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Barack Obama
"Lincoln Sells Out Slaves"
by: Rob Kailey - Sep 13
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If You Haven't Seen This
by: Rob Kailey - Apr 28
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Impeach the President?
by: Rob Kailey - Mar 16
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It's the system, stupid!
by: Jay Stevens - Oct 24
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Rob Kailey is a working schmuck with no ties or affiliations to any governmental or political organizations, save those of sympathy.
NRDC Action Fund

Show Up and Speak Up for Climate Change Legislation

by: Heather TaylorMiesle NRDC Action Fund

Tue Aug 10, 2010 at 12:21:23 PM MST

Congress is heading back home for the August recess this week. Apparently our Senators need to rest after they failed to take up both a clean energy and climate bill and an oil spill bill.

Legislative inaction must be more tiring than I realized.

Still, I don't view this month as a cooling off period. If anything, it's time to turn up the heat.

Over the next few weeks, Senators will be holding "town hall meetings" in their states. Last year, these meetings came to define the health care debate. This year, they could help us reshape America's energy policy.

If you are like me and you are still stunned that the Senate refused to pass a bill that would have created nearly 2 million new American jobs, put our nation at the forefront of the clean energy market and helped end our addiction to oil, then go to a town hall meeting and tell your lawmakers what you think.

Tell them that it is in America's best interest to embrace clean energy now.

And while you are at it, please tell them to block attempts by some Senators to weaken the Clean Air Act-the 40-year-old law that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives-in an effort to further delay reductions in global warming pollution.  

Some naysayers claim that voting on visionary legislation is a risky proposition when we are this close to an election. They are wrong, and history proves it.

As I wrote in a recent blog post, 13 of the most powerful environmental laws were passed during the fall of an election year or in the lame duck sessions following elections.  

We can pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation this fall, but only if we demand it of our lawmakers.

Use this August to make your voices heard. You can find your Senators' schedules by checking their Senate websites, as well as their candidate websites - Republican or Democratic.

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Coal Barons Meeting Today in Hopes of Ending All Climate Debate for a Generation

by: Heather TaylorMiesle NRDC Action Fund

Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 12:51:43 PM MST

Today, a bunch of coal executives are congregating for the WestVirginia Coal Association annual meeting at the luxurious Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV. One of the primary things they will discuss is the formation of a 527 to take out candidates who may support a climate change bill. As Roger Nicholson of the International Coal Group alluded, the coal barons are psyched that they will FINALLY get their voices heard thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizen's United ruling that basically allows them to buy Congressional seats.

This kind of news just makes me sick - especially since these are the guys who have scarred WV's land and abused her people. We don't need to wonder what is driving some Senators to oppose popular legislation that would, in one fell swoop, create millions of jobs, strengthen U.S. national security, defund unsavory regimes and protect our environment from earth-scorching carbon pollution. Follow the money.

Clean energy and climate legislation didn't make it through the U.S. Senate this summer, despite the overwhelming scientific and economic evidence, and despite the fact that there almost certainly were more than 50 (aka, a "majority" of) Senators willing to vote for such legislation. First and foremost among those reasons, of course, was the near-unanimous opposition by Republicans to move ahead in this area. In addition, there were several Democrats, mostly from states with coal interests, who were probable "no" votes - and the money helps paint the picture about why.

As the Natural Resources Defense Council's Pete Altman points out, "Next time someone asks why climate legislation is so difficult to move forward, point them this way. Peabody Energy and Arch Coal are prime examples of how narrow special interests can operate in stealth mode to deny climate science and to put the brakes on climate legislation." How do Peabody and Arch buy influence in Washington, DC? Very simple - money. Lots and lots of money funneled into influencing policy and policymakers. For instance:

-- "In 2008 and 2009, Arch Coal ($3.04 million) and Peabody Coal ($14.2 million) spent a combined $17.9 million in direct federal lobbying on energy, environmental and other matters."

-- "The two companies contributed $5 million each to the budget of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity ("ACCCE") in 2008, and presumably have continued to keep their memberships current with contributions in 2009 and 2010."

According to Open Secrets, in 2010 alone Arch Coal has donated $39,500 to Democratic members of Congress and $88,000 to Republican members of Congress. For its part, Peabody Coal has contributed $53,400 to Democrats and $45,400 to Republicans.

I could go on all day about the money flowing to Congress from corporations and PACs with an interest in killing clean energy and climate legislation, but I'm sure you get the picture by now. Despite the overwhelming benefits this legislation would bring to the vast majority of Americans, as well as to the U.S. economy and our national security, a few wealthy companies, driven by nothing more than greed, have spent lavishly to make sure none of this happens. And so far, they've succeeded.  The question is:  will we let them continue to do so?  Personally, my answer is no way!

