Omnibus spending package

Another terrible bill?

I'll cover the debate over the omnibus spending bill here tomorrow. It's being held until at least then, as the Senate deals with FISA shenanigans, which you can view for the next several hours on C-SPAN 2.

House of Representatives’ food service goes sustainable

Cafeterias in the House of Representatives are getting a makeover today: out with the high-fructose corn syrup, in with the free-roaming hens. (Well, there won’t …

The Great Carnac I ain't

Assessing my predictions from last year

At the end of last year, I made 20 predictions for 2007. As a pundit in good standing I am, of course, unaccountable for my …

Senate farm bill post-mortem

The Sustainable Ag Coalition delivers its assessment

Ferd Hoefner of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has been involved in farm bills since the mid-1970s, working behind the scenes to try to snatch farm …

Two takes on the farm bill

My opinion, and an industrial soybean farmer’s

Speaking of the farm bill — and who isn’t — y’all should check out an interview I recently did with something called the Lambert Report. …

Question of the day

What about the RPS in Texas?

So Senate Republicans managed to kill the Renewable Portfolio Standard in the energy bill. One question: who was the big-government, nanny-state liberal who forced one of the nation's largest and most successful RPSs on the poor, unwitting state of Texas? Hint: As Governor of Texas in 1999, he signed the RPS into law and later moved to the District of Columbia to pursue other opportunities, like threatening to veto a bill that would have treated all Americans like Texans.

Annals of irritants, part four

Press peddles Republican talking points on energy bill

I’m seeing this kind of thing all over the place: Faced with stiff Republican opposition that is backed by Bush’s veto threat, Democrats made misstep …

Notable quotable

“We seek your leadership. But if for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out …

Letter from Bali: A tragic truth

Professor Andrew Light laments the unnecessary line in the sand the U.S. has drawn in Bali

This is a guest essay from Andrew Light, an environmental ethicist and professor of philosophy and public affairs at the University of Washington in Seattle. He attended the Bali meetings as an observer and participant in a side event. The essay comes to us from Nusa Dua, Indonesia. ----- I must admit, I clapped. I was probably among the loudest. A line in the sand. Photo: iStockphoto With the negotiations here in Bali for the U.N. conference on climate change facing an apparent intractable deadlock going into their last day, I was in a standing-room-only auditorium to hear former Vice President Al Gore address the assembled environmental community, business leaders, and state representatives. For those familiar with Gore's stump speech on global warming, and his acceptance address for the Nobel Peace Prize earlier in the week, much in his comments was familiar. One line changed all that. Cautiously hoped for by some, unanticipated by most, it changed the climate in the room considerably: "I am not a representative of my government, so I am not bound by diplomatic niceties. My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali. [Applause.] We all know that." With these words, Gore expressed the extreme sense of frustration most in the room had been feeling this past week over the U.S. delegation's refusal to commit to language in the Bali roadmap for cuts of 25 to 40 percent of greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by industrialized countries in the next extension of the Kyoto Protocol due to be settled in 2009. More than that, by openly criticizing the Bush administration, Gore had definitively answered those tempted to lump all Americans together on this issue -- a welcome relief for those of us who had become progressively more embarrassed by our country's position and inability to effectively explain its reasons. When offered, those reasons were simply lame. Why did the U.S. block the emissions cut goal? To avoid "prejudging" the outcome of the next treaty. In the end they won, finally getting an agreement from the E.U. for a document that will not require an outcome wherein the U.S., or any other country, embraces a goal for eventual caps on its emissions. What exactly would the 25 to 40 percent goal have prejudged? This is a difficult question to answer, especially in light of American negotiators' public praise this week of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and their recognition of the validity of the conclusions drawn in its most recent Fourth Assessment report. It can't be that cuts are needed -- only skeptics still hold that view, and the administration has renounced this position. It must be the specific figure proposed in the Bali document and the sorts of economic transformations that would be required to meet cuts in that range. It didn't need to be this way though. The stakes were actually low enough at this meeting that no hard-line brinksmanship was necessary. We could have instead showed up intent on demonstrating a more constructive role for the U.S., sending a message to the world that we are now serious on this issue. Instead, we drew an unnecessary line in the Bali sand.