists for ExxonMobil were leading this effort.

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How Australian Climate Science Denier Senator Malcolm Roberts Magically Turned Warmer Into Colder

May 15, 2017 - 8:37pm

Sometimes watching YouTube videos is a lot like eating your favorite flavor of chip, fudge, or whatever else it is that has you yearning for more.

You watch one video and then, on that panel on the right hand side, up pops a whole load of others that YouTube thinks you’ll like.

No doubt because of my years of writing about climate science denial, YouTube taunts me with all manner of climate science denier crap — some quite sophisticated, some not.

And so it was that I failed to resist a video entitled Senator Malcolm Roberts — How Climate Actually Works (presumably there’s another video somewhere called President Trump — How Uranium Actually Works.)

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Laments Climate Science Denial but Billionaire Deniers Fund His Museum

May 15, 2017 - 12:01pm

There’s no real way to scientifically establish just how cool, adored, or respected a person is among certain groups.

But a good start might include the number of t-shirts with the person's face on them, the frequency of memes created with their quotes, or the amount of coffee drunk from mugs bearing their likeness.

On all these important and absolutely non-trivial measures, the astrophysicist, author, and educator Neil deGrasse Tyson looks to be winning.

Tyson is an American superstar of science communication. When primetime networks go looking for an articulate and respected scientist who can speak to the masses, Tyson is a go-to guy.

A few days ahead of the historic March for Science, Tyson released a four-minute video he said contained “what may be the most important words I have ever spoken.”

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Are Solar and Wind Really Killing Coal, Nuclear, and Grid Reliability?

May 14, 2017 - 11:55am

By Joshua D. RhodesMichael E. WebberThomas Deetjen, and Todd Davidson, University of Texas at Austin

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in April requested a study to assess the effect of renewable energy policies on nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

Some energy analysts responded with confusion, as the subject has been extensively studied by grid operators and the Department of Energy’s own national labs. Others were more critical, saying the intent of the review is to favor the use of nuclear and coal over renewable sources.

So, are wind and solar killing coal and nuclear? Yes, but not by themselves and not for the reasons most people think.

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Jordan Cove LNG Backers Spend Huge Money to Sway Tiny Oregon County Election

May 13, 2017 - 8:57am

Two weeks ahead of an Oregon county special election, backers of the multi-billion dollar Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project are spending an additional $236,500 to prevent that vote from halting the proposed fossil fuel project.

That’s on top of the $359,000 the LNG project’s proponents had previously spent in an attempt to defeat the ballot measure, 6-162, in Coos County, Oregon, which reportedly has roughly 41,000 registered voters. 

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People Don’t Trust Scientific Research When Companies Are Involved

May 12, 2017 - 7:27pm

By John C. Besley, Aaron M. McCright, Kevin Elliott, and Nagwan Zahry of Michigan State University and Joseph D. Martin of University of Leeds

A soda company sponsoring nutrition research. An oil conglomerate helping fund a climate-related research meeting. Does the public care who’s paying for science?

In a word, yes. When industry funds science, credibility suffers. And this does not bode well for the types of public-private research partnerships that appear to be becoming more prevalent as government funding for research and development lags.

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