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Stop the Senate from Gutting the Clean Air Act!

by: Lowell Feld NRDC Action Fund

Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 11:56:47 AM MST

Just when you thought the U.S. Senate couldn't do any less for clean energy and the environment than it's (not) done so far, we now face the real possibility of what would amount to a "stop-work order" on the 40-year-old, wildly successful (e.g., studies finding benefits outweighing costs at a 40:1 ratio), Clean Air Act.

That's right: believe it or not, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is moving ahead with a sequel to Sen. Lisa Murkowski's nefarious attempt, earlier this summer, to gut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s power to protect the public health from dangerous pollutants, including harmful greenhouse gases.  Just as bad, Rockefeller's proposal would keep America addicted to oil and other old, polluting energy technologies, while delaying or derailing our switch to a clean, prosperous energy economy.

Essentially, what Rockefeller is proposing would tell the EPA - at least for two years, although we know that justice delayed is often justice denied! - that it has to be asleep at the switch, that it must not hold polluters accountable, that it must look the other way whole Big Oil and Big Coal trash the environment.  Is that the lesson the Senate learned from the Gulf of Mexico disaster?  Really?

Fortunately, not everyone is so clueless as the U.S. Senate appears to be right now.  For instance, in yesterday's Politico, two energy investors - one Democrat, one Republican - explained what's at stake in clear, compelling language.

We are not experts in vote counting or horse trading. But we do know how investors and markets will respond if Congress ultimately fails to put a market-based price on carbon. The response from capital will be brutal: Money will flow to places like China, Europe and India - and U.S. jobs will go with it.

The path to creating more U.S. jobs is simple: Pass legislation that eliminates uncertainty and levels the playing field, and investors will fund projects that create good jobs here at home. Rules bring certainty, certainty spurs investment, and investment creates jobs.

[...]

Take it from investors: Removing the uncertainty, and taking a more thoughtful approach to energy policy by putting a market price on carbon, can bring home new investments and jobs - and ensure that America leads the clean energy economy.

Instead, it now looks like the Senate not only won't be moving us forwards, but instead will be trying to move us significantly - and disastrously - backwards. What's truly stunning about this possibility is that, right now, the science of climate change is clearer and more disturbing than ever.   Heat waves are getting worse, the ice caps are shrinking faster than ever, and scientists are telling us that the world is setting new temperature records almost every month, every year, and every decade.   In addition, the results of our insatiable thirst for fossil fuels were demonstrated starkly and tragically, both in a West Virginia coal mine as well as in the Gulf of Mexico, on TV screens all across America in recent months.  As if all this isn't bad enough, we also could run out of water.

The American people know this situation can't go on. In fact, recent polls show large majorities supporting an energy bill that would "[l]imit pollution, invest in domestic energy sources and encourage companies to use and develop clean energy...by charging energy companies for carbon pollution in electricity or fuels like gas." In other words, this is a case where good policy - limiting greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing our national security, safeguarding public health, jumpstarting a clean energy revolution - and good politics - strong poll results for doing just that - appear to align.  Yet, the U.S. Senate appears ready to ignore both good policy and good politics, and actually move to make matters worse by gutting the EPA and letting polluters like BP off the hook.

Don't let them do it.  Call your Senators right now and tell them "hell no" to the "Let Polluters Pollute with Impunity Act."  Also, while you're at it, call the White House and tell President Obama that, if such a measure reaches his desk, he will veto it - no ifs, ands, or buts.

Take action today for a cleaner, stronger, and more sustainable future. Join NRDC Action Fund on Facebook and Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest environmental issues and actions you can take to help protect our planet.

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My Kids Are Losers: Commentary on the Climate Debate

by: Heather TaylorMiesle NRDC Action Fund

Fri Jul 23, 2010 at 14:13:40 PM MST

The climate bill blame game has begun.  When I first started writing this post about the so-called death of the climate bill, I literally pointed the finger at just about everyone, including myself. The anger poured out, and I was frank in my assessment as well as unforgiving in the motives behind this latest setback.

After I was done with my self-loathing tantrum, the kids ran in the door from camp and I was swept up in the lovely reality of my family's banter. It is summer, so the pace in our home is a bit more relaxed in the evening.  We aren't quite as quick to rush through dinner, toss the kids in a bath, and then march them off to bed.  Ice cream and extra cuddles are relished, and I am reminded each year at this time why I do this job.

Later, after progeny were tucked in, I went back to my draft blog post to spruce it up.  I reread my rage, disappointment, and irrational ramblings and was embarrassed.  And I asked myself "What good is all this blame going to do?"

At the end of the day, it is my kids - and your kids - who lose when we implode.  If you think kids have a lot to say about their parents now on Dr. Phil, can you imagine what our children will say in 50 years should we fail to get our act together?

