Category: Big Picture

Federal Judge’s Unprecedented Order on Climate Science ‘Could Open Floodgates’ for Big Oil Lawsuits

JESSICA CORBETT – With a decision that could have far-reaching implications, a federal judge in California has ordered the first ever U.S. court hearing on climate science for a “public nuisance” lawsuit, meaning that major oil and gas companies for the first time may have to go on the record regarding what they knew about the planetary impacts of their products—and when.

Meet the Well-Funded Players Working Hard to Thwart Oregon’s Climate Progress

ERIC DE PLACE and PAELINA DESTEPHANO -Oregon is on the cusp of a climate protection breakthrough in 2018. The state legislature is weighing the Clean Energy Jobs bill, a remarkable opportunity to join its West Coast neighbors in lowering carbon pollution while raising money to invest in clean energy and transportation. The money raised would also provide assistance for low-income state residents. (Sightline’s Kristin Eberhard wrote an excellent summary of the legislation.) Nevertheless, Oregon’s climate proposal has garnered backlash from a range of shadowy conservative groups determined to halt the bill’s progress. Many of these organizations are linked to anti-tax and anti-union politics, and many seem specifically designed to obscure their backers and operations from public view. It’s a rogues’ gallery of climate-protection opponents in Oregon, and Sightline takes a hard look at who’s who in this movement and casts some light into the shadows.

Trump “Nuclear Posture” Approves New Warheads & Factories; Opens the Door to Testing

TRI-VALLEY CARES – On January 10th, the Huffington Post leaked a draft of the Trump Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, a Pentagon document that dictates the overall strategy for United States nuclear forces. The leaked document, which is rumored to be the final draft, demonstrates an aggressive shift from the Obama posture review by mandating “more usable” low-yield nuclear weapons, doubling down on building new bomb plants, and lowering the threshold to resume nuclear weapons testing.

Poll: Public Overwhelmingly Opposed to Military Interventions

JAMES CARDEN – Last week, the Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy—a bipartisan advocacy group calling for congressional oversight of America’s lengthy list of military interventions abroad—released the results of a survey that show broad public support for Congress to reclaim its constitutional prerogatives in the exercise of foreign policy (see Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution) and for fewer U.S. military interventions generally. Undertaken last November by J. Wallin Opinion Research, the new survey revealed “a national voter population that is largely skeptical of the practicality or benefits of military intervention overseas, including both the physical involvement of the U.S. military and also extending to military aid in the form of funds or equipment as well.

Portland Fossil Fuel Ordinance Ruled Constitutional

PRESS RELEASE – January 4, 2017 (Salem, OR)—Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed, in large part, a Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) decision that invalidated Portland’s landmark Fossil Fuel Terminal Zoning Amendments, passed unanimously in December 2016. The Court ruled that Portland did not violate the Dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Court’s decision opens the door for local governments to continue to take meaningful action to combat climate change.

Congressional “Realists” Call for US to Curtail Its Use of the Military

FINLAY LEWIS – They could caucus in a phone booth. They are known as “realists,” and their default position on questions of foreign policy and national security is one of skepticism about the value of interventions abroad and of respect for privacy at home. In a debate largely being litigated within the ranks of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill, the realists don’t have a prayer of prevailing in an up-or-down vote against the neoconservative wing of the party, proponents of an interventionist ethos to embed American values in lands far removed from domestic shores and traditions.

Congressional Budget Office: US Nuclear Forces To Cost $1.2 Trillion over 30 Years

PRESS RELEASE from THE LOS ALAMOS STUDY GROUP – On Oct. 31, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its 73-page [analysis] of the future costs of maintaining and modernizing US nuclear weapons, entitled “Approaches for Managing the Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046.”[1][1] The total cost estimated by CBO was $1.242 trillion (T), of which $800 billion (B) is estimated as necessary to maintain and operate planned forces. The remainder ($400 B) is CBO’s estimate of the cost to modernize these forces. According to CBO, it will cost $4.6 million (M) per hour, 24/7, to keep US nuclear forces for the next 30 years.

General Motors Is Going All Electric

ALEX DAVIES – After more than a century peddling vehicles that pollute the atmosphere, General Motors is ending its relationship with gasoline and diesel. This morning, the American automotive giant announced that it is working toward an all-electric, zero-emissions future. That starts with two new, fully electric models next year—then at least 18 more by 2023.

Impacts of Trump & Paxton’s Policies: “U.S. Might Not Have Enough Construction Workers to Rebuild”

PRESS RELEASE FROM AMERICA’S VOICE : TEXAS – As Hurricane Harvey’s destruction and devastation continues across Texas and Louisiana, key elected, community, and thought leaders are looking towards the next step: rebuilding. Daniel Gross of Slate reports that Trump’s harsh and un-American immigration policies may have an unintended consequence – hampering construction efforts in the aftermath of Harvey.

‘Fossil Fuels are Dead,’ Says CSX Railroad Chief: No More New Trains for Coal, Ever

JOHN VOELCKER – The industrial revolution that began around 1750 was powered in large part by coal, and the carbon-rich fuel had 200 good years after that. By the middle of the last century, however, serious studies had begun of its deleterious effects on human health—and that was before the climate-change impact of human emissions of carbon dioxide became known. Transportation will slowly electrify over the coming decades, while coal’s share of electric power generation will wane worldwide.

