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'Frackademia' Report Reveals Ties Between Government, Universities, and Shale Industry

While the government has decided to provide tax breaks for the oil industry in the 2015 Government Budget, everyone else has been talking about divestment. Ben Lucas looks at the growing movement and new evidence published this week on the relationship between government, universities and fracking companies.

What started out as a grassroots campaigning tactic to lobby big institutions to stop backing non-renewable energy production, has this week gained large-scale mainstream support.

The Guardian’s “keep it in the ground” campaign has now gathered a petition with over 60,000 signatures to ask the world’s largest charitable foundations to divest their endowments from fossil fuels. The UN has also come out in open support for the increasingly global movement.

And this week a report published by TalkFracking, a campaign group supported by Vivienne Westwood, on ‘Frackademia’ seeks to raise awareness about the influence of the fracking industry in university research departments.

Ridley's Wall Street Journal Op-Ed Fixates on the Past and Ignores the Present to Try and Predict the Future

This is a guest post by US-based environmental communications group, Climate Nexus.

Longtime climate contrarian and “coal baron” Matt Ridley returns to the Wall Street Journal to try to argue against data that show clean energy rapidly scaling up, and the science of climate change that links last year's record heat and widespread extreme weather with carbon pollution.

Ridley, whose family estate has a coal mine on it that will generate an estimated £4 million (or $5.8 million) every year until 2020, does the Journal's readers a grave disservice by distracting them from the coming energy disruption as renewables scale up, argues Climate Nexus.

Ridley repeats unoriginal arguments, citing obvious benefits from the Industrial Revolution while dismissing the global consensus of the scientific community that carbon emissions are altering our climate, giving us record-breaking heat and contributing to extreme weather events like California's drought and, through warmed waters and atmosphere, strengthens hurricanes and cyclones like the one that just devastated Vanuatu.

Fracking Firm IGas Refuses Further Investigation into Possible Site Contamination

Barton Moss fracking company IGas has hit the headlines this week as it stopped further investigation into possible contamination claims, writes Ben Lucas, MA Investigative Journalist at City University, London. At the same time, the company has agreed a £30m deal with INEOS for access to its other shale gas sites.

An environmental expert has been stopped by fracking firm IGas and landowners Peel Holdings from further investigating possible chemical contamination at the company’s Barton Moss drilling plant, the Manchester Magistrates Court heard recently.

Dr Aiden Foley of EGG Consultants presented a report to the court showing “dangerously high” levels of contamination near the perimeter fence of the test drilling site in Eccles, Salford.

Climate Deniers Double Down on Doubt In Defense of Willie Soon

Willie Soon Heartland

This is a guest post by Peter Dykstra cross-posted from Environmental Health News/The Daily Climate

The most remarkable aspect of Willie Soon’s soiled science scandal is that in the light of damning evidence of a serious ethical lapse, the climate denial camp shows no interest in self-policing.

When documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act showed Soon was promising “deliverables” for climate research funded by fossil fuel affiliates, the judgment outside the climate denial sphere was swift, largely because the evidence was from Soon’s own hand.

But many who embrace climate denial not only saw nothing wrong with this, they circled the wagons around their embattled Man of Science.

Denial For Hire: Richard Lindzen Cites Debunked Science to Defend Willie Soon in Wall Street Journal

This is a guest post by Climate Nexus that originally appeared at Huffington Post

Richard Lindzen, an MIT professor and longtime climate contrarian, turned to the Wall Street Journal to rehash a series of oft-disproved claims that deny the growing and now unequivocal evidence of climate change, all in defense of a fellow “skeptic” whose ties to fossil fuels have called into question the impartiality of his science.

Lindzen's arguments are a greatest-hits of climate denial, repeatedly and effectively disproved for years. He uses these easily dismissed arguments to defend what's left of the academic integrity of Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon against questions raised by members of Congress, who heard testimony from Soon without disclosure that he was being paid by fossil-fuel interests.

