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Sat, 2013-12-07 07:00Guest
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Texas Fracking Executive Mark Grawe Threatened to Label Residents "Terrorists"

This is a guest post by Eric Moll, originally published on Occupy.com

Eagleridge Inc. Chief Operations Officer Mark Grawe brought an armed cop with him to a November 13 Homeowners Association meeting in Mansfield, a suburb of Fort Worth, Tex., and told residents that anyone who protested his company's gas wells — some of which are located less than 200 feet from homes, schools and playgrounds — would find themselves on Department of Homeland Security terrorist watch lists.

Though “terrorism” is understood to mean the use of violence and intimidation for political coercion, Grawe showed no sense of irony bringing a guard armed with a gun, a taser and a can of pepper spray to a neighborhood meeting to help deliver his pro-fracking message.

It’s unclear whether Grawe’s statements were off-the-cuff errors or part of a deliberate strategy. The remarks certainly aren't winning him PR victories, as the response from a blogger with the Drilling Awareness Group (DAG), based in Denton, Tex., makes clear.

The DAG blogger asserts, indignantly, that citizens opposing fracking wells in their back yards “are not radicals” and do not break the law for holding their beliefs. The odd insinuation here, of course, is that so-called “radicals” who do break the law are deserving of the terrorist label, even though the rapidly growing nationwide movement against fracking has been almost entirely peaceful.

Grawe seems to be operating straight out of the frack industry playbook. In a document leaked earlier this year, one of the largest corporate intelligence firms, Stratfor, laid out a strategy for defeating public opposition to petrochemical infrastructure. Stratfor categorizes activists as “radicals,” “idealists,” “realists,” and “opportunists.”

Wed, 2013-12-04 16:18Guest
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Boston Globe Columnist Jeff Jacoby Distorts Survey And Study To Deny Climate Consensus

This is a guest post by Climate Nexus, and originally appeared on Climate Science Watch.

Jeff Jacoby’s recent Boston Globe op-ed misses the mark on the climate consensus. His argument boils down to the claim that there’s no consensus among scientists on the causes and effects of global warming – plus, the very idea of consensus is “authoritarian and anti-scientific” anyway. Both parts of this assertion completely mischaracterize the way that science works, using previously debunked factoids that don’t belong in a news outlet of this prominence. Climate scientists agree that human activity is warming our planet, and that this is causing harmful impacts that will get worse if we do nothing.

A few examples show the thinness of Jacoby’s justification:

Meteorologists actually support the facts of human-caused climate change. Jacoby cites a recent survey of the American Meteorological Society, even though the study authors themselves have already spoken up to directly refute his interpretation of their work. In fact, 73% of AMS members surveyed agree that human activities have contributed to warming, and that number rises among those with greater scientific expertise. Among meteorologists actively publishing on climate topics, 93% agreed.

Furthermore, meteorologists are just a subset of the scientific community. The 93% consensus among meteorologists does not refute the 97% consensus (established via multiple different survey methods) among the broader climate science community that humans are warming our climate.

Thu, 2013-11-28 06:00Guest
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Greenpeace 'Arctic 30' Arrests Show Attempts to Silence Environmentalists Continue

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

Early November marked the 18th anniversary of the tragic murder of outspoken writer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight colleagues by the Nigerian government. Saro-Wiwa and the others had waged a long campaign to stop multinational oil company Royal Dutch Shell from drilling in the lands of the Ogoni people in the Niger delta.

Nigerian military harassed and intimidated members of the Ogoni community for years because they opposed Shell’s drilling program. Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues defended their communities and local environment from a notoriously toxic industry. In November 1995, a special court established by the military government illegally detained and tried them on spurious charges. Convicted without due process, they were executed 10 days later, despite enormous international outcry.

Sadly, this is not an isolated occurrence. A recent report by human rights organization Global Witness documents the murders of more than 700 environmental and indigenous-rights activists over the past decade – more than one killing a week, on average. They reviewed databases, academic studies and news reports, and consulted with the United Nations and other international agencies. They found citizens are often harassed, intimidated, beaten up, sexually assaulted and sometimes killed for opposing endangered wildlife poaching, illegal logging, dams and activities of foreign mining companies – including some Canadian firms.

