Environment & Climate

EPA Administrator Lied about Private Email use in Senate Testimony

by Bryce Covert – Thousands of emails Scott Pruitt sent to oil and gas companies still haven’t been disclosed. An investigation by Fox 25 in Oklahoma has confirmed that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt used a private email account to conduct official business while he was the state’s attorney general, directly contradicting what he told the Senate during his confirmation hearing. During his hearing, Pruitt was asked by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), “Have you ever conducted business using your personal email accounts, nonofficial Oklahoma Attorney General email accounts, text messages, instant messenger, voicemails, or any other medium?” Pruitt responded, “I use only my official OAG email address and government issued phone to conduct official business.” But the Oklahoma attorney general’s office confirmed to Fox 25 that Pruitt used private email for state business after an Open Records Request revealed documents where certain email addresses...

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President Trump’s Coming War on Science: Environment Edition

by Alison Cassady – On February 17, the U.S. Senate confirmed former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Observers can now expect the Trump administration—with Congress providing the wind at Administrator Pruitt’s back—to charge ahead with an aggressive agenda to weaken or nullify a decade’s worth of progress on pollution reduction. President Donald Trump and Administrator Pruitt are likely to start off by announcing plans to dismantle the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which set the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, and other components of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. They may also attack an Obama-era rule to protect the nation’s waterways from pollution. In addition to taking on specific environmental protections, President Trump and Congress are likely to pursue a more pernicious strategy to deny or obscure basic facts and science about climate change and assert new supposed truths...

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This Isn’t Just Trump. This Is Who the Republicans Are (VIDEO)

by Dave Johnson – So far President Donald Trump has signed very few bills. One lets coal companies dump waste into streams. Another lets oil companies bribe foreign dictators in secret. Now he is moving to block a Labor Department “fiduciary rule” that requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients when advising on retirement accounts. Here’s the thing: this isn’t just Trump doing this. The Republican-controlled House and Senate passed those two bills, and the Republicans have been fighting that fiduciary rule tooth and nail. It’s not just Trump, Republicans as a party are using Trump to engage in a general assault on protections from corruption, pollution, corporate fraud and financial scams. This is who they are. “We Just Need A President To Sign This Stuff” This is not just Trump. What we are seeing happening to our government is the end result of a decades-long...

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Major Outdoor Retailers Boycott Utah over Threats to Sell off Public Lands

by Jenny Rowland and Nicole Gentile – “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line.” After countless attempts by Utah politicians to sell off or abolish national parks, forests, and national monuments, the world’s largest outdoor gear show has decided to take its business out of the state. “Outdoor Industry Association will continue to support the efforts of Outdoor Retailer to seek a new home for the trade show,” Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, said in a statement. “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line that we partner with states and elected officials who share our views on the truly unique American value of public lands for the people and conserving our outdoor heritage for the next generation.” After 20 years of hosting the bi-annual outdoor retailer show in Salt Lake City, organizers of the show finalized their decision to move...

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Keystone XL Developer Files Pipeline Application in Nebraska

by Samantha Page – TransCanada is expected to try to use eminent domain for parts of the route. TransCanada just took another step toward getting its beleaguered Keystone XL pipeline back on track: the oil company filed an application Thursday with a Nebraska agency for route approval. The move is the first state-level application for the company since President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum in January directing the State Department to review the pipeline’s federal application within 60 days. TransCanada submitted its new application to the State Department on January 26. “This application has been shaped by direct, on-the-ground input from Nebraskans,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The thousands of Nebraskans we have met over the last eight years understand the value of this project and what it means to the state. As we have said consistently, safety and a respect for the environment remain our...

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Senate Confirms “Worst, Most Dangerous Administrator in EPA History”

by Andrea Germanos – With fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt now in charge, now ‘begins the fight of a lifetime to protect public health, our environment, climate stability, and even the simple sanctity of the EPA itself.’ Portending risks to “the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we love,” the U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 52-46 vote comes a day after an Oklahoma judge said Pruitt was in violation of the state’s Open Records Act and ordered the release of thousands of emails between his office and fossil fuel companies. Senate Democrats said that warranted a delay on Pruitt’s confirmation, but Republicans pushed the vote ahead. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.) joined Republicans to vote in favor of Pruitt; thus, wrote Esquire‘s Charles Pierce, “we must assume that two Democratic...

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Saudis Plan $2 Trillion IPO to End Their ‘Dangerous’ Addiction to Oil

by Joe Romm – Saudi Aramco will go public to monetize its oil reserves before demand peaks and price collapses for good. What does a country do when in its entire economy is built around a natural resource that the world is starting to shift away from? In the case of Saudi Arabia, they plan their own shift off oil — financed by the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO) of stock, some 5 percent of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company. Last year, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the plan to take Aramco, which the Saudis value at some $2 trillion, public. Last month, the Financial Times reported those plans are on track for an IPO next year, noting that Saudi advisers say a successful IPO “is essential to the deputy crown prince’s radical efforts to wean the kingdom off oil through his Vision 2030 programme.” Credit: Financial Times The...

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U.S. Solar Installations Jumped 95 Percent Last Year

by Samantha Page – There was more solar capacity added in 2016 than any other type of electricity generation. If humanity wants to have any chance of slowing the rapid warming of the climate, people need to stop burning fossil fuels — but no one wants to go without electricity. That’s why it’s encouraging that U.S. solar installations nearly doubled last year, increasing 95 percent over 2015’s installations, and adding 14,626 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic electricity generation capacity to the U.S. grid, according to preliminary data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). All segments — residential, non-residential, and utility-scale — saw growth from 2015 to 2016. The non-residential sector includes community solar and commercial installations The report notes that 22 states added more than 100 MW of solar capacity last year — a new record. Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were all mentioned as rising solar powerhouses in the report. The geographical diversity (California,...

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Anthropocene Math in the Age of Trump: Humans Are Running Out of Time to Save the Climate

by Nika Knight – Industrialized societies are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces. As the Trump administration and Republicans in power in Congress set to work destroying environmental regulations, scientists have added urgency to the resistance with a simple new equation that shows the staggering effect human activity has had on the climate. Their findings? Humans have altered the climate 170 times faster than natural forces. In fact, the equation revealed that industrial societies pack the same climate punch as an asteroid strike. Professor Will Steffen of the Australian National University and Owen Gaffney of the Stockholm Resilience Centre devised the “Anthropocene equation” and published their findings in The Anthropocene Review Friday. The equation demonstrates that while natural forces dominated the climate for 4.5 billion years, in only the past six decades, humans have become the main drivers of climate change, as the Guardian notes. Perhaps the researchers’ most frightening...

