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Philip Bump's Posts


Fact-checking Romney’s ‘I like coal’ statement

Last night, a guy said he likes coal. He said it right here:

If you prefer not to click play buttons, he said this:

And by the way, I like coal. I'm going to make sure we continue to burn clean coal. People in the coal industry feel like it's getting crushed by your policies. I want to get America and North America energy independent, so we can create those jobs.

Let the professional, robust fact-checking begin.

"I like coal."

Fact check: People don't like rocks, that's weird. People in the 1970s kept rocks as pets, but that was ironic.

So maybe Romney meant he likes the energy that coal provides? Let's assume that's what he meant. If it is, it's a recent development. In 2003, he said this while standing outside a coal plant.

"That plant kills people," he said. Which, you know, it does.

He definitely meant he likes people who work in the coal industry, since they vote and will stand around for free if their boss makes them.

"I'm going to make sure we continue to burn clean coal."


Costa Rica to ban sport hunting

If you want to murder this thing, you're going to need to hurry up.

Costa Rica will soon become the first nation in the Americas to ban hunting for sport. From Reuters:

Lawmakers voting on the ban voted 41 in favor and five against, and a second vote expected in the coming week is widely seen ratifying changes to the law, which aims to protect animals in one of the world's most biodiverse countries. ...

"We're not just hoping to save the animals but we're hoping to save the country's economy, because if we destroy the wildlife there, tourists are not going to come anymore", environmental activist Diego Marin, who campaigned for the reform, told local radio.

Jaguars, pumas and sea turtles are among the country's most exotic and treasured species, and are often hunted or stolen as trophies.

Needless to say, it takes chutzpah to intentionally anger people who like killing things.

Read more: Politics


Enbridge doesn’t want to clean up its oil spill, it wants to go play

Enbridge is running off to work on a new project before it's done cleaning up the mess on its last one. If the Canadian oil company isn't careful, it's going to get grounded.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Fish and Wildlife workers clean a bird caught in Enbridge's Kalamazoo spill.

Responsible for creating the worst on-land oil spill in American history in Michigan, Enbridge doesn't seem that worried about cleaning it up. I mean, it's like a 14 year-old sent to clean his room. He pushes some stuff around, piles clothes in the closet, and then calls for his dad to come see that he's done. And so his dad comes up -- and isn't happy with what he sees.

The Environmental Protection Agency today called for Enbridge Inc. to do more cleanup work along the Kalamazoo River.

The EPA sent the proposed order to the oil pipeline company today, identifying three areas -- upstream of the Ceresco Dam, the Battle Creek Mill Ponds area and the Morrow Lake delta -- as places where submerged oil needs to be removed. The order comes after Enbridge sent the EPA a letter in August stating no additional oil recovery upstream of the Ceresco Dam was necessary.

Sheen management, the control of elements of the oil that has risen to the surface, had been implemented by the company as its primary strategy for the past summer for oil recovery in the three areas. The EPA deemed the strategy inadequate in the order.

Or, to translate: No, Enbridge. You're not going anywhere until this is room is clean. (For the sake of this analogy, please imagine that the dirty clothes on the floor are highly toxic and pollutant.)


Map of the most energy-efficient states looks kind of familiar

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has released its annual assessment of the best states for energy efficiency. Good job, Massachusetts, again.

States continue to move strongly in 2012 to advance energy efficiency initiatives regardless of which political party is in control of state legislatures and governors’ offices, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) on the release today of its sixth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.

[T]he ACEEE State Scorecard shows that the top 10 energy efficiency states are Massachusetts (in its second year atop the rankings), California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota.

The 10 states most in need of improvement (starting with last) are Mississippi, North Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, Alaska, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana, and Nebraska.

The three most improved states are Oklahoma, Montana, and South Carolina. All three states significantly increased their budgets for electric efficiency programs in 2011.

Or, in map form:

Click to embiggen.


Chinese company sues to buy wind farms; Warren Buffett has an easier time

Buy your own wind farm.

When news broke last week that President Obama was blocking the sale of four Oregon wind farms to a Chinese company, the reason he gave was interesting:

There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that Ralls Corporation (Ralls), a corporation organized under the laws of Delaware, and its subsidiaries … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.

Initial speculation focused on the presence of a nearby naval base -- but beyond that, the decision is something of a mystery.

Unsurprisingly, the company disagrees with the president's assessment.

