By The Climate Reality ProjectEnergy  03:40PM EST
Solar Is Booming ... Costs Keep Falling

Today, solar power is everywhere. It's on your neighbor's roof and in tiny portable cellphone chargers. There are even solar powered roads. And as solar power heats up, prices are going down. In fact, over the past 40 years, the cost of solar has decreased by more than 99 percent!

But how did we get here? Ready for a quick history lesson on one of the world's fastest growing sources of energy?

You might find this hard to believe, but we can trace the idea of harnessing the power of the sun back to 1839. A bright (pun intended!) young French physicist named Edmond Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect—the creation of an electric current in a material after being exposed to light—while experimenting in his father's laboratory. Over the following hundred-plus years, scientists continued exploring this phenomenon, creating and patenting solar cells, using them to heat water and doing extensive research to increase the efficiency of solar energy.

The 1970s brought a period of change not only in the form of political and cultural upheaval, but also saw the rise of solar as a viable way to produce electricity. The first solar-powered calculator was commercialized, the Solar Energy Research Institute (now called the National Renewable Energy Laboratory) was established, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House for the first time. But it was also quite expensive, costing an average of $76 per watt in 1977.

But as advancements in the industry continued, the costs began to fall. Over the next 10 years, the price would drop sevenfold to less than $10 per watt, hitting a plateau in the late 1980s and early '90s.

Fast-forward to a few years later and solar technology was really hitting its stride as huge cost reductions were made in recent years, causing world leaders, governments, and the private sector to get on board and moving solar from a niche technology into the mainstream. Soon, regular people in communities all over the world were installing panels on their roofs and in numerous other applications thanks to the technology's improving economics and innovative incentives and financing models.

Which brings us to today, when solar power can cost a minuscule61 cents per watt.

In a relatively short period of time, it's become clear that an incredible future is ahead for this renewable source of energy. And as you might expect, the more the price falls, the more attractive it becomes. Forty years ago, the total global installation of solar was around 2 megawatts. Today, total global installation is closer to 224,000 megawatts.

And as we start down the road forward after the historic Paris agreement, we're noticing just how many countries are working to meet their carbon emissions reduction goals by going solar.

That's why we're hoping you will join us Dec. 5-6 for 24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward as we travel the world for a look at how solar power is revolutionizing access to electricity in Mexico, Malaysia and Venezuela. We'll visit southeast Asia to meet a "solar monk" in Thailand and to South Africa, where sheep and solar live together on one solar PV farm. We'll even hear from oil-rich countries in the Middle East that are starting to prepare for a future beyond fossil fuels—and renewables like solar are becoming more and more cost effective.

Sign up today to receive reminders about these inspiring stories. We'll see you Dec. 5-6 for The Climate Reality Project's annual 24 Hours of Reality live event. You won't want to miss out!

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By AlterNetEnergy  03:10PM EST
Trevor Noah: Maybe This Time the White People Could Move

By Alexandra Rosenmann

Daily Show host Trevor Noah has an announcement on behalf of the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at the Standing Rock Reservation.

"Native Americans were super friendly," Noah began the segment. "They're like, 'Hey, I'm not actually Indian, but I don't want to embarrass him in front of all of his ships,'" he joked, drawing on Christopher Columbus' infamous mistake. "I'll tell him later, what's the worst that could happen?"

Of course, it was Columbus' cluelessness that set a dangerous precedent for centuries to come.

"As you may have heard, since April of this year, Native Americans in North Dakota have been protesting over the Dakota Access Pipeline," Noah announced, noting that the pipeline project is a clear perpetuation of the U.S. screwing over Native Americans.

"The land is sacred to them and it's their land," Noah explained.

Protesters are also worried about the oil pipe leaking and contaminating their main water source.

"It's hella disrespectful to lay pipe in someone else's yard," Noah pointed out.

The protesters have been facing small armies of highly militarized police departments and have "endured dog attacks, tear gas, water cannons and Jill Stein" Noah explained, before blasting Kelcy Warren, the CEO behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Noah then noted that the pipeline was actually originally positioned at Bismarck, which is 90 percent white, but then rerouted to the Standing Rock Reservation.