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North Dakota Bills Could Strip Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters of Their Rights

by Carimah Townes – Standing Rock protesters face five new threats. Over the weekend, veterans flocked to Standing Rock to shield Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters from law enforcement — the second time they’ve done so in recent months. But North Dakota lawmakers are now planning to radically constrict the right of DAPL opponents, including veterans, to demonstrate against the project. There are currently four bills in the state’s House and Senate that create new criminal penalties for acts of protest or heighten existing penalties. And there is a fifth bill that could put demonstrators in physical danger. HB 1193 turns a misdemeanor offense into a felony if the offense is “done intentionally to cause direct or indirect economic harm in excess of one thousand dollars to the government or to a person.” HB 1203 states that drivers who “negligently” injure or kill people obstructing traffic will not be responsible for the damage caused....

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Hundreds of Pilot Whales Refloat After Mass Strandings

More than 200 beached pilot whales free themselves at high tide and swim away amid mass strandings on South Island. At least 200 whales stranded on a remote New Zealand beach managed to refloat themselves at high tide on Saturday and return to sea, but conservation officials warned the beachings may not be over. More than 650 pilot whales beached themselves along Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island in two separate mass strandings over the past several days. On Thursday, volunteers managed to refloat nearly 100 of the stranded pilot whales. About 350 whales have died, including 20 that were euthanised. Hundreds of volunteers from farmers to tourists have spent days at the beach dousing the whales with buckets of water to keep them cool and trying to refloat them. “People seem to have an emotional attachment to marine mammals,” said Department of Conservation spokesman Herb...

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The GOP Plan to Prevent a Repeat of Obama’s Climate Action

by JOHN LIGHT – Congress is moving to get rid of a legal precedent that allowed the EPA to tackle climate change under President Obama. Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, attracted some attention last week for his opposition to a Supreme Court precedent that undergirds many of the regulations put forth by federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. Congress has also taken up the cause, pushing new legislation that would undo this precedent. And if Gorsuch would like to pare back agencies’ power using a scalpel, Congress intends to go about the job using a sledgehammer, environmental advocates say. At issue is Chevron deference, also called the Chevron doctrine. Stemming from a 1984 Supreme Court case, Chevron deference is the concept that if Congress makes a vague law, a regulatory agency can fill in the blanks — within reason. A lot of...

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‘Not on Our Watch’ — Veterans Promise ‘Boots on the Ground’ to Stop DAPL

by: Claire Bernish / The Free Thought Project –  A group of veterans has vowed to defend the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, saying DAPL will never be completed, ‘not on our watch.’ A group of U.S. military veterans, standing in defense of Indigenous rights, has vowed construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline will never be completed — and will put boots on the ground to ensure it. “We are committed to the people of Standing Rock, we are committed to nonviolence, and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected,” Anthony Diggs, spokesman for Veterans Stand, told CNBC. “That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch.” Veterans, said Diggs, seek to raise enough funds “to have a larger, solid boots-on-the-ground presence.” As staunch a stance as that might sound, the veterans remain committed to nonviolent action in defense...

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Here’s What a Defunded EPA Means for America

by JOHN LIGHT – The agency Trump plans to eviscerate does much more than fight climate change. We’re two weeks into the Trump administration and already it’s clear that on the campaign trail our new president was not overstating his antipathy for efforts to combat global warming. In fact, if anything, he understated his desire to demolish the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal agency through which President Obama tried to reduce climate change-causing pollution. While the long-term effects of President Trump’s plans for the EPA are worrying — the director of the EU’s Environmental Agency says there’s “not a snowball’s chance in hell” of containing global warming without US cooperation — his proposed cuts in the budget and staff at the agency will also have dramatic short-term effects. Here’s just some of what’s in store: Trump’s team has more than $800 million in budget cuts planned for the agency. To head...

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As Administration Pushes Dakota Access Pipeline Forward, Tribes ‘Stand Ready to Fight’

by Natasha Geiling – The Army Corps of Engineers has been instructed to grant the final easement for the pipeline. The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline just got one step closer to completion: according to statements released on Tuesday night by two North Dakota lawmakers, the acting secretary of the Army has instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to grant the final permit needed to finish the pipeline. The easement has not officially been granted — contrary to Rep. Kevin Cramer’s (R-ND) statement — and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has pledged to vigorously pursue legal action to ensure that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), ordered in December by President Obama, is completed. But the statements raise questions about how the Army Corps intends to proceed now that President Trump, a staunch supporter of the pipeline, is in office. Trump — who campaigned on a platform of increased fossil fuel extraction, and repeatedly praised both the Dakota Access...

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‘Dangerous’ and ‘Dumb’: Trump Signs Executive Order Torching Regulations

by Andrea Germanos – “It will fundamentally change our government’s role from one of protecting the public to protecting corporate profits” President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday that aims to slash regulations—an action, advocacy groups say, that puts lives at risk. The order—the latest of a flurry since he took office—states that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination,” fulfilling a campaign promise he made. “For fiscal year 2017, which is in progress, the heads of all agencies are directed that the total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized this year shall be no greater than zero,” it adds. Trump said before signing the order: “We’ll be reducing big league,” adding “This will be the biggest such act our country has ever seen.” Advocacy groups were quick to decry the executive order as...

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‘A Vote for Climate Disaster’: Senate Confirms Tillerson as Secretary of State

by Nadia Prupis – “The fight against Tillerson’s nomination revealed just how much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted Congress” The U.S. Senate has confirmed former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, revealing “just how much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted Congress,” as climate group 350.org put it. The 56-43 vote went largely along party lines, but got some Democratic support, including from Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Mark Warner (Va.), as well as Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine)—the same non-Republican quartet who allowed Tillerson to advance on Tuesday. “A vote for Rex Tillerson is a vote for climate disaster,” said May Boeve, 350 executive director. “Negotiating oil deals with human-rights abusing heads of state does not qualify you to lead international diplomacy. The fight against Tillerson’s nomination revealed just how much fossil fuel industry money has corrupted Congress.” “In the face of this corruption,...

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Keystone XL Opponents Promise Trump a Mass Mobilization ‘On a Scale Never Seen’

by Deirdre Fulton – Trump “declared war on indigenous nations”—and now they’re ready to fight back. With his order to revive the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, President Donald Trump “has declared war on Indigenous nations across the country,” one Cheyenne River Sioux organizer said Monday. But he’ll be met by a fierce native resistance movement that “will not back down,” said the organizer, Joye Braun, on a press call organized by the Indigenous Environmental Movement (IEN). Trump signed executive orders last week advancing the controversial KXL and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines, prompting widespread outrage and vows of bold resistance from the Indigenous activists, climate campaigners, and countless others who have fought against both projects. What that opposition will look like came into sharper focus on Monday. “Make no mistake: resistance to the toxic Keystone XL pipeline will only grow stronger,” declared Dallas Goldtooth, IEN’s Keep it in the Ground organizer. “We...

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Doomsday Clock Now Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight

by Deirdre Fulton – The nuclear danger of a Trump presidency, combined with his administration’s climate denialism, heighten the risk of a global catastrophe, according to scientists. The symbolic Doomsday Clock inched closer to midnight on Thursday, and we have President Donald Trump largely to thank for the ominous development. At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Thursday morning, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists‘ Science and Security Board moved the hands of the iconic clock 30 seconds closer to “midnight,” or the end of the world. For the first time in the 70-year history of the clock, “the board has decided to act, in part, based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States,” according to a press statement. The nuclear danger of a Trump presidency, combined with his and his administration’s climate denialism, heighten the risk of a global...

