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April 27 2012

15:45

November 07 2011

16:48

On Our Radar: $135 Million for Exxon Spill Cleanup

The oil company is removing damaged pipeline from the Yellowstone River to try to determine the cause of the rupture, which spilled 42,000 gallons of crude.
Sponsored post

July 29 2011

19:14

The Many Problems With Tar Sands Pipelines

Note: This post is part of an ongoing series about North American pipelines. For an introduction and links to the wide-ranging coverage--from safety to legal issues to the business and economics to vulnerabilities--see this regularly-updated intro post.

On Monday, the House passed a bill that would force the Obama administration to make a final decision on TransCanada's controversial Keystone XL pipeline by November 1. The Keystone XL project (which regular DeSmogBlog readers should be familiar with) would funnel tar sands oil from Alberta's massive reserves down to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas.

This isn't the place to discuss in too much depth the various and plentiful problems with Alberta tar sands itself -- from extraction to transportation to refining to combustion, it's the dirtiest oil on the planet. From a climate perspective, the Alberta tar sands contain enough carbon to lock the planet into climate chaos. In the words of NASA climatologist Jim Hansen, "if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over."

Because Keystone XL is so controversial, and because its construction could be such a tipping point in the climate fight, a broad and diverse coalition of scientists and activists are digging in their heels for a big fight, and planning a multi-week action at the White House. (Here's more on how to get involved.)

But since this is a post about pipelines, I'm going to focus on how tar sands pipelines are different than those that carry conventional crude, how they're much more prone to leaks and spills, and how those spills are particularly bad for the environment.

First, you need to understand what -- physically and chemically --  tar sands actually is. According to the Bureau of Land Managment, tar sands

...are a combination of clay, sand, water, and bitumen, a heavy black viscous oil. Tar sands can be mined and processed to extract the oil-rich bitumen, which is then refined into oil. The bitumen in tar sands cannot be pumped from the ground in its natural state; instead tar sand deposits are mined, usually using strip mining or open pit techniques, or the oil is extracted by underground heating with additional upgrading.

Once upon a time, the tar sands oil that flowed through North American pipelines was in the form of a synthetic crude. In other words, the sticky, viscous tar sands bitumin was upgraded to a more free-flowing form of crude before entering the pipes. But recently, the industry has found it cheaper and easier -- if not as safe or stable -- to dilute the bitumen with liquid natural gas, creating a substance called diluted bitumen, or "DilBit."

A joint report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Pipeline Safety Trust, the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, released in February, spotlights the specific hazards of pipelines carrying this tar sands "DilBit."

The report describes DilBit as "a highly corrosive, acidic, and potentially unstable blend of thick raw bitumen and volatile natural gas liquid condensate."

Testifying this past Tuesday in front of the House Energy and Commerce's Energy and Power Subcommittee, NRDC expert Anthony Swift laid out the specific risk of this DilBit to the pipelines themselves:

By itself, bitumen is virtually solid at room temperature - to move it through a pipeline, producers must diluted it with light, highly volatile natural gas liquids. The thick, abrasive mixture, called diluted bitumen, is then pumped through pipelines at high pressure - generating enough friction to reach temperatures of 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Besides the heat, both Swift's testimony (PDF) and the joint pipeline report warn that DilBit has higher sulfur and chloride salt contents, both of which can lead to corrosion and cracking. There's also high levels of quartz, rutile, and pyrite particles, all of which are highly abrasive. The "Tar Sands Pipeline Safety Risks" report specifies that diluted bitumen:

  • is more acidic, thick, and sulfuric than conventional crude oil;
  • is up to seventry times more viscous than concentional crudes;
  • contains fifteen to twenty times higher acid concentrations than conventional crudes and five to ten times as much sulfur as conventional crudes, and that "the additional sulfur can lead to the weakening or embrittlement of pipelines."

What's more, due to an unfortunate quirk of DilBit's chemical composition, underground leaks can be much more difficult for monitors to detect. (If you're curious about the finer points of this chemistry, check out the joint Tar Sands Pipeline Safety Risks report (PDF).)

So enough with the unfortunate chemistry of DilBit; we also have some empirical evidence to look at. With even a relatively short history, there are already plenty of spills and leaks involving DilBit, many of which have been covered here on DeSmogBlog.

The Keystone I pipeline (the first in TransCanada's Keystone system that could eventually include Keystone XL) has infamously spilled 12 times in under a year of operation. (This despite assurances from the company that leaks would occur from Keystone only "once every seven years.")

