David Sassoon is the founder and publisher of InsideClimate News, the non-partisan and non-profit news organziation that won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2013. He has been a writer, editor and publisher for 25 years, involved with public interest issues: human rights, cultural preservation, healthcare, education and the environment. In 2003 he began researching the business case for climate action for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. BusinessWeek used that research to help it rank the Top Ten Companies of the Decade for emissions reductions and to produce a multi-part project that examined how leading U.S. corporations were responding to climate change.
As an outgrowth of his research, Sassoon founded a blog in 2007 which has grown and evolved into InsideClimate News. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of Tiny Specks in a Hurry: The Story of a Journey to Mustang.
You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
ICN is live-blogging the People's Climate March. Here's a field update from 12:20 PM EDT.
NEW YORK CITY, New York—Photos from in and around the People's Climate March, by David Sassoon.
ICN is live-blogging the People’s Climate March. Here's a field update from 9:00 AM.
NEW YORK CITY, New York—Piles of climate action signs sit on the streets of New York, hours ahead of the People's Climate March. Photo taken by David Sassoon.
Last week an oil and gas industry public relations front group called Energy in Depth published a lengthy criticism of InsideClimate News and our partner for the past year, the Center for Public Integrity, of stories we've been publishing together about toxic air emissions from unconventional gas and oil production in Texas.
We believe we've aroused the group's displeasure because our work shines an unwelcome spotlight on these toxic air emissions and the manner in which they are released, with little regulation or regard for neighboring homes and communities. As our stories point out, regulators in Texas claim that the emissions are within safe levels, even though they don't have enough data to make that assertion. Our investigations have also shown that people who believe they have been sickened by the nearby emissions are left to fend for themselves.
Energy in Depth did not dispute the evidence we presented. Instead, it published a litany of allegations charging journalistic malfeasance. Not one of the allegations touched on the substance of our reporting, which is based on interviews with more than 30 scientists and technical experts, including some who work for the industry.
In the latest show of force by opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, a group of 150 major Democratic donors sent a letter Friday to President Obama, urging him to reject the controversial application from TransCanada for permission to send more than 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.
The signatories comprise business leaders, philanthropists and celebrities—including clean energy entrepreneurs Vinod Khosla, Jigar Shah and Steve Kirsch, long-time Obama bundler Wendy Abrams and actress Blythe Danner.
A State Department official confirmed that for the first time the department will make public all the public comments received on its draft environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL pipeline.
In an email to InsideClimate News, the official, who requested anonymity, said the comments would be posted on Regulations.gov.
"Although the volume of comments will be extraordinarily high, the posting will maximize transparency," the official said. "We are working on the technical details and exact timing of posting the comments."
To Our Readers:
We thought you'd like to see this year in review of our most trafficked headlines, organized by subject area.
Wishing all of you a holiday season filled with peace and a happy new year.
From all of us at InsideClimate News.
Exclusive, Special Reports
This article was first published today as an op-ed in The New York Times.
Every day more than one million barrels of oil flow to refineries in the United States from western Canada's oil sands region. Producers hope to quadruple that amount in the next decade, arguing that oil from a friendly neighbor will deliver an extra degree of national security.
But this oil is no ordinary crude oil, and it carries with it risks that we're only beginning to understand. Its core ingredient — bitumen — is not pumped from wells but is strip-mined or boiled loose underground.
Industry insiders long considered bitumen to be a "garbage" crude. But now that the light, sweet oil we covet has become more scarce and its price has skyrocketed, bitumen has become worth the trouble to recover. At room temperature, bitumen has the consistency of peanut butter, thick enough to hold in your hands. To get it through pipelines, liquid chemicals must be added to thin it into what’s known as dilbit, short for diluted bitumen.
The 2010 pipeline spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River was far larger than the pipeline operator has reported, according to accumulating evidence and documents recently released by federal investigators.
The estimate that Enbridge Inc., the pipeline's Canadian operator, has used since a couple months after the spill is 20,082 barrels, or 843,444 gallons. The estimate used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is larger—1 million gallons—but the documented sources indicate that estimate may also be low, by a significant degree.
Almost two years after the spill, oil is still being removed from the Kalamazoo River, and 30 miles of the waterway remain closed to the public. The cleanup has been difficult because the line that ruptured was carrying diluted bitumen, or dilbit, an unconventional form of oil derived from Canada's oil sands that has defied traditional oil recovery methods.
"I would think Enbridge could sharpen their pencil and come up with a better number," said Carl Weimer, Executive Director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, an industry watchdog group. "I am always suspicious when the original number sticks around so long, because penalties for Clean Water Act violations are based on how much goes into the water."