Politics

An interview with Mike Gravel about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Mike Gravel switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party in March 2008; after failing to secure the Libertarian nomination, he ended his presidential campaign in May 2008. Mike Gravel. In his “Rock” campaign ad, Mike Gravel silently stares into the camera, throws a stone into a lake, and walks off into the distance. It’s disconcerting, off-the-wall, and low-budget — just like his presidential campaign. As a senator from Alaska during the ’70s, Gravel was best-known for fighting nuclear weapons, nuclear …

Gravel on the Issues

A look at Mike Gravel’s environmental platform and record

Update: Mike Gravel switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party in March 2008; after failing to secure the Libertarian nomination, he ended his presidential campaign in May 2008. Mike Gravel, the darkest of the dark-horse candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1981. He then largely faded from public view until April 2006, when he became the first Democrat to officially jump into the 2008 presidential race. He has articulated some big green goals — a hydrogen-powered economy, a nationwide system of maglev trains — but has yet to flesh …

Biofuels fueling conflict

The need for good research

The rush to put biofuels in our gas tanks has given people analyzing natural resources and conflict some work to do. How are European and American policy mandates to dramatically increase the use of biofuels affecting the places that grow biofuel inputs? It seems fair to say that little consideration has been given to the potential conflict and equity impacts of this surge in demand for palm oil, sugarcane, and corn. After President Bush's 2007 State of the Union address, which called for massive increases in biofuels, we heard stories of skyrocketing corn tortilla prices and resulting social disruptions. Now we have stories coming from places like West Kalimantan, a remote region of Indonesia where the rush to plant palm-oil plantations is generating conflict with Indonesians who grow rubber trees and other crops on their small plots of land. The NGO Friends of the Earth Netherlands has a new report calling out the unethical practices of some palm-oil companies that clear existing crops first and make payouts (maybe) to the farmers who own the land later. It strikes me that this particular link between natural resource management and conflict offers an avenue for addressing one of the traditional shortcomings of environment and conflict research.

Step It Up 2 is coming this November — get ready to hit the streetsAsk politicians to join Step It

Bill McKibben is organizing Step It Up 2, a national day of climate action. A scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, McKibben is the author of The End of Nature, the first book for a general audience on climate change, and, most recently, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. He serves on Grist’s board of directors. Tuesday, 7 Aug 2007 MIDDLEBURY, Vt. Movements need to keep on moving; once the rock starts to budge you’ve got to push even harder on the pry bar. It’s time to Step It Up once more. Circle Nov. 3, 2007, on your …

Repetto argues for upstream cap-and-trade

More on carbon trading

August is a time to catch up on reading. A good place to start is "National Climate Policy: Choosing the Right Architecture" [PDF], by Yale's Robert Repetto, one of the country's leading experts on environmental and resource economics. He argues for an upstream cap-and-trade system, and against a safety valve. Other views can be found here, here, and here. This is Repetto's conclusion:

YearlyKos: My message to the netroots

Listen up

I thought, as a final post on Yearly Kos (about which I fear my posts are woefully inadequate — it really was a fascinating sociopolitical event, worthy of better analysis than I’m able to give it — read Ezra Klein’s wrap-up), I’d recap in somewhat more elaborate terms what I said at my global warming panel. These are points that will be familiar to Grist readers, but perhaps it’s worth bringing them together. A note: these were explicitly conceived as messages to the netroots, as points in need of grassroots emphasis, to influence the ongoing political debate. 1. Global warming …

An interview with Bill Richardson about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Bill Richardson dropped out of the presidential race on Jan. 10, 2008. Bill Richardson. Photo: Michael Millhollin via flickr Bill Richardson likes to play up his image as a horse-ridin’, gun-totin’ man of the Wild West, but don’t be distracted by the cowboy swagger — the Democratic governor of New Mexico also has a serious policy wonk side. That was on full display in May when he unveiled a broad and ambitious climate and energy plan. Billing himself as the “energy president,” …

Subsidizing healthier freedom fries

Yet another distortion to correct a distortion

Anybody who closely follows U.S. agricultural policy appreciates the journalism of Philip Brasher and his team at the Des Moines Register. One of Mr. Brasher's recent articles highlights a feature of the farm bill recently passed by the House of Representatives that probably few people have heard of: the "Healthy Oils Incentive Program." According to the website of freshman Congressman Nick Lampson (D-Stafford, Texas) -- who recently underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery -- the Healthy Oils Incentive Program would create a "one-time incentive" to encourage development and commercialization of certain oilseeds and healthy oils to replace the use of trans fats in foods. Naturally, there is a connection here with biofuels.

Saturday night's energy bill

It contains some transformative measures

Contentious round of voting Saturday night, and the heavy threat of the president's veto pen, but if we can get through the political fog, the House may well have accomplished something truly monumental. Two big pieces in the energy bill worth noting, and following closely in any subsequent compromise. Both are transformative for our electricity markets -- an area where past energy bills (at least since 1993) have favored the status quo over true reform. In addition, with >50 GW of already identified potential for zero-carbon electricity from industrial waste heat sources (compare to the entire US nuclear fleet at 100 GW), this has the potential to massively reduce carbon emissions associated with power generation, to a degree not likely (at least in the near term) from any other legislative activity: