Category Archives: DeSmog Blog

4 Million in the streets, but not much from the United Nations Climate Action Summit

An email from DeSmog Blog, by Brendan DeMelle, Sep 28, 2019

Message From the Editor

Well, that was a little anticlimactic.

After an estimated 4 million people took to the streets during last week’s historic climate strikes, world leaders gathered at the United Nations on Monday for a Climate Action Summit that was big on talk and low on action from major polluters, just as teen climate activist Greta Thunberg predicted in a scathing speech at the summit.

If you missed it, scope out our Covering Climate Now stories, which exposed the coordinated network of climate science deniers attacking Greta and highlighted Julie Dermansky’s powerful photos of the diverse crowds striking for the climate in New York City.

On the same day leaders at the UN failed to call for immediate fossil fuel phase-outs, a “virtual pipeline” truck carrying fracked compressed natural gas crashed on a New York highway, killing its driver and leaking the potent greenhouse gas. Justin Nobel explains why these “virtual pipeline” trucks may be operating unlawfully.

Brendan DeMelle
Executive Director

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Another Climate Denier and the White House (and more from DeSmog)

Repost of the DeSmog Blog Feb 23 newsletter
[Editor: Once again, I highly recommend the DeSmog newsletter.  Excellent coverage of climate news.  See below for most recent email, and sign up at right on their front page.  – R.S.]

Message From the Editor

The Trump administration is having a big week when it comes to entrenching fossil fuel industry interests in federal policy.

Climate science denier and retired Princeton physicist Will Happer — described by an actual climate scientist as “unmoored” — is expected to head a new White House committee to determine the national security risks of climate change. Which, of course, federal defense and intelligence agencies have already concluded.

Meanwhile, federal officials backed away from negotiations with California over fuel efficiency standards, which, as Ben Jervey explains, sets the stage for the Trump administration to revoke the state’s special authority to set stricter clean car rules.

The oil industry and Koch network have been lobbying hard to roll back federal clean car standards, making this development another win for their campaign.

And speaking of fossil fuel industry campaigns, a DeSmog investigation has revealed that not only do the fossil fuel and tobacco industries use the same PR playbook, they donate to dozens of the same so-called “free-market think tanks” that promote these industries’ interests.

Have a story tip or feedback? Get in touch:

Brendan DeMelle
Executive Director

Physicist William Happer, the ‘Unmoored’ Climate Science Denier Heading a White House Climate Probe

By Graham Readfearn (4 min. read)

In 2016, retired Princeton physicist Professor Will Happer accepted an invitation from conspiracy theorist G. Edward Griffin to give a keynote at his conference to talk about the “positive effects of CO2.”

Griffin thinks the science behind global warming is a scam. He also thinks there is “no such thing” as the HIV virus and that some plane contrails are part of a political plot to spray the population with poisons.

In an interview at the conference, Happer repeated his well-oiled mantra that “CO2 will be good for the Earth” and how it was “pretty clear we are not going to see dangerous climate change.” Read more.

Trump Admin Hands Win to Kochs, Stops Clean Car Negotiations With California

By Ben Jervey (4 min. read)

The Trump administration just took a big step closer to handing the Koch network one of it biggest wins yet under this presidency. Bloomberg has reported that there will be no deal between the Trump administration and California on fuel efficiency and emissions standards for cars and light vehicles.

This move sets the stage for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to attempt to revoke California’s special waiver under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state to set its owns standards that are more stringent than federal standards. Read more.

Revealed: How the Tobacco and Fossil Fuel Industries Fund Disinformation Campaigns Around the World

By Mat Hope (11 min. read)

Fossil fuel companies have a long history of adopting public relations strategies straight from the tobacco industry’s playbook. But a new analysis shows the two industries’ relationship goes much deeper — right down to funding the same organisations to do their dirty work.

MIT Associate Professor David Hsu analyzed organisations in DeSmog’s disinformation database and the Guardian’s tobacco database and found 35 thinktanks based in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand that promote both the tobacco and fossil fuel industries’ interests. Read more.

