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What are the prospects for sound climate and energy legislation next year?

David and I caught up with Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) yesterday to talk about climate and energy politics, and the prospects for next Congress. Bingaman is the chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. We caught him after he appeared on a panel on "The Future of Environmentalism." Bingaman stuck to a pragmatic line in his brief talk with Grist, insisting that it would be "presumptuous" for Congress to enact legislation in 2009 that pretends to know what the United States's energy needs will be in 2050. Likewise, he said the Senate would avoid legislation that would "dramatically" …

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DNC: Convention thoughts at 3 a.m.

I'm here at the DNC convention with Kate, who I believe has done a couple of posts already. The reason I don't know for sure is -- it's friggin' insane here! I've been running at a full sprint since I got off the plane this afternoon. I'm typing this before collapsing into bed at almost 3am. Some interesting stuff to hash over later, but for now, here's the first two things I saw heading into downtown Denver this afternoon: A giant electronic billboard, right across the street from the convention hall, with the blazing, blinking message: Drill here, drill now, …

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Delegates approve platform that embraces Obama’s energy plan

The Democratic Party today approved a platform that embraces presidential candidate Barack Obama's energy policies. Included in it is his call for tax rebates to families struggling with high energy costs. In an op-ed in the Denver Post today, John Podesta and Timothy Wirth argue that the platform doesn't go far enough on energy issues. Podesta is president of the Center for American Progress and former chief of staff to President Clinton, and Wirth is president of the United Nations Foundation and a former senator and rep who represented Colorado from 1975 to 1992. Here's the key part of the …

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Gary Hart talks to Grist about climate and energy policy and the next president

Energy, climate, and national-security concerns are inextricably joined in the modern political environment, says former Democratic Colorado Sen. Gary Hart. This fact should elevate sound climate and energy policy to a top-tier issue in this year's election, he said, for both politicians and voters. "I think if ordinary, everyday Americans understood that we are sacrificing the lives of our sons and daughters to get somebody else's oil to drive energy-inefficient vehicles that pollute the atmosphere, that would dramatize it a lot more," Hart told Grist in an interview this morning. "I would hope that leaders in our country would let …

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Gates and Buffet to invest in tar sands and spawn more two-headed fish?

Two heads are apparently not better than one -- certainly not for fish and apparently not for the super-rich either. If you thought that the two richest Americans got that way by being green -- or had suddenly become green because they are now giving their money to charitable causes -- you were mistaken. The National Post reports that last week that the two gazillionaires "quietly flew into northeastern Alberta on Monday, where they took in the oil sands, apparently with awe." Who wouldn't be awed by the "biggest global warming crime ever seen" -- an investment so tempting even …

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Who’s advising McCain on energy and climate?

Greenwire has also published ($ub. req'd) a detailed list of who is advising McCain on energy and environment policies, which I am reprinting below the fold. By contrast, McCain's campaign relies on a small group of longtime friends and advisers. Campaign staff would not comment on why their advisory team isn't as large as Obama's, but sources say the staff's size reflects how frequently the Arizona senator departs from the Republican Party line on environment and energy issues. I know Woolsey, and he is certainly very solid on energy security issues. But he is the exception. Doug Holtz-Eakin is much …

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California Energy Commission considers PG&E proposal to require energy-efficient televisions

The following post is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress. ----- The California Energy Commission is considering a proposal by PG&E to require televisions sold in the state to meet a minimum efficiency standard. Why is a utility proposing its customers by more efficient appliances? Because California allows utilities to earn a return on investment from negawatts. PG&E's proposal begins by plotting the power consumption (in Watts) of existing TVs against screen size and finding a linear fit. They then look at the most efficient (least power consumption) at a given size, and propose a cut-off formula based …

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Why Biden is such an important pick for those who care about the climate

Catastrophic climate change is the primary preventable threat to the health and well-being of all Americans -- as readers of this blog already understand and as pretty much everyone else will figure out in the coming years. Keeping total planetary warming as low as possible -- ideally below 2°C, which it turn requires keeping atmospheric concentrations of CO2 below 450 ppm -- will become the central organizing principle for all U.S. energy, environmental, economic, and international policy over the next two decades, and will almost certainly remain so for the next two centuries. While this is a long-term problem, "What …

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Polar bears in open water prompt more worries about climate change

Ten polar bears were recently spotted swimming in open water off of the northwest coast of Alaska, federal officials confirmed on Friday. Polar bears were not often spotted in open water until about 2004, said Susanne Miller, who heads up the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's polar bear project. She and other biologists worry that the bears could exhaust themselves with long swims, which take more energy than moving on ice or land. Green groups point to the unusually high number of swimming bears as yet another sign of global warming, with melting ice forcing bears to swim farther than …

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Seven in 10 Americans reducing carbon footprint

The following post is by Ken Levenson, guest blogger at Climate Progress. ----- At least 7 in 10 say say they are trying to reduce their carbon footprint. That's according to a new ABC News/Planet Green/Stanford University poll released this month. Yes, this headline appears very much a result of higher gasoline prices: 59 percent say they're using less gasoline -- driving less, using smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, carpooling, taking mass transit and the like. Yet it goes beyond just gasoline: 60 percent, also say they're cutting their consumption of power (and water). Let's dig in and run through some …

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