At Federal Energy Conference, Forecasts Predict Bright Future for Fossil Fuels

This year’s annual Energy Information Administration conference started off on a somewhat positive note with a presentation by Dr. John Holdren, the Obama administration director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Holdren was clear in his presentation that the risks of climate change are real and deserve urgent action. 

He noted estimates of 15 feet of sea level rise being baked in with warming of only 2 degrees Celsius — a target that clearly will be difficult to meet. He commented on the following slide of predicted fossil fuel consumption growth as “very striking” and noted that “There really is no time to lose in shrinking emissions.”

Donald Trump's Top Energy Aide Could Profit From GOP-Promised Keystone XL Permit

Harold Hamm — founder and CEO of Continental Resources, top energy aide for Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump and Trump's possible choice for energy secretary — may stand to gain from a cross-border permit of TransCananda's Keystone XL pipeline. 

Continental Resources has been dubbed the “King of the Bakken” because of the vast amount of acreage the company owns in North Dakota's Bakken Shale basin, while Hamm also served as energy adviser in 2012 for Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Handing TransCanada a permit for Keystone XL receives an explicit mention in the Republican Party platform.

Conservative Organizations Pushing Republican Politicos And Media Outlets To Accept Climate Change As Reality

The Republican convention in Cleveland has come to a close, and the official platform of the Party for 2016 maintains the Party’s continued refusal to act on climate change. The Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, openly admits that he believes climate change is a “hoax.”

As easy as it is to forget, it is important to remember that political affiliation and Party platforms don’t always coalesce, and the platforms don’t always reflect the will of the Party members. And that’s certainly the case with climate change and Republicans.

It turns out that the majority of self-identified Republicans actually do accept climate science, and they understand that climate change is a very real threat. The views of Republican elected officials in Washington, D.C. and those funding the Republican Party do not reflect the attitudes of the voters on this issue anymore, and that’s a phenomenal step forward.

But the partisan denial problem goes further than just one political part. It stretches all the way through conservative media outlets, particularly those owned by Rupert Murdoch (Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and countless others.) This right wing echo chamber has played a major role in shaping Republican policy towards the environment, and has helped to keep Republican voters in the dark about the realities of climate change.

Over 10,000 Climate Protesters March in Philadelphia on Day Before Democratic National Convention

Thousands of climate activists, public health advocates and others arrived in the streets before the first day of the Democratic National Convention, despite blazing heat that was just one degree shy of the hottest July 24 on record in Philadelphia. With temperatures in the mid-90s, a crowd that organizers estimated included over 10,000 marchers converged on Independence Mall near the home of the Liberty Bell.

We've just wrapped up a Republican National Convention filled with climate denial and extreme energy talking points. Tomorrow we start the Democratic Convention, and the question to all these leaders and politicians is: Are you willing to take the action that science demands, or are you just another kind of climate denier?” said Drew Hudson, Director of Environmental Action. “Science tells us we need to keep 80% or more of fossil fuels in the ground: that means a ban on fracking, a halt to dirty trade deals like the TPP, and no more use of eminent domain for polluter gain. I'm marching today to tell all elected officials, if you're not down to #KeepItInTheGround, you're just another climate denier.”

Heartland Institute Tries To Reshape Its 'Unabomber Billboard' Image With Hyper Patriotism

It was renowned English writer Samuel Johnson who once said “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Unfortunately, the original context of his quote has been lost to history, but he did clarify during his life that he was not referring to patriotism in general, just false patriotism. Even though we don’t have the original context, it is easy to apply this quote to the latest activities of The Heartland Institute.

Recently, Heartland unleashed a new project called #OurAmerica, a hyper-nationalist movement claiming to extoll the virtues of American life and the American capitalist system. Joined by several other right wing organizations, it appears that the goal of the project is to revamp the tarnished image of Heartland.

Heartland explains the new project as follows:

Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?

Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) — the controversial horizontal drilling technique used to extract oil and gas in shale basins around the U.S. and the world — has sat at the center of the debate over the Democratic Party's draft platform set for a vote at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) convention in Philadelphia July 25-28.

That platform was drafted and debated by a 15-member committee, with four members chosen by DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, five by Bernie Sanders and six by presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton. After a fracking moratorium clause failed in a 7-6 vote at the DNC Platform Committee meeting held in St. Louis, Missouri from June 24-25, an amendment calling for President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan not to incentivize fracked gas power plants also did not pass at the July 8-9 DNC Platform Committee meeting held in Orlando, Florida.

