national security

Harry Brown, North Carolina’s Anti-Wind Lawmaker, Is Backed by Koch Money

Read time: 6 mins
Air Force wind turbine at Cape Cod

This is a guest post by Dave Anderson, Energy and Policy Institute. Originally posted on Energy and Policy Institute.

Harry Brown, the state senator who wants to ban new wind power farms in eastern North Carolina, has received thousands of dollars in campaign money from Koch Industries and other fossil fuel interests.

Brown, who serves as the Republican Majority Leader in the North Carolina Senate, received a $4,000 contribution for his reelection campaign from the Koch Industries Political Action Committee (KochPAC) in August of 2018.

'Are You Serious?' John Kerry Interrupts GOP Climate Denial Logic in Disbelief

Read time: 6 mins
John Kerry

Congressional discussions over climate change have reached such a low point that during this week’s House hearing on the national security risks of climate change, former Secretary of State John Kerry, who was testifying, broke down and just asked his Republican questioner, “Are you serious?”

Chemical Security: Protecting Syrians, But Leaving Americans Exposed

Read time: 4 mins
Aerial view of destruction of West, Texas, chemical plant after 2013 explosion

This is a guest op-ed by Russel Honoré, Randy Manner, and David Halperin

In the torrent of Trump administration actions to void Obama-era regulations, one such move stands out right now as particularly disturbing.

For decades, our country has failed to squarely address the dangers of hazardous chemical facilities — from oil refineries to water treatment plants. An accident, natural disaster, or deliberate attack could trigger an explosion or chemical release that could kill thousands of people. Millions of our citizens live and work near these dangerous facilities.

Obama Takes Action, Says Climate Change Must Be Factored Into National Security Assessments

Read time: 2 mins

Nearly eleven months ago, Senator Bernie Sanders stated plainly in the first Democratic Presidential debate that climate change was the number one national security threat to the United States (every other Democratic contender said ISIS). Sanders took an incredible amount of heat from the Republican Party following his claims, but both Republican and Democratic administrations and military leaders have made it clear that climate change is a top security threat.

While discussion of climate change has all but disappeared from the United States Presidential race following Sanders’ exit, in a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment on September 21st, President Obama signed a directive ordering federal agencies to begin factoring climate change into their national security plans. Every federal agency, from the FDA to the EPA to the Pentagon, has a national security plan to address a threat to the specific area of regulation, and thanks to Obama’s new directive, combatting the effects of climate change are now required in those plans.

Bernie Sanders Is Right – Climate Change Is A Massive National Security Threat

Read time: 3 mins

During Saturday’s U.S. Presidential debate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders addressed the issue of terrorism by saying that climate change is the largest national security threat. This is the second time that Sanders has made this statement during the Democratic debates.

And he is spot on with his analysis.

While his claims were attacked by his opponents on the Republican side, the Pentagon has been making the claim that climate change is a national security threat for the last 12 years.

The reasoning is simple: Resource scarcity leads to conflict.

Food Industry Warns Of Devastating Food Shortages Amid Climate Inaction

Read time: 3 mins

Leaders from the food industry issued a warning to Congress recently, telling elected politicians to take action on climate change or face a global food shortage.  Leaders from companies such as Kellogg’s, General Mills, Nestle, Mars, and many others co-signed a letter published in The Washington Post, where they warned about the threats that climate change poses to the food industry.

American Petroleum Institute Touts Oil Exports to Fend Off Iran, Russia Despite API Members Tied to Both Countries

Read time: 6 mins

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has launched a new advertising campaign in its ongoing push to oust the U.S. oil exports ban in place since 1975.

One of the most recent ads, titled “Crude Oil Exports and National Security” on YouTube, starts off with ominous music and asks, “Who loves the ban on U.S. crude oil exports?” The answer, says API, is “Iran and Russia, not exactly our best friends.”

Not mentioned: both countries currently maintain business ties with API's dues-paying members.

