climate change

High-Level EPA Adviser Accused of Scientific Fraud in Methane Leak Research

It's one of the highest-stakes debates in the battle over climate change policy action: how much methane is spewing from oil and gas sites nationwide, and what do we do as a result? If enough of the odorless, colorless methane gas leaks or is vented into the air, scientists say, then burning natural gas — marketed as a green fuel that can help wean the U.S. off of high-carbon fuels — will actually be worse for the climate than coal, long seen as the fuel that contributes the most to global warming.

Recently, over 100 community and environmental groups sent a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog to investigate claims that a top methane researcher had committed scientific fraud and charging that he had made false and misleading statements to the press in response to those claims.

Earlier this month, NC WARN, an environmental group, presented the EPA Inspector General with evidence it said showed that key research on methane leaks was tainted, and that one of the EPA's top scientific advisors fraudulently concealed evidence that a commonly-used tool for collecting data from oil and gas wells gives artificially low methane measurements.

Will Alberta’s Last-Ditch Effort to Save the Caribou Be Enough?

Woodland Caribou

When the Alberta government released its draft plan to save the province’s dwindling caribou populations from local extinction earlier this month, it was heralded as a major step forward — but big questions remain.

The biggest one: after years of failing to intervene in the caribou crisis, will the new plan be enough to bring them back from the brink of extinction?

It was great news for northwest populations where big protected areas are needed and there’s still time there to ensure caribou recovery,” conservation specialist Carolyn Campbell from the Alberta Wilderness Association told DeSmog Canada.

But when it comes to the Little Smoky range, it’s still not enough, Campbell said.

The problem is the underlying causes of predation are still allowed to worsen in the next five years by restarting logging and by implying energy infrastructure can still go ahead,” she said. “We can’t support the plan continuing to destroy habitat.”

Has The Fracking Industry Already Won The 2016 Election?

June has been a fantastic month for the fracking industry.

On June 21st, a federal judge ruled that the Interior Department does not have the authority to regulate fracking on federal lands because the agency lacks the overall authority to regulate fracking. The judge said that his decision was based on the fact that Congress had not given the agency that power, and therefore they overstepped their authority in attempting to regulate natural gas fracking activities.

A few days after that court ruling that gave the industry free rein over our federal lands, the Democratic Party handed them an even larger gift. At a DNC platform committee meeting on Friday, June 24th, the committee voted to NOT include a ban on fracking as part of the Democratic Party’s platform for the 2016 election.

The moratorium on fracking was proposed by 350.org founder Bill McKibben who was selected to join the Party’s platform committee by Senator Bernie Sanders. McKibben also introduced resolutions to support a carbon tax and prohibit new fossil fuel leases offshore and on federal lands, but these items were also nixed by a majority of the committee members.

The decision by the committee to roll over for the fracking industry is not only dangerous for the environment, but it also goes against the will of voters who identify as Democrats.

Unimpeded Rivers Crucial as Climate Changes: New Study

Flathead Basin

Gravel-bed rivers and their floodplains are the lifeblood of ecosystems and need to be allowed to run and flood unimpeded if species are to be protected and communities are to cope with climate change, a ground-breaking scientific study has found.

The broad valleys formed by rivers flowing from glaciated mountains, such as those found throughout B.C. and Alberta, are some of the most ecologically important habitats in North America, according to the team of scientists who have done the first extensive study of the full range of species that rely on gravel-bed rivers, ranging from microbes to bears. The paper was published online Friday in Science Advances.

In the region that stretches from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming to the northern Yukon, gravel-bed river flood plains support more than half the plant life. About 70 per cent of the area’s bird species use the floodplain, while deer, elk, caribou, wolves and grizzly bears use the plains for food, habitat and as important migration corridors.

While everyone knows that fish rely on rivers, the scientists found that species such as cottonwood trees need the river flood to reproduce and the ever-changing landscape of changing channels and shifting gravel and rocks supports a complex food web.

