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An EPA Science Advisory Board meeting. Union of Concerned Scientists

By Elliott Negin

A third of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Science Advisory Board, an influential panel that reviews the science the agency uses in formulating safeguards, could be succeeded by climate science-denying, polluter-friendly replacements when their terms expire at the end of this month.

The board, which has been in existence for nearly 40 years, is traditionally populated by bona fide scientists from academia, government and industry who volunteer to serve three-year terms. This time around, as first reported by E&E News, at least a dozen of the 132 candidates vying for one of the 15 open seats reject mainstream climate science.

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By Dave Anderson

Christopher Wray, President Trump's nominee for FBI director, advised corporate clients on how to avoid "being in the crosshairs" of law enforcement at a 2015 legal forum where investigations by state attorneys general into whether ExxonMobil misled investors and the public about climate change were a topline issue.

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HighGradeRoots / iStock / Getty Images Plus

CBD, or cannabidiol, now comes in a variety of different forms, including CBD oils, CBD gummies, CBD capsules, and even water soluble CBD powders. You can also use CBD vape oil like you would any other vape juice. Our guide to the best CBD vape oils will help you identify the top brands to consider and will provide important information about CBD, vaping, and wellness.

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Sarah Wasko / Media Matters for America

By Lisa Hymas

Energy Sec. Rick Perry has ordered his department to produce a study on whether the ongoing shift toward renewable energy is affecting the reliability of the electrical grid. A number of experts, clean-energy advocates and politicians on both sides of the aisle believe the study is intended to be biased in favor of the coal and nuclear industries, which have been struggling in recent years.

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By Dave Anderson

Travis Fisher, a Trump political appointee in the Department of Energy, wrote a 2015 report for the Institute for Energy Research that called clean energy policies "the single greatest emerging threat" to the nation's electric power grid, and a greater threat to electric reliability than cyber attacks, terrorism or extreme weather.

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By Lisa Hymas

With President Donald Trump reportedly poised to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, right-wing media are encouraging the move by misleading about the accord. They're claiming that it is a job killer and "anti-Western," that it would lead to "economic devastation" and that it amounts to an "international regulatory scheme."

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By Ryan Schleeter

Still think the Keystone XL pipeline will create tens of thousands of permanent jobs? Think again.

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This is an excerpt from Dick Russell's and my new book, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, an eye opening exposé of the people and corporations most responsible for today's climate crisis and their roles in President Trump's new administration.

Not long ago, the legendary economist Amory Lovins showed me two photos, taken 10 years apart, of the New York City Easter Parade. A 1903 shot looking north from midtown showed Fifth Avenue crowded with a hundred horse and buggies and a solitary automobile. The second, taken in 1913 from a similar vantage on the same street, depicted a traffic jam of automobiles and a single lonely horse and buggy.

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By Clara Vondrich

Where goes investment, there goes the climate. This is the fact today as we stand on the brink of locking in irreversible climate change with our fossil-heavy economy. Like never before, institutional investors have the power to make or break the future.

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By Elliott Negin

The two dozen nonprofit groups and Senate committee members defending Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump's nominee for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, have at least two things in common.

Like Pruitt, they're climate science deniers. And, like Pruitt, most of them are funded by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who own the coal, oil and gas conglomerate Koch Industries.

That funding helps explain why they all consistently misrepresent the scientific consensus on climate change. After all, money buys influence and since 1997, Koch foundations have paid a network of think tanks and advocacy groups more than $88 million to spread climate science disinformation—more than twice what Exxon, the second-biggest denier-network funder, has spent. Likewise, Koch Industries has contributed $38.5 million to federal candidates over the last 25 years and spent another $117 million since 1998 on lobbying.

The Kochs didn't endorse Trump for president, but there's no doubt they would consider a guy like Pruitt heading the EPA a dream come true. When David Koch ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket back in 1980, his party platform called for abolishing the EPA (and a number of other federal agencies, along with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security). Although Pruitt won't be able to go that far, his six-year track record as Oklahoma's attorney general suggests he will do what he can—with the help of Koch-funded members of Congress and the rest of the Trump Administration—to defund the agency and undermine its authority.

