Politics

Terminating His Term

With one day left in office, Blair chats climate with Schwarzenegger If you’d asked Tony Blair a decade ago which foreign official would be the last he met with while in office, chances are he wouldn’t have put his pounds on Arnold Schwarzenegger. But that’s exactly who filled the slot today. Blair, who steps down tomorrow, met with the Governator at 10 Downing Street to chat about — wait for it — global warming. The meeting followed a similar mind-meld between Schwarzenegger and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday. At a joint press conference this morning, Tony and Termy discussed …

Bummer for Hummer

Reps to discuss dropping the tax break on massive SUVs

For the “wow, about time” files: the tax write-off for Hummers might be a thing of yesteryear, if one legislator gets his way. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has introduced legislation to remove the $25,000-or-so tax break that people who drive massive SUVs and Hummers have been getting for years. The break was intended to help farmers, ranchers, and other people who might actually (possibly) have a concrete need for the beasts, but instead it’s been helping planet-haters conspicuous consumers average business folks who just want to drive tanks around town. See, there used to be a tax break for businesspeople …

Reframing the debate on low-carbon generators

Don’t call it a subsidy

David Roberts' recent post compelled some ideas that have been germinating for awhile, but are too long for just a comment on his post. Namely: we should stop talking about the need to subsidize green technologies, and instead frame the debate as a need to level the playing field.

Ag policy as if people mattered

Time to kick it old school on the farm bill.

The terms of debate around the 2007 farm bill’s controversial commodity title have gotten rather narrow. On the one hand, you’ve got the House subcommittee on ag commodities, which essentially cut and pasted commodity language from the subsidy-heavy 2002 farm bill into the 2007 version now being drafted. On the other hand, you’ve got a chorus of critics, ranging from Oxfam to the Cato Institute to the Environmental Working Group, demanding an end to ag subsidies. This group would like to see an unfettered market work its magic on agriculture. Straddling in between we find the Bush administration, which chastised …

GOP analyst: Democrats now must compromise on global warming

Hold the applause on the administration’s

On a new blog called Terra Rossa -- "Where Conservatives Consider a New Energy Future" -- GOP consultant Whit Ayres argues that when President Bush at the G8 summit declared his willingness to "seriously consider" carbon emission reductions over the next forty years, he took a "major step" in the direction of his environmental critics. Says Ayres: I don't think anyone could argue that conservatives are not trying to compromise on the issue. While many conservative voters, politicians, and business leaders might prefer to take no action to limit carbon emissions, they have heard the call to action and are clearly working toward a cap they can live with. Ayres claims the President has undergone a "sea-change" on global warming, but ignores these inconvenient facts: No agreement to reduce carbon emissions came out of the G8 summit, despite much pressure from Germany and Europe. The President talks of "long-term" [requires subscription] "aspirational" goals, but has committed to nothing but discussion. Shortly after taking office, a White House insider admitted [requires subscription] to Andrew Revkin of The New York Times that the Bush administration intended to do as little as possible about global warming: "There's a sense in which everybody's saying the American public doesn't have the attention span or background to pay attention to this issue," the official said. "There's still a hopeful perception around the White House that this has gone away." Not only did the President break a reassuring campaign promise regarding carbon emissions, but just this last year told a biographer that he was a "dissenter" on the "theory" of global warming. So we have good reason to doubt the sincerity of the Bush administration, despite the bland assurances of progress from White House environmental chief Jim Connaughton. And in fact this past week the president himself, in his own words, has let us know exactly how high a priority he gives the issue. Four recent speeches -- to a Southern Baptist convention, to a homebuilders convention, at a political fund-raiser, and at a nuclear power plant yesterday -- were put through a word processor, and the results show what is on the president's mind, and what is not:

Just when the anger was fading

Ralph Nader is thinking about running. Are we allowed to laugh about this now, or are there still enough idiots around that we have to care?

The trouble with RPS

Mixing up paths and goals

RPS legislation (which seems to have recently died in the Senate, although could conceivably be reintroduced on amendment) is well-intended, but poorly constructed. Roll the clock back 100 years, and assume you're the legislator tasked with figuring out how to get the population to go West. Which do you choose: (a) the Homestead Act, giving people land as soon as they prove that they can get there and cultivate it, or (b) a tax rebate to anyone who hitches five white horses to a Conestoga wagon and takes Route 66 west?

James Connaughton: The Bush era personified

Lies, more lies, and still more lies from the head of CEQ

Tim Dickinson’s Rolling Stone piece on the Bush administration’s coordinated attempts to stifle action on global warming is now online, and it’s worth a read. (Also worth checking out: the accompanying multimedia slideshow.) Lots of it will be familiar to long-time readers, but it’s nice to see it pulled together into a single (extraordinarily damning) narrative. One guy who plays a big role in the story is James Connaughton, the ex-dirty-energy lobbyist Bush brought in to head up the Council on Environmental Quality. Side note: speaking of the CEQ, savor this: Prior to joining the Cabinet, [ex-EPA administrator Christie Todd …

The energy bill

After many years of trying, we’re moving in the right direction at last

I'm a bit bleary eyed after midnight votes, and about to do an event in Boston on the energy fight, but I wanted to come back here to Gristmill to tell you how good it feels to have gotten something good done in the Senate instead of just stopping bad things from happening. A year ago I was battling to stop drilling in ANWR. Last night, finally -- after years of battling and five years after we introduced the Kerry-McCain legislation to raise fuel efficiency standards -- we actually accomplished things in the Senate that will improve the environment. This is something that never would've happened with Bill Frist as the Majority Leader. But with Harry Reid leading the Senate, we were able to finally pass the first significant rise in CAFE standards in over a generation.

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