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Media Blackout at Multiple Federal Agencies

by Lauren McCauley – Moves come amid growing concern that Trump and his appointees will suppress scientific innovation and research to advance their own ideological agenda. Though the majority of President Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet nominations have not yet been confirmed, his so-called “beachhead” teams have arrived at their respective agencies, carrying out orders that make clear that the “War on Science” has begun. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed broke the news that scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are no longer allowed to share information about taxpayer-funded research with the public. In an email sent Monday and obtained by the news outlet, Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for the USDA’s primary in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), told the department: “Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents…This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social...

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Trump Administration Imposes Freeze On EPA Grants and Contracts

by Andrew Revkin and Jesse Eisinger – The Trump administration has imposed a freeze on grants and contracts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Trump administration has imposed a freeze on grants and contracts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a move that could affect a significant part of the agency’s budget allocations and even threaten to disrupt core operations ranging from toxic cleanups to water quality testing, according to records and interviews. In one email exchange obtained by ProPublica on Monday, an EPA contracting officer concluded a note to a storm water management employee this way: “Right now we are in a holding pattern. The new EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately. Until we receive further clarification, this includes task orders and work assignments.” Asked about any possible freeze and its implications, EPA officials did not provide an answer....

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Plan to Crush the EPA Is a Symptom of a Bigger Problem

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Last month, in his final days as secretary of North Carolina’s environmental quality office, Donald R. van der Vaart penned an op-ed in support of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. At a confirmation hearing last week, Senate Democrats grilled Pruitt over his record of siding with polluters and suing the EPA to block a long list of air and water protections, but Republicans submitted van der Vaart’s op-ed as evidence that the regulatory community is behind President Trump’s nominee. The Republicans were perhaps unaware that the EPA had just called out van der Vaart’s agency for failing to protect communities of color from awful odors and swarms of flies generated by waste pits full of urine and feces at industrial pig farms. On January 12, the EPA’s civil rights office, which is tasked with protecting...

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Trump Uses Executive Order to Revive Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines

by Samantha Page – The biggest victories of the environmental movement under Obama are now in jeopardy. President Donald Trump signed executive orders Tuesday allowing two controversial oil pipelines — Keystone XL and Dakota Access — to move forward. Delaying and stopping the development of those pipelines were among the environmental movement’s biggest victories over the past few years. Both projects attracted years of protest and civil disobedience, and Tuesday’s move is expected to be seen as a slap in the face to the broad coalition of Americans who oppose increased fossil fuel infrastructure. “More people sent comments against Dakota Access and Keystone XL to the government than any project in history,” 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said in a statement. “The world’s climate scientists and its Nobel laureates explained over and over why it was unwise and immoral. In one of his first actions as president, Donald Trump ignores all that in his eagerness to...

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‘Hostile Takeover’: Oil & Gas Industry Now In Charge of US Foreign Policy

by Jon Queally – Confirming Rex Tillerson, Republicans on Senate Foreign Relations Committee “just knowingly handed our international climate diplomacy over to a rogue oil mogul” In a vote strictly along party lines, Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to confirm former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State on Monday. Despite unified opposition from Democrats on the committee and a campaign by climate action and corporate accountability groups, Tillerson’s confirmation now passes to the full Senate where the Republican majority is nearly certain to finalize his appointment. Those who opposed Tillerson most aggressively responded to Monday’s vote by calling Republicans “spineless” and promised that the confirmation would only serve to further unify climate activists and the broader anti-Trump movement. “The Senators voting to confirm Rex Tillerson have clearly left their spines at home. Instead of standing up to a historically unpopular President, they’re letting Trump hand...

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Eight Survivors Located in Avalanche-Hit Italian Hotel (VIDEO)

Rescuers search for survivors after massive snow slide buries tourist hotel in Italy. Rescuers have located eight survivors, including two children, in a ski hotel two days after it was buried by an avalanche near an earthquake-hit city of Penne in central Italy. Speaking on Friday,Titti Postiglione, head of the Civil Protection’s emergency department, said two of the survivors had already been pulled clear of the snow and debris which destroyed the isolated Hotel Rigopiano on the Gran Sasso mountain in the province of Pescara on Wednesday. Rescuers were digging to free the remaining six people. 4 dead, 30 missing in Italy’s avalanche disaster “Finding these people gives us further hope there are other survivors,” Postiglione said. Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Penne, said there was a lot of activity at the emergency base in the central Italian town. “Rescue workers say they managed to speak to them....

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2014 Was Hottest Year Ever Recorded. Then It Was 2015. Now It’s 2016.

by Andrea Germanos – (Credit: NOAA)For the third year in a row, the world experienced its warmest year on the books, global scientists have determined The new assessments come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the UK’s Met Office, as well as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which relies in part on data from those agencies. The findings also back up the declaration made earlier this month by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. “2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). “We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear.” NOAA’s calculations put the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces at 1.69°F (0.94°C) above the 20th century average, while NASA puts the globally-averaged temperatures for...

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Obama Sends $500 Million to Green Climate Fund, Signaling End to Era

by Nadia Prupis – The contribution is one of President Barack Obama’s final moves before climate denial cabinet takes over. The Obama administration on Tuesday sent another $500 million to the Green Climate Fund, which was established as part of the Paris climate agreement to collect aid from wealthy countries to help frontline nations adapt to the impacts of global warming. The contribution marks one of President Barack Obama’s last moves before leaving office and handing the presidency to an administration staffed largely by climate deniers. It’s the second $500 million check the U.S. State Department gave to the fund, culled from the fiscal year 2016 Economic Support Fund appropriation. The fund aims to attain $100 billion by 2020, with the U.S. pledging $3 billion alone. Green groups had long pressured Obama to contribute the remainder of the U.S. pledge before Trump takes office. The landmark Paris treaty is one of...

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Bipartisan EPA Alumni Urge Senate to Reject Pruitt’s “Troubling” Nomination

by Nadia Prupis – Pruitt’s track record shows he would “set science aside when the outcome is at odds with his predetermined political point of view”. On Monday, 13 former heads of state environmental bureaus sent a letter to senate leaders, urging them to reject Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief. The letter (pdf), organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), implores members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to vote against Pruitt over his track record of opposing EPA rules—a history that calls into question whether he “appropriately respects science-based decision making” or would cooperate with states to protect Americans’ health and safety from climate threats. “While we have worked under both Republican and Democratic Governors, reflect a range of political views, and come from diverse states, we share a common concern about Mr. Pruitt’s nomination,” the letter reads. In one...

