fracking

These Unsigned Comments Supporting a Gas Exports Rule Are Recycled Industry Copy-Pastes

Copy machine

A review of the comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on its proposed rule to fast-track the export of small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) shows that roughly two dozen of of the 89 comments were directly copy-pasted from either industry itself or else pro-industry materials written by the DOE or Congress.

Furthermore, all of those copy-pasted comments are anonymous, a hint that the oil and gas industry may be behind an astroturf-style comment-submitting campaign for this rule. Only one letter favoring the proposed rule, written by the American Petroleum Institute and the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, has the industry's name on it. Three other comments supporting the rule have actual names of individuals, a law school student, a college student, and an individual who DeSmog confirmed wrote the comment out of personal interest and for a public policy course at his university. 

GOP Senators, Fueled by Industry Cash, Propose Bill to Expedite Small Scale LNG Exports

LNG tanker

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have introduced a bill to fast-track the regulatory process for the export of small-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The bill, titled “Small Scale LNG Access Act,” was introduced on October 18 and calls for amending the “Natural Gas Act to expedite approval of exports of small volumes of natural gas.” The proposed legislation follows in the footsteps of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) proposed rule which would assume that all U.S. small-scale exports of LNG, with the gas mostly obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), is in the “public interest” as defined by the Natural Gas Act.   

World's Largest Fracked-Gas-to-Methanol Refinery Forced to Calculate Climate Impact

CO2 to methanol plant in Iceland

By Stephen Quirke

Last month one of the largest fracked gas projects in the Pacific Northwest was dealt a legal blow when its development permit was canceled for failing to fully account for the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The project, backed by Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW), would refine fracked gas into methanol, an industrial feedstock used in chemical production, that would be shipped in bulk from Kalama, Washington, to China, where backers say it will produce plastics.

Former Head of Energy, Environment at ALEC, Todd Wynn, Hired by Trump Interior Department

Todd Wynn

Todd Wynn, former Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s Energy Environmental and Agriculture Task Force, was recently hired by President Donald Trump to work as a senior-ranking official in the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

DeSmog discovered the hire via LinkedIn, and Wynn says on his profile page that he began at Interior in October.

Wynn worked at ALEC from 2011 to 2013 and then became Director of External Affairs for Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a trade association representing electric utility companies nationwide. Prior to his position at ALEC, Wynn served as Vice President of the Cascade Policy Institute, a part of the State Policy Network (SPN), a national chain of state-level conservative and corporate-funded think-tanks which was started as an ALEC offshoot.

ALEC's critics have described the organization, a national consortium of mostly Republican Party state legislators and corporate lobbyists, as a “corporate bill mill.” That's because its lobbyist members convene several times a year with legislators to produce what it calls “model bills” which have ended up as actual legislation thousands of times since the organization's founding in 1973.

Trump Names Climate Denier Kathleen Hartnett White to Head White House Environmental Council

President Donald Trump, as first reported by EnergyWire's Hannah Northey‏ on Twitter and as stated in a White House press release, has named Kathleen Hartnett White to chair the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). 

Hartnett White, as previously reported by DeSmog, is a prominent climate change denier and former Chairman and Commissioner of the Texas Council on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) under then-Texas Governor Rick Perry. Perry now heads up the U.S. Department of Energy and is reported to have advocated for her to run CEQ. She is also an outspoken advocate of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and of exporting oil and gas to the global market.

Long seen as the presumptive front-runner to take the CEQ role, Hartnett White also worked on President Trump's presidential campaign on his Economic Advisory Team. And her name was once floated to head up the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well, currently led by Scott Pruitt.

Experts Who Sold the Idea of Oil Exports Proven Very Wrong Very Fast

Tanker

As Bloomberg put it recently, today “crude oil gushes out of the U.S. like never before.” U.S. exports of crude oil just hit a new record: nearly two million barrels per day. And while at DeSmog we predicted that “lifting the oil export ban will result in large increases in fracking for oil in the U.S.,” most industry experts at the time were making very different claims.

It’s universally agreed in the short term that we won’t see a flood of ships leaving for foreign ports because the economics aren’t right,” Sandy Fielden, director of energy analytics at respected consulting firm RBN Energy, said in December 2015, just before the ban on crude oil export lifted. Fielden was explaining why lifting that ban wouldn't result in a sizable and ongoing rush to export American crude.

Scotland Promises to Ban Fracking 'Indefinitely'

A frack pad

The Scottish government has said fracking is set to be permanently banned following “overwhelming” public support for outlawing the controversial process, it was announced today.

Unlike in England, fracking has been under a temporary halt in Scotland since 2015, and an extensive public consultation on its long-term future was carried out earlier this year.

Speaking to members of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, the Scottish environment minister Paul Wheelhouse said the ban should be extended “indefinitely” and that “the Scottish Government will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland”.

Sean Spicer's Next Act? Fracking Industry's Chosen Keynote Speaker

Sean Spicer at Shale Insight 2017

Sean Spicer might be among the least trusted public figures in the U.S.

After he lost his job as White House press secretary, all five major TV news networks — including both Fox News and CNN, as well as CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News — declined to hire Spicer as a paid contributor, with network insiders reportedly telling NBC News, Spicer had a “lack of credibility.”

His attempt to rehabilitate his reputation with a September 17 Emmys appearance earned him a massive backlash.

Less than two weeks later, Spicer made another, somewhat less-reported public appearance — as the keynote for the Marcellus Shale Coalition's 2017 Shale Insight conference.

Ohio Communities Face 'Voter Suppression' in Push to Rein in Oil and Gas Development

scrabble tiles spelling out 'vote'

Three years in a row, communities in Ohio have attempted to vote on initiatives that would grant them greater say over oil and gas development in their jurisdictions, but over and over again, appointed officials, some with direct ties to the fossil fuel industry, have put up roadblocks preventing these initiatives from reaching the ballot.

We’re losing our ability to legislate and be a check and balance on the government,” Tish O’Dell of the Ohio Community Rights Network told DeSmog on September 15.

Stephen Schwarzman: Wall Street Investor, Trump Ally, Fracking Profiteer

Stephen Schwarzman

This is a guest post by  and originally appeared on Eyes on the Ties.

By now, many people have heard of Stephen Schwarzman.

Some may know him as the billionaire founder and CEO of the Blackstone Group, a mammoth private equity firm that has its tentacles spread across numerous subsidiaries and companies.

Others may know Schwarzman as a close ally and advisor of Donald Trump, the chair the president’s recently disbanded Strategic and Policy Forum, who is set to profit handsomely from his relationship with the president.

Some may even know Schwarzman as the thrower of lavish, self-glorifying birthday parties — his last one included fireworks, acrobats, live camels, celebrity performers, and a slew of high-profile guests, from David Koch to Jared Kushner, as well as several Trump cabinet members.

But fewer people know about Schwarzman the fracking profiteer, with billions invested in the fossil fuel industry that is fueling the climate crisis.

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