Grist and Climate Politics

Bill Richardson came out with his energy plan today.  Dodd, Edwards, and Richardson are now out with proposals to deal with climate change, even as it becomes clearer every day that we dramatically underestimated the scope of the problem.  I'm nearing the point where I cannot take a candidate seriously who does not make a drastic cut in carbon their top priority.  If we don't deal with this now, our civilization is over.  It's that simple.

With that said, it's worth noting that Obama's climate plan is nonsense and a sop to the coal industry (in contrast to Jon Tester, who is responsible and sees a role for coal).  This isn't a deal-killer, since no plans actually get implemented exactly as written in a Presidential campaign, but it should disabuse all of us of the notion that Obama represents a new kind of politics or is a progressive.  He's not.  At this point, he's just another centrist candidate pushing incrementalist policies.  There's no there there.

I don't know anything about Clinton's plan, while Grist seems to like that of John Edwards. Other friends I respect say that Edwards' plan makes a lot of sense.  Regardless of the nominee, expect to hear lots of carping from wingnuts about how much carbon is being used discussing global warming.  And I'm going to guess that the emergency is going to become more obvious every year, as the dialogue has changed dramatically this year.  So the political capital for extreme action will be there in a year or so.

Tags: 2008, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Global Warming, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, president (all tags)

Comments

88 Comments

Re: Grist and Climate Politics

That actually doesn't discuss Edwards' energy plan.  This is his plan.

by jallen 2007-05-17 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Apparently not only is Obama a centrist on climate change, but he's also more of an instinctive free-trader than Clinton, according to the current issue of The Economist (May 12-18, page 34).  The article mentions that he supports subsidies for "liquefying coal - an environmentally filthy operation."  Same article said that a "wonk" who knows all the candidates described Obama as the most knee-jerk free-trade.

Just how is this man a "change" politician?  I'm not impressed by one's personal stories, I just want someone who has good policy positions.

by jgarcia 2007-05-17 02:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

The Economist is entitled to its opinion but the facts show that Senator Obama voted against CAFTA.

by Sam I Am 2007-05-17 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

So did Hillary, and so did many free-traders, like my last Congressman Earl Blumenauer.  I'm not sure if he'd ever voted against a trade deal before.  There was a hell of a lot of attention on the vote, and pressure on Democrats to vote against it, so it's not a good measure, I think.

by jallen 2007-05-17 02:29PM | 0 recs
Based on her remarks, voting against CAFTA

... broke her little ol' heart:

During my tenure as Senator, I have voted for every trade agreement that has come before the Senate and I believe that properly negotiated trade agreements can increase living standards and foster openness and economic development for all parties. When DR-CAFTA negotiations began, I was eager to support an agreement. It was my sincere hope that President Bush would send an agreement to Congress that would help address the DR-CAFTA nations' development challenges and spread the gains from trade more broadly.

Statement of Senator Clinton for the Congressional Record on Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement

by BruceMcF 2007-05-17 07:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

"Some wonk" says to the Economist that he "thinks" that Obama is x and y. Why not look at Obama's past record and future plans yourself? He has voted against free trade agreements.

by Populism2008 2007-05-17 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

He has voted against one, and for one.

by jallen 2007-05-17 02:30PM | 0 recs
Right

he voted for the Oman pact, which is a step along the way toward Bush's dream of a Middle Eastern Free Trade Zone. As a rule, the US shouldn't sign "free" trade agreements with countries where slavery is rampant. More specifically, here's Sirota: http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/07 /21/oh_man_oman.php

The lack of labor protections in the pact encourages American companies to either directly exploit Oman's oppressed workers, or use the threat of outsourcing to Oman as a way to extract wage and benefit concessions from American workers at home. The lack of environmental protections provides an incentive for companies to move operations overseas, so as to reduce the overhead incurred by having to adhere to basic standards in the United States. The inclusion of restrictive drug patent protections--now a staple of U.S. trade policy--preserves pharmaceutical companies' ability to price gouge by making sure impoverished nations can never move forward with producing lower-priced generic drugs to fight plagues ravaging their populations. And the provisions allowing foreign ownership of strategic national security assets sets a precedent that national security will always come second to the corporate profit motive.

by david mizner 2007-05-17 02:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Yes, both Hillary and Obama voted against CAFTA, and that's good.  However, you just know that both of them would be free-traders on the level of Bill Clinton if they are elected.  I have not heard a lot from Obama on fair trade, China raping this country and its workers, or quite frankly, environmental problems as a result of free trade deals.

by jgarcia 2007-05-17 02:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

I don't think they'll be ardent free traders, but their instincts will pull them that way.

by Matt Stoller 2007-05-17 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

This all fits my grand plot to promote Nader.

