Sharon Kelly's blog

US Senators: Heartland Institute Mailings to Grade School Science Teachers 'Possibly Fraudulent'

Report card with F

If you teach science to American schoolchildren, there's a good chance that you might open your mailbox soon and find a package containing a free, unsolicited 135-page book and 11-minute DVD, plus a cover letter from the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free-market “think tank.”

“How do you teach global warming?” the letter begins. “I am writing to ask you to consider the possibility that the science in fact is not 'settled.' If that's the case, then students would be better served by letting them know a vibrant debate is taking place among scientists on how big the human impact on climate is and whether or not we should be worried about it.”

The climate “educational” supplies have already been mailed out to tens of thousands of science teachers — with 25,000 more planned every two weeks, the institute's CEO told PBS in March.

The mailings prompted a backlash from a group of federal lawmakers including Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey, and Brian Schatz, who warned that teachers should treat the free literature skeptically.

Trump Abandons Paris Climate Deal At Bidding of Fossil Fuel Interests

President Donald Trump made his decision official during a speech outside the White House today: the U.S. will be leaving the Paris Accord agreement by almost 200 other countries to cut global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Trump, who arrived over a half-hour late for his scheduled 3PM announcement, told the gathered press corps that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris accord in November 2020.

The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said, “but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States and its businesses, workers and taxpayers.”

We'll see if we can make a deal that's fair,” he added. “If we can, that's great. If we can't, that's fine.”

Who Wins if Donald Trump Exits the Paris Climate Accord?

A handful of anonymous senior White House officials have begun telling the press that President Donald Trump plans to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Accord climate deal, adding fuel to rumors that have circulated for months that he would follow through with his campaign promise.

A “small team including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt” has begun drafting up a detailed plan to orchestrate America's withdrawal, according to Axios, which reported that Trump's mind was made up. Shortly after that report, Trump tweeted he would soon be announcing his decision. Several commentators noted Trump has repeatedly seemed to reverse course just before making a policy announcement.

If Trump does decide to back away from Paris, he'll be taking the U.S. down a path decried by an unusually broad cast of political players, including oil and gas giants, coal companies, the pope and even, by some polls, 50 percent of Republican voters.

Pennsylvania School Now Doing Emergency Drills in Case of Pipeline Explosion

Gas pipeline warning sign

At the Glenwood Elementary School in Media, Pennsylvania, roughly 450 students interrupted their regular schedules one day this month for an unusual emergency drill.

Just after 1:30 p.m. on May 3, the entire student body practiced sheltering in place in the school's gymnasium, then prepared to evacuate the campus by bus, under the watchful eye of the school's superintendent, state police, and local first responders.

Everyone took this seriously and it was reflected in how quickly they moved through the drill — two minutes to be sheltered in place and three minutes to be completely evacuated from the building,” Principal Eric Bucci told local reporters.

It wasn't fears of natural disaster or terror attack that prompted the emergency drill. Instead, worries about a fossil fuel pipeline construction project nearby left the school district drafting emergency response plans and practicing safety protocols.

In Trump Era, Right Wing Battles Itself Over Energy Policy, Fossil Fuels and a Warming Climate

Donald Trump at a podium

Starkly different visions for how conservatives view energy were on display at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) The Future of Energy Summit in New York City last week.

Right-wing speakers seemed pulled in opposite directions by the twin realities of a changing climate, which is beginning to hit gas companies' bottom lines, juxtaposed against the raw political power of a Trump administration packed with climate change deniers of different stripes.

Some on the right are calling for supporting a transition to a decentralized power grid, fueled by wind and solar energy, but not for the usual reasons.

Ex-NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg: 'Clean Coal' Is BS, but Feds Should 'Stay Out of the Way' on Climate

Center, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg

At a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) summit in New York City this week, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was blunt about the prospects for so-called “clean coal.”

“Carbon capture is total bullshit,” he told the crowd of several hundred top energy industry executives and financiers. “This is a figment of imagination.”

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