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August 23 2012

19:09

Daily Kos Climate Change SOS Blogathon Features Wide Range of Climate Hawk Voices

Our friends over at Daily Kos are running an amazing Climate Change SOS Blogathon this week, featuring dozens of voices from the climate hawk community. Bill McKibben, Michael Mann, John Abraham, Rep. Ed Markey, A Siegel, Richard Heinberg, Heather Libby, Brad Johnson, Kelly Rigg and DeSmog's IT director Evan Leeson are just some of the many friends of DeSmog that are contributing posts throughout the week-long blogathon.

I jumped into the action as well, contributing a piece on Tuesday titled Breaking Up With Polluters To Save The Climate.

Greg Laden just posted a scary piece about the implications of sea level rise for future generations.

There is a lot of great content. I highly recommend heading over to Daily Kos to check it out. Here is a full run-down of the posts so far. Stay tuned to the Climate Change SOS Blogathon box at the bottom of most posts to keep up with the newer entries.

 

March 30 2012

20:19

GM Dumps Heartland Institute, Will No Longer Fund Climate-Denying Spinstitute

General Motors is breaking up with the Heartland Institute, announcing recently that the company will discontinue funding to the notorious climate-denying spin shop.

The move by GM comes in direct response to a national outreach campaign organized by Forecast the Facts, which garnered more than 20,000 people, including 10,000 GM vehicle owners, calling on GM to drop its financial support of the Heartland Institute.

"We applaud GM’s decision and the message it sends: that it is no longer acceptable for corporations to promote the denial of climate change, and that support for an organization like Heartland is not in line with GM’s values. This victory belongs to the 20,000 Americans, including 10,000 GM owners, who demanded that GM put its money where its mouth is on climate change and sustainability," said Forecast the Facts Campaign Director Daniel Souweine.

Climate One director Greg Dalton revealed the GM pullout after receiving confirmation directly from GM during an event at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club.  Dalton had pressed GM CEO Dan Akerson about its support for Heartland at a Climate One event earlier this month. Akerson said at the time that he would personally review the Heartland funding. 

Heartland President Joseph Bast was understandably upset to learn of GM's decision to cease any further financial support, but continued to push his trusty shiny penny version of events rather than own up to the real reasons for the waning support of his group's efforts. Internal Heartland documents made public last month exposed the shocking revelation of Heartland's plans to deceive schoolchildren about climate science, most notably.

read more

January 28 2012

02:40

Greenpeace Calls On SEC To Investigate TransCanada’s Inflated Jobs Claims

Greenpeace USA President Phil Radford sent a formal complaint this week to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) calling for an investigation into TransCanada’s use of wildly inflated jobs figures in promoting its application to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The letter asks the SEC to review the false and misleading claims made by TransCanada on a number of matters related to the pipeline.

Although President Obama rejected the company’s first proposal to build the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, industry-friendly Republicans continue to push for its construction, often citing vastly inflated jobs figures. The Perryman Report commissioned by TransCanada is the source of much of the bogus pipeline jobs information. 

Despite the fact that the State Department and independent reviews definitively debunked the claims to “20,000 jobs” and even “hundreds of thousands of jobs” tied to the Keystone XL project, the lie lives on like a zombie, parroted by the echo chamber led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, API’s Jack Gerard, and of course Mitt Romney and the GOP.

This lie must be stopped or it will continue to contaminate the public discourse.


The Greenpeace SEC letter [PDF] states:

Specifically, TRP has asserted that each mile of KXL pipeline constructed in the U.S. would create American jobs at a rate that is 67 times higher than job creation totals given by the company to Canadian officials for the Canadian portion of the pipeline.

These false and misleading job creation numbers are part of TRP’s lobbying and public relations campaign designed to create congressional pressure on the U.S. government to issue a Presidential Permit approving construction of KXL. Without government approval, TRP will not be able to build KXL, which will significantly impact the company’s future earnings and share price. That government approval was thrown into serious doubt last week when President Obama rejected the current KXL pipeline proposal at the State Department’s recommendation.


As Brad Johnson says over on ThinkProgress, “It may be legal to lie to the American public, but it is an actionable offense to deceive shareholders under U.S. securities disclosure laws.”

Media Matters has compiled excellent one-pagers to correct the misinformation on Keystone XL, including the jobs myths, KXL and Keystone: The Next Round.

Download the Greenpeace SEC complaint:

AttachmentSize GP-SEC-TransCanada-letter.pdf194.73 KB

January 12 2012

21:26

‘Theoretically, Super Fracking Would Be Super Bad’: Gas Industry Touts Even More Extreme Drilling

According to Halliburton, one of North America’s largest hydraulic fracturing operators and suppliers, the “frack of the future” has arrived. Hoping to both increase well production and lower production costs, Halliburton is one among a crowd of energy companies looking to overhaul their fracking operations with new – and more powerful – methods.

Coined by Bloomberg as “super fracking” the gas industry is celebrating this new catalogue of high-intensity fracking technologies, dedicated to creating deeper and longer fissures in underground formations to release ever-greater amounts of the oil and gas trapped there. 

As Bloomberg reports, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger are each investing heavily in advanced fracking technologies.  Baker Hughes’ “DirectConnect” technology aims at gaining deeper access to underlying oil and gas deposits while Schlumberger’s “HiWay” forces specially developed materials into fractures to create widened pathways for oil and gas flow.  Schlumberger now supplies over 20 oil and gas operators with “HiWay” technologies, up from only two a year ago.

David Pursell, a former fracking engineer now consulting for Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. represents yet another method, one aimed at more completely shattering the rock comprising oil and gas reservoirs. “I want to crack the rock across as much of the reservoir as I can,” he told Bloomberg, “that’s the Holy Grail.” 
But others aren’t so sure the development of ‘super fracking’ is such a good strategy. 
 
Aggressive fracking operations have put environmental organizations and local communities on the defensive. And countless instances of water, soil and air contamination have already derailed the industry’s early attempts to promote unconventional gas as a clean, environmentally sound energy alternative. 
 
The announcement of ‘super fracking’ is likely to fall on jaded ears. After all, it's barely been two months since the Energy Department’s Shale Gas Subcommittee issued their rather scathing warning to the industry at large: “concerted and sustained action is needed to avoid excessive environmental impacts of shale gas production and the consequent risk of public opposition to its continuation and expansion.” 
 