The country should be ready for this. The facts are on our side.  As we witness the worst industry-caused environmental catastrophe in our history, the worst coal mining disaster in 40 years, and sweat through the hottest first 6 months of any year on record, it is clear that there's never been a more urgent time to move forward with a smart clean energy and climate plan.

Unfortunately, the politicians just aren't there. At every juncture during this debate, a minority, led by the Republican leadership and supported by a few impressionable (I might say pathetic)  Democrats, has obstructed the opportunity to solve America's energy problems, preferring to leave the worst polluters and the big petro-dictators in control of our energy policy, while tax-payers are forced to pay for their messes.

Oopsy... there goes that blame again.  Let's focus on what we can do next.

Hope is not lost.  Of course, the closer we get to the midterm elections, the more challenging passing a bill becomes. Still, it's not impossible. In fact, the Senate has passed almost every single bedrock environmental law in the fall of an election year or in the "lame duck" session following an election. Here are just a few examples:

o   Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) - 1996 Amendments: 8/6/96

o   Food Quality Protection Act: 8/3/96

o   Energy Policy Act of 1992: 10/24/92

o   Clean Air Act of 1990: 11/15/90

o   SDWA - 1986 Amendments: 6/19/86

o   CERCLA (Superfund): House 9/23/80, Senate 11/24/80, POTUS 12/11/80

o   Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA): 10/21/76

o   Toxic Substances & Control Act (TSCA): 10/11/76

o   SDWA: 12/16/74

o   Clean Water Act: 10/18/72

o   Establishment of the EPA: first proposed 7/9/70, established 12/2/70

o   National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): 1/1/70

o   The Wilderness Act: 9/3/64

As this list demonstrates, the Senate and the environmental movement are no strangers to passing major legislation right before - or just after - an election.

I don't want to overpromise success.  This is an uphill battle.  But if you and I show up to every town hall, rally, spaghetti dinner, and other rituals of election year and fight for our kids... fight for our country... fight for our America... we can turn the tide.  Without that kind of passion, we will all lose.  That's an outcome we must try hard to avoid, on behalf of people, communities, large and small businesses - oh, and our kids, sleeping peacefully or playing happily around the country.

In the meantime, we must also protect what we already have, like a plethora of state laws and the federal Clean Air Act.  I recommend reading David Doniger's blog on Switchboard today that really outlines how we can make progress with the tools we have right now.

In coming weeks and months, we must continue to push forward for a strong, clean energy and climate bill, just like we have done countless times in the past. I am done with blame.  History is on our side. Are you?

Take action today for a cleaner, stronger, and more sustainable future. Join NRDC Action Fund on Facebook and Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest environmental issues and actions you can take to help protect our planet.

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No, Senator Klobuchar, More Corn Ethanol is NOT the Answer!

by: Lowell Feld NRDC Action Fund

Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 15:20:45 PM MST

According to The Hill newspaper, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) "is introducing legislation to expand use of renewable electricity and transportation fuels that she says is a way to increase political support for broad energy legislation among farm-state lawmakers." Reuters adds that Klobuchar's legislation would promote "a long-term extension of biofuel tax breaks."  Klobuchar says, "it is time to look at home-grown energy and that includes biofuels and they should be part of this."

At first glance, that all sounds innocuous enough, but there's a major problem: Sen. Klobuchar is (cleverly) baiting the hook with a strong Renewable Energy Standard, which most environmentalists support, but at the same time she's also including the worst of the worst biofuels proposals - corn ethanol.  For instance, as Nathanael Greene of NRDC points out, Klobuchar's proposal includes a 5-year extension of the corn ethanol tax credit, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $30 billion.  Klobuchar's legislation also appears to redefine old-growth forests as "biomass," potentially promoting deforestation.   And Klobuchar's legislation would harm the development of truly advanced biofuels, in favor of corn ethanol.   There's more, but that's sufficient to give you a good idea of how misguided and potentially harmful this bill happens to be.

More broadly, the problem is that promoting corn ethanol actually would set us backwards on our climate and clean energy goals.   NRDC has written a great deal about corn-based ethanol, most of which is not flattering.

*From an NRDC article published in March 2010, we learn that "the current corn ethanol tax credit is effectively costing tax payers $4.18 per gallon and is driving up grain prices."  The author, Nathanael Greene, concludes that "[w]e don't need an additional 1.4 billion gallons of corn ethanol, or the higher prices for grains and more deforestation that come with it...It's time to transition from corn ethanol's pollution and pork to a new generation of more sustainable biofuels that brings us closer to real energy independence."

*From this NRDC article published in January 2010, it turns out that "The old, dirty ethanol industry is dominated by big companies like Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Poet." The author, Roland Hwang, adds, "It's baffling why an industry that benefits from $4 billion a year in government subsidies can't find a way to compete on environmental merits."

