A Cautionary Tale: CSPW’s Investigation into NCA’s Past Suppression to Prevent Future Political Interference

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NCA 1

Source: Wikimedia Commons

During the eight years of President Bush’s presidency, disputing, delaying, or diminishing the National Climate Assessment’s findings occurred as part of a larger struggle against accepting emerging consensus about anthropogenic climate change.

President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore released the National Climate Assessment, the first comprehensive report on climate change impacts across every region and many sectors of the United States, as a crowning achievement of its administration’s environmental commitment. Envisioned to provide essential information to policymakers addressing and solving the emerging climate change threat, the document, published in 2000 shortly after the election, was meant to catalyze action. Instead, President Bush and Vice President Cheney effectively disposed of the report, and all its valuable warnings virtually disappeared into thin air.

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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Climate Science Watch Update, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, National Security, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Whistleblowers | Comments Off on A Cautionary Tale: CSPW’s Investigation into NCA’s Past Suppression to Prevent Future Political Interference

Notes from Underground: Fraxit

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NfUBrexitThere was big news from Great Britain last month, and it wasn’t all about leaving the European Union: on June 1, Scotland voted to permanently ban fracking within its borders, reaffirming an earlier moratorium.

Not long before, a council vote in North Yorkshire, England, allowed for renewed shale oil exploration and fracking for the first time in Great Britain since 2011.

With fracking, as with its relationship with the Continent, the “United” Kingdom is anything but.

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A Lesson in Constitutional Illiteracy: Lamar Smith and the Climate Science Witch Hunt

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Doc2On September 17th of 2014, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology voted 4-3 to grant subpoena powers to the Committee Chair, useable without consultation of the Committee as a whole. This extraordinary power became available for the first time during the current Congress, with Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) serving as Committee Chair. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) expressed concerns about the potential abuse of this power in January of 2015. This summer, the concern has been justified.
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Floods, Fires, and Public Policy Failures: ExxonMobil Facilities are Among Those Being Slammed by Climate Change Impacts

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E1;7-2016

Source: https://nemac.unca.edu/swannanoa-flood-risk-management-project

The Exxon Mobil Corporation is being investigated by multiple state attorneys general (AGs) concerned that the company intentionally misled its shareholders regarding scientifically-established risks associated with climate change impacts – risks that not only endanger human health and the environment, but also threaten to devalue XOM shares. In the 1980s, when Exxon first began colluding with other fossil fuel interests to engage in an orchestrated, sustained deception and disinformation campaign designed to stymie regulatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions, the level of scientific uncertainty regarding the exact nature and severity of climate change impacts was greater than it is today. The modus operandi of the “global warming denial machine” has been to play up those inherent uncertainties while downplaying climate change impacts in order to dissuade policymakers and the public of the need to curtail our dependence on fossil fuels. After all: oil is money, and the corporate bottom line must be protected.

Currently, not only is the scientific underpinning of global climate disruption markedly more solid, the risks associated with ever-increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases now surpassing the 400 ppm mark have moved from the theoretical to the very real, and are being felt everywhere – including where ExxonMobil employees live, work, and conduct business. In this piece, we look at two rolling disasters: repeated, extreme flooding this year in Texas, where ExxonMobil is headquartered, and massive wildfires in California where the oil and gas giant also has major operations. Both are examples of climate change impacts long predicted by computer models and robust scientific research conducted globally; both exemplify the costly price tag that comes with failing to curtail carbon dioxide emissions. Tragically, this price tag includes loss of human life in addition to extensive property destruction, devastation of ecosystems and critical habitats, and more. All CEO Rex Tillerson needs to do to comprehend the dangers posed by our collective failure to cut carbon emissions and bring stability back to Earth’s climate system – a failure ExxonMobil has conspired to ensure – is to look outside his proverbial corporate window.
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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, National Security, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Floods, Fires, and Public Policy Failures: ExxonMobil Facilities are Among Those Being Slammed by Climate Change Impacts

Notes From Underground: As With Climate Change, So With Fracking at ExxonMobil

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Notes from the underground exxonThe Exxon Mobil Corporation held its annual shareholders meeting on May 25, 2016. The company’s documentation of the meeting can be found here.

The final proposal offered at the meeting, the eleventh of eleven shareholder resolutions, relates to the company’s involvement in hydraulic fracturing (fracking). The authors of the proposal did not demand the immediate cessation of all hydraulic fracturing activities by the oil and gas giant, but rather requested that the corporation provide better disclosures regarding its fracking activities. The resolution – submitted each year over the past five years – stems from growing frustration that ExxonMobil has a problem with transparency, and that fracking is one key area where the company could choose to become more forthcoming.
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ExxonMobil and Climate Change: A Story of Denial, Delay, and Delusion, Told in Forms 10-K (2001-2008)

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Junk Science

Disparaging legitimate scientific data and conclusions regarding global climate change and the role of fossil fuel combustion by dubbing it “junk science” has been a favorite tactic employed by the oil industry. This cartoon, penned in 2005, aptly captures the dynamic at play throughout President George W. Bush’s first term in office. [Image source: NewEnergyNews @ http://bit.ly/21FpG1Q]

(Part Two of Three)

To commemorate ExxonMobil’s 2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders set to be held today, we are releasing Part Two of our ongoing series reporting on the company’s treatment of the climate change issue in its 10-K filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 2001 through 2008, coinciding with the Bush-Cheney administration (read Part One).

