tagged w/ Climate Change Bill
"The renewable energy industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and that’s with spotty government support. Imagine how much faster this infant industry would have matured over the years if it received the billions of dollars in annual subsidies the oil industry has.
Why do we continue to put our economy and environment at risk by relying on dirty, outdated fossil fuels, when we know our economic growth as well as protection of our environment depends on clean energy?"
http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/2010/05/07/time-to-get-un-addicted-to-oil/"The renewable energy industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the... more
YPNation contributor Taylor Wiles considers the nexus between climate change, our health and health care reform:
"As with any bill jerked around for half a year in the democratic process and packed with side-deals, last week’s momentous health care legislation has its perks and its flaws. There's still no public option, but recent college graduates will soon be able to ride their parents’ insurance until they turn 27. Meanwhile, the pro-choice movement made no headway when it comes to a woman's right to have an abortion--if anything, they lost ground.
Still, it’s a huge victory for the Obama administration, and some environmentally-inclined Democrats are already wondering what’s next on the docket. Optimists are putting climate legislation on the table—something that’s far more closely linked to our health and health care than anyone has yet been willing to admit."
Read more: http://www.ypnation.net/health-impact-climate-changeYPNation contributor Taylor Wiles considers the nexus between climate change, our... more
By Alison Hamm, Media Consortium blogger
Image courtesy of Flickr user **Mary**, via creative commons license.Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) met with industry groups Wednesday evening to discuss their much anticipated tripartisan climate legislation. Based on leaks from the meeting, it sounds like the climate bill will be incredibly industry friendly, which may mean that the bill does little to help the environment.
A syncing feeling
According to reports from sources in the meeting room, the bill calls for greenhouse gas curbs across multiple economic sectors, with a 2020 target of reducing emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels and an 80 percent reduction by 2050. Power plant emissions would be regulated in 2012, other major industrial sources will be phased in during 2016.
But the bill contains major concessions to the industry, according to Aaron Wiener at The Washington Independent. The senators’ proposal would halt dozens of state climate laws and regulations and preempt U.S. EPA climate regulations under the Clean Air Act.
As Kate Sheppard reports for Mother Jones:
The head lobbyist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Josten, told reporters after the meeting that he believes the bill will be ‘largely in sync’ with what most industry types would like to see. The Chamber, of course, has been one of the most formidable foes of climate legislation to date. In addition to the Chamber, the senators also met with the Edison Electric Institute, American Petroleum Institute, and Portland Cement Association.
A climate bill that syncs up with organizations opposed to climate legislation. Really? But, like Sheppard writes, although these leaks from the meeting don’t sound too great in terms of climate, “Kerry had already scaled back expectations on that front.”
Kerry, Graham and Lieberman have argued that an “energy-only” bill, which would focus on wider financial support for low-carbon energy projects, a national renewable electricity mandate, and allows wider oil-and-gas drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, among other measures, would be easier to pass than a comprehensive bill.
As David Roberts writes for Grist, this refers to the American Clean Energy Leadership Act (ACELA), which passed last year. But unlike the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) that passed the House, with substantial parts devoted to directly supporting clean energy and boosting energy efficiency, ACELA “sucks,” according to Roberts. He writes:
As a standalone bill, it does virtually nothing for renewables, boosts efficiency a middling amount, and dumps a bonanza of subsidies on offshore drilling, nuclear power, tar sands, oil shale, and natural gas. It also weakens the Renewable Fuel Standard. It’s a minor deviation from the awful energy status quo and would be a depressing end indeed to the year-long Obama-era effort to finally address America’s energy problems.
The real bill
Many details of the forthcoming legislation are still unclear, and the real bill isn’t expected to be released for another few weeks. Environmental groups who attended a meeting with Kerry yesterday to discuss details of the bill were close-mouthed about their reactions, and stressed that the bill is still in draft stages and may change significantly, as Sheppard writes at Mother Jones.
Let’s hope the final bill will offer real solutions to fight global warming and curb greenhouse gas emissions. National Radio Project talked with several climate change activists who discussed the steps needed to make significant change following the less-than-concrete outcomes from Copenhagen. It’s definitely worth a listen.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.By Alison Hamm, Media Consortium blogger
Image courtesy of Flickr user **Mary**,... more
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Image courtesy of Flickr user Victius, via Creative Commons License.Americans don’t know what to think about climate change anymore. A few years ago, the public more or less trusted the science that said human activity was raising global temperatures, but now that Congress and the Obama administration have hemmed and hawed about climate issues, we’re not longer so sure.
