350+ Groups Oppose Dirty Senate Energy Bill That Will Hasten Climate Chaos

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By Staff of Food & Water Watch – As the Senate considers a broad energy policy package that would encourage increased fossil fuel extraction and consumption, more than 350 national, statewide and local groups sent a letter to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer today calling on him to lead opposition to the bill – S. 1460, the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 – and ultimately prevent its passage. The letter, organized by the advocacy group Food & Water Watch, states in part: “No energy legislation is better than bad energy legislation that serves to increase our dependence on dirty fossil fuel production instead of building on successful policies to expand clean energy sources… We find it astounding that any energy bill could contain a ‘Renewables’ subtitle but not include provisions on solar and wind energy.” The letter is signed by notable national organizations including: Food & Water Watch, League of Women Voters, Our Revolution, CREDO, Working Families Party, Friends of the Earth and Center for Biological Diversity. “This energy bill is long-term commitment pledge between America and the fossil fuel industry, and it will hasten our reckless advance toward climate chaos,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.

Climate Activists Crashed Global Insurance Meeting To Demand Exit From Coal Companies

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By Peter Bosshard for Alternet – By divesting from coal companies, insurers can fulfill their basic mission: to protect us from catastrophic risk. Climate activists brought their message that insurance companies need to stop supporting coal projects to a global meeting of insurance CEOs in San Francisco. On June 15, activists interrupted the opening session of the CEO gathering at the Ritz Carlton Hotel and raised a banner that read, “The World’s Best Insurance? Keeping Coal in the Ground.” The banner display was part of a series of climate protests welcoming the insurance CEOs, who met in San Francisco at the invitation of the Geneva Association, an insurance think-tank. A letter was also sent to the individual CEOs, calling for them to move away from coal and invest in renewables. Then, on the following day, activists conveyed their message with a public rally of insurance mascots to greet the CEOs, and circled the executives’ closing dinner at a landmark hotel tower with a plane displaying the message, “Insurers: Unfriend Coal Now.”

Utility CEOs Try To Rob Shareholders Of Rights To Express Climate Concerns

One of five banners entitled The Worker in the New World Order, painted for the founding convention of ICEM (International Confederation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers’ Unions–now merged into INDUSTRIALL). Dedicated to then-imprisoned Nigerian oil workers. Copyright © 1995.  Mike Alewitz

By David Pomerantz for Energy and Policy Institute – The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs that lobbies for policies that support the fossil fuel industry, is attempting to restrict shareholders’ rights as utilities and fossil fuel companies face increasing scrutiny from investors over climate change. Fossil fuel and utility CEOs, facing unprecedented levels of activism from shareholders who are worried about the risks posed to their investments by climate change, have responded by trying to pass legislation that would curtail investors’ rights to register their concerns. The main purpose of The Financial CHOICE Act is to gut the consumer protections passed by the Dodd-Frank law of 2010, but a section of the bill would produce a significant change in what kind of shareholders are able to file resolutions for changes in the company. Currently, any shareholder that owns 1 percent of a company, or $2,000 worth of shares – hardly a paltry sum, but one that is within the realm of possibility for many investors – is able to file shareholder resolutions calling on the company’s management to make changes. The resolutions are generally not binding, but when they garner significant support, say over 20%, management tends to take them as serious signals of shareholder sentiment, and often respond accordingly.

Dissidents Ramp Up Direct Action Against Climate Destroyers.

