Politics

GOP analyst: Democrats now must compromise on global warming

Hold the applause on the administration’s

On a new blog called Terra Rossa -- "Where Conservatives Consider a New Energy Future" -- GOP consultant Whit Ayres argues that when President Bush at the G8 summit declared his willingness to "seriously consider" carbon emission reductions over the next forty years, he took a "major step" in the direction of his environmental critics. Says Ayres: I don't think anyone could argue that conservatives are not trying to compromise on the issue. While many conservative voters, politicians, and business leaders might prefer to take no action to limit carbon emissions, they have heard the call to action and are clearly working toward a cap they can live with. Ayres claims the President has undergone a "sea-change" on global warming, but ignores these inconvenient facts: No agreement to reduce carbon emissions came out of the G8 summit, despite much pressure from Germany and Europe. The President talks of "long-term" [requires subscription] "aspirational" goals, but has committed to nothing but discussion. Shortly after taking office, a White House insider admitted [requires subscription] to Andrew Revkin of The New York Times that the Bush administration intended to do as little as possible about global warming: "There's a sense in which everybody's saying the American public doesn't have the attention span or background to pay attention to this issue," the official said. "There's still a hopeful perception around the White House that this has gone away." Not only did the President break a reassuring campaign promise regarding carbon emissions, but just this last year told a biographer that he was a "dissenter" on the "theory" of global warming. So we have good reason to doubt the sincerity of the Bush administration, despite the bland assurances of progress from White House environmental chief Jim Connaughton. And in fact this past week the president himself, in his own words, has let us know exactly how high a priority he gives the issue. Four recent speeches -- to a Southern Baptist convention, to a homebuilders convention, at a political fund-raiser, and at a nuclear power plant yesterday -- were put through a word processor, and the results show what is on the president's mind, and what is not:

Just when the anger was fading

Ralph Nader is thinking about running. Are we allowed to laugh about this now, or are there still enough idiots around that we have to care?

The trouble with RPS

Mixing up paths and goals

RPS legislation (which seems to have recently died in the Senate, although could conceivably be reintroduced on amendment) is well-intended, but poorly constructed. Roll the clock back 100 years, and assume you're the legislator tasked with figuring out how to get the population to go West. Which do you choose: (a) the Homestead Act, giving people land as soon as they prove that they can get there and cultivate it, or (b) a tax rebate to anyone who hitches five white horses to a Conestoga wagon and takes Route 66 west?

James Connaughton: The Bush era personified

Lies, more lies, and still more lies from the head of CEQ

Tim Dickinson’s Rolling Stone piece on the Bush administration’s coordinated attempts to stifle action on global warming is now online, and it’s worth a read. (Also worth checking out: the accompanying multimedia slideshow.) Lots of it will be familiar to long-time readers, but it’s nice to see it pulled together into a single (extraordinarily damning) narrative. One guy who plays a big role in the story is James Connaughton, the ex-dirty-energy lobbyist Bush brought in to head up the Council on Environmental Quality. Side note: speaking of the CEQ, savor this: Prior to joining the Cabinet, [ex-EPA administrator Christie Todd …

The energy bill

After many years of trying, we’re moving in the right direction at last

I'm a bit bleary eyed after midnight votes, and about to do an event in Boston on the energy fight, but I wanted to come back here to Gristmill to tell you how good it feels to have gotten something good done in the Senate instead of just stopping bad things from happening. A year ago I was battling to stop drilling in ANWR. Last night, finally -- after years of battling and five years after we introduced the Kerry-McCain legislation to raise fuel efficiency standards -- we actually accomplished things in the Senate that will improve the environment. This is something that never would've happened with Bill Frist as the Majority Leader. But with Harry Reid leading the Senate, we were able to finally pass the first significant rise in CAFE standards in over a generation.

Reid isn't done yet

Senate Dems still fighting for energy package

Disappointed about the half-victory in the Senate yesterday? Don’t give up hope yet. Majority leader Harry Reid’s still got some fight in him (from CongressNow, sub. rqd.): Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this afternoon said he will revive the energy tax package that was defeated amid Republican opposition this week, saying he was confident he could muster the votes necessary to pass the measure at a later date. “We’re going to figure out how to bring it back,” Reid said today. “There are a number of places we can look” for reviving the measure, including the upcoming farm bill …

'Strict constructionists'

Self-proclaimed conservatives often simply just like different outcomes

Michigan has an important case up before a state Supreme Court known for two things: Making radical revisions to laws the Republican majority dislikes, and proclaiming its strict textualism in interpreting the law. In the case before the Supreme Court, attorneys for Nestle Waters North America have argued in opposition to citizens' rights under [the Michigan Environmental Protection Act], saying that citizens must be "directly affected" by an environmental action to go to court over it. That means only people who can show pollution, impairment or destruction of natural resources on their own property could take action under MEPA. Nestle, which wants to continue pumping water from a large Michigan wetland for bottling and sale, mostly outside the state, is being challenged under MEPA by a group called Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

Cleaning house

The House of Reps leads the way to a greener capitol

The Hill’s alive with the sound of greening. Or at least, it should be, as soon as our representatives start following through with their “Green the Capitol” initiative, the final report on which was released yesterday in Washington, D.C. The report is the result of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s call for an energy audit of the Capitol complex four months ago, right after she first assumed her new post. Yesterday’s report presents the findings of the audit as well as a comprehensive plan to improve the green cred of the Hill. It includes directives to start purchasing electricity …

Johnson Stiffens Smog Rules

Current U.S. ground-level ozone standard deemed insufficient Smoggy air could get cleaner if a new U.S. EPA standard passes muster. Agency head Stephen Johnson has proposed lowering the allowable amount of ground-level ozone from 80 to 84 parts per billion to 70 to 75 ppb, since “the current standard is insufficient to protect public health.” But the agency will hold a 90-day public-comment period on several options, including Johnson’s plan; a recommendation from an EPA scientific panel to make the standard even stricter; or, eh, leaving it where it is. Fossil-fuel lobbyists and other panic-stricken people will no doubt weigh …

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