Sunday, January 21, 2018 - 03:07 • Julie Dermansky
Dean Wilson of Atchafalaya Basinkeeper next to a Louisiana cypress

Though Energy Transfer Partners has all the permits and permissions it needs to start work on the Bayou Bridge pipeline, the project still faces multiple legal challenges. 

The 162-mile pipeline, being built by the same company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, will span southern Louisiana from Lake Charles, near the Texas border, to St. James, about 60 miles west of New Orleans. This route will cut through the Atchafalaya Basin, a national heritage area that contains America’s largest swamp. 

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 14:21 • Steve Horn
Revolving doors

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce held a subcommittee hearing on two bills to expedite permitting for exports of natural gas. Domestic production of this fossil fuel has been booming in recent years, mainly thanks to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) opening up vast reserves in shale formations.

Several former and present committee staffers have either taken oil and gas industry-sponsored trips as staffers or spun through the government-industry revolving door between Congress and the lobbying sector. And all of the politicians backing the two bills under consideration have taken tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from the oil and gas industry for their 2018 mid-term election campaigns.

Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 03:58 • Simon Davis-Cohen
Pete Kolbenschlag (center) and anti-fracking activists in Colorado

On November 17, 2016, a Colorado environmental activist named Pete Kolbenschlag used Facebook to leave a comment on a local newspaper article, the kind of thing more than a billion people do every day.

However, most people don’t get sued for libel over their Facebook comments. (Although some do.)

Friday, January 19, 2018 - 08:49 • Chloe Farand
Climate emergency sign

Participants of the next UN climate talks in Poland could be banned from taking part in spontaneous demonstrations and have their personal data collected, stored and used by Polish police without their consent if a draft piece of legislation becomes law. 

The proposed measures are going through Poland’s legislative process as the southern city of Katowice — located in the country’s coal heartland — prepares to host the annual UN climate talks this December. 

The draft bill, which sets out specific regulations for this year’s climate talks, known as COP24, was passed by the lower house of the Polish Parliament on 10 January. On Friday, the Senate passed the bill almost unanimously with only three MPs abstaining. 

The text provides a raft of initiatives to “ensure safety and public order”. This includes a ban on all spontaneous gatherings in Katowice between 26 November and 16 December, spanning the entire period of the annual UN climate talks. 

Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 12:51 • Graham Readfearn
Nils-Axel Mörner

A climate science denial group with links to President Trump’s administration has been funding work to sow doubt that low-lying islands in the Pacific are at risk from rising sea levels.

The two researchers being funded — one of which is a well-known climate science denier — have targeted little known “open access” journals with dubious quality controls to get their work published, DeSmog has found.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 18:09 • Guest
Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank and Emmanual Macron of France

By Elon University

The World Bank, which provides developing countries about US$60 billion a year in financial assistance, is officially phasing out its support for the oil and gas industries.

This move brings its actions more in sync with its overarching commitment to slowing the pace of climate change and keeping the Paris agreement on track. Based on my research regarding international relations, I see this move — which World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced in December — as significant for two reasons.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 16:59 • Simon Davis-Cohen
Marcellus Shale gas well in Pennsylvania

In early January, a federal judge ordered the nonprofit law firm Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to pay $52,000 to an oil and gas exploration company for defending a rural Pennsylvania township’s ban on underground injections of frack waste.

This sanction comes at the request of Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, but is part of a growing trend to prevent municipalities across the nation from pushing back against state and federal attempts to overrule them.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 10:22 • Sharon Kelly
Global map of percent changes in acres burning

Over the past few years, natural gas has become the primary fuel that America uses to generate electricity, displacing the long-time king of fossil fuels, coal. In 2019, more than a third of America's electrical supply will come from natural gas, with coal falling to a second-ranked 28 percent, the Energy Information Administration predicted this month, marking the growing ascendency of gas in the American power market.

But new peer-reviewed research adds to the growing evidence that the shift from coal to gas isn't necessarily good news for the climate.

A team led by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that the oil and gas industry is responsible for the largest share of the world's rising methane emissions, which are a major factor in climate change — and in the process the researchers resolved one of the mysteries that has plagued climate scientists over the past several years.

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 14:49 • Guest
Mary Landrieu speaks at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

By Rob Galbraith, Cross-Posted from LittleSis.org

Clarification, 1/22/2018: This article and the underlying report identified a conflict of interest between former Senator Mary Landrieu and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), a state agency that needed to sign off on Bayou Bridge pipeline before construction could begin. Landrieu, who is registered to lobby for CPRA, is also advocating for the Bayou Bridge pipeline. The necessity of CPRA’s approval for the pipeline was identified by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the majority owner, in a statement on December 14, 2017 as well as in reporting based on that statement.

Public Accountability Initiative has learned that CPRA has issued a letter of no objection to the pipeline project, though it is unclear when the agency provided this approval. ETP’s statement about needing the approval, which was still on the Bayou Bridge website when the report was published, has since been removed.

This article has been updated to clarify that the necessary approval from CPRA has been issued.

From Dakota Access to Keystone XL to Atlantic Coast, there has been no shortage of controversies over major proposed oil and gas pipelines in recent years. We can add the Bayou Bridge pipeline to this list.

Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66’s Bayou Bridge pipeline is a proposed connection to ETP’s Bakken pipeline network that will ship between 280,000 and 480,000 barrels of crude oil per day through southern Louisiana’s bayous and wetlands to petroleum refineries in St. James.

The pipeline is facing committed resistance, both from environmental activists concerned about climate change and the impact of inevitable pipeline leaks and accidents on the environmentally sensitive Atchafalaya Basin, as well as from the communities of people whose homes and ways of life are threatened by the project.

On the other side are the oil and gas corporations that stand to profit from building the pipeline, the banks seeking interest payments on loans to oil and gas companies, and the politicians and academics dependent on oil and gas industry largesse for their careers.

Sunday, January 14, 2018 - 03:00 • Itai Vardi
Enbridge building

A contractor working for the federal government to monitor construction of Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge natural gas project works for the company in various other capacities, according to documents DeSmog obtained through an open records request.

Early last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project, which aims to upgrade Enbridge’s natural gas capacity in the Northeast U.S. The Atlantic Bridge project was originally initiated by Spectra Energy, which was purchased by Enbridge last February.

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