Brendan DeMelle's blog

Judge Rules Against Cuccinelli’s Witch Hunt Of Michael Mann

Virginia Attorney General and global warming denier Ken Cuccinelli has been rebuffed by a state Circuit Court judge who ruled today that Cuccinelli’s politically-charged subpoena against the University of Virginia and climate scientist Michael Mann lacked an “objective basis.”

Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli’s subpoena failed to include a “reason to believe” that Mann violated Virginia fraud statutes by receiving research grants from the state to study climate change.  Cuccinelli is seeking years’ worth of documents related to Mann’s work at UVA, but his political attacks on climate science and efforts to waste Virginia taxpayers’ money will have to return to the drawing board. 

In his six-page ruling Judge Peatross wrote:

“What the Attorney General suspects that Dr. Mann did that was false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth is simply not stated.”

Dr. Mann, who now works at Penn State University, said in a statement: “It is a victory not just for me and the university, but for all scientists who live in fear that they may be subject to a politically-motivated witch hunt when their research findings prove inconvenient to powerful vested interests.”

Toxic Coal Ash Threatens At Least 137 Sites In 34 States

A new study by three top environmental groups reveals another 39 coal ash threats in 21 states, bringing the total number of known coal ash threats to 137 in 34 states.  

The report by the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, and the Sierra Club details the newly identified slurry ponds and impoundments filled with toxic coal ash that threaten drinking water supplies and public health at sites around the country.  

Earlier this year the groups identified 31 coal ash disposal sites in 14 states, adding to the 67 sites already identified by the Environmental Protection Agency.  The latest report brings the total number to 137 sites where coal ash threatens public health and water supplies. 

The U.S. EPA is currently grappling with how to regulate the toxic coal ash threat, which is now checked only by individual state laws that have failed to adequately protect the public from this growing problem.

Oil & Gas Industries Spent Record $175 Million Lobbying Against Climate Action

The oil and gas industries unleashed a massive $175 million lobbying spree last year to derail U.S. efforts to address climate change, according to a new series of reports by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). blogger Evan Mackinder reveals just how badly oil and gas interests pummeled the environmental community, which spent its own record $22.4 million trying to convince Washington to get its act together to fight global warming.  

As CRP notes, “Goliath whipped David.”

CRP’s new series, titled “Fueling Washington: How Oil Money Drives Politics,” details the oil and gas industries’ outsized influence in Washington. 

The New Yorker Exposes Koch Industries "Kochtopus" Behind Tea Party and Climate Denial Machine

The New Yorker has published a must-read article exposing the long reach of the “Kochtopus” network set up by Koch Industries to fuel the Tea Party and fund the climate denial machine.  

Written by investigative journalist Jane Mayer, the piece titled “Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging war against Obama” explores the decades-long efforts of brothers David and Charles Koch to manipulate and deceive the public on issues ranging from climate change to cancer-causing chemicals. 

Koch Industries has done far more than even ExxonMobil to fund the climate denial machine in recent years, and media coverage about numerous Tea Party and GOP candidates who deny the science of climate change confirm that the Kochs’ reach has infected national politics in unprecedented ways.

The lengthy New Yorker article covers many interesting new angles about the Kochs’ influence-peddling empire, and adds to a growing body of research about Koch Industries’ anti-science, anti-democratic activities.

Building upon the research from Greenpeace’s excellent Koch report earlier this year, Jane Mayer expands on Koch’s role in funding climate deniers and anti-science think tanks, not to mention the Tea Party. 

Head over to The New Yorker to read the slimy details.  

UVA Students, Faculty and Alumni To Protest Ken Cuccinelli Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientist On Friday

University of Virginia faculty, students and alumni will gather Friday afternoon to protest against Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s witch hunt against former UVA Professor and leading climate scientist Michael Mann.  The protest is timed to coincide with the ruling of a Virginia Circuit Court judge who is set to rule on whether to allow Cuccinelli’s frivolous investigation to continue. 

Cuccinelli’s political attack on climate science has two ongoing fronts right now, one targeting climate scientist Michael Mann, and another involving a lawsuit filed by Cuccinelli against the EPA attempting to block the agency’s efforts to regulate carbon dioxide pollution. 

Charlottesville, Virginia ABC affiliate WHSV reports:

Students, faculty members and alumni of the University of Virginia will gather to protest Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s investigation of UVA and former UVA Professor Michael Mann Friday at 1 p.m. on the north (street) side of the University’s Rotunda at 1826 University Ave.

Climate Skeptic Pat Michaels Admits On CNN Forty Percent of His Funding Comes From Oil Industry

Notorious climate skeptic Pat Michaels of the CATO Institute finally admitted openly on CNN this weekend that 40 percent of his funding comes from - wait for it - Big Oil. 

DeSmogBlog readers have known for years about Michaels’ long-time association with a network of at least eleven think tanks and industry front groups funded by ExxonMobil. Many of these same outlets have received funding from other oil interests like the Koch Family Foundations.

Michaels’ admission that he receives around 40 percent - his guess - of his funding from Big Oil is important, because he is quoted widely in the media for his skepticism about manmade climate change.  As the ExxonSecrets profile of Pat Michaels sums up well, he is “possibly the most prolific and widely-quoted climate change skeptic scientist.”

Fareed Zakaria deserves a round of applause for challenging Michaels directly to cough up a figure for how much oil money he receives to defend the status quo fossil fuel addiction and to confuse the public about the threat of climate change.  Far too few journalists bother to ask that question, and Zakaria has sent a much needed reminder to journalists - it is your job to expose the potential conflicts of interest among your interviewees.  Zakaria gets an A+ for outing Michaels’ oily funding.


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