Columbia University

Exxon Increases Funding to Energy Think-Tank Run By Former Top Obama Energy Aide

According to ExxonMobil's 2015 annual worldwide giving report, the company has upped the ante and increased its funding of Columbia University's influential Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) to the tune of $50,000 for that year. 

That's an increase over the $25,000 the “private empire” gave to CGEP in 2014, as we reported in December. Run and founded by Jason Bordoff, President Obama's former Senior Director for Energy and Climate Change on the Staff of the National Security Council, CGEP also features other big names: Carlos Pascual, former head of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Bureau of Energy Resources and Global Shale Gas Initiative; Keith Benes, former Obama Administration State Department attorney-adviser; Jim Rogers, former CEO of coal giant Duke Energy and many others. 

Groups Ask Columbia University To Reveal Funding Behind Exxon-Tied Center on Global Energy Policy

Final exams and winter break loom large for students at Columbia University, but at the upper echelons of the university's administration, new calls for transparency about the funding of a university affiliated center are likely to create plenty of homework as well. 

letter sent out today and shared with DeSmog from several high-profile advocacy groups addressed to Columbia President Lee Bollinger calls for Columbia to reveal the funders of the influential — and to-date, dark-money funded — Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP).

The letter was signed by groups ranging from Public Citizen, ForestEthics, Bold Nebraska, Environmental Working Group, Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Checks and Balances Project.

Democrats Ignoring Climate Implications of Lifting Oil Export Ban - “We Can Have Our Cake and Eat It Too”

Jason Bordoff wants to lift the oil export ban and has been actively working on this for the past two years. Which is odd if you believe that President Obama is against lifting the ban as the White House claims. Prior to Bordoff’s work to lift the oil export ban at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), he was special assistant to President Obama and senior director for energy and climate change.

So why is Obama’s former senior director on climate change pushing a policy that will greatly increase fracking in America as well as global oil consumption for decades? The carbon and methane pollution consequences of this for climate change are plainly obvious.

Perhaps Bordoff had a change of heart since leaving the administration? If so he has plenty of company. For the past two years, many former Obama administration officials have joined Republicans in calling for a lifting of the export ban.

Exposed: ExxonMobil Funding Influential Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy

In a sentence buried at the very bottom of a story making headlines nationwide, Politico revealed for the first time one of the funders of Columbia University's influential Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP).

The funder: ExxonMobil, the company embroiled in a New York state Attorney General investigation for its extensive internal knowledge of the impacts of climate change since the 1970s, followed by Exxon's funding of climate change denial campaigns to the tune of $31 million. Politico got its numbers from ExxonMobil's 2014 Worldwide Contributions and Community Investments report.

Ivy League Universities Pushing Oil Industry Agenda With No Accountability

Columbia CGEP Oil Export Debate

Harold Hamm isn’t the kind of guy you’d expect to be name dropping Ivy League schools. Born in Oklahoma, his education ended with his graduation from high school. Which didn’t stop him from becoming a multi-billionaire by building his own oil and gas fracking company, Continental Resources — a company that bills itself as “America’s Oil Champion.”

So for a self-made man from oil country, it wasn’t surprising to see a PowerPoint slide with the bullet points “Rigs, Rednecks, and Royalties” during his presentation this June at the annual Energy Information Administration conference in Washington, D.C. Although when he referred to the oil producing sections of the U.S. as “Cowboyistan” it didn’t get the laugh he was probably expecting.

Industry-Stacked Energy Department Committee: Shale Running Dry, Let's Exploit the Arctic

A report assembled by an industry-centric US Department of Energy committee recommends the nation start exploiting the Arctic due to oil and gas shale basins running dry. 

In the just-submitted report, first obtained by the Associated Press, the DOE's National Petroleum Council — many members of which are oil and gas industry executives — concludes that oil and gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) will not last beyond the next decade or so, thus the time is ripe to raid the fragile Arctic to feed our fossil fuel addiction. 

The NPC just launched a website and executive summary of the report: Arctic Potential: Realizing the Promise of U.S. Oil and Gas Resources.

Confirming the thesis presented by the Post Carbon Institute in its two reports, “Drill Baby, Drill” and “Drilling Deeper,” the National Petroleum Council believes the shale boom does not have much more than a decade remaining.

The NPC report appears to largely gloss over the role of further fossil fuel dependence on climate change, or the potentially catastrophic consequences of an oil spill in the Arctic.

The first mention of climate change appears to refer to “concern about the future of the culture of the Arctic peoples and the environment in the face of changing climate and increased human activity,” but doesn't mention the role of fossil fuels in driving those changes. Instead, the report immediately pivots to focus on “increasing interest in the Arctic for tourist potential, and reductions in summer ice provide an increasing opportunity for marine traffic.”

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, a National Petroleum Council member, chimed in on the study in an interview with the Associated Press.  

“There will come a time when all the resources that are supplying the world's economies today are going to go in decline,” remarked Tillerson. “This is will [sic] be what's needed next. If we start today it'll take 20, 30, 40 years for those to come on.”

The National Petroleum Council also deployed the energy poverty argument, utilized most recently by coal giant Peabody Energy in its “Advanced Energy For Life” public relations campaign, to make its case for Arctic drilling as a replacement for fracking.

“But global demand for oil, which affects prices of gasoline, diesel and other fuels everywhere, is expected to rise steadily in the coming decades — even as alternative energy use blossoms — because hundreds of millions of people are rising from poverty in developing regions and buying more cars, shipping more goods, and flying in airplanes more often,” reads the report. “In order to meet that demand and keep prices from soaring, new sources of oil must be developed, the council argues.”

Revealed: Heather Zichal Met with Cheniere Executives as Obama Energy Aide Before Board Nomination

Heather Zichal, former deputy assistant for energy and climate change to President Barack Obama and nominee to sit on the board of directors of LNG export company Cheniere Energy Inc., held two meetings with Cheniere executives while working for the White House. 

White House meeting logs show Zichal attended the meetings with three executives from Cheniere, owner of the Sabine Pass LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facility, the first terminal to receive a final approval from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) during the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom.

The meetings appear to have taken place just over two weeks apart from one another, according to the meeting logs. The first meeting was on January 14, 2013, and the second on January 29, 2013. Just over eight months later, Zichal resigned from her White House job, with Reuters citing “plans to move to a non-government job.”

Cheniere CEO Charif Souki — who is facing a major ongoing class-action lawsuit — sat in on both of those meetings. He was joined by Cheniere executives Patricia Outtrim, vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs, and Ankit Desai, vice president of government relations.

Desai, a Cheniere lobbyist, formerly worked with Zichal on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, serving as his budget director. Desai also formerly served as political director for then-U.S. Senator and now Vice President Joe Biden.


President Barack Obama (L), Heather Zichal (Center), Sec. of State John Kerry (R); Photo Credit: Facebook

Zichal served as Kerry's energy and environment policy adviser for the 2004 campaign and in 2006, became his legislative director, a job she held until becoming policy director for energy, environment and agriculture for President Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign

Large coastal cities in perilous path of climate-change juggernaut

A new study says the 643-million, or one-tenth of the world’s population, who live in low-lying coastal areas are at greater risk from rising sea levels and more intense storms due to global warming. The 10 countries with the largest number of people living in this vulnerable zone are China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, the United States, Thailand and the Philippines.

Subscribe to Columbia University