In a week that has seen a number of blows for the prospects of ecological stability - there's been an innovative backlash to...
Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC)
Note from the editor: On April 24, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt released a proposed rule that would restrict which scientific studies EPA could use in creating new regulations. The move — already controversial when it was first revealed over a month ago — would prevent EPA from considering studies in which the data is not available to the public, including the private health information of individuals in medical studies, and which is based on one-time events, such as the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
This DeSmog UK epic history post explains how Lord Lawson’s climate denying Global Warming Policy Foundation was actually created.
Lord Lawson in 2008 was congratulated in private for his pamphlet attacking climate science and policy by a handful of peers and MPs, mostly from the Tory party. Some even suggest he set up a new foundation to take the fight against climate mitigation to the government of the day.
At the time, there existed small, intimate groups who were furious that the Climate Change Act had become law; almost all had some relationship to Exxon- and Koch-funded think tanks in the United States, and were accepting funding from British oil and tobacco companies.
A lawyer who has used intimidating legal requests to try to gain access to the records and emails of climate scientists has a financial relationship with a major coal company, it has been revealed.
Christopher Horner, who works with two groups to pursue scientists and environmental regulators, is listed in the bankruptcy papers filed by lawyers on behalf of Alpha Natural Resources and its 150 subsidiary companies in the coal industry.
The Heartland Institute, a “free market think tank” and major promoter of fringe views that greenhouse gases are not a problem for the planet, is also named in the papers, as are other key groups.
Investigative journalist Lee Fang, of news website The Intercept founded by lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald, first reported the links in two stories.
Scientists who have been targeted by Horner said they are not surprised to hear a coal company has helped to finance the attacks against them.
This DeSmog UK epic history post recalls the transatlantic effort by the European sceptic Benny Peiser and Washington lawyer Chris Horner to bring down the Kyoto Protocol.
Prior to teaming up with Lord Lawson at the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Benny Peiser was working with Julian Morris at his free market think tank, the International Policy Network (IPN). But, at the same time, Peiser was an advisor of the IPN’s rival British sceptic organisation, the Scientific Alliance.
The Scientific Alliance worked closely with the Virginia-based George Marshall Institute, an ExxonMobil-funded free market think tank that can claim to be among the first to attack the science of climate change.
DeSmogBlog has obtained a copy of an Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fracking groundwater contamination PowerPoint presentation describing a then-forthcoming study's findings in Dimock, Pennsylvania.
The PowerPoint presentation reveals a clear link between hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for shale gas in Dimock and groundwater contamination, but was censored by the Obama Administration. Instead, the EPA issued an official desk statement in July 2012 - in the thick of election year - saying the water in Dimock was safe for consumption.
Titled “Isotech-Stable Isotype Analysis: Determinining the Origin of Methane and Its Effets on the Aquifer,” the PowerPoint presentation concludes that in Cabot Oil and Gas' Dimock Gesford 2 well, “Drilling creates pathways, either temporary or permanent, that allows gas to migrate to the shallow aquifer near [the] surface…In some cases, these gases disrupt groundwater quality.”
Other charts depict Cabot's Gesford 3 and 9 wells as doing much of the same, allowing methane to migrate up to aquifers to unprecedented levels - not coincidentally - coinciding with the wells being fracked. The PowerPoint's conclusions are damning.
FREEDOM of Information laws across the world were introduced as a way to open governments and their agencies to public and journalistic scrutiny and to extract the kind of information that tends not to make its way into press releases and government pamphlets.
But seen through the eyes of some climate change scientists, it is a law which appears to have been hijacked by climate science sceptics and free market think tanks as a means to rifle through their inboxes in search of anything which, when taken out of context, might be used to make them look bad.
In the US, Penn State University climate scientist Professor Michael Mann - he of the famous 'hockey stick' graph - recently fought off a long running attempt by the climate science denial think tank the American Tradition Institute to gain access to his emails.
As The Guardian has reported, the ATI, led by one of its directors Christopher Horner, has pursued several other scientists using FOI laws to gain access to their email inboxes. Mr Horner has also made specific requests for correspondence between scientists and journalists.
Mann has described such cases as an “abuse of public records and FOIA laws”, saying the efforts were “frivolous and vexatious”.
Lawyer with the Climate Science Legal Defence Fund Jeff Ruch told The Guardian that the requests were “basically a spying operation” to “find material that is potential of use in discrediting a scientist.”
Follow the money. October 23, PBS Frontline's Climate of Doubt gave viewers an hour's coverage of the tactics of climate anti-science, its advocates and a quick look into the funding behind it. Read on to follow the money deeper into the funny finances, all free of tax.
Last February, Fake Science, Fakexperts, Funny Finances, Free Of Tax explored some of those issues in detail. More information has been unearthed since, especially on DONORS TRUST, which Robert Brulle discussed with Frontline. Charles Koch and others use DONORS TRUST to anonymize their funding of policy/advocacy groups. The attached revision exposes more detail of the $311 million given through DONORS between 2002-2010, managed by Whitney Ball.
A Virginia judge issued an order today putting an end to the American Tradition Institute (ATI) frivilous lawsuit that sought to compel the University of Virginia (UVA) to release the private emails of climate scientist Michael Mann.
Breaking: A victory for science! ATI loses ATI/UVa FOIA case. Judge issues final order. Affirms the university’s right to withhold scholarly communications and finds that the documents & personal emails of mine demanded by ATI were indeed protected as the university had contended.
I am gratified for the hard work and vigorous defense provided by the university to protect scholarly communications and raw materials of scholarship. Fortunately Virginia has a strong exemption in the public records act that protects research and scholarly endeavors. The judge ruled that the exemption under Virginia’s public records protecting information in furtherance of research on scientific and scholarly issues applies to faculty communications in furtherance of their work.
This finding is a potentially important precedent, as ATI and other industry-backed front groups continue to press their attacks on climate scientists through the abuse of public records and FOIA laws and the issuing of frivolous and vexatious demands for internal scholarly deliberations and personal correspondences.
The ATI litigation effort was led by Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Christopher Horner, well-known to DeSmog readers for his anti-science activism.