Attorney General

EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Gets Grilled on Fossil Fuel Ties at Confirmation Hearing

Scott Pruitt

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt sat down before the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee for his confirmation hearing as a nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Senator John Barrasso, the Wyoming Republican who newly chairs the committee, opened the hearing with a number of compliments for Pruitt. Just after, the ranking Democrat, Tom Carper of Delaware, used his introductory remarks to say that he's never opposed an EPA nominee before, from either party, and strongly indicated that Pruitt wouldn't get his vote.

The rest of the more than three hour morning session proceeded in turn, with Republican members complimenting the attorney general and lobbing him softball questions, and the Democrats grilling him on his stance on climate science, his ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his perspective on what role the EPA has in actually, well, protecting the environment.

Jeff Sessions, Trump's Attorney General Pick, Introduced First Bill to Exempt Fracking from Drinking Water Rules

Jeff Sessions

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Attorney General, introduced the first so-called “Halliburton Loophole” bill back in 1999 before it was ever known as such.

Sessions co-sponsored the bill (S.724) with the climate change-denying Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). The bill called for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to exempt enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act as it relates to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

The bill's language eventually became a provision in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, known today as the “Halliburton Loophole” because the company's ex-CEO and then-Vice President Dick Cheney headed up the industry-loaded Energy Policy Task Force which helped pen the bill's language.

Republican Attorneys General Met Secretly with Exxon Lobbyists to Stop Climate Change Investigations

Protestor holding a sign stating Exxon denied climate science despite knowing otherwise.

According to a new report by the watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), ExxonMobil sent teams of lobbyists to meet with industry-friendly Republican state attorneys general to help stave off a flurry of investigations about the company’s role in obscuring the link between carbon dioxide and climate change, a cover-up which extends as far back as the 1970’s.

The news comes the same week that the environmental advocacy group Conservation Law Foundation filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil for placing Massachusetts communities into harm's way, as a result of this cover-up and its climate change implications.

Meaningless, Mean-Spirited McCarthyism: Lamar Smith’s Ironic Investigations

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup

Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who’s received more funding from fossil fuels than any other industry, has repeated his request for private communications between the attorneys general investigating what #ExxonKnew and a handful of NGOs who have exercised their constitutional right to petition those AGs.

As chair of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Smith has taken it upon himself to return Congress to the glory days of Joseph McCarthy, only instead of smoking out communists, Smith is hunting for those who threaten his fossil fuel donor base.

Science Groups Call For Changes To Freedom Of Information Laws in Australia To Protect Climate Scientists From Harassment

TWO leading groups representing thousands of scientists across Australia are asking for changes to the country's Freedom of Information (FOI) laws to better protect climate change scientists from abuse and from deliberate attempts by climate sceptics to unfairly discredit them.

FOI laws are being used to “target and attempt to discredit individual scientists”, say the influential groups, with some applications under the laws resulting in climate researchers being subjected to abuse and harassment

Some scientists are cutting back on their use of email, a vital tool for scientific collaboration, as a result.

The Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the leading professional association for meteorologists, oceanographers and climate scientists, and Science and Technology Australia, which represents the interests of 68,000 scientists and technologists, have outlined their concerns in a joint submission to the Attorney General's Department, which is currently carrying out a review of the Federal FOI laws. The submission says:

Federal Government Asks Judge To Dismiss New York State Fracking Lawsuit

The U.S. government is asking a federal judge in New York to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the state of New York against the government that was seeking to demand a complete review of the environmental damage caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The federal government claims that New York state does not have the grounds to file a suit as they have “no evidence” of injury and they do not have the authority to sue the federal government.

Sandra Levy, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, wrote to District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, telling him that the suit was barred because the federal government has “sovereign immunity,” and therefore, federal agencies cannot be sued by states.

New York Attorney General Sues Over Lack Of Fracking Studies

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York has filed a lawsuit against the federal government for failing to properly study the effects of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) before granting permits to gas drillers. The lawsuit seeks to stop fracking in the Delaware River Basin until a comprehensive analysis of the dangers is performed by the government.

Schneiderman warned Washington last month that he would file suit if the government didn’t take immediate action to study the effects of fracking. Schneiderman says that federal officials have failed to assess the fracking process properly, and that the environmental protections for the Delaware River Basin have not been evaluated by government officials to determine if they are adequate to address the fracking boom. Independent studies have shown that fracking fluids contain numerous toxic chemicals, and that the potential to contaminate water supplies is enormous.

Currently, standards for the Delaware River Basin would allow as many as 18,000 new gas wells in the coming years, and the majority of these will employ the controversial fracking method. These rules allow companies to create new gas wells without having to adhere to any environmental standards that other industries follow in the area.

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