Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 22:57 • Steve Horn
Todd Wynn

Todd Wynn, former Director of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s Energy Environmental and Agriculture Task Force, was recently hired by President Donald Trump to work as a senior-ranking official in the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

DeSmog discovered the hire via LinkedIn, and Wynn says on his profile page that he began at Interior in October.

Wynn worked at ALEC from 2011 to 2013 and then became Director of External Affairs for Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a trade association representing electric utility companies nationwide. Prior to his position at ALEC, Wynn served as Vice President of the Cascade Policy Institute, a part of the State Policy Network (SPN), a national chain of state-level conservative and corporate-funded think-tanks which was started as an ALEC offshoot.

ALEC's critics have described the organization, a national consortium of mostly Republican Party state legislators and corporate lobbyists, as a “corporate bill mill.” That's because its lobbyist members convene several times a year with legislators to produce what it calls “model bills” which have ended up as actual legislation thousands of times since the organization's founding in 1973.

Monday, August 14, 2017 - 15:47 • Farron Cousins
Exxon gas station

For many years, a standard talking point from the fossil fuel industry and those who speak on the industry’s behalf has been that natural gas is a cleaner alternative to conventional energy sources like coal and oil. This talking point is at least partially responsible for many people — including former President Barack Obama and his Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz — believing that natural gas can act as a “bridge fuel” in the eventual shift from coal and oil to renewable sources of energy.

But the truth is a lot more complicated than a talking point, something which a Dutch advertising watchdog has recognized as it takes two fossil fuel companies to task over misleading ads about natural gas being the “cleanest of all fossil fuels.”

Monday, August 14, 2017 - 02:50 • Kyla Mandel
Lord Lawson uses false climate data

The climate science denying group the Global Warming Policy Foundation has admitted that it shared an “erroneous” temperature dataset to support Lord Lawson’s false claims to the BBC last week that global temperatures aren’t rising.

Three days after Lawson’s BBC interview – which was immediately and widely criticised in the media and by scientists – the climate denial group tweeted out Sunday afternoon that it was “happy to correct the record” and has since removed the tweet after a request to do so by climate scientist Ed Hawkins.

According to the tweets, the graph was originally produced by US meteorologist Ryan Maue, an adjunct scholar of the libertarian think tank the Cato Institute co-founded by Charles Koch. It was published by weather forecaster and climate science denier Joe Bastardi. Both Bastardi and Maue work for WeatherBELL Analytics, a private weather consulting firm.

Saturday, August 12, 2017 - 09:01 • Guest
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History

This is a guest post by Hui Liu of Greenpeace USA. It was originally published at www.greenpeace.org.

I went to D.C.’s Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History expecting to learn about the history of our planet. Instead, I stumbled upon a Koch-funded climate denial disaster.

With the planet in peril, arts groups can no longer afford the Koch brothers money.”

That’s what Washington Post art and culture critic Philip Kennicott wrote in a recent opinion piece about prolific climate denial funders Charles and David Koch. Having recently seen Koch money in action at one of the world’s most prestigious science museums, I couldn’t agree more.

Friday, August 11, 2017 - 09:17 • Julie Dermansky
Flooded homes in Louisiana in 2016

It was eerie to watch images of New Orleans’ flooding almost a year after the Baton Rouge flood,” Tam Williams, a videographer who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told me. Every time it rains, she is a bit on edge, wondering if her city is going to flood again. 

A week before the anniversary of last summer’s 1,000-year flood in Baton Rouge, rain inundated New Orleans, with more than 9 inches falling in only three hours. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 14:22 • Ashley Braun
EPA flag in front of headquarters

It hasn't taken long for Donald Trump to make his mark (well, many marks) on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the first six months in office, his EPA under Scott Pruitt has already seen a precipitous drop in enforcement for violators of major environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

So far, the Trump administration has collected 60 percent less in fines for civil lawsuits against polluters on average, compared to the previous three administrations.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 - 10:02 • Itai Vardi
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality building

At the end of June, DeSmog revealed that a contractor hired by the state of Virginia to review elements of the proposed Atlantic Coast gas pipeline is currently working for Dominion, the company leading the pipeline project. Recently obtained documents and emails from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) indicate that, prior to DeSmog’s reporting, the agency was not aware of this relationship between the contractor, EEE Consulting, and Dominion, despite a contract with strict stipulations intended to avoid conflicts of interest.

Sunday, August 6, 2017 - 09:24 • Guest
Wind farm along I40 in Oklahoma

By Eric Williams and Eric Hittinger, Rochester Institute of Technology

There are high hopes for renewable energy to help society by providing a more stable climate, better energy security and less pollution. Government actions reflect these hopes through policies to promote renewable energy. In the U.S. since 1992 there’s been a federal subsidy to promote wind energy, and many states require electricity utilities to use some renewable energy.

But when is the right time to stop government support for an energy technology?

Friday, August 4, 2017 - 16:36 • Steve Horn
Oil pump jacks drilling in California

Hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and offshore drilling garner a lot of news headlines when it comes to oil and gas issues in America, but they're far from the only game in town, with those two drilling techniques not even constituting the majority of U.S. oil and gas production.

For that, look to enhanced oil recovery (EOR), an under-regulated drilling method that has been around for over a century and could be threatening drinking water sources — if only regulators and the public had enough information to determine that danger, according to a new 63 page report published this week. Environmental group Clean Water Action, with graduate students from Johns Hopkins University, plumbed the academic and professional literature on EOR and its associated regulatory issues in order to lay out the potential environmental and public health risks posed by EOR. They also detail how the drilling method came to be handled with such a light touch by regulators at both the state and federal level.

The report details that the almost non-existent regulatory treatment for EOR, which makes up 60 percent of U.S. oil and gas production, may be further watered down due to proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget cuts by the Trump administration. In addition, oil, gas, and coal companies are pushing for two Senate bills offering tax incentives for this drilling technique which cast it as a supposed climate change solution.

Friday, August 4, 2017 - 15:28 • Guest
Power plant with a tall smoke stack

By Michael A. Livermore, University of Virginia

President Trump and his appointees, particularly Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, have made federalism a theme of their efforts to scale back environmental regulation. They argue that the federal government has become too intrusive and that states should be returned to a position of “regulatory primacy” on environmental matters.

We have to let the states compete to see who has the best solutions. They know the best how to spend their dollars and how to take care of the people within each state,” Trump said in a speech to the National Governors Association last February.

Some liberal-leaning states have responded by adopting more aggressive regulations. California has positioned itself as a leader in the fight to curb climate change. New York is restructuring its electricity market to facilitate clean energy. And Virginia’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, has ordered state environmental regulators to design a rule to cap carbon emissions from power plants.

State experimentation may be the only way to break the gridlock on environmental issues that now overwhelms our national political institutions. However, without a broad mandate from the federal government to address urgent environmental problems, few red and purple states will follow California’s lead. In my view, giving too much power to the states will likely result in many states doing less, not more.

Pages