The Inevitable Death of Natural Gas as a ‘Bridge Fuel’

By Justin Mikulka (11 min. read)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced the city is scrapping plans for a multi-billion-dollar update to three natural gas power plants, instead choosing to invest in renewable energy and storage.

“This is the beginning of the end of natural gas in Los Angeles,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The climate crisis demands that we move more quickly to end dependence on fossil fuel, and that’s what today is all about.”

Last year America’s carbon emissions rose over 3 percent, despite coal plants closing and being replaced in part by natural gas, the much-touted “bridge fuel” and “cleaner” fossil fuel alternative. Read more.

Entergy Poised to Get Green Light for Gas Plant Despite Role in Paying Actors in Astroturf Campaign

By Julie Dermansky (6 min. read)

Sparks flew at a New Orleans City Council’s utility committee meeting on Valentine’s Day, compelling the committee to delay voting on a resolution that would scrap plans to rescind the permit for Entergy’s proposed $210 million natural gas power plant in exchange for a $5 million fine.

The contentious permit was awarded to Entergy, which provides power to the city, on March 18, 2018, but the city council’s third-party investigation of Entergy found the allegations that the company took part in an astroturf campaign to influence the vote for its proposed New Orleans East gas plant to be true. The investigation concluded that the company was responsible for hiring paid actors, who were wearing t-shirts supporting the plant, to fill council chambers and speak in support of the project. Read more.

As Cleanup Dispute Looms, Peabody-Linked Group Pushes Navajo Nation to Buy West’s Largest Coal Plant

By Sharon Kelly (12 min. read)

In September 2018, two prospective buyers announced they were dropping out of negotiations to purchase the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), the American West’s largest coal-fired power plant.

Avenue Capital Group and Middle River Power had sought to keep the aging coal plant in business, but “said they could not get anyone to commit to buying power from the plant, delaying the start of an environmental review,” the Associated Press reported. The plant, located in northern Arizona near the Utah border, is currently scheduled to shut down in December, after its current owners concluded in 2017 that its power was too costly to be competitive. Read more.

‘It’s About Economics’: Two Coal Plants to Close Despite Trump’s Tweet

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch (4 min. read)

Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.

Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor. Read more.

What Green New Deal Advocates Can Learn From the 2009 Economic Stimulus Act

By Joseph Aldy, Harvard Kennedy School (6 min. read)

Congressional Democrats have introduced a “Green New Deal” proposal that calls for a 10-year national mobilization to curb climate change by shifting the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels. Many progressives support this idea, while skeptics argue that a decade is not long enough to remake our nation’s energy system.

The closest analog to this effort occurred in 2009, when President Obama and Congress worked together to combat a severe economic recession by passing a massive economic stimulus plan. Among its many provisions, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided US$90 billion to promote clean energy. Read more.

From the Climate Disinformation Database: CO2 Coalition

The CO2 Coalition is a 501(c)(3) group formed from the now-defunct climate science-denying George C. Marshall Institute. Its stated purpose is promoting “the important contribution made by carbon dioxide and fossil fuels to our lives and the economy.” It was co-founded by Will Happer (who is poised to lead a White House probe of the national security risks of climate change) and former Exxon manager Roger Cohen. The coalition has received funding from the Koch family foundations and Mercer Family Foundation (the Mercers are conservative mega-donors).

Read the full profile and browse other individuals and organizations in our research database.

Top Oil Lobbyist Wants Government Open to Keep Rolling Back Environmental Rules

Repost from DeSmog Blog
[I highly recommend the DeSmog News & AlertsSign up here.  – R.S.]

News & Alerts – Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science

Message From the Editor

The Dark Side forces of climate denial and industry-funded misinformation are strong these days in the public conversations about energy and global warming.

Graham Readfearn unpacks an important new analysis by researchers from Yale and Brown University that show a blindspot to this Dark Side.