A Chinese-owned firm in the US is suing President Barack Obama after he blocked a wind farm deal on national security grounds. … The lawsuit alleges the US government overstepped its authority. ...

China's state-run news agency Xinhua said "China-bashing" in order "to woo some blue-collar voters" was the reason for the decision.


Voters may care about climate change — but not nearly enough to make a difference

Our partners at Climate Desk have an overview of a series of recent polls that lead to one conclusion: People are increasingly concerned about climate change. And "people" obviously means "undecided voters" -- since those are the people who count for the next 34 days.

The findings, in summary:

[I]t is not that any type of climate communication is a guaranteed win—just that it is far from a guaranteed loser. But that still leaves a growing disconnect between politicians' fear of the climate issue on the one hand, and emerging public opinion data on the other. "Democrats don't need to be as afraid of this issue as they are," says [Harstad Strategic Research pollster Andrew] Maxfield. From President Obama on down, if candidates who talk about climate change win in 2012, expect that situation to rapidly change.

For all of the optimism that climate and the environment will become a point of political leverage for candidates, it won't. And the reason is apparent if you dive a little deeper into the numbers.


New coal ads: Industry hits Obama, Obama hits Romney

Coal ads! New coal ads, everyone! You may never see these ads yourself on TV, so it is incumbent upon us, the News Media™, to bring them to your attention and laugh at / laud them.

Before we begin, let's take a minute to appreciate that bits of rock we take out of the ground and burn warrant millions of dollars in expenditures on TV ads. That's weird.

OK. The ads. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (not affiliated with the American Coalition for the Tooth-Fairy Power or the U.S. Association of Energy Created by Bigfoot) has a two-minute spot that makes the case that we've used coal for a long time and how dare you suggest that we stop.

The ad is two minutes long and, according to National Journal, will run on national cable networks. Featuring lots of shots of Good Ol' America™, the ad argues that coal is our "home-field energy advantage." That a "can-do" attitude has led to "proven" clean coal technology. That "heavy-handed EPA regulations" threaten the universe, or some subset thereof. It shows Scary China™, but doesn't name it, for some reason.


Why won’t Obama address rising grass prices?

We're accustomed to odd stories of raw materials being stolen for resale. Copper, for instance, has been a popular target of thieves over the past several years due to its ubiquity and spiking market price. The higher the value of a commodity, the more likely it is to be stolen.

Basically a big field of money.

Even if that commodity is grass. From the AP:

With drought drying out grazing land and driving up hay prices, some ranchers in New Mexico have started cutting neighbors' fences or leaving gates open so their cattle can graze on greener pastures.

Authorities in other drought-stricken states say they've seen similar fence cuttings, along with thefts of livestock and other materials as ranchers struggle to stay in business. In some cases, stealing a neighbor's grass may be the only way for a rancher to feed his livestock, but victims say their livelihood is being threatened too.

That's passive grass theft, letting your cattle munch it into nonexistence. There's also active grass theft (a term commonly used by law enforcement).

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Yet another oil sheen spotted in Gulf of Mexico

One-and-a-half bird.

The toxic, unpleasant sheen that had the country abuzz a few months ago is back. No, not that Sheen. The one in the Gulf.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts it drily:

This hotline is being started for new reports of sheen of unknown origin in and near lease block Mississippi Canyon 252. This incident is likely related to reports in August 2011 ... Although the source of these sheens may be the wrecked BP Macondo Well, this relationship has not been established at this time.

If the mystery sheen is from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, does that mean that this thing is just going to keep leaking forever? That, like Charlie, we'll never be rid of it, despite its noxious odors and massive societal damage?

Environmental lawyer Stuart Smith -- who, we'll note, is involved in legal action against BP -- says: yeah, maybe.


Local chambers of commerce ask Romney and Obama for clean energy support

A photo of Sen. Inhofe's tattoo.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not a clean-energy-friendly organization. Ninety-four percent of its 2010 political contributions went to climate change deniers; it has fought for years to undercut the clean economy. ran a campaign calling on businesses and local chamber chapters to resign from the national organization. According to 350's website, 56 local chambers have made statements opposing the national body's climate and energy position. I suspect it will now be easy for 350 to quickly goose those numbers.

From The Hill:

A coalition of Chamber of Commerce chapters want President Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney to take a pledge emphasizing federal support for the clean energy industry.

The 240-chapter Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy sent a letter to the candidates Tuesday urging them to “take a stand and prioritize clean energy as an economic development solution.”

350, start workin' those phones.