"This is pipeline is N-S-F-W: not safe for whites," Noah joked. "I joke, but I don't think it's racial. It's a numbers thing. More people live near Bismarck. If the pipeline is rooted there, it would have passed closer to more homes and needed to cross water sources more times. And because we love fossil fuels, the fact is the pipe has to go somewhere. What are we going to do? Just not use oil? Come on, that's just … possible."

Noah then issued an important plea to the country largely ignoring the issues at Standing Rock:

"Look, America has spent centuries moving native people's from place to place. Maybe just this one time you can be the ones who move."

Watch here:

Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.

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By Lorraine ChowAnimals  11:36AM EST
Everglades Dolphins Have Highest Level of Mercury Ever

Researchers have discovered that bottlenose dolphins residing off the Florida Everglades have higher concentrations of mercury contamination than any other population of the mammals in the world.

Contamination levels of mercury (T-Hg) in Lower Florida Keys (LFK) and the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) dolphinsScience Direct

The study, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, examined the levels of mercury and other toxins in the sea creatures. According to the research, mercury concentrations in the skin of Florida Coastal Everglades dolphins (median 9314 ng g−1 dw) were about three times higher than Lower Florida Keys dolphins (median 2941 ng g−1 dw).

"These concentrations are the highest recorded in bottlenose dolphins in the southeastern USA, and may be explained, at least partially, by the biogeochemistry of the Everglades and mangrove sedimentary habitats that create favorable conditions for the retention of mercury and make it available at high concentrations for aquatic predators," the study abstract states.

The research team includes scientists from Florida International University (FIU), the University of Liège in Belgium, the University of Gronigen in the Netherlands and the Tropical Dolphin Research Foundation in the U.S.

It is unclear where exactly the mercury comes from but the scientists suspect it might stem from smoke stacks, nearby farming operations or from the area's numerous mangroves in Everglades National Park. As FIU News explained, when mangrove leaves drop into the water, mercury from the mangroves mixes with bacteria and is turned into methylmercury. Methylmercury is highly toxic and can travel up the food chain, as it collects in animal tissue in larger and larger amounts. (That's why predators like dolphins, swordfish and tuna have troubling levels of mercury.)

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Dolphins that live in the Amazon and other mangrove forests also have elevated mercury levels, but the researchers were surprised to find that the mercury levels in Everglades dolphins were even higher.

"I couldn't believe those levels because that's the highest ever recorded," FIU marine scientist Jeremy Kiszka, a co-author of the study, told the Miami Herald. "It raises a lot of other questions."

The study is important because dolphins are a vital "sentinel species," meaning they shed light on oceanic and human health. So if a dolphin is swimming in contaminated waters, a person living by the same coastal waters might also be exposed to the same contamination. As the Miami Herald noted, researchers discovered last year that Indian River Lagoon dolphins had elevated mercury levels, reflecting the high levels of mercury in the nearby human population.

Similarly, since dolphins and humans eat the same kind of seafood, if a dolphin gets sick from eating toxic fish, a person who eats the same toxic fish might get sick too.

For humans, mercury can have a whole host of terrifying problems. As for what effects mercury has on dolphins, FIU News explained that the chemical can disrupt the animal's immune system and reproduction, making them more vulnerable to infection and disease.

"Mercury is one of the most neurotoxic elements in the universe," World Mercury Project president Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who was not involved in the study, explained to EcoWatch. "The destruction of these extraordinary creatures is part of the cost of our deadly addiction to coal and chemicals. We shouldn't forget that these dolphins are accumulating these horrifying brain poisons from the same fish that our children eat."

The scientists are now trying to expand their study on other marine animals.

"Understanding the impact of pollutants on marine ecosystems, including from natural sources, is critical for conservation and management. Results obtained on bottlenose dolphins from the Everglades were surprising, but we now need to assess the effect of mercury on the health of dolphins and other species from the Everglades," Kiszka told FIU News. "This is a critical question for understanding the effects of pollutants on aquatic ecosystems, but also on humans, since we are also part of these ecosystems."

