Recording Reveals Oil Industry Execs Laughing About Access to Trump

Recording Reveals Oil Industry Execs Laughing About Access to Trump
United States Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. (Bureau of Reclamation / Flickr)

Gathered for a private meeting at a beachside Ritz–Carlton in Southern California, the oil executives were celebrating a colleague’s sudden rise. David Bernhardt, their former lawyer, had been appointed by President Donald Trump to the powerful No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior.

Just five months into the Trump era, the energy developers who make up the Independent Petroleum Association of America, or IPAA, already had watched the new president order a sweeping overhaul of environmental regulations that were cutting into their bottom lines – rules concerning smog, hydraulic fracturing and endangered species protection.

Dan Naatz, the association’s political director, told the audience of about 100 executives that Bernhardt’s new role meant their priorities would be heard at the highest levels of the department.

“We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues,” Naatz said, according to an hourlong recording of the June 2017 event in Laguna Niguel provided to Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The recording gives a rare look behind the curtain of an influential oil industry lobbying group that spends more than $1 million per year to push its agenda in Congress and federal regulatory agencies. The previous eight years had been dispiriting for the industry: As IPAA vice president Jeff Eshelman told the group, it had seemed as though the Obama administration and environmental groups had put together “their target list of everything that they wanted done to shut down the oil and gas industry.”

But now, the oil executives were almost giddy at the prospect of high-level executive branch access of the sort they hadn’t enjoyed since Dick Cheney, a fellow oilman, was vice president.

“It’s really a new thing for us,” said Barry Russell, the association’s CEO, boasting of his meetings with the Environmental Protection Agency chief at the time, Scott Pruitt, and then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. “For example, next week, I’m invited to the White House to talk about tax code. Last week, we were talking to Secretary Pruitt, and in about two weeks, we have a meeting with Secretary Zinke. So we have unprecedented access to people that are in these positions who are trying to help us, which is great.”

In that Ritz-Carlton conference room, Russell also spoke of his ties to Bernhardt, recalling the lawyer’s role as point man on an association legal team set up to challenge federal endangered species rules.

“Well, the guy that actually headed up that group is now the No. 2 at Interior,” he said, referring to Bernhardt. “So that’s worked out well.”

Now, Bernhardt is in line for a promotion: The former oil industry lobbyist has been nominated by Trump to be the interior secretary. MORE

How Would Our Wartime Conservative Leaders Have Acted on the Climate Crisis?

Real emergencies call for real plans.

WartimeWorker.jpg
The scale of Canada’s wartime production was nothing short of stunning, and it completely retooled our economy. We could do it again, this time to address the huge challenges of climate change. Photo of worker Veronica Foster inspecting a lathe at an Ontario gun plant, May 1941, via the National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque. Library and Archives Canada, PA-129380.

…Yet today’s Conservative “leaders” say we can’t transition our economy to meet the greatest existential threat of our time. Where is the courage and imagination of their predecessors?

While the threat today may move in slower motion than war, the climate crisis we face isn’t really all that different. Only now, we need governments that can lead us not into battle against other nations, but rather, into the fight for our collective future.

Today’s extreme weather events — the floods, fires, forest epidemics and hurricanes — are attacks on our soil, and they will only get worse. It’s time we adopted a wartime-scale response to confront this emergency.

In the economic and societal transition that is now urgently needed to shift our country off fossil fuels, the Conservative Party of Canada has, sadly, taken itself out of the game. This despite a recent Abacus poll indicating that a majority of conservative voters believe climate change to be a serious problem that represents “a major threat to the future of our children and grandchildren.”

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when the former Progressive Conservative party could legitimately claim to have climate leaders among its top ranks. No more. Today’s Conservatives have chosen to opportunistically campaign against genuine climate policies, and to conspire with those who would block real action. They are scoundrels who would put your children at risk for electoral gain.

Upon the release of the Conservatives so-called “climate plan” in advance of this federal election, the National Post’s Andrew Coyne described it as “a prop” rather than a plan — “a work, essentially, of mischief — an intentionally pointless bit of misdirection.” The Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason described the plan as “a sad joke.”

As many noted, the Conservatives offered no estimates of how much greenhouse gases would actually be reduced as a result of any of the policies promised (few as they were). Perhaps with good reason. Leading environmental economist and emissions modeller Marc Jaccard predicted the Conservative plan would actually result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

When crises, such as a war, call for real plans, we see clear actions and timelines and expected outcomes. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s climate document contains no such thing.

Your grandparents’ Conservative leaders, in the face of an ominous existential threat, rallied us and declared, “We can do this!”

In the face of today’s clear and present emergency, these man-baby Conservative leaders whine, “Don’t make me do it!”

You’re better than them. MORE

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Andrew Scheer’s Real Bad Climate Plan

An Early Voter’s Guide to Trudeau (Bad) and Scheer (Worse)

“Voters may suspect the Shiny Pony is phoney. But if they think that makes Andy dandy, they have forgotten something. Answered prayers are often a special brand of nightmare. Could it be time for change with risk? Could it be time to elect a government committed to saving the planet, rather than four bucks on a fill-up of gas?”

Don’t let negative partisanship trick you into backing Harper lite.

ScheerPlatformComic.jpgCartoon by Greg Perry.
Nothing the Conservatives have done so far has been remotely as effective in that cause [to elect a Conservative federal government this October] as Trudeau’s remarkable, and mystifying, blundering.

Take the environment. Everyone wants to claim this baby, but no one wants to raise it. Trudeau began as the champion of the blazing issue of our times. But these days, the prime minister looks less like the climate guy from Paris than he does a Texas oil man with gushers on his mind. When he gives the green light to the Trans Mountain pipeline in June, that impression will only deepen.

Apart from his much-ballyhooed carbon tax, there is not much to celebrate on this file, despite all the right words and excellent photo-ops. As Canada stumbles towards missing the modest emission targets of Paris, Stephen Harper’s targets, this PM acts more like Jason Kenney than David Suzuki.

 As disappointing as Trudeau has been to many voters, the traditional alternative, the official Opposition, is far, far worse.

Trudeau overpays for a pipeline carrying dirty oil through pristine rivers and forests in British Columbia;

He exempts certain tarsands projects from new environmental assessment rules in a crude trade-off with Alberta;

He considers loosening restrictions on the pollution of major rivers with toxic effluent from tarsands tailing ponds;

He allows the unregulated use of seismic blasting to explore for oil and gas on Canada’s east coast, right whales be damned;

And he has nothing to say about a pulp and paper mill building a 10-kilometre pipe to carry and dump hastily treated toxic effluent into prime fishing grounds in the Northumberland Strait. MORE

Even With Fewer Seats, Justin Trudeau Should Try To Form Minority: Elizabeth May

 

Image result for elizabeth mayGreen Party Leader Elizabeth May says not enough is being done to tackle climate change, and the future is at risk if that doesn’t change.(Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Elizabeth May has high hopes for the 2019 federal election.

OTTAWA —  If the 2019 election ends up in a minority situation but the Tories have the most seats, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May thinks the Liberal government should try to form a new  government with support from other parties.

In an interview with HuffPost Canada’s politics podcast ‘Follow-Up,’ May said that if the campaign results in a hung Parliament, “yes, of course” the party in power should try to convince the governor general that they can hold the confidence of the House.

“We’re now up to 17 elected Greens across Canada. And that’s pretty cool.”

May thinks the party’s support is due in part to the public’s increasing concern over climate change but also to “a general disillusionment with the idea that any of the old three parties tend to disappoint and will say one thing in an election and something else afterwards.”

“I don’t think that, you know, adherence to ignorance is really something that encourages voters to support you.”
—Elizabeth May

She remains concerned that support for her party could swing back to the Liberals or the NDP during a campaign when voters are told a vote for the Green candidate would indirectly help elect a Conservative member. But she’s hopeful “fear factor voting” has prompted enough voter remorse that Canadians will feel free to vote for candidates they believe in.

What’s more, May said, is that while Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer may represent the same policies as former prime minister Stephen Harper, he is less polarizing a figure. Not that she thinks he should become prime minister. She calls him “unfit to govern” due to his position on climate change. MORE

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History will judge ‘reckless, even criminal’ politicians ignoring climate change crisis: Elizabeth May

Fighting for Climate Credibility

Now is the time to encourage political leaders to move beyond recognition of our climate emergency and commit to reducing emissions to at least 1.5 degree C as quickly as possible

Canada’s political parties are competing for climate credibility

With five months to go before the next federal election, Canada’s political parties are competing for climate credibility, seemingly engaged in a battle to show they care more about the environment, reports The National Observer.

This is a climate activist’s dream. Not only will climate be the top issue in the October election, but having politicians compete for climate action supremacy is dizzying. I frankly did not see this coming.

