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Energy and global warming news for February 17: Gasland attack group “Energy In Depth” was created by major oil and gas companies

Gasland Attack Group ‘Energy In Depth’ Was Created By Major Oil and Gas Companies According to Industry Memo

DeSmogBlog has uncovered an industry memo revealing that ‘Energy In Depth’ is hardly comprised of the mom-and-pop “small, independent oil and natural gas producers” it claims to represent. In fact, the industry memo we found, entitled “Hydraulic Fracturing Under Attack,” shows that Energy In Depth “would not be possible without the early financial commitments” of major oil and gas interests including BP, Halliburton, Chevron, Shell, XTO Energy (now owned by ExxonMobil), and several other huge oil and gas companies that provided significant funding early on and presumably still fund the group’s efforts.

According to the 2009 memo, Energy In Depth was orchestrated as a “major initiative to respond to”¦attacks” and to devise and circulate “coordinated messages” using “new communications tools that are becoming the pathway of choice in national political campaigns.”

Energy In Depth (EID) is featured in the news a lot these days, chiefly for attacking the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland, but also for its extensive efforts to malign the excellent reporting done by ProPublica, the Associated Press and other outlets. EID seems to attack everyone who attempts to investigate the significant problems posed by hydraulic fracturing and other natural gas industry practices that have been shown to threaten public health and water quality across America.

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Here is how Energy In Depth describes itself on its ‘Contact Us’ page:“Energy In Depth is a project of America’s small, independent oil and natural gas producers…”

While EID prefers to project this ‘mom and pop shop’ image, the June 2009 memo authored by Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), reveals the seed funding provided by many of the world’s largest oil and gas companies for the creation of Energy In Depth.

The memo states:

“The “Energy In Depth” project would not be possible without the early financial commitments of: El Paso Corporation, XTO Energy, Occidental Petroleum, BP, Anadarko, Marathon, EnCana, Chevron, Talisman, Shell, API, IPAA, Halliburton, Schlumberger and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.”

However, none of these major oil and gas companies, or the industry’s largest trade association — the American Petroleum Institute — are acknowledged on the ‘About Us’ page of Energy In Depth’s website.

Instead, Energy In Depth portrays modest origins, suggesting that its “website and affiliated educational programs were created by” a coalition of state-based oil and gas associations, whose logos are featured on the ‘About Us’ page. This all seems designed to leave the impression that the EID was launched by small, “independent petroleum producers” rather than by the largest oil and gas companies on the planet.

Additionally, Enegy In Depth fails to acknowledge openly that its website URL was created by Dittus Communications, a Washington DC public relations firm best known for its work for major tobacco and nuclear industry interests. (Dittus is now part of Financial Dynamics, an international communications conglomerate.)

For a group that has accused Gasland director Josh Fox of creating an “alternate history,” and claims to want to “set the record straight” about the motives of anyone who dares to question the natural gas industry’s highly controversial hydrofracking practices, EID seems awfully disingenuous about its own ‘humble’ beginnings and ultimate interests.

Senate Dems’ ‘win the future’ plan stuffed with energy proposals

Senate Democratic leaders are calling for extended tax credits for manufacturing “clean-energy” components and wider financing for low-carbon energy projects as part of a broader agenda to boost U.S. economic competitiveness.

Democrats, picking up on President Obama’s State of the Union theme, rolled out a plan Wednesday to “win the future” that combines various tax credit, infrastructure and education initiatives, along with a five-year spending freeze.

Energy items in the proposal include a “Clean Energy Deployment Administration” “” also known as a “green bank” “” that would offer various financing tools to help shepherd advanced energy technologies into commercialization. Various iterations of the idea have surfaced in House and Senate energy bills in recent years but have not become law.

Other components of the plan include extending tax credits that were in the stimulus law for manufacturing “clean energy” equipment such as wind turbines and solar panels; further extending a grant program for constructing renewable electricity projects in the U.S.; various energy-efficiency measures; and continued spending on development of a “smart” power grid, among other provisions.

“Senate Democrats will seek to create high-paying jobs by promoting energy-efficient renovations in a variety of buildings, including single-family residences, multi-family residences, commercial buildings and buildings in rural communities,” the plan states. “Through a mix of rebates, low-interest loans and tax incentives for energy renovations, Democrats hope to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in hard-hit construction and manufacturing sectors while saving consumers, businesses and commercial building owners money on their energy bills.”

Activists Corner Elected Skeptics on Capitol Hill, Target Media’s ‘False Neutrality’

If Sen. Jim Inhofe was even remotely thinking about adding Mark Hertsgaard’s newest book to his reading list, he likely shelved that idea around noon Tuesday.

That’s when the independent California journalist and the Republican Oklahoma senator wrapped up a pointed but cordial “” and somewhat convoluted “” five-minute exchange about global warming.

