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With Leavitt on the way out, who’ll be next to head up the EPA?

Leavitt, left, accepts Bush's nomination to head HHS and leave EPA behind. Photo: WhiteHouse.gov. There were plenty of "Leavitt or leave it" jokes when former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) took the helm at the U.S. EPA just over a year ago. Many insiders didn't expect him to stay long at the agency, figuring he would get promoted after doing the dirty work on the heels of Christie Whitman's prickly departure from the post. But few expected Leavitt to leave it quite so soon. His nomination on Monday to head up the Health and Human Services Department landed as quite …

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It Was a Dark and Stormy Year …

2004 sets records for heat and natural disasters 2004 may be the fourth warmest year on record and the most expensive to date for insurance companies stuck with the tab for cleaning up after natural disasters, according to new data released this week. Extreme weather conditions in many parts of the world, including a record 10 typhoons in Japan and the first-ever hurricane in South America, are being blamed on global warming. Flooding, drought, hurricanes, and other weather events cost insurance companies $35 billion in the first 10 months of the year -- $26 billion of that in the U.S. …

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Hagelian Dialectic

Kyoto opponent Hagel may ally with Blair for new climate agreement U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair's efforts to cajole the U.S. into doing something about climate change -- and shake off his rep as a Bush "poodle" -- may have found an ally in Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). Hagel met with Blair this week in London at the PM's request to discuss the kinds of initiatives the countries could agree on. The senator, a prominent opponent of the Kyoto Protocol, said he wanted the U.S. to be seen as helping, not just hindering, efforts to combat climate change, adding, "At …

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Dude, Where’s the After Party?

U.N. negotiators begin talking about post-Kyoto actions Two months before the Kyoto Protocol even takes effect, representatives meeting in Buenos Aires for the annual U.N. conference on climate change are already discussing plans for reducing emissions post-Kyoto. So far, says Eliot Diringer of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, participants have agreed that any future plans need to include roping in "major emitters." By "major emitters," of course, he means the U.S. -- the biggest contributor to global greenhouse gases -- as well as a number of developing nations including the No. 2 emitter, China, and the fifth- and …

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First, Do More Harm

Bush admin delays new air-quality rules, pushes "Clear Skies" The White House has told the U.S. EPA to hold off on issuing the Clean Air Interstate Rule, which would curtail emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, in deference to a renewed push in Congress to pass the Bush administration's long-stalled "Clear Skies" legislation. Delaying the rule will increase pressure on senators and reps to get Bush's bill moving, an effort led by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Enviros blasted the administration for putting off a rule they say would help clean …

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Leavitt to Leave It

Leavitt to move from EPA to HHS President Bush announced today that he intends to move U.S. EPA chief Mike Leavitt into a new position as secretary of health and human services, ending Leavitt's tenure of just over a year at the agency. Leavitt, a rising star in the Republican Party and a fierce Bush loyalist, managed to raise the ire of environmentalists numerous times during his short stint at EPA as he pushed the Bush administration agenda of a more biz-friendly environmental regulatory system. Amusingly, a Sierra Club press release on Leavitt's job change included a repeat of a …

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Clinton, late convert to climate-change cause, now preaching up a storm

He wasn't known as the eco-warrior president. Nor was he a visionary on energy independence. But Bill Clinton is now using his legendary charisma and silver tongue to help mobilize the shift away from fossil fuels. Bill gets heated up over climate. Photo: Clinton Presidential Foundation. "[T]he decisions we make or fail to make in this area may have a bigger impact on America and the world than virtually all the things that were debated" in the recent presidential campaign, Clinton told a crowd of 900 students and business execs gathered at New York University last week at an energy …

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Putting the “Pact” in “No Impact”

Tony Blair trying to entice U.S. into "Kyoto-lite" climate treaty With much of the industrialized world heaping scorn on the U.S. for spurning the recently ratified Kyoto Protocol, the Bush administration may soon get a chance to regain a smidgeon of international cred on the climate-change issue. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in an effort to bolster his tarnished green image, is secretly developing plans for a new international climate treaty -- dubbed "Kyoto-lite" by one insider -- that he hopes President Bush can be convinced to embrace. Blair met with U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last week to discuss …

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Royally Screwed

Oil production takes heavy toll on Nigerian villagers In the oil-rich Niger Delta, an area that produces nearly all of Nigeria's 2.5 million barrels of oil a day, environmental degradation and political and class conflict are the prices of development. While a booming oil business has generated billions of dollars each year for the Nigerian government and oil companies like Royal Dutch/Shell, little of the revenue has filtered down to the impoverished residents of the delta, though they are the ones most affected by the 221 oil spills reported by Shell last year -- a small fraction of the some …

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What in the Sam Hill?

Bush nominates little-known official to be energy secretary President Bush surprised D.C. insiders today by nominating a virtually unknown Treasury Department official, Sam Bodman, to serve as secretary of energy. "Sam who? I've never heard of this guy," said one energy-industry lobbyist, echoing what most everyone else inside the Beltway seemed to be thinking. A former chemical-engineering professor at MIT, head of an investment firm, chair of a chemical company, and Commerce Department official who oversaw the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bodman has little experience in the field of energy. If approved by the Senate to replace outgoing secretary …

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