Kevin Grandia's blog

Thu, 2012-10-11 15:16Kevin Grandia
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Oil Giant Citgo Criminally Convicted in Bird Deaths (remind you of something?)

Here's a rule of thumb: if something is so toxic that birds die when they land on it, it's probably a good idea to put a cover on it.

In Texas yesterday, a federal district court upheld a criminal conviction against the oil refinery giant Citgo Petroleum after migratory birds landed in two open-top refinery tanks and died. Under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and Texas law such tanks are supposed to be covered. The court found that the company had known birds were landing and dying in their tanks but failed to do anything about it.

Citgo faces some $2 million in fines. A too small price to pay I think for their negligent behavior.

In Canada's tar sands, similar cases of migratory bird deaths have been ruled very differently. Many will remember the story in 2008 when 1600 ducks landed on the massive lakes of tar sands toxic by-products and died.

Tue, 2012-10-02 06:00Kevin Grandia
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Andrew Coyne's Connections to Free Market Think Tanks; Disclosure Lacking

Andrew Coyne, the a former editor of Maclean's magazine, founding opinionator for the National Post and frequent political pundit on CBC, has a rather long history tying him to free-market think tanks in Canada. 

According to the Canadian government's charity registry, Coyne has been a director for at least the last six years in a group called the Aurea Foundation. The Aurea Foundation was founded by Peter Munk, the head of Barrick Gold, and is a major funder of a small but influential network of free-market think tanks in Canada, including: The Fraser Institute, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, the Frontier Center for Public Policy, the Montreal Economic Institute and the MacDonald Laurier Institute. 

Most of these groups espouse a philosophy similar to US free market think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Instiute, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. In fact, most of these think tanks and some of their Canadian counterparts have been a major focus of the DeSmog team's work dissecting and exposing the climate change denial machine.

Making this complicated for Coyne is that the fact that some of these Canadian think tanks have been used as sources of information for Coyne's articles and op-ed pieces without the disclosure by Coyne that he sits on the board of Aurea.

Fri, 2012-09-28 11:30Kevin Grandia
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The Natural Gas Lobbyist Rush is on in British Columbia

According to lobbyist registry data, there are currently 57 lobbyists representing the natural gas industry to elected officials and government agencies in the province of British Columbia. This is a pretty astounding number when you consider that the provincial government only consists of 85 elected representatives.

British Columbia, Canada is where I grew up and it is a place of natural beauty, in fact the main city of Vancouver is commonly cited as one of the most liveable cities in the world. But with all that nature comes a lot of natural resources and there has been a huge rush to extract these resources under the current business-friendly government (disclosure: I worked for this government for 3 years as a political advisor). 

So friendly in fact that just yesterday the BC government announced it would forgo more than $120 million in natural gas royalties in order to spur new investment in natural gas extraction.

Tue, 2012-06-19 19:31Kevin Grandia
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I Love You Huffpo but What's Going On?

I have been writing on environmental issues on the popular news blog Huffington Post going on five years now but I am not sure if I will continue.

In an article today about yet another oil pipeline burst in the Northern Alberta tar sands, the editors of the Huffpo Canada section included a shiny happy “slideshow” at the end touting all the upsides of this massively destructive industry. 

It is blatant spin with factoids like: “Alberta will reap $1.2 trillion from oil sands” (leaving out the next part about the fact that emissions will triple in the same number of years):

Sat, 2012-06-02 06:56Kevin Grandia
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Mordor found in Northern Alberta

Following up on an article I wrote last week for Huffington Post Canada, a commenter suggested that the Alberta tar sands looked like a real-life version of Mordor, the home of the evil Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. 

I agree. So does that make Stephen Harper Gollum

(click to enlarge)

Tue, 2012-05-29 11:20Kevin Grandia
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'Peer of the Realm' Monckton now a Birther

This is a guest post by Greenpeace USA's Kevin Grandia, former DeSmog Managing Editor.

Christopher Monckton, well known for his wacky behavior attempting to deny the scientific realities of climate change, has now moved on to look into the conspiracy theory around whether US president Barack Obama was actually born in the United States!

Monckton, decked out in an American flag shirt, fire arm on his hip and a cowboy hat, tells the interviewer that:

My purpose in being here [in Arizona] is to have a further look into whether the president of the United States is the president of the United States. Now you might say, what has this got to do with someone from Britain… I am here because I am curious. As a peer of the realm I am allowed to stick my long aristocratic nose into anything I want to stick it in.

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. Here is the video:

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