Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 14:13 • Itai Vardi
Robert Powelson during FERC commissioner nomination hearing in Senate

Robert Powelson, President Donald Trump’s newly appointed commissioner to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), received both gifts and reimbursements for travel, lodging, and hospitality from the energy and utility sectors in his previous position as a state regulator. He will now regulate those sectors at the federal level.

Powelson, a Republican, began his tenure at FERC last week. Documents and emails recently uncovered by the Energy & Policy Institute, a watchdog monitoring attacks on renewable energy, indicate that he maintained a close relationship with industry groups as a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 16:02 • Sharon Kelly
Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning

Southern Co. is accused of fraudulently misrepresenting the prospects for its troubled “clean coal” project in Kemper County, Mississippi in several legal filings this summer.

Southern announced in late July that it was shuttering the troubled “clean coal” part of Kemper after construction ran years behind schedule and the company spent $7.5 billion on the 582 megawatt power plant — over $5 billion more than it first projected.

In a lawsuit filed today, Brett Wingo, a former Southern Company engineer, alleges he warned the company's top executives that it would not be possible to meet key construction deadlines. Management responded by retaliating against him, the complaint asserts, and Southern continued to assure investors and the public that Kemper's schedule and budget targets would be met, then blamed unpredictable factors like the weather when those goals were missed.

Saturday, August 19, 2017 - 07:19 • Guest
Climate change action sign in front of Capitol at March for Science

By Timothy H. Dixon, University of South Florida

This summer I worked on the Greenland ice sheet, part of a scientific experiment to study surface melting and its contribution to Greenland’s accelerating ice losses. By virtue of its size, elevation and currently frozen state, Greenland has the potential to cause large and rapid increases to sea level as it melts.

When I returned, a nonscientist friend asked me what the research showed about future sea level rise. He was disappointed that I couldn’t say anything definite, since it will take several years to analyze the data. This kind of time lag is common in science, but it can make communicating the issues difficult. That’s especially true for climate change, where decades of data collection may be required to see trends.

A recent draft report on climate change by federal scientists exploits data captured over many decades to assess recent changes, and warns of a dire future if we don’t change our ways. Yet few countries are aggressively reducing their emissions in a way scientists say are needed to avoid the dangers of climate change.

While this lack of progress dismays people, it’s actually understandable.

Friday, August 18, 2017 - 16:08 • Guest
Boxing match

By Richard B. Rood, University of Michigan

Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has called for a “red team-blue team” review to challenge the science behind climate change. “The American people deserve an honest, open, transparent discussion about this supposed threat to this country,” he said on a radio show, adding he hoped to hold the exercise in the fall.

Most commonly, red team-blue team reviews are used as a mechanism to improve security of information systems or military defenses. The blue team is associated with an institution, the owner of an asset or a plan. The red team is charged with attacking the blue team, with the goal of revealing vulnerabilities.

Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 18:41 • Guest
People in and around a boat in floodwaters

By Gary W. Yohe, Wesleyan University

A scientific report done every four years has been thrust into the spotlight because its findings directly contradict statements from the president and various Cabinet officials.

If the Trump administration chooses to reject the pending national Climate Science Special Report, it would be more damaging than pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Full stop. This is a bold claim, but as an economist and scientist who was a vice chair of the committee that shepherded the last national climate assessment report to its completion, I can explain why this is the case.

Monday, August 14, 2017 - 15:47 • Farron Cousins
Exxon gas station

For many years, a standard talking point from the fossil fuel industry and those who speak on the industry’s behalf has been that natural gas is a cleaner alternative to conventional energy sources like coal and oil. This talking point is at least partially responsible for many people — including former President Barack Obama and his Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz — believing that natural gas can act as a “bridge fuel” in the eventual shift from coal and oil to renewable sources of energy.

But the truth is a lot more complicated than a talking point, something which a Dutch advertising watchdog has recognized as it takes two fossil fuel companies to task over misleading ads about natural gas being the “cleanest of all fossil fuels.”

Monday, August 14, 2017 - 02:50 • Kyla Mandel
Lord Lawson uses false climate data

The climate science denying group the Global Warming Policy Foundation has admitted that it shared an “erroneous” temperature dataset to support Lord Lawson’s false claims to the BBC last week that global temperatures aren’t rising.

Three days after Lawson’s BBC interview – which was immediately and widely criticised in the media and by scientists – the climate denial group tweeted out Sunday afternoon that it was “happy to correct the record” and has since removed the tweet after a request to do so by climate scientist Ed Hawkins.

According to the tweets, the graph was originally produced by US meteorologist Ryan Maue, an adjunct scholar of the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute co-founded by Charles Koch. It was published by weather forecaster and climate science denier Joe Bastardi. Both Bastardi and Maue work for WeatherBELL Analytics, a private weather consulting firm.

Sunday, August 13, 2017 - 03:54 • Sharon Kelly an...
Ray Kemble

Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation has filed a $5 million civil lawsuit in county court against Dimock, Pennsylvania, resident Ray Kemble, who claims Cabot severely contaminated his water after drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) activity.

The company, scrutinized in the film Gasland and subject of an ongoing federal class action lawsuit since 2009, has also sued a handful of lawyers representing Kemble. Cabot’s lawsuit claims that Kemble harmed the fracking giant by attempting to “attract media attention” over pollution to his water, which the company claims breached an earlier 2012 settlement agreement as part of the ongoing federal class action lawsuit.

Saturday, August 12, 2017 - 09:01 • Guest
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History

This is a guest post by Hui Liu of Greenpeace USA. It was originally published at www.greenpeace.org.

I went to D.C.’s Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History expecting to learn about the history of our planet. Instead, I stumbled upon a Koch-funded climate denial disaster.

With the planet in peril, arts groups can no longer afford the Koch brothers money.”

That’s what Washington Post art and culture critic Philip Kennicott wrote in a recent opinion piece about prolific climate denial funders Charles and David Koch. Having recently seen Koch money in action at one of the world’s most prestigious science museums, I couldn’t agree more.

Friday, August 11, 2017 - 09:17 • Julie Dermansky
Flooded homes in Louisiana in 2016

It was eerie to watch images of New Orleans’ flooding almost a year after the Baton Rouge flood,” Tam Williams, a videographer who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told me. Every time it rains, she is a bit on edge, wondering if her city is going to flood again. 

A week before the anniversary of last summer’s 1,000-year flood in Baton Rouge, rain inundated New Orleans, with more than 9 inches falling in only three hours. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 14:22 • Ashley Braun
EPA flag in front of headquarters

It hasn't taken long for Donald Trump to make his mark (well, many marks) on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the first six months in office, his EPA under Scott Pruitt has already seen a precipitous drop in enforcement for violators of major environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

So far, the Trump administration has collected 60 percent less in fines for civil lawsuits against polluters on average, compared to the previous three administrations.

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