A survey by Energy Now this year revealed two startling statistics: 1. 95 percent of farmers and landowners believe renewable energy will be vital to the future of farming in the UK, and 2. 42 percent of farmers and landowners are confused about renewable energy options.
The International Energy Agency has today urged governments to put in place four energy policies that it claims will “keep climate goals alive without harming economic growth”.
Increasingly severe droughts and record low rainfall have forced farmers to rely more heavily on groundwater supplies. But without changing current farming practices, these reserves will run out rapidly. Climate change will make droughts longer and hotter, while rain will only come in harsh storms that will flood crops and erode valuable topsoil without much of it making it down to the groundwater.
The conservation subsidy under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) was meant to help farmers employ more environmentally friendly practices. However, research shows the program prompted many farmers to expand their acreage using the water that was supposed to be conserved.
Two recent studies discovered that farmers receiving conservation payments in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico used some of their water savings to expand irrigation or grow thirstier crops, effectively defeating the purpose. The new efficient irrigation equipment has actually shrunk groundwater supplies at an even faster pace, researchers found.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) have pushed responsible water management with bills to require that subsidized irrigation systems keep the conserved water in underground water tables or streams. Water tables have already dropped as much as 150 feet in some areas. Dwindling groundwater supplies coupled with record low rainfalls could transform American farmland into a blighted desert without aggressive water storage policies.
Americans are already wasting dangerously large amounts of water. Water consumption has tripled over the last 50 years, even though the population has not quite doubled in the same time period. The primary culprit is farming irrigation, which accounts for 80 percent of all water use. Most of this water is wasted through mismanagement. Popular sprinkler systems, for instance, lose tons of water to evaporation, while irrigation pipes flood plants with far more water than they can handle.
The last time farmers flouted conservation practices, much of American farmland was lost in the Dust Bowl, plunging hundreds of thousands of people into poverty.
California and other western states are starting to see the consequences of agricultural excess in the form of shrinking crop yields. Some farmers, no longer able to rely on aquifers, are experimenting with risky but more sustainable water-conserving techniques like dry-farming.
Farm subsidies have been hotly contested in Congress during the Farm Bill debate, as they tend to benefit the wealthiest farmers.
During the opening keynote session at the Energy Ocean International Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse identified a core problem to developing ocean energy technologies in the U.S.: process.
As a reminder, a master limited partnership is a type of corporation that is able to raise money on public exchanges and doesn’t pay income tax at the corporate level. These two qualities lead to a much lower cost of capital for the companies organized as MLPs.
The problem is that only companies in certain industries — like oil and gas pipelines — are allowed to be MLPs. The MLP Parity Act would fix that, by expanding the treatment to renewable energy and energy efficiency. This is a commonsense fix with bipartisan support on the Hill, and a broad range of supporters in the think tank and advocacy community.
Of course, virtually no policy has unanimous support, and MLP parity is no exception. Most intriguingly, John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance wrote a piece recently called, “Why Master Limited Partnerships are a Lousy Policy for Solar, Wind, and Taxpayers”. Farrell’s very smart and a strong advocate for clean energy, so when he says something is a lousy deal for solar, wind, and taxpayers, it’s worth paying attention.
Farrell’s argument is essentially that the cost savings from MLPs in the oil and gas sector haven’t flowed through to consumers, and that MLPs in renewables will likely lead to more large-scale projects from large investors. These are fair points, but it’s important to respond. First, note what John doesn’t say: he doesn’t say that MLPs actually won’t lead to more wind and solar. They will. This is the point that Todd Foley made in a piece published today, “MLPs a powerful tool to boost renewables”. There doesn’t seem to be any disagreement on the fact that MLP parity would lead to more renewable energy.
The disagreement seems to be mostly about who we want to have building renewable energy: large corporations, or a mix small investors like individuals, communities, and local governments? The truth is that we need both. Certainly, large corporations have an inappropriately large role in many parts of our economy (for-profit prison operators strike me as particularly loathsome), but we should be careful about dismissing policies out of hand just because they would enable corporations to participate in certain businesses.
The problem in clean energy is that it’s not clear that small investors have enough money to make the transition to a zero-carbon future happen on their own. Let’s go through some numbers.
There are countless estimates of how much investment is needed to move away from fossil fuels, but every estimate is a tremendously large number. For argument’s sake, let’s go with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Renewable Electricity Futures study. They estimate that getting to 80 percent renewable energy in the United States will cost just under $2 trillion (see Figure A-4 here). Since there are about 115 million households in the U.S., that means we would need about $17,000 in investment from every household to pay for new renewable power. Unfortunately, the median net worth of American families was about $77,000 in 2010, which means that we would need the middle-of-the-road family to invest a whopping 20 percent of their wealth in renewable energy. (You could argue, of course, that families will have more money in the future, but keep in mind that median net worth today is actually lower than it was in 1983). This would be great for renewable energy, but it’s almost certainly a bad idea for families to invest 1/5 of their money in one specific industry, when we know the value of diversification.
