Brendan DeMelle

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Brendan DeMelle is Executive Director and Managing Editor of  He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in new media, politics, climate change and clean energy. He has served as research associate for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., researcher for Ring of Fire Radio, researcher for Laurie David and, law and policy analyst for Environmental Working Group, campus organizer for Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, environmental justice associate for EPA Region 10, among other positions in his career. DeMelle has provided writing and communications services on a wide range of topics, with a demonstrated ability to simplify complex and technical issues into concise, accessible language for general public consumption. 

His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, GristEnergyBoom, The Washington Times and other outlets, including a peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Rural History about the social and ecological impacts of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project. He graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BA in Sociology and Environmental Studies in 1998, and lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Anne.

Research Confirms ExxonMobil, Koch-funded Climate Denial Echo Chamber Polluted Mainstream Media

A new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS) shows that the climate denial echo chamber organizations funded by ExxonMobil and Koch family foundations produced misinformation that effectively polluted mainstream media coverage of climate science and polarized the climate policy debate. 

The abstract and full text of the study can be found here: Corporate funding and ideological polarization about climate change.

The analysis of 20 years' worth of data by Yale University researcher Dr. Justin Farrell shows beyond a doubt that ExxonMobil and the Kochs are the key actors who funded the creation of climate disinformation think tanks and ensured the prolific spread of their doubt products throughout our mainstream media and public discourse.

The contrarian efforts have been so effective for the fact that they have made it difficult for ordinary Americans to even know who to trust,” Dr. Farrell told the Washington Post which was first to cover the news of the study's release. “This counter-movement produced messages aimed, at the very least, at creating ideological polarization through politicized tactics, and at the very most, at overtly refuting current scientific consensus with scientific findings of their own,” Dr. Farrell said.

VICTORY! Obama Rejects Scandal-Ridden Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

At long last, President Obama today rejected the heavily-protested, scandal-ridden Keystone XL tar sands pipeline proposed by TransCanada (NYSE: TRP). Congratulations to everyone who raised their voice, got arrested, spent hours researching the many lobbying scandals (like we did here on DeSmog), and otherwise helped to usher in the first time that a fossil fuel infrastructure project was defeated based on its global warming pollution impact. 

Watch DeSmog’s Justin Mikulka Interviewed on ‘Ring of Fire’ About Risky Crude Oil Trains

Following up on several recent articles and a video explaining how the risks of Bakken oil “bomb trains” will continue to endanger communities across North America for years to come despite new regulations

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.

Fight Over Shell's Arctic Drilling Escalates As Polar Pioneer Arrives and #ShellNo "Paddle in Seattle" Begins


Here we go. Shell's Polar Pioneer drilling rig is making its way through Puget Sound and will arrive later this afternoon at Terminal 5 in the Port of Seattle. You can watch the journey in real time if you want to follow along.

Heartland Institute 58 Experts Poster Remixed by DeSmog, Willie Soon Among Denialist Dozens

With the news of Willie Soon's fossil-fuel-funded career featured on the front page of The New York Times on Sunday, there's no time like the present to take a look at all of Soon's friends in the anti-science climate denial echo chamber.

Where to begin? Well, the climate denial think tank Heartland Institute graciously created a poster of 58 “experts” who reject the 97% consensus on climate change science. Heartland's poster — which Sen. James Inhofe (R-Denial) used as a prop in a recent Senate floor speech attacking climate change as a “hoax” again — features the “58 Experts” the climate deniers love to promote.

So, DeSmog remixed the Heartland 58 poster with more accurate bios of the 58 
so the public can judge whether to believe the fossil-fuel-funded Heartland Institute or the overwhelming scientific consensus.

For the full details, visit our page on the Heartland 58 poster. And download a PDF of the remixed poster by clicking on the attachment below. 

DeSmogBlog’s Top 10 Stories of 2014

It was a year of highs and lows as far as climate change and energy issues. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the lows got a lot of the attention, which is why the top 10 posts on DeSmog this year are mostly of the outrageous, infuriating or depressing variety.

We’ve already collected the top clean energy revolution stories of the year, so if this post gets too heavy for you, you can always pop over there and have some of your hope for the future restored.

But for those of you who can't look away, here are the top ten stories we posted on DeSmog this year, as measured by the amount of traffic each received:

New York Governor Cuomo to Ban Fracking in State, Citing Health Threats

Several news outlets and the Twittersphere are abuzz with the news that New York State is set to ban fracking in 2015. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration announced the forthcoming ban — making permanent the existing moratorium — during a year-end cabinet meeting. 

The primary reason cited by the Cuomo administration is health concerns related to the extremely controversial, water- and chemical-intensive fracking process. According to The New York Times, the acting state health commissioner Howard Zucker, said, “I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York.” 

Zucker then made a simple argument in support of the decision. 

“Would I live in a community with [fracking] based on the facts that I have now? Would I let my child play in a school field nearby? After looking at the plethora of reports behind me … my answer is no.”

The commissioner of the NY Department of Environmental Conservation also made the point that the current restrictions on the ban on fracking in the New York City watershed as well as fracking bans enacted by local municipalities mean “the prospects for [hydrofracking] development in New York State are uncertain at best.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Twitter account chimed in with some tweets of explanation.

State residents and environmentalists have spent several years rallying for a ban on fracking, and they are celebrating this breaking news. 

Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, 
the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University, told DeSmogBlog: 

“I never lost confidence in Gov. Cuomo.  Add a chapter to 'Profiles in Courage' for him.  And I never lost confidence that the prowess of my health professional and science colleagues would reveal shale gas development for what it would have been: a big net loss for the people of New York State.  If shale gas extraction in a populated place like New York can't 'make it in there' maybe it can't make it 'anywhere'.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated regularly throughout the day. Co-reported by Justin Mikulka, Steve Horn and Brendan DeMelle.

John Kerry Slams Climate Deniers at COP 20, Emphasizes 97% Consensus, Mum on KXL

What happens if the climate skeptics are wrong? Catastrophe.” 

Those were the words of Secretary of State John Kerry here in Lima today as he addressed the COP 20 climate talks on the need to foster global action to address climate change. 

Secretary Kerry also emphasized the 97 percent scientific consensus on manmade global warming, calling it “a dramatic statement of fact that no one of good conscience or faith should ignore.”

Kerry spoke firmly about the climate-related costs of fossil fuels, saying that “oil and coal are largely responsible” for manmade global warming, and cautioned against any further expansion of fossil fuel use. 

“If developing nations choose the energy choices of the past rather than the energy choices of the future,” they would further endanger the planet and miss out on “one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time” to build economies based on clean energy technology, Kerry said.

“Coal and oil may be cheap ways to power an economy today, in the near term, but I urge nations around the world, the vast majority of whom are represented here at this conference, look further down the road,” Kerry said. “I urge you to consider the real, actual, far-reaching costs that come along with what some think is the cheaper alternative. It's not cheaper.”

Lima COP20 Climate Summit Marked By Protests, Publicity Stunts and PR Promises

An estimated 15,000 people marched through the streets of Lima yesterday in the People’s Climate March, demanding a shift to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Earlier in the day, a group of 100 children delivered a petition signed by 2.2 million people to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and COP President Manuel Pulgar Vidal in Lima.

The people’s message couldn’t be any clearer — leave the fossil fuels in the ground and build a just, fair and equitable future using clean technology — as the momentum continues to build following the People’s Climate March in New York City in September which drew over 400,000 citizens calling for climate action.