*As Nathanael Greene points out here, "the nitrogen runoff from corn grown all along the Mississippi causes a huge dead zone in the Gulf every summer."  And, "[w]ith about a third of the corn crop going to make corn ethanol, it should be clear that more corn ethanol is not a real solution."

In addition to NRDC, Barack Obama also weighed in during the 2008 presidential campaign, declaring that "we're going to have a transition from corn-based ethanol to cellulosic ethanol, not using food crops as the source of energy."

Last but not least, Earth Policy Institute founder Lester Brown and Clean Air Task Force Jonathan Lewis, writing in April 2008, explained in devastating terms why corn ethanol is so problematic:

It is now abundantly clear that food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage. First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy -- most of which comes from coal.

Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts, and some production facilities are reportedly dumping these in local water sources.

Third, food-to-fuel mandates are helping drive up the price of agricultural staples, leading to significant changes in land use with major environmental harm.

Most troubling, though, is that the higher food prices caused in large part by food-to-fuel mandates create incentives for global deforestation, including in the Amazon basin. As Time magazine reported this month, huge swaths of forest are being cleared for agricultural development. The result is devastating: We lose an ecological treasure and critical habitat for endangered species, as well as the world's largest "carbon sink..."

Meanwhile, the mandates are not reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Last year, the United States burned about a quarter of its national corn supply as fuel -- and this led to only a 1 percent reduction in the country's oil consumption.

In short, the problem is that while "biofuels" sounds as benign as apple pie, corn ethanol - the main biofuel available today - is actually bad for the environment both in the U.S. and abroad, bad for the poor, and bad for the American taxpayer.

Just to be clear, ethanol from cellulosic material is a completely different - and far superior - story from other, advanced biofuels (e.g., cellulosic), but advanced biofuels are not what Senator Klobuchar's talking about here.  To the contrary, Senator Klobuchar is using this once-in-a-generation chance for comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation, to push through a big agribusiness, corn ethanol boondoggle that will harm the environment, do nothing to reduce U.S. dependence on oil or to help strengthen U.S. national security.

Yes, we want increased production of renewable energy like wind and solar. Yes, biofuels done the right way could be an important part of the U.S. energy mix.  But no, Sen. Klobuchar's approach - promoting dirty, old corn ethanol - is simply not the correct approach to the energy and environmental challenges we are facing.

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Lessons from the "Enlightened Eight": Republicans Can Vote Pro-Environment and Not Get "Tea Partied

by: Heather TaylorMiesle NRDC Action Fund

Wed Jul 14, 2010 at 10:18:06 AM MST

On June 26, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 219-212 in favor of HR 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES).  Only eight Republicans - we'll call them the "Enlightened Eight" -  voted "aye."  These Republicans were Mary Bono-Mack (CA-45), Mike Castle (DE-AL), John McHugh (NY-23), Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Mark Kirk (IL-10), Dave Reichert (WA-8), and Christopher Smith (NJ-4).  

Republicans voting for cap and trade in the year of the Tea Party?  You'd think that they'd be dumped in the harbor by now.  Instead, they're all doing fine.  In fact, to date, not a single one of these Republicans has been successfully primaried by the "tea party" (or otherwise).  Instead, we have two - Castle and Kirk - running for U.S. Senate, one (McHugh) who was appointed Secretary of the Army by President Obama, and five others - Bono-Mack, LoBiondo, Lance, Reichert, Smith - running for reelection.

Rep. Lance actually was challenged by not one, not two, but three "Tea Party" candidates.  One of Lance's opponents, David Larsen, even produced this nifty video, helpfully explaining that "Leonard Lance Loves Cap & Trade Taxes." So, did this work?  Did the Tea Partiers overthrow the tyrannical, crypto-liberal Lance? Uh, no. Instead, in the end, Lance received 56% of the vote, easily moving on to November.

Meanwhile, 100 miles or so south on the Jersey Turnpike, Rep. LoBiondo faced two "Tea Party" candidates - Donna Ward and Linda Biamonte - who also attacked on the cap-and-trade issue.  According to Biamonte, cap and trade "is insidious and another tax policy... a funneling of money to Goldman Sachs and Al Gore through derivatives creating a carbon bubble like the housing bubble." You'd think that Republican primary voters in the year of the Tea Party would agree with this line of attack.  Yet LoBiondo won with 75% of the vote.  

Last but not least in New Jersey, Christopher Smith easily turned back a Tea Party challenger - Alan Bateman - by a more than 2:1 margin.  Bateman had argued that "Obama knows he can count on Smith to support the United Nations' agenda to redistribute American wealth to foreign countries through international Cap & Trade agreements and other programs that threaten our sovereignty." Apparently, Republican voters in NJ-4 didn't buy that argument.

