Climate Money Watchdog

Dina Rasor & Greg Williams

Climate Money Watchdog is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power with a focus on government expenditures related to climate change mitigation and environmental remediation. When the government and private organizations fail the public or silence those who report wrongdoing, we will be there as an open or anonymous place for them to help expose the corruption and maleficence. We champion reforms to achieve more effective, ethical, and accountable federal, state, and local government that safeguards constitutional principles and fiscal responsibility for climate and environmental spending. read less
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Episodes

Developing Clean Energy Solutions for the Seneca Nation - Matt Renner
Feb 2 2024
Developing Clean Energy Solutions for the Seneca Nation - Matt Renner
Matt Renner serves as Vice President of Seneca Environmental, a tribally owned and controlled Earth-healing solutions company focused on helping commercial customers achieve ambitious climate goals while supporting the long-term well-being of the Seneca Nation and other Indigenous people. His work focuses on partnership development and customer acquisition to create unprecedented collaboration and profitably accelerate climate action. Matt has worked as a nonprofit executive in clean energy, climate policy, and journalism for over a decade, focusing on the near-term social and economic impacts of climate change. He was the head of Climate Mobilization and now serves on their board of directors. He began his career as an investigative reporter and later became the Executive Director of the World Business Academy to focus on the transition to a climate-constrained economic paradigm.Matt has a BA degree in Political Science and Government from the University of California, Berkeley. Topics Discussed Include:·      How Seneca Environmental is set up and its main goals.·      Why the Seneca Nation set up a specific section to invest in clean climate change solutions.·      How Seneca Environmental made the 2023 Time100 List and what Matt has done to make Seneca Environmental unique.·      An outline of the work Renner has done for the Native American community and for corporate businesses on producing clean energy.·      Why Seneca Environmental’s business model is working for both the Native American community and corporate businesses.·      How Seneca Environmental’s model and efforts can be replicated with other tribes and businesses to help the clean energy movement going forward.Further Reading:·      The Seneca Environmental web site·      Video overview of the Seneca Nation·      Federal Tax Credits for Businesses·      Department of Energy Loan ProgramsSupport the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Problems with Q45 Tax Credits for Carbon – Paul Blackburn
Jan 26 2024
Problems with Q45 Tax Credits for Carbon – Paul Blackburn
Our guest tonight is Paul Blackburn of Pipeline Fighters’ Hub. Paul provides legal services on pipeline and renewable energy matters. He has worked on crude oil pipeline issues since 2008, and has experience in renewable energy policy and development. Paul represented nonprofit clients in the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission hearing on the Keystone XL Pipeline, and in the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission hearing on expansion of Line 67, another Enbridge pipeline. He has provided policy analysis and strategic advice on a variety of pipeline matters and authored reports on pipeline safety and oil spill response.Paul started his legal career in Washington, DC, at the law firm of Van Ness Feldman, where he assisted clients in renewable energy and coal-fired power plant development, a variety of regulatory, legislative, and litigation matters, and Native American commercial law.  After leaving private practice, he began a career in the nonprofit sector, including employment by the Sierra Club, the National Environmental Trust, and Oceana in organizing and media.  He also has experience in community wind and solar energy development.  Paul holds a B.A. in Biology from Macalester College and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.In this episode we discuss topics including:·      An overview of the Q45 Carbon sequestration tax credit program·      Who benefits from the Q45 Tax Credit Program?·      How Fossil Fuel companies take advantage of the Q45 program and use it to continue to justify producing more fossil fuel·      Problems with the reporting system for 45Q to the EPA and IRSFor more information, see:·      The Pipeline Fighters Hub web site·      The Congressional Research Service’s page on the Q45 programSupport the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Standing Up for Communities in Houston – Erandi Trevino
Aug 24 2023
Standing Up for Communities in Houston – Erandi Trevino
