Bill McKibben

Definers Public Affairs, Group Known for Stalking And Harassing Climate Advocates, Hired By EPA To Run Media War Room

Joe Pounder, president of Definers Corp.

12/21/2017 Update: The New York Times reports that Definers and the EPA decided to drop the contract after news broke that one of the company's top lawyers had previously been digging for EPA employees who had criticized the Trump administration.

A Republican-aligned research group with links to a campaign to stalk and intimidate environmental groups, journalists and campaigners has been handed a $120,000 contract to help the EPA shape its media coverage.

Virginia-based Definers Public Affairs was given the 12-month “no bid” contract to provide “news analysis and brief service” to the EPA, as reported by Mother Jones.

Definers is the corporate arm of America Rising LLC, America Rising PAC and its opposition research and tracking service, America Rising Squared – known as AR2.

Trump Attorney Sues Greenpeace Over Dakota Access in $300 Million Racketeering Case

Protesters in San Francisco march in support of indigenous efforts against the Dakota Access pipeline

Energy Transfer Partners, owner of the Dakota Access pipeline, has filed a $300 million Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) lawsuit against Greenpeace and other environmental groups for their activism against the long-contested North Dakota-to-Illinois project.

In its 187-page complaint, Energy Transfer alleges that “putative not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups who employ patterns of criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation to target legitimate companies and industries with fabricated environmental claims and other purported misconduct” caused the company to lose “billions of dollars.” 

In the case, Energy Transfer is represented by lawyers from the firm Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, one of the namesakes of which is Marc Kasowitz. Kasowitz is a member of the legal team representing President Donald Trump in the ongoing congressional and special counsel investigation of his 2016 presidential campaign's alleged ties and potential collusion with Russian state actors. The press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit details that Kasowitz attorney Michael J. Bowe is leading what the firm describes as an ongoing probe into the environmental groups' “campaign and practices.”

How America Rising Ties the GOP Establishment to the Stalkers Harassing Bill McKibben and Tom Steyer

For the past few months, when they dare venture out to the supermarket, to church, or to a climate rally, Bill McKibben, Tom Steyer, and other climate activists are being stalked by a team of GOP-trained camera operators. The so-called “trackers” with the cameras are working for a group called America Rising Squared (aka America Rising Advanced Research or AR2), and publishing the occasional “embarrassing” display of alleged hypocrisy on a website called CoreNews.org

DeSmog first covered this new “creepy” campaign back in May, and since then, the harrassment has only gotten worse, as Bill McKibben writes in Sunday's New York Times. In his op-ed, “My Right Wing Stalkers” (the web headline is: “Embarrassing Photos of Me, Thanks to My Right-Wing Stalkers”), McKibben describes what it's like to live under surveillance, and the psychological toll that it takes on him and his family. (One particularly infuriating detail: McKibben's daughter believes that she, too, is being filmed in public.) 

Introducing America Rising Squared, U.S. Republicans' "Creepy" New Assault on Climate Action

In a video posted to Vine, respected author and climate change campaigner Bill McKibben turns for just a second or two to eyeball the person holding the camera, before turning his gaze back to the front of the room. There is no context to the video.  Nothing is said.

In another video taken in Australia, McKibben is shown speaking to an audience, but the context is again removed.  His words are replaced with music.

To most people chancing upon the videos, the two clips would seem incongruous and pointless.

But the Vine channel belongs to CoreNews.org — a website that is the public facing arm of a new politically-motivated attack on environmentalists and climate change campaigners operated by well connected political advisers and researchers.

Lasting only a few seconds, the videos were an attempt to put a shot across the bows of McKibben and his supporters, of which there are many. A promise made weeks earlier by Republican Party activists to follow him around with a video camera — wherever he might go — had apparently begun.

The videos were taken by so-called “trackers” working for America Rising Squared (AR2), an operation that has sprung from the new wave of attacks on climate activists that has become a mainstay of the US political machinery.

Over 60 Groups Call for the Fossil Fuel Industry to Pay for their Climate Damage

More than 60 organisations from around the world are calling for a carbon levy on fossil fuel extraction to help pay for the climate change impacts on the most vulnerable countries.

The Carbon Levy Project declaration argues that fossil fuel companies are causing approximately 70 per cent of the climate change experienced today.

As a result, these companies should have to help mobilise funds to provide compensation for the damage, it says. This would be done through a tax on extraction (as opposed to emissions) the declaration explains.

Exxon Under Pressure in Mock Trial in Paris

Blackmail. Deception. Public manipulation.

