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An interview with John Edwards about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: John Edwards dropped out of the presidential race on Jan. 30, 2008. John Edwards. Photo: Rachel Feierman John Edwards has gone to great lengths to outshine the top Democratic candidates with an aggressive environmental platform. On the 2008 campaign trail, this blue-collar defender has painted himself as a bleeding-heart greenie. The first candidate to call for an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050 and the first to make his campaign carbon neutral, Edwards has had a pied-piper effect on the …

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Brazil …

... realizes that global warming is going to hurt it too, and starts to come around on the notion of market mechanisms that could prevent further deforestation in the Amazon, one of the principal global sources of greenhouse gas emissions. This is good news -- it needs to become more profitable to save the forest than to cut it down, and quickly.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Hansen thinks we're going under water

Sleep tight!

I would be remiss if I did not point out that legendary climate scientist Jim Hansen finds it "almost inconceivable that 'business as usual' climate change will not result in a rise in sea level measured in metres within a century." That's some scary sh*t. Hansen seems way out ahead of what any glaciologist is willing to say, which he attributes to "scientific reticence." I'm a little leery casting my lot in with an outlier on matters like this, but Hansen's been an outlier before and has been richly vindicated. Here's an idea: maybe we should cut back on emissions …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Attribute-based CAFE standards

Are wack

In his SOTU speech earlier this year, Bush proposed updating and reforming CAFE standards. Skeptical? Good. You're not stupid. As I wrote here, one of his reforms is to make the whole CAFE system "attribute-based," meaning different mileage standards would apply to different classes of vehicles based on their, um, attributes -- mainly size. This would make things unnecessarily complicated and perpetuate the double standard that has encouraged the domination of ginormous SUVs for the last decade. Under Bush's plan, the double standard would become a multiple-standard, an open sop to the Big Three automakers. Anyway, that was just my …

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Against a gas tax

It’s not the same as a carbon tax, and it’s not cool

I've noticed that lots of people talk about a carbon tax and a gas tax as if they're interchangeable, or the same thing, or connected parts of some larger package. That's bad. Please stop it. A carbon tax is just that: a tax on carbon content. It could take numerous forms, but it's generally agreed that the best would be to tax as far "upstream" as possible -- as close as possible to the sources of carbon-heavy fuels -- so as to minimize the number of taxed parties and the possibility of accounting shenanigans. That means a tax on wellheads …

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Magical pony plans: A public service announcement

A note to the environmentally self-righteous

Frequently, when a small, incremental measure to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is proposed, environmental commentators argue that it should be rejected. Why? Because it is a "distraction," a way of enabling us to continue our horrid, depraved lifestyle, methadone for our addiction to iniquity, a sop to our corporate overlords, mere playing of games, a highly Unserious Frivolity, etc. etc. Instead, we should choose the Magical Pony Plan for a Totally and Awesomely Transformed World. That, after all, is the only real solution. Here's a thought for such folks: unless you also describe practical steps for how we can achieve your …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Teh funny

Wind: YouTube edition

This ad for Epuron Wind Power is amusing:

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50 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power, the public-teat suckingest industry in history

Your government at work

This is how we make energy policy: A one-sentence provision buried in the Senate's recently passed energy bill, inserted without debate at the urging of the nuclear power industry, could make builders of new nuclear plants eligible for tens of billions of dollars in government loan guarantees. Lobbyists have told lawmakers and administration officials in recent weeks that the nuclear industry needs as much as $50 billion in loan guarantees over the next two years to finance a major expansion. PS: the biggest supporter of this boondoggle is a Republican, from the party of small government and free markets. Har.

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Edwards on the Issues

A look at John Edwards’ environmental platform and record

Update: John Edwards dropped out of the presidential race on Jan. 30, 2008. During his single term representing North Carolina in the U.S. Senate, John Edwards received a middling 63 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters -- a score lower than might have been expected because he missed a number of key votes while campaigning for president and vice president in 2003 and 2004. In his current campaign for president, Edwards has been more aggressive on the issue of climate change than other Democratic candidates, who've ended up following his lead. Read an interview with John Edwards by …

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The South

It’s dirty and fat, but … charming!

According to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project, the most of the nation's dirtiest power plants are in the South. According to CNN, most of the nation's obesity problem is in the South. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the states with the highest level of children in poverty, the highest level of infant mortality, and the highest level of teen motherhood are in the South. According to my mother, the South will rise again. Let's hope so. (h/t: Aunt Phyllis and Steven White)

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living