Climate & Energy

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

Theda Skocpol hits the nail on the head: We need cap-and-dividend, a wonky-sounding policy that nonetheless gets regular people excited.

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 …

Copenhagen climate crash

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 …

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 …

See you in jail: It's not symbolism when you live in D.C.

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 and radical to many Americans. Symbolic because it's purposefully organized amid the iconic images of Washington, D.C. And radical because, well, isn't getting locked up kind of out there? And isn't global warming kind of vague and distant? But I live five subway stops from the U.S. Capitol. My home is right here. There's nothing symbolic -- for me -- about trying to keep the tidal Potomac River out of my living room and off the National Mall where my son takes school trips. There's nothing symbolic about fighting for homeowner's insurance in a region where Allstate and other insurers have already begun to pull out due to bigger Atlantic hurricanes. And what's vague about the local plant species like deadnettles and Bluebells that now bloom four to six weeks earlier in D.C.-area gardens thanks to dramatic warming.

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 …

Yes, Virginia, there is a clean energy constituency

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. …

Can you spell c-o-a-l?

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 …

D.C.'s newest baseball team: The Washington Exxons

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 Stretch." Sounds absurd, right? Well, welcome to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., for an inconceivable variation on this theme. With public alarm over global warming at an all-time high, team owners of the Nationals baseball team spent millions for a "healthy Earth" park, with environmental features like low-flow plumbing and energy-efficient lighting. The new park has been officially declared a "green facility" by the National Green Building Council, the first of its kind in American sports. But visiting fans know the rest: Strike Marlboro cigarettes and substitute "ExxonMobil" and you have the astonishing reality at Nationals Park. Oil giant ExxonMobil, the biggest contributor to global warming of any company in the world, has its name splashed across the left field fence and, intermittently, behind home plate. ExxonMobil, which invests almost nothing in clean energy while gasoline goes to $4 per gallon, is the feel-good sponsor of the 7th-inning stretch, so your child can happily sing about peanuts and Cracker Jacks while the company logo sparkles on the biggest scoreboard in baseball. No wonder a coalition of concerned groups -- ranging from faith leaders to college students to environmentalists -- announced Friday it would protest outside all Nationals home games until Exxon stops its ads.