Return to sender

White House refuses to open email about regulating greenhouse gases

The White House has refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, and has told EPA officials that the email they sent containing the document of their findings would not be opened, reports The New York Times. Apparently the email in question has been hanging in limbo since December 2007, according to EPA officials. The document details the EPA’s proposed response to the Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and the environment, and the EPA has a responsibility to regulate them. …

Climate change ideas for On Day One

Day three of the UN Dispatch-Grist collaboration

The UN Dispatch-Grist collaboration continues today with a discussion of the top user-rated idea on On Day One: 'Eat the View,' by Roger Doiron. This idea was so popular, it even found its way into The New York Times. Here's what he suggests: Announce plans for a food garden on the White House lawn, making one of the White House's eight gardeners responsible for it, with part of produce going to the White House kitchen and the rest to a local food pantry. The White House is "America's House" and should set an example. The new President would not be breaking with tradition, but returning to it (the White House has had vegetable gardens before) and showing how we can meet global challenges such as climate change and food security. Kate Sheppard, David Roberts, and Timothy B. Hurst respond below the fold.

'It is now'

Obama lays out an energy vision that’s economics and security first

I just read the energy speech Obama gave on Tuesday in Nevada. I’d call it a TKO if I didn’t sound so unconvincing using boxing metaphors. Watch what he leads with: "A green, renewable energy economy isn’t some pie-in-the-sky, far-off future, it is now." This is what the campaign, correctly in my judgment, has decided people need to hear first and foremost: It’s happening. People just like you, who live around here, are getting jobs doing this stuff. The Obama campaign is way ahead of most pundits and politicians on this issue. They’ve realized that in the fight for sane …

Supreme Court slashes Exxon’s punitive damages for Valdez oil spill

ExxonMobil is off the hook for billions in punitive damages related to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. In 1994, the oil giant was ordered to pay $5 billion in punitive damages. In 2006, that amount was cut to $2.5 billion. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court slashed the amount once again, to $507.5 million. By a 5-3 vote (Exxon stockholder Samuel Alito sat out), the court reasoned that punitive damages should not exceed what the company paid to victims for economic losses. Since the accident, Exxon has paid $3.4 billion in various fines, penalties, cleanup costs, claims, and other expenses. …

'Bipartisan leadership for energy independence'

Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith touts work with Obama in new campaign ad

Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon is touting his work with Barack Obama to improve automobile fuel efficiency and his “bipartisan leadership for energy independence” in a new television ad. Smith, the sole GOP senator on the West Coast, is fighting to maintain his seat this year in what’s expected to be a tightly contested race against Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley. Watch it: The Obama campaign issued a statement yesterday on their candidate’s appearance in the ad. “Barack Obama has a long record of bipartisan accomplishment and we appreciate that it is respected by his Democratic and Republican colleagues in …

Obama on nukes

RNC claims Obama contradicts himself on nuclear power

Perhaps in response to Barack Obama’s criticism of McCain on nuclear power yesterday, the Republican National Committee is circulating a research piece claiming the Democratic candidate has flip-flopped on the issue, citing quotes and videos of Obama. The quotes: From the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C., in July 2007: “I actually think that we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix. There are no silver bullets to this issue [of climate change].” In the September 2007 MSNBC debate in New Hampshire: “I don’t think that we can take nuclear power off the table. What we have …

Voters' Voices: Oregon

Talking with voters in Portland about the environment and the election

Photo: David Grant   This is part of a series of dispatches from Melinda Henneberger, who's talking to voters around the U.S. about their views on the environment and the election. Portland, Ore. -- Oh, the indignity of tooling around environmentally aware Portland in a big-dog SUV, in between conversations about the environment. Even the guy at the rental-car counter was apologetic: "I know," he said, when I gulped at the news that my economy car had been super-sized. "No one wants them, but we have to give them to somebody." Just as gay people grow up and move to San Francisco or New York, green people grow up and move here. Years before I began sorting bottles and cans on the other coast, my buddy who is a Kansan-turned-Oregonian was struggling to convey just how bad her new boss really was: "Melinda," she finally told me, "he does not even recycle." My friend's next-door neighbors are transplanted Texans, Linda d'Onofrio and Andrew Migliore, who as d'Onofrio says "came here for local produce and a forward way of thinking." Even so, it took them a while to settle in with their chosen tribe: "I didn't grow up around political correctness, and we had a hard time the first couple of years," says d'Onofrio. "We'd say tasteless things about everybody's race, religion, animals; we'd make kitty taco jokes" -- not widely appreciated by "people who will stop you on the street and tell you what they think of your Hummer." Now, though, this is home, and the whole moment is more subdued: "My sister's a true Communist who goes around the world teaching micro-banking, my brother's a true Fascist with his boots in the corner, and we used to have the best conversations, but all the fun has been sucked out of that. The conversation has stopped because it's not funny anymore; you can't make jokes about Abu Ghraib and melting ice caps."

Nevada say never again

Obama heads to Nevada, takes on McCain in energy policy address

Not to let John McCain have all the attention on energy policy this week, Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama gave a speech on energy today in Springs Preserve, a 180-acre area in Nevada dedicated to sustainability. “What we are seeing here … is that a green, renewable energy economy isn’t some pie-in-the-sky, far-off future, it is now,” said Obama. “It is creating jobs, now. It is providing cheap alternatives to $140-a-barrel oil, now. And it can create millions of additional jobs and entire new industries if we act now.” Obama said that between solar, wind, and geothermal energy, Nevada could …

Revkin interviews Hansen

Here, NYT reporter Andrew Revkin interviews climate scientist James Hansen about the 20th anniversary of his seminal Congressional testimony: More on Dot Earth.