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Climate Policy


A walk through the week's climate news

The Climate Post: Tension over Middle East oil

Will Gaddafi sabotage Libya's oil pipelines to spite protesters?Photo: Crethi PlethiOver the past week, the unrest in the Middle East deepened, with growing protests in Bahrain and Libya, and more draconian measures by the countries' leaders to quash the opposition. Libya is a significant oil exporter, and the first member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to experience significant protests in recent months. The developments have roiled the oil markets, driving the price above $110 a barrel -- the highest since the bubble-inflated peak burst in July 2008, after spiking to nearly $150 a barrel. It could …


this house needs cleaning

Meet the members of Congress who sided with corporate polluters over children and your health

May not be safe to enter.Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. For the first time in the 40 year history of the Clean Air Act, a majority of the House of Representatives has voted to block EPA from implementing and enforcing standards to sharply reduce mercury and other toxic air emissions from a polluting industry. In one of a long list of irresponsible amendments to last week's Republican budget, nearly all Republicans and a small group of Democrats voted to block EPA standards to reduce mercury, arsenic, lead, PCBs, dioxins and furans, and heavy metals from cement plants. Mercury …


By leaps and rebounds

Rebounding to a smarter energy efficiency perspective

It's easy to tangle up ideas, especially when we approach an issue from a narrow perspective. That seems to be the case with the newly published report by the Breakthrough Institute. Their topic? The "rebound effect." Their target? Greater levels of energy efficiency. Their conclusion? The rebound effect will negate most of the energy and emissions gains we might see from more productive investments in energy efficiency. Many in business and policy communities increasingly see energy efficiency as a smart, no-regrets investment opportunity for the U.S. Just one example? It turns out that our current system of generating and delivering …


Polls apart

New polls: Americans trust the EPA over Congress

Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Just days after a series of budget votes in the U.S. House, which NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner called "an unprecedented assault on public health, clean air, fresh water, open space and wildlife," NRDC is releasing 20 new polls to probe how Americans nationally and in 19 key districts feel about votes to block the EPA's work to protect public health. The new results are consistent with what we've found in previous polls and the American Lung Association showed just last week, Americans want the EPA to be able to do its job. …


The Coase isn't clear

The shaky foundations of free-market environmentalism

Photo: Steve RhodesCross-posted from Sightline Daily. [CORRECTION: As mentioned in the comments under this post on Sightline, this discussion of the "Coase theorem" contains several errors -- most notably, that Coase himself did not present his arguments mathematically. In fact, according to a number of sources, there really is no single "Coase theorem" -- instead, there are several different and somewhat conflicting notions that followers and interpreters of Coase have presented as theorems. For more, please read the comments on Sightline.] Those inclined to be uncharitable might see the phrase "free-market environmentalism" as somewhere between oxymoronic and greenwashing. But I'm …


Utah’s auction hero

Climate activist Tim DeChristopher goes to trial

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Jennifer PredigerTim DeChristopher talks about his upcoming trial with filmmaker Jon Cooksey. Dearest readers, I want to share a story of an ordinary citizen using peaceful direct action to take a stand. When Tim DeChristopher woke up one morning in December of 2008, what he was intending to do that day was disrupt …


Wonk fight!

Climate reformists challenge old economic models

A few weeks ago I wrote about the seemingly different futures foretold by climate science and climate economics. The former is filled with peril and haunted by the unthinkable, the latter blithely assured of continued prosperity. Most economic modeling, you'll recall, forecasts the continued rise of global gross domestic product (GDP) -- people in the future will be richer than we are today. Depending on various assumptions, climate damage will reduce the rate of GDP growth anywhere from 2 to 20 percent by 2050, but under no scenario does climate damage stall or reverse that rate of growth. Collapse is …


Revolution greens

The energy [r]evolution has begun

Access to energy is vital for our economies, but energy is one of the main sources of the greenhouse gas emissions putting our climate at risk. It follows that we need to transition to a low-carbon, renewable energy mix. That aspiration is frequently debated -- at times encouraged, often mocked -- but it bears emphasizing: the energy revolution is already underway. Greenpeace, the German Space Agency (DLR), and the European Renewable Energy Council -- representing over 400,000 renewable energy workers -- joined forces back in 2007 and have since published more than 40 global, regional, and national Energy [R]evolution scenarios. …


Can you hear me now?

The American people really, really support clean energy

This is from a USA Today/Gallup poll from last month: The same month, House Speaker John Boehner said to the new Congress, "The people voted to end business as usual and today we begin to carry out their instructions." I'll be looking for those solar incentives then.


scorched earth policy

GOP would rather shut down the government than protect your air and water

Photo: Nathan ColquhounHouse Republicans, who have been spending much of the term so far creating jobs via strict regulation of women's uteruses, are now doing their damnedest to create jobs via destroying the EPA. The plan is basically "1) thwart progressive ideals; 2) step 2; 3) jobs for everyone!" What if you don't want a job on the Fallopian Patrol or the Pro-Pollution Brigade? Well, screw you, buddy, this is the only idea they have. Tricky dicks: Rather than propose their environment-killing provisions individually, Republicans are sticking them in as amendments on spending legislation. It's basically 10 pounds of sh*t …