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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."

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Here’s one more thing you can share: Kids

We've written a lot over the past month about the sharing economy -- how people are using apps and technology that make it easy to share cars, bikes, homes, couches, offices, tools, pets. More sharing = less resource use = all-around goodness.

two parents and one kid
Shutterstock
Kid-sharing: so much better than kid-hoarding.

And now the latest addition to the list of shareable items: kids. Yes, people are using websites and Facebook pages to find like-minded people with whom to share children. From The New York Times:

[A] new breed of online daters [is] looking not for love but rather a partner with whom to build a decidedly non-nuclear family. And several social networks, including PollenTree.com, Coparents.com, Co-ParentMatch.com, and MyAlternativeFamily.com, as well as Modamily, have sprung up over the past few years to help them.

“While some people have chosen to be a single parent, many more people look at scheduling and the financial pressures and the lack of an emotional partner and decide that single parenting is too daunting and wouldn’t be good for them or the child,” said Darren Spedale, 38, the founder of Family by Design, a free parenting partnership site officially introduced in early January. “If you can share the support and the ups and downs with someone, it makes it a much more interesting parenting option.”

The sites present what can seem like a compelling alternative to surrogacy, adoption or simple sperm donation.

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Eve Ensler connects the dots between violence against women and violence against the planet

Eve Ensler
WeNews
Eve Ensler wants you to speak up -- and dance!

Eve Ensler made it OK to say the word vagina out loud. Could she now inspire more of us to say climate change too?

Ensler, the artist and activist behind The Vagina Monologues, is currently making a big push to promote One Billion Rising, a global event planned for this coming Valentine's Day, aka V-Day. She's calling for people everywhere to "dance, rise up, and demand an end to violence against women." The campaign was inspired by a U.N. estimate that one in every three women will experience violence during her lifetime, meaning well over a billion of us.

And Ensler's activism extends beyond this critical issue. She has recently been drawing connections between the violence that men perpetrate against women and the violence that fossil-fuel companies perpetrate against the climate and all of us who depend on it. She talked to Grist recently about how these topics tie together and her hopes for her new campaign.

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Q. I was interested to read a piece you published in The Guardian last month comparing climate change and violence against women. You wrote, "Like climate change, only the patriarchs with power seem to be blind to the magnitude of the horrors," and you wrote about "the raping of the Earth through ecological destruction by the corporate powerful." Can you talk more about those common threads?

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Do you think Obama will approve the Keystone pipeline? Take our poll

Obama
White House
Hmm. To Keystone or not to Keystone?

Back in 2011, the Obama administration postponed a decision on whether to build the Keystone XL pipeline until after the election. Now, this week, they've postponed it again until at least April.

But the White House can't kick the can down the road forever. Someday the decider must decide. What do you think Obama's decision will be?

  • CNN: "most analysts still expect Obama to approve the pipeline. But the chances that he won't are increasing."

And you? What do you think?

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Green and lefty groups band together, pledge millions to fight right-wing evildoing

Andy Kroll at Mother Jones writes about "the massive new liberal plan to remake American politics":

A month after President Barack Obama won reelection, top brass from three dozen of the most powerful groups in liberal politics met at the headquarters of the National Education Association (NEA), a few blocks north of the White House. Brought together by the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Communication Workers of America (CWA), and the NAACP, the meeting was invite-only and off-the-record. Despite all the Democratic wins in November, a sense of outrage filled the room as labor officials, environmentalists, civil rights activists, immigration reformers, and a panoply of other progressive leaders discussed the challenges facing the left and what to do to beat back the deep-pocketed conservative movement.

At the end of the day, many of the attendees closed with a pledge of money and staff resources to build a national, coordinated campaign around three goals: getting big money out of politics, expanding the voting rolls while fighting voter ID laws, and rewriting Senate rules to curb the use of the filibuster to block legislation. The groups in attendance pledged a total of millions of dollars and dozens of organizers to form a united front on these issues—potentially, a coalition of a kind rarely seen in liberal politics, where squabbling is common and a stay-in-your-lane attitude often prevails. ...

The liberal activists have dubbed this effort the Democracy Initiative. The campaign, Brune says, has since been attracting other members—and also interest from foundations looking to give money—because many groups on the left believe they can't accomplish their own goals without winning reforms on the Initiative's three issues.

As Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune puts it, "We're not going to have a clean-energy economy if the same companies that are polluting our rivers and oceans are also polluting our elections."

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Who will serve on Obama’s second-term green team?

Obama in Cabinet room
The White House
Who will the president pick to fill all these empty chairs?

Much of President Obama's green team is moving on to greener pastures. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced last month that she'll be retiring soon, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu is expected to follow suit. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is said to be mulling over his future. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood appears to be undecided as well, and there's a chance that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack could leave.

Lesser-known but still critical positions are up in the air too. Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has announced her resignation. Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Heather Zichal, Obama's top climate and energy advisor, might also be leaving their posts.

Who could be tapped to fill the gaps?

EPA administrator

Outgoing Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) is rumored to be a frontrunner for the top EPA job. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has more: