Tom's great post reminded me of this opinion piece by Tamar Haspel in yesterday's Washington Post. Having spent a fair amount of my childhood on my godfather's cattle ranch in central Texas, which because of his penny-wise ways was practically organic before organic was cool, I have a strong affection for farms, farmers, ranches, ranchers, and a good steak. Luckily for me, my part of Washington, D.C., has readily accessible organic meat and vegetables from farms in the region, so sign me up as a "farmivore." Anybody else want to join me?
With July 4th nearly here and all the Declarations of Energy Indpendence out there, it is time to ponder what American leaders of the past would have to say about energy and environmental issues confronting the nation today. Perhaps they would like energy judged not by the color of money, but by the content of its carbon? Or maybe they would challenge us to ask not what our country could do for our cars, but what cars we could drive for our country? Get your creative juices flowing and leave your adaptations in the comments. Here's what I think Lincoln might say:
Today the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case filed by 12 states against the Environemental Protection Agency for failing to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act. This case has already sparked controversy and will be closely scrutinized when it is finally argued this October. What the Supremes will decide in a nutshell: Is CO2 "life" or a "pollutant"? Their recent Clean Water Act ruling is not giving me much cause for hope. As the Washington Post editorial said today: The bloc favoring a harder-line approach to environmental enforcement could be among the more dangerous features of the new Roberts Court.
In February, the Roberts Supreme Court heard two cases on the Clean Water Act. Today they ruled 5-4 to void the decisions against two Michigan landowners. The score? Developers 1, Environment 0. I don't know the full details of the opinions or their repercussions yet. It looks like it wasn't a complete victory for the developers, but still bad news for protecting wetlands. Here's a link from the Community Rights Counsel on what's at stake in one of the cases. Update [2006-6-19 13:5:40 by Ana Unruh Cohen]: This Forbes story has more.
We all know about climate skeptics getting funding from corporate entities with an interest in preventing the U.S. from taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But did you know they are influencing the courts as well? Check out Eric Schaeffer's piece from Sunday's Washington Post to learn the sad truth. And to learn more about the case in question and why the Supreme Court should take it up, read this piece (PDF) by two smart lawyers, Jennifer Bradley and Timothy J. Dowling, at the Community Rights Counsel.
Who would have thought my sleepy little home town of Corpus Christi and nearby Padre Island would be in the news so much this year. First dead-eye Dick Cheney shoots his friend in the face at a ranch nearby, and the victim is whisked to our local hospital. Now the largest wind farm in the U.S. is slated for waters a little ways down the coast. (This picture showing the location of the wind farm even includes the town of Armstrong, near the Armstrong Ranch where the hunting of quail and shooting of friends took place!) So as you might guess, the news of the new wind farm caught my attention.
Two articles in the Washington Post jumped out at me this morning. Neither is explicitly "green," but both have important environmental implications. The first, "Insurers Retreat from Coasts, Katrina Losses May Force More Costs on Taxpayers," was front-page, above the fold -- even in my waffle-deprived state I couldn't miss it. What the story missed was any mention of the idea that perhaps the role of governments -- local, state, and national -- was not as an insurance backstop for development exposed to high risk of natural catastrophes, but as preventer of such development in the first place. Insurance policy is not my forte, and after reading the article I can't say which competing proposal would be better, but I'm sure a better policy than either would be preventing development in some these areas. Better policy, for sure, but more difficult politics ... And as Michael Grunwald makes clear in his "Pork by Any Other Name," in this day and age politics beats policy every time. To quote him, "Congress often seems to have devolved into a policy-free zone, where pork not only greases the wheels of legislation, but is the very purpose of legislation."
Turns out CSPAN2 will be carrying our Climate & Culture panel live on Thursday at 12:30 pm EDT. Tune in or watch it here. It's not Vanity Fair, but it's a start ...
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Energy Independence today. Amory Lovins was one of the four witnesses, and his testimony (pdf alert) is worth a read -- even the footnotes.