Farron Cousins

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Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on [email protected]

Senate Poised to Pass Water Bill Reversing Coal Ash Pollution Rules

Coal ash spill surrounding a house in Tennessee.

Every two years the Senate passes a new Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which contains the funding necessary to protect America’s water infrastructure. This year’s legislation includes $9 billion worth of spending on water delivery infrastructure and runoff containment and abatement, among other projects.

As currently written, this bill also would allocate $280 million to address the lead water pollution crisis in Flint, Michigan, making this a must-pass piece of legislation that could easily become a hot-button campaign issue should any senator up for reelection choose to vote it down.

And that’s precisely why one of its amendments — championed by the coal industry — to dismantle coal ash pollution protections is likely to become a reality, and as a result, potentially endanger water supplies all over the United States.

Obama Again Sounds Climate Change Alarm But Continues Supporting Fossil Fuel Industry

President Barak Obama on a hike in Hawaii.

On September 8, The New York Times published an interview with President Barack Obama in which he discussed the rapidly approaching, and already present, dangers of climate change, along with the threats that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would pose to the environment as president.

Reflecting on his climate legacy in the interview, President Obama reinforced his concerns about and dedication to acting on climate change, but his rhetoric fails to match up with his broader record, which notably includes overseeing the United States' rise to the top spot among fossil fuel producers worldwide.

Hillary Clinton Is Raking In Fossil Fuel Money At An Alarming Rate

In speeches and press conferences, and occasionally in policy, the Democratic Party in the United States has always claimed the high ground on the issue of climate change and the need to move the country off oil, gas and coal towards renewable energy. As a result, the fossil fuel industry has heavily backed Republican politicians for decades.

But the 2016 U.S. Presidential election has once again proven unique by every measure. A new report by The Wall Street Journal shows that Democratic nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pulling in far more money from the fossil fuel industry than her Republican opponent Donald Trump.

The report shows that, through July, Hillary Clinton has received almost three times as much campaign cash from fossil fuel employees than Trump, to the tune of about $525,000 compared to Trump’s $149,000. Her joint account with the Democratic National Committee has also received an additional $650,000 from fossil fuel executives and employees.

Climate Denier Jim Inhofe Goes Full Conspiracy Theorist In Unhinged Rant About Global Warming

Republican Senator James Inhofe might be one of the most famous and most outspoken opponents of science in the United States and, sadly, that’s a reputation that he’s proud to have.

When snowstorms descended upon Washington, D.C., Inhofe used a snowball thrown onto the floor of the Senate as incontrovertible proof that global warming was a hoax. After all, if the planet is heating up, how can snow still exist?

As wacky as the snowball incident was, that episode looks tame in comparison to his latest tirade about global warming.

Inhofe, who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, recently told conservative radio host Eric Metaxas that schools were “brainwashing” children about climate change.

Right Wing Watch has the full audio available (listen below), but here is the line that shows Inhofe's extreme views:

Conservative Organizations Pushing Republican Politicos And Media Outlets To Accept Climate Change As Reality

The Republican convention in Cleveland has come to a close, and the official platform of the Party for 2016 maintains the Party’s continued refusal to act on climate change. The Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, openly admits that he believes climate change is a “hoax.”

As easy as it is to forget, it is important to remember that political affiliation and Party platforms don’t always coalesce, and the platforms don’t always reflect the will of the Party members. And that’s certainly the case with climate change and Republicans.

It turns out that the majority of self-identified Republicans actually do accept climate science, and they understand that climate change is a very real threat. The views of Republican elected officials in Washington, D.C. and those funding the Republican Party do not reflect the attitudes of the voters on this issue anymore, and that’s a phenomenal step forward.

But the partisan denial problem goes further than just one political part. It stretches all the way through conservative media outlets, particularly those owned by Rupert Murdoch (Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and countless others.) This right wing echo chamber has played a major role in shaping Republican policy towards the environment, and has helped to keep Republican voters in the dark about the realities of climate change.

