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Seattle mayor wants to block Whole Foods because of its low wages

Mike McGinn
Dave Lichterman
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says Whole Foods should pay more or get lost.

The Washington, D.C., city council made national news earlier this month with its effort to force Walmart to pay higher wages at six new stores the company hopes to build in the city.

A similar fight is afoot in Seattle -- but over Whole Foods. Mayor Mike McGinn, who's up for reelection this year, is leading the charge against a proposed new store in the West Seattle neighborhood. Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat reports:

“I’m setting a new standard here, that we are going to look at the wages they pay, and benefits, when a company wants to develop with land that involves public property,” McGinn told me in an interview. ...

McGinn contended in a letter that the nonunion Whole Foods pays “significantly lower” wages and benefits than other grocery stores, including some already in West Seattle. So the idea of allowing Whole Foods to go in there violates the city’s social and economic justice goals.

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The EPA gets a new boss — finally

Gina McCarthy
Reuters/Jason Roberts
Gina McCarthy got a thumbs-up from the Senate. It just took four and a half months.

It's been 136 days since President Obama nominated Gina McCarthy to head the U.S. EPA. It's been even longer, a record-breaking 154 days, since the agency had a permanent administrator.

Now, finally, she and the agency are out of limbo: The Senate confirmed McCarthy by a vote of 59-40 on Thursday.

Senate Republicans had thrown a tantrum over her nomination and blocked it in various ways -- not because she's unqualified (she's highly qualified, and she's even worked for Republicans like Mitt Romney) but because they just really don't like the EPA.

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These conservatives like renewable energy

farmer and engineer with wind turbines
Plenty of conservatives like clean energy too -- especially clean-energy jobs.

We told you recently that right-wing efforts to overturn state-level renewable-energy mandates have been failing across the nation. Here's one big reason why: Many conservatives actually like the mandates.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Conservatives fighting against alternative-energy mandates—which they see as unwarranted and costly market interference—are losing ground even in some Republican-controlled states, where legislatures are standing behind policies that force electric utilities to buy renewable energy.

Some of the most vocal support for the policies is coming from an unlikely corner: farmers who see profit in rural renewable-energy projects.

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Here’s how the Koch brothers retaliate against journalists they don’t like

Charles and David Koch
Beware of Koch-fueled vendettas.

The right-wing, oil-baron Koch brothers haven't yet succeeded in taking over any of our nation's major newspapers, so in the meantime they're trying other tactics to influence news coverage of their activities. The Washington Post has a chilling report:

When environmental journalist David Sassoon began reporting about the billionaire Koch brothers’ interests in the Canadian oil industry last year, he sought information from their privately held conglomerate, Koch Industries. The brothers, who have gained prominence in recent years as supporters of and donors to conservative causes and candidates, weren’t playing. Despite Sassoon’s repeated requests, Koch Industries declined to respond to him or his news site, InsideClimate News.

But Sassoon, who also serves as publisher of the Pulitzer Prize-winning site, heard from the Kochs after his story was posted.

In a rebuttal posted on its Web site, KochFacts.com, the company asserted that Sassoon’s story “deceives readers” by suggesting that Koch Industries stood to benefit from construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — a denial Sassoon included in his story. KochFacts went on to dismiss Sassoon as a “professional eco-activist” and an “agenda-driven activist.”

It didn’t stop there. The company took out ads on Facebook and via Google featuring a photo of Sassoon with the headline, “David Sassoon’s Deceptions.” The ad’s copy read, “Activist/owner of InsideClimate News misleads readers and asserts outright falsehoods about Koch. Get the full facts on KochFacts.com.”

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A Republican calls for climate action — and has to remain anonymous to keep job

faceless man
Shutterstock

A Republican staffer at the U.S. House has written a fervent call for conservative action on climate change, winning second place in a young conservative writing contest sponsored by the Energy and Enterprise Initiative. But he won't be collecting his prize in person. He's afraid to reveal his name or face.