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Guilty VW to Pay Record $4.3B over Emissions Scandal

Penalty is largest ever levied by the US government against an automaker as Volkswagen admits guilt to three charges. German car giant Volkswagen (VW) will admit guilt and pay a record $4.3bn in fines to settle a diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to US officials. The US justice department also charged six VW executives for their roles in the conspiracy, five of whom are believed to be in Germany while one was arrested in Miami on Saturday. “Today’s actions reflect the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to protecting consumers, to protecting the environment and our financial system, and holding individuals and companies accountable for corporate wrongdoing,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Wednesday. She also said the size of the penalty, the largest ever for a car company in US history, reflects the unusual level of premeditation of wrongdoing at high levels of Volkswagen. “The knowledge and choices they made went to the executive...

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Rex Tillerson’s Big Oil Ties Endanger the Climate and National Security

by Cathleen Kelly – The direct link between climate change threats and the duties of the secretary of state is strong. As droughts, floods, heat waves, and other symptoms of a warming world increase both in number and intensity—throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Arctic, Europe, and the United States—the next U.S. secretary of state will face urgent pressure to curb climate change and manage the effects of a warming planet that can no longer be avoided. Failure to do so will damage the global economy and destabilize an already wobbly security landscape, with potentially dire consequences for U.S. national security interests. The next U.S. secretary of state must, as Secretary John Kerry has, protect U.S. foreign policy and security interests and demonstrate a track record of personal and diplomatic credibility. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the job, former* ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, does not meet those qualifications. Foreign policy...

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Trump to Cede Millions of High-Wage Jobs to China

by Joe Romm – Beijing will create 13 million jobs by 2020, investing $360 billion in clean energy, while Trump vows to abandon the sector.   Renewable energy jobs in select countries (excluding large hydropower). CREDIT: IRENA China is preparing to go big on the only major new source of sustainable high-wage employment in the coming decades. Beijing’s newest 5-year energy development plan invests a stunning 2.5 trillion yuan ($360 billion) in renewable generation by 2020. Of that, $144 billion will go to solar, about $100 billion to wind, $70 billion to hydropower, and the rest to sources like tidal and geothermal power. The Chinese National Energy Administration said in a statement Thursday the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.” China is already doing way better than the U.S. in this regard, and President-elect Trump’s commitment to opposing clean energy will not make things any better. As the International Renewable...

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As a Trump Administration Fast Approaches, Cities and Towns Gear Up for Political Resistance

by Sally Neas – In the years to come, community bills of rights are one strategy to shelter vulnerable populations. Back in March, when Donald Trump was facing off with two now-forgotten candidates for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, the small town of Barnstead, New Hampshire, was quietly protecting its citizens. At their annual town hall, residents voted unanimously for a city ordinance establishing the right to freedom from forced religious identification. This inconspicuous action was part of a growing national movement for strengthened community self-governance that has found new purpose as the reality of a Trump presidency fast approaches. It came in the form of a community bill of rights, a charter or ordinance that affirms certain rights within a municipality. Similar bills have granted the right to a clean environment, safe and affordable housing, health care, and worker’s rights, among others. President-elect Trump’s campaign promises, proposed policies, and cabinet...

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Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

by Deirdre Fulton – While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert. Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices. The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015. “As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent....

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Democrats Aim to Slam Brakes on Key Members of Trump’s “Rigged Cabinet”

by Deirdre Fulton – Tillerson, Sessions, DeVos, and Mnuchin among those set for messy confirmation process. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warned that Senate Democrats are planning to “aggressively target” eight of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, aiming to delay as long as possible the confirmation hearings slated to start next week. “President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that would break key campaign promises and have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Sunday reported by the Washington Post. “Any attempt by Republicans to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them is something Democrats will vehemently resist,” Schumer said. “If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a...

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‘The Greatest Single Step’ to Help Elephants Was Just Taken

by Andrea Germanos – In ‘game-changing’ development, China announces it will ban all domestic ivory trade by end of 2017 In a development widely described as game changing for the ecosystem engineers, China has announced it will enact a total ban on its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017. The news on Friday, as Agence France-Press reports, “follows Beijing’s announcement in March to widen a ban on imports of all ivory and ivory products acquired before 1975, after pressure to restrict a trade that sees thousands of elephants slaughtered every year.” Reuters adds: “The State Council said in a notice a complete ban would be enforced by Dec. 31, 2017. A first batch of factories and shops will need to close and hand in their licenses by March 31, 2017.” It is indeed a significant step, as “China is currently the biggest buyer and seller of ivory in the...

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Justice Protectors, Let’s Take Action Inauguration Day

by Ted Glick – I’m not sure how many Inauguration Day protests in DC I’ve been to over the years. The one I distinctly remember is January 20th, 2001, George W. Bush’s first inauguration. There was a similar political dynamic then as the upcoming Trump one. A reactionary Republican was taking office, and progressives were very concerned about what it would mean across a broad range of issues. Of course, Bush had not campaigned the way Trump did. He hadn’t been publicly accused by a dozen women of sexual attacks. He hadn’t called Mexicans rapists or for a ban on all Muslim emigration into the USA. He wasn’t a full-on, narcissistic, pathological liar. He hadn’t aligned himself so overtly with white supremacists. He hadn’t nominated the head of Exxon Mobil to be Secretary of State. But there were justifiable fears, and they proved to be well-founded after the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks....

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Senators Dig into Scott Pruitt’s Fossil Fuel Connections Before Confirmation Hearings Begin

by Natasha Geiling – Pruitt is an active member of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which has received $175,000 from the Koch brothers. Six Democratic members of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee sent a letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, asking that he answer questions about his ties to the fossil fuel industry and a conservative nonprofit funded in part by petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch. Pruitt has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to take on the role of EPA administrator, and the Senators behind the letter are looking for more information about how his ties to the fossil fuel industry might influence his work at the EPA before confirmation hearings begin. The letter, signed by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), asked for more information regarding Pruitt’s ties...

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Setting Stage for Major Climate Battle, Dem AGs Put Trump on Alert

by Lauren McCauley – Letter from coalition of Democratic attorneys general say that Trump should ignore advice to scrap Clean Power Plan. If President-elect Donald Trump goes ahead with his plan to destroy U.S. climate regulations, he’s going to face a whole heap of trouble, a coalition of Democratic attorneys general is warning the incoming president. In a letter (pdf) dated Wednesday, AGs from 13 states and five additional localities advised Trump against plans to renege on President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), saying that such a course of action “would assuredly lead to more litigation.” The warning is in response to a letter (pdf) sent earlier this month by a number of Republican AGs to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan which declared the CPP “unlawful,” and encouraged the GOP lawmakers to issue an executive order “on day one” that would...

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Trends to Watch in 2017: Industrial Emissions

by DarkSyde – Modern global CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Note the shape of the black line See that chart up there? See the black line in it? If you compare it to average global temperatures, you’ll see a remarkable similarity. But the resemblances don’t end there, with just those two images. Not by a long shot. “It’s not just CO2, other emissions have been increasing apace,” explained DR David Grinspoon, exobiologist and author of Earth in Human Hands. “And the combined effects of methane, nitrous oxide and other gases like chlorofluorocarbons make the situation worse. Whatever you choose to measure, be it global population or the damming of rivers, or even the relentless spread of McDonalds, the pattern is similar: a gradual, accelerating influence until about 1950. Then everything starts shooting up.” Anyone with high school algebra and a computer can play around with the axis on a 2-D graph and get plenty of...

