Politics

APEC's weak brew on climate

Pacific Rim countries vow to do … very little

Throughout the year, members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation group (APEC) — including the U.S., Japan, and Australia, among others — have had a series of meetings. In early September, they will announce their grand plans, which, according to a leaked draft (PDF) obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald, contain "aspirational" greenhouse-gas emission targets. Here’s what APEC will shoot for: • Setting up a Network for Energy Technology to promote collaboration on research on clean coal, nuclear power and renewable energy such as solar and wind power; • A non-binding, unenforceable 25 per cent reduction in energy intensity (energy consumption …

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Keep It Pretty Much the Same

U.S. Forest Service re-revises forest-management rules In March, a federal judge put the kibosh on the U.S. Forest Service’s revision of forest-management rules that had directed local managers to give economic concerns as high a priority as ecological health and removed requirements that managers ensure viable populations of native wildlife. Having not succeeded, the agency try, tried again, offering up a revised revision late last week. Enviros see the new pro-business rules as essentially the old pro-business rules with an allowance for more public review; if the plan remains unchanged, chances are decent that greens will sue again.

Dems and hippie green companies stealing your money and wives

Except not really

The NYT had an article this weekend that might as well have been titled "Dems Corrupt, Green Companies Gorging on Bonanza of Earmarked Pork and Wasting Your Money." Really? Let's look at the evidence they present. Exhibit A is Sunpower Corp, which received a $20 million grant from the DOE. Where did those funds come from? The President's Solar America Initiative, announced in his February 2006 State of the Union address -- which, as I pointed out at the time, merely returned funding for solar research to the levels enjoyed under the Carter administration (a modest $148 million). Hardly a bonanza. So, here we have a competitively bid project, out of a ridiculously small program that was contained in the president's budget and passed by the Republican-controlled Congress, used as proof that Dems are giving away the house to green companies. Dems? No. Earmarked? No. Pork? No. And all of this about a bill that Republicans are fighting and the president has threatened to veto specifically because ... wait for it ... it has the temerity to reduce tax incentives and subsidies to fossil fuel industries! Your liberal media at work.

Coal myths

They’re still common, but they make no sense

A little while back I praised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for opposing new coal plants in his home state. Now he’s clarified his position: he opposes new coal plants anywhere in the world. Word. One grumpy note. Look at this: Michael Yackira, president and chief executive officer of Sierra Pacific Resources, said his company “respectfully disagrees” with Reid’s position. His company is seeking approval to build one of the plants. “We believe what we’ll be building is the cleanest coal-fired plant in the world” because of new technology, Yackira said. “We must also have fossil fuel plants for …

The next McNerney

State Senator Andrew Rice gears up to run for Inhofe’s seat

David. Joe Namath. The 1980 U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team. Where am I going with this, you might be asking yourself? Here's a better clue: Jerry McNerney. And now, Andrew Rice. Yup, the climate's least favorite Senator, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, now has a challenger. And Andrew is getting great reviews from the eco-community: Smart as as whip. Has a masters degree from Harvard Divinity School. Articulate and charismatic. A committed environmentalist, and a man of deep conscience. When his brother was killed in 9/11, he dedicated himself to social justice and political reform. Especially for the latter, what better place to start from than Oklahoma's Senate seat? This is going to be entertaining.

McCain says climate is one of his top three issues

‘The fact is climate change is real,’ he says

John McCain says global warming would be one of three key issues in his presidency, The Aspen Times reports. That’s sure to endear him to the GOP base as much as his stance on immigration.

Policies to reduce and increase driving at the same time

Subsidizing drivers needs to end

This article in the NYT highlights the absurdity of current transportation policy. While New York City is trying to get federal funding to help it pay for a congestion pricing and traffic congestion policy, the federal government is, at the same time, handing out large tax breaks to help people reduce the costs of driving to work. It's yet another example of government policy gone awry, badly. The solution isn't sexy, won't get you on TV, and doesn't make for great headlines that will earn prestige: eliminate all government subsidies, and either cap pollution or tax it. It's not rocket science.

Interview with Thomas Casten, part four

Making money cutting carbon

DR: There hasn’t been any public pressure to change the electricity system. Most people don’t even know how electricity is made. It comes out of the wall like magic. TC: You are so right. In Ontario, they did a massive peer-reviewed study to identify the health and environmental effects of making power with coal, and what they thought would be saved if they replaced the coal with gas or nuclear. They talked about being able to save $3 billion a year in health and environmental costs. When you divide that number by the kilowatt hours made from coal plants, it …

Al Gore calls for civil disobedience

Against climate polluters

From The New York Times's Nicholas Kristof ($ub req'd): I ran into Al Gore at a climate/energy conference this month, and he vibrates with passion about this issue -- recognizing that we should confront mortal threats even when they don't emanate from Al Qaeda. "We are now treating the Earth's atmosphere as an open sewer," he said, and (perhaps because my teenage son was beside me) he encouraged young people to engage in peaceful protests to block major new carbon sources. "I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers," Mr. Gore said, "and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants." Say it, Al! But it's not just young people who need to do it -- everyone needs to join in, starting with you. Shutting down coal plants, blockading palm-oil importers like Imperium Renewables and other rainforest destroyers, and stopping work at oil refineries could move the climate debate beyond just personal action and put the spotlight squarely on the big polluters who are the real culprits behind the problem. This could be Al Gore's Gandhi moment (especially appropriate for a Nobel Peace Prize nominee). It would be great if you (in conjunction with say, Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and other civil disobedience-oriented environmental groups) announced a day of civil disobedience to confront polluters -- and were the first one to get arrested. You'll find thousands of people, myself included, to back you up. If you're interested in being one of those people, click here to send Al Gore a fax letting him know you're ready to participate in civil disobedience on behalf of the planet.

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