Politics

The future is solar; politics is ethanol

Hillary pays tribute to Iowa politics

This is (bitterly) funny: As Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton climbed onto a makeshift stage at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and embraced motor fuel from corn as a key to America’s future, she completed a turnabout from being an ethanol opponent, a position she held only two years ago. … Political observers view her about-face as a political necessity, saying Iowa’s first-in-the-nation’s caucuses — in which residents of the country’s biggest corn-producing state vote their choice for presidential nominee — makes it politically risky to avoid kneeling at the altar of ethanol-from-corn. This seems like a good place to tout Robert …

Make me change my ways

Individuals support policies they don’t live by voluntarily

Over at the New Yorker, James Surowiecki draws our attention to this oddity: The curious fact is that many people buying three-ton Suburbans for that arduous two-mile trip to the supermarket also want Congress to pass laws making it harder to buy Suburbans at all. This is, he notes, not an isolated phenomenon: individuals often support policies that will force them to make different choices — choices they’re not willing to make of their own volition. Furthermore, this is not irrational behavior. Oftentimes an individual decision will confer competitive advantage, but the collective result of those individual decisions is deleterious. …

Dear Nancy Pelosi: Deliver us a better Farm Bill

Now’s the time to speak up

Can an Armani-clad gal from the big city be the champion of the good farmer? After giving two thumbs up to the House Agriculture Committee's farm bill last Thursday, Rep. Nancy Pelosi's rise to rural populist hero-status seems as likely as old Bessie having twins. Said Pelosi: ... the bill represents a critical first step toward reform by eliminating payments to millionaires, closing loopholes that permit evasion of payment limits, and promoting our nation's family farmers. But Pelosi still has a chance to emerge as the defender of real farm bill reform. And why shouldn't she? After all, the farm bill is about food and taking care of the land. It impacts all of us whether you live in Schuyler, Nebraska or San Francisco.

Even more guidance

Resources for the Future has put together yet another comprehensive guide to current climate legislation, if the other guides aren’t working for you. This one comes in two forms: either a convenient comparison grid (PDF), or a timeline of emission reduction targets (PDF). Compare away.

Ring a ding Dingell

This profile of Dingell in the NYT doesn’t offer any new info, but it’s a nice summary of the state of play — between Dingell and Pelosi, and on energy legislation in the House.

Cleaning it up and taking it to the bank

New study reveals chlorine plants could actually make money by switching to mercury-free technology

Hot off the presses are new findings that show it's actually cheaper for chlorine plants to make their product using mercury-free technology. Oceana says so in the most extensive report to date focusing on the conversion of mercury-cell chlorine factories to more environmentally and economically sound mercury-free technology. What's more, the findings have prompted Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to reintroduce legislation that requires chlorine and caustic soda manufacturing plants to switch to mercury-free technology by 2012. It's good to see politicians recognizing the need for this type of legislation. Shifting not only benefits the environment and our health, it benefits the company pocketbooks, too -- and that's the bottom line.

All Kinds of Sickening

Congress grills FEMA on toxic post-hurricane trailers The media have reported for at least two months that the trailers used to house refugees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been giving off fumes that are making some people sick. Now it seems the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has fended off those accusations, has known about the toxic trouble since early 2006. The House Oversight and Government Reform committee subpoenaed FEMA records that recommend not testing for toxics, as that “would imply FEMA’s ownership of the issue.” At a hearing yesterday, legislators tore into FEMA head R. David Paulison, with …

Details on Dingell's carbon tax

It’s not optimal, but he says he’s serious about it at least

As you’ll recall, a few weeks ago Rep. John Dingell said in an interview that he plans to introduce a carbon tax bill, "to see how people really feel about this." He expressed doubt that the American people are willing to pay what it will cost. Reaction from progressives was swift and vicious. Everyone assumed Dingell would deliberately design a horrible bill, fail to support it, watch it go down in flames, and thereby poison the debate. See, e.g., this unsigned L.A. Times editorial. Now there’s a little bit of information about the bill emerging. Seems the Detroit Free Press …

Mystery ads

There’s a series of very strange political videos out recently on YouTube. They parody Republicans, but purport to be campaign ads for Rudy Giuliani. Nobody knows who’s making them, or why. So mysterious! This one’s mildly amusing on global warming and oil: (h/t: reader KW)

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