This means that we’re going to need money to come from other places, and this is where MLPs come into play. The dominant investors in MLPs are individuals, corporations, and various retirement and trust accounts. These are the big pots of money, and it’s what we need to access if we want to get $2 trillion into clean energy. Fortunately, they’ve already demonstrated an appetite for MLPs, so there’s no reason to believe that they won’t like MLPs focused on renewable energy.
That’s not to say that there’s not a place for small investors. Quite the contrary, there are plenty of smart investments for regular people. Putting solar on your rooftop, for example, is a fantastic investment in much of the country (as ILSR’s Farrell has shown). Buying a small share in a Solar Mosaic fund — as part of a diversified investing strategy — can make a ton of sense. Indeed, the clean energy future requires these types of investments. But for most people, putting 22 percent of your family’s wealth into renewable electricity would likely be a mistake, which is why the other sources of capital are needed.
Finally, a word about whether or not ratepayers will benefit from MLP parity. Farrell is right that some oil and gas pipeline MLPs have gotten very generous rulings from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that allow them to recover the cost of corporate income tax in their rates despite not paying a corporate income tax. This is ridiculous, and everyone responsible should be ashamed. But instead of using this to say that renewables shouldn’t have access to MLPs, we should call on FERC to do the right thing and not let companies charge ratepayers for phantom costs. And, given the number of different regulators involved in determining how much renewable energy generators get paid, it’s not at all clear that they would follow FERC’s bad precedent.
The scale of the challenge of moving to a clean energy future is tremendous, and it will take trillions of dollars. We need a full policy suite to bring every source of capital to the table. Master limited partnerships are a key part of that suite, and we should welcome them to the effort.
Richard W. Caperton is the Managing Director of Energy at the Center for American Progress.
As Waste Management climbs up the political and environmental agenda, the Waste industry is moving away from its traditional blue collar image into an industry that can offer a variety of professional career opportunities. In this article, Allen & York Recruitment will take a look at the growth of the waste jobs market, with a particular focus on; the evolution of the industry, the types of waste jobs that are emerging and the variety of companies who are currently experiencing growth.
Waste as a Commodity
In recent years the industry has transformed itself. Ten years ago, over 75% of the UK’s waste went to landfill compared to less than 50% today. Waste management was chiefly focused on the logistics of collection and transport, while these are still important, the industry has developed a range of technologies to treat waste and extract value from it. Waste has moved from being something we simply dispose of to a commercial commodity.
UK & International governments have set targets to reduce waste to landfill, increase waste recovery and reuse household & business waste. The landfill tax, originally introduced in 1996 at a standard rate of £7 per tonne has risen to £72 per tonne in 2013, encouraging businesses to reuse/recycle their waste. The landfill tax is often heralded as a great success and has made a significant impact on the perception and handling of waste. Between 2000 and 2010 the amount of material being recycled in the UK more than doubled and now, for the first time more waste is being recycled than going to landfill in England.
The waste and recycling sector currently generates over £12bn per year in the UK and employs over 100,000 people and is expected to grow by 3% per year. The potential growth is even higher, as currently £5bn worth of recycled material is sent abroad for processing, if this could be handled within the UK this would give a further boost to the industry; Owen Paterson, Environment Secretary comments; “Dealing with waste and recycling properly is good for business as well as the environment and has the potential to boost economic growth and create jobs.” (UK Government press release 22nd May 2013)
Fastest Growing Waste Companies
A recent study has been published by Grant Thornton UK LLP revealing a 60% increase in corporate financing deals within the waste and recycling sectors between the first and second half of 2012. Chris Murphy, CIWM deputy chief executive, said: “These figures confirm what we have suspected for a long time; the waste sector is of growing importance and influence, and has managed to maintain growth and contribute to the national economy at a time when other sectors have struggled.”
In their report published in November 2012, in conjunction with Catalyst Corporate Finance, CIWM have indentified the Top 30 fastest growing UK waste companies. Top of the list are Redeem Limited a mobile phone and electronics recycling company who have seen an 83% 2 year CAGR (compound annual growth rate). They are closely followed by New Earth Solutions, a waste treatment and renewable energy specialist at 80% CAGR and in third place, Specialist Waste Recycling Ltd, a waste management consultancy at 70%.
The list illustrates the scope of the Waste industry, ranging from recycling animal by-products (Leo Group) to wholesale paper recycling (Recycling UK Limited). It also reveals the potential within the industry, the combined annual revenue of these 30 companies alone, being £903.5milion.
