Brendan DeMelle

Primary tabs

Brendan DeMelle's picture

Personal Information

Profile Info

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.

Represent.Us Campaign Launched To Promote Anti-Corruption Act

The time has come. 

Today marks the launch of an interesting new bi-partisan campaign to get corporate money out of U.S. politics. Two new sites - Represent.Us and AntiCorruptionAct.org - contain lots of information about the effort, so I'll only scratch the surface in boiling down the elements of the American Anti-Corruption Act:

1) Stop the Bribery - ban lobbyists from donating to politicians or otherwise lavishing them with 'freebies' to influence decision-making.

2) End Secret Money - require full transparency and disclosure of donors who contribute to politicians via bundlers.

3) People Over PACs - impose strict limits on PACs, and give voters an annual $100 tax rebate to spend supporting the candidate or party of their choice.

Why?   Well, here's a short video explaining why you should care about this and why you should tell everyone you know to support it as well. 

If you're interested in getting involved, become a citizen co-sponsor of the Anti-Corruption Act now, and spread the word far and wide.

Bill McKibben Kicks Off 350.org Do The Math Tour In Seattle

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Seattle kickoff of 350.org's Do The Math tour, which will highlight the imperative for action to keep 80 percent of the fossil fuel industries' tar sands, coal, oil and gas reserves in the ground, or the climate is toast.

Bill McKibben and a cast of guests, including Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and City Councilman Mike O'Brien, along with video appearances by Van Jones, Naomi Klein, Josh Fox and more, called on the roughly 2,000 attendees packed into Benaroya Hall to join together to encourage institutions large and small to divest all fossil fuel companies from their stock portfolios, pension funds, and other holdings.

The tour seeks to inspire citizen-led boycotts, blockades, marches on oil companies' shareholder meetings, and a new Fossil Free Campus divestment movement modeled after the anti-Apartheid movement of the 1980s.

The message is simple: Go Fossil Free. McKibben was the first to say, it is a tall order, perhaps impossible, but we have no choice but to try given global warming's terrifying new math.

Mayor McGinn kicked the night off with a pledge to investigate the potential for Seattle to work towards divestment of its fossil fuel holdings, which received massive applause from the audience. 

Before McKibben took the stage, The UpTake's Leif Utne had the chance to interview him about the 21-day, 21-city tour that will demonstrate the magnitude of the threat fossil fuels pose to a livable planet, the opportunity Tuesday's election results pose, and a bold new strategy to hit the fossil fuel industries where it hurts.

 Watch:

Romney Aide Andrea Saul Denied Climate Connection to Hurricane Katrina, Is Sandy Next?

Over half a decade ago, Andrea Saul, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's press secretary, denied any link between Hurricane Katrina and climate change.

Working as a hired gun on behalf of ExxonMobil at the Washington, DC PR firm DCI Group, Saul was listed as the contact person on a press release that denied that global warming is intensifying extreme weather events:

Coming off one of the most devastating hurricane seasons in recent memory, many are quick to blame the strength and frequency of these storms on global warming. Leading climate scientists, however, say there is no link between increased storm activity and a massive change in global climate.

The 2006 Saul/DCI press release quotes the Koch-funded Cato Institute's Patrick Michaels, who stated, “There are many more factors determining hurricane frequency and severity, some of which (such as westerly wind strength) should become LESS conducive to hurricanes as the planet warms.” 

Michaels is a notorious climate change denier who stated in August 2010 on CNN that 40 percent of his funding comes from the oil industry. As with Hurricane Katrina, Pat Michaels this week denied any connection between climate change and Hurricane Sandy.

Will Andrea Saul, speaking on behalf of team Romney/Ryan, be next to deny that global warming added the steroids that increased the devastation of Hurricane Sandy?

MTV Breaks Climate Silence In Interview With Barack Obama

What does it say about the fourth estate and the presidential debate moderators that it fell to MTV to break the climate silence by finally asking one of the candidates about climate change

Oh well, at least it's broken now. H/T Forecast The Facts



To the 2012 Presidential Debate moderators, here's a little tribute to all of you for failing to ask any questions about the single largest threat to U.S. national security, public health and the economy. I'm looking at you Candy “all you climate change people” Crowley, Jim Lehrer, and Bob “200 questions” Schieffer. You all just got owned by MTV, that bastion of vital political coverage.

Take a bow, Sway Calloway!

Delta Boys: Powerful Documentary Chronicles Niger Delta Oil Struggle

The next time I gas up my car, I will have a lot to think about after watching the new documentary film, Delta Boys, now available for digital download release starting today at Sundance and iTunes, and on DVD at Amazon.com.

The film chronicles the plight of the people of the Niger Delta in Nigeria, the fifth largest supplier of oil to the United States. Despite the wealth generated by this oil extraction, the majority of Niger Deltans live on less than a dollar a day and lack even basic public health and sanitation services.

Nigeria suffers the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill every year, as it has each of the last 50 years of oil exploitation. “The wealth underground is out of all proportion with the poverty on the surface,” in the words of The New York Times.

The film brings to light the Niger Delta people’s ongoing struggles against multinational oil corporations and one of Africa’s most corrupt governments. While most of the revenue from oil development flows to the Nigerian government in the form of royalties, in the rural Delta villages where the drilling actually takes place, there are no water or sewage systems, no schools, no hospitals, no adequate roads, and no real job opportunities outside of joining one of the rebel militias.