Kirk Sherr, president of Regester Larkin Energy North America, is also concerned that a development such as ‘super fracking’ may be bad for business. “If critics already think fracking is bad, theoretically, super fracking would be super bad,” he told Bloomberg.
 
As is the case with already-existing fracking technologies, the cumulative impacts of super fracking are largely unknown. 
 
“This is a ferociously competitive business,” said Sherr, adding these new technologies “might not have been fully thought-through or tested prior to application in the field.”
 
Amy Mall from the Natural Resources Defense Council points out the need for far more independent science on this. “Just like any other type of fracking, we need a lot more independent scientific data and research to understand the risks and how best to prevent them,” she told Bloomberg.
 
Not surprisingly, others have begun to wonder what ‘super fracking’ means for localized seismic activity. Less than two weeks ago, Ohio experienced one of the largest fracking-related earthquakes on record at a fracking wastewater injection disposal well. All the wastewater from 'super fracking' will have to be disposed of as well, meaning more disposal well activity.
 
Perhaps ‘super fracking’ is the industry’s bizarre response to deep public mistrust? The risky rush to produce shale gas is facing increased scrutiny from investors and the mainstream media alike. As DeSmogBlog’s Brendan DeMelle covered yesterday, the industry’s myth of a limitless supply of unconventional gas looks set for a shale gas bubble and bust.  The characteristic difficulty of finding, extracting and processing unconventional gas is straining the economics of shale plays. 
 
As DeSmogBlog has repeatedly argued, a precationary moratorium on unconventional gas fracking is warranted while independent scientists carefully investigate all of the 'super threats' posed by the oil and gas industry's current practices. At the very least, I certainly hope to hear of corresponding ‘super monitoring’ and ‘super enforcement’ in the wake of this news about 'super fracking.'
 
Image Credit: Schlumberger

January 05 2012

02:36

API’s New ‘Vote 4 Energy’ Ad Campaign Is Thinly Veiled Election Year Bullying

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard today announced the oil and gas industry’s latest election-year scare campaign to threaten the demise of the U.S. economy unless Big Oil gets its every wish in Washington. This year the wish list includes approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, expanded offshore drilling on both coasts, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and more federal lands in the West to drilling, and smaller buffer zones between drilling operations and drinking water supplies.

What if Washington doesn’t comply by delivering Keystone XL and the rest of the wish list? Gerard, the oil industry’s chief bully, threatens “huge political consequences” for Barack Obama. 

You can almost set your watch to this industry’s tired plays on this front. If it’s January of a presidential election year, it must be time for the oil industry to threaten Washington politicians to ensure they continue to do the industry’s bidding. The threats are delivered in the form of outlandishly expensive advertising campaigns and punditry tours, aided by a captive media that serves its role as stenographer for the industry’s inflated jobs figures and misleading claims.

The API campaign is nothing more than a fresh skin on a very old and stale argument – that President ______ (insert current name) needs to continue opening up more of the nation’s lands, particularly public lands, for oil and gas drilling, OR ELSE ______(insert latest political talking point), in this case “jobs jobs jobs” will be lost (a bogus argument)

CNN notes the close correlation between API’s target states and some of the hottest states in the 2012 U.S. elections – hint: they’re the same.

Gerard said it is not intended to be an advertisement or promote one party or candidate over the another, but rather a "conversation" to "help Americans understand what's at stake."
While the campaign will run nationwide, it will focus heavily on states where Gerard said energy is an important issue — including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Those states also happen to be important battle ground states in the upcoming election.

In his inanely named “State of American Energy” address, Gerard threatened:

Clearly, the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest. A determination to decide anything less than that I believe will have huge political consequences.”

Like what Mr. Gerard? Your industry isn’t going to lend as much financial support to Democrats this year as it will to Republicans? Surprise, surprisesurprise.

The oil-soaked GOP is doing cartwheels over their supposed ‘victory’ in forcing Obama to decide on Keystone XL within 60 days, although many environmentalists predict the bullying to backfire. But House Republicans won’t let reality stand in the way of a good circus stunt.

The Hill reports:

House Republicans are putting more pressure on President Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, unveiling a [countdown] clock that counts the number of days since the president signed legislation requiring a speedy verdict on the project.

How about putting that clock next to a ticker showing the oil industry money flowing into Congressional campaign coffers? That would be a sight!

Also during his statement today, Jack Gerard asked rhetorically, "Why would we import a product we can produce at home?"

But Jack, why not answer the real question: If Big Oil is sincerely interested in domestic energy security and low-cost gasoline for Americans, why would your industry be clamoring feverishly to maximize U.S. oil and gas export infrastructure that would send our ‘homegrown’ oil and gas overseas to Asian and European markets - raising American gas prices yet higher?

Greenpeace launched its own Vote 4 Energy site mocking the API’s claims that its ads feature “ordinary Americans” and releasing a hilarious spoof video:

API Vote 4 Energy

"When's the last time someone got hired to clean up a solar spill?" asks an actor playing an ordinary American in the Greenpeace spoof. "Oh no, I've got sunlight all over me."

Touché!

Greenpeace said in a statement:

"The Vote 4 Energy campaign is the latest effort by the oil industry to fake citizen support for its agenda. The American Petroleum Institute has repeatedly spent millions to block clean energy solutions and fake grassroots support for Big Oil."

While API says its new ads are designed to feature only “ordinary Americans” expressing their thoughts on energy, in reality the industry's ad agency carefully handpicks people to read from a script. In other words, it is pure astroturfing.

Recall that API ad producers kicked out several people who wouldn’t agree to read the script provided by API, and instead insisted on expressing their own beliefs, as they had been led to believe they could by the API ad team’s outreach ad, which stated:

… “the ONLY qualifications” listed on the e-mail: “You are willing to go on camera and state your beliefs.”
Another is: “You are comfortable portraying YOURSELF! They want REAL PEOPLE not Actors!”

API won’t reveal how much money it is spending on the astroturf ad campaigns that will continue throughout this election year.  But it will likely rival or surpass what API spent on its 2010 election year ads – roughly $40 million

That’s a lot of job-creating money! Too bad it’s going into bullying ads instead of supporting “ordinary Americans” who need work.

