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Senate Republican minority blocks energy bill

The Senate held a cloture vote this morning to overcome a threatened filibuster from Senate Republicans. It failed 59-40 -- one vote short of the 60 votes needed. Reid now says he'll introduce the bill again later today without the clean-energy tax provisions. More later. Right now I'm so disgusted and pissed off I don't know what to say. UPDATE: Well, here's one thing to say, to the Associated Press: the first line of your article says that Republicans blocked the bill because of "new taxes" on oil companies. That is straightforwardly false, and deserves a correction. Nobody proposed any …

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White House pressured EPA to ease toxics reporting requirements, GAO says

Congress' investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, has concluded that the Bush White House pressured the U.S. EPA to ease toxics reporting requirements for businesses. The Toxics Release Inventory was born in 1986 and serves as a community right-to-know tool, requiring that companies report annually on their toxic pollution. However, the EPA, apparently under pressure from the White House Office of Management and Budget, recently revised the TRI reporting requirements, allowing companies to file less-informative reports and eschew reporting altogether if they emit less than 5,000 pounds of toxic chemicals, up from the previous trigger of 500 pounds. The reporting …

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Why we shouldn’t target farmers for our farm bill frustrations

We're very pleased to run this guest essay by Elanor Starmer, an independent activist scholar who lives in California. Elanor recently published an important paper (PDF) on the livestock industry with Tim Wise of the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University. As the farm bill lurches to its conclusion amid shrill rhetoric about the "farm bloc," Elanor redirects our attention to the real beneficiaries of both federal farm policy and conventional attempts to reform it: the agribusiness giants that control the food system. This essay, first in a series, originally appeared on Ethicurean. ----- In a recent Grist …

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Aaawkwaaard [sing-song voice]

Which is more painful, Giuliani's line that we can deal with global warming through energy independence or Romney's line that it's not "American warming" but "global warming"? (A question for the Mittster: if, as you say, tackling this problem is going to enrich our economy, our environment, and our national security, why on earth would we wait for China to act? Seems like we'd want to get right on that, no?) (Thanks LL!)

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Second-to-last issue of the Bali ECO newsletter

Issue #10 if the Bali ECO is here (PDF). You may need to read between the lines a bit if you haven't been following the negotiations. But it's not hard.

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Yet more energy bill woes

This may seem narrow and technical, but it's actually extremely significant: The White House has raised last-minute concerns over regulation of automobile emissions and fuel economy that aides said Tuesday could lead to a presidential veto of the energy bill now before Congress. The bill, which passed the House and is pending in the Senate, requires automakers to meet a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, but does not specify which government agency should enforce the new rule. Primary regulation of mileage standards has historically fallen to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the …

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Energy bill to be voted on in Senate tomorrow

Some days are uneventful, with little but the promise of extra pie for dessert to get you through. And then ... some days are pivots upon which the course of history turns, moments in time when each of us are called upon to decide the kind of future we want for ourselves and our children, and take to the ramparts. Tomorrow is one such day. Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on a revised energy bill. Negotiators have jettisoned the renewable electricity standard (RES) and altered some of the revenue-raising tax provisions to make it more palatable to oil-aligned senators and …

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The sad state of Bush’s science advice

Most science advisers have taken as their job to inform the president and his administration, as well as Congress, the media, and the public, of the thinking of the scientific community on key science issues of the day. Bush's advisor, John H. Marburger III, takes the opposite view. He believes his job is to inform (misinform? disinform?) the scientific community, as well as Congress, the media, and the public, of the "thinking" of the Bush Administration on key science issues. In 2006, he summed up the "technology, technology, blah, blah" strategy of Luntz/Bush: It's important not to get distracted by …

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The economic benefits of going green

Earlier this week, senior fellow and director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, Dan Weiss, went on CNBC to discuss "the economic benefits of going green" as it relates to the energy bill currently in Congress. Weiss, a strong advocate of the clean energy provisions, went head to head with Max Schultz of the Manhattan Institute, whose sole platform was costs. The unjustifiably controversial renewable portfolio standard was the heart of the debate. As Weiss pointed out, half of the states in the union have already adopted their own renewable energy standard. Yet Schultz claimed a nationwide …

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Greenpeace India points out the obvious

The taxi driver that took me from the Bali airport to my hotel in Nusa Dua, the secure "green zone" where the climate negotiations are taking place, didn't speak much English. Just well enough to say, haltingly, that he was "too stupid" to have a better job, he didn't drink, and he was very depressed because he was lonely, but too poor to get married. Oh, and that the Westin, where I was not staying, was the "best" place. Very "luxury." Very "Western." Now, about a week later, I've been in lots more cabs. I can report that Third World …