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Notable Reporting and Solutions

With the UN Climate Action Summit and General Assembly meetings taking up international media attention this week, oil and gas giants are feeling the heat for their unparalleled carbon emissions — and planting investments in the US government lobbying in order to maintain their control over the energy industry, economy and policy.

So I’ll start today’s newsletter with a couple of analyses of how the oil and gas industry is trying (and still succeeding) to exert its influence, particularly as more groups grow critical of the industry’s excess. First up, the New York Times explores oil and gas’s public defense of their actions at a forum as the climate action summit occurred. (And let’s not forget that the New York Times nearly sponsored a conference called Oil and Money before backing down because of public pressure).

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It’s not only a stubbornly anti-conservationist perspective that prevents many senators — including Democrats — from investing in adaptation and mitigation. Sludge finds that multiple senators have significant sums invested in fossil fuel companies.

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OpenSecrets further unpacks the absurd spending by fossil fuel moguls to demolish climate change concerns. Even as environment groups are pumping more than $100 million on lobbying in 2018, they’re deeply outnumbered by energy lobbying efforts.

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Moving on for now… Shortly after former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie served as chair of a Trump administration commission on opioids and addiction, the official found his way into yet another conflict of interest, this time accepting a lucrative consulting contract with a company that markets non-opioid painkillers.

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To gain good graces for the $7.8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, lobbyists unloaded more than $109 million to ensure access and permission to develop through major preserved areas, including the Appalachian Trail.

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There’s plenty of media spotlight on President Trump’s attempt to get dirt on Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, but this CNN article does a good job exploring just how intertwined the Trump administration and the Ukraine government are.

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A federal judge delivered a second blow to the Justice Department’s attempt to crack down on violations of foreign agent laws, this time ruling that there was not sufficient evidence that an adviser to the Trump administration transition was knowingly working as an operative to the Turkish government.

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In seeking a replacement for the national Wildlife Services chair, President Trump recruited a former Interior Department official who has worked for agrochemical giant Monsanto and holds close ties to Westlands Water District, a political operation which works to unravel regulations in the Endangered Species Act.

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In case you need a refresher, Axios sums up where the 2020 Democratic nominee candidates stand on Medicare For All, or whether they are simply interested in expanding the existing programs.

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Pressure from ProPublica investigation — which look into Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s lawsuits against patients who can’t afford bills — has pushed the nonprofit health system to erase debts owed by more than 6,500 patients. 

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Spotlight on Local Journalism

A coalition of billionaires profiting off the fracking industry are investing millions in legislative races across Texas in order to promote a far-right, anti-LGBTQ and anti-women’s health agenda. And the Intercept found that the group has support from universities, state pension funds and cultural organizations.

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West Virginia Governor Jim Justice finds his coal companies tied up in a string of lawsuits, charging the governor’s enterprises more than $35 million for contract liabilities and health and safety issues.

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North Dakota officials are starting to wonder why the state’s Ethics Commission has not been able to answer questions about lawmaker actions or its abilities to pursue those concerns, sparking a conversation on how to restore transparency in the state government.

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