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Cleaning up Toxic Sites Shouldn't Clear out the Neighbors

July 23, 2017 - 10:04am

By Lindsey Dillon, University of California, Santa Cruz

San Francisco has embarked on a project to transform its industrial southeast waterfront into a bike-friendly destination called the Blue Greenway. When completed, the Blue Greenway will be a 13-mile network of parks, bike lanes and trails along the southeastern edge of the city.

Among its many benefits, the project creates green space and waterfront access in the low-income Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. The Blue Greenway is part of a larger transformation of Bayview Hunters Point. This older, neglected neighborhood is still full of vacant lots and a large, abandoned naval base, but it is becoming a landscape of hip townhomes and new coffee shops. Its transformation includes the complicated cleanup of many toxic waste sites — most notoriously, a military radiation lab on the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

The Blue Greenway project cleans up toxic land along its route with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program, which supports the cleanup and reuse of contaminated sites. Brownfield redevelopment projects like the Blue Greenway are intended to bring environmental and economic benefits to run-down urban areas. And yet, as I have found in my own research, they can also contribute to gentrification and economic displacement.

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Koch Front Group, Fueling US Forward, Bashes Electric Car Tax Credits in Latest Misleading Video

July 22, 2017 - 10:36am

Hot on the heels of its deceptive “Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars” video (which we debunked thoroughly, and others did too), the Koch-funded front group Fueling U.S. Forward has released a new video criticizing electric vehicle (EV) tax credits as a “massive wealth transfer from poor to rich.” It's time for another debunking!

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Emails Show Iraq War PR Alums Led Attempt to Discredit Dakota Access Protesters

July 20, 2017 - 5:36pm

By Steve Horn and Curtis Waltman, MuckRock

Behind the scenes, as law enforcement officials tried to stem protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, alumni from the George W. Bush White House were leading a crisis communications effort to discredit pipeline protesters.

Emails show that the firms Delve and Off the Record Strategies, apparently working on contract with the National Sheriffs’ Association, worked in secret on talking points, media outreach, and communications training for law enforcement dealing with Dakota Access opponents mobilized at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. This revelation comes from documents obtained via an open records request from the Laramie County Sheriff's Department in Wyoming. var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '11956'; Click here for reuse options! Tags: Donald TrumpfrackingDCI groupRob PortALECamerican legislative exchange councilSPNState Policy NetworkMidwest Alliance for Infrastructure NowBakken ShaleCass CountyMorton CountyNorth Dakotahydraulic fracturinggeorge w bushDakota Accessemergency management assistance compactEMACEnergy Transfer PartnersKelcy WarrenNational Sheriffs' Association

Pro-fossil Fuel Group's Video, 'The Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars,' Debunked Again and Again

July 20, 2017 - 12:11pm

Just last week, we fact-checked and debunked every line of “The Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars,” a video produced by Fueling U.S. Forward (FUSF), a Koch-funded campaign to push fossil fuels. That video represents the group's first public pivot from fossil fuel boosterism to electric vehicle (EV) attacks. More electric vehicle experts are also picking the video apart.

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New Lobby Group Tied to Brexit Climate Science Deniers and Koch Industries Pushes for Deregulation in Europe

July 20, 2017 - 11:11am

A new lobby group has appeared in Europe claiming to represent ‘consumers’. But a closer look reveals it is actually backed by some familiar groups known for their efforts to weaken climate and environmental regulations.

The Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) was set up in March 2017 and was promoted as “a grassroots-led movement” that “empowers consumers across the globe”.

But an investigation by Brussels think tank Corporate Europe Observatory suggests the CCC is actually working as a lobby group for a network pushing deregulation, while working closely with high-profile organisations including London-based think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) and US oil billionaire Charles Koch.

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Trump’s Ignorance Reveals Why Exporting Crude Oil for 'National Security' Is a Myth

July 19, 2017 - 2:25pm

During President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Poland, he got a lesson in the reality of the global oil and gas market from Polish President Andrzej Duda. In his prepared remarks, Trump addressed the issue of U.S. oil and gas exports, saying, “America stands ready to help Poland and other European nations diversify their energy supplies, so that you can never be held hostage to a single supplier.” 

In the question and answer session that followed, Trump exhibited some of his characteristic bravado when he offered to negotiate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) agreement right then and there. 

“I think we can enter a contract for LNG within the next 15 minutes,” Trump said. “Do you have anybody available to negotiate? It will take about 15 minutes.”

Which put President Duda in the awkward position of having to explain to the American president how international energy deals actually happen. As The Hill reported, “Duda laughed in response, saying that it is up to private companies in both countries, not the presidents, to negotiate such a deal.”  

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Environmental Defense Fund Action Launches Ad Campaign to Protect EPA Budget

July 17, 2017 - 12:31pm

Fearing that President Donald Trump will make good on his promise to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) political arm, EDF Action, has announced a million dollar ad buy to raise awareness about how these budget cuts will affect the lives of American citizens.

The ad campaign’s goal is to target local television, radio, and online outlets with information about the EPA’s local impact on public health and the environment.