Across the country in California's 45th District, Mary Bono-Mack won 71% of the vote over Tea Party candidate Clayton Thibodeau on June 8.  This, despite Thibodeau attacking Bono-Mack as "the only Republican west of the Mississippi to vote for Cap and Trade."  Thibodeau also called cap and trade "frightening," claiming that government could force you to renovate your home or meet requirements before you purchase a home.  Thibodeau's scare tactics on cap-and-trade clearly didn't play in CA-45.

Finally, in Washington's 8th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Dave Reichert  has drawn a Tea Party challenger named Ernest Huber, who writes that Cap and Trade "is widely viewed as an attempt at Soviet-style dictatorship using the environmental scam of global warming/climate change... written by the communist Apollo Alliance, which was led by the communist Van Jones, Obama's green jobs czar." We'll see how this argument plays with voters in Washington's 8th Congressional District, but something tells us it's not going to go over any better than in the New Jersey or California primaries.

In sum, it appears that it's quite possible for Republicans to vote for comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation and live (politically) to tell about it.   The proof is in the primaries.

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Murkowski Part II Rears Its Ugly Head

by: Lowell Feld NRDC Action Fund

Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 13:54:21 PM MST

On June 10th, we all celebrated the defeat of the Murkowski resolution, which would have gutted the EPA's ability to regulate carbon dioxide pollution.  Why we needed to defeat Murkowski was explained well by NRDC Action Fund Executive Director, Peter Lehner, who wrote the following prior to the vote:

EPA's proactive lead in greenhouse gas regulation is a critical aspect of the effort to reduce our rampant, destabilizing, and destructive dependence on foreign and offshore oil.  While the endangerment finding does not, in itself, prescribe regulations, it provides the legal basis for critical standards: EPA's proposed CAFE efficiency standard for light-duty vehicles is projected to save over 455 million barrels per year, and an anticipated standard for heavy-duty vehicles will save billions more.  Stripping EPA of its authority to implement these protections would increase our nation's dependence on oil and send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas.  We cannot afford this big step backward, especially as we watch more oil gush into the Gulf each day.

In the end, the Senate didn't take that "big step backward" on June 10th, as the Murkowski resolution failed by a 47-53 vote.   Many of us probably figured that was the end of this issue, and that the Senate would now move on to passing comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation.  Unfortunately, as is often the case in Washington, DC, it isn't that simple (let alone logical).

Today, clean air and public health are once again under an assault that constitutes, essentially, "Murkowski Part II."  The Wall Street Journal reported on June 22:

As U.S. Senate lawmakers attempt to determine the fate of energy legislation, an influential Democrat is boosting efforts to suspend a controversial greenhouse-gas rule passed earlier this year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

After introducing a bill to impose a two-year halt on the new EPA rule, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia, is now working to round up supporters for his legislation.

It should go without saying that this is completely unacceptable.  As we all know, the public was outraged at Senator Murkowski's Big Oil Bailout bill.  They understood that this moved the country backward, not forward, and that it was exactly the wrong way to go given the energy and environmental challenges we face.  Through all our efforts, our phone calls and emails (and blog posts and tweets, etc.), we helped to kill Murkowski Part I.  Now, unfortunately, Sen. Jay Rockefeller is pushing Murkowski Part II, yet there's far less attention being paid to this effort than to the Murkowski's EPA Castration Resolution Part I.   People have a lot of other things on their minds, and they thought this fight was over back in June.  But, once they find out that this effort is baaaaack, like a monster in a cheesy horror movie, they are not going to respond positively.  

Of course, why would the public - which overwhelmingly supports taking action to promote clean energy and deal with climate change - ever respond positively to a proposal aimed at throwing away one of our key tools to cut pollution and protect public health?  And why would they respond positively now of all times, as oil continues to spew into the Gulf of Mexico, as record heat waves scorch the United States, and as climate science is strengthened every day that goes by?  Last but not least, why would they support an effort to protect the corporate polluters and not all of us who are being hurt by that pollution?

The bottom line is simple: instead of wasting its time on legislation that will only move the country backwards - towards dirty energy forever - the Senate should be busy passing a bill that moves the country forward towards a bright future of green energy, clean tech jobs, energy security and climate protection.   Once our Senators hear that message loud and clear from all of us, Rockefeller's Murkowski Part II will be rejected by the Senate, just as Murkowski Part I was before it.

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Edward James Olmos on the Definition of "Insanity"

by: Heather TaylorMiesle NRDC Action Fund

Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 12:26:40 PM MST

Yesterday, the NRDC Action Fund launched a campaign featuring a powerful new ad by renowned environmental activist and celebrated actor, Edward James Olmos.  In the video, which you can view here, Olmos explains what makes people - himself included - "locos" when it comes to U.S. energy and environmental policy. Now, as the Senate moves towards a possible debate on energy and climate legislation, we need to let everyone hear Olmos' message.