I experienced this reality in 1988 when we interviewed rubber tapper Chico Mendes about his battle to save the Amazon rainforest in Brazil for The Nature of Things. He was assassinated two weeks later. The following year, Kaiapo Chief Paiakan asked me to help stop a dam proposed for Altamira, Brazil. My wife, Tara, and I helped raise $70,000 for a demonstration, and the World Bank was persuaded to withdraw its project loan. Paiakan was then subjected to death threats. We brought him and his family to Vancouver until the danger subsided. 

Many instances of persecution and killing have occurred in countries with atrocious human rights records, such as Sri Lanka, Guatemala and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet surprisingly, most attacks on environmentalists have been in countries such as Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines, with democratically elected governments, independent judiciaries and other institutions intended to protect their citizens’ rights to voice concerns about the environment without facing harassment, intimidation and violence. These countries have also signed international agreements to protect human rights, like the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

As the recent incarceration of 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists by Russian authorities clearly demonstrates, human rights are vulnerable at a time when governments aggressively promote the interests of corporations over a healthy environment, and are willing to use heavy-handed tactics to ensure people who disagree don’t stand in the way.

Wed, 2013-11-06 18:30Guest
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On Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, CNBC Host Joe Kernen Mocks Climate Investments

This is a guest post by Brad Johnson, cross-posted from Hill Heat

CNBC host Joe Kernen marked the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy by questioning the wisdom of investing to protect utility customers from extreme weather. In an interview with Steve Holliday, the CEO of utility company National Grid, Kernen cited Bjorn Lomborg's recent global warming denial op-ed in the Washington Post, “Don't Blame Climate Change for Extreme Weather.”

Kernen's repeated dismissal of global warming and attacks on climate scientists and activists as the “eco-taliban” have spurred a 45,000-signature petition drive organized by climate accountability group Forecast the Facts.

Wed, 2013-10-23 16:51Guest
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Documents Raise Important Questions About Tesoro's Pipeline Spill in North Dakota

This is a guest post by Jesse Coleman, cross-posted with permission from Greenpeace blog The Witness.

North Dakota, long known for its cattle ranches and open spaces, has recently become one of the oil and gas industry's most prized (and profitable) possessions, thanks to the advent of fracking. However, the price of oil and gas industry development is paid in destruction to the environment and strains to the regulatory framework meant to protect the public from a reckless industry, as Tesoro’s massive oil spill attests.

Documents from an open records request by Greenpeace have uncovered that Tesoro, a fracking giant based in San Antonio:

Possibly knew their pipeline was dangerously weak

Tesoro ran tests on the pipeline that ruptured more than 2 weeks before the spill was discovered.

Wed, 2013-10-23 10:52Guest
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Carbon Billionaire Kochs Will Profit Plenty on Keystone XL, Counters IFG

This is a guest post by Victor Menotti, Executive Director of the International Forum on Globalization.

Charles and David Kochs’ communications crisis team from the Center for American Freedom (CAF), along with Tim Worstall writing in Forbes, are countering International Forum on Globalization’s (IFG) recent report, “Billionaires’ Carbon Bomb: The Koch Brothers and the Keystone XL Pipeline,” only one day after its release and before IFG had a chance to respond to CAF's queries.

IFG stands firmly by its findings that the Kochs could profit plentifully from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline (KXL), and that KXL is not in America’s national interest.  With a decision due any day, we also wonder why a U.S. president would approve a pipeline whose biggest beneficiaries could be the very billionaires who have spent millions of dollars to undermine his efforts. The Kochs’ current net worth ($92B) exceeds that of the world’s wealthiest man, Bill Gates ($72B), according to the October 1, 2013 Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index.

Forbes’ reporter, Tim Worstall, also attacked IFG’s 2011 report by arguing that people who profit from the production of fossil fuels play no role in promoting their use, nor in financing efforts to prevent their phase out.  Worstall wrote, “Oh, sure, the rich guys turn a penny or two on supplying us with these things that we desire and use but it is our desire and use which is causing the problem, not the people doing the supplying.”  IFG’s 2012 report showed the Kochs outspent all other oil companies—even Exxon— to block U.S. efforts to reduce carbon emissions and advance clean energy.

CAF was created by the Kochs in 2012 to counter increasing public scrutiny of the billionaire brothers’ record spending on a sprawling political influence network whose money, organizational structure, and unprecedented scale have been mapped extensively in IFG’s online, interactive Kochtopus. CAF’s Washington Free Beacon staff writer, Lachlan Markay, came from the Heritage Foundation, where he was the conservative think tank's first investigative reporter.

Below is IFG’s official response to their claims:

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