Politics

Judge issues ruling protecting delta smelt, restricting California water access

For years, environmentalists have blamed the rapidly dwindling smelt population in the San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta on huge pumps that dispense water throughout southern California, but also suck in and kill huge numbers of the endangered fish. To protect the smelt, a species unique to the delta, a federal judge issued a far-reaching ruling Friday imposing limits on water diversion from the delta. State water officials say the ruling by Judge Oliver Wanger (heh heh) could cut the amount of withdrawn water by around one-third, restricting water access to 750,000 acres of cropland and a thirsty SoCal population 25 million …

Give Bush some (perverse) credit for emissions drop

Spike in gasoline prices is partially due to Bush’s weak energy policy

The Washington Post reported that President Bush made the following claim at a fundraiser: Do you realize that the United States is the only major industrialized nation that cut greenhouse gases last year? The Post noted immediately that the White House "was unable to substantiate the claim" because they really don't know what other industrialized nations have done. But does Bush deserve any credit for the unusual U.S. drop in emissions? I say yes, but only in a perverse way -- his failed energy policy (and the failed reconstruction of the Iraqi oil industry) helped set the stage for sharply increased gasoline prices in 2006, which moderated oil consumption. The White House claims that "progress is due in part to natural causes, innovation and market forces, and emerging federal, state and local policies." Uh, how do "emerging federal policies" change anything? Answer: they don't until they actually emerge, which for this administration will be pretty much never.

Pacific Rim nations meet to consider climate, unlikely to do much

If you haven’t had your fill of anticlimactic climate meetings, hark: climate is at the top of the agenda at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney this week. APEC’s 21 members — Pacific Rim countries including the U.S., China, and Australia — together consume about 60 percent of the world’s energy, and thus are big players in global climate-affecting. But don’t expect anything too ambitious out of Sydney: according to a draft statement obtained by Greenpeace, APEC members may adopt wording supporting voluntary “measurable and verifiable contributions to meeting shared global goals.” Then again, one foreign ministry official predicts …

We won't even help our own

For mitigation over adaptation: the argument from cynicism

The second anniversary of Katrina has passed, marked by me only with craven silence. There are three Katrina tidbits I wanted to pass along, though, as they are germane to the argument over whether humanity can or should adapt to ongoing climate change. The first is from a year ago. Jim Rusch, who was then acting governor of Idaho and who is likely to take over Larry Craig’s recently vacated Senate seat, said this: Here in Idaho, we couldn’t understand how people could sit around on the kerbs waiting for the federal government to come and do something. We had …

So long, Larry

Larry Craig’s environmental legacy was dismal, but his successor’s might be better

Larry Craig. Photo: senate.gov In keeping with the classy GOP tradition -- out with the gay and in with the new -- Sen. Larry Craig is now history. But, expanding on Tom's post, it's worth keeping in mind that his brown legacy extends well past his much-lampooned arrest in an airport toilet. The New West Network has a fairly encyclopedic rundown of the many ways in which Larry Craig obstructed legislation that was friendly to the environment and advanced measures detrimental to it. Some highlights: Craig supported offshore drilling, supported drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, obstructed appropriations to, among other programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, promoted the transportation of nuclear weapons to Yucca Mountain for storage therein, deappropriated funds intended to count the dwindling population of salmon in the Columbia and Snake rivers, trounced efforts to raise public land grazing fees, and attempted to deregulate big timber. It's quite a record -- all the more worth mentioning because some of the names being tossed around as potential replacements present such an enormous opportunity for improvement.

Post-Labor Day link dump, the second

Exploring the tubes so you don’t have to

Mo’ links! Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland Ohio recently passed a renewable portfolio standard that falls prey to the worst pitfalls of that particular policy mechanism: Gov. Ted Strickland wants to require that 25 percent of the electricity sold in Ohio by 2025 come from alternative energies, such as fuel cells, solar panels, windmills, nuclear and hydroplants. Half of that would have to come from renewable energy while the other half would come from nuclear, fuel cells or clean coal sources. The point of RPSs should be to boost renewable energy technology. If the point of this jerry-rigged contraption is to …

Sen. Clinton will introduce eco-justice legislation

Senator Hillary Clinton — perhaps you’ve heard of her? — plans to introduce an Environmental Justice Renewal Act, providing federal funding to low-income communities that tend to house many of the nation’s polluting facilities. While it may be resisted in Congress, the idea behind the legislation has been growing in the grassroots for decades. Says eco-justice advocate Majora Carter, “We need to work; we also need to breathe — our goal is to find a way of doing both.”

Larry Craig's 'wide stance' on coal and timber

The disgraced senator’s real crimes go unpunished

In John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, a lowly cop finds himself assigned to lurk in a public bathroom, on the lookout for “suspicious characters.” Sen. Larry Craig bumbled into just that sort of trap, his tapping foot and now-infamously “wide” toilet stance dooming him to political infamy. There’s no justice in entrapment, but there’s ripe poetic justice in a stalwart of the gay-bashing GOP perishing from the very anti-gay fervor his party habitually stokes. Good riddance. But let’s not forget that the good senator’s real crimes don’t involve sex acts among consenting, if closeted, adults. He used his …

Labor Day

Unions are getting behind a green candidate

So as not to let Labor Day go by unacknowledged, let’s check in with the unions. Recently, John Edwards told the machinists union they’d have to give up their SUVs. They endorsed Hillary. Edwards has, however, gotten endorsements from the carpenters, steelworkers, and mineworkers unions. As Brad Plumer notes, the latter is a particular feat given that Edwards has called for a moratorium on new coal plants. (I would say "new coal plants without sequestration," but that would be redundant.) According to the campaign, Edwards now leads the 2008 presidential pack in union support.

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