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, Grist, 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.

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.

East Africa Food Crisis: 48 Hour Fundraiser This Weekend To Combat Famine and Drought

Please join DeSmogBlog and a network of environmental organizations, websites, nonprofits, and social media mavens this weekend in a 48-hour fundraiser to benefit the 12 million people fighting to survive the worst drought to impact East Africa in over sixty years. On the weekend of August 6 and 7, this network is hosting a blogathon benefit, East Africa Famine: 48 Hour Fundraiser.

The UN, after declaring famine in two districts in Somalia, last week announced the entire region of southern-Somalia is in danger of slipping into famine.

Please click the image below to donate to Oxfam, which is mobilizing to provide emergency water supplies in the region.
Somalia Drought Relief Fundraiser
DONATE TO OXFAM CANADA BY CLICKING THE IMAGE ABOVE AND FILLING OUT THE FORM.
OR CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO OXFAM AMERICA.

Interview with 'Kivalina' Author Christine Shearer - Trivia Challenge For Free Copy

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Christine Shearer, author of “Kivalina: A Climate Change Story,” an important new book that probes some of the tangible consequences of climate change denial. Shearer chronicles the very real experience of the melting and eroding community of Kivalina, Alaska, a smalll but resilient village community that sued ExxonMobil and 23 other polluters for contributing to the global warming that is tearing down their homes.

**Answer the trivia questions at the bottom of this post for a chance to win a free copy of Kivalina.

Brendan DeMelle (BD): What inspired you to write this book?

Christine Shearer (CS): In 2007 I became part of a science project assessing the biggest human impacts to marine ecosystems, which required getting data from over 100 scientists. And the more I worked on it, the more it became clear to me that the data on climate change was really alarming, and that if we did not get a handle on this problem soon, it could be too late - we’d set into motions feedbacks that could not be reversed. Which made me wonder about the disconnect between what scientists knew about climate change, and what many in the U.S. were hearing about the subject - you know, that it’s not happening, or it’s not that bad, or it’s natural, etc.

At the same time I happened to be studying the disinformation campaigns of past industries in one of my graduate classes - like lead and asbestos, and also climate change. Academics and journalists have been documenting the tactics of industrial misinformation for decades now.

EIA's Politically Dictated “Garbage” Subsidy Report Obtained And Released Publicly

The Checks and Balances Project has obtained a copy of the controversial Energy Information Administration report that was called “garbage” by EIA Acting Administrator Howard Gruenspecht.  The polluter-friendly report was just delivered yesterday afternoon to the GOP House requesters, Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). Checks and Balances provided a copy to DeSmogBlog, which we’re providing to the public here: “Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2010” [PDF].

Gabe Elsner, Deputy Director of the Checks and Balances Project, told DeSmogBlog that, “if it’s true that the Acting Administrator Gruenspecht called this report a “piece of garbage” he was right, because it deliberately leaves out the six other ways in which coal, oil and natural gas get government handouts.  The fossil fuel welfare tab is tens or hundreds of times greater than the cost of pro-renewable policy support.” 

EIA Head Objected to Politically Dictated “Garbage” Subsidy Report, But Delivers it Anyway

Stephen Lacey from ClimateProgress on Tuesday detailed a letter sent to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) by three GOP House members asking the EIA to use loaded assumptions in running its models to show that fossil fuels are a better taxpayer investment than renewable energy sources.

These members, each of whom has received campaign funding from fossil fuel interests, essentially requested a report designed to suggest that renewables get huge public subsidies (they don’t) and that government handouts to fossil fuels and nuclear energy are a better deal for taxpayers (they aren’t). It was a blatant attempt to defend oil industry subsidies, and it put EIA in the unenviable position of lending its credibility to the talking points used by the oil, gas and coal industries.
 
Lacey reported that in a rare moment of sanity in Washington, the report was halted before it was turned over to the GOP requestors. Lacey’s report says that EIA cited “quality assurance” concerns, and would revisit the report to ensure it gives a “full picture,” accurate account of energy subsidies, not a politically driven result.
 
But “quality assurance” was the kindest way to portray what really happened.

NY Times Editorial Urges Obama Administration To Reject Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

The New York Times editorial today calls on the State Department and President Obama to reject the disastrous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which it correctly labels the “wrong pipeline for the wrong oil.”

The NYT editors point to the environmental impacts of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, noting the destruction it would cause to Canada’s boreal forests, the threats to Midwest drinking water supplies from inevitable spills and accidents, and the climate impacts of supporting the extraction of the dirtiest oil on the planet.

Hillary Clinton’s State Department is correctly called to account for its abysmal attempts at drafting an adequate Environmental Impact Statement, which the EPA has labeled “insufficient” both times it has reviewed the document.

In a clear nod to the intense lobbying efforts of the pipeline’s proponents, the Times urges Clinton’s State Department to judge “the pipeline on the merits, not because of politics or pressure from the Canadian government, big oil and the industry’s friends in Congress.”

Read the rest of the Times’ concise and necessary criticism of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline: “Wrong Pipeline, Wrong Assessment” at the Times’ website.

Stephen Colbert Skewers Talisman Energy Over Gas Fracking Coloring Book

Stephen Colbert devoted a must-see segment of The Colbert Report last night to the subject of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), mocking gas company Talisman Terry for its coloring book propaganda, “Talisman Terry’s Energy Adventure” [PDF] and generally eviscerating the gas industry’s efforts to greenwash fracking in the wake of widespread public concern over water contamination and other threats posed by the industry’s drilling operations.

Colbert’s team certainly had fun mocking Talisman’s “Friendly Fracosaurus” character, revealing some “bonus pages” of the dinosaur facing his “violated ancestors” and committing suicide - frackicide? - by lighting a cigarette in the shower.  These references were surely amusing to viewers of Gasland and other followers of the fracking controversy.

Watch the video:

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