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By Lorraine ChowEnergy  08:30AM EST
World's Largest Solar Farm Leapfrogs India to Third in Utility-Scale Solar

The Kamuthi solar plant in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has vastly expanded the country's solar capacity. Based on Wiki-Solar's calculations, thanks to the new plant, India now claims the number three spot in terms of utility-scale solar, behind China and the U.S.

World's largest single location power project was commissioned by Adani Group in the town of Kamuthi in Tamil Nadu. Adani Group

The 648-megawatt Kamuthi plant went online this September and is considered the world's largest solar project in a single location. For comparison, the world's second largest solar plant, the Topaz Solar Farm in California, has a capacity of 550 megawatts.

"India has now leap-frogged the UK, as predicted, to become the world's third nation for the deployment of utility-scale solar," Wiki-Solar founder Philip Wolfe stated. "India still has a huge backlog of awarded tenders, which should enable it to close the gap with the USA and China in coming years."

As Alternative Energies writes, "over the next five years, India plans to build a number of 25 extra large solar power plants with a generation capacity between 500 and 1,000 MW."

"The success of India's solar energy policy stems in part from the [Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission] national program, but also the extent to which many states are supporting this effort," Wolfe continued. "The majority of Indian states have now designated one or more 'solar parks' where priority is given both to allocation of land and to provision of high capacity connections."

This push towards clean power cannot come soon enough. Earlier this month, the air pollution in the nation's capital of New Delhi was literally off the charts, earning it the dubious title of "world's most polluted city." Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declared the intense smog levels an "emergency situation," and ordered the shut down of 5,000 schools and halted construction operations for several days.

With the new plant in Kamuthi, India's total installed solar capacity has now crossed the important 10 gigawatt milestone, according to consultancy firm Bridge to India.

"The pace of sector activity has picked up tremendously in the last two years because of strong government support and increasing price competitiveness of solar power. India is expected to become the world's third biggest solar market from next year onwards after China and the US," Bridge to India stated.

In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to increase India's solar power capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2022, a target that seems too ambitious for some.

"Many people are going to ask the obvious question—if we have taken more than 5 years to achieve 10 GW, can we reach 100 GW in another 5 years? It is a very steep target in our view," Bridge to India managing director Vinay Rustagi said. "But rather than quibble about the target, the important point is to acknowledge the transformational economic, environmental and social potential of solar technology and to create a conducive environment for its growth."

Aljazeera has published new footage of the Kamuthi facility that's spread across 10 square kilometers—or the equivalent of 60 Taj Mahals. The plant consists of 25,00,000 solar modules and can supply enough energy for 150,000 homes.

The operator, Adani Green Energy Ltd, built the impressive structure in only eight months thanks to the around-the-clock dedication of a 8,500-member team. Roughly 11 megawatts were installed in a day on average.

In September, Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani formally dedicated the solar structure to the nation.

"This is a momentous occasion for the state of Tamil Nadu as well as the entire country," he said. "We are extremely happy to dedicate this plant to the nation; a plant of this magnitude reinstates the country's ambitions of becoming one of the leading green energy producers in the world."

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By GreenpeaceTrump Watch  12:42PM EST
Trump Formally Announces Support for the Dakota Access Pipeline

By Mary Sweeters

President-Elect Donald Trump formally announced Thursday his support for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. His transition team noted that his support for the pipeline "had nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans."

Trump's May 2016 financial disclosure revealed significant stock holdings in Energy Transfer Partners, Exxon and Phillips 66, which owns 25 percent of the pipeline project. Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, donated hundreds of thousands to Trump, Trump Victory Fund and the Republican National Committee this year.


In supporting the Dakota Access Pipeline, Trump has shown us the crony capitalism that will run his administration. Trump owns stock in the companies behind the pipeline, and Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren's support for the pipeline with major contributions during his campaign, is the definition of corruption. The president of the United States should not be trading favors with oil and gas corporations.

