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.

FRACKING HELL: The True Cost of America's Gas Rush (Video)

I recently re-watched this 18-minute video produced by Britain’s Ecologist Film Unit profiling the threats posed by hydraulic fracturing for gas in the Marcellus Shale in the eastern U.S.  It’s an excellent primer for anyone who wants to get up to speed on this issue. And, as this piece makes clear, the fracking threat and shale gas boom are not confined to the eastern U.S. by a long shot. 

In addition to the huge gas rush in the U.S. West, as well as in B.C. and elsewhere in Canada, there is a growing industry effort to bring all the pollution and contamination risks of fracking to Europe too - just beginning in the UK, Poland, France and Germany.

The piece outlines the major threats - many recently profiled by the New York Times in its Drilling Down series - from radioactive wastewater, fracking chemicals and other risks to drinking water and public health posed by shale gas development. It explains the devestating toll that gas drilling has had on families and communities across the eastern U.S. region where the shale gas boom is underway, and the consequences of letting this practice gain acceptance throughout the world.

As the LinkTV narrator asks in her preface to their re-run of the video, “The gas business may be booming, but at what price for people?”

PolluterWatch Memo to Koch PR Team: Ever Consider Making Your Astroturf A Little Less Obvious?

PolluterWatch is serving up a great tongue-in-cheek “memo to the Koch PR team” tonight, noting the obvious blunders from Koch Industries’ astroturfing and attack squad lately. The Kochtopus keeps revealing just how highly coordinated its media and blogger network is, mysteriously generating defensive and offensive pieces in quick succession at the drop of a billionaire’s hat.

If it weren’t so blatantly obvious in slinging the same mud and honey around the media Koch-o-sphere, perhaps Koch’s ever-ready defender squad might be worthy of compensation? Oh wait, New Media Strategies does get paid by Koch to blatantly and disastrously attempt to edit the Koch profile on Wikipedia. 

And even if Koch’s friends in media claim to rush to the company’s defense out of pure ideological zealotry and not for compensation, there are a few instances where that argument fails to impress.  As PolluterWatch points out, Koch’s PR team recently posted on the company’s Facebook page about a piece written by Steven Hayward that seemed to support Koch’s anti-science position on climate change and predictably tooted the old Climategate dud.

EXCLUSIVE: Documents Reveal Chevron’s Changing Tune In Ecuador Rainforest Destruction Case

New documents uncovered in the ongoing legal battle over Chevron/Texaco’s destruction of the Ecuadorian rainforest show that, while Chevron recently labeled the guilty verdict and $18 billion fine leveled against its Texaco unit by an Ecuadorian court as “illegitimate and unenforceable,” it was in fact the oil company that lobbied fiercely to have the case moved out of U.S. courts to the Ecuadorian justice system.  

DeSmogBlog has reviewed corporate memos, letters and records of meetings documenting the oil giant’s efforts to have the case moved from New York - where it was originally filed by the plaintiffs - to Ecuador, where the company hoped to use its influential connections within the government at the time to have the case dismissed.

Shale Gas Industry Targeting B.C. Public Water Supplies For Fracking Boom

The Tyee’s Ben Parfitt has a must-read piece today focusing on the huge amounts of drinking water that the shale gas industry is drawing from public water resources for hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations. It describes the efforts of Talisman Energy and Canbriam Energy to secure long-term licenses that would allow the gas industry to draw from B.C.’s public water supplies for years and possibly decades with little thought about water stewardship. 

The B.C. Oil and Gas Commission - the same agency charged with regulating the gas industry - is consulting with the industry without public input or information sharing with key water stewardship officials.

Gas companies are currently sourcing most of their water needs for fracking from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (OGC) through temporary permits. The Tyee notes that the gas industry “has a unique advantage over all other water users in the province in that it can get water from its own dedicated regulator.”

