Category Archives: Environment

The Children Are Coming. They Are Coming For You.

And, by “you” I mean the individuals and institutions that have shepherded civilization, and even our entire species, to the very brink of collapse and near extinction, motivated by greed and guided by ignorance.

And, in particular, this group of children are coming for that group of bad guys: Continue reading The Children Are Coming. They Are Coming For You.

Trump Ruins Everything For Everybody (but good news from Minnesota)

Donald Trump went into a snit and his babysitter wasn’t around to control him, so he barged into a meeting and slapped high tariffs on metal imports. The stock market suffered a mini-crash, and according to some experts, 2 cents per watt have been added to utility scale solar projects.

The tarrif on steel is likely to affect US Energy across the board, but the good news is that this could make some proposed pipelines even less viable than they already were.

The Republican-Trump tax cuts were supposed to be spread around to the little people, in order to buy their votes in November, but that may not work as well as planned. Some utility companies will not be passing the tax cuts on to their customers any time soon.

We now know that the de-assessing of large parts of Bears Ears Monument was nothing other than a craven act to get at this wild land’s oil and gas reserves.

Despite all this mucking around with our economy and the environment, falling prices of renewables has pushed this form of energy into second place as the source of power in Minnesota. Also in mInnesota, it appears that Minnesota has met its 25% renewable goal. Ready to move on to 50% in a few years, if we can only get rid of these pesky Republicans in the state legislature, and if we elect a pro-environment Democratic governor, like this one.

Dear Candidate For Office: About your environmental policy…

Over the last five months, and with increasing frequency, I find myself listening to candidates for office talk about their environmental policies. I’ve looked at the policies of candidates for Minnesota Governor, for US Congress in three different districts, and for Minnesota Senate and House in numerous districts. There is a lot of variation across the candidates. Only one candidate so far has demonstrated a) rich knowledge of the subject, b) well formulated and detailed policy, and c) policy that I find very good and agree with. This is not a post about that candidate, but rather, all the other candidates.

The other candidates have positions that run from “seems kinda OK” to “is maybe mostly OK” but none are good enough. The most common position on a given environmental issue is for the candidate to indicate that they think it is very important. Sadly, when it comes to climate change specifically, the most common position is for the candidate to acknowledge that climate change is real.

Sorry, but you don’t get points for knowing how to write your name on the top of the exam. Continue reading Dear Candidate For Office: About your environmental policy…

About 30 Thousand U.S. Newborns At Risk From Fracking per Year?

A new study based in Pennsylvania measured health indicators of children born far, near, and very near, fracking sites. The study showed an effect that reached out to about 3 kilometers, but that was much stronger within about 1 kilometer, from fracking sites. The effects included lower birth weight and similar differences that are associated with in utero stress.

Given this finding, it is estimated that about 29,000 newborns are born in fracking danger zones per year in the US. Continue reading About 30 Thousand U.S. Newborns At Risk From Fracking per Year?

Federal Court Dismisses Resolute SLAPP Suit Against Greenpeace

A press release from Greenpeace provides information on this issue which I know some of you have been following.

SAN FRANCISCO, October 16, 2017 — Today, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed all claims in the controversial case that major logging company Resolute Forest Products [2] filed against Greenpeace Inc., Greenpeace Fund, and Greenpeace International, and individual defendants, including claims under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act.

The court’s decision sends a clear message to corporations that attacks on core democratic values like freedom of speech and legitimate advocacy on issues of public interest will not be tolerated. District Judge Jon S. Tigar wrote in his order dismissing the case that Continue reading Federal Court Dismisses Resolute SLAPP Suit Against Greenpeace

Is your honey laced with neonicotinoid?