Lindzen's writing contained multiple errors or omissions. He:

•  Ignored the accuracy of climate models over the long term

•  Confused the impact of the sun on observed warming, long studied and long ago disregarded

•  Dismissed multiple lines of evidence by claiming clouds would offset warming

•  Glossed over the egregious breach of ethics in Soon's lack of disclosure of over $1 million in funding from fossil fuel interests

•  Mischaracterized as threatening an attempt to identify improper industry influence on studies and Congressional testimony

Let’s Not Sacrifice Freedom Out Of Fear

burnaby mountain, zack embree, C-51, RCMP, David Suzuki

This is a guest post by David Suzuki

A scientist, or any knowledgeable person, will tell you climate change is a serious threat for Canada and the world. But the RCMP has a different take. A secret report by the national police force, obtained by Greenpeace, both minimizes the threat of global warming and conjures a spectre of threats posed by people who rightly call for sanity in dealing with problems caused by burning fossil fuels.

'One of the Highlights of My Life is Being Called a Pagan Pornographer'

The ‘Lady of the North’, Northumberlandia, has been hailed by her supporters as an iconic gateway for the region, attracting visitors from all around the world, writes Matteo Civillini.

Standing 34 metres high and 470 metres long, the £3m landform sculpture in the shape of a reclining nude female sits proudly at the centre of Matt Ridley’s Blagdon Estate.

But was this really the best way of providing benefit to a community that would have to reluctantly accommodate the largest surface mine in England in its own backyard?

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad´s Former Chief of Staff Now A Paid Lobbyist For Bakken Oil Pipeline Company

Iowa flag

By David Goodner

Energy Transfer Partners, a Fortune 500 corporation attempting to build a controversial crude oil pipeline through the state of Iowa, has hired Governor Terry Branstad´s former chief of staff to lobby on its behalf at the state legislature.

Jeff Boeyink, a long-time confidant and ally of Governor Branstad, who served as the governor´s chief of staff from 2010-2013, registered as a paid lobbyist for Energy Transfer Partners on January 5, a DeSmogBlog review of Iowa statehouse documents found.

Boeyink is also a former Executive Director of the Iowa Republican Party and has close ties to New Jersey governor and potential GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie.

He is currently Senior Vice President at the corporate public relations firm LS2group, which has represented Energy Transfer Partners in Iowa since at least July 2014.

LS2group is the same consulting and marketing firm that helped the American Petroleum Institute bring General James Jones to Des Moines on Earth Day last year to give a speech promoting the Keystone XL pipeline.

LS2group´s Director of Government Affairs, Susan Severino Fenton, another Iowa Republican political insider, is also a registered statehouse lobbyist for Energy Transfer Partners.

On February 17, Boeyink attended an Iowa Senate Commerce subcommittee meeting and spoke out against Iowa Senate File 129, a proposed insurance liability bill that could require Energy Transfer Partners to prove it can afford to pay up to $250,000 per mile for any potential oil spills from its pipeline operations.

Pachauri Steps Down as Head of UN Climate Panel

This article has been cross-posted from Carbon Brief

Dr Rajendra Pachauri has stepped down from his role as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), effective today.

After nearly 13 years in the job, Pachauri was due to step down later this year. However, his departure has been brought forward pending allegations of sexual harassment at the New Delhi-based research centre TERI, where he is director general.

Pachauri has strongly denied the allegations, saying his personal email account had been hacked to send inappropriate messages to a colleague.

Happy birthday Kyoto! What was it again?

Happy Birthday Kyoto Protocol! This week marks the ten year anniversary. Is it a reason to celebrate? Kyoto was our first international agreement to cut emissions, so what can we learn for Paris? asks Alice Bell, writer and researcher on science, technology and the environment.

The Kyoto Protocol was an iconic international agreement setting targets for countries to cut the emissions of gases that cause climate change. A world first.

It was, unsurprisingly, a bit of a compromise. The targets weren’t as high as China or the Alliance Small Island States wanted, but still stronger than those proposed by Canada and the United States.