December 14 2011

22:32

BP Returns to Deepwater Offshore Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

BP, the oil major responsible for the biggest offshore oil disaster in U.S. history, is officially returning to deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The Obama Interior Department "awarded" BP $27 million worth of leases for oil-and-gas exploration in the Gulf waters into which the company and its accomplices dumped roughly 5 million barrels of oil in April 2010.

 

The Interior Department conducted its first Gulf lease sale since the BP disaster and announced today the winning bids from 20 different companies totaling $712 million. Adding a strange insult to injury, the lease sale was conducted in New Orleans, home to many fishermen and small business owners whose livelihoods were imperiled by BP's reckless drilling disaster.

In its coverage, BP Awarded $27 Million in Leases for Gulf Oil, Gas Exploration, the National Journal reports that:

BP bid a total of $109.9 million on 15 leases and won 11 for $27.4 million, Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reported in a list of sales posted on its website.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said:

This marks a milestone with respect to the greatest overhaul in the America’s history,” Salazar said of the offshore-drilling safety reforms and changes implemented by Interior since the April 2010 explosion of a BP well in the Gulf led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. “We believe we can move forward with oil and gas development.”

The only milestone this really marks is the renewed guarantee that the oil industry will continue to destroy the Gulf of Mexico one disaster at a time in its pursuit of dangerous, extreme energy. 

Forbes' coverage includes this astonishing set of quotes from the head of BOEMRE:

Michael Bromwich, director the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was quoted today defending BP. “They don’t have a deeply flawed record offshore,” he reportedly said. “We’ve done analyses over time on the relative safety records of offshore operators and they wre in close to the top crew.”
 
Bromwich added: “The question is, do you administer the administrative death penalty based on one incident?,” Bromwich told reporters. “And we’ve concluded, I’ve concluded, that’s not appropriate in these circumstances.”

In case there was any doubt in your mind, Bromwich's logic here confirms that the Obama administration has returned to the status of Big Oil lapdog in hideous fashion today.

Any bets on which oil major will offer Mr. Bromwich a job when he's finished aiding and abetting industry in the destruction of the Gulf? 

September 01 2011

09:51

Hillary Clinton's State Department Oil Services and the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline [VIDEO]

With over 700 people arrested so far in the Keystone XL tar sands action taking place at the Obama White House, and widespread distrust and criticism of the State Department’s final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), this is a critical moment in the fight against a disastrous proposal to build a tar sands pipeline between Alberta and oil refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast. 

Given the scientific certainty that tar sands oil is a recklessly dirty form of energy - as well as fresh evidence from Oil Change International debunking the claims that increasing our dependence on Canadian oil would be helpful for U.S. national security - it should be a no brainer for the Obama administration to say no to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

But powerful oil industry lobbying, as well as pressure from the Canadian government, seem to have deflated and cast aside this administration’s stated commitments to science-based decisionmaking. Rather than working to transition the nation to a clean energy future now, an Obama administration approval of Keystone XL would further solidify our dirty fossil fuel addiction.

To highlight the influence of oil industry lobbyists over Hillary Clinton’s State Department and its unscientific review of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline proposal, DeSmogBlog presents a video animation created by artist Mark Fiore, depicting the not-so-far-fetched “State Department Oil Services” led by Hillary Clinton:




Visit DeSmogBlog’s Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Action Page for more information.

09:50

Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Action Page

Below is a compilation of fact sheets, information resources and action items from environmental groups, governments and other groups surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline and the Canadian tar sands. Please contact us or comment below if you know of additional resources we should add to this page.

TarSandsAction.org - Coalition organizing the White House protest and a 10,000+ strong petition urging President Obama to say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Friends of the Earth's Keystone XL pipeline resource page, petition and report "Dirty Business: How TransCanada Pipelines bullies farmers, manipulates oil markets, threatens fresh water and skimps on safety in the United States."

NRDC's Stop Dirty Fuels: Tar Sands - Fact sheets about tar sands, Switchboard blogs on the Keystone XL pipeline, and a BioGems petition to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

National Wildlife Federation's Keystone XL Pipeline page and Tar Sands page- numerous fact sheets on Keystone XL and tar sands.

Oil Change International's report "Exporting Energy Security: Keystone XL Exposed" debunking the claims that Canadian tar sands oil is good for U.S. national security.

Bold Nebraska's Keystone XL resource page and letter urging Secretary Clinton and Governor Heineman to deny TransCanada's permit request.

Stand With Randy - Nebraska farmer and landowner Randy Thompson's page opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.

Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman's letter urging President Obama and Hillary Clinton to reject TransCanada's Keystone XL permit.

energyNOW! interview with DOE Secretary Steven Chu about the Keystone XL.

Rainforest Action Network's tar sands page with reports and fact sheets on Keystone XL.

Greenpeace Canada's tar sands page and report "Dirty Oil: How the Tar Sands Are Fueling the Global Climate Crisis" [PDF]

Avaaz's petition against the Keystone XL pipeline.

DailyKos page with sample letters to the editor about the State Department's Keystone XL decision.

DirtyOilSands.org website about the Canadian tar sands.

Interfaith Religious Contingent Against Keystone XL Pipeline

Sojourners religious site with tons of content about Keystone XL and climate issues.

U.S. State Department page on the Keystone XL pipeline.

TransCanada description of its Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

Selected readings about the Keystone XL pipeline:

NASA scientist James Hansen's "Silence Is Deadly" [PDF] June 2011 piece about Keystone XL.

Bill McKibben: "Why I Got Arrested Over the Keystone XL Pipeline".

New York Times Editorial  urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL proposal.

 

Los Angeles Times article exposing a 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa showing early U.S. support for Keystone XL long before the appropriate agency review process.

The Tyee's 'War Over Oil Sands' series of reports.

Robert van Waarden's photo essay of the impacts of tar sands development on Canadian First Nations communities.

DeSmogBlog's ongoing coverage of the Keystone XL issue as well as our tar sands coverage.

Mark Fiore's "State Department Oil Services" animation commissioned by DeSmogBlog:

Please contact us or comment below if you know of additional resources that should be added to this page.

August 23 2011

13:45

Photo Essay on Canada's Filthy Tar Sands - This Is Why Keystone XL Must Be Stopped

Robert van Waarden, an excellent photographer and friend of DeSmogBlog, has compiled this great visual essay on Canada's filthy tar sands to show people just a few of the reasons why the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline must be rejected by the Obama administration. 

