Politics

Cuomo arigato!

New York attorney general subpoenas energy companies over disclosure of coal-plant risks

A new weapon has been brought to bear in the war on coal, and it’s aimed right at the corpulent industry’s soft underbelly: risk. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo just sent out a round of subpoenas to energy companies. He wants to see internal documents demonstrating that the companies — AES Corporation, Dominion, Dynegy, Peabody Energy and Xcel Energy — fully disclosed the financial risks of planned coal-fired power plants to investors. (This is Cuomo’s twist on a once-obscure statute — the Martin Act, a 1921 state securities law — that his predecessor Eliot Spitzer revived and used to …

Quote of the day

White House advisor reveals Bush view of climate change policy

White House science advisor, on the options available for addressing climate change: You only have two choices; you either have advanced technologies and get them into the marketplace, or you shut down your economies and put people out of work. Remind me again how long until these clowns are gone?

More thwarting

Ladies and gentlemen, Bush’s ‘scientific enquiry’ is still a sham

Every few months, if you pay close enough attention, you'll discover new and exciting ways the Bush administration is gumming up the machines of scientific inquiry. This will happen basically every time the likely results of a particular line of inquiry will be at odds with public policy as determined by the Bush administration. It's an elegant system. And as a result, there's a quick and dirty way to find examples of meddling. For instance, while you're unlikely to find meddling in biotechnological research (non-stem cell), most government-funded environmental research will eventually be sabotaged in some way. That's the basic pattern. The latest example comes to us from the good people at The New York Times: An effort by the Bush administration to improve federal climate research has answered some questions but lacks a focus on impacts of changing conditions and informing those who would be most affected, a panel of experts has found ... [T]he report cited more problems than successes in the government's research program. Of the $1.7 billion spent by the [Climate Change Science Program] on climate research each year, only about $25 million to $30 million has gone to studies of how climate change will affect human affairs, for better or worse, the report said ... Only two of the program's 21 planned overarching reports on specific climate issues have been published in final form; only three more are in the final draft stage. And not enough effort has gone to translating advances in climate science into information that is useful to local elected officials, farmers, water managers and others who may potentially be affected by climate shifts, whatever their cause, the panel found ... A major hindrance to progress, the panel's report said, is that the climate program's director and subordinates lack the authority to determine how money is spent. And so on. And so on. And so on.

U.S. Transportation Secretary blames bikes for decay of roads and bridges

When one rides a bicycle, one is able to transport oneself from place to place — thus, one might call a bicycle “transportation.” But not if one is U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. Despite the fact that 10 percent of all U.S. trips to work, school, and store happen on bike or foot, Peters said in August that bike paths “are really not transportation.” She strongly opposes increasing gas taxes to pay for aging infrastructure; instead, she has implied that the 1.5 percent cut of the gas tax that goes to bike paths and walking trails is stealing tax money …

BBC convinced by Bush adviser that climate change is real

Breaking news: The US chief scientist has told the BBC that climate change is now a fact. Yes, if President Bush’s science advisor is 90 percent certain about it, then it must be true. It feels so good to finally know.

10 things <em>we</em> can do: Rebuilding civil society

It’s not that individuals can’t do anything about climate — they just can’t do it by themselves

I’ve been thinking about this debate over voluntary individual action and its place in the larger fight for sustainability (see here, here, and here). It’s missing something. A huge gulf has developed in America between public and private life. This has put green activism — all of progressivism, actually — on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, private life has become all but coextensive with consumerism — what we choose to buy. Shifting consumer dollars around isn’t a sufficient solution to any substantial problem. On the other hand, the levers that control the state are out of …

The lash is back

Stratfor analysis of the backlash against ethanol

Stratfor’s Bart Mongoven on why the growing negative buzz around ethanol is having limited political effect: … the backlash against biofuels is in full swing. The critics, however, are running head on into the powerful agricultural lobbies in the United States and Europe that so successfully championed the issue in the first place. These advocates say that ethanol, biodiesel and other nonpetroleum-based transportation fuels reduce pollution, help fight climate change and improve national security by reducing dependence on foreign oil. Though many policymakers find these arguments compelling, the biofuels issue would not have achieved the political momentum it has without …

U.S. climate-change research found inadequate in many ways

The good news: the National Research Council finds that the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, started in 2002, has gathered some useful climate data. The bad news: well, where do we start. Less than 2 percent of the money spent by the program has gone to studying how climate change will affect humans. The NRC finds that the 13 federal agencies involved in climate research have been “inadequate” at combining results, assimilating priorities, supporting decision-making, managing risks, and disseminating information. Only two of 21 planned reports have been published. Many climate research opportunities, particularly those designed to gather long-term data, …

Sigh

Hopes for energy bill this session fading

According to John Broder, things are not looking good for comprehensive energy legislation this session: The prospect of a comprehensive energy package’s emerging from Congress this fall is rapidly receding, held up by technical hurdles and policy disputes between the House and the Senate and within the parties. FWIW

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