Contrary to Spin, Trump Slashing Energy Jobs With New Executive Order

by Nika Knight – “These facts make it clear that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.” As the Trump administration brags that Tuesday’s executive order to dismantle Obama-era climate regulations will create coal industry jobs, new employment data from the Department of Energy (DoE) demonstrates how misguided that claim is. Clean energy employs many more Americans than the fossil fuel industry, and economic forecasts show that the trend will continue, according to a Sierra Club analysis published Monday of the DoE’s 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (pdf) released earlier this year. “Clean energy jobs, including those from solar, wind, energy efficiency, smart grid technology, and battery storage, vastly outnumber all fossil fuel jobs nationwide from the coal, oil and gas sectors. That includes jobs in power generation, mining, and other forms of fossil fuel extraction,” the Sierra Club...

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House Dems Send Educational Materials to Help Scott Pruitt Get a Grip on Basic Climate Science

by Andrea Germanos – “It’s clear that you need to read the enclosed reports.” Given the lack of understanding of basic climate science Scott Pruitt displayed on a recent appearance on CNBC, 33 House Democrats have sent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head educational materials to help him get a grip on established facts. Speaking last week to the network’s “Squawk Box,” Pruitt sparked the ire of climate groups—and contradicted his own statements to the U.S. Senate—when he said, “I would not agree that is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” “As Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt must understand these non-controversial concepts,” a press statement from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) states. Blumenauer, along with 32 of his House colleagues including Reps. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) sent to Pruitt a brief letter as well...

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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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Trump’s “Dumpster Fire” of an Energy Policy a Roadmap to Climate Calamity

by Lauren McCauley – “Trump’s energy plan is this: he opposes any policy that will tackle the climate crisis or grow our clean energy economy, and he supports any policy that props up the dirty fossil fuel industry”. Republican nominee Donald Trump unveiled his economic and energy plan on Thursday and environmentalists are incensed, equating the infamous climate-change denier’s policies to nothing less than a “dumpster fire.” During a speech at the Economic Club of New York, Trump detailed his “new policy of Americanism,” as he called it, and explained how he plans to reach the goal of 4 percent economic growth through, essentially, a fossil-fueled, corporate-friendly free-for-all. His plan includes: slashing corporate tax rates; scrapping regulations, such as the Waters of the U.S. Rule (pdf) and the Clean Power Plan; lifting restrictions on all sources of American energy, including the dirtiest fossil fuels and offshore deposits; and “streamlin the permitting...

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Coal Giant Bankruptcy Signals ‘Profound Shift’ for 21st Century Energy Landscape

by Lauren McCauley – Environmentalists hail Arch Coal bankruptcy as the ‘end of an era’ Arch Coal, the United States’ second largest coal supplier, on Monday filed for bankruptcy, signaling what environmentalists described as the “end of an era” as the country moves to more renewable, less polluting energy sources. “Arch Coal’s bankruptcy is the latest sign of a profound shift in America’s energy landscape,” said Mary Anne Hitt, director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. Bloomberg reports: “The court filing listed $5.8 billion in assets and $6.5 billion in debt. The company has agreed to the terms of a $275 million loan to keep it operating during bankruptcy. The loan includes a $75 million carve-out for environmental reclamation obligations, according to court papers.” The announcement, which comes after five years of decline in Arch’s stock price, marks thelatest coal industry titan to fall as the global energy market is beginning...

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Obama Administration Grants Shell Final Permits to Start Drilling in Arctic Ocean

By Stefanie Spear, EcoWatch – Royal Dutch Shell was granted federal permits Wednesday that clear the way for the oil company to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean. The U.S. Department of the Interior granted the permits for Shell to drill off the coast of Alaska in the Chukchi Sea. The company is only permitted to drill the top sections of its wells because it lacks the equipment to cap the wells in case of emergency. The ice breaker carrying the required capping stack for the wells, is receiving repairs to its damaged hull in Portland, Oregon. The permits also restricts Shell to drilling only one well at a time, due to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife regulation. This announcement comes on the heels of a nationwide protest last weekend where people in 13 states gathered for a “ShellNo” Day of Action asking President Obama to revoke oil and gas exploration leases in the Chukchi Sea. Many environmental organizations are irate over...

