Politics

An interview with Sam Brownback 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: Sam Brownback dropped out of the presidential race on Oct. 19, 2007. Sam Brownback. Photo: IowaPolitics.com “America is on the verge of an energy crisis,” Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) warns on his presidential campaign website, blaming “years of neglect and shortsighted domestic policies.” His solution? Incentivize the marketplace to develop more nuclear power, more renewables, plug-in hybrids, better biofuels, and other homegrown energy sources and technologies. Brownback has been a big advocate of ethanol and other biofuels throughout the decade he’s spent …

The meaning of global warming, part one

Stabilizing the climate requires 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. —– Thank you to everyone here who has participated in this discussion. We are grateful to Grist to making the space for this debate, and to everyone who has chimed in. Through agreement and disagreement alike, it is inspiring to find this many people joining a conversation about how to achieve a common goal. It is the argument of Break Through that we need to replace …

Yucca Mountain may be doubled in size, need more funding

In a move sure to endear Nevada’s Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository to fiercely opposed Nevadans, the Department of Energy has proposed doubling its size. Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) concisely sums up the reaction of the sane: “Doubling the size of Yucca Mountain will only double the danger. This is not a bad dream; it’s a nightmare.” In addition, the DOE’s Edward F. Sproat III told the House Budget Committee this week that the project will need up to three times its current funding, or the current estimated opening date of 2017 will have to be delayed. Berkley again: “Yucca …

EPA refuses to warn homeowners about asbestos exposure from insulation

If you happen to be reading through the U.S. EPA website — which you no doubt do every day — you might come across a warning that some 35 million homes nationwide contain insulation processed with asbestos-contaminated vermiculite from infamous Libby, Mont. If you ask the agency about it, they’d be happy to send you a pamphlet — but they’re sure not going to come right out and tell you. In 2003, the EPA promised a “national consumer awareness campaign” on asbestos exposure from insulation, replete with TV and radio ads, news show appearances, posters, and brochures. Under intense opposition …

He's even lazy about pandering

Fred Thompson half-heartedly justifies flip-flop on ethanol

Ol’ Fred Thompson has decided that ethanol’s great after all, even though he voted against subsidies as an allegedly-small-government conservative in the Senate. Why, Fred? We know it can’t be a craven pander to Iowa voters, so what’s the explanation? “I have voted against subsidies in the Senate,” said Thompson. “But I think it’s a matter now of national security and we’ve got to avail ourselves of a lot of different resources, and I think renewable has to be a part of that picture.” Uh … what? Can you explain, perhaps in English? Thompson noted the difference in oil prices …

For Pete's sake -- or Pete's seat

What will Sen. Pete Domenici’s retirement mean for the environment?

The last post I wrote evaluating the environmental impact of a supposedly done-for senator was about Larry Craig. So much for that. But while Sen. Wide Stance (R-Idaho) is sticking around for now, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) will certainly be retiring at the end of the 110th Congress — so it behooves us to look back on his career, examine his impact on the environment, and look ahead to see what his retirement might mean for the 111th Congress. Domenici, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee from 2002 to 2006, hasn’t been the greenest Republican over the …

Fighting global warming from space

Hillary lays out science proposals

Today, in an address to the Carnegie Institution for Science (timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Sputnik), Hillary rolled out her science agenda. After some strong rebukes to the Bush administration for its "war on science," she offered this course of action: Expand human and robotic space exploration and speed development of vehicles to would replace the space shuttle. Launch a space-based climate change initiative to combat global warming. Create a $50-billion strategic energy fund to research ways to boost energy efficiency and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Comply with a legal requirement that the executive branch issue a national assessment on climate change every four years. She would also expand the assessment to reflect how U.S. regions and economic sectors are responding to the challenges posed by climate change. Name an assistant to the president for science and technology, a position that was eliminated in the Bush White House. Re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment. Sounds pretty good, even if it's disconcerting that the space-based climate change initiative appears higher up than boosting energy efficiency. Let's hope that was just a hat tip to Sputnik.

Could Domenici be succeeded by a green builder?

Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) has announced he won’t run for reelection. Could he be replaced by already-declared Democratic candidate Don Wiviott, a builder known for energy-efficient properties?

Responsible development of fossil fuels?

The energy department’s strategic unconventional fuels fantasy

The DOE's Strategic Unconventional Fuels Task Force has issued its surreal final report: Responsible development of America's oil shale, tar sands, heavy oil, coal, and oil resources amenable to recovery by carbon dioxide injection, by private industry, supported and encouraged by government actions to reduce uncertainties and stimulate investment, could supply all of the Department of Defense's domestic fuels demand by 2016, and supply upwards of 7 million barrels [a day] of domestically produced liquid fuels to domestic markets by 2035. Seriously. How does the Task Force explain how one can have "responsible development" of resources to an extent that would spell certain doom for the climate?

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