Wednesday, July 1, 2020 - 03:00 • Sharon Kelly

The Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery was —until last year — the largest and oldest gasoline refinery on the East Coast. The week it was sold began with a community rally that also served as a makeshift memorial service.

On Monday, June 22, as Black Lives Matter protests continued nationwide, members of Philly Thrive, a local grassroots group, arrived outside the perimeter of the refinery complex in South Philadelphia. They posted “in memorium” placards bearing the names of deceased Philadelphians along the facility’s chainlink borders, handwritten fenceline memorials for departed members of the refinery's fenceline community. Speakers that day recalled less the fiery explosion that tore through the plant one year earlier and more the long-term harms caused by decades of fossil fuel production in the majority Black neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 15:36 • Guest
Read time: 7 mins

The oil giant funds both civil rights groups and police, saying “Black Lives Matter” while committing acts of environmental racism all over the world.

By Amy Westervelt. This story originally appeared in the Hot Take newsletter.

At a House committee hearing on fossil fuel deception last year, Congressional reps from oil and gas states repeated a long-used talking point: A clean energy transition is just a big fuck-you to poor people. They claim that it risks leaving marginalized communities out in the cold and stalls development in Africa. (They love to talk about how dependent African economic growth is on fossil fuels, never about how they've destroyed water sources and wetlands and murdered protesters there). The grossest part: Fossil fuel companies also fund various civil rights groups to spread their message for them, all while simultaneously literally choking the life out of Black and brown communities with refineries and petrochemical plants. 

It's an underhanded trick that's almost as old as the industry itself. In fact, some of the same PR firms that helped Big Oil come up with the strategy of framing a transition away from fossil fuels as racist helped Big Tobacco push the idea that a cigarette tax would disproportionately harm Black communities back in the 1990s. The tobacco guys even put money into the same civil rights groups to spread that message as the oil companies are funding today. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 - 15:04 • Guest
Read time: 11 mins

By Ilana Cohen, Evelyn Nieves, Judy Fahys, Marianne Lavelle, and James Bruggers, InsideClimate News. This story originally appeared in InsideClimate News and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

When New York Communities for Change helped lead a demonstration of 500 on Monday in Brooklyn to protest George Floyd's killing in Minneapolis, the grassroots group's activism spoke to a long-standing link between police violence against African Americans and environmental justice.

Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn's oldest Latino community-based organization, said she considers showing up to fight police brutality and racial violence integral to her climate change activism. 

Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:45 • Dana Drugmand
Read time: 4 mins

On Thursday, May 28, several Democratic members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, along with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), sent a letter to Marathon Petroleum seeking information on the oil company’s involvement in the Trump administration’s rollback of clean car standards. The Congressmembers are also investigating Marathon’s coordination with, and financial ties to, various free-market groups and whether those relationships are compatible with the groups’ tax-exempt status.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 15:52 • Dana Drugmand
Read time: 3 mins

Under the cover of dark money from big donors and special interest influence, Republicans have stealthily extended their ideological agenda into what is supposed to be an independent federal judiciary, according to a new report released today from Senate Democrats.

The report, titled Captured Courts: The GOP's Big-Money Assault on the Constitution, Our Independent Judiciary, and the Rule of Law, examines a decades-long effort by conservative interests to “fix” the federal court system to serve their political agenda. This effort has accelerated under the Trump administration and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 15:34 • Dana Drugmand
Read time: 3 mins

A coalition of 23 states plus the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging the Trump Administration’s rollback of the Obama-era clean car standards. Those standards mandated stronger reductions of greenhouse gas emissions from new light-duty cars and trucks — reductions equivalent to corporate average fuel economy improvements of 5 percent annually.

But on March 31 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a final rule requiring only minimal fuel economy increases of 1.5% annually, which the agencies’ own analyses showed would result in more pollution and premature deaths.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 09:07 • Richard Littlemore
Read time: 6 mins

Climate science denier and Trump transition team advisor Dr. Tim Ball, who a Canadian court earlier derided as incompetent, ill-intended, and apparently indifferent to the truth, has been further rebuffed in the British Columbia Court of Appeal and must now stand libel for a 9-year-old attack against prominent Canadian climate scientist (and outgoing BC Green Party leader) Dr. Andrew Weaver.

Ball, a retired geography professor who for almost two decades has been giving lectures and media interviews in Canada and around the world denying the science of climate change, actually “won” this case when it was decided in the British Columbia Supreme Court in 2018. In January 2011, Ball had attacked Weaver on the populist website, Canada Free Press, in an article that BC Supreme Court Justice Ronald Skolrood later described as “poorly written,” and “rife with errors and inaccuracies, which suggests a lack of attention to detail on Dr. Ball’s part, if not an indifference to the truth.”

Sunday, May 24, 2020 - 04:00 • Steve Horn
Read time: 16 mins

Progressive activists have called for a Green New Deal, a linking of the U.S. climate and labor movements to create an equitable and decarbonized economy and move away from fossil fuels to address the climate crisis. But major labor unions and President Barack Obama’s Energy Secretary have far different plans.

On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the AFL-CIO and the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) — a nonprofit founded and run by former Obama Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz — launched the Labor Energy Partnership. Unlike those calling for a Green New Deal, though, this alliance supports increased fracking for oil and gas, as well as other controversial technologies that critics say prop up fossil fuels. It's also an agenda matching a number of the former Energy Secretary's personal financial investments.

Friday, May 22, 2020 - 22:38 • Julie Dermansky
Read time: 8 mins

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed life much for Chris Burnet, a lifelong resident of Isle de Jean Charles, a quickly eroding strip of land among south Louisiana’s wetlands. Though the island, about 80 miles southwest of New Orleans, can’t be saved from the sea-level rise and coastal erosion that’s been intensified by climate change, Burnet is happy he still lives there, even though his days there are numbered. Besides loving life on the island, he believes its remoteness has kept him and the remaining island residents safe from the coronavirus. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020 - 16:48 • Dana Drugmand
Read time: 5 mins

ExxonMobil is facing yet another lawsuit challenging the corporation’s allegedly deceptive behavior related to climate change. The latest suit, filed May 15 in the D.C. Superior Court, claims the oil major is misleading consumers with “false and deceptive” advertising about its investments in “clean” fuels and technology.