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Midwest Battle Cry Goes Up Against Tar Sands as Thousands March in St. Paul

by Jon Queally – ‘Increasing the amount of toxic tar sands crude flowing into this region is not in keeping with a much needed transition to clean energy. Rejecting tar sands means fighting for clean water, clean energy, and a safer climate. There is simply no place for dirty oil in America’s future.’ With the marching crowd stretching “as far as the eye can see” in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota on Saturday, thousands of people from across the Midwest came together to protest the construction of new pipelines and other infrastructure projects which they say will deliver only harmful climate impacts for the planet and irreparable destruction to the region, not the jobs and energy security promised by big oil companies and their political backers. Under the social media tag of #StopTarSands, Saturday’s Tar Sands Resistance March was sponsored by dozens of groups, including national and local environmental organizations, Indigenous communities,...

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In Wyoming, Taking A Photo Of A Polluted Stream Could Land You In Jail

By NATASHA GEILING, ThinkProgress – To some, Wyoming’s Senate Bill 12 — otherwise known as the Data Trespass Bill — is merely a deepening of preexisting trespass laws — a way for private landowners to seek recourse from individuals trespassing on their property to collect data. To others, the law is nothing short of an unconstitutional ban on citizen science throughout the state. Passed by the Wyoming state government and signed into law by Gov. Matt Mead (R) in March, the law makes it illegal to “collect resource data” from any land outside of city boundaries, whether that land be private, public, or federal. Under to the law, “collect” means to “take a sample of material, acquire, gather, photograph or otherwise preserve information in any form from open land which is submitted or intended to be submitted to any agency of the state or federal government.” Imagine, for a second,...

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‘Keystone XL Clone’ to Pump Tar Sands Oil Starting Next Year

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – As Republicans get set to test their new majority in the U.S. Senate and their complete control of Congress to push through approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a new investigative report by editor Lou Dubose at the Washington Spectator reveals that the construction of a “Keystone XL clone” pipeline with almost the same capacity is already taking place. While TransCanada continues to battle the public outcry against its Keystone XL project, another company, Enbridge, is quietly building the Alberta Clipper pipeline. Like Keystone XL, it will pumped 830,000 oil barrels (bbl) a day of tar sands bitumen crude oil from the Alberta oil fields to U.S. refineries. “In six to eight months the Canadian tar-sands spigot opens to full capacity,” wrote Dubose. “Barring litigation or action by the State Department, Enbridge will achieve what has eluded TransCanada. And it will have done so with scant attention from the...

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The Time to Act is Now: IPCC Issues ‘Final Word’ on Climate Change

by Lauren McCauley – We must reduce global carbon emissions and we must do it now, concludes a landmark report released in Copenhagen on Sunday by the United Nations climate science body, the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Said to be the official world on climate change from the world’s top climate scientists, the final summary report (pdf) underscores three major facts about climate change: it’s man-made and already having dangerous impacts across the globe; if the world community acts now, warming can still be kept below the politically agreed upon “safe” limit of 2 degrees Celsius; the ability to secure a safe climate future is not only possible but also economically viable. “In the starkest terms ever used, the scientific community is looking world leaders directly in the eye and demanding that they wake up,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement following the report’s release. The...

