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.

Oil execs lied to Congress

A juicy bit of breaking news from the Washington Post: A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress. ... The executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are not vulnerable to charges of perjury; committee Democrats had protested the decision by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) not to swear in the executives. But a person can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for making "any materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or representation" to Congress. Not that there ever was much, but can there be any doubt left about the provenance of Bush administration energy policy?

Scandal reaches Interior

I keep meaning to look more closely into the Abramoff scandals, particularly since they're now creeping into the Department of the Interior, where they look set to burn once-lobbyist, then-Deputy Secretary of Interior, then-lobbyist-again Steven Griles, who never received quite the full-throated demonization from green groups that he deserved. If all the ins-and-outs confuse you, Carl Pope has provided a cogent summary. It ends thusly: You read it here first -- despite the still unfolding news about Senate Majority leader Bill Frist's blind trust and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski's denial of a conflict of interest in building a "bridge to nowhere" near land her family owns -- the maze of money exchanges and influence buying at the Interior department may turn out to be the biggest financial scandals of the Bush administration. I'm guessing they lie somewhere within the as yet barely probed innards of the Department. And if my hunch proves correct, I'll bet it won't just be Indian gaming that's involved -- Alaska's oil wealth will be somewhere in the picture. Another Teapot Dome scandal appears to be brewing.

E-waste and web 2.0

Sun and Google go green by accident

Joel Makower brings word of Sun Microsystems' splashy introduction of a new energy-efficient processor that it will debut in servers by the end of the year, helping reduce the enormous power load it takes to run ginormous server farms like, say, Amazon.com's. This is very cool stuff, and long overdue -- most people aren't aware of just how energy-intensive computer technology is. I hope Sun gets some good PR points. But more interesting to me on a personal level is Sun's "thin-client" strategy.

Carnival of the Green

I was remiss in not linking to the first one of these, so: Don't miss the second Carnival of the Green.

Letting the market decide

This op-ed by Charles Krauthammer fairly captures the current conventional wisdom on energy policy: demand is rising, supply is tight, and so the answer is to decrease demand (conserve) and increase supply (drill in the Arctic Refuge and off shore). The really amusing part is that the conceit -- nay, the headline -- is "let the market decide energy policy." But then there's this: We have a unique but fleeting opportunity to permanently depress demand by locking in higher gasoline prices. Put a floor at $3. Every penny that the price goes under $3 should be recaptured in a federal gas tax so that Americans pay $3 at the pump no matter how low the world price goes. Um. Wouldn't a stiff gas tax kind of influence the market's decisions about energy policy? And there's this:

Petrol sounds

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart on the recent Senate hearings featuring oil executives: funny. (Watch the video here.) Among other things, he refers to Exxon CEO Lee Raymond as "Gassington Jowls," which I should have thought of.

Fuel Security and Consumer Choice Act

This is pretty cool:U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar today joined Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Barack Obama (D-IL) in introducing the Fuel Security and Consumer Choice Act. This bill would require all U.S. marketed vehicles to be manufactured as Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) within ten years. FFVs can use both regular gasoline and E-85 renewable fuel (motor fuel with 85 percent ethanol content). This capability would ensure access to an important alternative to foreign petroleum in the future as the nation's renewable fuels industry continues to expand rapidly. ... The bill would require 10 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. be FFVs within 18 months of passage. The requirement would increase by 10 percent for each subsequent model year resulting in all new vehicles being FFVs within ten years.

CBS fills Sunday-night hackery gap left by FOX

While Fox moves toward sanity, the rest of the news biz moves toward Fox. Exhibit A: On Sunday, while Fox is educating its viewers on global warming, CBS's 60 Minutes will be producing a breathless piece of hype on "Eco-Terror's Growing Threat." Growing according to who? Why, the FBI, of course, and far be it from a group of journalists to do anything but pass on the FBI's latest talking points. Eco-terrorists have never killed or even hurt anybody, so it's a bit tricky to try to make them look like the nation's biggest threat. Here's one way to do it: Dig up some fruitloop who says they ought to kill people. A spokesman for extreme animal rights groups believes killing humans is justified. "I think people who torture innocent beings should be stopped," says Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a California trauma surgeon. "If they won't stop when you ask them nicely, they don't stop when you demonstrate to them what they're doing is wrong, then they should be stopped using whatever means are necessary." Eco-terrorists: The Nation's Biggest Hypothetical Threat! Ask yourself this: If you put white-supremacy groups up against "eco-terror" groups and compared property damage done, lives lost or hurt, and willingness of spokespeople to say batshit crazy things on TV, who do you think would come out ahead? Why do you think the FBI is focused so intensely on one and not the other? Could it have something to do with whose interests are threatened?

"Fair and Bala ... uh, Accurate"

Fox runs non-BS documentary on global warming

Check out this hilarious article on the right-wing news site CNS News. It seems the wingnut faction is upset that Fox News is running a documentary on global warming -- and it's not even pretending the science is controversial! They're only presenting the "liberal" -- that is, scientific -- side! Worse yet, there are some actual environmentalists involved. A Fox News Channel documentary on "global warming," set to air Sunday night, provides only the liberal take on the controversial issue and was approved after environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. reportedly "dragged" Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes to a lecture by former Vice President Al Gore, "kicking and screaming." Love the scare quotes around "global warming." It seems that Laurie David got to Roger Ailes, Fox News president (as revealed in our own Amanda Griscom Little's article in Outside). Amazingly, he seems to have seen the light on warming. Even his own producer is a bit confused:

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