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Climate Kids Demand Testimony From Exxon’s Tillerson in Landmark Lawsuit

by Deirdre Fulton – “As CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has unique personal knowledge of the fossil fuel industry’s historical relationship with the federal government.” The group of young people suing the federal government for failing to protect their constitutional right to a stable climate is seeking testimony in their landmark case from Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil and President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. Attorneys representing the 21 young people in their federal climate lawsuit served the notice of deposition (pdf) on Thursday, demanding Tillerson’s testimony on January 19, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. They claim that “s CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has unique personal knowledge of the fossil fuel industry’s historical relationship with the federal government.” What’s more, they add, Tillerson and Exxon have been leaders in the American Petroleum Institute (API), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM)—the trade associations that joined the...

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Senate Democrats Demand to Know EPA Nominee’s Ties to Koch Brothers

by Nadia Prupis – Lawmakers ask Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to disclose relationship to public policy institute funded by Koch-related initiative. Senate Democrats are demanding to know what’s behind Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head nominee Scott Pruitt’s ties to the reclusive conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The lawmakers, led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, wrote a letter (pdf) to Pruitt on Tuesday demanding that he provide “a full disclosure” of his relationship with the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), a right-leaning public policy organization that receives funding from Freedom Partners—a group that funds initiatives supported by the Kochs, who have deep investments in fossil fuels. Pruitt’s association with the RLDF is one of several “troubling” ties to the energy industry, the letter states. The fund, which provides a forum for Republican attorneys general to engage on state-level policy, has been known to oppose EPA regulations....

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India on Track to Beat its Paris Targets Years Ahead of Schedule, According to Government Report

by Natasha Geiling – That would put the country on a path to meeting its Paris commitments several years early. In ten years, India could get almost sixty percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, according to a government forecast published this week. According to a draft of the country’s 10-year energy blueprint, the Indian government expects that 57 percent of the country total electricity capacity will come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2027 — a marked increase over the country’s Paris goals, which say that the country will reach 40 percent non-fossil fuel electricity by 2030. The draft also noted that no new coal-fired power plants would be needed to meet India’s electricity demands through 2027. “India is moving beyond fossil fuels at a pace scarcely imagined only two years ago,” Tim Buckley, a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told the Guardian. He also characterized the forecast...

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Austerity on Trial as Flint Emergency Manager Slammed With Criminal Charges

by Lauren McCauley – “All too often, there’s been a fixation on finances and balance sheets,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. “This fixation cost lives.” Putting austerity on trial, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Tuesday announced criminal charges against four high-level officials for their role in causing the Flint water crisis, including former city manager Darnell Earley, who made the budget-driven decision to switch the city’s water supply to the dangerously corrosive Flint River. “There are some who would simply wish that the problems in Flint would go quietly away, and there are voices out there who hope the poisoning of the water would be swept under the rug,” Schuette said during a Tuesday morning press conference. “These voices hope to simply blame nameless bureaucrats, call it a day and move on.” “That’s not how I operate,” he continued, “that’s not how we operate. Flint deserves better. The people...

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‘Incredible Victory’: Obama Bans Drilling in Parts of Arctic and Atlantic

by Nadia Prupis – Move comes in response to efforts by climate activists urging president to secure environmental protections before new administration takes power. Update: President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he would permanently protect parts of the Arctic and Atlantic from offshore drilling. That includes 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean. “These actions…protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on Earth,” he said in a statement. Green groups welcomed the announcement and credited grassroots climate justice movements. Jacqueline Savitz, senior vice president at Oceana, said the president “has taken a key step in protecting important areas of the Atlantic Ocean from offshore drilling…The people of the Atlantic coast refused to allow their way of life to be compromised and we commend their hard work making their voices heard in Washington.” Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program, also said, “This...

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Ties to Putin Are Nothing Compared to Rex Tillerson’s Vast Climate Crimes

by Lauren McCauley – “Does Rex Tillerson understand that democracy, the Earth’s climate, and human rights matter more than profits and petroleum?” In a scene straight from a “dystopian movie script,” President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday officially tapped Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his Secretary of State, thus elevating someone whose “lifelong mission is to crash the climate” to one of world’s most influential and powerful government positions. While many pundits and mainstream media outlets are objecting to Tillerson due to his business dealings and reported friendliness with Russian President Vladimir Putin, environmentalists and social justice advocates made it clear the threat posed by his nomination is far more menacing. In the official press statement, Trump’s transition team says that as head of the State Department, the career oil tycoon “will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests, and help reverse years of misguided foreign...

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Trump Taps Rep. Ryan Zinke for Interior, Adds Another Climate Denier to the Cabinet

by Samantha Page – Zinke’s nomination could be great news for big fossil fuel interests. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) has been asked to be Secretary of the Interior, according to Politico. The nomination comes on the heels of massive outcry over the incoming Trump administration’s rumored pick of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who has introduced legislation to sell off public lands. Zinke has called himself a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist and has said that “selling off our public lands is a non-starter.” But in June he still voted for a bill that would have transferred 4 million acres of public lands to states. Zinke is also yet another climate denier to be named to Trump’s cabinet — although he has been considerably more circumspect than some other members of Congress, or the president-elect for that matter. “It’s not a hoax, but it’s not proven science either,” Zinke has said. “But you don’t dismantle...

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The First Major Offshore Wind Project in the U.S. is now Powering an Island

by Samantha Page – Renewable energy continues its march forward. The Block Island Wind Farm is officially up, running, and connected to the grid, operators announced Monday. The country’s first offshore wind project will produce enough electricity to power 17,000 average homes. It will provide all the island’s electricity needs, supplanting its old diesel generators and will also send electricity onto the mainland grid. While environmentalists worry about President-elect Donald Trump’s future climate and energy policies, which look like they will be heavily informed by fossil fuel industry insiders, the Block Island announcement comes as a welcome milestone in the country’s renewable energy portfolio. “Today’s launch of America’s first offshore wind project epitomizes the clean energy future that’s already here,” Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an emailed statement. “Strong state and federal policies helped bring us to this day, and they need to continue so we...

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An ‘Undeniable Success’: Divestment From Fossil Fuels Passes $5 Trillion

by Andrea Germanos – The value of funds making the commitment has doubled in size since September 2015 Marking the divestment movement’s “undeniable success,” a new report shows the value of funds controlled by individuals and institutions who have vowed to dump their fossil fuels assets now surpasses $5 trillion. 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said the “news is mammoth.” The report (pdf) by Arabella Advisors for the Divest-Invest Network shows that the value of global funds making the commitment—now at about $5.2 trillion—has doubled in size since September 2015, and comes from 688 institutions and over 58,000 individuals spanning 76 countries. It comes exactly one year after the adoption of the landmark Paris climate accord, and that agreement, the report says, “bolstered the economic arguments underpinning divestment, validating it as a key tool for achieving the agreements goals.” Pointing to the election of climate science-denier Donald Trump, the report adds: “Any...

