Brendan DeMelle's blog

Tue, 2012-03-27 17:16Brendan DeMelle
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Sierra Club Launches "Mr. Coal" Video Campaign to Mock Dirty Coal PR

The Sierra Club launched a funny new ”Mr. Coal“ video campaign this week in its ongoing 'Beyond Coal' effort to shut down coal plants throughout the United States.

The campaign will feature a steady stream of satirical TV commercials mocking the coal industry's incessant and incredulous claims about job creation, “clean coal,” and many other dirty PR tricks pitched by King Coal time and time again.

Feast your eyes on one of the ads below:

The Club has teamed up with Mekanism, a San Francisco, CA-based creative campaign agency, to push out these commercials.

Wed, 2012-03-21 12:30Brendan DeMelle
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Documents Reveal USDA Risking Lawsuits by Ignoring Own Staff On Fracking Mortgages Review

A major storm is brewing over the USDA’s sudden about-face on fracking and environmental laws. On Tuesday, the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture pulled a 180-degree U-turn and decided to reverse the call made by his staff specialists, who advised that the agency immediately stop giving special exemptions from environmental laws to people applying for federal mortgages on properties with oil and gas leases.

Now, environmentalists, members of Congress, and transparency groups are saying that something seems amiss and they are looking for answers.

It all started on Monday when The New York Times ran a story with emails showing that the USDA planned to tell its $165 billion dollar mortgage program to stop financing properties with drilling leases until an environmental review of the impact of drilling and fracking on homes backed by the agency could be completed.

The proposal by the Agriculture Department, which has signaled its intention in e-mails to Congress and landowners, reflects a growing concern that lending to owners of properties with drilling leases might violate the National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA, which requires environmental reviews before federal money is spent. Because that law covers all federal agencies, the department’s move raises questions about litigation risks for other agencies, legal experts said,” the Times story explained.

DeSmogBlog has obtained many of the emails and they make very clear that the staff specialists, whose job it is to interpret laws like NEPA, believe that environmental reviews are legally required and that the agency is vulnerable to litigation if it gives these mortgages a pass, called a “categorical exclusion.”

Fri, 2012-03-16 11:19Brendan DeMelle
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Ethical Oil: The Puppet Rap

It's time for Friday funnies, and the top hit today is Ethical Oil: the Puppet Rap, which first popped up over at The Tyee.

It's a foul-mouthed, satirical music video remix of Kathryn Marshall's ridiculous PR gymnastics to avoid answering a basic question from CBC's Evan Solomon whether Enbridge funds the Ethical Oil Institute. The second half features “Easy-E” Ezra Levant, the founder of the Ethical Oil Institute and creator of the 'ethical oil' talking point.

Check it out:


  

Fri, 2012-02-24 17:48Brendan DeMelle
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Republic Report Slams Media Obsession With Shiny Penny In Heartland DenialGate Coverage

Lee Fang at the Republic Report has a great post noting the media's obsession with the shiny penny of the who/how story surrounding the leaked documents chronicling the Heartland Institute's planned attacks on science and democracy.  

While groups like Greenpeace, The Climate Reality Project and Forecast the Facts are focused on exposing the real scandals uncovered in Denialgate, most mainstream media outlets are mesmerized with the Peter Gleick saga rather than reporting on the revelations within the documents.

The debate about what Gleick did to acquire the internal documents from Heartland will surely rage on. It will make good fodder for university students in ethics and journalism classes for years to come.

But as Republic Report points out, it is hardly the most vital aspect of the story for mainstream media outlets to prioritize coverage on right now. That is, if the mainstream media are truly reporting what's in the public interest, rather than chasing advertising revenue through scandal-mongering.

Fang writes: 

While bending this story away from a focus on Heartland’s M.O. and onto Gleick’s methods might seem like an impossible task, it seems as [if] the media is taking the hook firmly in its mouth.  

The real question the media should be considering is not how Gleick got his hands on a few documents, but how to cover Heartland — both how it has covered it in the past and how it will in the future.

Head over to Republic Report to read the rest, it's spot on in my opinion. And bookmark RepublicReport.org, a must-read new site launched in recent months to expose the corporate cash corrupting democracy. It's a rockstar team of investigators surely worth following closely. 

Wed, 2012-02-22 12:50Brendan DeMelle
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Congressman Calls For Hearing Into Heartland Institute Payments to Federal Employee Indur Goklany

Representative Raúl M. Grijalva today called for a full Natural Resources Committee hearing to probe whether Indur Goklany, a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Interior Department, improperly received payments from the Heartland Institute while collecting a paycheck from U.S. taxpayers.

Rep. Grijalva, the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, urged his fellow Congressmen to hold a hearing as early as next week to determine whether Goklany “received money he was promised by the Heartland Institute for writing a chapter in a book focused on climate policy in apparent violation of federal rules, among other issues.”

This is just the first of what should and will likely be many hearings into the facts revealed in the 'Denialgate' leaked Heartland Institute documents.

Heartland’s leaked 2012 Proposed Budget document indicates that it plans to pay Goklany $1,000 per month this year to write a chapter on “Economics and Policy” for a report by the Heartland-funded NIPCC.  Greenpeace notes in its letter to DOI Secretary Ken Salazar today that federal employees are warned not to take payments from outside organizations, particularly for “teaching, speaking and writing that relates to [their] official duties.”

Tue, 2012-02-14 13:13Brendan DeMelle
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Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more.


-Confirmation that Charles G. Koch Foundation is again funding Heartland Institute’s global warming disinformation campaign. [Update: Apparently even the Koch brothers think the Heartland Institute's climate denial program is too toxic to fund. On Wednesday, Koch confirmed that it did not cut a check for the $200K mentioned in the strategy memo after all. A statement released on KochFacts.com and the charleskochfoundationfacts.org states that “…the Charles Koch Foundation provided $25,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2011 for research in healthcare, not climate change, and this was the first and only donation the Foundation made to the institute in more than a decade. The Foundation has made no further commitments of funding to Heartland.”]

Greenpeace’s Koch reports show the last time Heartland received Koch funding was in 1999

The **January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy** states:

We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.”

-Heartland Institute’s global warming denial machine is chiefly – and perhaps entirely – funded by one Anonymous donor:

Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 - about 20% of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012…”

-Confirmation of exact amounts flowing to certain key climate contrarians. 

funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.”

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