Energy
By Lorraine ChowTrump Watch  10:53AM EST
Leonardo DiCaprio Meets With Donald Trump to Talk Green Jobs

Leonardo DiCaprio and Terry Tamminen, the CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF), met with Donald Trump and his advisors including daughter Ivanka Trump on Wednesday at Trump Tower in New York to discuss how green jobs can revitalize the economy.

Actor and environmental advocate Leonardo DiCaprio Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation

“We presented the President-elect and his advisors with a framework—which LDF developed in consultation with leading voices in the fields of economics and environmentalism—that details how to unleash a major economic revival across the United States that is centered on investments in sustainable infrastructure," Tamminen said in a statement to EcoWatch. "Our conversation focused on how create millions of secure, American jobs in the construction and operation of commercial and residential clean, renewable energy generation."

"These programs are attainable—and include energy efficiency upgrades that pay for themselves with savings, waste reduction projects that can turn every city into a source of new materials and fuels, and transportation projects that will support global trade while reducing traffic and air pollution and make America a leader in sustainable fuel and vehicle technologies," he added.

The meeting took place on the same day that Trump announced his controversial choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Trump's pick was met with unprecedented criticism by environmental and health organizations nationwide, who consider Pruitt a "puppet" of the fossil fuel industry. Pruitt, who believes the science behind climate change is unsettled and believes the EPA's regulations are a war on energy, has spearheaded numerous lawsuits against the Obama administration and the agency he will likely be heading.

Pruitt falls in line with Trump's other cabinet nominees who have close ties to Big Energy and deny the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change. The commander in chief to-be is a notorious climate change denialist himself who has made plans to exit the Paris climate accord, revitalize the coal industry and axe many of President Obama's environmental initiatives, including the historic Clean Power Plan that reduces emissions from power plans.

Although the president-elect will not be able to completely nix Obama's Clean Power Plan, having Pruitt—an experienced legal officer—as EPA head can help "substantially weaken, delay or slowly dismantle them," as the New York Times noted.

But Tamminen, who served as Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, said Trump was receptive during their meeting and a follow-up will take place next month.

"Climate change is bigger than politics, and the disastrous effects on our planet and our civilization will continue regardless of what party holds majorities in Congress or occupies the White House," he said. "The President-elect expressed his desire for a follow up meeting in January, and we look forward to continuing the conversation with the incoming administration as we work to stop the dangerous march of climate change, while putting millions of people to work at the same time."

DiCaprio is a prominent environmental advocate who said in October during a sit-down with President Obama and climate scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, that "If you do not believe in climate change you do not believe in facts or science or empirical truths, and therefore in my opinion, you should not be allowed to hold public office."

Well, we all know what happened on Nov. 8.

Perhaps DiCaprio is now using his clout to push the incoming administration towards a more sustainable economy. In one part of DiCaprio's climate change documentary Before the Flood, the Oscar-winning actor toured the Tesla gigafactory in Nevada with founder and CEO Elon Musk, who is also a big proponent of green jobs.

"If governments can set the rules in favor of sustainable energy, then we can get there really quickly," Musk told DiCaprio about transitioning the world to sustainable energy.

Trump recently said he had "an open mind" with regards to climate change science and policies although many environmentalists are skeptical.

"Talk is cheap, and no one should believe Donald Trump means this until he acts upon it," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said.

Daughter Ivanka, however, is purportedly planning on using her new mantle to address climate change. Earlier this week, Trump and the future First Daughter met with former VP Al Gore at Trump Tower to discuss the topic.

"I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect," Gore said after the meeting. "It was a sincere search for areas of common ground."

DiCaprio also reportedly gave the Trumps a copy of his climate change documentary at a recent meeting.

...
By Lorraine ChowTrump Watch  04:09PM EST
Trump Picks 'Puppet of the Fossil Fuel Industry' to Head EPA

Donald Trump has appointed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The conservative Republican has close ties to the fossil fuel industry and has waged numerous legal wars against the EPA and President Obama's environmental regulations, including the president's signature Clean Power Plan.

Pruitt, who was elected as Oklahoma's top legal officer in November 2010, states on his own LinkedIn page that he "has led the charge with repeated notices and subsequent lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their leadership's activist agenda and refusal to follow the law."

Although the president-elect will not be able to completely cancel Obama's historic carbon emissions standards for power plants, having a legally experienced EPA head can help "substantially weaken, delay or slowly dismantle them," the New York Times reported.

Pruitt was among a handful of other attorneys general that began planning as early as 2014 a coordinated legal effort to fight the Obama Administration's climate rules. That effort has resulted in a 28-state lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan. The case is now pending in federal court, but likely to advance to the Supreme Court, the New York Times said.

