Apr. 26, 2017 09:15AM EST
Oil pad near Little Missouri River. NPCA/Flickr
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's executive budget proposal, released this week, seeks to set the nation's highest tax on wind power and phase out tax incentives for the wind industry ahead of schedule.
The budget proposes a $0.005 per kilowatt-hour tax on wind energy—five times the wind tax in Wyoming, which along with South Dakota are the only states that tax wind energy—and accelerates the end of a tax credit, currently set to expire in 2021.
A separate piece of legislation seeking an early end to wind tax credits is currently working its way through the House. The Oklahoman reported last year that state fossil fuel executives, including Trump advisor Harold Hamm, had formed a coalition to lobby for the end of wind tax credits in the state.
"Creating a less competitive energy environment via taxation only hurts consumers while reducing the competitiveness of one of Oklahoma's most viable industries," said Jeff Clark, executive director of The Wind Coalition, told NewsOK. "Raising electricity rates and ending the state's commitment to renewables also drives away needed investment in Oklahoma by manufacturing and high-technology facilities, who also provide jobs and pay taxes."
For a deeper dive:
House bill: Tulsa World
Correction: This article originally stated .05 cents per kilowatt-hour for the proposed tax. It's been updated to the correct $0.005 per kilowatt-hour as outlined in the governor's proposal in her official Executive Budget Book on page 10.
As Barack Obama moves out of the White House to thunderous applause from the scientific community, what's on the energy and environment docket for Day One of the Trump Administration? Trump aides have promised swift and aggressive action on a long list of various campaign priorities, but remain opaque about the process and order of possible immediate changes.
Regardless, climate hawks should keep an eye out: Bloomberg reported this morning that advisors have prepared an energy/enviro "short list," which includes reversing Obama administration guidelines on factoring climate change into pipeline construction and steps to suspend the social cost of carbon.
And campaign advisor and oil CEO Harold Hamm told CNBC he projects energy deregulation will be a "Day One agenda" item. The GOP got an early start moving their deregulation goals Thursday, as Rep Evan Jenkins, R-WV, introduced a resolution to permanently block the Obama administration's stream protection regulations.
"Trump has threatened to roll back so many hard-won progressive gains, including those on climate, but he can't take away our resolve to fight back at every turn," 350.org Executive Director May Boeve said.
"The impacts of extreme weather in a warming world already costed the U.S. hundreds of human lives and $46 billion in damages during the past year alone. While globally the concentration of climate changing CO2 in our planet's atmosphere continues to rise to new record levels with the World Meteorological Organization confirming 2016 was the hottest year on record. Now more than ever, elected officials worldwide need to heed to the urgency of the climate crisis and stand with science to safeguard a livable planet for communities worldwide."
For a deeper dive:
Obama: Climate Central
Energy/enviro list: Bloomberg
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."
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:
Sessions: Huffington Post
According to Politico:
Hamm, an Oklahoma billionaire who has been a friend of Trump's for years, has been the leading influence on Trump's energy policy during the campaign. If Hamm passes, venture capitalist Robert Grady is also seen as a top candidate, though he could also be in line for Interior.
Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products firm Lucas Oil, is favored as a top choice to lead the Department of the Interior.
However, according to Politico:
Trump's presidential transition team is also eyeing venture capitalist Robert Grady, a George H.W. Bush White House official with ties to Chris Christie. And Trump's son Donald Trump Jr., is said to be interested in the job.
Meanwhile, a person who spoke to the Trump campaign told POLITICO that the aides have also discussed tapping Sarah Palin for Interior Secretary. Trump has said he'd like to put Palin in his cabinet, and Palin has made no secret of her interest.
Other possible candidates include former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis; and Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm.
Sarah Palin / Harold Hamm
Although Trump has previously said he would abolish the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reports say he will instead ask climate skeptic Myron Ebell to lead the agency. In September, Trump said he will "refocus the EPA on its core mission of ensuring clean air, and clean, safe drinking water for all Americans."
According to Politico:
Ebell, who is running the EPA working group on Trump's transition team, is an official at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and has come under fire from environmental groups for his stances on global warming. Venture capitalist Robert Grady is also a contender.
Other potential candidates: Joe Aiello, director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Environmental Safety and Quality Assurance; Carol Comer, the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, who was appointed by Pence; and Leslie Rutledge, attorney general of Arkansas and a lead challenger of EPA regulations in the state.
