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.

Rebuilding: Fubar

So how's that whole rebuilding-New-Orleans thing going? The lede of this WaPo story says it all: New Orleans can be rebuilt, or so they say. Just ask the mayor's commission. Or the governor's commission. Or, wait a bit, and see if the congressman's commission flies. The city council's commission was even unveiled with something important missing: commission members. But it was trumpeted as a commission nonetheless. As this once-flooded city is flooded anew by commissions and subcommittees and study groups, the operative question is becoming: Who the heck is in charge here? Awesome.

Mmm … sprawl …

Via kottke, a panoramic photo of suburban sprawl near San Ramon, California. Horrifying.

Helping poor people not freeze: does it work economically?

Republicans go to great lengths to avoid taxing oil companies

Recently, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to ten U.S. energy companies awash in big fat piles of cash. He asked them to voluntarily donate 10% of their recent windfall profits to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federal program that helps poor Americans pay their heating bills. (This winter, natural gas prices are expected to jump 61% in the Midwest, and heating oil nearly 30% in the Northeast.) The Bushies don't think that's a good idea :

The dominoes are falling …

AP: Vermont has become the first of several Northeastern states that are expected to adopt new rules that seek to cut emissions of greenhouse gasses from cars by improving their gas mileage. ... New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island also have been moving to adopt the new carbon-reduction rules so that they can keep pace with California. The federal clean air act allows for two sets of rules governing emissions from cars sold in the United States: the California standard and the less-strict federal standard.

Abramoff’s tentacles

From AP: Rep. Tom DeLay's staff tried to help lobbyist Jack Abramoff win access to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, an effort that succeeded after Abramoff's Indian tribe clients began funneling a quarter-million dollars to an environmental group founded by Norton. Update [2005-11-3 13:38:55 by David Roberts]: For background, see TAPPED.

Passed on without comment

From a Harris Interactive survey:GLBT consumers (51%) are significantly more interested in hybrid electric vehicles than their non-gay counterparts (34%) and feel that they are worth paying more money for.(Via BB)

Oprah, light bulbs, and global warming

Well, I still haven't managed to find a copy of the whole show (where's the bit torrent community when I need it?), but I went and flipped through Oprah's "Global Warming 101" website and watched the video of Leo DiCaprio leading a tour of a green home. It's all quite good. I'll say, echoing Chris, that Oprah deserves enormous credit for bringing this issue to her huge audience in a way they can grasp. The combination of solid (if simplified) science and sexy celebrity is just the ticket. So kudos, Oprah. That said, what really struck me is the jarring disjoint between the problem described -- a decades-long warming of the entire planet's atmosphere -- and the chipper suggestions of What You Can Do -- namely, switch out your light bulbs.

From a Sage Francis song

"I'm leaving naysayers stumped like rain forests" Gotta love hip-hop.

The World Bank and clean energy

It’s not meeting its own weak targets

In 2000, in response to worries that World Bank investments in extractive fossil-fuel projects were exacerbating poverty and degrading the environment, then-WB president James Wolfensohn conceived an independent review to investigate the legitimacy of the concerns. In 2001, he launched the review and appointed Emil Salim, former environment minister of Indonesia, to lead it. The Extractive Industries Review was completed in December 2003. The review confirmed the worst accusations of World Bank critics. Its recommendations were, at least in terms of the status quo, fairly radical, urging a substantial reduction in fossil-fuel investments and increase in renewable energy investments. In September 2004, after several delays, World Bank management issued its formal response (press release; full PDF), rejecting most of the recommendations. In particular, it elected not to cease investing in fossil-fuel extraction. To avoid unpleasant optics, management did pledge to increase investment in clean energy. Specifically, it pledged to increase such investments by 20% every fiscal year. So how's it doing with that? According to Friends of the Earth (press release; full report), not so well: The report finds that the World Bank, despite being tapped by the G8 countries to develop a framework for financing renewable energy sources, fell far short of its own target for increasing financial support for renewable energy and energy efficiency. The Bank increased funding by only 7 percent, or $14 million, in fiscal year 2005 -- less than half its announced target of a 20 percent increase annually over the next five years. The renewable and efficiency financing by the World Bank for fiscal year 2005 represents only 9 percent of all the Bank's financing in the energy sector. Meanwhile, the Bank continues to finance fossil fuel pipelines and is making a move back into destructive large dams for energy generation in developing countries.

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