The piece was published yesterday on the Real Clear Science website under the pseudonym of Eric Bradenson. The author explains that he is "writing under a pen name to protect his boss and himself." Here's how his piece kicks off:

Someone in the GOP needs to say it: conservation is conservative; climate change is real; and conservatives need to lead on solutions because we have better answers than the other side.

... conservatives have long fought to protect the natural rights and property rights of individuals, living and unborn, from infringement by environmental degradation and pollution.

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Obama: I will only OK Keystone if it won’t significantly increase CO2 emissions

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about his vision to reduce carbon pollution while preparing the country for the impacts of climate change while at Georgetown University in Washington, June 25, 2013.
Reuters/Larry Downing

Big news from President Obama's climate speech: He says he won't approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline if it will "significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution."

It's hard to know exactly what he means by that, but it's a surprise that he mentioned Keystone at all. Pundits expected he would keep silent on the issue.

Here's what he said:

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Obama’s climate plan in 3 easy bullet points (and a few sub-bullet points)

Wait, how many bullet points was that?
Shutterstock
Wait, how many bullet points was that?

We have assembled here the highlights of President Obama's new climate plan.

Congress isn't going to play along, obviously, so the plan consists of executive actions his administration can take on its own. Even some of these could be blocked by Congress through budgetary moves, and others could be blocked by courts. But he's at least going to give them a try.

The big takeaway: Obama will crack down on coal-fired power plants, not just new ones but existing ones as well. Finally, the long-awaited "war on coal"! We'll have to wait a while to find out how aggressively it'll be waged -- the EPA needs to actually write its regulations. Still, this is big news for climate hawks, the critical regulatory step we've been waiting for. (One sign that it matters: Coal stocks plummeted on Monday.)

The plan's three main goals:

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How climate deniers are like ignorant patrons of ’80s gay bars

gay bar sign
Ryan Cannon

Writer and gay-rights activist Dan Savage has a provocative piece in the Seattle alt weekly The Stranger, comparing today's climate deniers to gay men in the early '80s who refused to face up to the reality of AIDS.

He starts out discussing a recent This American Life segment on ranchers in Colorado who won't acknowledge that climate change is happening, even as it's ravaging their land and livelihoods.

Listening to the ranchers in [reporter Julia Kumari] Drapkin's report—hearing the anger, denial, and fear in their voices—took me back 30 years. They sounded like another group of people whose world was on fire and who also couldn't bring themselves to face reality. They sounded like people I used to know. They sounded like those faggots who stood around in gay bars in 1983 insisting that AIDS couldn't be a sexually transmitted infection. Even as their friends lay dying, even as more of their friends and lovers became sick, they couldn't accept that sex had anything to do with this terrifying new illness.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Obama climate plan finally coming, on Tuesday

Barack Obama
The White House
He's thinking hard about that upcoming speech.

First we heard it from unnamed sources. Then we heard it from White House climate advisor Heather Zichal. And now we've heard it from Obama himself: The president is gearing up for a big speech in which he'll unveil his long-awaited second-term climate plan.

Obama announced the news in his weekly video address on Saturday. "This Tuesday at Georgetown University, I'll lay out my vision for where I believe we need to go: a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it," he said in the video, which was set to overwrought music and peppered with gauzy scenes of American landscapes. (Watch for yourself below.)

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Obama in Berlin: “We have to get to work” on climate change

Obama and Angela Merkel
Reuters/Michael Kappeler
Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, enjoying Berlin's unseasonably hot weather.

President Obama keeps saying bold things about climate change in his big speeches. There was his second inaugural address in January. Then his State of the Union address in February. And today, a high-profile speech in Berlin, Germany, in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

But doing bold things about climate change? Well, that's a whole different issue. Rumor has it that he will unveil a package of climate initiatives in July. We'll see. For now, all we have are words.

So let's look at those words.

"I come here today, Berlin, to say complacency is not the character of great nations," he said before outlining a number of lofty aspirations, most notably a goal to cut back America's nuclear arsenal by as much as a third.

Midway through the speech, Obama got to the climate bit:

Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet. The effort to slow climate change requires bold action. And on this, Germany and Europe have led.