Sharon Kelly

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Sharon Kelly is an attorney and freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She has reported for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, National Wildlife, Earth Island Journal, and a variety of other publications. Prior to beginning freelance writing, she worked as a law clerk for the ACLU of Delaware.

Trump Administration Targets Banks Divesting From Fossil Fuels In New Anti-Climate Rule

Read time: 9 mins
Money

A new proposed regulation that would bar large banks from declining to do business with particular industries or groups of companies was released on Friday by the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) — a move that could have major implications for a wide array of divestment and boycott campaigns nationwide, including efforts to divest from fossil fuels.

Pandemic Lockdowns Caused 'Just a Tiny Blip' in Climate-Polluting Emissions, WMO Finds

Read time: 6 mins
Empty street during pandemic lockdown

There was some speculation that climate-changing emissions might drop this spring as the world went into lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), this year's sudden drop off in travel  and transportation fuel consumption  didn't lead to sizable declines in planet-heating emissions.

Climate Deniers Boost Pro-Trump Efforts to Cast Doubt on US Election

Read time: 5 mins
FreedomWorks and other pro-Trump signs at a Philadelphia election protest

In unusual remarks made during a corporate earnings call today, Friday, November 6, Continental Resources founder and executive chairman Harold Hamm* referred to counting “all legal votes” — a phrase used by President Donald Trump to suggest that some votes cast in the 2020 election are not legitimate. The founder and executive chairman of the Oklahoma-based oil and gas company joined others who dispute mainstream climate science in taking up this language in the wake of this week's slowly unfolding presidential election.

Environmental Groups Oppose Shell Request to Increase Air Pollution Limits for Pennsylvania Plastics Factory

Read time: 5 mins
Shell's Beaver County plastics complex under construction

Citing design changes, Shell Chemical Appalachia has asked Pennsylvania’s state regulators to issue air permits that would allow the company’s massive plastics manufacturing plant under construction outside Pittsburgh to emit significantly more climate and other air pollution.

Yesterday, as most of the nation turned its focus to the presidential election, a coalition of environmental and community organizations wrote to Pennsylvania’s environmental regulators, asking them to either reject those permits or allow more time for public review of the proposed changes, which were disclosed in state filings in early October.

State Backers of Anti-Protest Bills Received Campaign Funding from Oil and Gas Industry, Report Finds

Read time: 9 mins
Pipeline warning signs

Politicians responsible for drafting laws criminalizing pipeline protests in Louisiana, West Virginia, and Minnesota did so after receiving significant funding from the fossil fuel industry, according to a new report by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank based in Washington, D.C.

The major pipelines studied in the report disproportionately impact historically disenfranchised communities who, in turn find themselves potentially targeted by the protest criminalization measures, often framed as efforts to protect “critical infrastructure,” the report details.

Trump Pledges to 'Save Your Fracking' and Biden Says No Ban — But Most Pennsylvania Voters Oppose Fracking

Read time: 8 mins
President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in the final presidential debate of 2020

To all the people of Pennsylvania, hear this warning,” President Trump said at a campaign rally last week in Erie, Pennsylvania. “If Biden’s elected, he will wipe out your energy industry.”

Only by voting for me,” Trump added, “can you save your fracking in Pennsylvania.”

If Trump had made those comments in 2014, “saving” fracking might have been a popular position, polls from the time suggest. That year, 64 percent of Pennsylvanians said they had a favorable view of the natural gas drilling industry, and just 15 percent voiced strong opposition, a poll by Franklin & Marshall College found.

But today, things — a great many things — look very different than they did in years past.

Texas Regulators Failing to Act on Pollution Complaints in Permian Oilfields, New Report Finds

Read time: 10 mins
Sharon Wilson leans out of a car while filming a Permian oilfield site

Over the past five years, environmental advocates with the nonprofit Earthworks have made trips to 298 oil and gas wells, compressor stations, and processing plants across the Permian Basin in Texas, an oil patch which last year hit record-high methane pollution levels for the U.S. During those trips, Earthworks found and documented emissions from the oil industry's equipment, and on 141 separate occasions, they reported what they found to the state’s environmental regulators.

However, in response to those 141 complaints, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) took action to reduce pollution — by, for example, issuing a violation to the company responsible — just 17 times, according to a new report published today by Earthworks, which describes a pattern in which Texas regulators failed to address oilfield pollution problems, allowing leaks to continue in some cases for months.

Rush to Build LNG Export Terminals Falters as Uncertainty Grows Over Financials

Read time: 8 mins
President Trump tours Cameron LNG's construction site in 2019

On Monday, October 5, a ship left Cameron LNG, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal shut down by Hurricane Laura, the powerful storm that made landfall on August 27 near Cameron, Louisiana, about 15 miles south of the plant. That tanker ship carried the first load of cargo shipped by Cameron LNG since Hurricane Laura struck more than five weeks earlier.

On Friday, Hurricane Delta is currently expected to make landfall in Louisiana, with forecasters predicting that it may strike in the same region as Laura. Authorities in nearby Cameron told the Weather Channel their community hadn’t issued a new mandatory evacuation order and didn’t plan to — because the town still remains under the mandatory evacuation order from Hurricane Laura.

For LNG's financial backers, downtime due to hurricanes represents another layer of risk and uncertainty brought to the forefront in a difficult year that's seen many proposed projects delayed or deferred.

As Trump Scorned Covid-19 Precautions, Climate Deniers Echoed and Expanded that Message

Read time: 7 mins
Donald Trump

Late Thursday night, President Trump said on Twitter that he and first lady Melania Trump had both been diagnosed with Covid-19. The news came on the heels of reports that senior aide Hope Hicks had been symptomatic and tested positive for the virus that causes Covid-19.

Just two days earlier, on Tuesday night, Trump had mocked mask wearing during a debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden, saying “I don’t wear masks like him.” Members of Trump’s delegation at that debate, including his family members, reportedly removed their masks on arrival and were photographed without masks at the debate.

Earlier on Thursday, researchers at Cornell University released a study finding that President Donald Trump was linked to nearly 38 percent of the misinformation they identified in 38 million articles about the pandemic. “The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid,” Sarah Evanega, the study’s lead author, told The New York Times.

DeSmog has been tracking connections between opponents of climate action and the so-called Reopen Movement and today is publishing archives of comments by individuals and groups that historically have circulated messages that denied or downplayed climate change and who also pushed for inaction on Covid-19 or circulated misinformation about the virus.

After Calling for Climate Action, US Chamber of Commerce Pushes Pro-Fossil Fuel Agenda

Read time: 5 mins
US Chamber of Commerce

A new campaign targeting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its lobbying on climate change issues published a report today criticizing the pro-business lobbying and advocacy group for continuing to push for pro-fossil fuel policies despite recognizing that climate change is real.

For years, the Chamber opposed action to slow climate change, prompting activists to dub the organization the “Chamber of Carbon.”

But in 2019, the Chamber generated headlines in the environmental press by adding a section to its website titled “Climate Change: The Path Forward.”

“Our climate is changing and humans are contributing to these changes,” the website says. “Inaction is simply not an option.”

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