Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - 03:58 • Steve Horn

Proponents of lifting the U.S. crude oil export ban trumpeted the rhetorical question that since U.S. geopolitical rival Iran can export its oil, why can't the United States?

But now that “liquid freedom” has begun to flow from American export terminals to the global market, it turns out the same company that exported the first batch of U.S. crude oil to the global market is now also exporting Iranian oil products. That company, the Switzerland-based Vitol Group, was profiled in an investigative piece on DeSmog late last year. 

“Vitol, one of the world's largest traders in oil and oil products in terms of volumes, has fixed three vessels to load Iranian condensate,” Platts reported on January 29. “The recent removal of sanctions on Iran has resulted in international companies rushing to trade in Iranian petroleum with the latest being Vitol.”

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016 - 13:41 • Guest

This is a guest post by Aaron Viles of Care2.org
 
Two years ago, Nevada sat among the top of the lists as one of the best states for solar energy. Some of the reasons are baked into the state: its climate and sunshine make it ideal for both large-scale and residential solar. But what set Nevada apart from its other southwestern neighbors were the state’s policies that made it easy to capitalize on their geographic advantage. These include renewable energy tax credits for residence, a rebate program and generous net metering—a policy where utilities must pay residences for the electricity they generate.
 
But in the last year, Nevada’s solar standing has taken a nosedive as political leaders seek to overturn and phase out net metering, one of the most successful policies driving a boom in residential solar.

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Monday, February 8, 2016 - 03:58 • Sharon Kelly

Oil and gas wastewater disposal has been tied to a series of earthquakes in California for the first time, in a peer-reviewed study published last Thursday.

A string of quakes ending on Sept. 22, 2005 struck in Kern County near the southern end of California's Central Valley  – and the new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, concluded that the odds that those quakes might have occurred by chance were just 3 percent.

Instead, the researchers honed in on a very specific set of culprits: three wastewater injection wells in the Tejon Oil Field. Between 2001 and 2010, the rate of wastewater injection at that oil field quintupled, and up to 95 percent of that wastewater was sent to just that trio of closely-spaced wells, the scientists noted.

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Saturday, February 6, 2016 - 05:58 • Mike Gaworecki

As the US Senate haggles over a comprehensive energy bill, climate activist groups have identified the global fossil fuel reserves that must be kept in the ground if we’re to limit global warming to the critical 2-degree-Celsius threshold.

This week saw the Senate debating the hotly contested energy bill, which has been criticized by environmentalists for including a number of fossil fuel industry giveaways, including expedited permitting for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and subsidies for coal technology, among other troublesome provisions.

Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HI) responded by introducing an amendment into the energy bill designed to express Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science.

Senate Democrats ultimately stopped the energy bill from moving forward on Thursday over the fact that a $600-million amendment to address the water crisis in Flint, MI was not included.

The US is not the only country that needs to do some soul-searching when it comes to energy policies, however.

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Friday, February 5, 2016 - 06:58 • Connor Gibson

This is a guest post by Connor Gibson that originally appeared at Huffington Post. 

This article is the second of two posts examining Charles Koch's campus investments, as reported in Jane Mayer's Dark Money. The first post examined the history, long-term strategy, and true intent of the university “philanthropy” coordinated by Charles Koch. This post examines how Koch's academic network is openly dishonest about their work, lobbying for Koch's interests and recruiting students into his network.

From 2005-2014, Koch spent $109.7 million on 361 distinct campuses, according to Greenpeace's updated analysis of IRS filings from Koch's nonprofit foundations.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016 - 10:33 • Steve Horn

As the U.S. presidential race dominates the media, it is easy to forget that both chambers of the U.S. Congress are currently in session. The U.S. Senate has put a major energy bill on the table, the first of its sort since 2007.

The 237-page bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 — includes provisions that would expedite the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permitting process, heap subsidies on coal technology, and fund research geared toward discovering a way to tap into methane hydrate reserves.

As we saw with the lifting of the U.S. crude oil export ban, which was part of a broader congressional budget bill, a DeSmog investigation reveals that these provisions once existed as stand-alone bills pushed for by an army of fossil fuel industry lobbyists.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - 09:53 • Brendan DeMelle

Democratic U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HI) introduced an amendment into the energy bill yesterday intended to express Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science.

The amendment evokes the history of notorious anti-science efforts by the tobacco and lead industries to avoid accountability for the damage caused by their products, focusing similar ire on the fossil fuel industry’s decades-long climate cover-up.

Although it doesn’t name specific companies, the amendment is surely inspired by recent revelations about ExxonMobil’s early and advanced knowledge of the role of fossil fuels in driving climate change — which was followed by the company’s subsequent, unconscionable climate science denial efforts.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 17:06 • Mike Gaworecki

The U.S. federal government will stop approving offshore oil fracking operations off California’s coast while it studies how damaging the practice is to the health of wildlife and the environment.

In separate deals with Santa Barbara, CA-based Environmental Defense Center (EDC) and Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Department of the Interior agreed to assess the risks posed by well-stimulation techniques such as fracking and acidization when used on oil platforms off California’s coast.

Documents obtained by EDC following a 2013 Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the controversial well stimulation techniques were used on offshore platforms, while federal regulators had no idea where or how frequently the practices were employed.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 03:58 • Itai Vardi

Former US Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), who while in congress was highly active in promoting the interests of two American oil and gas companies operating in Israel, has recently been hired by these companies as lobbyist and advisor.
 
These same firms, Noble Energy and Genie Energy, donated campaign money to Landrieu, who lost her Senate seat in December 2014.
 
Noble is involved in offshore natural gas drilling in the Mediterranean, while Genie is exploring oil shale formations southwest of Jerusalem and liquid crude in the Golan Heights. Both projects are highly contentious and have sparked massive protests by members of the Israeli public.
 
As a representative of an oil and gas producing state, Landrieu’s enormous industry backing was well known throughout her political career. Her frantic – and failed – attempts to pass the Keystone XL pipeline through legislation in 2014 have forever earned her the scorn of North American activists. 
 
But much less recognized are Landrieu’s substantial efforts while in Congress to strengthen the energy ties between Israel and the United States, and, in particular, advance the interests of American fossil fuel companies operating in the Holy Land.

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Monday, February 1, 2016 - 03:29 • Kyla Mandel

The credibility of countries’ climate pledges agreed in Paris in December particularly those of the G20 nations must be strengthened, warns a new report out today.

While much attention has been given to scrutinising the level of ambition of each country’s intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, less focus has been paid to exactly how credible these pledges are.

In December 2015 more than 180 countries agreed an historic deal to limit global warming to “well below 2C” and to make every effort to keep temperature increase to 1.5C.

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