fossil fuel industry

Trump’s Offshore Oil Drilling Push: Five Essential Reads

Shell's Arctic drilling rig the Kulluk aground in Alaska

By Martin LaMonica, The Conversation

This article is based on a collection of archival stories. The Conversation

When it comes to energy, perhaps the only thing President Trump loves more than coal is oil and gas. Just a day shy of 100 days into his presidency, Trump signed an executive order to open more offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters.

The move is meant to spur the economy and reverse President Obama’s decision last December to ban drilling from large swaths of sensitive marine environments. Regardless of whether Trump succeeds in overturning Obama’s protections, it’s clear oil won’t be flowing from new offshore wells anytime soon.

States Ramp up Attacks on Incentives for Electric Vehicles

Nissan Leaf parked at an electric car charging station outside San Francisco City Hall

As federal support for electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to wither under the Trump administration, state-level policies will play the biggest political role in how quickly battery powered motors replace the internal combustion engine.

Yet, at this critical moment when state governments should be supporting zero-emission vehicles, many states are cutting their incentives, while others are penalizing EV drivers outright.

In a recent article for The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi explores a number of efforts underway in state capitals across the country that are making the transition to electric cars a steeper uphill climb.

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Disputes Carbon Dioxide’s Role in Global Warming, Contradicting His Own Agency's Research

Scott Pruitt

Today Scott Pruitt, the recently appointed head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, stated in a CNBC interview that he does not believe that carbon dioxide is one of the primary contributors to global warming.

According to a partial excerpt of Pruitt’s interview posted on The Hill, Pruitt stated the following:

Trump's Interior Dept. Nominee, Rep. Ryan Zinke to Face Questioning on Climate Record, Support for Oil, Gas, Coal

Ryan Zinke

Rep. Ryan Zinke, Republican from Montana and President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to head the Department of the Interior, will appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for a confirmation hearing today.

If confirmed, Zinke, a former Navy SEAL turned politician, will head a federal agency whose actions will have major implications for the environment — and specifically for climate change.

New Report by Top Senators Details Financial Ties Between Fossil Fuel Industry and Clean Power Plan Opponents

Rolls of hundred dollar bills.

On September 27, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in a major challenge to the Clean Power Plan, West Virginia v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — an enormously high-stakes legal battle, that could determine whether Obama's climate plan is ever put into effect.

The stakes are high not only for the environment, but for fossil fuel companies — and those companies have poured enormous sums of money into efforts that would help ensure the Clean Power Plan never goes into effect, according to a report issued this week by four members of Congress.

Fossil Fuel Interests Play Major Role In Presidential Super PAC Funding

One-third of the big donations funding the bloated presidential super PACs last year came from fossil fuel interests. That’s according to campaign finance research by Greenpeace, reviewed by The Guardian.
 
Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and a subsequent lower court decision in 2010, corporations, unions, and individuals have been allowed to flood elections with unlimited cash.
 
Super PACs—political nonprofits that may expressly advocate for candidates’ election or defeat but are barred from coordinating with candidates and are required to disclose their donors—have become a dominating force in presidential races as well as in Congressional and state-level contests.
 
Individuals tied to oil, gas, and coal mining companies who donated $100,000 or more to super PACs supporting 2016 presidential candidates combined for $107 million in donations from January 2015 through January of this year. Greenpeace included in its data owners and board members of oil, gas and coal mining companies and firms that transport these fossil fuels, and people with major investments in the companies.

Fossil Fuel Industry Arguments for Carbon Sequestration Cause Uproar at COP20 UNFCCC Climate Talks

UNFCCC COP20

A side event at the UNFCCC COP20 climate negotiations in Lima, Peru was disrupted Monday when climate activists and individuals representing communities on the frontlines of energy development flooded the presentation hall and staged a ‘walk out’ on fossil fuels.

The event was hosted by the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) and the Global CCS Institute and featured Lord Nicholas Stern and David Hone, Shell’s chief climate advisor, as speakers.

