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Fri, 2015-03-27 02:27Guest
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Industry-Funded Taskforce for Shale Gas Just Published Its First Report. This Is How People Reacted

The industry-backed Taskforce for Shale Gas has just published its first report. But as Ben Lucas, MA Investigative Journalist student at City University, finds, the reaction from local communities and industry shows it may have missed the mark.

This week, the Taskforce for Shale Gas published its first interim report, calling for a new single regulator for the UK’s inland oil and gas extraction sector.

The industry-backed body said that the current system is too fragmented. Currently, responsibilities are shared between the Environment Agency, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Health and Safety Executive, and local authorities.

The report recommends that the next elected government legislates the creation of a new, unified regulator for onshore underground energy as soon as possible.

Tue, 2015-03-24 17:58Guest
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Who Says a Better World is Impossible?

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

Cars, air travel, space exploration, television, nuclear power, high-speed computers, telephones, organ transplants, prosthetic body parts… At various times these were all deemed impossible. I’ve been around long enough to have witnessed many technological feats that were once unimaginable. Even 10 or 20 years ago, I would never have guessed people would carry supercomputers in their pockets — your smart phone is more powerful than all the computers NASA used to put astronauts on the moon in 1969 combined!

Despite a long history of the impossible becoming possible, often very quickly, we hear the “can’t be done” refrain repeated over and over — especially in the only debate over global warming that matters: What can we do about it? Climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry apologists often argue that replacing oil, coal and gas with clean energy is beyond our reach. The claim is both facile and false.

Facile because the issue is complicated. It’s not simply a matter of substituting one for the other. To begin, conservation and efficiency are key. We must find ways to reduce the amount of energy we use — not a huge challenge considering how much people waste, especially in the developed world. False because rapid advances in clean energy and grid technologies continue to get us closer to necessary reductions in our use of polluting fossil fuels.

Tue, 2015-03-24 12:41Guest
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Lawyer Suing Neighbor for Smoking Is Defender Of Corporations Accused Of Toxic Smoke

This is a guest post by David Halperin, originally published at Republic Report.

There’s been recent media coverage of how two Washington DC lawyers named Brendan and Nessa Coppinger have sued and convinced a local judge to issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting their neighbor, Edwin Gray, from smoking in his Capitol Hill row house, which adjoins theirs.

Gray has lived in his home for 51 years; the Coppingers moved into theirs last fall. The Coppingers say that cigarette and marijuana smoke is seeping into their bedroom and their child’s bedroom. The Washington Post quoted Nessa Coppinger, 38 and pregnant with the couple’s second child, as saying, “This is a health concern. We don’t smoke. We don’t allow smoking in our home.” They are seeking $500,000 in damages from Gray and his sister, who owns the house.

I don’t begrudge the Coppingers for seeking to be free of harmful smoke. And they say they tried to reach agreement with their neighbor to fix the ventilation situation before filing suit. (Gray’s sister says she didn’t like the terms the Coppingers presented.)

What interested me about the case was that the Post and other media sources described Nessa Coppinger as “an environmental lawyer.” In Washington, that could mean a number of things.  So I looked her up.  For Nessa Coppinger, a principal of the 95-lawyer firm Beveridge & Diamond, it means that some of her accomplishments are explained on the firm’s website like this:

Thu, 2015-03-19 11:09Guest
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'Frackademia' Report Reveals Ties Between Government, Universities, and Shale Industry

While the government has decided to provide tax breaks for the oil industry in the 2015 Government Budget, everyone else has been talking about divestment. Ben Lucas looks at the growing movement and new evidence published this week on the relationship between government, universities and fracking companies.

What started out as a grassroots campaigning tactic to lobby big institutions to stop backing non-renewable energy production, has this week gained large-scale mainstream support.

The Guardian’s “keep it in the ground” campaign has now gathered a petition with over 60,000 signatures to ask the world’s largest charitable foundations to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. The UN has also come out in open support for the increasingly global movement.

And this week a report published by TalkFracking, a campaign group supported by Vivienne Westwood, on ‘Frackademia’ seeks to raise awareness about the influence of the fracking industry in university research departments.

Mon, 2015-03-16 02:59Guest
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Ridley's Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Fixates on the Past and Ignores the Present to Try and Predict the Future

This is a guest post by US-based environmental communications group, Climate Nexus.

Longtime climate contrarian and “coal baron” Matt Ridley returns to the Wall Street Journal to try to argue against data that show clean energy rapidly scaling up, and the science of climate change that links last year's record heat and widespread extreme weather with carbon pollution.

Ridley, whose family estate has a coal mine on it that will generate an estimated £4 million (or $5.8 million) every year until 2020, does the Journal's readers a grave disservice by distracting them from the coming energy disruption as renewables scale up, argues Climate Nexus.

Ridley repeats unoriginal arguments, citing obvious benefits from the Industrial Revolution while dismissing the global consensus of the scientific community that carbon emissions are altering our climate, giving us record-breaking heat and contributing to extreme weather events like California's drought and, through warmed waters and atmosphere, strengthens hurricanes and cyclones like the one that just devastated Vanuatu.

Fri, 2015-03-13 00:01Guest
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Fracking Firm IGas Refuses Further Investigation into Possible Site Contamination

Barton Moss fracking company IGas has hit the headlines this week as it stopped further investigation into possible contamination claims, writes Ben Lucas, MA Investigative Journalist at City University, London. At the same time, the company has agreed a £30m deal with INEOS for access to its other shale gas sites.

An environmental expert has been stopped by fracking firm IGas and landowners Peel Holdings from further investigating possible chemical contamination at the company’s Barton Moss drilling plant, the Manchester Magistrates Court heard recently.

Dr Aiden Foley of EGG Consultants presented a report to the court showing “dangerously high” levels of contamination near the perimeter fence of the test drilling site in Eccles, Salford.

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