Diesel pollution tied directly to heart damage. Also GM’s pickup trucks emit NOx pollutants at 2 to 5 times levels legally allowed in the US

GM’s Duramax-equipped pickup trucks emit NOx pollutants at levels 2 to 5 times higher than is legally allowed in the US, and that these vehicles achieve this through the use of at least 3 illegal “defeat devices.”  “The proposed class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Detroit on behalf of people who own or lease more than 705,000 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks fitted with ‘Duramax’ engines from 2011 to 2016 model years. The lawsuit seeks remedies including possible refunds or restitution for lost vehicle value, plus punitive damages. It adds to legal problems for Detroit-based GM, which has already paid about $2.5 billion in penalties and settlements over faulty ignition switches linked to 124 deaths. “The GM lawsuit was filed by several law firms, including Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which helped reach multibillion-dollar settlements with VW on behalf of drivers and dealers. The case is Fenner et al v General Motors LLC et al, US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, No. 17-11661.”  The named plaintiffs are Andrei Fenner of Mountain View, California and Joshua Herman of Sulphur, Louisiana. They said they would not have bought their respective 2011 Sierra and 2016 Silverado trucks, or would have paid less for them, had they known about the alleged rigging.” This news means that GM is now included amongst a large group of auto manufacturers which have been accused of (and/or plead guilty to) defrauding regulators with regards to diesel vehicle emissions testing. This group includes Volkswagen, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), Fiat-Chrysler, Renault, and Peugeot.

Diesel pollution tied directly to heart damage. “There is strong evidence that particulate matter (PM) emitted mainly from diesel road vehicles is associated with increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and death,” states lead author Dr. Nay Aung, a cardiologist and Wellcome Trust research fellow at William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary University of London, UK. “This appears to be driven by an inflammatory response — inhalation of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) causes localised inflammation of the lungs followed by a more systemic inflammation affecting the whole body.”  Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging was conducted to measure left ventricular volume (structure) and left ventricular ejection fraction (function). Annual average exposure to PM 2.5 was calculated based on participants’ home address.  “The association between PM 2.5 exposure and heart structure and function was estimated using multivariable linear regression, a form of statistical modelling which adjusts for potential factors that could influence the relationship such as age, gender, diabetes, and blood pressure.  The investigators found linear relationships between ambient PM 2.5 level and heart structure and function. Every 5 µg/m3 increase in exposure was associated with a 4-8% increase in left ventricular volume and a 2% decrease in left ventricular ejection fraction.”  So it’s a significant association, in other words.  As explained by Dr. Aung: “We found that as PM 2.5 exposure rises, the larger the heart gets and the worse it performs. Both of these measures are associated with increased morbidity and mortality from heart disease.”  As regards the mechanisms involved, Dr. Aung simply commented that exposure to particulate matter air pollution results in systemic inflammation, vasoconstriction, and heightened blood pressure levels — all of which can increase the pressure in the heart, and result in enlargement (in order to deal with the overload), and thus a reduction in contractile efficiency.  Dr. Aung continued: “We found that the average exposure to PM 2.5 in the UK is about 10 µg/m3 in our study. This is way below the European target of less than 25 µg/m3 and yet we are still seeing these harmful effects. This suggests that the current target level is not safe and should be lowered.”  That’s a very interesting point to make. Much recent research has seemed to expose the fact that “safe” air pollution limits seem to in actual practice be nothing of the sort — there are clearly very negative effects on human health and cognition occurring even with what seem, to conventional knowledge, to be minimal levels of exposure.Dr. Aung concluded: “Our results suggest that PM 2.5 is linked with negative changes in the heart structure and function that are associated with poor outcomes. Reducing PM 2.5 emission should be an urgent public health priority and the worst offenders such as diesel vehicles should be addressed with policy measures.

 A decarbonization roadmap recently published in Science outlines decadal targets that put into perspective the monumental progress we need to make to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and keep warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F). The authors detail specific measures and incentives for the energy and transport sectors, but the agriculture and forestry sector, the third major component of the roadmap, is offered comparatively few concrete actions

 South Korea will be halting operations at 8 of its oldest coal-fired power plants in June and will permanently close them within his presidency which ends in May 2022 to reduce air pollution.  These are about 10% of Korea’s coal fired electricity.

Latin America accelerating installation of wind energy.  Mexico has implemented a long-term series of power auctions which will support the country’s target of 35% renewable energy. Argentina has set itself a target of sourcing 20% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025, while Chile, as part of its own 20%/2025 target, connected 498 MW worth of wind power in 2016 and conducted a major multi-technology auction that covers its long-term demand from 2021.

Fossil Fuel Groups Attempt To Flee Our Children’s Trust Lawsuit – May 31st, 2017 by Steve Hanley, Source: Think Progress

Once the fossil fuel interests stuck their foot into the legal thicket, they found themselves getting drawn deeper and deeper into the web of lies and deceit they themselves had created to promote their unhealthy business practices.  One of the most important parts of litigation is what is called the “discovery phase.” Under the federal rules of civil procedure, all the parties are entitled to ask written questions to each other, demand the admission of certain facts, and conduct oral interrogations known as depositions. The purpose of discovery is to narrow the scope of the issues in dispute and encourage parties to compromise.  The plaintiffs filed their written questions to the defendants, who had until May 25 to file their answers with the court.  They didn’t. Instead, API, NAM, and AFPM all filed motions asking to be let out of the case.

“API and its members will not come clean on the facts of climate change because they know it exposes them to liability for the damage they too have caused to the global climate system,” Julia Olson, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and executive director of Our Children’s Trust, said in a statement. “After these youths sued the government, the trade associations pleaded their members’ interests would be destroyed if they weren’t allowed to be in the case, but now they are running for the hills. Now, they’ve decided they’re better off being on the sidelines than subjecting themselves to discovery.”

“API masterminded the infamous 1998 ‘roadmap’ memo that outlined a plan to cultivate purportedly independent scientists as climate disinformers, confuse the public on climate science and derail climate policies,” Kathy Mulvey, climate accountability campaign manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement. “What we know is just the tip of the melting iceberg and API is now desperately trying to keep other evidence of its dirty tricks from coming to public light. Big Oil cannot continue to hide behind trade groups — we will hold them accountable.”

These companies are smack in the middle of what may turn out to be the biggest criminal conspiracy in history. If they are forced to answer the questions posed to them, they could prove they are at the heart of the climate denial lie.

The federal rules of civil procedure give judges wide latitude to enforce them. If the court refuses to allow then to withdraw and the companies refuse to comply, contempt citations could follow. The court also has the power to force the defendants to pay any attorneys fees incurred by the plaintiffs to uncover the truth by other means.

Courts are usually disinclined to give much solace to litigants they believe are trying to manipulate them. The final chapter has yet to be written to this story, but the fossil fuel companies, through their own arrogance, now seem to be well and truly hoist on their own petard.  ExxonMobil is a member of API. Any answers it gives in this case could be used against it in the investigations being pursued by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York.

To invoke Shakespeare once again, “Oh what tangled webs we weave when first we practice to deceive.” If there is any justice in the world, the court will refuse to allow these scofflaws to withdraw from this case.