When we asked about the range of job opportunities within the industry, Robert Asquith, Planning Director – New Earth Solutions commented; “We employ a wide range of specialists in areas such as environmental management and compliance, engineering, project management, financial control, commercial management, and planning. As a growing company looking constantly at commercial opportunities, you would also find in our head office some of the disciplines normally associated with commercial advisory companies such as commercial modelling and project finance. On the sites themselves there are specialist roles in environmental management as well as technical disciplines associated with keeping all the machines running. Site managers cover a huge range of issues. And every operative needs the tickets necessary for the mobile and fixed plant we use.”
One area that is currently missing out on this growth is UK Manufacturing. It is a widely held view that the export of waste overseas is inhibiting investment in domestic waste developments, in figures published by WRAP this month an estimated 684,000 tonnes of recovered plastic were exported to China, in the equivalent of approximately 100 containers leaving the UK every day. The British Plastics Federation (BPF) argue that current systems favour exporting plastic over UK reprocessing and recycling and comments, that now China itself has set targets to recycle 75% of plastic by 2017, they “have so much of their own waste to recycle they will hardly want ours”. In a BPF Report published this month, they call for incentives for manufacturers to make fuller use of recycled plastics. Giving a much needed boost to the UK Manufacturing industry.
Between now and 2025 (according to UN figures) the world population will increase by 20% to reach 8 billion inhabitants; the more people, the more waste and it has been estimated (by the OECD) that a 1% increase in national income creates a 0.69% increase in municipal solid waste. Consequently, it is almost guaranteed that the Waste industry will continue to grow and demands for professional technical specialists working within this sector are set to increase.
The main growth areas for Waste Careers which we are experiencing currently at Allen & York Recruitment include; Energy from Waste, Recycling and Manufacturing and Waste Management. Within these industries are a mixture of engineering, project and operational management, business development and marketing; as well as health, safety, quality and environmental job opportunities.
A key growth area currently is Energy from Waste and our specialist EfW consultants at Allen & York are seeing a sharp rise in job opportunities within this sector. Recent announcements have come from leading waste companies; Viridor, Peel Environmental, Emerald Biogas and Tamar Energy with plans to build/open waste processing facilities in the coming months. These plants range from an incineration plant which will supply electricity and heat for an adjacent horticultural greenhouse which will grow tomatoes, to anaerobic digestion plants which turn food waste into electricity. An £8million plant due to be opened in County Durham by Emerald Biogas, when running at full capacity can process 50,000 tonnes of food waste per year and generate 1.56MW of electricity, enough to power 2,000 homes and create 40 new jobs.
“A particular focus for us at present is our technical team in our New Earth Advanced Thermal Technology Group Ltd company. This team has successfully delivered a First of a Kind pyrolysis and gasification plant in Avonmouth, Bristol and is now working on a pipeline of follow on projects in the UK and overseas. The broader supply chain for this will, we envisage, create a specialist knowledge base in the UK to the advantage of UK manufacturing and balance of trade. In a small way it will help the UK with the move it needs to make towards a more balanced economy after the disaster of the banking crisis.” Robert Asquith, Planning Director – New Earth Solutions.
The challenge now for the Waste industry is to attract new professional talent. In the past the industry has had a bit of an image problem with the associations of dirty, smelly waste. Waste companies recognise this and know that to appeal to a more white collar market and, importantly, to attract more women into waste they will need to re-brand and reflect this new industry.
The Waste industry is now best described as Resource Management; a growing market in which raw materials are produced, exported and manufactured. This new Waste industry is at the forefront of clean energy and sustainability; it is championing new innovation and creativity and offers an exciting workplace for anyone looking to forge a career within the green economy.
Allen & York are leading Waste Recruiters and have the following current opportunities:
The report cited several reasons for rising prices, including: increased demand for food and biofuels as a result of a growing population and higher incomes and standards of living, slower growth in food production, and rising energy costs.
Limited water resources and farmland availability, as well as price hikes on necessities such as fertilizer, are expected to slow the increase in food production worldwide from 2.1 percent last decade (2003 – 2012) to 1.5 percent in the next decade. Meat, fish and biofuel prices are expected to rise more than fruit, vegetables and grains, but meat production is still expected to continue to expand, with China becoming the world’s largest consumer of pork by 2022.
The report notes that “increasing environmental pressures” — which include climate change-fueled storms, drought and flooding — will be one of the main factors slowing the growth of food production around the world. In China in particular — a country the report focused on, with a fifth of the world’s population and steadily rising income levels — water shortages will be one of the key problems facing food production as rainfall becomes more variable. And there will be other risks for China as well. As the report notes: “Food availability will be impacted by changes in temperature, water availability, extreme weather events, soil condition, and pest and disease patterns.”
But China’s not the only country that faces threats to food production from climate change. Last year, a report from Oxfam warned that extreme weather events would cause food prices around to world to soar in the coming decades. The report projected worldwide corn prices to spike by 500 percent by 2030, and that another U.S. drought in 2030 could raise America’s corn prices 140 percent on top of that.
