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Proposed Aviation Law Will Test President Obama's Climate Change Commitment

In his acceptance speech last Tuesday, President Obama stated that: “We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

The President's words will be put to the test very shortly.

As Glenn Hurowitz points out on Grist, a bill is about to land on the President's desk that will allow US airlines to ignore a European Union climate law.

Hurowitz writes:

“If he signs the bill, Obama will not only be failing to take sufficient action to address climate change, but actively going out of his way to stop another country from doing so – a pretty extreme act at the worst possible time.”

This is a line in the sand and a really big deal. We will soon know if President Obama plans to stay true to his word on his commitment to curb the emissions of climate change pollution by industry in the United States.

Hurowitz's piece is well worth the read, as it goes into a lot of detail on the issue of transnational aviation and climate change policy.

All the Single Ladies! China's Fetish For Canada's Tar Sands

In 2007, when President Obama proposed a carbon tax on imported Canadian tar sands oil, the Canadian oil lobby and the Conservative government threatened to start sending their crude overseas to countries like Russia and China with weaker environmental standards.

A big problem with this plan is that currently there is no way to actually move tar sands oil onto a tanker and ship it overseas. So the threat posed against the United States by Canada's pro-tar sands lobby was, and continues to be, an empty one.

This is why it is so important that we stop any and all ability for tar sands oil to be pumped off our coasts and sent to overseas export markets.

Whether that be via the Northern Gateway pipeline, Kinder Morgan or whatever other creative ways the oil lobby comes up with to diversify the tar sands oil market.

Climate Refugees in America

This is a chilling video of a voicemail from a Hurricane Sandy victim in the Long Island neighbourhood of Rockaway Peninsula. With scientists telling us that climate change is raising sea levels, storm surges and the intensity of hurricanes there is only one way to describe these folks: they are among the first North American climate refugees.

Key Findings From the Mashey Report on Donors Trust

Dr. John Mashey's report is posted exclusively on DeSmogBlog today. The report, exposing the right wing's money scrubbing scheme, is extensive in detail to say the least.

In a nutshell, the 200+ page report finds that wealthy donors like the Koch brothers and Chicago industrialist Barre Seid move money through two organizations called Donor Trust and Donors Capital Fund, which in turn passes that money on to major right wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, Heartland Institute and Americans for Prosperity.

This money is then used for coordinated efforts to attack science, undermine environmental protections and cast doubt about the scientific realities of climate change.

Here's a summary of findings:

- The report presents evidence that confirms the speculation that Chicago industrialist Barre Seid has pumped millions into the Heartland Institute's “global warming projects” to boost their efforts to fight climate change science [page 57].

Media Watch: Will Cato Dupe Journalists with Counterfeit Gov't Copycat?

Cato Institute, the right wing think tank co-founded by the Koch brothers, plans to release a document this week that has all the appearances of being a government report on the impacts of climate change in the United States - but of course it is not.

The Cato report, titled: “Addendum: Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States” uses the same cover design, title and fonts as a report issued in 2009 by the US government's Global Change Research Program titled: Global Climate Change Impacts in the US.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the Cato fake report and the US government climate impacts report:

Comedian Kamau Bell Joins Romney, says F**K Science!

This is a funny video brought to you by Actually.org - the same team that produced Samuel L. Jackson's election video “Wake the F**k Up!”

Enjoy:

Obama and Romney Have One More Chance to End Climate Silence

It's almost like President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney have already forgotten that this summer Americans experienced some of the most severe droughts in history and massive wildfires. 

Yet here we are with only one Presidential debate to go and not once has either candidate uttered the words “climate change” in the two previous national debates. It doesn't help that neither debate moderator Jim Lehrer or Candy Crowley chose to pose a question about climate change.

Even if one of the debate moderators did ask a question about climate change it would probably be the perennial favorite and completely idiotic question: “Do you believe in global warming?” - as if scientific conclusions, like the theory of gravity, are something we have to believe in for them to actually be real.

Friends of the Earth and Forecast the Facts are running a Climate Silence campaign urging Obama and Romney to speak up on climate change issues in this election, at the least, in the final debate happening tomorrow night.

Oil Giant Citgo Criminally Convicted in Bird Deaths (remind you of something?)

Here's a rule of thumb: if something is so toxic that birds die when they land on it, it's probably a good idea to put a cover on it.

In Texas yesterday, a federal district court upheld a criminal conviction against the oil refinery giant Citgo Petroleum after migratory birds landed in two open-top refinery tanks and died. Under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and Texas law such tanks are supposed to be covered. The court found that the company had known birds were landing and dying in their tanks but failed to do anything about it.

Citgo faces some $2 million in fines. A too small price to pay I think for their negligent behavior.

In Canada's tar sands, similar cases of migratory bird deaths have been ruled very differently. Many will remember the story in 2008 when 1600 ducks landed on the massive lakes of tar sands toxic by-products and died.

Andrew Coyne's Connections to Free Market Think Tanks; Disclosure Lacking

Andrew Coyne, the a former editor of Maclean's magazine, founding opinionator for the National Post and frequent political pundit on CBC, has a rather long history tying him to free-market think tanks in Canada. 

According to the Canadian government's charity registry, Coyne has been a director for at least the last six years in a group called the Aurea Foundation. The Aurea Foundation was founded by Peter Munk, the head of Barrick Gold, and is a major funder of a small but influential network of free-market think tanks in Canada, including: The Fraser Institute, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, the Frontier Center for Public Policy, the Montreal Economic Institute and the MacDonald Laurier Institute. 

Most of these groups espouse a philosophy similar to US free market think tanks like the Competitive Enterprise Instiute, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. In fact, most of these think tanks and some of their Canadian counterparts have been a major focus of the DeSmog team's work dissecting and exposing the climate change denial machine.

Making this complicated for Coyne is that the fact that some of these Canadian think tanks have been used as sources of information for Coyne's articles and op-ed pieces without the disclosure by Coyne that he sits on the board of Aurea.

The Natural Gas Lobbyist Rush is on in British Columbia

According to lobbyist registry data, there are currently 57 lobbyists representing the natural gas industry to elected officials and government agencies in the province of British Columbia. This is a pretty astounding number when you consider that the provincial government only consists of 85 elected representatives.

British Columbia, Canada is where I grew up and it is a place of natural beauty, in fact the main city of Vancouver is commonly cited as one of the most liveable cities in the world. But with all that nature comes a lot of natural resources and there has been a huge rush to extract these resources under the current business-friendly government (disclosure: I worked for this government for 3 years as a political advisor). 

So friendly in fact that just yesterday the BC government announced it would forgo more than $120 million in natural gas royalties in order to spur new investment in natural gas extraction.

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