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The Man From NIMBY

Wind-resistant senator owns land near proposed Mass. wind farm Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has been blowing hard against wind power, a position that's mystified both his Senate colleagues and wind-industry advocates. Alexander introduced an energy bill earlier this year that included grants for solar and other sources of clean power, as well as incentives for "clean coal," but left out wind, which he alleged is costly and unreliable. He also demanded that the Tennessee Valley Authority declare a two-year moratorium on new wind projects -- to which TVA replied that it had none in the works anyway. But yesterday, when …

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Amending Fences

Energy bill goes to Senate floor amidst bipartisan hopes With the public up in arms about gas prices and President Bush breathing down its neck, today the Senate begins consideration -- again -- of the Moby Dick of modern-day politics: the energy bill. The House already passed a version, attacked by greens and fiscal conservatives for its billions in subsidies to fossil-fuel industries. By all accounts, a new spirit of bipartisan cooperation on energy matters is afoot in the Senate, and its version is likely to be less overtly fossil-friendly. Amendments have been offered that would boost ethanol use, require …

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Who’s Minding the Shore?

Senate measures threaten to open U.S. coasts to drilling The battle to open up U.S. coastal waters to oil and gas drilling is escalating, with supporters in Congress pushing a number of pro-drilling bills and amendments. An energy-bill provision up for debate this week would mandate the first complete oil and gas inventory of all U.S. waters. And Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) -- backed by Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), powerful chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee -- is pushing a provision that would expand states' offshore boundaries. Both measures are intended to dangle oil lucre before budget-crunched states …

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The death of enviroliberalism (part 2)

Environmentalism and liberalism shouldn’t be joined at the hip.

A couple of quick prefatory remarks -- several readers interpreted my earlier posting as an attack on liberalism. That was not my intent at all: While I am not a liberal, as the saying goes, "Some/most of my best friends are liberals." The only goal of the previous posting, and the one that follows, is to suggest the harm that comes from automatically coupling liberalism with environmentalism. In my previous post, I discussed our movement's international problems. But back in America, we're not doing much better. When the American environmental movement began, Lake Erie was on fire, the bald eagle …

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Bond Ambition

Missouri senator delays small-engine pollution regulation, again Small engines have a big impact -- when you use a standard gas-powered lawn mower for an hour, you've spewed as much pollution as 50 cars driving 20 miles each. Nevertheless, someone builds those small engines, and that means jobs -- specifically, jobs in Missouri, or more specifically yet, jobs at engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton, protected jealously by Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-Mo.). For years, Bond has attempted to delay or preempt strict new regulations on engines of 50 horsepower or less. His latest maneuver is an amendment to the Interior Department …

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Gore is transforming into fiery climate evangelist

Al Gore. Photo: The House Policy Committee. Al Gore, once derided by the right as a stiff, wooden Ozone Man, is now recasting himself as the fiery, headstrong Climate Avenger -- a blunt and passionate spokesperson about what he calls "a collision between our civilization and the earth." He is currently in negotiations to play a starring role in a big-budget, feature-length documentary on climate change. Last Saturday in San Francisco, the self-described "guy who used to be the next president of the United States" delivered an hour-long multimedia presentation on the scientific evidence of global warming to hundreds of …

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Nothing to See Here, Folks

White House defends revisions of scientific reports on climate change The White House scrambled into damage-control mode after The New York Times revealed yesterday that a former oil lobbyist had revised scientific government reports on climate change to enhance the appearance of uncertainty. Pushed in a press briefing to respond to charges that the edits made by Philip Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, were part of a pattern of science distortion and politicization by the administration, White House spokesflack Scott McClellan defended the changes as part of standard review procedure and claimed they …

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The Swamp Bling

Bushies sought to overpay GOP supporters for Everglades mineral rights The Bush administration agreed to grossly overpay Florida's family-owned Collier Resources Co. for oil and gas rights on 400,000 acres in the Everglades, according to Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney. In 2002, Interior Secretary Gale Norton triumphantly announced the deal as "a win for all sides" that would help protect the fragile wetlands. But Devaney's report reveals that while the Colliers would have won big, taxpayers would have been bilked to the tune of $120 million (plus tax breaks) for mineral rights worth an estimated $5 million to $68 …

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Get Me Rewrite!

Bush official edited gov't climate-change reports to play up uncertainty Philip Cooney, a former top oil lobbyist now serving as chief of staff for President Bush's Council on Environmental Quality, edited scientific government reports on climate change to exaggerate the appearance of uncertainty and doubt, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. Cooney, a lawyer by trade, has no scientific training. Rick Piltz, a senior associate in the government office that coordinates climate research (and someone who does have scientific training), resigned in protest and is now represented by the nonprofit Government Accountability Project, which released draft reports …

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An interview with geo-green James Woolsey, former head of CIA

James Woolsey. Former Pentagon heavies are not known for their breezy candor, so it's a rare treat to come across one who voluntarily describes himself as a tree-hugger, do-gooder, sodbuster, and cheap hawk, all rolled into one. There you have R. James "call me Jim" Woolsey, in a nutshell. Sort of. Over the course of a dozen years, Woolsey held presidential appointments in two Republican and two Democratic administrations, including one stint as undersecretary of the Navy and another as director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Clinton, from 1993 to 1995. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, he's become …