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.

Hillary Clinton's Keystone XL Crony Lobbyists Problem

Hillary Clinton and the State Department have the final word on whether to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, unless President Obama intervenes. The influence of tar sands industry lobbyists connected to Hillary Clinton is finally getting some media attention, but there is still more to this story.

Clinton's State Department is finally complying with a FOIA request for documents, after a lawsuit filed in May by three watchdog groups over an alleged lack of transparency regarding contacts with TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliott, a former staffer on Hillary Clinton's presidential run. Elliott has earned at least $310,000 as TransCanada Pipelines’ in-house lobbyist to influence Congress and several federal agencies, including the State Department, on the Keystone XL pipeline.

However, the tar sands industry’s use of former Clinton associates to lobby on the controversial project extends beyond Mr. Elliott. DeSmogBlog has uncovered seven other influencers or lobbyists with ties to Clinton and Obama who have lobbied on behalf of tar sands interests for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.  

These lobbyists are spread out over three firms, including one that was the largest single source of funds of any corporate entity to Clinton’s 2008 presidential run. Included in their midst is a lobbyist with close ties to top Obama adviser David Plouffe, and a former Koch Industries operative now lobbying for the Koch-friendly Keystone XL project.


The extent of the contacts between these lobbyists and Secretary Clinton, or her political appointee-led staff, remains to be determined. Today, **Earthjustice, representing** Friends of the Earth, Corporate Ethics International and the Center for International Environmental Law, filed an amended FOIA request asking the State Department to release all contacts between this web of lobbying firms and her department. The groups credited DeSmogBlog's research as the impetus for the revised FOIA request. 

Greenpeace Calls On Congress To Investigate Koch's Illegal Practices

Greenpeace USA today called for a full Congressional investigation of Koch Industries and the illegal practices detailed in the Bloomberg Markets Magazine piece, “Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales.”

The Bloomberg coverage reveals multiple allegations of Koch Industries bribing government officials around the world and doing business with Iran. In a Huffington Post blog announcing the call for Congress to investigate Koch, Greenpeace USA Executive Director Phil Radford writes, “this new [Bloomberg] investigation reveals a blatant disregard for our laws, so today Greenpeace has called for a full Congressional investigation of Koch Industries and the illegal practices detailed in the Bloomberg report.” 

Greenpeace has extensively documented the Koch brothers' key role in backing the climate denial machine and other nefarious Koch Industries behavior. Now the Bloomberg revelations raise the heat even further on the $50-billionaire-brothers David and Charles Koch. 

Here is the text of the letter that Phil Radford, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, sent today to key members of Congress:

Government Watchdog Report Confirms Canada's Failures on Tar Sands Monitoring and Climate Action

Canada's top environmental watchdog official released a damning report today acknowledging the federal government's complete failure to account for the cumulative impacts of Alberta tar sands development. The report from Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan also confirmed that information about Canada's greenhouse gas emissions is so poorly collected that the country really has no idea whether it is on track to meet its pollution reduction targets - targets which Canada has repeatedly scaled back despite its legally-binding international commitment to action dating back 20 years. 
 
According to the report, “The government has not put in place management systems and tools needed to achieve, measure and report on greenhouse gas emission reductions.” 
 
Vaughan describes the government's current climate action plan as “disjointed, confused, non-transparent.”
“I think it's next to impossible that Canada is going to be able to reach its Kyoto target, that's a given. The gap is so wide now, but I think what we've said as well is the basic problems that we've seen now, and the overall federal-wide co-ordinaton of these climate change programs really needs to get its act together. And if they don't, then we have some doubts on whether or not they are going to be able to meet any target, Vaughan said at a news conference today.
The report also slammed Canada's oversight of the filthy Alberta tar sands industry. By failing to collect baseline data prior to the industrialization of the area - and then adding insult to injury by failing to conduct regular monitoring of impacts from tar sands development - Canada has dropped the ball on its responsibilities to protect the health of local communities and the environment in northern Alberta and beyond. 

State Department Emails Reveal Cozy Relationship With TransCanada Lobbyist

Friends of the Earth today released “deeply disturbing” emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request illustrating “pro-pipeline bias and complicity at the State Department‚” over the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The 200 pages of new documents [PDF] show that TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliott, who served as deputy national campaign director and chief of delegate selection to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, exchanged troubling emails with Marja Verloop, a State Department official who works on energy and environmental issues at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa.

In one email, Verloop offers comforting words to Elliott, assuring him that “at the end of the day it's precisely because you have connections that you're sought after and hired.” [PDF]

Friends of the Earth recently called for the Justice Department to investigate Paul Elliott, who appears to have lobbied the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline for more than a year without registering as a lobbyist.

Friends of the Earth Asks Justice Department To Investigate TransCanada lobbyist Paul Elliott

Friends of the Earth today filed a request with the U.S. Department of Justice [PDF] asking the DOJ to investigate whether Paul Elliott, the notorious TransCanada tar sands lobbyist with deep ties to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, failed to disclose his foreign agent status when lobbying the State Department about the controversial Keystone XL pipeline

FOE requests that DOJ take a close look at whether Elliott violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a matter of increasing interest in the wake of FOE's earlier release of documents revealing that Elliott tried to exploit relationships he made while working on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in order to promote the Keystone XL for his new employer, TransCanada. 

