Politics

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Senate Environment Committee hearing

Tom Carper requests improvements in ASCA

Tom Carper (D-Del.) has said he will be able to support the legislation if it: includes provisions to mitigate pollutants like nitrogen oxide and mercury found most widely in the northeastern United States; moves to a more just allocation system -- one that devotes more credits to cleaner energy sources; contains no built-in punishment of early actors, companies that have already begun mitigating their emissions. Not the most ambitious of demands, but there they are.

The heart of the matter

Everything comes down to whether fighting climate change will hurt ordinary voters

Many, many, many, many people have criticized the astonishingly stupid headline on last Tuesday’s front-page Washington Post story: "Climate Is a Risky Issue for Democrats." …

Alaska oil-tax bribery scandal widens, may include members of Congress

For the last year or so, ugly truths about Alaskan politics have been oozing into the limelight as state and federal officials unravel a scandal …

Hear some trains a-comin'

Public transit will be necessary for CO2 reductions

At the end of October, both New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg and, believe it or not, Mississippi Republican Senator Trent Lott, passed their cosponsored bill in the Senate to allocate $1.9 billion per year for six years to expand passenger rail in the U.S. According to Parade magazine (yes, the one that's inserted into Sunday newspapers), the main goal is "to develop high-speed, short-haul rail corridors modeled on the European city-to-city routes. They could run between Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, N.C.; Portland and Seattle; Chicago and Detroit; Miami and Jacksonville, Fla." In addition, the Senate wants to give Amtrak a solid long-term financial foundation. (Imagine!) The same Parade article, entitled "A better way to travel," extols the benefits of rail: Many transportation experts insist that the best answer to transportation gridlock is efficient intercity rail travel. Trains use one-fifth less energy than cars or planes ... Amtrak ridership was up for the fifth year in a row, reaching record levels -- despite the fact that a third of trains arrived late last year ... Severe weather will further add to the transportation turmoil, leading travelers to look for alternatives to air travel. And what about global warming? The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a report in September 2007, "Public Transportation's Contribution to Greenhouse Gas Reduction" which directly addresses the issue. According to their calculations, public transit, use saves 37 percent of the CO2 that would have been emitted had private transportation been used (19.2 million metric tons, including traffic congestion) instead of public transit ( 12.3 million metric tons). And that's including a lot of diesel-powered trains and buses.

Farm bill: Beware the industrial-meat complex

Don’t let Big Meat slaughter the packer ban

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared briefly Friday. I pulled it down because of a misunderstanding involving a leaked document. I’ve deleted references …

IPCC to hammer out summary of climate science for policymakers

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is meeting this week in Valencia, Spain, to distill the panel’s three massive scientific climate-change reports released earlier this …

Larry Craig's climate views belong in the toilet

Sen. Craig believes a cap-and-trade system is pointless

OK, maybe it's a good thing that the morally-challenged senator is on the other side of the debate. He recently said: My position is perfectly clear: a cap and trade system is obsolete in its approach to green house gas reductions, it has not worked, and I do not see it working. Yes a very good position for a delayer, since a carbon tax is a political nonstarter (and dubious for other reasons), while a technology-only strategy can't do the job.

Beijing Dispatch: China's carbon harbingers

Plans for reducing emissions in China

David linked to the Reuters report about China's refusal to accept binding emissions caps in any international agreement. On the topic of China and climate change, last week I got some face time with the head of the World Bank's energy unit in Beijing, Dr. Zhao. Too much for one blog post, but here are some highlights: According to his research, the World Bank's go-to guy on these matters believes: "It will be difficult or even impossible for China to reduce CO2 emissions in absolute terms." Depressing conclusion. As he saw it, "The question now is, what can be down to reduce China's growth rate [of CO2 emissions]?" While refusing to sign international agreements on carbon caps, Beijing has issued some fairly ambitious goals of its own. One is to have 15 percent of energy come from renewable sources by 2020. Of course, whether this target is based in reality is another question. As Dr. Zhao told me, "In most other countries, you do the analysis first, then set goals. In China, you set the goal first, then you do the research and set the policy to try to achieve it." Translation: the temptation to fudge numbers to reach preordained conclusions is dangerously high.

Blumenauer responds

In case you don’t read comments: In response to Mike Grunwald’s post on the Water Resources Development Act, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) of the Corps …