The OECD and U.N. FAO’s report says key to meeting the demands of a growing global population is improving agricultural productivity and reducing food waste — a problem that has risen sharply over the past few decades. It warns that continued use of unsustainable farming practices will do little to improve food security around the world:
There is a growing need to improve the sustainable use of available land, water, marine ecosystems, fish stocks, forests and biodiversity. It is estimated that some 25% of all agricultural land is highly degraded, with growing water scarcity a fact for many countries. Many fish stocks are over-exploited, or in risk of being over-exploited.
As fish stocks decline and more people are consuming seafood, the report projects that aquaculture will surpass capture fisheries as the world’s main source of fish by 2015. This may be good news for rapidly depleting fish stocks, but a major expansion of aquaculture presents its own environmental and health-related concerns.
June 10 News: Goldman Sachs Says Tar Sands Likely Aren’t Economically Viable Without Keystone Pipeline
A report from Goldman Sachs said that Canadian tar sands oil extraction is likely not economically viable without the Keystone pipeline. [Wall Street Journal]
Extracting Canada’s huge deposits of oil sands in the next few years might not be economically viable without building the hotly contested Keystone XL pipeline into the U.S., according to new research that environmentalists said bolsters their view that blocking the project would shut off development of the energy source.
Environmentalists say producing Canadian oil sands releases more carbon dioxide than other kinds of oil and are pressing President Barack Obama to block the pipeline, which would carry oil from Alberta and help it get to Gulf Coast refineries. The U.S. State Department, industry officials and some analysts counter that burgeoning railroad capacity will eventually give Canadian crude a way to reach global markets even if Keystone is blocked.
“The potential for Canadian heavy crude oil supply to remain trapped in the province of Alberta is a growing risk for the 2014-2017 period depending on the timing of new pipeline start-ups,” analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS -0.07% wrote in a research report this past week.
Without adequate pipeline capacity, Canadian heavy crude will continue to trade at a steep discount to other grades of oil for the next few years, which could weigh on the economics of developing Canadian oil sands, according to the Goldman Sachs report and other analysts.
Environmentalists say Mr. Obama can help curb greenhouse gases by rejecting the pipeline, and they want the State Department, which is reviewing the pipeline, to take into account the environmental impact.
A new IEA report found that global emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use rose 1.4 percent in 2012, though U.S. emissions dropped 3.8 percent. [Washington Post]
After cutting carbon allowances, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the northeastern U.S. raised a record $124.5 million in its quarterly auction. [Bloomberg]
Climate scientists Michael Oppenheimer and Kevin Trenberth (with input from others) respond to Rep. Lamar Smith’s op-ed that got at least 7 things wrong about climate and energy with an op-ed of their own that gets much more than 7 things right. [Washington Post]
Tropical Storm Andrea broke rainfall records in the northeastern U.S. [LA Times]
Farmers that have dealt with years of drought in the Midwest are now plagued by floods, making it an awful spring for farming. [New York Times]
Last year’s storms, droughts, and extreme weather are a big contributing factor to Haiti’s hunger crisis. [Washington Post]
A Japanese study concluded climate change will worsen floods on rivers like the Ganges, the Nile, and the Amazon, while lessening them for the Danube. [The Raw Story]
Solar panel manufacturer SoloPower is moving its headquarters to Oregon, and is talking to South Korea about constructing a hub there. [Oregon Live]
Large utilities are arguing that homes without solar power subsidize the transmission lines for those who do, and want regulators to change pricing under net metering accordingly. [Washington Post]
Oil wells that were abandoned and not properly sealed raise concerns of pollution across Texas. [New York Times]
A new international climate agreement will be negotiated in 2015 and hopefully go into effect in 2020, but the International Energy Agency says we’ll already be headed for 5 degrees Celsius of warming by then. [Clean Technica]
Though landowners are suing them for bilking them out of royalties, an assistant Virginia attorney general has been assisting two natural gas companies, which “shocked” a federal judge. [AP]
Australia recently announced it will invest $400 million to build 150 megawatts worth of off-grid renewable projects for its rural areas. [Clean Technica]
The California firm Cool Planet Energy is working up to $100 million in funding to produce carbon negative biofuel — for $1.50 a gallon without government subsidy. [Clean Technica]
The Senate Environment and Public Works is competing with the Energy and Natural Resources Committee over which has jurisdiction over the renewable-fuels standard. [National Journal]
Edison electric said it would permanently shut down the San Onofre nuclear plant after a series of problems such as steam leaks and cracks. [Washington Post]
If hybrid cars use less gas (and pay less in the gasoline tax), should they have to pay for their use of roads through increased fees? [AP]
In the old days armed gangsters threatened you with violence or worse if you didn't do their bidding. But in the modern world mobsters brandish environmental impact assessments or power point presentations with balance sheets and projected revenues - and things become far less straightforward.
