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.

DeSmog's Kevin Grandia Featured in Rolling Stone's Fossil Fuel Resistance Edition

Kevin Grandia, DeSmog's former Managing Editor and current senior consultant, is featured in this month's Rolling Stone magazine.

Kevin Grandia: The Muckraker, as Rolling Stone aptly calls him, is recognized for his excellent work in the aftermath of Climategate especially. As long-time DeSmog readers will remember well, Kevin read every page of the stolen emails and worked overtime to educate reporters about the way that climate deniers had ginned up a fake controversy out of thin air. 

Rolling Stone's Jesse Hyde writes:

Grandia hopes something like that never happens again – which is why he now helps run DeSmogBlog, a Canadian website that does daily battle with climate change skeptics, aggregating the best research on global warming and dissecting misinformation campaigns backed by right-wing think tanks. He's traced much of the money that funds anti-global-warming research back to the fossil fuel industry and found that some of the most outspoken skeptics once worked for Big Tobacco. “They're using the exact same tactics they used to convince people smoking doesn't cause cancer,” Grandia says. “It's a tactic that's been around forever. You can muddle up a debate for a long time just by creating doubt.”

Grandia is featured alongside Tim DeChristopher, James Hansen, Maria Gunnoe, Sandra Steingraber and a dozen other incredible fossil fuel resisters in Rolling Stone. And of course, don't miss Bill McKibben's article about the climate movement rising to challenge the fossil fuel status quo.

Congrats to Kevin from the DeSmog team! 

Alberta Govt Hires Bipartisan Team of Lobbyists to Woo Washington on Risky KXL Tar Sands Pipeline

The Alberta government has hired a team of “foreign special interest groups“ to lobby the U.S. Congress and the White House in a desperate attempt to garner support for the risky Keystone XL pipeline that would carry (and certainly spilltar sands crude through the heartland of America to the Gulf Coast and on to export markets overseas. Given the Exxon tar sands spill in Arkansas, dilbit train derailment in Minnesota and other tar sands disasters in recent weeks, I suppose Alberta figured it needs all the help it can muster.

Politico reports that Alberta is spending $200,000 over the next few months to retain the lobbying and PR services of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications and Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti. 

Politico quotes a filing from the Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti firm that says it will provide “strategic consulting in educating U.S. government officials about the Keystone XL pipeline and Alberta's energy resources,” while the Rasky firm will “assist in communicating priority issues and promoting the principal's energy and environmental positions to the executive and legislative branches of government as well as other U.S. institutions.”

While the ultimate fate of the Keystone XL pipeline rests squarely in the hands of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, Alberta is ramping up its all-out Washington blitz to win support for the controversial proposal in Congress and anywhere on the Hill their lobbyists can get in the door. 

Here is a brief look at the specific lobbyists retained to curry favor on behalf of the Alberta government. Note that at least two have experience working on the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John Kerry.

New York Times Shuts Down Popular Green Energy & Environment Blog

Only a few weeks after The New York Times announced it would be dismantling its environment reporting desk, a visit today to the popular New York Times Green blog finds that it has been shut down as well.

In a post titled “A Blog's Adieu,” they write:

“The Times is discontinuing the Green blog, which was created  to track environmental and energy news and to foster lively discussion of developments in both areas. This change will allow us to direct production resources to other online projects. But we will forge ahead with our aggressive reporting on environmental and energy topics, including climate change, land use, threatened ecosystems, government policy, the fossil fuel industries, the growing renewables sector and consumer choices.”

I'll post reactions to this bad news as I receive them. Pop any that you see into the comments below, please. 

Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaires

A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.

Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry's role in driving climate disruption.

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, traces the roots of the Tea Party's anti-tax movement back to the early 1980s when tobacco companies began to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as health studies finding a link between cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.

Published in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Tobacco Control, the study titled, 'To quarterback behind the scenes, third party efforts': the tobacco industry and the Tea Party, is not just an historical account of activities in a bygone era. As senior author, Stanton Glantz, a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) professor of medicine, writes:

“Nonprofit organizations associated with the Tea Party have longstanding ties to tobacco companies, and continue to advocate on behalf of the tobacco industry's anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda.”