Heartland Institute Tries To Reshape Its 'Unabomber Billboard' Image With Hyper Patriotism

It was renowned English writer Samuel Johnson who once said “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Unfortunately, the original context of his quote has been lost to history, but he did clarify during his life that he was not referring to patriotism in general, just false patriotism. Even though we don’t have the original context, it is easy to apply this quote to the latest activities of The Heartland Institute.

Recently, Heartland unleashed a new project called #OurAmerica, a hyper-nationalist movement claiming to extoll the virtues of American life and the American capitalist system. Joined by several other right wing organizations, it appears that the goal of the project is to revamp the tarnished image of Heartland.

Heartland explains the new project as follows:

Climate Activists And Labor Unions Unite To Stop Donald Trump

If elected President of the United States, Donald Trump would be the only leader in the industrialized world who openly denies the existence of climate change. Not only could a Trump presidency be a disaster for the environment, but it could also put the brakes on the forward progress made on climate change negotiations with the rest of the world.

This is just one of the reasons why climate activists and labor unions have decided to team up to do everything possible to prevent a Donald Trump presidency in the United States.

Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have announced a $10 million campaign blitz aimed at taking down Trump and to replace members of Congress with more progressive thinkers. Steyer is quoted as saying that “stopping the Party of Trump is our number 1 priority this year.”

BP Announces Final Estimate Of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, But Are They Being Honest?

Julie Dermansky

On July 14th, oil giant BP announced that they had finally finished their calculations and the final estimate for costs of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill would likely hit $62 billion. This cost includes all of the settlements and lawsuits from individuals, lawsuits from cities and states, federal lawsuits, and civil penalties and cleanup costs.

According to reports, the “after tax” total is closer to $44 billion, still a massive sum to pay out for any company.

Nearly every article available discussing these payments deals with the business impacts and market value of the company. The Washington Post says that the company has lost 1/3 of their market size as a result of the spill, which was about $180 billion before the disaster.

Lip service is paid to the victims of the spill and the long-lasting effects that the disaster had on the Gulf of Mexico, and one vital fact has been missing completely from the analysis: Taxpayers are the ones who are really getting screwed with this deal.

Koch-Funded Groups Slapped With Fines By Federal Election Commission

Charles and David Koch, the nefarious Koch Brothers, have vowed to spend as much as $889 million on the 2016 elections in the United States. This money will be funneled through a massive network of faux grassroots organizations, lobbyists, and direct candidate donations. This $889 million is the single largest sum ever committed by individuals, meaning that Charles and David will have more financial sway over the 2016 elections than any other individual, or group, in the history of American politics.

Of course, the Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions, if not billions, on political activities in recent years, and their seemingly unlimited spending finally drew the ire of the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This week it was announced that three Koch-linked groups are being fined a combined total of $233,000 for violating campaign finance laws by concealing the sources of their funds. The three groups are the American Future Fund, 60 Plus Association and Americans for Job Security.

The New Attack On Climate Scientists: Drain Their Funds With Frivolous Lawsuits

The average cost to hire an attorney in the United States is around $300 per hour. The average lawsuit, not including class action or mass tort cases, takes between one and two years to reach a conclusion. These financial and time-related costs quickly become a huge burden for anyone on the receiving end of a subpoena, and that’s why climate change denial groups are using the court system as a means to put the brakes on the work of climate scientists.

Leading the way in this new attack is the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E), a climate science denial organization that receives funding from fossil fuel companies like Peabody Coal, Arch Coal, and Alpha Natural Resources, according to The Guardian.

Recently, the group filed a lawsuit in Arizona to get their hands on thousands of emails between climate scientists, with this particular lawsuit focused on the emails sent by Dr. Malcolm Hughes from the University of Arizona and Dr. Jonathan Overpeck, the lead author of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The lawsuit is seeking 6 years of Dr. Hughes’ emails and 13 years of Dr. Overpeck’s emails.

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