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Morning Reads: ALL the Oil Companies Knew About Climate Change — Decades Ago

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: ALL the Oil Companies Knew About Climate Change — Decades Ago

(L-R), Chevron CEO John Watson, Shell Oil President Marvin Odum, BP America Chairman H. Lamar McKay, Conoco Phillips CEO James Mulva, and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson participate in a Senate Finance Committee hearing on May 12, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Not just Exxon –> “The American Petroleum Institute together with the nation’s largest oil companies ran a task force to monitor and share climate research between 1979 and 1983, indicating that the oil industry, not just Exxon alone, was aware of its possible impact on the world’s climate far earlier than previously known,” Neela Bannerjee reports for InsideClimate News. (The Pulitzer-winning web publication reported earlier this year that Exxon understood the climate change threat decades ago and engineered a public relations campaign to confuse the issue.)

In the 1990s, the API “joined Exxon, other fossil fuel companies and major manufacturers in the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), a lobbying group whose objective was to derail international efforts to curb heat-trapping emissions.”

Unlikely partnership –> In the mid-2000s, representatives of ExxonMobil and the Sierra Club joined to come up with an alternative to cap-and-trade. They championed a carbon tax the oil company thought would be a better solution for its business and the environmental group thought might be more tenable to Congress. But soon after a push in Congress to implement cap-and-trade collapsed in 2009, any kind of green legislation became more or less impossible as Republicans rushed to deny the science and Democrats grew more tepid on the environment. Eric Roston reports for Bloomberg Business.

Repeat offenders –> Keith Alexander at The Washington Post: “More than 50 police officers involved in fatal shootings this year had previously fired their guns in deadly on-duty shootings, according to a Washington Post investigation. For a handful of officers, it was their third fatal shooting. For one officer, it was his fourth.”

Disrupting business as usual –> In Spain, the progressive protest party Podemos (“We Can”) polled enough votes during elections last weekend to break the hold of the country’s two-party system. At In These Times, Erica Sagrans argues that the Spanish vote shows the current appeal of outsider candidates — including Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump here at home: “It’s news that should make the political establishment from Europe to the United States tremble in fear.”

Nudging the door closed –> Tim Arango at The New York Times: “On land and at sea, Turkey’s borders, long a revolving door of refugees, foreign fighters and the smugglers who enable them, are at the center of two separate yet interlinked global crises: the migrant tide convulsing Europe and the Syrian civil war that propels it.”

The outsourced campaign –> Nick Corasaniti and Matt Flegenheimer at The New York Times: “Soaring advertising costs in early primary states are compelling major ‘super PACs’ to realign their tactics, de-emphasizing costly broadcast commercials in favor of the kind of nuts-and-bolts work that presidential candidates used to handle themselves. They are overseeing extensive field operations, data-collection programs, digital advertising, email lists, opposition research and voter registration efforts.”

It only takes one –> Sixteen states have signaled their support for a constitutional amendment overturning  the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which rolled back campaign finance regulations and opened elections to far greater big-donor influence. New York is poised to become the seventeenth — all it needs is one more state senator to sign their name. “That’s all it would take, from one courageous, unbought politician in the state Senate, to send a message to Congress that New Yorkers – like most Americans – are tired of having their system of government hijacked by big money,” writes the Albany Times-Union editorial board.

Nine months –> We noted that last week’s spending deal included a provision blocking the SEC from requiring corporations to disclose political spending to their own shareholders. Fortunately, that provision expires… pretty soon. Lisa Gilbert of the watchdog group Public Citizen: “The budget package’s policy rider prohibits the SEC from using fiscal year 2016 funds to finalize the rule, but the SEC retains the authority to take important steps to prepare for a rule-making on this issue. In fact, the prohibition on finalizing the rule lasts only through the end of the fiscal year. September 2016 is a mere nine months away.”

End-of-year reading –> ProPublica offers its list of 2015’s ten best investigations of political money.

Morning Reads is compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.


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