Politics

Our twisted Farm bill

An audio story about ag subsidies

This little radio story, from NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, tells the story of a sprawling ranch in Texas. It was the single largest recipient of federal farm subsidies between 1999 and 2005 -- receiving some $8.3 million, not for cattle, but for cotton. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group says this: It's the exact opposite of what most taxpayers have in mind when they think of how their farm subsidy money is supporting agriculture. The farm is so big and so profitable, apparently, that it only applies for subsidies because "other cotton growers do," and because "the federal subsidy program provides the framework for the whole cotton growing industry." Ironically, while King Ranch is virtually forced to accept Washington's cotton money, it can't get any federal support for the conservation acreage that is now its most rapidly growing sector. It's too big, says the Farm bill, to qualify for that type of funding.

Leaders and light bulbs

How can we get people voting green?

OK, can we agree? Tom Friedman should never write about anything else but green. As daft as he is on some other subjects, every time he writes about green he hits all the right notes. …

ED come home

Facing big obstacles, environmental movement can’t afford division

A little tenderness Cartoon: Bob Englehart; Hartford Courant. I'm excited that Environmental Defense is now saying publicly, in response to criticism from Matt Stoller and me, that it "has not endorsed" the Lieberman-Warner bill and that it "will work to strengthen the bill, particularly to achieve the deeper long-term emissions reductions scientists tell us we need to avoid a climate catastrophe." That's great, but I must note it's a sentiment that was distinctly lacking from the statement ED put out in response to the bill, which mainly offered a passionate defense, or the fund-raising letter it sent out to activists (thanks Roger Smith for posting this). True, it did include one line that said, "This bill is a good start in that direction [of 80 percent emissions deductions], and we will continue to work in that direction." But the clear implication was that they would push for those commitments through some future legislative mechanism. In contrast, almost every other major environmental group gave the bill qualified praise, but also clearly stated that the bill should be improved to get the maximum possible greenhouse-gas reductions (I do wish Environmental Defense had acknowledged this difference a little more explicitly in its post rather than just doing selective quoting -- let's try to be fair here!). That's the right strategy, and I'm psyched that Environmental Defense is now on board.

Caption contest

Winner to receive unimaginable riches, fame

Leave a caption for this image in comments. The winner, chosen via our highly scientific process, will receive a prize worth somewhere between nothing and two gazillion dollars.

Lol Bush

White House warns Democrats of energy bill veto

I mentioned that the Bush White House sent a letter to Congressional Democrats last week, regarding what it would find acceptable for an energy bill. I’ve gotten a copy of the letter, from a top-secret …

Values

Evangelicals gather in D.C. and reaffirm that climate is not their focus

In D.C., the Values Voters Summit is in full swing. For those not familiar, the summit is a who’s-who gathering of the modern-day religious right, where Republican presidential candidates come to beg, plead, and pander …

One if by land, two if by sea

Overlap in supervision allows sea turtles to slip through the cracks

Ask any number of surfers, divers, and ocean-goers of all stripes what one of their favorite ocean critters is, and chances are a good percentage of them will mention sea turtles.

In the pack

Environmental Defense responds on Lieberman-Warner support

The following is a guest post from Tony Kreindler of Environmental Defense. ----- Glenn Hurowitz writes that Environmental Defense has "abandoned other green groups" by voicing support for climate change legislation introduced last week by Senators Joe Lieberman and John Warner. "Environmental Defense is once again destroying the unity of the environmental movement by endorsing this bill now despite some major weaknesses," he says. For the record, Environmental Defense has not endorsed the Lieberman-Warner bill, America's Climate Security Act. We've certainly praised parts of it we think work well, and we've given the authors what we think is well-deserved credit for making a serious attempt to get comprehensive climate change legislation passed in this Congress. We've also said we will work to strengthen the bill, particularly to achieve the deeper long-term emissions reductions scientists tell us we need to avoid a climate catastrophe. We may do that differently than some, but we will do it. Has Environmental Defense broken from the pack? All environmental groups have specific views on the bill's strengths and weaknesses, which can't fully be captured in the following quotes, but let's take a look at what some other environmental groups had to say about the bill:

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