"Contrary to president-elect Donald Trump's populist message during his campaign, Trump is trying to stack his administration with industry executives and fossil fuel barons who will make life worse for everyone but themselves," Greenpeace USA climate liability attorney Naomi Ages said. "These people will undoubtedly advocate for corporate interests that benefit only those at the top and continue to leave the rest of us behind, including the working class.
"'Environmental protection' will take backseat to 'corporate protection' with Myron Ebell as head of the EPA, 'drill, baby, drill' will ring across this country with Sarah Palin in the Interior Department, and Harold Hamm's oil would flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline and so many others if he were Energy Secretary."
For a deeper dive:
By Jesse Coleman
Since the presidential debate on Sept. 26, we've been hearing quite a bit about Donald Trump's tax returns (or lack thereof). While the conversation has revolved around why Trump has chosen not to release his returns—as all presidential candidates have since 1980—we do know some things about what those returns would reveal should he choose to make them public.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Trump has deep financial and personnel ties to the pipeline, which would transport nearly 500,000 barrels of fracked oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline threatens the water supply and sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, who have joined with dozens of tribes and other groups to stop the project.
While much of Trump's finances remain a mystery, he did have to file a financial disclosure form when he declared his candidacy for president (despite his claims, this is not the same and does not provide the same level of transparency as a tax return). This disclosure form shows significant investments in the fossil fuel industry and two of the fossil fuel companies Trump holds stock in are directly funding the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Trump disclosed between $500,000 and $1 million in investments in the primary builder of the pipeline, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. He also disclosed $50,000 to $100,000 in investments in Phillips 66, which would own one-quarter of the Dakota Access Pipeline once completed.
Trump's Other (Disclosed) Fossil Investments Include:
But Trump's ties to fossil fuels and infrastructure projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline don't stop at his financial investments. They run deep through the team advising him on energy policy, including top adviser and oil billionaire Harold Hamm.
Hamm is Trump's energy adviser, campaign surrogate and the CEO of the largest fracking company in the country, Continental Resources. He's made billions of dollars drilling and fracking for oil in North Dakota and it would be Continental's oil that would flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline if completed.
Hamm recently announced to investors that oil fracked from his North Dakota holdings would be transported by the pipeline and he anticipates huge profits for himself when the project is completed.
Neither Trump nor his running mate Mike Pence has said anything about the Dakota Access Pipeline directly or the fight by Indigenous communities to stop it. But with the #NoDAPL fight raging in the background, Trump has vowed to "streamline" pipeline permitting and do away with governmental oversight of fossil fuel infrastructure projects. He also promised to bring the Keystone XL pipeline project back from the dead, which was halted by the Obama administration due to massive pushback from around the country.
What does it mean that Trump could personally profit off a project that tramples Indigenous rights and pushes us closer to climate disaster? For one thing—if Trump's past investments are any guide—this project could well crash and burn, which would be a relief to the Standing Rock Sioux, the climate and everyone in the path of this dangerous fossil fuel project.
Jesse Coleman is a researcher with the Greenpeace Investigations team. His focus is on front groups, fracking, and the oil and gas industry. Jesse's work has been featured in The Guardian, The New York Times, The Colbert Report, Al-Jazeera, MSNBC, and NPR.
By Steve Horn
Continental Resources—the company founded and led by CEO Harold Hamm, energy adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign and potential U.S. Secretary of Energy under a Trump presidency—has announced to investors that oil it obtains via fracking from North Dakota's Bakken Shale basin is destined for transport through the hotly-contested Dakota Access Pipeline.
Left: Donald Trump. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons. Right: Harold Hamm. Photo credit: David Shankbone / Creative Commons.
The company's 37-page September 2016 Investor Update presentation walks investors in the publicly-traded company through various capital expenditure and profit-margin earning scenarios. It also features five slides on the Bakken Shale, with the fifth one named "CLR Bakken Differentials Decreasing Through Increased Pipeline Capacity" honing in on Dakota Access, ETCOP and how the interconnected lines relate to Continental's marketing plans going forward.
In a section of that slide, titled "Bakken Takeaway Capacity," a bar graph points out that the opening of Dakota Access would allow more barrels of Continental's Bakken fracked oil to flow through pipelines.