Nice job, Matt!

by Pachacutec 2007-05-17 06:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Ha! Too bad Obama is the only candidate except for Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel who doesn't have associations with the corporatist, free-trade lovin, American worker sellout DLC.

So you read the Economist for you news and believe everything they say? The Economist is a conservative magazine. I respect them. But I don't believe everything they say.

"I have not heard a lot from Obama on fair trade, China raping this country and its workers, or quite frankly, environmental problems as a result of free trade deals."

Have you read the Audacity of Hope? I didn't think so. I'd advise reading it before you attack Obama about things that he talks about in his book. Obama isn't going to go around yelling "China is raping this country! There's a conspiracy going on to kill the workers! Death the anyone with money or power!" That's not his style. I don't think anyone other then Gravel will do anything like that.

He talks for a good amount about all those things. He doesn't make that the focus of his book or candidacy. But he does come out in favor of free trade only if there is extremely strong labor and environmental conditions and we are helping out those people who are going to get "raped" by the deal. Basically increase tax's on the rich and capitol gains and use it for UHC, SS, Education, Re-Training and other social programs that help out those who are getting screwed by the current style of trade. He also wants laws in them to penalize the companies that are off shoring jobs and make them help with retraining the workers they're screwing over from off-shoring.

He understands that globalization is happening and we need to fight to make it work for average people the best we can. He only will have free trade if the US is investing in those it hurts and the other country is using the deal to help lift it's citizens out of poverty.

Obama would be much better then Bill Clinton was on free trade and much better then Hillary would be. John Edwards would be better then both of them if he sticks with his campaign platform and not his past. Remember, Bill Clinton campaigned against trade too and look where that got us.

by Populista 2007-05-17 05:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Edwards also is clean of any DLC associations. The DLCers kept on trying to claim him and make him their golden boy as he was a southern democrat, but he turned him down stone cold repeatedly.

by Quinton 2007-05-17 07:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Quinten - you're wrong - He has hired PSB's VP for his "communications" - PSB is a company owned by Mark Penn.

by sepulvedaj3 2007-05-18 07:05AM | 0 recs
Fairness to Obama

Obama is a co-sponsor of S. 309, the strong Boxer-Sanders Safe Climate Act.

Saying "Obama's climate plan is nonsense" is not fair or accurate. It's fair to say that CTL without cap-and-trade would be terrible. But let's try to be honest about such a serious issue.

by The Cunctator 2007-05-17 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Fairness to Obama

Yes, it's perfectly fair.  Read the Grist piece.

by Matt Stoller 2007-05-17 02:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Fairness to Obama

Read Obama's website.

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/energy /

by Sam I Am 2007-05-17 02:35PM | 0 recs
Grist founder Chip Miller on Obama

Grist CEO and founder Chip Giller on Obama: "Dave gives Obama's speech short shrift. I would argue that this speech -- taking it to the automakers on their home turf, apparently to some applause -- is a big-time deal. The same could be said of the speech what Dave wrote in starry-eyed fashion when the outlines of the TXU deal became public: "The 'tipping point' concept is cheap from overuse these days, but to me this is the clearest sign yet that we have entered a fundamentally new stage in the fight against global warming."

Sure, the policy recommendations behind the speech may not be the boldest out there, but can you imagine a presidential candidate giving this speech even a year ago, let alone at this point in 2003? In 1999, Gore was running as hard as he could from Earth-in-the-Balance-like proclamations like this one by Obama today: "The auto industry's refusal to act for so long has left it mired in a predicament for which there is no easy way out."

http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/5/ 7/161547/8208

So Grist's view on Obama isn't as clear as you would have us believe.

OT: It would be nice if MyDD had some HTML shortcuts in the comments like TalkLeft, FireDogLake, TPM Cafe, etc.

by joejoejoe 2007-05-17 02:50PM | 0 recs
On May 3 ... but in January ...

... he was an original co-sponsor of McCain-Leiberman.

Of course, Hillary co-sponsored McCain-Lieberman before the end of January, and she co-sponsored Sanders-Boxer on the same day as Obama.

So it would seem they prefer a 65% cap by 2050 with up to 30% offsets from outside and heavy subsidies to the nuclear industry, but if that's not available they will be willing to support the approach rated best by the National Resources Council as a back up.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-17 07:48PM | 0 recs
"The sky is falling"

> If we don't deal with this now, our civilization is over.

