This is a guest post by Nick Abraham, originally published on Oil Check Northwest
As you are reading this, a crucial compromise is making its way through the Oregon legislature: the state could finally transition completely off coal power and double its renewable energy portfolio.
Currently, Oregon still gets about 30% of its electricity from coal. This all comes from the state’s two largest utilities: PGE and Pacific Power. PGE purchases power from massive coal fired plants in Coalstrip, Montana as well as Boardman, Oregon (set to be shutdown in 2020), while Pacific Power pulls from their whole western grid, which is fed by 20+ coal plants.
Despite these two utilities historic reliance on coal, they’ve come to an unprecedented agreement with environmental groups and consumers to wean themselves off dirty energy over the next 30 years.
The Citizens Utility Board, an electricity ratepayer advocacy group, is championing the deal, which it calls, “best for consumers, best for utilities and best for the environment.” This trifecta of groups rarely sees eye-to-eye on small issues, much less a massive leap like this agreement. It’s one of those rare moments where everyone seems to be on the same page. That is except one rarely heard of regional association.
This is a guest post by Nick Abraham, originally published on Oil Check Northwest
But the Koch Brothers and Koch Industries' right-wing family foundation network are far from the only big money influencers featured in the must-read book which has jumped to #4 on the Best Sellers list at Amazon.com.
Enter the Scaife, Olin and Bradley family fortunes, all three of which have served as key nodes through which the right-wing have tried to reshape the public policy landscape within (and beyond) the U.S. in the years following the Cold War until present day. If those family names sound familiar to DeSmog readers, they should: we have a profile in our database for Scaife and have written fairly extensively about Olin and Bradley.
Just over a week before the U.S. signed the Paris climate agreement at the conclusion of the COP21 United Nations summit, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law with a provision that expedites permitting of oil and gas pipelines in the United States.
The legal and conceptual framework for the fast-tracking provision on pipeline permitting arose during the fight over TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. President Barack Obama initially codified that concept via Executive Order 13604 — signed the same day as he signed an Executive Order to fast-track construction of Keystone XL's southern leg — and this provision “builds on the permit streamlining project launched by” Obama according to corporate law firm Holland & Knight.
The ongoing push to lift the ban on exports of U.S.-produced crude oil appears to be coming to a close, with Congress introducing a budget deal with a provision to end the decades-old embargo.
Just as the turn from 2014 to 2015 saw the Obama Administration allow oil condensate exports, it appears that history may repeat itself this year for crude oil. Industry lobbyists, a review of lobbying disclosure records by DeSmog reveals, have worked overtime to pressure Washington to end the 40-year export ban — which will create a global warming pollution spree.
An undercover investigation by environment group Greenpeace has found some of the world’s most vocal climate science denial groups were willing to accept cash from fossil fuel interests in return for writing articles and reports that reject the impacts of greenhouses gases.
Greenpeace operatives posing as representatives of coal and oil companies were told that while the reports could be produced, there were ways that the sources of funding could be hidden.
Academics affiliated with leading US academic institutions Princeton and Penn State universities are implicated in the Greenpeace research.
The long-form investigation by Joel Dyer — based on thousands of documents obtained by Greenpeace USA — exposes the ongoing partnership between the University of Colorado-Boulder's Leeds School of Business and the Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR), the latter an oil and gas industry front group. The investigation reveals connections to Koch Industries, American Petroleum Institute, and Encana, among others.
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.
America’s largest privately owned energy company, Koch Industries, has been lobbying on “energy markets/financial regulation” reveals new data released by the interactive lobby database, EU Integrity Watch launched at the end of June.
On 28 April, Koch’s lobbyist met with Lee Foulger, an EU cabinet member working under European Commissioner Jonathan Hill. Hill’s team works on financial stability, financial services and the Capital Markets Union – Europe's flagship project to build a single finance market for all 28 Member States.
According to the database, this is the only lobby meeting the representative for Koch’s legal, lobbying and public affairs arm – known as Koch Companies Public Sectors – has had in the last six months with a member of the European commission. Meetings prior to December 2014 are not available online.
The latest release of lobbying data on the European Commission’s Transparency Register has raised concerns that the fossil-fuelled Kochs are trying to influence the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.
Digging through the data, DeSmog UK found that the European arm of Koch Industry’s legal, lobbying and public affairs branch – known as Koch Companies Public Sector LLC – has spent up to £0.5m lobbying EU policymakers on the environment, energy and free trade.
And according to the voluntary register, Koch Industries – the largest privately owned energy company in the United States, known for funding climate denial groups – has a particular interest in lobbying on the “EU’s free trade agreement negotiations.”
Koch Industries, the largest privately owned energy company in the United States, is lobbying European policymakers on the environment, energy markets and EU free trade agreement negotiations, according to the recently updated Transparency Register set up by the European Commission.
The company, known for funding climate denial groups, has declared on the voluntary Register that it has spent between €200,000 and €299,999 ($223,634–$335,449 or £142,464–£213,695) on its European lobby efforts in 2014. This is similar to the amount declared for 2013 (€200,000–€250,000) and more than that declared in 2012 (€150,000–€200,000), which was the first year for which the Kochs entered data into the EU registry.
As the Transparency Register shows, the main focus for Koch lobbying in Europe last year relates to “all initiatives on the areas of environmental protection, trade and internal market, such as the recast of the fertilizer regulation, REACH [the EU's regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals], and EU’s free trade agreement negotiations.”