Monday, August 31, 2015

New England Coalition for Affordable Energy: The Latest Fracked Gas Pipeline Front Group

For the second time in a year, the oil and gas industry is launching a new front group in Massachusetts to try to trick voters into supporting new fracked gas pipelines. Strangely, Big Oil is being much more up front than usual about creating the "New England Coalition for Affordable Energy."

I'm not sure why you'd create a front group claiming to represent "business and labor groups," then put "Sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute and America's Natural Gas Alliance" right at the bottom of the website, but there it is:

The stock photos of "supporters" are fantastic. Obviously they're just models dressed up like different key demographics, but it's fun to imagine why you'd need, say, a doctor and a chef standing next to each other. And with the guy in the tank top and headphones - showing that the key bro demographic endorses fracked gas pipelines? 

Who's actually in this "coalition"? A handful of industrial groups, a Koch-backed national lobbying group, the Independent Oil Marketers Association of New England, and the one and only union they could find to sell out every other thing unions believe in the name of a handful of pipeline-building jobs. 

Last fall, fracked gas pipeline giant Kinder Morgan tried to hide behind a front group called the "Coalition to Lower Energy Costs," though seeing through that isn't very hard either: The Coalition's spokesman, Tony Buxton, is a lawyer for Kinder Morgan.

If more fracked gas would lower energy costs as these polluter front groups claim, why have electricity prices spiked in Pennsylvania, ground zero of the fracking boom? New England is already alarmingly dependant on fracked gas, which today is providing 57% of the region's electricity.

Fracked gas is scientifically shown to destabilize our climate, pollute our drinking water, and trigger earthquakes. Instead of doubling down on our dangerous fossil fuel dependence, our leaders should continue moving Massachusetts to new sources of clean energy like home and utility-scale solar as well as onshore and offshore wind.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Big Government for Me, Not for Thee

Libertarians in practice are people who support government programs that directly benefit them but oppose the ones that don't.

So basically, they're just selfish. Which is fine, but lay off the FREEEEDOM shtick.

They say every small-government, anti-tax Tea Party Libertarian is only one disaster away from being a socialist. #morefreedom Source: Photo: Elaine Thompson, AP
Posted by Red State Dems on Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Nothing Natural About Fracked Gas

Another Fireball shot from the San Bruno Fire.We don't call it "natural oil" or "natural coal." So why do we refer to methane gas - especially the gas that's been fracked - as "natural"?
Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. [...]

The extensive use of fracking in the US, where it has revolutionised the energy industry, has prompted environmental concerns.

The first is that fracking uses huge amounts of water that must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost. The second is the worry that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site.
If all that isn't enough, fracked gas also destabilizes our climate and causes earthquakes. Fracking now produces half of the oil and a majority of the gas produced in the United States.

This isn't a semantic debate - it has a real impact in moving public opinion. Ask voters if they want more natural gas and most say yes. Ask if they support fracking and a plurality oppose it.

If you're trying to convince voters to oppose fracked gas pipelines or power plants, call it fracked gas. It's accurate, it communicates the damage caused by fossil fuels, and it's politically effective.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hottest Month Ever: Time to Stop Leaving Climate Action to the Politicians?

July was the hottest month in recorded human history, with 2015 on track to be the hottest year ever, which would break the record set just last year.

While climate activists and science deniers get most of the attention, the vast majority of Americans remain on the sideline. That's enabled by media coverage that either ignores the latest science or paints it as a horse-race political issue. But you have to wonder: How bad will things have to get before more Americans start moving from disengaged to concerned and from cautious to alarmed?

If you do want to get involved, find your local group here. Deniers of climate science need to feel constant pressure, and supporters of climate science need to know you support doing even more.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How Big Coal Gave Us The Clean Power Plan

As polluters and their political allies decry President Obama's Clean Power Plan, it's understandable they're ignoring the reality that they created it. As Kate Sheppard recounts at Huffington Post, friends of the coal industry, namely the minority of Republican and coal state Democrat senators, filibustered the 2010 clean energy & climate bill, which contained the ungodly sum of $177 billion to subsidize carbon capture & storage at coal-fired power plants.

Despite that massive giveaway offer negotiated by coal ally Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), despite President Obama making clear that if the bill died he'd use the Clean Air Act to limit carbon pollution, coal allies blockaded the bill anyway. And then they voted their powerful Democratic ally Boucher out of office, replacing him with an inept, back-bench Tea Party Republican.

Coal and its allies were gambling they could kill the climate bill and block the Clean Power Plan. Here in 2015, it's breathtaking to look at just how spectacularly that plan blew up in Big Coal's face.

Even at the time, it was clear the climate bill's death also killed any hope coal could ever be clean. But just five years later, even the old-fashioned coal-fired power that's allowed to dump carbon pollution into the atmosphere for free is now in a death spiral - well before the Clean Power Plan takes effect.

I talked about the Clean Power Plan with Bruce DePuyt on News Channel 8's Newstalk:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bike Manual's Top Safety Tip: Avoid Getting Run Over

My wife and I recently bought new Electra Townie bicycles and the manual is basically 54 pages of "if you get hit by a negligent driver, you're done for, so avoid that."

I don't blame Electra, it's just an interesting window into how we take it for granted that the vast majority of our roads aren't designed to be safe for people on bikes. (Wearing a bike helmet does much less to keep you safe than proper bike infrastructure like protected bike lanes.)