environment

Mon, 2011-04-18 04:45Farron Cousins
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Emails Reveal BP Attempted To Manipulate Oil Spill Studies

Emails obtained by Greenpeace last Friday have revealed that BP was actively trying to manipulate studies designed to assess the damage from last year’s oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. In the wake of the disaster, BP created a $500 million fund to study the effects of the oil on the environment, and the emails obtained by Greenpeace show that the company was trying to control which scientists worked on the project, attempting to cherry-pick those who would downplay the effects of the oil.

The Guardian reports:

Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: “Can we ‘direct’ GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor’s offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?”.



The Guardian has the full emails available here.  But the new emails are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to BP’s efforts to manipulate science. Last summer, a report by the Mobile Press-Register revealed that BP was offering large sums of cash to any scientist willing to join their camp. The oil giant had been meeting with scientists from universities in the South since the early days of the oil leak, offering to pay $250 an hour to scientists in exchange for their silence on the oil disaster.

Mon, 2011-04-11 12:10Brendan DeMelle
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"Fracking" Shale Gas Emissions Far Worse Than Coal For Climate - Cornell Study

**UPDATE: The Cornell paper is now available in final, published format here: “Methane and the greenhouse-gas emissions footprint of natural gas from shale formations.”[PDF]

The Hill reported this morning on a groundbreaking report from Cornell University researchers confirming that shale gas recovered through high volume hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” will produce even more greenhouse gases than the burning of coal in the next two decades - a critical window in which society must reduce emissions to combat climate change. While natural gas is often viewed as a “cleaner alternative” to conventional fossil fuels - and is often promoted as a “bridge fuel” by environmentalists and politicians alike - the new Cornell report explodes this myth.

Gas is not just a “bridge to nowhere,” it turns out to be a highway to hell. The Cornell study makes clear that the widely-held perception that gas is the “cleaner” darling of the fossil fuel trio is a myth. With total methane emissions factored in, shale gas turns out to have the greatest climate impact of all the fossil fuels.

Contrary to popular belief, gas is just as polluting as coal in the long term - and far worse in the near term due to the higher warming impact from methane when it is first released to the atmosphere during the controversial fracking stage.  This news is certain to rattle policymakers in Washington who have promoted gas as a solution to our energy crisis. The Cornell paper is a game changer, and its release this week should command the attention of everyone concerned about our energy future.

Sat, 2011-03-26 05:45Farron Cousins
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EPA Promotes Coal Ash Without Considering Risks

A new report by the Inspector General claims that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promoted the use of coal ash without properly analyzing the risks. Coal ash is the byproduct produced when coal is burned, also referred to as “fly ash” or “bottom ash.”

The EPA began promoting the “recycling” of coal ash waste during the Bush administration, when energy companies and federal officials worked out a deal where the EPA would allow companies to sell their waste without federal oversight. The EPA held numerous town hall meetings last year to get citizens’ input on the matter before they issue a ruling on whether or not the coal ash waste should be considered “hazardous.”

DeSmogBlog and Polluter Watch published a report last year that details the lobbying blitz launched by coal producers to fend off EPA oversight of hazardous coal ash, including the suspiciously cozy relationship between the coal industry and the Bush EPA. The new Inspector General report confirms that the Bush EPA erred in its review of the safety of the widespread re-use of coal ash in many products and other applications.

Fri, 2011-02-11 14:27Farron Cousins
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U.S. Chamber Launches Covert Attacks on Their Political Opponents

Earlier this week, president Obama met with the US Chamber of Commerce to talk about the best way to create jobs in America. He told them that it was their patriotic duty to spend the trillions of dollars of cash reserves that they’re sitting on and create jobs. In the same breath, he told them that it was his duty to make sure that the government did everything possible to make businesses more comfortable and ensure that they have the perfect climate to rebuild our economy.

And the whole time that Obama was trying to break bread with the US Chamber, they were carrying out a secret campaign to infiltrate, discredit, and destroy liberal activist groups.

The folks over at ThinkProgress have uncovered emails from the Chamber’s hired men that detail the numerous ways in which the Chamber is trying to take down their political opponents.

Wed, 2011-01-26 10:15Farron Cousins
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Maine Governor Paul LePage To Roll Back Environmental Protections

Paul LePage, the freshly inaugurated Republican governor of Maine who once said that he’d like to tell President Obama to “go to Hell” and recently told the NAACP to “kiss my butt”, has announced that he will be rolling back dozens of environmental protections in Maine to create a more “business-friendly” atmosphere. The governor’s office will be changing a minimum of 36 environmental laws in the upcoming months, with the possibility of more protections being scaled back as time goes on.

According to the Portland Press Herald, some of the proposed regulations include:
- Zoning 10 million acres of northern Maine for development.
- Repealing laws that require manufacturers to take back recyclable goods for disposal.
- Reversing a ban on the use of a chemical linked to cancer in children’s products.
- Making Maine’s environmental laws conform to less stringent federal standards. - Requiring a cost-benefit analysis for all rulemakings.
- Relaxing air emissions removal standards, especially for smaller projects.
- Replacing the BEP with a system of administrative judges who would hear appeals of state Department of Environmental Protection staff decisions.
- Allowing vertical building additions on sand dunes whether or not the entire building is on posts.