Climate action advocates have underestimated the strength and sophistication of decades-long fossil fuel-funded misinformation campaigns and need a coordinated set of strategies to fight back, say these leading academics.

Among those strategies are promoting financial transparency, suing misinformers and their funders, and researching the vast networks of think tanks and front groups.

All actions that sound familiar to DeSmog readers, of course. But the stakes are higher than ever as we see certain politicians worldwide actively undermining efforts to combat climate change and block the clean energy future we need.

Justin Mikulka digs into the oil industry lobbyists who are panicked that the government shutdown will derail their sinister plans to undo critical environmental and public health protections.

Find all that and more from our past week’s work below and on

Have a story tip or feedback? Get in touch:

Brendan DeMelle
Executive Director

P.S. Missed your chance to donate to DeSmog during our year-end drive? No worries! You can always donate securely via the Donate button on our homepage or right here. How easy is that? Thanks for your support!

Climate Advocates Underestimate Power of Fossil Fueled Misinformation Campaigns, Say Top Researchers

By Graham Readfearn (4 min. read)

Climate action advocates have underestimated the strength and sophistication of decades-long fossil fuel-funded misinformation campaigns and need a coordinated set of strategies to fight back, say leading academics.

Among those strategies, say the three researchers from Yale and Brown University, are promoting financial transparency, suing misinformers and their funders, and researching the vast networks of think tanks and front groups. Read more.

Top Oil Lobbyist Wants Government Open to Keep Rolling Back Environmental Rules

By Justin Mikulka (6 min. read)

Although the partial U.S. government shutdown, now marching into its fourth week, isn’t hurting the oil and gas industry, according to Mike Sommers, the head of the American Petroleum Institute (API) says he wants the shutdown to end so that the Trump administration can get back to actively helping the industry by meeting federal deadlines for rolling back environmental regulations.

Nevertheless, there are signs the Trump administration is still at work on that fossil fuel-friendly agenda in some places, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), despite the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Read more.

Virginia Air Board Member Who Approved a Controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline Permit Has Links to a Dominion Gas Partner

By Itai Vardi (6 min. read)

A member of a Virginia state permitting board who last week approved a highly controversial certification for Dominion’s planned Atlantic Coast pipeline has business ties to a company currently collaborating with Dominion on a related gas project, DeSmog has found.

William (Trip) Ferguson joined three other Air Pollution Control Board members to unanimously approve a permit for Dominion’s Buckingham compressor station. The planned station, which will propel the natural gas as it moves through the 600-mile interstate pipeline, will be built in Union Hill, a largely African-American community settled by free blacks and emancipated slaves after the Civil War. Read more.

Former Coal Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler Faces Senate Confirmation as EPA Administrator

By Sharon Kelly (9 min. read)

Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief — and now Trump cabinet nominee — Andrew Wheeler heads into Senate confirmation hearings at 10 a.m. EST Wednesday, as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history has left the EPA mostly shuttered.

Wheeler, a former coal, petrochemical, and LNG (liquefied natural gas) lobbyist, has run America’s top environmental agency since ex-EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigned this summer under at least a dozen internal investigations. Read more.

Warning: A ‘Shrinking Window’ of Usable Groundwater — and the Oil and Gas Industry Isn’t Helping

By Tara Lohan, the Revelator. (7 min. read)

New analysis reveals that we have much less water in our aquifers than we previously thought — and the oil and gas industry could put that at even greater risk.

We’re living beyond our means when it comes to groundwater. That’s probably not news to everyone, but new research suggests that, deep underground in a number of key aquifers in some parts of the United States, we may have much less water than previously thought. Read more.

From the Climate Disinformation Database: American Petroleum Institute

If we had to pick one group responsible for the most egregious misinformation campaigns to sow doubt and delay climate action, it’d have to be the API. They are so blatantly anti-future, only they could want the shutdown to end so Trump can keep destroying environmental protections and expanding dangerous drilling.

Read the full profile and browse other individuals and organizations in our research database.