Its clear that if we don't deal with it there will be some consequences, but saying that "our civilization will be over" is more than a little over the top.

In fact, like most things, poor and developing countries will bear the brunt, while the relatively affluent will be able to use their wealth to mitigate the consequences.

by Alan 2007-05-17 02:38PM | 0 recs
Re: "The sky is falling"

I agree - it's unnecessarily sensationalistic.  There are lots of other superlatives to choose from, just choose another one you like.

The climate will be very, very different in 100 years, but our civilization will keep going, albeit at a much lower rate of productivity due to the additional challenges.  The engineer in me knows that, even if the skies are darkened, we'll still have TV shows, a national electric grid, and interstate highways in 2107.

by aip 2007-05-17 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: "The sky is falling"

Engineers tend to neglect surprises.

You think an engineer living in say 1895 would be able to predict TV shows, interstate highways, or global warming today?

by adamterando 2007-05-17 06:42PM | 0 recs
Re: "The sky is falling"
"If we don't deal with it now, our civilization is over."

Sensationalism? With regard to global warming, and sustainability in general, relative catastrophe remains an outlier perspective, but that isn't sufficient to qualify it as sensationalism.

I think we're in for some pretty unexpected and severe challenges over the next 1-3 generations, and many people will be wishing we'd given more consideration to non-business-as-usual expectations, particularly global warming, but also post-global-peak-oil production decline coinciding with post-North-American-natural-gas decline scenarios, which likely will accelerate the global warming trend by shift to coal.

There are ample reality-based indicators (energy; global warming) to give these scenarios credence.

--
Are Humans Smarter Than Yeast? (video clip: 8.5min)

by Akonitum 2007-05-17 03:48PM | 0 recs
Not 'Western Civilization' ...

... American Suburban Civilization. The Euros will get through a bit battered and bruised, but without any serious threat to European civilization.

That most definitely will be over ... the drive to the shopping mall, the dropping the kids off to soccer practice and karate lessons ... its all going to fall over.

Hopefully we will have a new approach to civilization to take the place of an Asphalt Nation.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-17 07:50PM | 0 recs
Obama and Coal

Unfortunately Senator Obama's position on coal is worse than centrist.

One can make a decent argument for using coal to generate electricity if it is accompanied by carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)assuming CCS becomes a proven technology, both scientifically and financially.

However Senator Obama is also a co-sponsor of legislation to develop the infrastructure to make coal-to-liquid fuel. This position is totally at odds with achieving large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

It is blatantly inconsistent to proclaim support for action to protect the planet from global warming while also supporting coal-to-liquids. Even if carbon is captured and sequestered during the production of transportion fuel from coal, the carbon dioxide that would come out of the tailpipes of cars and trucks when that fuel is burned adds large amounts of new carbon to the atmosphere.

Coal is big in southern Illinois but Obama cannot have it both ways. Either he supports strong action against climate change or he doesn't. His support for coal-to-liquids would suggest he is trying to have it both ways. That is not good enough.

by Patrick Kennedy 2007-05-17 02:41PM | 0 recs
Obama's comments:

Obama, who is sponsoring separate legislation to cap carbon dioxide emissions, said his support for coal fuel depended on finding a way to remove the greenhouse gases emitted in production.

"If it is used simply to compound the problem of greenhouse gases, then it's not going to be a credible strategy," he said.

The bill does not require that the fuel be produced without increasing greenhouse gas emissions, though it does offer tax incentives to encourage the use of technology that captures carbon dioxide.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/ nation/la-na-coal10may10,0,7769228,full. story?coll=la-home-center

by rashomon 2007-05-17 03:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's comments:

The bill does not require that the fuel be produced without increasing greenhouse gas emissions, though it does offer tax incentives to encourage the use of technology that captures carbon dioxide.

... and remember, this carbon sequestration for liquid fuels from coal is supposed to be in the cars that we are driving around.

Its a tenuous enough proposition for a fixed electric plant ... imagining carbon sequestration in the medium term future of fuel burned in cars and trucks is starting to get out into la la loonie territory.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-17 07:53PM | 0 recs
Haha, fantastic! Once again reality intrude

on the Obama bashers.

Don't let the facts hit you in the face.

by Populism2008 2007-05-18 01:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama and Coal

And what about John Edwards position:

Maximize the Potential of Cleaner, Safer Coal: Coal will be an important source of U.S. and global electricity for decades, but it is responsible for more than 30 percent of America's carbon dioxide emissions. Edwards will invest $1 billion a year to research ways to burn coal cleanly and recycle its carbon underground permanently.