Watch this Fox Business interview with Pruitt in August 2015 when he was leading the charge against the EPA's guidelines on emissions, calling the 2015 EPA rules a power grab:

Trump's latest appointee falls in line with his other cabinet picks who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change. Pruitt once wrote an editorial questioning "the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind."

The Heartland Institute, a nonprofit that questions the reality and import of climate change, celebrated Trump's EPA appointment. H. Sterling Burnett, research fellow at The Heartland Institute, said in response, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"

Keith Gaby, the senior communications director of the Environmental Defense Fund, noted that since 2002, Pruitt has "received more than $314,996 from fossil fuel industries." In 2014, Pruitt was infamously caught sending letters to President Obama and federal agency heads asserting that the EPA was overestimating the air pollution from drilling for natural gas in Oklahoma. Turns out, the letter was by lawyers for one of state's largest oil and gas companies, Devon Energy.

Harold G. Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Energy, was also co-chairman of Pruitt's 2013 re-election campaign.

Pruitt's appointment has been met with unprecedented criticism by environmental and health organizations nationwide.

"By appointing Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump is putting America at risk," Greenpeace spokesperson Travis Nichols said. "Pruitt is a pure product of the oil and gas industry, installed in successive government posts to sell out his constituents at every turn. He will push this country far behind the rest of the world in the race for 21st century clean energy. With Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, the people and the environment will be in the hands of a man who cares about neither."

Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, agrees. "The mission of the EPA and its administrator requires an absolute commitment to safeguard public health and protect our air, land, water and planet. That's the litmus test. By naming Pruitt, President-elect Trump has flunked," Suh exclaimed.

Suh wrote in a blog post on Monday that "over the past five years, Pruitt has used his position as Oklahoma's top prosecutor to sue the EPA in a series of attempts to deny Americans the benefits of reducing mercury, arsenic and other toxins from the air we breathe; cutting smog that can cause asthma attacks; and protecting our wetlands and streams."

"You couldn't pick a better fossil fuel industry puppet," 350.org's Executive Director May Boeve said. "Pruitt's appointment reveals Trump's climate flip-flopping and meetings with Gore as nothing more than a smokescreen."

And the outcry didn't stop there.

Ken Cook, president of Environmental Working Group, said, "It's a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history."

CEO and president of Defenders of Wildlife, Jamie Rappaport Clark, added, "We need a leader for EPA who fully appreciates the gravity of the menace that climate change poses for our nation's public health, our wildlife and our environment, and is prepared to use the full force of our nation's strong environmental laws to curb that threat. Mr. Pruitt is plainly not that person."

Food & Water Watch's executive director, Wenonah Hauter, shared her dismay, too. Pruitt has championed the interests of industrial agriculture in his state, supporting a dubious, deregulatory 'right to farm' initiative that residents rightly rejected at the ballot box this year. He's also sued the EPA over the Waters of the U.S. rule that effectively strengthens the Clean Water Act."

"Pruitt is a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil industry," Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, said. "Any Senator who doesn't fight this nomination is handing corporate polluters a wrecking ball to destroy our future."

World Resources Institute's Director Sam Adams said, Americans depend on EPA to promote human health and protect families and future generations. Its ability to protect air, water, and the climate for all people must continue."

Friends of the Earth climate and energy program director Benjamin Schreiber concurred. "As the Attorney General, Scott Pruitt did the bidding of the oil and gas industry and fought many of the laws he will now be tasked to enforce," Schreiber said. "He helped Big Oil turn Oklahoma into an Earthquake zone."

David Turnbull, campaigns director at Oil Change International, concluded, "We call on Senators to reject this nomination, as well as other climate-denying, unqualified and regressive nominees. There is no place in our government for individuals who refuse to accept science and risk the safety of Americans around the country. There is no place in our government for individuals who are in clear alliance with the industry fueling our climate crisis. We need a separation of oil and state."

...
By Sierra ClubEnergy  11:44AM EST
10 Celebratory Photos From Standing Rock

Photos by Brian Nevins, Introduction by Joe Spring

This past Saturday night, Dispatch singer Brad Corrigan called photographer Brian Nevins, and told him he wanted to go to Standing Rock. Nevins was on a flight six hours later from Boston. At the time, Corrigan was in Pine Ridge Reservation doing work for his organization Love, Light and Melody, which he'd founded to raise the profile of vulnerable children by telling their stories. Some of the people with him at Pine Ridge wanted to go to Standing Rock to be water protectors. He invited Nevins to join them, because the photographer has worked with him on past projects, most notably in Nicaragua.