There is a reasonable chance there is. From the current issue of Science:

Growing evidence for global pollinator decline is causing concern for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services maintenance. Neonicotinoid pesticides have been identified or suspected as a key factor responsible for this decline. We assessed the global exposure of pollinators to neonicotinoids by analyzing 198 honey samples from across the world. We found at least one of five tested compounds (acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam) in 75% of all samples, 45% of samples contained two or more of these compounds, and 10% contained four or five. Our results confirm the exposure of bees to neonicotinoids in their food throughout the world. The coexistence of neonicotinoids and other pesticides may increase harm to pollinators. However, the concentrations detected are below the maximum residue level authorized for human consumption (average ± standard error for positive samples: 1.8 ± 0.56 nanograms per gram).

A worldwide survey of neonicotinoids in honey, by E. Mitchel et al.

Caption for the figure at the top of the post:

Fig. 1 Worldwide contamination of honey by neonicotinoids.
(A) Worldwide distribution of honey contamination by neonicotinoids. White symbols, concentration below quantification levels (LOQ for at least one neonicotinoid; shading indicates the total neonicotinoid concentration (nanograms per gram). Pie chart insets: Relative proportion of overall concentration of each neonicotinoid by continent (legend in bottom inset). (B) Overall percentage of samples with quantifiable amounts of 0, 1, or a cocktail of 2, 3, 4, or 5 individual neonicotinoids. (C) Proportion of samples with 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 individual neonicotinoids in each continent. (D) Rank-concentration distribution of total neonicotinoids in all of the 149 samples in which quantifiable amounts of neonicotinoids were measured.

I’m still … er … digesting this. What do you think?

On that chilling law suit against the environmental groups

… which I’ve posted on before … there are new developments, summarized at Inside Climate News:

Invoking the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a federal conspiracy law devised to ensnare mobsters, the suit accuses the organizations, as well as several green campaigners individually and numerous unidentified “co-conspirators,” of running what amounts to a giant racket.

“Maximizing donations, not saving the environment, is Greenpeace’s true objective,” the complaint says. “Its campaigns are consistently based on sensational misinformation untethered to facts or science, but crafted instead to induce strong emotions and, thereby, donations.” Dozens of the group’s campaign emails and tweets, it said, constituted wire fraud.

“As an NGO, that is a deeply chilling argument,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), which joined eight other groups to file an amici curiae brief supporting a move to dismiss Resolute’s case.

ICN goes on to describe the background and details of the suits. And now, an important appearance before the courts is about to happen.

On Oct. 10, Greenpeace will ask a federal judge in California to dismiss the case. The group submitted a similar motion last year in Georgia, where the suit was originally filed. The Georgia judge later moved the case to California, where two of the defendants are based, saying Resolute had not provided any “factual basis from which to infer that defendants committed fraud or extortion” in Georgia. “Rather, the allegations in the complaint, at best, support the inference that the defendants organized and held a protest in Augusta.”

“It is very alarming that you can have plaintiffs like this, representing corporate interests attacking legitimate critics doing advocacy work by just drafting a complaint, throwing whatever in there, stretching racketeering law and going after constitutionally protected free speech by throwing labels out there basically trying to criminalize legitimate advocacy work,” said Tom Wetterer, Greenpeace’s general counsel.

Read all the details here.

A Letter To The Logging Company That Is Suing Greenpeace

This is interesting.

It is a letter from Hachette Livre, a major international publisher, to Resolute Forest Products, the group that is trying to sue a number of environmental groups into submission. (See these posts: Taking The Axe To The Environmental Movement: Resolute v. Greenpeace and Freedom of Speech, Resolute Forestry, Stand.Earth, Greenpeace: New Developments) Hachette Livre uses Resolute, and seems to be a significant customer of the tree cutting pulp giant. And, they are giving Resolute a little what for:


Richard Garneau Produits forestiers Résolu

Vanves, June 8h, 2017

Dear Mr Garneau,

My company, Hachette Livre, is a customer of Resolute, and has been for many years. Our US subsidiary, Hachette Book Group, buys substantial quantities of FSC-certified ground wood paper from your Canadian mills.

