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Open Letter About WA Governor Inslee's Appeal of Youth Climate Victory

This is a guest post by Andrea Rogers and Julia Olson 

We are the attorneys who represent the eight courageous youths who presented [Washington Governor Jay] Inslee with an unprecedented climate protection opportunity to issue rules to protect their future from carbon pollution.  We write not just as their advocates, but as mothers of young children as well. We do not now, nor have we ever, questioned Gov. Inslee’s professed commitment to addressing climate change. 

But as kids know too well, actions speak louder than words and action based on solid science is sorely lacking at all levels of government, including within Gov. Inslee’s administration. What we have asked Gov. Inslee for is a Climate Recovery Rule for the state of Washington, detailing and describing how Washington will use its existing authority to cap and draw down GHG emissions in a manner consistent with the best current scientific understanding of what it will take to protect not just these eight brave youths, but all of us, present and future generations alike.

A Brief History of Fossil-Fuelled Climate Denial

Protester holding a banner: "You can't recycle wasted time"

By John Cook, The University of Queensland

The fossil fuel industry has spent many millions of dollars on confusing the public about climate change. But the role of vested interests in climate science denial is only half the picture.

Interest in this topic has spiked with the latest revelation regarding coalmining company Peabody Energy. After Peabody filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, documentation became available revealing the scope of Peabody’s funding to third parties. The list of funding recipients includes trade associations, lobby groups and climate-contrarian scientists.

This latest revelation is significant because in recent years, fossil fuel companies have become more careful to cover their tracks. An analysis by Robert Brulle found that from 2003 to 2010, organisations promoting climate misinformation received more than US$900 million of corporate funding per year.

Canadian Climate Denial Group, Friends of Science, Named as Creditor in Coal Giant's Bankruptcy Files

By Charles Mandel for the National Observer.

A Canadian climate change denial group has popped up in a U.S. coal giant's bankruptcy proceedings that have lifted the curtain on the funding of a sophisticated continent-wide marketing campaign designed to fool the public about how human activity is contributing to global warming.

document, nearly 1,000 pages long, lists the Calgary-based Friends of Science Society as one of the creditors expecting to get money from the once-mighty coal company, Peabody Energy.

Climate scientists and environmentalists have long suspected that the so-called “Friends” group was a front for fossil fuel companies trying to block government action to reduce carbon pollution, but Friends of Science members always declined to reveal their source of funding.

Green PR Firm EnviroIssues Secretly Working For Oil And Petrochemical Industry

This is a guest post by Eric de Place and Nick Abraham, originally published by The Sightline Institute as part of their series Look Who's Taking Oil and Coal Money

Consulting firm EnviroIssues is a longstanding fixture of the Northwest’s sustainability community. Known mostly for its work with local governments, the company is generally well respected and considered “a white hat” in a field liberally populated with unscrupulous characters. Of themselves, EnviroIssues says: “Our names says it all—we help make the natural and built communities where we live, work, and play better places by tackling some of the thorniest public policy and environmental issues of our day.”

Unfortunately, EnviroIssues’ green reputation is undeserved. The firm in fact works for several controversial oil and petrochemical companies, shepherding them through the environmental reviews that communities and decision makers depend on to assess projects’ local impacts. These include the highly controversial Tacoma methanol proposal and major oil-by-rail projects at Vancouver and Grays Harbor, Washington.

What’s more, Sightline’s research uncovered a troubling pattern of potential conflicts of interest. The firm’s unusual access to government agencies could allow it to grease the skids for some of the Northwest’s most controversial fossil fuel projects.

“Other People’s Money” – Trump University and Coal Exports

This is a guest post by Ross Macfarlane, recently Senior Advisor with Climate Solutions

Recently unsealed court documents reveal the money-making secret at the heart of Trump University. The managers even had an acronym for it: OPM, standing for “Other People’s Money.”  As reported in People Magazine:

Playbooks used to market Donald Trump's now-defunct Trump University were unsealed by court order on Tuesday, showing that the training program's aggressive sales force promised would-be students they would learn “the technique of using OPM … other people's money.”

