Politics

Al Gore's call to action

An editorial in the NYT

Al Gore: … we should demand that the United States join an international treaty within the next two years that cuts global warming pollution by 90 percent in developed countries and by more than half worldwide in time for the next generation to inherit a healthy Earth. … We should aim to complete this global treaty by the end of 2009 — and not wait until 2012 as currently planned. … A new treaty will still have differentiated commitments, of course; countries will be asked to meet different requirements based upon their historical share or contribution to the problem and …

U.S. House takes first step toward passing 'Green Jobs Act Of 2007'

Bill passes House; now on to conference committee

Hooray! This week Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis (CA-32) officially became the most important environmental heroine you've never heard of. Solis, a Latina Congresswoman from Los Angeles, introduced the Green Jobs Act of 2007 (H.R. 2847). The Act represents a smart, far-sighted effort to fight pollution and poverty at the same time by creating federally-funded job training within the green economy. Guess what? On Wednesday, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee passed her bill by a bipartisan vote of 26 to 18. This is the first step in the House toward providing job training every year for about 35,000 U.S. workers (and would-be workers) in green and clean industries. The Act would help to meet green industry's demand for a skilled "green-collar" workforce in areas like solar panel installation, building weatherization, wind farm construction, etc. And it will help create green pathways out of poverty for those seeking job opportunities in the booming green economy. Similar legislation was offered as an amendment to H.R. 6 by Sens. Sanders and Clinton and passed by voice vote this month. For decades, Congress has been bogged down in a stale debate: "Should we grow the economy or protect the environment?" Solis is leading the Congress to embrace a new approach. She is saying: "Let's grow the economy by protecting the environment." For more information about the Green Jobs Act, you can contact Megan J. Uzzell. She is Congresswoman Solis' awesome Legislative Director (megan.uzzell[at]mail.house.gov). And to learn more about Congresswoman Solis's work, please visit her webpage or view clips of Congresswoman Solis at work. We at the Ella Baker Center -- as well as the National Apollo Alliance, Center for American Progress, the Workforce Alliance, and many other organizations -- are proud to support Congresswoman Solis, Congressman John Tierney (D-MA), Congressman George Miller (D-CA), and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as they lead this important effort. Here is the press release George Miller's office put out yesterday:

House Party

U.S. House works on energy bill, passes Interior appropriations bill The House of Representatives is gettin’ jiggy with eco-legislation this week. On Wednesday, it passed a bill declaring that — gasp! — global warming is a “reality,” and mandated funding for climate research. The House hopes to pass comprehensive energy legislation by July 4; proposals on the table include tough efficiency standards for lighting and appliances, smart-grid incentives, expansion of biofuels research, and funding for carbon capture and storage (shockingly, and wonderfully, not applying to coal-to-liquid technology). However, the various proposals exclude any mention of fuel-economy standards or biofuel production …

The promise and perils of public investment in energy

Voters like it, but how to do it well?

There’s a big problem facing climate and energy advocates, one they seem to be more or less shutting their eyes to at the moment, hoping it will go away: regulations capping carbon and mandating emissions cuts are likely to raise energy prices for consumers in the short term. This is a problem because polls and surveys show fairly consistently that consumers are extremely sensitive to these prices. I think it’s going to be frighteningly easy for right-wing demagogues to pull on climate legislation the same thing they did on healthcare legislation back in the early ’90s: tell consumers that Democrats …

Speaking of stupidity, the ultimate renewable resource

Remember when stupidity was something to be ashamed of rather than a point of pride?