As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, the documents that FOE obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) - after having to file a lawsuit to compel the State Department to release them - also show that Elliott lobbied the State Department on TransCanada's behalf for more than a year before officially registering as a lobbyist. 

Hillary Clinton's State Department Oil Services and the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline [VIDEO]

With over 700 people arrested so far in the Keystone XL tar sands action taking place at the Obama White House, and widespread distrust and criticism of the State Department’s final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), this is a critical moment in the fight against a disastrous proposal to build a tar sands pipeline between Alberta and oil refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast. 

Given the scientific certainty that tar sands oil is a recklessly dirty form of energy - as well as fresh evidence from Oil Change International debunking the claims that increasing our dependence on Canadian oil would be helpful for U.S. national security - it should be a no brainer for the Obama administration to say no to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

But powerful oil industry lobbying, as well as pressure from the Canadian government, seem to have deflated and cast aside this administration’s stated commitments to science-based decisionmaking. Rather than working to transition the nation to a clean energy future now, an Obama administration approval of Keystone XL would further solidify our dirty fossil fuel addiction.

To highlight the influence of oil industry lobbyists over Hillary Clinton’s State Department and its unscientific review of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline proposal, DeSmogBlog presents a video animation created by artist Mark Fiore, depicting the not-so-far-fetched “State Department Oil Services” led by Hillary Clinton:




Visit DeSmogBlog’s Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Action Page for more information.

Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Action Page

Below is a compilation of fact sheets, information resources and action items from environmental groups, governments and other groups surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline and the Canadian tar sands. Please contact us or comment below if you know of additional resources we should add to this page.

TarSandsAction.org - Coalition organizing the White House protest and a 10,000+ strong petition urging President Obama to say no to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Friends of the Earth's Keystone XL pipeline resource page, petition and report “Dirty Business: How TransCanada Pipelines bullies farmers, manipulates oil markets, threatens fresh water and skimps on safety in the United States.”

NRDC's Stop Dirty Fuels: Tar Sands - Fact sheets about tar sands, Switchboard blogs on the Keystone XL pipeline, and a BioGems petition to stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

National Wildlife Federation's Keystone XL Pipeline page and Tar Sands page- numerous fact sheets on Keystone XL and tar sands.

Improvements to DeSmog Comment Forum And Reminder About Comment Policy

I know that many regular DeSmog readers are frustrated with the comment forum, which has been increasingly polluted by anti-science trolls and clever spammers.  Today we are implementing a new comment system that will alleviate some of this.  We will no longer allow anonymous comments.

We are also implementing the Janrain Social Authentication system. Readers will now have two ways to login to DeSmogBlog and leave comments: via their social networks like Twitter and Facebook, or via a regular DeSmogBlog account with a real name and a legitimate email address.

Users with existing DeSmogBlog accounts don’t need to do anything other than continue to login as usual. If you like, you may switch to logging in via a social network as well. Click here to login or click here to register now.  We also give you the opportunity to login at the bottom of each post.

Photo Essay on Canada's Filthy Tar Sands - This Is Why Keystone XL Must Be Stopped

Robert van Waarden, an excellent photographer and friend of DeSmogBlog, has compiled this great visual essay on Canada’s filthy tar sands to show people just a few of the reasons why the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline must be rejected by the Obama administration. 

Robert’s photos are accompanied by quotes from First Nations’ people whom he interviewed on a recent trip to the Alberta tar sands. First Nations communities living near the industrial tar sands development suffer the worst of the impacts, a fact often overlooked by the mainstream media. 


View the tar sands photo essay below:

Halliburton CEO Instructs Underling To Sip New Fracking Fluid At Gas Industry Conference

Halliburton Chief Executive Officer Dave Lesar touted the safety of the company’s new CleanStim fracking fluid during a keynote address at a gas industry conference in Colorado earlier this month. Lesar was so confident in the safety of CleanStim, he was willing to drink it. Er, not exactly. He didn’t imbibe himself, but handed the fracking fluid over to one of his underlings, an unnamed Halliburton executive, who took a “swig” of the fracking fluid according to the Associated Press report filed tonight.

Although Halliburton acknowledges that CleanStim is “not intended for human consumption,” it boasts that the new fracking fluid is made with “ingredients from the food industry.”

The “executive drinks own chemical” trick shows that Halliburton is clearly stepping up its PR game in the face of growing public concern over the controversial fracking process.

It is great that Halliburton has created a supposedly safe fracking fluid, don’t get me wrong. But CleanStim isn’t the formula that is in widespread use at gas fracking operations around the country right now. The public still has no clue about the exact formulas the industry is using currently (because the industry doesn’t want the public to know). But what little information we do have is that most current formulas are likely to contain a laundry list of cancer-causing chemicals.

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