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Fri, 2015-01-09 04:00Justin Mikulka
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Obama Admin's Year-End Gift to the Oil Industry Quietly Allows Light Oil Exports

In a quiet move in the last days of 2014 that involved zero public debate, the Obama administration gave a big gift to the oil industry by allowing the export of light crude oil. This change by the administration stands to make the industry a few extra billion dollars per year by allowing them to sell crude oil on the international market where it gets a higher price than if it is sold to U.S. refineries.

So what bill was passed at the last minute of 2014 overturning the 40-year-old crude oil export ban and allowing companies to now export fracked crude oil? None.

As The Hill reported, sources “familiar with the matter” don’t even consider this a “change in policy” and thus no legislation is required. 

No policy change, no legislation needed. The only thing that has changed is that the oil industry can now export unlimited amounts of crude oil, much of it currently procured via hydraulic fracturing.

So how does an industry overturn longstanding legislation that was designed to protect the U.S. economy from fluctuations in the global oil market? First, there are the normal industry channels of lobbying and advertising over the past year to influence public opinion and get the politicians to do their bidding. But that process is expected to take significantly more time and money to result in officially ending the crude oil export ban.

So if you are the oil industry, you innovate. You call the oil you are producing condensate, get the regulators at the little known Bureau of Industry and Security to agree to not define what condensate actually is and then have them tell you that you as an industry are free to “self classify” your oil as condensate and export it.

Problem solved. Billions in profits made. Politicians provided with cover. And then you let sources “familiar with the matter” tell Reuters that this has been “carefully couched” as an “informal suggestion.” 

Thu, 2015-01-01 07:00Justin Mikulka
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Dangerous Oil Trains To Return to Lac-Megantic While Town Still Recovers

We’re seeing strong growth. We’re seeing some large accounts come back. The future is bright.”

According to the Portland Press Herald, that was the assessment of the future by Ryan Ratledge, the current chief operating officer for Central Maine and Quebec Railway, the railroad that runs through Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Central Maine and Quebec Railway is the new name of the railroad that was operating the train that caused the oil train disaster in Lac Megantic in July 2013 that resulted in the death of 47 people. As DeSmogBlog reported previously, cost cutting measures by the railroad were directly linked to the cause of the accident. 

After the accident, the railway declared bankruptcy and the assets were purchased by Fortress Investment Group, which currently manages over $66 billion in assets.

Wed, 2014-12-10 01:53Kyla Mandel
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Fred Singer – 'Granddaddy of Fake Science' – Retires as SEPP President

Dr Fred Singer has announced his plans to retire as president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) after 25 years at the helm as one of his generation’s most influential climate deniers.

But it might be premature to breathe a sigh of relief just yet. After all, Frederick Seitz continued to serve as SEPP president for two years after he died according to tax records filed by Singer.

While the doctor of denial may have celebrated his 90th birthday this September, it doesn’t seem he’s about to slow down. His ties with SEPP – which argues against the existence of climate change – will not be severed any time soon. He plans to continue as chairman of the board “for as long as possible”.

Wed, 2014-12-03 00:01Brendan Montague
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The Kochtopus Spreads its Tentacles To Strangle Climate Science

DeSmog UK tells the story of how the ideologically matched and politically inseparable Blundell and Dr Fred Singer became close and controversial allies, in our epic history series.

One evening John Blundell arrived at the Hickory Farm neighbourhood watch meeting in Virginia, and to his surprise discovered he was living close to Dr S Fred Singer, who he had met on the free market think tank circuit.

Singer was with his new wife Candice Crandall, who Blundell had met separately as a press officer at the Koch funded George Mason University (GMU).

Tue, 2014-11-18 06:45Kyla Mandel
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UK Energy Minister Calls for More Tar Sands, Fracking and Climate Action at Same Time

The UK and Canada must strengthen their energy relationship by increasing investment in tar sands and fracking, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) energy minister Matthew Hancock said at today’s Europe-Canada Energy Summit in London.

There remains great potential for deepening our energy relationship further, including delivering more British investment in Canada’s energy industry, or growing Canadian investment in the UK,” Hancock said.

We want to see more British companies active in the energy supply chain across Canada,” he said, repeatedly pointing to opportunities in Alberta’s tar sands and Western Canada’s shale gas reserves.

Mon, 2014-11-10 23:58Brendan Montague
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McIntyre's Missing Millions or How Climategate Blogger Missed Out on 'Deal of a Lifetime'

This November marks the fifth anniversary of Climategate  when millions of emails were illegally hacked and spun as evidence that the world's leading global warming researchers were engaged in a dark conspiracy. Six inquiries exonerated the scientists. Over the coming weeks, DeSmog UK will be running a series of articles revisiting the faux scandal to explore the tragic and the farcical. 

