Jonathan Hiskes

Jonathan Hiskes is a writer in Seattle and a former Grist staff reporter. Find him at jonathanhiskes.com and on Twitter.

daft clunk

‘Clunkers’ debunkers attack Democrats’ auto trade-in plan

Should the clunkers plan be junked?Support “cash for clunkers” as an auto-industry bailout if you must, but don’t call it green. So say the Wall Street Journal, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and U.K. environmentalist George Monbiot, all critical of the environmental benefits of the proposal President Barack Obama endorsed yesterday. Obama and Democratic House lawmakers reached compromise on a plan that would pay drivers $3,500 to $4,500 to trade in gas-guzzling older vehicles for more fuel-efficient new ones. The idea has been tossed about as a way to give automakers a boost and retire the nation’s dirtiest …

Vague intentions

U.S. pledges something or other on climate

Details aren’t in focus in this climate doc.Photo: circulating via FlickrToday U.S. negotiators promised “ambitious actions,” “robust targets,” and pretty much nada details in a proposal overdue to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The paper suggests a structure for the international climate treaty to be hashed out in Copenhagen this December—something the UNFCC had requested from participating nations by April 24, a deadline many countries missed. “The United States supports a Copenhagen agreed outcome that recognizes the magnitude and seriousness of what science demands … is pragmatic, and recognizes the diversity of countries’ circumstances and opportunities,” the proposal …

WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH COAL?

Kansas, without coal-fighting guv, approves new plant

Not in Kansas anymore.That better be one helluva of a health care plan you’re drafting, Kathleen Sebelius, because Kansas already misses you. The state approved a new coal-fired power plant today, undoing a signature environmental accomplishment of former Gov. Sebelius, who left the state last week to become President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Sebelius four times vetoed plans for two new 700 megawatt generators planned by Sunflower Electric Power. She scotched the deals on the basis of carbon dioxide emissions the plants would produce, the first rejection of the sort in the U.S. Today her replacement, Mark …

About those howls you're hearing...

Wolf delisting takes effect today

Photo: Thomas Roche via Flicker Wolf-people, give a howl for your lupine brethren, who lose federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in much of the northern Rocky Mountains and upper Midwest today. The Obama administration, in one of its least popular moves with environmentalists, upheld a Bush era decision that gray wolves have returned from the brink of extinction and no longer require federal protection. That decision took effect today, opening the gate for hunting in Idaho and Montana, which share a population of some 1,300 wolves. Wildlife groups have filed notice that they will sue to overturn the …

The bear’s a necessity

The wolf and the polar bear

Photo illustration by Tom Twigg / Grist Next week brings two milestones in wildlife protection that serve as a lesson in contrasts — examples of what the environmental movement has been and what it’s becoming. On Monday, gray wolves in Montana, Idaho, and parts of other northern states leave the endangered species list, designated as an officially “recovered” species. Once driven nearly to extinction, the wolves will fall under the watch of state management — which includes hunting — following the Obama Interior Department’s decision in March to sign off on a delisting process put in motion on George W. …

Hosed in the Hoosier State

No ‘renewable’ nukes and coal for Indiana

Indiana renewable package: No can do.Photo: JayskIndiana lawmakers finished their legislative session Wednesday without passing a renewable electricity standard, which might be just as well. This was the plan that would have defined “renewable” so as to include “clean coal” and nuclear energy (as reported earlier on Grist). The plan would have required utilities in the state to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. A later version of the (now dead) bill watered down the standard, allowing utilities to meet 25 percent of the target with clean coal, 25 percent with coal gasification (IGCC), 25 …

Something Is Rotten on the NYT Op-Ed Page

A false choice from a familiar skeptic

He’s still skeptical. So are we. Courtesy of Lomborg.comBjorn Lomborg — Danish statistician, self-styled “Skeptical Environmentalist,” and long-time Grist nemesis — found his way onto the New York Times op-ed page over the weekend, arguing that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a hopeless cause and that public money is better spent on research and development of renewable energy. He claims Americans don’t much care about global warming (according to a recent Pew survey) and notes that international negotiations have so far failed at producing emissions cuts — neither of which, we say, is a reason not to devise a better …

A Fit of Peak

An interview with ‘Green Nobel’ winner Maria Gunnoe

Mountaintop, removed. Near Rawl, West Virginia.Courtesy of ILoveMountains.orgMaria Gunnoe.Tom DusenberyWest Virginian Maria Gunnoe won a prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize this week for her work fighting the devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining. It’s hard to think of someone more deserving of the prize, which includes a $150,000 award. Gunnoe, 40, has seen her family’s ancestral home flooded seven times since coal-mining companies built two toxic-waste ponds above the Boone County property. Mine waste poisoned her well and drinking water. After she began working against coal companies in 2004, “wanted” posters of Gunnoe appeared in local convenience stores, and her daughter’s …

I know what I'll do next summer

Obama’s Clean Energy Service Corps will train people for green jobs–eventually

He’s ready — put him to work.President Barack Obama created a new Clean Energy Service Corps on Tuesday as part of a landmark national service bill he signed into law. That could be good news for young Americans wanting to get a foot in the door of the clean energy industry — but they’ll have to wait at least a year for the Corps to get up and rolling. The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act will more than triple the size of the AmeriCorps domestic service program, from its current 75,000 volunteers to 250,000 by 2017. The Clean Energy …