For Trump to claim he supports the pipeline because it will benefit all Americans is wrong and deluded. Millions of people will lose access to a clean water supply, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and the rest of America will face the impacts of catastrophic climate change from burning fossil fuels. The pipeline is good for Trump's wallet and his friends at Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66.

Trump's comments make it all the more important for President Obama to permanently protect Standing Rock immediately. The Army Corps of Engineers and Obama administration have the power to reject the pipeline for good and ensure Indigenous sovereignty is honored. It is clear that President-Elect Trump will ignore the rights and sovereignty afforded to Native American communities, but President Obama can still ensure the United States does the right thing for Standing Rock. It's time to stop the pipeline once and for all.

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By Lorraine ChowEnergy  08:00AM EST
EPA Watered Down Major Fracking Study to Downplay Water Contamination Risks

A stunning new report from Marketplace and APM Reports reveals that top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials made critical, last-minute changes to the agency's major fracking assessment to soft-pedal clear evidence that the controversial drilling process contaminates the nation's water supplies.

Fracking operations in Dimock, Pennsylvania contaminated local water supplies. Flickr

We've already seen how fracking and drinking water do not mix, and even earlier versions of the EPA assessment said that spills are a problem. But on June 4, 2015, the agency released its executive summary and corresponding press materials with the misleading takeaway that "there is no evidence fracking has led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources."

The EPA's pro-fracking spin baffled many experts and scientists and contradicted what many landowners were seeing in their chemically laden water. Major media outlets also went with headlines that put fracking in the clear, such as the New York Times "Fracking Has Not Had Big Effect on Water Supply, E.P.A. Says While Noting Risks," NPR's "EPA Finds No Widespread Drinking Water Pollution From Fracking" and this CNN screenshot.

Big Oil and Gas, meanwhile, applauded the EPA's report, using it to push for more drilling. Erik Milito, a director at the American Petroleum Institute, told the New York Times that the EPA confirmed that "hydraulic fracturing is being done safely under the strong environmental stewardship of state regulators and industry best practices."

However, it is now evident that Obama administration EPA officials made eleventh hour edits to the report's top-line findings as well as corresponding press materials that clearly played down evidence of water contamination caused by fracking.

As Marketplace and APM Reports explained in their piece:

"It's not clear precisely who inserted or ordered the new phrasing. But emails acquired via the Freedom of Information Act show EPA officials, including press officers, met with key advisers to President Obama to discuss marketing strategy a month before the study's release. The emails also show EPA public relations people exchanging a flurry of messages between 4 and 11 p.m. on the eve of the study's release.

"The authenticity of the documents—before and after the changes—was confirmed independently by three people with knowledge of the study.

"In interviews with 19 people familiar with the research, some characterized the '(no) widespread, systemic' language as a 'bizarre conclusion' and 'irresponsible.' Others said they were 'surprised and disappointed' that top EPA officials used the phrase and said they had no idea it would become the headline until it came out."

The image below shows that the EPA's press release of the study—which condensed the 1,000 page report into the "not widespread, systemic" soundbite—were altered a day before the report was made public.

Draft press releases accompanying the EPA's long-awaited fracking assessment were changed to sound more fracking-friendly before the assessment was released. Marketplace

Conservation groups have long suspected some form of "political meddling" with the fracking contamination report.

"Enough is enough. We've suspected for months that the White House egregiously manipulated the headlines and summary findings of a draft study in order to obfuscate the details buried within—details confirming that fracking has caused numerous cases of water contamination," Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said in response to the Marketplace report.

"Today's report confirms this political meddling," she added. "It's time for the administration to acknowledge its intervention in the crafting of the draft study, and issue a final version that clearly and conclusively highlights that fracking does indeed cause water contamination."

Hauter is calling on President Obama to meet with communities that are most harmed by fracking and other fossil fuel projects such as the heavily contested Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens to contaminate drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota.

