Tomgram: Michael Klare, In the Carbon Wars, Big Oil Is Winning

By: Saturday February 15, 2014 6:00 pm

How the Obama administration will come down on Keystone XL is still unknown. In a speech on climate policy last June, the president indicated that he would give highest priority to climate considerations when deciding on the pipeline. “Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest,” he said. “And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” At the time, his comments raised the hopes of climate activists that Obama would ultimately decide against the pipeline. More recently, however, an environmental assessment conducted at the behest of the State Department and released on January 31st cast doubt on this outcome. The report’s reasoning: even though the exploitation of Canada’s tar sands will increase the pace of carbon emissions, their extraction and delivery to refineries is assured by alternative means — mainly rail — if the pipeline isn’t built and so its construction will not “significantly exacerbate” the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

While this is certainly a uniquely sophistic (and shaky) argument, it is important to note that the Canadian producers and their U.S. partners are indeed attempting to stage an end-run around opposition to the pipeline by increasing their reliance on rail cars to deliver tar sands.

Valentine VIDEO: ALEC Is Duke Energy’s Corporate “Dating Service”

By: Friday February 14, 2014 7:15 pm

Over the last four years, Greenpeace has made a Valentine’s Day tradition of spoofing the influence peddling of corporate lobbyists and captured politicians. This year’s installment embodies the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which reporters have characterized as a “dating service” for its role in pushing copycat, corporate-crafted laws through state legislatures.

A Conversation With Scott Crow, Part 1: Occupy & Activism

By: Thursday February 13, 2014 6:59 pm

Scott Crow is a co-founder of the Common Ground Collective which provided grassroots solidarity and mutual aid after Hurricane Katrina. An anarchist activist, author and public speaker, he travels regularly to share his views. The second edition of his book about Common Ground, Black Flags and Windmills is due out soon. It’s one of multiple book-length projects in the works.

Both Scott & I call Austin home, so I invited him out for coffee and conversation on a recent break from an unusually chilly Central Texas winter.

Saving Civilization: a Review of Smith’s Climate Change and Cultural Heritage

By: Saturday February 1, 2014 5:20 pm

The book I’m reviewing today has a lot of science in it, but largely it’s a polemic about climate change, and a rather creative polemic at that. Peter F. Smith, listed here as an emeritus professor of architecture in England, thinks great things of our civilization (and indeed of past civilizations), but is still trying to wrap his head around the matter of why civilization hasn’t yet done what is necessary to deal with the problem of impending runaway climate change. So his book, Climate Change and Cultural Heritage, is part encomium of praise for human civilization, and part discussion of climate change, as a problem necessitating a solution.

Stopping the Keystone XL Pipeline Is a National Security Issue

By: Saturday February 1, 2014 9:00 am

The illogic emerging from the State Department yesterday on the Keystone XL pipeline would be mindboggling, if my mind hadn’t already been boggled so often in the past when it comes to this funnel of death. “Approval or denial of any one crude oil transport project, including the proposed project, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands,” they said. By this logic, TSA should be shut down. After all, “Inspection of passengers on any one airplane trip, including those going in and out of DC’s National Airport, is unlikely to significantly impact the rate of terrorism.”

But if they won’t listen to scientists, and they won’t listen to to lefty tree-hugger environmentalists, maybe they’ll listen to the military . . .

National Review’s Future at Risk Over Climate Change Smear

By: Friday January 31, 2014 6:39 am

Nem>National Review, one of the conservative movement’s most celebrated publications, may be brought down by a smear it published against climate scientist Michael Mann. Mann’s lawsuit against the publication has already survived two challenges for dismissal and could exact a lethal toll on a media property that may already be losing money.

Going to Jail on MLK’s B-Day to Stop Keystone XL South: “The Fierce Urgency of Now”

By: Sunday January 19, 2014 5:00 pm

You wouldn’t know it from the lack of focus and attention by the environmental establishment, but the 485-mile southern leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has been built, is being filled and is scheduled to start up on Jan. 22. Front line reports from landowners in Texas and Oklahoma say that TransCanada has patrol planes flying up and down the line, with foot patrols searching for leaks. In a few short days, this 485-mile fuse to one of the biggest carbon bombs on the planet will be lit.

No Prodigal Sun? ALEC Doesn’t Want Its Clean Energy Members Back

By: Wednesday January 15, 2014 7:12 pm

Leaked American Legislative Exchange Council documents published by The Guardian recently offered a glimpse into ALEC’s financial troubles, spurred by its role in peddling corporate laws through statehouses around the country. ALEC’s controversial work has caused its member companies to abandon it, such as pushing the National Rifle Association’s Stand Your Ground laws, efforts to undermine clean energy incentives and delay climate change regulations, and breaking workers unions.

The ALEC documents revealed its “Prodical [sic] Son” project, a list of 41 corporate members the legislator-lobbyist matchmaker would like to entice back into its roster.

‘A Public Relations Exercise’: TPP Agreement Chapter for Environment Released by WikiLeaks

By: Wednesday January 15, 2014 3:19 pm

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement being finalized between the United States and eleven other countries largely avoids strengthening environmental protections, according to a leaked environmental chapter from the agreement that was published by WikiLeaks.

Michael Klare: Have the Obits for Peak Oil Come Too Soon?

By: Thursday January 9, 2014 7:01 pm

So here we are in a record-breaking “polar vortex” with Florida’s Everglades going on a freeze watch and Minnesota registering wind chills of -60 degrees Fahrenheit. This most extreme of weather systems, which should warm the hearts of climate deniers, may in fact turn out to be climate-change related (thanks to a melting Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet). Meanwhile, halfway around the world, Australia has been experiencing a staggering heat wave, having just emerged from a year that included the hottest day, week, month, and overall average on record for that continent.

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