Recent News

I’m a scientist. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration

Joel Clement was director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the U.S. Interior Department until last week. He is now a senior adviser at the department’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government.

I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, as of today, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.

Nearly seven years ago, I came to work for the Interior Department, where, among other things, I’ve helped endangered communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to a changing climate. But on June 15, I was one of about 50 senior department employees who received letters informing us of involuntary reassignments. Citing a need to “improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration,” the letter informed me that I was reassigned to an unrelated job in the accounting office that collects royalty checks from fossil fuel companies.

Read more at The Washington Post


At Midway Point, 2017 Is 2nd-Hottest Year on Record

At the halfway point of the year, 2017 remains the second-hottest year to date — a surprise given the demise of the El Niño that helped boost temperatures to record levels last year.

The continued near-record warmth is a marker of just how much global temperatures have risen thanks to the greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere from fossil fuel use.

“Personally, I wasn’t expecting it to be as warm as it has been,” Ahira Sanchez-Lugo, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate scientist, said in an email. “After the decline of the strong El Niño I was expecting the values to drop a bit and rank among the top five warmest years. This year has been extremely remarkable.”

The odds are good that 2017 will stay in second place through the end of the year, and it is even more likely that it will remain in at least the top three hottest years.

NOAA released its global temperature data for June on Tuesday, and ranked June as the third warmest in its records. The four-warmest Junes in its records have all happened in the past four years. (NASA, which released its June numbers on Friday, ranked June as the fourth hottest. The two agencies handle the data slightly differently, which can lead to small differences in their rankings, though they strongly agree on recent warming.)

Read more at Climate Central


Natural gas building boom fuels climate worries, enrages landowners

Companies have asked a federal regulator to approve thousands of miles of pipeline from Appalachia. They almost always get their way.

They landed, one after another, in 2015: plans for nearly a dozen interstate pipelines to move natural gas beneath rivers, mountains and people’s yards. Like spokes on a wheel, they’d spread from Appalachia to markets in every direction.

Together these new and expanded pipelines — comprising 2,500 miles of steel in all — would double the amount of gas that could flow out of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The cheap fuel will benefit consumers and manufacturers, the developers promise.

But some scientists warn that the rush to more fully tap the rich Marcellus and Utica shales is bad for a dangerously warming planet, extending the country’s fossil-fuel habit by half a century. Industry consultants say there isn’t even enough demand in the United States for all the gas that would come from this boost in production.

And yet, five of the 11 pipelines already have been approved. The rest await a decision from a federal regulator that almost never says no.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is charged with making sure new gas pipelines are in the public interest and have minimal impact. This is no small matter. Companies given certificates to build by FERC gain a powerful tool: eminent domain, enabling them to proceed whether affected landowners cooperate or not. 07-17-17

Read more at The Center for Public Integrity


A Mystery of Seabirds, Blown Off Course and Starving

One of the seabirds found in Atlantic City, N.J. Hundreds of carcasses were found over the course of two weeks, from Montauk, N.Y., to as far south as Cape May, N.J. Credit Scott McConnell

LIDO BEACH, N.Y. — Joe Okoniewski has seen this before, just not on this scale. Each year Mr. Okoniewski, a wildlife pathologist with the New York State Department of Conservation, performs necropsies on small numbers of seabird specimens that wash up dead along the coastal parts of the state. The birds are usually lone adults or juveniles that strayed too close to shore.

This summer Mr. Okoniewski has already examined more than 20 dead birds, while twice that many are awaiting necropsies. All are the same species of agile seabird called great shearwaters, and all washed up emaciated on Long Island beaches last month in a mass mortality event that scientists say is extraordinary for the region.

Now Mr. Okoniewski and others are hoping the unusually large number of carcasses can provide clues into the mysterious lives of these birds, which are considered good indicators of the health of the world’s oceans.

“The birds are extremely thin and anemic,” Mr. Okoniewski said. “The big mystery is: Why are they thin? On the surface it looks like you know what happened: They starved. But when you ask why, it becomes much more of a mystery.” 07-14-17

Read more at The New York Times


Decline in hummingbird population linked to insecticide

Some species of North American hummingbirds are in severe decline and a British Columbia research scientist says one possible cause might be the same insecticide affecting honey bees.

Christine Bishop with Environment and Climate Change Canada said researchers started looking at a variety of factors that may be responsible, ranging from habitat loss to changes when plants bloom.

