Tuesday, August 15, 2017 - 14:13 • Itai Vardi
Robert Powelson during FERC commissioner nomination hearing in Senate

Robert Powelson, President Donald Trump’s newly appointed commissioner to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), received both gifts and reimbursements for travel, lodging, and hospitality from the energy and utility sectors in his previous position as a state regulator. He will now regulate those sectors at the federal level.

Powelson, a Republican, began his tenure at FERC last week. Documents and emails recently uncovered by the Energy & Policy Institute, a watchdog monitoring attacks on renewable energy, indicate that he maintained a close relationship with industry groups as a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - 16:02 • Sharon Kelly
Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning

Southern Co. is accused of fraudulently misrepresenting the prospects for its troubled “clean coal” project in Kemper County, Mississippi in several legal filings this summer.

Southern announced in late July that it was shuttering the troubled “clean coal” part of Kemper after construction ran years behind schedule and the company spent $7.5 billion on the 582 megawatt power plant — over $5 billion more than it first projected.

In a lawsuit filed today, Brett Wingo, a former Southern Company engineer, alleges he warned the company's top executives that it would not be possible to meet key construction deadlines. Management responded by retaliating against him, the complaint asserts, and Southern continued to assure investors and the public that Kemper's schedule and budget targets would be met, then blamed unpredictable factors like the weather when those goals were missed.

Sunday, June 11, 2017 - 07:35 • John Gibbons
DUP's Sammy Wilson

Theresa May’s general election gamble has seen a little-thought-of and highly controversial party thrust into the spotlight: Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Having failed to gain enough seats to form a majority the Conservative Party has turned to the DUP, which won 10 seats, to create an alliance and give the Tories the ability to govern as a minority.

While the two parties are said to still be “in discussions” over a possible agreement,  the decision to try and strike a deal has seen hundreds of protesters descend on Westminster due to the DUP’s stance on abortion, gay rights and climate change. Already more than 500,000 people have signed a petition condemning the Tory-DUP alliance.

Sunday, June 11, 2017 - 05:59 • Graham Readfearn
Sign that says 'science is not an alternative fact'

The title alone of the scientific paper could have suggested one of two things — either the author deserved a Nobel prize in science, or something very odd was going on.

Professor Steve Sherwood knew it was not the former.

The paper’s title was grandiose but sincere — “The Refutation of the Climate Greenhouse Theory and a Proposal for a Hopeful Alternative” — and appeared in a publication with a name that sounded like a legitimate scientific journal. But appearances don't always stack up, and neither did this paper.

“The paper is laughable,” Sherwood told DeSmog.

“It is so riddled with unsupported, fantastic and … or … unintelligible claims, arranged in a disorderly fashion and sprinkled liberally with innuendo,” said the director of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

DeSmog has found the journal which that paper appeared in, “Environment Pollution and Climate Change,” is being led by a climate science denier who is advising notorious think tank the Heartland Institute.

Saturday, June 10, 2017 - 16:15 • Sharon Kelly
Report card with F

If you teach science to American schoolchildren, there's a good chance that you might open your mailbox soon and find a package containing a free, unsolicited 135-page book and 11-minute DVD, plus a cover letter from the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free-market “think tank.”

“How do you teach global warming?” the letter begins. “I am writing to ask you to consider the possibility that the science in fact is not 'settled.' If that's the case, then students would be better served by letting them know a vibrant debate is taking place among scientists on how big the human impact on climate is and whether or not we should be worried about it.”

The climate “educational” supplies have already been mailed out to tens of thousands of science teachers — with 25,000 more planned every two weeks, the institute's CEO told PBS in March.

The mailings prompted a backlash from a group of federal lawmakers including Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey, and Brian Schatz, who warned that teachers should treat the free literature skeptically.

Friday, June 9, 2017 - 13:19 • Guest
Indian woman standing on a pole adjusting solar street light

By Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan

On June 3, two days after President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi exchanged a hug with French President Emmanuel Macron during an official visit to Paris. Modi and Macron pledged to achieve emissions reductions beyond their nations’ commitments under the Paris Agreement, and Macron announced he will visit India later this year for a summit on solar power.

For observers who equate India’s energy production with a reliance on coal, this exchange came as a surprise. Modi’s internationally visible pledge would put India three years ahead of schedule to achieve its “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” to the Paris climate agreement. Instead of shifting to 40 percent renewables by 2030, India now expects to surpass this goal by 2027.

Thursday, June 8, 2017 - 12:19 • Guest
Exxon gas station sign

This is a guest post by Dick Russell.

The day before President Trump made his decision to pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris climate accord, ExxonMobil reluctantly crossed a climate threshold.

A majority of shareholders, over 62 percent, voted in favor of America’s biggest oil company releasing detailed analyses of the risks that climate change poses to its business. 

Having previously argued that sufficient information is already being provided, CEO Darren Woods relented far enough to say that Exxon would “take the vote seriously [and] will respond to that feedback and look for opportunities” to communicate. Woods did not, however, agree to produce a requested report.  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 18:34 • Steve Horn
Bluff formations in Bears Ears Monument

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is considering revoking the protected status from Bears Ears National Monument, a culturally and archaeologically significant area spanning 1.35 million acres in Utah and protected by then-President Barack Obama under the Antiquities Act of 1906 during his last weeks in office.

While numerous Native American tribes claim ties and sacred sites within its borders, Bears Ears is also of considerable interest to the fossil fuel industry for its close proximity to oil and gas deposits, one of several reasons for pushback against the monument designation. According to a map published by WildEarth Guardians, a group calling for protection of Bears Ears, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) powerhouses EOG Resources and Whiting Petroleum are already drilling near the area. Soon, however, there may be much more activity.

A DeSmog review of Utah state records shows that the drilling company Wesco Operating has obtained permits to drill in oil fields near Bears Ears, fields which are part of a larger shale basin extending under the monument. Furthermore, the federal government has been stoking interest in developing that shale basin to the tune of nearly three quarters of a million dollars invested in feasibility research.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 09:07 • Justin Mikulka
Train with mountains in the background

Despite a string of recent successes by West Coast communities to block the construction of oil-by-rail facilities, the oil industry has no plans to give up using rail to move oil to the West Coast. And it isn’t hard to understand why. There are no plans for oil pipelines from North Dakota to California or Washington. And with indications that the Bakken field may already be declining, any investment in such a project is highly unlikely. 

And unlike at East Coast refineries, those in the west don't have the option to buy light crude from Africa, delivered via tanker, which is a better option than buying Bakken oil from North Dakota or Montana, delivered by rail, when oil prices are low. That's why the oil industry continues to pursue its long-term plans to move oil west via train. 

Monday, June 5, 2017 - 16:37 • Judith Lavoie
Cherry Point

Unrefined fossil fuels won’t be shipped out of a small Washington State export facility at Cherry Point any time soon, due to a temporary moratorium imposed by the Whatcom County Council.

The moratorium positions Cherry Point as a major roadblock for both U.S. and Canadian companies scrounging for export facilities to ship unprocessed oil, gas and coal to overseas markets.

We are determined to use whatever legal tools we have to address climate change and to protect good refining jobs,” Barry Buchanan, council chair in Whatcom County, told DeSmog Canada.

Amid dwindling community-level support for fossil fuel infrastructure and after the U.S. lifted a 40-year old oil export ban, Cherry Point has been flooded with export permit applications for LNG, propane, coal and bitumen.

Sunday, June 4, 2017 - 19:00 • Guest

By Dan Zegart, orginally published at Climate Investigations Center.

Former ExxonMobil CEO and now-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson personally approved a scheme for accounting for the financial impact of greenhouse gas emissions on the company's business that deliberately misled investors, one that continued right through ExxonMobil's May 31st shareholders', according to an explosive court filing by the New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman claims that beginning in 2007, ExxonMobil used one set of figures in describing carbon-related risks to investors but internally used another, secret set.  The net result was to vastly understate the financial danger to the company.

The June 2nd court filing also accuses the ExxonMobil of destroying countless documents despite the fact that it had a legal obligation to preserve all records potentially relevant to the attorney general's investigation, which is probing possible fraud in ExxonMobil's disclosures about climate change to investors and the public. 

Pages