Most underreported story of the year, and probably the millenium, continues to be #ExxonKnew.

A group of Attorneys General are seeking to balance the scales and take on the Energy leviathan.  They are playing catch up.
The fossil fuel industry has for some time been behind an “unprecedented, secretive alliance” of Attorneys General devoted to undermining environmental protections, in particular those related to climate change. See below.

Washington Post:

More than a dozen state attorneys general gathered in New York earlier this week, ostensibly to announce their support for President Obama’s efforts to combat global warming and to underscore their intention to collaborate on investigations involving climate-related issues.

But the undercurrent of Tuesday’s public announcement, which included former vice president and climate activist Al Gore taking a turn at the podium, was anything but subtle: New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and his counterparts from around the country vowed to “collectively, collaboratively and aggressively” investigate whether fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil have misled shareholders and the public about what they knew — and when — about the risks of climate change.

“We have heard the scientists; we know what’s happening to the planet,” Schneiderman said. “But there is confusion, sowed by those with an interest in profiting from the confusion and creating misperceptions in the eyes of the American public.”

Schneiderman began investigating ExxonMobil last fall, subpoenaing documents from the company in the wake of reporting by the Los Angeles Times and the online publication Inside Climate News that showed Exxon’s in-house researchers were concerned about climate change from fossil-fuel emissions decades ago, and yet for a long time, the company publicly raised doubts about the science. Schneiderman has leeway to take on such a sweeping authority to undertake such an investigation under both consumer protection laws and New York’s Martin Act, a securities law that protects investors. Read the rest of this entry »

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Duke Energy, why do you hate God?

Description:

Duke Energy is bullying state regulators into pushing a hefty $120,000 fine against a local organization for providing solar power to Faith Community Church.

Debbie Dooley is the face of the “Green Tea Party” movement, also known as the “Energy Freedom” movement.

The movement is composed of free market conservatives, and environmentalists, who have found common ground in the fight for a distributed energy system, and the rights of communities, small businesses, farmers, and homeowners to self generate solar and renewable energy, and be properly compensated for adding value, stability and reliability to the power grid.
Ms. Dooley voices the video above, which describes an emerging battlefront in the movement.

See more below: Read the rest of this entry »

Video from 2 years ago, as so often happens, further reinforced by the newest studies.

Daily Galaxy:

A new study from climate scientists Robert DeConto at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and David Pollard at Pennsylvania State University suggests that the most recent estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for future sea-level rise over the next 100 years could be too low by almost a factor of two. Details appear in the current issue of Nature.

DeConto says, “This could spell disaster for many low-lying cities. For example, Boston could see more than 1.5 meters [about 5 feet] of sea-level rise in the next 100 years. But the good news is that an aggressive reduction in emissions will limit the risk of major Antarctic ice sheet retreat.”With mechanisms that were previously known but never incorporated in a model like this before, added to their ice-sheet model to consider the effects of surface melt water on the break-up of ice shelves and the collapse of vertical ice cliffs, the authors find that Antarctica has the potential to contribute greater than 1 meter (39 inches) of sea-level rise by the year 2100, and greater than 15 meters (49 feet) by 2500 if atmospheric emissions continue unabated. In this worst case scenario, atmospheric warming (rather than ocean warming) will soon become the dominant driver of ice loss.

The revised estimate for sea-level rise comes from including new processes in the 3-dimensional ice sheet model, and testing them against past episodes of high sea-levels and ice retreat.

The researchers find that “ocean-driven melt is an important driver of Antarctic ice shelf retreat where warm water is in contact with shelves, but in high greenhouse-gas emissions scenarios, atmospheric warming soon overtakes the ocean as the dominant driver of Antarctic ice loss.” Further, they find that if substantial amounts of ice are lost, the long thermal memory of the ocean that will inhibit the ice sheet’s recovery for thousands of years after greenhouse-gas emissions are curtailed.

DeConto and Pollard’s study was motivated by reconstructions of sea level rise during past warm periods including the previous inter-glacial (around 125,000 years ago) and earlier warm intervals like the Pliocene (around 3 million years ago). These high sea levels, ranging from a few meters to 20 meters above today, imply that the Antarctic Ice Sheet is highly sensitive to climate warming.

“So, at a time in the past when global average temperatures were only slightly warmer than today,” says DeConto (above), “sea levels were much higher. Melting of the smaller Greenland Ice Sheet can only explain a fraction of this sea-level rise, most which must have been caused by retreat on Antarctica.”

New York Times:

The situation would grow far worse beyond 2100, the researchers found, with the rise of the sea exceeding a pace of a foot per decade by the middle of the 22nd century. Scientists had documented such rates of increase in the geologic past, when far larger ice sheets were collapsing, but most of them had long assumed it would be impossible to reach rates so extreme with the smaller ice sheets of today.

Read the rest of this entry »

bookscan

Y’all may have thought I’ve been joking over the years when I’ve said, “Climate denial is most likely caused by faulty toilet training.”

So, then I read this in Jean Mayer’s book “Dark Money”, about the rise of the Koch fueled extreme right.

I included a clip from Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray in my recent explainer on coal’s big crash, and some folks remarked on it. Here’s more.

Murray typifies the last holdouts for a fossil dominated electrical grid, old, rich white and clueless. The narrative they put forward, here gamely seconded by a Fox News host, is the so-called “War on Coal”.  But there is no more a war on coal than there has been a war on buggy whips, typewriters, or film cameras. Better technology drives out obsolete methods – as has been said, “we did not leave the stone age because we ran out of stones.”