While the instructors claimed to be teaching people how to leverage banks to make fortunes in real estate, former Trump University executives now disclose that the OPM they were really targeting was in their students’ pockets.  According to these managers, their business plan focused on mining the credit card balances and savings accounts of gullible and desperate clients, often elderly and poor, who fell for the slick sales pitch and the promise of a quick solution for their financial challenges. 

So what does Trump University have to do with coal exports?

What is going on with India's record-breaking hot weather?

By Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, UNSW Australia; Andrew King, University of Melbourne, and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh

On May 19, India’s all-time temperature record was smashed in the northern city of Phalodi in the state of Rajasthan. Temperatures soared to 51℃, beating the previous record set in 1956 by 0.4℃.

India is known for its unbearable conditions at this time of year, just before the monsoon takes hold. Temperatures in the high 30s are routine, with local authorities declaring heatwave conditions only once thermometers reach a stifling 45℃. But the record comes on the back of an exceptionally hot season, with several heatwaves earlier in the year. So what’s to blame for these scorching conditions?

Trump Building Wall in Ireland to Keep Climate Change Out

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup, cross-posted from EcoWatch

Donald Trump has said numerous times in various places that he does not consider climate change to be a significant problem warranting corrective action. From calling it pseudoscience to a Chinese conspiracy to an elaborate hoax, he’s made it a point to take theKoch-approved stance, even as he disavows such big-money influence in politics. But as Politico’s Ben Schreckinger has uncovered, when it comes to his business and not campaign rhetoric, Trump apparently takes climate change seriously.

At a minimum, those in charge of running one of Trump’s golf courses in Ireland seem to be climate conscious. In a planning application, Trump asked for permission to construct a two-mile sea wall to keep the rising sea levels from eroding the golf course. The impact statement refers not only to the coastal erosion from rising seas, but also the even larger risk from storm systems amplified by global warming.

All Vision and No Strategy? Shell Says No Thanks to a Better Life with a Healthy Planet

Next week will see three oil giants answer to their shareholders at their Annual General Meetings. And while Chevron and Exxon will likely feel the heat from the recent climate denial investigations, Shell has been quietly trying to lay the foundation to show its taking climate change seriously. But just how committed is Shell to the Paris climate targets? Juliet Phillips, campaign manager at responsible investment charity ShareAction, takes a look.

In the lead up to Shell's annual general shareholder meeting tomorrow, the oil major quietly slipped out a new report entitled ‘A better life with a healthy planet’ two weeks ago, laying down a potential pathway for limiting temperature rises to under 2°C.

Within this unprecedented report, Shell seemed to describe a future where its current business model would be irrelevant – albeit it on an uncertain deadline.

EELI’s Anti-EPA Suit Uses 'Exhibit A’ from Tobacco's RICO Loss

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup cross-posted from DailyKos.

Apologies dear reader, this is a long post. It’s worth reading, though, we promise!

With few exceptions (like this weak WSJ column), the folks defending Exxon from RICO accusations focus their attention on the free speech argument and avoid the tobacco comparison. But now one of their own, Dr. James Enstrom, has provided a painfully clear connection between the beleaguered industries.  

The Daily Caller carries the news that the Energy & Environment Legal Institute’s (EELI) latest attempt to waste its (probably coal) funders' money is a lawsuit against the EPA, claiming an independent review panel for air quality regulations isn’t actually independent. Their reason is that members of the panel have received funding from the EPA for past studies.

Obviously, that’s ridiculous, since public and private funding are vastly different in terms of conflict of interest.  

So what does a real conflict of interest look like? For a prime example, look no further than the plaintiffs EELI is representing: The Western States Trucking Association (WSTA) and Dr. James Enstrom. 

Lawsuit Against ExxonMobil Ties Climate Policy to Local Oil Hazard

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart, cross-posted with permission from Climate Investigations Center

A Massachusetts conservation group says it will sue ExxonMobil for failing to protect the Boston harbor area from an old, leaky oil terminal that spews toxic material into nearby rivers, charging that the company's dual role of climate change expert and denier makes it uniquely culpable.

The landmark action by the Conservation Law Foundation is apparently the first to link a fossil fuel company's policy on global warming to a particular, localized environmental threat.

At issue is ExxonMobil's Everett marine terminal, an oil transfer and storage facility - a tank farm with three berths for ships to dock - a few miles northwest of Boston at the junction of the Mystic and Island End rivers. 

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