politics

Crossposted from Checks & Balances Project.

ERMProposalIn yet another investigation into the Obama Administration’s activities, the State Department Inspector General is probing the conflicts of interest surrounding the contractor that performed the Keystone XL review,. The American public was supposed to get an honest look at the impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline. Instead, Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a fossil fuel contractor, hid its ties from the State Department so they could green light the project on behalf of its oil company clients. Hiring an oil company contractor to review an oil pipeline that its clients have a financial interest in should be illegal - and it is.

The Federal Government has strict laws to avoid conflicts of interest and prevent the hiring of contractors who cannot provide unbiased services. Unredacted documents from the contractor’s proposal (revealed by Mother Jones) show that the company had worked for TransCanada, ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies that have a stake in the Canadian Tar Sands. But, ERM misled the State Department at least twice in its proposal (see C&BP's original post on ERM's conflicts of interest)– which may have led to its selection by the State Department to review the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Crossposted from Checks & Balances Project

Grover Norquist is a familiar player in Washington debates, renowned for convincing nearly every Republican in Congress to sign a pledge to not raise taxes. But Norquist’s main job is not as a principled advocate for his brand of limited government but functioning as a paid lobbyist for whatever corporate interests are ready to write him a check. Norquist is a prominent pundit for Big Pharma and Big Tobacco, and now, he’s also batting for Big Oil.

Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), is at the forefront of the latest fight against renewable energy in the United States.

Conservative front groups and fossil fuel interests are attacking renewable energy standards in a coordinated assault to protect profits generated from fossil fuel-based electricity. Twenty-nine states have renewable energy standards and twenty-two of those have become fierce battlegrounds.

This coordinated attack on clean energy bears resemblance to the effort by Big Tobacco to prevent public health laws from impacting the profitability of tobacco companies. And it turns out, a lot of people working to dismantle renewable energy laws are deeply connected to Big Tobacco. Some, like Grover Norquist, even worked with Big Tobacco on their misinformation campaigns and are now turning their lobbying power to attack state clean energy policies.

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Election season is over, and organizers are finally seeing some blank spaces on their calendars. Even beyond the presidential race, the climate movement has made some real progress. Going forward, how can we convert our momentum into meaningful change? This is a great forum to generate new ideas, and I've got some thoughts to get us started.

First, let's look at where we stand now. As a group, young voters reasserted our power in this election. Despite some predictions, youth turnout was even higher than in 2008, swinging at least eighty electoral votes . Meanwhile, several states chose climate-friendly congresspeople over their anti-environmental opponents.

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Welcome back to the Week in Green Politics, where I know that most of you are sick of politics by now. So I'll keep it quick.

Obviously the most timely issue in the climate world is Hurricane Sandy. If you're on the East Coast, I hope you're staying safe.

From a political point of view, one pressing question is whether the candidates will mention climate change in the context of extreme weather. And that brings us to our first headline:

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