Biomass Industry’s Hollow Self-Regulatory Scheme Has Been Exposed

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By Adam Macon and Sasha Stashwick for AlterNet – If we want clean air and a livable planet, cutting down trees for fuel is one of the most counterproductive things we can do. Standing forests are a critical tool in the fight against climate change. Cutting trees down to use as fuel in energy production—known as biomass energy or bioenergy—is one of the most counterproductive things we can do if our goal is clean air and a livable planet. Despite this reality, policymakers around the world have invested heavily in bioenergy. Nowhere is this more true than in the European Union, where bioenergy policies in the U.K. and other member states enable billions in subsidies each year to flow to the balance sheets of large utility companies, padding their profits and financing the conversion of old coal-fired power plants to burn wood. Meanwhile, the evidence of the climate and ecological harm wrought by the biomass industry continues to mount. Yet too many policymakers remain unwilling to acknowledge the impacts of bioenergy and adequately limit its growth. They argue that the industry’s impacts on the climate, forests, and people are still uncertain, that we need more studies, more “proof.”

Secret Industry Teams Rolling Back Regulations For Trump Admin

Mr Trump has said he needs more to time to decide whether to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement Evan Vucci/AP

By Robert Faturechi for ProPublica and Danielle Ivory for The New York Times – We’ve found many appointees with potential conflicts of interest, including two who might personally profit if particular regulations are undone. This story was co-published with The New York Times. President Trump entered office pledging to cut red tape, and within weeks, he ordered his administration to assemble teams to aggressively scale back government regulations. But the effort — a signature theme in Trump’s populist campaign for the White House — is being conducted in large part out of public view and often by political appointees with deep industry ties and potential conflicts. Most government agencies have declined to disclose information about their deregulation teams. But ProPublica and The New York Times identified 71 appointees, including 28 with potential conflicts, through interviews, public records and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Jeff Sessions’ Alternative Facts About Marijuana

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By Tony Newman for AlterNet – Attorney General Jeff Sessions became the second member of the Trump administration in less than a week to provide “alternative facts” and backward analysis when it comes to marijuana. Yesterday, in a meeting with reporters, Sessions spoke out against marijuana legalization and implied that it’s leading to more violence. “I’m dubious about marijuana. I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana sold at every corner grocery store.” “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think,” said Sessions. “You can’t sue somebody for a drug debt. The only way to get your money is through strong-arm tactics, and violence tends to follow that.”

Coalition Sues Challenging Trumps Order On Removing Regulations

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By Phillip Ellis for Earthjustice – Public Citizen, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Communications Workers of America represented by Earthjustice sued the Trump administration today to block an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 30 that directs federal agencies to repeal two federal regulations for every new rule they issue. The plaintiffs are asking the court to issue a declaration that the order cannot be lawfully implemented and bar the agencies from implementing the order. The order requires new rules to have a net cost of $0 this fiscal year, without taking into account the value of the benefits of public protections.

Trump Moves To Aggressively Protect Wall Street

Barack Obama signs the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act on July 21, 2010. Photographer: Win McNamee/Pool via Bloomberg

By Justin Sink, Elizabeth Dexheimer, and Katherine Chiglinsky for Bloomberg – President Donald Trump will order a sweeping review of the Dodd-Frank Act rules enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis, a White House official said, signing an executive action Friday designed to significantly scale back the regulatory system put in place in 2010. Trump also will halt another of former President Barack Obama’s regulations, hated by the financial industry, that requires advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. Trump’s order will give the new administration time to review the change, known as the fiduciary rule.

Trump Already Pushing Koch Industries' Bill To Hobble Regulatory Agencies

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By Steve Horn for Desmog Blog – The OMB pointed toward the myriad existing safeguards that already ensure regulatory agency accountability, including the federal court system, the fact that many regulatory proposals actually stem from laws passed by Congress, and the requirement for robust public commenting periods. “This radical departure from the longstanding separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches would delay and, in many cases, thwart implementation of statutory mandates and execution of duly-enacted laws, create business uncertainty, undermine much-needed protections of the American public, and cause unnecessary confusion,” OMB wrote in July 2015.

Trump's Regulations Advisor, Billionaire Carl Icahn, Will Profit From Weak Regulations

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By Steve Horn for Desmog – In a recent “Victory Tour” speech in Des Moines, Iowa, President-elect Donald Trump told the audience that he sought to pick a Cabinet and team of advisors composed of “people that made a fortune” because “now they’re negotiating with you, OK?” Carl Icahn, the 26th richest man on the planet according to Forbes, fits the “made a fortune” bill. Icahn, a business partner of Trump and major donor to his presidential campaign, has been named by the President-elect as his Special Advisor on Regulatory Reform. However, as recently reported by DeSmog, Icahn stands to gain directly from deregulation in the energy and environmental sphere.

