Thu, 2015-02-05 10:46John Mashey
John Mashey's picture

Rand Paul and Strange Associations with Anti-Science

In “Rand Paul Is Linked to Doctors' Group That Supports Vaccination Challenges” the New York Times documented his long involvement with the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), but only scratched the surface of the strangeness. AAPS Executive Director Jane Orient and her associates run a tightly-coupled group of 501(c)(3) public charities. They seem to reject much modern science and spend their efforts to promote political views, perhaps beyond the 501(c) rules.

03/01/15 UPDATE: see more extensive, updated replacement version of this post.

Of course, organization membership does not imply acceptance of all positions, but Paul's long-time association raises questions. Which of their views on science does he accept? Which of their policies does he support? Do their views seen in related organizations carry over into AAPS?

Jane Orient (or this or this) is the contact for at least 6 charities, some dormant.

Thu, 2015-02-05 08:14Mike Gaworecki
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The War On Solar Is Real, Unlike the "War on Coal"

You’ve most likely heard of the so-called “war on coal,” especially given how eagerly mainstream newspapers have helped conservatives in pushing this bogus meme. But there’s another war going on, one you probably haven’t heard of even though the outcome has major implications for the future of our planet.

That would be the “war on solar,” a concerted effort by vested fossil fuel interests and their political allies to hinder the progress of solar power, and more broadly attack all efforts to convert our society to run on clean, renewable energy sources.

Solar is a fast-growing clean energy industry that now employs 174,000 people, more than the coal industry. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. now has more than 20 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar capacity, enough to power four million American homes while contributing more than $15 billion to the American economy.

The aggressors in the war on the solar industry include some familiar names: the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Americans for Tax Reform and the Koch Brothers’ own Americans for Prosperity, organizations that are intent on rolling back policies — including the solar investment tax credit — designed to encourage solar energy development. These front groups for fossil fuel interests are determined to restrict the growth of the clean tech industries in favor of the dirty energy interests they’re beholden to for funding.

As Karl Cates of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis writes, “the war on solar remains starkly underreported, and vastly deserving of much more and better coverage than it’s gotten so far.”

Thu, 2015-02-05 02:14Richard Heasman
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Welsh Government Votes Against Fracking Due To Climate and Health Fears

Wales hopes to block fracking until 2021 while health and climate risks are investigated more extensively.

The proposed motion against fracking was led by opposition party Plaid Cymru and supported by members of both the Welsh Labour and Tory parties. While not an official ban yet, the Welsh government has promised to “do everything within its power to prevent fracking from taking place in Wales until it is proven to be safe”.

The Welsh decision follows a similar announcement from Scotland last week placing a moratorium on shale gas extraction. This means two UK constituents are now opposing Westminster's push to go “all out” for shale.

Wed, 2015-02-04 13:32Judith Lavoie
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Alaskans Ring Alarm Bells Over Potential for More Mount Polley Disasters As B.C. Pushes Forward With New Mines

Worried Alaskans who fear lucrative fisheries and tourism industries are at risk from lax B.C. oversight of mine safety are meeting with state officials next week to ask the U.S. State Department to push for more input on mine development along the border of northwest B.C. and southeast Alaska.

We are calling for an equal seat at the table. We want equal representation on the part of Americans and Alaskans when it comes to how these watersheds are developed,” said Heather Hardcastle, a commercial salmon fisher based in Juneau.

We take all the risks and the costs and get none of the benefits.”

Hardcastle is a member of a coalition of Alaskan mayors, First Nations, businessmen and fishers who were horrified by the Mount Polley tailings pond collapse last August. Their concerns were exacerbated by last week’s provincial government report that found a weak foundation and design were responsible for the failure that saw an estimated 25 million cubic metres of waste water and toxic sludge flood from the copper and gold mine’s tailings pond into rivers and lakes.

Wed, 2015-02-04 12:17Carol Linnitt
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Low Oil Prices, High Oilsands Emissions Should Influence Keystone XL Decision: EPA

tar sands, oilsands, kris krug

A letter submitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the State Department gives new weight to concerns the proposed $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline, destined to carry crude from the Alberta oilsands to export facilities along the Gulf of Mexico, will have significant climate impacts.

The EPA letter suggests existing analyses – which downplay the importance of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project – are out of date and require revision in light of low global oil prices.

Due to the plummeting of oil prices and related market changes “it is important to revisit [the] conclusions” of previous reports, EPA told the State Department.

Given recent large declines in oil prices and the uncertainty of oil price projections, the additional low prices scenario in the (State report) should be given additional weight during decision making, due to the potential implications of lower oil prices on project impacts, especially greenhouse gas emissions.”

The State Department is due to release a revised analysis of the Keystone XL project and is currently gathering comments from the EPA and other agencies.

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