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New video: All of the Above is climate denial

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You may have seen the latest effort to push an All of the Above energy to a younger generation, this time by the GOP (but of course, they're not the first to do so...ahem, President Obama...). Well, we at Oil Change International have our own version we'd like to share with you that we think tells a more accurate picture of what All of the Above energy boosters are really all about. And after you're done watching, be sure to send a message that you won't stand for All of the Above climate denial. Check out our remake: ...and here's …

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Frackwater: The latest fragrance from Jerry Brown

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Remember that Stetson ad from the early 2000s with a hunky Matthew McConaughey? You know, the one where he's deftly jumping over fences and seducing a woman in a field full of horses? Well, today we're releasing a remade version of that ad, featuring none other than California's septuagenarian Governor, Jerry Brown.* Backed up by new analysis of campaign records and other contributions filings, the online video shines a light on a cozy relationship that's emerged between Governor Brown and the oil industry in California. The video parody, entitled “Frack Water” and produced with our friends at Heavy Crude Video, portrays a Governor Brown …

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Infographic: Piling up Keystone XL’s petcoke

In the President’s recent speech on climate change, he said “our national interest will be served only if [Keystone XL] does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” There are many reasons that the Keystone XL pipeline will clearly exacerbate the problem of climate pollution…but one that is often overlooked (at our peril) is theproblem of petroleum coke (aka “petcoke”). Petcoke is a refining byproduct of tar sands oil, and when burned is substantially dirtier than coal and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas pollution. Read below to see just how significant Keystone XL’s petcoke problem would be…with enough petcoke to …

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Arkansas: Exxon’s latest spill and spin zone

Exxon’s top lobbyist, Ken Cohen, called my colleagues and me liars this weekend. In a post entitled “Five lies they’re telling you about the Mayflower pipeline spill,” he said: “What I thought I’d talk about today are the top five inaccuracies being spread by anti-fossil fuel activists seeking to capitalize on this unfortunate event.” That’s a pretty rich statement coming from a guy who shills for a corporation that spent millions spreading disinformation about climate science, continues to deny and contest payments to victims of the Exxon Valdez spill, has been low-balling estimates of the Arkansas oil spill, and has spent the past …

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Pro-Keystone XL Senate bill follows pattern of following the oil money

Remember the letter a group of Senators sent a couple weeks ago urging the President to approve the problematic Keystone XL pipeline?  We wrote about it at the time, and in so doing we discovered that the Senators who signed have received over 236% more in fossil fuel campaign contributions than the rest of the Senate. This analysis didn’t come as a surprise to us at Oil Change Internatonal — every single time a grouping of Senators or other Members of Congress have come together to push for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, those groups have followed the same pattern: January …

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Senators send pro-Keystone XL letter, once again drenched with oil money

Well, here we are again.  Only mere days after the biggest rally and march in support of climate action and against the Keystone XL pipeline in US history, another letter has been sent by a group of Senators calling for approval of the troublesome (to say the least) Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, this time spear-headed by Senators Baucus and Hoeven. And once again it’s clear there’s dirty energy money behind it. At this point, you likely know the drill. Every election cycle, Big Oil pays into campaigns heftily in order to try to curry favors and influence in Washington, and the …

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Pro-Keystone XL Letter Dripping in Fossil Fuel Money

In the ongoing saga that is the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, it’s clear that supporters of the dangerous project are getting anxious.  Perhaps they’re seeing the writing on the wall that this project is nowhere near a sure thing, thanks to themassive resistance to the pipeline, the scientists throwing their weight in opposition to it, and the new studies out showing even greater negative effects if built. Or perhaps they’re looking ahead to the wave of people planning to descend upon DC in opposition to the pipeline and in favor of strong climate action on the 17th of February. In the latest attempt to influence …

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Koch’ed up: Petcoke’s political pollution

If there is a statistical correlation between dirty oil and dirty politics, we have yet to fully quantify it – but you can add this to the growing pile of anecdotal evidence that the dirtiest political players are responsible for some of the dirtiest energy on the planet. William Koch – the “other” Koch brother along with David and Charles – was recently sued by a former senior executive at his Oxbow Carbon & Minerals Inc. for false imprisonment.  The allegations are that Koch lured the former executive to his Colorado ranch and then held him against his will to intimidate him.  …

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Looking for $1 trillion to spend well? Eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

You know how sometimes you decide to Google something totally random that's on your mind and see what comes up?  Well, the other day "1 trillion dollars" was on my mind, and I decided to Google it.  Well, turns out you get some interesting results when you Google "1 trillion dollars", if you can look past all of the talk about the US deficit.

I learned that if you stacked one trillion dollar bills on top of each other, they would go a third of the way to the moon.  That's insane. Do you realize how thin a dollar bill is?

