Politics

Policies in need of Californication

All green eyes turn to the West Coast

Popularized by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the term "Californication" actually refers to the surge of Californians migrating up the West Coast following the opening of a major highway. In this context, we're hoping we can Californicate the state's climate change and energy policies to the rest of the Union. Since the 1970s, California has kept its per capita energy use at a level rate, using primarily energy efficiency programs. Over time and with minimal spending, the cost of electricity under the programs is 1.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's an outstanding rate compared to traditional or even carbon-free energy sources. I discuss California's unique route in Chapter 7 of Hell and High Water, but you can access the information from the California Energy Commission or this PowerPoint with graphics. When our country gets serious about addressing climate change and energy dependence, we need active national attention and proliferation of California's policies. A good start is Paul Krugman's editorial in the New York Times from earlier this year. You need a Times Select subscription, but it is included below because it's too good to miss:

Vanity Fair: The unbearable whiteness of green

Where are low-income and minority greens in the media?

Once again this year, the spring season brought a flood of green-themed magazines to super-market checkout stands and airport news racks all across the country. And once again, the faces of non-white and non-affluent Americans were almost entirely missing. Our new environmental movement is rapidly gaining visibility and momentum. That is very good news. Life-or-death ecological issues finally are starting to get the attention they so urgently deserve. And we can all celebrate that. But now we would be wise to start paying closer attention to the kind of coverage that we as environmentalists are getting. Because I see a disturbing pattern of exclusivity that is starting to set in. And that kind of elitism can sow the seeds for a very dangerous, populist backlash, down the line. To see what I mean, just flip through the pages of Vanity Fair's recent green issue (the one with Leo DiCaprio and that cute polar bear cub on the cover).

Planet Gore Disinfotainment Watch: Utterly misrepresenting research

Keeping an eye on the ‘wingers

(Part of a series of posts keeping an eye on Planet Gore, the National Review blog devoted to obfuscating on climate change.) New research finds low cost for tackling climate change. But not when that research is reported by Planet Gore. Sterling Burnett recently authored a classic example of PG's disinfotainment. He writes: Has the media completely lost objectivity and the search for the "truth" with regard to the issue of global warming. The latest reason that made me ponder this question arose with the "non-story" of the recent reports by MIT and the CBO detailing the substantial costs and regressive nature of the costs that are estimated to arise if any of the current domestic proposals restricting carbon emissions to combat global warming are enacted. Despite the best efforts of Senator James Inhofe, among others, to get these studies publicized, I have barely seen a mention of the findings of either of these reports in the mainstream media. He goes on to say, "it has surprised me how economic and science reporters have also ignored the MIT and CBO reports." The same week I read this, however, I saw a science news article on the MIT report ("Damn you, Science magazine," as Jon Stewart might say). The article requires a subscription, but I have copied the key figure below:

Back room jostling over climate legislation

Expect a lot of it

As I mentioned the other day, MarketWatch is doing a big series of articles on business and climate change. This one gets right to the heart of why we’re hiring a D.C. reporter. Now that things have transitioned from whether there’s going to be climate legislation to what climate legislation is going to look like, lots of elbows are getting thrown. There are dozens and dozens of stakeholders who stand to be affected by legislation, and they’re all getting busy trying to influence how it works. There’s going to be lots of back-room dealing in the coming few years. Just …

All so predictable

Corn ethanol bubble stretched thin

Expect the venture capitalists who started this pyramid scheme to quietly jump ship, leaving those who came in last holding the steaming bag. This article is behind the Wall Street Journal subscription wall and I can't post the whole article, though I would certainly like to. Several excerpts follow: Earlier this year, Mr. Chambliss introduced a bill calling for even greater ethanol use, though with one striking difference: The bill caps the amount of that fuel that can come from corn. Turns out Georgia's chicken farmers hate corn-based ethanol; Georgia's pork producers hate corn-based ethanol; Georgia's dairy industry hates corn-based ethanol; Georgia's food producers hate corn-based ethanol; Georgia's hunters hate corn-based ethanol. And all that means Mr. Chambliss has had to find a new biofuels religion. (Thanks again, KO!)

'We don't believe targets and timetables are important'

U.S. continues to resist pressure on climate change

If I may indulge for a moment in some blogospheric vitriol and vulgarity … I really can’t wait ’til these a**holes are gone: The United States will fight climate change by funding clean energy technologies and will continue to reject emissions targets or cap and trade schemes, its chief climate negotiator Harlan Watson said on Thursday. … “We don’t believe targets and timetables are important, or a global cap and trade system,” Watson told Reuters, speaking on the fringes of a UN hosted climate change meeting in Bonn. “It’s important not to jeopardise economic growth.”

Why Does Bill Richardson Hate America?

Democratic presidential candidate unveils ambitious energy plan Today we bring you part 16 of “Promising Energy Policies Put Forth By U.S. Presidential Candidates Who Don’t Have a Chance in Hell of Getting Elected.” This week, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) has been touting his plan for battling global warming. Yesterday, saying the country needs something as bold as JFK’s “man-on-the-moon” program, Richardson said he is “calling for a new American revolution — an energy and climate revolution.” The one person listening got really excited as Richardson outlined his plan, which includes increasing fuel economy to 50 miles per gallon …

Profiles in straight-talkin' courage

McCain flip-flops on ethanol

John McCain tries to explain his flagrant flip-flop on ethanol: (via Hugg)

Bill Richardson's climate and energy plan

The boldest plan on the table

As of today, Bill Richardson has become the boldest, most visionary Democratic presidential candidate on climate and energy policy. (John Edwards is a close second.) No politician from either party has put forward a plan that comes closer to being a realistic response to the energy shortages and climate chaos heading our way. Here’s the heart of Richardson’s speech today: We need a man-on-the-moon program to end this addiction, this hemorrhage.  But we need it much faster and much more boldly than people are suggesting. When John F. Kennedy challenged this country to reach the moon, he challenged us to …