There’s no sugar-coating what happened last week. Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, used the occasion of the annual conference of the Canadian Solar Energy Industry Association (CanSIA) to announce that he was canceling feed-in tariffs for large projects.
But why, aside from the casual violence and gratuitous nudity and, of course, Peter Dinklage, is the HBO show so popular?
In an otherwise excellent article on the appeal of the books and TV series for the London Review of Books, John Lanchester explains “the second structural reason for this story’s appeal right here, right now”:
This is to do with the seasons. In Westeros, seasons last not for months but for years, and are not predictable in duration. Nobody knows when – to borrow the minatory motto of the Starks – ‘winter is coming.’ At the start of Game of Thrones, summer has been going on for years, and the younger generation has no memory of anything else; the blithe young aristocrats who’ve grown up in this environment are, in Catelyn’s mordant judgment, ‘the knights of summer’. The first signs of autumn are at hand, however, and the maesters – they’re the caste of priest/doctor/scientists – have made an official announcement that winter is indeed on its way. A winter that is always notoriously hard, and can last not just years but a decade or more.
It’s a huge all-encompassing environmental force, determining the lives of everyone, open-endedly. The climate change aspect of this is obvious to the contemporary audience, but there’s something more subtle and subtextual at work here too: another economic metaphor, another kind of difficult climate. Westeros is like our own world, in which hard times have arrived, and no one feels immune from their consequences, and no one knows how long the freeze will last. Our freeze is economic, but still. Put these two components together, and even the fantasy-averse, surely, can start to see the contemporary appeal of this story, this world. It’s a universe in which nobody is secure, and the climate is getting steadily harder, and no one knows when the good weather will return.
Well, not quite.
While there may be, as one blogger put it, “9 Things Game of Thrones Taught Me About Climate Change,” The truth is, the climate really hasn’t started to change much, at least in the TV series. No, I haven’t read the books — these days I only have time for post-apocalyptic blood baths [or is that redundant?], not pre-apocalyptic ones
We’re near the end of season 3 and it’s still as hot as ever in most of Westeros, which of course it has to be to justify the gratuitous nudity. When winter comes, people put more clothes on, and who really wants to see a show where everybody’s body is totally covered up … unless, that is, they’re at a wedding and covered in blood, but I digress. Oh, and retroactive spoiler alert.
So even though we do still get climate-change-induced blasts of snow, it’s endless summer that’s coming our way — and it won’t be pretty (see “We’re Already Topping Dust Bowl Temperatures — Imagine What’ll Happen If We Fail To Stop 10°F Warming”
The main quality the people of Westeros has in common with our world is choosing to blithely ignore warnings of impending climate change. Oh, and I suppose the other quality they have in common with our world is a lack of amoral compass, which may be much the same thing (see “Global Warming Is The Great Moral Crisis Of Our Time“).
But the people of Westeros have it better than us in one big way (not counting their not having to worry so much whether they gave the right wedding gift). No matter what they do, their winter lasts “only” a decade or two. If we don’t act soon, our summer is going to last a whole lot longer (see NOAA stunner: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe_.
Exposed: Phelim McAleer’s ‘FrackNation’ Deploys Tobacco Playbook in Response to Josh Fox’s ‘Gasland 2′
The fracking industry really doesn’t want you to see “Gasland 2,” which I can understand because it is in some respects even better than the Oscar-nominated “Gasland.” The industry has brought in anti-science film-maker Phelim McAleer to shadow director Josh Fox during Fox’s PR tour and to produce an industry informercial, “FrackNation.” McAleer has a long track record of trying to disrupt and disinform (see my 2009 post “A falsehood-pushing film-maker tries to shout down real journalists from asking Al Gore questions”), DeSmogBlog has been doing a great job of exposing this oil and gas industry PR campaign, so I’m reposting their latest 2-part series — JR.
By Steve Horn via DeSmogBlog
It comes in the form of a documentary film titled, "FrackNation," whose co-directors' funding in the past came from Donors Capital and Donors Trust, referred to by Mothers Jones' Andy Kroll as "the dark-money ATM of the right" and a major source of funding for climate change denial.
Both "Gasland 2" and "FrackNation" cover hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), the toxic horizontal drilling process via which unconventional oil and gas is obtained from shale rock basins around the country and world. Co-produced and co-directed by Irish couple Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, "FrackNation" purports to be "funded by the 99 percent to combat the misrepresentations by the 1 percent of urban elites who want to tell rural Americans how to work and live."
McAleer and McElhinney also say they are independent journalists working independently of corporate funding. McAleer was referred to by the San Francisco Chronicle as "climate denial's Michael Moore" and both McAler and McElhinney are listed as "experts" by the climate change-denying Heartland Institute.
