Politics

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 …

Doddmentum, anyone?

Talking carbon tax in N.H.

Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd talks energy policy at a house party in New Hampshire last week:

Why economics (and coal) matter

Parsing 15 years of electric data

Environmental pressures have forced us to generate more of our power from natural gas, and this focus on gas has caused power prices to increase ... right? Wrong, conventional wisdom notwithstanding. And the lessons from the last 15 years indicate the importance of considering how markets will respond when mandating new technologies and fuels.

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:

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