First, Climate Change, Now the Global Extinction Crisis: Industry-Paid Hacks Deny Science to Congress
In this week’s Congressional hearing on the recent (and dire) UN Global Assessment of Biodiversity, conservation scientist Dr. Jacob Malcom did not mince words as he explained the report's startling findings that one million species are at risk of extinction.
“We are, as you have heard, losing species faster than ever in human history, tens to hundreds of times faster than the background rate of extinction,” the Defenders of Wildlife scientist told the Congressional House Water, Oceans, and Wildlife Subcommittee. “We are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction, where the last time this happened it was because an asteroid hit the planet. Today we are that asteroid.”
Such a massive loss of plants, animals, and other species would also, quite naturally, affect human life on earth. But just as they have with hearings on the climate crisis, Congressional Republicans and their witnesses used this opportunity to attack the well-documented scientific evidence of a far-reaching global threat to life. And they even used some of the same climate science deniers and tired arguments to do it.Tags: marc moranoPatrick MooreSir Robert WatsonbiodiversityCO2 Coalition
In a surprise move that threw a controversial fossil fuel project into a whirlwind, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) late last week revealed new evidence of toxins in the area of a proposed natural gas facility in the greater Boston area.
The sequence of events leading to the disclosure was set in motion by DeSmog’s recent revelations that the state had not released air pollution data, including evidence of carcinogens, which were collected from the proposed site of Enbridge’s gas compressor station in Weymouth, Massachusetts.
Now, DEP’s air permit for the compressor station, which is currently under appeal, is teetering.Tags: EnbridgeWeymouth compressor stationnatural gas pipelinesMassachusetts
A lawsuit filed today in federal court in Louisiana challenges the state’s “critical infrastructure” law, used to press felony charges against fossil fuel pipeline construction opponents, as unconstitutional.
Louisiana’s critical infrastructure law is unconstitutionally vague and broad, the suit alleges, because it lets “any authorized person” exclude people from public places like sidewalks and roads if the state’s 125,000 miles of mostly unmarked pipelines cross there. The law could even be used to bring felony charges against a landowner for being on their own land, the lawsuit alleges.
“And, as more than a dozen arrests of peaceful protesters under the new law demonstrate, its actual aim is to chill, and harshly punish, speech and expression in opposition to pipeline projects,” the complaint adds.Tags: LouisianaBayou Bridge pipelinecritical infrastructureAmerican Legislative Exchange Council ALEC
Trump Admin Pushes More 'Clean Coal' Spending as Justice Department Investigates Failed 'Clean Coal' Project
In April, the Department of Justice informed Southern Company that it was under investigation “related to the Kemper County energy facility” in Mississippi, where Southern had spent $7.5 billion, including hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds from the Department of Energy, trying to build a coal-fired power plant that would capture carbon emissions.
Former engineers and officials from the Kemper plant have described evidence of possible intentional fraud at the construction project, alleging that the company knew of design flaws early on but pressed forward with the project in the hopes that costs could be passed on to power customers even if the project ran severely over-budget.
But the while the company remains under investigation, the Trump administration is doubling down by offering new funding — not just millions for more “clean coal” research and development, but also billions more for another construction project, which is also far behind schedule and over-budget, by the same company.Tags: Kemperclean coalSouthern CompanyTrump AdministrationRick Perry
For several years a mysterious fleet of tractor trailers loaded with natural gas cylinders has been crisscrossing U.S. roads, and in the dark early morning hours on Sunday, March 3, one drove off a highway near Cobleskill, New York, careened down an embankment, and flipped over. The driver had fallen asleep, according to a New York State police accident report, the truck was demolished, and “several tanks ruptured and were leaking” natural gas. Five nearby homes were evacuated.
For retired New York Department of Transportation commercial vehicle inspector Ron Barton, an alarm bell he had been ringing for months suddenly grew even more urgent. “This is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” says Barton.
The trucks are part of a little-known system of moving natural gas called “virtual pipelines.”Tags: virtual pipelinesCompressed Natural GasMarcellus Drilling NewsMarcellus shaleConstitution Pipelinefracked gas
UN shipping talks stalled last week as slow-moving players, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the US, obstructed attempts to decide how the sector should begin to decarbonise.
The negotiations, which took place at the London headquarters of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), are part of a global process on how to cut shipping’s large and growing emissions.Tags: International Maritime OrganisationExtinction Rebellion
This is a guest post from ClimateDenierRoundup.
Last week, Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary David Bernhardt testified in front of the House Natural Resources Committee about his leadership of the agency, flanked by “swamp monsters” in the audience highlighting his corruption.
When Rep. Huffman asked Bernhardt for specific examples of times when he told former clients “no,” when they asked for a policy change, he struggled to name a single instance. Remember, this is the man with so many conflicts of interest he has to carry them on a card, so he has plenty of former clients to choose from. After being pressed further by Huffman to name something specific, Bernhardt makes a reference to a “well control” rule.
That’s really where it gets interesting. Bernhardt’s industry clients actually praised the DOI’s well control rollback. And not only that, but the rule actually relies on the industry’s own guidance, effectively supplanting an Obama-era regulation with an American Petroleum Institute document. Tags: David BernhardtU.S. Department of InteriorAmerican Petroleum InstituteTrump Administration
There’s something amiss in the Southwest. The region has the best solar potential in the country, yet thousands still live in homes without electricity. The problem is especially acute in native communities like the Navajo Nation, which was passed over in earlier efforts to bring electricity to rural communities.Tags: Navajo NationNative American peopleNative Renewablesrenewable energyaffordable solar
Almost 25 percent of the West Antarctic ice shelf is now thinning, and the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers are losing ice at five times the rate they were in the early 1990s, CNN reported.Tags: Antarcticaantarctic ice sheetclimate change sciencesea level rise
The plastics industry plays a major — and growing — role in climate change, according to a report published today by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).