"FrackNation is an independent film and we want to remain independent of the Gas industry and be funded by ordinary people," it says on its KickStarter page that it used to raise $212,265 from 3,305 backers of the film between February-April 2012.
This isn't the first dip in the "doubt is our product" pond for McAleer and McElhinney. In the past, they co-directed and co-produced a pro-mining documentary titled "Mine Your Own Business" and a climate change denial documentary titled, "Not Evil, Just Wrong."
Both McAleer and McElhinney have made a living in recent years deploying the "Tobacco Playbook," mutating settled scientific debates on energy and climate catastrophe into false two-sided affairs, which corporate-funded news media take and run with as "he-said, she-said" stories.
Filmmaker's History of Tobacco Playbook Deployment
"FrackNation" made its public debut in Jan. 2013, coinciding with the release of "Promised Land," a Hollywood drama starring Matt Damon.
"It's time Hollywood celebrities and environmentalists were asked some difficult questions about their anti-fracking activities and ideologies. And that's what FrackNation does," McAleer said in a press release announcing the world premiere.
McAleer and McElhinney are now singing a similar tune about "Gasland 2," as it approaches its July 8 HBO release date.
"Mine Your Own Business"
Countering popular environmental struggles and luminaries is the modus operandi for McAleer and McElhinney, with a track record of doing so dating back to the mid-2000's. Their first public foray into the world of "marketing doubt" came with the release of their "Mine Your Own Business: The Dark Side of Environmentalism."
Released in 2006, the film was produced in response to the anti-mining protests that popped up against Gabriel Resources proposed open-pit gold mines in Romania, slated to be the largest in Europe. McAleer said it was "the world's first anti-environmentalist documentary."
One key funder: Gabriel Resources. This moved local Romanian citizen Eugen David to write that the film was pure propaganda.
"Because the gold lies squarely under and around the village of Rosia Montana, Gabriel needs to move out the local population — roughly 2000 people all in all. But it's not only the people that will need to go," David wrote in Jan. 2007. "Gone also would be our mountains, pastures, rivers and our churches, cemeteries and school – our community with its social fabric and traditions."
The purpose of the film was obvious: complicate the narrative on the proposed mine through ad hominem attacks on environmentalists, rather than addressing environmental issues associated with the mine itself. David and fellow citizens living in the proposed mining area didn't buy the bluff.
"After a first unannounced test screening in Bucharest, Gabriel Resources had to stop the film after 15 minutes because people were so revolted by what they saw," he further explained.
"Mine Your Own Business," however, did have a loyal fan base: the right-wing echo chamber.
Steve Milloy, a tobacco industry front man-turned-fossil fuel industry front man, wrote two favorable reviews for Fox News. The Salt Institute and Atlas Society (named after Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged") echoed Milloy's efforts.
"Not Evil, Just Wrong"
In response to the proposed 2009 federal climate legislation and in the run-up to the 2009 Copenhagen United Nations international climate summit, McAleer and McElhinney released the film, "Not Evil, Just Wrong." Akin to "FrackNation" with "Gasland 2" director Josh Fox, the film spends much time attacking former Vice President Al Gore in ad hominem fashion, with the film serving as a response Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."
"It has no commercial distributor, but instead debuted on an October 18 webcast heavily promoted by social conservative organizations like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association, as well as local Tea Party groups," a Mother Jones article explained.
Paralleling "Mine Your Own Business," the film was met with great fanfare within the right-wing echo chamber despite lack of commercial distribution.
"They’ve held pre-screenings for bloggers and brought the film to every major conservative conference of 2009, including the Values Voter Summit and Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit," one news media report explained. "At the Conservative Political Action Conference [CPAC], McAleer and McElhinney spoke right before Rush Limbaugh."
Other Big Tobacco apologists-turned-Big Oil apologists also helped promote the film: Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and the Heritage Foundation, the Cornwall Alliance, The Washington Examiner, Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), the Fraser Institute, Breitbart.com, and Right Online.
McAler and McElhinney have brought the Tobacco Playbook to the big screen. The question remains: who's funding them?
Donors Trust, Donors Capital Funding McAleer, McElhinney
"Mine Your Own Business"
"Mine Your Own Business" was funded by Gabriel Resources, but Gabriel wasn't the only fundee. The other patron: Donors Trust/Donors Capital.
In the past, McElhinney and McAleer were formerly Fellows at the Moving Pictures Institute (MPI), founded by Thor Halvorssen. MPI, in turn, produced "Mine Your Own Business" and is a member of the State Policy Network (SPN), a right-wing echo chamber network for state policy that publishes PR "studies" to promote the corporate agenda.
Halvorssen also runs the Human Rights Foundation (HRF), which has taken $764,950 from Donors Trust and Donors Capital since 2005, according to a recent investigative story by Max Blumenthal. Blumenthal also explains MPI took more than $300,000 from Donors between 2005 and 2011.