Koch Denial Network is Alive and Well

In advance of Pruitt's nomination hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Jan. 18, a coalition of 23 nonprofit groups sent a letter to the entire Senate urging his confirmation. "Attorney General Pruitt has consistently fought for Oklahoma families and communities," the letter states "and has been a stalwart defender against federal intrusion into state and individual rights."

In fact, Pruitt has consistently fought for the corporate polluters that have financed his political campaigns, dismantling his office's Environmental Protection Unit, halting efforts to reduce poultry manure in Oklahoma waterways, opposing a wind energy transmission line and suing the EPA 14 times to block stronger air, water and climate safeguards that would better protect Oklahoma families and communities.

But I digress. Let's follow the money.

The groups that signed the letter endorsing Pruitt include such high-profile, climate-science-denier organizations as the American Energy Alliance (AEA), whose president, Thomas Pyle, is a former Koch Industries lobbyist; the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), whose top climate disinformer, Myron Ebell, oversaw the Trump EPA transition team; and Heritage Action, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation. Heritage economist David Kreutzer, who maintains there is no justification for Obama Administration climate policies, also served on the EPA transition team.

Those three groups and at least 15 other letter signatories have received generous support from one or more of the Koch brothers' numerous foundations, including American Encore, the Charles Koch Foundation, Charles Koch Institute, the now defunct Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a de facto Koch bank that distributes contributions from wealthy conservatives to free-market, anti-government groups. A number of the organizations on the letter are also funded by Donors Trust, a secretive, pass-through money laundering operation that received more than $13 million from the Kochs' Knowledge and Progress Fund between 2005 and 2014.

Eight of the signatories, including AEA, CEI and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, collectively received $30.2 million between 2010 and 2014 from American Encore, a "social welfare" nonprofit organization the Kochs established in 2009 as the Center to Protect Patient Rights (CPPR). The organization has been one of the Koch network's primary conduits for funneling dark money—private donations not subject to public disclosure—to conservative campaign funding groups.

American Encore is no fan of environmental protections. A December 2016 blog post on its website calls for slashing "excessive and burdensome regulations" on hydraulic fracturing, opening up the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to oil drilling and canceling the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan to curb electric utility carbon emissions.

A significant chunk of the American Encore-CPPR budget came from Freedom Partners, which gave the organization a whopping $115 million between 2012 and 2013. From 2012 through 2015, Freedom Partners also donated nearly $38 million to five of the groups on the Pruitt support letter: AEA, American Commitment, Club for Growth, Heritage Action and the 60 Plus Association, which spent the bulk of its $16.5 million in Freedom Partner grants on political advertising.

Like American Encore, Freedom Partners' goal is to roll back consumer, public health, environmental and workplace safeguards. It recently posted A Roadmap to Repeal, a list of Obama administration initiatives that can be repealed in the new administration's first 100 days and others that would require a longer term strategy.

In the short term, Freedom Partners calls on the Trump Administration to rescind the moratorium on new federal land coal leases, abandon the Paris climate agreement and block any proposed EPA programs related to the Clean Power Plan. It also recommends that Congress repeal a number of regulations finalized during the last 60 legislative days of 2016, including rules that protect streams from coal mining, cut heavy-duty truck carbon emissions and reduce methane leaks from oil and gas operations on public lands. Over the long term, Freedom Partners wants the administration and Congress to kill the Clean Power Plan and the "Waters of the United States" rule, which extends federal protection to headwaters and wetlands that feed drinking water supplies.

Koch-Funded Senators Fawn Over Pruitt

How much impact could Freedom Partners and the rest of the Koch network have? Quite a bit, actually. They are planning to spend $300 million to $400 million over the next two years to influence politics and public policy and Marc Short—Freedom Partners' president up until February 2016—was just named the White House director of legislative affairs. Formerly Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff when Pence was in the House of Representatives, Short likely will find a receptive audience on the Hill—at least from one side of the aisle.

The welcome Pruitt got at his Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing two weeks ago may be an indication of things to come. Republican committee members fell all over themselves to praise Pruitt and attack the EPA for, as Chairman John Barrasso put it, creating "broad and legally questionable new regulations [that] have done great damage..." Democratic committee members, conversely, pressed Pruitt on his financial ties to fossil fuel interests, his efforts to weaken environmental safeguards and his scientifically indefensible claim that the role human activity plays in causing climate change is "subject to continuing debate."

