fossil fuel industry

Trump's EPA has been corrupt since day one

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Completely subservient to the industries it's supposed to regulate:

Not long after President Trump’s inauguration, the head of a fossil fuels industry group requested a call with the president’s transition team. The subject: Barack Obama’s requirement that oil and gas companies begin collecting data on their releases of methane. That outreach, by Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, appeared to quickly yield the desired results.

“Looks like this will be easier than we thought,” David Kreutzer, an economist who was helping to organize the new president’s Environmental Protection Agency, wrote of canceling the methane reporting requirement in an email to another member of the transition team on Feb. 10, 2017. Three weeks after that email, the E.P.A. officially withdrew the reporting requirement — and effectively blocked the compilation of data that would allow for new regulations to control methane, a powerful climate-warming gas.

This isn't just willful ignorance (burying your head in the sand), it's a concerted effort to conceal information that's vital to the public and its institutions. Among many other things, it allows fossil fuel cheerleaders like John Hood to write glowing Op-Eds about natural gas to a public that is kept ignorant on purpose. Just as methyl mercury once was for coal, fugitive methane is the dirty secret of the natural gas industry, and Trump's kakistocracy has been working overtime to maintain that secret:

The Green New Deal is not dead, it's just adapting

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House Democrats have very aggressive climate proposals:

The 538-page report sets a range of targets including ensuring that every new car sold by 2035 emits no greenhouse gases, eliminating overall emissions from the power sector by 2040, and all but eliminating the country’s total emissions by 2050.

The package also approaches climate change as a matter of racial injustice. The report cites the police killing of George Floyd in its opening paragraph and goes on to argue that communities of color are also more at risk from the effects of climate change. The report says the government should prioritize minority communities for new spending on energy and infrastructure.

I have been somewhat skeptical of the GND since it was first introduced. Not because of the cost so much, but because of the scope and interlinked priorities. You try to do too many things at once, don't be surprised if none of those things happen. But if you're going to make investments in infrastructure that generate economic opportunities, you should place/target them where they're needed the most. And that is (without a doubt) in minority communities:

Opposition to the MVP Southgate pipeline is growing

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And that includes NC DEQ, which is refreshing:

“At this time the department remains unconvinced that the project satisfies the criteria for the commission to deem it in the public interest, and whether it is essential to ensure future growth and prosperity for North Carolinians,” Sheila Holman, assistant secretary for the environment at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Without demonstrated demand, the pipeline would just give Dominion Energy, formerly PSNC, an exclusive excess capacity, the DEQ writes. The proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline Southgate would be a 72-mile line connecting to the existing MVP in Pittsylvania County, Va., to carry Marcellus Shale gas to the distribution system south of Graham.

This project hasn't received a fraction of the statewide news coverage of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, but here in Alamance County, it's stirred up a lot of controversy. The company has already sued 5 (if not more) landowners who refused to allow surveyors onto their property, and now the City of Burlington is rolling up its sleeves to fight due to the threat to a major drinking water reservoir:

Atlantic Coast Pipeline now a $7.5 Billion nightmare

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But that won't stop the fossil fuel industry from wreaking havoc on the environment:

The company said previously the project would cost an estimated $6.5 billion-$7.0 billion, excluding financing, and be completed in mid 2020 due to delays caused by numerous environmental lawsuits. “We remain highly confident in the successful and timely resolution of all outstanding permit issues as well as the ultimate completion of the entire project,” Dominion Chief Executive Thomas Farrell said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings release.

He noted the company was “actively pursuing multiple paths to resolve all outstanding permit issues including judicial, legislative and administrative avenues.”

In other words, we will use our leverage in all three branches of the government to get what we want. I'm still "undecided" on the deal Governor Cooper struck, but I will say this: The move by General Assembly Republicans to grab that money and spend it on schools instead of environmental mitigation should be seen for what it is, a way to avoid school spending from the General Fund while also hurting environmental efforts. Because that's what they do, whenever they get a chance. The Mountain Valley Pipeline is also getting more expensive:

Trump moves forward with seismic testing for offshore oil exploration

Because apparently "harassing" endangered whales is no big deal:

The Trump administration on Friday authorized use of seismic air guns to find oil and gas formations deep underneath the Atlantic Ocean floor, reversing Obama administration policies and drawing outrage from critics who say the practice can disturb or injure whales, sea turtles and other marine life. The surveys are part of President Donald Trump's bid to expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic.

Administration officials said that under terms of the law that protects marine life, the permits would allow "harassment" of whales and sea turtles but would not allow companies to kill them.