A DeSmog investigation has revealed that two members of the committee chosen by Hillary Clinton work for a consulting, lobbying and investment firm with a financial stake in fracking. Those members — Carol Browner and Wendy Sherman — work for Albright Stonebridge Group. Clinton campaign energy policy adviser Trevor Houser, who introduced a regulate fracking amendment (introduced as a counter to the one calling for a ban) also has industry ties via his fellowship at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.  

Beyond Melania, Plagiarism Denial From Politicians, Climate Deniers

Copy Paste, Plagiarism in Melania Trump's Convention Talk

Three deadly sins in academe and journalism are Falsification, Fabrication and Plagiarism (FFP).1  Political speechwriters normally take great pains to avoid obvious text-copy plagiarism,2 but on Monday Melania Trump's speech plagiarized text from Michelle Obama. Trump employee Meredith McIver took responsibility, but new analysis here raises more doubts.

Climate denial is pervaded by FFP examples, the most famous likely that around the Wegman Report, where plagiarism and reactions to its exposure resemble those in the Trump case.

First, high-profile work is trusted to inexperienced people, who can make silly errors. Competent organizations check.
Then, exposure generates contradictory excuses, some clear fabrications, such as personal attacks on irrelevant people.
Finally, the organization takes surprisingly long to produce official explanations, about which doubts may be raised.

Planned Gas Pipeline Construction on East Coast Puts Climate at Risk: Report

Nineteen now-pending pipeline projects, if constructed, would let enough natural gas flow out of the Appalachian basin to cause the entire US to blow through its climate pledges, ushering the world into more than 2 degrees Celsius of global warming, a newly released report by Oil Change International concludes.

Even if the Environmental Protection Agency's recently-announced methane rules manage to slash leaks from new natural gas infrastructure as planned, building those pipelines would be catastrophic for the climate, the researchers warn.

“All together, these 19 pending pipeline projects would enable 116 trillion cubic feet of additional gas production by 2050,” the report, entitled A Bridge Too Far: How Appalachian Basin Gas Pipeline Expansion Will Undermine U.S. Climate Goals, says. “The currently planned gas production expansion in Appalachia would make meeting U.S. climate goals impossible, even if the [Obama] Administration’s newly proposed methane rules are successful in reducing methane leakage by 45 percent.”

Why do these pipelines matter so much?

Hawaii Utilities Commission Shoots Down Plan To Import LNG from B.C.

Count on Hawaii — tied for No. 1 as the the state with the highest percentage of renewable energy — to deliver yet another blow to B.C.’s lofty liquefied natural gas (LNG) ambitions.

On July 15, the state’s public utilities commission recently shot down a proposed $4.3 billion takeover of the Hawaiian Electric Companies (which provide 95 per cent of the state’s electricity) by Florida-based NextEra Energy in a 265 page ruling.

NextEra, the largest provider of the wind power in the U.S., was positioned to play a key role in financing the importing of 800,000 metric tons per year of LNG from FortisBC’s Tilbury LNG storage facility in Delta for use in an upgraded power plant on the west coast of Oahu.

The deal, struck in May between a Fortis subsidiary and the Hawaiian Electric Company, would have lasted for 20 years beginning in 2021. The LNG would have been exported by WesPac Midstream via its proposed terminal on the Fraser River.

Rail Industry Requests Massive Loophole in Oil-by-Rail Safety To Extend Bomb Trains Well Beyond 2025

In the most recent oil-by-rail accident in Mosier, Oregon the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) concluded that the tank cars involved — the jacketed CPC-1232 type — “performed as expected.” So an oil train derailing at the relatively slow speed of 25 mph should be “expected” to have breached cars resulting in fiery explosions.

Current regulations allow those tank cars to continue rolling on the track carrying volatile Bakken crude oil and ethanol until 2025 with no modifications.

Yet industry lobbying group the Railway Supply Institute (RSI) has now requested the Federal Railroad Administration to essentially allow these jacketed CPC-1232 tank cars to remain on the tracks for decades beyond 2025.

This was just one of the troubling facts that came to light at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) roundtable on tank car safety on July 13th, and perhaps the one of greatest concern to anyone living in an oil train blast zone like Mosier, Oregon.  

Pages