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Who Needs Science Advice Anyway? Governments, for One

Read time: 6 mins
Molly Shoichet, former chief scientist of Ontario
By Jim Woodgett, University of Toronto

There has been much consternation within the Ontario research community since Premier Doug Ford summarily dismissed the province’s first chief scientist, Molly Shoichet, after she’d been in the job for only six months.

The new government, elected on a populist wave in June, quickly fired the esteemed scientist — widely lauded for her biomedical engineering expertise and skill at communicating science — only a few days after being sworn in. Yet the new government has promised to appoint a replacement.

The move raises the question: What is the role of a “chief scientist” within government?

The Big Apple Loses to Big Oil as Judge Dismisses Climate Liability Suit

Read time: 4 mins
Flooded MTA train in New York after Hurricane Sandy

A federal judge ruled on Thursday in favor of a motion by five big oil companies to dismiss a lawsuit brought against them by New York City, which demanded they pay the costs of adapting the city's infrastructure to climate changeThe New York Times reported.

The ruling comes nearly a month after a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a similar case brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco.

Antarctic Melt Accelerates Sea Level Rise—and the Likelihood of Climate Migration

Read time: 6 mins
West Antarctica ice shelf loss in 2012

By Martin Bush. Reposted with permission from ClimateZone.org.

While renewable energy is on a roll — setting records in Europe over the last few months, and racking up impressive numbers in capacity buildout in 2017, it’s easy to forget what is happening behind the scenes.

Extreme weather gets all the headlines: the wildfires in Canada and Sweden, the flooding in Japan, the heatwaves in Canada and the U.S. But what are called the slow onset climate change events are inexorably moving forward.

When Corporations Take Credit for Green Deeds, Their Lobbying May Tell Another Story

Read time: 6 mins
Scott Pruitt meeting with auto industry leaders

By Tom Lyon, University of Michigan and Magali (Maggie) Delmas, University of California, Los Angeles

Today most large companies like Exxon Mobil, Ford and GM issue slick reports extolling their efforts to conserve resources, use renewable energy or fund clean water supplies in developing countries. This emphasis on efforts to curb environmental harm while benefiting society is called corporate sustainability.

Once uncommon but now mainstream, this show of support for a greener and kinder business model might seem like a clear step forward. But many of these same companies are quietly using their political clout, often through industry trade associations, to block or reverse policies that would make the economy more sustainable. And because public policy raises the bar for entire industries, requiring that all businesses meet minimum standards, lobbying to block sound public policies can outweigh the positive impact from internal company initiatives.

Big Oil’s 'Explore Offshore' Propaganda Is Corporate Ventriloquism

Read time: 4 mins
Offshore oil rig

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup

A couple of weeks ago, Reuters reported on a new effort by the American Petroleum Institute: Explore Offshore. Its goal is “to convince Hispanic and black communities to support the Trump administration’s proposed expansion of offshore drilling.”

Per Reuters, a key part of the American Petroleum Institute's (API) effort to convince minority communities to support a product that disproportionately hurts them is through a series of op-eds. Media Matters took a look at the pieces that have been published so far, and surprise! They’re misleading. They can’t even get the API talking points (which are going to be biased) right, as one API stat about economic benefits of drilling was exaggerated “by a factor of 20.”

What Next for the EPA? Here's What Reagan Did

Read time: 6 mins
Rep. Dan Kildee speaking at an EPA protest in DC
By Seema Kakade and Robert Percival, University of Maryland

Scott Pruitt’s resignation as EPA administrator caught many by surprise because President Donald Trump had repeatedly supported Pruitt’s efforts to dismantle environmental protections and the agency itself. But it is not without historical precedent.

During the first two years of President Ronald Reagan’s administration, both EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch and Interior Secretary James Watt were forced out due to scandals. The question now is who should replace Pruitt.

Electric Vehicle Sales Foretell a Big Oil Crash

Read time: 4 mins
Electric vehicle charging stations in a parking lot in France

By Paul Brown. Originally posted on Climate News Network.

Oil and gas companies have underestimated probable electric vehicle sales and the effect they will have on their own businesses and profits, a new report says.

If the car manufacturers’ projections of future sales of electric cars are correct, then demand for oil will have peaked by 2027 or even earlier, sending the price of oil in a downward spiral as supply exceeds demand, says Carbon Tracker (CT), an independent financial think tank carrying out in-depth analysis on the impact of the energy transition on capital markets.

10 Scandals That Ultimately Booted Pruitt

Read time: 5 mins
EPA chief Scott Pruitt at CPAC 2018

By Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

When Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt resigned his position Thursday, he explained in a letter to President Donald Trump that he was stepping down because “the unrelenting attacks on [him] personally, [and his] family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizeable toll on all of [them].”

What he didn't mention was that he is also subject to more than a dozen federal ethics investigations, due to an “unprecedented” list of scandals that came to light during his nearly 17 months in office. All investigations will continue despite his departure, The New York Times reported Thursday.

No one knows which, if any, of these scandals finally persuaded Pruitt to call it quits, but, as America bids Pruitt goodbye, here is a look back at 10 of his most corrupt actions.

Minnesota Approves Controversial Enbridge Pipeline Rebuild

Read time: 3 mins
Enbridge Line 3 pipeline protester on an Expect Resistance sign

By Olivia Rosane, EcoWatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a controversial rebuild of Line 3 of the Enbridge Energy oil pipeline Thursday, as environmental activists and Native American groups vowed to keep fighting, The Associated Press reported.

Opponents are concerned about the need for new fossil fuel infrastructure and the danger of an oil spill near vulnerable ecosystems in Minnesota, including areas where Native Americans harvest wild rice, which is sacred to the Ojibwe.

Could Proposed Mission Statement Changes Shake NOAA’s Climate Focus?

Read time: 3 mins
Cyclone satellite image over central U.S.

By Olivia Rosane, Ecowatch. Reposted with permission from EcoWatch.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is the foremost U.S. agency focusing on weather, climate and oceans, reassured reporters Monday that it would not shift its focus away from climate change and conservation after a presentation last week suggested it might do exactly that, USA Today reported.

Last week, acting NOAA head Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet spoke at a Department of Commerce summit and proposed removing “climate” from NOAA's current mission statement and replacing its directive “to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources” with one “To protect lives and property, empower the economy, and support homeland and national security,” the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCSreported Sunday.

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