(Photo: Gil Megidish; Edited: LW / TO)

By Ted Hamilton for Truthout – This month a group of climate activists were convicted in district courts in Mount Vernon, Washington, and Wawayanda, New York, for committing acts of civil disobedience against fossil fuel infrastructure. Each defendant (one in Washington and six in New York) had attempted to present a “climate necessity defense,” arguing that their nominally illegal actions were justified by the threat of climate catastrophe — in other words, that the real crime is continuing to pollute the atmosphere, not interfering with corporate property. The courts weren’t having it: The activists were convicted on June 7 on charges of varying seriousness, although they anticipate appealing their rulings. The activists aren’t hanging their heads, though. Instead, they’re doubling down on their civil resistance mode of political activism. In doing so, they’re joining a growing movement of direct action climate dissidents across the country who have taken to the streets, the pipelines and the coal trains to do what the government won’t: confront an industry that poses an existential threat to human civilization. The Washington trial began with an October 2016 protest in which Ken Ward — a long-time environmental leader who pursued conventional climate policy avenues for decades before turning to civil disobedience in recent years…

States And Industries Face More Climate Court Action

From climatenewsnetwork.net

By Paul Brown for Climate News Network – LONDON, 15 June, 2017 – Governments that make promises they do not keep to cut greenhouse gases or to protect their citizens against climate change are finding themselves more frequently facing climate court action by their own citizens. According to a UN environment (the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP) report, climate change cases have been filed in 24 countries – with the US, with 654 individual cases, facing by far the largest number. Australia has seen 80 cases, the UK and the European Union Court of Justice 49 each. In many cases it is the promises made by governments at the Paris climate conference in 2015 that are providing the legal arguments which campaigners are using in the courts. These issues are complex and vary according to the legal system of the country involved. But many boil down to whether the government in question is doing its share to hold the average global temperature rise down to below 2°C, or as close as possible to 1.5°C, the primary promise the politicians made in Paris. Another type of case involves human rights, the right to clean air, health, and protection from threats like sea level rise. Where governments have enacted legislation to protect the public but failed to implement it…

Kids Climate Lawsuit Heads To Trial, Judge Denies Trump Administration's Appeal

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By Staff of Eco Watch – U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken issued an order Thursday denying motions filed by the Trump administration and the fossil fuel industry that sought to appeal her Nov. 10, 2016 order in Juliana v. United States to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The order follows the Trump administration’s remarkable Tuesday night filing of a notice giving Judge Aiken a deadline of June 9 to issue her order. In that notice, the Department of Justice threatened, “In the absence of such resolution by this Court, the United States will seek … review and relief in the Court of Appeals.” The Trump administration is alluding to an intention to seek a writ of mandamus, an extraordinary remedy that is rarely granted, from the higher court. “We are on our way to trial!” said Julia Olson, co-lead counsel for plaintiffs and executive director of Our Children’s Trust. “With industry walking away from the case and the Trump administration’s effort at procedural delay firmly rejected, we can focus on the merits of these youths’ constitutional claims.”

EPA Spreads Misinformation About Coal, Climate & Paris Agreement

Some of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's most misleading statements had to do with the Paris climate agreement. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

By Marianne Lavelle for Inside Climate News – EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has spread a lot of misinformation in defending President Trump’s plan to exit the Paris climate agreement. Here’s a reality check. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has thrown around plenty of figures in his spirited defense of President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement. But many of them are just plain wrong. An EPA spokesperson did admit that Pruitt “misspoke” in his claim, repeated multiple times, that 50,000 coal jobs had been created since the fourth quarter of 2016, after the number was debunked by The Washington Post, USA Today, Politifact and others. Coal mining currently only has about 50,000 jobs, total, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But some of Pruitt’s most misleading statements had to do with the Paris agreement itself. Here are just a few:

Trump Names BP Oil Spill Lawyer, Climate Policy Foe As Top DOJ Environment Attorney

Clark was prominently involved in industry challenges to the EPA's "endangerment finding" that set the scientific basis for all subsequent attempts to regulate greenhouse gases. Credit: U.S. Navy

By Marianne Lavelle and John H. Cushman Jr. for Inside Climate News – Jeffrey Bossert Clark, a lawyer who has repeatedly challenged the scientific foundations of U.S. climate policy and was part of a legal team that represented BP in lawsuits stemming from the nation’s worst oil spill, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, was nominated by President Donald Trump on Tuesday to serve as the Justice Department’s top environmental lawyer. Clark, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Kirkland & Ellis, has represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in lawsuits challenging the federal government’s authority to regulate carbon emissions. In court he has repeatedly argued that it is inappropriate to base government policymaking on the scientific consensus presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “When did America risk coming to be ruled by foreign scientists and apparatchiks at the United Nations?” Clark demanded in a 2010 blog posting on the EPA’s endangerment finding. Clark was prominently involved in industry challenges to the EPA’s “endangerment finding” that set the scientific basis for all subsequent attempts to regulate greenhouse gases, including from autos and industrial sources.

