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Lisa Hymas' Posts

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Subaru finally introduces a hybrid; crunchy yuppies rejoice

Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru
These crunchy yuppies sure look happy with their Crosstrek Hybrid.

Just 16 years after Toyota first started selling the Prius, Subaru has unveiled its own hybrid.

AP reports:

Subaru is coming out with a gas-electric hybrid crossover SUV for the crunchy-granola crowd that wants to save fuel but still haul kayaks to the river.

The Japanese brand, which specializes in all-wheel-drive vehicles, unveiled the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid on Thursday at the New York International Auto Show.

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Senate gives a big, fat thumbs-up to Keystone XL

Keystone protestors in front of Capitol
350.org
The Senate was not listening to these guys.

The vote was non-binding but all too telling. On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted 62 to 37 in favor of building the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, with 17 Democrats joining all of the Republicans. It was just an amendment to a budget plan that won't even be going to the president's desk, but it shows that the political class in D.C. views the pipeline very favorably -- and believes voters view it very favorably too.

From The Washington Post:

The 17 Democrats who voted yes included every single possibly vulnerable incumbent facing reelection next year, from 34-year veteran [Max] Baucus [Mont.] to first-term Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska).

Perhaps more importantly, Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, voted for the resolution. Bennet is not up for re-election until 2016, but his post requires him to raise money from the wealthy liberal community that is highly opposed to the pipeline.

Additionally, a crop of Democrats who survived difficult reelections in 2012 — Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — all supported the GOP Keystone amendment.

Did fossil-fuel money have anything to do with the vote? You be the judge:

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Another climate delay from the Obama admin?

With Congress unwilling to do anything about climate change (or anything about anything), climate hawks have been looking to President Obama to take executive actions that don't need approval from Capitol Hill. A big one everyone is waiting for: greenhouse gas regulations for new power plants.

Well, don't hold your breath. Looks like it might still be a while. From The Washington Post:

The Obama administration is leaning toward revising its landmark proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, according to several individuals briefed on the matter, a move that would delay tougher restrictions and could anger many environmentalists.

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Another George Bush runs for office in Texas, talks up oil and gas drilling

George P. Bush
Gage Skidmore
George P. Bush -- related to all those other Bushes, but Hispanic too!

George Prescott Bush has kicked off a campaign to run for Texas land commissioner next year. Haven't heard much about this Bush? Just wait -- you will. He's the 36-year-old son of former Florida governor and 2016 presidential aspirant Jeb Bush and his Mexican-born wife Columba.

"A Spanish-speaking attorney and consultant based in Fort Worth, Bush is considered a rising star among conservative Hispanics, and his political pedigree is hard to match," writes the Associated Press. As the nephew of former President George W. Bush and the grandson of more-former President George H.W. Bush, he's got quite the dynasty behind him.

In a campaign video set to aggressively swelling music, Bush notes that Texas' land commissioner is responsible for "energy policy through the leases of our public oil and gas resources," and declares, "As Texans, we recognize the need for safe and reliable energy produced right here in our Lone Star State."

Drill, baby Bush, drill!

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N.Y. Times and Thomas Friedman call for killing Keystone

New York Times building
digiart2001

The New York Times editorial board and Times columnist Thomas Friedman have both come out swinging against the Keystone XL pipeline.

A strong editorial today calls on Obama to kill the project. The headline: "When to Say No."

[Obama] should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem. ...

Supporters of the pipeline have argued that this is oil from a friendly country and that Canada will sell it anyway. We hope Mr. Obama will see the flaw in this argument. Saying no to the pipeline will not stop Canada from developing the tar sands, but it will force the construction of new pipelines through Canada itself. And that will require Canadians to play a larger role in deciding whether a massive expansion of tar sands development is prudent. At the very least, saying no to the Keystone XL will slow down plans to triple tar sands production from just under two million barrels a day now to six million barrels a day by 2030. ...

In itself, the Keystone pipeline will not push the world into a climate apocalypse. But it will continue to fuel our appetite for oil and add to the carbon load in the atmosphere. There is no need to accept it.

In an op-ed published on Sunday, Friedman also calls for rejecting Keystone, but with a different spin. He thinks Obama will end up approving the pipeline, so he wants activists to make such a stink about it that Obama feels compelled to take other big steps to forestall climate change in exchange.