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Internal Memo Sparks Fears of Climate ‘Witch Hunt’

by Lauren McCauley – Trump transition team reportedly asking for names of career employees at Department of Energy who worked on Obama’s climate policies. President-elect Donald Trump’s Energy Department transition team has reportedly been asking for the names of civil servants that have worked on environmental policies under President Barack Obama, sparking fears of a coming “climate purge” by the incoming Trump administration. A “document circulated by the Energy Department,” first reported by Bloomberg Thursday and later by Politico, lists 65 questions posed by the transition team. Some sought specific information on “employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules,” Bloomberg reported. “Sounds like a freaking witch hunt,” a former Energy staffer said in an email to Politico. “Why is that important for informing the...

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On Our Watch, Global Giraffe Population ‘Pushed Toward Extinction’

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘These gentle giants have been overlooked.’ The global giraffe population has “plummeted” by nearly 40 percent over the last 30 years, and is now “threatened with extinction,” according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) “Red List” released Thursday. The IUCN cites illegal hunting, habitat loss due to expanding agriculture and mining, increasing human-wildlife conflict, and civil unrest as factors “pushing the species towards extinction.” For the first time, the giraffe has been listed as “vulnerable” on the authoritative list, released at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13) currently taking place in Cancun, Mexico. “While there ha been great concern about elephants and rhinos, giraffes have gone under the radar but, unfortunately, their numbers have been plummeting, and this is something that we were a little shocked about, that they have declined by so much in...

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Trump Picks ‘Fossil Fuel Industry Puppet’ Scott Pruitt to Head EPA

by Andrea Germanos – ‘Pruitt could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history.’ Portending threats to efforts aimed at reining in climate change, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Oklahoma Attorney General and fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), his transition team said Wednesday. The planned appointment, as Politico writes,  would put “one of the agency’s most hostile critics and a skeptic of climate change science at its helm.” According to 350.org executive director May Boeve, “You couldn’t pick a better fossil fuel industry puppet.” He’s been at the forefront of a legal effort to block President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which he called federal “coercion and commandeering” of energy policy. Giving an overview of his background, Rhea Suh, president of NRDC, wrote this week: Over the past five years, Pruitt has used his position...

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Dakota Access Pipeline Permit Denied

by Nika Knight – ‘For the first time in Native American history, they heard our voices.’ In a long-awaited victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline, tribal leadership announced late Sunday. The agency will not allow the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a reservoir near the tribal reservation, without a full environmental impact assessment that examines alternative routes for the pipeline. While acknowledging that it may only end up being a temporary pause in pipeline construction, many see it as an incredible victory for the water protectors, who have faced water cannons, mace, rubber bullets, mass arrests, and more in their months-long struggle to protect their drinking water and treaty land. Other activists expressed suspicion and caution, as the U.S. government has historically betrayed its promises to Native Americans, and warned that the water protectors must remain...

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The House Science Committee’s Tweets are an Embarrassment to Science

by Laurel Raymond – Climate scientists were quick to fire back to the committee tweeting out Breitbart misinformation. In the era of fake news, it is downright cringe-worthy when an ostensibly reliable source — a House of Representatives committee, for example — tweets out misleading information. In the era of rapidly increasing climate change, it’s also dangerous. That’s what happened on Thursday, when the official, verified House Science Committee account spread an article based on bad science through their Twitter feed. Not only does the article peddle misinformation in order to deny the reality of climate change, but it was published by Breitbart news — which is notorious for its links to white nationalism, misogyny, and antisemitism. The site also has a long history of insistent climate change denial. Sci,Space,&Tech Cmte ✔@HouseScience .@BreitbartNews: Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists http://bit.ly/2gINZNf  2:12 PM – 1 Dec 2016 The article purports to counter NASA’s exhaustive evidence that...

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Pope Francis has no Patience for Threats to Abandon the Paris Climate Agreement

by Natasha Geiling – Looking at you, President-elect Donald Trump. On Monday, Pope Francis urged world leaders to remain steadfast in their commitment to fighting climate change, requesting that they continue to implement international environmental agreements as quickly as possible. During a speech addressing a group of international scientists, including theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, the pope warned against turning away from climate pacts for political reasons — a thinly veiled reference to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to withdraw the United States from the historic U.N. Paris climate agreement. “The ‘distraction’ or delay in implementing global agreements on the environment shows that politics has become submissive to a technology and economy which seek profit above all else,” Francis said, according to a Reuters report. Since assuming the role of pope, Francis has been a staunch proponent of environmental action. In the summer of 2015, he released an encyclical — one of the highest forms...

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Water Protectors Sue Over ‘Deliberate and Punitive’ Police Brutality

by Nadia Prupis – “The Morton County Sheriff’s Department’s illegal use of force against the water protectors has been escalating. It is only a matter of luck that no one has been killed. This must stop.” Water protectors in North Dakota on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit against Morton County, Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, and other law enforcement agencies for using excessive force the night of November 20, when peaceful demonstrators were trapped on a bridge and assaulted with impact munitions. The lawsuit seeks to block the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and other police agencies from using such weapons—including rubber bullets, water cannons, teargas grenades, and other weapons—against the protectors. The suit, brought by the Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC), a project of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), was filed on behalf of people injured on November 20 and the early morning of November 21 as police descended on the Dakota Access...

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Twelve Scientists Propose Ten Policies to Protect Pollinators

by Besame – In response to the United Nations’ global study on pollinator status, twelve scientists from universities around the world have outlined ten policies to protect pollinators. Earlier this year, the U.N. confirmed that pollinator populations are declining in North American and western Europe, and that urgent studies are needed to fill in data gaps here and elsewhere in the world. The status of pollinators outside these two regions can’t be determined due to lack of adequate information. This is no small issue for humans, although pollinators like bees, wasps, flies, moths, butterflies, and bats are important to all habitats and wildlife. Even orcas depend on pollinators. Three-quarters of the world’s food crops benefit from pollinators and ironically one primary threat to pollinators is the agriculture that produces our food. Pollinator health is a worldwide issue that extends across national boundaries. Avocados, chocolate, coffee and vanilla come from outside the U.S. and other nations depend on the income...

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Indigenous Resolve ‘Stronger Than Ever’ as Feds Order DAPL Protest Camp Shut Down

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘If the Army Corps tears down this protest camp hundreds more will spring up in its place,’ says filmmaker Josh Fox. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday informed Indigenous water protectors and their allies that they have nine days to vacate the main Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp—or else face arrest. “This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontation between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions,” Col. John Henderson of the Corps said in a letter to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II. The Oceti Sakowin camp, on the banks of the Cannonball River, will be closed Monday, December 5, the letter warned. Any individuals found on Army land north of the river...