A May breach at a North Dakota pumping station spewed over 500 barrels, like a geyser, into the air. Local landowner Bob Banderet noted the discrepancy between TransCanada's predictions and the reality: "They said this couldn't happen," Banderet said. "It's a once in a thousand year occurence, and here it is right in front of you."

There's more. In 2006, corrosion in Alberta's Rainbow pipeline caused over 343,000 gallons of oil to leak near Slave Lake, as Emma Pullman reported earlier here. Almost exactly a year ago this week, roughly 800,000 gallons of DilBut spilled into the Kalamazoo River in Western Michigan from a pipeline owned by the Canadian company Enbridge. In fact, in 2010, Enbridge's Lakehead system spilled over a dozen times, accounting for more than half of all crude spilled in the United States last year.

Even that recent, awful Exxon Mobil spill that spoiled the "last great river," the Yellowstone River, has ties to tar sands. Exxon Mobil officials admitted earlier this month that the Silvertip pipeline "routinely transported" tar sands oil. 

Finally, after the tar sands oil does inevitably spill, cleanup is a heck of a lot harder than normal crude spills. There's proof in Western Michigan. Reporter Kari Lydersen traveled to Marshall, Michigan to report on cleanup efforts a year later that Enbridge spill. Her report for OnEarth is sobering:

When that combination, known as DilBit, spilled out of the ruptured pipeline, the benzene and other chemicals in the mixture went airborne, forcing mandatory evacuations of surrounding homes (many of which were later bought by Enbridge because their owners couldn't safely return), while the thick, heavy bitumen sank into the water column and coated the river and lake bottom, mixing with sediment and suffocating bottom-dwelling plants, animals, and micro-organisms.

Surface skimmers and vacuums were no help, and a full year later, EPA officials and scientists are still working on a plan to remove submerged oil from about 200 acres of river and lake bottom. EPA officials had given Enbridge an August 31 deadline to get all the oil out, but they now say a full cleanup could take years.  "Where we thought we might be winding down our piece of the response, we're actually ramping back up," said Mark Durno, one of EPA's on-scene coordinators. "The submerged oil is a real story -- it's a real eye-opener. ... In larger spills we've dealt with before, we haven't seen nearly this footprint of submerged oil, if we've seen any at all."


Setting aside all the other threats and hazards posed by tar sands, there remains the basic, physical truth that contemporary pipelines simply cannot safely and securely transport its diluted bitumen form. And when the DilBit does spill, it is a much bigger problem than the already devastating impacts of spilled crude. 

Still, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers' numbers, American imports of DilBit have increased five fold over the past decade. If the Keystone XL project is approved and built, that number will only rise, and so will the number of spills, and the public costs of dealing with them.

MAPS OF TAR SANDS PIPELINES IN THE U.S.

Here is a map put together by NRDC of the existing and proposed tar sands DilBit pipelines:
NRDC Tar Sands DilBit Pipelines

For a closer look at the network of existing and proposed tar sands pipelines and refineries, download this map [PDF] put together by NoDirtyEnergy.org.


Photo credit: National Transportation Safety Board

July 22 2011

12:15

Koch Brothers And ExxonMobil Join Forces To Fight RGGI With Copy-Paste State Legislation

As we’ve reported over and over again, the popular and successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and other regional climate agreements are under attack from polluters. Today, a bombshell report by Bloomberg News makes it undeniably clear who is leading the attack, and paints an ugly picture of collusion, influence, and state legislators deep in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry. 

The report shines a light on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which serves as a drafting board for industry-friendly state legislation and then subsequently as a sort of mixer for corporations and state politicians who are willing to accept financial favors to bring these copy-and-paste laws back to their home states.

Bloomberg reporter Alison Fitzpatrick 
writes:
The opportunity for corporations to become co-authors of state laws legally through ALEC covers a wide range of issues from energy to taxes to agriculture. The price for participation is an ALEC membership fee of as much as $25,000 -- and the few extra thousands to join one of the group’s legislative-writing task forces. Once the “model legislation” is complete, it’s up to ALEC’s legislator members to shepherd it into law.
Fitzpatrick calls out Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries as two companies whose handwriting (forget fingerprints) are all over the template legislation that forces states out of their regional climate agreements.
The process seems to work, at least to some degree. Within the past year, legistators in at least eight states have introduced provisions to leave their respective emissions reduction pacts. David Anderson, who writes the New Hampshire Primary 2012: Green blog about climate change and the 2012 election, first spotted the template. After doing some heroic digging, he found that in at least six of these states, the legislation introduced was literally copied-and-pasted from the template provided by ALEC. These states are Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington (all PDFs), and New Hampshire.

