Politics

More Inhofian troglodyticism

The man blocks Gore’s concert on the Capitol steps

One of the many stories I missed today: Sen. James Inhofe, in a characteristically petty display of foot-stomping, is blocking Al Gore’s efforts to have one of his Live Earth concerts on the Capitol steps. Inhofe says it’s partisan. Guess it is now. Some good quotes: Noting that many political events — including the 1990 Earth Day celebration — have been held on the Capitol steps, [Republican Sen. Olympia] Snowe was, her spokesman said, “genuinely disappointed” by objections from her fellow Republicans. “She thinks it’s a very unfortunate message to send that somehow this country is languishing behind in the …

Because you can't get enough Canadian politics

Neither can we

I mentioned in a previous post that Canadians might be facing an election soon over the Conservative government's budget. That turned out not to happen (all three opposition parties had to oppose it, and only two did). Instead, something much more interesting may happen: The three opposition parties have finalized their much-improved version of a Clean Air Act, with hard targets on CO2 emissions and penalties for those who don't make the necessary cuts. This leaves the government in an uncomfortable position: either accept a bill that they hate, or call an election over it.

Kerry on the Daily Show

Mildly humorous

Sorry for the radio silence today — I’m laboring away over some long-neglected transcripts. To keep you sated — and to tie in with Amanda’s interview (could that picture look more awkward?) — here’s John Kerry on the Daily Show:

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 …

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