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Leap year

Climate legislation may be easier next year, but it won’t be easy

I argued the other day (and Chris Mooney argued here) that we'd be better off waiting until 2009 to push for climate legislation, since anything likely to be passed this year will be fatally weakened and the political terrain is likely to be much friendlier next year. I do not, however, want to give the impression that I think we're going to emerge from a dark tunnel into a field of ponies next year. Things will be marginally more propitious, but only marginally -- large, structural impediments to a good climate bill will remain. So, with that in mind, here's …

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United States scores badly in world environmental assessment

The United States ranked poorly in a recent international environmental assessment, coming in 39th out of 149 countries. Nations were ranked according to their performance in key categories, including agriculture policies, air pollution, sanitation, greenhouse-gas emissions, and more. Countries in Europe scored well as a whole; seven of the top 10 nations were European: Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Austria, France, and Latvia. The others in the top 10 were Costa Rica, Colombia, and New Zealand. Researchers at Yale and Columbia University, who crunched the numbers, said this year they weighted climate-change efforts more heavily than in past assessments. High greenhouse-gas …

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Testing the limits of coverup and privilege

More shenanigans from the EPA on the Cali waiver

Thurday will be an interesting test of the ability of Congress to crack a Bush administration coverup of a rotten and likely illegal action: its decision to reject California's effort to enforce its greenhouse-gas standards for motor vehicles. Sen. Barbara Boxer will put EPA Administrator Steve Johnson in the box to explore not only his indefensible decision, but his efforts to withhold information from Congress and cover up the truth about his pro-car company action. You will recall that right before Christmas, Johnson nixed the California request in a hastily called news conference where he tried, dishonestly, to spin his …

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European Union unveils detailed plans to cut GHG emissions

European Union leaders today unveiled detailed draft plans to reduce E.U.-wide emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The plans would require utilities to buy all of their greenhouse-gas emissions permits beginning in 2013, as opposed to the current practice of allocating nearly all of them for free, which companies can then sell at a profit. Also starting in 2013, other heavily polluting industries, such as aluminum, cement, and steel, will have to pay for a gradually increasing portion of their pollution permits until 2020 when companies will have to pay for all of them. In total, the draft …

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Now he tells us

All the sudden, Pete Domenici supports renewable energy

Wow. You don't see gall this unmitigated every day. Here's Pete Domenici, with a "Statement on Renewable Energy Tax Credits in Economic Stimulus Package": Over the last several years, it is apparent that America's renewable energy industry has shown great promise. Much of the growth of these industries, such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal, has been a direct result of tax credits established by Congress. Many of these tax credits, however, are set to expire at the end of this year. I strongly believe that the renewable energy tax credits should be extended, and that the economic stimulus package …

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Papua ooh mau mau

The real story behind the world’s favorite scolding of the U.S.

Last month, Kevin Conrad became somewhat famous representing Papua New Guinea at the Bali climate talks. Confronted yet again with U.S. intransigence, Conrad said: I would ask the United States, we ask for your leadership. But if for some reason you're not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way. The way the story's been told, Conrad's bold moral cry shattered the wall of U.S. indifference and broke the logjam. Naturally, the reality's a bit more complicated and the U.S. is not the clear (or only) villain. Andy Revkin interviews Conrad and …

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There’s coal money and then there’s war money

In an electoral year when climate policy will play an unusually high-profile role, the $35 million raised by coal front group ABEC seems like a daunting obstacle. Then again, all-purpose-right-wing-warmongering front group Freedom's Watch is raising $250 million to spend on elections this year. So I guess it's important to keep these things in perspective.

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Thompson out

Fred Thompson is dropping out of the race today. A fitting time to reprint the Fredster's classic bit on Paul Harvey's radio show: Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto. NASA says the Martian South Pole's "ice cap" has been shrinking for three summers in a row. Maybe Mars got its fever from earth. If so, I …

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EPA provides only some documents related to California waiver

The U.S. EPA has given Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) only some documents related to the agency's refusal to allow California to regulate car greenhouse-gas emissions -- not all, as she had asked. Missing or redacted documents include a presentation said to predict that EPA would lose if sued over its recalcitrance (which, of course, it has been). Citing executive privilege, the EPA explained in a letter that it "is concerned about the chilling effect that would occur if agency employees believed their frank and honest opinions and analysis ... were to be disclosed in a broad setting." Hm, could that …

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Boucher for Obama

The latest in a string of endorsements for Obama from red-state Dems

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), notorious champion of Big Coal, has endorsed Barack Obama. Some greens are no doubt going to use this as evidence that Obama is too close to coal. I share the concern, but I don't think it's the most sensible interpretation of this case. Boucher's endorsement is just the latest in a string of endorsements from Democrats in red states -- including, crucially, popular Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine. (Two other prime Va. Dems -- Sen. Jim Webb, widely discussed as a VP candidate, and former governor Mark Warner, who was rumored to be mulling a run for …