These are just some of the charges leveled against ExxonMobil at a mock trial that took place in Paris, Saturday to coincide with the ongoing international climate negotiations at COP21.

The trial, held in Paris, alleged Exxon’s work at funding climate science had put the planet, people’s health and communities from Texas to Nigeria at risk.

The trial was hosted by Canadian author Naomi Klein and climate change activist and author Bill McKibben and brought together key witnesses to discuss Exxon’s role in confusing the public about the dangers of human-caused climate change.

Two investigations by the LA Times and Inside Climate News revealed Exxon scientists warned the company about the impacts of burning fossil fuels in the 1970s.

But the trial heard how scientists were directed to keep that information secret from shareholders and the public.

Since the 70s Exxon was involved in trade organizations, think tanks and lobbying organizations that have misled the public about greenhouse gases, climate change and climate science.

The trial, titled Exxon vs. The People, was presided over by three judges including indigenous rights and 350.org campaigner Clayton Thomas-Muller, actor Peter Sarsgaard and Milañ Loeak, daughter of Christopher Loeak, president of the Marshall Islands.

New York AG Subpoenas ExxonMobil, Investigating Peabody Coal for Climate Denial

ExxonKnew

In a blockbuster story, The New York Times reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has subpoenaed oil and gas industry giant ExxonMobil to “determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.”

ExxonMobil, now also the subject of U.S. congressional and activist group calls for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation, knew about the risks of climate change since the 1970s and studied those risks internally for decades.

But the company subsequently funded climate change denial and disinformation efforts to the tune of at least $31 million.

Sick of Enviro Documentaries? Why You Should Still Watch Disruption

Disruption

This is a guest post by Zach Roberts.

As a documentary producer, I watch more than my fair share of environmental protest documentaries — probably about 20 a year. And almost all of them have the same, vague message: we need to do something!

Their scenes re-play like a bad video montage in my mind: earnest young people speaking at podiums, boring climatologists rambling on about the coming end of the world, forest fires, melting ice shelves, you know how it goes. In the lefty journalism world, we call this “preaching to the choir.”

Then there's Disruption, which is not so much a protest documentary as a call to arms. In an interview, co-director Jared P. Scott classified it under new genre of documentary — 'action films.' These are films that send a clear message about what must be done and then give viewers the information they need to actually get it done. And that's Disruption in a nutshell.

The documentary, made in collaboration with the organizers of the People’s Climate March, uses a mix of familiar footage from the likes of Yann Arthus-Bertrand and new behind-the-scenes footage from organizing meetings for the Sept. 21st protest, set to be the largest climate march in history.

Keystone XL Review Extended, Delaying Final Decision Until After 2014 Elections

Reuters and Politico broke a major story today that TransCanada's northern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will not be decided on until after the 2014 mid-term elections.

“The U.S. State Department will…extend the government comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline, likely postponing a final decision on the controversial project until after the November 4 midterm elections,” Reuters explained.

Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama have final say over whether the pipeline will be built because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

Reporters learned of the decision after a call between high-level congressional staff and State Department officials. 

“The justification is the need to wait on continued litigation over a Nebraska court decision earlier this year, which threw part of the project’s route in doubt, two sources said today after a call between the State Department and congressional staff,” reported Politico.

In the end, the decision came down to politics, according to Politico, though there are no shortage of climate change and ecological concerns for the prospective pipeline.

“A delay past November would spare Obama a politically difficult decision on whether to approve the pipeline, angering his green base and environmentally minded campaign donors — or reject it, endangering pro-pipeline Democrats,” they reported.

People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw "Boneheads"

This is a guest post by economist James P. Barrett, Ph.D.

“Utterly Boneheaded.” That is how Joe Nocera, writing in The New York Times characterized James Hansen (head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies), Bill McKibben (founder of 350.org) and other climate change activists opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.

If you haven’t been following it, the pipeline in question would bring something called bitumen, extracted from oil soaked sands in Canada, to U.S. refineries in Texas where they would turn it into oil products for sale on international markets.

If they stop the pipeline to Texas, activists will force oil companies to look at a more expensive plan to build a pipeline to British Columbia and ship the bitumen from there to refineries in China, an alternative that is facing its own opposition within Canada.

What Nocera thinks is boneheaded is not so much that activists want to reduce oil consumption and carbon emissions per se, but their strategy overall. As long as the demand for oil keeps going up, oil producers will keep developing unconventional oil reserves like the Canadian tar sands in question. In Nocera’s view, attacking the pipeline and the tar sands won’t help as long as the demand for oil is strong and growing. The problem, as he sees it is demand, not supply.

Nocera is right, but only to the extent that his point is meaningless.

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