Chinese company approved to run water mining operation in drought-stricken Queensland

Chinese company approved to run water mining operation in drought-stricken Queensland

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: December 27, 2019 SNIP: A Chinese-owned company has been granted approval to run a 96m litre a year commercial water mining operation in severely drought-hit southern Queensland, where locals are on water rations and communities at imminent risk of running dry. Last week the Southern Downs regional council approved a development application for the company, Joyful View Garden Real Estate Development Resort Pty Ltd, to operate a water extraction and distribution facility at Cherrabah, a large property at Elbow Valley near the Queensland-New South Wales border. The following day the council implemented extreme water restrictions for residents at the nearby towns of Warwick and Stanthorpe, limiting residents to 80L a day. Stanthorpe is expected to run out of drinking water within weeks. Neighbours of Cherrabah have told Guardian Australia they have not had a reliable water supply at their properties for more than a year, and have been trucking water in on a regular basis. Some cattle properties have removed all their cattle. “I don’t understand how it is allowed to happen,” one resident says. Joyful View is ultimately owned by Chinese investors Wenxing and Wenwei Ma. The company had attempted to build a large-scale luxury resort at the remote property but pulled the proposal in 2016 after planning and environmental difficulties, including concern for a local population of spotted-tailed quolls. The water extraction licence for the property was first issued by the Queensland government in 2008 and extended in 2016 to allow Joyful View to pump 96m litres from the aquifer until 2111 – another 92 years. Council documents show the company plans to...
Trump’s Interior Department Says ‘There Is Not a Climate Crisis’

Trump’s Interior Department Says ‘There Is Not a Climate Crisis’

SOURCE: Bloomberg DATE: September 25, 2019 SNIP: The Trump administration brushed aside concerns about climate change as it sought to justify plans for oil drilling in the Arctic refuge, even going so far as to suggest that a little extra warmth would do the planet good. “There is not a climate crisis,” the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management asserted in its environmental analysis of the coming sale of drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s Coastal Plain released earlier this month. Congress mandated the sales two years ago as part of the tax overhaul but a thorough environmental assessment is a legal requirement for holding the auctions. “The BLM does not agree that the proposed development is inconsistent with maintaining a livable planet,” the agency said. “The planet was much warmer within the past 1,000 years, prior to the Little Ice Age, based on extensive archaeological evidence (such as farming in Greenland and vineyards in England). This warmth did not make the planet unlivable; rather, it was a time when societies prospered.” The idea that the world is emerging from a “Little Ice Age” — and was warmer before it — is a common talking point for climate change skeptics, who cite the period between the 16th and 19th centuries as evidence that the climate has changed dramatically without any help from humans. They argue the current warming trend is a natural phenomenon — a recovery from those colder times. But scientists who study climate change have disputed the idea, saying empirical evidence, modeling and years of study do not support the idea the world is simply...
Facing Climate Crisis, Senators Have Millions Invested in Fossil Fuel Companies

Facing Climate Crisis, Senators Have Millions Invested in Fossil Fuel Companies

SOURCE: Sludge DATE: September 24, 2019 SNIP: As the United States Senate fails to act on catastrophic climate change, dozens of its members are profiting from investments in oil, gas, and coal companies that are fueling the crisis. Twenty-nine U.S. senators and their spouses own between $3.5 million and $13.9 million worth of stock in companies that extract, transport, or burn fossil fuels, or provide services to fossil fuel companies, according to a Sludge analysis of personal financial filings as of Aug. 16. The senators are invested in 86 fossil fuel companies, including well-known giants like ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, but also a range of lesser known companies that specialize in pipeline operations, natural gas exports, and oilfield services. Top Dems on Energy and Environment Committees Are Big Stock Owners The largest fossil fuel investment among all senators belongs to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who is in line to chair the committee if Democrats take control of the Senate in 2020. The committee’s legislative jurisdiction covers energy resources and development, nuclear energy, federal coal, oil, and gas, other mineral leasing, and other issues. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which handles air pollution, environmental policy, and water pollution, has up to $310,000 invested in more than a dozen oil, gas, and utility companies, as well as mutual funds with holdings in the fossil fuel industry. Oil giant ExxonMobil, the largest oil and gas company in the U.S. by revenue, exerts massive lobbying pressure in Washington D.C. to further its...
Ecuador gives US military permission to use Galapagos island as airfield

Ecuador gives US military permission to use Galapagos island as airfield

SOURCE: Independent DATE: June 14, 2019 SNIP: Ecuador has given the US military permission to use a Galapagos island as an airfield, angering critics in the South American country who say the agreement is unconstitutional. Under a deal with Ecuador’s right-wing government, the Pentagon will use the tiny airport on San Cristobal island to “fight drug trafficking”, defence minister Oswaldo Jarrin said. A US air force Boeing 707 plane carrying radar surveillance and a Lockheed P-3 Orion plane will patrol the Pacific Ocean, using the Galapagos as a launching off point, Latin American TV network Telesur reported. But according to Ecuador’s 2008 constitution, “the establishment of foreign military bases or foreign installations for military purposes will not be allowed”. It adds: “It is prohibited to cede national military bases to foreign armed or security forces.” Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s former democratic socialist president, hit back, tweeting the Galapagos was “NOT an ‘aircraft carrier’ for gringo use”. “It is an Ecuadorian province, patrimony of the humanity, patriotic ground,” he said. “That his vassal soul can reach these extremes, describes very well the Government he represents.” Carlos Viteri, an opposition congressman, said: “What is being proposed by the government through the Ministry of Defense is unacceptable and the fact that it intends to cede an inch of Ecuadorian territory should be prohibited.” The Galapagos Islands, a Unesco world heritage site, have long been popular with travellers seeking out their unique ecosystems and unusual wildlife – factors which also inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution more than 150 years...
North Carolina didn’t like science on sea levels … so passed a law against it

North Carolina didn’t like science on sea levels … so passed a law against it

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: September 12, 2018 SNIP: When North Carolina got bad news about what its coast could look like thanks to climate change, it chose to ignore it. In 2012, the state now in the path of Hurricane Florence reacted to a prediction by its Coastal Resources Commission that sea levels could rise by 39in over the next century by passing a law that banned policies based on such forecasts. The legislation drew ridicule, including a mocking segment by comedian Stephen Colbert, who said: “If your science gives you a result you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.” North Carolina has a long, low-lying coastline and is considered one of the US areas most vulnerable to rising sea levels. But dire predictions alarmed coastal developers and their allies, who said they did not believe the rise in sea level would be as bad as the worst models predicted and said such forecasts could unnecessarily hurt property values and drive up insurance costs. As a result, the state’s official policy, rather than adapting to the worst potential effects of climate change, has been to assume it simply won’t be that bad. Instead of forecasts, it has mandated predictions based on historical data on sea level rise. “[C]oastal development flourishes as more beachfront buildings, highways and bridges are built to ease access to our beautiful beaches,” Orrin Pilkey, a retired Duke University coastal geologist wrote. “Currently the unspoken plan is to wait until the situation is catastrophic and then...