As horrific as that sounds, it's actually an understatement. The ruling actually allows for "incidental" injury to sea life, as long as it's not "intentional." Think about that. By injecting "intent" into the formula, they could kill as many whales, dolphins, and turtles as it is necessary to get the readings they need, as long as they say, "Oops!" when they do it. And this "protection" is laughable:

Coal Ash Wednesday: The world's dirtiest business continues

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Running headlong into a global catastrophe:

Cheap, plentiful and the most polluting of fossil fuels, coal remains the single largest source of energy to generate electricity worldwide. This, even as renewables like solar and wind power are rapidly becoming more affordable. Soon, coal could make no financial sense for its backers. So, why is coal so hard to quit?

Because coal is a powerful incumbent. It’s there by the millions of tons under the ground. Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it. Coal plants can be a surefire way for politicians to deliver cheap electricity — and retain their own power. In some countries, it has been a glistening source of graft.

I really do hate to throw this on you right after that stunning climate report, but there's no help for it. If we don't understand the scope of the problem, we'll never be able to solve it. Our advocacy here in the United States has been, if not wildly successful, at least a sign of steady progress. Older and dirtier coal plants have been shuttered, and relatively few new ones are coming online. But unfortunately, that is not the case in many other parts of the world:

Strained Trump logic: Bad mileage = people driving less = safer roads

The revolution in the evolution of fuel-efficient cars comes to a screeching halt:

The Trump administration says people would drive more and be exposed to increased risk if their cars get better gas mileage, an argument intended to justify freezing Obama-era toughening of fuel standards.

New vehicles would be cheaper — and heavier — if they don’t have to meet more stringent fuel requirements and more people would buy them, the draft says, and that would put more drivers in safer, newer vehicles that pollute less. At the same time, the draft says that people will drive less if their vehicles get fewer miles per gallon, lowering the risk of crashes.

Of course this is the propaganda tail wagging the anti-Obama dog. Or the other way around. Whatever the case, getting rid of the fuel efficiency standards was the main goal, and reasons for doing such seems to be more of an afterthought than a driving force. And it's a poorly-researched afterthought at that:

Compromising higher education: NC State's industry affiliate problem

When the destruction of natural habitats is no big deal:

Fritts spent four years counting mammals, reptiles and amphibians on clearcut loblolly plantation sites in Georgia and North Carolina. She did in-depth research on how biomass harvesting affected populations of shrews, rodents, southern toads and eastern narrow-mouthed toads.

“We didn’t find significant differences in impact on wildlife based on biomass harvesting treatments, no matter how much biomass was removed following a clearcut or whether it was clustered or dispersed,” Fritts says. “The diversity, evenness and abundance of mammal, reptile and amphibian species generally were similar among all of the treatments.”

I have little doubt Dr. (she is now) Fritts' research was sound, she is dedicated to little critters. But this is important: The study didn't compare animal populations in uncut forests to those that had been clear-cut, it was varying degrees of residue left on the ground. Which is important to the industry, who want every little morsel of those harvested trees. The studies *we* need to see are the ones I mentioned above; mortality rates from the harvesting itself. But don't hold your breath waiting for NC State to produce damning evidence of such, because they're too busy helping industry deforest our state:

Endangered species watch: BOEM's reckless disregard for migratory mammals

Creative mapmaking of a different kind:

Jasny said new information shows that marine mammals would be affected by seismic blasting as much as three times more frequently than BOEM had anticipated. BOEM’s final environmental impact statement released in 2014 estimates that the planned seismic surveying activities in the Atlantic will result in as many as 138,000 injuries to marine mammals and in 13.5 million disturbances of marine mammals, including disruptions in vital behaviors such as feeding, mating and communicating.

The main flaw is that the bureau had relied on studies done in the 1980s that became the standard for determining impacts through the late 1990s. Jasny said that’s “practically the stone age” as far as ocean research is concerned. “There has been a flood of important science that extends far beyond the limited perspective of what was available in the early 1980s when those studies were done,” Jasny said. “As the authors of one study put it, the study that BOEM relies upon is outdated and inaccurate.”

Read the whole article, and when you've finished that, compare the information compiled by numerous scientists with what BOEM reported to Congress just a few months ago:

Invitation-only offshore drilling meeting cluttered with industry lobbyists

Membership has its pricks:

Among the groups that had representatives in attendance were the Consumer Energy Alliance, the Center for Offshore Safety and the Institute for Energy Research. These groups include members of the petroleum and related industries.

Reporters were allowed to attend Gov. Pat McCrory's closing remarks, after most of the other participants had left.

His staff told reporters and representatives of environmental groups that they couldn't come in because of concerns that their attendance might arouse allegations of conflict of interest in the permit process. And attendance by special-interest groups funded by the petroleum industry would not?

It's no big surprise McCrory's bungling staff would interpret "conflict of interest" in such an ass-backwards manner. The only conflict of interest that would have arisen by having reporters and environmentalists in attendance would be a conflict between the public's best interests and the greed of the industry and its Republican puppets.

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