"Not Evil, Just Wrong"
"Not Evil, Just Wrong" also received funding from Donors. DeSmogBlog contributor and Guardian (UK) climate changer writer Graham Readfearn explained in a Feb. 2012 article that Donors funnelled $24,753 toward the film.
This lends an explanation as to why "Not Evil, Just Wrong" was promoted by well-heeled climate change deniers in the mid-2010 Balanced Education for Everyone (BEE) campaign, calling for a "balanced" scientific teaching of the climate change "controversy." The BEE campaign parallels ones pushed for via an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bill, by the Discovery Institute, and by the Heartland Institute.
"Global warming alarmists want Americans to believe that humans are killing the planet," BEE's former website explained in promoting the film. "But Not Evil Just Wrong, a documentary by Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, proves that the real threats to America (and the rest of the world) are the flawed science and sky-is-falling rhetoric of Al Gore and his allies in environmental extremism."
BEE's campaign was run by the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), which in Oct. 2003 signed a partnership with Americans for Prosperity (AFP), an astroturf front group founded and funded by the Koch Brothers, key funders of the climate change denial machine. The two entitites at the time announced they would share leadership, senior staff and office space, a formal relationship they say ended in 2005.
IWF – before it disbanded – was formerly headed by current AFP Board Member Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer from 2000-2005, who also sat on IWF's Board of Directors from 2005-2007. From 1998-2000, Pfotenhauer served as a lobbyist for Koch Industries, also serving as Senior Policy Advisor and spokesperson for the 2008 John McCain presidential campaign.
Pfotenhauer was also the former Executive Vice President of Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE), established by Charles Koch and affiliate Richard Fink and propelled by $13 million in grants from Koch Family Foundations. After CSE split into FreedomWorks and AFP, she served as AFP's President and CEO. She now sits on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University and on the Board of Directors of the CATO Institute, two other key entitites that make up the Koch echo chamber.
"Not Evil, Just Wrong" shared the same PR firm with BEE, Go Ahead PR, a sure sign that the film's release and the campaign were part of a well-coordinated campaign.
And though McAleer and McElhinney say "FrackNation" was bankrolled via a grassroots KickStarter fundraising drive, a deeper dig into its books – as will be seen in part two of this investigation – calls that all into question.
– by Steve Horn, reprinted from DeSmogBlog with permission
The United States and China announced on Saturday that they will work together and with other countries to “phase down” the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are extremely potent greenhouse gases. A global phaseout would be the equivalent of cutting 90 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping just finished a two-day meeting in California initially thought to be more of an unscripted chance for the two leaders to forge a personal relationship than a meeting with any specific policy agenda. This is Xi’s first meeting with Obama as the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, which is the analogue to the Chinese presidency. Recently China has made news on plans to cut carbon emissions but then appeared to partially walk some of that news back. The fact that powerful greenhouse gases were on the agenda during their talks is a welcome sign. And if the so-called “Group of Two” regularly acts to reduce the use of substances that cause climate change, it makes it much more likely that the rest of the world will agree to do the same.
Regarding HFCs, the United States and China agreed to work together and with other countries through multilateral approaches that include using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs, while continuing to include HFCs within the scope of UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol provisions for accounting and reporting of emissions.
HFCs are used in air conditioning, refrigeration, and if released, stay in the atmosphere for 15 years. Their use has skyrocketed as a replacement for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the ozone-destroying compounds whose production was banned in 1990 through a global agreement known as the Montreal Protocol. This agreement was signed in 1987 and required reductions in CFC use but an amendment in 1990 required a complete phaseout. Every country in the world is a party to this agreement. At the time, experts saw HCFs (and HCFCs, which were eventually regulated under the Montreal Protocol) as “one of the best substitutes for reducing stratospheric ozone loss.” In the 1990s, all new vehicle air conditioning systems began to use HFCs.
Yet HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases. While carbon dioxide is the most famous human emission that causes climate change, other so-called “super pollutants” are responsible for nearly half of global warming. HFCs are one of these super pollutants. Automobile manufacturers are aware that the air conditioning systems they sell contain substances that do this, and they encourage consumers to recycle their vehicles so that chemicals like HFCs can be reclaimed.
Yet leaks happen, and HFC use has skyrocketed with no end in sight, particularly in developing countries. Environmental groups began flagging the potentially catastrophic warming effects of HFCs in the last decade, and offered cheaper, natural, efficient alternatives to using HFCs as refrigerants.
California’s Air Resources Board has already taken action to limit the leakage of HFCs in mobile air conditioning through the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico have offered an amendment to the Montreal Protocol for the past four years that would “gradually reduce consumption and production and control byproduct emissions of HFCs in all countries.” Now China is on board. A global effort to phase down the use of the harmful chemical could possibly cut the equivalent of 90 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. This amount is nearly equal to two years’ worth of current global greenhouse gas emissions.
