Coal myths

They’re still common, but they make no sense

A little while back I praised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for opposing new coal plants in his home state. Now he’s clarified his position: he opposes new coal plants anywhere in the world. Word. One grumpy note. Look at this: Michael Yackira, president and chief executive officer of Sierra Pacific Resources, said his company “respectfully disagrees” with Reid’s position. His company is seeking approval to build one of the plants. “We believe what we’ll be building is the cleanest coal-fired plant in the world” because of new technology, Yackira said. “We must also have fossil fuel plants for …

The next McNerney

State Senator Andrew Rice gears up to run for Inhofe’s seat

David. Joe Namath. The 1980 U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team. Where am I going with this, you might be asking yourself? Here's a better clue: Jerry McNerney. And now, Andrew Rice. Yup, the climate's least favorite Senator, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, now has a challenger. And Andrew is getting great reviews from the eco-community: Smart as as whip. Has a masters degree from Harvard Divinity School. Articulate and charismatic. A committed environmentalist, and a man of deep conscience. When his brother was killed in 9/11, he dedicated himself to social justice and political reform. Especially for the latter, what better place to start from than Oklahoma's Senate seat? This is going to be entertaining.

McCain says climate is one of his top three issues

‘The fact is climate change is real,’ he says

John McCain says global warming would be one of three key issues in his presidency, The Aspen Times reports. That’s sure to endear him to the GOP base as much as his stance on immigration.

Policies to reduce and increase driving at the same time

Subsidizing drivers needs to end

This article in the NYT highlights the absurdity of current transportation policy. While New York City is trying to get federal funding to help it pay for a congestion pricing and traffic congestion policy, the federal government is, at the same time, handing out large tax breaks to help people reduce the costs of driving to work. It's yet another example of government policy gone awry, badly. The solution isn't sexy, won't get you on TV, and doesn't make for great headlines that will earn prestige: eliminate all government subsidies, and either cap pollution or tax it. It's not rocket science.

Interview with Thomas Casten, part four

Making money cutting carbon

DR: There hasn’t been any public pressure to change the electricity system. Most people don’t even know how electricity is made. It comes out of the wall like magic. TC: You are so right. In Ontario, they did a massive peer-reviewed study to identify the health and environmental effects of making power with coal, and what they thought would be saved if they replaced the coal with gas or nuclear. They talked about being able to save $3 billion a year in health and environmental costs. When you divide that number by the kilowatt hours made from coal plants, it …

Al Gore calls for civil disobedience

Against climate polluters

From The New York Times's Nicholas Kristof ($ub req'd): I ran into Al Gore at a climate/energy conference this month, and he vibrates with passion about this issue -- recognizing that we should confront mortal threats even when they don't emanate from Al Qaeda. "We are now treating the Earth's atmosphere as an open sewer," he said, and (perhaps because my teenage son was beside me) he encouraged young people to engage in peaceful protests to block major new carbon sources. "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers," Mr. Gore said, "and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants." Say it, Al! But it's not just young people who need to do it -- everyone needs to join in, starting with you. Shutting down coal plants, blockading palm-oil importers like Imperium Renewables and other rainforest destroyers, and stopping work at oil refineries could move the climate debate beyond just personal action and put the spotlight squarely on the big polluters who are the real culprits behind the problem. This could be Al Gore's Gandhi moment (especially appropriate for a Nobel Peace Prize nominee). It would be great if you (in conjunction with say, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and other civil disobedience-oriented environmental groups) announced a day of civil disobedience to confront polluters -- and were the first one to get arrested. You'll find thousands of people, myself included, to back you up. If you're interested in being one of those people, click here to send Al Gore a fax letting him know you're ready to participate in civil disobedience on behalf of the planet.

The real 'surge' in Iraq: Rent-a-soldier

In a privatized war, mercenaries outnumber soldiers — and bring home cash for their bosses

Everybody thought it was a big deal last spring when President Bush announced his "surge" of 20,000 troops in Iraq, which brings the total number to 160,000, four years after the invasion. Meanwhile, with little public or Congressional scrutiny, the president has been eagerly shelling out billions to maintain an even larger private armed force in Iraq. According to the journalist Jeremy Scahill — without whose dogged reports in The Nation and on Democracy Now the story would be virtually unknown — U.S. taxpayers are now supporting a private-security force of 180,000 in Iraq. That’s larger than our formal military …

Hastert aging, mellowing, retiring … going green?

Also via Brian Beutler (TOWTM) comes the exceedingly strange news that Denny Hastert (R-Ill.), former Speaker of the House and heretofore undistinguished party apparatchik, wants to leave Congress with a bang by … passing climate change legislation with Nancy Pelosi. Wonders never cease.

Galbraith says what he really thinks

Economist goes over to the dark side

Some facts to hang your hat on: Good governance might save the day. Bad governance could just make things worse. I generally agree with Galbraith's opinions. However, there is always a reasonable probability that some of his opinions are wrong (as is true of anybody's opinions, including my own). He's quoted in David's post: "Planning" is a word that too many in this debate are trying to avoid, fearful, perhaps, of its Soviet overtones. But the reality of climate change is that central planning is essential, and on a grand scale. History has a bad habit of repeating itself. In the past that was unavoidable because we had no way to record history so future generations would learn from others' mistakes. We don't have that excuse now. Ignoring history in today's information age can't be blamed on ignorance.

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