Politics

John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry chat about their new environmental book

The environment brought them together. And now, together, they’ve brought out a book on the environment. (No flip-flop jokes, please.) John Kerry first met Teresa Heinz at an Earth Day rally in 1990. The two reconnected at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and then, three years later, wed. He continued to focus on the environment as a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, earning the title “Environmental Hero” from the League of Conservation Voters, while she continued her work as chair of the Heinz Family Philanthropies, a major grant maker in the areas of health and the environment. …

As the World Burns

House hearing addresses missing oil and gas royalties The steamiest soap opera in D.C. continues this week with a House hearing on $1 billion in uncollected oil and gas royalties. A cast of star-crossed witnesses testified to the Natural Resources Committee about the forbidden love between the Minerals Management Service and Big Oil. Handsome leading man Bobby Maxwell, an auditor-turned-whistleblower, said he was told “not to bother the oil companies.” Supporting actor and ex-auditor Kevin Gambrell said he’d been blocked from collecting royalties owed to Native American tribes. But dashing U.S. Interior Assistant Secretary C. Stephen Allred rose to his …

Polls and renewable energy

The people want it

There has been an absolute sea-change in the popularity of renewable energy in this country. We recently polled voter attitudes towards solar in Tex. and Fla. -- and the results were nearly 20 points higher than a similar poll in Calif. in 2005. Politicians need to better understand this. When they do, good things happen. To wit, Tampa Tribune's recent article "A Changing Political Climate":

Awkward thoughts

From a new contributor

I feel like I ought to introduce myself, since Dave just upgraded me to contributor, but maybe I've already been introduced. I'm the "more inconvenient truths" guy! But I take the point. The expiry date has passed. I won't say it any more. Not much anyway. All I ask is that nobody say "tipping point" either. Or "building momentum." Nobody imply that technology is going to save us. And I won't say "inconvenient truth" ever again. Actually, there is this one other little thing. I've managed to convince myself that the entire climate movement can be divided into two schools: the "building momentum" school and the "inconvenient truth" school -- and that the trick is to find a way to straddle the two sides, to help "get the ball rolling" without sacrificing the "right speech" end of the deal. Here's an example of an "awkward thought" I've been on about this week.

The good, the bad, the politics as usual

More on coal in West Virginia

OK, here's some rare good news in the fight against mountaintop removal mining. Last Friday, Judge Robert "Chuck" Chambers, a federal judge in West Virginia, ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke the law in issuing MTR mining permits that would allow streams to be buried. This means that, finally, the Corps, which approves mining permits, will have to recognize and uphold the Clean Water Act! They've been called out for illegally issuing permits that destroy vital streams, ecosystems, and the environment around mining sites. Never mind that they're supposed to be the ones in charge of protecting the environment and preserving the integrity of the streams and rivers that run through the all-but-devastated Appalachian Mountains. Now they actually have to do their jobs, not facilitate the kind of environmental destruction they purport to fight. Hard to believe it took a federal judge and months of appeals and public outcry to make the Army and the government keep their word. Makes me wonder what else we should be holding their feet to the fire for. How does this affect Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine, which I wrote about at the end of January? Well, it sounds like it'll take more time in court to come to a conclusion, so stay tuned. Friday was a great day, though; Judge Chambers decision set a remarkably important precedent. Now for the bad news.

It Just Gets In the Way

U.S. Interior considering revamp of Endangered Species Act, draft shows Last week, a U.S. Interior Department memo quietly changed where endangered species are protected. Now it seems the feds have been giving the Endangered Species Act an even broader rethink. A leaked draft shows that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has toyed with shifting significant ESA powers to states and allowing activities that imperil species if they don’t “hasten the rate of extinction.” It may also change the ESA timeframe — species are now eligible if they face extinction in “the foreseeable future,” but that could be cut to …

Inhofe hates the rock music

Climate contrarian blocks Gore concert plans

If climate change is the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” then an all-star climate concert on the Capitol lawn has got to be some kind of descent into madness. So sayeth Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who’s vowing to indefinitely block a resolution allowing Al Gore’s Live Earth concert to rock the Capitol grounds in July because the event is “partisan.” Said Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), who co-sponsored the resolution with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), “That would certainly provide an unfortunate message on behalf of the U.S., that somehow we’re languishing in our desire to combat the …

Purity vs. efficacy

‘Nature for nature’s sake’ has limited appeal

Stephanie’s post on Dave Foreman’s rant raises a subject that’s been hashed over on this site many times. But we’ve got some new readers around, so I’m going to hash it over some more. Here’s how I see it. If you really love "nature for nature’s sake," you’ll want to do or say whatever it takes to protect what’s left of nature. Your goal will be to find the most effective strategy and message to convince your fellow human beings to join you in working to protect nature. Most people do not love nature for nature’s sake, at least insofar …

Saying 'no' to secrecy

Judge refuses request for a closed courtroom in global warming case

You may have heard about efforts by the motor vehicle industry to invalidate state laws restricting greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. California crafted a rule, other states adopted it, and the industry filed suit. It's a legal argument that stretches back to 2005. And with three active cases -- in California, Rhode Island, and Vermont -- it's not going away soon. In a dramatic new twist, the industry asked the court in the Vermont case to hold most of the trial in secret.

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