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Veterans Plan “Deployment” to Join Water Protectors’ Battle Against DAPL

by Nika Knight – “Let’s stop this savage injustice being committed right here at home. If not us, who? If not now, when?” Over 1,000 U.S. military veterans are planning to “deploy” to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and peacefully support the water protectors’ fight against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. “If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.” —Michael Wood Jr., Veterans Stand for Standing Rock“We are calling for our fellow veterans to assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation on Dec 4-7 and defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police...

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The Paris Pact Might Save The Climate From Trump

by Bill Scher – Last week I discussed how climate hawks could fight the environmental assault coming from the incoming Trump administration. One avenue requires help from other countries, who might threaten to slap carbon tariffs on the U.S. if Trump withdrew from the global Paris climate agreement. Since then, several officials from other countries have fired that warning shot. The New York Times reported: In Mexico, which is already preparing for a newly adversarial relationship with an American president who has threatened to build a wall along the border, government officials said they have begun considering the idea of a carbon tariff. Canada, the United States’ largest trading partner, is also discussing a tariff. Some Canadian provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, already have carbon tax policies that include fees imposed on fossil-fueled energy generated across provincial borders. “I see that extending across the Canadian border if the U.S. pulls out...

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Patagonia to Donate 100 Percent of Black Friday Sales to the Environment

by Kiley Kroh – “The threats facing our planet affect people of every political stripe.” There’s nothing environmental about Black Friday. While one major outdoor retailer has elected to opt out of the day entirely, giving its employees a paid day off to spend outdoors, another has decided to opt in — but they’re doing things differently. This year, Patagonia will give 100 percent of its global proceeds from stores and online to grassroots environmental organizations fighting every day to protect our air, water, and soil. “During a difficult and divisive time, we felt it was important to go further and connect more of our customers, who love wild places, with those who are fighting tirelessly to protect them,” president and CEO Rose Marcario said in a statement. “The threats facing our planet affect people of every political stripe, of every demographic, in every part of the country.” The company will also have...

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‘Shockingly Stupid’ Attack on Science: Trump to Eliminate NASA Climate Research

by Nika Knight – President-elect plans to entirely slash climate science in favor of deep space exploration. President-elect Donald Trump plans to entirely eliminate all climate research at NASA, a move that climate scientists warn will send us back to the “dark ages.” Trump instead plans to devote more funds toward exploring deep space. The proposal to totally eliminate climate research falls in line with previous GOP efforts to gut NASA’s Earth sciences program, and takes those attempts even further. In 2015 and earlier this year, Republican members of Congress also sought deep cuts to climate research while favoring space exploration in its stead, as Common Dreams reported. It also lends credence to the charge that Trump’s apparent reversal of his anti-climate statements in a recent New York Times interview was nothing but “a bunch of empty rhetoric.” The Guardian reports on this latest move: Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign...

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Michigan Fights Court Order to Give Flint Residents Bottled Water

by Bryce Covert – The state is balking at the cost of handing out water to residents who still can’t drink from their taps. Last week, a federal judge ordered the state of Michigan and the city of Flint to begin delivering bottled water to all residents’ homes to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water. Now the state is fighting back. Flint residents still can’t drink water straight from their taps after officials switched water sources two years ago and failed to use corrosion control chemicals that would have kept lead from leeching into the water. While officials have urged residents to use filters, those are expensive, difficult to install, and need replacing. And at the peak of the lead poisoning crisis, levels were so high that filters weren’t able to remove all of the toxic chemicals. In light of this ongoing health crisis, Flint residents, the Natural Resources...

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Obama Administration Blocks Oil Drilling in the Arctic Ocean and off the Atlantic Coast

by Samantha Page – The new five-year plan protects parts of U.S. oceans until 2022. The Obama administration finalized its plans for offshore drilling on Friday, protecting much of the Arctic Ocean and all of the Atlantic coast, but staying the course on Gulf of Mexico drilling. Environmentalists applauded the new five-year plan from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which covers offshore leasing from 2017 to 2022 and is slightly stronger than its draft iterations. The Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska have been removed, with only a reduced parcel in the Cook Inlet near southern Alaska remaining. “We are hopeful that this announcement will help chart a new course forward in the Arctic Ocean,” Jacqueline Savitz, a senior vice president at Oceana, said in an emailed statement. “Companies have been given every opportunity to find oil and have failed at every turn because of the extreme conditions and limited...

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The Media Claims Climate isn’t a Winning Issue. Polls say Otherwise

by Joe Romm – Politico just linked to a poll that destroys its own argument. NBC election night exit poll. So let’s say you are a centrist media outlet that focuses on the political horse race, rather than, say, policy or stuff that matters to most voters. Let’s say you don’t get the existential nature of the climate change issue, you mainly talk to the political “experts” who also don’t get it, and you want to focus on things that really matter, things with real drama — like post-election infighting among Democrats. In short, you are Politico. Your problem, though, is that in covering the political infighting, you want to make the case that Democrats made a mistake by focusing on climate change. Unfortunately, the polls actually show that climate change is a winning issue. And the head of the ticket, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, didn’t actually focus on climate change in the...

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Trump Voters: Here’s What You’ve Won

by Jon Perr – So a former reality TV star won the 2016 presidential election on Nov. 8th. While deeply disturbing, that victory by Donald Trump was somehow altogether fitting. After all, as research from Harvard revealed, throughout the 2016 election cycle “policy issues nearly absent in presidential campaign ‘coverage.'”  Even during the four weeks surrounding the parties’ nominating conventions, policy stories represented only 8 percent of the media coverage surveyed (13 percent for Trump and only a paltry 4 percent for Hillary Clinton). Instead, scandals, gaffes, unexpected revelations, horse race coverage and other “medialities” represented more than two-thirds of the reporting from the 10 media sources studied. Ultimately, the “policy-free” 2016 election was a lot like the first season of CBS reality game show Survivor: the surprise winner was Richard Hatch, an off-putting, conniving white guy few viewers liked—and even fewer trusted. Now that Clinton has been voted off the island, the...

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In Bleak Times, This City Is an Example for the World

by DAPHNE WYSHAM – Portland, Oregon could teach the world a thing or two about climate laws that count. A few days before Donald Trump’s stunning upset, the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph glowed green in Paris. France was celebrating the Paris Climate Agreement, which came into force on November 4. It was a remarkable achievement. Less than a year after 196 countries signed the accords, over two-thirds of the world’s countries — including the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, the U.S. and China — ratified it, agreeing to an upper limit of 2 degrees Celsius in atmospheric warming. But with Donald Trump’s ascendancy, and his pledge to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the world is back to an uncertain climate future. While some mourn the possibility that the Paris Agreement will be undone, it’s important to remember that it was always aspirational. After all, the deal offers no timetable...

