Brendan DeMelle's blog

Thu, 2013-04-25 14:35Brendan DeMelle
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President Obama Slams Climate Deniers on Twitter

You don't see this every day. President Barack Obama used Twitter today to call out climate deniers in Congress who are blocking political action to address climate change. 

The tweet links to this video released by Organizing for Action, the 501(c)(4) campaign group that promotes the President's national agenda. 

Wed, 2013-04-24 13:40Brendan DeMelle
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Breaking: Enbridge Pipeline Spills in Minnesota (Updates original)

Enbridge's Line 2 **Line 67 tar sands** pipeline has leaked an estimated 600 gallons of crude oil at its pump station near Viking, Minnesota. Line 2 was built in 1956 and has a history of spills. Regulators ordered Enbridge to reduce its Line 2 operating pressure in October 2010 following the company's Kalamazoo River tar sands spill. 

The Enbridge Viking pump station also receives oil from the Alberta Clipper (aka Line 67 pipeline) that carries heavy crude oil and tar sands bitumen from the Alberta tar sands region south from Hardisty to Superior, Wisconsin and refineries in the midwestern United States. It is unclear whether the product that spilled was tar sands-derived diluted bitumen. According to a link provided by Enbridge subsequent to this story's original posting, Line 2 begins in Edmonton and carries petroleum products, including crude oil, from Edmonton to Superior. Both lines pass through the Viking pump station.  

The U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center website reports the details of the incident, which happened last night:  
“1044848”,”1044848”,”1044848”,”INCIDENT”,”23-APR-2013 17:09”,”THE CALLER REPORTED THAT A LEAK ON A PRESSURE TRANSMITTER RESULTED IN A RELEASE OF CRUDE OIL.”,”FIXED”,”EQUIPMENT FAILURE”,”23-APR-2013 15:45”,”18060 203TH ST NW”,”MN”,”VIKING”,”MARSHALL”,”ENBRIDGE ENERGY”,”SOIL”,”OIL: CRUDE

DeSmog was alerted by the Indigenous Environmental Network, which is en route to the spill site to gather more information. Stay tuned for updates to this post below.
 
**This story originally reported that Enbridge Line 67 tar sands pipeline suffered the leak, but Enbridge subsequently confirmed the spill was on Line 2. DeSmog regrets the error.**


Enbridge was warned earlier this month by the National Energy Board that the company “is not abiding by federal safety standards at 117 pumping stations along its extensive crude oil network in Canada, putting the safety of the public at risk.”

Sat, 2013-04-13 10:41Brendan DeMelle
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DeSmog's Kevin Grandia Featured in Rolling Stone's Fossil Fuel Resistance Edition

Kevin Grandia, DeSmog's former Managing Editor and current senior consultant, is featured in this month's Rolling Stone magazine.

Kevin Grandia: The Muckraker, as Rolling Stone aptly calls him, is recognized for his excellent work in the aftermath of Climategate especially. As long-time DeSmog readers will remember well, Kevin read every page of the stolen emails and worked overtime to educate reporters about the way that climate deniers had ginned up a fake controversy out of thin air. 

Rolling Stone's Jesse Hyde writes:

Grandia hopes something like that never happens again – which is why he now helps run DeSmogBlog, a Canadian website that does daily battle with climate change skeptics, aggregating the best research on global warming and dissecting misinformation campaigns backed by right-wing think tanks. He's traced much of the money that funds anti-global-warming research back to the fossil fuel industry and found that some of the most outspoken skeptics once worked for Big Tobacco. “They're using the exact same tactics they used to convince people smoking doesn't cause cancer,” Grandia says. “It's a tactic that's been around forever. You can muddle up a debate for a long time just by creating doubt.”

Grandia is featured alongside Tim DeChristopher, James Hansen, Maria Gunnoe, Sandra Steingraber and a dozen other incredible fossil fuel resisters in Rolling Stone. And of course, don't miss Bill McKibben's article about the climate movement rising to challenge the fossil fuel status quo.

Congrats to Kevin from the DeSmog team! 

Thu, 2013-04-04 02:28Brendan DeMelle
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Alberta Govt Hires Bipartisan Team of Lobbyists to Woo Washington on Risky KXL Tar Sands Pipeline

The Alberta government has hired a team of “foreign special interest groups“ to lobby the U.S. Congress and the White House in a desperate attempt to garner support for the risky Keystone XL pipeline that would carry (and certainly spilltar sands crude through the heartland of America to the Gulf Coast and on to export markets overseas. Given the Exxon tar sands spill in Arkansas, dilbit train derailment in Minnesota and other tar sands disasters in recent weeks, I suppose Alberta figured it needs all the help it can muster.

Politico reports that Alberta is spending $200,000 over the next few months to retain the lobbying and PR services of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications and Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. 

Politico quotes a filing from the Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti firm that says it will provide “strategic consulting in educating U.S. government officials about the Keystone XL pipeline and Alberta's energy resources,” while the Rasky firm will “assist in communicating priority issues and promoting the principal's energy and environmental positions to the executive and legislative branches of government as well as other U.S. institutions.”

While the ultimate fate of the Keystone XL pipeline rests squarely in the hands of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, Alberta is ramping up its all-out Washington blitz to win support for the controversial proposal in Congress and anywhere on the Hill their lobbyists can get in the door. 

Here is a brief look at the specific lobbyists retained to curry favor on behalf of the Alberta government. Note that at least two have experience working on the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John Kerry.

Fri, 2013-03-01 15:06Brendan DeMelle
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New York Times Shuts Down Popular Green Energy & Environment Blog

Only a few weeks after The New York Times announced it would be dismantling its environment reporting desk, a visit today to the popular New York Times Green blog finds that it has been shut down as well.

In a post titled “A Blog's Adieu,” they write:

“The Times is discontinuing the Green blog, which was created  to track environmental and energy news and to foster lively discussion of developments in both areas. This change will allow us to direct production resources to other online projects. But we will forge ahead with our aggressive reporting on environmental and energy topics, including climate change, land use, threatened ecosystems, government policy, the fossil fuel industries, the growing renewables sector and consumer choices.”

I'll post reactions to this bad news as I receive them. Pop any that you see into the comments below, please. 

Mon, 2013-02-11 00:44Brendan DeMelle
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Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaires

A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.

Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry's role in driving climate disruption.

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, traces the roots of the Tea Party's anti-tax movement back to the early 1980s when tobacco companies began to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as health studies finding a link between cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.

Published in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Tobacco Control, the study titled, 'To quarterback behind the scenes, third party efforts': the tobacco industry and the Tea Party, is not just an historical account of activities in a bygone era. As senior author, Stanton Glantz, a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) professor of medicine, writes:

“Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry's anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda.”

The two main organizations identified in the UCSF Quarterback study are Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks. Both groups are now “supporting the tobacco companies' political agenda by mobilizing local Tea Party opposition to tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws.” Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity were once a single organization called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). CSE was founded in 1984 by the infamous Koch Brothers, David and Charles Koch, and received over $5.3 million from tobacco companies, mainly Philip Morris, between 1991 and 2004.

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