January 27th, 2012 by Zachary Shahan
Other than our own politics posts this week, here are some more posts from around the interwebs you might want to check out (a little bit of overlap with the activism roundup I just posted, but not too much):
President Obama’s State of the Union Address was very alternative fuel heavy. This lead to a number of applause breaks and in many the camera captured Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders showing his approval. Senator Sanders has been a champion of the alternative fuel movement for a long time and at a recent rally in D.C. Senator Sanders has pledged to introduce federal legislation repealing federal tax breaks to fossil fuel companies.
According to The International Energy Agency phasing out fossil fuel subsidies would save 750 million tonnes (a metric ton) of CO2 every year by the year 2015 and up to 2.6 gigatonnes by 2035….
& from Think Progress:
At a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) joined 350.org founder Bill McKibben and hundreds of climate activists to “blow the whistle” on big oil’s corruption of our political process, including the continued efforts to construct the dangerous Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Sanders announced he plans to introduce legislation to end all federal subsidies for fossil fuel production in this country, saying, “we’ve got to save this planet, reverse global warming, transform our energy system, and move to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.”
If President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline to transport dirty tarsands oil from Canada, it sure looks like one of the beneficiaries would be his sworn enemies, the Koch brothers.
But their GOP friends in Congress – the multi-billionaire brothers are key funders of conservative causes, including last year’s GOP takeover of the House of Representatives – are blocking questions about the Koch brothers at tomorrow’s hearing on the pipeline.
As revealed in a series of articles at InsideClimate, the Koch brothers are heavily involved in energy, and they told Canada’s National Energy Board in an official regulatory filing that they have “a direct and substantial interest in the application” for the pipeline….
Congressional Republicans are now openly acting as advocates for foreign oil interests, colluding with TransCanada lobbyists to push their tar sands agenda. House and Senate staff for Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) and GOP Sens. John Hoeven (ND), Dick Lugar (IN), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and others gathered Monday afternoon for a conference call with TransCanada lawyers “to plot out how to push the Obama administration on the Keystone XL pipeline,” Politico reports:
“More or less everyone walked out of the room on the same page backing” a bill from Rep. Lee Terry to give FERC authority over the project instead of the White House and State Department, a Terry spokesman told Politico.
Terry’s bill has been called “bizarre” — the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “does not oversee oil pipelines’ siting decisions or safety standards.” Furthermore, Terry risks the ire of Nebraskans, who have led opposition to the tar sands pipeline.
Today, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) is introducing the Keystone for a Secure Tomorrow Act of 2012 to immediately approve the pipeline….
Leading climate scientists have given their support to a Freedom of Information request seeking to disclose who is funding the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a London-based climate sceptic thinktank chaired by the former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson.
James Hansen, the director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies who first warned the world about the dangers of climate change in the 1980s, has joined other scientists in submitting statements to be considered by a judge at the Information Rights Tribunal on Friday. They will argue that Lawson’s foundation routinely misrepresents and casts doubt on the work of climate scientists. Their statements will form part of the supporting evidence being presented by an investigative journalist who is appealing against an earlier rejection of his FOI request to the Charity Commission for it to make public a bank statement it holds revealing the name of the educational charity’s seed donor, who gave £50,000 when it launched in 2009….
Recently released lobbying disclosures show that Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN), who delivered the GOP rebuttal to the State of the Union… joined the oil industry in lobbying Congress on behalf of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
An analysis of fourth quarter 2011 lobbying forms by ThinkProgress Green finds:
The state of Indiana’s DC representatives received $66,000 from Indiana taxpayers to lobby Congress in the fourth quarter of 2011. Deborah Hohlt reported receiving $50,500 for lobbying on behalf of the state, including advocacy of the tar sands pipeline. Hohlt is a long-time Washington lobbyistwho began her career at the Republican National Committee and George H.W. Bush administration. Griffin Foster reported receiving $15,500 for lobbying on behalf of the state of Indiana, including the Keystone pipeline. Foster is aformer legislative assistant to Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL).
During the rebuttal, Daniels attacked President Obama for “extremism” that “cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands.” Daniels did not mention how many of those jobs seem to be going to DC lobbyists….
An Obama administration plan to cut costs by combining several government agencies may make good political sense, coming in the midst of the Republican presidential primary season, with its heated small-government rhetoric. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea from a policy perspective.
