Politics

'Often contradictory stances'

Mainstream media realizes that McCain’s energy rhetoric and record don’t match up

The mainstream media has started to pick up on the fact that John McCain’s energy policy is totally inconsistent. Bloomberg: As a senator, John McCain has condemned policies that pick market winners and losers, aiming particular criticism at government ethanol subsidies as a taxpayer rip-off. As a presidential candidate, the Arizona Republican himself is backing specific industries in proposals for relief from high energy prices and foreign oil dependence. Coal producers and users would benefit under McCain’s energy plan from about $30 billion of government funding for clean-coal technology research. Federal carbon caps and a system for trading emissions credits …

Textbook case

New edition of AP American Government book retains false information about climate change

Back in April, we reported that the American Government textbook in use in classrooms across the country implies that the cause of climate change is in doubt, and that global warming could even be a net benefit for the planet and all who dwell upon it. At the time, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt assured concerned citizens that this was merely a flaw in older editions of the book, and that they “will be working with the authors to evaluate in detail the criticisms.” In These Times asked me to look into it the 2008 edition, and I discovered that the …

In the dumps

Mountain advocates and legislators take on mountaintop removal

The practice of mountaintop removal (MTR) has gotten more attention from environmental and social justice advocates in recent months, including the Goracle himself. “Mountaintop removal is a crime and ought to be treated as a crime,” Gore said in April. He was addressing the audience at the 2008 Nashville Film Festival, where he presented director Michael O’Connell the 2008 “Reel Current Award” for his film, Mountain Top Removal. The practice continues largely unfettered, however, and it has become an ever-more-common method of gaining access to coal reserves. But a growing group of legislators is hoping to instate a law that …

Big, bad John

Texas Sen. John Cornyn hearts drilling and a good brew

Okay, so this campaign ad for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has nothing to do with the environment, but it needs to be posted: Cornyn’s latest ads focus on his energy plan, which includes offshore drilling and opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for exploration and drilling. He also says he supports “viable alternative sources,” which in his book includes nuclear and coal. This is the same senator who during the debate over the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act last month blamed the “Democrat-controlled Congress” for rising gas prices. “But this is not a partisan issue,” he said. He dismissed the legislation …

Makah tribe members sentenced for illegal whale hunt

The five members of the Makah tribe who participated in an unsanctioned hunt of a gray whale last year were sentenced earlier this week. The Makah tribe, whose reservation is located in northwestern Washington state, is the only tribe in the country with treaty rights to hunt whales. However, the long, arduous process of obtaining a waiver to actually conduct a legal hunt has fueled the profound frustration of some tribe members; the Makah’s last legal hunt was in 1999. The five whalers who conducted their own whale hunt last September said it was anger over the long waiver process …

Moore rules on greenhouse gas emissions

Georgia judge finds that coal plant must obtain emissions permit from state EPA

The AP has the bombshell news. A judge has finally used the Supreme Court decision that carbon dioxide is a pollutant: The construction of a coal-fired power plant in Georgia was halted Monday when a judge ruled that the plant's builders must first obtain a permit from state regulators that limits the amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Read Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore's ruling [PDF]. What did the judge find?

Burnett at the stake

Former EPA official talks about White House’s unwillingness to regulate greenhouse gas emissions

As we’ve reported here over the past week, the White House is trying to block the Environmental Protection Agency from releasing a document that shows how the Clean Air Act could be used to regulate greenhouse gases. Over the weekend, Grist talked to former associate deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Jason Burnett about the agency’s findings and the White House’s interference. Burnett, an economist by training, and the EPA’s environmental experts concluded in their draft response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human welfare and should be regulated. …

Electable energy

The importance of elections for a renewable energy economy

This article in Business Week is both a fascinating read and a perfect illustration of why national leadership is so essential for a sustainable energy future. Many environmentalists (including myself) believe that electricity generated through clean renewable sources can power not only most of our homes and industry, but also our transportation sector through plug-in cars and buses. There is little doubt that the solar and wind capacity exists, but the major obstacle is a lack of transmission lines to transport the energy from the deserts or the wind farms to the large urban areas where most power is used. This is where the federal government has to step in. First, these transmission lines are incredibly expensive, and it is unlikely that power companies will foot the bill themselves for a national grid; the total cost is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Second, and no less important, is the fact that the siting of these lines is very cumbersome and filled with extensive red-tape, which means that it takes many years to get them off the ground. An administration that helps to both finance such a grid and to streamline the siting process is desperately needed if we are going to make serious strides in the share of renewable energy in our national energy mix. This type of work would employ hundreds of thousands of people, stimulate many local economies, and vastly upgrade America's domestic energy capacity thereby making us more energy secure. Of course, it would also help us to greatly reduce our carbon footprint. This is why elections matter so much. Eight more years of doing next to nothing on the energy front may leave America's economy and world standing so damaged that we may not be able to recover. While both political parties have their share of bad ideas and are beholden to special interests, I trust much less the party which has spent the past decades demonizing government at every turn.

The power of the state

State energy news update

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Kari Manlove, fellows assistant at the Center for American Progress. ----- On Wednesday (June 25th), Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed a historic piece of energy legislation that advances Florida one step closer to establishing a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Florida is the first state in the Southeast to adopt a law of this nature. While Crist has prevented new coal plant construction and while this article describes a handful of solar thermal projects in Florida, Joe has followed and described some attempts by companies in Florida to pursue nuclear, encouraged by the governor. Other state progress is happening in New Hampshire, whose Governor John Lynch just recently signed his state on to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. In other power plant-related news in states, Virginia is mid-showdown over the future of coal in the state, an issue which has left a huge divide between northern Virginia and southern Virginia. Unfortunately, the latest coal plant in Virgina has unanimously won approval (on the condition that another coal plant start to burn natural gas). Still, this is a state to keep an eye on. In terms of coal, but also in the upcoming presidential election (see this 2007 example of the changing political orientation). Finally, all has been quiet on the Kansas front. But it's worth keeping in mind that every single Representative and Senator is up for re-election in November. So once the new pieces are set, it will literally be an entirely different game. This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.