Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Politics

Comments

Bush’s pick to head the USDA is a big ethanol booster

At a White House ceremony last week announcing the nomination of Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns (R) to succeed Ann Veneman as agriculture secretary, President Bush called his pick "a strong proponent of alternative energy sources, such as ethanol and biodiesel," later adding that "in a new term, we'll continue policies that are pro-growth, pro-jobs, and pro-farmer." Johanns (left) accepts nomination, as wife Stephanie looks on. Funny he didn't mention "pro-corn." Hailing from a state ranked as the third-largest corn producer in the nation, Johanns has had obvious economic reasons to be a strong advocate for ethanol, the gasoline additive derived …

Comments

Stevie Nix

Interior Deputy Secretary Griles resigns The No. 2 official at the Interior Department, Deputy Secretary J. Steven Griles, yesterday became the latest Bush administration appointee to announce he's jumping ship come January. Under investigation during nearly half his tenure at Interior for ethics violations stemming from his uninterrupted $284,000 annual payments from his former employer, a lobbying firm, and for continued meetings with former clients, Griles, say critics, has been the poster child for conflict of interest in the Bush administration. The apparent conflicts were recognized even by the Interior Department's inspector general, who, after concluding that Griles didn't appear …

Read more: Politics

Comments

Suit of Harmer

Automakers sue California over greenhouse-gas emission regs The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers filed suit against California on Tuesday, charging that the state's new regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles (requiring a roughly 30 percent cut by 2016) amount to the imposition of new fuel-economy standards, which is the feds' purview. The Schwarzenegger administration has pledged to defend the regulations in court. Automakers predict that the regs will drive average vehicle prices in the state up by some $3,000, restrict consumer choice, and cause the sky to fall. To enviros' chagrin, Toyota, a company actually selling fuel-efficient cars, joined the suit, …

Comments

Buenos Hot Aires

U.S. professes bafflement at international ire over climate change "I'm not sure why we're considered the 'bad boys'," said puzzled U.S. climate negotiator Harlan Watson at this week's U.N. climate change convention in Buenos Aires. The conference -- the last such meeting to take place before the Kyoto Protocol goes into effect in February -- has featured sharp criticism of U.S. inaction on global warming, but Watson made no apologies. He said that Kyoto was politically motivated, not "based on science," that conference participants were focused too much on talk and too little on action, and that European countries, despite …

Comments

Energy Bill

Clinton says clean-energy backers should quit whining and get to work Former President Bill Clinton yesterday said that energy issues, with their links to national security and environmental decline, "may have a bigger impact on America and the world than virtually all the things that were debated" in the run-up to the recent election. At a symposium at New York University, Clinton chided supporters of renewable energy for "bellyaching and whining" about political barriers, arguing that "it's time to stop worrying about whether the current administration will change its mind" on renewable energy and get to work building a movement …

Read more: Politics

Comments

Grousal Abuse

Sage grouse unlikely to receive protection under ESA A panel of biologists and managers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recommended against listing the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. FWS Director Steve Williams will make a final decision by Dec. 29, but observers say he's likely to follow the panel's advice. The recommendation is seen as a victory for oil and gas companies, ranchers, and farmers in the U.S. West, whose activities would be curtailed by habitat protections if the grouse were listed. Enviros who have pushed for the listing will not be pleased to …

Read more: Politics

Comments

States Hafta NAFTA

International trade treaties hamper states on environmental protection When the U.S. signed on to international trade treaties like NAFTA, enviros warned that it could hamper efforts to pass and enforce eco-friendly laws and regulations, and there's mounting evidence to support those dark predictions. After a period of caution and reticence, U.S. trading partners are more often using international enforcement mechanisms to scuttle state-level environmental (and labor, and social) laws. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in September vetoed a bill calling for use of the state's massive piles of spare tires as material for asphalt, fearing that Canadian and Mexican rubber …

Comments

The LNG and Short of It

States express outrage at LNG provision hidden in omnibus spending bill Deep in the 3,016-page, $388-billion omnibus spending bill recently approved by Congress, tucked away in a section on Federal Energy Regulatory Commission salaries and expenses, is a provision stating that the feds -- not individual states -- get to decide where liquid natural gas facilities will be sited. Not surprisingly, many congressfolk say they had no idea it was there, since few, if any, read the gargantuan bill before it came up for a vote. State regulators, who would prefer to decide for themselves whether proposed LNG sites are …

Read more: Politics

Comments

Bush admin isn’t putting money where its mouth is on “clean coal”

When pressed on climate change, the Bush administration is fond of citing "clean coal" technology as the wave of the energy future. Even some enviros are starting to grudgingly acknowledge the technology's potential for good. Coal: Can you dig it? Photo: NREL. But all Bush's talk doesn't appear to be translating into the funding needed to really get clean coal rolling. Given that coal accounts for a whopping 50 percent of U.S. electricity production, it can't realistically be phased out overnight -- or even in the next half-century -- which means that transition technologies are critical. Such technologies are in …

Comments

Señor Ahab

Japan accused of buying pro-whaling votes Last year, Nicaragua became yet another unlikely nation to join the International Whaling Commission, just in time to attend the group's annual meeting and support the lifting of an 18-year moratorium on commercial whale hunting -- a policy change aggressively pushed by Japan, but not yet achieved. Japanese officials deny allegations that they have used foreign aid to buy pro-whaling votes and say that the new IWC members are being influenced by emerging scientific evidence about population recovery in some species. But some enviros believe poor nations such as Nicaragua, land-locked Mongolia, and a …

Read more: Politics