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Mike Tidwell's Posts

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Harvard professor has it right: U.S. climate push requires intense grassroots support around ‘cap-and-dividend’ bill

In the past three weeks there’s been much debate in U.S. environmental circles over a provocative new paper [PDF] from Harvard University political scientist Theda Skocpol. In it, Skocpol gives the most compelling analysis yet of why the 2009 cap-and-trade bill to fight global warming went down in flames. In sum, Skocpol argues that intense and radical opposition from Tea Party Republicans proved much stronger than the environmentalists’ insider-game, partner-with-business, harness-polls-instead-of-the-grassroots approach.

My added value in commenting here is that I experienced the run-up to -- and aftermath of -- the failed Waxman-Markey bill from the field. I’ve been a grassroots climate organizer for 10 years, having founded the organization I still direct: the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. CCAN straddles much of the political landscape of America, organizing in the conservative “South” (Virginia) and the liberal “Northeast” (Maryland), while staying very involved in national climate initiatives in Washington, D.C., the geographic center of our region.

I saw from the church-basement view the rise of Tea Party opposition to Waxman-Markey and the insufficient grassroots organizing response from the major green groups. What efforts were made (Sierra Club stands out as well as the short-lived but respectable field effort of the group 1Sky) fell mostly on deaf ears since average people couldn’t comprehend the complexity of the cap-and-trade bill and could see no immediate and direct benefit in their lives.

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Jailhouse Rock: Activists Score Victory Over Police in Tar Sands Pipeline Fight

If you want to know just how determined activists are to stop the proposed tar sands oil pipeline from Canada to Texas, listen to this: Last Saturday morning, August 20th, more than 50 activists were arrested in front of the White House. They were handcuffed, stuffed into blistering-hot paddy wagons, and informed that they would spend two nights in a crowded, harsh DC jail. The U.S. Park Police – who have jurisdiction outside the White House — openly informed organizers of the police strategy: We’re going to go very, very hard on the first wave of protestors to discourage others …

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Hot planet to Obama: What’s your Plan B?

"Never again." Those ought to be the words coming from the White House right now on global warming. Never again can we tolerate a year like 2009, where attempts to cap carbon pollution experience such profound stagnation. Already this month President Obama has confirmed two painful truths. First: Congress will not complete work on a global warming bill in 2009. And second, the corollary blow: There will be no international climate deal in Denmark next month, dashing years of international hopes. So now Obama's message ought to be "never again." The planet just can't endure another year of inaction. Obama …

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Utilities and coal-state Democrats are wrecking our last chance on climate change

Utility companies and their coal-state apologists in Congress are wrecking America’s last, best chance to solve global warming. By insisting on free pollution permits, utilities are creating a climate bill that is complicated, unfair, and destined to fail in future years. It’s now up to Congressman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and the House Ways and Means Committee to fix the problem. The much-discussed Waxman-Markey bill on global warming now proposes to give 35 percent of all carbon pollution permits to utilities for free. Another 45 percent will go free of charge to other carbon-intensive industries, but utilities are least deserving by …

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Why I'm joining 2,000 people for a global warming mass arrest on Monday

On Monday, I'm going to get arrested just two blocks from the U.S. Capitol building. I'll peacefully block the entrance to an energy plant that burns raw coal to partially power Congress. My motivation is global warming. My colleagues in civil disobedience will include the poet Wendell Berry, country western signer Kathy Mattea, and Yale University dean Gus Speth. Up to 2,000 other people from across the country will risk arrest, too. We'll all be demanding strong federal action to phase out coal combustion and other fossil fuels nationwide that threaten our vulnerable climate. This mass arrest might seem symbolic …

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Police spy on climate activist while global warming goes unarrested

Terrorist Activist Mike Tidwell (at podium) exhibiting clearly threatening behavior.   Photo: chesapeakeclimate   I'm not sure what's more shocking: the news that the Maryland State Police wrongfully spied on me for months as a "suspected terrorist," or that, despite surveillance of me, officers apparently wouldn't recognize me if I walked into their police headquarters tomorrow. I'm a former Peace Corps volunteer, an Eagle Scout, church member, youth baseball coach, and dedicated father. I also happen to be director of one of the largest environmental groups in Maryland, a nonprofit that promotes windmills and solar panels in the fight against …

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Will Democrats take the votes but ignore the voters in increasingly powerful Northern Virginia?

Northern Virginia voters solidified their reputation Nov. 4 as a virtual factory for Democratic victories. Collectively, the Virginia suburbs of D.C. broke for Obama in numbers exceeding 60 percent. The margin is comparable to such liberal bastions as California and New York. Given the results, and given that 1 in 3 Virginia voters now lives in the fast-growing region, it's no wonder state Democrats see a gold mine. Already Gov. Tim Kaine (D), elected 2005, and U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D), elected 2006, can credit their victory margins to "NoVa." And Democratic Senator-elect Mark Warner considers the region his base. …

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The dirty secret behind D.C.’s high-tech Virginia suburbs

There's a chance the presidential election will come down to who wins the state of Virginia. And the key to winning Virginia comes down to who does well in the D.C. suburbs of northern Virginia. This area is an economic powerhouse where no fewer than one in three Virginia voters live. Just mention the words "northern Virginia" across the mid-Atlantic region and the hyphenated adjectives come back at you: Fast-growing, high-tech, well-educated, high-income. No wonder the presidential candidates can't seem to stay away from the area. Despite perennial traffic congestion, "NoVa" has that certain gleam of 21st century life, from …

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Protestors object to a green baseball stadium sponsored by the world’s dirtiest corporation

Imagine a Major League Baseball stadium constructed to actually fight lung disease. Imagine engineers eschewing asbestos in every form, using only materials approved by the American Lung Association. Imagine emergency inhalers at every seat, with team officials aggressively marketing the "healthy-lung" park to conscientious fans. Then imagine your surprise, in visiting the park, to see a huge Marlboro cigarettes ad plastered across the left field fence. Imagine another Marlboro ad behind home plate so TV viewers can't look away. Imagine, finally, being asked to stand and sing Take Me Out To the Ball Game during the "Marlboro Cigarettes 7th Inning …

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Army Corps climate efforts in New Orleans may not be enough

No one wants to see this again -- but can post-Katrina protection efforts keep the Big Easy safe? Photo: NOAA Here's the good news: The Army Corps of Engineers is "racing" to complete a comprehensive levee system for metropolitan New Orleans by 2011 that actually takes into account global warming, at least in terms of sea-level rise. Here's the bad news: the levee system under development is wildly insufficient to the growing climate problem, according to many informed critics. That's because the vast and flat Louisiana coastal area -- sometimes called the "Bangladesh of America" because it could disappear due …

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