Business & Technology

CAFE serves up tasty emission cuts

Critique of auto standards misses how they save consumers money compared to gas taxes

Robert Stavins thinks an increased gasoline tax or cap-and-trade would make Obama’s tougher auto efficiency standards redundant.  This offers an excellent illustration of how even economists who are not market fundamentalists can miss the way well-designed regulation improves economic efficiency. Yes, cap-and-trade or a rising gasoline tax will reduce driving and gasoline use. But because drivers respond slowly and reluctantly to price increases it takes large surcharges to produce small decreases in use. How much consumer demand drops in response to price increases is called “elasticity” in economic jargon.  Total U.S. consumer response to price increases shows about a 50% …

A Trench View of the Climate Wars

Fighting Coal in the Rockies

Fighting for the Waxman-Markey climate bill may be sexy and hip (and worthwhile), but here in the Roaring Fork and Vail Valleys of Colorado, without much fanfare, we are engaged in some trench fighting to solve climate change. A view from one of the ski lifts at Vail in Colorado.Courtesy Pravin8 via FlickrThe battle: trying to elect progressive board members to the rural coop (Holy Cross Energy) that supplies power to  the heart of ski country and and two of the largest, and most high profile, ski resorts in the United Sstates — Aspen and Vail. It’s a tough fight because nobody knows …

“an important step forward”

AFL-CIO’s John Sweeney endorses approach of Waxman-Markey climate and clean energy bill

For those who know the history, the relationship between the environmental movement and the labor movement has been cool, at best, for a long time. But the two groups have been talking to each other much more in recent years and have come to a better understanding of how to work together.  The environmental movement has been talking jobs, jobs, jobs so much that Obama has even appointed a green jobs czar clean energy jobs handyman, Van Jones. The labor movement increasingly understands that ending our addiction to oil, preserving a livable climate, and promoting clean energy means millions of …

EDF's Climate Corps

Planting green moles in corporate America

On the 28th floor of a San Francisco skyscraper, a cadre of 26 young men and women called the Climate Corps is being briefed. They won’t be planting trees or serving as Al Gore’s cap-and-trade shock troops. Rather, these are MBAs on a mission to infiltrate the Fortune 500 and help them save … money (and the planet too) by rooting out energy inefficiency and developing strategies to cut corporate carbon budgets. The Climate Corps is an internship project of the Environmental Defense Fund, and I’m at EDF’s San Francisco outpost as a three-day boot camp gets underway to train …

Climate change lobbying dominated by ten firms

This post by Marianne Lavelle and Matthew Lewis is reprinted with the permission of The Center for Public Integrity.—– Hundreds of lobbyists are cramming into Room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building this week for the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s mark-up of landmark legislation to curb global warming through a complex cap-and-trade system. But some of those lobbyists will carry a bit more weight — or at least a heftier client list — than others. A new analysis of Senate disclosure records by The Center for Public Integrity shows that more than 880 businesses and interest groups registered …

Wheeler Dealers

Auto industry’s litigation strategy may have backfired in showrooms

Telling it like it is: President Obama meets with auto industry executives Tuesday in the Roosevelt Room of the White House before moving to the Rose Garden to announce new fuel and emission standards for cars and trucks.Official White House Photo by Pete Souza None of the employees at Turlock Auto Plaza in California’s smoggy Central Valley could be reached for comment Tuesday on President Obama’s historic deal with automakers to make cars cleaner and more efficient. The plaza’s Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Subaru dealerships all shut in December, victims of declining sales. Forty-two people lost their jobs, a big …

The incredible shrinking tent

Republican counter-strategy on climate: Revenge!

How much smaller can the climate denial tent get? We’re about to find out. With companies as diverse as Nike, Johnson & Johnson and Ford Motor Company having joined the call for comprehensive clean energy & climate legislation, the Republican Party has come up with its counter-strategy: “To fight bill, GOP turns on business,” declares the headline in today’s Politico, citing a Double-Secret Probation Leaked Memo from Republican staffers for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. (The lesson: If you want people to read your memo, pretend it’s secret, then “leak” it to anyone who’ll take it.) Earlier …

In the game or on the sidelines?

Northwest businesses weigh in — or bow out — on energy policy

This fall, Northwest-based global businesses Nike and Starbucks led a group of consumer brands to publicly champion muscular, science-based climate and energy policies. These companies are on the field, playing hardball politics in support of serious efforts to address climate change and jumpstart a clean energy economy. At a moment when the biggest climate and energy bill ever is moving in Congress, the EPA is finalizing its ruling on greenhouse gases, and Obama just announced major strides on tailpipe standards for auto emissions, where are all the other Northwest companies on climate policy? Amazon? Microsoft? Boeing? Mostly, as far as …

From the truth is stranger than fiction dept.

GOP: defending little guys from corporations since a couple days ago

Just when you think you’ve gotten cynical enough, the GOP goes and tries to rebrand its energy policy as economic populism: In a strategy memo obtained by POLITICO, Republican staffers for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works say Republicans should argue that Democrats are embracing “Wall Street traders,” “polluters” and “others in corporate America” who are “guilty of manipulating national climate policy to increase profits on the backs of consumers. Your Republican Party, forever vigilant against upward redistribution of wealth! Dan Weiss gets off a good line: “Joe Barton’s alternative energy bill is full of more handouts to …

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