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The Climate Post: Oil Spills, Caucus Thrills

First Things First: The BP oil spill today became the biggest such disaster ever in the Gulf, eclipsing the Ixtoc I spill off Mexico in 1979-1980, according to high-end government estimates. A federal judge last week struck down the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf. U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman instantly became an overnight “folk hero” to some in the Gulf. The Interior Department is developing a new moratorium, but has yet to share details. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has assumed the public mantle of leadership in the crisis, implicating the federal government response as a failure. This transparency …

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A walk through the week's climate news

The Climate Post: Who wants to be a climate scientist?!

First things first: Tuesday night Rolling Stone magazine unveiled to a limited audience its new article called “The Runaway General.” But when something “goes viral” in the Internet age, there’s no such thing as a limited audience. In the piece, General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, derides and criticizes the president, vice president, and other key senior members of the administration. It caused a media-wide storm and led to McChrystal’s resignation within about 12 hours. President Barack Obama replaced him with General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command. The story has little …

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A Walk Through the Week's Climate News

The Climate Post: Nothing shaking on Barton’s ‘shakedown’ street

First things first: Congressional investigators have released material documenting troubles at the Deepwater Horizon site before it failed–and a culture of cost-cutting at BP that elevated catastrophic risk. Five days before the April 20 explosion, a BP engineer called it a “nightmare well which [sic] has everyone all over the place.” A detailed letter to BP chief executive Tony Hayward from two House Democrats details five missteps the company took when rushing to complete the Macondo well, including choosing a well design that has too few impediments to gas flow. Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Bart Stupak’s (D-Mich.) letter can …

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A Walk Through the Week's Climate News

The Climate Post: U.S. Senate gives a disapproving look

First things first: U.S. senators rose one after the next in support of or opposition to a measure that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to declare heat-trapping gases pollutants. The piece in question, a "disapproval resolution," was sponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). In her floor speech, she skewered the Obama administration's move to regulate greenhouse gases, saying that approach is too harsh in general, and particularly at such a economically sensitive time. Republicans thrashed the EPA’s endangerment finding, arguing mostly that added regulations would cause economic hardship. Several suggested that the day’s vote was not …

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A Walk Through the Week's Climate News

The Climate Post: Obama retrieves energy, climate debate from Gulf

First things first: Just as discussion of climate change and clean energy dipped below the oil-stained surface of the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama yesterday tried to reach in and offer Climate Policy Resuscitation. He delivered a broad address on the U.S. economy at Carnegie Mellon University, touring the financial crisis, health care reform, and the challenge to stay internationally competitive. He punctuated the speech with “an issue that’s on everybody’s minds right now,” the Gulf disaster, oil addiction, and the “energy quest.” Obama offered familiar tropes that environmentalists had been missing from him as his administration pursued the …

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A Walk Through the Week's Climate News

The Climate Post: BP oil spill washes up on Potomac shores

First things first: Oil-spill updates continue to gush out of the Gulf and Washington at volumes difficult to estimate. BP initiated its risky "top kill" maneuver Wednesday and the Coast Guard reported cautiously this morning that the oil stream has abated. If the effort works, BP will begin to plug the well with concrete in the next day or so. President Barack Obama held his first press conference in 308 days this afternoon. He placed a moratorium on new deepwater drilling permits for six months and ordered the Interior Department to expedite its reforms of the key oil-industry regulatory office. …

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A Walk Through the Week's Climate News

The Climate Post: Defining moment still seeks definition

First things first: Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman last week unveiled their draft energy and climate legislation, called the American Power Act, in a Senate committee room overstuffed with lobbyists, policy wonks, journalists, and other observers. The bill's authors must steer it through the "usual" complexity intrinsic to the climate debates, and now too through the political storms over immigration reform and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Economic modeling is expected to take another few weeks at executive agencies, although first impressions have emerged in the media and on the Web, including the Pew …

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A Walk Through the Week's Climate News

The Climate Post: The empiricist strikes back

First things first: Let’s first pause for a moment to recognize where we are. Three U.S. Senators took the mantle for climate and climate leadership in this Congress, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Over a series of many months, involving many colleagues, many industries, and many advocacy groups, they emerged with the seed of a new deal that might satisfy competing constituencies. The framework (reportedly) has something for everyone, a cost for emitting greenhouse gases, expanded nuclear power, and offshore oil exploration. Environmental groups, frequently splintered, circled their wagons to support the effort. Then …

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A walk through the week's climate news

The Climate Post: Mighty winds a-blowin’

First things first: A high-stakes political drama unfolded after the Senate Majority Leader announced the body would consider immigration reform ahead of anticipated climate legislation. The surprise political move caused a key Republican to bolt the tri-partisan effort to craft a federal climate program. The episode has greatly intensified doubts that the U.S. will pass a climate bill this year. Two developments in offshore energy this week competed for both attention and nothing less than–cue Carmina Burana–the future itself. Tough climate in ‘battle born state’: Nevada state politics sometimes have an outsized influence on federal energy debates. That’s been true …

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The Climate Post: Why isn't the Keeling Curve more famous?

First Things First: IBM will ask its 28,000 suppliers to monitor and disclose their energy use, heat-trapping gas emissions, waste, and recycling. Spread across 90 countries, the suppliers are compelled to install software designed to help firms understand their impact–if they want to continue working with the computing and services giant. “Ultimately, if a supplier cannot be compliant with requirements on the environment and sustainability, we’ll stop doing business with them,” said IBM’s John Paterson. In Washington, the policy community anticipates in the next week or so the first public draft of a new Senate climate and energy bill. The …

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