Politics

Are Republican presidential candidates taking global warming seriously?

Brownback’s plan is not promising

He hasn’t released a detailed plan yet, but Republican presidential contender Sam Brownback gave a speech yesterday to the Set America Free coalition that outlined his thoughts on energy policy. (There’s more info in this Greenwire story, but it’s subscription only.) Republican candidates haven’t talked about climate and energy as much as their Dem counterparts, but Brownback’s comments are more or less representative. Consider this a critique, then, of mainstream Republican climate/energy policy. Brownback — like Romney and McCain, at least — acknowledges global warming and the need to reduce carbon emissions. He says that "we need to reduce our …

Shocker: EPA enforcement declines

Sigh

File this under Predictable but Depressing: Environmental enforcement efforts by U.S. EPA and the Justice Department have plummeted over the last five years, resulting in a 38 percent decline in criminal fines and a 25 percent drop in civil penalties, according to a new report [PDF] from the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project. (You need a password to get to the story, but not to get to the report.)

Department of unresolved contradictions

I’m going to put up a longer post about this in a second, but for now, I merely note the following two statements from Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback’s energy speech. One: … we need to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. This is possible using our ingenuity, resources and determination. Two: Coal needs to be at the center of our energy policy for the foreseeable future.

Another attempt to push nukes

Using high gas prices to push for a rebirth

In today's New York Times, President Gerald Ford's energy adviser, in an article entitled "How to Win the Energy War," tries to use higher gas prices and oil dependence as an excuse to build more nuclear reactors: The other major way to wean us from oil is to resume construction of nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy is the cleanest and best option for America's electric power supply, yet it has been stalled by decades of unproductive debate. Our current commercial nuclear power plants have an outstanding record of safety and security, and new designs will only raise performance. How can Washington help? One thing would be federal legislation to streamline the licensing of new plants and the approval of sites for them. His first way to wean us from oil is to gradually increase gas taxes. Ford's original energy independence plan might make you wince, as it included 150 new coal-fired plants and 200 nuclear power plants. Not a word about global warming or peak oil, by the way. Not that mentioning those would help: Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to use global warming as a cover for more nukes, a trick that even Margaret Thatcher used as well.

Gore on the phone

A conference call about his new book

Yesterday I was on a conference call with Al Gore, who was chatting with some blogger types about his new book, The Assault on Reason. It was convivial, if not particularly revelatory. Taylor Marsh wrote all about it, and if you want to listen to an hour-long phone call, you can get it here. It didn’t occur to me that anybody would be recording, so I asked kind of abstruse questions: a) was there ever a time when reason governed democratic dialogue? and b) isn’t clinging to this Enlightenment division between reason and emotion one reason progressives are such poor …

Gurls R Dum

Oklahoma senator vows to block Rachel Carson centennial resolution A resolution honoring this weekend’s 100th birthday of the late Rachel Carson will be blocked if Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has his way. Why? Because the “now-debunked Silent Spring” was “the catalyst in the deadly worldwide stigmatization against insecticides, especially DDT,” he says. Yes, damn her for pointing out that industrial society is killing itself with toxic chemicals it created. The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), would honor Carson’s “legacy of scientific rigor coupled with poetic sensibility.” But Coburn, a doctor who advocates the use of DDT to combat …

Response from Environmental Defense: Top-down or bottom-up, the goal is cutting carbon

Getting something done is the priority

The following is a guest essay from Tony Kreindler of Environmental Defense, in response to Charles Komanoff’s post from earlier today, "Strange bedfellows in climate politics." —– Charles Komanoff’s post is entertaining, but a lot of what he says is wrong. His main proposition is that unlike "devilishly complex" cap-and-trade, a carbon tax is straightforward approach that will resist gaming by special interests. That raises a few questions: is there anything straightforward about the U.S. tax code? Has anyone ever gamed that system? Are there "no legal and financial functionaries" swarming around taxpayers? Those questions aside, the fact is that …

Republican governors to Bush: Pull over and let us pass

The federal gov’t is blocking state efforts to fight climate change

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell (R) take to the pages of the Washington Post to send President Bush a simple message: “It’s high time the federal government becomes our partner or gets out of the way.” At issue is the waiver Calif. and 11 other states need from the EPA to implement their new tailpipe-emissions standards. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court made it clear that California is perfectly within its rights to implement tougher-than-federal standards. All it needs is the waiver — just like the dozens of waivers it’s gotten from EPA in the …

Gore's backstory

Interesting tales in a recent profile

The profile of Al Gore in NYT Magazine contains, amidst other good stuff, some interesting backstory about Gore’s experiences with the Alliance for Climate Protection, as well as his experiences in the Clinton administration. Forthwith, a couple of longish excerpts. First, on the Alliance: In mid-2005, he began talking to members of “the green group,” as the environmental lobby is collectively known, about marshaling a popularizing effort. … Gore was the obvious candidate to lead the crusade. But the Al Gore of September 2005 was not the Saint Albert of today. That Al Gore was a harsh partisan, and all …

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