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And By “Miscellaneous” We Mean “Nefarious”

Substantial changes to Clean Air Act slipped into energy bill Buried deep in the energy bill, filed under "Miscellaneous," is a tiny bit of text that could affect the Clean Air Act in a big way. The provision, authored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would allow "downwind" states like New York and other Northeastern states to postpone fulfillment of clean-air standards until offending "upwinders" clean up their act. If the energy bill becomes law, this provision would represent one of the most significant changes to the Clean Air Act in 15 years, …

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Here’s a Solution. Now What Was Your Problem Again?

Bush administration pushes energy bill as solution to high gas prices American citizens -- or "consumers," as they're known these days -- are irritated about high gas prices, and many of them blame President Bush, whose popularity has hit new lows. Of course, presidents are hardly responsible for short-term swings in commodity prices. Nevertheless, Bush is rising to his fake responsibility with a fake solution. On Saturday, in his weekly radio address, he expressed sympathy about gas prices and said the solution is for Congress to pass his energy bill, which would, in fact, do nothing to affect short-term gas …

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Know When to Hold Him

More drama around Stephen Johnson's EPA confirmation The political jousting around the confirmation of Stephen Johnson to head the U.S. EPA continues, as yet another senator has threatened to gum up the process. Just last week, Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Bill Nelson (Fla.) held the confirmation hostage, forcing Johnson to cancel a controversial research program on household pesticides and children. Now, Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) is, according to a spokesperson, "keeping his options open as far as blocking the nomination." The beef? Carper is steamed that the Bush administration has ignored his requests for studies on ways to …

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Hey Joe, Where You Goin’ With That Bill in Your Hand?

Joe Barton leading GOP charge to push energy bill through House Undaunted by repeated defeats, House Republicans are having yet another go at crafting energy legislation that can make it through the Senate while still preserving massive energy-industry subsidies and tax breaks. This time around, they'll have a powerful ally in the new chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), one of the few politicians who can rival President Bush himself as a recipient of energy-industry largesse. Barton's carefully executed bid to take the reins of this powerful committee -- which oversees more than half …

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Hollywood infuses green movement with star power

All signs on Capitol Hill point to a royally depressing Earth Day 2005 (that would be next Friday): inertia on global warming, revival of the industry-friendly energy bill, a widely reviled plan to address mercury pollution, the looming prospect of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And though it's the 35th anniversary of the first Earth Day, D.C.-based environmental groups don't seem to have plans for splashy protests or pep rallies to mark the occasion. Matt Damon. Photo: PBS. Could it be that an infusion of star power from Hollywood is the best hope for pumping new life into …

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A Prius With Mayo, Hold the Mayo

Fledgling California bill calls for new sales outlets for hybrids Ever wished you could get a five-pound jar of mayonnaise and a Toyota Prius at the same convenient location? Uh, let us explain. California drivers are crazy for hybrids; dealerships in the state have months-long waiting lists, presumably because demand is greater than supply. But California Assembly member Mark Leno (D) thinks the problem is the dealerships themselves acting as bottlenecks and raising prices. So he's proposed a bill that would break their monopoly on new car sales, allowing hybrids to be sold through retail outlets like Costco or online …

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Battle over immigration policy returns in this month’s board election

They're back! Rabble-rousing advocates of immigration restrictions are once again ruffling feathers at the Sierra Club. With the group's 750,000 members now voting in their annual election (polls close April 25; members go here to vote), the immigration critics are pushing a slate of four like-minded board candidates and a "yes" vote on a population ballot measure, which reads: Shall the Sierra Club policy on immigration, adopted by the Board of Directors in 1999 and revised in 2003, be changed to recognize the need to adopt lower limits on migration to the United States? In the "yes" corner, Sierrans for …

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World War CO2

Feds, states, and interest groups face off in court over carbon dioxide An epic environmental case got a day in court on Friday, as a coalition of 12 states, several cities, and 13 nonprofit organizations squared off against the federal government, 11 states, and 19 industry groups before a panel of three judges in a federal appeals court. At issue is the U.S. EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. The Bush administration and its allies say the agency has no such authority. The plaintiffs say that's bunk, noting that the act calls …

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Giuliani joins law firm renowned for defending energy interests

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani -- whose name is often bandied about as a possible 2008 GOP presidential contender -- added a splash of deep red to his moderate-Republican profile when he announced last week his decision to join a Texas-based law firm known for representing heavy-hitting energy companies. Rudy Giuliani. Photo: NYC.gov. Enron, ChevronTexaco, Pacific Gas & Electric, Dynegy, and Southern Company are among the many powerhouses on the client roster of Bracewell & Giuliani -- formerly Bracewell & Patterson. Having negotiated billions of dollars in transactions for fossil-fuel and power-generation facilities, and having defended some of …

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The Full Altamonty

Pombo questioned on wind-power conflict of interest Ah, they grow up so fast! You can tell that wind energy has joined the ranks of mature industries -- it's now got its very own scandal over accusations of improper influence peddling. Aides to Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), it seems, sent a letter to Interior Department officials pressuring them to suspend environmental regulations that govern the wind industry and threaten to reduce income from the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, in which Pombo's parents have a significant financial stake. What a coinkydink! The regulations seek to reduce the number of birds sliced …