“Furthermore, before he leaves office, President Obama should meet with impacted individuals and hear directly their stories of suffering from serious health effects related to fracking," she said. "And he must protect communities directly in the path of future fossil fuel hazards. He must start by protecting the Standing Rock Sioux and taking the Dakota Access pipeline off the table for good."

EPA scientists are currently revising the study and taking comments from the public and the EPA's Science Advisory Board. The final version of the study is planned for release by the end of the year.

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By GreenpeaceTrump Watch  11:13AM EST
Donald Trump's Connection to the Flint Water Crisis

By Ryan Schleeter

Flint, Michigan still does not have clean drinking water.

Now, President-elect Donald Trump—whose campaign stump speech included a crude joke about the city's water crisis—has tapped one of the people responsible for the crisis to join his cabinet.

Betsy DeVos, Trump's pick for Secretary of Education, and her family have a long history of using their wealth to manipulate Michigan state elections and push through "reforms" that undercut local democracy. She's a staunch advocate of privatization measures that shift power from people to corporations—and one of those measures led directly to the poisoning of Flint's water and citizens.

Betsy DeVos and the Law That Poisoned Flint

In trying to get to the root of the crisis in Flint, many have pointed to Michigan's emergency manager law, which allows the governor to bypass the elected government and appoint a single official to take over a city's budgeting. The law was actually overturned by a popular referendum in 2012, but sneakily pushed back through state legislature by Gov. Rick Snyder immediately afterwards in a way that prevented it from being subject to another public vote.

And when Michigan voters said they didn't want their local democracies hijacked, they had good reason. It was Flint's emergency financial manager Darnell Earley who all but forced the city to switch its water source to the polluted Flint River.

Earley both overruled a city council vote that would have prevented the switch and declined an offer from neighboring Detroit to provide safe, sanitized water. But if Earley is responsible for the disastrous decision itself, those who paved his way to power are also to blame—and that's where Betsy DeVos comes in.

Since the 1970s, the DeVos family has invested at least $200 million in far-right think tanks, media outlets, PACs and other causes, with a particular focus on their home state of Michigan. Along with the Koch brothers, they're major funders of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan-based partner of the Heritage Foundation and architect of the state's emergency manager law. Between 1998 and 2011, four DeVos-controlled foundations have given $560,000 to the Mackinac Center; that figure doesn't include donations from personal trusts or corporations, which do not have to be reported.

With the Mackinac Center working to craft the legislation that would advance the DeVos' privatization agenda, they needed a governor who would push it through to law. So in 2010, the family spent $1.9 million in the election that put Gov. Snyder in power.

Months later, Snyder signed the emergency manager act into law and appointed a Mackinac executive as the state's first emergency manager. That manager's first move? Outsource the city of Pontiac's water system to a company indicted on federal conspiracy charges and Clean Water Act violations.

The writing was on the wall for Flint.

Betsy DeVos and the Trump Administration

The results of the type of pro-corporate, anti-democratic measures DeVos stands for are clear. We've seen what happens when politicians abuse their power to wrest democracy from the hands of the people—and it's still unfolding in Flint.

With DeVos as Secretary of Education, we could see the same happen to public schools. DeVos has long maneuvered to strip funding and resources from public schools, favoring instead a voucher system that diverts public funding to private and religious schools. Among many other consequences, that could have grave implications for science and climate change education in schools across the country.

Furthermore, selecting DeVos—a Koch-esque member of the billionaire GOP donor class—runs directly counter to Trump's campaign promise to reform Washington by "draining the swamp" of establishment Republicans.

As far as Flint goes, Trump blamed the whole fiasco on "incompetent politicians" in a speech earlier this month. By his own measure, it looks like he just nominated one for his cabinet.

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By Climate NexusTrump Watch  09:22AM EST
From Fracking Enthusiast to Exxon CEO: Trump's Latest Picks

The Donald Trump camp added fracking enthusiast, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) critic and ALEC-linked Amy Oliver Cooke to the EPA landing team on Thursday. Cooke once co-authored an op-ed titled Clean Energy's Dirty Secret: Cancer.