We enjoy a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship. As you probably know, Hachette Book Group, as its parent company Hachette Livre, has very high environmental standards that both companies advertise in their corporate brochures and web sites. We have a history of working productively with various environmental NGOs such as Rainforest Action Network, for instance.

Greenpeace has recently attracted our attention to the conflict between it and Resolute that has erupted into a significant legal battle.

I have no intention of getting involved in the dispute, for as publishers, we have neither the expertise nor the resources to forge an educated opinion as to who is right and who is wrong in what seems to be a complex set of highly technical issues.

I would simply like to respectfully make two points.

The first is that our commitment to FSC is the cornerstone of our Social and Environmental Responsibility policy.

As such, it cannot suffer exceptions to suit a particular situation or a specific vendor. I therefore urge you to do everything in your power to retain the FSC certifications you have in Canada and more specifically, those that are necessary to meet our environmental requirements. It is of vital importance to us.

The other point I would like to make, not as a customer but as a publisher and a citizen, is that the vigor of your legal response to Greenpeace under RICO statutes strikes me as excessive. It is a very disturbing turn of events for publishers like us, who cherish public debate as an essential dimension of our activity and include many conservationists and environmentalists in our list of authors. Indeed, an escalation of the legal dispute could cause some authors to decline having their books printed on Resolute’s paper, further complicating the situation.

Needless to say, we cherish just as much the rule of law and respect the right to seek legal remedy, but I wonder whether there might not be other ways to respond to Greenpeace’s claims.

Let me put it this way: At a time when the United States has decided to turn its back on climate change by reneging on its commitment to the Paris Accord, we believe we need more than ever independent NGOs such as Greenpeace. Without them, who will speak up for the environment in the future?

I hope these suggestions will give you pause, if not meet with your approval.

This letter will be posted on our company web site after you have received it.

Thank you for your attention, and I hope you are able to resolve this dispute soon.


Arnaud Nourry

I do want to go back to this sentence:

I have no intention of getting involved in the dispute, for as publishers, we have neither the expertise nor the resources to forge an educated opinion as to who is right and who is wrong in what seems to be a complex set of highly technical issues.

That is utter bullshit, embarrassingly stupid, and I have no idea why they would say this. I want to know how much this guy pays for his milk. But otherwise, it is a good letter.

The New Climate Alliance

Screw the so-called Federal Government, once part of a great democracy, now a great joke run by an insane clown and his posse.

Most of the hard work in the energy transition needs to be done at the levels of the state and the individual anyway. So, with Trump taking the so-called Federal Government, which most of us now recognize as illegitimate and an annoyance at best as is slowly disappears bit by bit and becomes nothing other than a way to transfer tax money to rich people (until we stop paying our taxes), let’s just get on with saving civilization, the planet, our children, and all that good stuff on our own.

And, at the state level, I’m proud to announce that Minnesota has joined the new “Climate Alliance.”

From MPR:

Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday joined a group of governors who are committing their states to upholding the Paris climate deal’s emissions cuts despite President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw the U.S. from the pact.

Organized as the U.S. Climate Alliance, member states aim to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels and meet the federal Clean Power Plan targets.

“President Trump’s withdrawal will cause serious damage to our environment and our economy,” Dayton said in a statement. “Nevertheless, Minnesota and other states will show the world what we can achieve by working together to conserve energy, to use cleaner and renewable energy, and to leave a livable planet to our children and grandchildren.”

There’s over 12 other states in the group now, last count.

Of course, this is all for naught if we dont’ elect a Democratic governor here in 2018. For information on that, see this.

Freedom of Speech, Resolute Forestry, Stand.Earth, Greenpeace: New Developments

A little while back I posted this: Taking The Axe To The Environmental Movement: Resolute v. Greenpeace.

Some of you complained because you don’t like Greenpeace. But that is hardly the point. Greenpeace has a history of working towards important goals and sometimes even attaining them, and there are a lot of whales that want you to lay off and give them credit.

Anyway, the point of that post was to let you know about a SLAPP lawsuit Greenpeace had been slapped with by Resolute Forest Products.