Why were Republican EPW Committee members so hospitable to Pruitt?

Like Pruitt, most of them are on the Koch gravy train and their campaign coffers are flush with fossil fuel industry cash. Nine of the 11 Republicans on the committee together received $368,000 in campaign contributions from Koch Industries over the last five years. Even more telling, the company was among the top 10 donors for seven of those nine beneficiaries and the top donor for two—Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who is in line to become the Trump administration's attorney general.

In addition to the Koch funding, the Republican committee members received more than $1.5 million since 2011 from a veritable Who's Who of energy companies, including coal giants Alpha Natural Resources, Arch Coal, Murray Energy and Peabody Energy; oil and gas titans BP, Chevron, Devon Energy, Exxon, Marathon Oil and Valero Energy; and electric utilities American Electric Power, NextEra Energy and Southern Company. Pruitt, meanwhile, received $62,500 since 2010 from Koch Industries and eight other companies listed above, including Devon Energy, Exxon and Valero Energy.

By contrast, none of the 10 Democrats on the committee received Koch money, let alone any coal or oil and gas industry support. The only energy-related businesses that contributed to their campaigns in the last five years were three diversified electric utilities that are heavily invested in nuclear power: Dominion Resources, Entergy and Exelon.

Drain the Swamp?

Donald Trump campaigned as a populist who promised to stand up to Washington lobbyists and "drain the swamp." The back story on Scott Pruitt—and the vast sums spent by the Kochs and other fossil fuel interests to promote their agenda—tell a very different story.

Still, one may fairly question what any of this actually proves. Does money really dictate the positions that a nonprofit think tank or U.S. senator takes, be it on climate change or any other policy issue?

As it turns out, none other than David Koch addressed this very question in an interview with Brian Doherty, author of the 2007 book, Radicals for Capitalism: The Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. Koch was talking specifically about funding think tanks and advocacy groups, but what he said could easily be applied to elected officials as well.

"If we're going to give a lot of money, we'll make darn sure they spend it in a way that goes along with our interest," Koch told Doherty. "And if they make a wrong turn and start doing things we don't agree with, we withdraw funding. We do exert that kind of control."

I rest my case.

Elliott Negin is a senior writer at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

As the curtain comes down on President Barack Obama's eight years in the White House, most Americans seemed convinced of one of two things: We're either about to Make America Great Again®, or we're about to hurtle into an uncertain epoch that I like to call the Idiocene.

But before we turn the page on this administration let's take a look back at the tall tales, regrettable pronouncements, farces and scams on climate and the environment during the Obama years. Anti-regulatory zealots led the pack, but President Obama contributed a few of his own—starting on his first full day in office:

After promising transparency, President Obama's Administration was called "one of the most secretive."

1. January 2009: The most transparent administration? Not quite.

A day after his inauguration, President Obama signed a memorandum promising: "the most transparent administration in history."

By May 2016, a different verdict came in. Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan called it "one of the most secretive." In August 2015, 52 journalism organizations, including the Society of Environmental Journalists, sent an appeal to the White House, asking for an end to restrictions on government employees' contact with reporters.

2. October 2009: Global warming stops (except it totally doesn't)

Scientists begin asking questions about why the pace of rising temperatures seems to be defying projections and slowing. Despite the emergence of serious, credible reasons for this – notably that the oceans are working overtime to absorb excess heat – climate deniers have a field day with cherry-picked data.

Even as daily, monthly, and annual warmth records continue to be broken, there's been "no global warming at all" for nearly two decades in Deniertown.

In a November 2009 press release, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce declares the "War On Coal" is underway.

3. November 2009: War is declared, a slogan is born

In a press release, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce declares the "War On Coal" is underway.

4. November 2009: Russian hack (no, the other one)

Hackers, believed to be Russian-based, steal thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit. Climate deniers spin a few poorly worded correspondences between scientists into a vast conspiracy to fake climate research.

The faux scandal upends coverage of the Copenhagen climate summit, the scientists are cleared of any wrongdoing by multiple investigations, and the hackers are never caught. But their work foreshadows the 2016 election hack.