Dakota Access is slated to carry the fracked Bakken oil across South Dakota, Iowa and into Patoka, Illinois. From there, it will connect to the company's Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline (ETCOP) line, which terminates in Nederland, Texas at the Sunoco Logistics-owned refinery.
Previously, Harold Hamm was as an outspoken supporter of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, deploying the lobbying group he founded named the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance to advocate for KXL and a Bakken on-ramp which would connect to it. Once he realized the northern leg was doomed politically, Hamm began singing a different tune on Keystone.
"We're supporting other pipelines out there, we're not waiting on Keystone XL. Nobody is," Hamm, also an energy adviser to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, told Politico in November 2014. "That thing … needed action on it six years ago. I just think it's too late and we need to move on."
One of those "other pipelines" Hamm appears to have taken an interest in is Dakota Access (DAPL). Although to date, neither Hamm nor Trump have commented publicly on the DAPL project. Continental Resources told DeSmog that it does not comment on pipeline shipping contracts.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang pointed out in a recent article, some oil from Dakota Access could feed export markets, despite Energy Transfer's claims in a presentation that it will feature "100% Domestic produced crude" that "supports 100% domestic consumption."
Hamm's Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, as revealed in a December 2015 DeSmog investigation, led the successful public relations and lobbying campaign charge for lifting the crude oil export ban.
The battle over the fate of Dakota Access has pitted Native American Tribes, environmentalists and libertarian private property rights supporters against Energy Transfer Partners and state- and federal-level agencies which have permitted the project.
"Hamm is an oil profiteer exploiting the health of the water, farmland and communities in the Dakotas and all downstream," Angie Carter of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network—one of the more than 30 groups comprising the Iowa-based Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition—told DeSmog. "In Iowa, we've called upon both Trump and Clinton to speak out against the pipeline."
Like Trump, Clinton has yet to comment on the pipeline.
Is it any surprise that Donald Trump—who believes the "concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive"—did not mention climate change even once in his rambling speech accepting the Republican nomination for president last night in Cleveland?
Donald Trump accepts the Republican party's nomination for president of the United StatesFlickr
Trump's red-faced speech, which clocked in at a record-length of 1 hour and 16 minutes, depicted a broken, crime-ridden nation that he "alone can fix it," but made no indication he'd fix one of the greatest threats to national security: climate change.
The Republican nominee's clear lack of support for the environment has drawn criticism from environmental advocates.
"Donald Trump has never been at a loss for words, but his address tonight was silent on the rising climate crisis threatening American communities across the nation," Sierra Club political director Khalid Pitts said.
"In one of the most dark and foreboding nomination speeches in our history, its tone foreshadows the fate which awaits environmental protections if he is elected president. While Trump spoke of American leadership and strength, if elected, he would be the only head of state on earth to deny the science and dangers of climate change, undermining America's global leadership and weakening our position before every negotiation we face."
As EcoWatch reported last week, a study from the Sierra Club Political Committee revealed that not only would Trump be the only world leader to deny climate change if elected president, he'd possibly be the only one not calling for urgent climate action. He even wants to renegotiate the Paris climate deal, because he believes it treats the U.S. unfairly and gives favorable treatment to his nemesis, China.
"Never before has a major party nominated someone so uniquely unfit for the job; Trump completely and utterly lacks the good judgment, sound temperament, and character needed in the White House," Clay Schroers, the campaigns director at the League of Conservation voters, said.
"On its own, his blatant ignorance of basic science and insistence that climate change is a hoax should disqualify Trump, but his racist rhetoric, ugly campaign and full embrace of the dirty fossil fuel industry put the matter to rest. Donald Trump is an unacceptable nominee, and should never be president."
The Republican National Convention speaker line-up this week reflected the GOP's storied legacy of climate denial, with fossil fuel billionaire and major fracking proponent Harold Hamm given a prime-time slot at the convention Wednesday night. Hamm, who advises Trump on energy and environmental issues, made his billions at the expense of the Earth and its people and has silenced Oklahoma state geologists who've linked fracking activity to the state's alarming spate of earthquakes.
Trump, whose presidential campaign is built on fear-mongering and racist rhetoric, once admitted that he intentionally says provocative things to keep his audience riled up. However, if an issue threatens the billionaire's own self-interests, he means business.
