Brendan DeMelle

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Brendan DeMelle is Executive Director and Managing Editor of DeSmogBlog.com.  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 StopGlobalWarming.org, 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.

Rick Mercer's Hilarious Takedown of the "Radical Foreign Interests" Echo Chamber

This Rick Mercer video started making the rounds several days ago, but in case you missed it, it's a hilarious skewering of the “radical foreign interests” talking point that the 'ethical oil' crowd is trying to inject into the debate over the Enbridge Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline proposal. 

Watch:

To Infinity and Beyond: Media Matters Exposes Echo Chamber On Bogus Keystone XL Jobs Claims

Media Matters for America produced this spot-on video to highlight the manner in which the totally bogus Keystone XL jobs figures were echoed and inflated by Fox News and other media.  

Media Matters notes: Their job figures rely on industry-funded studies, and at times even grossly exaggerate those estimates. Watch as they struggle to get on the same page regarding which inflated estimate to use:

Citizens United Protesters Rename Supreme Court the "U.S. Supreme Koch"

Protesters marked the second anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling by unfurling a banner reading “U.S. Supreme Koch” on the court house steps. The action is part of a week-long effort to raise awareness of the unjust power that the Citizens United decision has gifted to corporate special interests and billionaires like the Koch brothers over U.S. politics.

The Supreme Court's astonishing ruling in Citizens United v. FEC enables unlimited corporate expenditures on political campaigns and allows donors to influence elections without being identified.  It's exactly the weapon that corporations like Koch Industries, run by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, are using to turn the U.S. into an oligarchy that serves the 'needs' of the 1% and endangers the rest of Americans.

The protesters represented a host of citizens groups, including The Other 98%, Health Care for America Now, Backbone Campaign, Greenpeace, Velvet Revolution and AFSCME.

The Kochs and their kind are engaged in a hostile corporate takeover of our nation’s political system,” said John Sellers, co-founder of The Other 98%. “We've come to the scene of the crime today – the U.S. Supreme Court – to tell the justices exactly what we think of the infamous Citizens United ruling that made that takeover possible.”

The Supreme Court has undermined government of, by and for the actual people by defining corporations as people and money as speech,” said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now.

Here are a few pictures and a video of the action:

Shale Gas Bubble: Bloomberg News Confirms NY Times Finding That Fracking Boom Is a Bust

Image credit: Shutterstock/Complot

As news outlets across America take a more rigorous look at shale gas and fracking issues, it’s encouraging to see how the media coverage is finally starting to cut through the oil industry’s misleading rhetoric to explore the realities of the myth of gas as a viable ‘bridge fuel.’

The gas industry’s loud-mouthed front group, Energy In Depth, repeatedly attacked The New York Times for their excellent Drilling Down series last year, focusing particular ire on journalist Ian Urbina. EID’s penchant for attacking the messenger shows no sign of letting up in 2012, but as other news outlets look more closely, they are not only confirming what the NY Times series found, but also adding additional evidence of the many problems with shale gas development.

The latest effort from Bloomberg News, “Shale Bubble Inflates on Near-Record Prices,” illustrates how the media’s grasp of the unconventional energy industry landscape has evolved and improved in recent months. 

This excellent reporting by Bloomberg confirms many of the facts that The New York Times reported last summer in “Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush” and “Behind Veneer, Doubt on Future of Natural Gas.”

While many major outlets have covered the myriad environmental and public health risks of fracking and related drilling practices, the NY Times and now Bloomberg have both exposed the fact that the economics of risky and expensive unconventional gas recovery simply don’t match up with industry geologists’ claims of a “nearly limitless” supply.

Investors are increasingly taking notice of the unpredictable nature of this industry and questioning its risky behavior. Is there really as much gas down there as the industry claims? If so, how much is economically recoverable?

API’s New ‘Vote 4 Energy’ Ad Campaign Is Thinly Veiled Election Year Bullying

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard today announced the oil and gas industry’s latest election-year scare campaign to threaten the demise of the U.S. economy unless Big Oil gets its every wish in Washington. This year the wish list includes approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, expanded offshore drilling on both coasts, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and more federal lands in the West to drilling, and smaller buffer zones between drilling operations and drinking water supplies.

What if Washington doesn’t comply by delivering Keystone XL and the rest of the wish list? Gerard, the oil industry’s chief bully, threatens “huge political consequences” for Barack Obama. 

You can almost set your watch to this industry’s tired plays on this front. If it’s January of a presidential election year, it must be time for the oil industry to threaten Washington politicians to ensure they continue to do the industry’s bidding. The threats are delivered in the form of outlandishly expensive advertising campaigns and punditry tours, aided by a captive media that serves its role as stenographer for the industry’s inflated jobs figures and misleading claims.

The API campaign is nothing more than a fresh skin on a very old and stale argument – that President ______ (insert current name) needs to continue opening up more of the nation’s lands, particularly public lands, for oil and gas drilling, OR ELSE ______(insert latest political talking point), in this case “jobs jobs jobs” will be lost (a bogus argument)

CNN notes the close correlation between API’s target states and some of the hottest states in the 2012 U.S. elections – hint: they’re the same.

Ecuador Appeals Court Upholds $18 Billion Verdict Against Chevron For Amazon Destruction

Great news today in the ongoing legal battle over the oil giant Chevron's destruction of the Amazon.  

Mike G reports on The Understory blog at Rainforest Action Network that an appeals court in Ecuador has just upheld the $18 billion decision against Chevron for its massive oil pollution in the Amazon.

