Ben Jervey

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Ben Jervey has been covering and working in the climate, energy, and environmental fields for a decade. He is regular contributor to DeSmogBlog. He was the original Environment Editor for GOOD Magazine, and wrote a longstanding weekly column titled “The New Ideal: Building the clean energy economy of the 21st Century and avoiding the worst fates of climate change.” He also contributes to National Geographic News, Grist, OnEarth Magazine, and many other online and print publications. His book–The Big Green Apple: Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Living in New York City–has been called the “bible of green living for NYC.” A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.

Rick Perry and Bob Murray Renew Conservative Call to Subsidize Coal

Bob Murray

Conservative rancor toward the free market in energy systems was on full display this week, as both Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and coal magnate Robert Murray made loud, unapologetic calls to subsidize coal-fired power plants.

We don’t have a free market in the [electricity] industry, and I’m not sure you want one,” Perry said Monday at the BNEF Future of Energy Summit.

Speaking on Tuesday, Murray, CEO of the country's largest underground mining company, said that Perry “has to approve” an emergency bailout for coal and nuclear plants in order to “ensure the resilience, reliability, and security of the grid.”

Koch vs. California: These Groups Are Pushing Pruitt to Undo the State’s Right to Regulate Auto Emissions

Los Angeles traffic backed up

A coalition of conservative groups, many with close ties to the Koch brothers, are calling for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to strip California of its right to set stricter greenhouse gas limits for personal vehicles.

Not satisfied with Pruitt’s decision to rewrite the Obama-era emissions standards — which had been written cooperatively with the automakers, state of California, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and EPA — the American Consumer Institute (ACI) organized a letter to Pruitt calling “for the revocation of California’s waiver from the Clean Air Act, which allows the state to decouple from federal policy and impose strict emission standards on automobiles.”

When asked about this threat on the sidelines of the BNEF Future of Energy Summit, the chair of the California Air Resources Board, Mary Nichols, told Desmog, “I don't think they're going to do that.”

Pruitt, Auto Industry, and Climate Deniers Retreat Behind Closed Doors to Weaken Fuel Efficiency Targets

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announcing rollback of Obama fuel efficiency standards

On Tuesday, April 3, surrounded by representatives of the auto industry and conservative climate deniers, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt formally announced his decision to rewrite greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and light duty trucks, undercutting one of the Obama administration’s most effective climate programs.

From the last-minute, controversial venue change to the hypocritical messaging of its attendees, the announcement reflected the new normal in Trump's Washington: the placement of industry influence and climate science denial front and center.

Auto Alliance Pushed Climate Denial to Get Trump Admin to Abandon Obama Fuel Efficiency Standards

Car getting refueled at the gas pump

The Trump administration officially announced Monday that it will scrap fuel economy and emissions targets for cars and light-duty trucks sold in the United States and set new weaker standards, effectively undermining one of the federal government’s most effective policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times anticipated late last week, the two agencies responsible for auto standards — the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — both claimed that their internal reviews have found the Obama-era standards to be too strict, and that the agencies would go back to the drawing board to revise standards for model years 2022-2025. 

The weaker standards, expected to be revealed in coming months and reported to be well below the current targets of 54.5 miles per gallon (or roughly 35 miles per gallon in real-world driving conditions), will be celebrated as a victory for the automakers, which have been lobbying the Trump administration since the day after the presidential election and which used a major trade group to peddle climate science denial in support of the rollback.

Another Renewable Energy Basher and Koch Network Alum Joins Trump's Department of Energy

Technicians on top of a Department of Energy NREL wind turbine

Until February, Christine Harbin spent much of this decade fighting against state and federal clean energy initiatives for organizations with close ties to the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers. Now, however, she has joined the Trump administration as a senior adviser for external affairs in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, which deals primarily with the electricity grid.

Before joining a number of other Koch network alum in the Trump administration, Harbin served as vice president of external affairs at Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded group with nearly three dozen active state chapters pushing for conservative legislation at the state and national levels. She had worked for Americans for Prosperity since 2012.

Bill Wehrum Once Denied California's Right to Cut Auto Emissions, and Could Do It Again at EPA

Bill Wehrum

More than a decade ago, Bill Wehrum, then acting assistant administrator for air and radiation at the US Environmental Protection Agency, successfully fought to deny the state of California the right to set its own standards on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles.

He is now back in the same position at Trump's EPA, and hoping to try once again to kill the California waiver.

The Energy Equality Coalition's Koch-Fueled Attack on the Federal Electric Car Tax Credit

Electric car with tax credit form

The federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit has survived House and Senate negotiations and will not be repealed by Congress’s tax reform bill. The fate of the $7,500 tax credit had been uncertain after House Republicans voted to eliminate the financial incentive in their version of the tax bill.

The credit, which was adopted as part of the 2009 stimulus bill and which has strong bipartisan roots, has come under a renewed series of attacks in recent months, including from groups with close ties to the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel–funded think tanks and front groups.

Climate Depot's Marc Morano Returns to UN Climate Talks to Mock Activists, Spin Climate Denial

Marc Morano

Climate Depot's Marc Morano made his annual trek to the United Nations climate talks, where he and his colleagues like to tweak climate campaigners and delegates with their well-greased climate science-denying PR machine.

Germany Must Phase Out Coal to Meet Merkel's Climate Pledge, Pacific Islanders Plea

80 meter long red banner reading 'Keep it in the ground' at the COP23 climate talks

This morning, before German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived at the United Nations climate talks in Bonn, UN staffers rolled out a red carpet.  At the same time, a group of Pacific Islanders rolled out their own red carpet, in the form of an 80 meter scarlet banner that read: “Keep It In the Ground.”

The islanders and many other climate advocates at these talks (known as COP23) had another, more specific request — that Merkel commit Germany to a full phase-out of coal.

Koch-Funded Fueling US Forward Shuts Down, But Koch Attacks On Clean Energy Continue

Over this past weekend, with no announcement or notice, the website for Fueling U.S. Forward went dark. The Koch-funded campaign that had set out to promote the “positives” of fossil fuels has seemingly shut down, having wiped the website from the internet and deleting all traces on Facebook and all of its videos off of Youtube.

The abrupt end of the campaign, barely a year old, comes after a summer in which the group’s messaging clearly pivoted from celebrating fossil fuels to attacking clean energy and electric vehicles.

Upon its launch in August 2016, Fueling U.S. Forward CEO and President Charles Drevna told a crowd at the Red State Gathering that the campaign would set out to promote the “positives” of fossil fuels, which he described as “reliable, abundant, efficient and sustainable.”

We’ve got to take this to the emotional and personal level,” said Drevna.

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