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California Bans Genetically Engineered Salmon

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last month banning the commercial production of genetically modified, or transgenic, salmon in California waters over concerns about the impact they could have on native salmon. AB 504 was written by Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, from Arcata, north of San Francisco on the Humboldt Bay where marine life abounds, including coho and chinook salmon, and sponsored by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. Salmon fishing is a major industry in northern California, and it’s already stressed by drought and competing demands for water. Native species could be further stressed if so-called “frankenfish,” bred to grow at a much faster rate than normal, escaped into state waters. “I thank Governor Brown for understanding the importance of protecting California wild salmon and steelhead from the threat of transgenic modification,” said Chesbro. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing an application...

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ALEC Is Lying About Climate Change Google Chairman Tells Diane Rehm

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – Google got in a lot of hot water with climate activists for its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the lobbying organization that writes “model legislation” favoring corporate interests. Chairman Eric Schmidt told National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm Monday that Google’s support of the group was a “mistake,” and that ALEC was spreading lies about climate change, “making the world a much worse place.” He said that ALEC’s legislation on behalf of fossil fuel industries — bills such as the surcharge on solar-generated energy in Arizona and the abandonment of clean energy standards in Ohio — are both harmful for Earth’s future and a bad investment. In response to a call from Kristen in Syracuse, who asked if Google is still funding ALEC which supports climate deniers in D.C., Schmidt said “We funded them as part of a political campaign due to something unrelated, but...

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Victory for Local Action as Coal Export Terminal Rejected in Oregon

Rejection of Ambre Energy project marks the first time a Pacific Northwest state agency has formally said no By Lauren McCauley, CommonDreams – Dealing a “severe blow” to the export of coal out of the Pacific Northwest, the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) on Monday rejected a critical permit for the construction of Ambre Energy’s Morrow Pacific export terminal on the Columbia River. “Ambre’s dirty coal project would have sent hundreds of coal trains through the region, thousands of coal barges down the Columbia River, and further disrupted our climate with dangerous carbon pollution,” writes water conservation group Columbia Riverkeeper. “DSL’s decision is a defining win for clean water, salmon, and our communities.” Ambre, an Australian company, was seeking permission to build a permanent dock in Boardman, Oregon as part of their proposed coal export terminal, which environmentalists said would both hasten carbon pollution from increased coal consumption and threaten key waterways. The terminal would...

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New Jersey Governor Vetoes Fracking Waste Ban Despite Bipartisan Support

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch – If New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose presidential potential is still being touted by some supporters despite a series of scandals surrounding him, is trying to demonstrate that he’s on the far right fringe of his own party when it comes to the environment, he’s doing a good job of it. Last week, he vetoed a bill dubbed the Frack Waste Ban Bill which would have barred the disposal, treatment, storage and discharge of fracking waste in the state. It’s the second time he’s done so; he vetoed a similar bill in 2012. And he’s done so despite overwhelming support of the measure in the New Jersey legislature from both parties. The bill had four dozen sponsors, both Republicans and Democrats. The vote in the N.J. Senate was 33-4. In the state Assembly it was 62-16-1. Currently, no fracking is going on in New Jersey, but there’s plenty in neighboring Pennsylvania,...

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Awkward: Mitch McConnell’s Wife is Major (Player) in the ‘War on Coal’

By Barbara Morrill, Daily Kos – In the course of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign, he has relied on two lines of attack: Trying to convince voters that Alison Lundergan Grimes is a black man from Kenya and accusing her of being a foot soldier in the so-called “war on coal.” But as it turns out:   McConnell’s wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, sits on the board of directors of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has plunged $50 million into the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” initiative, an advocacy effort with the expressed goal of killing the coal industry. In 2011, Bloomberg Philanthropies teamed up with the Sierra Club to target coal plants for closure in an effort to “end our nation’s reliance on dirty coal, plant-by-plant, community-by-community, and state-by-state,” according to Bloomberg Philanthropies’ website … The organization boasts that it has “prevented 150 coal plants from being built,” and has taken direct action...

