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Frackademia in Depth; An analysis of the oil and gas industryʼs case for fracking

By Robert Galbraith, Gin Armstrong, and Kevin Connor - Public Accountability Initiative, February 2015

In the wake of New York Stateʼs decision to ban fracking, drilling proponents have criticized Governor Andrew Cuomo and his administration for basing the decision on “pseudo science”and “junk science.” When asked about the New York fracking ban at his 2015 “State of American Energy” press conference, American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard called for “more thoughtful consideration as to economics, environment, and sound science –because the science is clearly on the side of development and on the side of industry.”

Over the years, some of this science has proven less than reliable. In a trend that became known as “frackademia,”several universities issued industry-friendly fracking studies that the institutions later retracted and walked back due to erroneous central findings, false claims of peer review, and undisclosed industry ties. The studies bore the hallmarks of an industry effort to manipulate and corrupt the scientific debate around fracking, much like the tobacco industry manipulated the scientific debate around the dangers associated with smoking.

This report suggests that those studies, rather than being isolated cases, were consistent with a larger pattern – pro-fracking scholarship is often industry-tied and lacking in scientific rigor. An in-depth look at frackademia reveals that many of these kinds of studies have been produced by industry and its allies in academia, in government, and in the consulting world.

The report approaches this topic by analyzing a broad set of fracking studies that the industry has put forward to help it make its case. Specifically, the report considers an extensive list of over 130 studies compiled by an oil and gas industry group, Energy in Depth. The list was specifically used to convince the government of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, home of the city of Pittsburgh, to lease mineral rights under its Deer Lakes Park to Range Resources for gas drilling. Though that decision was a relatively minor one in the context of the nationwide fracking debate, the list provides a telling window onto the fracking research that the industry believes is fit for public consumption, and which it uses to make the case that the science around the issue is settled.

The report assesses the relative independence and quality of the studies by identifying and classifying each studyʼs industry ties –through funders, authors, and issuers –and determining whether it was peer-reviewed.

Read the report (PDF).

The Land Grabbers of the Nacala Corridor: A new era of struggle against colonial plantations in Northern Mozambique

By staff - UNAC and GRAIN, February 2015

A report by Mozambique’s National Farmers’ Union (UNAC) and GRAIN shows there is a colonial-style scramble for Africa’s farm lands under way. Politically-connected companies based in offshore tax havens have grabbed hundreds of thousands of hectares of farmland from peasants in Mozambique.

Read the report (PDF).

A just transition for all: Can the past inform the future?

By various - International Labour Office, 2015

2015 is a decisive year for global agreements on Sustainable Development and climate change. The ILO calls for a just transition for all towards a greener and more socially sustainable economy. This Journal is focussing on drawing lessons from a few transition experiences in order to analyse how successfully (or not) these processes were managed in the past and how future transitions might be handled in a just manner. Challenges such as policy coherence, consultations and participation by all relevant stakeholders are addressed and lessons learned on these issues are highlighted in the Journal.

Read the report (Link).

Europe's energy transformation in the austerity trap

By Béla Galgóczi - European Trade Union Institute, 2015

Our planetary limits demand a radical transition from the energy-intensive economic model based on the extraction of finite resources, which has been dominant since the first industrial revolution, to a model that is both sustainable and equitable.

Unfortunately however, energy transformation in Europe has, after a promising start, fallen hostage to austerity and to the main philosophy underpinning the crisis management policies in which overall competitiveness is reduced to the much narrower concept of cost-competitiveness. Regulatory uncertainty, design failures built into incentive systems, and unjust distribution of the costs, have also contributed to the reversal of progress in energy transformation currently observable across Europe.

In this book three country case studies highlight the different facets of these conflicts, while additional light is thrown on the situation by an account of the lack of progress in achieving energy efficiency.

