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Subsidizing Coal and Nuclear Power Could Drive Customers off the Grid

Solar home

By Joshua M. Pearce, Michigan Technological University

Within the next month, energy watchers expect the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act on an order from Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would create new pricing rules for certain power plants that can store fuel on site to support grid resilience. This initiative seeks to protect coal-fired and nuclear power plants that are struggling to compete with cheaper energy sources.

Why Meeting the Paris Climate Goals Is an Existential Threat to Fossil Fuel Industries

Cars and trucks on the highway

By Henry Kelly, University of Michigan

Attacks on climate policies are not really about the science. They’re about the future of fossil fuels.

Any program with a reasonable chance of meeting the goals embraced by the 2016 Paris accords (holding global temperature increases below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels) is likely to mean drastic changes in fossil energy markets.

Debt Vultures Behind Puerto Rico Austerity Are Also Fueling Climate Change

By Rob Galbraith, crossposted from LittleSis.org's Eyes on the Ties 

The island of Puerto Rico has been devastated by a set of human-made catastrophes – two hurricanes supercharged by fossil fuel emissions and a debt crisis and ruthless austerity regime imposed by Wall Street.

Seeds for both of these disasters were sown by Seth Klarman, the president of Baupost Group, a Boston-based hedge fund heavily invested in both Puerto Rican debt and in the oil and gas industry. Klarman is also a trustee of the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank which has both fought against action on climate change and for austerity in Puerto Rico.

How Dominion Energy, Fracked Gas Giant, Lost Big in Virginia Election

By David Pomerantz, crossposted from Energy and Policy Institute

Virginia’s top corporate political contributor, Dominion Energy, had a rough night last night, as at least 14 candidates who pledged not to accept money from the monopoly utility won seats in a surprise wave election for Democrats.

Depending on official counts that may take days or weeks, Democrats will likely tie Republicans with a 50-50 split in Virginia’s House of Delegates, leading to a share of power, though they may still control the chamber outright depending on the results of recounts.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Launches Fracking Probe After Residents Call for Help

Mike Buckwalter holds a water sample collected in the creek where his cattle used to drink

Cross-Posted from Public Herald

By Melissa A. Troutman

Over the past seven months, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General has received an influx of phone calls from residents alleging that officials at the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) have ignored or covered up drinking water contamination, illness, animal deaths, and other impacts they relate to oil and gas operations.

According to agents within the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), the calls began pouring in after a Public Herald report in February revealed over 100 cases of official misconduct were committed by DEP oil and gas staff during investigations of citizen water complaints since 2004.

Oil Money Pours into Washington State Port Election Ahead of Major Decision on Crude-by-Rail Terminal

Vancouver, Washington railroad

By Stephen Quirke

An election in southern Washington could decide the fate of the country's largest proposed crude-by-rail terminal, and has recently come under heavy scrutiny as a rush of oil money has flowed into the campaign treasury of Port of Vancouver candidate Kris Greene. Greene’s campaign has ties to a GOP lobbying and PR firm that did crisis communications for the Dakota Access pipeline and created fake grassroots groups supporting the tobacco industry.

Heartland's America First Energy Conference Stacked With Climate Change Deniers

By Kert Davies, crossposted from Climate Investivations Center

On November 9th, the climate change denying Heartland Institute is holding an energy conference in Houston to applaud the Trump Administration’s repeal of environmental protections and clean energy policy. According to its website, the conference will celebrate “this remarkable moment in history” referring to the statement that “Trump has already turned back years of Obama’s anti-energy policies”.

According to Heartland, the “country’s best energy policy experts” will be speaking at the event. In reality, there are rather few “energy policy experts” on the agenda. The lineup includes career climate change deniers such as Myron Ebell, Steve MilloyH. Sterling Burnett, Paul DriessenCraig Idso, and Fred Palmer.

How Has the US Fracking Boom Affected Air Pollution in Shale Areas?

Trucks in front of a flare at a fracking site

By Gunnar W. Schade, Texas A&M University

Urban air pollution in the U.S. has been decreasing near continuously since the 1970s.

Federal regulations, notably the Clean Air Act passed by President Nixon, to reduce toxic air pollutants such as benzene, a hydrocarbon, and ozone, a strong oxidant, effectively lowered their abundance in ambient air with steady progress.

But about 10 years ago, the picture on air pollutants in the U.S. started to change. The “fracking boom” in several different parts of the nation led to a new source of hydrocarbons to the atmosphere, affecting abundances of both toxic benzene and ozone, including in areas that were not previously affected much by such air pollution.

World's Largest Fracked-Gas-to-Methanol Refinery Forced to Calculate Climate Impact

CO2 to methanol plant in Iceland

By Stephen Quirke

Last month one of the largest fracked gas projects in the Pacific Northwest was dealt a legal blow when its development permit was canceled for failing to fully account for the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The project, backed by Northwest Innovation Works (NWIW), would refine fracked gas into methanol, an industrial feedstock used in chemical production, that would be shipped in bulk from Kalama, Washington, to China, where backers say it will produce plastics.

5 Facts About Mike Pence's Close Ties to the Koch Brothers Not Included in Jane Mayer’s New Yorker Article

This is a guest post by Scott Peterson from Checks and Balances Project.

If you’ve read Jane Mayer’s deep dive into the ties between the Koch Bros. and the Vice President, “The Danger of President Pence,” you’ll understand why it’s the high-water mark of reporting about their relationship. 

Yet there are several facts that aren’t included in the New Yorker article. Here are five facts worth knowing in addition to her excellent work.

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