Robert's photos are accompanied by quotes from First Nations' people whom he interviewed on a recent trip to the Alberta tar sands. First Nations communities living near the industrial tar sands development suffer the worst of the impacts, a fact often overlooked by the mainstream media. 


View the tar sands photo essay below:

Thanks again to Robert for putting this photo essay together for DeSmogBlog. Based in Amsterdam, Robert van Waarden is a climate change photographer and travel photographer whose work has been published in National Geographic Traveler, Canadian Geographic and elsewhere internationally.

Also check out Robert's previous visual essay on the impacts of tar sands development on indigenous culture in Canada.

August 03 2011

15:15

Interview with 'Kivalina' Author Christine Shearer - Trivia Challenge For Free Copy

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Shearer, author of "Kivalina: A Climate Change Story," an important new book that probes some of the tangible consequences of climate change denial. Shearer chronicles the very real experience of the melting and eroding community of Kivalina, Alaska, a smalll but resilient village community that sued ExxonMobil and 23 other polluters for contributing to the global warming that is tearing down their homes.

**Answer the trivia questions at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Kivalina.

Brendan DeMelle (BD): What inspired you to write this book?

Christine Shearer (CS): In 2007 I became part of a science project assessing the biggest human impacts to marine ecosystems, which required getting data from over 100 scientists. And the more I worked on it, the more it became clear to me that the data on climate change was really alarming, and that if we did not get a handle on this problem soon, it could be too late - we'd set into motions feedbacks that could not be reversed. Which made me wonder about the disconnect between what scientists knew about climate change, and what many in the U.S. were hearing about the subject - you know, that it's not happening, or it's not that bad, or it's natural, etc.

At the same time I happened to be studying the disinformation campaigns of past industries in one of my graduate classes - like lead and asbestos, and also climate change. Academics and journalists have been documenting the tactics of industrial misinformation for decades now.

And so one night - it was 2008 - I was in my environmental law class, and the teacher read a news headline about this lawsuit, this tiny Alaska Native village suing fossil fuel companies for damaging their homeland and creating a false debate about climate change, and I just knew I had to write about it.

BD: What was the biggest surprise you discovered in researching Kivalina?

CS: That their situation was so much worse than I thought it would be. Like I said, my initial questions and interests had everything to do with the misinformation campaigns and the lawsuit. So I went to Kivalina thinking that would be my focus. And then I got there and realized the lawsuit was just one part of the story.

I knew Kivalina was eroding and its residents needed to be relocated, but I imagined it to be a slow, predictable process, and relocation far off. And I got there and stood on this tiny, tiny island, completely surrounded by water - one side the sea, the other a lake - with some homes already hanging a bit off the edge, while other homes had already been moved inland, and I heard about large storms that took away chunks of the island. And then I understood that the erosion is not slow and predictable at all - it usually comes suddenly, quickly, and severely, in ways that threaten peoples' safety.

Kivalina is racked every fall by very large, intense storms, which the island used to be able to handle, because ice would keep the shoreline firm and act as a buffer. But that ice is forming later and later in the year because of increasing average temperatures, so when the storms come, Kivalina is a sitting duck, there is little protection. A rock revetment on the sea side was being built when I was there, but the people still need to be relocated, that is inevitable. And the revetment offers some protection, but some of the people say they still get nervous about storms, that the revetment won’t be enough. And they wonder if they will ever be relocated, because there is no relocation policy in the U.S., and they have been trying to relocate since 1992.  

BD: What is the latest news about the lawsuit Kivalina v. ExxonMobil?  Where do things currently stand?

CS: The village's claim of public nuisance, or unreasonable harm, was dismissed as a "political question" for the executive and legislative branches, and unsuitable for the judicial branch, which is how three prior climate change public nuisance claims had been dismissed. The judge also denied Kivalina legal standing to bring the lawsuit, saying that the greenhouse gases that contributed to the harm of the people of Kivalina was not "fairly traceable" to emissions of the defendant fossil fuel companies, which the judge said was required by the claim. This meant that the secondary claims of conspiracy and concert of action, which had to do with the misinformation campaigns on climate change, were thrown out without being commented on.

The decision is being appealed, and Kivalina is waiting on that decision. In another federal public nuisance climate change claim Connecticut v. AEP, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not bring federal public nuisance suits for an injunction - a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions - against large emitters because the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, even though the EPA has yet to regulate.

But Kivalina is different because here we have an identifiable, discrete harm, specific to the people of Kivalina, and a request for damages - the relocation costs - rather than an injunction. So Kivalina's lawyers argue that the claim fits the requirements of public nuisance, so we'll see.  

It might be like tobacco, where you have several lawsuits, but they only become successful after more and more documented evidence of deliberate corporate misinformation begins to emerge. Part of the reason we know so much about the tobacco industry was that their internal documents were released through the discovery process of litigation - no climate change claim has reached that stage yet.

BD: You focus a lot of blame for government inaction on climate change on what David Michaels coined the “Product Defense Industry” (PDI), which helps large industries to stave off regulations and avoid true accountability to the public.  If you had to pick 2-3 specific players, which individuals, companies or groups would you identify as the key actors most responsible for the success of this PDI network?

CS: Well, first I want to say that when I interviewed Michaels he was very reluctant to really tie the PDI to climate change, because his analysis of the PDI was based on his own experience and research, which was more focused on worker and consumer safety regulations.

But in my own research on climate change, I found his discussion of the PDI very applicable, because what you have is a dense connection of organizations, law firms, paid experts, and astroturf groups that represent corporate interests in fighting off regulations, lawsuits, and negative publicity.

So in terms of what makes the PDI in general most effective, I would say the tobacco industry. When I interviewed Michaels and asked him what separated tobacco from other industries that tried to mislead people, he said it was tobacco that turned misinformation into an art. And I would agree.

Before tobacco, you had manufacturers of things like asbestos and lead that would try to suppress scientific research that suggested their products were harmful, and either deny or downplay diseases like asbestosis or lead poisoning or try to blame it on other environmental or health factors, or even blame workers or children for getting sick.

But it was the tobacco industry that really seemed to perfect the tactic of creating doubt to try and discredit an entire body of scientific research. And it came out of litigation - the tactic was designed by their lawyers. They knew if they created doubt in jurors' heads about research connecting smoking to disease, they won, even if there was overwhelming evidence proving smoking is harmful, which there was.

