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How natural gas poisoned a poor Alabama town

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It’s been going on for decades — poor towns in the Deep South, often with a predominantly black population — getting dumped on, whether it’s by Big Oil or by chemical plants or by toxic-waste disposal firms. Many of my earliest cases as an environmental lawyer were in these off-the-beaten track places such as Brookhaven, Mississippi or Martha, Kentucky, where oil companies...

Climate breakthrough is another reminder of the stakes in November

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With all of the crazy things that have happened — or are happening right now — in the 2016 presidential race, it’s easy to lose track of the issues that really matter. The non-stop flow of groping and assault allegations swirling around Republican Donald Trump, or the hacked emails of aides to Democrat Hillary Clinton, are sensational stories that tend to drown out any serious...

Giant gasoline leak in South more proof of pipeline vulnerability

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Transporting fossil fuels across North America has become the hot-button environmental issue of the 2010s, and understandably so. Big Oil’s technologies for sucking oil from locations that were once unreachable — like the Bakken oil field in North Dakota or the Canadian tar sands — may be environmentally flawed, but they still remain light years ahead of our mid-20th Century...

Once again, California leads the way on climate change

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Two very different approaches are emerging when it comes to energy policy in this country: One that looks boldly toward the future, and one that beckons backwards to the dirty, polluted past. We can see the second approach on display in places such as North Dakota or the Canadian tar sands, where large, politically connected consortia of Big Oil giants are racing to exact as much fossil fuel from...

The long hot summer…in Alaska

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Once every few weeks or so, it’s a good idea to remind yourself that man-made global warming isn’t just some abstract idea supported by nearly 100 percent of the world’s climate scientists (even if the idea is, of course, supported by nearly 100 percent of the world’s climate scientists.) The reality is that all over the world, in many different ways, climate change is...

Oil spills are good for the economy, oil industry says

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It’s been six long years since the BP oil spill — but the outrage over what happened in April 2010 out in the Gulf feels pretty fresh. A lot of good people suffered lasting scars from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. I’m thinking about all of the maritime workers who offered to work long, hot hours cleaning up the oily gunk — only to then suffer health problems such as...

The Brexit vote was also bad news for the environment

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Most Americans weren’t really paying close attention in recent weeks during the run-up to Great Britain’s referendum vote on leaving the European Union — the so-called “Brexit.” Maybe that was because all of the polling experts (yes, the same folks who told us in 2015 that Donald Trump would never win the Republican presidential nomination) insisted that British...

“From the air, you would have thought you were in the Deepwater Horizon spill”

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Outside of the Gulf region, there hasn’t been a ton of publicity about Shell’s pipeline leak and oil spill off the coast of Louisiana that was revealed late last week. Maybe that’s the Deepwater Horizon Effect, since just six years after more than 4 million barrels of crude spewed into the Gulf, 88,000 gallons may sound like the proverbial drop in the bucket. The reality is very...

Just what the Gulf didn’t need: A new oil spill

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If there’s anything that the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t need, it’s one more drop of crude oil pollution. Even though we just marked the grim 6th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the region is still feeling the impacts: Diminished wetlands with marshes still contaminated by crude oil, vital sea species — including a lot of the seafood that you might normally...

The day climate change came to haunt tar sands country

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The scenes that have been coming from Alberta, Canada, over the past week are truly tragic, and horrifying. Massive wildfires, whipped by high winds, have turned the area around Fort McMurray — heavily populated with energy workers in recent years — into a hellscape of towering flames and smoke. Some 245,000 acres of land have been burned, and firefighters aren’t anywhere close...

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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