Don’t Let the Door Hit You …

Interior Secretary Gale Norton resigns Gale Norton, secretary of the Department of Interior, announced today that she will resign her position, effective at the end of the month. “Now I feel it is time for me to leave this mountain you gave me to climb,” she wrote in her resignation letter to President Bush, “catch my breath, then set my sights on new goals to achieve in the private sector.” The private sector should welcome her with open arms: In her tendentious career at Interior, Norton stripped protection from wilderness areas, pushed for more logging, advocated increased oil and gas …

Gale Norton resigns

The Denver Post, Associated Press, and other news services are reporting that Gale Norton is stepping down after five years at the helm of the Department of the Interior. Norton's taking her leave to "catch my breath, then set my sights on new goals to achieve in the private sector," according her letter to President Bush. While primly notes that her "name came up" in connection with the Jack Abramoff inquiry, ThinkProgress is more assertive. Under the headline "Another Abramoff Casualty?" TP notes that Norton received $50,000 from the defrocked lobbyist, who also channeled half a million dollars to her former aide Italia Federici to gain access to Norton and another Interior top official. Whatever the reason or not-reason, Norton is leaving the Bush cabinet without having achieved her goal of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. Update [2006-3-10 12:7:8 by Emily Gertz]: The folks at ThinkProgress elided the specifics slightly in the post I linked to above (although they're clearer about them elsewhere on the site). According to, this $50K from the Meskwakis Tribe of Iowa actually went to a Norton-founded group, the greenwashy Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy ... as did many thousands more from other tribes that employed Abramoff. CREA's president? Italia Federici.

Will you change your life to save the planet?

EcoBrits have begun a "Click for the Climate" campaign, asking the U.K. public to make a small lifestyle change in honor of National Science Week (March 10-19). Apparently, "Prime Minister Tony Blair will be turning down his thermostat, world record holder Colin Jackson will be taking the train, and Sir David Attenborough will be unplugging his mobile charger." Wo0t! The BBC has set up a "Have Your Say" forum on the campaign, asking readers to leave comments on how they plan to change their lifestyle -- and the results are pretty amusing: "How about increasing death, take away all medication, and get rid of all people over the age of 60?" Ha! I'm more interested, though, to find out what all you Gristmill readers think. What will you do to reduce carbon dioxide emissions? Will you make a change to your lifestyle? Do you already try to limit your personal effect on the environment? What can you personally do to limit climate change? Or do you think you can't make any difference anyway? Leave your thoughts in comments.

TV for treehuggers

Treehugger TV has arrived

We've all encountered comments like "television rots your brain." Generally speaking, I don't believe technology is inherently bad. What we should evaluate is its application and use, not technology itself. Which is why I advocate that enviros utilize traditional and emerging media to their advantage instead of abandoning it altogether. With television, I think most of us would agree that environmental issues and innovative green products and ideas do not get the coverage they deserve. Which is why I'm very interested in projects like Current TV, where you can help make television by creating your own news and/or helping to decide what gets aired. So, I'm excited to see that our friends over at Treehugger have launched Treehugger TV, which plans to feature a new video each week. So far, they have two: 01: Trike TaxiThe men from Trike Taxi take us through their plans for a eco-friendly electric powered pedicab. 02: SwaporamaramaSwaporamarama developer Wendy Tremayne discusses the community event she has been organizing since 2002. An alternative to knee jerk consumerism, 'The Swap' is a creative happening that bonds people, fashion and ideas. Good luck guys -- I look forward to future episodes.

Kelley Stoltz and renewable energy

The first ever Official Gristmill Music Recommendation

I downloaded an album several weeks ago and it's been growing on me ever since: Below the Branches, by Kelley Stoltz (Sub Pop). Randomly, a few days ago, I received a press release (one of dozens I get each day), and what should it say, but: The Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), together with the Green-e program of the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) announced today that recording artist Kelley Stoltz's newest album, titled Below the Branches, is the first album to incorporate the Green-e label on its product packaging. The logo explains to consumers that the album was recorded using 100-percent renewable energy. Well I'll be damned! I wouldn't do this if it were merely a good album, or if it were merely created with renewable energy, but the combination adds up to the very first Official Gristmill Music Recommendation: Below the Branches, by Kelley Stoltz. Buy it. And tell 'em Gristmill sent you.

If we don’t look, maybe it will all just go away …

From DailyKos, a cite to an AP story about budget cuts imperiling the satellites that are currently used to study global warming. That's one way to deal with the recent uptick in news stories about government inaction in the face of a clear catastrophic threat ...

Public support for renewables

Both Jeff and Navin bring word of a survey commissioned by 25x25, a coalition aiming to have 25% of America's energy come from renewable sources by 2025. Poaching from Navin, here's what the survey found: * Americans don't believe that there is an energy crisis, but they do believe we have a serious problem; it's just not the level of a crisis in the public's mind. * 98% of Americans believe the overall goal of getting 25% of our energy from renewables is important (74% very important) * 90% believe the goal is achievable * 88% support federal incentives to achieve the goal and 92% favor government mandates. * Energy ranked at the top of Americans concerns along with health care, security and education * the public believes that special-interests, such as the oil and gas industry, are the primary obstacle to achieving the goal * national security is the best way of selling the goal. These are pretty amazing numbers. Just as we saw with last week's gas-tax poll, the public sentiment is there. It's just waiting for the right public figure to come along and crystallize and direct it. Navin also has more details on the recent 25x25 conference.

Crowley on Crichton

Michael Crowly has a rollicking good piece on Michael Crichton today in The New Republic (not sure whether it's behind a sub wall). It starts like this ... She took a sip of red wine, then set the glass down on the bedside table. Unceremoniously, she pulled her top over her head and dropped her skirt. She was wearing nothing beneath. Still in her high heels, she walked toward him. ... She was so passionate she seemed almost angry, and her beauty, the physical perfection of her dark body, intimidated him, but not for long. --State of Fear by Michael Crichton It may be hard to fathom that someone capable of writing the above passage is also capable of discovering the hidden truth about global warming that has eluded the world's leading scientists. ... and just gets better. It goes badly wrong, of course, in failing to cite my review of Crichton's book, but otherwise it perfectly captures the anti-elitism that has, ironically, vaulted both Crichton and Bush into the elite.

Wolf millennium

New wolf numbers released this afternoon from U.S. Fish and Wildlife: Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming now host an estimated 1,020 wolves, a stunning 21 percent increase in just a single year. Since reintroduction in the mid-1990s, gray wolf numbers have grown at an astonishing pace, faster even than the most optimistic prognostications. Idaho continues to shelter more wolves than any other state in the West, with about half the total. The rest are split almost evenly between Montana and Wyoming.

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