Politics

Bloomberg's congestion fee plan ...

Dead

… killed by lawmakers in Albany.

Interview with green tax swap guy

Very interesting

Here’s an interview with Gilbert Metcalf, a Tufts University economics professor who’s been circulating a carbon tax proposal (PDF) that’s revenue neutral — it uses the carbon tax revenue to reduce other taxes. It’s called the "Green Tax Swap." Good stuff. Here’s one good bit : SM: Rep. John Dingell said he plans to propose a carbon tax, knowing Congress and voters won’t go for it. Why would your approach be different? GM: Dingell’s raising the old canard that Americans won’t stand for a new energy tax. What the debate over the [Bill] Clinton BTU tax taught us was that …

Bipartisanship on the environment

Who’s stopping it?

You hear a lot, from well-meaning Republican environmentalists of the sort you find on this site, or this one, or this one, that we’ll "never make any progress" on the environment until it becomes a bipartisan issue. Strangely, this scolding isn’t directed at the conservative movement, which has for decades obstructed any action dedicated to solving environmental problems. It’s directed instead at environmentalists who identify with the progressive movement, which has been pushing for action. Strange. I bring this up because energy and climate legislation is a hot topic these days, and several bills are winding their way through Congress. …

Post-vacation links

Stuff I missed

There are a gazillion things I missed over vacation, or meant to post about before vacation, that I’ll never have time to return to. Thus: a link post! I missed the MoveOn town hall on climate and energy. You can watch the candidate presentations here. Bill Scher has a pretty good rundown of who said what, here. Our guide to the candidates on these issues is here. FYI, MoveOn members voted John Edwards the winner. I doubt I’ll have a chance to read Chris Mooney’s new book Storm World any time soon (and — sssshhh — I must confess that …

Climate change big picture

A great piece in the WaPo

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Steven Mufson has an excellent big-picture look at the effort to fight global warming via legislation. It offers a sense of the scope of the problem: The potential economic impact of meaningful climate legislation — enough to reduce U.S. emissions by at least 60 percent — is vast. Automobiles would have to get double their current miles to the gallon. Building codes would have to be tougher, requiring use of more energy-efficient materials. To stimulate and pay for new technologies, U.S. electricity bills could rise by 25 to 33 percent, some experts estimate; others say the …

Slime barrier

Politicians behaving badly

I'm thinking of marketing a politician handshaking kit that would consist of one rubber glove that can be carried in a wallet or purse to protect potential politician handshaking partners from slime. This started out as a comment on Kate's post, but got so long I decided to put it up front. As Kate points out, the Democratically controlled House just approved continued funding of abstinence-only education to the tune of $50 million. What really makes this unbelievable is that the results of a decade-long study (PDF) funded by Congress, released just two months ago, showed conclusively that abstinence-only education has no effect whatsoever on the sexual antics of teenagers. The bar graphs starting on page 45 sum it up.

No Rush Hour

New York hems and haws over Manhattan congestion fees Today is a make-or-break, do-or-die, fish-or-cut-bait, poo-or-get-off-the-pot, we-wish-we-could-think-of-more-hyphenated-clichés day for New York, as state legislators, Governor Eliot Spitzer, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrestle over Bloomberg’s proposal to enact traffic congestion fees. Following the lead of cities like London and Singapore, the Big Apple would charge a fee for vehicles entering or exiting Manhattan below 86th Street at peak hours. Supporters say the plan will reduce air pollution and associated health problems while boosting public transportation; opponents fear it will increase parking and pollution in the outer boroughs. While …

Helpful energy legislation guides

Three handy guides to the flurry of climate and energy legislation in Congress right now: First, there’s a breakdown of the July 4 "Energy Independence Day Initiative" out of the House, which details all the elements by bill and by committee. Handy. Then there’s this graphic in the WaPo, which focuses on five bills that have been introduced in the Senate. Then there’s this piece in the Economist, detailing what has and hasn’t passed, and what likely will and won’t. It finishes with this dispiriting ‘graph: One measure that definitely will not be included in any bill is a cap …

Restoring rural roots

How legislators can help the rural

In a recent trip through the small town of Walthill, Nebraska, the phrase "rural revitalization" took on a whole new meaning. In this case, it was the lack of any kind of prosperity that made it obvious to me why rural communities are in need of revitalization. Main Street looked painfully deserted, with two recent arsons adding fresh scars to the once-active storefronts. As we drove around the residential area, most houses looked to be in some state of disrepair -- so much so that it was difficult to really tell which were homes and which had already been abandoned. If ever there was a town that needed some life breathed back into it, this was it.

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