Politics

Another One Writes the Bust

Court rules against Bush administration’s fish-protection plan The Great Judicial Smackdown of 2007 continued this week, with a federal appeals court ruling that the Bush administration’s plan for “protecting” fish on the Northwest’s Columbia and Snake rivers violates the Endangered Species Act. The feds had claimed that the rivers’ hydroelectric dams could be made safe for the 13 listed salmon and steelhead species that must navigate them. They also said that since the dams were built before the ESA became law, they shouldn’t be considered for removal or alteration. But the three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court called that …

Do They Even Have Roads There?

Vermont court hears landmark vehicle-emissions case This week, the U.S. state with the fewest registered cars will take the driver’s seat in the race to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions. A Vermont court will hear a landmark case on whether the state’s adoption of a stringent California emissions law is legal. Under the Clean Air Act, states can choose between federal legislation and California’s, which is notoriously progressive. But miffed automakers argue that — buckle your seatbelt — because cutting emissions means burning less fuel, which means improving gas mileage, the law is attempting to govern fuel economy, something only the feds …

Bush (almost) blows

Our prez nearly made a slip of the plug

The funniest news lede I've read in a long time: Credit Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally with saving the leader of the free world from self-immolation. Apparently, our befuddled prez was about to stick an electrical plug into the hydrogen tank of a Ford hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid. This act, if completed, would have generated Hindenburg-esque bad publicity and probably made Cheney our next president. (Eep!) To make the save, Mulally apparently "violated all the protocols," grabbing the president's arm and steering him away from the plug. Maybe that's exactly what Bush needs: someone who's not afraid to step in to steer him away from stuff that's eventually going to blow up in his -- and our -- face. Wonder if Mulally would accept a pay cut ...

Learning from the EU's cap and trade system

Learning is fun

Check out this great article in the Washington Post. It explains many of the pitfalls and unintended consequences that have occurred under the EU's system and some of the challenges the US will likely face.

A unique insight into the IPCC process

The innerworkings of it all

Those opposed to action on climate change are compelled to attack the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its reports. Not doing so would cede the scientific high-ground of the argument and essentially doom their preferred do-nothing policy approach. One way to attack the IPCC is to describe it as a nameless bureaucracy pursuing its own political agenda, and entirely disconnected from the scientific community. For example, a report from the Fraser Institute makes this argument explicitly: [A] compelling problem is that the Summary for Policymakers, attached to the IPCC Report, is produced, not by the scientific writers and reviewers, but by a process of negotiation among unnamed bureaucratic delegates from sponsoring governments. Their selection of material need not and may not reflect the priorities and intentions of the scientific community itself. This argument is transparently false on several counts. First, the authors are not nameless, but are listed prominently on the first page of the Summary. In addition, they are not bureaucrats, but all have scientific credentials in the arena of climate change.

The pro-enviro solution that dare not speak its name

Trains are the forgotten mode of transport, at least in the U.S.

"Because if your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down their throats." Take electrified rail, for instance. Here's a sad report from Dean Baker of The American Prospect, one of the best reporters going today: I was shocked to discover in a conversation with a congressional staffer that rebuilding the country's train system is a topic that is strictly verboten on Capitol Hill. I was reminded of this when I read that a French train had set a new speed record of 357 miles per hour. Trains are far more fuel efficient than planes. Even at much slower speeds than this new French train, service across the Northeast and between the Midwest and Northeast can be very time competitive with air travel, after factoring in travel times to and from airports and security searches. It is remarkable that politicians don't even have trains on their radar screens. And, if you haven't seen the video of what an electrified train can do, check this out.

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