Hi, I'm Edward James Olmos. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I guess that's what makes Americans "locos." We keep yelling "drill baby drill" and expecting things to turn out ok. But the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is nothing new. The oil industry has been poisoning our oceans and wilderness for decades. It's time to regain our sanity. America doesn't want more oil disasters. We need safe, clean and renewable energy now. Think about it.

Sadly, Olmos' definition of "insanity" is exactly what we've been doing for decades in this country -- maintaining policies that keep us "addicted" to fossil fuels instead of moving towards a clean, prosperous, and sustainable economy.

As we all know, dirty, outdated energy sources have caused serious harm to our economy, to our national security, and of course - as the horrible Gulf oil disaster illustrates - to our environment. In 2008 alone, the U.S. spent nearly $400 billion, about half the entire U.S. trade deficit, importing foreign oil.   Even worse, much of that $400 billion went to countries (and non-state actors) that don't have our best interests at heart.

As if all that's not bad enough, our addiction to oil and other fossil fuels also has resulted in tremendous environmental devastation, ranging from melting polar ice caps to record heat waves to oil-covered pelicans and dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.

As Edward James Olmos says, it's enough to drive us all "locos."

Fortunately, there's a better way.

If you believe, as we passionately do, that it's time to kick our addiction to the dirty fuels of the past, then please help us get that message out there. Help us air Edward James Olmos' ad on TV in states with U.S. Senators who we believe can be persuaded to vote for comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation. If we can convince our politicians to do their jobs and to pass comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation this year, we will be on a path to a brighter, healthier future.

Thank you for your support.

NRDC Action Fund

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More Nails in the Coffins of the Climate Change Deniers

by: Lowell Feld NRDC Action Fund

Wed Jul 07, 2010 at 09:41:19 AM MST

As if we needed any more evidence demonstrating that anthropogenic climate change is real, that it is occurring right now, and that it poses a major threat to the planet's environment, we now have it -- in spades. Let's begin with the assessment by a Penn State University investigation, which completely exonerated climate scientist Michael Mann from any wrongdoing in the ridiculous, trumped-up, never-any-truth-to-it, pseudo-"scandal" known as "climate-gate." In reaction to this report, former House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) -- full disclosure, Boehlert's on the NRDC Action Fund board -- issued a statement which read:

This exoneration should close the book on the absurd episode in which climate scientists were unjustly attacked when in fact they have been providing a great public service. The attacks on scientists were a manufactured distraction, and today's report is a welcome return to common sense. While scientists can now focus on their work, policy makers need to address the very real problem of climate change.

Well said, Congressman, and keep up the great work, Professor Mann!

Next, just to pound the final nails into the coffins of the climate change deniers, a major, independent review by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency was released on July 5. The report's main conclusions were crystal clear:

  • "no errors that would undermine the main conclusions in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on possible future regional impacts of climate change"
  • "the summary conclusions are considered well founded, none have been found to contain any significant errors"
  • "ample observational evidence of regional climate change impacts, which have been projected to pose substantial risks to most parts of the world, under increasing temperatures"

In fairness, the Dutch report leveled several criticisms of the IPCC report: 1) even the few, minor errors shouldn't have been allowed to slip by; 2) the report's summary statement should have been written to provide a higher amount of transparency regarding its sources and methods; and 3) the report tended to focus solely on the adverse consequences of climate change, not on potentially positive impacts. These are non-trivial issues that need to be addressed. Having said that, as Joe Romm points out, "the overwhelming majority of research since the IPCC has found that the IPCC has consistently underestimated many key current and future impacts, particularly sea level rise (and carbon-cycle feedbacks)."

In the end, the bottom line from these reports is clear: the science behind human-induced climate change has emerged from this entire, ridiculous, episode overwhelmingly intact -- if not strengthened. The only real question now is, what are we going to do about it?

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Remember, Cap-and-Trade Was Originally a Free-Market, Conservative Idea

by: Lowell Feld NRDC Action Fund

Thu Jul 01, 2010 at 13:36:07 PM MST

Once upon a time, "cap-and-trade" wasn't an object of conservative Republican opprobrium (e.g., as a "big government cap-and-tax scheme that will destroy our economy and end our way of life as we know it"). Actually, once up on a time, "cap-and-trade" was...wait for it...a conservative Republican idea! That's right, let's head to the "way back machine" and briefly review the Political History of Cap and Trade.

John B. Henry was hiking in Maine's Acadia National Park one August in the 1980s when he first heard his friend C. Boyden Gray talk about cleaning up the environment by letting people buy and sell the right to pollute. Gray, a tall, lanky heir to a tobacco fortune, was then working as a lawyer in the Reagan White House, where environmental ideas were only slightly more popular than godless Communism. "I thought he was smoking dope," recalls Henry, a Washington, D.C. entrepreneur. But if the system Gray had in mind now looks like a politically acceptable way to slow climate change-an approach being hotly debated in Congress-you could say that it got its start on the global stage on that hike up Acadia's Cadillac Mountain.