John Podesta, chair of the Center for American Progress, and former White House Chief of staff, released the following statement today:
“The American-Chinese agreement to phase down HFCs is great news for the planet. Phasing down HFCs under the protocol will reduce climate change pollution equivalent to 100 billion tons of C02 emissions by 2050. This measure will avoid .5 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century. The global goal is to limit temperature increase caused by climate change to 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, and we’ve already warmed the planet 1 degree Celsius. Phasing out HFCs is hugely important given the disastrous increase in extreme weather and public health threats we are already experiencing.
“To date, China has been a key hold out to getting a deal on phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol which the U.S. has been pushing for the last four years. President Barack Obama deserves great credit for his leadership and I applaud President Xi’s decision to commit Chinese leadership to help solve the climate crisis. This HFC agreement is a critical step to fulfill President Obama’s promise to respond to the threat of climate change, as he said in his inaugural address.”
The biggest story of our time is the collapse of Arctic sea ice and its impact on our extreme weather (see “CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed“).
If recent volume trends continue, many experts say we will see a “near ice-free Arctic in summer” within a decade.
Recent research finds that may well usher in a permanent change toward extreme, prolonged weather events “such as drought, flooding, cold spells and heat waves.”
For more the link between the death spiral and weather whiplash, here’s Peter Sinclair’s latest video, featuring interviews with Dr. Jeff Masters and Dr. Jennifer Francis:
- NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather
- NOAA: Climate Change Driving Arctic Into A ‘New State’ With Rapid Ice Loss And Record Permafrost Warming
Maine is trying to lower energy costs and increase energy efficiency. Sadly, its Governor may veto legislation that would do this at the expense of Maine’s ratepayers and emerging renewable energy industry.
A bipartisan omnibus energy bill is making its way through the Maine state legislature. The compromised package, L.D. 1559, passed the Senate on Thursday.
However, Governor Paul LePage opposes the bill, and his energy director said a veto will occur if the bill reaches his desk in its current form.
Andrew Sturgeon, president of the Action Committee of 50 (a group of business and community leaders promoting economic development), wrote a special for the Bangor Daily News highlighting the ways the omnibus bill helps Mainers:
- “By expanding efficiency programs, all electricity consumers achieve a net savings — amounting to $76 million last year.”
- “The expansion of natural gas infrastructure could reduce electric bills of Mainers by $100 million to $200 million per year after full implementation.”
- “The governor proposed adding ‘lowering energy costs’ to the Public Utilities Commission’s mandated responsibilities and goals for the Efficiency Maine Trust, something this bill achieves.”
- “By using $3 million to $5 million per year from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reduce residential heating costs, this bill does exactly what the governor asks for.”
Despite the bipartisan work and the savings customers in Maine will experience, LePage will veto the bill because he wants the 100-megawatt cap in the state’s renewable energy standard to be removed.
This provision requires renewable energy facilities to be smaller than 100 megawatts in generating capacity in order to quality for energy credits. Wind energy, thankfully, is not included in this provision. If this specific part of the RES law is repealed, large hydro facilities (specifically from Canada) would be allowed to receive energy credits and therefore Maine’s standard would be “watered down.” The incentive for wind energy companies to continue their growth in Maine would likely end.
LePage is certainly not putting the citizens of Maine first. Over the past few years, an ALEC sponsored initiative undertaken by LePage and his allies — State Senators Michael Thibodeau and Edward Youngblood — have introduced legislation that would dismantle the state’s RES. The “model legislation” provided by ALEC would require the use of large hydropower as a part of the RES calculation. This change would reduce the ability of Maine to utilize its own existing renewable resources to provide for the state’s electricity needs.
Wind energy is becoming a vital and innovative energy resource within Maine due to its positive economic and environmental benefits. Indeed, wind developers in Maine have spent nearly $1 billion since 2004 which has led to the creation of hundreds of jobs. Furthermore, for every 300 megawatts of wind energy installed in Maine, $375 million in construction wages is generated along with a $750 million tax base increase.
Health and environmental advocacy groups, such as the American Lung Association and Sierra Club Maine, have also endorsed new turbine projects citing their potential to “reduce pollution, create good local jobs, and protect wildlife.”
Phil Bartlett, Maine’s Senate majority leader from 2008-2010, recently wrote in the Bangor Daily News:
“The attempts by LePage and his allies to dismantle Maine’s RPS represent an embrace of a corporatist approach to Maine’s energy policy, which, if left unchecked, will have serious, damaging consequences for Maine consumers and our environment. As a former legislator, I am perhaps most troubled by the ease with which these groups have infiltrated our State House.”
It is necessary for wind energy to increase in Maine as 63 percent of the state’s electricity is generated from gas and oil, and 90 percent of homes are heated by oil — mostly imported from other countries.