Andy Revkin Interviews Franke James On Dot Earth: Canada's Approach To Inconvenient Art

Andy Revkin has a great interview with Canadian artist Franke James on his Dot Earth blog at The New York Times.

DeSmogBlog previously covered the harrasment and censorship that Franke James says she experienced at the hands of the Harper government, which worked in strangely aggressive ways to block the 20-city European tour of a climate change art exhibit that included her work. Apparently the Harper government does not appreciate the fact that Franke's artwork over the years has been highly critical of the Canadian government's failure to address climate change.

Revkin's piece, Canada's Approach to Inconvenient Art, includes an interview with Franke that is definitely worth reading. Franke provides some updates about the results from her Freedom of Information requests to the Harper government, including the news that:

This week, the Green Party of Canada submitted a formal order question to Parliament. See number 380. The Canadian Government has 45 days to respond in writing.

Franke James explains to Revkin that: 

Jeremy Wallace, Deputy Director of Climate Change at DFAIT, deemed my artwork “not be consistent with our interests and approach … and [that it] would in fact run counter to Canada’s interests more broadly.”

In new ATIP [Access to Information and Privacy Act] documents received this week, one email from an Ambassador’s office is particularly interesting as it singles out my Fat Cat Canada essay as the reason my art show should not get Canadian government support. (This is an infringement of my charter right to freedom of expression.)

Signs of Action On Climategate Hacker Investigation: DOJ and UK Police Probe Denier Bloggers

Fantastic news for a change - the Guardian reports that the UK police are finally making some concerted attempts to identify the hacker behind the criminal invasion of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit.

The Guardian reports:

On Wednesday, detectives from Norfolk Constabulary entered the home of Roger Tattersall, who writes a climate sceptic blog under the pseudonym TallBloke, and took away two laptops and a broadband router. A police spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that Norfolk Constabulary had “executed a search warrant in West Yorkshire and seized computers”. She added: “No one was arrested. Investigations into the [UEA] data breach and publication [online of emails] continues. This is one line of enquiry in a Norfolk constabulary investigation which started in 2009.”

Tattersall posted on his own TallBloke's Talkshop blog that:

“I got the feeling something was on the go last night when WordPress [the internet host for his blog] forwarded a notice from the US Department of Justice.”

What excellent news to hear that the Justice Department is getting involved with this investigation, it's about time. Perhaps this came in response to the remarks by Rep Ed Markey (D-MA) last month?

Either way, it is reassuring to know that the investigation into the criminal hacking of climate scientists' emails is, in fact, ongoing.  Last month, we reported about troubling indications that the UK police effort seemed inadequate given the tiny expense reports divulged after a Freedom of Information request by a UK journalist. 

BP Returns to Deepwater Offshore Drilling in the Gulf of Mexico

BP, the oil major responsible for the biggest offshore oil disaster in U.S. history, is officially returning to deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The Obama Interior Department “awarded” BP $27 million worth of leases for oil-and-gas exploration in the Gulf waters into which the company and its accomplices dumped roughly 5 million barrels of oil in April 2010.

The Interior Department conducted its first Gulf lease sale since the BP disaster and announced today the winning bids from 20 different companies totaling $712 million. Adding a strange insult to injury, the lease sale was conducted in New Orleans, home to many fishermen and small business owners whose livelihoods were imperiled by BP's reckless drilling disaster.

In its coverage, BP Awarded $27 Million in Leases for Gulf Oil, Gas Exploration, the National Journal reports that:

BP bid a total of $109.9 million on 15 leases and won 11 for $27.4 million, Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reported in a list of sales posted on its website.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said:

This marks a milestone with respect to the greatest overhaul in the America’s history,” Salazar said of the offshore-drilling safety reforms and changes implemented by Interior since the April 2010 explosion of a BP well in the Gulf led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. “We believe we can move forward with oil and gas development.”

The only milestone this really marks is the renewed guarantee that the oil industry will continue to destroy the Gulf of Mexico one disaster at a time in its pursuit of dangerous, extreme energy. 

BREAKING: Canada Pulls Out of Kyoto Protocol

Canada is pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, the cornerstone of international climate negotiations, in the wake of the failed COP17 climate talks in Durban. Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent announced Canada's bail-out of Kyoto as he returned from Durban.

The Kyoto Protocol was ratified by Canada in 2002, when the agreement became legally binding. Canada's decision to turn its back on its international obligations confirms yet again that Stephen Harper and his carbon cronies are securing a hellish future for generations to come.  Canada's 'leaders' are brashly choosing pollution-based profiteering over public health and cooking the climate to make a killing in the tar sands. 

BBC reports: 

Peter Kent said the protocol “does not represent a way forward for Canada” and would have forced it to take “radical and irresponsible choices”.

The move, which is legal and was expected, makes it the first nation to pull out of the global treaty.  …

“Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past, and as such we are invoking our legal right to withdraw from Kyoto,” Mr Kent said in Toronto.

CBC has details on Kent's timing, as well as a news poll showing 62% disapproval of the decision (as of 3pm PST) on CBC's Inside Politics Blog: 

Kent returned to Ottawa from Durban Monday afternoon and made the announcement about two hours after landing.

He said he waited to formally pull out of the Kyoto Protocol because he'd promised a top UN official in Durban not to distract from the talks.

Greenpeace Canada climate and energy campaigner, Mike Hudema, reacts:

“The Harper government has imposed a death sentence on many of the world's most vulnerable populations by pulling out of Kyoto. The decision to leave Kyoto behind destabilizes the promise of action on the climate crisis. This is a further signal that the Harper government is more concerned about protecting polluters than people.”

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