Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 14:36 • Steve Horn

By Steve Horn and Curtis Waltman, MuckRock

Behind the scenes, as law enforcement officials tried to stem protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, alumni from the George W. Bush White House were leading a crisis communications effort to discredit pipeline protesters.

Emails show that the firms Delve and Off the Record Strategies, apparently working on contract with the National Sheriffs’ Association, worked in secret on talking points, media outreach, and communications training for law enforcement dealing with Dakota Access opponents mobilized at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. This revelation comes from documents obtained via an open records request from the Laramie County Sheriff's Department in Wyoming.

Saturday, July 22, 2017 - 07:36 • Ben Jervey
screenshot of electric car in Fueling US Forward video

Hot on the heels of its deceptive “Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars” video (which we debunked thoroughly, and others did too), the Koch-funded front group Fueling U.S. Forward has released a new video criticizing electric vehicle (EV) tax credits as a “massive wealth transfer from poor to rich.” It's time for another debunking!

Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 09:11 • Ben Jervey
Screenshot from video debunking anti-electric vehicle video

Just last week, we fact-checked and debunked every line of “The Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars,” a video produced by Fueling U.S. Forward (FUSF), a Koch-funded campaign to push fossil fuels. That video represents the group's first public pivot from fossil fuel boosterism to electric vehicle (EV) attacks. More electric vehicle experts are also picking the video apart.

Thursday, July 20, 2017 - 08:11 • Mat Hope
Eu flag in front of statues

A new lobby group has appeared in Europe claiming to represent ‘consumers’. But a closer look reveals it is actually backed by some familiar groups known for their efforts to weaken climate and environmental regulations.

The Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) was set up in March 2017 and was promoted as “a grassroots-led movement” that “empowers consumers across the globe”.

But an investigation by Brussels think tank Corporate Europe Observatory suggests the CCC is actually working as a lobby group for a network pushing deregulation, while working closely with high-profile organisations including London-based think tank the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) and US oil billionaire Charles Koch.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 11:25 • Justin Mikulka
Trump and Polish President Duda

During President Donald Trump’s recent visit to Poland, he got a lesson in the reality of the global oil and gas market from Polish President Andrzej Duda. In his prepared remarks, Trump addressed the issue of U.S. oil and gas exports, saying, “America stands ready to help Poland and other European nations diversify their energy supplies, so that you can never be held hostage to a single supplier.” 

In the question and answer session that followed, Trump exhibited some of his characteristic bravado when he offered to negotiate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) agreement right then and there. 

I think we can enter a contract for LNG within the next 15 minutes,” Trump said. “Do you have anybody available to negotiate? It will take about 15 minutes.”

Which put President Duda in the awkward position of having to explain to the American president how international energy deals actually happen. As The Hill reported, “Duda laughed in response, saying that it is up to private companies in both countries, not the presidents, to negotiate such a deal.”  

Monday, July 17, 2017 - 09:31 • Farron Cousins
A 3-D pie chart made of dollar bills

Fearing that President Donald Trump will make good on his promise to slash the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) political arm, EDF Action, has announced a million dollar ad buy to raise awareness about how these budget cuts will affect the lives of American citizens.

The ad campaign’s goal is to target local television, radio, and online outlets with information about the EPA’s local impact on public health and the environment.

Sunday, July 16, 2017 - 08:58 • Steve Horn

Climate change will impact future generations and the current youth more than anyone else, so perhaps it's no surprise that kids have increasingly become the face of the modern U.S. climate movement.

At the center of that movement is the ongoing lawsuit filed by the group Our Children's Trust against the federal government for failing to act on climate change despite its intense study for decades by climate scientists, many of them on the payroll of the U.S. government. That case, barring any pretrial negotiations between the two parties, will head to trial in February. Further, 13 “Youth Climate Intervenors” all under the age of 25 were allowed in as legal Intervenors in an ongoing lawsuit filed by environmental groups against the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for its green-lighting of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Flying under the radar, though, has been the seemingly unlikely ascendancy of a youth-led movement in Indiana led by the group Earth Charter Indiana. Indiana is hardly a state known for its deep green consciousness and was formerly a major natural extraction hub and is still a major coal extraction state.

Saturday, July 15, 2017 - 09:58 • John Cook
Doctor preparing to give flu shot to patient

By John Cook, George Mason University

As a psychologist researching misinformation, I focus on reducing its influence. Essentially, my goal is to put myself out of a job.

Recent developments indicate that I haven’t been doing a very good job of it. Misinformation, fake news and “alternative facts” are more prominent than ever. The Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” as the 2016 word of the year. Science and scientific evidence have been under assault.

Fortunately, science does have a means to protect itself, and it comes from a branch of psychological research known as inoculation theory. This borrows from the logic of vaccines: A little bit of something bad helps you resist a full-blown case. In my newly published research, I’ve tried exposing people to a weak form of misinformation in order to inoculate them against the real thing — with promising results.

Thursday, July 13, 2017 - 17:21 • Justin Mikulka

We were very lucky in this instance,” Plainfield Fire Chief David Riddle said. “There was no fire, nobody got hurt by the grace of God.”

As the residents of Lac-Megantic were preparing to acknowledge the 4th anniversary of the oil train disaster that leveled and poisoned their downtown and killed 47 people, residents of Plainfield, Illinois were happy to just be complaining about the odor of spilled oil after a train pulling 115 tank cars of Canadian crude oil derailed near their neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 - 15:40 • Itai Vardi

Only one week after leaving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), former commissioner Colette Honorable has joined a law firm lobbying for Dominion Energy, the company behind the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Honorable is joining Reed Smith LLP, a firm lobbying in the state of Virginia for Dominion, the energy giant leading the proposed natural gas project. The Atlantic Coast pipeline, a 550-mile three-state line, still requires FERC’s approval.

Virginia lobbying disclosures show that Reed Smith has been lobbying for Dominion since at least 2015. The firm has so far assigned three lobbyists to work on Dominion’s behalf: William Thomas, Jeffrey Palmore, and Edward Mullen.

Honorable, a Democrat, was appointed as FERC commissioner by former President Obama in August 2014. Previously she served as chairperson of the Arkansas Public Service Commission. Reed Smith hired Honorable as a partner in its international energy & natural resources practice.

As DeSmog previously reported, Honorable has ties to a senior executive at Southern Company, a minority stakeholder in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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