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Updated: 16 hours 25 min ago

TransCanada’s Safety Record Played No Role in Nebraska’s Keystone XL Approval

November 20, 2017 - 3:16pm

Today a Nebraska commission handed TransCanada the final permit it needed to build its long-contested Keystone XL pipeline, a decision which did not consider the company’s previous safety violations. The decision to approve the international pipeline comes despite a major oil spill just a few days earlier from the company’s Keystone l line in South Dakota. Pipeline opponents vowed to appeal the approval, which was for a different, slightly longer and more expensive route through Nebraska than the one TransCanada preferred.

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Did Northam’s Office Try to Hide the Dominion Executives and Lobbyists Sitting on His Transition Team?

November 16, 2017 - 9:10pm

Virginia’s Democratic governor-elect, Ralph Northam, announced his transition committee this week. In a press release, his office listed 85 individuals who will comprise the “bipartisan” committee, representing Virginians “from across the Commonwealth who will join him over the course of the next two months to lay the groundwork for a successful administration.”

But there is something odd about the list of people and their affiliations, or lack thereof. Dominion Energy — the state’s most powerful corporate player who will need certifications from the Northam administration for its pivotal Atlantic Coast pipeline — doesn’t appear once on the list.

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Despite Trump Plan to Ditch Paris Accord, Former US Climate Envoy Thinks America Will Be Back

November 16, 2017 - 3:11pm

BONN, GERMANY – Even if Donald Trump successfully withdraws the U.S. from the Paris climate accord in the next three years, Todd Stern, former climate envoy under Obama, doesn’t think the country will be gone from the agreement for good.

“I just firmly believe the U.S. will be back in,” he told attendees of the United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany. “I don't know exactly when that will be, obviously, but we're gonna be back in.”

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Climate Depot's Marc Morano Returns to UN Climate Talks to Mock Activists, Spin Climate Denial

November 16, 2017 - 10:46am

Climate Depot's Marc Morano made his annual trek to the United Nations climate talks, where he and his colleagues like to tweak climate campaigners and delegates with their well-greased climate science-denying PR machine.

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Industry is Betting Big on CCS as a 'Shield' for Fossil Fuels at Bonn Climate Talks

November 15, 2017 - 1:34pm

BONN, GERMANY – Each day at the international climate talks, dozens of side events take place on a wide range of topics: from phasing out coal to the role of music in the climate action movement.

Those looking for the particular thrill of learning about carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology have been spoilt for choice. All thanks to an industry-sponsored programme run by a business lobby group tucked away at the very back of the exhibition centre.

There, four events on CCS were held in the space of just three days. The reason industry groups are so keen? Because the technology provides “a clear way forward without the need for a rapid abandonment of the world’s fossil resources”, according to the group’s brochure.

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Germany Must Phase Out Coal to Meet Merkel's Climate Pledge, Pacific Islanders Plea

November 15, 2017 - 9:23am

This morning, before German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived at the United Nations climate talks in Bonn, UN staffers rolled out a red carpet.  At the same time, a group of Pacific Islanders rolled out their own red carpet, in the form of an 80 meter scarlet banner that read: “Keep It In the Ground.”

The islanders and many other climate advocates at these talks (known as COP23) had another, more specific request — that Merkel commit Germany to a full phase-out of coal by 2030.

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State Leaders Diss Trump Coal Revival as US Pushes 'Cleaner' Fossil Fuels at Climate Talks

November 13, 2017 - 9:42pm

BONN, GERMANY – From the United Nations climate summit in Bonn, Germany, Arnold Schwarzenegger declared he wasn’t worried about Donald Trump — not his threats to withdraw from the Paris agreement or his plan to bring back coal.

“Imagine bringing back coal,” laughed the former California governor. “In a time when coal is plummeting in the United States and all over the world … It’s like bringing back Blockbuster or something.”