The two main organizations identified in the UCSF Quarterback study are Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks. Both groups are now “supporting the tobacco companies' political agenda by mobilizing local Tea Party opposition to tobacco taxes and smoke-free laws.” Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity were once a single organization called Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE). CSE was founded in 1984 by the infamous Koch Brothers, David and Charles Koch, and received over $5.3 million from tobacco companies, mainly Philip Morris, between 1991 and 2004.

16 Year Old Testifies on Northern Gateway: What the Hell Were You Thinking?

All Three Senators Who Voted Against John Kerry Are Pro-Keystone XL, Anti-Science, Climate Deniers

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved the nomination of Sen. John Kerry as the new Secretary of State, by a vote of 94-3.  The three “no” votes were cast by infamous climate denier James Inhofe (R-OK), and two anti-environment Texas Republicans, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

All three Republican Senators, Cornyn, Cruz and Inhofe signed the letter to President Obama last week calling for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would lead to the expansion of the Alberta tar sands, one of the dirtiest megaprojects on earth. 

John Kerry is praised for his environmental record as a Senator, and he's widely anticipated to uphold his leadership role on climate change issues as Secretary of State. 

During his confirmation hearings, Kerry promised to make climate change a top priority at State. “I will be a passionate advocate about this, but not based on ideology, but based on facts, based on science.”

Skeptical Science Video Debunks "No Warming for 16 Years" Denialist Claim

The talented team at Skeptical Science produced the video below to debunk the well-worn denialist argument that there's been “no warming for 16 years” - a favorite lie of Lord Christopher Monckton and many other anti-science crusaders. It's fantastic, and deserves to be spread far and wide to anyone who is confused about this.


Ending Climate Silence - What Obama Should Say In State of the Union Address

What should President Obama say about climate change during his upcoming State of the Union address?

Check out this preview clip from Bill Moyers' interview with scientist Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, who articulates some key points that the President could use to end the partisan bickering on climate change. The full interview airs on the next Moyers & Company

Check the Moyers and Company schedule page to find out when the episode will air in your hometown. 

Powell Climate Science Pie Chart Featured On The Young Turks

The Young Turks discussed James Lawrence Powell's pie chart and analysis of climate science on the show this weekend.

Powell's pie chart study has gone viral in the past month, thanks to coverage by a wide array of outlets, including DeSmogBlog, TreeHugger, UpWorthy, Slate and more.

Watch the segment with Cenk Uygur, Ana Kasparian, and Ben Mankiewicz talking about the Powell pie chart on The Young Turks

Fossil-Fuel Funded Operatives Litter the Mainstream Media, Despite Simple Fix

Have you ever found yourself reading a news article or op-ed in which an “expert” from a distinguished-sounding “think tank” or “institute” seeks to distort or attack climate change science or, alternately, decries public investment in clean energy solutions, and wonder in whose interest this individual and their organization is operating?

Who is funding the proliferation of the anti-renewables, pro-status-quo perspective in all these mainstream media outlets? And why is the media providing them a platform at all, let alone without disclosing the fossil fuel funding behind their misinformation efforts?

Well, today the Checks and Balances Project released a report revealing the extent of this problem in the mainstream media. 

The Checks and Balances report, Fossil Fuel Front Groups on the Front Page, concludes that 58 of the largest mainstream newspapers and publications have quoted or given op-ed space to a fossil-fuel-funded “expert” every other day for the past five years, on average.

“Despite having received millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests, such as ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, these groups’ financial ties to the fossil fuel industry are rarely mentioned,” according to the report.

Checks and Balances writes that it “uncovered the extent of this deception by focusing on the 10 most prominent fossil fuel front groups’ traction [in] 58 of the largest daily newspapers, the Associated Press and Politico. This analysis does not include mentions in broadcast, radio or online publications for these 10 advocacy groups.  As a result, this report only scratches the surface on these fossil fuel-funded groups’ influence on the energy debate.”

The report has received a chilly response from some of the very “experts” often quoted without any disclosure of their fossil fuel funding.  Steven “Junk Man” Milloy was so peeved that he tapped out a quick post attacking the messenger, a typical tactic of the fossil-fuel-funded echo chamber.

Milloy knows the tobacco playbook well. As Connor Gibson points out over at PolluterWatch,  “Steve Milloy has been a central climate denier, who was paid to shill for tobacco company Phillip Morris and oil giant Exxon before work for the Cato Institute and starting the climate denial website “JunkScience.”