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How American Cities and States Are Fighting Climate Change Globally

America's Pledge, #WeAreStillIn

By Emma Lecavalier, University of Toronto

Since the Trump administration announced last June its intended withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, attention — and hope — has turned to America’s cities and states.

Many local and regional governments actively voiced support for upholding the United States’ pledges under the Paris Agreement. Initiatives that represented those commitments, including the U.S. Climate Alliance, the We Are Still In declaration and America’s Pledge were all active participants at November’s UN climate conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

The Obscure Federal Agency That Soon Could Raise Your Electric Bill: 5 Questions Answered on FERC

Power lines

By Joshua D. Rhodes, University of Texas at Austin

Editor’s note: On or before Dec. 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to take action on a controversial proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that seeks to prevent noncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants from retiring prematurely. Depending on how such a rule is structured, analyses have estimated that it could cost ratepayers in affected regions up to several billion dollars yearly. Energy scholar Joshua Rhodes explains what FERC is and why it has so much power over energy markets and (indirectly) the prices consumers pay.

Exxon’s First Amendment Claims in Climate Fraud Case Draw Judge’s Skepticism

Eric Schneiderman

By Karen Savage. Crossposted from Climate Liability News.

Exxon’s quest to convince a federal judge that two state attorneys general are stifling their right to free speech is proving to be no easy task.

In a hearing Thursday in New York, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni said the oil giant’s rationale involved “wild leaps of logic” in claiming New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey are infringing on the company’s First Amendment rights by pursuing climate fraud investigations.

Storms Hit Poorer People Harder, From Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Maria

Hurricane Sandy flooding houses in New York with an American flag

By Chris Sellers, Stony Brook University (The State University of New York)

The ferocious “frankenstorm” known as Sandy that ripped through greater New York City five years ago remains one for the record books. Like this year’s hurricane season, it racked up tens of billions of dollars in economic damages.

Superstorm Sandy had another close, yet underappreciated, similarity to this year’s hurricanes: less affluent groups of people suffered more, both in the initial damage and recovery.

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'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.