To try and find some answers, researchers began collecting urine and feces from the birds for testing.

“No one has ever measured pesticides in hummingbirds before. So we decided to try it,” she said in an interview. “It turns out, to our surprise actually, that the birds are obviously picking up pesticides in their food, which can be nectar and also insects.”

Bishop said the concentration found in the urine is relatively high at three parts per billion.

“Now what does it mean? Right now we’re just understanding what the level of exposure is, and then how is it affecting the population, well that’s part of the population dynamics,” she said.

Her research is focused in the agricultural regions in the Fraser Valley and southern B.C. — the core area for the rufous hummingbird.

The rufous is a feisty, red-throated bird that weighs about as much as a nickel and spends its summers in B.C., Alaska and the Pacific Northwest states, then migrates to the southern United States and Mexico. 07-09-17

Read more at the Times-Colonist


‘We’ve Made History’: Ireland Joins France, Germany and Bulgaria in Banning Fracking​

Ireland is set to ban onshore fracking after its Senate passed legislation on Wednesday that outlawed the controversial drilling technique.The Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Prohibition of Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing) Bill 2016 now awaits Irish President Michael D. Higgins’ signature. The president is expected to sign it into law “in the coming days.”

The Emerald Isle will join three other European Union member states, France, Germany and Bulgaria that have banned the practice on land.

Fine Gael TD Tony McLoughlin introduced the private member’s bill—meaning it was not introduced by the government—last year. The bill passed Ireland’s Parliament in May.’We’ve made history,” McLoughlin tweeted after the vote and called it one of the “proudest moments in my political career.”McLoughlin also issued a statement that mentioned the impact of fracking in the U.S.:

This law will mean communities in the West and North West of Ireland will be safeguarded from the negative effects of hydraulic fracking. Counties such as Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Clare will no longer face negative effects like those seen in cities and towns in the United States, where many areas have now decided to implement similar bans to the one before us.

If fracking was allowed to take place in Ireland and Northern Ireland it would pose significant threats to the air, water and the health and safety of individuals and communities here.

Fracking must be seen as a serious public health and environmental concern for Ireland. 06-29-17

Read more at EcoWatch


It’s Official: California Lists Key Ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup as Cancer-Causing

California is officially adding glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, to the state’s list of chemicals and substances known to cause cancer.

Before we dive into the weeds in terms of what the listing does and doesn’t mean, and may or may not lead to, let’s take a moment to recognize that this is a landmark decision in the ongoing battle against Monsanto’s flagship weedkiller.

Every activist who has engaged in this fight deserves to take a moment to bask in this victory.

It’s not everything we need, or everything we want—but California’s decision, upheld by the courts, represents a major step forward in a decades-long fight expose the truth about Roundup and protect the public from its cancer-causing effects.

The full impact of the decision remains to be seen. How much glyphosate will need to be present before a product is required to carry a warning? How many foods will exceed the glyphosate residue limits set by California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA)?

Will Monsanto find a way to keep those warnings off all labels? Including foods and weedkillers?

Time will tell. And activists will need to remain vigilant.

But for now, it’s celebration time.

Read more at EcoWatch


Living in California’s San Joaquin Valley May Harm Your Health

Animal manure spread on cropland is a contributor to nitrate pollution in the groundwater in parts of the San Joaquin Valley region. (Tara Lohan)

More than 1 million people in the region have been exposed to unsafe drinking water in recent years from pesticides, arsenic, nitrate and uranium. And many communities also face multiple environmental health threats.

NEARLY ALL CALIFORNIANS get clean, safe drinking water delivered to their homes. But, according to state data, turning on the tap is risky for more than 1 million people in the San Joaquin Valley, where drinking water is among the most contaminated nationwide, according to government testing. And some residents don’t even know it, as testing of private wells is not required and some water agencies fail to provide customers with required water quality reports or it’s in a language they can’t read.

Most affected are small, rural communities, which are disproportionately poor and Latino. Long-term fixes are in the works but many solutions will take years to implement – not enough funding is available for the people who need help immediately.

The majority of residents in the San Joaquin Valley rely on groundwater for some or all of their drinking water, and many California groundwater basins are contaminated with a mix of manmade and naturally occurring toxicants. The former include nitrate and legacy pesticides, which persist in the environment long after first introduced, and the latter include arsenic and uranium.

