Student Climate Strike, Trump Budget, FOX Climate Denier, Oil Trains & more

Repost from DeSmog newsletter email
[Editor: I’m posting the entire email here.  See below the introductory note for several important articles.  DeSmog is always a good read and a great resource.  – R.S.]

Message From the DESMOG Editor

On Friday, March 15, droves of students showed world leaders they were fed up with the status quo on climate change and skipped class to call for climate action.

DeSmog’s Julie Dermansky captured the images and spirit of a small but resolute crew of students and supporters who were striking in New Orleans, Louisiana, a state already facing dire climate impacts but continuing to invest in fossil fuels as if there were no tomorrow.

In a move that is the opposite of what these students were calling for, earlier this week, President Trump released his proposed 2020 budget, which slashed funding for renewables and energy efficiency programs by a whopping 70 percent. That may sound shocking until you hear that the head of those programs, Daniel Simmons, is a former Koch insider whose one-time employer suggested eliminating entirely the office Simmons now leads.

What’s also not terribly surprising is that Trump, rather than relying on the thousands of federal scientists, has turned to climate science denier and industry consultant Patrick Moore for information about climate change, despite Moore’s total lack of professional expertise on the subject.

This is 2019, folks!

Have a story tip or feedback? Get in touch:

Brendan DeMelle
Executive Director

New Orleans Student on Global Climate Strike: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Anywhere Else’

By Julie Dermansky (8 min. read)

On March 15 droves of students around the world walked out of school to protest politicians’ inaction on climate change, with approximately one million people participating in the strikes, according to organizers. From Sydney to Stockholm, students had planned more than 1,600 school strikes in over 100 countries, inspired by the weekly Friday climate protests of Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

And in New Orleans, Louisiana, a small but resolute group of students and supporters gathered a few blocks from Lusher Middle and High School, on St. Charles Avenue, one of the city’s most famous thoroughfares, to confront their state’s heightened urgency to stop climate change or face losing the land they are standing on. Read more.

Trump Budget for Renewables Slashed 70% Under Former Koch Insider’s Leadership

By Ben Jervey (4 min. read)

When President Trump nominated long-time Koch network insider and renewable energy antagonist Daniel Simmons to lead the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the administration’s priorities for federal energy programs were made abundantly clear. Simmons had, after all, been serving at the time of his nomination as Vice President for Policy at a Koch-funded think tank that had, in 2015, called for the outright elimination of the very office he was tapped to lead.

The Trump administration budget proposal released this week, for fiscal year 2020, goes a long way toward delivering this wish to the Koch network, calling for a 70 percent reduction in funding for the EERE and scrapping entirely the Department of Energy’s loan programs. Read more.

What President Trump, Fox and Breitbart Are Not Saying About Climate Science Denier Patrick Moore

By Graham Readfearn (7 min. read)

What does it take to become a legitimate spokesperson on climate change science and energy policy in the eyes of President Donald Trump and partisan conservative media like Fox News and Breitbart?

If the current worshipping of non-expert and climate science denier Patrick Moore is anything to go by, the only qualification you need is the ability to call first-term Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “pompous little twit” on Twitter. Read more.

Despite Risks, Canada’s Tar Sands Industry Is Betting Big on Oil Trains

By Justin Mikulka (6 min. read)

Last year, Canada exported a record amount of tar sands oil to the U.S., despite low oil prices leading to major losses once again for the struggling tar sands industry. That achievement required a big bump in hauling oil by rail, with those daily volumes in late 2018 more than double the previous record in 2014 during the first oil-by-rail boom.

Canada’s oil industry essentially has reached its limit for exporting oil into the U.S. through pipelines. That’s why it’s turning to rail to export more and more oil, but as an ever-increasing number of oil trains hit the tracks of North America, expect more accidents and oil spills to follow. Read more.

Massachusetts Hired Energy Industry Execs to ‘Independently’ Review State’s Gas System

By Itai Vardi (5 min. read)

A private contractor employed by the state of Massachusetts to conduct a statewide safety review of its gas distribution companies hired gas industry executives for the project, documents obtained by DeSmog show. They include two former executives of National Grid —  one of the companies under review — and Enbridge, a main supplier of gas in the state.

One of the former National Grid executives was removed from the review once the state learned a family member of his currently works for the company. Read more.

Fracking 2.0 Was a Financial Disaster, Will Fracking 3.0 Be Different?

By Justin Mikulka (8 min. read)

Two years ago, the U.S. fracking industry was trying to recover from the crash in the price of oil. Shale companies were promoting the idea that fracking was viable even at low oil prices (despite losing money when oil prices were high). At the time, no one was making money fracking with the business-as-usual approach, but then the Wall Street Journal published a story claiming all of this was about to change because the industry had a trump card — and that was technology.

Today, frackers are again relying on technology as a financial savior, but this time, they are looking to Microsoft. Read more.

Toyota Is Losing the Electric Car Race, So It Pretends Hybrids Are Better

By Ben Jervey (3 min. read)

There are at least 12 car companies currently selling an all-electric vehicle in the United States, and Toyota isn’t one of them. Despite admitting recently that the Tesla Model 3 alone is responsible for half of Toyota’s customer defections in North America — as Prius drivers transition to all-electric — the company has been an outspoken laggard in the race to electrification.

Now, the company is using questionable logic to attempt to justify its inaction on electrification, claiming that its limited battery capacity better serves the planet by producing gasoline-electric hybrids. Read more.

Exclusive: Rhode Island Governor Nixed Agency Critiques of LNG Facility, Silencing Health and Justice Concerns

By Itai Vardi (5 min. read)

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, squashed a letter by her own state health agency, which raised serious concerns about a proposed liquefied natural gas facility in a densely populated Providence neighborhood. Documents obtained by DeSmog show that last summer Raimondo nixed a letter by the Rhode Island Department of Health critical of National Grid’s Fields Point Liquefaction project right before it was to be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

FERC approved the project three months later. Read more.

The 2020 Democrats of the ‘Anti-Green New Deal Coalition’

By Kendra Chamberlain (6 min. read)

Support for the ambitious Green New Deal proposal has uncovered widening rifts within the Democratic Party as presidential candidates begin fleshing out their 2020 platforms. To date, the Green New Deal resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) has attracted 68 co-sponsors from Democratic congressmembers.

However, according to a recent report from Public Accountability Initiative, centrist Democrats and party leadership are part of what it calls an “anti-Green New Deal coalition” that could seriously impede the Green New Deal’s goal to transition the country to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Read more.

From the Climate Disinformation Database: Daniel Simmons

Daniel Simmons is a former fossil fuel lobbyist with a history of attacking renewables now leading the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which Trump’s 2020 budget proposed slashing funding for by 70 percent. Before his appointment to the Energy Department, Simmons worked with several Koch-affiliated think tanks, including the Institute for Energy Research, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the Mercatus Center.

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