Anderson first spotted the language in the “findings” section of the New Hampshire bill. As he told Living on Earth: “It says ‘whereas there has been no credible economic analysis of the increasing cost of doing business in the state of,’ and then there’s a blank, so, in this case, they inserted the words, New Hampshire.”

When the bill was discussed in committee, Anderson reported this incredible exchange:

The bill’s lead sponsor, state Rep. Richard Barry (R), looked a bit like a dog caught with the family cat in its mouth when he was asked to explain the language at a public hearing; he nervously said that none of the bill’s sponsors had written this particular section, but stopped short of revealing ALEC as the source of the text. That didn’t sit well with Rep. James Garrity (R), chair of the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee, who later explained, “Our committee does not feel that editorials belong in laws.” The matter was resolved by dropping the ALEC text, and the amended bill went on to pass the House.

The language Anderson found in the New Hampshire bill is the same that Fitzpatrick identified (PDF) as the “eight-paragraph resolution,” that reads, in part, “there has been no credible economic analysis of the costs associated with carbon reduction mandates” and “a tremendous amount of economic growth would be sacrificed for a reduction in carbon emissions that would have no appreciable impact on global concentrations of carbon dioxide.”

Fitzpatrick reports that ALEC’s “model bills, which now total almost 1,000, are listed on its website, although their full texts can be called up only by members.” But the Center for Media and Democracy actually acquired the full texts of over 800 of the bills earlier this month, and posted them at ALECexposed.org.

ALEC has received at least $124,000 from the Exxon Mobil Foundation in dues and sponsorships, but that figure doesn’t include direct grants or gifts from the corporation itself. Greenpeace reveals that the Council has also received at least $408,000 from the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation since 1997.

This isn’t, of course, the first time we’ve seen Koch money directly influencing regional climate pacts.

Last month, Governor Chris Christie pulled New Jersey out of RGGI, stripping the ten state agreement of one of its key cornerstone partners. Next door in New York, Americans for Prosperity, a group whose ties to the Koch brothers are well established, sued the state for its continued commitment to RGGI.
So far, none of the legislative or alternative efforts to pull out of regional commitments have had great traction. New Jersey’s case was unique, as Christie was able to use a controversial executive order, but there's still a lengthy regulatory process to fully extricate the state from the pact, and Democratic leaders in the state senate and assembly are introducing new legislation to strip the governor of his authority over RGGI.

Despite
widespread public support in the Garden State, Christie, who doesn’t deny that humans are causing global warming, claimed that RGGI was "a failure and an ineffective approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” This claim has been widely and summarily dismissed by scores of economists, environmentalists, and five governors who remain fully committed to RGGI. "Governor Christie is simply wrong when he claims that these efforts are a failure," said Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

Americans for Prosperity celebrated Christie’s decision, even taking direct credit for it in a public press release: Americans for Prosperity Declares Victory over RGGI Cap & Trade!

The New Jersey chapter of AFP spent roughly $200,000 in the state on advertisements and other public efforts to fight RGGI, and plenty of analysts assume that Christie’s announcement was made to appease the notorious Tea Party funders as he sets his sights on a prospective White House run in 2012.

But while the New Jersey campaign was done in broad daylight, this Bloomberg News bombshell makes clear that Koch-funded organizations are still spearheading shadowy attempts to help states cut and run from their regional climate commitments.

With the prospects for nationwide carbon pricing at a ten-year low, regional agreements like RGGI, the Western Climate Initiative, and the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Accord seem to hold the best hope for creating a carbon market and generating revenue to fund clean energy and energy efficiency projects. For this reason, no doubt, polluting interests like Koch Industries are sharpening their swords, and their legislation drafting pencils.

July 11 2011

20:06

June 23 2011

22:58

Economic Benefits of Unconventional Gas Drilling Overblown by Industry PR

A new poll suggests that Pennsylvanians are supportive of unconventional gas drilling in their state. Not because it is safe, but because they are convinced the economic benefits outweigh the risks to public health, water supplies and the environment. This kind of reasoning indicates that gas industry rhetoric is having an impact: advertise the benefits, downplay the risks, convince people that you know what you’re doing and there’s nothing to worry about.

