Politics

All Pact and Ready to Go

Six Western states, two Canadian provinces agree to regional climate pact Yesterday, the leaders of six Western states and two Canadian provinces agreed to their own regional climate pact, aiming to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The Western Climate Initiative aims to have a cap-and-trade system in place by August 2008 and wants to partner with other trading systems like the European Union’s and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the U.S. Northeast. While the 15-percent target isn’t quite ambitious enough for some, greens are hopeful that the growing movement to set even relatively …

Big Oil's biggest toadies

And the ‘Climate Balls of Steel’ award goes to …

A new report penned by the environmental movement's genius uber-strategist Daniel J. Weiss of The Center for American Progress and his alliterative sidekick Anne Wingate examines exactly how big Big Oil's influence on individual members of Congress is. Working with OpenSecrets.org, Weiss and Wingate found that the 189 members who opposed a Democratic measure to redirect $16 billion in oil and gas subsidies to clean energy like wind and solar received on average $109,277 in contributions from Big Oil between 1989 and 2006. The 221 representatives that voted successfully to shift the subsidies to clean energy had only received an average of $26,277 over the same period. While I'm sure some of those representatives who voted against the measure may sincerely believe that Exxon Mobil needs an extra few billion so that its shareholders don't go hungry, I suspect that most were just doing it to keep the petrodollars flowing right into their campaign account, and were willing to ignore the climate crisis to do it. It's amazing how cheaply those representatives are willing to sell their votes: $109,277 over 17 years isn't that much money -- generally less than 5 percent of what those candidates spent on their campaigns during that time. It shows how contributing to political candidates remains one of the most effective ways to spend money: had Big Oil won this round, they would have spent one dollar for every $774 dollars they got back in subsidies (and that's just this one vote; actually their $20-million-plus in contributions have got them more than $35 billion annually in subsidies and tax credits). Industry has long known this, but environmentalists can get the same bang for the buck by directing more of their resources towards campaign contributions. Heather Wilson. I'd like to highlight a few of the biggest recipients of Big Oil's big money: New Mexico's Heather Wilson (R): $492,120 New York's Thomas Reynolds (R): $155,661 Virginia's Tom Davis (R): $134,360 But I've got to give today's Climate Balls of Steel award to New Jersey's Mike Ferguson (R), who sucked in $95,500 in oil money, but voted against Big Oil anyway. There aren't many people who can suck on Big Oil's teat and then spit crude oil in the harlot's face, but apparently Ferguson (at least in this instance) is one.

Teddy Would Be Proud

Conservation organization sues feds over energy development The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has sued the U.S. Department of the Interior over the authorization of thousands of new oil and gas wells, roads, and miles of pipeline in a wildlife-rich area of Wyoming. News that an organization has sued the federal government over environmental travesties is, well, not really news — unless it’s TRCP, a non-litigious group with a largely Republican membership. The move is indicative that even the Bush administration’s usual allies are fed up with a one-track-mind approach to energy development. Case in point: The Bureau of Land Management …

Teddy would be proud

Conservation organization sues feds over energy development

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has sued the Department of the Interior over the authorization of thousands of new oil and gas wells, roads, and miles of pipeline in a wildlife-rich area of Wyoming. News that an organization has sued the federal government over environmental travesties is, well, not really news -- unless it's TRCP, a non-litigious group with a largely Republican membership. The move is indicative that even the Bushies' natural allies are fed up with the administration's one-track-mind approach to energy development. Case in point: The Bureau of Land Management stated that opening the Wyoming area to drilling would "have adverse impact to suitable habitat for many wildlife species" and turn hunting grounds into "an industrial setting" -- but recommended the DOI go ahead anyway. sources: Casper Star-Tribune, The New York Times