By way of conclusion, a mapping of the main conflicts and obstacles to progress will be of help in formulating policy recommendations. Ambitious climate and energy policy targets should be regarded not as a burden on the economy but rather as investment targets able to pave the way to higher employment and sustainable growth. It is high time for this perception to be recognised and implemented in the context of Europe’s new Investment Plan, thereby enabling clean energy investment to come to form its central pillar. A shift in this direction will require an overhaul of the regulatory and incentive systems to ensure that the need for just burden-sharing is adequately taken into account.

Read the report (Link).

Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all

By staff - International Labour Organization, 2015

At its 102nd Session (2013), the International Labour Conference adopted a resolution and a set of conclusions, hereafter referred to as the conclusions, concerning sustainable development, decent work and green jobs putting forward a policy framework for a just transition.

At its 321st Session (June 2014), the Governing Body of the ILO endorsed the proposal to hold a tripartite meeting of experts in 2015 as a follow-up to the Conference conclusions.

The following guidelines as agreed by the Experts are meant to provide non-binding practical orientation to Governments and social partners with some specific options on how to formulate, implement and monitor the policy framework, in accordance with national circumstances and priorities. The guidelines are anchored in the vision, opportunities and challenges, guiding principles and the type of policies to implement, as contained in the conclusions.

The guidelines also incorporate the International Labour Standards listed in the appendix to the conclusions across policy areas. The following text reproduces verbatim parts of the text of the conclusions which provide the basis for the present policy guidelines. These parts include the vision, the opportunities and challenges identified, as well as guiding principles.

It also reproduces the introduction to the key policy areas and institutional arrangements framework and the paragraph concerning rights. The latter includes a reference to the appendix of the conclusions with some international labour standards and resolutions that may be relevant to the just transition framework.

Read the report (English PDF). (Link Only)

Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all

By staff - International Labor Organization, 2015

At its 102nd Session (2013), the International Labour Conference adopted a resolution and a set of conclusions, hereafter referred to as the conclusions, concerning sustainable development, decent work a nd green jobs putting forward a policy framework for a just transition.

At its 321st Session (June 2014), the Governing Body of the ILO endorsed the proposal to hold a tripartite meeting of experts in 2015 as a follow-up to the Conference conclusions.

Following the decision of the Governing Body, the Office convened the Tripartite Meeting of Experts from 5–9 October 2015 to:

  • review, amend and adopt draft guidel ines based on a compilation and thorough review by the Office of experiences from country policies and sectoral strategies towards environmental sustainability, the greening of enterprises, social inclusion and the promotion of green jobs;
  • distil lessons and good practices in respect of policy formulation in each of the nine policy areas identified in the just transition framework, through tripartite dialogue;
  • recommend ways to give practical effect to the guidelines in terms of their dissemination and practical application at the country level by constituents and adopt policy guidelines on a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all.

The following guidelines as agreed by the Experts are meant to provide non-binding practical orientation to Governments and social partners with some specific options on how to formulate, implement and monitor the policy framework, in accordance with national circumstances and priorities.

The guidelines are anchored in the vision, opportunities and challenges, guiding principles and the type of policies to implement, as contained in the conclusions. The guidelines also incorporate the International Labour Standards listed in the appendix to the conclusions across policy areas.

The following text reproduces verbatim parts of the text of the conclusions which provide the basis for the present policy guidelines. These parts include the vision, the opportunities and challenges identified, as well as guiding principles.

It also reproduces the introduction to the key policy areas a nd institutional arrangements framework and the paragraph concerning rights.

The latter includes a reference to the appendix of the conclusions with some international labour standards and resolutions that may be relevant to the just transition framework. This appendix is reproduced as Annex 1 of the present text.

Download PDF Here.

LIUNA Partners with Anti-Union Forces, AFP and ALEC Advocating with Koch Money for Risky Keystone XL Tarsands Pipeline

By staff - Bold Nebraska, January 2015

Since 2010, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) has partnered with several anti-union organizations that are funded by the Koch brothers along with TransCanada to gain approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Many construction unions partner with industry to win approval for projects and secure work for their members; this is often appropriate and productive. However, the industry and political partnerships that LIUNA has forged to gain approval of Keystone XL (KXL) seriously undermines workers’ rights and unions’ strength, and display a complete lack of concern for the broader labor movement or even the longer-term interests of LIUNA members.