Factory Farms Get Bigger, Pollution Grows; Regulators Don’t Know Where They Are

As massive animals farms continue to get bigger, the EPA has trouble collecting information about where they are, much less how much they pollute. Credit: Wikimedia

By Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News – After Hurricane Matthew churned across North Carolina earlier this month, swollen rivers deluged poultry and swine farms, killing millions of chickens and thousands of hogs and sending potentially toxic animal waste coursing into waterways. It could take weeks or months for North Carolinians to learn the scope of the pollution or where it came from—if they ever do.

Joining Trend, NY Suspends Review Of Oil Train Terminal Permit

New York regulators have suspended the application of a major oil-by-rail terminal project pending review of potential environmental, health and climate change impacts. Credit: STEEVE DUGUAY/AFP/Getty Images

By Zahra Hirji for Inside Climate News – New York environmental regulators have suspended their review of two proposals to renew and expand operations at a Port of Albany oil terminal until Global Partners LP addresses a laundry list of concerns over environmental, public health, safety and climate change. Officials at the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) told the company in a letter on Sept. 16 it has three months to provide plans for the following…

Obama Appointed Judge Says Feds Cannot Regulate Fracking On Public Land

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By Timothy Cama for The Hill – A federal judge appointed by President Obama struck down the administration’s regulation on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands on Tuesday, ruling that the Interior Department does not have congressional authority to regulate fracking. The decision is a major loss for the administration, which worked for years to update its oil and natural gas drilling regulations to account for dramatic increases and innovations in fracking.

Federal Probe Of Competitive Power Ventures

Smoke stacks at a coal-fired power plant near Cincinnati in the US. Photo by Robert S. Donovan

By Pramilla Malick and Nadine Raia for Protect Orange County – Slate Hill N.Y.- The residents of Orange County have long been calling for a federal investigation into the numerous irregularities in the approval process for the CPV Valley Power Plant and related Minisink Compressor Station. (This 650 MW fracked-gas power plant is now under construction in Orange County, N.Y.) We applaud the launch of this probe and hope it serves to explain these irregularities and restore the integrity of the review process.

Money Revolution: Making Banks Public And Locally Accountable

New Yorkers Protest the $3 trillion Wall Street bailout, Wall Street, NYC, September 25, 2008. Photo: A. Golden via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

By Ellen Brown for Web of Debt – The world is undergoing a populist revival. From the revolt against austerity led by the Syriza Party in Greece and the Podemos Party in Spain, to Jeremy Corbyn’s surprise victory as Labour leader in the UK, to Donald Trump’s ascendancy in the Republican polls, to Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton – contenders with their fingers on the popular pulse are surging ahead of their establishment rivals. Today’s populist revolt mimics an earlier one that reached its peak in the US in the 1890s.

Supreme Court Halts Clean Power Plan, Implications Far Beyond U.S.

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By John H. Cushman Jr. for Inside Climate News – The Supreme Court put on hold the linchpin of President Obama’s climate policy, barring the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday from carrying out the administration’s new Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants. It was a surprising decision of staggering proportions, with repercussions that go far beyond the U.S. electrical grid, threatening the credibility of the Paris Agreement on climate change reached by the world’s nations in December.

Last Chance For Justice

Carl Hoeckner, The Yes Machine, c. 1935 (Lithograph: Courtesy of Mary and Leigh Block Museum, Northwestern University)

By Phil Angelides for The Huffington Post – Five years ago at this time, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) presented the President and Congress with its final report on what caused the 2008 financial meltdown that devastated our economy and millions of American families. The report concluded that the financial crisis was avoidable and was caused by widespread failures of regulation, reckless risk taking on Wall Street, and a systematic breakdown in ethics and accountability.

Faith & Global Poverty Groups Criticize TPP On Fair Global Dvlpment

Global poverty

“Trade can indeed spur economic growth and poverty reduction, but only if the rules actually benefit those at the lower end of the development ladder,” said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “Although it is being negotiated in secret, what we currently know about the TPP lines up the trade deal to do exactly the opposite.” In a letter to Congress, Oxfam joined a number of faith and development organizations, including ActionAid USA, Health Alliance International, American Jewish World Service, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), , and NETWORK – a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby to urge for a change in course away from the current design of TPP and the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill in order for US trade policy to truly serve development outcomes and reduce global poverty.