Forty-eight percent of Americans—more of us than ever before—believe that reports of global warming are “generally exaggerated,” according to a new Gallup poll. Climate science hasn’t changed, so it’s not crazy to look at these numbers and think that conservatives’ incessant critiques of climate change may be working.
A perfect political storm
These shifts in opinion started around 2008. Aaron Wiener at the Washington Independent argues that the politics of climate change are driving American opinions about the reality of global warming. The percentage of Americans willing to put the blame for climate change on humans is about equal to the percentage of Americans still behind President Barack Obama’s agenda, he notes.
“What was once a broad moral and scientific issue is now a centerpiece of the Democrats’ legislative agenda,” he writes.
Republicans have taken a political stand on climate change, too, one that reinforces the message that we can afford to ignore global warming. At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum links the Gallup numbers to confusion about Copenhagen and to negative “Climategate” stories about a few climate scientists’ unprofessional emails.
But taking a wider view, Drum points out another big problem: “The Republican Party has largely decided that climate change simply doesn’t exist. It’s a hoax,” he says.
It’s also politically convenient for a party that throws a tantrum every time the president produces a policy idea. But in another corner of the right’s world, conservatives are eager to defend the country’s environment against the burden of immigration.
Jamilah King reports for ColorLines that Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), which is linked to a conservative anti-immigrant group, is warning that immigration “is pushing our country deeper into ecological deficit.”
King refutes this notion, citing reports that population and pollution are not directly linked. “In fact, newly arrived immigrants are probably among the most ecologically friendly folks around,” she writes. “They’re more likely to use public transportation and less likely to waste food.”
Impacts of climate change
Conservatives who’d prefer that immigrants stay on the other side of the border would do better to worry about Republicans’ studied blindness to climate change. Without action, global warming could send waves of people north, as places like Mexico grow warmer and can no longer support the same amount of agriculture.
Inter Press Service lays out some of the detrimental effects of climate change on poorer countries, particularly on the female half of the population. Women are more vulnerable to the natural disasters that accompany global warming, and the tasks that they take on, like collecting water and firewood, will grow harder as water becomes more scarce.
Overall, Thalif Deen reports, “The negative fallout from climate change is having a devastatingly lopsided impact on women compared to men.”
Slow Senate progress
The Senate is trying to move forward on climate change legislation. A key group of Senators met this week at the White House with President Obama, but coming out, the legislators had only “vague observations” to share about progress, according to Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard.
Part of the problem with the Senate’s process is that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) have already said that they’ll likely discard the sort of cap-and-trade provisions that the House bill used to regulate carbon emissions. From an environmental point of view, the Senate is getting close to doing nothing at all.
“It’s really clear that whatever attains 60 votes in the US Senate at this stage in the game is at best an extremely incremental step forward,” Gillian Caldwell, campaign director at the environmental group 1Sky, told Sheppard.
The new progressive energy
The Senate seems more eager, along with President Obama, to embrace nuclear energy as a climate solution.
“I happen to be one of the Senators who’s concerned about waste,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said at a recent summit, reports TPMDC. “But most progressives in the Senate believe nuclear power is part of the solution at this time.”
“If we don’t expand nuclear power, there are going to be more coal plants and more oil plants,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) added. “Nuclear power has been accepted as part of the solution [to climate change] among progressives.”
Considering the political will the Senate has been able to muster behind climate legislation, one might as well believe that reports of global warming are “greatly exaggerated.” After all, you’d think that if there was a potentially catastrophic threat looming in the future, our elective representatives might want to, you know, do something about that.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.http://www.themediaconsortium.org/2010/03/12/weekly-mulch-politics-confuse-public-perce... more
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Image courtesy of Flickr user tellytom, under Creative Commons license.Climate legislation is returning to the Senate’s docket, and leaders on Capitol Hill are hoping that this version, a compromise bill spearheaded by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), can pass without getting caught in the morass of money and politics that has delayed action so far.
A long, long time ago…
Remember, there was a time when Congress was going to pass climate legislation before the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. President Barack Obama was going to show up with a bill in hand and lead the world towards a better climate future. After the House passed its climate bill in June 2009, the Senate began discussing climate change, and a first stab by Sen. Kerry and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) went nowhere. Now, Kerry has turned to less liberal colleagues to draft an alternative that would appeal to moderates and even Republicans.
