As we’ve reported over and over again, the popular and successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and other regional climate agreements are under attack from polluters. Today, a bombshell report by Bloomberg News makes it undeniably clear who is leading the attack, and paints an ugly picture of collusion, influence, and state legislators deep in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry.
Bloomberg reporter Alison Fitzpatrick writes:
A new poll suggests that Pennsylvanians are supportive of unconventional gas drilling in their state. Not because it is safe, but because they are convinced the economic benefits outweigh the risks to public health, water supplies and the environment. This kind of reasoning indicates that gas industry rhetoric is having an impact: advertise the benefits, downplay the risks, convince people that you know what you’re doing and there’s nothing to worry about.
And this is just what the industry has done.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pennsylvanians are a receptive audience to the extensive public relations campaigns waged by gas interests to confuse the public on the contentious issue of unconventional gas drilling. Between Exxon Mobil’s commercials, Chesapeake Energy’s first-person testimonials from “true Pennsylvanians,” and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association’s billboards lining the highway, industry is leaving no public opinion stone unturned.
Republican Representative David McKinley from West Virginia has proposed a bill that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating toxic coal ash. The EPA has not yet made a decision on whether or not to classify coal ash as toxic, but reports show that the substance poses significant risks to human health.
McKinley is the sponsor of HR 1391, formally known as Recycling Coal Combustion Residuals Accessibility Act of 2011, a bill that would strip the EPA of their ability to exempt toxic coal ash from the EPA’s “Subtitle C” classification. Subtitle C lays out the guidelines that the agency follows in order to regulate toxic substances from “the cradle to the grave,” meaning that they provide oversight throughout the cycle of any form of hazardous waste. It also gives the agency the authority to conduct periodic inspections of plants producing hazardous wastes, as well as providing states and cities with training programs in how to manage these wastes.
XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, is under investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) after a 13,000 gallon hydraulic fracturing fluid spill at XTO Energy’s natural gas drilling site in Penn Township, Lycoming County, PA.
The spill was first discovered last week by a DEP inspector who found a valve had been left open on a 21,000-gallon fracking fluid tank, discharging fluid off the well pad into local waterways, threatening a nearby cattle herd that had to be fenced off from the contaminated pasture. Exxon/XTO has not provided an explanation on why the valve was left open.
“This spill was initially estimated at more than 13,000 gallons by the company and has polluted an unnamed tributary to Sugar Run and a spring,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Nels Taber. “There are also two private drinking water wells in the vicinity that will be sampled for possible impacts.”
DEP’s sampling confirmed elevated levels of conductivity and salinity in the spring and unnamed tributary, clear indications that the fracking fluid was present in the waterways.
In the latest example of polluter attempts to exert influence over science, the Koch-funded Pacific Research Institute was paid to manufacture another junk science “study” designed to lend credibility to California’s disastrous Proposition 23 ballot measure, an oil industry-backed effort to derail the state’s landmark AB 32 law to fight global warming.
The Yes on 23 campaign, a group launched and funded primarily by three oil companies – Valero Energy, Tesoro Corporation and Koch Industries’ subsidiary Flint Hills Resources - has been meddling in science, much to the liking of its oil industry bankrollers. Recent financial reports reveal the Yes on 23 campaign has raised more than $5.2 million in the past three months, mostly from the oil companies.
The funding reports reveal payments of tens of thousands of dollars going to researchers at an industry front group well known for ginning up misleading research suggesting that California’s clean energy efforts would kill jobs.
According to the financial disclosures, the oil-backed campaign paid Pacific Research Institute $40,000, no doubt intended to bolster its efforts to attack California’s AB 32 law.
John Abraham’s Critique Devastates the Florid Lord’s Denier Diatribe
Christopher Monckton, the self-celebrating Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, toured Canada and the U.S. last year calling the world’s best climate scientists and activists “liars” for setting out their concerns about the dangers of climate change. In his presentations and his PowerPoints, Monckton was graceless and taunting in tone, making fun of Al Gore’s accent along with his science. The record now shows that Monckton was also wrong - and frankly, wrong is such a way that he himself must be found to be either a flagrant and shameless liar or the most incompetent compiler of information since church scholars gathered to argue for the flatness of the earth.
The new critique was assembled by John P. Abraham, an engineering professor at St. Thomas University in St. Paul Minnesota. A diligent - even painstaking - researcher, Abraham is also unreservedly respectful in his own presentation, giving Monckton the benefit of every doubt.
The facts, however, are less accommodating. As Prof. Abraham demonstrates time and again, Monckton has consistently misinterpreted, misrepresented or flat-out lied about his “evidence” arguing against the theory of human-induced global warming. He has mangled references, misrepresented findings, cobbled together unattributed graphs and staked his case to critically compromised scholars.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already done everything it can to kill the chances of a legally binding agreement emerging from the Copenhagen climate change summit.
Now it can sit back, relax and watch the action from a coffee shop outside the United Nations conference, content that its efforts to derail U.S. climate policy have effectively hamstrung the international negotiations.
As explained clearly in “The Global Climate Change Lobby,” an excellent new report from the Center for Public Integrity, corporate lobbyists and trade associations focus their attention on tampering with domestic legislative efforts, and then stand by and watch as their positions and talking points contaminate international negotiations indirectly.
Business interests (or BINGOs as they’re called in U.N. speak) “can have very little effect at these meetings,” according to Nick Campbell, a European industry lobbyist who has represented the International Chamber of Commerce at U.N. climate talks since the early 1990s when the global effort to fight climate change began with the Rio Earth Summit.
If the Chamber or other lobbying groups send any staff to international summits like the upcoming Copenhagen conference, their goal is to “loiter” in the coffee shops and collect business cards from delegates they can target later on legislative matters back home.
In an embarrassing - and failed - effort to speak the hip language of youth, the Fraser Institute has launched a YouTube video dismissing climate change as a matter of natural variability, saying:
“The climate changes naturally; always has; always will.”
Obviously aimed at high school students (sample voiceover: “all because you ride the bus to school every day”), this seems to steal from the tobacco maker’s playbook for selling cigarettes to children.
The latest list of “650 International Scientists (who) Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming” seems to be more of the same: dead guys (Fred Seitz, Marcel Leroux, Reid Bryson …), paid deniers (Fred Singer, Tim Ball, Sallie Baliunas …), and a much larger group of weather forecasters and “experts” from unrelated fields, many of whom (eg., Edward Wegman) don’t even disagree with the scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change.
The apparent author of this list, Swiftboater Marc Morano, even included the names of Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, an historian and an anthropologist who have made themselves famous by advocating for renewed and more vigorous policy action against the threat of climate change.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed energy legislation that would extract $16 billion in annual subsidies from oil companies while supporting ‘clean’ energy sources like biofuels, wind, solar and geothermal. But the bill, opposed by President Bush, must be merged with Senate measures before it can become law.