Gold mining guru Steve McIntyre has long been accused of taking cash from oil companies to fund his climate denial investigations website Climate Audit.

McIntyre sparked the international Climategate scandal five years ago this month, when his blog inspired a hacker to break into servers at the UEA and steal emails and data shared between the world’s leading global warming scientists.

But DeSmog UK can today reveal for the first time that McIntyre actually lost out on millions of dollars because his almost obsessive pursuit of climate researcher Professor Michael Mann meant he missed out on “the deal of a lifetime” when his old company literally struck gold.

Wed, 2014-10-15 04:41Brendan Montague
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10 Reasons To Remain Skeptical About Lawson’s Climate Advocacy

Lord Lawson (pictured) and his charity the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) will provide a platform from which the sacked environment minister Owen Paterson will launch a scathing attack on David Cameron, the Prime Minister and leader of their Tory party, on the issue of climate change. 

Paterson used the front page of the Sunday Telegraph to call for Britain to scrap the Climate Change Act in what appeared to some as a right-wing challenge to the party leadership amid panic the Conservatives are losing support to climate deniers UKIP.

Here we present 10 reasons why everyone - including neoliberal Conservatives - should be skeptical about the climate denial being advocated by Lord Lawson and his educational charity. 

Sun, 2014-09-28 23:16Brendan Montague
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David 'Go Green' Cameron's Top Donors Financing Climate Denial

David Cameron faces a major party rebellion over climate change, with Conservative funders giving money to climate denialists and calling for a party rethink on its policy of cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

DeSmog UK has identified five generous Tory donors, including two members of the House of Lords, who have together provided the party with £3.6 million while simultaneously bankrolling Lord Lawson’s climate denial charity, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF).

The revelations come as Cameron returns from the UN summit on climate change in New York, during which he claimed to have kept his promise to deliver the “greenest government ever”.

The Tory leader risks splitting his party further apart if he challenges climate deniers among his grassroots, while failing to champion climate action leaves him vulnerable to attack from both Labour and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

Wed, 2014-08-20 07:00Justin Mikulka and Steve Horn
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Big Rail Cites Bin Laden, Al Qaeda to Fend Off Oil-by-Rail Route Transparency

While many states around the U.S. have released information to the public about the frequency and routes of trains carrying oil obtained from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin, holdouts still remain. 

Why the delay? Homeland security concerns, claim some companies. 

In an ongoing Maryland court case over the issue of transparency for in-state oil-by-rail routes, a July 23 affidavit from Carl E. Carbaugh — director of infrastructure security for Norfolk Southern — goes into extensive detail about the supposed risk presented by terrorism attacks on “Bomb Trains.” 

In so doing, Carbaugh mentions Al-Qaeda. 

The most recent edition of Inspire magazine, March 2014, the online, English-language propaganda publication of [Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula], presents a full-page collage depicting varied images…in order to construct an explosive device,” reads Carbaugh’s affidavit

Among these images are a derailed passenger train and a partly covered note paper listing cities in the [U.S.] as well as the terms ‘Dakota’ and ‘Train crude oil.’” 

Carbaugh also cited Osama bin Laden, the late Al-Qaeda international ring-leader, in his affidavit.

Among the materials seized in the May 1, 2011, raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, were notes indicating interest in ‘tipping’ or ‘toppling’ trains — that is causing their derailment,” Carbaugh wrote.

Osama Bin Laden Compound Diagram; Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wed, 2014-07-23 10:51Justin Mikulka
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Obama Administration Releases Weak Proposed Rules On Crude By Rail After Industry Lobbying Blitz

The Department of Transportation released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking today for the transportation of crude oil and ethanol by rail. With the release of the proposed new regulations, a public comment period now begins before the rules will be finalized.

The proposed rules offer a wide variety of options for the public to comment on with the weakest proposals essentially being the status quo, as is the case for the rail tank car recommendations.

These proposed regulations have been under review for the past several months at the White House’s Office of Information of Regulatory Affairs where industry lobbyists have been hard at work to weaken and delay the regulations. An initial review of the proposal makes it clear their efforts have paid off and first reactions from advocates for increased safety reflect this.

Matt Krogh, of ForestEthics, the group which recently released a website where people can check if they are within the blast zone for the oil trains, released a statement telling the Obama administration to “go back to the drawing board and put public safety first.”

“Today the Obama administration announced weak new standards for high-hazard flammable trains that give the oil industry a license to threaten the safety of millions of Americans and leave communities and emergency responders holding the bag.

The administration seems to have carefully calculated and managed the inconvenience of these rules to the oil industry, but they’ve severely underestimated the threat of these trains to the American public.”

A review of the proposal reveals many things in the industry’s favor.

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