Now the Massachusetts senator is promising that climate change isn’t dead. A new bill is coming—more information may be in the offing as early as today, as Kate Sheppard reports at Mother Jones.
Third time’s the charm
Sen. Kerry is trying a new tactic to pass climate legislation. He’s waiting to release his plan until he knows the bill has the 60 supporters it needs to circumvent a filibuster. The details have not been hammered out yet, and even the Senators who’ve been in talks with Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman don’t seem to have a clear sense of what will be in the version that will emerge.
In the House, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, released an ambitious draft of the legislation, let lobbyists and members of Congress fight over it, and passed a much-changed edition months later. Sen. Kerry tried a similar plan on his side of Capitol Hill (that was the Kerry-Boxer bill), but it did not work.
With this piece of legislature, Sens. Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman are working out the compromises before they release the legislation. Both reporting and speculation about their bill say that it will abandon the cap-and-trade system passed in the House. Cap-and-trade restricts carbon emissions across the economy; a variation on that policy that the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill may favor will limit the system to a few sectors.
Will it work?
Kerry’s expected bill may be a much weaker plan than any proposed so far, yet it is still not certain that the Senate will support it. The lead authors of the bill have been meeting with conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans, as Sheppard reports, but those targets have not promised support yet. Coming out of a meeting, Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) told reporters: “There were some interesting things that were discussed in there and like everything else in the United States Senate, the devil is in the details.”
From a distance, banner-day climate legislation still seems possible. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Foundation, and the National Resources Defense Council believe that they will see a bill this year that caps carbon. These green groups would be able to live with the incentives handed to industry groups so far, according to Campus Progress’ Tristan Fowler.
“There are compromises [that can go] too far. Fortunately, I don’t think we’re getting near that territory at the moment,” Josh Dorner, a spokesman for the Sierra Club, told Fowler.
Before getting too excited about stamping a green seal of approval on Congress’ legislation, consider Johann Hari’s testimony in The Nation about the relationships between environmental groups and the industries that they oppose.
Hari has reported on climate change issues for years, and at first, he “imagined that American green groups were on these people’s side in the corridors of Capitol Hill, trying to stop the Weather of Mass Destruction. But it is now clear that many were on a different path—one that began in the 1980s, with a financial donation.”
Hari argues that as environmental groups began to reach out to polluters, handing them awards for green behavior and accepting support from their deep pockets, they learned to compromise too readily and accept political excuses for delaying action on climate change. While in other realms these compromises might fly, when the stakes are as high as they are on environmental issues, that behavior turns the stomach.
“You can’t stand at the edge of a rising sea and say, ‘Sorry, the swing states don’t want you to happen today. Come back in fifty years,’” Hari writes.
The green future
When Kerry, Lieberman and Graham do release the compromised bill, watch for a tsunami of money and influence that could pack the bill with prizes for specific industries—or derail it altogether. Just this week, the natural gas industry’s lobbyists told The Hill, a D.C.-based newspaper, that they were ready to fight with the coal industry over incentives in the Senate bill. At AlterNet, Harvey Wasserman writes that the nuclear industry spent $645 million in the past decade to get back into the energy game, according to a new report from American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop. (Hint: that $645 million is working in their favor.)
In the Senate, the influence of oil companies will play an important role, according to David Roberts at Grist.
“While coal has a lot of power in the House, oil has enormous power in the Senate, particularly over the conservadems and Republicans needed to put the bill over the top,” Roberts explains.
No matter what legislation passes and what incentives it contains, environmentalists need to continue putting pressure on their representatives in Congress and on national environmental groups to push back against polluting industries and work to fix the world’s climate.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.http://www.themediaconsortium.org/2010/03/05/weekly-mulch-new-bills-and-old-money/... more
Exxon Mobil Corp., the biggest U.S. oil producer, spent more on Washington lobbying during the first half of the year than all clean-energy companies combined, researcher New Energy Finance Ltd. said.
Exxon Mobil, based in Irving, Texas, spent $14.9 million lobbying in the six months, 23 percent more than the $12.1 million laid out by companies that make solar panels or wind turbines to generate electricity, London-based New Energy Finance said today in a note to clients. Oil and gas companies spent a total of $82.2 million on Washington lobbyists, according to the report.Exxon Mobil Corp., the biggest U.S. oil producer, spent more on Washington lobbying... more