Read more at News Deeply


The coal industry is collapsing, and coal workers allege that executives are making the situation worse

(A group of coal miners listen to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt during his visit to Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company’s Harvey Mine in Sycamore, Pa., Thursday, April 13, 2017.Gene J. Puskar/AP)
What’s a coal miner to do when they’re laid off, leaving them without much-needed insurance or their pension? What if it happens to the whole community at the same time?

“We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know how hard it was gonna be. We’re losin’ everything,” Regina Lilly, wife of a West Virginia coal miner who was laid off after their child was born, said in a new National Geographic documentary about coal mining.

The documentary, called “From the Ashes,” explores the past, present, and future of coal mining, and is currently free on YouTube.

When mining companies move to new locations with cheaper coal, local residents like Lilly believe the coal companies “failed” them.

Read more at Yahoo Finance News


EPA Boss Launches Program to ‘Critique’ Scientific Consensus on Climate Change

The ever-prescient John Oliver talked about this back in 2014. In the clip above, the Last Week Tonight host takes aim at climate change deniers who contest the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is causing the planet to warm.

“You don’t need people’s opinion on a fact,” the British comedian said. “You might as well have a poll asking: ‘Which number is bigger, 15 or 5?’ or ‘Do owls exist?’ or ‘Are there hats?'”

Well, the Trump administration is now seeking opinions.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has launched a program to “critique” climate change science, a senior administration official told Climatewire. The government plans to recruit individuals to study the issue.

According to the report:

The program will use “red team, blue team” exercises to conduct an “at-length evaluation of U.S. climate science,” the official said, referring to a concept developed by the military to identify vulnerabilities in field operations.

“The administrator believes that we will be able to recruit the best in the fields which study climate and will organize a specific process in which these individuals … provide back-and-forth critique of specific new reports on climate science,” the source said.

“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”

The EPA did not return Climatewire’s request for comment.

Read more at EcoWatch


Is Giant Sequoia National Monument Next on the Hit List?

Sequoiadendron giganteum. That’s the scientific name for the giant sequoia: the mammoth trees found in California’s Sierra Nevada that are the largest organisms on Earth, and among the longest-lived. Biologists estimate that about half of all sequoias live in Giant Sequoia National Monument, a 328,000-acre preserve in the Southern Sierra Nevada established by President Clinton in 2000.

Now that national monument is in jeopardy.

When President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April directing Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke to review national monuments established since 1996 and larger than 100,000 acres to determine whether they should be rescinded or reduced in size, it appeared that California’s national monuments were relatively safe. Although California is home to six of the 27 monuments under review (more than any other state), its monuments haven’t been as controversial as others on Zinke’s list.

So far, much of the Zinke’s attention has been focused on Utah’s Bears Ears—which earlier this month the interior secretary said he was likely to recommend downsizing—and Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, where, despite strong support from local residents and the rest of the state’s political establishment, Gov. Paul LePage is waging a one-man campaign to abolish the monument. It seemed likely that the six California monuments (Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow, Berryessa Snow Mountain, San Gabriel Mountains, Carrizo Plain, and Giant Sequoia) would escape the unprecedented Trump-Zinke assault on public lands.

Originally published at EcoWatch 06-27-17


Into the Void

EPA science adviser says clearing board of experts leaves “huge void.”

On Monday, 38 of the EPA’s research advisers found out that their terms, set to end in August, would not be renewed.

One of them is Elena Craft, a senior health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. “It creates a huge void in terms of scientific capacity,” Craft told Grist. “Systematically gutting these committees is essentially cutting off access to some of the greatest science advisers really in the world.”

The purge will leave 11 members on the Board of Scientific Counselors’ subcommittees. The latest move follows sweeping cuts to federal agencies in April. The empty seats on the EPA’s advisory board are expected to be filled with a more industry-friendly bunch.

Craft said that after the announcement, Robert Kavlock, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s research arm, told the advisers in a phone call that he expected the board to pay less attention to climate change.

The board of experts has counseled the EPA on its research programs for two decades. Last year, the board’s subcommittees recommended that the agency work on engaging with communities in its clean-air programs and investigate environmental risks from toxic chemicals. All this advice comes free of charge. 06-23-17

Read more at Grist


EPA cuts will harm NC’s air and water quality, hurt fishing, says state agency

Planned staff cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency, which employs more than 2,000 people in Research Triangle Park, are seen as the beginning of major cutbacks to scientific research and pollution enforcement in North Carolina.

