Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 10:54 • Sharon Kelly
Campaigners stand in a crowd with a sign supporting a Maryland ban on fracking

In a historic vote Monday night, Maryland's Senate passed a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — expected to be signed into law by the state's Republican governor — making the state the third in the U.S. to reject the controversial technique. The 35–10 Senate vote came shortly after the state's House of Delegates approved the ban in a 97–40 vote.

Crucially, the state's governor, Republican Larry Hogan, recently announced that he was no longer convinced that fracking could be done safely if properly regulated and that a ban was necessary. Hogan said he will suuport the ban, making his state the first state with shale gas reserves to enact a fracking ban through legislation.

Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 04:55 • David Suzuki
Suncor tar sands mine in Canada
Suncor tar sands mine in Canada

Apparently, fossil fuel companies protect watersheds and rivers by removing oil. That’s according to comments on the David Suzuki Foundation Facebook page and elsewhere, including this: “The amount of contamination occuring [sic] from extraction is far less than if we just left the oil there to continue polluting the waterways.”

The “logic” of climate change deniers and anti-environmentalists is often baffling. Although the person who posted that comment doesn’t appear to claim professional background or knowledge, Canadian anti-environmentalist Patrick Moore — who capitalizes on his science degree and long-ago association with Greenpeace to shill for polluting industries — told the Vancouver Sun in 2011 that oil companies are “leaving the soil cleaner than they found it because they’re removing the oil from it.”

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 13:38 • Steve Horn
U.S. Capitol building
U.S. Capitol building

Though the U.S. Congress has been in session for two months, much of the policy action which has taken place since Donald Trump assumed the presidency on January 20 has centered around his Executive Orders.

As some have pointed out, Trump's first speech in front of a joint session of Congress on February 28 can be seen as a reset moment, with the clock ticking on Republicans to deliver on promises made to voters in the 2016 election. In the energy and environment sphere, those efforts will likely center around gutting climate and environmental protections, and much of it will be carried out by congressional committee staffers. 

A DeSmog investigation has revealed that many Republican staff members on key committees are former fossil fuel industry lobbyists, which could help fast-track the industry's legislative agenda in the weeks and months ahead. In total, 15 staffers on the eight main energy and environment congressional committees previously worked as industry lobbyists on behalf of oil, gas, mining, coal, petrochemical, and electric utility interests. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 10:46 • Alex Kotch
Rick Perry pointing up
Rick Perry pointing up

Last week Rick Perry, the former Republican governor of Texas, became the Secretary of Energy. As head of the Department of Energy (DOE), he is now responsible for guarding the U.S. nuclear arsenal, cleaning up nuclear waste, directing federal energy research and development, and advancing domestic energy production, from nuclear and renewables to, yes, oil, gas, and coal. 

On March 2, the day Perry was confirmed, right-wing think tank the Heritage Foundation published a document laying out its goals for Perry in his new post. Like the Heritage Foundation, Perry has received considerable funding from oil and gas interests, creating potential conflicts of interest as DOE chief and suggesting he might be inclined to take Heritage’s advice.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 14:40 • Guest
Trump international hotel and tower sign in Chicago
Trump international hotel and tower sign in Chicago

This is a guest post by Dave Anderson, originally posted on the Energy and Policy Institute.

President Donald Trump is well known for his record of over-the-top attacks on clean energy, but properties managed by the Trump Organization have taken advantage of state energy efficiency incentives to save money and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

As first reported by Hiroko Tabuchi in today’s New York Times, the Trump Tower at City Center in White Plains, New York, benefited from a lighting upgrade, the addition of a combined heat and power (CHP) system, and other energy efficiency improvements. The project received more than $280,000 in incentives from the Multifamily Performance Programrun by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). A low-interest loan from NYSERDA covered the remainder of the cost.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - 13:52 • Larry Buhl
Anti-fracking protest in front of California state house
Anti-fracking protest in front of California state house

Last November, voters of Monterey County, California, passed a fracking ban known as Measure Z with 56 percent of the vote, despite being outspent 30-to-1 by the industry-backed group, Monterey County Citizens for Energy Independence

Passing Measure Z makes Monterey the sixth California county to ban fracking, but the first to face a serious legal challenge. 

In December, Chevron and Aera Energy, the two biggest companies drilling in Central California’s San Ardo fields, both filed lawsuits against Monterey County to block implementation of Measure Z, alleging that it restricts how they can use their property.

Monday, March 6, 2017 - 11:07 • Ben Jervey
Kids on a Richmond City Public Schools bus
Kids on a Richmond City Public Schools bus

Religious leaders and environmental justice activists in Richmond, Virginia, are “pushing back” against the Koch-funded Fueling U.S. Forward campaign’s efforts to target minority communities while promoting the “importance of domestic oil and natural gas to making people’s lives better.”

One element of the strategy to win the “hearts and minds” (as Alex Fitzsimmons of Fueling U.S. Forward put it) of minority communities was on display in Richmond, Virginia, last December, when the group threw a gospel concert that included pro-fossil fuel propaganda and a surprise award payment of four attendees’ electric bills.

Sunday, March 5, 2017 - 03:58 • Itai Vardi
Left, Michael Sununu. Right, Chris Sununu
Left, Michael Sununu. Right, Chris Sununu

Michael Sununu, a lobbyist, consultant, and businessman from New Hampshire, has for years been voicing doubt about the science behind human-induced climate change. Just last November, for instance, he claimed in an op-ed for a major New Hampshire newspaper that climate scientists “fudge the data for their agenda” as “Mother Nature is still driving climate change.”

With clients in the energy and utility sectors, it would perhaps be easy to dismiss Sununu’s views as interest-based and financially motivated. In the past he even led an energy start-up based on coal. 

But this vocal climate science denier is suddenly in a unique position to influence public policy. His brother, Chris Sununu, now occupies New Hampshire’s highest office — governor. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017 - 04:58 • Guest
Wind turbins dot farm fields in the Midwest
Wind turbins dot farm fields in the Midwest

By , University of North Dakota

President Donald Trump has the environmental community understandably concernedHe and members of his Cabinet have questioned the established science of climate change, and his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has sued the EPA many times and regularly sided with the fossil fuel industry.

Even if the Trump administration withdraws from all international climate negotiations and reduces the EPA to bare bones, the effects of climate change are happening and will continue to build.

In response to real threats and public demand, cities across the United States and around the world are taking action to address climate change. We might think this is happening only in large, coastal cities that are threatened by sea-level rise or hurricanes, like Amsterdam or New York.

Research shows, however, that even in the fly-over red states of the U.S. Great Plains, local leaders in small- to medium-size communities are already grappling with the issue. Although their actions are not always couched in terms of addressing climate change, their strategies can provide insights into how to make progress on climate policy under a Trump administration.

Friday, March 3, 2017 - 03:58 • Larry Buhl
Three active oil wells in a dry California landscape
Three active oil wells in a dry California landscape

Last month the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), missed its own deadline for shutting down 475 oil industry injection wells determined to be dumping toxic fluids into protected California groundwater aquifers. The division said it would continue to allow more than 1,600 other wells to continue injections into federally protected aquifers because it believes they stand a chance of being exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act protections.

Yet the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), a regional oil and gas lobbying group, is still suing the agency to prevent any wells from closing.

Pages