Our guest this episode is Erandi Trevino of Public Citizen, Houston. Erandi grew up in Houston and has been concerned about the pollution in her neighborhood since she was a young child.Before joining Public Citizen in Houston as a Climate Policy and Outreach Specialist, she was an Advocacy Fellow with the Fulbright Association in Washington, DC, where she worked on education policy, nutrition, and financial regulations. During her time in DC, Erandi also volunteered for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.Earlier in her career, Erandi assisted the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations in New York. She has a law degree from Fordham University and degrees in International Relations and Latin American studies from Seton Hall University. Following her graduation there, she received a Fulbright Grant to teach English in Belo Horizonte, Brazil where she became fluent in Portuguese.In this episode we discuss the following topics:The coalition of companies and other institutions that are partners with this new project called the HyVelocity Hub and their claims to be able to build an “ecosystem” from the existing hydrogen and pipeline industry in Houston to make clean hydrogen.HyVelocity Hub claims that they will be able use carbon capture to make “clean” hydrogen (called blue hydrogen) using existing hydrogen production plants.How credible is Houston’s Clean Hydrogen Roadmap in general?Is HyVelocity’s goal of achieving 2kg CO2 / kg of H2 is realistic?RMI currently estimates 20 kg CO2 / kg H2 with Texas’s current fossil-heavy power grid.How credible is HyVelocity’s vision “to serve disadvantaged communities by providing jobs and higher labor standards, reducing local pollution, and supporting and complying with the Justice40 initiative?Who are the powerful investors in this endeavor and how are they affecting the plans for these plants? Are they listening to local concerns or just greenwashing their environmental challenges?What is Public Citizen doing as a local activist to get some oversight on this HyVelocity Hub project?Resources:Center for Houston's FutureHouston Healthy Port Communities CoalitionEnvironmental Defense Fund - Better Hubs - Expring Decarbonizing IndustryGreater Houston Port Bureau's Project 11On Breath Partnership's "What is Port Houston's Project 11?" Erandi's Contact InformationSupport the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
How Today’s Technology Can Save Our Climate and Clean Our Air: Mark Z. Jacobson
Jul 4 2023
How Today’s Technology Can Save Our Climate and Clean Our Air: Mark Z. Jacobson
We’re excited to welcome back Mark Z. Jacobson, who joined us last year to talk about a study he co-authored called “Low-Cost Solutions to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Insecurity for 145 Countries”. He is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Atmosphere/Energy program at Stanford University, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and Precourt Institute for energy, and also the Co-Founder of The Solutions Project, 100.org and the 100% Clean, Renewable Energy movement. We've asked Mark back to see what progress the country has made with his prediction that the US and the world can change to clean energy and meet CO2 goals by only using WWS (wind, water and solar) i.e. clean non burning energy without using coal, gas, nuclear, and carbon capture. Mark released a book in February of this year, entitled No Miracles Needed: How Today’s Technology Can Save Our Climate and Clean Our Air. His book brings up more questions about the government and the some climate experts are promoting, such as carbon capture, instead of considering the potential of just using WWS. Topics covered include:How does the time taken to construct different types of power plants effect their impact  in light of the short timetable on lowering CO2 and other greenhouse gases pollution?How does the amount of waste heat  released by fossil fuel compare to that released by renewables? For example,  about 65 to 67 percent of energy in oil and coal is released as waste heat, 40 to 60 percent of natural gas energy is also waste heat, 74 percent of biomass is waste heat and 65 percent of the energy in uranium is waste heat.According to Jacobson, “By 2021, the cost of a system consisting of wind, solar, and batteries was already less than that consisting of natural gas. For example, even in 2019, a Florida utility replaced two natural gas plants with a combined solar-battery system because of the lower cost of the later.” How do economics affect transition to renewable energy sources? What are the best and quickest energy source for commercial and military planes and cargo ships?Is the U.S. grid ready for 100 percent clean electricity?What has been the reaction to Jacobson's proposed  WWS solution?Support the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Introducing the Climate Money Watchdog and Climate & Capital Media Partnership - Peter McKillop
May 18 2023
Introducing the Climate Money Watchdog and Climate & Capital Media Partnership - Peter McKillop
In this episode we welcome Peter McKillop, the founder and CEO of our new partner, Climate & Capital Media.Peter is the founder of Climate & Capital Media. Climate & Capital Media is a mission-driven information platform exploring the business and finance of climate change.Climate & Capital delivers original reporting, intelligence and insight from our global network of journalists, researchers, and investors with a focus on climate-related businesses, technology, and public policy, particularly for the emerging generation of economic leaders who will shape tomorrow’s global agenda.Prior to Climate & Capital, Peter McKillop was a Managing Director at BlackRock, where he was responsible for leading the firm’s strategic communications and messaging for its iShares ETF and Indexing business. He has also held senior communication leadership positions at J.P. Morgan, KKR, UBS, and Bank of America. Before entering the financial communications field, Peter was a senior correspondent and bureau chief for Newsweek in New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.Our discussion ranges across the following topics, among others:·      Why it’s especially important and vital to have good oversight over the hundreds of billions of dollars of climate money about to be spent?·      Our goals for this new oversight collaboration between Climate Money Watchdog and Climate & Capital Media·      How the climate community will react to the idea of needing oversight unemployment money and the need to police itself.·      What we should do as climate money watchers when the climate deniers try to use spending failure and scandals to discredit all climate work.·      How important sources, especially inside sources within the climate effort are to finding out what is going wrong·      Why we are concerned about whistleblowers in the past who have dumped un-vetted, un-redacted into the public arena. How practices of people like Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning can hurt the communities they’re trying to help.·      As a long-time journalists, what concerns us now about the state of journalism, it's sustainability, and its ability to do oversight.Support the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Retiring 90% of our Coal Power Plants would Save Money - Michelle Solomon, Energy Innovation