Major Investigative Series Into US-Canada Tar Sands Politics Launched Today at The Tyee

Anyone concerned or simply intrigued by the controversy over Canada’s climate-wrecking tar sands needs to check out The Tyee homepage every day for the next few weeks. The Tyee’s tar sands investigative reporter Geoff Dembicki today released the first installment of his upcoming series exploring the intense lobbying battles taking place right now in Washington, D.C. over the future of tar sands development vis-a-vis the United States’ oil addiction.

Today’s installment was mainly a teaser about what is to come in the series, which will begin in earnest tomorrow with Dembicki’s report on the one-on-one interview he conducted with former Republican congressman Tom Corcoran, who is now a major lobbyist working to convince U.S. lawmakers to embrace Canadian tar sands as a source of non-Middle-Eastern oil.

Current GOP Is “Party of Science Deniers,” Waxman Says

During a speech at the Center for American Progress Action Fund on Monday, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) came out swinging against Republican climate science denial and political attacks against the Clean Air Act. 

Waxman told the crowd, “it apparently no longer matters in Congress what health experts and scientists think. All that seems to matter is what Koch Industries think.”

Rep. Waxman’s frank assessment of the state of political attacks on science in the age of the Koch Congress should garner some interesting responses at today’s House Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing “Climate Science and EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations,” where the GOP majority is sure to belittle climate science and ignore the urgent need to cut global warming pollution, yet again. 

Third Piece in NY Times Series Shows EPA Internal Battle Over Natural Gas Fracking Threats

The New York Times today released its third piece in a shocking series of articles revealing the health threats posed by the renegade U.S. natural gas industry. The latest piece documents how the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to protect public health as the gas rush escalated - thanks to the dangerous high volume slickwater fracking technique now dominating the industry - to the currently uncontrolled threat that it represents.

Ian Urbina’s latest investigative report proves that politics is playing a significant role in the EPA’s failure to hold the gas industry accountable for its damage to drinking water supplies and public health in Pennsylvania, offering clear indications that the problem is not likely isolated to just that state.

The NY Times series is a must-read for anyone concerned about the huge power that entrenched fossil fuel industries have over public health and safety agencies, rendering science and documented health impacts afterthoughts while focusing on protecting industry interests.

Check out the latest article, Politics Seen to Limit E.P.A. as It Sets Rules for Natural Gas, and bookmark the homepage for the entire Drilling Down series by The New York Times.

EPA Study Again Shows The Benefits Of The Clean Air Act To U.S. Economy

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday released its Second Prospective Report examining the benefits of the Clean Air Act amendments from 1990 up to 2020. The study confirms that the EPA’s clean air protections are not only vital for safeguarding the physical health and longevity of Americans, they are also extremely good for our economy.  While the cost of implementing the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments was just $65 billion, the direct benefits from these protections are projected to reach almost $2 trillion for the year 2020.

In 2020, the study projects the Clean Air Act will prevent more than 230,000 cases of premature mortality, 200,000 heart attacks,
 17 million lost work days
 and 2.4 million asthma attacks.

Major Cuts To Pollution Control Spending On The Horizon In Canada

A number of Canadian environmental policies and programs are facing significant budget cuts during the next year. Not surprisingly, reducing carbon emissions and air pollution are two of the areas facing the budget axe from Stephen Harper’s anti-science administration.

Environment Canada will endure a 14% reduction in funding (or $222 million) and the budget to combat global warming emissions and other air pollution will drop a massive 59% (from $240 million to below $100).

Must-Read NY Times Story On Gas Fracking Reveals Radioactive Wastewater Threat

An incredible piece just broke in the New York Times showing that hydraulic fracking in the Marcellus Shale is drawing huge amounts of radioactivity up from the earth with the fracking fluids, often going straight through a municipal waste water treatment plant and then dumped into rivers – above public drinking water intake locations.  The piece proves that EPA knows this is going on, and that it is likely illegal. 

Highly recommended reading for anyone concerned about the real threats posed by this gas industry practice to drinking water, public health and the environment.

DRILLING DOWN: Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers