Climate & Energy

A renewable win

Two-pronged strategy to sway energy policy debate

Putting aside the causes of the oil-price rise and what the future holds, I am concerned that progressives are losing the public debate about what to do about it. Like David, I was extremely disappointed with Gore's interview on Meet the Press this past week, both with respect to the ridiculous questions from Brokaw and Gore's complete inability to get the right message across. And now we have an editorial from The Wall Street Journal (as well as John McCain himself) making the absurd claim that Bush's lifting of the offshore oil drilling ban is responsible for the recent drop in oil prices. Since I am assume both McCain and the op-ed writer are smart enough to know that this is false, one can only assume they are willing to lie because they think that this presents an opening for the rightwing in a season when they look doomed. Unfortunately, data exists to back up this belief, as the public's support for offshore oil drilling is rising. The simple fact is that when costs of energy go up, most people are willing to put aside environmental concerns, including global warming. This is why it is crucial that progressives, and especially the Obama campaign (who brilliantly won the gas tax holiday debate during the primaries), need to adopt an aggressive strategy for winning over the public on energy issues. Here's what I think should be the central message:

Western states unveil draft cap-and-trade scheme

The Western Climate Initiative has unveiled a draft proposal for a regional cap-and-trade program that would kick off in 2012. The 11 states and provinces …

Target practice

On the art of setting (and hitting) emission targets

Gore's call for 100 percent renewable electricity generation within 10 years may seem, at first blush, to be so far out in left field as to lack any seriousness -- but it has some commonality with established regulatory policy. For example, California's global warming law (AB 32) is rooted in Governor Schwarzenegger's Executive Order S-03-05, issued on June 1, 2005, ordering that "the following greenhouse gas emission reduction targets are hereby established for California: by 2010, reduce GHG emissions to 2000 levels; by 2020, reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels; by 2050, reduce GHG emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels." What is notable about both Gore's and the governor's targets is that all the numbers happen to end in zero. Gore did not call for a reduction of, say, 95 percent in 13 years; his targets are evidently ballpark numbers more-or-less picked out of a hat. "One hundred percent" can basically be interpreted to mean "a whole lot" and "10 years" translates to "ASAP."

A media boon for Pickens

T. Boone Pickens’ plan is overexposed and inferior to Gore’s

It's official: T. Boone is overexposed. His monotonous TV ad runs on an endless loop, he has testified in front of Congress, he is now appearing on every cable show, and everybody quotes him even though he doesn't actually agree with anybody but himself. What specifically bugs me: His ads say we can't drill our way out of this problem, but then he says we should drill everywhere -- offshore, Alaska, your backyard. He keeps pushing his absurd idea of switching over to natural gas vehicles. His plan shares a great deal in common with Al Gore's, but he still goes out of his way to diss it (inaccurately, see below): "Gore's Global Warming Plan Ignores Crippling Stranglehold Foreign Oil Has on America's Economic and National Security." Sen. Joe Lieberman (I/D/R ?-Conn.) said the plan is a "classically American message of honesty, determination and can-do optimism." Did I mention he keeps pushing his absurd idea of switching over to natural gas vehicles, even though Russia, Iran, and Persian Gulf states have most of world's gas reserves? The Gore critique seems to me particularly lame, as if he can't stand to share the stage with anyone else. Why else release such a petty statement as this:

Arctic holds vast untapped oil and gas reserves

The Arctic Ocean holds up to 20 percent of the world’s undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas reserves, according to new research from the U.S. …

Hurricane Dolly cancels McCain’s trip to offshore oil rig

John McCain had planned to visit an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday to tout offshore drilling and the industry’s environmental friendliness, …

Gas squeeze

Investigative report details threat gas drilling poses to N.Y.’s freshwater resources

Investigative news startup ProPublica this week blew some fresh air into Albany, N.Y., with a report on state regulators’ and lawmakers’ headlong rush to open …

Precedent versus vision

The media’s central arguments for and against Gore’s challenge to the nation

Nearly a week after Gore unveiled his carbon-free challenge (sounds sadly kind of like a reality TV gimmick), the substantive reactions from the nation's editorial pages and blogosphere fit (for better of for worse) into two groupings: precedent versus vision. Brushing past the naysayers (John Tierney and his "junk science" complaints) and the yes-men (Christine Pelosi and her Gorish platitudes), those in the "precedent" camp tend to disapprove of Gore's goal on the basis that United States continues to produce very little renewable energy, so these critics say ramping up to 100 percent renewable is impossible. Those in the "vision" group tend to applaud Gore's call on the basis that it offers a compelling vision for the future, even if it lacks details. These divisions do not completely break down along political lines. It's true that those who tend not to like Al Gore tend not to like Al Gore's challenge and vice versa; yet, there are some notable exceptions.

Stuck on you

Activist attempts to glue himself to Gordon Brown

Yes, even stranger than the skater crashing though the ice (though not as funny, notwithstanding the well-known dry British wit): During these turbulent economic times, Gordon Brown is keen for the country to stick by him. However, this probably wasn't quite what he had in mind. Dan Glass, of the climate change pressure group Plane Stupid today tried to superglue himself to the Prime Minister at a Downing Street reception. Yes, that is the name of the group. Their website is