Trump Tower is President-elect Trump's transition hub.Wikipedia

NBC's Joe Scarborough tweeted that Trump is considering ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for the Secretary of State position, following pushback against Mitt Romney's possible nomination.

"This is like appointing Darth Vader as Secretary of Defense: it's corruption of the most dangerous kind. Exxon is the largest oil company in the world," 350.org's Jamie Henn said. "The company has funded climate denial for decades. It has violated human rights across the planet."

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post has unearthed audio of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions arguing that investing in clean energy "is a conspiracy to afflict poor people."

And, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm, long considered a top pick for energy secretary, denied he was a contender and told CNBC he suggested Trump instead nominate Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-ND. Cramer, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from oil and gas interests, has stated he believes the world is cooling and that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas.

Red-state Democrats Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota may also be in the running for the Department of Energy job. Heitkamp, who opposes the Clean Power Plan, meets with Trump today.

For a deeper dive:

Cooke: Greenwire, E&E News, The Hill

Tillerson: The Hill, Climate Home, Reuters, Dallas Morning News

Sessions: Huffington Post

Hamm: CNBC, Fox Business, OilPrice

Heitkamp: Politico, Reuters, The Hill, E&E News

Manchin: Politico, Washington Examiner, Reuters

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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By Oil Change InternationalEnergy  01:14PM EST
Kinder Morgan: Canada’s Dakota Access Pipeline

In the end, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, for all his suave talk of being a new progressive politician, who would era in a new type of politics, turned out disappointingly to be like all the rest. His suit is cut from the same old cloth.

And like a classic politician he spoke in Orwellian terms of fighting climate change, and promising clean air, water and wilderness whilst approving Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline that we know will exacerbate climate change, will impact air quality and lead to a massive increase in tanker traffic that will harm wildlife.

Mark Klotz

Contorting the definition of words, he said that Canada was still a "climate leader" and added: "Canadians value clean air and water, beautiful coasts and wilderness and refuse to accept that they must be compromised to create growth. We agree."

In fact Trudeau even went as far as to say that Kinder Morgan was an "integral part of our plan to uphold the Paris agreement to reduce emissions while creating jobs and protecting the environment."

If this was not so serious it would be laughable that a politician of his stature is trying to argue that a pipeline that will transport 890,000 barrels of oil a day of dirty tar sands crude can somehow be integral to saving the climate.

By his own admission, by approving Kinder Morgan he wants to expand the tar sands: "We know there will be an increase in the production in oil sands in coming years," Trudeau said.

No doubt Trudeau will try and argue that by also cancelling the ultra contentious Northern Gateway pipeline he has made hard decisions that benefit both the environment and the economy. But that is a lie.

A recent analysis by Oil Change International revealed that we can never build another pipeline or carry on burning tar sands oil if we are going to try and keep global warming to acceptable levels.

And let us not forget that Trudeau approved not just one pipeline but two yesterday, including an application to increase capacity of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, which ships tar sands from Alberta to the U.S. midwest, from 390,000 to 915,000 barrels per day.

According to a colleague from Oil Change International, Adam Scott, "If built, these projects would facilitate huge growth in the tar sands, increasing total greenhouse gas pollution by as much as 277 million tons of CO2 every year—equivalent to the pollution from 58 million cars on the road."

This is at the same time that Canada has pledged to reduce emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Nor is this just a pipeline that will impact the climate: It will result in a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic in the Salish Sea and Puget Sound, home to killer whales and Orcas. According to a review by the Canadian National Energy Board, the local Orca pod will be "adversely affected" by the huge increase in tanker traffic. Some scientists believe that population may well become extinct.

But Trudeau might be over optimistic when he predicts that the Kinder Morgan pipeline "will get built." There are already seven legal challenges against the pipeline. Some 60 First Nation groups are also opposed.

And environmental groups have warned of a long fight ahead: Sierra Club BC's Caitlyn Vernon says simply: "The Kinder Morgan pipeline will not be built. Not on our watch."

