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Mon, 2013-05-06 17:02Guest
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The Death of ‘Sustainability’

This is a guest post by Glenn Hurrowitz, author and senior fellow at the Center for International Policy.

Can destroying a tropical rainforest be “sustainable”?

Well, according to a decision taken yesterday by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the major industry-NGO body, this greatest of environmental crimes is now officially “green.”

Sun, 2013-04-28 12:45Guest
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Coal Exports: An Update On Pacific Northwest Coal Fights

This is a guest post by Josephine Ferorelli, originally published at Occupy.com.

There is not enough room in the national headlines for all the battles between fossil fuel expansion projects and climate activists occurring right now. But the Keystone XL proposal’s public comment period ends on April 22nd, so we can shift our focus to coal exportation for a moment. Domestic coal use is one of the few figures that has been steadily dropping, with coal-fired power plants closing in many states, and utilities shifting toward other sources (mainly natural gas) for power generation.

So coal companies are scrambling with proposals to extract coal in Montana and Wyoming, ship it by train to ports in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, then freight it to Asian markets. For a good overview of domestic coal use vs. export written last year, read Ben Jervey’s analysis at DeSmog Blog.

It is frustrating (and terrifying) to devote so much of our effort to preventing fossil fuel expansion rather than actually reducing emissions, but springtime brings some good news from the northwest coast. Of the five port proposals for increased coal export capacity in the US this year, one has lost its investors and failed. The other four are facing serious public and legal opposition, and are destabilized by the shifting sands of corporate prospects; Ambre Energy in particular is dogged by rumors of insolvency. No permits have been issued yet.

Thu, 2013-04-11 17:05Guest
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INFOGRAPHIC: 13 Oil Spills in 30 Days: The Dirty Business of Moving Oil

by Heather Libby. Originally posted at tkctcktck.org

Moving oil is a dirty business, and never has that been more clear than this past month. In the past 30 days the global oil industry has had 13 spills on three continents. And it's not just pipeline leaks - oil has spilled offshore and on, at train derailments and during routine maintenance. In North and South America alone, they've spilled more than a million gallons of oil and toxic chemicals - enough to fill two olympic-sized swimming pools. 

How bad has it been? Here's an infographic I made of all the oil spills, leaks and transport derailments in the past 30 days.

Sun, 2013-03-24 07:48Guest
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Marking Up the Alberta Government's $30,000 Keystone XL Ad

This is a guest post by Heather Libby.

If you're a regular reader of the Sunday New York Times, you might have noticed a half-page ad in the A section promoting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline last weekend. Paid for by the Alberta government with $30,000 of taxpayer funds, the text-heavy ad asserted several reasons why President Obama should approve the project.

Their primary argument? This is “the choice of reason”.

Putting aside the fact that their word selection suggests those who oppose the pipeline are illogical or unreasonable; the ad says “some still argue Keystone should be decided on emotion rather than science and fact about Canada's responsibly developed oil sands resource”.

We completely agree. Here are a few scientific facts it forgot to mention:

Mon, 2013-03-11 17:49Guest
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Onslaught of Kochtopus Groups Threaten Kansas Clean Energy

By Connor Gibson, crossposted with permission from Greenpeace USA.

A recent flood of Koch-supported think tanks, junk scientists and astroturf groups from inside and outside of Kansas are awaiting the outcome of a bill this week that could stall progress on the growth of clean energy in Kansas.

States around the country, including Texas, Ohio, Missouri and North Carolina are poised to cut back on government support for clean energy jobs using model legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, which brings companies together with state lawmakers to forge a wish list of corporate state laws behind closed doors, is coordinating this year's assault on state laws that require a gradual increase of electricity generated by clean energy sources.

ALEC and a hoard of other Koch-funded interests operating under the umbrella of the State Policy Network have hit Kansas legislators hard with junk economic studies, junk science and a junk vision of more polluting energy in Kansas' future. Koch Industries lobbyist Jonathan Small has added direct pressure on Kansas lawmakers to rollback support for clean energy.

Wed, 2013-03-06 05:00Guest
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People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw "Boneheads"

This is a guest post by economist James P. Barrett, Ph.D.

“Utterly Boneheaded.” That is how Joe Nocera, writing in The New York Times characterized James Hansen (head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies), Bill McKibben (founder of 350.org) and other climate change activists opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.

If you haven’t been following it, the pipeline in question would bring something called bitumen, extracted from oil soaked sands in Canada, to U.S. refineries in Texas where they would turn it into oil products for sale on international markets.

If they stop the pipeline to Texas, activists will force oil companies to look at a more expensive plan to build a pipeline to British Columbia and ship the bitumen from there to refineries in China, an alternative that is facing its own opposition within Canada.

What Nocera thinks is boneheaded is not so much that activists want to reduce oil consumption and carbon emissions per se, but their strategy overall. As long as the demand for oil keeps going up, oil producers will keep developing unconventional oil reserves like the Canadian tar sands in question. In Nocera’s view, attacking the pipeline and the tar sands won’t help as long as the demand for oil is strong and growing. The problem, as he sees it is demand, not supply.

Nocera is right, but only to the extent that his point is meaningless.

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