Muckraker: Grist on Politics

• According to a new EPA analysis, the “value of a statistical life” is now worth $6.9 million, which is nearly $1 million less than it was five years ago. This is important politically because when government agencies create regulations about things like air pollution, they use this statistical value to weigh the costs against the benefits of a proposed rule. Explains the AP, “Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths. At $7.8 million per person (the old figure), the lifesaving benefits outweigh the costs. But at $6.9 million per person, the rule costs more than the lives it saves, so it may not be adopted.”

• John McCain talked up green jobs at a campaign stop in Michigan on Thursday. “Green technologies, my friends, are a part or a major, major impetus to the improvement of America’s economy,” said the Republican candidate for president.

• Conservative activists are trying to make sure McCain’s views on global warming stay off the Republican platform this year.

• New Jersey, which laid out some ambitious climate change plans last year, missed its first deadline for meeting those goals.

• Several environmental groups sent a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee asking it to suspend the federal biofuels mandate, arguing that the mandate is encouraging an increase in unsustainable biofuels production practices in both the United States and abroad. Signing onto the letter: Clean Air Task Force, Environmental Working Group, and Friends of the Earth.

• Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) gave a speech on Wednesday laying out 10 guidelines for climate legislation. “Finding the Path Forward on Climate Legislation” gives a pretty good sense of where the senator stands on what a climate bill should entail.

• The cousins Udall find that their well-known name can be a blessing and a curse. Both Democratic Senate candidates, Tom Udall is running in New Mexico and Mark Udall is running in Colorado.

• John Warner (R-Va.) suggested reimplementing a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour to ease the pain of soaring gas prices. In 1974 Congress set a national speed limit to help deal with energy shortages caused by the Arab oil embargo. It was lifted in 1995.

• The Congressional delegation from Massachusetts is urging the federal government to consider leasing a portion of federal waters off the state’s coast to a company that wants to test a floating wind turbine.

• California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) are teaming up to push for a $9.3 billion bond for state water projects.

• Despite soaring energy prices, Congress may cut another $26 million in funding from a program designed to help low-income Americans make their homes more energy efficient. The plan is getting a frosty reception from a bipartisan group of senators from cold-weather states.

• The Michigan state government reports that it is using 18 percent less energy than it was five years ago.

• The North Carolina Senate passed a bill that guts regulations set in 1995 requiring hog farms to protect their neighbors from odor and air and water pollution, and requires them to have the consent of neighboring property owners before they can make major changes to their hog operation. The bill will now go before the state House.

• Pennsylvania environmental chief Kathleen McGinty is resigning from her post. Grist interviewed her about her ambitious green goals for the state a few years ago. McGinty was also chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under Bill Clinton.

• Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney outlined the party’s goals for this year’s race.

• NativeEnergy Inc. is vending carbon offsets to the Democratic National Convention staffers who are coming to Denver next month.

• RH Reality Check has an interesting series on population and climate change looking at both the environmental benefits of empowering women and the burdens that environmental problems place on women in particular.