David Roberts

David Roberts

Energy, politics, and more

David Roberts was a staff writer for Grist. You can follow him on Twitter, if you're into that sort of thing.

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:

Congressional disarray

Congress strips Arctic Refuge drilling from budget legislation; still has to delay vote

Let me make us the last political blog on the planet to note events in the House yesterday, wherein an outbreak of spine among moderate Republicans triggered an almost total meltdown of the Republican command structure. Empowered by Democratic unanimity, Rep. Charles Bass (R-NH) led a group of 25 moderate House R's (anybody got a list of these folks?) in demanding that Arctic Refuge drilling be stripped from the budget-reconciliation bill. Bass' group is insisting the deal last "through conference," meaning they won't vote for it if it reemerges from conference committee with drilling reinserted. But remember, for some in the House, refuge drilling is the white friggin' whale. It's Moby Dick. So of course a group of Ahabs put their foot down when they heard their precious whale might escape. Thus, even after this pained concession, Republican leadership and unity broke down and the vote was delayed until next Tuesday. (Meanwhile, in the Senate, Olympia Snowe put the kibosh on the Bush administration's treasured extension of tax cuts for dividends and capital gains.) Fireworks will resume next week. It's been pretty good drama so far, but if these House moderates stay strong, and the budget reconciliation bill dies, it will be a major story -- a very public knee to the groin of the House Republican leadership, legendary for its ability to twist arms. You know how it works for a bully -- once he gets his first ass kicking, he can never recapture the old mystique. Stay tuned. (Good thoughts from Carl Pope, Matt Yglesias, and Mark Schmitt.)

Uh oh

Dover, PA's in big trouble! On today's 700 Club, Rev. Pat Robertson took the opportunity to strongly rebuke voters in Dover, PA who removed from office school board members who supported teaching faith-based "intelligent design" and instead elected Democrats who opposed bringing up the possibility of a Creator in the school system's science curriculum. Rev. Robertson warned the people of Dover that God might forsake the town because of the vote. "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover. If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there." (Via Pharyngula)

House moderates: Little, late

Lest you start feeling twinges of fondness for Republican moderates thanks to their recent move to save the Arctic Refuge, remember that a) they've been totally passive in the face of five years of monstrosities, and b) the very legislation they've stripped refuge drilling out of itself remains a monstrosity. Sam Rosenfeld puts it well: The House leadership's decision to rescind the ANWR drilling measure from the reconciliation bill is being spun as a sign of the new power of the erstwhile pitiful Republican moderates. There's a tiny bit of truth to that. But really, the fact that enough of them are now saying explicitly that removing that provision is sufficient to ensure the bill's passage is more pathetic than impressive. The ANWR provision is in the Senate version of the spending bill; leadership assurances to the House moderates that the measure won't return in a conference report should be taken with a grain of salt. Much more importantly, the rest of the bill is nearly unchanged, and is loaded with atrocities that moderate Republicans have spent plenty of time wringing their hands over but show little inclination to take action against. This is another example of what I was talking about yesterday: For some reason it's become safe or convenient for righties to start making concessions or taking stands on the environment. But this budget reconciliation bill still contains drastic spending cuts for kids and poor people. Do greens stand down now that they got what they wanted? Or do they continue to fight on behalf of other elements of the progressive coalition?