Meet the Delta Boys – armed rebels who zoom around the Delta in high-speed motor boats, sabotaging oil infrastructure, blackmailing the oil companies, kidnapping workers, and tapping into their pipelines to feed a lucrative but dangerous black market in oil they claim is rightfully theirs.

Cuomo Resets New York Fracking Review, "Consigning Fracking To Oblivion"

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that his administration is pushing the controversial decision on whether to allow fracking in the state back to square one. This encouraging move by Gov. Cuomo is sure to upset the oil industry, but it was the right thing to do given the enormous uncertainties surrounding fracking and unconventional energy development. 

The threats of water contamination, air pollution, climate-altering methane pollution and public health impacts posed enormous challenges for Gov. Cuomo, whom many see poised to make a run for the White House in 2016.

Had he rushed through approval of fracking, his political base - including tens of thousands of state residents vocally opposed to fracking - would likely question his ability to navigate even larger controversies and pressure from industry lobbyists.

While the fate of fracking in New York remains unsettled, The New York Times suggested today that Cuomo's decision to reset the regulatory review process has “created a sense in Albany that Mr. Cuomo is consigning fracking to oblivion.”

Robert Manne: How Vested Interests Defeated Climate Science

Watch this thoughtful presentation by Professor Robert Manne at the University of Melbourne earlier this summer. It's a concise review of the whole climate change denial movement as chronicled in Merchants of Doubt, Climate Cover-up and elsewhere. It lasts just over an hour, so make some popcorn first.

Deepening Doubts About Fracked Shale Gas Wells' Long Term Prospects

This month, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released its bi-annual report on how much natural gas has been produced in the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation which stretches underneath much of Appalachia. Investors were shocked because the production numbers seemed far lower than expected.  Watched closely by market and energy analysts, the report sparked a heated debate about the oil and gas industry's excited rhetoric about fracked shale gas as the cure-all to many of America's energy and jobs needs.

But the story quickly got complicated. The report was released despite lacking data from the state’s second largest driller, Chesapeake Energy, and state regulators never flagged the omission. The amount of gas flowing out of Pennsylvania had actually climbed dramatically.

It was a major flaw, and suddenly the searing spotlight of the media honed in on questions about whether regulators were keeping accurate track of how much gas the wells in their state really produce. How could they overlook such a massive error? Can the public be sure that the updated tally gives an accurate picture of how these wells are performing?

If regulators make mistakes in tracking energy production in their state, how reliable is the companion to that report, which tracks the toxic waste produced by these same companies?

Those are all valid questions that need honest answers. But the most important questions raised in the controversy were largely overlooked.

Virginia Judge Tosses Frivolous American Tradition Institute Lawsuit

A Virginia judge issued an order today putting an end to the American Tradition Institute (ATI) frivilous lawsuit that sought to compel the University of Virginia (UVA) to release the private emails of climate scientist Michael Mann.

Mann, author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, posted the news on his Facebook page earlier today:

Breaking: A victory for science! ATI loses ATI/UVa FOIA case. Judge issues final order. Affirms the university’s right to withhold scholarly communications and finds that the documents & personal emails of mine demanded by ATI were indeed protected as the university had contended.

I am gratified for the hard work and vigorous defense provided by the university to protect scholarly communications and raw materials of scholarship. Fortunately Virginia has a strong exemption in the public records act that protects research and scholarly endeavors. The judge ruled that the exemption under Virginia’s public records protecting information in furtherance of research on scientific and scholarly issues applies to faculty communications in furtherance of their work.

This finding is a potentially important precedent, as ATI and other industry-backed front groups continue to press their attacks on climate scientists through the abuse of public records and FOIA laws and the issuing of frivolous and vexatious demands for internal scholarly deliberations and personal correspondences.


The ATI litigation effort was led by Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Christopher Horner, well-known to DeSmog readers for his anti-science activism.

Want to Communicate More Effectively? Buy Joe Romm's book Language Intelligence

If you are a blogger, a commenter, a tweeter, a public speaker or any type of communicator, you will benefit immensely from picking up a copy of Joe Romm’s fantastic new book, “Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln, and Lady Gaga.”

DeSmog readers are likely familiar with Joe’s incredible work over at Climate Progress, where he and his team – including my new friend Stephen Lacey, another fantastic writer – expertly cover the politics and science of climate change and energy issues. A big part of the secret to the success of Climate Progress is Joe’s communications expertise.

Language Intelligence has garnered incredible reviews and praise from a who’s who of top communicators, from Van Jones to Bill McKibben, Representative Ed Markey to Michael Mann and John Cook.

DeSmog contributor Chris Mooney, who interviewed Romm about the book on his Point of Inquiry podcast, says of Language Intelligence:

Everybody who cares about why science doesn’t get through to the public should read it.”

Romm covers everything about effective communication, from the critical importance of metaphors (especially extended metaphors), language simplicity, repetition, using figures of speech, creating anticipation through foreshadowing, and other persuasive rhetorical techniques. As Romm explains so well, the key to effective writing is to engage the reader’s emotions, and work to inspire and activate your audience through honest and powerful communication.

Pages