Kate Sheppard

Kate Sheppard was previously Grist's political reporter. She now covers energy and the environment for The Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter.

Mission possible

Veterans push for climate bill with new ‘Operation Free’ coalition

A new coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is hoping to counter the oil industry–backed “Energy Citizens” rallies with its own call to pass a climate bill and end dependence on fossil fuels. Under the name of Operation Free, the group aims to rally other vets to the cause. “We’re a coalition of leading veterans and national security organizations who recognize that climate change is a major threat, and support fast, bold action,” reads its website. “It is time for Americans to rise to the challenge, and we’re taking on the fight.” In a call with reporters on Thursday, Operation …

Things that go clunk in the night

Cash-for-Clunkers to end Monday night, for real this time

Photo: billadayThe “Cash for Clunkers” program has been so successful that it will have to be wrapped up earlier than expected, the Obama administration announced on Thursday. Folks looking to turn in their fuel-hogging old cars will need to get their deals finalized by this Monday, Aug. 24, at 8 p.m. EST in order to cash in. The program was supposed to run through Labor Day, as it received a $2 billion extension earlier this month after exhausting its initial allocation. But the Department of Transportation said on Thursday that overwhelming demand has forced the program to end early to …

For what it's Wirth

Former Sen. Tim Wirth stirs up controversy over cap-and-trade, tries to tamp it down

Tim WirthTim Wirth — former Democratic senator from Colorado, former Clinton-era climate negotiator, and current U.N. Foundation president — raised quite a hubbub this week when he told Bloomberg news that the cap-and-trade bill in Congress had “gotten out of control.”  “The Republicans are right — it’s a cap-and-tax bill,” Wirth said. “That’s what it is because they are raising revenue to do all sorts of things, especially to take care of the coal industry, and it makes no sense.” Conservative pundits, like those at the Red State blog, latched onto his comments, citing them as evidence that Democrats are …

Face lift

Who are the faces behind FACES of Coal?

Yet another pro-coal group has popped up to rally folks against climate action. The Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security — or FACES of Coal — joins a growing list of “grassroots” groups formed to support fossil fuels. The “faces” shown on the group’s website include a smiling flower vender, a child playing golf, a family with a baby, and a grandmother waving an American flag. Shockingly, no coal miners, residents of homes destroyed by mountaintop-removal mining, or asthmatic children are featured. FACES says it’s an “an alliance of people from all walks of life” united by their belief …

Ya down with NRDC?

NRDC Action Fund goes on offense against opponents of climate action

The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund is bashing representatives who voted against the House climate bill as “villains” and lauding reps who voted for it as “heroes” in a new campaign. With TV and newspaper ads and a website, the campaign is aimed at states whose senators are on the fence about passing a climate bill this year — Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. “We really felt like now is the time for us to draw a line in the sand,” NRDC Action Fund director Heather Taylor told Grist. “What we want to do is make sure the Senate …

A senior moment

More anti-climate-bill letters forged under names of senior-citizen groups

More fake letters opposing climate legislation have come to light, with this latest batch being falsely attributed to senior-citizen organizations. As we’ve reported previously, forged letters were sent to three U.S. representatives from Bonner and Associates, a Washington, D.C.-based group that specializes in astroturfing. Bonner was subcontracted by the PR firm Hawthorn Group to do work on behalf of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a coal-industry group that wanted to stop passage of the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill in the House. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Tuesday released copies of five letters that hadn’t been seen publicly …

Man, or astroturf man?

Industry groups launch astroturf ‘Energy Citizens’ website

The American Petroleum Institute has launched a website to promote its anti–climate bill astroturfing efforts. Site visitors can sign an e-petition to tell their lawmakers, “I call on Congress to reject climate change policies that could raise energy costs and eliminate American jobs.” The site also provides resources to help you “share your story” about why acting against climate change will destroy America, apple pie, and puppies. No kidding about the puppies. In a video currently featured on the site’s homepage, set to maudlin music, Texans talk about how the Waxman-Markey climate bill would wreak havoc in their lives, including …

They were for it before they were against it

ConocoPhillips works to undermine climate bill, despite pledge to support climate action

ConocoPhillips is now actively campaigning against the House climate and energy bill — even though it’s a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, an influential enviro-business coalition that played a key role in shaping the legislation. The company changed its tune shortly after the House passed the bill. On the ConocoPhillips website, visitors are urged to “Act now for energy. Make your voice heard!” An action page tells people to contact their senators and express opposition to the bill, arguing, “Federal climate change legislation is needed; however, Waxman-Markey fell short.” The shift is notable since ConocoPhillips is a marquee …

Notable quotable

Yvo de Boer of U.N. climate convention says 350 ppm is pipe dream

“I don’t think there is a hope in hell that people will agree to 350 in Copenhagen. I think we’ll get 2 degrees.” – Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, speaking at a recent meeting with NGO officials. “350” refers to the goal of reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, while “2 degrees” refers to the goal of keeping the global temperature rise to no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Both have been discussed as potential targets for a new international …