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New Film "Little Warriors" Features Youth Climate Fight in Unlikely Place: Indiana

July 16, 2017 - 11:58am

Climate change will impact future generations and the current youth more than anyone else, so perhaps it's no surprise that kids have increasingly become the face of the modern U.S. climate movement.

At the center of that movement is the ongoing lawsuit filed by the group Our Children's Trust against the federal government for failing to act on climate change despite its intense study for decades by climate scientists, many of them on the payroll of the U.S. government. That case, barring any pretrial negotiations between the two parties, will head to trial in February. Further, 13 “Youth Climate Intervenors” all under the age of 25 were allowed in as legal Intervenors in an ongoing lawsuit filed by environmental groups against the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for its green-lighting of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Flying under the radar, though, has been the seemingly unlikely ascendancy of a youth-led movement in Indiana led by the group Earth Charter Indiana. Indiana is hardly a state known for its deep green consciousness and was formerly a major natural extraction hub and is still a major coal extraction state.

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Inoculation Theory: Using Misinformation to Fight Misinformation

July 15, 2017 - 12:58pm

By John Cook, George Mason University

As a psychologist researching misinformation, I focus on reducing its influence. Essentially, my goal is to put myself out of a job.

Recent developments indicate that I haven’t been doing a very good job of it. Misinformation, fake news and “alternative facts” are more prominent than ever. The Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” as the 2016 word of the year. Science and scientific evidence have been under assault.

Fortunately, science does have a means to protect itself, and it comes from a branch of psychological research known as inoculation theory. This borrows from the logic of vaccines: A little bit of something bad helps you resist a full-blown case. In my newly published research, I’ve tried exposing people to a weak form of misinformation in order to inoculate them against the real thing — with promising results.

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“We Got Lucky” - Four Years After Lac-Megantic, Another Oil Train Accident

July 13, 2017 - 8:21pm

“We were very lucky in this instance,” Plainfield Fire Chief David Riddle said. “There was no fire, nobody got hurt by the grace of God.”

As the residents of Lac-Megantic were preparing to acknowledge the 4th anniversary of the oil train disaster that leveled and poisoned their downtown and killed 47 people, residents of Plainfield, Illinois were happy to just be complaining about the odor of spilled oil after a train pulling 115 tank cars of Canadian crude oil derailed near their neighborhood.

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A Week After Leaving FERC, Former Commissioner Honorable Joins Firm Lobbying for Company Behind Atlantic Coast Pipeline

July 12, 2017 - 6:40pm

Only one week after leaving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), former commissioner Colette Honorable has joined a law firm lobbying for Dominion Energy, the company behind the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Honorable is joining Reed Smith LLP, a firm lobbying in the state of Virginia for Dominion, the energy giant leading the proposed natural gas project. The Atlantic Coast pipeline, a 550-mile three-state line, still requires FERC’s approval.

Virginia lobbying disclosures show that Reed Smith has been lobbying for Dominion since at least 2015. The firm has so far assigned three lobbyists to work on Dominion’s behalf: William Thomas, Jeffrey Palmore, and Edward Mullen.

Honorable, a Democrat, was appointed as FERC commissioner by former President Obama in August 2014. Previously she served as chairperson of the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Reed Smith hired Honorable as a partner in its international energy & natural resources practice.

As DeSmog previously reported, Honorable has ties to a senior executive at Southern Company, a minority stakeholder in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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The Problem With Climate Doomsday Reporting, And How To Move Beyond It

July 12, 2017 - 3:02pm

It’s not often that an article about climate change becomes one of the most hotly debated issues on the internet — especially in the midst of a controversial G20 summit.

But that exact thing happened following the publication of a lengthy essay in New York Magazine titled “The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, Economic Collapse, a Sun that Cooks Us: What Climate Change Could Wreak — Sooner Than You Think.”

In the course of 7,200 words, author David Wallace-Wells chronicled the possible impacts of catastrophic climate change if current emissions trends are maintained, including, but certainly not limited to: mass permafrost melt and methane leaks, mass extinctions, fatal heat waves, drought and food insecurity, diseases and viruses, “rolling death smog,” global conflict and war, economic collapse and ocean acidification.

Slate political writer Jamelle Bouie described the essay on Twitter as “something that will haunt your nightmares.”

It’s a fair assessment. Reading it feels like a series of punches in the gut, triggering emotions like despair, hopelessness and resignation.

But here’s the thing: many climate psychologists and communicators consider those feelings to be the very opposite of what will compel people to action.

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States Band Together to Sue EPA After Agency Backtracks on Pesticide Ban

July 12, 2017 - 2:20pm

In late March, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt decided that his agency would not place an outright ban on a pesticide manufactured by Dow Chemical called chlorpyrifos. The decision came after a federal court ordered the EPA to make a final decision on whether or not to ban the pesticide, which the Obama administration had proposed banning in 2015. The chemical has been on the market in the United States since 1965 under the brand name Lorsban and indoor use of the chemical has been banned for more than a decade.

