Mon, 2015-03-02 00:01Guest
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'One of the Highlights of My Life is Being Called a Pagan Pornographer'

The ‘Lady of the North’, Northumberlandia, has been hailed by her supporters as an iconic gateway for the region, attracting visitors from all around the world, writes Matteo Civillini.

Standing 34 metres high and 470 metres long, the £3m landform sculpture in the shape of a reclining nude female sits proudly at the centre of Matt Ridley’s Blagdon Estate.

But was this really the best way of providing benefit to a community that would have to reluctantly accommodate the largest surface mine in England in its own backyard?

Sun, 2015-03-01 14:58Graham Readfearn
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Was Climate Science Denialist Willie Soon Funded To Do Science Or Was It Just PR Cash From The Fossil Fuel Industry?

Willie Soon fossil fuel funding

So one of the climate science denial industry’s most celebrated scientists has been caught describing his research work as “deliverables” to his fossil fuel funders.

Dr Willie Soon, the aeronautics engineer who dabbles in public health, atmospheric science, solar physics and sea level rise, describes himself as an “independent scientist”.

More often though over the years, he is described by others as an “astrophysicist” at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, lending him credibility which most serious climate scientists would argue Soon’s science doesn’t deserve.

As one University of Michigan professor put it to the Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why is anyone even listening to him? Because he’s got ‘Harvard’ after his name. Once you take that away, who is Willie Soon? He’s nobody.”

In recent days, the Smithsonian has pointed out that even though Soon is employed as a “part time researcher at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Laboratory” they don’t actually pay him. “Dr. Soon pursues external sources to fund his research activity,” a statement said.

Soon has solicited more than $1.5 million since 2001 from fossil fuel companies and conservative foundations.

Coal electricity generator Southern Company, Exxon, Donors Trust, the Charles G. Koch Foundation and the American Petroleum Institute have been among his key funders.

Sun, 2015-03-01 13:53Guest
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Iowa Governor Terry Branstad´s Former Chief of Staff Now A Paid Lobbyist For Bakken Oil Pipeline Company

Iowa flag

By David Goodner

Energy Transfer Partners, a Fortune 500 corporation attempting to build a controversial crude oil pipeline through the state of Iowa, has hired Governor Terry Branstad´s former chief of staff to lobby on its behalf at the state legislature.

Jeff Boeyink, a long-time confidant and ally of Governor Branstad, who served as the governor´s chief of staff from 2010-2013, registered as a paid lobbyist for Energy Transfer Partners on January 5, a DeSmogBlog review of Iowa statehouse documents found.

Boeyink is also a former Executive Director of the Iowa Republican Party and has close ties to New Jersey governor and potential GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie.

He is currently Senior Vice President at the corporate public relations firm LS2group, which has represented Energy Transfer Partners in Iowa since at least July 2014.

LS2group is the same consulting and marketing firm that helped the American Petroleum Institute bring General James Jones to Des Moines on Earth Day last year to give a speech promoting the Keystone XL pipeline.

LS2group´s Director of Government Affairs, Susan Severino Fenton, another Iowa Republican political insider, is also a registered statehouse lobbyist for Energy Transfer Partners.

On February 17, Boeyink attended an Iowa Senate Commerce subcommittee meeting and spoke out against Iowa Senate File 129, a proposed insurance liability bill that could require Energy Transfer Partners to prove it can afford to pay up to $250,000 per mile for any potential oil spills from its pipeline operations.

Sat, 2015-02-28 07:58Connor Gibson
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Willie Soon's Climate Science Denial Wasn't Ever Credible: Climate Scientists

Willie Soon climate science denial

“The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless.” - NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, to the New York Times

Recent revelations regarding Smithsonian scientist Willie Soon's financing and coordination with fossil fuel companies for studies undermining the science of climate change has received quite a bit of attention. Our friends at the Climate Investigations Center have links to source documents, letters to the IRS and Congress, letters to journals that Soon appears to have mislead, and some of the press covering all of this.

The drama has largely outshone the main point among most scientists: Willie Soon's work is vastly discredited. For those who aren't familiar with Willie Soon's fossil fuel company contracting over the last fifteen years, there is probably a legitimate question of whether or not this guy deserves to be in his current pinch.

Frankly, he had it coming.

Scientists and science reporters have often had to waste their time addressing the interference of Soon and his cohorts, who take advantage of the public's general unfamiliarity with scientific nuance. 

But scientists too are talking about Dr. Soon's work and what it means for the troubled peer-review process that the most stringent journals usually adhere to. Here is a summary of some of the most interesting conversations in science publications about Willie Soon's #Fakexpert scandal.

Sat, 2015-02-28 05:58Mike Gaworecki
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Legal Petition Seeks Emergency Moratorium On Fracking in California

A coalition of over 150 environmental, health, and public advocacy organizations in California filed a legal petition Thursday seeking to compel Governor Jerry Brown to issue an emergency moratorium on fracking in the state.

The proximate cause for the legal petition seems to be revelations that fracking flowback in California was found to contain dangerously high levels of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as benzene, toluene and hexavalent chromium. But evidence has been mounting for months that drastic measures are needed, as state regulators have utterly failed to protect residents from the oil and gas industry in California.

Flowback is a fluid that floats to the surface of fracked wells and is a key component of oil industry wastewater, which is most often disposed of by injecting it underground.

Over the past few months, however, it has come to light that regulators with California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) allowed hundreds of injection wells to dump oil industry wastewater into aquifers that contain water clean enough to drink or that could be made drinkable, and hence should have been protected under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The agency also permitted thousands more wells to inject fluids from “enhanced oil recovery” techniques such as acidization and cyclic steam injection into protected aquifers.

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