The long and the short of it is this: Resolute, if they get legal traction and win, are setting up a situation where environmental advocates can be told to sit down and shut up because their activism opposes businesses doing business the way they want to. That is not something you want to happen.

Anyway, we have this development. This is not from Greenpeace, but from Stand.Earth, another organization being threatened:

THURSDAY MAY 18, 2017 • Posted by Todd Paglia, Executive Director,

You may have never heard of Resolute Forest Products, Canada’s largest logging company, but you’re likely to be hearing more about the wayward company in the coming months. Resolute CEO Richard Garneau has earned a reputation as a thin-skinned executive who bullies and threatens his employees, competitors and critics. The parallels between him and Trump are uncanny — to the point that when he sued my organization ( and Greenpeace — he hired the law firm that Trump used to threaten the New York Times for publishing his tax returns and which vigorously defended Bill O’Reilly against multiple charges of sexual harassment.

Garneau’s lawsuit against us is pure bully strategy – come up with an outlandish legal strategy that forces your non-profit critics to spend precious resources defending themselves. Not very elegant or admirable, but it’s a $300 million (Canadian) legal threat nevertheless. Just like Trump is thankfully running into the constraints that our democracy provides, Garneau is crashing into the reality of the justice system. This week he got his first surprise, and likely not his last.

Garneau brought the lawsuit against us in one of the most inconvenient places possible – and an area he presumably believed held plenty of sympathy toward logging companies: the Southern District of Georgia. This week the court ruled that the lawsuit should be heard in the Northern District if California, where many of the key staff for both and Greenpeace live and where we both have offices.

We thought this change in venue was unlikely to be granted given that the judge was a fair-minded but conservative Bush appointee and he seemed unlikely to have a lot of sympathy for advocacy groups. His order this week may be an indication of just how ludicrous this case is.

Resolute may try to appeal having their case removed from Southern Georgia to San Francisco, but their hands are tied – the judge has broad discretion to “transfer” a case and once he does so it is extremely hard to reverse. It gives us a great jury pool, a better chance at a more progressive judge, the amazing 9th Circuit Court of Appeals should an appeal occur, and a location that is easy for us to get to.

You might wonder whether the Resolute Board of Directors is paying any attention to the company they bear fiscal and legal responsibility for. Their CEO has presided over a plummeting share price (from over $20 two years ago to under $5 today) and the company has questionable business fundamentals (Resolute made a huge bet on, of all things, the newsprint market among other questionable calls). Despite a faltering business, Garneau appears obsessed with bringing down and Greenpeace. Garneau has spent millions of the company’s funds pursuing what appears to be nothing more than a personal vendetta. Now his already incredibly remote prospects of winning are fading further.

On top of all that, Garneau’s behavior has made many of the big brands that it sells to uncomfortable. Who wants to be known as doing business with a company serially suing non-profits and attacking the First Amendment? As the judge in his ruling stated: the lawsuit claims that we “illegally criticized” Resolute’s clearcut logging practices. Criticism may be illegal in Russia and maybe that’s where Garneau should be pursuing his lawsuit. Dozens of Resolute customers have reduced or eliminated their purchases from the rogue logging company. That seems likely to pick up pace.

Book publishers like Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster are still doing business with Resolute despite the company’s destructive logging and anti-First Amendment problems. They and other big brands will be increasingly faced with choosing between being loyal to a company like Resolute or living up to their values. The choice is clear.

Whether the Resolute Board of Directors ever reels in their increasingly unhinged CEO, the company is in trouble. It is a brand risk to do business with Resolute on multiple levels already. And, Garneau has established himself as a Trumpian CEO who is obsessed with spending company time and money threatening critics instead of focusing on the business he is supposed to be running.

Resolute’s future looks turbulent at best. Sound familiar?

Go here to help them out if you like.