. . .Two large power companies, TXU and American Electric Power, recently announced plans to build experimental plants to capture carbon.

by lovingj 2007-05-17 05:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama and Coal

I prefer Obama to Edwards, but this definitely misses the point.  

There's a difference between supporting clean coal technology, which is designed to make the coal we burn for electricity pollute less and subsidies to develop a whole new way to use coal, as liquid fuel to replace oil.  One tries to make cleaner something we already do (and will not stop doing for a long time).  The other creates a new market for a polluting technology and doesn't try to make it cleaner.

Let's be fair about doling out criticism where it's due.  And on this one, Obama is on the wrong side.  Now, I argue below that it's not as big a deal as Matt makes it out to be, but still...it's a problem.

by Baldrick 2007-05-17 05:33PM | 0 recs
No difference between Edwards and Obama

Obama, who is sponsoring separate legislation to cap carbon dioxide emissions, said his support for coal fuel depended on finding a way to remove the greenhouse gases emitted in production.

"If it is used simply to compound the problem of greenhouse gases, then it's not going to be a credible strategy," he said.

The bill does not require that the fuel be produced without increasing greenhouse gas emissions, though it does offer tax incentives to encourage the use of technology that captures carbon dioxide.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/ nation/la-na-coal10may10,0,7769228,full. story?coll=la-home-center

by Populism2008 2007-05-18 01:44AM | 0 recs
Re: No difference between Edwards and Obama

Um, this has nothing to do with what I was talking about.  In fact, I made this very point below.  But here we're talking about the supposed similarities between Edwards push for clean coal and Obama's for CTL.  That's all.  

by Baldrick 2007-05-18 08:17AM | 0 recs
Yes, difference between Edwards and Obama.

From above:

The bill does not require that the fuel be produced without increasing greenhouse gas emissions

From Edwards site: Calls For Ban On New Coal Plants Lacking Technology To Capture Carbon Dioxide Emissions.

"Does not call for ban" and "calls for ban" are not the same, ergo, they are different.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-18 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama and Coal

And also, the "incentive" to adopt the technology is a ban on establishment of any new coal power plants unless they successfully incorporate no carbon emissions technology.

Calls For Ban On New Coal Plants Lacking Technology To Capture Carbon Dioxide Emissions

"Just a bit" stronger than Obama and Clinton's approach of giving permission to commit new power generation capacity to the emission of CO2 but to pay a subsidy as an incentive is they are willing to adopt so-called "clean coal" technology.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-17 07:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama and Coal

Obama is consistent in this -- his style is to work with both sides of an issue to reach some agreement where both sides believe they've come out with what they want.  The problem is that in true mediation, both sides need to feel that they have both given up some elements on an equal basis.

by edgery 2007-05-17 05:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama and Coal


Wow, that is an extremely silly position given the circumstances.

Would you comprimise with Hitler and meet him half way?

by adamterando 2007-05-17 06:45PM | 0 recs
It certainly works better in ...

... negotiations between two parties of equal standing than in working out the correct compromise to strike between doing right and doing wrong.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-17 08:00PM | 0 recs
Re: It certainly works better in ...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-gut tman/general-wesley-clark-make_b_48721.h tml

General Wesley Clark Makes Sense: Should He Run For President?

Should General Clark enter an already-crowded Democratic field? Why not!

We need to do a lot less threatening and more listening to people in the world," stated General Wesley Clark yesterday as the keynote speaker at our Johns Hopkins University SAIS Center on Politics and Foreign Relations breakfast.

Citing poll after poll indicating how America's standing in the world has sunk further and further because of the Iraq War, the former valedictorian of his graduating class at West Point, remarked, "America has lost legitimacy around the world."

http://www.sais-jhu.edu/

http://www.sais-jhu.edu/pubaffairs/media _events/Media_Advisories/MA2007/wesleycl ark050807.html

audio

http://www.sais-jhu.edu/mp3_player/wesle yclark051607.htm

Wes Clark: SAIS 5/16

Excerpts:

I am here on a serious and sober topic, I want to talk about restoring legitimacy, as a first order of business towards a new American strategy.
The truth is that the military power is just one element in a complex array of factors that influences the behavior of other nations, states and other people. Military power may not always be the most significant factors it may even at times be counter-productive.

But for the United States of America, if we aim to succeed in the world today, it won't be by wiping out populations, it will be by changing peoples minds and changing government policies.