By 2050, making and disposing of plastics could be responsible for a cumulative 56 gigatons of carbon, the report found, up to 14 percent of the world's remaining carbon budget.
In 2019, the plastics industry is on track to release as much greenhouse gas pollution as 189 new coal-fired power plants running year-round, the report found — and the industry plans to expand so rapidly that by 2030, it will create 1.34 gigatons of climate-changing emissions a year, equal to 295 coal plants.
It’s an expansion that, in the United States, is largely driven by the shale gas rush unleashed by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.Tags: Center for International Environmental LawplasticsFracking Plastics
An uproar ensued last week within Democratic party circles with the news that Heather Zichal, a former fossil fuel company board member, is serving as an advisor on climate change to presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump’s visit to the Cameron Parish terminal comes the day after his escalating trade war, which he called “a little squabble with China,” led China to raise tariffs on U.S. LNG from 10 to 25 percent — a major blow to the U.S. industry, which could slow America's massive plans to expand LNG export facilities.Tags: LNGexportsDonald Trump
Warren Buffett, CEO of investment holding company Berkshire Hathaway, is considered one of the top investors in history and can back up that track record with a personal wealth of around $90 billion. Buffett is known for advising investors to be “fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”
In the U.S. fracked oil industry, this month can be read like a textbook version of Buffett’s fear and greed adage. The shale industry showed plenty of signs of fear while Buffett made a massive “greedy” bet on the future of the Permian Shale in Texas and New Mexico, assuming it will produce oil profitably and investing $10 billion in Occidental’s purchase of shale producer Anadarko.Tags: frackingPermian Basin Shalefracking financesHalcón ResourcesPioneer ResourcesWarren Buffett
A little-noticed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announcement could have an outsized impact on the oil and gas pipeline industries — if the commission decides to snap shut loopholes that analysts say create financial incentives to build too many new pipelines in the U.S.
The way the rules are currently written can allow unusually high profit margins for new pipeline projects. Since 1997, FERC has allowed certain new pipelines to rake in 14 percent profits — a rate far higher than the returns presently generated by, say, corporate bonds — with little eye to how that compares to profits available from other investments.Tags: federal energy regulatory commission (FERC)natural gas pipelinesoil pipelinespipeline glut
Warning: This story contains images and video of dead dolphins some may find graphic.
As an unprecedented amount of floodwater makes its way down the Mississippi River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today opened the Bonnet Carre Spillway for the second time this year. Done to prevent New Orleans from being flooded, the action marks the first time the spillway, which diverts the Mississippi’s nutrient- and pollutant-heavy freshwater into Lake Pontchatrain, has been opened twice in the same year.
The historic opening of the spillway is happening in the midst of an ongoing and mysterious dolphin die-off in the Gulf of Mexico and the same week that the United Nations released its most comprehensive report on the state of biodiversity.Tags: LouisianadolphinsNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationMississippi River
On Monday, Oregon state regulators dealt a blow to the proposed Jordan Cove Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project, refusing to issue a state water quality certificate required by the Army Corps of Engineers, citing unresolved concerns about water pollution and the company’s failure to answer information requests from the state in a timely manner.
“This is a huge victory for clean water and healthy ecosystems in Oregon, and it will help protect our climate from dangerous fossil fuel projects,” Jared Margolis, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “The state water quality standards are intended to protect people and species from harm, and it’s clear Jordan Cove would cause incredible damage to Oregon’s waterways.”
The state decision was made without prejudice, meaning that the company can reapply.Tags: Jordan Cove LNG TerminalTellurianDriftwood LNGfederal energy regulatory commission (FERC)liquefied natural gas (LNG)
A coalition of free market advocacy groups, led by former Koch Industries lobbyist, urged Congress on Thursday not to extend the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. In a letter rife with easily discredited and false statements, this coalition sent its plea to the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
Most of the 34 groups are funded by the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers’ donor network or have ties to Koch Industries. And most of the references cited in the letter have clear, demonstrable ties to Koch Industries and Koch funding.Tags: koch vs cleanAmerican Energy Alliancetom pyleEV tax creditelectric vehicleskoch industries
Harry Brown, the state senator who wants to ban new wind power farms in eastern North Carolina, has received thousands of dollars in campaign money from Koch Industries and other fossil fuel interests.
Brown, who serves as the Republican Majority Leader in the North Carolina Senate, received a $4,000 contribution for his reelection campaign from the Koch Industries Political Action Committee (KochPAC) in August of 2018.Tags: north carolinaanti-windHarry BrownKoch Industries PACnational securitytexas public policy foundationcharles koch foundation
Newly uncovered air quality samplings by the State of Massachusetts showed elevated levels of carcinogens and other pollutants at Enbridge’s proposed natural gas compressor station in a densely populated site near Boston.
The data, revealed in written testimony this week by a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) official responding to an appeal over the Weymouth station’s air permit, joins other samplings showing toxics in the area, which DeSmog exclusively reported last month.Tags: EnbridgeWeymouth compressor station
Over the past several months, legislators in Washington have engaged in heated conversations about the Green New Deal, the potential plan to help the United States to cool the planet by quickly and equitably curbing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to cleaner energy sources.
The hotly debated idea has both vocal supporters and detractors. But even for those who champion the mission, there’s still a lot to figure out about how it would be developed and implemented.Tags: renewable energy standards (RES)Citiesgreen new deal100% Renewable