A day late and a dollar short

U.S. joins the ‘I call the Arctic’ bandwagon

In the last few weeks, the U.S. has been kicking itself for not thinking to place a flag on the sea floor at the North Pole. But Russia is not the only country to have laid claim to the oil-rich area; other competitors include Canada, Denmark, and a pack of Siberian huskies that have been peeing there for ages. However, all of them are certainly in for a disappointment, because on Friday the U.S. struck back, by sending out a team of scientists to map the area. Just as Lewis and Clark did before, the U.S. hopes to use the survey data as a foundation for political and economic expansion into the explored regions. Rock beats scissors, map beats flag. Of course, the U.S. Senate has not ratified the UN Law of the Sea Convention treaty, which took force in 1994 (despite years of urging from Presidents Clinton and Bush). So technically the U.S. doesn't have a seat at the table as critical decisions are made on how to divvy up the ocean bottom. As Grist reported, U.S. State Department spokesperson Tom Casey scoffed, "I'm not sure of whether they've put a metal flag, a rubber flag, or a bed sheet on the ocean floor. Either way, it doesn't have any legal standing or effect on this claim." Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay went on to add, "You can't go around the world these days dropping a flag somewhere -- this isn't the 14th or 15th century." No kidding. When was the last time that happened?

A review of <em>Sicko</em>

Along with a rambling social commentary

Sicko is Michael Moore's best film yet. It brought tears to my eyes and infuriated me at the same time. I saw it last night with my youngest daughter. Ah, let me think here, how am I going to give this an environmental twist? How about using our pathetic health care system as another example of how dysfunctional our political system has become, the same one we are counting on to protect our biosphere and us from peak oil and global warming? The film documents how Hillary Clinton was beaten into submission when she tried to reform the system and how even she is now beholden to the industry. And who is to blame for this? Would it be the politicians, the lobbyists, or the ignorant, self-deluded American citizens who allow the lobbyists to buy the politicians because they are terrified of losing their jobs, everything they are paying off, and their health care to boot? All of which is covered in the film, by the way.

APEC's weak brew on climate

Pacific Rim countries vow to do … very little

Throughout the year, members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group (APEC) — including the U.S., Japan, and Australia, among others — have had a series of meetings. In early September, they will announce their grand plans, which, according to a leaked draft (PDF) obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald, contain "aspirational" greenhouse-gas emission targets. Here’s what APEC will shoot for: • Setting up a Network for Energy Technology to promote collaboration on research on clean coal, nuclear power and renewable energy such as solar and wind power; • A non-binding, unenforceable 25 per cent reduction in energy intensity (energy consumption …

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Keep It Pretty Much the Same

U.S. Forest Service re-revises forest-management rules In March, a federal judge put the kibosh on the U.S. Forest Service’s revision of forest-management rules that had directed local managers to give economic concerns as high a priority as ecological health and removed requirements that managers ensure viable populations of native wildlife. Having not succeeded, the agency try, tried again, offering up a revised revision late last week. Enviros see the new pro-business rules as essentially the old pro-business rules with an allowance for more public review; if the plan remains unchanged, chances are decent that greens will sue again.

Dems and hippie green companies stealing your money and wives

Except not really

The NYT had an article this weekend that might as well have been titled "Dems Corrupt, Green Companies Gorging on Bonanza of Earmarked Pork and Wasting Your Money." Really? Let's look at the evidence they present. Exhibit A is Sunpower Corp, which received a $20 million grant from the DOE. Where did those funds come from? The President's Solar America Initiative, announced in his February 2006 State of the Union address -- which, as I pointed out at the time, merely returned funding for solar research to the levels enjoyed under the Carter administration (a modest $148 million). Hardly a bonanza. So, here we have a competitively bid project, out of a ridiculously small program that was contained in the president's budget and passed by the Republican-controlled Congress, used as proof that Dems are giving away the house to green companies. Dems? No. Earmarked? No. Pork? No. And all of this about a bill that Republicans are fighting and the president has threatened to veto specifically because ... wait for it ... it has the temerity to reduce tax incentives and subsidies to fossil fuel industries! Your liberal media at work.

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