Politics

Getting nervous

Via Boucher, Bush signals willingness to sign onto (weak) mandatory carbon controls

According to E&E (sub. rqd), Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Coal) says President Bush would sign a climate bill with mandatory carbon controls as long as it …

Cool things happening at the local level

California ‘cool cities’ are taking the lead on climate change

Now in her seventh term, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) represents California's 36th Congressional District. Jane Harman. Even sunny skies and pleasant ocean breezes over much of our state can't mask the fact that Californians breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation. California is the world's 12th largest source of carbon dioxide, the chief heat-trapping gas that causes global warming. As dirty as our air is, we are taking the lead nationally in trying to make the air cleaner and our actions greener. Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law ambitious legislation establishing the goal of reducing dangerous emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. And yet many in Washington, D.C., are unhappy with California's efforts and are working to undermine and override state laws and regulations designed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and promote cleaner fuels. Several weeks ago, emails from the U.S. Department of Transportation suggested senior-level administrators, and possibly the secretary of transportation herself, have been lobbying on behalf of automobile interests to persuade the EPA not to issue a waiver allowing California's clean-air rules. Currently, the Bush administration and Gov. Schwarzenegger are at odds over whether California can do its part to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles. Sixteen other states have either adopted or are planning to adopt the California standard, so if the U.S. EPA grants the waiver, it would directly impact 40 percent of the U.S. auto market. In April, Schwarzenegger sent a letter to the EPA giving them six months to act on his waiver before he would be forced to file a lawsuit. Six months have now passed, and the EPA has still not made a decision. Not one to make an empty threat, Schwarzenegger's administration filed suit today demanding that the EPA make a decision on the waiver. It is unclear how this standoff will end, and whether the Bush administration will allow California the leeway to regulate its own emissions. Fortunately, the feds cannot impede a growing effort to address global warming now underway at the local level: the "Cool Cities" program.

Curses, oiled again!

High oil prices reshape the geopolitical landscape

Check out Mark Landler on how rising oil prices are changing the geopolitical landscape. Here’s the nut: The prospect of triple-digit oil prices has redrawn …

Murkowski condemns Rush to judgment

Alaska Senator defends young constituent against Limbaugh’s attacks

Those of you who don’t read the comments under our posts may have missed this. Two days ago Nathan Wyeth brought news that talk radio …

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: First full committee hearing

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

Well, so much for enjoying Boxer's continued grilling. Early in the hearing, after one brief but blistering round of questions, she had to depart for votes on the Senate floor. She passed the gavel down to Joe Lieberman, who also had to leave, and down it went until it reached Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who closed up the hearing -- a brief one by Senate standards. Sanders remains the only member of the committee asking serious questions about renewable energy. He pokes the most significant holes in the skeptic argument that drastically decreasing our carbon consumption will also drastically decrease our standard of living. It's nice having heroes, but he needs more support. Here are links to opening statements from Chairman Boxer (D-Ca.) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-Ok.) and testimony from the witnesses, submitted for the record:

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?

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 …