Rover Pipeline: Climate Disaster Equal To 42 Coal Plants

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By Kelly Trout for Oil Change International – As controversy swirls around a string of spills and air and water violations caused by Energy Transfer Partners’ construction of the Rover gas pipeline, a study released today underlines another reason federal regulators should halt the project: It will fuel a massive increase in climate pollution. A new analysis by Oil Change International finds that, if the Rover Pipeline is built, it will cause as much greenhouse gas pollution as 42 coal-fired power plants – some 145 million metric tons per year. The study slams the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for using chronically outdated assumptions to sweep this significant climate impact under the rug in its environmental review of the project. “As the biggest new pipeline being built to carry fracked gas out of the Appalachian Basin, the Rover Pipeline is the biggest climate disaster of them all,” said Lorne Stockman, senior research analyst at Oil Change International and the lead author of the study. “After Trump’s malicious pullout from the Paris climate accord, challenging each new pipeline is all the more important. While FERC remains in a state of denial, it’s increasingly clear that gas pipelines are a bridge to climate destruction.

After Paris Pullout, Spread An Ethic Of Love And Cooperation

Protesters demonstrate against Donald Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, at the San Francisco Federal Building, June 2, 2017. (Photo: Jim Wilson / The New York Times)

By Tim DeChristopher for Truthout – As we are barraged with constant bad news about climate science and climate politics at the national and global level, the US climate movement has really important opportunities to hold our ground and build momentum through local and state level actions. When Donald Trump announced last week that he was pulling the US out of the Paris climate agreements, 211 city mayors and 10 state governors immediately responded by committing to upholding their end of the bargain. The speed of that response is a testament to the critical value of the local climate organizing that has already been done across the country. This opening for political leadership adds to the many ways that the struggle against global climate change is fought on local turf. The fight against fossil fuel infrastructure and extraction has always been centered on local organizing. The fight against fossil fuel infrastructure and extraction has always been centered on local organizing. Countless communities have fought off power plants, pipelines, fracking, drilling, mining, export facilities and compressor stations.

Exxon Fights Back Against Legal Actions On Climate

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By David Hasemyer for Inside Climate News – Ted Wells, one of the nation’s most prominent litigators for big corporations, was about to win again as he sat with his team in a Dallas courtroom last fall, representing ExxonMobil. U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade looked their way and joked, “Y’all have 300 lawyers on your side.” Wells, 66, had come before Kinkeade to thwart fraud investigations launched by the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts, who are looking into whether the mammoth oil company has misled investors and the public for years about the dangers of climate change. Kinkeade, with his folksy joshing and pointed comments, made little secret of his sympathies. He kidded that his horse was tied up outside and he might need an interpreter to pierce the Boston accent of the Massachusetts counsel. He wondered aloud if those Northern officials would be as worried about the climate if their states had as much oil as his native Texas. “I’m just saying, think about it.” A little more than three weeks later, he handed Exxon a major victory, ruling that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey may have acted in “bad faith.”

