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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Where does Obama stand on climate change?

Obama didn’t say much about climate change in his speech yesterday, even as he laid out some ambitious energy goals. This leaves the media and activists guessing at what his next move will be -- he’s a sort of Schroedinger’s President, who can be interpreted as a climate hawk or a climate wuss. Here are some of the post-speech visions of Obama going around this morning: Mother Jones: He is -- at least potentially -- a beaten-down, defeated climate Judas. “[I]t's notable that Obama barely even mentioned climate change or greenhouse gases in his big energy speech today. This concession …

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Bike-lane-hatin’ Rep. Anthony Weiner hates paying parking tickets, too

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) hates bike lanes. He also, Roll Call discovered, hates parking legally -- or paying the penalties when he gets ticketed for doing it illegally. Until very recently -- that is, until someone caught him at it -- Weiner owed $2,180 in unpaid tickets to D.C. How exactly does he suggest we get around? Apparate? Oh wait, no, he hates it when other people don’t pay parking tickets, too! At least, if they’re diplomats from “Yemen, Zimbabwe, and Iran” -- he complained about that last year. So I guess the Weiner-approved transporation plan is that we nix …

Read more: Biking, Cities, Politics

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The safest place in Japan right now might be inside a nuke plant

Just 75 miles from where workers try to stave off nuclear disaster at Fukushima, another nuke plant is doing double duty as a tsunami shelter. The nuclear facility at Onagawa is currently home to 240 people displaced from the local town, who are hanging around watching TV and making phone calls while they wait to rebuild. It’s like the clean, roomy, safe, well-lighted, fancy-toileted version of the post-Katrina Superdome: "I'm very happy here, everyone is grateful to the power company," said Mitsuko Saito, 63, whose house was leveled in the tsunami. "It's very clean inside. We have electricity and nice …

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Wisconsin Gov. Walker rejected high speed rail but wants the money anyway

Before he was the guy who tried to kill Wisconsin unions, Scott Walker was the guy who campaigned on a promise to kill high-speed rail in Wisconsin. There wasn’t a lot of room for interpretation or anything -- I mean, one of his campaign websites was NoTrain.com, for chrissakes. But now Walker is asking for $150 million in federal funds to upgrade an existing rail line. Not only that, but he says “This is not inconsistent with the position I took in the past.” You know, except that the position he took in the past was “NO TRAIN,” and now …

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Every 2012 GOP candidate was for climate action before they were against it, says Pawlenty

Former Minnesota governor and 2012 presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty was for cap-and-trade and emissions reduction before he was against it. Inconsistent? Hypocritical? An example of throwing away his principles to pander to an ever more right-leaning base? Hardly, says Pawlenty: It’s just what the cool Republicans do these days. Pawlenty: Everybody in the race, at least the big names in the race, embraced climate change or cap-and-trade at one point or another, every one of us, so there's no one who has been in executive position whose name is being bantered in a first or second-tier way who hasn't embraced …

Read more: Election 2012, Politics

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Smize! You’re on America’s Next Top Energy Innovator

Sure, we’ve learned to harness the power of the sun and the wind for renewable energy, but have we harnessed the awesome power of reality TV? That may be what Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is going for with “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator.” Okay, you don’t get coaching from Solar Tim Gunn, or critique from Geothermal Simon Cowell. Instead, the Department of Energy is reducing the number of hoops that companies have to jump through in order to license patented clean energy tech. Currently there’s a lot of paperwork and fees to navigate before you can start turning intellectual …

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New Jersey leads U.S. in Superfund sites, spray tan and … solar power?

Jersey’s not all gym, tan, laundry. It’s also got more photovoltaic solar power capacity than any state except California (which is 19 times bigger). Even with a small square mileage, wishy-washy East Coast sun, and reality-show meatheads hogging the rays, Jersey’s managing to shore (ha) up its economy with solar -- the state has more jobs in solar power than in traditional power. New governor Chris Christie is revisiting the state’s energy portfolio, though, and while it’s certainly not the case that ALL Republicans are virulently anti-renewables, Jersey’s solar crown might end up at risk. The consequences? Ending up with …

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Indian tigers make a comeback

Please, extinction, you think you can beat tigers? Have you SEEN tigers? Okay, so we’ll pass lightly over what happened to their saber-toothed cousins. And tigers aren’t out of the woods yet. But India’s latest tiger census showed a population stronger than it has been in some time -- more than 1,700 tigers, about 300 more than there were in 2007. That’s good news, but tigers are still very endangered, and one tiger ecologist says the study’s methods are dubious and the actual numbers may not be nearly as rosy. Hmm ... perhaps we could work out a way to …

Read more: Animals

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BP execs may face manslaughter charges

Here’s a novel concept: Cause people to die, get charged with manslaughter. It doesn’t usually work that way with corporations, which apparently get all the benefits of being legally considered “people” with none of the consequences. But federal officials are looking into manslaughter charges for BP managers who presided over the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The explosion killed 11 workers -- not to mention causing a record-setting oil spill that ruined countless livelihoods. And according to anonymous sources, top executives may be held responsible, charged with either involuntary manslaughter or “seaman’s manslaughter” (which carries a steeper penalty). The case would depend …

Read more: Pollution

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There’s an EPA showdown on the way

Playing in Congress this week: Gunfight at the EPA Corral. And the GOP has an itchy trigger finger. Age-old enemy of the planet Sen. James “global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” Inhofe has introduced a bill to nullify the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Sen. Mitch McConnell has proposed the same thing as an amendment to a small business bill. And Democrats have countered with two amendments of their own, which either delay or limit EPA powers without completely stripping them. THANKS, DEMOCRATS. The likelihood is that none of these measures have enough …