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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 08:46 • Sharon Kelly
Petrochemical plants in Texas
Petrochemical plants in Texas

On the heels of the shale gas rush that's swept the U.S. for the past decade, another wave of fossil fuel-based projects is coming — a plastic and petrochemical manufacturing rush that environmentalists warn could make smog worse in communities already breathing air pollution from fracking, sicken workers, and expand the plastic trash gyres in the world's oceans.

“Thanks to abundant supplies of natural gas, the U.S. chemical industry is investing in new facilities and expanded production capacity, which tends to attract downstream industries that rely on petrochemical products,” the American Chemistry Council's President and CEO, Cal Dooley, said in a January press release. “As of this month, 281 chemical industry projects valued at $170 billion have been announced, about half of which are completed or under construction.”

A new Food and Water Watch report, How Fracking Supports the Plastic Industry, calls attention to the dark side of those plans, warning of air and water pollution and the risk to people's health, especially for those taking jobs in the plastics industry.

Sunday, February 12, 2017 - 19:48 • Guest
Lego guy in gorilla suit
Lego guy in gorilla suit

By , George Mason University

A famous psychology experiment instructed participants to watch a short video, counting the number of times players in white shirts passed the ball. If you haven’t seen it before, I encourage you to give the following short video your full attention and follow the instructions:

Saturday, February 11, 2017 - 04:58 • Guest
Protesters hold a sign reading 'Deny Trump Not Climate'
Protesters hold a sign reading 'Deny Trump Not Climate'

This is a guest editorial by Richard Ottinger

Stopping the Trump climate-denying campaign and appointments is critical to the future of our children and grandchildren and of life on the planet. Furthermore, it makes no business sense nor does it comport with Republicans’ proclaimed conservatism. 

I congratulate DeSmog for revealing and taking on the prospective appointment of climate denier and oil lobbyist Mike Cantanzaro as chief energy adviser, to be joined by climate denier and oil lobbyist Scott Pruitt to head EPA.

As an experienced businessman, the President must know that, as a matter of sound business risk management, proclaimed uncertainty about a huge business risk such as that posed by climate change calls for action to protect against such a risk, not inaction ignoring the risk.

Friday, February 10, 2017 - 18:06 • Larry Buhl
Protesters rally against the reopening of the Aliso Canyon facility with signs
Protesters rally against the reopening of the Aliso Canyon facility with signs

It’s now a waiting game as California regulators decide whether to reopen the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in Los Angeles County, the site of an October 2015 blowout that released an estimated 97,000 metric tons of methane over four months.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 17:07 • Graham Readfearn
Morrison holding up coal in parliamen
Morrison holding up coal in parliamen

Many Australians are in the middle of a scorching heat wave, with temperatures in parts of Sydney forecast to hit a mind-melting 44 degrees C, or 111 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some parts of the state of New South Wales could hit 48 C (118 F) in the shade in the coming days.

South Australia and southern parts of Queensland are also bracing themselves for the heat, with fears over power shortages, health impacts, and bushfires.

So a perfect time, then, for Australia’s Treasurer, Scott Morrison, to take a lump of coal into a parliamentary question time.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 - 04:10 • Mat Hope
Windfarm in Texas
Windfarm in Texas

It would be fair to assume a husky-hugging environmentalist from Oxfordshire and a farmer from Wyoming’s agricultural heartland possibly wouldn’t have a lot in common. But new polling suggests they may have one shared trait: they probably both quite like renewable energy.

That’s partly because most people in both the US and UK support renewable energy these days, irrespective of their voting habits.

But the percentage of Trump voters who support renewable energy is still surprisingly close to the number of UK voters that are keen on the technology — almost 75 percent, according to two new polls.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 16:44 • Larry Buhl
Rex Tillerson sitting with Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin
Rex Tillerson sitting with Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin

On February 3, the Republican-led Senate used an obscure procedural tool to end a bipartisan provision meant to fight corruption and overseas oil bribery, a rule opposed by Rex Tillerson as head of ExxonMobil.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) transparency rule, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, was created to reduce corruption by requiring drilling and mining companies to disclose royalties and other payments made to governments in exchange for oil, gas, and mining extractions. Critics say overturning the rule could threaten national security.

Monday, February 6, 2017 - 13:44 • Farron Cousins
API ad says 'Oil pumps life'
API ad says 'Oil pumps life'

The American Petroleum Institute, one of the largest oil and gas lobbying organizations in the United States, used the extreme hype surrounding Super Bowl commercials to launch a new advertising campaign aimed directly at the American public.

The campaign, called Power Past Impossible, touts the many uses of oil and natural gas and highlights how dependent modern life is on the byproducts of these fossil fuels.

Watch the ad released during Super Bowl 51:

Sunday, February 5, 2017 - 04:57 • Guest
Enbridge pipeline spill in soil near Cohasset, Minnesota
Enbridge pipeline spill in soil near Cohasset, Minnesota

By University of Colorado Denver

On his fourth day as U.S. president, Donald Trump penned executive orders to advance construction of the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline. A week later, there were reports the new administration has ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to grant an easement that will allow completion of the disputed Dakota Access Pipeline to proceed.

The White House press secretary said completion of the controversial pipelines would increase jobs and promote economic growth — an argument Trump’s supporters echo.

However, this viewpoint focuses on the profits that go to the oil and construction industries, while ignoring the price that will be paid by other sectors of America’s economy, including tourism and preservation of our cultural heritage — a point I’m quite aware of as an anthropologist focused on the American West. A more accurate reckoning of the economic benefits of pipelines needs to consider the negative impact of pipelines on other parts of our economy.

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