People now call that system "cap-and-trade." But back then the term of art was "emissions trading," though some people called it "morally bankrupt" or even "a license to kill." For a strange alliance of free-market Republicans and renegade environmentalists, it represented a novel approach to cleaning up the world-by working with human nature instead of against it.

Despite powerful resistance, these allies got the system adopted as national law in 1990, to control the power-plant pollutants that cause acid rain. With the help of federal bureaucrats willing to violate the cardinal rule of bureaucracy-by surrendering regulatory power to the marketplace-emissions trading would become one of the most spectacular success stories in the history of the green movement...

In the end, the conservative Republican-inspired "cap-and-trade" system for acid-rain-causing sulfur dioxide was put into place by Republican President George HW Bush, who "not only accepted the cap, he overruled his advisers' recommendation of an eight million-ton cut in annual acid rain emissions in favor of the ten million-ton cut advocated by environmentalists." And it worked incredibly well, "cost[ing] utilities just $3 billion annually, not $25 billion... [and] by cutting acid rain in half, it also generates an estimated $122 billion a year in benefits from avoided death and illness, healthier lakes and forests, and improved visibility on the Eastern Seaboard."

In short, good things happened when we harnessed the tremendous power of the market to solve environmental problems. Today, the biggest and most pressing of those problems - identified, once again, by a massive amount of scientific research and evidence over several decades - is not acid rain, but global warming. And the proposed solution, once again, is the conservative, market-based "cap-and-trade" system. Strangely, however, it's conservative, market-based Republicans who have morphed into the loudest and most vociferous opponents of "cap-and-trade," while Democrats have become its biggest proponents.

Even stranger, as Climate Progress points out, many Republicans are now opposing - even "demagoguing" - against an idea they once supported! A short list includes: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who once said she supported cap-and-trade because she believed "it offers the opportunity to reduce carbon, at the least cost to society;" Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), who once bragged that voting for "cap-and-trade" in Massachusetts was an "important step ... towards improving our environment;" Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who once asserted that cap-and-trade "will send a signal that will be heard and welcomed all across the American economy;" and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who used to believe that we should "set emission standards and let the best technology win." Actually, as Steve Benen at Washington Monthly points out, the McCain-Palin official website in 2008 promised that a McCain administration would "establish...a cap-and-trade system that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

My, how times have changed in less than 2 years.

The point of all this is simple. Cap-and-trade is not some dastardly scheme to destroy the U.S. economy. Cap-and-trade is not radical, either. In fact, cap-and-trade is a tried, true, tested and proven, market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest possible cost. It worked with acid rain, far faster and cheaper than anyone predicted. Why would it be any different with carbon dioxide than sulfur dioxide? And why would Republicans oppose their own idea, after watching it produce one of the biggest environmental victories in U.S. history, on the gravest environmental threat facing our country and our planet? Even more, why would Republicans oppose an idea that -- even if you put aside the issue of global warming -- is still imperative - for urgent economic (e.g., sending $400 billion overseas every year to pay for imported oil) and national security (sending that $400 billion to a lot of countries that aren't our friends, are building nuclear weapons programs, etc.) reasons?

It's hard to think of any good reasons, how about some bad ones? Because, in the end, that's about all the cap-and-trade naysayers have left.

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Time to Turn Off The A/C At the White House?

by: NRDC Action Fund

Mon Jun 28, 2010 at 12:20:21 PM MST

As President Obama prepares for his meeting tomorrow with Senators at the White House to discuss clean energy and climate change legislation, he might want to check with the White House staff on an important matter first. No, not the details of the legislation, although that's important of course. Instead, what President Obama might want to make absolutely sure about is the non-trivial matter of whether the White House air conditioning is in tip-top shape. I say "non-trivial," but these days it's more like "life or death." How hot is it in the Washington, DC area?  As NBC Washington puts it, "We're Talking Spontaneous Combustion." (UPDATE: it's more likely this is apocryphal than literally true, but it sure feels like plants could catch on fire these days in Washington, DC!)

How hot is it? It's so hot that dead plants are spontaneously combusting in Frederick, Md.
Don't believe it? Just ask Frederick County Fire Marshal Marc McNeal, who told the Frederick News-Post that excessive heat caused a dead plant to catch fire Sunday afternoon in a hanging planter on the rear deck of a townhouse.

The hanging basket fell to the deck and burned some vinyl siding, causing about $3,000 in damages.