This week’s buyout offer to more than 1,200 employees agency-wide comes in advance of Congress taking up the Trump administration’s proposal to cut the EPA’s budget by 31.4 percent. Congress may not adopt all of the administration’s suggestions, but any cuts approved in the coming months could affect jobs filled by some 700 nonprofit and state employees, most of them in the Triangle, who don’t work for the agency but whose salaries are covered through EPA funding.

“The final product may not look like this,” said Robin Smith, a former state environmental official, “but what’s scary is this is the starting point for the federal budget discussions.”

North Carolina’s EPA-funded jobs include 341 state workers at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, many of whom issue federal permits and monitor violations under the federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.

The clean water law controls the quality of treated sewage that can be legally released into streams and rivers by hog processors, wastewater treatment plants and other heavy industries. The clean air law sets legal limits on smokestack emissions from power plants, chemical companies and others. 06-22-17

Read more at The News & Observer


What Happens When Organic Farms are Forced to Spray Conventional Pesticides?

One Oregon farm’s viral plea shines a national spotlight on what is usually a local debate about mandatory pesticide applications.

The plea for help from Azure Standard, a large organic farm in Central Oregon, was bound to go viral.

In mid-May, the company posted a video and call to action on Facebook labeled, “An Organic Farm Under Threat,” stating that the local government was about to spray Roundup and other toxic herbicides across more than 2,000 acres of certified organic wheat, peas, and barley.

Within days, officials in rural Sherman County—where less than 2,000 people live—had received more than 57,000 emails urging them not to spray the farm. The most comments they’d received on an ordinance in the past was five.

The underlying situation was more nuanced than a local government out to destroy an organic farm, however. (And many of the facts relayed in the social media campaign have been disputed by county officials. For instance, they never proposed using Roundup, but it makes for a splashier headline than Milestone, a lesser known herbicide.) But the incident shocked consumers and activists because of its implication: After years of cultivating healthy organic soil, could the government really mandate the use of chemical pesticides in the name of weed control?

In fact, conversations with dozens of organic activists and farmers across the country have made it clear that situations like this, while not common, do arise—usually regarding pest, rather than weed, management. And in some cases, farmers may be forced to spray pesticides on their own or the government may do it for them, using the legal authority granted by local pest and weed control ordinances.

Read more at Civil Eats


U.S.-China Beef Deal Puts Higher Emissions on the Menu

The growing Chinese middle class has a love affair with beef, and it now has a new supplier. The deal could increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.

Credit: Brandi Simons/Getty Images

Livestock production accounts for more than 14 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, the third-largest contributor after energy and transportation. Credit: Brandi Simons/Getty ImagesFor the first time in 14 years, American beef will end up on Chinese dining tables, thanks to a trade deal finalized this week.

For a meat-loving Chinese middle class, this comes as good news. But the arrangement could lead to millions of tons of additional greenhouse gases from the United States’ cattle industry, the world’s largest beef producer, especially if Chinese beef consumption continues its expected climb.

The production of livestock accounts for more than 14 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, the third-largest contributor after energy production and transportation. Of all livestock, beef cattle are the most greenhouse gas-intensive, accounting for about 40 percent of all livestock-related emissions. That’s largely because of the methane cattle emit when belching and the impact of feed production, which includes lands being converted for grazing or growing grain.

The Chinese government banned imports of American beef in 2003 after mad cow disease was discovered in some U.S. cattle herds. But the U.S. beef industry has pushed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop measures that persuaded the Chinese government to reopen its market. The final push came in the last couple of months, after President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss U.S.-China trade in April. 06-17-17

Read more at Inside Climate News


May Continues a Ridiculous Warm Streak for the Planet

This May was the second-hottest May on record. Credit: NASA GISS

Another month is in the global temperature record books. While May just missed setting a record, the data is another reminder that climate change is making the world hotter and pushing it into a new state.

This May was the second-warmest May on record, according to NASA data released on Thursday. The planet was 1.6°F (0.88°C) warmer than normal last month, trailing 2016 by just a 10th of a degree.

Widespread hot spots stretched from pole to pole, showing no corner of the globe is untouched by the impact of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Temperatures soared up to 13.8°F (7.1°C) above normal in parts of Antarctica while a wide swath of heat cooked northern Africa and western Europe.

With May in the record books, NASA data also shows that this was the second-warmest spring on record, again trailing only 2016. NASA climate researcher Gavin Schmidt said the first five months of the year make it likely that this will be the second-hottest year on record trailing only, you guessed it, 2016. 06-15-17

Read more at Climate Central


Solar Battle Continues as Duke-Backed Energy Bill Passes North Carolina House

North Carolina solar jobs by county. Solar Foundation.

