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.

Electric Utility Executives Pony up for the GOP Roll Back of Environmental Protections

Paul Ryan

This week, as President Trump reportedly prepares to begin unwinding the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and as Congressional Republicans continue their systematic dismantling of environmental protections, the heads of electric utilities are showing up in Washington, D.C. to raise money for the GOP leadership.

On Tuesday night (March 14), the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the major trade association for investor-owned utilities, hosted a big money fundraiser — the cheapest seats cost $1,000 and ran up to $25,000 for the dinner — to benefit Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. On the Senate side, Majority leader Mitch McConnell reaped the rewards of a benefit reception that cost attendees between $2,500 and $5,000.

States Ramp up Attacks on Incentives for Electric Vehicles

Nissan Leaf parked at an electric car charging station outside San Francisco City Hall

As federal support for electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to wither under the Trump administration, state-level policies will play the biggest political role in how quickly battery powered motors replace the internal combustion engine.

Yet, at this critical moment when state governments should be supporting zero-emission vehicles, many states are cutting their incentives, while others are penalizing EV drivers outright.

In a recent article for The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi explores a number of efforts underway in state capitals across the country that are making the transition to electric cars a steeper uphill climb.

Minority Communities in Virginia "Push Back on Koch Brothers," Call Fueling U.S. Forward a "Distasteful Effort"

Kids on a Richmond City Public Schools bus

Religious leaders and environmental justice activists in Richmond, Virginia, are “pushing back” against the Koch-funded Fueling U.S. Forward campaign’s efforts to target minority communities while promoting the “importance of domestic oil and natural gas to making people’s lives better.”

One element of the strategy to win the “hearts and minds” (as Alex Fitzsimmons of Fueling U.S. Forward put it) of minority communities was on display in Richmond, Virginia, last December, when the group threw a gospel concert that included pro-fossil fuel propaganda and a surprise award payment of four attendees’ electric bills.

Trump's Team Tells EPA "Changes Will Likely Come" as Leaked Plan Highlights "Problems with EPA Science"

A woman works in an EPA lab

Earlier this week, staffers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received their first official email from the new administration. “Changes will likely come, and when they do, we will work together to implement them,” wrote Don Benton, a senior White House adviser who is now leading the so-called “beachhead” team for the EPA’s transition, in the email published by E&E News.

DeSmog dives into what we know about the EPA beachhead team (including what it is and who is on it), whom its members are connected to, and what the EPA should expect from the Trump team.

Climate Science Denier Myron Ebell Explains How the Trump Team Will Gut the EPA, Abandon the Paris Agreement

Myron Ebell holds a chart.

As senators get set to vote Wednesday on the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominee to run the EPA, the man who was charged with leading the Environmental Protection Agency’s transition team gave some clues as to how it might be run.

Myron Ebell is one of the country’s most prominent climate science deniers, is the Director of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and until inauguration day was leading the EPA transition team at the behest of the then president-elect.

Mapping EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt's Many Fossil Fuel Ties

Map of Scott Pruitt's connections to fossil fuel interests

On Thursday, January 12, Senate Democrats raised another set of conflict of interest concerns about Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has been nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a letter to the Office of Government Ethics, members of the Senate's environment panel requested more background on Pruitt's dealings with the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), which Pruitt led for two years while coordinating with other state AGs to combat the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan.

“During his tenure as Attorney General of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt has blurred the distinction between official and political actions, often at the behest of corporations he will regulate if confirmed to lead EPA,” the letter said. “Public reporting based on documents produced by Freedom of Infomation Act requests illustrate how Mr. Pruitt and members of his staff have worked closely with fossil fuel lobbyists to craft his office's official positions.”

New York Times Examines Fueling U.S. Forward, the Koch-Funded "Exploitative, Sad and Borderline Racist" Campaign

Back in August at the Red State Gathering in Denver, Fueling U.S. Forward President Charles Drevna revealed that one of the campaign's major strategies would involve targeting minority communities. A remarkable article just published by The New York Times reveals how the group is enacting this strategy, hosting and supporting events in minority communities while promoting the “importance of domestic oil and natural gas to making people’s lives better,” as Drevna put it.

Eddie Bautista, executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, called the Fueling U.S. Forward campaign “an exploitative, sad and borderline racist strategy.”

The Trump Administration Is Filling Up With Koch Allies

Koch Ties Trump Administration

On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump boasted that he had no need for the Koch brothers, claiming to have rejected meetings with them and calling his Republican primary opponents “puppets” for meeting with the Kochs.

Yet, today, Trump's transition team and Cabinet are quickly filling with a number of Koch affiliates, confidantes, and business associates.

Politico has called it Trump's Koch administration. Talking Points Memo noted that “Behind Make America Great, the Koch agenda has returned with a vengeance.” Others have called Trump an unwitting “puppet” of the Koch brothers.

Trump Energy Agenda Revealed in Thomas Pyle Memo

Memo on Trump's energy plan

The energy agenda of the incoming Trump administration just got a lot clearer. A memo sent by Thomas Pyle, president of the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research (IER) and head of the Trump transition's energy team, laid out “The Trump Administration's Energy Plan.”

The memo, which was received and published by the Center for Media and Democracy, was sent by Pyle to a private email list just days before the Trump team announced that it would replace a Koch lobbyist with Pyle, a Koch-funded former lobbyist, to lead the Department of Energy transition team efforts.

TV Show 'Years of Living Dangerously' to Ask, "Who Killed Electric Car Sales in Georgia?"

Ty Burrell in an electric car

Just two years ago, Georgia was an unlikely national leader in electric vehicle sales. Boosted by one of the nation’s most generous state-level EV tax incentives, by early 2014, Georgia trailed only California in EV registrations. Then, in January 2015, a new measure slipped into the state’s $1 billion transportation bill killed the credit, and added another $200 annual fee for EV drivers. Electric car sales immediately fell off a cliff.

According to Don Francis, the coordinator of Clean Cities-Georgia and Executive Director of the Partnership for Clean Transportation, overall EV sales fell by 90 percent, and sales of the Nissan LEAF are off nearly 95 percent.

On Wednesday night, Years of Living Dangerously will cover the brief, volatile history of electric cars in Georgia, with actor Ty Burrell traveling to Atlanta to see the effects of the slashed EV incentives on the transportation system and talk with local drivers.

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