Climate & Energy

Clinton, Daley to green Sears Tower, other Chicago landmarks

The tallest building in North America is officially going green, along with a few of its Windy City counterparts. At a green building expo in …

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: First full committee hearing

America’s Climate Security Act goes before Boxer’s Environment Committee

Today is the first hearing on the Lieberman-Warner climate bill in the full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Now that we're out of subcommittee, the expert witnesses aren't all cleverly selected special guests of the bill's authors. So we're hearing, right now, from people like Anne E. Smith, vice president of CRA International, which represents some, shall we say, unsavory anti-environmental companies. This is not a mark-up hearing, so the bill won't be changing shape today. Events like this are in large part Kabuki theater -- events with the patina of a fact-finding mission, meant to provide members who already plan to vote "yes" or "no" on the legislation with the expert cover they think they need to do so. But there is, I suppose, the off chance that people like Smith and Dr. Margo Thorning of the American Council for Capital Formation will knock an on-the-fence senator away from supporting this or other, stronger bills. More likely, though, it will just create an opportunity for Boxer to smack Smith around for not disclosing the fact that her company works on behalf of Arco, Haliburton, Exxon Mobil, and on and on, and for Jonathan Pershing of the World Resources Institute to make people like Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) look like idiots.

WTF happened to a 'new direction'?

Obama condemns mining reform package as too hard on the mining industry

Barack Obama is ticking me off. First he opportunistically attacks Clinton for not being enthusiastic enough in her support for corn ethanol — which he …

Transportation and climate get hitched

Seattle-area voters tied the knot

In the Seattle metro region, voters just sank an $18 billion transportation megaproposal that would have built more than 180 lanes miles of highway and 50 miles of light rail. But so far, the mainstream press has missed one of the most important stories of the year. The real story isn't tax fatigue, it's this: perhaps for the first time ever in the U.S., a critical bloc of voters linked transportation choices to climate protection. In the run-up to the vote, a surprising amount of the debate centered on the package's climate implications. (The state has committed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and many cities, including Seattle, have been national leaders on climate.) The opposition argued global warming. So did the measure's supporters. If you don't believe me, see, among others, the Seattle P-I (yes), The Stranger (no), the Yes Campaign, the Sierra Club's No Campaign, the right-leaning Washington Policy Center (no), and even the anti-tax/rail No Campaign, which oddly enough kept trumpeting the Sierra Club's opposition as a primary reason to vote no. The turning point may have been when King County Executive Ron Sims suddenly withdrew his support. He cited the climate-warming emissions from added traffic as one of his chief objections -- he was thinking about his granddaughters, he said, not just the next five years. The funny thing was, there was a heap of confusion and disagreement over the proposal's true climate impacts, mainly because no one had conducted a full climate assessment of the measure. But climate clearly weighed as a factor for a critical bloc of voters on both sides of the issue. In fact, Prop 1 may be the last of its kind, at least in the Pacific Northwest: a transportation proposal that lacked a climate accounting. Obviously, there were more factors in play than just the climate. Taxes and traffic congestion mattered too. But what ultimately may have tipped that scales is that Puget Sound voters are reluctant to expand roads because they lock us into decades of increased climate pollution. It's pretty well accepted that Seattle-area voters are receptive to environmental messages -- and in this case there were smart and well-informed greens on both sides of the debate. But green or not, the biggest problem for a certain segment of voters may have been that there was no comprehensive accounting of the climate impacts of the project -- one that included the roads, the rail, and the probable effects on land use. So what's the lesson?

Misleading Shell Oil ads removed from British media

Shell Oil has removed ads from Britain’s media after the country’s Advertising Standards Authority criticized the company’s claim to consumers that “we use our waste …

Fiji Water announces plan to become carbon negative

A bold new plan to bypass carbon neutrality and become carbon negative has been announced by, of all things, a bottled-water company. Fiji Water has …

Climate change direct action

It’s beginning.

Permits for me but not for thee

Max Baucus wrangles a sweet deal for Montana rural co-ops in the Lieberman-Warner bill

One bit of shenanigans that went on in the backroom negotiations over Lieberman-Warner was the effort by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to exempt his state’s …

Maine rejects coal, embraces wind power

Three cheers for the people of Maine (Mainites? Mainians? Mainists?): The community of Wiscasset rejected a zoning ordinance change that would have allowed a new …