Navy SEAL Commander Behind Bin Laden Killing: Keystone XL Vulnerable To Terrorism

Read time: 6 mins

Dave Cooper, Command Master Chief SEAL (Retired) for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), has authored a threat assessment concluding TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is potentially at-risk of a terrorism attack. 

In the report, Cooper concluded operational security vulnerabilities for the pipeline have been overlooked by the U.S. government. Cooper —  most famous for overseeing the Abbottabad, Pakistan Osama Bin Laden raid as the commander of Navy SEAL Team Six — wrote the report as a consultant for billionaire Tom Steyer's advocacy group NextGen Climate Action

“The very nature of Keystone XL’s newsworthiness, should it ever be built, increases its attractiveness as a target to terrorists: Keystone XL, aside from being a 'soft' target just like any other pipeline, has a built-in emotional impact that can’t be denied or wished away,” he wrote in the report's introduction.

“That simple fact, a newsworthy proposal that engenders strong passions, should clue in pipeline owners and government officials to the very real possibility of intentional attack.”

For the report, Cooper utilized a “red cell” methodology, parlance for U.S. special operations forces performing pre-mission reconnaissance, using open source data readily available to terrorists on the internet. In so doing, the special operations forces snuff out operational security (“OpSec” in military lingo) weaknesses, which they use as actionable intelligence in defense missions.

In the report, Cooper explained he “designed [the methodology this way] to showcase weaknesses in the current reality by exploiting the same information to which an outside terrorist group would have access.”

Cooper's probe included a due diligence trip out three redacted Great Plains locations*, where Phase I of the Keystone Pipeline System is currently operational (the northern leg of Keystone XL is Phase IV). Going out into the field, Cooper came away shocked by his discoveries.

His findings raise a troubling question: have real Keystone XL terrorism threats been ignored, while non-violent activists have been labeled potential eco-terrorists? Cooper offered his take on this question to DeSmogBlog.

Shale Gas and Foreign Policy: A "Highly Uncertain" Gamble for America

Read time: 5 mins

The Obama administration has systematically ignored the environmental risks of fracking and on several occasions it has even suppressed science to pave the way for increased shale drilling, according to a recent report by the environmental group Earthworks. The report focuses on Karnes County, TX, in the heart of the Eagle Ford shale region, where state regulators found levels of airborne contaminants so high that inspectors evacuated themselves – but failed to fine the companies involved or warn residents living nearby.

From the regulators in Texas to the United States EPA, government agencies are running away from their own data showing that fracking pollution is harming communities,” said Jennifer Krill, Executive Director of Earthworks. “We are seeing a pattern from Karnes County TX to Dimock PA to Pavilion WY - where oil and gas is being produced, oil and gas impacts are being ignored.”

For the past several years the oil and gas industry has enticed Republicans and Democrats alike with promises that shale reserves can offer the U.S. renewed energy independence. The hope is that vast and newly-tapped supplies of domestic gas and oil will help shift the geopolitical balance, lessening American and European reliance on Russia and countries in the Middle East. This newly perceived leverage has even emerged recently as a bargaining chip in trade talks and negotiations with gas-importers like Japan.

The Obama administration has hailed the drilling boom, sending strong signals about its support for continued fracking. “The natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence,” President Obama said in his 2013 State of the Union address. “We need to encourage that.”

But banking on the continued shale boom is a major gamble, as productivity has already fallen in shale gas plays across the U.S.

D.C. Court Rules Against Environmental Transparency, Threatening Public Health and Democracy

Read time: 3 mins

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that trade deals can be exempted from federal disclosure laws. The case revolved around a classified document related to an FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) that contained information about environmental and public health and safety concerns.

The suit was filed by EarthJustice and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), with CIEL President Carroll Muffett issuing the following statement after the ruling:  “It is with great irony that at a time when reports about government intrusion into individual privacy are escalating by the day, the U.S. government would go to such lengths to protect the confidentiality of its trade negotiations—the terms of which will have real impacts on its citizens. By denying the public access to these negotiations, the US has created a fundamental barrier to the development of democracy. Most troubling, we have already seen the US aggressively pushing information in a similar black box in other trade negotiations, like the recently announced Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union.

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