Politics

The state of play of the Energy Bill

Can the House and the Senate agree on energy legislation?

The prospects for a successful reconciling of the House and Senate energy bills remain as iffy today as they were last month. How sad such failure would be at a time of record oil prices and a growing consensus of the need for urgent action on climate change. The big obstacle right now is that Senate Republicans oppose a House-Senate conference. E&E News (subs. reqd.) reports: "It looks like Senate Republicans are not going to agree to a conference, so we will probably see the same process on this bill that we saw with several other pieces of legislation this year," [Henry] Waxman [D-Calif.] told reporters after the meeting. What is this alternative process? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) intends to reconcile the House and Senate energy bills without convening a formal conference committee. Even this approach is no guarantee of success, as many roadblocks remain in Congress and the White House:

Nuke it out

Musicians put together anti-nuke video, petition

In an effort to excise a nuclear-power provision from the Senate’s energy bill, a group of musicians including Bonnie Raitt and Ben Harper has put together a short video and petition. Check it out: Also, it looks like Raitt and some of the other anti-nuke campaigners will be attending the Boxer event tonight. I wonder if they’ll be talking nukes.

Why Al Gore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

Gore’s effort to focus attention on climate change supports the goal of preventing wars

This is a guest essay by Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. It was originally published on Salon.com. What's world peace got to do with global warming? Perhaps everything. Or it will if things don't change fast -- if, in 10 or 20 or 40 years devastating floods and droughts displace millions of refugees and spur nations and tribes to desperate bloodletting. At which point, no one will have the slightest doubt why members of the renowned Scandinavian foundation thought former U.S. Vice President Al Gore was an obvious choice for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Speculation has been growing that Gore will be chosen for the prize on Friday. Regardless of the outcome, Gore is, quite simply, the indispensable player in the drama of mankind's encounter with the possibility of destroying the climatic balance within which our civilization emerged and developed. As anyone who read the book or watched the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" knows, Gore has been troubled by and fascinated with the science of climate change since his undergraduate days at Harvard, where he first encountered the theory that carbon emissions are slowly causing the planet to overheat. He began holding congressional hearings on the subject the moment he hit Washington in the early '70s and has not let up since -- perhaps because he understood instinctively that it was not a question of whether changing the atmosphere's chemical balance would disrupt climate, but when, and how fast. He recognized, too, that the incredibly hard task of turning around the world's energy economy would become impossible if we waited for global warming to announce its presence, stage left, with alarum and hautboys as Shakespeare might have scripted. So for years he accepted the thankless role of Cassandra, the Greek prophet no one would heed. But unlike Cassandra he did not sit by to watch fateful tragedy unfold. Once, when I was particularly frustrated by challenges I faced in my job at the Sierra Club, Gore heard me out and replied: "Never, ever give up." That would seem to be his motto, as reflected in the thousands of speeches he has delivered, the Live Earth concert he built from scratch, the naysaying he has endured, the movement he inspired. What's all that have to do with peace? Look at Iraq, Darfur or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- bloody sites that have engendered three Nobel Peace prizes. Twenty-first century conflicts seldom feature stable governments colliding, but rather collapsing societies attacking themselves. These are much harder to solve with diplomacy or peacekeeping troops. Prevention is the key. The Nobel Committee has recognized this in recent years, awarding its prize to such previously unlikely winners as Iranian feminist Shirin Abadi, and Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer of microfinance for the poor. A quick list of trouble spots that climate chaos could ignite would include:

A look at Tom Tancredo’s environmental platform and record

Update: Tom Tancredo dropped out of the presidential race on Dec. 20, 2007. Environmental and energy issues don’t seem to be top priorities for Republican presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo. He rarely mentions them on the stump and he doesn’t highlight them on his campaign website. When he does talk about his vision for America’s energy system, he calls for reliance on the free market rather than regulation, and — like everyone else — stresses the importance of reducing U.S. consumption of foreign oil. His lifetime voting score from the League of Conservation Voters is 11 percent. Read an interview with …

An interview with Tom Tancredo about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Tom Tancredo dropped out of the presidential race on Dec. 20, 2007. Tom Tancredo. Photo: VictoryNH Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo — best known for his zealous opposition to illegal immigration — bills himself on his campaign website as “a solid pro-life, pro-gun, small government Republican.” What’s not mentioned on his site is anything about the environment or energy issues. (Considering that he’s got a lifetime approval rating of 11 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, perhaps that’s no surprise.) But when …

Climate change and world peace

Three reasons Gore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize

Conservative carping aside, Al Gore is a perfect candidate for three reasons: The award has always gone to people who have done more than just promote "peace," such as Albert Schweitzer, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Teresa. The award has recently (2004) gone to an environmental leader, the great Wangari Maathai, who "founded the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots environmental nongovernmental organization, which has now planted over 30 million trees across Kenya to prevent soil erosion." Global warming is a grave threat to future peace and security -- as more and more experts are acknowledging. Global warming creates the possibility of millions of refugees, spurred terrorism, sea-level rise, and food and water shortages -- water being a major source of conflict. Indeed, climate change may already have been a key factor in the Darfur crisis (see here and here). If we avoid catastrophic global warming, Al Gore's tireless efforts to educate the nation and the world will be a major reason. He will have prevented untold humanitarian crises and countless regional conflicts. Gore would bring honor to the award.

Judge delays work on border fence per insufficient environmental report

The Bush administration tried to “ram” through an insufficient environmental report and must temporarily cease work on a 1.5-mile-long section of fence on the Arizona-Mexico border, a federal judge ruled yesterday. Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle agreed with the Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club that federal agencies’ three-week-long environmental assessment seemed unnecessarily hurried, but noted that her ruling may not do much; Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has the power to waive all environmental laws to build the fence.

Prime mover

Edwards would auction 100 percent of pollution permits; welcomes Obama to the auction fold

Earlier this week, when Barack Obama released his excellent new energy plan, I said this: … with his promise to auction 100% of cap-and-trade credits, Obama has put himself out ahead of all the other frontrunners. He deserves the praise he’ll get for it. John Edwards. Photo: kk+ via flickr Afterwards, the John Edwards campaign contacted me protesting that on permit auctions, as on so many other policy landmarks, Edwards was there first. I was a bit suspicious at first — when Edwards’ plan first went online, it said a "portion" of the permits would be auctioned to raise $10b …

The meaning of global warming, part two

Stabilizing climate means embracing technology, public investment, and global economic development

The following is a guest essay by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, the latest in the ongoing conversation about their new book Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. —– This week saw a watershed moment for those of us committed to moving environmentalism from a politics of limits to a politics of possibility. Senator Barack Obama proposed a $150 billion investment to develop and deploy clean energy technology on a scale approaching the challenge we face. In doing so, he has become the most recent of several national political leaders to go beyond the …

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