The Ethics and Politics of Nuclear Waste are Being Tested in Southern California

JAMES HEDDLE – In the US, as more and more energy reactors are being shut down and are entering the decommissioning process, the overriding question is becoming unavoidable at reactor communities across the country: What do we do with all these decades of tons of accumulated radwaste now being stored on-site? Each canister contains a Chernobyl’s-worth of cesium; each cooling pool, hundreds more.

Pruitt Will Launch Program to ‘Critique’ Climate Science

EMILY HOLDEN – U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is leading a formal initiative to challenge mainstream climate science using a “back-and-forth critique” by government-recruited experts, according to a senior administration official. The program will use “red team, blue team” exercises to conduct an “at-length evaluation of U.S. climate science,” the official said, referring to a concept developed by the military to identify vulnerabilities in field operations.

Lockheed Martin-Funded Experts Agree: South Korea Needs More Lockheed Martin Missiles

ADAM JOHNSON – As tensions between the United States and North Korea continue to rise, one think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), has become a ubiquitous voice on the topic of missile defense, providing Official-Sounding Quotes to dozens of reporters in Western media outlets. All of these quotes speak to the urgent threat of North Korea and how important the United States’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system is to South Korea.

Oil Price Collapse is ‘Permanent’; Analyst Says Fossil Fuel has had Its Day

JILLIAN AMBROSE – The latest collapse of the oil market is the harbinger of a global energy revolution which could spell the end-game for fossil fuels. These theories were laughable less than a decade ago when oil prices grazed highs of more than $140 a barrel. But the burn out of the oil industry is approaching quicker than was first thought, and the most senior leaders within the industry are beginning to take note.

Trump’s Climate Demands Roil U.S. Allies

ANDREW RESTUCCIA – President Donald Trump’s abrupt turnaround on U.S. climate policy is fueling tension with several of America’s closest allies, which are resisting the administration’s demands that they support a bigger role for nuclear power and fossil fuels in the world’s energy supply.

The Potential of an “Oregon Climate Test”

ERIC DE PLACE – After a string of successes defending the Northwest from ill-conceived dirty energy projects, the thin green line—the Northwest’s opposition movement to coal, oil, and gas exports—is starting to play offense. Local governments around the region are already updating land use laws to protect their communities from the depredations of fossil fuel infrastructure schemes.

U.S. Prepares for War in Korea

BRUCE GAGNON – South Korea and the US launched their annual Key Resolve military exercise Monday, which involves scenarios for the employment of US anti-missile assets and special warfare forces tasked with removing North Korea’s leadership in a contingency.

NW Ratepayers Will Save Over $250 Million if Columbia Generating Station Nuclear Power Plant Replaced with Renewables

OREGON AND WASHINGTON PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – Portland utility economist Robert McCullough’s study indicates savings to Northwest ratepayers of between $261.2 million and $530.7 million over ten years if the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant is closed and replaced with clean renewable energy alternatives.

Dutch Bank Will Not Pursue Future Business With Energy Transfer Equity due to the Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline

WAKINYAN WAANATAN (MATT REMLE – LAKOTA) – ABN AMRO Bank based in Amsterdam released a statement strongly condemning Energy Transfer Equity (ETE), the parent company to Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), over the Dakota Access pipeline. While the Dutch based bank is not involved in financing the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, and is not a direct lender to the project sponsors, it does have a finical relationship with ETE.

Cherokee Nation Wins Restraining Order to Prevent Radwaste Disposal Near Local Rivers

ANADISGOI, OFFICIAL CHREOKEE NATION NEWSROOM – The Cherokee Nation and state of Oklahoma jointly filed and were granted a restraining order today against Sequoyah Fuels Corporation near Gore to stop the company from disposing radioactive waste near the Arkansas and Illinois rivers. The request was granted by Sequoyah County District Judge Jeff Payton.

Gorbachev Urges Trump and Putin to Introduce UN Resolution Banning Nuclear War

DAVID CAPLAN – Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has issued a dire warning: “The world is preparing for war.” And with a phone call scheduled on Saturday between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Gorbachev is urging the leaders to put a halt to a such a deadly path by spearheading a United Nations resolution that essentially bans nuclear war.

Chinese Billionaire Says US Wasted Trillions on Wars and Wall Street

LAUREN MCCAULEY – “In the past 30 years, America had 13 wars spending $2 trillion,” said Alibaba founder Jack Ma. “What if the money was spent on the Midwest of the United States?” Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday, Chinese billionaire Jack Ma accused the United States of spending too much money on foreign wars and risky financial speculation and not enough money “on your own people.”

We’re There! Renewables Now Cheapest Unsubsidized Electricity in U.S.

STEPHEN EDELSTEIN – Over the past few years, the cost of electricity generation from renewable-energy sources has decreased dramatically. So much so, that renewable energy may have just hit an important milestone, according to one study. In the U.S., wind and solar power are now cheaper sources of electricity than natural gas—even without subsidies.