DESMOG e-news: Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science

[Benicia Independent Editor: DESMOG is a great source for current information on global warming and misinformation campaigns.  Here’s their email newsletter of 11/2/2019.  To subscribe, select “GET NEWS AND ALERTS” on their website.  – R.S.]

Message From the Editor

In recent weeks, the fossil fuel industry’s deceptive messaging has been put under the microscope, most obviously with New York taking ExxonMobil to trial over climate fraud and Massachusetts announcing another lawsuit over the oil giant’s climate disinformation.

But outside of courtrooms, the industry’s public influence campaigns march on.

Sharon Kelly debunks a misleading report from the fossil fuel-funded Consumer Energy Alliance that tries to tie air quality improvements in Pennsylvania to the state’s fracked gas boom. (Spoiler: Public health experts aren’t buying it.)

Meanwhile, the American Energy Alliance — which is funded by the Koch network and the nation’s leading oil refining lobby — put out a poll about Americans’ attitudes toward the electric car tax credit that polling experts called “highly biased” and “highly misleading.”

See a trend?

Have a story tip or feedback? Get in touch:

Brendan DeMelle
Executive Director

Massachusetts Sues ExxonMobil For Climate Disinformation, Greenwashing

— By Brendan DeMelle  (3 min. read) —

Massachusetts filed a lawsuit against ExxonMobil today over the company’s misinformation campaign to delay action to address climate change.

Attorney General Maura Healey told reporters in a press conference today that “Exxon has fought us every step of the way,” and was “completely uncooperative,” noting that the company failed to comply with requests for documents and depositions.   …READ MORE…

A girl kicks a soccer ball on a playground near an oil and gas well pad in PennsylvaniaPublic Health Experts Flunk Report Tying Pennsylvania Air Quality Improvements to Gas Drilling

— By Sharon Kelly  (9 min. read) —

America’s air seems to have taken a turn for the worse, according to recent scientific research. Last week, a nationwide study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that the country’s air quality deteriorated in 2017 and 2018 — a dramatic reversal of improvements recorded over the prior seven years.

Today, the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) — an organization funded by oil and gas producers — released their own report that presents a different narrative about energy production and air quality in Pennsylvania, a state that’s become one of the nation’s largest producers of fossil fuels.    …READ MORE…

Senior Airman Alec Cope plugs in a hybrid vehicle at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.Polling Experts Bash Koch-Funded Electric Car Survey as ‘Highly Biased’ and ‘Highly Misleading’

— By Dana Drugmand (9 min. read) —

Fossil fuel interests appear intent on swaying public opinion about the electric vehicle tax credit, based on recent polling on the policy. A deeper look at these efforts reveals oil and gas funding behind the groups conducting the polls and blatant bias in the polling methodology, according to experts.

Survey results commissioned and publicized by the American Energy Alliance (AEA) seem on their surface to indicate that a majority of respondents are not thrilled about subsidizing EVs purchased by other consumers, particularly wealthy Americans. However, according to polling experts who reviewed the survey for DeSmog, the questions were designed to solicit a certain response and produce results to serve a predetermined narrative that supports the oil industry’s interests.    …READ MORE…

Police and protesters in Baton RougeEnvironmental Justice Activists Arrested Amid Growing Concerns Over Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Pollution

— By Julie Dermansky (9 min. read) —

Mounting concerns over pollution, public health, and the expansion of the petrochemical industry came to a head when two activists were detained in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on October 30, the last day of a two-week protest against environmental racism in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley.

Pastor Gregory Manning, who is legally blind, and Sakura Kone were singled out by police for refusing to leave the hallway outside of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) office where about 40 activists continued with an impromptu rally after being asked to leave. The group had hoped to confront LABI’s head over the association’s influence in state politics and regulations.    …READ MORE…

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘Is This About the Oil Industry?’ House Oversight Hearing Explores Big Oil’s Role in Weakening Clean Car Standards

— By Dana Drugmand (4 min. read) —

The House Oversight Committee, which last week heard testimony on the oil industry’s efforts to suppress climate science, continued to probe the industry’s deception and influence with a hearing on the Trump administration’s proposed rollbacks of clean car standards — rollbacks that stand to benefit Big Oil at the expense of consumers and the environment.

