Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Politics

Comments

Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito has enviros worried

Samuel Alito, to the right of President Bush (ahem). Photo: Paul Morse/The White House. Enviro advocates in D.C. have spent the last 24 hours digging through Samuel Alito's extensive paper trail for clues as to how he might vote on environmental cases were he confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. A staunchly conservative judge who's served on the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for 15 years, Alito was nominated by President Bush yesterday to fill the slot being vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor. He's already a hit with Republican senators as well as Bush's right-wing base, which …

Read more: Politics

Comments

Night of the Inexpensive Dead

EPA chief Johnson resurrects Bush's "Clear Skies" plan The Bush administration's "Clear Skies" air-pollution plan, seven months after its seeming death in Congress, has clawed its way out of the ground and lumbered back to life, moaning and twitching, bits of rotted flesh dropping from its desiccated corpse. (Hey, it's almost Halloween -- sue us.) Speaking before the Senate Environment Committee yesterday, U.S. EPA chief Stephen Johnson argued that while other legislative plans on offer might save more lives, Clear Skies is ... cheaper. No really, that was the argument: Johnson said the administration's approach to curbing emissions from nitrogen …

Read more: Politics

Comments

Why we need a World Environment Organization

With climate change manifesting itself in the melting of Arctic glaciers and the drowning of small Pacific islands, in widespread species extinction, forest loss, desertification, and impending water shortages, the scope of environmental problems has changed. Long-term alteration of the earth's climate is moving us into terra incognita that's difficult or impossible to reverse. Recently, Hurricane Katrina provided a dreadful example of how human alterations multiply natural impacts. And this is only one of many escalating global environmental crises. As Jared Diamond puts it, "the only question is whether" the world's environmental problems "will become resolved in pleasant ways of …

Read more: Politics

Comments

Optical Delusion

Republicans ask oil firms to "do their part" to ease pain at the pump Oil companies and their GOP backers in Washington face a somewhat awkward situation: The oil industry is awash in record profits, but Republicans continue to shovel them millions in subsidies. Meanwhile, Americans stagger under the weight of soaring gas prices. This has created some unfavorable "optics," as the PR professionals put it. A few congressional Democrats are calling for a windfall-profits tax on oil companies to provide consumer relief, but c'mon, let's not get crazy. Instead, House Republicans opted for ... a stern press conference, calling …

Comments

Just Another Woeful Wednesday

Congressional committees approve a pile o' drilling and mining Congress worked hard on Wednesday to ensure America a clean, secure energy future. Ah, we kid! Actually, the House Resources Committee approved a measure that would weaken the federal ban on new offshore gas and oil drilling. And both House and Senate resource committees approved provisions that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. And the House Resources Committee approved language proposed by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) (does this guy ever sleep?) intended to spur a sell-off of public lands to mining companies, even if those lands haven't been …

Read more: Politics

Comments

Shake, Rattle, and Bankroll

Hillary calls for Big Oil to fund a cleaner energy future Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) says the oil industry should pony up for a multibillion-dollar "Strategic Energy Fund" that would invest in clean-energy technologies and help folks struggling with spiking heating costs. At the Cleantech Venture Forum in D.C. yesterday, Clinton called for Big Oil to pay an "alternative energy development fee" to help "reinvest" its record-breaking profits, but stressed, "It's not about new energy taxes on consumers." (God no, not new taxes!) She said the money would underwrite wind and solar projects, development of new technologies, and a major …

Comments

Oil drills getting closer than ever to the Arctic Refuge

The future of the Arctic Refuge? "The threat to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has never been greater than it is today," according to Brian Moore, legislative director for the Alaska Wilderness League. And, though the battle over the refuge has a Groundhog Day quality to it -- haven't we heard this same alarm sounding before? -- this time advocates on both sides of the issue agree: Congress is closer than ever before to green-lighting oil and gas drilling in one of the largest remaining undeveloped wild areas in the United States. Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee …

Comments

O Tidings of Comfort and Anti-Enjoyment

Latest national-parks policy draft drops worst of proposed revisions The Bush administration has released its proposed revision of National Park Service management policies for 90 days of public comment. An earlier draft, written by Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary Paul Hoffman and leaked to the press in August, would have required park managers to prove an activity would "irreversibly" damage park resources in order to ban it. This language is notably absent from the latest version. Some other dubious revisions have also been excised, like allowing more cell-phone towers and snowmobiling in the parks. Hoffman decries "anti-enjoyment" policies that over-prioritize conservation, …

Read more: Politics

Comments

Oh No You Mittn’t

Mass. governor may weaken power-plant rules as winter approaches Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is the latest lawmaker looking to sacrifice environmental protections in the face of sky-high energy prices and what looks to be a frigid winter. He's considering weakening some air-emissions restrictions on oil-burning power plants in his state, saying it may allow them to produce more energy this winter. Massachusetts and the rest of New England get almost half of their electricity from plants burning natural gas, but with natural-gas prices hitting new highs, some worry that utilities will find it more profitable to just cease operating …

Comments

Junket in the Trunk

ESA foe Pombo took two trips paid for by anti-animal-welfare foundation The ever-widening net of Republican-corruption busting may have snared a green bête noire: Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.). It seems Pombo took two trips, to New Zealand in 2000 and Japan in 2002, underwritten by a nonprofit foundation notable for opposition to environmental and animal-welfare protections. Problem is, tax laws prohibit private, nonprofit foundations from financing international travel by government officials. According to the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity, Pombo, his wife, and a staffer have taken $23,000 worth of international travel paid for by the International Foundation for the …

Read more: Politics