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Lucy and the football

Credulous ‘former advisors’ notwithstanding, no, Bush is not going to help on climate legislation

This, from Greenwire (sub rqd), made me laugh: Would President Bush sign a global warming bill into law before leaving office one year from now? ... Ken Mehlman, head of Bush's 2004 re-election bid and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, told reporters Friday that he would urge the White House to support legislation that sets mandatory limits on U.S. heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions. Bush's signature on such a bill would make sense, Mehlman said ... Wait a minute! Isn't Mehlman a notorious party hack? What the hell is ... "... an appropriate next step," said Mehlman, now a …


EPA documents confirm that staff supported California waiver

The U.S. EPA only turned over some documents related to its California waiver decision, but allowed Sen. Barbara Boxer's aides to take notes on the rest. Excerpts of the unrelinquished material have been released -- against the EPA's wishes -- confirming what was suspected: prior to the decision, EPA officials told agency Administrator Stephen Johnson that California had "compelling and extraordinary conditions" justifying a waiver, and that "EPA's litigation risks are significantly higher than if a waiver is granted." On the other hand, predicted officials, granting the waiver would lead to a "likely suit by manufacturers" which "EPA is almost …

Read more: Politics


As nations trail behind ...

States and provinces lead on climate initiatives

"State and regional governments around the world ... are fast becoming an essential and effective part of the movement to combat climate change," says The Climate Group in a new report. "Low Carbon Leader: States and Regions" (PDF) profiles 12 exemplars including California, which in 2006 enacted the first economy-wide cap on carbon emissions in the U.S., and Northeast states moving to implement the first U.S. carbon cap-and-trade system. The report notes that U.S. states, ranked individually among other nations, represent 34 of the world's 75 leading global warming pollution sources. California ranks 12th. Subnational governments have critical roles to …


Let the games begin

Ragtag youth and ABEC face off in South Carolina

Photo: iStockphoto On the eve of the South Carolina Democratic primary, some battles are being fought on stage, and others in the parking lot. This primary season, leading up to arguably the most important presidential election in recent history, has been a circus. Even outside the candidate events, voters waiting in line to cheer Huckabee or Obama might see confederate-flag-jacket-donning Ron Paul supporters espouse southern pride, orange-shirted volunteers collect petitions about Darfur, and PETA organizers dressed up as pigs holding puzzling signs that say "Stop Global Warming, Tax Meat." And while all the presidential campaigns try to capture the media's …


Under pressure

E.U. considers pollution charges on imports from U.S. and other climate scofflaws

U.S. failure to enact limits on global warming emissions could cost American companies that export to the European Union. E.U. President Jose Manuel Barroso on Sunday said the European Commission is considering a charge on importers from nations without carbon limits. Companies from those countries may be required to buy carbon emissions allowances on exports into the E.U. This is intended to level the playing field with European companies who are already part of the European Emissions Trading System instituted to meet E.U. obligations under the Kyoto climate treaty. Barroso said the Commission could "require importers to obtain allowances (emissions …


Peeling away the covers

Boxer releases notes on secret EPA material

This just in: Sen. Barbara Boxer today released notes her staff took on some of the materials the Bush administration has tried to suppress regarding the decision to reject California's effort to enforce its greenhouse-gas standards for vehicles. These documents back up published reports that EPA chief Steve Johnson rejected the advice of his staff. More here.


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 …


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 …


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 …