And it was also effective as far as PR in shaping public opinion - you just give people that seed of doubt to sustain their skepticism. And they slowly and steadily built up all sorts of firms and organizations to spread this message of doubt, even on other issues, to give these organizations the appearance of being unconnected to tobacco.

Another big player was the PR firm Hill & Knowlton. It was started by a man named John Hill who was really appalled by the growth of government during the New Deal of the 1930s, and very much saw the firm's role as representing corporate interests, even if it meant doing things like shopping around for scientists to question peer-reviewed scientific research.

And that kind of work was picked up and continued by other organizations like APCO Worldwide, created by the law firm Arnold & Porter when it was defending tobacco companies - and now one of the firms representing fossil fuel companies in the Kivalina lawsuit. APCO really helped popularize the terms "junk" and "sound" science, and what that did was create a concept that allowed industries and their supporters to question scientific research without necessarily appearing to be anti-science, because they can say it's "junk" science. So research suggesting something is harmful? Junk science. Research suggesting it's not so bad? That's sound science.

And the third player I would say are the politicians who support this, because they are the enablers in turning certain corporate interests into established government policy. And I think the absolute worst was the Bush-Cheney Administration, which turned to fossil fuel industries and supporting firms to dictate U.S. climate change policy - or lack of policy - and even suppress or rewrite government reports on climate change science with think tank "research" funded by companies like ExxonMobil.

BD: You discuss the “discourse of doubt” created by the fossil fuel industry and its allies surrounding the science of human-driven climate change.   What do we have to do as a society to get beyond that confusion campaign and move towards action?

CS: That is the question.

I agree with the idea that there is no silver bullet to this issue, it will be a silver buckshot, a culmination of various efforts. So I wont lay out an exhaustive list of what people could do and are doing, which I think is all necessary and important, but just kind of sum up the main issue.

I don't think the answer is arguing with diehard climate change "skeptics" over the science - that is a recipe for a long waste of time with no successful outcome. But you might be able to find common ground with some of them on things like energy efficiency being a smart investment. And we need to differentiate them from the people who are more on the fence about the science and still trying to sort through all the info, since there is so much misleading info out there. The more people we reach, the more we multiply our efforts.

But there is denial of the science, then there is denial of the implications - that we need to transform how we live. I agree with activists like Bill McKibben and scientists like James Hansen. A problem as severe as climate change requires a mass social movement. Because what we are dealing with is a small group of people that want to treat climate change like it's just bad PR, to prevent social change. That is incredibly dangerous and totally unacceptable.

So we all need to do what we can, and then push ourselves to do more, and link up with people on our efforts. And we need to find common ground - climate change is not some yuppie environmental movement, it's a social justice issue, it's an economic issue, it's a political issue, so there is a lot of overlap for broadly shared goals. And we need to be as vigilant, as demanding, and as unrelenting as the pro-corporate movement has been. And I know the challenges are enormous, but they will be good for us, our community well-being, and our democracy, so it's worth it.
--
**For a chance to receive a free copy of Kivalina: A Climate Change Story, please email Editor [at] DeSmogBlog [.] com, with the correct answers to the following three trivia questions about Christine Shearer.  The first five people to correctly answer all three questions will win a free copy of “Kivalina: A Climate Change Story.”

1) Christine co-wrote an article about grassroots resistance against a proposed coal mine in what country?

2) Christine wrote an article with climate scientist Richard Rood. What was it about?

3) Christine works for the organization CoalSwarm. What is CoalSwarm's mission?

-----
Kivalina is available on Amazon.com and other top booksellers, and don't forget to seek it out or request it at a local independent bookstore near you.

July 29 2011

03:14

EIA Head Objected to Politically Dictated “Garbage” Subsidy Report, But Delivers it Anyway

Stephen Lacey from ClimateProgress on Tuesday detailed a letter sent to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) by three GOP House members asking the EIA to use loaded assumptions in running its models to show that fossil fuels are a better taxpayer investment than renewable energy sources.

These members, each of whom has received campaign funding from fossil fuel interests, essentially requested a report designed to suggest that renewables get huge public subsidies (they don’t) and that government handouts to fossil fuels and nuclear energy are a better deal for taxpayers (they aren’t). It was a blatant attempt to defend oil industry subsidies, and it put EIA in the unenviable position of lending its credibility to the talking points used by the oil, gas and coal industries.
 
Lacey reported that in a rare moment of sanity in Washington, the report was halted before it was turned over to the GOP requestors. Lacey’s report says that EIA cited “quality assurance” concerns, and would revisit the report to ensure it gives a “full picture,” accurate account of energy subsidies, not a politically driven result.
 
But “quality assurance” was the kindest way to portray what really happened.
 
DeSmogBlog has learned from sources familiar with the report’s fate that Howard Gruenspecht, Acting Administrator of the EIA, “hit the roof” when he learned about the assumptions the members had insisted the EIA use to draft the report.  Gruenspecht reportedly called it “garbage” and reminded staffers within earshot that the EIA was a government agency that was supposed to do impartial analysis, “not provide talking points to members of Congress.” Gruenspecht then called a meeting early the following morning at which the decision was made to halt distribution of the report and not give it to the requestors on the due date.

As of this writing, however, DeSmogBlog has learned that the EIA has reversed itself, providing the report to the three Republican House members.

July 12 2011

21:30

Stephen Colbert Skewers Talisman Energy Over Gas Fracking Coloring Book

Stephen Colbert devoted a must-see segment of The Colbert Report last night to the subject of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), mocking gas company Talisman Terry for its coloring book propaganda, "Talisman Terry's Energy Adventure" [PDF] and generally eviscerating the gas industry's efforts to greenwash fracking in the wake of widespread public concern over water contamination and other threats posed by the industry's drilling operations.

Colbert's team certainly had fun mocking Talisman's "Friendly Fracosaurus" character, revealing some "bonus pages" of the dinosaur facing his "violated ancestors" and committing suicide - frackicide? - by lighting a cigarette in the shower.  These references were surely amusing to viewers of Gasland and other followers of the fracking controversy.

Watch the video:

Video courtesy of The Colbert Report.