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The U.S. will Become a Pariah when Trump Pulls out of the Paris Climate Agreement

by Joe Romm – And the trade war he campaigned on will be all but guaranteed. The vast majority of U.S. voters and policymakers have no clue how cataclysmic it will be for this country when Trump keeps his promise to exit the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. (But then why would they, when much of the media also has no clue about the existential nature of the climate fight after a quarter century of ignoring the warnings of scientists?) It is not “if” he keeps his promise, it is “when,” since the Trump team is already looking to quit Paris as fast as possible, perhaps within a year, according to “a source on his transition team,” Reuters reported Sunday. Another reason to take Trump seriously: He appointed fellow climate science deniers to top positions in his transition team and administration — while the media normalizes his radical words and deeds. Since the United...

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On Surviving the Trump Years with Our Spirits Intact

by Cynthia Kaufman – The day after the election most people I knew were exhibiting physical signs of stress. I felt it mostly in my stomach. The morning after the election, I spent time commiserating with an undocumented student I mentor, and who I love. I held her and tried to be supportive of her in her fear that she didn’t know how to continue to be a role model for others, in being an out and proud dreamer when the dreamers may all get deported. As I sat on that bench with her, friends and colleagues keep coming by and I, who usually am the one to see where hope can come from in the concrete actions we can take to move forward, found myself just simply grieving and sharing my fear. At De Anza College we had a beautiful event hosted by our undocumented student resource center. Students told...

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Facing Class-Action Lawsuit from Investors, Exxon Threatens to Depose 17 State AGs

by Nika Knight – Ignoring growing shareholder pressure, Exxon escalates its battle against state attorneys general who are investigating the oil giant for climate fraud. Exxon investors filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against the oil giant for its failure to disclose climate change risks—the world’s first lawsuit of its kind. The suit came the same day that Exxon threatened 17 state attorneys general, who are investigating the oil giant for such climate fraud, with depositions. Such a move would pull the attorneys general into costly legal fights that would go on for years, according to InsideClimate News. The lawsuit’s claim is over Exxon’s recent swift drop in value, which followed the company’s disclosure that it had been overvaluing about one-fifth of its oil and gas assets. The shareholders allege that “information disclosed to the market by Exxon was materially false and misleading,” writes UK-based environmental law firm ClientEarth. ClientEarth senior corporate lawyer...

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In Blow to Enbridge, Canada to Ban Oil Tankers Off Northern B.C. Coast

by Nika Knight – Moratorium on oil tanker traffic off British Columbia’s North Coast could be last nail in coffin for Northern Gateway Pipeline. Canada Transportation Minister Marc Garneau made headlines this weekend when he announced that by the end of the year, a long-promised ban on oil tanker traffic will be put in place off the North Coast of British Columbia—weeks after the government was harshly criticized for its bungled response to a spill in that same region. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to institute such a moratorium before the Liberals won a majority of votes and put Trudeau in office in 2015, but as of a mere three weeks ago Trudeau appeared to be backtracking on that promise, after months of refusing to offer a timeline on the ban. Garneau’s words were thus a welcome surprise to many environmentalists: “That is a promise that we made....

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Patagonia Closes its Doors for Election Day

by Natasha Geiling – As part of its political push, Patagonia is encouraging employees and customers to get out and vote. As you might have heard, there’s a pretty big election today— and Patagonia is making sure its employees, and customers, have all the time they need to get out and vote. The store will close all of its 29 retail locations, as well as its headquarters in Ventura, California, and its distribution and customer service center in Reno, Nevada, in an effort to encourage employees and customers to vote. The Election Day closures — a first for the company —are part of Patagonia’s “Vote Our Planet” campaign, which seeks to mobilize voters to vote for candidates up and down the ballot who prioritize the environment. “During a time of catastrophic environmental crisis, when America needs strong leadership to confront the fundamental threat of climate change, voter turnout threatens to reach historic lows as...

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Pennsylvania Pipelines Bursts, Leaks 55,000 Gallons Of Gas Into One Of US’ Most Endangered Rivers

by Whitney Webb – A pipeline owned by the same company behind Dakota Access leaked 55,000 gallons of gasoline into a major river, endangering the drinking water of six million people. A pipeline managed by Sunoco logistics burst Thursday night after heavy rainfall in Pennsylvania. The spill dumped 55,000 gallons of gasoline into Wallis Run, a tributary of the Loyalsock Creek that drains into the Susquehanna River. The breach was detected at 3 am when the pressure of the pipeline dropped significantly, leading Sunoco to shut down the pipeline. Though the pipeline has been shut down, the heavy rains that led to the leak are expected to continue, so the actual break in the pipeline will remain unidentified until the weather clears. The Pennsylvania water authorities have warned customers to refrain from using water from the river as a precaution. No official data has been released regarding how long the...

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More ‘Delay and Deceit’ as Exxon Tries to Block Climate Change Investigation

by Nika Knight – Exxon attempts to avoid disclosing documents that would show whether the oil giant deceived its investors about climate change for decades. ExxonMobil requested Monday that a federal court throw out a subpoena from New York’s attorney general that would force the oil and gas behemoth to turn over decades of documents, which would show whether the company misled investors and the public on the connection between fossil fuel emissions and climate change. The motion (pdf) filed in Texas federal court asked “to amend pending lawsuit against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to include New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The litigation seeks to halt their investigations, which the company calls a conspiracy to further their political agenda,” according to InsideClimateNews, one of the first outlets to break the story of Exxon’s climate crimes. “It’s the same strategy as Big Tobacco,” said 350.org communications director Jamie Henn...

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Vindication for Press Freedom as Charges Dropped Against Journalist Amy Goodman

by Deirdre Fulton – By filing the charges in the first place, Democracy Now!‘s Goodman told the crowd, “the state’s attorney was attempting to stop journalism.” In a vindication for press freedom and land protectors fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, North Dakota has dismissed the “riot” charges against Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman, issued after she reported on pipeline company security guards physically assaulting nonviolent, mostly Indigenous land protectors in September. “The judge’s decision…is a great vindication of the First Amendment and…native people on the frontlines,” Goodman told a crowd of supporters in Mandan, North Dakota on Monday, across the street from the courthouse. By filing the charges in the first place, she said, “the state’s attorney was attempting to stop journalism.” Goodman elaborated in a statement: This is a complete vindication of my right as a journalist to cover the attack on the protesters, and of the public’s right...

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Donald Trump Represents Change? In What Universe?

by Ian Reifowitz – Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and those who support their ticket want you to believe he is the candidate of change while his opponent represents the status quo. We saw this at both the presidential and vice-presidential debates held thus far, and we’ll almost certainly see it again at tonight’s Clinton-Trump town hall event. Ignoring the manifold reasons why he is supremely unqualified and unsuited to handle the presidency, let’s examine this question seriously. Who better represents change: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? We can start with policy. In 2009, Democrats gained the ability to implement their agenda without the need for any Republican votes—good thing, since virtually none were forthcoming—for the first time since the 1970s. Just focusing on the biggest changes: a century after it was first proposed, we achieved universal access to health care as part of a larger package of reforms that has brought...

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