Joe Miller.Alaska Senate candidate and climate change denier Joe Miller.Photo courtesy JoeWMiller via FlickrJust what the Senate needs: another climate change denier. Joe Miller’s potential upset of Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska’s Republican primary could mean another diehard climate skeptic in the mix. 

Not that Murkowski is a hero of enviros. She’s been doing her darnedest to stifle the EPA on the public health dangers of greenhouse gas emissions, hardly a surprise given the fact that Big Oil has sent almost $500,000 her way since she joined the Senate in 2002. But at least Murkowski acknowledges the human role in heating up the planet. 

Miller, a Tea Partier backed by Sarah Palin, holds fast to the notion that it’s nature’s way:

I think it’s undeniable, that anyone who has looked at the natural record of the Earth can see significant cyclical changes well before the industrial age, so we know the temperature change is part of the process of our existence, and frankly, you’re probably aware in the ’70s there were real concerns about global cooling.

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Here’s more on his take.

Twist and doubt: At least Sen. John McCain won handily in Arizona’s Republican primary. Yes, this is good news. McCain did a world-class flip flop on cap-and-trade this past year. But his opponent J.D. Hayworth, another Tea Partier, proudly “rejects phony climate change data.” Expect more deniers in the fall campaigns. Susana Martinez, the Republican candidate for governor in New Mexico, says scientists still haven’t proven that climate change is manmade. All three Republican congressional candidates in the state agree with her. The same goes for every one of the six Republican Senate candidates in New Hampshire.

Meal of fortune: So it turns out that the Gulf of Mexico may be saved not by skimmers or dispersants or even Kevin Costner, but by oil-scarfing bacteria. A new study suggests that voracious microbes are chowing down on oil droplets, thus doing their part to shrink the giant petro plume under the sea. But other scientists caution that it will take awhile to see how all this microbial munching plays out. As Robert Lee Hotz writes in the Wall Street Journal:

The remaining oil from the spill, hidden at depths or driven far afield by currents, is a moving target, making follow-up studies difficult. It may be years before all the technical findings can be assembled into a coherent mosaic. “This is science on the fly,” said Ron Atlas, a microbiologist at the University of Louisville and a former president of the American Society for Microbiology.

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Partners in slime: One group that can’t take any credit for protecting the Gulf is the federal agency charged with doing just that — the infamous Minerals Management Services, now known as the Bureau of Ocean Energy. Its twisted tale of bedding down in oh-so-many ways with Big Oil is well known, but Juliet Eilperin and Scott Higham, writing in the Washington Post, lay out the agency’s sad devolution from regulator to “partner”:

Top officials and front-line workers routinely referred to the companies under their watch as “clients,” “customers,” and especially “partners.” As the relationship became more intertwined, regulatory intensity subsided. MMS officials waived hundreds of environmental reviews and did not aggressively pursue companies for equipment failures. They also participated in studies financed and dominated by industry, more as collaborator than regulator.

Lords of the lies: It’s always a good idea to know the enemy, so meet the Koch brothers — Charles and David — whose wealth is reputed to rank behind only Bill Gates and Warren Buffet among America’s billionaires. The Koch bros bankroll the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the group that’s been a major force behind the Tea Party movement. They also have a long history of throwing millions of dollars into think tanks and foundations that rant against government regulation of business. They especially hate environmental regulations, which makes sense because their company, Koch Industries, has been named one of the top ten air polluters in the U.S. Jane Mayer, writing in the New Yorker, puts the secretive brothers in the spotlight. Here’s a taste:

Greenpeace issued a report identifying their company as “a kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change …

Hell on wheels: China’s been getting some good press, including from Grist, for closing down polluting factories and investing hundreds of billions of dollars in clean energy. Now it’s time for a trip to the dark side. It’s eased recently, but a monster traffic jam clogged a four-lane highway leading into Beijing for nine days — not miles, mind you, days. Road construction was partly to blame for the snarl. But the chief culprit was huge number of trucks hauling coal from mines in inner Mongolia to booming cities along the Chinese coast. 

In China these days, there is no road less traveled.