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Climate & Energy

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Lies, more lies, and still more lies from the head of CEQ

Tim Dickinson's Rolling Stone piece on the Bush administration's coordinated attempts to stifle action on global warming is now online, and it's worth a read. (Also worth checking out: the accompanying multimedia slideshow.) Lots of it will be familiar to long-time readers, but it's nice to see it pulled together into a single (extraordinarily damning) narrative. One guy who plays a big role in the story is James Connaughton, the ex-dirty-energy lobbyist Bush brought in to head up the Council on Environmental Quality. Side note: speaking of the CEQ, savor this: Prior to joining the Cabinet, [ex-EPA administrator Christie Todd …

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After many years of trying, we’re moving in the right direction at last

I'm a bit bleary eyed after midnight votes, and about to do an event in Boston on the energy fight, but I wanted to come back here to Gristmill to tell you how good it feels to have gotten something good done in the Senate instead of just stopping bad things from happening. A year ago I was battling to stop drilling in ANWR. Last night, finally -- after years of battling and five years after we introduced the Kerry-McCain legislation to raise fuel efficiency standards -- we actually accomplished things in the Senate that will improve the environment. This …

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Senate Dems still fighting for energy package

Disappointed about the half-victory in the Senate yesterday? Don't give up hope yet. Majority leader Harry Reid's still got some fight in him (from CongressNow, sub. rqd.): Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this afternoon said he will revive the energy tax package that was defeated amid Republican opposition this week, saying he was confident he could muster the votes necessary to pass the measure at a later date. "We're going to figure out how to bring it back," Reid said today. "There are a number of places we can look" for reviving the measure, including the upcoming farm bill …

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Picking apart an argument against carbon taxes

Yesterday's L.A. Times ran an odd op-ed calling carbon taxes an ineffectual antidote to global warming. Unlike other critiques that brand carbon taxes politically unpalatable, this one argued that they're simply not up to the job of cutting carbon emissions: Carbon taxes -- taxes on energy sources that emit carbon dioxide (CO2) -- aren't a bad idea. But they only work in some situations. Specifically, they do not work in the transportation sector, the source of a whopping 40% of California's greenhouse gas emissions (and a third of U.S. emissions). I've known Daniel Sperling, the author of the op-ed, for …

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The House of Reps leads the way to a greener capitol

The Hill's alive with the sound of greening. Or at least, it should be, as soon as our representatives start following through with their "Green the Capitol" initiative, the final report on which was released yesterday in Washington, D.C. The report is the result of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's call for an energy audit of the Capitol complex four months ago, right after she first assumed her new post. Yesterday's report presents the findings of the audit as well as a comprehensive plan to improve the green cred of the Hill. It includes directives to start purchasing electricity …

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Noah Scape

Big-budget, zero-carbon comedy Evan Almighty opens today Today marks the debut of a movie that is, depending whom you ask, either a shining star in the eco-entertainment pantheon or a crass manifestation of green gone bad. Evan Almighty, with Steve Carell as a latter-day Noah, bills itself as "the first major motion picture comedy to zero out its [carbon] footprint." Its producers have launched a $25 million green marketing campaign, with a website that encourages fans to offset their own emissions, plant trees in the "Almighty Forest" (24,000 and counting), and green their homes and offices. The campaign is sponsored …

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Tell It to the Senate

Renewable-energy investments booming around the world Investment in renewable energy zoomed to record levels in 2006 and shows no sign of flagging, a United Nations report said this week. More than one-fifth of that investment went into companies or projects in developing countries. Thanks to high oil prices, desire for energy independence, government incentives, and worries about climate change, renewables "are becoming generating systems of choice for increasing numbers of power companies, communities, and countries," says U.N. Environment Program head Achim Steiner; and with global capital hitting $100 billion, renewable resources are likely to stay competitive even if oil prices …

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Be Still Our Beating Hearts

Senate-approved energy bill calls for fuel-economy increase First, the good news: the U.S. Senate has passed an energy bill containing the first significant fuel-economy increase in years. The bill requires cars and light trucks to get an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, up from the current 22.2 mpg for light trucks and 27.5 mpg for cars. It also calls for limits on gasoline price-gouging; new appliance and lighting efficiency standards; funding for research into newfangled vehicles like plug-in hybrids; and a sevenfold increase in ethanol production by 2022 (oops, file that under "Now the bad news"). "This …

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Dingell floats it; Boucher knocks it down

Hmm? What's all this now? John Dingell is floating the possibility of a carbon tax? From CongressNow (sub. rqd.): Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who will play a key role in crafting the House version of comprehensive climate change legislation, on Wednesday night downplayed speculation that the House bill could include some form of a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Boucher, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce energy and air quality subcommittee, last night said that no decisions have been made about a carbon tax, despite comments by House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) yesterday that a carbon …

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One small step forward, one step, uh, sideways

You may have heard that today the Senate reached a compromise on CAFE: they will keep the 35mpg-by-2020 requirement, but drop the 4%-every-year-thereafter requirement. The loophole for SUVs will be closed. (Bizarrely, newly minted environmentalist Ted Stevens [R-Alaska] was instrumental in keeping the amendment alive.) This is good news, in a symbolic sort of way (suffice to say, when there are working vehicles on the road that get 100mpg, we shouldn't be satisfied with glacial, incremental gains). But it's offset by the bad news that an amendment to levy around $30 billion in taxes on the oil industry, with the …