In the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries, European settlers stole a lot of land from Native Americans. They killed them, they cheated them, and they robbed them of most of the continent. But they made one mistake. Back then good land was fertile land for growing crops. The Great Plains and interior West -- dry, dusty, freezing cold in winter and broiling hot in summer -- had little to offer.
Now, however, the Europeans and their descendants lust for oil and gas to provide electricity, heat, and fuel for internal combustion engines. And guess where a lot of it is to be found? On tribal lands, or near them, requiring pipes, tracks, or roads to be laid through them.
You can see where this is going. Corporations and pliant local officials — today's equivalent of conquistadors and European crowns — are trying to gain control of what’s left of indigenous peoples' land.
“There are more than 600 major resource projects worth $650-billion planned in Western Canada over the next decade but relations with First Nations may be a major hurdle for those developments,” reports the Toronto Globe and Mail.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is finding the fracking issue to be increasingly irritating. Or more to the point, he's finding anti-fracking activists to be increasingly irritating.
Brown is a long-time environmental champion with a strong record of advancing clean energy and climate action, but he doesn't mind the fracking that's going on in his state. In fact, he kinda likes it.
A few years ago, I worked at one of those scrappy neighborhood news websites that was supposed to be the future of journalism. (I don’t know if it was the future of journalism. It was certainly a future of journalism.) We rode our bikes to crime scenes and wrote stories about which local developer was having problems with the planning department, which local restaurant had rats. It was very 19th century in a lot of ways.
In one project, we collaborated with a local research university's investigation of the giant hairball of research that is multiple chemical exposure. They were trying to translate that research to a wider audience -- specifically, women who were about to have babies. The public health outreach workers would write what we hoped would be fun, informational articles. I would edit them.
Then the op-eds began to trickle in. In the same way that all fairytales share certain essentials, the op-eds all boiled down to a single narrative: That thing you think is OK? It’s bad for you.
I came to dread the op-eds. My private name for them was “Fear of the Week.” I felt like our readers didn't really have time to be afraid of all these things. I often said to the public health people that if they were so serious about public health, they should be working on legislation, not just education. They responded that legislation was more complicated than I might suspect.
Perhaps, I suggested, they could tell our readers the story of some environmental successes in their field, to leaven the panic a bit. Did anything spring to mind?
This 1,900-mile pipeline will carry gas condensate or ultra-light oil from an Illinois terminal northwest to Alberta, where it will be used to thin tar-sands oil so it can travel through pipelines. Without this kind of diluent, tar-sands oil is too thick and sludgy to transport. "Increased demand for diluent among Alberta's tar sands producers has created a growing market for U.S. producers of natural gas liquids, particularly for fracked gas producers," reports DeSmogBlog.
Houston-based Kinder Morgan is the company behind the $260 million Cochin Reversal Project, which will reverse and expand an existing pipeline. The pipeline will be fed by fracking operations in the Eagle Ford Shale area in Texas.
All across the country — most recently, in the state of Texas — local battles over the teaching of evolution are taking on a new complexion. More and more, it isn't just evolution under attack, it's also the teaching of climate science. The National Center for Science Education, the leading group defending the teaching of evolution across the country, has even broadened its portfolio: Now, it protects climate education too.
How did these issues get wrapped up together? On its face, there isn't a clear reason — other than a marriage of convenience — why attacks on evolution and attacks on climate change ought to travel side by side. After all, we know why people deny evolution: Religion, especially the fundamentalist kind. And we know why people deny global warming: Free market ideology and libertarianism. These are not, last I checked, the same thing. (If anything, libertarians may be the most religiously skeptical group on the political right.)
And yet clearly there's a relationship between the two issue stances. If you're in doubt, watch this Climate Desk video of a number of members of Congress citing religion in the context of questioning global warming:
Legislation that would impose a 10-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing is making its way through the Massachusetts state legislature. On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture passed the bill, which would also prohibit the dumping of fracking wastewater in the state.
"Although the state isn't seen as a rich source of shale gas, there could be limited deposits in western Massachusetts," the Associated Press reports. As EcoWatch explains, "Local concern about fracking has grown since the U.S. Geological Survey identified shale gas deposits in the Pioneer Valley last December. Moreover, as New York mulls large-scale fracking next door, drilling operators could soon view Western Massachusetts as a convenient dumping ground for toxic fracking wastewater."
If the full state legislature passes the bill and Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signs it, Massachusetts would become the second state in the nation to ban fracking. Vermont banned it last year, despite having negligible fracking potential.
How did things go so wrong for a conservative Republican in the coal-rich state of Virginia? Earlier this month, voters in that closely watched battleground state rejected Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme, right-wing bid for governor and dealt a serious blow to the deep-pocketed oil companies that backed his candidacy.
Of course, now is when the number-crunchers confer behind closed doors, in hushed tones, about what it all really means -- for the midterms in 2014 and the primaries in 2016, for soccer moms and NASCAR dads, for women’s bodies and marriage equality, and for climate change.
I am here to tell you: A new political dynamic is emerging. Climate change is a winner, not a loser.
Looks like federal environmental officials might be headed for some all-nighters in the coming months.
Hundreds of planned new regulations were outlined by the White House just before Thanksgiving, including many proposed environmental rules that could help the country clean up its act and fight climate change.
No fewer than seven reporters for E&E Publishing scoured the latest biannual Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, published Wednesday, and here is a sampling of the environmental regulatory efforts that they say are in the works:
The leaders of the United Nations and World Bank have hatched a plan to make sure everybody in the world has access to electricity by 2030. It would involve a huge ramp-up in electricity generation, including continued growth in renewables, and vast improvements in energy efficiency. It would also require hundreds of billions a year in investments.
But not all energy sources are welcome. "We don't do nuclear energy," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in announcing a push for financing for the plan. (The World Bank doesn't do much coal anymore either.)
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim [on Wednesday] announced a concerted effort by governments, international agencies, civil society and private sector to mobilize financing to deliver universal access to modern energy services such as lighting, clean cooking solutions and power for productive purposes in developing countries, as well as scaled-up energy efficiency, especially in the world’s highest-energy consuming countries.
It has become a common assertion, repeated ad nauseum by hack pundits such as yours truly, that New York City’s outgoing mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has become one of the world’s most forceful opponents of climate change. Journalists typically refer to Bloomberg’s blueprint for reducing New York’s carbon footprint and adapting to climate change, known as PlaNYC. But such passing references typically fail to offer details of how exactly Bloomberg has done it: What are the components of New York’s sustainability agenda, and what is the story behind its adoption?
Into that void steps InsideClimate News with its e-book, Bloomberg's Hidden Legacy: Climate Change and the Future of New York City. In almost 25,000 words, InsideClimate reporters Katherine Bagley and Maria Gallucci have brought us the definitive account of Bloomberg’s greatest achievement.
Reading through the book, which is available for purchase in its entirety, and for free on the InsideClimate website in five installments, I was reminded that what we now think of as one of Bloomberg’s signature issues, along with smoking cessation and gun control, was not of any particular interest to him during the first half of his tenure. Bloomberg took office less than four months after the horrific terrorist strikes of September 11, 2001. His first term and the beginning of his second were primarily consumed with security concerns and economic revitalization.
And when Bloomberg’s sustainability agenda did arise in 2006, its impetus was not sentimental environmentalism. The mayor was a science geek (he majored in electrical engineering in college) and a technocrat with a commitment to public health. The kind of person who bans trans fats from restaurants and smoking from bars and public parks is a relatively easy sell on environmental regulation. But the real spark for PlaNYC was a projection that New York’s population would grow by a million people by mid-century.