Alongside Highway 401 in northern North Carolina is a 21st-century twist on a classic rural scene. A few miles outside of Roxboro, sheep graze among 5,000 panels at the Person County Solar Park, keeping the grass tidy on the rural installation.

Fields like these aren’t just scenic settings for roadtripping tourists to snap photos. Solar has “been some of the only economic development to happen in rural North Carolina in the last 30 years,” explained Richard Harkrader, CEO of a local solar company.

For companies like Harkrader’s Carolina Solar Energy, the Tar Heel State is a great place to do business. Abundant sunshine, ample support for clean energy and smart public policy have spurred the rapid growth of solar. Today, North Carolina boasts more solar capacity than every state except California. In the first quarter of 2017, North Carolina added more solar than any other state, and its solar industry employs more people than Wake Forest University. 06-13-17

Read more at EcoWatch


How This Energy Company’s Deep Influence Is Tainting Atlantic Coast Pipeline Approval Process

There is a growing political scandal in Virginia regarding the ubiquitous influence of the state’s largest energy company, Dominion Energy, and it’s raising fundamental questions about the integrity of the governor’s office and state regulators who will decide the fate of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

Dominion’s longstanding exercise of power and influence in Virginia is no secret—the company is the largest corporate donor to state candidates.

But a new report by the Public Accountability Initiative documents in one place the company’s extensive, revolving door relationships with the very regulators charged with issuing permits for this controversial, $5 billion fracked-gas project.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline is a joint venture of Dominion, Duke Energy and Southern Company, but Dominion is the leading owner and will operate the pipeline if it goes ahead.

The project, which would source fracked gas from West Virginia, plans to traverse the Allegheny Highlands bordering West Virginia and Virginia, cut a large swath through Virginia to the Hampton Roads area, and branch south into North Carolina.

The new report details how Dominion’s influence penetrates every level of state government, from Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials, through General Assembly members on both sides of the aisle, to the governor’s mansion.

These relationships are fundamental to the fate of the pipeline. 06-08-17

Read more at EcoWatch


Senators Question DeVos on Connection to Heartland Institute’s Mailing to Educators Denying Climate Science

USAG- Humphreys

Four Democratic senators sent a letter to Education Sec. Betsy DeVos this week calling out her support of President Trump’s decision to pull out of Paris.

The letter points out that DeVos has not commented “on any administration decisions or policies outside of the purview of the Department of Education” except for Paris, which she praised in a statement last week.

The senators raised concerns over a Heartland Institute-funded campaign to distribute climate denier literature to every public school science teacher in the country, and questioned if DeVos or her staff had contact with the Heartland Institute on climate science issues. 06-08-17

Originally published on EcoWatch


Defying Trump, Hawaii Becomes First State to Pass Law Committing to Paris Climate Accord

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s Anahola solar array in Hawaii in 2015. Credit Kent Nishimura for The New York Times.

Hawaii on Tuesday became the first state to pass a law committing to the goals and limits of the Paris climate accord, defying President Trump, who announced last week that he would withdraw the United States from the historic agreement.

The state’s governor, David Y. Ige, signed two bills at a ceremony at the state’s capitol rotunda in Honolulu. One of the bills was explicitly geared toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the landmark goals adopted by world leaders with the Paris Agreement in 2015. The other will establish a task force to help the state improve soil health and remove carbon from the atmosphere.

He was joined by mayors from around the state, who signed an agreement to commit to the goals of the accord.

“Many of the greatest challenges of our day hit us first, and that means that we also need to be first when it comes to creating solutions,” Mr. Ige, a Democrat in his first term as governor, said in remarks before the signing. “We are the testing grounds — as an island state, we are especially aware of the limits of our natural environment.” 06-07-17

Read more at The New York Times


Justice for All

As Trump ignores enviro justice, congressional reps step up.

Grist 50-er Nanette Diaz Barragán of California, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Donald McEachin of Virginia introduced a package of bills aimed at ensuring communities disproportionately effected by climate change, pollution, and environmental contamination are not forgotten.

The longshot legislation proposed by the three freshman Democrats follows their cofounding in late April of the United for Climate and Environmental Justice Task Force, as well as a letter they sent to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last month, urging him not to erase his agency’s progress on environmental justice.