Both men were present when news moved through the camp that the Department of the Army would look for an alternative route to the pipeline, instead of drilling near the camp and under the Missouri River. After the announcement, Nevins said the reaction in camp ranged from happy to concerned that the news couldn't be trusted. He said that people also realized that the forces behind the Dakota Access Pipeline might just wait until Donald Trump is in office to move forward and that they are resolved to protest until the end.

His photos capture a march that took place after the announcement was made. "It's a far cry from what it felt like to be there, but I hope it captures our best side of humanity," Nevins said. "For a day we were one people with one cause all unified in prayer for the cause of our planet. It brought me to tears. We are truly amazing as humans."

Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.


...
By Dan ZukowskiEnergy  06:05PM EST
Oil Pipeline Shut Down After Spill, Just 200 Miles From Standing Rock

A six-inch crude oil pipeline operated by Belle Fourche Pipeline Company in western North Dakota was shut down following discovery of a leak on Monday. The amount of the spill was not immediately known, but oil has leaked into the Ash Coulee Creek in Billings County.

The site of the spill is about 200 miles from the camp where members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters have been protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"It is a significant spill," Bill Suess, spill investigation program manager for the North Dakota Department of health, said.

"A series of booms have been placed across the creek to prevent downstream migration and a siphon dam has been constructed four miles downstream of the release point."

The Belle Fourche Pipeline Co. is part of the family-owned True companies, which also operates Bridger Pipeline LLC. Both pipelines are operated from the same control room in Casper, Wyoming. From 2006 to 2014, Belle Fourche reported 21 incidents, leaking a total of 272,832 gallons of oil. Bridger Pipeline recorded nine pipeline incidents in the same period, spilling nearly 11,000 gallons of crude.

"In general, Bridger has a poor compliance history," wrote a federal regulator charged with overseeing pipeline safety in a 2012 order regarding a 2006 oil spill.

A Belle Fourche pipeline that spilled 12,200 gallons in May, 2014 occurred on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land near Buffalo, Wyoming. It was later discovered that Belle Fourche did not have a permit to operate the land. Its sister company, Bridger, was fined $27,029 for trespassing by the BLM.

Bridger was also responsbile for dumping up to 50,000 gallons of crude into the scenic Yellowstone River in 2015.

While operators claim that oil pipelines are safer than trains or trucks, an aging infrastructure and inadequate oversight leads to numerous leaks, most of which never make headlines. A Nov. 30 analysis by Citylab revealed that more than 9,000 significant accidents over the past 20 years have resulted in 548 deaths, 2,576 injuries and more than $8.5 billion in financial damages. An Oct. 25 analysis by EcoWatch found 220 significant pipeline spills to date in 2016 and showed that the number of significant pipeline incidents has grown 26.8 percent from 2006 to 2015.

The Belle Fourche and Bridger pipelines transport crude oil in the Williston Basin of western North Dakota and eastern Montana and the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.

...
By Democracy Now!Climate  01:31PM EST
Noam Chomsky: Climate Change and Nuclear War, Most Dangerous Threats to the Human Species

Democracy Now! celebrated its 20th anniversary Monday night at the historic Riverside Church in New York City. Among those who addressed more than 2,000 attendants was world-renowned linguistic Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky spoke about the two most dangerous threats the human species faces today: the possibility of nuclear war and the accelerating destruction of human-fueled climate change. Chomsky also addressed the dangers of Donald Trump's climate change denialism—and what it means for the future of the human species.

Watch the video clips below:

Reposted with permission from our media associate Democracy Now!.

...
By GreenpeaceTrump Watch  01:14PM EST
Leaked Memo Outlines Trump’s Energy Agenda

By Zachary Davies Boren

President-elect Donald Trump is set to gut U.S. environmental regulations, open up federal lands for fossil fuel extraction and quit the Paris climate agreement, according to documents seen by Energydesk.

A memo penned by Thomas Pyle, head of the Department of Energy transition team, and obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, lists 14 key energy and environment policies the incoming Trump administration is expected to enact.

The note—part analysis of Trump's statements, part fossil fuel industry wish list—was sent on Nov. 15, just days before Pyle was brought on board by the Trump team.

It appears to reflect what Pyle wants from a future Trump administration—though little has yet emerged by way of formal energy policy.

Pyle is president of the Institute for Energy Research and the American Energy Alliance, which count among their major donors ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and Koch Industries. He was also a top lobbyist for Koch Industries between 2001 and 2004.

Pyle's Predictions

The letter—"from the desk of Thomas Pyle"—celebrates the Republican party victory in last month's election, excitedly claiming that Trump will adopt what he describes as "pro-energy" and "pro-market" policies.

