Farron Cousins

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Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on [email protected]

Corporate And Political Corruption: The Lessons Not Learned From The Deepwater Horizon Disaster

As we approach the six-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 people and devastated much of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, recent news stories paint a very clear picture that no one has learned anything from this disaster.
 
On Monday of this week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that BP will pay $20 billion in civil and federal penalties and fines resulting from its role in the oil spill. This total amount was approved by Judge Carl Barbier who has overseen much of the litigation from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Judge Barbier ordered that the $20 billion, which includes a $5.5 billion Clean Water Act violation fine, be paid out over 16 years at a rate of $1.3 billion per year.
 
In response to the deal, Attorney General Loretta Lynch made the following statement: “Today’s action holds BP accountable with the largest environmental penalty of all time while launching one of the most extensive environmental restoration efforts ever undertaken.”
 
But here’s the story that the Justice Department didn’t want the public to know: 75% of this fine is tax deductible for BP, meaning that U.S. taxpayers will foot most of the bill for the largest oil spill in history.

Reframing The Economics Debate Could Lead To More Action To Fight Climate Change

As a country, the United States has been very slow to react to climate change. Part of the problem is that our politics has been corrupted by the influence of fossil fuel money. The other part is that the constant stream of misinformation has led to an imbalance in the acceptance of science, and the public has taken a long time to come around to the idea that we need to act.
 
But today the public does agree that it is time to act, and a majority of Americans no longer deny the existence of man-made climate change. The main issue is that the deniers are calling the shots, so action remains either completely absent or painfully weak.
 
To make matters a little more confusing, while most Americans agree that climate action is necessary, polls show us that they believe it is very low on the country’s list of priorities, with things like global terrorism, the economy, and income inequality consistently scoring higher on the priority list. The irony is that most of the issues that rank higher than climate change can all be directly related to the state of the environment.
 
In order to inspire action, perhaps it’s time that the environmental movement changed the way it frames the debate. Rather than speaking mostly in terms of environmental destruction we should be pointing out the economics of environmental action and the benefit that action can bring to the overall economy. And vice versa — plenty of economic actions by the government have a direct, often negative, impact on the environment and the health of American citizens.

Where Do The Remaining Presidential Candidates Stand On Climate Issues?

We are now officially through half of the United States Presidential election primary and caucus season, and there are currently 5 contenders left in the Republican and Democratic parties vying for their party’s respective nomination. Delegate math shows that Governor John Kasich has no chance to become the Republican nominee, so we’re left with four real candidates to examine.
 
The differences between the candidates of the two major parties could not be greater. On the Democratic side, there are two candidates who proudly embrace science and agree that action on climate issues is sorely needed. On the Republican side, both of the remaining candidates reject the scientific consensus and instead argue that climate change is nothing more than a series of unfortunate weather events.
 
It is important to remember that acceptance of climate science is not necessarily limited to one political party. Recent polls show that majorities of voters within both the Democratic and Republican parties (as well as Independent voters) accept that climate change is real and that human activity is a contributing factor. The discrepancy between the desires of voters and the views of the candidates can best be seen in the contributions from the fossil fuel industry, which will be described in detail later.
 
As for the candidates remaining in the race, only Republican frontrunner Donald Trump lacks a record to verify his statements on climate change. But judging on his statements alone, he will not be a friend to the environment if he secures the nomination and subsequently wins the White House.

DuPont Has Quietly Replaced One Deadly Toxin With Another

In early October 2015, a jury awarded $1.6 million to Carla Bartlett after attorneys presented ample evidence to prove that a kidney tumor that Ms. Bartlett had developed was a result of ingesting a chemical known as C8. The chemical was discharged into the Ohio River by DuPont, and it was used for decades as a chemical in the development of Teflon.
 

Congress Is Infected With Climate Change Deniers, But Their Constituents Understand The Dangers

Here’s an inconvenient truth for the fossil fuel industry: The majority of Americans accept the scientific consensus that climate change is real and that it is a threat that must be addressed. This includes a majority of Democrats, a majority of Republicans, and a majority of citizens who do not identify with a specific political party.
 
But here’s a sad truth for Americans who believe in science: The majority of members of the ruling GOP party in Washington, D.C. refuse to accept the science that climate change is happening and that human beings are to blame.
 
According to a new report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, 59% of the House Republican caucus and 70% of Senate Republicans refuse to accept the reality of climate change. This means there are a total of 182 climate change deniers in the House and Senate who collectively represent more than 200 million American citizens (based on their district/state size that they represent in Congress.)

As Warming Accelerates, Talk Of Climate Change Dissipates

There is not a single person running for U.S. President as a Republican who believes that we should take action to fight climate change. Not one. To make matters worse, the top three contenders for the Republican nomination — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio — refuse to even acknowledge that climate change is real. The remaining two GOP candidates — John Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson — don’t believe climate scientists about the scope and severity of the problem.
 
One of these men will have a 50% chance of becoming the President of the United States this coming November. And depending on which polls you look at, the three frontrunners have a very real shot at actually winning the election.
 
Cruz and Rubio are the only two candidates who currently serve in office, both in the Senate, and while they are currently both trailing Trump in delegate count, the number of primaries left to be held indicate that either could take the lead and secure the nomination. And since they both hold office, we can check their records to see where they stand on environmental issues.
 
And things aren’t looking good.

As Flint, Michigan Suffers From Contaminated Water, Republicans Attack Clean Water Act

It isn’t often that a state of emergency is declared over a disaster that is 100% man-made and intentional, but that’s exactly what has happened in the city of Flint, Michigan. As residents in the city struggle to find drinkable water, the National Guard has been deployed to help distribute bottled water to residents.

The crisis actually began about 18 months ago when Republican governor Rick Snyder made the decision to balance the city’s budget at the expense of the health and safety of residents of Flint.

The governor and his appointed “budget experts” decided to save the city some money by switching their water supply from the city of Detroit’s supply to the Flint River, and according to Occupy Democrats, this river was known to be both highly polluted and carried an unusually high salt content.

The high salinity of this water caused the city’s pipes to begin eroding, which then leached lead into the city’s water.

Presidential Debates Ignore Climate Change, So Children Are Demanding Answers

Few issues have as much impact on the future as climate change. Sadly, the issue of climate change has taken a backseat to economic policy, divisive cultural issues, and the threat of terrorism. The main reason for this is the media coverage of these issues.

Shortly after the Paris climate agreement  was reached, both the Republicans and Democrats held presidential debates in the US, and not once in either debate was the Paris accord or the overall issue of climate change addressed by the moderators of those debates. The media doesn’t believe that climate change is a marketable idea, so they focus on issues that are more divisive and sensationalized in order to attract more viewers.

Another factor driving this selective coverage is the mentality of our aging politicians.

TransCanada Hoping Bad Trade Deal Will Make Keystone XL A Reality

TransCanada is suing the U.S. government for blocking the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  The company argued in their federal court filings that President Obama had overstepped his Constitutional powers in putting the brakes on the project.

The company is seeking $15 billion in damages from the federal government in a lawsuit brought under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

This move by TransCanada was entirely predictable, as I wrote back in May 2013:

2015 Ranked As Second Hottest Year On Record in US

According to the numbers, 2015 ranked as the second hottest year on record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) said that the average temperature in the United States for 2015 was 54.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is only 1.1 degrees lower than the highest average temperatures on record for the year 2012.

2015 marked the 19th straight year that average temperatures in the United States surpassed the average temperatures for the 20th century.

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