Use the Enforce, Kook

Environmental enforcement has declined under Bush, says new report Well, knock us over with a feather: since the Bush administration began running the joint, industries committing environmental violations have been investigated less, penalized less, and sued less, says a new report from watchdog group Environmental Integrity Project. The Department of Justice has filed fewer than 16 lawsuits per year against polluters since Bush took office; the last three years under Clinton saw an annual average of 52 lawsuits. Between fiscal years 2002 and 2006, polluters shelled out $81 million per year in civil penalties; between 1996 and 2000, they ponied …

Gore watch

The media continues to prove his new book right

As I mentioned the other day, there’s a certain irony to the fact that Al Gore is out touring behind a book about the decline of reasoned public dialogue, since his emergence on the public scene inevitably elicits paroxysms of the shallowest, bitchiest, most vacuous commentary of which our punditariat is capable — and that’s saying something. Today brings examples so telling they hurt. I mean literally hurt. You’ve been warned. Start with this dazzlingly obtuse column by Slate’s Jack Shafer, who misses Gore’s point so fundamentally one can only gape. Shafer seems to think, based on … well, god …

Noam Chomsky on ethanol

He ain’t fer it

So darn shrill: A leading goal of US foreign policy has long been to create a global order in which US corporations have free access to markets, resources and investment opportunities. The objective is commonly called “free trade,” a posture that collapses quickly on examination. It’s not unlike what Britain, a predecessor in world domination, imagined during the latter part of the 19th century, when it embraced free trade, after 150 years of state intervention and violence had helped the nation achieve far greater industrial power than any rival. The United States has followed much the same pattern. Generally, great …

Bush's dumb luck on emissions

They went down because of random factors, not Bush

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped 1.3% in 2006, as the Energy Information Administration reported yesterday. President Bush immediately took credit: "We are effectively confronting the important challenge of global climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, and strong economic investment." [Please, no laughing.] In spite of the fact that Bush has actually gutted programs aimed at the promoting clean energy technologies, last year's emissions dropped because of:

Some good news for a change, albeit with an albeit

Oregon blazes a trail again, mostly

The Oregon House passed an aggressive renewable electricity supply standard that requires the biggest utilities in the state to get 25 percent of their capacity from renewables (not including existing hydro) by 2025. The state Senate already passed the companion bill, and the Oregon governor, Ted Kulongoski, has been pushing these all year, so they are widely expected to pass after the two bills are reconciled into one. But ...

Clinton and Obama: eco-sellouts?

A columnist thinks so

Over at Politico, Glenn Hurowitz argues that at key moments, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have sold out the public interest in favor of polluting industries in their states. He says they could stand to learn something from Bill Richardson and John Edwards, whose energy/climate plans are ambitious and powerful. I suspect that if you look closely enough at Richardson’s and Edwards’ records, you could find some evidence that they’re not above parochialism either, but on the broad point, I can only say: word. But what about Dodd, though? He’s got a good energy plan too. Where’s the Doddmentum?

News from the Farm Bill front

Democracy in jeopardy

In a recent post about the timing of the Farm Bill, I talked about when things related to farm and food policy are likely to move in Congress. There is new information available now, and it's becoming increasingly clear that we all could be in serious trouble if we don't act now to voice our opinion about the state of our food system. Though pressure to consider major reforms in the bill is as strong as ever, events of this week are leaving me with much less hope that new leadership will lead to any positive change without a fierce shove in the right direction.

My one and only post on the Rachel Carson nonsense

I shall speak now and then forever hold my peace

So, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) planned to introduce a bill to honor Rachel Carson — author of the seminal Silent Spring — on the 100th anniversary of her birth. Carson is, as non-psychotics know, a hero who did about as much as any human being in history to raise awareness, not only of toxic chemicals in the environment, but of our symbiotic and delicate relationship to the ecosystems we inhabit. Cardin has since decided not to introduce the bill. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said he would block it. Block it, you ask? Who would bother to block a piece of …

Taxes: bad because they produce revenue

Conservative critique of the carbon tax

This story contains two things: Evidence that when it comes to climate and energy policy, mainstream Democratic politicians (+ John McCain) are more or less in consensus: yes on "the need to enhance energy efficiency, introduce a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases, and incentivize clean energy technology,” no to a carbon tax. The worst argument against a carbon tax ever: “A tax won’t work,” said John Raidt, adviser to McCain. “It will just raise money for bureaucrats. There’s no telling where that money would go.” Classic conservatism. “The money will just drift off into The Government, and then god knows …