That's good news for oil, gas and coal which—if Trump does end up enacting this agenda—will be free to mine and drill under federal lands from the Alaskan Arctic to the Wyoming outback.

There have even been reports that Trump may seek to privatize Native American territory for fossil fuel purposes.

Pipelines like Keystone and the just halted Dakota Access project will also get pushed through, as will a clutch of liquefied natural gas export terminals.

But "pro-energy" doesn't feel like a fair characterization, since the document promises greater scrutiny for wind power projects, cutting energy subsidies (presumably for renewables) and amending the Renewable Fuel Standard.

It's worth mentioning that the document is nominally an analysis of Trump's statements on the campaign trail and was written before Pyle was officially part of his top team.

And the three-pager does effectively echo many of the anti-regulation noises the president-elect made in the last 18 months, including promises to scrap the Clean Power Plan, pull out of the Paris climate deal and fiddle with federal water rules.

Pyle is, however, now tasked with stacking the very department that would oversee such policies, and the leading candidates to run energy under Trump—such as oil exec Harold Hamm—appear similarly minded on the issues.

So this about as close to an energy blueprint as you can get.

Click on the image to read the document.

14 Policies

Here are the policies the memo outlines:

1. Withdraw from the Paris agreement.

2. Increase federal oil and natural gas leasing.

3. Lift the coal lease moratorium.

4. Give states greater say on energy leases on federal lands.

5. Expedite approvals of LNG export terminals.

6. Scrap the Clean Power Plan.

7. Reconsider the "endangerment finding."

8. Move forward with pipeline infrastructure.

9. Take closer look at environmental impact of wind energy.

10. Reduce energy subsidies.

11. Amend the Renewable Fuel Standard.

12. Challenge Obama's definition of "waters of the United States."

13. Relax federal fuel economy standards.

14. End use of social cost of carbon in federal rule-makings.

...
By GreenpeaceEnergy  10:36AM EST
Google Announces Plans to Run Entirely on Renewable Energy

By Gary Cook

Google announced today that it has reached 2.6 GW of renewable energy purchased, putting the company on pace to reach 100 percent renewable energy in 2017. In its announcement, the company noted that renewable energy has both managed its carbon footprint and been good for business as the lowest cost option.

Google has been a catalyst in the dramatic growth in renewable energy procurement among corporations, redefining the art of the possible by bringing significant renewable energy projects onto the same grid its data centers are powered from. Google's milestone of 2.6 GW of renewable energy purchased puts it well above what most corporations have done to drive renewable growth.

As Google itself acknowledges, its effort to become 100 percent renewably powered remains a work in progress due to the limited renewable energy options offered by monopoly utilities. The company rightly highlights the need to change government policies to drive investment and create new pathways that will allow all of their operations to be directly powered by renewables. Google and other IT leaders like Apple and Facebook have increasingly used their influence to open previously closed markets to allow for more access to renewables.

Google has put its money where its mouth is on renewable energy over the past six years, repeatedly showing that renewables are not only good for the climate, but good for business. More than ever, companies must show this sort of leadership on renewable energy. Now is not the time to be silent. Corporations have helped drive growth during the Obama administration, but given the hostility to climate change and renewable energy policies by the incoming Trump Administration, companies that have made commitments to power their operations with renewable energy need to speak up on the critical importance of strengthening renewable energy policies as Google has done today.

Greenpeace will release its latest Clicking Clean report, assessing the performance of Google, Apple, Amazon and other internet companies on their use of renewable energy, on Jan. 10, 2017.

...
Insights
By Carl PopeEnergy  04:10PM EST
Standing Rock: Native American's Version of Gandhi's 1930 Salt March

Today was supposed to be the deadline for thousands of protesters encamped to prevent completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline across Lake Oahe on the Missouri River to evacuate their camp-sites. Instead it has become a moment of celebration, as the Army Corps of Engineers and the Obama Administration have concluded that a new Environmental Impact Statement is needed to determine the best route across the Missouri River. But the incoming Trump Administration is likely to reverse the decision, with uncertain legal results for the environmental assessment process.

The resistance by the Standing Rock Sioux nation and its allies to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline routing signaled a new stage in evolving community resistance to fossil fuel extraction and transportation—but also reveals some ugly fissures within America as we enter a four year, almost certainly traumatic presidency.

Standing Rock has been the largest and one of the longest, Native American resistance protests in modern America. It differs from earlier fossil fuel protests like those against Keystone XL or Shell's basing Arctic drilling vessels in the Port of Seattle because the protesters attempted to physically disrupt the construction, not just symbolically protest it.

