DNC’s Flip-Flop on Fossil Fuel Subsidies Follows Deep Ties the Industry

DNC’s Flip-Flop on Fossil Fuel Subsidies Follows Deep Ties the Industry

SOURCE: Sludge and Huffington Post DATE: August 18, 2020 SNIP: The Democratic National Committee has quietly dropped from its party platform language calling for an end to subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel companies, HuffPost reported on Tuesday. The language had been added to the platform in error, a DNC spokesperson told HuffPost. The day after a draft of the Democrats’ 2020 policy platform was released, July 23, climate journalist Emily Atkin noted that unlike the 2016 platform, it did not call for an end to subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel companies. According to HuffPost, the language was added to the platform after being included in an omnibus amendment on July 27, before being removed from the final version circulated earlier this week ahead of the convention. While the Democratic Party does not openly embrace climate science denial, it has done little to protect itself from undue influence from the fossil fuel industry, which is the leading driver of global warming and sees proposals like the Green New Deal as an existential threat. Through its donors, its law firm, and the oil and gas industry lobbyists it has put in top positions at the DNC, Democratic Party politics remains deeply entwined with the fossil fuel industry. In August 2018, the DNC approved a resolution from Chair Tom Perez that reversed a DNC policy prohibiting it from accepting contributions from fossil fuel PACs. “The DNC gratefully acknowledges and will continue to welcome the longstanding and generous contributions of workers, including those in energy and related industries, who organize and donate to Democratic candidates individually or through their...
California greenlights ‘Orwellian’ solar-powered fracking scheme

California greenlights ‘Orwellian’ solar-powered fracking scheme

SOURCE: The Real News DATE: August 6, 2020 SNIP: California-based multinational oil company Chevron landed two rounds of drilling permits from Gov. Gavin Newsom this summer—evidence, climate advocates say, that Newsom is not committed to tackling the climate crisis. The permits bolster Chevron’s position in the Lost Hills Oil Field, the sixth most prolific field in industry-heavy Kern County, and will shift drilling in the field largely towards using power from solar panels. One critic called the way the permits use climate crisis rhetoric “Orwellian,” incorporating solar power into drilling operations to expand the use of fracking and oil production. The variety of oil extracted in California is among the most greenhouse gas intensive in the world. One of the drilling permits, given to Chevron from the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) to frack 12 wells, was granted just before the Fourth of July weekend. The other permit, given by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on June 5, will enable a solar energy production partnership between Chevron and Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs to power drilling in the same oil field under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard program. Before the latest fracking permits came the solar-powered drilling permit. One advocate, on Twitter, wrote that this signifies that the “environmental movement needs a course correction.” Chevron and Goldman Sachs got the permit through the Innovative Crude Oil Applications program, a program within the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), administered by the ARB. Nominally, LCFS exists to regulate and lower the carbon intensity of petroleum-based transportation fuels burned in California. In reality, LCFS has often created accounting tricks to...
A U.S. oil-producing region is leaking twice as much methane as once thought

A U.S. oil-producing region is leaking twice as much methane as once thought

SOURCE: Science News DATE: April 22, 2020 SNIP: Satellite data show that more than twice as much methane is leaking from a vast U.S. oil- and natural gas-producing region than previously estimated. From May 2018 to March 2019, a European Space Agency satellite measured an average of 2.7 teragrams of methane emitted each year from the Permian Basin, which spans more than 160,000 square kilometers in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. Previously, ground-based estimates of the methane leaked from the region’s oil and gas activities were about 1.2 teragrams per year. The new estimate represents 3.7 percent of the total volume of natural gas being extracted from the Permian Basin, say Yuzhong Zhang, an atmospheric scientist at Harvard University, and colleagues. Such a leakage rate is 60 percent higher than the national average, and is also the highest rate ever measured from a U.S. oil- and gas-producing region, the team reports April 22 in Science Advances. Production in the Permian Basin has skyrocketed in the last decade; the region now accounts for about 30 percent of U.S. oil production, and about 10 percent of its natural gas. This growth may be exceeding the ability of the existing infrastructure in the region to contain and transport the gas, leading to extensive venting and flaring. That could be to blame for the high leakage rate, the researchers say. This study demonstrates the ability of a new satellite sensor, the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument, or TROPOMI, to map atmospheric methane emissions from a region; in the future, satellites could help quantify methane leaked from many source regions around the globe, the researchers...
Plastic Wars: Industry Spent Millions Selling Recycling — To Sell More Plastic

Plastic Wars: Industry Spent Millions Selling Recycling — To Sell More Plastic

SOURCE: NPR DATE: March 31, 2020 SNIP: For decades, Americans have been sorting their trash believing that most plastic could be recycled. But the truth is, the vast majority of all plastic produced can’t be or won’t be recycled. In 40 years, less than 10% of plastic has ever been recycled. In a joint investigation, NPR and the PBS series Frontline found that oil and gas companies — the makers of plastic — have known that all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite. Starting in the late 1980s, the plastics industry spent tens of millions of dollars promoting recycling through ads, recycling projects and public relations, telling people plastic could be and should be recycled. But their own internal records dating back to the 1970s show that industry officials long knew that recycling plastic on a large scale was unlikely to ever be economically viable. A report sent to top industry executives in April 1973 called recycling plastic “costly” and “difficult.” It called sorting it “infeasible,” saying “there is no recovery from obsolete products.” Another document a year later was candid: There is “serious doubt” widespread plastic recycling “can ever be made viable on an economic basis.” Despite this, three former top officials, who have never spoken publicly before, said the industry promoted recycling as a way to beat back a growing tide of antipathy toward plastic in the 1980s and ’90s. The industry was facing initiatives to ban or curb the use of plastic. Recycling, the former officials told NPR and Frontline, became a way to preempt the bans and...
Plan to drain Congo peat bog for oil could release vast amount of carbon

Plan to drain Congo peat bog for oil could release vast amount of carbon

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: February 28, 2020 SNIP: The world’s largest tropical peatlands could be destroyed if plans go ahead to drill for oil under the Congo basin, according to an investigation that suggests draining the area would release the same amount of carbon dioxide as Japan emits annually. Preserving the Congo’s Cuvette Centrale peatlands, which are the size of England and store 30bn tonnes of carbon, is “absolutely essential” if there is any hope of meeting Paris climate agreement goals, scientists warn. However, this jungle is now the latest frontier for oil exploration, according to an investigation by Global Witness and the European Investigative Collaborations network that questions claims by developers that the oil deposit could contain 359m barrels of oil. The Cuvette Centrale forms part of the Congo basin, which is the world’s second largest tropical forest and one of the most remote areas in the world. This untouched region is waterlogged for most of the year and is an important habitat for endangered forest elephants and lowland gorillas. In 2017 it made headlines after scientists announced the discovery of 145,500 sq km (56,200 sq miles) of peatlands. They estimated it stored the equivalent of three years of global fossil fuel emissions, making it one of the greatest carbon sinks on the planet, according to a paper published in the journal Nature. But in August 2019, a Congolese company called Petroleum Exploration and Production Africa (Pepa) announced there were hundreds of millions of barrels of oil under the Cuvette Centrale. Exploiting this resource would quadruple the country’s oil production and sort out its debt-ridden finances, the company...