Brendan DeMelle's blog

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.

Wed, 2013-01-30 11:47Brendan DeMelle
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All Three Senators Who Voted Against John Kerry Are Pro-Keystone XL, Anti-Science, Climate Deniers

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the nomination of Sen. John Kerry as the new Secretary of State, by a vote of 94-3.  The three “no” votes were cast by infamous climate denier James Inhofe (R-OK), and two anti-environment Texas Republicans, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

All three Republican Senators, Cornyn, Cruz and Inhofe signed the letter to President Obama last week calling for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would lead to the expansion of the Alberta tar sands, one of the dirtiest megaprojects on earth. 

John Kerry is praised for his environmental record as a Senator, and he's widely anticipated to uphold his leadership role on climate change issues as Secretary of State. 

During his confirmation hearings, Kerry promised to make climate change a top priority at State. “I will be a passionate advocate about this, but not based on ideology, but based on facts, based on science.”

Thu, 2013-01-10 17:14Brendan DeMelle
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Skeptical Science Video Debunks "No Warming for 16 Years" Denialist Claim

The talented team at Skeptical Science produced the video below to debunk the well-worn denialist argument that there's been “no warming for 16 years” - a favorite lie of Lord Christopher Monckton and many other anti-science crusaders. It's fantastic, and deserves to be spread far and wide to anyone who is confused about this.

Watch

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