US Climate Movement: Funnel Money Downward To Survive

Photo by Rainforest Action Network

By Patrick Robbins for Earth Island Journal – Since the election of Donald Trump, many people who have not previously considered themselves “activists” have begun to devote their time, energy, and their money to climate issues. In the weeks following the election, the Sierra Club, for example, gained 85,000 new donating members, constituting a bump of hundreds of thousands of dollars. While we do need more resources to fight climate change, there is a danger that the current funding bump could reinforce a preexisting, massively unequal distribution of money within the climate movement. A file photo of Rainforst Action Network activists protesting Citibank’s investments in the coal industry. Some foundations do not understand the importance of the messy, unglamorous, confrontational tactics that tend to be the purview of smaller organizations. A great study by Sarah Hansen found that in 2009, the top 2 percent of organizations working on climate change received half of all contributions and grants. In 2014, Inside Climate News compared the membership, budget, and reach of major US environmental organizations. It showed that in 2014 the $100 million Sierra Club budget was bigger than 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Friends of the Earth, Credo Action and the League of Conservation Voters’ budgets combined.

Exxon Shareholders Approve Climate Resolution: 62% Vote For Disclosure

The Exxon vote caps a shareholder meeting season that has seen unprecedented investor support for corporate disclosure on climate risks. Credit: Karen Bleier/Getty Images

By Marianne Lavelle for Inside Climate Change – ExxonMobil shareholders voted Wednesday to require the world’s largest oil and gas company to report on the impacts of climate change to its business—defying management, and marking a milestone in a 28-year effort by activist investors. Sixty-two percent of shareholders voted for Exxon to begin producing an annual report that explains how the company will be affected by global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate agreement. The analysis should address the financial risks the company faces as nations slash fossil fuel use in an effort to prevent worldwide temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. Last year, 38 percent of Exxon shareholders supported essentially the same measure, which at the time was a record. The vote at Exxon shows the rapid erosion of support for the company’s defiant stance on climate disclosure, and it caps a shareholder meeting season that saw unprecedented support for greater corporate disclosure on climate change. In recent weeks, shareholders voted in favor of climate risk analysis at two other major energy companies, Occidental Petroleum and PPL, Pennsylvania’s largest utility.

Climate Policies Could Boost Economic Growth By 5%, OECD Says

Climate policies help create sustainable jobs with a long-term future and spur technology innovation, the OECD says. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By Marianne Lavelle for Inside Climate News – The world’s major economies could boost their long-term economic growth by 2.8 percent with policies that lower greenhouse gas emissions and boost resilience to climate change impacts, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in a new analysis. That rises to nearly 5 percent mid-century when the economic benefits of avoiding future impacts of climate change are factored in. “Far from being a dampener on growth, integrating climate action into growth policies can have a positive economic impact,” Angel Gurría, secretary-general of OECD, said Tuesday at an international meeting on climate hosted by the German government in Berlin. The new figures bolstered a theme that has been sounded repeatedly by the OECD, the research and policy organization that represents developed nations. “There is no economic excuse for not acting on climate change, and the urgency to act is high,” Gurría said. OECD economists estimate that the major economies in the G20 could add 1 percent to average economic output by 2021 and lift their 2050 output by up to 2.8 percent through economic policies that are shaped to address climate change.

Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation Widens Over Missing ‘Wayne Tracker’ Emails

Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson used a secret email alias when discussing issues, including climate change risk. Several weeks of those emails now are missing, and an attorney general investigating the oil giant wants to know what they said. Credit: David McNew

By David Hasemyer for Inside Climate News – The probe of ExxonMobil by the New York Attorney General’s Office is widening. Investigators have taken depositions of company executives and issued additional subpoenas to determine whether the company may have destroyed evidence connected to an alias email used by former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson. The disclosure was made Friday in arguments filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a Manhattan federal court. He is seeking dismissal of a request by Exxon for an injunction that would halt his investigation into the oil giant involving whether it misled shareholders and the public about the risks of climate change. Attorneys for Schneiderman did not elaborate in the 25-page document on the scope of the expanded investigation other than to suggest that it involved the recent disclosure that Tillerson, now U.S. secretary of state, used an email alias when discussing issues including climate change and the risk that it posed to the company. New York and Massachusetts investigators denounced the company’s attempt in federal court to derail their parallel inquiries as a vexatious legal tactic that has no chance of succeeding.