By Andy Rowell
What a difference a few months make. Last year Exxon was on the ropes, reeling from the news that the company was under investigation for lying to the public and shareholders about the risks of climate change in the scandal that has become known as #ExxonKnew.
Furthermore, last October Exxon faced the humiliation of having to publicly admit that it was on course to cut its reported proved reserves of oil and gas by nearly 20 percent.
Fast forward a few months and we have Trump the climate denier in the White House, Exxon's man, Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, Scott Pruitt, a climate denier at the EPA and the prospect of Exxon being allowed back into the Russian Arctic if sanctions are lifted.
Exxon, Russia Eye Oil and Gas in Disputed South China Sea https://t.co/lTLCNpvNlI @GreenpeaceAustP @foeeurope— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1486290904.0
Life is looking up for Exxon.
And now comes the news that an East Texas lawmaker, State Rep. James White, R-Hillister, has drafted a bill which could prevent the company having to defend itself in the #ExxonKnew court cases as it would not allow a defendant's theories on climate change from being used as evidence in a fraud case.
The bill states: "Evidence relating to the defendant's theories, beliefs or statements on climate change or global warming, including causes of climate change or global warming, is not admissible as proof of an element of an offense involving:
1. Fraud or a fraudulent or deceptive practice; or
2. Any false or misleading statement, representation or information."
James White told the American-Statesman that when proposing the law, he had Exxon in mind. "There have been some instances where people could get thrown into court or even potentially threatened with some kind of criminal punishment based on their belief or scientific take on global warming," he said. "I don't think that's how science should operate."
At the moment White's bill only relates to Texan law and the company faces other criminal cases, not least in Massachusetts and New York. Last month a Massachusetts judge refused to excuse Exxon from a request by the state's Attorney General to hand over decades worth of documents on climate change.
The decision by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger was seen as a significant legal victory for the Attorney General, Maura Healey and a setback for the oil giant.
After the ruling Healey said on Twitter: "This order affirms our longstanding authority to investigate fraud," adding that Exxon "must come clean about what it knew about climate change."
But last week, Exxon applied to have this case moved to Texas, arguing that the attorney general had abused the company's rights to free speech and that the investigation constituted an unreasonable search and seizure of corporate documents.
The legal move came the same day as Rex Tillerson was sworn in as Secretary of State.
"When out-of-state officials reach into Texas to violate the constitutional rights of a resident, it is proper for that resident to seek relief in Texas courts," the Exxon brief states.
Exxon also said that Texas should hear the case brought by the New York state's Attorneys General Schneiderman. Last week Politico magazine ran a feature on Schneiderman, saying: Will This Man Take Down Donald Trump?
The must-read article reveals how the two men have been at war for years and not just on climate, but also over Trump University and the Trump Foundation.
"We are facing a crisis, not over conservative or liberal, but a crisis over whether or not the rule of law is respected or not, over whether the Constitution is respected or not and whether the central American notion of equal justice under the law and that everyone be treated with dignity and equality and fairness—all that is at issue now," Schneidermann told a crowd after Trump's election.
We also face a climate crisis. And for many people Exxon remains the number one villain and the company should be forced to account for its decades long climate denial campaign in court.
Because all the evidence points to the fact that #ExxonKnew.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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