And now, an inspiring video for you to watch and share:

Taking The Axe To The Environmental Movement: Resolute v. Greenpeace

A major Canadian logger appears to be using a pair of law suits to end the existence of Greenpeace and to stop or curtail pro-environmental activities by other organizations operating in North America, or perhaps, generally.

This activity is being carried out by Resolute Forest Products. This is a rapidly developing story. Aside from the usual sources of information, I had a long conversation with a representative of Greenpeace. I also refer you to this blog post.

Resolute Forest Products is one of North America’s largest converters of forest into pulp, ultimately to be used to make paper. They do other things as well. Back in 2010, Resolute Forest Products joined a group of 30 entities, including other forestry companies as well as environmental organizations such as Greenpeace. The group, called the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, intended to reduce negative impacts on the northern boreal forests caused by companies like Resolute.

Resolute, for its part, is said to have stonewalled movement in any positive direction, and eventually, Greenpeace Canada and others dropped out of the agreement. Greenpeace Canada then produced a report, in May 2013, outlining alleged deception by Resolute about the sustainability of their products. Generally, Greenpeace has been encouraging pulp customers to select producers that log sustainably, and that appears to annoy Resolute. That started a relatively complex back and forth between Resolute and Greenpeace, and other Canadian stakeholders, including a $7 million defamation suite by resolute against Greenpeace Canada as well as two of its staff members.

To get caught up on the environmental arguments concerns at hand, see Endangered Forests in the Balance: The impact of logging reaches new heights in the Montagnes Blanches Endangered Forest.

And now this ongoing battle is heating up again.

At present, there are two new significant suits by Resolute Forest Products, one against Greenpeace Canada, the other against Greenpeace International. The latter is said to have been filed in the US because the limitations on liability are much higher; Indeed, the Canadian suit is for millions, while the US based suit is for hundreds of millions. Along with these legal actions, Resolute is, again, directly attacking individuals and not just the company.

It is generally believed by observers that Resolute intends to use this legal action to end Greenpeace. Other environmental organizations are concerned that this type of suit may end their efforts as well.

Many will consider this a SLAPP suit. This is a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.” A SLAPP “… is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech.*

The US based law suit uses RICO statute. RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and was created to allow prosecutors important tools to go after previously nearly untouchable organized crime entities. Apparently, legal experts view the RICO suit against Greenpeace International to be absurd and unwinnable. That is what would make it a SLAPP. All Resolute has to do is pour a few tens of millions into the effort, and Greenpeace will have to give in. Unless, of course, judges throw the suits out early enough.

In addition to going after Greenpeace, Resolute has named as an additional target in their RICO suit. (See this for a list of the many legal documents related to these suits). From

Can a lumber company sue its grassroots public interest critics? While some courts say no, yesterday Resolute Forest Products filed a civil RICO lawsuit in United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. Incredibly, the suit complains that Greenpeace and Stand (formerly ForestEthics) have acted as a “criminal enterprise” in their public interest advocacy to stop destructive logging and protect waterways, wildlife, and communities in the boreal forest of Canada.

Stand believes this suit is entirely without merit and is a clear attempt to silence its most powerful grassroots critics. In addition, CEO Richard Garneau has overseen multiple free speech lawsuits during his tenure against individuals and organizations, and led the company to five consecutive years of a slumping stock.

Pulp: The coal of the wood industry

Why is this happening? The most obvious reason is that Resolute is tired of having their lack of sustainable practice pointed out to them by organizations like Greenpeace. There may even be a cost to Resolute, in that customers are increasingly demanding that sustainable practices be followed by extractive industries such as logging. Indeed, I expect that one response to the Resolute legal action will be an effort to pressure book publishers to use paper made from sustainably produced pulp.

So there’s that, but there is probably more to it. Resolute is part of a rapidly declining industry: North American pulp. Resolute could scale down its overall expectations and become the sustainable pulp producer. Or, it could barrel into the future full speed ahead, using up whatever expanse of the northern forest it can lay it’s saws on before getting stopped. It seems to be doing the latter.