Calls for a U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) investigation — by presidential candidates, Members of Congress, and former DOJ attorney Sharon Eubanks — similar to the one conducted against Big Tobacco for lying about the connection of cigarette smoking and lung cancer, to determine whether Exxon Mobil Corp. should face federal charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for knowingly misrepresenting scientific knowledge regarding global climate change and its impacts, have received significant play in the media over the last several months. Unsurprisingly, these appeals have been met with push-back by the oil company — and more recently in a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial and a Wall Street Journal editorial, both summarily slammed for multiple gross distortions by the journalistic watchdog group Media Matters. The more imminent and potentially more problematic legal threat for ExxonMobil (also referred to simply as Exxon) than a future DOJ probe is the ongoing criminal investigation of the oil giant by the state of New York.
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Posted in Activism, Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Litigation, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Climate Science Watch Update, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, Energy, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, International Climate Policy, National Security, Obama Administration, Obama Climate Plan, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Whistleblowers | Comments Off on ExxonMobil and Climate Change: A Story of Denial, Delay, and Delusion, Told in Forms 10-K (2001-2008)

Notes from Underground: Proceed with Precaution, Part II

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Notes from the underground blue 2Our prior Notes from Underground post offered Precautionary Principle 101. To reiterate, the Principle is simple and even obvious: one should not carry out a plan until one has some understanding of the likely consequences – that is, until one can be reasonably certain that enacting said plan will not lead to disastrous outcomes that outstrip the plan’s resulting benefits.

Like many legal principles, Precaution is a balancing test – measuring benefit versus the likelihood and potential gravity of risk. A greater benefit – such as reliable energy – may justify considerable risk. But significant potential risk to the well-being of most life on the planet will tilt the balance in any argument.
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Notes from Underground: Proceed with Precaution, Part I

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Notes from UndergroundThe smoking of e-cigarettes on airplanes has been banned by the FAA. Why? Because studies have not conclusively shown that “vaping” has no adverse impacts on human health.

And why is an article ostensibly about fracking and pipelines starting with this information? Because it is a rare example of the correct application of the Precautionary Principle.
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ExxonMobil and Climate Change: A Story of Denial, Delay, and Delusion, Told in Forms 10-K (1993-2000)

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(Part One of Three)

Exxon1Climate Science & Policy Watch is keenly interested in recent developments regarding various investigations into ExxonMobil Corporation, spurred by a growing concern that the company has chronically and grossly misrepresented to its investors and the public the risks it faces as a result of impacts and other factors associated with global climate disruption.

As part of an ongoing investigation of our own, we have reviewed all of the 10-K forms ExxonMobil has submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 1993 (the furthest back these forms are available online) to the present, in an effort to better understand how this oil giant has addressed the climate change threat — a threat Exxon itself has been shown to fully grasp going back four decades, despite its rhetoric to the contrary. No doubt, the Attorneys General in New York and California investigating ExxonMobil have tasked their staffs with a similar exercise. These comprehensive, mind-numbingly detailed reports must not only address the financial health of the company and all of its operations, but must also address the full set of risks it faces in the marketplace and in the geographic areas in which it operates. From what we see in the 10-Ks, each over a hundred pages long and requiring, on average, 2,000 hours to complete, Exxon has done a masterful job of hedging its bets, both by omission and commission: omitting mere mention for many years, and then grossly understating, the vast array of direct and indirect risks it faces as a result of climate change. Even worse, Exxon has overtly and flagrantly overstated possible financial and economic risks associated with regulating carbon and other GHGs, both here in the US and in nations around the world.

Exxon23ExxonMobil has a simple but admittedly very difficult Darwinian choice to make: Will the oil giant continue with the defiant, rosy-scenario, thumbs-up, “bidness”-as-usual approach going forward, or will it continue to feel the heat — politically, socially, economically and quite literally on our warming planet — and eventually, burn.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch an Exxon Tiger by the toe.
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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity | Comments Off on ExxonMobil and Climate Change: A Story of Denial, Delay, and Delusion, Told in Forms 10-K (1993-2000)

Notes from Underground: Stupid-Cali-Frack-Logistics: Gas Leak is Atrocious

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NFTU, SOCALGASBy now, you may have heard about the massive natural gas leak in Southern California, which has been ongoing since late October; then again, given the dearth of major media coverage, you very well may not have.

It is an environmental catastrophe that The Guardian has called “the climate equivalent of the BP disaster.” [http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/dec/04/california-natural-gas-leak-methane-climate-change-old-infrastructure] GAP knows this to most definitely be the case given our critical ongoing investigation in the Gulf region into the disaster which has garnered significant media attention and attracted over 25 whistleblowers exposing significant environmental and public health threats. Over 80,000 metric tons of natural gas – which is primarily composed of methane, a potent greenhouse gas – have been released from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site, which is owned by the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas). This represents a substantial percentage of California’s total GHG emissions – as well as a threat to Porter Ranch, a community located near the site, due to other hazardous substances present in natural gas. But if this toxic cloud has a silver lining, it is that California might finally bring its legal stance on fracking and natural gas up to par with its other environmental policies.
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