I know there's a few thousand or maybe tens of thousands out there, who are impervious to logic, reason and making moral communication. But there are hundreds of millions, billions out there who watch the United States. They observe our actions in the world, they hear our rhetoric they're not committed enemies but they're not necessarily our friends either. And if we want to succeed in the world we've got to win over these people at least to the legitimacy of our aims and purposes.

by dearreader 2007-05-18 02:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

"If we don't deal with this [glogal warming] now, our civilization is over.  It's that simple."

That is absurd.  Many bad things will happen.  Mass starvation of mostly poor people, species extinctions, disappearance of Bangldash and Holland and many people will lose their vacation homes.

For the wealthy west we will be inconvenienced, but civilization will survive.  I agree with the main point that this is an issue that must be dealt with now, but hyperbole adds notion.

by syvanen 2007-05-17 03:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Yeah, because a bit of hyperbole is a massive deal when we're talking about millions dead, the Sahel turning into the Sahara, the total collapse of global trade, the Third World having yet another reason to despise the West as a concrete entity, London, major cities from London to Shanghai being swamped and Hurricane Katrinas on a yearly basis.

Civilisation may not end, but I think you're being overoptimistic to say it will survive. The civil disorder these disasters will cause and the social strife scarcer and hence more expensive fuel will cause quite enough trouble to make the civilisation of our great-grandchildren quite different from our own.

by Englishlefty 2007-05-17 04:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Also, what a lot of people aren't lookin at - especially the rightwing assholes - is the mass migration of those from the equatorial regions of the world to the north.  Once you see regular 130 degree highs in South America, millions upon millions will flood north just to survive.  Long before cities like Phoenix become abandoned, places in Latin America already will be:  with mass migration to the United States.  

The same will happen in Europe, Eurasia, etc.  The worst refugee problem in history.

This seems pretty serious to me.  But maybe I'm just a chicken little.

by jgarcia 2007-05-17 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

The deal-killer isn't in any of the Presidential candidates' "plans" -- because they really don't matter all that much.

What matters is legislation that gets through Congress AND THEN is signed by the President.

Unfortunately for planet earth, a guy named John Dingell is never going to let the changes happen that need to happen.  His incrementalism on mileage standards is what will sink us.  (The transportation sector is by far the biggest user of oil and biggest emitter of GHGs, and it's share of GHG emissions is forecast to grow.)

So prattle on all you want about the Presidential candidates and their plans...but can anyone show me the one that says "here's how I'm going to get auto-industry-funded Democrats in Michigan to support this?"

by willy mugobeer 2007-05-17 03:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Dingell can't stick around much longer, can he?

by jallen 2007-05-17 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

One wouldn't think so, but look at Robert Byrd...

In any case, his wife Deborah (who's a 30-year GM employee) is waiting in the wings.

by willy mugobeer 2007-05-17 04:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

I think MyDD hyperventilates a little too often.  Obama probably just wanted to get on the record supporting CTL because the support of Downstate labor is pretty crucial to Illinois politicians.  Illinois is to coal what Detroit is the auto industry.  No one is immune to special interests in their state.  That being said, this bill is extremely unlikely to pass, and Obama probably knows that.

No one who runs for president is going to be a saint.  Everyone has sops to special interests in the Senate.  I'd expect any Democratic President to enact similar environmental policies.  The consensus will continue to build over the next couple years.  Let's wait until real bills are actually being put forward.

by dmfox 2007-05-17 03:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Are you as consistent in your analysis when the person being analyzed in Sen Clinton?

by jgarcia 2007-05-17 03:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

It depends on the issue.  Clinton and Schumer have both supported legislation favorable to Wall Street, which is understandable.  I'd have a hard time believing that Clinton's war vote was to serve New York's interests though.

by dmfox 2007-05-18 07:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

"Obama probably just wanted to get on the record supporting CTL because the support of Downstate labor is pretty crucial to Illinois politicians."

No it isn't.

by adamterando 2007-05-17 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Back before the Illinois Republican Party imploded a few years ago, it was.  If the Republicans do put up credible candidates, downstate voters usually swing the election.  Chicago is Democratic, the suburbs are Republican (although they are trending D).

by dmfox 2007-05-18 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

yeah, he really needed to cater to all these groups because he sooo needed them to win, running against Alan Keyes and all.

by jgarcia 2007-05-17 07:08PM | 0 recs
Well, the criticism is unfounded to begin with:

Obama, who is sponsoring separate legislation to cap carbon dioxide emissions, said his support for coal fuel depended on finding a way to remove the greenhouse gases emitted in production.

"If it is used simply to compound the problem of greenhouse gases, then it's not going to be a credible strategy," he said.