In fact, the White House proposal that would move the country’s oceans and atmosphere agency — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — from its current home in the Commerce Department and fold it into the Interior Department, could severely undermine America’s climate and weather research efforts, as well as marine resource protection. Worse, it comes at a time when climate change beseeches us to build those capacities.
NOAA is the lead agency studying and predicting extreme weather events and long-term climate change, critical responsibilities that put it front and center this past year when the U.S. was struck with a record 14 weather and climate events that caused at least $1 billion in damage. Those included multiple deadly tornado outbreaks, an East Coast hurricane, and a devastating drought in Texas.
More important, NOAA’s National Weather Service saved thousands of lives by issuing timely watches and warnings of these events. In addition, NOAA’s research labs, which produce some of the most cutting-edge climate science research in the world, helped put the extreme events in historical context. As the climate continues to warm beyond any level seen in modern human history, it’s imperative to have more — not less — scientific knowledge to inform our decisions about how to cope with emerging climate change impacts, such as an increase in extreme weather events.
Dan Sobien, the director of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, said that a move to the Interior Department simply isn’t warranted. “If something’s working, then why try and fix it?” he said.
A bureaucratic reshuffling could diminish NOAA’s ability to forecast and respond to similar events, and disrupt research into long-term climate change by tying up the agency’s leadership as it focuses on the reorganization, and portends heated battles with Congress over funding.
Rick Piltz of Climate Science Watch said he worries that placing NOAA within the Interior Department will make the agency an even bigger target for Congressional budget cuts….
Last week, the narrative (at least in GOP establishment circles) was that Mitt Romney was inevitable.
Then came the South Carolina primary, where Newt Gingrich handed Mitt a double-digit shellacking. Then the GOP narrative focused on the fact that Romney still led nationally and in Florida, the next primary up. Maybe Newt’s SC win was just a fluke?
Well, so much for that one. Gallup now has Newt leading nationally over Romney, 31 to 27. That’s a seismic shift from last week, where Romney led 33 to 17!
And in Florida, three out of the latest four polls show Newt taking the lead….
We like to stick people in boxes. Well, categorizing where people stand and what we think of their stance is a part of human nature. It is something that helps us to act or not act, spend time with someone or not, trust someone or not. I think that we do this more than normal with presidents. We want to say that our president is either good or bad, want to have a stance, so that we can try to get him or her re-elected or taken out of office. So, we are eager to stick him or her into a box.
But, really, politics is complicated, and people are complicated, and sometimes we have to step beyond categorizations of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ (well, hopefully we do so more often than just sometimes).
Unfortunately, watching the 2012 State of the Union address last night was a little impractical for me, considering it was 3:00am here. But I watched it first-thing this morning. I then went on to read a number of editorials on the address. To be honest, I was quite surprised at the lack of depth and sophistication in much of this commentary. It all revolved around some surface issues or a superficial take on the messages of the speech….
No single politician since Ronald Reagan has done more to set back America’s leadership in clean technology than Newt Gingrich.
Emperor Newt is pro-poison, that’s for sure (see “Gingrich proposes abolishing EPA” and Report Details How Fox News Fueled Newt Inc. and Pushed His “Drill Here, Drill Now” Agenda).
So it’s no surprise, he is also anti-antidote. In the 1990s, the Gingrich Congress tried to shut down the Department of Energy, slash all clean energy research, stop the joint government-industry effort to develop a superefficient hybrid car, and zero out all programs aimed specifically at reducing greenhouse emissions and accelerating technology deployment (for some history, see my 1996 Atlantic Monthly article and this 1997 article).
He didn’t succeed — but he did stop the significant expansion of clean energy funding Clinton-Gore had begun. And he did force the DOE to sharply scale back its programs aimed at clean energy deployment and GHG reduction….
EVER heard the one about climate scientists being a bunch of rent-seekers just out to chase taxpayers money, or the one where climate change scientists are just part of an elite left-wing conspiracy out to trample on the heretics?
On Fox News Sunday this morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told Chris Wallace that “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure the Keystone Pipeline is approved.” When Wallace pressed him whether Republican leadership would make the pipeline a condition for extending the payroll tax holiday, Boehner admitted, “We may,” adding (several times) that “All options are on the table.” Watch it:On Fox News Sunday this morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told Chris Wallace that “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure the Keystone Pipeline is approved.” When Wallace pressed him whether Republican leadership would make the pipeline a condition for extending the payroll tax holiday, Boehner admitted, “We may,” adding (several times) that “All options are on the table.” Watch it:
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