Politics

Donning his cap

Dingell endorses a cap-and-trade climate plan

Just days after releasing his carbon-and-gas tax proposal for public comment, House Energy and Commerce Chair John Dingell (D-Auto) -- along with Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Coal) of Virginia -- has released a report [PDF] endorsing an economy-wide cap-and-trade program. In an odd but welcome turn, the 22-page white paper reads: The United States should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 60 and 80 percent by 2050 to contribute to efforts to address climate change. To do so, the United States should adopt an economy-wide, mandatory greenhouse gas reduction program. Further white papers will be forthcoming, meant to ... ... address a number of other cap-and-trade design elements and additional topics, including: cap levels and timetables, measures for containing costs in a cap-and-trade program, carbon sequestration, offsets and credits, developing countries, distribution of allowances, and additional measures. The bad news? "Government will distribute allowances equal to the level of allowed greenhouse emissions." Stay tuned for updates.

California A.G. petitions feds to regulate shipping emissions

California Attorney General Jerry Brown will join with environmental groups today to petition the Bush administration to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from ocean-going vessels. Shipping accounts for up to 5 percent of global GHG emissions, a number expected to grow 75 percent in the next 20 years. Ocean-going vessels make 11,000 calls at California’s ports each year, but often sail under foreign flags and traditionally fall under international jurisdiction. But the U.S. EPA, with the authority to regulate emissions, should intervene, says Brown: “Who comes into American ports is a matter for Americans to decide.” Attempts by the United Nations to …

A look at Mike Huckabee’s environmental platform and record

Update: Mike Huckabee dropped out of the presidential race on Mar. 4, 2008. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who served as governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007, touts energy independence as one of his top priorities. He dodges the issue of whether humans are responsible for global warming, saying we don’t know for sure, but argues that we should still act to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Whenever he’s asked about climate change or the environment, he wraps in religion, saying we have a spiritual obligation to protect God’s creation. Read an interview with Mike Huckabee by Grist and Outside. Key …

An interview with Mike Huckabee 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: Mike Huckabee dropped out of the presidential race on Mar. 4, 2008. Mike Huckabee. Photo: healthierus.gov Should you heart Huckabee? The jovial former Arkansas governor famously shed 100 pounds in two years and became an outspoken health and fitness advocate, and now he’s focusing that can-do attitude on a much weightier problem: America’s beleaguered energy system. “The first thing I will do as president is send Congress my comprehensive plan for energy independence,” he proclaims on his website. “We will achieve energy …

Dingell's absurd poison-pill climate plan

John Dingell’s carbon-tax bill is designed to be unpopular

The carbon plan of Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is considerably lamer -- and more transparently a poison pill -- than early reports suggested. So I strongly disagree with Chris Dodd, Friends of the Earth, and Gristmill's Charles Komanoff, who all applaud the bill. Here's why. First, as Dingell himself has said, he wanted to design a bill with maximum pain to prove to everyone how unpalatable greenhouse gas mitigation is (see below). Why else include a pointless $0.50 gasoline tax on top of the carbon tax? Dingell actually has a double agenda here -- to torpedo climate legislation and a toughening of CAFE at once. Taxes are unpopular enough -- but two of them? Come on! We've seen gasoline prices jump two dollars a gallon in recent years, with little impact on usage. What would another 50 cents do, except piss people off? It would never make the final bill, and Dingell knows it. Second, Dingell "phases out the mortgage interest on primary mortgages on houses over 3,000 square feet." But why? Here is the lame answer:

Quebec introduces carbon tax

Determined not to let British Columbia hog the green spotlight, the province of Quebec has introduced Canada’s first carbon tax. The tax, to be levied on gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and coal, is expected to raise $200 million a year to fund the province’s emissions-reduction plans. Apparently Quebec never got the memo that taxes are communist plots developed by the French … hey, wait a minute!

Corps may buy out coastal Miss. towns, encourage residents to move inland

The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking support from three coastal Mississippi counties for a proposal to buy out 17,000 homes and encourage residents to move inland. The Corps generally reserves buyouts for areas prone to river flooding; the new proposal is an indication that the U.S. may be seriously considering the risk of sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and stronger hurricanes. Intentions of safety aside, resistance to the voluntary project is high. “The whole concept of trying to remove people and properties from the coast is very, very challenging,” says Susan Rees of the Corps. “The desire to live by …

Business as usual?

Why we shouldn’t forget the Farm Bill

Once again, a prime example of our misguided farm policies hits like a ton of factory-farm manure sludge -- or in this case, a massive sack of federally insured, genetically modified corn. Last Wednesday, Monsanto announced that the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) approved a pilot program that will give farmers a 20 percent discount on insurance premiums if they plant a majority of their corn acres with seeds featuring Monsanto's trademarked YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready Corn 2 or YieldGard VT Triple stack technology. This is the first time the FCIC Board has approved a crop insurance discount for specific crop traits, but not likely the last. For the moment, let's set aside the potentially sordid nature of this public/private arrangement. What is particularly ironic and imbalanced is that organic producers pay an extra 5 percent surcharge when they sign up for crop insurance because of the perceived additional risks associated with organic production. That's right. Organic producers are actually penalized for using production practices that have been shown to lessen risks. Simply put, this is bad policy that should be reformed when the Senate takes up the farm bill this month.

Working with cities to build markets

Clinton’s 21st century climate philanthropy

I heartily recommend this month’s Atlantic Monthly cover story, "It’s Not Charity" (via Yglesias). It’s mostly about Bill Clinton’s post-presidency adventures and the new model of philanthropy he’s trying to develop. Embedded within is a description of a fascinating climate program he’s been developing with Ira Magaziner. An excerpt: The climate initiative, in typical Magaziner style, has many moving parts, including technical assistance to cities, networks for sharing best practices, software to measure progress, financial support, and a full-time foundation staff member assigned to each city. But the make-or-break component is a plan to re-equilibrate the market for energy conservation. …

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