Judith Lewis has an excellent post on the Clean Water Act cases headed to the Supreme Court today, including some interesting comparisons of press coverage from various regions. The nut is: In places where wetlands have been disappearing, they want federal protection. In places where they haven't yet, property rights rule the day. As usual, everyone is for "small government" until they need government help.
I took a few shots a Steven Hayward's recent piece in the Weekly Standard here. As is his wont, he replied quite courteously by email, portions of which I've pasted below the fold:
Photo: BuildingGreenIn case you have forgotten -- it's been a long week, with a holiday, hooray! -- last week's Dig This claimed that I will use my weekly soapbox here to promote house-related stuff that's affordable to the average human being. Well, today's column is aimed at the average human being that owns a TV. If you are one of these lucky folk, you too can tune in to PBS this summer for the first-of-its-kind Building Green:
Did someone actually ask this question?
As the Director of the Sierra Club's Environmental Justice program, I'm thrilled to see that Grist is doing an in-depth analysis of various poverty and environment issues across the country. It is all too easy for many Americans, even those interested in environmental issues, to forget that low income communities and people of color suffer disproportionately at the hands of corporations and are neglected by our government officials. Hurricane Katrina brought this disturbing fact into the limelight, and for awhile, Americans were painfully aware of the inequalities that pervade where we live, our access to resources, and how we're treated during a natural emergency. But as the hurricane fades from public consciousness, we can't forget those realities. Odds are that no matter where you live, there's a community living with environmental injustice nearby. No person should be condemned to living in a polluted community, and we must all work to ensure that people of color and low-income people are not disproportionately affected by pollution. We must see this work as integral to the environmental movement as a whole. Sierra Club supports environmental-justice efforts by assisting communities that deal with air pollution, mountaintop-removal mining, destruction of sacred sites, industrial facilities being built in neighborhoods, and sickness and death caused by chemical exposure. Find details on the work we are doing to support communities facing environmental injustices at our site. Thanks for all of the work everyone is doing!
I don't view climate change as a partisan issue, and I've been pleased to see it slowly shake free from that calicified status. It's too important to simply serve as ammunition in the ongoing partisan wars. But perhaps not everyone shares that perspective. I've exchanged emails with Steve Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute and he seems like a straight shooter. But he comes close to going off the rails in his big climate-change story in the Weekly Standard. It begins with a survey of the rising profile of global warming, a growing list of bipartisan activists, and a description of the many increasingly confident, hair-raising climate-change stories in the mainstream media. Out of this he somehow conjures "a sense of political desperation among climate change alarmists, as the world slowly turns against them." Hm? If this is down, then I been down so long it feels like up to me. To his credit, he isn't stoking the denialist fires on the right. He acknowledges:
The moment we've all been waiting for has arrived. The Roberts Court, with freshly added Justice Alito, will hear two cases this week on the Clean Water Act. The two new justices will have their first chance to grapple with the Constitution's Commerce Clause, upon which much federal environmental law rests, from the highest bench in the land.
I've tried a few times to argue that "foreign oil" is a bit of a red herring. The problem is oil, full stop. Today my argument finds support from, of all places, Dilbert. (hat tip: Corey) Update [2006-2-19 17:12:48 by David Roberts]: Hm, the folks over at Oil Drum take a rather dim view of this comic. Just a couple of comments: It seems like a common sentiment that if there were enough Dilberts buying hybrids to actually reduce U.S. oil demand, the price of oil would fall, foreign despots would get less money, and Dilbert would be vindicated. But the basic oil story is one of leveling-off-and-declining supply, coupled with inexorably rising demand. Billions of people in China and India are having their standard of living rapidly raised. Moderate reductions in U.S. demand seem woefully insufficient to offset this rising tide of demand. Rising oil prices seem inevitable absent a truly historic -- and truly unlikely -- commitment by the U.S. to radically curtail its demand, and possibly even then. So to the extent that oil money funds terrorists, it seems likely terrorists will have ample funding for the foreseeable future. In that, Dogbert is correct. My own view is that the "foreign oil" motivation articulated by Dilbert is rather naive, for the simple reason -- voiced by Dogbert -- that we can't pick and choose where we get oil, or who ultimately gets our oil money. If you participate in the world oil economy, you participate in the world oil economy; you don't get to do it daintily, or in some targeted way that's in line with your values. But there are good reasons to reduce U.S. oil use, period. Aside from all the environmental benefits, we would reduce our vulnerability to geopolitical manipulation and arguably provide an enormous stimulus to the economy. I attributed both halves of my view to the cartoon, but re-reading it, I suppose I may have been projecting the latter half. Scott Adams (the author) may simply be arguing that it's pointless to reduce oil use at all (and not just for Dilbert's stated reasons). That would indeed be monumentally stupid. Yes I'm droning on and on about a cartoon, but it's Sunday evening and the kids are napping. What else am I gonna do?
Wangari Maathai will be speaking in Seattle at Benaroya Hall on Friday, March 17, 2006 at 8:00 pm as part of Foolproof's American Voices series. More information here.