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Report: How Coal and Gas Industry Get Their Way In Fossil Fuel Rich Queensland

abbot point, queensland

Where and how should the public expect negotiations between fossil fuel industries and governments be carried out?

What kind of relationships should exist between fossil fuel corporations and the politicians and public servants who are part of the decision-making process that those corporations seek to influence?

Should reasonable details of those negotiations be recorded and take place in government offices, during office hours? Should lobbying by industry and companies be available for public scrutiny?

When a government awards a licence to dig up and sell fossil fuels, those decisions represent the transfer of assets from public to private hands worth billions of dollars.

With that in mind, you might expect the answers to all those questions to reflect the highest levels of accountability and transparency.

But in Queensland, Australia’s biggest exporter of coal, this accountability and transparency appears to be lacking.

The Australia Institute has published a report – Too close for comfort: How the coal and gas industry get their way in Queensland - detailing the complex interactions between the coal and gas industries in Queensland and the state’s previous governments.

The report, researched and written by me and paid for by the institute, explores some of the close relationships between lobbyists, politicians, public servants and fossil fuel industry executives.

A New Kind of Frackademia? New Environmental Inspectors Offered Free Industry-Funded Classes on Fracking

At an industry conference in Philadelphia last month, oil and gas executives gathered to hear about a little-known public relations effort with a very precise target: newly hired state and federal environmental inspectors.

At a seminar titled “Staying Ahead of Federal and State Regulations: A Partnership with Academia and Government,” officials from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Texas described how gifts from companies like ExxonMobil allowed their universities, along with the Colorado School of Mines, to offer state regulators free classes on oil industry best practices, travel and accommodations included.

Pre-emption: How and Why Rail Companies Are Above The Law

CSX is one of the major rail companies that is profiting from the oil-by-rail boom led by North Dakota’s Bakken crude oil. On September 28th, a day that is apparently national “good neighbor day,” CSX broadcast the following message on Twitter.

Climate Science Denier Lawson Bader Named CEO At Conservative Funding Arm Donors Trust

Lawson Bader

An organisation that has funneled millions of dollars into groups promoting climate science denial has appointed a new CEO who signed a declaration dismissing the overwhelming evidence that human activities are causing climate change.

Lawson Bader, currently the CEO at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, will join Donors Trust in November.

Donors Trust (DT), together with its sister organisation Donors Capital Fund (DCF), is a key funding arm of the climate science denial movement in the United States.

Texans Warn EPA Its New Rule to Reduce Methane Pollution Isn’t Tough Enough

On September 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held public hearings in Dallas and Denver on its proposed rule to lower methane and associated pollution from oil and gas industry facilities. A third hearing will take place in Pittsburgh on September 29th.

Once finalized, the standards mandated by the EPA to control methane pollution will be a component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

For Texans, the hearing holds special significance because of HB40, a new law the state passed shortly after Denton, Texas, voted for the state’s first fracking ban. HB40 makes fracking bans illegal and threatens all local ordinances the oil and gas industry doesn't like.

VIDEO: Government, Industry Ignore Scientific Case For Improving Crude By Rail Safety, Let Bomb Trains Roll On

Oil train in Seattle by Brendan DeMelle

Since the tragic Bakken oil train accident that extinguished 47 lives in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in July 2013, seven more Bakken oil trains have derailed, resulting in accidents involving large fires and explosions. We now know that oil produced in North Dakota's Bakken Shale formation is extremely volatile due to its high natural gas liquid content — resulting in the “bomb train” phenomenon.

DeSmog’s new investigative video, written and produced by Justin Mikulka, details a coordinated effort by the oil industry, members of the U.S. Congress, regulators and the Department of Energy to challenge the known science of crude oil characteristics with the goal of delaying or avoiding any regulatory changes requiring Bakken crude oil stabilization, a safety measure that would protect the millions of people currently living in bomb train blast zones.

Exclusive: Battle Over Flaming Water and Fracking Reignites As Analysis Prompts Call for Renewed EPA Investigation

At the heart of the international controversy over fracking has been the contention that the oil and gas drilling technique can contaminate people's drinking water, sometimes even causing it to light on fire. One poster child for this claim has been Steven Lipsky, a Texas homeowner who has appeared in a viral video with a garden hose spewing flames and says his water was fouled by fracking.

For years, Mr. Lipsky has fought legal battles — most often with federal EPA investigators finding his claims of contamination credible, while Texas regulators and the drilling company, Range Resources, taking the opposite view.

An analysis released this week, describing research by scientists at the University of Texas at Arlington, may open this case once again. It offers new evidence that the tests taken at Mr. Lipsky's well water by Range Resources and Texas regulators, who reported little or no contamination, were flawed and potentially inaccurate.

What Happened to Obama's 'Planet in Peril' Rhetoric?

We know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime: two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century,” the newly elected president Barack Obama said in 2008 during his victory speech in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois. 

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there,” he told the assembled public. “I promise you, we as a people will get there.”

Obama was in his own inimitable style promising to meet the challenge of climate change – while acknowledging that the resistance of the oil monopolies dominating the American energy market would be fierce.

Australian Aboriginals Fear Gas Fracker Aubrey McClendon's Down Under Drilling Plans

Children of the Garawa aboriginal clan group. Picture: Lauren Mellor

Energy companies the world over would love to think they could be first in the queue at the next big global frontier for fossil fuel energy.

Aubrey McClendon was a key figure in creating the last big energy boom in his own backyard, using the controversial hydraulic fracturing technology to release gas from shale in the United States.

Now McClendon’s company American Energy Partners (AEP) thinks it has found that new global frontier in a vast and remote corner of Australia’s Northern Territory (NT).

Who Was Actually Behind Lord Lawson's Idea to Create the Global Warming Policy Foundation?

This DeSmog UK epic history post explains how Lord Lawson’s climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation was actually created.

Lord Lawson in 2008 was congratulated in private for his pamphlet attacking climate science and policy by a handful of peers and MPs, mostly from the Tory party. Some even suggest he set up a new foundation to take the fight against climate mitigation to the government of the day.

At the time, there existed small, intimate groups who were furious that the Climate Change Act had become law; almost all had some relationship to Exxon- and Koch-funded think tanks in the United States, and were accepting funding from British oil and tobacco companies.


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