Politics

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.

Reid isn't done yet

Senate Dems still fighting for energy package

Disappointed about the half-victory in the Senate yesterday? Don’t give up hope yet. Majority leader Harry Reid’s still got some fight in him (from CongressNow, sub. rqd.): Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) this afternoon said he will revive the energy tax package that was defeated amid Republican opposition this week, saying he was confident he could muster the votes necessary to pass the measure at a later date. “We’re going to figure out how to bring it back,” Reid said today. “There are a number of places we can look” for reviving the measure, including the upcoming farm bill …

'Strict constructionists'

Self-proclaimed conservatives often simply just like different outcomes

Michigan has an important case up before a state Supreme Court known for two things: Making radical revisions to laws the Republican majority dislikes, and proclaiming its strict textualism in interpreting the law. In the case before the Supreme Court, attorneys for Nestle Waters North America have argued in opposition to citizens' rights under [the Michigan Environmental Protection Act], saying that citizens must be "directly affected" by an environmental action to go to court over it. That means only people who can show pollution, impairment or destruction of natural resources on their own property could take action under MEPA. Nestle, which wants to continue pumping water from a large Michigan wetland for bottling and sale, mostly outside the state, is being challenged under MEPA by a group called Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.

Cleaning house

The House of Reps leads the way to a greener capitol

The Hill’s alive with the sound of greening. Or at least, it should be, as soon as our representatives start following through with their “Green the Capitol” initiative, the final report on which was released yesterday in Washington, D.C. The report is the result of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s call for an energy audit of the Capitol complex four months ago, right after she first assumed her new post. Yesterday’s report presents the findings of the audit as well as a comprehensive plan to improve the green cred of the Hill. It includes directives to start purchasing electricity …

Johnson Stiffens Smog Rules

Current U.S. ground-level ozone standard deemed insufficient Smoggy air could get cleaner if a new U.S. EPA standard passes muster. Agency head Stephen Johnson has proposed lowering the allowable amount of ground-level ozone from 80 to 84 parts per billion to 70 to 75 ppb, since “the current standard is insufficient to protect public health.” But the agency will hold a 90-day public-comment period on several options, including Johnson’s plan; a recommendation from an EPA scientific panel to make the standard even stricter; or, eh, leaving it where it is. Fossil-fuel lobbyists and other panic-stricken people will no doubt weigh …

Be Still Our Beating Hearts

Senate-approved energy bill calls for fuel-economy increase First, the good news: the U.S. Senate has passed an energy bill containing the first significant fuel-economy increase in years. The bill requires cars and light trucks to get an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, up from the current 22.2 mpg for light trucks and 27.5 mpg for cars. It also calls for limits on gasoline price-gouging; new appliance and lighting efficiency standards; funding for research into newfangled vehicles like plug-in hybrids; and a sevenfold increase in ethanol production by 2022 (oops, file that under “Now the bad news”). “This …

Senate: yes to CAFE boost, no to oil taxes

One small step forward, one step, uh, sideways

You may have heard that today the Senate reached a compromise on CAFE: they will keep the 35mpg-by-2020 requirement, but drop the 4%-every-year-thereafter requirement. The loophole for SUVs will be closed. (Bizarrely, newly minted environmentalist Ted Stevens [R-Alaska] was instrumental in keeping the amendment alive.) This is good news, in a symbolic sort of way (suffice to say, when there are working vehicles on the road that get 100mpg, we shouldn’t be satisfied with glacial, incremental gains). But it’s offset by the bad news that an amendment to levy around $30 billion in taxes on the oil industry, with the …

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