Politics

Dingell opens the door

Rep. John Dingell introduces his hybrid carbon tax

With a mighty creak of long-rusted hinges, a door is finally opening in Washington. The present Congress will apparently be asked to consider a carbon tax. The measure -- actually, a hybrid carbon and petroleum tax -- will be introduced by the powerful chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). Today Dingell posted on his website a summary of the bill, which he began drafting in June. The current version would phase in, each year for five years, a charge of $10 per ton of carbon content of coal, oil, and natural gas -- plus an additional 10 cents/gallon for gasoline and jet fuel (kerosene). By the end of the five-year period the charges would reach $50/ton of carbon plus 50 cents/gallon of gasoline and jet fuel. These equate to 63 cents a gallon of gas and 90 cents for one hundred kilowatt-hours, assuming the nationwide average fuel mix. Dingell is asking the public for comments. Here's ours: we think the bill is terrific. It's in line with what we said when we founded the Carbon Tax Center, and as Dingell himself wrote last month in the Washington Post, "[S]ome form of carbon emissions fee or tax ... would be the most effective way to curb carbon emissions and make alternatives economically viable." Moreover, as we elaborate below, his supplemental tax on gasoline and jet fuel has the look of genius.

Charity won't cut it

Private sector money will not solve the climate crisis

The Clinton Global Initiative is ongoing. Rich folk and businesses are committing large sums of money to solving global problems like education, public health, and climate change. Matt injects a welcome note of realism: In those fields, it really seems to me that Bill Clinton could do much more good using his charisma and standing to try to convince rich guys and executives at big companies to take a more enlightened attitude toward the political process, to return to the sort of public-spirited involvement in public affairs that characterized the business class in the 1950s and 60s. Realistically, you can’t …

Bush and climate through the years

Reuters has a handy timeline tracking the evolution (or stasis, as it were) of Bush’s climate policies.

A surge of idiocy

The absurdity that is Bush administration climate meetings

The L.A. Times has a piece on the laughable farce that is the Bush administration climate meetings, which will take place later this week. Some funny quotes: “It is the first in what we hope will be a series of meetings,” said Dan Price, a deputy national security advisor for international economic affairs. “Those are not issues you discuss and resolve in two days.” Well maybe … uh, how to say this without profanity … you should have started discussing and resolving before now. European environment ministers meeting with U.S. senators on Tuesday praised the president for getting involved in …

U.S. will host climate meeting of world’s largest emitters

Representatives from the world’s 17 largest greenhouse-gas emitters will gather tomorrow in the good ol’ U.S. of A. for a climate-change discussion. (And yes, the U.N. just had one of those — President Bush played hooky.) The group, which includes China, India, and Brazil, will be convened by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Bush will address them on Friday. Some E.U. nations will send junior ministers, as their senior officials have just, ahem, attended the U.N. meeting. Some see the summit as evidence that Bush is finally, finally, taking leadership on the climate issue; others fear that the group …

Environmentalism and economic justice, sitting in a tree ...

Van Jones has helped push equity to the center of the green discussion

Back in March of this year, I interviewed Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center in Oakland, Calif. He was excited because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had adopted his "green-collar jobs" language and agreed to craft legislation around it. In August, such legislation was introduced in the House. Now things are taking off like crazy. Earlier this week the Senate Environment Committee held a hearing on green jobs, where Sen. Barbara Boxer brandished Jones’ work and said, "we still have a chance to avoid the worst effects of global warming and in doing so, we will also strengthen our economy …

Clinton Global Initiative: Bill and Al, reunited at least

Bill Clinton kicks off annual meeting with big names and big aims

I'm not sure when Al Gore and Bill Clinton were last in the same room together, let alone on a stage together, but they reunited publicly today at the start of the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting. (And, to focus on the superficial for a moment, their handshake -- clumsy and brief, an afterthought really -- didn't look at all like the sort of handshake you might expect a former U.S. president and his erstwhile second-in-command to share.) Clinton introduced and honored several people before the plenary officially kicked off, including Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) and the president of the Florida Power & Light Company, for their joint efforts to expand solar power as a means of bringing Florida's emissions into line with the goals of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. It wasn't the sexiest thing I've seen all week, but it may be of higher impact to recognize work like that in a room full of rich, powerful people than to have Al Gore speak about climate change for the kerjillionth time.

Bush administration pressured to act on climate by banks, international leaders

The pressure is rising on the Bush administration to take action on climate change. This week, some of the world’s leading banks are gathering as lobbying group International Carbon Investors and Services to urge the U.S. and other developed nations to introduce a lightly regulated carbon-trading program. And, in anticipation of Bush’s planned summit on global warming later this week, government officials from around the globe went to the White House yesterday to urge mandatory cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. Not to mention the near-constant ragging the administration gets from a certain scrappy, incisive web magazine. Personally, we don’t know how …

Inspector general’s report finds problems with royalty-collection program at Interior

A new report by the U.S. Interior Department’s inspector general points to a “profound failure” of the technology that the Minerals Management Service uses to monitor the roughly $10 billion in oil and gas royalty payments from energy companies each year. But it’s not just the technology. Higher-ups in the agency apparently decided that even after catching oil companies underpaying by over $1 million, it would impose too much of a “hardship” on the companies to require them to calculate the royalties owed, despite the fact that MMS’ own computers weren’t capable of making the necessary calculations. The report was …