In fact, their partnerships with the fossil fuel industry and far right political groups, namely Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), contribute to the vicious attacks on workers, unions and democracy.

Read the report (PDF).

Potential, Power and Enduring Problems: Reassembling the Anarchist Critique of Technology

Defending the ZAD (ZADistas)

By some ZADistas - Constellations, 2015

In the Autumn of 2015 the government once again announced that the building of the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes was about to begin. Since then they have been repeating their intention to evict those who live and farm together from the zad . With the combined force of the gendarme’s gas grenades and Vinci’s bulldozer’s, they want to try to finally get done with everything that is alive and thriving in the bocage “as soon as possible”.

Faced with this renewed threat, this text is a call to defend the zad everywhere, and the contagious hope it contains in these arid times. The zad as a conviction that it is possible to stop destructive projects fostered on us by those who claim to govern us. The zad as a space where different ways of inhabiting this world - fully and generously - are invented in the here and now. It is a hope rooted in histories we hold in common, enriched by the momentum of tens of thousands of rebels and relationships woven thick by time. The words that follow evoke certain decisive fragments of this adventure, they are like blazing bearings for the future.

Download PDF Here.

Offshore Wind Energy and Potential Economic Impacts in Long Island

By Staff - New York Energy Policy Institute and Stony Brook University, November 25, 2014

This study assesses the offshore wind energy and its potential economic impacts on Long Island. The study consists of four parts. It first reviews the literature on economic development benefits associated with wind energy development. We also assess the resource and market potentials of offshore wind based on four factors:

  • (a) prior estimates of offshore wind potential;
  • (b) federal leasing of submerged lands;
  • (c) state policies in support of offshore wind; and
  • (d) proposed offshore wind projects.

Existing research on the offshore wind supply chain is reviewed. These reviews are followed with an assessment of potential impacts on employment and economic activity in Long Island. This study employs JEDI model developed by National Renewable Energy Lab to determine the job creation and economic output associated with offshore wind development under two scenarios. This study reaches four major conclusions on the economic impacts of offshore wind energy on Long Island.

First, offshore wind energy can bring significant job and economic benefits to local economies. Previous studies provide varying estimates. Job creation associated with offshore wind development ranges from 7 to 42 jobs for each megawatt. It is reasonable, however, to conclude that offshore wind can generate about 20 jobs in a region with well-developed supply chain and approximately $3.3 million of new local economic development activity.

Second, states in the mid-Atlantic and northeast are rich in offshore wind resources, and have also established policies to support renewable energies, in certain cases including offshore wind.Our review of wind resources, siting and permitting restrictions, federal leasing, state policies, and market demand for offshore wind energy suggests that a Long Island-based offshore-wind industry can have a near-term addressable market of approximately 8,850 MW.

Third, the near-term local economic development opportunities are likely in foundations, blades and marine operations. Long Island is competitive in these areas because of its large, skilled labor base, experience in the aerospace industry and maritime industries.

This analysis finds that each offshore wind farm can produce hundreds of Long Island-based jobs and millions of dollars for the local economy. A single offshore wind farm (250 MW) built off Long Island coast can create 2,864 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs on Long Island or about 11 per MW, as well as approximately $645 million in local economic output, under a scenario assuming that the first offshore wind projects will have to use more service providers and equipment manufacturers outside Long Island as the Long Island supply-chain is built out. Under another scenario that assume Long Island offshore wind industry can achieve a scale of supporting 2,500 MW, more than 58 thousand FTE jobs and approximately $12.9 billion in local economic output can be expected. Our analysis suggests that offshore wind constitutes a significant opportunity for job creation and economic development on Long Island.

Read the report (PDF).

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