Mar 2 2023
Retiring 90% of our Coal Power Plants would Save Money - Michelle Solomon, Energy Innovation
Michelle Solomon is a Senior Policy Analyst in the Electricity program at Energy Innovation, working to accelerate the transition to a clean, affordable, and equitable electricity sector in the United States. We’ve invited her to talk about their recent publication of the third edition of their report - Coal Cost Crossover – which argues that over 90% of coal-fired power plants in the U.S. could be replaced by renewable energy generation at a net cost savings.Prior to joining Energy Innovation, Michelle earned her Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Stanford University, where she studied nanoparticles with applications in purifying chemicals for use in medicine and the environment. During graduate school, she also pursued an interest in energy policy and spent a summer working on electric vehicle policy at the California Energy Commission. After graduating, she transitioned full-time into policy as a Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow. As a fellow, she had the chance to work on energy and environment policy for Senator Ed Markey, focusing on a wide range of issues spanning environmental justice to electric vehicle charging.Michelle holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. from Stanford University in materials science and engineering. She also completed her B.S. in physics at Boston College.Further Reading:·      Coal Cost Crossover 3.0: Local Renewables Plus Storage Create New Opportunities for Customer Savings and Community Reinvestment·      Coal Cost Crossover Interactive data visualizationSupport the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Citizens Prevail over Venture Capitalists and Carbon Capture - Mike Eisenfeld
Jan 26 2023
Citizens Prevail over Venture Capitalists and Carbon Capture - Mike Eisenfeld
In this climate fight will Big Fossil Fuel, it is hard and rare to have a clear-cut victory. The last time we did a podcast episode with Mike on 7/12/22, his group was fighting to prevent a closing coal-based power plant in Farmington, New Mexico from reinventing itself to keep open using the questionable technology of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS). This was described a June 29, 2022 High Country News article. A company named Enchant led this effort with the backing of financial groups to force this unproven technology through to keep the highly polluting plant open. Once they could not raise enough money privately, they were trying to get federal money to keep the plant going. However, this did not work out and the activists like Mike kept pushing to stop it. Last month, Enchant abandoned its efforts. We wanted to have Mike back on the program to explain what led to the closing of this plant for good and to explore and celebrate the loss of one less coal power plant.Mike points out that this project was billed as a “demonstration project”, intended to show the potential of carbon capture and sequestration as an approach to combatting climate change. Back in December of 2021, the General Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report titled, “Carbon Capture and Storage: Actions Needed to Improve DOE Management of Demonstration Projects” which showed essentially no success among demonstration projects. Of eight projects, for which we, as taxpayers, paid $684 million, only one achieved operational status. That one plant operated for only three years, closing due to economic infeasibility.Eisenfeld questioned when DOE and companies promoting these projects will be held accountable for this poor track record. Within the aforementioned report, DOE was described as addressing this by creating a dedicated Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations. After waiting nearly a year, the Biden administration appointed David Crane, the CEO of NRG, the company in charge of Petra Nova, one of the failed carbon capture projects described in the GAO report.Climate Money Watchdog will be following up on this and other appointments relevant to environmental spending.Support the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Capturing CO2 with Paint - Steve & Beth McDaniel
Dec 22 2022
Capturing CO2 with Paint - Steve & Beth McDaniel
