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Gas-price spikes burden the American economy while benefiting oil companies

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. The struggles of families and businesses over the past seven years are linked directly to high profits for oil companies due to high energy-price volatility. A new report [PDF] from the Center for American Progress (CAP) finds that families and businesses are exposed to massive price swings for the vast majority of their energy spending. CAP Senior Fellow Christian E. Weller and Special Assistant for Economic Policy Jaryn Fields explain that these large price swings for gasoline and other energy prices make it even more difficult for families, businesses, and ultimately the entire American economy …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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House GOP pays for climate disaster relief by increasing climate pollution

Eric Cantor.Photo: Talk Radio News ServiceCross-posted from the Wonk Room. In a stunningly heartless move, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) put strings on emergency relief for the victims of the killer Joplin tornado, saying that other government services would have to be cut to offset aid spending. Yesterday afternoon, the House Appropriations Committee passed an amendment by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) to add $1 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster relief fund, offset by funding reductions from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program at the Department of Energy. Instead of cutting oil subsidies …

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McCaskill defends vote to hurt sick kids by saying the League of Women Voters are ‘bad guys’

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), after a recent vote to protect coal polluters at the expense of children's health, is now attacking the League of Women Voters. The 91-year-old good-government organization is running television spots that hold McCaskill and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) accountable for voting to block enforcement of Clean Air Act rules that limit greenhouse pollution, threatening the hundreds of thousands of children with asthma in their states. Watch the McCaskill ad: Brown attacked the League of Women Voters for partisan "demagoguery." Now McCaskill is also on the attack, accusing the league of being …

Read more: Politics

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Senate Republicans filibuster to protect oil-industry subsidies — after getting gusher of oil money

Cross-posted from Think Progress. On Tuesday night, Republicans in the Senate filibustered the majority’s attempt to repeal $21 billion in subsidies for the big five oil companies -- the same companies that made over $30 billion in profits in just the first three months of 2011. While three out of four Americans believe ExxonMobil and the other oil majors should pay their fair share, instead of receiving taxpayer welfare, the oil-friendly Senate split 52 to 48 to end the subsidies. Though the majority of the Senate voted to repeal these oil tax breaks, the procedural motion required a 60-vote threshold. …

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Mississippi flood causes billions in damage, while local representatives deny climate threat

They've literally opened the floodgates.Photo: Gulf Restoration NetworkCross-posted from the Wonk Room. "Flooding along the Mississippi River has set a new water level record," according to the National Weather Service. "The massive flood churning its way down the Mississippi River will go down in history for its catastrophic, multi-billion dollar impact on the Midwestern economy." USA Today reported that "losses in Arkansas are estimated at more than $500 million, according to the state Farm Bureau. In Memphis, where the river crested Tuesday, damage was estimated at $320 million. Agricultural losses in Mississippi, including grain and catfish farms, could hit $800 million." The catastrophic flood, …

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Richard Burr introduces bill to abolish the EPA

It's just a harmless cost-cutting measure!Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. Senate Republicans have introduced legislation to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency, established 40 years ago by President Richard Nixon to give Americans clean air and water. The bill, introduced by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), would merge the EPA, which enforces environmental laws, with the Department of Energy, which manages nuclear energy and energy research, into one department. In January, Newt Gingrich proposed abolishing the EPA, and several House Republicans have supported that goal, while making numerous attempts to hamstring limits on industrial polluters. Burr's statement announcing his bill to eliminate …

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Top climate scientist on monster tornadoes: ‘It’d be irresponsible not to mention climate change’

"Climate change is present in every single meteorological event," says scientist Michael Mann.Photo: Tom VanNortwickCross-posted from the Wonk Room. Throughout human history, the climate system has been a source of life and death, the sun and rain capable of feeding our crops and bringing us comfort, or unleashing terrible devastation in wind, fire, drought, storm, and flood. Each tragedy that occurs -- such as the terrible outbreak of tornadoes and flooding storms last week in the South -- reminds us of that awesome power, which is beyond our control and at the limits of our comprehension. We have also learned that humanity …

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Barton denies any ‘medical negative’ from mercury, smog, or soot pollution

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. At a congressional hearing on Friday designed to lay the groundwork for an effort to delay critical EPA toxic pollution standards, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) claimed that reducing emissions of toxic mercury, sulfur dioxide, and soot would not bring health benefits. Though conceding he is "not a medical doctor," Barton offered the "hypothesis" that EPA estimates of the benefits of its proposed air toxics rule are "pulled out of the thin air" because there is no "medical negative" to the pollution: To actually cause poisoning or a premature death you have to get a large concentration …

Read more: Pollution

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Van Jones at Power Shift 2011: ‘While they’re stuck on stupid in D.C., your generation is rising’

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. In a passionate keynote address, green jobs leader Van Jones exhorted the 10,000 youth climate activists at the Power Shift conference in Washington, D.C., to "shift the power" and lead the clean power revolution. He argued that both parties need to be held accountable for their failures, and that activists must explain that the climate movement isn't just about "hippie power" but that it is a vision of liberty and justice for all. Van Jones had harsh words for the national political establishment. "You have to be wise enough to hold both parties to high …

Read more: Politics

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Power Shift 2011: Rebuilding the Gulf from the BP oilpocalypse

BP got a big tax refund for cleaning up its own mess.Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. More than 100 youth and community members from the Gulf Coast are travelling to Washington D.C. on Friday for Power Shift 2011 to deliver a unified message: The BP oil disaster is not over. One year after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, sending 11 men to a fiery grave, BP's crude and dispersants are still impacting the Gulf and its communities. Entire cultures and livelihoods are in peril, there is a growing health crisis, and BP's oil disaster is accelerating damage to the fragile coastal …