Karma Duke

Supremes say upgrading coal plants without reducing pollution a no-no We love the Supreme Court this week. In a unanimous decision yesterday, Big Justice overturned a lower court ruling and declared that Duke Energy did indeed violate the Clean Air Act when it modernized coal plants without paying for pollution-reduction equipment. Duke had claimed it wasn’t required to consult the U.S. EPA when upgrading eight plants between 1988 and 2000, as it did not increase their hourly emissions; green groups had sued, arguing that modifications increased the number of hours the plants were in operation, thus increasing annual emissions, thus …

Carbon tax catching on?

Some signs point to yes

I never thought it would happen, but it looks like a carbon tax might actually become a viable policy option in the U.S. In the Washington Post, Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson discuss growing support for a tax over a cap-and-trade system. If you read between the lines, it basically breaks down like this: economists and policy wonks prefer a tax, because it would provide a predictable price trajectory and would be less subject to gaming and manipulation. Legislators, on the other hand, prefer a cap-and-trade system precisely because of its complexity — that complexity will serve to hide price …

Bush administration vs. everyone else

More on Supreme Court decision

In November, the issue of EPA's refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions went before the Supreme Court. Yesterday, the decision (PDF) was announced -- 5-4 in favor of Massachusetts, meaning that the EPA does have the authority and responsibility to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. In short, the time to act is now! In the chutzpah department, EPA actually tried to argue that 1) "any EPA regulation of motor-vehicle emission" was a "piecemeal approach to climate change that would conflict with the President's comprehensive [!] approach" -- comprehensive, I suppose, in the sense that he refuses to take any substantive action in every sector, and 2) such regulation "might hamper the President's ability to persuade key developing nations to reduce emissions" -- a particularly amazing argument, since the president has been working hard behind the scenes to persuade key developing nations not to reduce emissions. Justice Stevens, writing for the majority, made short work of those absurd arguments.

White House responds to SCOTUS case

So much BS in so few words!

Here’s a bit on the Supreme Court case from a White House briefing today. Marvel, if you will, at the sheer amount of dishonesty and misdirection packed into these few short paragraphs. Virtually every sentence, every word, needs unpacking. It’s always been a talent of this White House to use a kind of shock-and-awe bullshitting strategy: lying so much and so fast that it simply overwhelms the ability of critics to keep up. I dearly hope that strategy goes down in flames with the rest of the administration. Here it is: Q With the court’s decision today, will the President …

Pushing intelligence agencies to weigh in on climate change

Like, totally geo-green

Interesting: Senators of both parties are pushing for U.S. intelligence agencies to assess the danger to the nation’s security posed by global warming. Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Wednesday introduced legislation that would “require a National Intelligence Estimate to assess the security challenges presented by the world’s changing climate,” according to a statement from their offices. National Intelligence Estimates, or NIEs, represent the best information and thinking of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, distilled by their analysts into a series of key judgments about national security threats and other issues. The legislation will also fund additional research …

The second time as farce

Stern in Berkeley

Friday saw a real eye-opener down here in the Berkeley area. Sir Nicholas Stern (of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change) was speaking at the UC campus, and there was quite a buzz. Sir Nick is a celeb for sure, and all sorts were there: left, green dead-enders like myself, lots of climate and energy scientists, and a good smattering of new energy VCs, like the fella behind me from Nth Power (which, by the way, isn't giving up on silicon for thin film just yet).

Sustainability in world politics, continued

On Revkin’s piece on poverty and climate change impacts

(A topic I return to every once in a while. See here and here.) The link that Jason posted Sunday deserves a closer look, if you missed it over the weekend. Revkin has written an excellent, if somewhat depressing, piece on the fact that while climate change is overwhelmingly the responsibility of the world's rich nations, the nations that suffer most will be the world's poorest. It also reminds me of something else I heard Tim Flannery say last week: whatever else we know about climate change, we know that it will stress nations, and stressed nations sometimes do horrible things. The solution to climate change must therefore necessarily be a multilateral one.

On the Markey, get set

I’m a little late on this, but Nation editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel has some smart advice for Rep. Ed Markey, chair of the new House committee on global warming. Speaking of whom — you saw my interview with Markey a while back, right? Good.

Forest Eviction

Judge tosses out Bush administration’s forest-management rules Heads-up to the Bush administration: You can’t always get what you want. (As always, the Rolling Stones know best.) On Friday, a federal judge tossed out the administration’s revised forest-management rules, issued in 2005, which allowed national forest managers to approve logging, mining, cell-phone towers, and other commercial projects without undergoing environmental reviews. The U.S. Forest Service had claimed that the new rules were environmentally benign, but had failed to undertake any studies showing that species were unaffected. Siding with 15 green groups, U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled that the administration …

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