July 03 2011

16:39

DeSmogBlog's Brendan DeMelle on Ed Schultz Show and Ring of Fire Radio Discussing Denial-a-Palooza

DeSmogBlog executive director Brendan DeMelle appeared on the Ed Schultz radio show earlier this week to discuss the Heartland Institute's sixth International Conference on Climate Change - a.k.a. Denial-a-Palooza - and other aspects of the climate change denial machine.  DeMelle was interviewed by guest host Mike Papantonio, who is co-host of Ring of Fire radio, which also ran the interview on its Saturday July 2 edition.

Listen to the Ring of Fire version of the interview below:

March 23 2011

04:39

PolluterWatch Memo to Koch PR Team: Ever Consider Making Your Astroturf A Little Less Obvious?

PolluterWatch is serving up a great tongue-in-cheek "memo to the Koch PR team" tonight, noting the obvious blunders from Koch Industries' astroturfing and attack squad lately. The Kochtopus keeps revealing just how highly coordinated its media and blogger network is, mysteriously generating defensive and offensive pieces in quick succession at the drop of a billionaire's hat.

If it weren't so blatantly obvious in slinging the same mud and honey around the media Koch-o-sphere, perhaps Koch's ever-ready defender squad might be worthy of compensation? Oh wait, New Media Services does get paid by Koch to blatantly and disastrously attempt to edit the Koch profile on Wikipedia. 

And even if Koch's friends in media claim to rush to the company's defense out of pure ideological zealotry and not for compensation, there are a few instances where that argument fails to impress.  As PolluterWatch points out, Koch's PR team recently posted on the company's Facebook page about a piece written by Steven Hayward that seemed to support Koch's anti-science position on climate change and predictably tooted the old Climategate dud.<!--break-->

Head over to PolluterWatch and then ClimateProgress to read about why that didn't work out so well for the Koch team.

Among the reasons, as PolluterWatch points out:

If ever there was a Koch-funded climate denial mouthpiece, it’s Steven F Haywood.  He’s a fellow at four of the Kochtopus-funded think tanks.  They’ve all had quite a bit of funding from your clients
1986-2009:
Reason Foundation ($2,536,521),
Heritage Foundation ($4,110,571),

Pacific Research Foundation ($1,515,800) and
American Enterprise Institute (only $150,000 from Koch but Exxon gave them $2.8 million). 

So the total Koch money to Hayward’s groups is $8,312,892.  Add Exxon’s $4,341,000 and that adds up to a massive $12.65 million of denial punch. 


PolluterWatch then points out the Koch Facebook goofs:

And finally, while we’re discussing your Facebook page, another word of advice: if you’re going to promote stories that you’ve managed to place in blogs, perhaps drip them out slowly? 

During the Wisconsin protests, Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group led the tea party in support of Scott Walker and Koch became a lightning rod for protestors. (Bet that got you going).

Nice work lining up all the bloggers to support Koch - but posting them all in one day on Facebook?   Six posts in just a few hours? 4th March was a busy day for you.  But seriously, if you’re going to go on the offense, maybe make it a little less obvious? 

We know you must be paid an awful lot by this client – are they really getting their money’s worth?  Or did you leave your Facebook strategy up to New Media Services?

But wait, there's more.

March 02 2011

21:26

EPA Study Again Shows The Benefits Of The Clean Air Act To U.S. Economy

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday released its Second Prospective Report examining the benefits of the Clean Air Act amendments from 1990 up to 2020. The study confirms that the EPA’s clean air protections are not only vital for safeguarding the physical health and longevity of Americans, they are also extremely good for our economy.  While the cost of implementing the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments was just $65 billion, the direct benefits from these protections are projected to reach almost $2 trillion for the year 2020.

In 2020, the study projects the Clean Air Act will prevent more than 230,000 cases of premature mortality, 200,000 heart attacks,
 17 million lost work days
 and 2.4 million asthma attacks.
<!--break-->
From the EPA’s findings:

Our central benefits estimate exceeds costs by a factor of more than 30 to one, and the high benefits estimate exceeds costs by 90 times. Even the low benefits estimate exceeds costs by about three to one.

This net improvement in economic welfare is projected to occur because cleaner air leads to better health and productivity for American workers as well as savings on medical expenses for air pollution-related health problems. The beneficial economic effects of these two improvements alone are projected to more than offset the expenditures for pollution control.


Once again, it is clear that reducing dangerous pollution pays for itself, many times over.

But don’t expect the anti-science crusaders who control the Republican party agenda to feel persuaded by plain facts and economic data.  Science deniers like Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), remain steadfastly in favor of slashing the EPA’s budget and undermining the very protections that deliver these economic benefits and save American lives.

Unless it benefits Koch Industries or ExxonMobil, these GOP “leaders” aren’t interested in hearing it.

In fact, Rep. Upton suggested recently that EPA administrator Lisa Jackson ought to reserve a permanent parking spot outside the Rayburn Office Building where she’s expected to face a barrage of hearings to defend her agency’s budget and listen to plenty of GOP anti-science grandstanding that will waste taxpayer money and certainly won’t save any American lives. Upton even offered to “paint the curb yellow” for Jackson’s parking ease. What a gentleman.

Guess where Lisa Jackson spent her afternoon today? Yup, parked at the curb in front of another hearing to defend the EPA’s already shrinking budget in front of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee – a budget request for EPA that President Obama proposes to slash by 13 percent from current levels, no doubt to show that good ole “bipartisan” polluter-friendly spirit.

Just in case her "friend" Sen. Inhofe had not yet read the latest data confirming the cost-effectiveness of EPA’s work to safeguard public health and the economy, Ms. Jackson summed up the consequences in plain language for him and the rest of the committee in her prepared testimony:

“If Congress slashed EPA’s funding, concentrations of harmful pollution would increase from current levels in the places Americans live, work, go to school, fish, hike, and hunt. The result would be more asthma attacks, more missed school and work days, more heart attacks, more cancer cases, more premature deaths, and more polluted waters.”

Well said.  Here's another way of putting it: slashing the EPA budget right now would be akin to cutting back on one of America's best performing investments, our cheapest insurance policy. 

Surely the economics experts in the GOP can understand that? No?  How about putting it this way: The lives they save by funding EPA might just be their own.  After all, air and water pollution affect everyone, even science deniers.

