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Will Obama's 2008 Climate Promises Hold Up?

In this DeSmog UK epic history series we meet an American presidential hopeful apparently willing to take on Koch and Big Oil.

Barack Obama’s decision to give Shell permission to drill for potential oil reserves in the Arctic threatens to undermine his legacy as the American president who took climate change seriously.

The public outcry as he comes to the end of his second and final term in the White House is hoarse with disappointment because of the audacious promises he made when first running for office: that he would challenge coal, oil and gas monopolies and deliver international climate deals.

Obama did warn during his first presidential address that it would be an uphill struggle and, over the coming weeks, the American electorate will have to assess how far they have really come. Have ExxonMobil and the Koch oil billionaires successfully tamed the man who was supposed to be the most powerful in the world?

Judges Nixing Keystone XL South Cases Had Tar Sands-Related Oil Investments

On August 4, the U.S. Appeals Court for the 10th Circuit shot down the Sierra Club's petition for rehearing motion for the southern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline. The decision effectively writes the final chapter of a years-long legal battle in federal courts. 

But one of the three judges who made the ruling, Bobby Ray Baldock — a Ronald Reagan nominee — has tens of thousands of dollars invested in royalties for oil companies with a major stake in tar sands production in Alberta.  And his fellow Reagan nominee in the Western District of Oklahoma predecessor case, David Russell, also has skin in the oil investments game.  

The disclosures raise questions concerning legal objectivity, or potential lack thereof, for the Judges. They also raise questions about whether these Judges — privy to sensitive and often confidential legal details about oil companies involved in lawsuits in a Court located in the heart and soul of oil country — overstepped ethical bounds. 

These findings from a DeSmog investigation precede President Barack Obama's expected imminent decision on the northern, border-crossing leg of Keystone XL.

Greenwash: Shell May Remove "Oil" From Name as it Moves to Tap Arctic, Gulf of Mexico

Shell Oil has announced it may take a page out of the BP “Beyond Petroleum” greenwashing book, rebranding itself as something other than an oil company for its United States-based unit.

Marvin Odum, director of Shell Oil's upstream subsidiary companies in the Americas, told Bloomberg the name Shell Oil “is a little old-fashioned, I’d say, and at one point we’ll probably do something about that” during a luncheon interview with Bloomberg News co-founder Matt Winkler (beginning at 8:22) at the recently-completed Shell-sponsored Toronto Global Forum.

“Oil,” said Odum, could at some point in the near future be removed from the name.

I Spent the Night in the Tate Gallery, Listening to the Quiet Sounds of Art Activism

A total of 75 black-clad protesters took part in a 25-hour unsanctioned performance organised by activist art collective, Liberate Tate, last weekend. The aim? To urge the gallery to drop its sponsorship deal with BP, one of the world’s largest oil companies. Ellen Booth, one of the performers, describes the experience.

It’s 5:20am in the morning, and I’m sitting on a small folding stool at the side of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. It feels strangely soothing as I sit listening to the musical night time sounds inside the Tate Modern.

The drone of the air conditioning units forms the backdrop to a cacophony of dull repetitive chimes, scraping of chairs and cordons as cleaners work, distant frustrated clanging of management doors, and a ghostly gusting of wind through the corridors and rafters above. 

In front of me, a bright line of books reflects the rising morning sun. To the left of these books, a cluster of friends and journalists sleep, sniffling and snoring, surrounding a store of precious water and food.

Meet the 15 Fossil Fuel Giants Behind the Controversial Law to Maximise UK Oil and Gas Extraction

Shell, BP, Total UK and Centrica are just a few of the 15 oil and gas companies courted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to help implement the Wood Review recommendation to maximise the economic recovery of UK petroleum (MER UK) – a policy which is now law under the Infrastructure Act.

Under the Infrastructure Act this policy introduces a new legal obligation on current and future governments to extract every last drop of oil and gas. This is in direct conflict with Britain’s target to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

According to the agenda for a June 2014 PILOT meeting between government and industry obtained by DeSmog UK, the companies were consulted on how to implement the MER UK recommendation one month prior to the government issuing its official statement on implementing the Wood Review.

Revealed: UK Government Lobbied Big Oil to be Green Gas Leaders – Shell, BP ‘Not So Keen’

Big Oil made headlines has announced plans to become Big Gas. Speaking at the industry-sponsored World Gas Conference in Paris, companies including Shell, Total, BG Group, BP, and Chevron all stressed “the vital role of natural gas” in helping tackle climate change, write Kyla Mandel and Brendan Montague.

However, as documents obtained by DeSmog UK in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request reveal, Shell and BP failed to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Oil & Gas Methane Partnership – a UN-backed initiative to manage industry methane emissions – following lobbying by the UK Government for them to join as founding companies.

According to a 12 June 2014 briefing document drafted for then climate change minister Gregory Barker, ahead of a meeting with Shell executives, the government argued: “This Partnership provides industry with a good platform to demonstrate that gas is part of the low carbon solution, and to demonstrate their leadership to investors and consumers.”

Lawsuit Forces Government To Disclose Extent Of Offshore Fracking In Gulf of Mexico

In August of last year, 21.6 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico were auctioned off to the dirty energy industry so that they could expand their offshore fracking activities in an area that was still reeling from the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

As DeSmog’s Steve Horn reported at that time, many of the leases sold by the government in August were located in the Lower Tertiary Basin, an area defined by hard-to-penetrate rock where the crude is located in deep water, making the practice of hydraulic fracturing exceptionally risky and prone to environmental disaster.

Museum Workers’ Union Condemns Oil Sponsorship of British Cultural Institutions

Big Oil’s sponsorship of British museums and galleries must come to an end, argues the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) Culture Sector.

Delegates to the PCS annual conference in Brighton yesterday voted overwhelmingly to support a new union campaign calling for an end to oil sponsorship of the arts.

The union represents 5,000 workers in UK cultural institutions that have accepted money from BP or Shell, including Tate, the British Museum and National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Groups File IRS Complaint Alleging ALEC is a Lobbying Vehicle, Not a Charity

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and Common Cause have filed an 18-page supplemental complaint to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which calls for a termination of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and requests civil and criminal charges be brought against ALEC.

Five Years After The BP Oil Spill, Gulf Coast Residents Say “BP Hasn’t Made Things Right”

Julie Dermansky

If you ask Dean Blanchard, the largest shrimp buyer and wholesaler in the region surrounding Grand Isle, Louisiana, things “went from paradise to hell” in the five years following the BP oil disaster.

But BP's advertisements insist the company is making things right. A BP report on the State of the Gulf five years after the spill claims there is no lasting damage to the ecosystem. 

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