But that is exactly in line with the plan embraced by the Trump administration at these climate talks — where coal deals are even rumored to be a possible outcome. Today the administration held its only organized event of the summit, a “side event” which promoted “cleaner and more efficient” fossil fuels and nuclear power as “vital” ways to reach the goals of the Paris accord.

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Bayou Bridge Pipeline Opponents File to Intervene in Hearing for Private Security Firm in Louisiana

November 13, 2017 - 4:38pm

A broad base of advocacy groups opposed to Energy Transfer Partners’ (ETP) proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline continue to pressure officials in Louisiana to deny the remaining permissions the company needs to build the pipeline.

The groups are also trying to stop TigerSwan LLC, one of the security firms that ETP worked with in North Dakota, from obtaining a permit to operate in Louisiana.

ETP, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, intends to build a 162-mile pipeline across southern Louisiana. If built, the Bayou Bridge will be the last leg, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana. 

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Northam’s Transition Team Leader Has Ties to Companies Behind Atlantic Coast Pipeline

November 13, 2017 - 6:58am

Virginia’s governor-elect, Ralph Northam, wasted no time in organizing a transition team. A day after his November 7th victory, Northam announced that Marianne Radcliff, a former state transportation official with rich experience in local government and politics, will lead his transition team.

Over the past two decades, Radcliff has established herself as a prominent lobbyist in the state’s capital. She is currently vice president of the Richmond-based lobbying firm Kemper Consulting. Previously she worked as a lobbyist for Williams Mullen.

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The Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit is a Bipartisan Success Story, Which House Republicans Want to Undo

November 12, 2017 - 9:00am

As the House and Senate develop their respective versions of a tax reform bill, the $7,500 federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit is positioned to be a potential bargaining chip. The House’s version of the bill, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” includes a repeal of the EV tax credit.

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Debt Vultures Behind Puerto Rico Austerity Are Also Fueling Climate Change

November 11, 2017 - 8:58am

By Rob Galbraith, crossposted from LittleSis.org's Eyes on the Ties 

The island of Puerto Rico has been devastated by a set of human-made catastrophes – two hurricanes supercharged by fossil fuel emissions and a debt crisis and ruthless austerity regime imposed by Wall Street.

Seeds for both of these disasters were sown by Seth Klarman, the president of Baupost Group, a Boston-based hedge fund heavily invested in both Puerto Rican debt and in the oil and gas industry. Klarman is also a trustee of the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank which has both fought against action on climate change and for austerity in Puerto Rico.

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Proposed Bailout of Coal and Nuclear Is Trump Admin’s Attempt to Save Dying Industries

November 10, 2017 - 6:57am

Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently ordered the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to fast-track a rule that purports to make the energy grid more resilient but which in reality will force utility customers to buy more expensive electricity from coal and nuclear plants. A new report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) casts this proposal as a thinly veiled bailout for two industries that are no longer competitive in the electricity generation markets.

According to federal data compiled by EWG, without this bailout, utilities plan to close 75 coal and nuclear plants in the next three years.

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Climate Denier Lamar Smith Holds Rare Congressional Hearing on Geoengineering

November 10, 2017 - 12:58am

Geoengineering, hailed in some circles as a potential technofix to the climate change crisis, has taken a step closer to going mainstream.  

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a rare joint subcommittee hearing on November 8, only the second ever congressional hearing of its kind on the topic (the first was held in 2009). The committee invited expert witnesses to discuss the status of geoengineering research and development. Geoengineering is a broad term encompassing sophisticated scientific techniques meant to reverse the impacts of climate change or pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. 

Ironically, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is chaired by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith — a climate science denier who has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from ExxonMobil throughout his political career. In fact, Smith actually mentioned “climate change” in his opening remarks for the hearing, in discussing his interest in geoengineering.

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National Academy Study Touts Oil-by-Rail Safety But Supports Weakening Regulations

November 9, 2017 - 2:59pm

A new study by the National Academy of Sciences concludes that the rail industry should do more to improve the safety of transporting oil and ethanol by rail, which includes addressing track safety and rail tank cars. Both of these are well-known safety issues.