At Tuesday’s hearing of the Oversight Committee’s Environment subcommittee, the oil industry’s importance in affecting the weaker standards for vehicle fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions was front and center as Republicans led an ultimately unsuccessful effort to adjourn the hearing before witness testimony even began.    …READ MORE…

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSenate Hearing Calls out the Influence of Dark Money in Blocking Climate Action

— By Justin Mikulka (6 min. read) —

Today Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led a hearing of Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, which examined “Dark Money and Barriers to Climate Action.” The testimony of the expert panel and the questions and observations from senators reinforced the overwhelming influence of money — and specifically untraceable donations known as “dark money” — working against action on climate change.

Sen. Whitehouse called out the considerable investment by the fossil fuel industry and dark money interests in the Republican Party, which has gained a reputation as the party of climate science denial.    …READ MORE…

Oil train cars burning near Mosier, OregonFour States, Led by New York, Challenge Trump Admin Over Oil Train Safety Rule

— By Justin Mikulka (10 min. read) —

On October 23, New York Attorney General Letitia James, joined by attorneys general from Maryland, New Jersey, and California, sent a letter of support to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) over a Washington state law that would limit the volatility of oil transported by train through the state.

That oil originates in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana, where trains help take the place of scarce pipelines in order to move fracked crude oil to Washington’s refineries and ports along the coast. North Dakota and Montana have fought back against Washington’s law, which was passed in May, and filed a petition to PHMSA in protest just two months later.    …READ MORE…

Trump at Cameron LNGTrump Admin Proposes New Rule to Allow Shipping Flammable LNG by Rail

— By Justin Mikulka (8 min. read) —

President Trump has made clear that he wants to move the nation’s glut of fracked natural gas onto trains and then to ships for sale abroad.

In response to Trump’s April executive order pushing federal agencies to make that happen, the Department of Transportation (DOT) on October 18 announced a proposed rule for what it calls the “safe transportation of liquefied natural gas [LNG] by rail tank car.”    …READ MORE…

Trump at Shale InsightAs Drillers Continue Poor Financial Performance, Shale Insight Hosts Trump Speech Touting Fossil Energy Future

— By Sharon Kelly (8 min. read) —

When candidate Donald Trump arrived in Pittsburgh at the Shale Insight conference in 2016, he arrived with a message for the gathered shale executives: I will roll back regulation, especially environmental regulation, and you — your industry — will thrive like you were never able to under Obama.

“I’m going to lift the restrictions on American energy,” he promised the crowd, “and allow this wealth to pour into our communities, including right here in the state of Pennsylvania that we love.”

“Oh, you will like me so much,” he added.    …READ MORE…

The Empowerment Alliance logo ‘The Empowerment Alliance’ and Other New Dark Money Groups Sound a Lot Like the Natural Gas Industry

— By Dana Drugmand (9 min. read) —

Amid the crescendo of calls for climate action and rising rage directed at the fossil fuel industry, petroleum producers and their allies are engaging in an aggressive promotional push focused on natural gas. The same month that the American Petroleum Institute (API) started running ads emphasizing gas’s role in reducing carbon emissions, a new dark money group has launched under the patriotic guise of promoting “America’s energy independence” by promoting, you guessed it, natural gas.    …READ MORE…

William Perry Pendley at SEJ 2019The William Perry Pendley Rehabilitation Tour: Climate Change, Wild Horses, and Ethics Recusals

— By John R. Platt, The Revelator (5 min. read) —

William Perry Pendley wants you to think that what he thinks doesn’t matter.

Pendley spent four decades advocating for the corporate exploitation of U.S. public lands. He now serves the Trump administration as the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, the agency responsible for much of those same public lands.    …READ MORE…

From the Climate Disinformation Database: Principia Scientific International

Principia Scientific International (PSI) is an organization based in the United Kingdom which promotes fringe views and materials to claim that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas. Tim Ball, a former geography professor and outspoken denier of mainstream climate science, is a founding member and former chairman. A 2017 post on PSI by industrial chemist Mark Imisides that erroneously claims carbon dioxide can’t cause global warming has been making the rounds on social media in recent weeks.

Read the full profile and browse other individuals and organizations in our Climate Disinformation Database or our new Koch Network Database.