The Guardian reported today that Trump is continuing his bitter fight against a wind farm being built near his luxury golf resort in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, calling the renewable energy project an act of "public vandalism."
Even though the UK Supreme Court unanimously rejected the mogul's appeal against the offshore wind farm of 11 turbines, a spokesperson for The Trump Organization told the Guardian that Trump will be lodging formal objections and will pursue further action in European courts if necessary.
The Trump Organization had denounced the Scottish government's 92.4-megawatt wind farm project as "foolish, small minded and parochial," according to Reuters.
Many Aberdeenshire locals have protested Trump's golf course. The documentary You've Been Trumped depicts how the the land Trump purchased sits on one of "Europe's most environmentally sensitive stretches of coast, described by one leading scientist as Scotland's Amazon rainforest," according to the film's website.
By no coincidence, You've Been Trumped was shown at the Capitol Theatre in Cleveland Wednesday evening with Michael Forbes, the Scottish farmer branded "a pig" by Trump and his farm "a slum" after standing in the way of the billionaire's luxury golf course development, and director Anthony Baxter on hand for Q&A after the film.
Watch the trailer below:
By Mark Floegel
Fossil fuel billionaire and major fracking proponent Harold Hamm, who has Donald Trump's ear on energy and environmental issues, had a prime-time slot at the Republican National Convention (RNC) last tonight, also known as "Make America First Again" night.
Left: Donald Trump, Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons. Right: Harold Hamm, Photo credit: David Shankbone / Creative Commons.
He spoke after businesswoman Michelle Van Etten and before unsuccessful Republican presidential hopefuls Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), as well as Eric Trump, Newt Gingrich and Gingrich's wife Callista. Trump's vice presidential pick, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), spoke, too.
"Make America One Again" night (formerly known as Thursday) will feature retired quarterback Fran Tarkenton, investment company CEO Tom Barrack and Trump himself.
Last night's line-up had no shortage of oddballs and extremists, but there's a reason Harold Hamm's name sticks out.
Hamm is straight out of the fossil fuel industry's central casting.
He's a climate-denying serial liar who made his billions at the expense of the Earth and its people. A genuine (as opposed to merely asserted) billionaire, Hamm is the 13th child of a cotton sharecropper who worked his way up through the oil business and whose company—Continental Resources—now controls much of the carbon-rich Bakken Formation in North Dakota.
In one of Trump's hazardous forays into actual policy in May, he borrowed an often-told yarn about overly-zealous regulators. The story strayed from truth when Hamm told it; Donald inevitably Trump-sized the distortions. In Trump's version, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assessed corporations "multi-billion dollar fines" for causing the death of migratory birds.
(Fact check on that: it was not the EPA, it was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The proposed fine—eventually dismissed by a judge—was $420,000. To reach the nearest multiple billion, the unlevied fine would need to be multiplied by 4,761. No worries, if Trump is elected, those fines won't happen anymore, he guarantees it. Even though they never did).
Hamm not only originated Trump's talking points for that speech, he introduced him at the event in North Dakota.
But Hamm's fingerprints on Trump's energy "policy" don't stop there.
The area where Hamm's influence is perhaps most apparent is fracking.
In late 2013—when it became clear that liquid waste from fracking operations like Hamm's injected deep underground were causing increasingly frequent, powerful earthquakes—Hamm acted decisively. Not to stop the waste injection and thus the earthquakes, but to silence the Oklahoma state geologists who made the fracking-seismic link.
The state's lead seismologist was summoned to a "coffee" with Hamm and Oklahoma State University President and former Republican Sen. David Boren to discuss the matter (and, apparently, the seismologist's career). By last summer, all of Oklahoma's state seismologists decided to pursue other employment.
Trump, meanwhile has outspokenly supported fracking throughout his campaign, even referring to Hamm as "the king of energy."
In fact, one of the only areas where Trump and Hamm diverge is in the reception they've received from the Koch brothers. The Kochs and the Hamms go back years (and likely hundreds of thousands of dollars), while the Kochs—by some accounts the most influential conservative political donors and tireless funders of climate denial—have not warmed to Trump.
When it comes to energy, it's Hamm all the way for Trump. And that's terrible news for the environment.
Mark Floegel is the research director with Greenpeace USA. He has been working on public advocacy issues since 1987.