However, the study, “Safely Transporting Hazardous Liquids and Gases in a Changing U.S. Energy Landscape,” also says that after reviewing available data, the researchers were unable to “make a conclusive statement” on the safety technology known as electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes. This is where things get interesting.

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How Dominion Energy, Fracked Gas Giant, Lost Big in Virginia Election

November 8, 2017 - 1:08pm

By David Pomerantz, crossposted from Energy and Policy Institute

Virginia’s top corporate political contributor, Dominion Energy, had a rough night last night, as at least 14 candidates who pledged not to accept money from the monopoly utility won seats in a surprise wave election for Democrats.

Depending on official counts that may take days or weeks, Democrats will likely tie Republicans with a 50-50 split in Virginia’s House of Delegates, leading to a share of power, though they may still control the chamber outright depending on the results of recounts.

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How Climate Science Deniers Manufacture Quotes to Convince You the United Nations Is One Big Socialist Plot

November 8, 2017 - 1:05pm

We’re at that time of year when delegations from countries around the world gather for the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations — this time in Bonn, Germany.

For climate science deniers, this is also the time of year to polish up their dodgy climate science talking points and those mythical conspiracy theories about the UN, new world orders, secretive global government plans, and other such illuminati activities.

One recurring feature of these efforts is what's known as quote mining, where lines are taken out of context to try and discredit people associated with climate science or the UN. If that doesn't work, then just make up words that people never said.

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Launches Fracking Probe After Residents Call for Help

November 7, 2017 - 8:30pm

Cross-Posted from Public Herald

By Melissa A. Troutman

Over the past seven months, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General has received an influx of phone calls from residents alleging that officials at the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have ignored or covered up drinking water contamination, illness, animal deaths, and other impacts they relate to oil and gas operations.

According to agents within the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), the calls began pouring in after a Public Herald report in February revealed over 100 cases of official misconduct were committed by DEP oil and gas staff during investigations of citizen water complaints since 2004.

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Children File Suit Against Trump Administration for Ignoring Climate Dangers

November 7, 2017 - 8:23pm

This week the federal government is once again being sued for its decision to ignore the growing threat of climate change. And, just like an earlier lawsuit on this issue, it is being brought by the group that stands to suffer the most from climate inaction: Children.

Two Pennsylvania youth are taking on the Trump administration for what they are calling a “reckless and deliberate indifference” to the issue of climate change. The environmental organization Clean Air Council is bringing the suit on behalf of the children in this case.

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Oil Money Pours into Washington State Port Election Ahead of Major Decision on Crude-by-Rail Terminal

November 6, 2017 - 10:35pm

By Stephen Quirke

An election in southern Washington could decide the fate of the country's largest proposed crude-by-rail terminal, and has recently come under heavy scrutiny as a rush of oil money has flowed into the campaign treasury of Port of Vancouver candidate Kris Greene. Greene’s campaign has ties to a GOP lobbying and PR firm that did crisis communications for the Dakota Access pipeline and created fake grassroots groups supporting the tobacco industry.

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Heartland's America First Energy Conference Stacked With Climate Change Deniers

November 6, 2017 - 5:10pm

By Kert Davies, crossposted from Climate Investivations Center

On November 9th, the climate change denying Heartland Institute is holding an energy conference in Houston to applaud the Trump Administration’s repeal of environmental protections and clean energy policy. According to its website, the conference will celebrate “this remarkable moment in history” referring to the statement that “Trump has already turned back years of Obama’s anti-energy policies”.

According to Heartland, the “country’s best energy policy experts” will be speaking at the event. In reality, there are rather few “energy policy experts” on the agenda. The lineup includes career climate change deniers such as Myron Ebell, Steve MilloyH. Sterling Burnett, Paul DriessenCraig Idso, and Fred Palmer.

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