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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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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 …

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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 …

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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, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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