They have succeeded, for the moment. Months ago construction slowed, Corps of Engineers permits were suspended and the President had already called for consideration of alternative routes. Native American vetoes of fossil fuel projects had become an acknowledged part of the regulatory and permitting landscape in Canada, but only recently have the tribes inserted themselves routinely into these processes in the U.S. They have some won victories already, as when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the permit for a coal and oil export terminal at Cherry Point, Washington, saying the project would impair fishing grounds guaranteed to the Lummi Nation by treaty.

The backstory of the project is particularly outrageous; alternative routings that would have avoided the Standing Rock issues altogether appear to have been rejected by the Army Corps and the developer, Energy Transfer Partners, because they might threaten water supplies for Bismark, North Dakota—a conscious decision to put an Indian nation at risk to protect a non-Indian community. Energy Transfer Partners appears to have tried to cover up evidence that the construction was disrupting sacred sites and actually faces fines from North Dakota as a result. And both the state and Energy Transfer have persistently treated the Standing Rock Sioux as one among many stakeholders who should be expected to participate in the regulatory process designed by North Dakota, rather than as a sovereign nation whose rights were, at the very least, in dispute and needed to be negotiated.

Indian advocates point to Standing Rock as evidence of a broad consciousness among Native Americans of the need to see the fight against fossil fuel development as continental. By September, more than 300 tribes had gathered at the protest camp, at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers, along with numerous non-Indian supporters like a contingent of Catholic workers.

Standing Rock organizers cite the evolution in Canada of a multi-First Nation alliance to resist any and all projects that would increase production of oil from the Albert tar sands. The first version of this treaty was signed in 2013; the latest, signed last September, and has now grown to link 112 Canadian and Northern U.S. tribes in a united front to oppose all pipelines or other infrastructure which might facilitate increased tar sands production.

(Their opposition is critical because Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, last week approved two pipeline expansions serving the tar sands, expansions which would enable an additional 900,000 barrels of oil a date to reach U.S. and world markets, significantly increasing the likely price tar sands producers can get for their product, and the amount of it they can pump. But the First Nations will continue the fight).

In response to the Standing Rock ongoing protests, the New York Times intensified its coverage of the resistance, including the first of two full throated editorials calling for the pipeline to be rerouted. Then, on the night Nov. 20, police surrounding the protesters escalated their tactics and crossed the line into brutal crowd suppression. In the words of a second The Times editorial denouncing the actions, "They drenched protesters with water cannons on a frigid night, with temperatures in the 20s. According to protesters and news accounts, the officers also fired rubber bullets, pepper spray, concussion grenades and tear gas. More than 160 people were reportedly injured, with one protester's arm damaged so badly she might lose it."

By the standards of historic violence against Native Americans, this is small bore stuff—nothing like Wounded Knee for example. But it has been some time since peaceful protesters in the U.S. were met with such violence. A recently established norm—that Americans may disruptively protest as long as they are peaceful without fearing police violence—broke down.

After the brutal events of Nov. 20, the first instinct of the Corps and the State were to intensify the crack-down. The Corps declared that it would shut down the camp-site where most of the protesters have been housed and that any who remained would be subject to arrest for trespass. (This was stunningly tone deaf after the events in Eastern Oregon where right-wing ranchers armed with guns and openly threatening violence were permitted to occupy a federal wildlife refuge which also was the home to important sacred sites without being arrested for months). The state of North Dakota followed up by ordering the protesters evicted because their dwellings were not adequately winter-proofed.

Both the Army Corps and North Dakota backed off slightly in the days following, the Corps making clear it would not forcibly evict protesters even if they were trespassing, and the state clarifying that it's "blockade" of food and other supplies would be enforced with a threat of fines, not by actually physically obstructing access. Two thousand U.S. veterans organized as Veterans Stand for Standing Rock, agreed to serve as human shields for the protesters to avoid the kind of violence that flared up on Nov. 20. Then came Sunday's stunning announcement.

In some ways Standing Rock is a Native American version of Gandhi's 1930 Salt March—and while the Trump Administration is likely to try to ram through the permits needed to complete Dakota Access, it's similar efforts to revive Keystone XL are triggering vociferous opposition from Nebraska ranchers, unlikely partners with the Sioux, but symbolic of a new and emerging coalition. And Gandhi did not succeed in undoing the Salt Taxes—his game was much bigger, intensifying Indian resistance to British rule. Standing Rock, even if the pipeline gets built, seems likely to have had that impact across a wide swathe of Indian Country in the U.S.


...
×

Like EcoWatch on Facebook