And this is just what the industry has done. 

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pennsylvanians are a receptive audience to the extensive public relations campaigns waged by gas interests to confuse the public on the contentious issue of unconventional gas drilling. Between Exxon Mobil’s commercials, Chesapeake Energy’s first-person testimonials from “true Pennsylvanians,” and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association’s billboards lining the highway, industry is leaving no public opinion stone unturned.

Pennsylvania is at the forefront of the gas drilling bonanza since it sits atop the coveted Marcellus Shale, so the oil and gas industry sees every reason to invest in winning public confidence. 

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), an industry group with over 200 member companies, is dedicated to improving the reputation of the industry and influencing public policy to cater to gas interests. With companies paying membership dues between $15,000 and $50,000, the Coalition can afford to buy the opinion of respectable public figures like Pennsylvania’s former Governor turned-lobbyist Tom Ridge, who receives $75,000 a month from MSC to give speeches and guided tours of gas drilling sites.  He recently tried to convince Stephen Colbert that he’s “not a lobbyist” but DeSmogBlog quickly revealed that Ridge is definitely registered as a lobbyist in Pennsylvania.  

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and its industry funded offspring, Energy in Depth (EID), tag team with the MSC to construct a portrait of energy security dependent on unconventional gas drilling, while attempting to keep fracking - the industry’s Achilles heel right now - out of the spotlight.

The industry’s large PR expenditures and advertising outlays are about more than achieving popularity; these efforts are ultimately designed to influence public policy. “They need to distract the public from the problems,” according to Pennsylvania’s Sierra Club director, Jeff Schmidt.

Energy in Depth’s recent report on the ’shale revolution’ highlights the economic benefits of unconventional gas production in Pennsylvania, including the hiring spree created by the dirty gas boom. The Marcellus Shale Coalition makes the same boast, reporting accelerated hiring rates across the state. The Coalition’s president, Kathryn Klaber, embraced the figures, saying “people who were out of work and now have jobs thanks to Marcellus development are more than statistics.”

But industry critics point out that the June report from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is misleading, intended to equate ‘hiring’ increases as job creation. But new hires do not equal new jobs and are often account for job replacements after workers have quit or been fired.

These industry groups, eager to downplay the environmental risks associated with gas drilling, tend to exaggerate the related economic benefits without telling the public about issues like out-of-state workers landing the jobs and taking their pay home, and expenses incurred by local governments related to damage to infrastructure such as roads, not to mention the high cost of responding to contamination incidents, blowouts and other industry mistakes. 

And it’s worth remembering the historical lesson that the economic effects of a temporary industry ‘boom’ are almost always followed by the bust, a fact the gas pushers don’t bother to discuss. 

Numerous reports highlight the cavalier optimism of gas production projections, the problems of dwindling returns in aging wells and, importantly, the irretrievable environmental damage associated with unconventional gas drilling.

These reports, while intending to make a long-term contribution to public policy, are often hard pressed to compete with industry-funded PR. 

Gas interests have a remarkable financial advantage over independent experts, environmental organizations and citizen led initiatives. In 2009, the MSC spent a total of $1.8 million on its PR initiatives while the IPAA has an $8 million budget, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The battles currently being fought over unconventional gas drilling legislation leave the future of government oversight of gas fracking uncertain.  Uncertainty is never a good feeling for dirty energy’s Wall Street financiers, so the stakes are high for the industry to protect its cash cow (even if the real cows are dying from reckless industry practice). 

Tom Hoffman, executive of Carbon Communications Consultants, suggests that gas companies have to strike while the iron is hot. “It is important for them to continue to tell their side of the story because there are still decisions being made by policymakers.”

Strike they will, but a growing chorus of public opposition will continue to counter the rush towards another fossil fuel disaster.

 

 

May 26 2011

16:27

May 07 2011

16:15

West Virginia Congressman Wants EPA To Stop Monitoring Toxic Waste

Republican Representative David McKinley from West Virginia has proposed a bill that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating toxic coal ash. The EPA has not yet made a decision on whether or not to classify coal ash as toxic, but reports show that the substance poses significant risks to human health.