Over the last fifty years or so, the production of paper has gone up significantly (from tens of millions of tons in 1960 to over 350 millions of tons more recently). People will tell you that the internet killed off paper production, but that seems not quite true. Paper production does not increase each year as much as it formerly did, but it still increases.

But two other things have happened. For one, the amount of paper that is recycled has also gone up, but at a slightly slower rate than overall paper production. So, that shift from 10 to 350 million tons a year of paper, an increase of about 30 times, is actually an increase of about 10 or 15 times for the virgin pulp some paper is made out of. Related is the use of more wood waste to make pulp instead of virgin timber.

The other factor is the shift in pulp and paper production to places other than North America, so from a North American perspective, pulp looks a lot like coal: it is a dying business.

Putting all this together, and you can see that Greenpeace is really Resolute’s smaller problem. The bigger problem is a dramatic and ongoing decline in its own market.

I would have thought this would be the ideal time go go full on rogue sustainable, and be the one company that produces most of the sustainable pulp in a world where North Americans will tolerate nothing else. But apparently I do not work at Resolute, do I?

Stay tuned!

Is the Environmental Movement a big white tent?

Lennox Yearwood Jr was on his way to speak at the March for Science in DC, when something bad happened. He tells us:

…at the March For Science in Washington DC on Earth Day, I was assaulted, roughed up, and detained by police in the shadow of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. It was not part of an action or planned civil disobedience. It was sadly a much more regular event – an interaction between police and a person of color gone very wrong.

He continues:

I was walking in the rain and carrying an umbrella down Constitution Ave. from the National Archives Building towards the Washington Monument. Constitution Ave. was closed and I was excited to see so many people out for the Science March. As I approached 14th St. on Constitution, the walk sign was on, but there was an MPD officer in the middle of street letting cars proceed across 14th so I stayed on the curb. I waited as the crossing signal turned red and then it turned back to walk, signaling clearance for all of us on the curb to cross, which we started to do.

I was the only person of color in the immediate area.

The police officer then told everyone to get out of the crosswalk. By then I was about half way across the street. I paused in the middle of the street and then decided it was easier to proceed to the other side of the street, in effect getting out of the crosswalk.

The officer then ran up to me, grabbed me forcefully by my jacket and swung me around, slamming me up against a food truck. I yelled, “What are you doing? Stop grabbing me.” He told me to stop resisting, to which I responded that I wasn’t. I dropped my umbrella, and put my hands up. I told him I was there for the Science March. He said he had to detain me because I “could be on drugs.” YES, he really said that.

Conspiracy to jay walk. It gets worse. More cops show up, more tension. Eventually it deescalates as Reverend Yearwood’s identity is established. Read the whole account here.

From Think Progress:

Aside from the humiliation of getting roughed up by the police, Yearwood said he was extremely disappointed that the incident forced him to miss a speech given by Mustafa Ali, who earlier this year resigned as the head of environmental justice at the Environmental Protection Agency after a 24-year career. Ali now serves as senior vice president of climate, environmental justice, and community revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus.
The Hip Hop Caucus, formed in 2004, seeks to connect marginalized communities with civic matters, focusing in particular on environmental issues. The environmental movement historically has been dominated by white men, although more women have claimed leadership positions over the past decade.

More at Think Progress

I have to say, that I just can’t imagine this happening at the Minnesota March for Science. There is a huge overlap in who shows up at these events in the Twin Cities, and the events cover everything from economic justice to #BLM to women’s’ rights. It is not in the nature of our community to allow someone to be physically harassed by the police at an event like this, without comment or intervention. Our community has been tested in the past and has done OK in this area, especially since the RNC in Saint Paul when the true potential of a city-wide police state was unleashed on our community, we fought back on several fronts, and changed our culture somewhat. I don’t know anything about the DC environmental community but apparently it is in need of some adjustment. Ours, here in the Twin Cities, probably does too, but this? I don’t think so.