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Energy Bill Conference Cliff Notes --109th Congress Edition

A rundown of the big issues facing the House-Senate energy bill conference committee

President Bush has challenged the congressional leadership to get energy legislation to his desk by the August recess. To do that, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) -- chair of both the House Energy and Commerce committee and the 109th Congress edition of the energy conference committee -- has set out an ambitious schedule, hoping to get a conference report to the House and Senate in time. Look out for politicos sporting slings as the arm-twisting starts this week. To help you keep track, here's the Cliff Notes version of the marquee (and not-so-marquee) issues confronting the conferees. MTBE: In high doses, …

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Hands off the car and back away slowly ...

88 percent of Americans would rather give up email than car

Speaking of Americans never, ever, ever giving up their cars: 88 percent, if forced to ditch either their vehicle or their email/instant messaging, would forgo internet communications in favor of wheels, according to a recent survey. And 86 percent would rather abandon their cell phone than their car. Yet more evidence of how out of touch I am with the masses of real red-blooded Americans. You can have my Honda, but keep your damn paws off the iBook.

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Jamie Rappaport Clark of Defenders of Wildlife answers questions

Jamie Rappaport Clark. With what environmental organization are you affiliated? I'm the executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife. What does your organization do? We work to protect native plants and animals and their habitat. Our work takes us all across the U.S. -- from the halls of Capitol Hill to the mountains and plains of the West, as well as internationally, with a focus on Canada and Mexico. What are you working on at the moment? Right now, we are focused on protecting the Endangered Species Act from those who would weaken its protections. The ESA is one of …

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Seafood, see food travel

‘Domestic’ seafood sent abroad for processing.

Globalization in action: Some locally-caught seafood is now being shipped to China for processing and then back to the Northwest for sale. This saves on labor costs -- labor is a fifth to a tenth as costly in China as it is here -- but massively increases the amount of energy consumed. For the most part, I prefer to buy food that's grown or caught locally. But sending locally-caught seafood on an 8,000 mile journey in search of cheap labor definitely strains the definition of "local". But as long as international markets remain open, transportation remains cheap, and disparities in …

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Barton blowback

Rep. Barton got more than he bargained for when he started bullying climate scientists.

The big news today is the explosion of the Barton story into the major newspapers. The weekend brought several interesting developments Most salaciously, and the reason the big papers perked up their ears: Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Science Committee, sent a letter to Barton. It was not friendly. It begins this way ... I am writing to express my strenuous objections to what I see as the misguided and illegitimate investigation you have launched concerning Dr. Michael Mann, his co-authors and sponsors. ... and continues in the same vein, ripping Barton a new one for trampling …

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Ooh, shiny

Cars: they’re not just for driving anymore

There's nothing green about the in-car gizmos featured in this MSNBC piece. Unless you consider the underlying message: Americans are never, ever, ever, not ever, going to give up their cars. Why would you, when espresso and a toilet are within reach? Imagine the possibilities.

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Spies Like Us

FBI terrorism unit investigating doings of peaceful green groups FBI agents working on behalf of the bureau's counterterrorism unit have been gathering information on nonviolent environmental, civil-rights, and peace organizations for the past several years, according to Justice Department documents revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The documents reveal that the FBI has amassed thousands of pages of records on the activities of groups like Greenpeace and the American Civil Liberties Union. The feds claim they're just trying to prevent violence at political demonstrations, not, you know, stifle free speech or free assembly or anything like …

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Get your (hybrid) motor runnin’

The New York Times reports this morning on the 2005 Honda Accord Hybrid. Two points of note: The Times cites Consumer Reports, which found actual on-the-road efficiency to be just 25 mpg for the Accord hybrid. The E.P.A. figures show a larger benefit for the hybrid, but the agency's fuel economy figures are considered by many to be inaccurate because they do not reflect the way cars are actually driven. The EPA figures are 29/37 mpg city/highway for an automatic transmission Accord hybrid. That's about a 15 percent jump in fuel efficiency if you drive like the EPA thinks you …

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Outmoded lifestyles

Farming in an age of global labor and developing world poverty.

I ran into Andy Brett scavenging for material over on Biopolitical's blog not too long ago. I had beaten him to the punch on this one and he generously conceded the topic to me. I then went on vacation and am just now getting around to finishing it. Nature (which I subscribe to but have not read yet) published essays from a number of African leaders on the topic of the now-completed G8 summit. One of the contributors, Anthony Nyong from Nigeria, had this to say: Poverty is a major cause of environmental degradation and causes people to live unsustainably. …

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The big green apple

NYC takes to hybrids for (some of ) its taxi fleet

Just in case you missed it, New York City is going to start using hybrids as taxis. NYC also has a plethora of hybrid buses. I caught one of these last winter and didn't even notice a difference until it pulled away and I saw the hybrid label on the side.

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