February 17 2011

11:35

‘Energy In Depth’ Was Created By Major Oil and Gas Companies According to Industry Memo

DeSmogBlog has uncovered an industry memo revealing that ‘Energy In Depth’ is hardly comprised of the mom-and-pop “small, independent oil and natural gas producers” it claims to represent.  In fact, the industry memo we found, entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing Under Attack,” shows that Energy In Depth “would not be possible without the early financial commitments” of major oil and gas interests including BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, XTO Energy (now owned by ExxonMobil), and several other huge oil and gas companies that provided significant funding early on and presumably still fund the group's efforts.

According to the 2009 memo, Energy In Depth was orchestrated as a “major initiative to respond to…attacks” and to devise and circulate “coordinated messages” using “new communications tools that are becoming the pathway of choice in national political campaigns.”

Energy In Depth (EID) is featured in the news a lot these days, chiefly for attacking the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland, but also for its extensive efforts to malign the excellent reporting done by ProPublica, the Associated Press and other outlets. EID seems to attack everyone who attempts to investigate the significant problems posed by hydraulic fracturing and other natural gas industry practices that have been shown to threaten public health and water quality across America.
<!--break-->
Here is how Energy In Depth describes itself on its ‘Contact Us’ page:

"Energy In Depth is a project of America’s small, independent oil and natural gas producers...”

While EID prefers to project this ‘mom and pop shop’ image, the June 2009 memo authored by Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), reveals the seed funding provided by many of the world's largest oil and gas companies for the creation of Energy In Depth.<!--break-->

The memo states:

“The "Energy In Depth" project would not be possible without the early financial commitments of: El Paso Corporation, XTO Energy, Occidental Petroleum, BP, Anadarko, Marathon, EnCana, Chevron, Talisman, Shell, API, IPAA, Halliburton, Schlumberger and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.”


However, none of these major oil and gas companies, or the industry’s largest trade association - the American Petroleum Institute - are acknowledged on the ‘About Us’ page of Energy In Depth’s website.

Instead, Energy In Depth portrays modest origins, suggesting that its “website and affiliated educational programs were created by" a coalition of state-based oil and gas associations, whose logos are featured on the ‘About Us’ page.  This all seems designed to leave the impression that the EID was launched by small, “independent petroleum producers” rather than by the largest oil and gas companies on the planet.

Additionally, Enegy In Depth fails to acknowledge openly that its website URL was created by Dittus Communications, a Washington DC public relations firm best known for its work for major tobacco and nuclear industry interests. (Dittus is now part of Financial Dynamics, an international communications conglomerate.)

For a group that has accused Gasland director Josh Fox of creating an “alternate history,” and claims to want to “set the record straight” about the motives of anyone who dares to question the natural gas industry’s highly controversial hydrofracking practices, EID seems awfully disingenuous about its own ‘humble’ beginnings and ultimate interests.

The memo reveals the key role that the Independent Petroleum Association of America played in launching Energy In Depth:

“For months, IPAA's government relations and communications teams have been working around-the-clock on a new industry-wide campaign – known as "Energy In Depth" (www.energyindepth.org) – to combat new environmental regulations, especially with regard to hydraulic fracturing.”


Two IPAA staffers, Lee Fuller and Jeff Eshelman, spearheaded the launch. Chris Tucker is also listed as staff on the current ‘Contact Us’ page.  Tucker did double duty in 2009 handling communications for Energy In Depth and the Institute for Energy Research, using the same phone number for both. (IER has received over $300,000 from ExxonMobil and an untold amount from other oil and coal interests to confuse the public about climate change and to attack clean energy sources. For example, IER was busted last year by Danish journalists for financing an infamous anti-wind study.)

Why would Energy In Depth want to hide its high-profile sources of funding? 

Perhaps because these same companies are responsible for some of the worst environmental disasters in history, including last year's BP/Halliburton/Anadarko blowout in the Gulf of Mexico; Shell’s multiple atrocities in Nigeria; Chevron’s court-affirmed destruction of the Amazon rainforest; El Paso Corp’s deadly pipeline explosion in Carlsbad, New Mexico; Occidental’s Piper Alpha explosion - the deadliest oil rig disaster in history; to name just a few incidents among this group. 

Perhaps Energy In Depth thinks it might lose credibility with the media and the public if it revealed such key support from these notoriously reckless companies.

Perhaps it should?

February 10 2011

14:00

Exciting Updates and New Additions to DeSmogBlog

DeSmogBlog was launched five years ago to clear the PR pollution that clouds climate science by exposing the influence of polluter interests working to mislead the public about global climate change.  While we have educated millions of people along the way, the success of the fossil fuel industries’ ongoing campaign to create confusion and ensure policy inaction demonstrates that our work has never been more important than it is right now.

As we mark the 5th anniversary of DeSmogBlog.com, the DeSmog Project is excited to announce new leadership, improvements to our website, additions to our team of writers and researchers, and a glimpse at our plans for 2011.<!--break-->

Brendan DeMelle, a valuable contributor to DeSmogBlog over the past several years, will now serve as Executive Director of the DeSmog Project and Managing Editor of the blog.  Brendan is excited to build our growing team of writers and researchers, and to oversee a forthcoming significant expansion of DeSmogBlog’s Research Database, which serves as a one-stop resource for journalists and citizens interested in learning about the individuals and organizations responsible for misleading the public on climate change.

Science journalist and New York Times bestselling author Chris Mooney returns to DeSmogBlog to contribute thoughtful analysis and commentary twice each week about the state of climate science communication and politics.  Chris was recently appointed to the Board of Directors at the American Geophysical Union, where he will advise scientists on improving communications with the public and lawmakers on climate change and other science matters.  We're thankful to have Chris back on the DeSmog team.

DeSmogBlog.com readers will notice some new improvements to our website starting today, including enhanced social media networking tools, a fresh look to our menus and new options to increase the dialogue between our writers and site visitors.  

Readers visiting DeSmogBlog.com via mobile devices such as smart phones and the iPad will now have complete access to our site content, including images and multimedia.  We also have an iPhone app coming soon, designed to provide instant access to our growing Research Database, enabling policy-makers, journalists and others on the move to quickly research the purveyors of climate disinformation.