McKinley is the sponsor of HR 1391, formally known as Recycling Coal Combustion Residuals Accessibility Act of 2011, a bill that would strip the EPA of their ability to exempt toxic coal ash from the EPA’s “Subtitle C” classification. Subtitle C lays out the guidelines that the agency follows in order to regulate toxic substances from “the cradle to the grave,” meaning that they provide oversight throughout the cycle of any form of hazardous waste. It also gives the agency the authority to conduct periodic inspections of plants producing hazardous wastes, as well as providing states and cities with training programs in how to manage these wastes.
<!--break-->
But McKinley is adamantly opposed to classifying coal ash as a toxic substance, and even went as far as to use his position on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to promote the use of coal ash. From a recent op-ed by McKinley, posted on the Committee’s website:

“Twice under the Clinton administration, in 1993 and 2000, the EPA studied this issue and concluded each time that coal ash is non-hazardous. But now, they are revisiting coal ash regulation — not because of new science — but simply because the EPA is controlled by an ideologically motivated president who has actually said he wants to “bankrupt” coal.”

As we’ve reported in the past, coal ash is known to contain the carcinogen hexavalent chromium, as well as toxic levels of mercury. We’ve also shown how manufacturers of coal ash have poured millions of dollars into lobbying campaigns to promote the use, and prevent a toxic classification for coal ash.

But after looking into McKinley’s campaign coffers, it is no surprise that he is fighting tooth and nail to prevent coal ash from being labeled as toxic. He has received more than $83,000 from the mining industry – the single largest industry to donate to his campaign. But it isn’t just the mining industry that has put money behind McKinley – big oil got in on the game as well. Exxon Mobil put $8,000 in his pockets, and the Koch brothers threw in another $10,000. An interesting note about this freshman Congressman – 66% of his campaign contributions came from out of state. Not bad for a man who had never held a federal office before.

And his stance on other issues is reflected by this money. During his campaign, he desperately proclaimed on his website: “The War on Coal must stop! Liberal Washington politicians and bureaucrats have been trying to limit coal production at all costs. I oppose any version of the cap and trade legislation that negatively impacts our coal industry. With our country using less coal, we will become more and more dependent on foreign energy.” He is also a staunch supporter of offshore drilling in U.S. waters. And in his seemingly never-ending battle against the environment, he also co-sponsored legislation that would have amended the clean air act to no longer consider the following gases as “pollutants”: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.

McKinley’s legislation, which is still being debated in Committee and has not yet been brought to the floor for consideration, would have far-reaching impacts on the environment. Not only would it prevent the EPA from monitoring coal ash, but any waste product produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Let’s hope that this bill stays stalled in the Energy Committee before any damage can be done.

April 27 2011

14:28

On Our Radar: Big Profits for Big Oil

Leading the pack is Exxon Mobil, whose profits are expected to approach $10 billion for the first three months of the year.

March 04 2011

12:47

Court Hearing in Exxon Valdez Case

A court case reopens questions about the oil giant's continuing obligations for the 1989 oil spill and the government's efforts - or lack thereof - to hold the company accountable.

February 10 2011

19:23

January 28 2011

14:05

Oil Equipment Foes Stand Down, for Now

After months of wrangling, opponents of planned shipments of massive oil equipment through rural Idaho are resigned to the fact that at least some of those shipments will go forward. But they say the fight is not over.

January 19 2011

13:13

Idaho Approves Giant Refinery Shipments

The state's transportation department said it would grant two permits to ConocoPhillips to begin moving giant loads of oil equipment along a disputed route.

November 23 2010

02:55

Exxon Fracking Fluid Spill In Pennsylvania Dumps Estimated 13,000 Gallons Into Nearby Waterways

XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, is under investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) after a 13,000 gallon hydraulic fracturing fluid spill at XTO Energy's natural gas drilling site in Penn Township, Lycoming County, PA.

The spill was first discovered last week by a DEP inspector who found a valve had been left open on a 21,000-gallon fracking fluid tank, discharging fluid off the well pad into local waterways, threatening a nearby cattle herd that had to be fenced off from the contaminated pasture.  Exxon/XTO has not provided an explanation on why the valve was left open.

“This spill was initially estimated at more than 13,000 gallons by the company and has polluted an unnamed tributary to Sugar Run and a spring,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Nels Taber. “There are also two private drinking water wells in the vicinity that will be sampled for possible impacts.”

DEP's sampling confirmed elevated levels of conductivity and salinity in the spring and unnamed tributary, clear indications that the fracking fluid was present in the waterways.<!--break-->

Exxon paid $30 billion in its June 2010 merger with Texas-based XTO Energy, making Exxon/XTO the largest natural gas producer in the United States, with extensive holdings of "unconventional resources" throughout the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere.