I read something about how the system we use for writing numbers is both incredible and challenging because of how easily you can represent incredibly huge numbers. It's true -- 1,000,000,000 looks not all that much less than 1,000,000,000,000 if you just glance at them.  And even if you look at them more closely, the billion vs. the trillion don't look allllll that much different, right?

Well, turns out they are. 1 trillion dollars is really really big. No, it's really really really really really really big. When you think about it as an amount of money it's truly mind-boggling.  You think one billion is big, per chance?  Well one trillion is a THOUSAND of those!  Maybe you're more modest and think a million dollars is a pretty large sum of money. Well, a trillion dollars is one million million dollars. Or, a million squared. Confusing? It should be. It's nearly incomprehensibly huge.

So that's why the new fact sheet just released by Oil Change International is so scary and infuriating at the same time. It shows that on an annual basis, the fossil fuel industry now receives something on the order of $1 trillion globally from government subsidies (aka handouts).

That's right…that mind-boggling amount of money? It's going to the industry that is both raking in record profits and also destroying our planet with dirty extraction, oil spills and toxic air, and of course global warming-causing greenhouse gases.

Generally, subsidies are on either the production side (making the cost of production cheaper), or the consumption side (making the price of fuel cheaper to the consumer). In the US and the rest of the industrialized world, we generally have production subsidies, which also serve as corporate welfare to the oil, gas and coal industries, who return the favor with lavish campaign contributions.  But in the developing world, consumption subsidies, which in theory should make access to energy and fuel affordable to the poor, are far more common.

The problem is...the theory is wrong.  Those consumption subsidies don't generally end up helping the poor.  So we need to eliminate them, replace them with real policies to ensure energy access for all, and of course we need to stop giving the world's richest companies more incentives to make even more money.

The public is starting to wake up to the absurdity of these wasteful subsidies.  In just the few days since its recent launch, over 600,000 people (and growing) have signed an Avaaz petition calling on leaders to make progress on this important issue.  Key figures are speaking out on the need to eliminate these subsidies.

In 2009, G20 leaders committed to phase out these subsidies. But unfortunately, their commitment hasn't turned into action, so it’s time to help light the way. Over 75 NGOs have recently come together outlining a few key steps that should be taken in the coming months at the next G20 and also at the upcoming Rio+20 summit to move forward in eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.

  1. First, governments should set themselves a deadline for getting rid of these subsidies. Seeing as it's been 3 years since the G20 committed to phasing them out, 2015 seems to be a good date -- that'd be a good 6 years after these 20 leaders committed their governments to doing so.
  2. Second, folks like Oil Change International and other NGOs shouldn't have to spend lots of time and investigative skills to discover this trillion dollars sitting out there being spent in bad ways. It's a huge amount of money and governments should be willing to admit they are sending it in support to fossil fuel industries around the world.  So, it’s time for governments to be more transparent and consistent in their reporting of fossil fuel subsidies.
  3. Thirdly, support needs to be provided to developing countries and protections established to ensure the poor and vulnerable are safeguarded from unintended consequences to removing these subsidies.  While some suggest that fossil fuel subsidies are aimed at providing energy access to the poor, studies have shown that less than 10% of these subsidies actually benefit the poor. Nevertheless, it’s important that poor countries and communities are supported while these subsidies are phased out.
  4. Finally, governments should work together to shift these subsidies from fossil fuels to more useful endeavors. We and other NGOs are calling on governments to create a way to encourage this cooperation -- a center of excellence for fossil fuel subsidy removal, if you will.  This center would help governments be honest in their reporting of these massive subsidies and coordinate global efforts to get rid of them.

Luckily, there are a number of opportunities on the horizon for government leaders to commit to these three simple steps.  One opportunity was just passed by this weekend, as the G8 leaders released only a reiteration of existing pledges on this issue.  But in June, the G20 will meet as they do each year, this time in Mexico, where a climate law was just passed that commits the Mexicans to removing their subsidies.  Just days later, the whole world will be convening in Rio for the Rio+20 global sustainability conference.  These two opportunities are prime opportunities to launch a global effort to live up to the commitments already made by the G20 and get rid of these inefficient and massive subsidies once and for all.

Just think, with a little effort we could have US$1 trillion to help fund a transition to a safer future. Seems like it'd be a great head start, if you ask me.

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Taking the suits to the street and protesting Keystone XL

Getting arrested: par for the course at Keystone XL protests.Photo: chesapeakeclimateThis week, I'm taking time off from my day job, and I'll most likely be getting arrested. I'll be with dozens of others, all of us joining hundreds more in the tar-sands action taking place between Aug. 20 and Sept. 3. We'll be voicing our opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline that the Obama administration is currently considering.  While I've been active in the climate fight for several years now, this will be the first time I've joined in this sort of an action. Over the past five years, I …

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