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Trump Administration Pressing for Appeal, Dismissal of Climate Lawsuit

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart crossposted from Climate Investigations Center

The Trump administration is asking an Oregon federal judge in the Our Children's Trust case to let a higher court review her decision to permit a historic climate change lawsuit to proceed, and to halt the case pending the outcome of that review.

In 2015, a group of 21 young plaintiffs aged 9 to 20 from all over the United States, along with renowned climate scientist James Hansen, who is acting as guardian for future generations, sued the federal government for allegedly violating their constitutional rights via policies that promote global warming.

The suit, filed by the non-profit Our Children's Trust organization, claims there is a “public trust” obligation by the federal government under the constitution to take necessary measures to protect the climate.  In a November 10, 2016 decision, federal District Court Judge Ann Aiken agreed with the OCT plaintiffs, and ruled they were entitled under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to a trial to decide if the government failed in that duty, a startling decision.

In papers filed Monday, in Eugene, Oregon, U.S. Department of Justice attorneys requested permission from Judge Aiken to appeal her decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals — and also asked that the process be expedited due to “the significance of the issues raised and the burden on Federal Defendants that discovery is likely to impose.”

Donald Trump Once Believed in Clean Energy, So What Happened?

Trump international hotel and tower sign in Chicago

This is a guest post by Dave Anderson, originally posted on the Energy and Policy Institute.

President Donald Trump is well known for his record of over-the-top attacks on clean energy, but properties managed by the Trump Organization have taken advantage of state energy efficiency incentives to save money and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

As first reported by Hiroko Tabuchi in today’s New York Times, the Trump Tower at City Center in White Plains, New York, benefited from a lighting upgrade, the addition of a combined heat and power (CHP) system, and other energy efficiency improvements. The project received more than $280,000 in incentives from the Multifamily Performance Programrun by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). A low-interest loan from NYSERDA covered the remainder of the cost.

Red State Rural America Is Acting on Climate Change — Without Calling It Climate Change

Wind turbins dot farm fields in the Midwest

By , University of North Dakota

President Donald Trump has the environmental community understandably concernedHe and members of his Cabinet have questioned the established science of climate change, and his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has sued the EPA many times and regularly sided with the fossil fuel industry.

Even if the Trump administration withdraws from all international climate negotiations and reduces the EPA to bare bones, the effects of climate change are happening and will continue to build.

In response to real threats and public demand, cities across the United States and around the world are taking action to address climate change. We might think this is happening only in large, coastal cities that are threatened by sea-level rise or hurricanes, like Amsterdam or New York.

Research shows, however, that even in the fly-over red states of the U.S. Great Plains, local leaders in small- to medium-size communities are already grappling with the issue. Although their actions are not always couched in terms of addressing climate change, their strategies can provide insights into how to make progress on climate policy under a Trump administration.

Southern Company Says Its Delayed Kemper Power Plant Not Viable as Coal Plant

Aerial view of Kemper coal gasification plant under construction

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart, originally posted on Climate Investigations Center.

In an apparent first salvo in a public relations campaign to shift blame for the Kemper power plant boondoggle away from himself and corporate management and onto state regulators, Southern Company chief executive officer Tom Fanning admitted this week that the Kemper plant is not economically viable as a coal-burning power plant.

The startling reversal came during an earnings call Thursday at a time when Southern faces intense scrutiny from federal and state regulators and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — and as its Mississippi Power Company subsidiary, the plant's owner, faces a Moody's downgrade over Kemper's skyrocketing costs and failure to operate despite being three years past its promised operating date.  Southern took a 27 percent hit to its fourth quarter net income thanks to Kemper schedule delays.

Oil Lobbyists Use Three State Governors as Puppets for Dakota Access Pipeline

A woman holds a sign reading, "We can't drink oil! #NoDAPL."

This is a guest post by Jesse Coleman of Greenpeace USoriginally published on Huffington Post

The Governors of three states involved in the Dakota Access pipeline are marching to the orders of a PR company hired by the Dakota Access pipeline’s builders.

On October 25th of last year, the Governors of North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa sent a letter to the Army Corp of Engineers demanding approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

A Greenpeace investigation has revealed that the first draft of this letter was written by LS2Group, a PR firm contracted by Energy Transfer Partners, the Dakota Access Pipeline’s (DAPL) main builder.

“Hell To Pay” If Trump Targets EPA Climate Science, Says U.S. Chamber Official

Sign at a rally showing "I heart science"

This is a guest post by Dave Anderson, cross-posted from Energy and Policy Institute 

A senior energy official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently warned that there will be “hell to pay” if the Trump administration tries to rescind the EPA’s science-based endangerment finding for greenhouse gas emissions.  

In typical U.S. Chamber fashion, Christopher Guith dismissed current concerns about climate change as based on “religion” — not “scientific facts” — while speaking at a January 26th event in the coal state of Kentucky. Guith is the senior vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

Trump, Putin, Exxon: What Is Russiagate Really About?

By Kert Davies and David Halperin

Any analysis of Russiagate, and the fateful phone calls between Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States, must address the critical fact that U.S. sanctions on Russia are severely damaging Vladimir Putin’s economic power. In particular, these sanctions – imposed by Barack Obama, supported by Hillary Clinton, and repeatedly questioned by Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson – are blocking a lucrative long-term oil agreement between Russia and ExxonMobil, a deal whose value is underscored by a little-noticed 1988 declassified CIA document.

Are Fossil Fuel Companies Telling Investors Enough About the Risks of Climate Change?

Exxon gas station sign

Prior to President Donald Trump taking office, there was a push to require oil and gas companies to inform their investors about the risks of climate change. As governments step up efforts to regulate carbon emissions, the thinking goes, fossil fuel companies’ assets could depreciate in value over time.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, for example, was probing how ExxonMobil discloses the impact of that risk on the value of its reserves. And disclosure advocates have been pressing the agency to take more decisive action.

Now that Republicans control Congress and the White House, will the SEC reverse course? And should it?

What This Outsider With Hidden Conflicts of Interest Can Learn From A Local About the Bayou Bridge Pipeline

This is a guest op-ed by Steve Wilkerson, a U.S. Army Veteran from Louisiana.

On February 8th, 2017, a retired Major General by the name of James “Spider” Marks spoke at a public hearing in Napoleonville, held by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources regarding the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

On the same day he also published an opinion article in The Advertiser that was highly misleading. It claimed that opponents to both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline are outsiders from other states. This is an interesting and hypocritical position to take, as “Spider” Marks himself lives in Virginia and is neither a native Louisianan, nor is he a resident of Louisiana; yet here he is involving himself and meddling in the affairs of our state.

What Do Gorilla Suits and Blowfish Fallacies Have to Do With Climate Change?

Lego guy in gorilla suit

By , George Mason University

A famous psychology experiment instructed participants to watch a short video, counting the number of times players in white shirts passed the ball. If you haven’t seen it before, I encourage you to give the following short video your full attention and follow the instructions:

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