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Feeding GMOs to Wildlife and Spraying Bee-Killing Pesticides at National Refuges to End

By Nicole D’Alessandro, EcoWatch – For nearly 10 years, two nonprofits filed lawsuits, and used legal petitions and countless administrative actions to stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in its tracks. The issue that Center for Food Safety and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) took with the FWS? The regular use of genetically engineered (GE) crops and bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in national refuge farming programs — which ultimately interfere with the very plants and animals the refuge system is designed to protect. Today, the FWS announced in an internal memorandum that the agency will ban neonic pesticides and phase out GE feed for wildlife by January 2016. “GE crops and toxic pesticides violate the basic purposes of our protected national lands,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “We applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service for recognizing what our legal challenges have repeatedly stated and courts have repeatedly held: that they must...

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Court Finds West Virginia Coal Companies Guilty of Damaging Environment

‘Decision makes it clear that the integrity of our streams must be protected’ By Brandon Baker. EcoWatch – Believe it or not, no federal court in the U.S. had ever ruled that high conductivity discharges from coal mines were harmful to streams until this week. Everything changed with a historic decision in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia that found two companies guilty of violating clean water protections. The decision was a result of a citizen lawsuit filed more than two years ago accusing mountaintop removal mines owned by Alex Energy and Elk Run Coal Co. contaminated waters in Laurel Creek and Robinson Fork with sulfate and other dissolved solids, adding toxicity to the ecosystem of aquatic creatures. “Pollution such as the high conductivity discharges addressed in this litigation represents the steady degradation of streams that is stealing the future from generations to come,” Cindy Rank of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, said in a...

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Green energy investment set to ‘explode’ after carbon cuts

 ‘If you’re working in the solar or wind industry, you should feel very happy right now’ By Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera –  Federal plans to enforce new carbon emissions cuts — reportedly by up to 30 percent on 2005 figures — could spark a rapid expansion in the renewables sector, environmental groups predicted Sunday ahead of the unveiling of a new government blueprint on clean energy.  “If you’re working in the solar or wind industry, you should feel very happy right now — those are the industries growing faster than the rest of economy,” Mike Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said. “It’s clear that those are going to be the industries to work in, invest in, and watch. They’re about to explode in terms of growth.” The comments came on the eve of an announcement Monday in which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Gina McCarthy is expected to...

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Louisville Utility Faces $68 Million Penalty for Hidden-Camera Coal Ash Dumping

By Brandon Baker, EcoWatch – Two months have passed since hidden-camera images exposed Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) for dumping toxic coal ash into the Ohio River — a practice the company has engaged in for two decades. The utility has done nothing in response, so two environmental groups figure it’s time to pay up. The Sierra Club and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to order LG&E to stop the illegal dumping. The company could face up to $68 million in penalties to account for the last five years of its illegal dumping, plus $37,500 for each day moving forward, until the violations are eliminated. The groups notified the company that they intended to sue in March, but that seemed to have no impact on LG&E. Sierra Club and Earthjustice are armed with a year’s worth of footage from a camera that was strapped to a tree. They also have proof from Google Earth satellite images that date back to...

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How Kentucky’s Illegal Coal-Ash Contamination Typifies an American Crisis

By Brandon Baker, EcoWatch –  The Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection (KDEP) had knowledge that a utility’s pond had been discharging “highly contaminated ‘orange colored’ water” through a drain pipe, but a proposal from Kentucky Utilities remains on the table. The company apparently wants to discharge even more orange water, which would be a byproduct of a proposed coal ash landfill on top of the main coal ash pond at the 60-year-old E.W. Brown coal-burning power plant, just outside Lexington. The pond is unlined, already contains 26 million tons of ash and is a stone’s throw away from residential neighborhoods, vacation homes and Herrington Lake. In the words of a new study compiled by the Sierra Club and Earthjustice, the proposal would be “piling on a problem” if approved. “Protecting the health of the local community is critical, and the state must manage these contaminants,” said Deborah Payne, health coordinator for the Kentucky Environmental Foundation. “When metals...

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