5. January 2010: Moderate Republicans join Endangered Species List

The Citizens United decision breaches the dam on corporate cash. The high court votes 5-4 to fundamentally reshape the already-cockeyed way election campaigns are financed, offering cover to corporations and super-PACs to target undesirable candidates for defeat.

"Moderate" Republicans are virtually driven into extinction, and the few who acknowledge climate change have a change of heart.

6. March 2010: Fake fishing news sends real readers reeling

An ESPN.com outdoors columnist launches a viral hoax, suggesting that Obama is planning to outlaw all recreational fishing. Within days, chronic Obama critics—from Fox News and the Daily Caller to columnist Michelle Malkin, RedState.com and GatewayPundit.com—dutifully spread the word about "Obama's latest assault on freedom." Except not a word of it is remotely true.

7. April 2010: Obama's oil comment gaffe

18 days before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Obama says "Oil rigs today don't generally cause spills."

8. May 2010: Limbaugh gets to the bottom of Deepwater Horizon

Rush Limbaugh says "environmental wackos" staged Deepwater Horizon as a fundraising scheme.

9. May 2010: Anti-vax doctor defrocked

The UK's General Medical Council strips Dr. Andrew Wakefield of his license to practice. He authored the 1998 paper linking vaccines to autism. The paper was later retracted by The Lancet and declared "utterly false."

10. February 2011: The Maine governor doesn't understand BPA

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, possibly the only politician too dumb for the Trump Administration, declares that BPA's worst-case scenario would be women with beards.

11. September 2011: Solyndra slips, solar scandal soars

Solyndra fails. The solar company stranded investors and bailed on a half-billion dollar Energy Department loan amid evidence that Obama Administration cronies stood to benefit. But solar energy critics vault a relatively minor scandal into a renewables Benghazi – overlooking the generally successful record of DOE's startup loans as well as the much larger handouts given to fossil fuel companies.

12. September 2011: The Donald picks a wind fight. Fore!

Donald Trump sends the first of 16 angry, obsessive letters or emails to Scotland's First Minister about the proposed windfarm near his golf resort. Sad!!

13 and 14. May 2012: Heartless Heartland campaign

An electronic billboard on a Chicago freeway heralds the start of a campaign by the Heartland Institute to brand climate-change advocates as cold-blooded serial killers. The first features the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. It draws such a backlash that the billboards featuring climate advocates Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden (really) never get a full airing. Heartland is further tarnished by revelations that it solicited fossil fuel money to pursue its climate denial agenda.

Lamar Smith becomes Chair of House Science Committee, and eventually the Torquemada-in-Chief of government climate scientists. Rep. Smith's committee room becomes an inquisition chamber for government climate scientists and their agency bosses.

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.

EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
An EPA Science Advisory Board meeting. Union of Concerned Scientists

By Elliott Negin

A third of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Science Advisory Board, an influential panel that reviews the science the agency uses in formulating safeguards, could be succeeded by climate science-denying, polluter-friendly replacements when their terms expire at the end of this month.

The board, which has been in existence for nearly 40 years, is traditionally populated by bona fide scientists from academia, government and industry who volunteer to serve three-year terms. This time around, as first reported by E&E News, at least a dozen of the 132 candidates vying for one of the 15 open seats reject mainstream climate science.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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By Dave Anderson

Christopher Wray, President Trump's nominee for FBI director, advised corporate clients on how to avoid "being in the crosshairs" of law enforcement at a 2015 legal forum where investigations by state attorneys general into whether ExxonMobil misled investors and the public about climate change were a topline issue.

Read More Show Less
HighGradeRoots / iStock / Getty Images Plus

CBD, or cannabidiol, now comes in a variety of different forms, including CBD oils, CBD gummies, CBD capsules, and even water soluble CBD powders. You can also use CBD vape oil like you would any other vape juice. Our guide to the best CBD vape oils will help you identify the top brands to consider and will provide important information about CBD, vaping, and wellness.

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Sarah Wasko / Media Matters for America

By Lisa Hymas

Energy Sec. Rick Perry has ordered his department to produce a study on whether the ongoing shift toward renewable energy is affecting the reliability of the electrical grid. A number of experts, clean-energy advocates and politicians on both sides of the aisle believe the study is intended to be biased in favor of the coal and nuclear industries, which have been struggling in recent years.

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