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Van Jones: Keystone XL would be ‘the Obama Pipeline’

Activist and former White House adviser Van Jones came out swinging against the Keystone XL pipeline Friday night on CNN, warning that if it's approved it would be a big black mark on President Obama's legacy. His comments came a few hours after the State Department released a draft environmental impact statement finding that the proposed pipeline wouldn't have excessive environmental or climate effects. Jones:

What happens if you've got the Obama Pipeline -- now it's the Obama Pipeline -- and it leaks? His legacy could be the worst oil disaster in American farmland history. ...

If after he gave that speech for his inauguration, the first thing he does is approve a pipeline bringing tar sands through America ... the first thing that pipeline runs over is the credibility of the president on his climate policy. ...

The Obama Tar-Sands Pipeline should not the legacy of the president that gave that speech.

Watch the whole segment:

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New York Times kills its ‘Green’ blog

green_main-bLess than two months ago, The New York Times dissolved its environment desk, eliminating its two environment editor positions and reassigning those editors and seven reporters.

Now the paper is swinging the hatchet again, shutting down the Green blog that had been home to original environmental reporting every weekday. The news was announced in a brief post on the blog today:

The Times is discontinuing the Green blog, which was created to track environmental and energy news and to foster lively discussion of developments in both areas. This change will allow us to direct production resources to other online projects. But we will forge ahead with our aggressive reporting on environmental and energy topics, including climate change, land use, threatened ecosystems, government policy, the fossil fuel industries, the growing renewables sector and consumer choices.

The paper says environmental policy news will move to the Caucus blog and energy technology news will move to the Bits blog.

But a Times insider tells Grist that the decision probably means an end to the significant amount of freelance reporting that appeared in the Green blog.

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Sanders and Boxer introduce ‘fee and dividend’ climate bill; greens tickled pink

Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders
Joshua Lopez / Project Survival Media
Boxer and Sanders introduce the Climate Protection Act of 2013.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) unveiled ambitious climate and energy legislation on Thursday. In our current sclerotic political environment, it has pretty much zero chance of passing in the Senate and negative chance of passing in the House. But many climate activists like it, and many climate deniers hate it, and the San Francisco Chronicle calls it "radical," so let's find out what all the fuss is about.

Here's a quick summary of the Climate Protection Act of 2013 from Sanders' office: "Under the legislation, a fee on carbon pollution emissions would fund historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. The proposal also would provide rebates to consumers to offset any efforts by oil, coal or gas companies to raise prices."

It's what green wonks call a "fee and dividend" bill. The Chronicle describes it as a "variant on a carbon tax":

It would impose a fee on carbon emissions at their source, such as coal mines, raising the price of fossil fuel energy.

But instead of giving the proceeds to the government, three-fifths of the money would be refunded to U.S. residents.

Such rebates could run into hundreds of dollars. The idea is modeled loosely on Alaska's "permanent fund" that distributes royalties from the state's oil and gas industry to every Alaskan resident. ...

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Whose SOTU response was dumber, Marco Rubio’s or Rand Paul’s? Take our poll!

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio -- GOP "it" boy, climate denier, dry-mouth sufferer -- gave the official Republican response to the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. His speech included some whining about climate action:

When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can’t control the weather -- [Obama] accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.

And some Solyndra scaremongering. (Rubio tries to act like he's with it, but he's more than a year and a half behind the times on that faux scandal.)

One of the best ways to encourage growth is through our energy industry. Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called “clean energy” companies like Solyndra, let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration. And let’s reform our energy regulations so that they’re reasonable and based on common sense.

Still, his most memorable eco-fail came when he awkwardly lunged for that bottled water. Talk about dirty water and dirty air. I can't believe he didn't bring his own SIGG.

Now that's Rubio's gone all establishment, the Tea Party turned to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to deliver its SOTU rebuttal. This line toward the top of the speech might have seemed promising:

The path we are on is not sustainable, but few in Congress or in this Administration seem to recognize that their actions are endangering the prosperity of this great nation.

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Obama: If Congress won’t act on climate change, I will

Obama threw the climatespotters a bone in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday night. Multiple bones, even.

That is, the president said the words “climate change” three times during the address, and made a mention of “dangerous carbon pollution” to boot. That’s compared to just one mention of “climate” in his 2012 SOTU, and zilch in 2011, for those of you keeping score at home.

This year’s climate callouts weren’t a surprise — Obama paved the way with his inaugural address last month, and in recent days his advisers had been hinting strongly that climate change would get a substantial nod in the speech.

Even though he also lauded increased oil and gas drilling, the section on energy and climate was substantial enough to encourage some greens:

"[F]or the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change," Obama said. He noted that "the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods — all are now more frequent and intense."