Lawson Bader

Lawson R. Bader

Credentials

  • M.A. (1997 - 2000), Public Policy Analysis, The Johns Hopkins University. [1]
  • B.A. (1984 – 1988), Political Science and Government, Wheaton College. [1]

Background

A Brief History of Fossil-Fuelled Climate Denial

Protester holding a banner: "You can't recycle wasted time"

By John Cook, The University of Queensland

The fossil fuel industry has spent many millions of dollars on confusing the public about climate change. But the role of vested interests in climate science denial is only half the picture.

Interest in this topic has spiked with the latest revelation regarding coalmining company Peabody Energy. After Peabody filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, documentation became available revealing the scope of Peabody’s funding to third parties. The list of funding recipients includes trade associations, lobby groups and climate-contrarian scientists.

This latest revelation is significant because in recent years, fossil fuel companies have become more careful to cover their tracks. An analysis by Robert Brulle found that from 2003 to 2010, organisations promoting climate misinformation received more than US$900 million of corporate funding per year.

Oil-Funded Groups Have Spent $2.7 Million To Defeat California Candidates Who Want Climate Action

Groups funded largely by oil companies have spent $2.7 million in California to defeat candidates for the state legislature who support strong climate action.

The groups are targeting lawmakers who supported S.B. 32 and S.B. 350, both pieces of legislation designed to rein in California’s greenhouse gas emissions and boost adoption of renewable energy technologies, E&E Publishing’s Greenwire reported.

S.B. 350, which was signed into law last year by Governor Jerry Brown, requires California to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and double the energy efficiency of existing buildings by 2030. S.B. 32, which did not pass, would have required the state to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

“Oil companies are trying to push back” against renewable energy and other efforts to decarbonize California’s economy, Mike Young, California League of Conservation Voter's associate director for campaigns and organizing, told Greenwire. “You're seeing an industry that is very concerned about losing its monopoly.”

Environmental Groups United To Fight Donald Trump

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has never been shy about making statements that push the boundaries of what is acceptable in a civilized society, but his constant attacks on climate science have become yet another liability for the Republican candidate.

The Hill is reporting that environmental groups, including the NRDC and the Sierra Club, are hoping to rally voters concerned about the environment to vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump in the 2016 election to help protect the environment.

From The Hill:

Court Documents Show Coal Giant Peabody Energy Funded Dozens Of Climate Denial Groups

According to a new analysis by The Guardian, Peabody Energy, the U.S.’s largest coal mining company, has been funding dozens of different climate change-denying organizations for years.

The analysis is based on recently released court documents that came to light as a result of the company’s bankruptcy filings. In April, Peabody filed for bankruptcy as the global demand for coal continued to plummet.

DeSmog readers will recognize many names revealed to have received funding from Peabody, including climate deniers Willie Soon, Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer and Richard Berman. All three of these men have gained notoriety from the fossil fuel industry for publishing works and promoting the idea that climate change is just part of natural “warming and cooling” cycles that the earth goes through.

Then there are the familiar front groups revealed: Americans for Prosperity, American Legislative Exchange Council, CFACT, Institute for Energy ResearchState Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more.

From The Guardian report:

These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”

CA Officials Want To Allow Oil Industry To Dump Toxic Waste Into Aquifers, Exempt Them From Federal Protection

California officials announced on Wednesday that they will seek the exemption of as many as 60 underground aquifers from federal protections so that the oil industry can use them to dispose of toxic oilfield wastewater. 

Regulators with the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) said they will submit the necessary applications to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the next four months to exempt aquifers in Monterey, Ventura, Kern and other counties from federal laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In a statement issued in response to DOGGR’s plan, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), which has put together an interactive map of the aquifers in question, noted that “Oil wastewater commonly contains cancer-causing benzene and other pollutants, according to [DOGGR]’s own testing. Flowback fluid coming out of fracked wells in California contains benzene at levels as high as 1,500 times the federal limits for drinking water, according to oil companies’ own tests.”

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