Top US Environmental Group Calls Out Matt Ridley’s Climate Denial

It seems Viscount Matt Ridley is gaining international recognition for his climate denial as US environmental advocacy group the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) calls into question his “rational optimism”.

Labelling the coal mine owner “England’s most prominent global warming sceptic,” Brian Palmer of the NRDC’s onEarth magazine writes: “Ridley is one of the most capable spokesmen for climate change denial 2.0.”

With the highest respect for what Ridley has accomplished in a distinguished career, I believe his position amounts to climate change denial on stilts,” Palmer argues. “Ridley’s view is akin to an alcoholic saying he’s not in denial about his problem because he fully acknowledges that he sometimes drinks a beer. Denying the severity of a problem is to deny the problem itself.”

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

Mystery Company Posts Job Opportunity For Anti Wind Power Protesters

Earlier this week, a Craigslist posting popped up that had that fresh stink of industry astroturf. The posting, listed for New York City, was from a mysterious company known only as “Ovation,” who was looking to hire “volunteers” to protest the construction of wind farms in Scotland and England.  The protest is to take place in front of the British Consulate in Manhattan on January 30.

Here is the full Craigslist posting, which has since been removed:

Fracking Making Its Way Toward the UK

To date, opposition to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for unconventional oil and gas in the United Kingdom (UK) has been fierce. The opposition, though, seems to be meeting deaf ears in England, according to recent news reports. 

Bloomberg reported on Dec. 4 that England's Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, wants to lift the country's currently exisiting moratorium on fracking. The halt was put in place after drilling sites owned by Cuadrilla Resources caused two minor earthquakes in northwestern England in November 2011.

England's Chancellor of the Exchequer (a position equivalent to the Secretary of the Treasury in the United States), George Osborne, is set to release Britain's new energy plan on Dec. 5 and told Bloomberg he wants to ensure “Britain is not left behind” in the unconventional oil and gas boom.  

“Cuadrilla estimates that the area it is exploring in Lancashire, in northwestern England, could contain 200 trillion cubic feet of gas—more gas than all of Iraq,” explained Bloomberg. John Browne, the scandal-ridden former CEO of BP, sits as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cuadrilla. 

Osborne, The Independent recently reported, will also offer tax breaks to oil and gas corporations hungry to profit from England's shale gas prize. 

“Mr. Osborne hopes that tax breaks for shale gas extraction will encourage investors and help economic growth,” The Indepedent wrote. “Oil and gas are currently taxed at between 62 per cent and 81 per cent. Shale gas would be taxed at lower rates.”

An astounding 64-percent of the English countryside could soon be subject to fracking, which is over 34,000 square miles, according to The Independent

A Pan-European Approach To Banning Unconventional Gas?

A German member in the European parliament (MEP) is proposing a straightforward way to prevent (or outlaw) exploration and drilling for unconventional gas in the European Union (EU). His plan, bypass national strife and instead build consensus for a European-wide ban.

Jo Leinen, chair of the committee on the environment, public health and food safety, is considered one of the most influential MEP’s. He recently told The Guardian that he wants to work on a new energy quality directive that is expected to focus on penalizing and/or banning the extraction, import and use of fuels which are environmentally destructive – namely unconventional gas and even tar sands oil.

A “Dash For Gas” Will Threaten Renewable Energy Development And Climate Action: British MPs

A new report from Britain’s House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee warns the government that proposed energy reforms may have the perverse effect of encouraging companies to focus on building cheap gas power plants, limiting investments in renewable energy. As well, the Committee agreed with testimony from Friends of the Earth arguing that a “dash for gas” [80],  could prevent the country from reaching its climate action targets, especially since gas plants are expected to rely on unproven carbon capture and storage technology.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has said that £200 billion of new investment in energy infrastructure is needed by 2020 to meet rising demand and achieve renewable energy and climate change targets. First published in November 2009, and revised in October 2010, six draft National Policy Statements on energy (NPSs) laid out the importance of building and funding new electricity infrastructure, to include renewables, nuclear, fossil fuels and improved grid connections. The NPSs aim to increase confidence for investors and to speed up the planning process for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.

British Government Continues Greenwashing Effort, Ignores Ecological Decline In UK

A recent Guardian article by John Vidal examines the misleading spin attempting to paint Britain’s leadership as the “greenest government ever.” 

With 2010 drawing to a close, UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced triumphantly:
“Over 95 per cent of England’s finest wildlife and geological sites, covering more than one million hectares of countryside, are now in favourable or recovering condition.”

Spelman’s overly rosy interpretation of the current state of Britain’s environment is at odds with an independent report from Professor Sir John Lawton and a team of leading conservationists who are much less enthusiastic about Britain’s environmental record. Measured according to the scale SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest), Sir Lawton’s team found that just 30% of these sites were in favourable condition, with the rest in a mode of “unfavourable recovering.”

Indeed, most at-risk wildlife species have shown no improvement between 1999 and 2008, and 125 of 289 species are in decline. Birds, in particular, are struggling.

Britain Ignores Tyndall Centre Report Urging Shale Gas Moratorium At Its Own Peril

Despite the evidence of significant potential risks presented in a recent report by the Tyndall Centre, the British government says it will forge ahead with plans for shale gas development in the UK. The Tyndall Centre’s study, “Shale gas: a provisional assessment of climate change and environmental impacts” [PDF], urged the UK to place a moratorium on shale gas in light of serious risks associated with shale gas development, including the contamination of ground and surface waters, the expected net increase of CO2 emissions, and substantial monetary costs which could delay major investments in clean energy technologies.

Shale gas extraction involves drilling into shale formations followed by a rock fracturing process which uses heavily polluting chemicals. Especially in the US with the introduction of drilling “refinements” known as hydrofracturing or “fracking,” shale gas extraction has become highly divisive, and ever more popular among natural gas producers (making up nearly 10% of production by some estimates). The significant water contamination and public health risks associated with shale gas are well documented in last year’s “Gasland” film.

Paul Monaghan, the Co-operative’s head of sustainability describes shale gas as “like tar sands in your backyard, both in terms of local pollution and in terms of carbon emissions.”

Bush tries new spin on global warming, but retains bias for growth over emission controls

President Bush is trying hard to polish his image on global warming, but buried in his fancy talk about setting long-term goals for reducing emissions by mid- 2008, the U.S. president’s core message is still the same – don’t dare mess with economic growth.

Instead of binding limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, favored by the United Nations and many countries, he’s still pushing a voluntary approach on climate change and lobbying some of the world’s biggest polluters to rally behind him.

UK Straw Poll offers misleading global warming headline

I came across a surprising headline in the UK last night claiming that, “Three Quarters Believe Global Warming A 'Natural Occurrence.'” The “poll” was conducted by an UK publisher called Pocket Issue and their findings are in stark contrast to all of the polling data I have seen showing an ever-increasing number of people around the world convinced that global warming is caused by human activity, namely our reliance on burning fossil fuels, like oil, gas and coal, to produce energy.

In fact a recent BBC sponsored poll found the exact opposite, that 66% of the British population believe that global warming is a result of human activity.


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