In its decision to allow the pesticide to continue being used in the United States, the EPA went against its own agency’s findings that the pesticide presented unnecessary risks to American citizens. And while Pruitt’s EPA officials did not deny those findings, they did claim additional studies on the chemical were still needed before they could ban it, thus allowing the product's continued use.

In the three and a half months since the EPA’s chlorpyrifos decision, the story has become far more complex than the usual “regulators siding with industry” trope that has played out far too often. var icx_publication_id = 14813; var icx_content_id = '11933'; Click here for reuse options! Tags: ChlorpyrifosChemicalToxinEPAScott PruittDow ChemicalMeetingHoustonconferenceChildrenPoisonPesticide

While Reviewing Enbridge’s Line 5 for Michigan, Contractor Worked for Same Pipeline Company in Minnesota

July 11, 2017 - 5:22pm

A private contractor hired by the state of Michigan to assess an Enbridge oil pipeline running under the Great Lakes was working simultaneously for the company on a related pipeline, a DeSmog investigation has found.

The contractor, Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems Inc., is leading one of two studies commissioned last year by Michigan to provide a risk assessment for Enbridge’s 64-year old Line 5 pipeline, which crosses the Straits of Mackinac where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet.

These revelations come two weeks after Michigan terminated the work of the contractor conducting the second study after discovering that one of its team members was working at the same time for Enbridge on a different project.

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Koch-funded Group, Fueling US Forward, Echoes America Rising Squared in Misleading Attack on Electric Cars

July 10, 2017 - 1:47pm

Fueling U.S. Forward, the Koch-funded campaign to “rebrand” fossil fuels as “positive” and “sustainable,” has released a new video attacking the “Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars,” signaling a possible strategic pivot from straightforward fossil fuel cheerleading to electric vehicle (EV) and clean energy bashing.

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Scott Walker Set to Sign Koch Anti-Regulations Bill in Wisconsin

July 10, 2017 - 6:58am

A bill with the potential to hobble government agencies' ability to propose regulations, known as the REINS (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act, has passed in both chambers of the Wisconsin Legislature and Republican Governor Scott Walker's office has told DeSmog he intends to sign it into law.

REINS has been pushed for years at the federal level by Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative advocacy group funded and founded with money from Koch Industries, and a federal version of it currently awaits a U.S. Senate vote. The House bill, H.R. 26, passed on January 5 as one of the current Congress's first actions.

Wisconsin's version mandates that if a proposed regulation causes “$10 million or more in implementation and compliance costs” over a two year period, that rule must either be rewritten or go by the wayside. Known as Senate Bill 15, the Wisconsin bill passed the state Senate on a party-line vote, 62-34 and would be the first state-level REINS bill on the books in the country.

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Yet Another Koch Cadet Hired to Push Fossil Fuels at Trump's Energy Department

July 9, 2017 - 9:58am

The Koch brothers have landed yet another of their trusted fossil fuel think tank veterans in the Trump administration’s Department of Energy (DOE). Alex Fitzsimmons was Manager of Policy and Public Affairs at the Institute for Energy Research (IER) and its advocacy arm, the American Energy Alliance (AEA), while also working as a “spokesman” and communications director for Fueling US Forward (FUSF), the Koch-funded campaign to bolster public opinion of fossil fuels.

Fitzsimmons will be joining former IER colleagues Daniel Simmons and Travis Fisher at the DOE.

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Facts Versus Feelings Isn't the Way to Think About Communicating Science

July 8, 2017 - 10:40am

By John Cook, George Mason University and Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge

In a world where “post-truth” was 2016’s word of the year, many people are starting to doubt the efficacy of facts. Can science make sense of anti-science and post-truthism? More generally, how can we understand what drives people’s beliefs, decisions and behaviors?

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Notorious Climate Science Denier Marc Morano Flying to Australia With Misleading Climate Hustle Movie

July 7, 2017 - 1:35am

Marc Morano — one of world’s most notorious climate science deniers — is heading to Australia to push his discredited documentary Climate Hustle.

Morano is the communications director at the mistitled Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) – one among a suite of US-based conservative “free market” groups that helped convince President Donald Trump to pull the country out of the international Paris climate agreement.

Climate Hustle, first screened in late 2015 in Paris, claims human-caused climate change is a scare story and that scientists actually disagree that humans are causing global warming.

In reality, climate scientists and campaigners say the documentary is a rehash of long-debunked talking points, cherry-picked claims and misrepresentations promoted by a “fossil fuel salesman.”

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'Clean Coal' Officially Dead in Mississippi as Southern Company Battered by Kemper Fallout

July 6, 2017 - 7:10pm

By Dan Zegart, crossposted from Climate Investigations Center.

Clean coal officially died in Mississippi today as state regulators voted unanimously to issue an official order denying further money for the Kemper coal plant and beginning a settlement process with its builder, Southern Company.

The order provides a legal framework for the state Public Service Commission's June 21st vote proposing the plant continue to operate on natural gas, as it has since August 2014, instead of spend additional money to try to use Kemper's non-functional multi-billion dollar gasifier to generate power from lignite coal.

“The commission today is taking firm steps towards resolving all substantive matters associated with the Kemper Project,” says the 35-page PSC order.

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