Jim Hoggan, co-founder and president of the DeSmog Project, is currently working on a new book exploring the history of corporate propaganda and dissecting the myriad ways the public and lawmakers have been duped by misleading and inaccurate PR campaigns on a number of issues, including climate change.  Beyond exposing these nefarious misinformation campaigns, Jim will explore the question of why, despite prodigious effort, humans are failing to respond to the sustainability crisis, and what existing and emerging solutions exist to this planetary crisis.

Please bookmark DeSmogBlog.com, sign up for our weekly newsletter, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and check back often to learn more about our efforts to expose the PR pollution that clouds climate science.

06:31

Environment Minister Peter Kent Claims Climate "Plan Is Working" and Canadians Are "Proud" of Tar Sands

Peter Kent, Canada's Minister of the Environment, suggested in a raucous Parliamentary exchange on Tuesday that Canadian leaders "have a plan, and the plan is working" to address climate change.  He also suggests that "Canadians are proud of the Canadian oil sands" which are "well regulated" and operated in an "environmentally sensitive and sustainable manner."

Check out this video from the floor Q+A session from Tuesday February 8th when MP Kent was asked to respond to a question about Climate Action Network's demands that Canada come up with a credible plan to deal with the climate crisis, and to move toward clean energy solutions instead of sinking deeper into the dirty tar sands. Here is the exchange:<!--break-->



How about it Canadians?  Are you "proud" of MP Kent's remarks?  Let us know in the comments, on Twitter (@desmogblog) and on Facebook.

January 17 2011

21:47

Oil Supermajors Desperately Chasing a Tar Sands Pipe Dream

The six major oil companies that for decades enjoyed phenomenal profits and power over the world's oil supply now find themselves fighting over the dirtiest and most dangerous oil left - Alberta's climate-wrecking tar sands and the dangerous deepwater deposits in the Arctic, Gulf of Mexico and other difficult to reach areas. Geoff Dembicki reports today in The Tyee that the oil supermajors once known as the "Seven Sisters" now control a tiny fraction of the world's dwindling oil reserves - just seven percent - while state-owned oil companies and national governments control 93 percent.

That shift in power has left the six Anglo-American oil majors sparring fiercely for control of the remaining dregs to feed our oil addiction.  Dembicki writes that:

"aggressive oil sands development appears to be one of the few viable growth strategies left for ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, ConocoPhillips and Chevron. These six energy giants are among the top-earning private companies on Earth. Yet their continued corporate existence, at least in its current form, is far from assured."

In their race to the bottom, these six oil companies are all vying for control of Canada's dirty tar sands. Dembicki notes that:

"all the supermajors own -- or plan to develop -- huge operations in Alberta's oil sands. Canada is one of the few countries left on Earth offering unbridled private sector access to major known oil reserves (in this case, the planet's second-largest)."

<!--break-->
An excellent report from Oil Change International recently revealed that the six oil majors don't have much else to show to shareholders besides the climate-killng tar sands, which dominate their portfolios of liquid fuel reserves.  Oil Change International estimates that ConocoPhilliips has derived 71 percent of its liquids reserves from Canada's tar sands over the past five years. That reliance on tar sands is also evident at ExxonMobil (51 per cent), Shell (34 per cent), Total (26 per cent) and Chevron (7 per cent).

Making matters worse, the Tyee notes that the competition over Canadian tar sands has inspired other countries with oil shale deposits to open up for business as well:

"The oil sands, meanwhile, are serving as a model for other countries eager to exploit their own unconventional reserves. Several supermajors, capitalizing on expertise gained in northern Alberta, have signed extraction agreements with governments in Russia, Madagascar and Jordan. They're also eyeing hungrily the potentially massive oil shale deposits spread across Utah, Colorado and Wyoming."

If the supermajors continue heading in that direction - instead of embracing the huge potential of clean energy technologies - they may well survive to profit a few more years on dirty fossil fuels.  But in the long run, they will have sealed the fate of humanity to endure the worst impacts of climate change. 

As the late Judy Bonds could often be heard reminding those engaged in the futile fossil energy race, "there are no jobs on a dead planet."

January 03 2011

23:20

Future of Coal Dims Further in 2010, But Dying Industry Still Killing and Polluting

2010 was a dark year for the dirty U.S. coal industry, with the deaths of 48 coal miners – the deadliest year in nearly two decades – and widespread recognition of the threat posed by hazardous coal ash waste to waterways nationwide. 

2011 hasn’t started off very well either, with a New Year’s Day article in the Washington Post noting the industry’s failure to begin construction on a single new coal-fired power plant in the United States for the second straight year.

An excerpt from the Post story:

“Coal is a dead man walkin'," says Kevin Parker, global head of asset management and a member of the executive committee at Deutsche Bank. "Banks won't finance them. Insurance companies won't insure them. The EPA is coming after them. . . . And the economics to make it clean don't work."

Not only are the coal barons failing to build new plants, but their aging fleet is also facing a huge wave of coal-plant retirements thanks to new and emerging EPA regulations, as Grist’s Dave Roberts summarized last month. 

Nevertheless, the coal industry’s best efforts to flood Washington with lobbyists and dirty PR tricks seem to have crippled President Obama’s campaign pledge to end mountaintop removal and stalled out EPA administrator Lisa Jackson’s momentum towards regulating coal ash as the hazardous waste it surely is. <!--break-->

While Massey CEO Don Blankenship chose to retire rather than take responsibility for his company’s deadly mines, his successor will no doubt keep on blasting away Appalachia’s mountains, with devastating consequences for the air, water, culture and health of local residents, not to mention the climate impacts. 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that the United States will lead the world into catastrophic global warming over the next 25 years. In its 2011 Annual Energy Outlook, the EIA predicts that energy-related CO2 emissions will “grow by 16 percent from 2009 to 2035,” reaching 6.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (or 1.7 GtC).

Those “energy-related CO2 emissions” projections are of course based on the United States’ continued addiction to oil and coal.

Thanks to extensive coverage of Massey’s and other coal barons’ misdeeds in films, blogs and newspapers worldwide, and a massive grassroots groundswell building momentum to shut down dirty coal plants and focus our energy future on efficiency and clean energy solutions, 2011 might be a brighter year. 

But unless President Obama’s administration follows through on pledges to rein in mountaintop removal and regulate coal ash as hazardous waste, 2011 could see more of the same story of death and destruction from the coal industry.

Who will prevail in 2011? The Bad News Barons of Dirty Coal? Or the Climate Hawks and battle-ready clean energy advocates?

 

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