Ben Jervey and Steve Horn's blog

EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Gets Grilled on Fossil Fuel Ties at Confirmation Hearing

Read time: 7 mins
Scott Pruitt

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt sat down before the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee for his confirmation hearing as a nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Senator John Barrasso, the Wyoming Republican who newly chairs the committee, opened the hearing with a number of compliments for Pruitt. Just after, the ranking Democrat, Tom Carper of Delaware, used his introductory remarks to say that he's never opposed an EPA nominee before, from either party, and strongly indicated that Pruitt wouldn't get his vote.

The rest of the more than three hour morning session proceeded in turn, with Republican members complimenting the attorney general and lobbing him softball questions, and the Democrats grilling him on his stance on climate science, his ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his perspective on what role the EPA has in actually, well, protecting the environment.

Heritage Foundation’s Climate and Energy Policy Summit: Science Deniers Emboldened by Trump’s Electoral Victory

Read time: 17 mins

This morning, while introducing the Heritage Foundation’s “premier energy-and-climate-policy event in America,” Becky Norton Dunlop offered a fleeting wisp of reasoned reality.

A growing economy and an improving environment go hand in hand,” Dunlop said. She wasn’t, however, referring to the near-exponential growth in renewable energy jobs that have helped lift the country from the worst recession in a generation and the worst financial crisis in 75 years, the conditions that loomed over the last presidential transition. Nor was she referring to the historic decoupling of Gross Domestic Product from greenhouse gas emissions, which has shown consistent economic growth over the past five years both in the United States and globally while emissions have stabilized and slightly reduced at both scales.

Rather, Dunlop, who is reportedly assisting President-elect Trump’s transition efforts, was referring to stripping public health and environmental oversight of fossil fuel companies and creating “an atmosphere of freedom.”

"No Turning Back:" Mexico's Looming Fracking and Offshore Oil and Gas Bonanza

Read time: 16 mins

After generations of state control, Mexico’s vast oil and gas reserves will soon open for business to the international market.

In December 2013, Mexico’s Congress voted to break up the longstanding monopoly held by the state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos — commonly called Pemex — and to open the nation’s oil and gas reserves to foreign companies.

The constitutional reforms appear likely to kickstart a historic hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and deepwater offshore oil and gas drilling bonanza off the Gulf of Mexico.

“This reform marks a major breakthrough in Mexico’s economic history only comparable to the signing of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992,” international investing and banking giant Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVAwrote in a January 2014 economic analysis.

What does this mean for the oil and gas industry in Mexico? And for the workers and those who live above these oil and gas plays or along the pipeline routes that will funnel the liquids to refineries? And how about for the Earth’s atmosphere?

Can Mexico’s fossil fuel infrastructure handle the boom? Can the country spare the precious freshwater supplies needed for thirsty fracking operations in an era of increasingly severe droughts and drinking water shortages? Can environmental, safety and public health regulations possibly keep up with this industrial boom?

DeSmogBlog will examine all these issues and more as Mexico opens its fossil fuel reserves to international exploitation in the weeks and months ahead. But, first, an overview of the state of play in Mexico’s energy reforms.

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