According to a new analysis from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, 85 percent of spending on presidential ads by the top spending conservative 501(c)(4) organizations went toward spots labeled “deceptive” by fact checkers. Third-party 501(c)(4) groups, commonly referred to as political action committees, do not have to disclose their donors.
As of June 1st, no Democratic 501(c)(4) organizations had spent any money on the presidential race.
And who are these miscreants of misinformation? The American Energy Alliance, the Koch-linked Americans for Prosperity, and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, for starters. And the ads themselves have a common theme: energy. As ThinkProgress notes, "Bloomberg analysis found that 81 percent attack ads against President Obama were related to energy in the first quarter of this year."
Congress normally revisits funding for transportation projects every several years, reevaluating spending, priority projects, and the like. That's what they normally do. The current transportation legislation was passed in 2005 and repeatedly extended until revisiting the entire bill became impossible to avoid. In other words, until now. The most recent extension ends Saturday.
In March, the Senate passed a transportation reauthorization bill called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, clearing the normally contentious chamber by a nearly 3-to-1 vote. MAP-21 [PDF], as it's lovingly called, is by most accounts a strong compromise, a two-year bill that includes a variety of new and revised programs that address maintenance, new road creation, transit, and beautification. Is it what many of us would want to see if we were given the government's pocketbook? No. But it could be worse.
It could, for example, be the House's version. The House has yet to pass full reauthorization legislation, instead signing off on short-term extensions. Recognizing the urgency and need of infrastructure investments, the House has decided to play its normal game: load the bill up with unrelated crap and negotiate to get the bill as far to the right as possible. Included in the House's proposals are an effort to halt EPA regulations on coal ash (here's EarthJustice on the issue) and to force authorization of the full Keystone pipeline. The former is at least sort of transportation-related; coal ash is a common component of concrete. The latter is the political equivalent of crossing your arms and holding your breath until you turn blue.
There have been ongoing rumors over the course of the week that a compromise between the two chambers would be reached. If anything other than a short-term extension is going to happen, a bill needs to be finalized and submitted by midnight tonight. Within the past few hours, in fact, there have been reports of a deal being reached. As of writing, that hasn't been confirmed.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has released its annual "Testing the Waters" report, an overview of the nation's beaches.
You'll want to read this before taking a dip.
Over the 22 years the NRDC has created the report, 2011 saw the third-highest levels of beach closings and advisory days. What does that mean? What, exactly, would you be swimming in?
Most beach closings are issued because beachwater monitoring detects unsafe levels of bacteria. These unsafe levels indicate the presence of pathogens -- microscopic organisms from human and animal waste that pose a threat to human health. The key reported contributors of these contaminants are (1) stormwater runoff, (2) sewage overflows and inadequately treated sewage, (3) agricultural runoff, and (4) other sources, such as beachgoers themselves, wildlife, septic systems, and boating waste.
Oh, neat. Here's how that pollution has varied as a cause of beach closures over the years:
More than a year after House Republicans began investigating the $535 million Solyndra loan guarantee, the lawmaker leading the probe says it could soon come to a close. “We’re getting closer to getting closure on this,” Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel, told POLITICO late yesterday.
"What?" you will exclaim. "Am I to believe that perhaps there was no evidence of wrongdoing to be found?" Yes, dear reader. That is what you are being asked to believe. We understand your hesitance.
A long time ago, back in the halcyon days of Summer 2012, a time when "Call Me Maybe" was tearing up the charts and people were watching baseball, I guess -- one Monday in late June of that year we posted an article.
It was this article, looking at revisions to the nation's flood insurance policy. The idea was so sensible, so cost-effective, that we assumed even in the Wacky World of Washington™ they stood a good shot of passage.
After all (we wrote, smiling) the legislation simply allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to update flood maps and insurance rates to consider the impacts of higher sea levels. Opposing such rational action made no sense at all, we noted, then joking that irrationality "has never once in America’s 223-year history of Congress been an obstruction to politicians introducing legislation." Just a joke, Congress! We knew you'd come through!
We were so innocent back when we wrote that, yesterday.
This morning, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., upheld the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) first-of-its-kind greenhouse gas regulations, dismissing out of hand a variety of challenges from industry and states. The findings uphold the agency's rules defining limits to the emission of greenhouse gas pollution under the Clean Air Act. Specifically, the court ruled: Yes, the agency acted properly in determining that CO2 is a danger to public health; yes, it was right to use that determination to regulate vehicles; and yes, it was within its authority to determine the timing (Timing Rule) and scope (Tailoring Rule) of the regulations.
Here's how the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided. (At the bottom of this post, you can read the decision itself, via FuelFix.)
1. The Court determined that the EPA absolutely has authority to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant.
The genesis of this litigation came in 2007, when the Supreme Court held in Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gases “unambiguous[ly]” may be regulated as an “air pollutant” under the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). Squarely rejecting the contention -- then advanced by EPA -- that “greenhouse gases cannot be ‘air pollutants’ within the meaning of the Act,” the Court held that the CAA’s definition of “air pollutant” "embraces all airborne compounds of whatever stripe.”
In other words, when the Bush administration EPA was sued by the state of Massachusetts in 2007 for not regulating greenhouse gases, the Supreme Court determined that it unquestionably had the authority to do so. A pollutant is a pollutant, after all, regardless of impact.
Some days, there's just too much news about the weather to warrant 45,000 individual posts. So, primarily out of laziness, we've compiled this handy overview of all of the (mostly but not entirely awful) weather-related things happening across the country. Did we forget/omit some? Probably! Tell us about them in the comments.
There has been at least one death related to Debby: A young mother was killed when a tornado spawned by the storm upended her house. A man in Alabama was swept out to into the Gulf and has not been found. Oy.
An indication of how much new emissions rules and cheaper natural gas have hammered the value of coal-burning generation will come when Exelon announces the results of the first big sale of U.S. coal-fired power plants in four years.
Exelon, the largest U.S. power company, may have to take a 40 percent discount for three Maryland plants it’s seeking to sell by the end of August. Bidders including NRG Energy Inc. (NRG) have offered $600 million to $700 million for the units, which have a fair value of $1 billion, said Travis Miller, Chicago-based director of utilities research for Morningstar Inc.
Perhaps you heard the story going around today. A genetically modified grass started pumping out cyanide gas, killing a herd of cattle. CBS News had the scoop, as seen at WTVR.com in Richmond: "Genetically modified grass linked to cattle deaths." It's basically a story custom-built for rapid spread around the internet.
And it is basically completely wrong. The grass at issue, Tifton 85, was not genetically modified at all, but rather is a hybrid. Confusion between hybridized crops (which is a process that is basically as old as the idea of "crops") and GMOs is not uncommon.
Nor did the plants suddenly start pumping out cyanide. Examiner.com was one of the first sites with a refutation of the story from which we excerpt this explanation:
According to local station KEYE, Abel first knew something was wrong when the cows started bellowing. He thought he was about to witness a calving but instead saw his unfortunate animals staggering around, obviously dying. Others in the area have also since tested their grass and found the same results—the grass has started venting cyanide.
True: Cattle died after eating grass that suddenly started venting cyanide [Update: the animals died of prussic acid or hydrogen cyanide poisoning.]