The bill does not require that the fuel be produced without increasing greenhouse gas emissions, though it does offer tax incentives to encourage the use of technology that captures carbon dioxide.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/ nation/la-na-coal10may10,0,7769228,full. story?coll=la-home-center

by Populism2008 2007-05-18 01:49AM | 0 recs
You keep posting this like it means something.

Obama put forth a bill that supports CTL without requiring carbon sequestration. Edwards doesn't support spending a dime on coal without requiring carbon sequestration. That's a big difference.

by clarkent 2007-05-18 02:30AM | 0 recs
Re: You keep posting this like it means something.

Obama alsio put forth an amendement to taht bill that does require sequestration.

by dpg220 2007-05-18 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: You keep posting this like it means something.

Really? You got a cite for that? The amendment I've seen gives more money for carbon sequestration, but doesn't require it.

by clarkent 2007-05-18 07:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

I worry about Obama's lack of committment to environmental issues.  As a Senator from Illinois, he supported big coal.  People excuse it becuase he was from Illinois.  Yet he supposedly was "brave" in telling off automakers in Detroit.

Real political courage was for him not to carry liqufied coal for the coal companies.  

He's nothing new.  Just another centrist politician.  

by littafi 2007-05-17 04:32PM | 0 recs
grist likes richardson's plan...

it looks to me like grist likes richardson's plan the best.

by colorless green ideas 2007-05-17 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Nonsense? Not to defend Obama's coal stance (it's one of my least favorite things about him) But it's not like he's alone in supporting that. Other progressives like Brian
Schweitzer support coal and CTL. No one is perfect.

He wants to cut carbon 80% below 1990 levels via cap and trade.

He wants a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard that would make all transportation fuels sold in the U.S. contain 5 percent less carbon by 2015 and 10 percent less carbon by 2020. That's like taking over 30 million cars off the road in 2020.

Gas stations will now be eligible for tax credits for installing E85 ethanol refueling pumps, thanks to a law advocated by Barack Obama and Senator Jim Talent. That will lead the way for a infrastructure for cellulosic ethanol Senator Obama also sponsored an amendment that became law providing $40 million for commercialization of a combined flexible fuel vehicle/hybrid car within five years.

Obama and Chuck Grassley launched a Government Accountability Office investigation of big oil to see if they are fighting the installation of alternative fuel pumps. That investigation will be completed in April 2007.

He wants make CAFE higher. He's signed on to just about every CAFA higher bill there is.

He wants to use 1 percent of oil company profits to invest in renewable energy.

He's no Gore but he isn't the James Inhofe you're trying to make him sound like. The only candidate who's wildly different then others is Chris Dodd because he has the guts to call for a bold plan that will work. A carbon tax. Hillary will do what the polls say. Bill Richardson will push for the highest CAFE standards(that Dingell will block) and he'll say 90 not 80 percent reductions by 2050. He's also the best on Electric Cars. Edwards is the best on efficiency and some other things.

But really, none of them are going to be wildly different then each other. Dodd maybe. But none of them will be able to wildly make huge amounts of change which they are proposing.

Why? John Dingell and Mitch Mcconnell. They'll fight anything that comes and unless we can unseat them we will never get anything major passed. Or we could just elect a super-majority and render them useless but that's unlikely to happen.

by Populista 2007-05-17 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Yet again we see that St. Obama is in the right of it...Matt is wrong, wrong, wrong ad nauseam.

And to those who think the Matt's' comment about 'our civilisation being over...' you folks are really not paying attention.

Time is running out for centrist positions and those who support them.

Do you think recoverable oil reserves will last forever?

Have you checked one of the many websites which shows the change in coastline for every meter of sea level rise?

Have you read the news about icepack melting in Antarctica?

Or are you so enthralled with yer new Ipod or Zune that you just didn't notice?

by Pericles 2007-05-17 04:55PM | 0 recs
yawn

Give me a break. There are plenty of extremely reputable SCIENTISTS, e.g., Ray Kurzweil, Claude Allegre (Socialist MP in France, former major geologist), who are sick and tired of the "there won't be any economy, two days before the day after tomorrow!" Hollywoodization of global warming.

If you look at climatologists in general, after factoring out the subsidy-starved loons and energy industry shills, you will find some consensus: one, humans are the cause of some ambiguous amount of global warming. Two, the Stern Report, "the world is ending" hurricane predictions for both 2006 and 2007, and other hyperbole is scientifically unfounded, and a crass politicization of a scientific discipline. It's a big reason why Allegre and others renounced their prior support for political remedies of AGW.