Dr. Steve McDaniel and Beth McDaniel, JD founded and run Reactive Surfaces, and intellectual property firm that develops and patents paints that do more than turn buildings attractive colors and protect them from the elements: They react to the atmosphere in intentional and desirable ways. They are currently in the running to win the most valuable X-Prize contest ever by creating a paint that captures CO2 from the atmosphere more simply, cheaply and scaleably than any direct air carbon technology before it.The McDaniels founded Reactive Surfaces in 2001 in response to the events of 911. They wanted to know if they could stabilize an enzyme in a coating to protect surfaces against a chemical weapons attack. This original technology is called WMDtox, and it works to decontaminate organophosphorous nerve gases virtually on contact. From there, they have developed other various functional platform technologies using non-toxic bio-based organisms, such as self-cleaning coatings and coatings that are antimicrobial and antiviral.Carbon Capture Coatings have the power to significantly reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby lessening the impact of global warming. Carbon Capture Coatings are bio-engineered such that, when exposed to sunlight, they capture and fix atmospheric carbon dioxide. These coatings support living cells capable of carrying out photosynthesis, the process by which Nature captures and fixes atmospheric CO2.Further Reading:·      Carbon Capture Coatings: Next Generation Biomimetic Coatings for Carbon Capture & Removal·      Carbon Capture Coatings: Can Paints and Coatings Save Humanity?Support the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Weathering a Hurricane in a Town Designed for Climate Change - Ryan Foelske
Dec 15 2022
Weathering a Hurricane in a Town Designed for Climate Change - Ryan Foelske
Ryan Foelske a Carbon Free Electricity Program manager at RMI (previously the Rocky Mountain Institute) decided to put his money where his mouth is by buying a home in Babcock Ranch, a community designed to both reduce human contribution to climate change and to be more resilient to the effects of climate change, especially hurricanes. He tells us about his experience weathering hurricane Ian.Prior to joining RMI, Ryan worked at Deutsche Bank and Brookfield Asset Management as a buy-side equity analyst specializing in global regulated utilities and other publicly listed infrastructure companies. He built financial models, understood and quantified risks, and sought benchmark-beating returns for investors. In addition to his company coverage duties, Ryan helped develop the modeling framework, standardized and aggregated data outputs, and worked on index construction and inclusion.As we discuss in the episode, resilience is an area of extensive funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Babcock Ranch has not received any funding under these pieces of federal legislation. Nevertheless we think its resilience measures are worth considering as background for other projects that may receive such funding in the future.For more information...Check out Babcock Ranch on Google MapsRead Ryan's account of hurricane Ian on RMI's web siteSupport the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Protecting Communities from Pollution with Alison Steele
Dec 8 2022
Protecting Communities from Pollution with Alison Steele
While pollution mitigation and control is vital to the environment, scientists are finding more and more problems for the humans that live near polluting corporate sites. Unfortunately in the name of jobs and profit, companies have produced pollution while ignoring or hiding the human health from their work, often producing what is known as "sacrifice zones" -- areas where the pollution is dangerous for people who often cannot leave. The Environmental Health Project has taken on the difficult job of using health science discern the short and long term effects of gas fracking and plastic production on local populations. On this week's podcast we welcome Alison Steele, who tells us the good, the bad and the ugly of trying to help communities protect their health from the perils of corporate practices that could affect these communities for generations.Alison L. Steele, MBA, is the Executive Director of The Environmental Health Project (EHP), a nonprofit public health organization that assists and supports residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond who believe their health has been, or could be, impacted by shale gas development and other polluting industries in the area.. Alison earned her undergraduate degree in physics from Drew University in Madison, NJ and her MBA in Sustainable Business Practices from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. As part of her graduate work, Alison studied sustainability tools and practices used by leading companies in Europe, performed consulting services for large Pittsburgh-area companies, and published research on organizational behavior techniques used to aid adoption of sustainability initiatives. Prior to starting at EHP, she led policy and education efforts at Conservation Consultants, Inc. and developed the company's flagship grassroots community engagement program, which focused on advancing home health and energy efficiency in low-income Pittsburgh neighborhoods. She joined EHP at the beginning of 2020, and since then, she and her team have been taking advantage of our increasingly virtual world to extend their reach as they work to defend public health in the face of shale gas development.Some links for further reading:Environmental Health Project (EHP) policy white paper mentioned in the episodeEHP fact sheet pageEyes on Shell, a community awareness web site focusing on the Beaver County cracker plant described in the episodeSupport the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Repurposing EV Batteries at Relyion with Dr. Surinder Singh
Nov 3 2022
Repurposing EV Batteries at Relyion with Dr. Surinder Singh
