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Sat, 2015-02-14 08:58Don Lieber
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After the Fracking Ban, What's Next For New York? An Interview with Sane Energy Project

On December 17, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in New York State. Citing the health risks associated with fracking, Cuomo said “I’ve never had anyone say to me, ‘I believe fracking is great.’ Not a single person in those communities. What I get is, ‘I have no alternative but fracking.’” His decision has widespread public support across the state according to media reports.

What does the New York ban mean for the future of the national debate over fracking? Will other states follow Cuomo’s lead? DeSmogBlog discussed these and related questions with Clare Donohue, the co-founder of “Sane Energy Project,” one of the first anti-fracking grassroots organizations in New York.  

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Anti-fracking activists thanking Governor Cuomo, on a street in Manhattan, on the day of the ban. Credit: AziPaybarah

DeSmog: What is your reaction to the ban on fracking by Governor Cuomo and what does it mean for the anti-fracking movement nationally?

Fri, 2014-09-19 09:12Don Lieber
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New York City is Amped for The People’s Climate March

Peoples Climate March by Chris Stain

The People’s Climate March” is quickly approaching.  The level of organization for Sunday's event is more impressive than any other rally — climate or otherwise — this writer has ever witnessed in New York City. Organizers have predicted some 100,000 people will march, making it not only the largest climate rally in history, but very likely one of the largest public rallies in support of any issue in the United States in decades.  

Posters, flyers and billboards about the rally are everywhere; this writer noticed the following posters all across lower Manhattan while running a few random errands:

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Poster at 3rd Avenue near Union Square. Photo by Don Lieber. 

Sat, 2014-07-19 08:07Don Lieber
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Climate Failure: U.S. Passes Saudi Arabia As World’s Largest Oil Producer

Is President Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy a success? Or a climate failure?

A report issued recently by Bank of America declared the United States has now surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer. The daily output average for the first quarter of 2104 exceeded 11 million barrels, a significant increase from the previous quarters’ (Sept-Dec 2013) average of 7 million barrels, according to the International Energy Agency.          

The expansion of domestic oil production in the U.S. has been significant under President Obama, supported by his “all of the above” — or rather the American Petroleum Institute's “all of the above” — energy strategy which has overseen a four-fold increase in drilling rigs under his administration.    

News of the surge in U.S. oil production was reported almost concurrently with the release of another news item: global climate scientists have again reported historically high levels of atmospheric carbon.  As reported by Climate Central, June 2014 was the third month in a row in which carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere topped an average of 400 parts per million — a level not seen on Earth in at least 800,000 years.   

Dr. Pieter Tans, a senior climate scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said, “As long as human society continues to emit CO2 from burning fossil fuels, CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans will continue to increase…..It is urgent that we find a way to transition to non-carbon fuels as our source of primary energy.”

Despite these warnings, Obama’s “all of the above” policies have in fact supported the increased development of key fossil fuel production sectors:  

Wed, 2014-06-04 05:00Don Lieber
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European Activists Protest First Major Tar Sands Shipment from Canada, Threaten Escalating Actions

Protests erupted in Spain last week at the site of the first major delivery of tar sands crude imported from Canada via the United States.  

According to a news report by EurActiv.com, an online news service focused on EU affairs, 600,000 barrels of Western Canada Select (WCS) crude were due to arrive at the port of Bilbao, Spain, imported by the Spanish oil company Repsol. According to MarineTraffic.com data on the tanker's location, it appears the delivery at Bilbao occurred on 29-30 May.

The Spanish oil giant is using this delivery as ‘a test’ to determine if future bulk deliveries are feasible.   

On 29 May, about 50 protesters staged a demonstration outside Repsol's Bilbao refinery, after rumours spread that the dirty fuel shipment had already arrived.  

The protesters, including local residents and environmentalists from all over Europe, have vowed to increase the scope and organization of the protests if shipments continue.  

Fri, 2014-04-04 12:07Don Lieber
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Spills, Explosions, Earthquakes and War: Welcome to American Energy “Independence”

A well-deserved show of gratitude to the efficient and reliable fossil fuel sources of American energy independence — oil, coal and gas — is in order, following a truly remarkable string of success stories in recent days nationwide.      

On March 25, the BP refinery in Whiting, IN, leaked some 1,600 gallons of crude oil about eight miles upstream from a main drinking water inlet to Chicago. (As of this writing, investigators have not yet determined if the oil is conventional crude or heavy tar sands.)

Three days prior, on March 22, nearly 170,000 gallons of bunker fuel oil spilled into Galveston Bay, TX, from a barge, soiling one of the nation’s busiest export terminals with one of the heaviest, stickiest forms of oil on Earth. As a result, 20 containment vessels were dispatched. 

And five days before that, on March 17, a Sunoco-owned oil pipeline leaked 20,000 gallons into the Oak Glen Nature Preserve in Ohio, some 20 miles from Cincinnati. To be fair, the leak was only ‘discovered’ on March 17. Nobody knows when the leak actually began, and the true amount of oil leaked will be impossible to conclude.   

These impressive gains by the oil industry, however, pale in comparison to the string of breakthroughs achieved in the coal industry in recent days in North Carolina.

Sat, 2013-09-28 07:00Don Lieber
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Solar Power Fights Climate Change, Poverty, and Lung Cancer

My writing for DeSmog, and other blogs, has focused on the problems related to climate change.  The burning of fossil fuels is at the root of these problems. 

The fossil fuel industries (oil, coal, gas) spend millions of dollars in PR campaigns and political contributions to downplay the consequences of their continued monopoly on world energy while portraying non-fossil fuel alternatives, like solar power, as impractical and too expensive to meet the energy needs of the world.   

The large oil, coal and gas companies don’t want us to be aware, for example, that renewables already account for up to 20% of total global electricity production, according to one French-based study.  A recent report in Scientific American states that renewables (solar, wind, hydro, together) will soon become the ‘second most important’ global energy source’ (after coal) and are “becoming cost competitive with fossil fuels”.    

While governments have been slow to support the widespread introduction of renewables (despite the scientific necessity), awareness of private and non-governmental programs, such as that of the WakaWaka Foundation, helps provide the public more confidence in the inevitable, necessary shift toward solar, wind and other non-fossil fuel sources which don’t wreck our climate.   

Take the example of one new solar manufacturer.  WakaWaka, a Netherlands-based NGO, provides solar products to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. WakaWaka runs several programs which combat extreme poverty AND promotes the use of solar power.  The foundation develops climate education kits for local communities and schools; provides micro-enterprise support  for start-up solar power entrepreneurs (including the provision of micro-community loans as necessary); and, donates solar products directly to some of the most isolated, poorest people on Earth, including those in humanitarian crisis zones.   Current programs are in Haiti, Africa and South America; they recently began a program serving a Syrian refugee community.

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