Climate Credibility

Fighting for Climate Credibility, Below2CImage credit: Bernd Hildebrandt, Pixabay

Liberals are poised to declare a climate emergency

The Liberals have filed a motion which asks Members of Parliament “to recommit to the Paris climate-change accord by meeting the existing targets for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and toughening them as is required to meet the accord’s stated objective of keeping global warming as close to 1.5 C as possible,” writes Mia Rabson of The National Observer.

The Liberal motion …brings Canada closer to a declaration of climate emergency following the U.K., Ireland and Switzerland. This is precisely the kind of climate leadership activists and environmentalists have been calling for since the Liberals came to power in 2015.

NDP goes much further than Paris targets

The NDP motion (full text found below) also seeks to reach the Paris targets but goes much further by calling for the cancellation of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and an end to fossil-fuel subsidies. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says “pipelines and fossil-fuel subsidies are not congruent with climate-change action.” However, he will not go so far as to oppose the LNG project in his NDP-led home province of British Columbia.

Greens would double the emission-reduction targets

Meanwhile, the Green Party is calling for a 60% cut in greenhouse gases based on 2005 levels, in effect doubling Canada’s 30% reduction promised in the Paris Accord. Elizabeth May is very emphatic that Canadians need to heed the warnings of the IPCC 1.5°C report and Canada’s own Canada’s Changing Climate report that shows we are warming twice faster than the global average.

Somewhere below two degrees is the tipping point to where we run into something (that) scientists call runaway global warming—a self-accelerating irreversible global warming that could lead to temperatures that call into question the survival of this biosphere.

In order to ensure that action follows rhetoric, the Greens would create a non-partisan ‘war cabinet’ modeled after Winston Churchill’s during WWII to tackle the existential threat of climate change.

Click here for the transcript of a recent E. May interview on The Current, CBC Radio. “And an increase of two degrees would be catastrophic,” says May. MORE

Jagmeet Singh’s call for fossil fuels ban leapfrogs the Leap Manifesto

“The NDP is coming late to the issue of dealing comprehensively with climate change. Can it compete effectively with Elizabeth May’s Greens on this front? We shall see.” – Thomas Walkom

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on May 7 in Ottawa. “The NDP is coming late to the issue of dealing comprehensively with climate change. Can it compete effectively with Elizabeth May’s Greens on this front?” asks Thomas Walkom.
Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats have discovered climate change. 

The party had been reluctant to take too uncompromising a stand on global warming for fear of alienating potential voters. That reluctance has gone.

Now the NDP is calling for an end to the entire fossil-fuel industry in Canada.

“The future of our country cannot involve fracking,” Singh said Monday in Ottawa, referring to a controversial method of drilling for oil and natural gas. “It cannot involve the burning of any fossil fuel.”

He said Canada must adhere to carbon reduction targets that are much stricter than those proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government if it to seriously fight climate change.

And he declared that he now opposes ambitious plans by British Columbia’s NDP government to build a massive liquefied natural gas project in the province’s north.

[In the past] the Leap Manifesto’s call to ban any new fossil-fuel energy projects, from pipelines to fracking, was seen as too radical. No more. Now, with his call for a Canada free of fossil fuels, Singh has outleapt the Leapers. MORE

 

New dollars, sure, but same political game

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick</p><p>Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau speak as they walk to the House of Commons to present the new budget in Ottawa, Tuesday.</p>

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau speak as they walk to the House of Commons to present the new budget in Ottawa, Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

In November 2005, in the waning days of a Paul Martin-led Liberal federal government, the Kelowna Accord was forged.

It was the result of an unprecedented 18-month consultative process between the federal government, provincial and territorial governments and all five major national Indigenous organizations.

The result was a $5-billion commitment over five years, aimed at addressing massive inequities in Indigenous health, education, housing and infrastructure, economic opportunities, governance and the relationship between the federal government and Indigenous nations. Just to close the gap between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians.

Four days after forging this landmark agreement, Parliament was dissolved, with Martin eventually losing the next election to Stephen Harper and the Conservatives. MORE

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DEMOCRATS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE GETTING HOUNDED BY VOTERS FOR SHYING AWAY FROM THE GREEN NEW DEAL

Democrat Antonio Delgado speaks to supporters at a democratic watch party in Kingston, N.Y., after defeating incumbent Republican John Faso Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Democrat Rep. Antonio Delgado speaks to supporters at a watch party in Kingston, N.Y., after defeating incumbent Republican John Faso on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo: Seth Wenig/AP

CALIFORNIA SEN. Dianne Feinstein may feel like she was treated unfairly by young activists who have hammered her for not backing the Green New Deal resolution, but she has plenty of company. In upstate New York, Utah, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, voters who feel a much greater sense of urgency than their elected officials have been reacting furiously to politicians who say that the attempt to turn the fossil fuel-based economy around in the next 12 years simply isn’t realistic.