It has definitely been hot in the Washington region. Monday will be the 10th day in a row that we've reached 90 degrees or higher, and this will be the 17th day of the month that the thermometer has reached 90.

NBC4 meteorologist Tom Kierein said that when it's all said and done, June 2010 likely will be the hottest June on record in the District.

Dead plants catching on fire in the hottest June on record in the Washington, DC area?  Sadly, this may not be an aberration, but a frightening sign of things to come in a global warming world.   True, we shouldn't draw broad conclusions about the earth's climate from one heat wave in one specific geographic area, as certain climate change deniers dishonestly did during last winter's "snowpocalypse" blizzards.  However, when we see month after month, decade after decade of record-setting heat globally, it starts to get a bit hard to ignore.  

In fact, climate scientists are not ignoring these heat waves and other phenomena.  Earlier today, for instance, The Project on Climate Science reported that the "record-breaking heat wave" we are currently experiencing in the eastern United States "is consistent with climate change."  According to Tom Peterson, Chief Scientist for NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, "We're getting a dramatic taste of the kind of weather we are on course to bequeath to our grandchildren."  Of course, as The Project on Climate Science points out, "individual heat waves can be driven by a number of factors." However, they conclude, "more frequent heat waves are one of the more visible impacts of climate change already underway in the United States" and "will occur more frequently in the future."

In sum, if you enjoy record-setting warmth - not to mention the stronger storms, mass extinctions and "record sea ice shrinkage" in the Arctic  that go along with that warmth - you have a lot to look forward to!  If not, then you should contact your Senator and let him or her know you want climate action now.  

Come to think of it, perhaps we should all hope for the White House air conditioning to be broken tomorrow - or turned off on purpose - so that the Senators meeting there get a taste of what the planet will feel like everywhere if they don't do something about it now.  When you think about it, a bit of Senatorial sweat and a few stained shirts is not too high a price to pay if it results in long-overdue, comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation on the President's desk sometime this sweltering summer.  Is it?

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Small Business Support for Clean Energy A Key to 2010 Elections?

by: NRDC Action Fund

Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 07:57:36 AM MST

Yesterday's Democratic Senate caucus meeting - combined with Majority Leader Reid's push on this issue, combined with President Obama's leadership, combined with a clear demand by the public for action - has given comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation a major boost as we head towards the 4th of July recess.  Clearly, at this point, there's a better path to 60 votes in the U.S. Senate for comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation than ever before. We are that close to making history, let's make sure we seize this moment!

With all that in mind, a recent national survey by Al Quinlan of Greenburg Quinlan Rosner Research has potentially powerful implications for the 2010 elections, providing yet more evidence that climate legislation - despite a fallacious "mainstream media" narrative arguing otherwise - is actually good politics.  The key findings are threefold (note: the document talks about strategy for the Democratic Party, but could apply to Republicans as well):

1. Small businesses "are among America's most popular entities," with an eye-popping 44:1 favorable to unfavorable ratio ("the highest we have ever seen in our polling on any topic")
2. Generating support from small business owners, for either political party, is a key to success in the upcoming mid-term elections.
3. Small business owners strongly agree "that a move to clean energy will help restart the economy and lead to job creation by small businesses."  In fact, according to Greenburg Quinlan, "One of the most surprising findings of the survey is that despite the fact that nearly two thirds of business owners believe it would increase costs for their businesses, a majority still want to move forward on clean energy and climate policy."

As if that's not evidence enough that there's broad support out there for comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation, how about this Benenson Survey Group survey, conducted in late May/early June 2010?  The key findings of this poll are:

*65% of "likely 2010 voters" believe that "the federal government should invest much more than it currently invests [or] somewhat more than it currently invests."  
*63% of "likely 2010 voters" support an energy bill that would "limit pollution, invest in domestic energy sources and encourage companies to use and develop clean energy...in part by charging energy companies for carbon pollution in electricity or fuels like gas."
*Among "undecided voters," "62% support the bill and just 21% oppose."

There is also strong evidence from this polling that voters - including independent voters by a 2.5:1 margin - are strongly inclined, by around a 2:1 margin, to be "more likely to re-elect" their Senator if he or she voted for a strong, comprehensive, clean energy and climate bill.

In sum, solid majorities of small businesspeople and the public at large both support comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation.  Which is why, once again - as we pointed out yesterday - the "mainstream media" narrative, that voting for limits on carbon pollution is bad politics, is just dead wrong. To the contrary, victory this November could go to the candidates - and the party - that seizes this issue and makes it their own.  Ideally, it would be great to see both Republicans and Democrats fighting to be the "greenest" candidate, and not just in terms of how much money they raise.

UPDATE: Add another poll to the list, this one by WSJ-NBC indicating that "Respondents favored comprehensive energy and carbon pollution reduction legislation by 63 percent to 31 percent - a two to one margin."

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