Murray likes to talk about what tender personal relationship he has with his employees – but press reports suggest there is some nuance to that.

The New Republic:

Over the years, CEO Robert Murray has brought in GOP pols from as far away as Alaska, California, and Massachusetts for fund-raisers. In 2010, the year John Boehner became House speaker, the firm’s 3,000 employees and their families were his second-biggest source of funds. (AT&T was in first place, but it has nearly 200,000 employees.) This year, Murray is one of the most important GOP players in one of the most important battleground states in the country. In May, he hosted a $1.7 million fund-raiser for Romney. Employees have given the nominee more than $120,000. In August, Romney used Murray’s Century Mine in the town of Beallsville for a speech attacking Barack Obama as anti-coal. This fall, scenes from that event—several dozen coal-smudged Murray miners standing behind the candidate in a tableau framed by a giant American flag and a COAL COUNTRY STANDS WITH MITT placard—have shown up in a Romney ad.

The ads aired even after Ohio papers reported what I was told by several miners at the event, a bit of news that an internal memo confirms: The crowd was not there of its own accord. Murray had suspended Century’s operations and made clear to workers that they were expected to attend, without pay. “I tell ya, you’ve got a great boss,” Romney said in acknowledging Robert Murray from the stage. “He runs a great operation here.”

The accounts of two sources who have worked in managerial positions at the firm, and a review of letters and memos to Murray employees, suggest that coercion may also explain Murray staffers’ financial support for Romney. Murray, it turns out, has for years pressured salaried employees to give to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates chosen by the company. Internal documents show that company officials track who is and is not giving. The sources say that those who do not give are at risk of being demoted or missing out on bonuses, claims Murray denies. Read the rest of this entry »

lines

We can do this.

Science:

Analysts have long argued that nations aiming to use wind and solar power to curb emissions from fossil fuel burning would first have to invest heavily in new technologies to store electricity produced by these intermittent sources—after all, the sun isn’t always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing. But a study out today suggests that the United States could, at least in theory, use new high-voltage power lines to move renewable power across the nation, and essentially eliminate the need to add new storage capacity.

This improved national grid, based on existing technologies, could enable utilities to cut power-sector carbon dioxide emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2030 without boosting power prices, researchers report today in Nature Climate Change.

Bloomberg:

A $2.5-billion transmission line carrying wind power to the U.S. Southeast is coming — whether state regulators there like it or not.

On Friday, the U.S. Energy Department used a decade-old statute to clear Clean Line Energy Partners LLC’s 705-mile (1,134-kilometer) power line for construction over any objections from the states involved.

The Energy Department’s approval of the line, proposed to carry 4,000 megawatts of power from the wind-rich Oklahoma panhandle through Arkansas and into Tennessee, marks the first time the 2005 statute has been used to bypass state approval and push through an interstate transmission project.

“Moving remote and plentiful power to areas where electricity is in high demand is essential for building the grid of the future,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. “Building modern transmission that delivers renewable energy to more homes and businesses will create jobs, cut carbon emissions, and enhance the reliability of our grid.”

The approval highlights a potential workaround for some U.S. transmission developers who have for years dealt with regulatory delays and roadblocks at the state level while trying to site new power lines. The statute gave the Energy Department authority to clear interstate projects co-sponsored by either of two of its four public power agencies. It’s just the latest twist in the battle over transmission siting between state and federal agencies as U.S. regulators push for stronger, multi-state lines capable of moving renewable power to where it’s needed.

New York Times:

“Moving remote and plentiful power to areas where electricity is in high demand is essential for building the grid of the future,” Ernest Moniz, the energy secretary, said in a statement. “Building modern transmission that delivers renewable energy to more homes and businesses will create jobs, cut carbon emissions and enhance the reliability of our grid.” Read the rest of this entry »

If coal giant Peabody goes down, as seems increasingly likely, the investment community’s orderly retreat from Coal may turn into a rout.

New York Times:

The grave environmental damage from coal-fired power plants has done nothing to deter the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, from decrying a “war on coal” and orchestrating his own war against the Obama administration’s climate change agenda. But he and other coal-state Republicans would be foolish to ignore the growing consensus on Wall Street that King Coal, for all its legendary political power, has turned into a decidedly bad investment.

JPMorgan Chase announced this month that it would no longer finance new coal-fired power plants in the United States or other advanced nations, joining Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley in retreating from a fuel that provides about one-third of the nation’s electricity and accounts for about one-quarter of the carbon emissions that feed global warming.

Cleaner and cheaper natural gas is fast becoming the preferred investment, a blunt marketplace reality that is sure to weaken coal’s grip on the planet as much as moral and environmental concerns. Last week’s announcement by Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company, that it may have to seek bankruptcy protection, just as three other major coal producers have done recently, provided a dramatic confirmation of this trend.

Main Street also seems to be getting the message. Two weeks ago, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon signed ambitious legislation — agreed to by environmentalists, consumer groups and power producers — that requires the state’s two largest utilities to stop importing out-of-state coal-generated power by 2030 and to use renewable energy to meet half of the demand of their customers by 2040. Oregon’s only in-state coal-fired plant will close by 2020.

Mashable:

The campaign to convince investors to divest from fossil fuels has picked up steam in the past two weeks, thanks to the imminent bankruptcy of one major old-line energy company.

Peabody Energy, the world’s largest privately-held coal company, signaled on March 15 that it may seek bankruptcy protection in order to restructure its skyrocketing debt.

Read the rest of this entry »