Hertsgaard is the author of the mid-January release “Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years.” He cornered Inhofe near a bank of members-only elevators at the Dirksen Senate Office Building to ask how he could remain the Senate’s most adamant climate change denier when every noted scientific organization agrees the planet and its inhabitants are destined for a world of hurt unless heat-trapping gases are tamed.

“Yeah, are you kidding?” he told SolveClimate News when asked if it was worth it to wait 85 minutes in a windowless Dirksen hallway until Inhofe emerged from a fourth-floor committee hearing room. “For my daughter’s sake I want to know why he thinks he can do that.”

“Hot,” the most recent of his six environmental tomes, is dedicated to his 5-year-old daughter Chiara. She has inspired the 54-year-old’s fatherly concern toward what he calls Generation Hot, the two billion youngsters worldwide now forced to cope with climate disruption.

Even though it was just 24 hours after Valentine’s Day, Hertsgaard didn’t come to Capitol Hill expecting to sway hearts “” or even minds “” on the climate change front. Instead, Tuesday’s event to confront “climate cranks” “” coordinated by partners including the Sierra Club, 350.org, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and The Nation “” offered a lesson to budding activists on staking out politicians and a chance for Hertsgaard to vent.

First U.S. Offshore Wind Turbine Factory Opens in Virginia, But Has No Customers Yet

Wind energy giant Gamesa unveiled America’s first offshore turbine factory this month in Norfolk, Va., to eventually supply windmills for projects and build a competitive home-grown industry that is now essentially run by Europe.

The announcement addresses speculation over whether the U.S. is moving into the emerging offshore manufacturing industry. But for a nation that still doesn’t have a single turbine in its waters, the news invites another question: Who will be Gamesa’s first customer?

David Rosenberg, a spokesperson for Langhorne, Pa.-based Gamesa North America, was tightlipped on the matter in an interview with SolveClimate News. He said only that the company would be eyeing Virginia’s coast to install its new G11X turbine, a state that is ripe for wind development but has no ventures on the books, in addition to three other East Coast sites.

About a half a dozen proposals are on the drawing board for U.S. waters., the most famous of which “” the long-beleaguered 130-turbine, 468-megawatt Cape Wind offshore farm in Nantucket Sound, Mass. “” is slowly inching forward.

Developers finally completed a decade-long permitting process in January, and experts say it could be completed in the next three years.

New poll: The public trusts EPA, loves the Clean Air Act, and wants Congress to butt out

As everyone knows by now, Republicans have launched a massive, coordinated assault on EPA, attempting to block its greenhouse gas regulations, its air and water regulations, and in some cases its very existence. In the surreal hothouse atmosphere of the Beltway, where anti-government radicals are ascendant and everybody’s watching the same three cable news channels, this can seem reasonable — even inevitable.

But if we can collectively pull our heads out of the Beltway’s ass and take in a wider view of the country, it quickly becomes clear that the Republican attack on EPA is radically unpopular with voters across parties and demographics.

The latest evidence comes from a nationwide survey done by the American Lung Association in partnership with polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. Even for those of us who understand the public’s fondness for clean air, the results are striking.

The top line is this: The public overwhelmingly supports EPA in updating Clean Air Act standards and overwhelmingly opposes congressional efforts to block EPA. When it comes to clean air, the public trusts EPA far more than Congress.

Should EPA update Clean Air Act standards to make them stricter? Fully 69 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly agree, compared to 26 percent who somewhat or strongly oppose.

Another key fact: On this issue, unlike many others these days, independents line up with Democrats. Where 88 percent of Dems want standards updated, so do 68 percent of independents, compared with 49 percent of Republicans. (Note too that even among Republicans, support for strengthening standards outweighs opposition.)

Enviro groups urge EPA to limit greenhouse gases

Environmental activists urged the federal government Tuesday to set limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and oil refineries even as Republican opponents in Congress seek to restrict or stop those rules.

The comments came during the second of five meetings that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding across the country ahead of its plan to issue proposed standards limiting two of the biggest industrial sources of the gases blamed for global warming: power plants and oil refineries.

President Barack Obama’s administration decided to set regulatory limits on greenhouse gases after legislation that would have created a limit on those gases and allowed companies to buy and sell permits under that limit “” a system called cap-and-trade “” stalled last year in Congress. Republican lawmakers have argued the law would raise energy prices and hurt businesses and consumers during a recession.

During the public meeting, a combination of environmental groups told EPA officials to move forward with new limits.

“These standards are long overdue and must not be delayed,” said Daniel Lashof, director of the climate center for the National Resources Defense Council.

A coalition of environmental groups organized a news conference and rally ahead of the hearing to demonstrate support for the proposal.