Politics

A Dingell Ate My Maybe

Congressional Democrats’ energy priorities are a mixed bag Not so fast with the celebrating. The soon-to-be head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. John Dingell (D), has declared no interest in raising U.S. fuel-efficiency standards — he’s from Michigan, natch — and he’s a nuclear-power booster. The Dems’ rise could also lead to more offshore drilling; while dethroned Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) had refused, as House Resources Committee chair, to accept a compromise bill from the Senate, drilling advocates hope the new regime will pass the bill. Still, there are bright spots: Dingell hopes to close a drilling-lease …

An interview with Renate Künast, Germany’s Green Party chair

As the U.N. climate-change conference heats up this week in Nairobi, Kenya, strategies to promote clean energy and slow global warming top the agenda for many nations — not least of all Germany, which is Europe’s biggest economy, a global leader in green technology, and the country set to take over the 12-month presidency of the G8 industrialized nations and the six-month European Union presidency in January. Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed in recent months to use Germany’s upcoming leadership stints to tackle climate change afresh, with bold new policies. Some inside the German government, though, are skeptical that her …

Call it what it is

Ethanol subsidies, that is

Oh great. The White House needs to recapture some political momentum after its party got shellacked this week. It also needs to make good on its laughable promise to "change the tone" and start working with Democrats to "get things done." So where does it turn? What issue can unite politicians across the fractious partisan divide? You guessed it: ethanol subsidies energy independence! The Bush administration will soon launch a big "energy independence" initiative, likely to include renewed emphasis on biofuels, as part of an attempt to regain the political initiative following the midterm elections. Ugh. The question, as always, is whether this momentum toward biofuels will serve as a kind of kickstart to a broader conversation about energy and climate, or whether it will be a diversion and a dead end. I go back and forth. Let me just pick on one thing from this article. Look at this:

Activists say environmental issues helped push green candidates through tough races

Fist-pumping, chest-thumping, and hallelujahs abounded yesterday at a press conference of top environmental strategists responding to the results of the Tuesday elections, which ushered in a Democratic Congress after 12 years of near-total GOP control. Jon Tester, one of the greener senators-to-be. “Let me be clear: The environment won last night!” Sierra Club Political Director Cathy Duvall exclaimed. “Voters elected a greener U.S. House, a greener U.S. Senate, greener U.S. governors, and they gave a green light to a new energy future.” Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, told Muckraker, “This is the first election I can …

Still Giddy After All These Hours

All but one land-use proposition voted down, post-election high continues In the wake of this year’s election, greens are riding a buzz the likes of which no carnival-going six-year-old has ever felt. In an outcome deemed a blow to the property-rights movement, three of four “regulatory takings” propositions were defeated. The initiatives copied a successful measure in Oregon that allows landowners to be compensated for money “lost” due to zoning decisions and environmental rules. But voters in California, Idaho, and Washington said, “No thanks, regulations aren’t so bad, and crushing smart growth is just dumb.” Voters in Arizona passed their …

We guv you, too

A majority of states retain green-leaning guvs

A few more important results from gubernatorial races:

This House is a home

Green candidates claim a number of seats

Dems solidly took the House last night, gaining 28 seats. The results from key races we were watching, with the good news first:

A Green Party

Midterm election results find U.S. environmentalists hopeful Whew, what a night. Environmentalists of all stripes hailed this year’s election results, though exit polls determined that Democrats were 53 percent giddier. With eco-foes like Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) defeated and green-leaning govs like Jennifer Granholm (D-Mich.) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) reseated, things are looking up. “The American people’s vision of a [different] energy future … is the winner,” said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski, “and Big Oil is the big loser.” (Well, except in California, where voters shunned a renewable-energy oil tax endorsed by the likes of Bill Clinton …

A tribute

Rep. Richard “Dick” Pombo is gone, at long last

... is a Rep. no more. We bring you a special Grist tribute to the man who dreamt at night of shoving oil drills down the throats of endangered species. [Tune to "The Way We Were" rises in background ...] Ah, Dick. Remember when you tried to sell off drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to fund transportation pork? That was insane funny. You always did have a sense of humor. Who could forget your Ahabian quest to gut the Endangered Species Act? You were like the bad guy from a cheap horror movie, springing to life again and again. Points for persistence!

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