The talk, originally entitled “Why Divest from Fossil Fuels When a Future with Low Emission Fossil Fuel Energy Use is Already a Reality?,” was inexplicably renamed “How Can we Reconcile Climate Targets with Energy Demand Growth” and focused on the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a technological solution to carbon emissions that cause global warming.

A citizen group formed outside the venue holding a banner that read “get fossil fuels out of COP” and used the acronym CCS to spell out “Corporate Capture ≠ Solution.”

G20 Governments are Spending $88B Each Year to Explore for New Fossil Fuels. Imagine if Those Subsidies Went to Renewable Energy?

oil change international, subsidies, oil gas exploration

Rich G20 nations are spending about $88 billion (USD) each year to find new coal, oil and gas reserves even though most reserves can never be developed if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change, according to a new report.

Generous government subsidies are actually propping up fossil fuel exploration which would otherwise be deemed uneconomic, states the report, “The fossil fuel bail-out: G20 subsidies for oil, gas and coal exploration.”

Produced by the London-based Overseas Development Institute and the Washington-based Oil Change International the 73-page analysis also noted the costs of renewables is falling and the investment returns are better than fossil fuels.  

Every U.S. dollar in renewable energy subsidies attracts $2.5 in investment, whilst a dollar in fossil fuels subsidies only draws $1.3 of investment,” said the report released Tuesday, just days ahead of the G20 leaders meeting in Brisbane, Australia.

The report also notes the G20 nations are creating a ‘triple-lose’ scenario by providing subsidies for fossil-fuel exploration.

Texas Regulators Sidestep Connection Between Fracking Industry and Earthquakes

XTO wastewater disposal plant

New rules for Texas injection wastewater well operators offer no relief to people impacted by more than 30 earthquakes that hit Azle, Reno and Springtown almost a year ago. Many buildings in the three small cities, 50 miles west of Dallas, Texas, suffered broken windows, cracked walls, damaged plumbing and foundations. 

Seismic activity is not something the region is known for. It was only after deep injection disposal wells used to house fracking's toxic wastewater went into operation that the earthquakes started. There are several injection wells in the area — three of which some suspect to be the cause of the quakes due to their proximity to impacted neighborhoods and the volume of disposal operations. 


Crack in an Azle, Texas, residence that opened after an earthquake. ©2014 Julie Dermansky 

“Injection raises the underground pressure and can effectively lubricate fault lines, weakening them and causing earthquakes, according to the U.S Geological Survey,” reports McClatchy Washington Bureau

The Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, was met with public outcry after the first earthquake swarm. The commissioners acted fast (by the agency’s standards), coming up with new rules to address the situation released on Oct. 28.  

The new rules require oil and gas companies to check local seismic data from the U.S. Geological Survey before opening a new waste disposal well. They also give the agency the power to change, suspend or revoke an injection operator’s permit if the commission determines the well is contributing to seismic activity.

Fossil Fuel Lobby Spent $213 Million Last Year to Influence US, EU Politicians

Fossil fuel industries spent an estimated $213 million lobbying U.S. and European Union decision makers last year, according to a new report published by Oxfam International on Friday.

In the U.S. alone, the estimated 2013 bill for lobbying activities by fossil fuel interests amounted to $160 million, said the report called Food, Fossil Fuels and Filthy Finance.

In addition, the 40-page report said, the global fossil fuel sector receives approximately $1.9 trillion in subsidies each year.

In the absence of robust climate legislation, finance continues to flow unabated into the fossil fuel industry,” the report said. “At the current rate of capital expenditure, the next decade will see over $6 trillion allocated to developing the fossil fuel industry.”

The world produces enough food to feed everyone, the report said, but every day more than 800 million people go to bed hungry.

This is a scandal – and climate change is set to make things even worse,” the report added. “Fossil fuels are the single biggest driver of climate change; if the world is to avoid exceeding dangerous global warming of 2°C, up to 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground.”

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