Concerns over natural gas fracking are widespread through the Marcellus Shale region and in several Western U.S. states where a boom in natural gas development is underway thanks to the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique.  Residents living near fracking operations are on the front lines as their drinking water supplies and health are threatened by the fracking process, which involves injecting a mixture of sand, water and undisclosed toxic chemicals into the shale rock to free up the trapped gas.

Pennsylvania is no stranger to fracking disasters, notably the high-profile contamination in the town of Dimock, where resident Norma Fiorentino's water well famously blew up on New Year's Day 2009, and at least 15 families have had their drinking water ruined by fracking, leading to illness, livestock deaths and other maladies.

Last week, the Pittsburgh City Council banned natural gas fracking within city limits due to concerns over the threat of water contamination and public health risks.

But Pennsylvania is hardly alone in the fracking fight. Fracking operations have contaminated water supplies across America from New York, to Wyoming, to New Mexico, to Ohio, to Virginia, to Arkansas, to Colorado and beyond.

The Environmental Protection Agency currently has no power to regulate hydraulic fracturing thanks to the Halliburton Loophole inserted into the 2005 enegy bill at the behest of former Vice President Dick Cheney, the former head of Halliburton.

Mounting evidence of the fracking threat nationwide has yet to convince lawmakers to close the loophole and hold the natural gas industry accountable for its fracking messes. As the New York Times asked in a November 2009 editorial, "if hydraulic fracturing is as safe as the industry says it is, why should it fear regulation?"

October 30 2010

12:11

Betting Big on Natural Gas

An Exxon Mobil executive offers passionate praise for the product that the corporation has staked so much on.

October 07 2010

20:45

Koch-funded Attacks on Prop 23 Include Manufacturing Science

In the latest example of polluter attempts to exert influence over science, the Koch-funded Pacific Research Institute was paid to manufacture another junk science “study” designed to lend credibility to California’s disastrous Proposition 23 ballot measure, an oil industry-backed effort to derail the state’s landmark AB 32 law to fight global warming.

The Yes on 23 campaign, a group launched and funded primarily by three oil companies – Valero Energy, Tesoro Corporation and Koch Industries’ subsidiary Flint Hills Resources - has been meddling in science, much to the liking of its oil industry bankrollers.  Recent financial reports reveal the Yes on 23 campaign has raised more than $5.2 million in the past three months, mostly from the oil companies.

The funding reports reveal payments of tens of thousands of dollars going to researchers at an industry front group well known for ginning up misleading research suggesting that California's clean energy efforts would kill jobs. 

According to the financial disclosures, the oil-backed campaign paid Pacific Research Institute $40,000, no doubt intended to bolster its efforts to attack California’s AB 32 law. 

<!--break-->Pacific Research Institute is also funded by Exxon and by the Koch family foundations, which have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the front group’s coffers in recent years.

The reports also reveal that a supposedly independent “economist,” Thomas Tanton, received $35,000 to produce a "study" suggesting that California’s efforts to reduce global warming pollution would hurt local economies and communities.  Tanton is far from “independent,” in fact he is a consultant to the oil and gas industry, serves as Senior Fellow of Energy Studies with the Pacific Research Institute [PDF], contributes regular columns for the Heartland Institute, and was a former VP at the Institute for Energy Research, another group heavily funded by oil and gas interests. 

The oil-backed Yes on 23 campaign is also trying to convince voters of color that their jobs are at risk, and that they are merely protecting the interests of the poor rather than protecting their dirty energy profits.  Many of their ads seek to appeal to the Latino, African-American and Asian-Pacific Islander communities that comprise 58 percent of California's population.

California’s clean energy economy is growing faster than in any other state, largely due to the passage of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, which opened the doors for clean energy growth. 

But it seems that the Koch brothers, like many of the rest of the entrenched oil and coal industry barons, will stop at nothing in order to protect the status quo fossil fuel addiction that is saddling the global economy and wrecking the climate.

August 04 2010

18:04

July 14 2010

20:51

June 21 2010

15:19

June 17 2010

19:05

On a Wing and a Prayer: Chevron's Deep Well

One of the deepest offshore oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico lies beneath 7,000 feet of water and under more than 20,000 feet of rock and sand. Operated by Chevron, it is less than 20 miles west of the unstoppable Deepwater Horizon blowout. And the name of the field and the rig anchored above it is Blind Faith.
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