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Keith Harrington's Posts

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Taxpayer dollars squandered in Virginia climate scandal

Ken Cuccinelli. (Photo by Gage Skidmore.)

It’s an absolute scandal: During tough economic times, a Virginia government employee has been caught red-handed misspending public funds to advance his political agenda on climate change.

If you think the allusion here is to former University of Virginia climate researcher Michael Mann, the author of the famous hockey stick graph on atmospheric temperatures and a favorite butt of climate-skeptic attacks, think again.

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Mr. Obama: XL + Tar Sands = Bad Political Equation

Three years ago, I spent a number of weekends going door to door in Virginia urging people to vote for our President.  In that campaign I found a sense of pride, a sense of excitement, a sense of energizing virtue. This weekend, I spent a good chunk of time training to do civil disobedience at President Obama’s door in the desperate hope that he’ll fulfill the promise that drove me onto the streets for him in 2008. And in so doing I’ve found the same sense of pride, the same excitement, and the same energizing sense of virtue that I …

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Koch brothers declare war on offshore wind

The Koch brothers have now turned their firepower against offshore wind.The war over America’s coastal-energy future has officially begun, and the result could determine whether we see wind turbines or catastrophic oil spills along our coastlines in coming years. The opening salvo came in early July, when everyone’s favorite climate-hating, fossil-fuel-loving industrialist villains, the Koch brothers, released a so-called “cost-benefit analysis” of New Jersey offshore wind development plans through their front group Americans for Prosperity. The focus on New Jersey is no big surprise. Fresh off their recent success in manipulating the state’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie into backing out …

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american ruins

Smithsonian exhibit connects art to climate advocacy

"(Untitled) St. Louis, 2005"Image: Alexis RockmanWhat role should art play in efforts to fight climate change and inspire people to address it? As the climate movement struggles to regain its bearings and look for new tools to reinvigorate itself after the failures of the 111th Congress, Copenhagen and Cancun, this question may be as relevant as any other that movement leaders and activists are asking themselves, especially given the unique role of art as a political and cultural magnifying glass. It's also a question one can't help but ask after visiting painter Alexis Rockman's exhibit, "A Fable for Tomorrow", now …

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Why our economy 'required' the Gulf oil spill

Earlier this month, environmental and clean energy activists, as well as coastal communities breathed a much needed sigh of relief when the Obama administration reversed last spring’s reckless decision to open up new offshore areas to oil drilling. Now, thankfully, the coastlines of the Pacific, Atlantic and the eastern Gulf will be spared the same fate as the Western Gulf into the foreseeable future. In a year of oil disasters and energy policy failures it’s a much needed cause for celebration. But on the eight month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon spill, as we enjoy this rare bit of good …

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Plugging the black hole afflicting the U.N. climate talks (and everything else)

After the stratospheric buildup and colossal letdown of last year's major global climate talks in Copenhagen it can be tough to see the promise in this year's Cancun round of talks. But despite the gloom of low expectations, climate advocates have found a few bright spots on which to center their hopes. One leading light in the picture is the issue of adaptation funding. Last year, under the so called Copenhagen Accord, developed countries pledged to start shelling out 10 billion dollars a year (and 100 billion annually by 2020) to help the developing world cope with climate impacts and …

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Energy machismo and White House solar panels

If there’s one thing you can say about President Obama it’s that he certainly hasn’t given his erstwhile fans on the left a shortage of things to keep scratching their heads over. One of the biggest perennial question marks hanging over his administration has been his failure to lead on clean energy – and not just politically by working a bill, but symbolically by finally fitting the White House with new solar panels to replace the ones that Carter put up and Reagan took down. Of course, while he may be able to blame congressional politics for his lack of …

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Death by Growth: what the climate-bill autopsies missed

By now the corpse of the climate bill has been so thoroughly autopsied, that examining it any further seems almost inhumane. A whole army of coroners have weighed in, suggesting an array of possible causes of death: Republican obstructionism, failed presidential leadership, a weak climate movement, the wrong policy approach, the recession. Each one of these problems no doubt played a role in finishing the bill off. But ultimately they weren’t much more than complications associated with the real killer – the disease which for all their poking around, the coroners somehow managed to miss. It’s the killer that shall …

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Good news for deepwater-oil junkies

We’ve all heard that we’re addicted to oil. But in the wake of the BP spill we might do well to take the oil-as-a-drug metaphor a little more seriously. For starters we need to understand that deepwater oil is the really bad stuff, the petrochemical heroin – high risk, costly, deadly. Sooner or later we were bound to OD. And unless we quit it immediately we’ll OD again. Of course kicking the offshore-oil habit will shed some jobs from the economy. Fortunately, though, with the right policies we can quit deepwater oil and actually grow new, better jobs to replace …

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Behind Obama's Speech: a stale strategy and a value vacuum

If in the wake of the President’s flaccid oval office speech there are still any doubts lingering in anyone’s mind about whether the administration is planning to use the spill as a chance to unleash a game-changing energy policy strategy, a recent DNC oil-spill messaging briefing should put them to rest.  The report, compiled by pollster Joel Benenson and the League of Conservation voters, shows an unequivocal voter tilt in favor of policies and politicians that support a shift towards clean energy and outlines an energy-messaging strategy the authors claim will help those policies and politicians win votes in the …

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