Politics

Schwarzenegger in dispute with staff who wants to implement global warming legislation

How progressive can legislation be if it’s never allowed to make progress?

Dan Walters writes in the Sacramento Bee: The messy departure of the chairman and executive director of the Air Resources Board, if nothing else, reflects the extremely intense, largely clandestine struggle in the Capitol over how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's much-ballyhooed anti-global warming crusade is to be implemented. Schwarzenegger says he fired ARB Chairman Robert Sawyer last week because the veteran energy researcher was moving too slowly on cleaning up the San Joaquin Valley's dirty air. But Sawyer and ARB Executive Director Catherine Witherspoon, who resigned Monday, have a far different version, one that rings truer. They contend that Schwarzenegger's chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, and other aides wanted them to slow down on implementing anti-global warming legislation passed last year.

From SUVs to solar panels

Do higher MPG cars mean fewer jobs?

The Chicago Tribune has an article in today's paper entitled "MPG bill could cost UAW jobs; Workers fear SUV plant's fate sealed," although the article itself isn't as shrill as the title suggests. At first glance, the article looks like the classic "those environmentalists are going to take away your jobs" piece, but the author presents data for the other side, that is, that the problems of the auto industry are the problems of the managers of the auto industry: Higher fuel standards would affect all automakers but would hit the domestics harder because they sell a greater percentage of trucks than foreign rivals. Trucks account for 56 percent of GM's sales, two-thirds of Ford's and three-fourths of the Chrysler Group's. Youch! Who's fault is it that they bet the farm on SUVs? The car companies could have analyzed the data on peaking oil, foreign imports of oil, even global warming. Because of their short-term outlook, made much worse by Wall Street's emphasis on the next quarter, not the next quarter of a century, they refused to go down a path that should have been obvious by the end of the 1970s.

Daily Kos founder misfires on 'clean coal'

For shame

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zuniga is interviewed in the spring issue of Terrain, the publication of the excellent Ecology Center in Berkeley, Calif. He has some interesting views to share about the green movement, including his disappointment that the top six environmental groups have more cash assets than the "vast right wing conspiracy," yet they keep their pet issues so siloed that they cancel their collective clout, keeping a national green agenda effectively sidelined. But where he loses me is with his tepid but clear endorsement of clean coal: I'm a big supporter of Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, who is one of the heaviest proponents of clean coal technology and carbon sequestration. Right now we're dependent on the Middle East for a large percentage of our energy needs, and it's clearly making us weaker from a national security perspective. It precipitated the horrid war in Iraq, and it may precipitate another one with Iran. Anything that weans us off that foreign energy and makes us self-dependent I think is a better thing in the short term. He definitely needs some more data.

Kerry: Utilities must act

Letter in the Washington Post

John Kerry had a letter in today's Washington Post:

Brit's Eye View: New prime minister steps up to the plate

A glimpse of environmental policies to come from Gordon Brown

Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Gristmill on sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. Britain has a new prime minister. After leading the country for 10 years, Tony Blair has stepped down. Gordon Brown, Blair's number two for the past decade, takes up the reins. Brown is viewed as solid and dependable, if a little dour. He is slightly to the left of Blair on most issues, though he has also pushed through a lot of business-friendly policies. Gordon Brown is notoriously difficult to read; he gives very little of himself away. So what can we expect on the environment from a Brown premiership?

All Is Not Well in La-La Land

Top Schwarzenegger air-quality officials depart under protest If Arnold Schwarzenegger were a cobbler, his children would have no shoes. Or something like that. While the Governator has been busy spreading the climate gospel around the world, his air-quality agency is coming apart at the seams. Last week, Schwarzenegger fired Robert Sawyer, chair of the California Air Resources Board — allegedly for not being tough enough on pollution and greenhouse gases, but Sawyer says the reason was just the opposite. Yesterday, CARB Executive Director Catherine Witherspoon quit, citing interference by administration officials that hampered the board’s efforts. “They were ordering us …