Dr. Surinder Singh’s distinguished career has focused on advancing and incubating technologies that address climate emergency with a focus on fundamentals of science, systems engineering, and business models. He is spearheading Relyion Energy Inc’s strategic business development to create second-life sustainable solutions for Lithium-ion batteries.Previously, Dr. Singh worked as Director of Engineering and Center of Excellence Leader for NICE America Research (that’s the National Institute for Clean and Low-Carbon Energy), an incubator for China Energy (CE), and a program leader at General Electric. China Energy is the world’s largest overall power producer and renewable power producer by assets. He utilizes system-level thinking to address climate change via clean energy technology developments. He has led initiatives funded by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Department of Energy, General Electric, NICE, and others on low-carbon technologies such as alternative fuel production for transportation with low greenhouse gas emissions; carbon capture and storage (CCS) including direct air capture and Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage for decarbonizing the power sector, biofuels and biochar production, fuel cells, hydrogen, and energy storage. He has led multi-million-dollar programs, developed partnerships with renowned universities and technology developers, and developed calls for proposals for funding programs. Dr. Singh is mentoring startups in Climate and Energy at Breakthrough Energy, Third Derivative/New Energy Nexus, On Deck, and STEP-TIET Venture Capital and Private Equity Principals Mentor. He has led multiple cross-functional and cross-organizational teams with chemical, mechanical, electrical, electrochemical, chemists, and material scientists backgrounds. He is a seasoned executive who has authored and co-authored 11 publications,  and holds more than 40 patents granted and pending in ClimateTech. His scientific work has been extensively cited. He is also an editor for a renowned scientific journal Sustainable Materials and Technologies. He has a Ph.D. from University of California at Riverside. He is cited in Fortune ' s “Unstoppable World’s Business Minds” and “Are Second Life EV Batteries Game Changers for Microgrid Owners and the Grid?”Support the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
The California Environmental Quality Act - Ethan Elkind
Oct 27 2022
The California Environmental Quality Act - Ethan Elkind
Ethan Elkind is the Director of the Climate Program at the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at Berkeley Law and leads the Climate Change and Business Research Initiative on behalf of the University of California at Berkeley and University of California at Los Angeles Schools of Law. He taught at the UCLA law school’s Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic and served as an environmental law research fellow. He has a background in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), climate change law, environmental justice, and other environmental law topics. In 2005, he co-founded The Nakwatsvewat Institute, Inc., a Native American nonprofit organization that provides alternative dispute resolution services and support for tribal governance, justice, and educational institutions. His book Railtown on the history of the modern Los Angeles Metro Rail system was published by University of California Press in January 2014. Ethan is also a regular host of the weekly call-in radio show “State of the Bay” on the San Francisco NPR affiliate KALW 91.7 FM, airing Monday nights at 6pm PT.This episode is focused on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which was passed at roughly the same time the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They were signed by Republican icons Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon respectively.  Mr. Elkind speaks on topics including:Successes and failures over CEQA's 40-year historyCEQA's impact on the schedule of new transmission for renewable energy initiatives.The trade-offs between public engagement and the extent to which local, county and state permitting processes can slow projects that help and hurt the environment alike.How the US has a problem with doing large projects, especially in large transportation projects and how this is described in his recent report, Getting Back on Track: Policy Solutions to Improve California Rail Transit ProjectsSupport the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!
Charles Koch, ALEC and Climate Misinformation - Elliott Negin
Aug 12 2022
Charles Koch, ALEC and Climate Misinformation - Elliott Negin
Elliott Negin, Senior Writer at the Union of Concerned Scientists.Elliott was UCS media director from 2007 through 2011 and now writes about UCS-related topics for a range of news organizations including:. A contributing writer at HuffPost from 2011 through 2017, he has also written articles and columns for Alternet, The Atlantic, Columbia Journalism Review, EcoWatch, The Hill, Live Science, Mother Earth News, The Nation, The Progressive, Roll Call, Salon, Scientific American, The Washington Post and other publications. Prior to joining UCS, Elliott was the Washington communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a foreign news editor at National Public Radio, the managing editor of American Journalism Review, and the editor of Nuclear Times and Public Citizen magazines. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.We have invited Elliott to talk about two recent articles – one on ALEC and its funding and one on the long history of Charles Koch funding climate denial and climate disinformation efforts and how this impacts the ability to fund necessary climate change.In the course of the episode, Elliott encourages listeners to learn more by reading the following works, or about the following topics:Charles Koch - Founder of Koch Industries and long-time climate change denier.The Libertarian PartyThe Cato InstituteThe Heritage Foundation2024 presidential aspirants associated with Charles Koch:Ted CruzRon DesantisMike PompeoRick ScottMike PenceResources for tracking ALEC activitiesALEC ExposedColor of ChangeCommon CauseSupport the showVisit us at climatemoneywatchdog.org!