David Roberts

David Roberts

Energy, politics, and more

David Roberts is a staff writer for Grist. You can subscribe to his RSS feed or follow him on Twitter or email him at droberts at grist dot org, if you're into that sort of thing.

Defense bill fight brewing

This Hill article (via Tapped) is a nice summary of the current state of affairs around the defense bill. A major fight could be brewing, as Republicans consider a modified "nuclear option" and Dems consider a filibuster. The issue is fraught with political risks for Democrats. A conference report cannot be amended. Because the House has already passed the measure, the conference itself has been vitiated and the report could not be recommitted. Thus, a successful point of order against the ANWR provision would kill the bill and force Republican leaders to create a new conference committee or pass an extension beyond the current Dec. 31 expiration to keep the Pentagon operating. Under that scenario, or a successful filibuster, Democrats could leave themselves open to accusations of shutting down the Defense Department and denying money to American troops on the ground in Iraq. What is the Republican defense for this grossly anti-democratic maneuver? Republicans argued that Democrats had used similar means to achieve their ends when they held power. Just like your grade school teacher taught you.

Raincoast responds to Eric de Place

Several days ago, periodic Gristmill contributor Eric de Place of Northwest Environment Watch wrote a post assessing the Raincoast Conservation Foundation's purchase of hunting rights along a broad swath of coastal forest in British Columbia. What follows is a response from Chris Genovali, Executive Director of the Raincoast Conservation Society. ----- While the rest of the global conservation community applauded Raincoast Conservation Society's purchase of commercial trophy-hunting rights throughout a vast region of British Columbia's central coast, Eric de Place of Northwest Environment Watch (NEW) chose to produce an opportunistic hit piece targeting this cutting edge initiative. The article was extremely uninformed and exhibited a significant lack of understanding of grizzly-bear biology, as well as the ecological, political, and cultural context in which Raincoast's initiative has occurred. But it is easy for an armchair critic like de Place to take pot shots from his ivory tower "think tank" when his criticism is based on such superficial arguments.

Earth to Dover, come in, Dover

Good news: A federal judge has squashed the Dover, Penn. school board's attempt to teach "Intelligent Design" in science classes. You can read the ruling (PDF). Here's a snippet: To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions. Nice. (via Pharyngula)

Inhofe and Robertson

Chris Mooney relates an amusing exchange between Pat Robertson and James Inhofe on the 700 Club a while back. I'll just add for the record that while I cannot speak for all environmentalists, I do not worship "the creeping things, the four-legged beasts, the birds and all that." Indeed, I have no god at all -- a possibility of which Robertson and Inhofe seem incapable of even conceiving.

Stevens and the defense bill

Update [2005-12-19 14:47:12 by David Roberts]: Oops, I forgot the obvious: To try to stop this thing, please write your Senators. As forecast last week, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) managed to get Arctic Refuge drilling attached to the defense spending bill. He couldn't wrangle it into the budget reconciliation bill, so this is his last-ditch effort. He has said: Katrina will be on this [defense] bill. That's what makes the defense bill a little bit attractive because Katrina will be there. It is going to be awful hard to vote against Katrina. The levees will be paid for when we drill in ANWR. The House passed the bill in a "bleary, pre-dawn vote" this morning (they must be so proud of themselves). Now everything comes down to the vote in the Senate. Democrats have promised to filibuster the bill. "I don't have any hesitation to be a part of a filibuster," said Democrat Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. "This is a fight worth waging." This is really end-game time, folks. Below the fold, I've put some quotes from people reacting to Stevens' bid, culled from various sources (Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, news reports, etc.).

TIME person(s) of the year

Turns out Mother Nature is not, in fact, TIME's Person of the Year, as was rumored. Instead, the honor goes to Bill and Melinda Gates and ... Bono.

Meatrix 2

is coming ...

The Arctic Shuffle

One: One questioner pointed out the tepid support for ANWR from oil companies, "leading some on Wall Street to say this is more of a political issue than an energy economics issue." Another person pointed out that Norton's forecast of a million barrels a day from ANWR was "somewhat underwhelming." Two (via EE): If geologists were to decide that there were only three thimbles of oil beneath area 1002, there would still be something to be said for going down to get them, just to prove that this nation cannot be forever paralyzed by people wielding environmentalism as a cover for collectivism. Three: It's not about oil any more, it's about political power, and if they have to piss on one of the country's last untouched places to prove their wankers are bigger, they'll do it.

Arctic Refuge drilling to be attached to defense appropriations bill

Oh crap. From Congressional Quarterly: Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ted Stevens said Thursday that House and Senate appropriators have agreed to attach drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to the Defense bill in conference, though it is unclear if he can muster the 60 votes needed to end a filbuster on the legislation that the move would provoke. "We've agreed to put ANWR on it so we'll just have to wait and see what's going to happen," said Stevens, R-Alaska. "The leaders of the subcommittee on both sides have agreed. They will support it so I think it will pass." ... Stevens, a staunch supporter of energy exploration in ANWR, had outlined a gambit Wednesday to link drilling in the region to hurricane relief aid that also will likely be attached to the Defense spending measure (HR 2863) in the hope that Gulf Coast lawmakers would vote with him. Tying the measure to support for the troops makes voting to sustain a filibuster doubly hard. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., made it clear to Senate leaders earlier this week that ANWR drilling cannot pass in the House on the budget savings package, and suggested using the Defense Appropriations conference report as the alternate vehicle, according to a Senate GOP aide. ... Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who voted against the Senate budget savings package largely because of his opposition to ANWR drilling, said it would put him in a difficult position if ANWR were attached to the final Defense spending bill. "I have a clear position on ANWR. I have a clear position on supporting our troops," Coleman said. ... Some Democrats attacked Stevens' plan Thursday. "Like Ahab, certain Republicans are so dedicated to a lost cause that they have lost their reason in the process," said Rep. Ed J. Markey, D-Mass., in a statement. Markey said adding ANWR to the Defense appropriations bill would slow down the approval of funding for the troops. "Let us hope that those who captain the Senate will turn this ship around before it founders on a filibuster," Markey said.

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