Wed, 2011-01-19 11:38Farron Cousins
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South Headed South On Environmental Issues

Photo Credit:  http://www.southernenvironment.org

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) recently released their list of the top 10 most endangered environmental areas in the nation, and the results do not bode well for the South. Nine out of the top ten areas in the nation facing severe environmental disaster are located in the Southern United States (assuming you count Tennessee and Virginia as “south.”)

Many of the areas are coastal or other forms of wetlands, and leading the list is Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Still plagued with tar balls washing up from the Deepwater Horizon / BP oil disaster last year, the SELC warns that things along the Alabama coast could become much worse in the future. In addition to the current oil coming ashore, the waters in the Gulf of Mexico are littered with oil rigs, many of which are in dire condition and could cause another catastrophic blowout dwarfing the Deepwater Horizon.

Thu, 2011-01-06 15:19Emma Pullman
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Minister of Environmental Destruction Says He Will Not Let Emissions Rules Hamper Tar Sands Development

Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent is off to a great start convincing Canadians that he is concerned about the environment.  After just than two days in office, he has already tried to persuade Canadians that Alberta’s filthy tar sands oil are “ethical oil” and unworthy of the negative reputation that countless citizens, politicians, and environmental organizations have given them.  Today, he’s promising that the Harper government will not impose any greenhouse gas reductions on the oil patch that will discourage investment. 

Curbing regulation in favour of profits doesn’t really sound like the work of the Minister of the Environment.  This suggests, rather troublingly, that the profits of the oil and gas sector, and in particular Alberta’s tar sands, are more important to the Harper government than their environmental impact.  Let’s get something clear: is Kent the Minister of Environment, or the Minister of Environmental Destruction? And who is he working for? Corporate interests, or Canadians?

Wed, 2010-07-14 08:02Kevin Grandia
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Hard for Crook to Climb Down on ClimateGate

A blog post penned by The Atlantic’s Clive Crook today highlights just how hard it is for some people to admit when they are wrong.

Maybe it’s a pride thing - the Chinese call it “saving face.” Maybe it’s something entirely different. After all, who knows what is running through anyone’s head?

Regardless of what it is called, Crook has it in spades on the issue of the infamous stolen emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at London’s East Anglia University. At the time of the controversy last November, Crook wrote column after column indicting climate scientists in the court of public opinion before any inquiry into the matter could take place.

Only 13 days after the stolen emails were made public Crook had already made up his mind writing that, “the stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering.”

But after three inquires into the so-called “climate gate” matter, one of them conducted by a bi-partisan UK government committee and two by academic boards, the overwhelming conclusion is that there was no wrong-doing.

Fri, 2010-07-02 12:35Kevin Grandia
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Fracked tap water in Texas is 99% PR spin

When you have lived in the same place for 20 years and all of sudden your hair turns orange after you wash it, you might be more than a little concerned.

But, of course, don’t blame the natural gas company that is pumping thousands of gallons of toxic sludge into the ground just up the street. That can’t possibly have anything to do with your hair turning orange or the chemically smelling sediment floating around in your water glass.

After all, the natural gas industry, in a process called hydraulic fracturing (also called “fracking”), says that 99-percent of the sludge they use is just water and sand.

The 1 percent that isn’t water and sand is chemicals like formamide, a “reproductive toxicant” that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says targets organs like the “eyes, skin, respiratory system, central nervous system, [and] reproductive system.”

Also in the 1 percent is something called Glutaraldehyde, a “developmental toxicant, immunotoxicant, reproductive toxicant, respiratory toxicant, skin or sense organ toxicant.”

Now when you consider that the average fracking operation uses more than a million gallons of fluid, that means this teeny tiny 1 percent of toxins is a whopping 10,000 gallons.

Wed, 2010-06-30 14:23Kevin Grandia
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Canadian oil lobby trying to kill US clean energy policy

Who knew the tentacles of the Canadian oil lobby could reach all the way down to Washington, DC?

And who knew they were so powerful?

I am sure many Americans will find it rather disturbing that a foreign entity (no matter how friendly they may be - full disclosure: I am Canadian) is holding so much sway over the clean energy future of their country.

In a lengthy and well-researched new expose on the Canada oil sands industry’s lobbying activities in Washington, DC, reporter Geoff Dembicki untangles a complicated web that includes former Republican insiders, dirty energy front groups and powerful politicians on both sides of the border that are doing their best to kill US clean energy legislation.

Take former Republican Congressman Tom Corcoran for instance. Ironically, Corcoran was born in Ottawa, Illinois which shares its name with Ottawa, Ontario the capitol of Canada. It seems a little Canadian patriotism has rubbed off on Corcoran because he is now working on behalf of that country’s oil sands lobby and against clean energy for his own country.

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