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Subsidy Spotlight: Publicly Funding a Utah Disaster in the Making

This is a guest post by Anna Simonton, on assignment with Oil Change International | Part 1 of 2

A green stegosaurus graces the logo of Uintah County, Utah, a gateway to the famed Dinosaur National Monument, where breathtaking landscapes and fossils preserved in sandstone attract thousands of visitors every year.

That logo has taken on new meaning over the past decade as prehistoric remains have attracted a different crowd. Now oil and gas executives are flocking to the Uinta Basin in Eastern Utah, as new technologies––and support from the government––offer the dubious possibility of digging up the region’s vast deposits of oil shale and tar sands.

Keystone XL Vote Analysis: House Proves Who They Serve

This is a guest post by Matt Maiorana, cross-posted with permission from Oil Change International. 

2015 is already bringing new challenges — including a congress that’s set on ignoring climate science and fighting for the fossil fuel industry instead of the American people.

One of their first acts of business has been an attempt to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, despite President Obama stating that he’ll veto the legislation. This hasn’t stopped pro-oil legislators from pushing the issue forward and it’s clear why.

We crunched the numbers and found that in today’s Keystone XL vote, members of the House of Representatives who voted ‘yes’ on approving the pipeline took a combined total of over $13 million dollars from the Oil and Gas industry in 2014 ALONE.

Compared to members of the House voting against the pipeline, they took 8.5x more money on average. And this doesn’t even include all the ‘dark money’ being spent by the fossil fuel industry in the most recent elections.

George Will’s Incorrect Claim on Historical Climate Change

This is a guest post by Climate Nexus.

Syndicated columnist George Will's latest piece, “Climate change's instructive past” is more carefully written than previous columns (see Media Matters Misinformer of the Year), but it still requires correction. Contrary to his claim, past changes in our climate should be understood as a warning, but shouldn’t be seen as evidence that current climatic change is naturally occurring, as he suggests.

The problem with this claim is that human-made emissions have increased exponentially since Will’s historical examples.  Science has clearly shown how current human-made climate change is very different from earlier slower natural changes, something Will failed to factor.

More accurately, historical climate change provides insight into problems we can expect in the future as greenhouse gases are increasingly amplifying variations in our climate. Historical trends should, instead, serve as a stark warning of what we can expect from the emission-driven warming we’re experiencing now.

Energy Shift Requires Shift In Conversation

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

Abundant, cheap fossil fuels have driven explosive technological, industrial and economic expansion for more than a century. The pervasive infrastructure developed to accommodate this growth makes it difficult to contemplate rapidly shifting away from coal, oil and gas, which creates a psychological barrier to rational discourse on energy issues.

The ecological and true economic costs of energy use force us to scrutinize our way of living. And because our infrastructure doesn’t allow us to entirely avoid fossil fuels, we must face the contradiction between how we should live and constraints against doing so.

Canada has no national energy plan, other than governmental desire to be a fossil-fuelled energy-export superpower. Given the consequences of human-induced climate change already hitting home, you’d think the highest priority of governments at all levels would be to decide on the lowest-emission energy path. But politicians focused on election intervals have difficulty dealing with generational issues.

Harvard Professor Tribe Makes Peabody Coal’s Case Against Clean Power Plan in The Wall Street Journal

This is a guest post by Climate Nexus.

While many legal experts have already picked apart his argument, Harvard Professor Laurence H. Tribe took his analysis on behalf of the world’s largest privately held coal company against the EPA Clean Power Plan (CPP) to The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page.

The opposition of fossil fuel interests to any climate change law or regulation has long been clear, and Tribe – one of the nation’s premier constitutional scholars – was retained by Peabody Coal to dispute the proposed regulations’ legal foundations.

Tribe’s arguments have already drawn substantive legal criticism:

California Communities Fighting Back Against Prospect Of 25-Fold Crude-By-Rail Increase

This is a guest post by Tara Lohan that originally appeared on Faces Of Fracking, a project of the CEL Climate Lab in partnership with Grist that was launched to capture the stories of concerned residents who live on the front lines of fracking.