"If we don't deal with this now, our civilization is over" is ridiculous.

by jforshaw 2007-05-17 05:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

The claim that "Obama's climate plan is nonsense" based solely on the CTL issue is absurd.

Let me be clear, CTL is bad, it's a shame that Obama  is supporting it, and I'd like him more if he didn't.  

That said, it's a very minor part of his energy strategy, and is not intended to deal with global warming.  It's targeted at oil dependence, which is a problem closely related but in some ways distinct from climate change.  If CTL ends up in its best-case scenario for emissions (about even with oil), it will be a net good because it will provide another source of fuel, allowing additional diversification, lessening our vulnerability to price shocks in one commodity, and reducing money sent to OPEC and other oil-producing countries.  It will also increase the price of coal for electricity (more demand, after all), which might help natural gas or renewables get a foot slightly further in the door.

Of course, the best case scenario is unlikely.  But one thing that could really help create the economic incentive for it is a comprehensive cap (or tax) on carbon, which Obama (and all the Democrats) supports.  Another thing about that cap, it will apply to CTL production so if it does pollute more, they'll have to pay through the nose for it and frankly, the whole enterprise will die if they can't make it clean.

None of that is the real point though.  That is this: what we do right now in terms of CO2 pollution really matters very little.  Climate change is caused by decades of action, not a year or two.  It's far more important to create a framework that will reduce emissions 80% by 2050 (just to pick some numbers) than to reduce by 2% right now.  

Of course, it's quite possible that the only way to get the former is to do the latter.  Possible, but honestly a lot less likely than you'd think.  There's a strong case to be made for setting up a framework that demands serious innovation in clean technologies AND diversifies our (admittedly dirty) options right now.  

If CTL was seen as part of the ANSWER to global warming, that would be a problem, but I don't think anyone sees it that way.  They see it as a short-to-medium-term mitigator of the effects of the coming oil peak, and as a technology that will obliterated by the long-term shift to a carbon-reducing economy.

Now, I will be the first to admit that all of this depends on your belief that Obama would work to get those long-term innovation programs going: subsidies for renewables, better efficiency standards on appliances, a carbon cap or tax, etc.   If you think he won't, then you might be right than his plan is "nonsense."  But if you believe (as I do) that any Democratic candidate will be very similar in terms of their devotion to this issue (with the possible exception that Richardson might be more hard-nosed about it), then the shuffling around of subsidies now is unfortunate but of relatively little importance.

Like I said, I don't like CTL, I think it's a waste of time and money that ought to be going to hydrogen, hybrids, and putting some SERIOUS money into mass transit (one of the most important energy issues that no one seems to talk about), but in the grand scheme of things I just can't get too worked up about it.

by Baldrick 2007-05-17 05:27PM | 0 recs
A greater concern than coal

is his (and Clinton's) support for growing and subsidizing nuclear power:

http://www.taylormarsh.com/archives_view .php?id=25462

http://dominantreality.blogspot.com/2007 /04/critical-difference-emerge-between.h tml

I can see how some would think this might be a good way out of energy dependence and be emission free, but its really the wrong direction. We've already learned our lessons on nuclear power by now; Yucca is a good example of that.

by okamichan13 2007-05-17 05:34PM | 0 recs
Re: A greater concern than coal

The French do very well with Nuclear Power - Most of America's power plants are OLD. America itself is hesitant because of Cold War anxiety.

by sepulvedaj3 2007-05-17 05:44PM | 0 recs
Its more than the cold war

The US has a very bad history of collusion between the industry and the government to the detriment of citizens.

We need to make a serious effort towards new energy sources that are clean, safe and sustainable.

by okamichan13 2007-05-17 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: A greater concern than coal

And because it's incredibly expensive if it's to be done safely.  Way too expensive.  And the supply of fuel would still be limited.

by jallen 2007-05-17 07:35PM | 0 recs
Re: A greater concern than coal

Nuclear Power does not give off any emissions.  Yes, there is the problem of nuclear waste, but it is an acceptable biproduct when compared to the consequences of climate change.  Frankly, I think the opposition of environmentalists to nuclear power is stupid and dangerous.

by dmfox 2007-05-18 07:51AM | 0 recs
Acceptable biproduct

okay, now that is quite a statement - the nuclear industry would love that framing. I doubt even they are bold enough to use those words.

by okamichan13 2007-05-18 11:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

" don't know anything about Clinton's plan"

Maybe because you havent looked?
HRC:
Co Sponsor -The Clean Power Act

Introduced -Coordinated Environmental Health Network Act. Will reintroduce again - expand bio-monitoring work to determine which chemicals are accumulating in our bodies-

Wants to start a $50 Billion Strategic Energy fund for an Apollo Like Project (Except she advocated this in February of 2007)
See details for her plan here
HRC's plan is much more detailed than what was released today by Richardson.