These are sentiments backed up by Karen Mahon is Canadian national director of Stand Earth, formerly Forest Ethics: "There will be mass protests" she wrote in an editorial in the Vancouver Sun. "There will be lawsuits. This will become a hotly contested issue in the coming BC election. And this pipeline will never be built."

Mike Hudema, a campaigner for Greenpeace, added, "With this announcement, Prime Minister Trudeau has broken his climate commitments, broken his commitments to Indigenous rights and has declared war on BC. If Prime Minister Trudeau wanted to bring Standing Rock-like protests to Canada, he succeeded."

And Hudema could be right. The protests at Standing Rock have transformed the fight over pipelines in North America. A new, energized pipeline movement has been born. And the fight will soon be over Kinder Morgan.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.

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By Lorraine ChowTrump Watch  01:00PM EST
Does Ivanka Trump Really Want to Act on Climate?

With a climate change denying White House and cabinet taking shape, there's not much environmentalists are excited about these days. But a new report from Politico indicates that our ever-warming planet might have an unlikely defender: Ivanka Trump.

Future First Daughter Ivanka Trump.Flickr

A source told the publication that the future First Daughter plans to "speak out" about climate change and make it one of her "signature issues." As Politico reports:

"Ivanka wants to make climate change—which her father has called a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese—one of her signature issues, a source close to her told Politico. The source said Ivanka is in the early stages of exploring how to use her spotlight to speak out on the issue."

Donald Trump's election stands to overturn President Obama's environmental legacy—just when the environment desperately needs a well-positioned champion. The president-elect plans to renege the Paris climate deal, axe the Clean Power Plan and other environmental regulations, and embrace the Right's "drill, baby, drill" ethos.

Not only that, Trump has climate change denier Myron Ebell leading his transition team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and his latest cabinet picks, including Elaine Chao for secretary of transportation and frack-happy Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin as the frontrunner for the Interior secretary position, is just more good news for the fossil fuel industry.

"The issues she's talking about are ones she's always talked about," the source elaborated to Politico. "These are totally consistent with what she's developed with her brand. She is playing a critical role in being able to have issues that moderate and liberal women care about—and creating a bridge to the other side."

So does that mean Ivanka actually wants to act on climate change? Once upon a time, the Trump family actually believed in climate science and urged "aggressive" action.

Or, as New York Magazine surmised, does Ivanka just sense climate change as another branding opportunity? After all, she once hawked "sustainable bridal jewelry made from conflict-free diamonds and recycled platinum and gold" with prices ranging from $3,500 to $130,000, according to Ecouterre.

"As a young luxury brand I believe we have the opportunity and the responsibility to look into the multitude of ways we can build ourselves into a truly socially engaged and responsible company," she told WWD in 2011 about the jewelry line.

There are many reasons why going green is good for business and for the planet, but claiming to have environmental, health or safety standards is different than actually living by them. Otherwise that's just greenwashing. Let's not forget that items from Ivanka's top-selling clothing line are manufactured in China and Vietnam, countries under the spotlight for poor working conditions and human rights abuse, as the Independent noted.

In response to Politico's story, Greenpeace spokesperson Travis Nichols said, "It's absolutely necessary for someone to talk climate sense to Trump, but talking a good game [...] isn't the same as taking action."

We fear that Donald Trump's presidential reign could be a disaster for the planet. As Nichols explained, "Trump's transition team and cabinet of millionaires remain among the worst climate denying fossil fuel industry shills we've seen from the Republican party, and Trump himself hasn't laid out any concrete plans to deal with this massive global problem."

"From the start of Trump's presidential run we've seen his team use Ivanka to soften her father's most egregious positions, and there's no reason to think this isn't part of the same plan," Nichols continued. "Even if Trump can afford to protect his family from climate change, the rest of America cannot afford that luxury. Trump will have to take direct, executive climate action before anyone should think of him as any different from the climate disasters like Myron Ebell he surrounds himself with."

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