Rep. Antonio Delgado, the freshman from New York’s 19th District, was pressed repeatedly by constituents over his half-hearted support for the effort. He doesn’t support the Green New Deal, he told constituents at a town hall on February 16, though he noted that he backed certain aspects of the bill. Delgado said that he’s more interested in solutions that address the issues around climate change that can be solved now and that the bill as written does not sufficiently lay out a path for that kind of approach to the inevitability of climate crisis.

Democrats, especially freshmen in the House, are having to face voters in their districts who find the lack of action on climate change to be a major issue for the new representatives. And those complaints aren’t coming from blue districts — as with Delgado, freshmen Democrats from purple districts are facing resistance from constituents over their hesitancy to endorse progressive programs. Republicans aren’t immune either. On Monday morning, roughly 250 young activists from the Sunrise Movement occupied the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., with 35 getting arrested. MORE

Jagmeet Singh claims House of Commons seat with byelection win


Jagmeet Singh and Svend Robinson appear at an event in Burnaby on Jan. 19, 2019. File photo by Michael Ruffolo

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has won his do-or-die bid to capture a British Columbia seat in the House of Commons.

With more than half the polls reporting results in Burnaby South, Singh had just over 38 per cent of the vote, comfortably ahead of Liberal Richard T. Lee’s 26 per cent and Conservative Jay Shin’s 22 per cent.

But while victory tightens Singh’s shaky grip on the reins of the NDP, the challenge ahead was underscored by the simultaneous loss of the Montreal riding that launched the NDP’s orange wave that swept Quebec in 2011. MORE

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Singh survives byelection test. Can he shift focus from his leadership to NDP policies?
Jagmeet Singh’s win was make-or-break for the NDP leader

Today on the Justin and Jody show

Politics Insider for February 22: Canada’s top civil servant leaps to Trudeau’s defence, ‘somebody’s going to be shot’, and an impending end to steel tariffs

Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus (left) and Clerk of the Privy Council Michael Wernick make their way to the Justice Committee meeting in Ottawa, Thursday February 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Congratulations if you had “Canada’s top civil servant rides to Justin Trudeau‘s rescue against Jody Wilson-Raybould” on your SNC-Lavalin Bingo cards.

Appearing before the justice committee, Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick said there was nothing to the idea that when Wilson-Raybould was Canada’s attorney general the PMO tried to pressure her into helping SNC-Lavalin avoid criminal prosecution for fraud and corruption.  “At every opportunity, verbally and in writing in December, the prime minister made it clear that this was the decision for the minister of justice to take. She was the decision-maker,” he declared. He blasted the Globe and Mailstory that first raised the allegations of political interference, saying it “contains errors, unfounded speculation and, in some cases, is simply defamatory.” And he praised Trudeau and his staff for their integrity: “You may not like their politics or their policies or their tweets but they have always been guided by trying to do the right thing, in their own view, in the right way.” (Canadian Press)

Wernick also used his testimony to go well beyond the question of political interference in the SNC-Lavalin case, warning darkly that “somebody’s going to be shot” during the next Federal election campaign, that “trolling from the vomitorium of social media” was making its way into the “open media arena”, and without naming him he singled out Conservative Sen.David Tkachuk who urged the yellow-vested convoyers who descended on the Hill this week to get in their trucks and “roll over every Liberal left in the country. Because when they’re gone, these bills are gone.” Wernick called the Senator’s words “totally unacceptable,” given the Toronto van attack, and said “I hope that you as parliamentarians are going to condemn that.”

Also, fun fact: no one has ever used the word “vomitorium” on the Hill before, according to Hansard and the Library of Parliament.

Wernick’s statement was overtly political, coming from a civil servant, which didn’t go unnoticed. “Fine. I’ll just say it. Parts of this performance are why politicians like Stephen Harper can plausibly argue the Canadian Public Service is the Liberal Public Service,” tweeted constitutional scholar Emmett Macfarlane. “Some of the Clerk’s comments today amount to cheerleading for the current government.” (Twitter) MORE

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Canada’s top public servant fears ‘someone is going to be shot’ in next election campaign