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Reporting From The Front Lines Of The Climate Fight

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"Reporting From The Front Lines Of The Climate Fight"

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Today is my last day at ThinkProgress, after four exciting years of reporting on the front lines of climate and energy politics. The experience has taken me from Biloxi to Copenhagen, from New Hampshire to Cancun. I’ve gotten to publish guest bloggers from John Kerry to Van Jones, from Bill McKibben to Paulina Borsook. And I’ve been privileged to share my own perspective on this special moment in history.

Here are some of the highlights of that work:

Exposing The Koch Brothers. One of my proudest achievements was in starting the national conversation on the corrupting influence of the Koch brothers on our politics. I was the first ThinkProgress writer to start investigating the Kochs in 2008, exposing McCain spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer and Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips as Koch operatives. I covered the extremist AFP summit and AFP’s goofy climate-denial ads. When Lee Fang joined ThinkProgress in 2009, he took the lead in investigating how the Kochs manipulated Tea Party activists and DC politics as the puppetmasters of American conservatism, kindling their fame. In 2010, I even hosted a conversation about the Kochs with AFP staffer Phil Kerpen at the Center for American Progress.

Supporting Climate Hawks. The best moments of the climate fight have been interviewing climate hawks such as Ira Magaziner, Tim DeChristopher, John Fullerton, Nicholas Stern, NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Kevin Trenberth, Gavin Newsom, Bangladesh Environment Minister Hasan Mahmud, Rep. Jay Inslee, Maggie Fox, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Dr. Markus Reichstein, C40 Climate Leadership Group manager Simon Reddy, African environmental activist Mawusé Hountondji, and Tulane University student Stephanie Stefanski:

How Carbon Cash Polluted Climate Legislation. Unfortunately, the effort to achieve Barack Obama’s promised goal of strong climate change legislation was hobbled by the U.S. Senate from the start of his presidency, when enough Democrats voted with Republicans to preserve the power of the filibuster over any kind of clean-energy legislation whatsoever. Along with detailed analysis of the provisions of several iterations of climate legislation, I investigated how the carbon pollution industry manipulated Congress through campaign contributions, powerful lobbying, paid-for witnesses, and dirty tricks.

Sen. Scott Brown Begs David Koch For Money. At the public dedication of MIT’s David H. Koch Integrative Cancer Institute in 2011, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) effusively thanked conservative billionaire David Koch for supporting his election in 2010 and made a plea for help in his re-election campaign next year. David Koch directly gave the National Republican Senatorial Committee $30,400 in November 2009, and the Koch Industries PAC threw in $15,000 to NRSC plus $5,000 more directly to Brown right before Brown’s special election. In a conversation I recorded on camera, Brown thanked Koch and his wife Julia for their support, saying “I can certainly use it again.”

The Billionaires Behind Drill-Baby-Drill. The same old men that propelled George W. Bush into office in 2000 and 2004 were behind Newt Gingrich’s multimillion-dollar front group, American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), which capitalized on the energy crisis caused by the Bush presidency to promote a “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” campaign. I uncovered the seven right-wing billionaires, headed by casino kingpin Sheldon Adelson, bankrolling this “non-partisan” organization:

The Climate Zombie Caucus. With painstaking effort, I uncovered the fact that every Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010 was a climate denier — and then found that global warming conspiracy theorists were running for the House and governorships in practically every state of the Union.

Confronting The Washington Post For Publishing George Will’s Lies About Climate Science. In 2009, Washington Post columnist George Will published an error- and lie-filled column on climate science. I researched his long history of repeating long-debunked canards, and exposed Fred Hiatt‘s and Alan Shearer‘s fact-challenged defense of Will’s pollution. After I helped expose Will’s lies and his defense by top Washington Post editors, their collusive climate denial was criticized by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, reporters Steve Mufson, Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan, cartoonist Tom Toles, ombudsman Andrew Alexander, and blogger Andrew Freedman.

Investigating The Corrupt George W. Bush Administration. I helped expose the corrupt firing of EPA regional administrator Mary Gade, the pollutocrats of the Office of Management and Budget, the negligent career of creationist EPA administrator Stephen Johnson and his insouciant staff, the deliberate ignorance of climate negotiator Harlan Watson, as well as the astounding contempt for law and science from Dick Cheney and George W. Bush himself.

Poisoned Weather. The threat of global warming pollution is not merely a future challenge, but the new reality. For four years, I have documented the increasing onslaught of climate disasters, and explained how manmade pollution means that we now bear responsibility. Some of my first work on this topic garnered the attention of Rush Limbaugh, who called me a “wacko.”

And yes, it’s been four years of explaining how the right wing is lying about why gasoline prices rise and fall. Even though the climate is being transformed, some things never change.

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