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A Convenient Excuse | Dear mainstream media colleagues: Time is running out to prevent climate catastrophe. Lives are at stake. And you are failing us all.

Read time: 19 mins
Cover of The Boston Phoenix featuring Wen Stephenson's story 'Dear mainstream media colleagues: Time is running out to prevent climate catastrophe. Lives are at stake. And you are failing us all.'

May 3, 2019 Editor's note: Wen Stephenson's impassioned plea to his former journalism colleagues ran as a cover story in the November 2, 2012 issue of the Boston Phoenix. After the alternative weekly folded in 2013, Stephenson's piece was lost. With Stephenson's permission, DeSmog is republishing the article for posterity. 

Trump Attorney Sues Greenpeace Over Dakota Access in $300 Million Racketeering Case

Read time: 5 mins
Protesters in San Francisco march in support of indigenous efforts against the Dakota Access pipeline

Energy Transfer Partners, owner of the Dakota Access pipeline, has filed a $300 million Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) lawsuit against Greenpeace and other environmental groups for their activism against the long-contested North Dakota-to-Illinois project.

In its 187-page complaint, Energy Transfer alleges that “putative not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups who employ patterns of criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation to target legitimate companies and industries with fabricated environmental claims and other purported misconduct” caused the company to lose “billions of dollars.” 

In the case, Energy Transfer is represented by lawyers from the firm Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, one of the namesakes of which is Marc Kasowitz. Kasowitz is a member of the legal team representing President Donald Trump in the ongoing congressional and special counsel investigation of his 2016 presidential campaign's alleged ties and potential collusion with Russian state actors. The press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit details that Kasowitz attorney Michael J. Bowe is leading what the firm describes as an ongoing probe into the environmental groups' “campaign and practices.”

Big Oil Hosts Conference to Promote Deepwater Drilling Despite High Costs and Paris Climate Deal

Read time: 4 mins

Oil and gas industry giants gathered this week in Pau, an historic city in southwest France, to discuss the future of deepwater drilling.

Over the course of the three-day MCE Deepwater Development (MCEDD) conference hosted by Total and sponsored by Shell, hundreds of industry professionals focused on how to cut costs during a time of record-low oil prices.

As Total described in a letter announcing the annual conference: “Our common objective is to reduce costs significantly in order for deepwater to remain competitive.”  

New Report Identifies The Fossil Fuels We Must Keep In The Ground To Avert Catastrophic Climate Change

Read time: 3 mins

As the US Senate haggles over a comprehensive energy bill, climate activist groups have identified the global fossil fuel reserves that must be kept in the ground if we’re to limit global warming to the critical 2-degree-Celsius threshold.

This week saw the Senate debating the hotly contested energy bill, which has been criticized by environmentalists for including a number of fossil fuel industry giveaways, including expedited permitting for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and subsidies for coal technology, among other troublesome provisions.

Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HI) responded by introducing an amendment into the energy bill designed to express Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science.

Senate Democrats ultimately stopped the energy bill from moving forward on Thursday over the fact that a $600-million amendment to address the water crisis in Flint, MI was not included.

The US is not the only country that needs to do some soul-searching when it comes to energy policies, however.

ExxonMobil, Peabody Coal Lobbying for Bill Preventing Climate Change Accounting in US Trade Deals

Read time: 5 mins

The day before global leaders and diplomats passed a climate change deal in Paris at the United Nations climate summit, the U.S. House of Representatives — in a 256-158 vote — authorized the final text of a bill that has a provision preventing climate change to be accounted for in all U.S. trade deals going forward.

That bill, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R.644), now may proceed for full-floor votes in both the House and the U.S. Senate after its conference report was agreed upon. A DeSmog review of lobbying records shows the bill has received heavy fossil fuel industry support. 

Climate Activists Announce Global Campaign of Civil Disobedience to "Break Free From Fossil Fuels"

Read time: 3 mins
Banner calling for fossil fuels to be kept in the ground on the Cliff of Moher in Ireland

Climate justice and environmental campaigners announced plans today at COP21 in Paris to escalate the number of non-violent civil disobedience actions against fossil fuel projects over the next year.

The groups are planning a concentrated week of global actions in May of 2016. So far, events are being planned in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. Additional countries under consideration include Ecuador, India, and the UK.

Divestment Movement Hits Major Milestone As World Leaders Debate Climate Action In Paris

Read time: 3 mins

More than 500 institutions that manage $3.4 trillion in assets have now committed to divesting holdings in fossil fuels, divestment campaign groups announced today in Paris.

As recently as September 2014, just 181 institutions managing $50 billion in assets had made some sort of divestment commitment.

350.org and Divest-Invest, two of the key groups organizing the divestment movement, announced the new additions to the growing list of divestors this morning in Paris at the UN COP21 climate negotiations.

‘It’s a New Day’: Why Environmentalists Need to Change Their Strategy Under Trudeau Government

Read time: 8 mins
Ottawa climate protest

Nine and a half years. That’s how long Stephen Harper was prime minister of Canada — a long haul for environmentalists, who were all but shut out of Ottawa and often antagonized by the federal government.

Now that Justin Trudeau and the Liberals have taken the helm, advocates have high hopes for a course correction on the environment and energy files. But after nearly a decade of working under hostile conditions, environmentalists need to make a course correction of their own if they want to effectively influence public policy, experts say.   

If I was running a large ENGO and my file was climate, it’s a new day,” said Allan Northcott, vice-president of Max Bell Foundation, which runs the Public Policy Training Institute to train non-profit leaders in how to effectively advocate for policy changes.

The opportunity is different, so it’s going to require a different plan, a different strategy.”

Groups Hand 360,000 Signatures to Justice Department Calling for "Exxon Knew" Probe

Read time: 3 mins
Exxon social license revoked

With the hottest October in world history recorded recently, a slew of advocacy groups have delivered 360,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Department of Justice, calling for a probe of petrochemical industry giant ExxonMobil's history of funding climate change denial despite what the company knew about climate science. 

The groups ranging from 350.org, Food and Watch Watch, Climate Parents, Moms Clean Air Force, The Nation, Sierra Club and others have asked DOJ to investigate what ExxonMobil knew about climate change and when the company knew it, juxtaposing that insider knowledge, exposed by both InsideClimate News and The Los Angeles Times, with the climate change denial campaign it funded both in the past and through to the present

California Public Pension Funds Lost $5 Billion On Fossil Fuel Investments In One Year

Read time: 3 mins

Two of California’s massive public pension funds lost more than $5 billion on investments in coal, oil and natural gas in just 12 months.

According to a report released by environmental group 350.org, the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) lost $3 billion and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) lost $2.1 billion from their holdings in the top 200 fossil fuel companies between June 2014 and June of this year.

Combined, the two funds lost a total of $840 million from their stock investments in coal companies alone — one-fourth of the value of their coal holdings.

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