While President Trump’s proposed budget suggests crippling the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, one of the newly introduced bills would “officially establish” the office and arm it with $16 million annually to distribute as small grants to communities developing solutions to environmental and public health disparities. 06-05-17

Read more at Grist


Regional Officials to Ask Trump Administration to End Uranium Mining Ban Near Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon North Rim. Jerry and Pat Donaho/CC

A draft letter backed by officials in Arizona and Utah is urging the Trump administration to review the uranium mining ban near the Grand Canyon. The letter, which is expected to be sent to Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke on Monday, asks the department to completely overturn the Obama-era environmental protections.

The 20-year ban was issued in 2012 by former Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar. It prohibits new claims for mining in the region, which includes more than 1 million acres of public land adjacent to the Grand Canyon. The ban, however, does not restrict existing mines, four of which continue within just a few miles of the rim of the Colorado River.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has completed many reports on the safety of the water in the region, which helped lead to the ban. In 2010, they found that 15 springs and five wells contained concentrations of uranium that exceeded drinking water limits. Also in 2010, the USGS found radioactive dust several hundred feet from the Kanab North Mine Site at more than 10 times the background concentration for uranium, according to Grand Canyon Trust.

But the draft letter to be sent by the Mohave County board and other regional leaders says that the ban is unlawful and stifles the economic growth of the mining industry. A second letter, planned to also be sent on Monday, will ask the federal government to rollback national monument protections for popular tourist destinations, including the Vermilion Cliffs area in northern Arizona and the Sonoran Desert near Phoenix.

Board chairman Gary Watson told The Guardian, “I think the Trump administration is very interested in looking at the situation. A number of companies are very anxious to get in there and start extracting uranium. There is no danger.” 06-05-17

Read more at EcoWatch


Paramilitary security tracked and targeted DAPL opponents as “jihadists,” docs show

As people nationwide rallied last year to support the Standing Rock Sioux’s attempts to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, a private security firm with experience fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan launched an intrusive military-style surveillance and counterintelligence campaign against the activists and their allies, according to internal company documents.

Its surveillance targets included everyone from Native American demonstrators to the actress Shailene Woodley, along with organizations including Black Lives Matter, 350.org, Veterans for Peace, the Catholic Worker Movement, and Food and Water Watch. The records label the protestors “jihadists” and seek to justify escalating action against them.

The activities of the company spanned, but were not limited to, the four states through which the pipeline passes: South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. The documents also show that its surveillance efforts continued after the breakup of the Standing Rock camps this winter, including at ongoing pipeline protests in southeastern Pennsylvania, Iowa, and South Dakota.

The internal documents from the firm, called TigerSwan, take the form of situation reports, or “sitreps,” prepared between September and April for its employer, Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners. The records detail a range of tactics that experts from the American Civil Liberties Union, National Lawyers Guild, and Electronic Frontier Foundation say would likely be illegal if conducted by law enforcement. 06-01-17

Read more at Grist


Exxon Shareholders Approve Climate Resolution: 62% Vote for Disclosure

The landmark investor vote defied Exxon’s management. It requires the oil giant to begin reporting climate-related risks to its business.

Karen Bleier, Getty Images

ExxonMobil shareholders voted Wednesday to require the world’s largest oil and gas company to report on the impacts of climate change to its business—defying management, and marking a milestone in a 28-year effort by activist investors.

Sixty-two percent of shareholders voted for Exxon to begin producing an annual report that explains how the company will be affected by global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate agreement. The analysis should address the financial risks the company faces as nations slash fossil fuel use in an effort to prevent worldwide temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius.

Last year, 38 percent of Exxon shareholders supported essentially the same measure, which at the time was a record.

The vote at Exxon shows the rapid erosion of support for the company’s defiant stance on climate disclosure, and it caps a shareholder meeting season that saw unprecedented support for greater corporate disclosure on climate change. In recent weeks, shareholders voted in favor of climate risk analysis at two other major energy companies, Occidental Petroleum and PPL, Pennsylvania’s largest utility. Climate-related shareholder resolutions also garnered record support at other big U.S. utilities that rely on fossil fuels: Dominion Resources (47.8%), Duke Energy (46.4%) and DTE Energy (45%).

In a week when President Donald Trump is expected to either back out of the Paris accord or scale down the U.S. commitment to cut carbon emissions, the vote at Exxon shows that momentum for action on climate is growing without White House leadership. 06-01-17

Read more at Inside Climate News