Ed Ruszel’s workday is a soundtrack of whirling, banging, screeching — the percussion of wood being cut, sanded, and finished. He’s the facility manager for the family business, Ruszel Woodworks. But one sound each day roars above the cacophony of the woodshop: the blast of the train horn as cars cough down the Union Pacific rail line that runs just a few feet from the front of his shop in an industrial park in Benicia, California.

Most days the train cargo is beer, cars, steel, propane, or petroleum coke. But soon two trains of 50 cars each may pass by every day carrying crude oil to a refinery owned by neighboring Valero Energy. Valero is hoping to build a new rail terminal at the refinery that would bring 70,000 barrels a day by train — or nearly 3 million gallons.

And it’s a sign of the times.

Crude by rail has increased 4,000 percent across the country since 2008 and California is feeling the effects. By 2016 the amount of crude by rail entering the state is expected to increase by a factor of 25. That’s assuming industry gets its way in creating more crude by rail stations at refineries and oil terminals. And that’s no longer looking like a sure thing.

Wall Street Journal Tries to Pour Cold Water On Growing International Climate Action

Climate change

This is a guest post by Climate Nexus.

A recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal by Rupert Darwall paints efforts to address climate change through international policy as doomed from the start, ignores recent progress and dismisses mounting public support for action. 

As countries negotiate in Lima, Peru, this week, long-time climate change skeptic Rupert Darwall seizes the moment to rehash tired critiques of past international efforts on climate.

In fact, the U.S.-China deal will deliver real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the costs of climate impacts clearly outweigh the costs of climate change mitigation and initial national pledges to the Green Climate Fund are meant to spur additional, substantial private sector investment.

UKIP’s Special Relationship with ALEC, Heartland and American Fossil Fuels

Would UKIP be riding so high if voters knew of the party's links with powerful right-wing US corporate interests promoting fossil fuels, denying climate change, opposing gun control, and supporting big tobacco, teaching creationism in schools, healthcare privatisation and the lifting of nuclear power regulation? Alex Stevenson and Oliver Tickell of The Ecologist investigate.

UKIP's big-picture goal is a bid to achieve independence from the European Union - but in backing ALEC's agenda it appears only too keen to turn us into vassals of unaccountable American corporations.

Few if any of those electing the UKIP candidate in yesterday's Rochester by-election knew of the party's links with American right-wingers who support corporations' rights above those of both people and planet.

Shell Accused of “Hijacking” Clean-up Process in Niger Delta

This is a guest post by Andy Rowell, cross-posted with the permission of Oil Change International.

Today is the nineteenth anniversary of the muder of the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa by the Nigerian junta for his campaign against the oil giant Shell.

Saro-Wiwa was the leader of a campaign by the Ogoni against Shell’s chronic pollution and gas flaring in the Niger Delta.

Whilst the oil giant quite clearly operated to double standards and made huge profits, the locals were on the front line of Shell’s pollution, but they received no compensation in return.

In those nineteen years, life has moved on in the Delta, but little has changed.

Clean Energy as an Economic Catalyst for Divestment

This is a guest post by Stacy Clark that originally appeared in The Citizen

Reading Harvard Crimson Staff Writer Matthew Q. Clarida’s headline in September, “School of Public Health Renamed with $350 Million Gift, Largest in Harvard History” immediately caught my attention. It wasn’t the remarkable size of the gift as much as it was the exact amount.

Seeing the words “350 Million” and “Public Health” caused me to wonder if this pledge marked the beginning of a new era at Harvard. Was this the donation that would change everything? Maybe it was inspired by a collegial relationship with Harvard graduate Bill McKibben, whose global 350.org organization advocates for limiting atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) to 350 parts per million (ppm) to avoid the most egregious consequences of global climate disruption.

The timing for a $350 million pledge was orchestrated perfectly, I concluded, as the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was soon to welcome world leaders to Manhattan the week of September 22nd to seek common ground on how to achieve 350’s goal.

As it turns out, Clarida’s reference to “350 Million” did not correlate directly to the critical intersection between climate, energy, and public health.

Then, two days later, on September 10, another Crimson headline caught my eye.

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