The saying goes that during one of his bids for the White House, a woman told Adlai Stevenson "Not to worry, Senator, all thinking people are with you," to which he replied: "But I need a majority!" Not only was Stevenson smart and quick-witted enough to make that story plausible, it suggests that the smartest candidates have always had to do a little bit of hiding their lights under a bushel. But now we live in what Vonnegut called the ultimate scary reality show: C-Students from Yale. The blog called The Daily Howler does a superb job, day in and day out, showing how the press has gone from chronicling our decline into demanding it, as the so-called liberal media positively makes intelligence into a disqualifying trait for leadership. The relevance here is this: managing our multiple serious environmental challenges in the context of a world with diminishing resource availability and rising population (and poverty) is going to require the sustained application of intelligence of the first order. But rather than consider the intelligence of Bill Richardson a possible asset for a president, Dana Milbank speaks of the burden of having to listen to an erudite speaker drone on. Far more refreshing and relaxing to listen to the malapropisms that come tumbling out of Bush's mouth, perfectly reflecting the dysfunction and chaos behind his dull eyes. From today's Howler:

Sure to Hit Fox News Soon

Mainstream media explores Bush administration eco-disregard Searing indictment of the Bush administration’s environmental policies — it’s not just for bloggers anymore! Last week, Rolling Stone published “The Secret Campaign of President Bush’s Administration to Deny Global Warming,” about — well, you know. Not to be outdone, The Washington Post focused an installment of a series on Vice President Dick Cheney on the veep’s involvement in various incidents of eco-dicking. Cheney’s influence was indisputable in the relaxation of air-pollution regulations in 2003, says the Post, and in the 2001 deaths of tens of thousands of Oregon salmon when Klamath River water …

More significant energy developments in D.C. today

Lots of stuff going on in D.C.

Lordy, the developments are happening so fast I can barely keep up with them. Here are a few more of note. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va) are teaming up to put together comprehensive climate legislation. You can bet that whatever they come up with is going to be way over on the business-friendly side of things, but nonetheless this is a big development. Lieberman and Warner are both key members of the Senate EPW committee, where chair Barbara Boxer has come under fire lately for losing control of the climate change issue and letting it slide. Warner …

More Dingell

The House’s most indecipherable, um, cipher

I’ve been getting some interesting — and widely varied — reactions to this post on Dingell. So here’s a follow-up. First, MoveOn’s political action campaign director, Ilyse Hogue, sends me this: Rep. Dingell has been late to the game and is well behind other Democratic leaders whose vision can make our country competitive in the 21st century. His calls in the last couple days for greenhouse gas reductions and (maybe) a carbon tax are good steps. But this is not about horse trading; it’s about listening to the American people and a climate bill that takes stand against industry and …

RPS, as viewed from the states of the Old Confederacy

Their reasons aren’t all that unreasonable

Yesterday, I spoke to a group of manufacturers in Arkansas. Throughout the conference there was a fair amount of pride in the successful squashing of Bingaman's RPS bill -- and for reasons that are not entirely unreasonable. Among the speakers was the chair of the Arkansas Energy Commission, who said that he personally objected to the bill because it was unfair. Specifically, it would not allow Arkansas to count their existing hydro-electric capacity in the RPS targets, but would allow existing wind to count. From his perspective, this looked like a sop to Bingaman's wind-rich home district, and while we might personally dispute this interpretation, it is easy to see how it could happen. It is further proof for my earlier point that a path-based RPS is bound to fail, for the simple reason that you will never get a majority of states to agree that a wind/solar dominated RPS is in their interests. Change the structure so that it provides incentives for the goal rather than the path and you could break the southern opposition. There are more low-zero carbon fuels out there than are dreamt of in current RPS philosophies. If your state is long on biomass, bagasse, waste heat or wind, those should all be eligible -- not because we redefine our eligibility targets, but because we define the goal in terms of carbon reduction and then open up the door to any path that can get there. Until then, we're not going to get an RPS.  Note that the southern utilities are boasting about their success in killing this last one -- let's not give them more to crow about. From Greenwire (sub. rqd.): Southern utilities led effort to squash Senate RPS proposal ATLANTA -- Southern utilities played key roles in the effort to undermine plans in the Senate last week to require power companies to generate at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy. The fingerprints of the Tennessee Valley Authority and those of the Tennessee Valley Power Providers Association, whose members distribute TVA power to nearly 9 million customers in the South, were all over the successful effort to keep the so-called renewable portfolio standard (RPS) out of the sweeping Senate energy bill.