Then theres always the Bill Clinton factor and his new experiment starting with 11 Cities and expanding from there.

by sepulvedaj3 2007-05-17 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

I was very excited to read about Bill Clinton's 11 Cities plan (Chicago is one of them!).  An Apollo like project is definitely needed.  HRC seems to have gotten ahead on this one.  I'll have to read up on Edwards' and Obama's plans as well.

by dmfox 2007-05-18 08:04AM | 0 recs
by Michael Hurta 2007-05-17 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist: Richardson is Best

It seems a fair analysis. He raised the ante on every part of Edwards plan, except for collecting $10b annually for the carbon credits for the New Energy Economy fund.

Which means that he is one step ahead of Edwards plan on every point except one, where he chickens out on building a sustained New Energy Economy research establishment in favor of an unsecified one-time R&D fund.

At this point, unless Edwards counters in the one area where his plan has a hole (that is, providing the finance to put already existing energy efficient transport technology in place), the Grist analysis seems correct ... Richardson's plan looks best, followed closely by Edward's.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-17 08:10PM | 0 recs
Accept Richardson's looks a bit fake

it looks almost too much like Edwards, like he took a look at it and said "okay, raise this by 10, decrease this by 10, etc etc" and viola. Based on Richardson's incrementalist approaches elsewhere on the home front, it seems a bit hard to swallow.

by okamichan13 2007-05-18 11:46AM | 0 recs
On the other hand, this was always supposed to ...

... be "his" issue, so when Edwards laid down the gauntlet, Richardson pretty much had to top him. And he had to top him on enough specific points to cover over the fact that he has no ongoing funding for a New Energy Economy fund, because he thinks the ongoing funding that will establish an ongoing supply line of New Energy Economy research and, even more importantly, researchers, just somehow isn't right.

The thing is, we have that ongoing research into weapons, and that's the one area where we are way ahead of the competition. I don't see why we shouldn't be way ahead of the competition in an area with massive peacetime economic benefits.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-18 12:36PM | 0 recs
Thats why I wonder how real it is

he seems very averse to anything hinting of requiring ongoing funding or possibly being viewed as some sort of taxation, in line with his comments on health care and taxes in general. Its consistent in that way I guess but it seems a bit short-sighted and doesnt match the audacity of his stated goals.

by okamichan13 2007-05-18 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Thats why I wonder how real it is

I wonder if it is more an allergy to the rhetoric than a concern for balanced budgets, since after all his plan specifies tax credits, without saying how they will be funded.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-18 04:25PM | 0 recs
Public Transport

Though public transport is not officially part of the plan, I was also glad to hear it in Richardson's environment speech.  It is such an important issue, and its a very good thing he realizes it.

With some in the executive (cough*John Culberson*cough)making it harder for cities like my hometown of Houston to get a decent public transport system, it is nice to see someone running for the top national job to see that the need for more efficient transit is huge.  I know that in Houston we have way too many cars.

by Michael Hurta 2007-05-17 08:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Public Transport

I agree.  I haven't read Richardson's plan yet, but focus on public transport is long overdue.

Also, a highspeed rail network should be brought to the fore.  The potential for emissions savings on this is huge.  I believe trains in France now approach 300 mph at their top speeds.  A topnotch highspeed rail network in the US would eliminate the need for medium distance airtravel.  I know the airline and auto lobbies would be dead set against this, but I do believe that is would be an effective way to cut carbon from jets and cars.

by dmfox 2007-05-18 08:02AM | 0 recs
Been saying this for months......

BO is Elmer Gantry, selling his miracle on the campaign trail.

should disabuse all of us of the notion that Obama represents a new kind of politics or is a progressive.  He's not.  At this point, he's just another centrist candidate pushing incrementalist policies.  There's no there there.

by dkmich 2007-05-18 01:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

I'm an Obama supporter, but one area of Obama's climate change proposal that should not be taken seriously is his pledge to cut carbon by 80% by 2050.  It seems to me that he's just throwing out a date, distant in the future, to meet a goal that actually needs to be met earlier.  2050 is not realistic.  It's put out there to sound serious on global warming without actually doing anything.

If Obama accompanies this strategy with binding benchmarks set every few years, it would be a serious proposal.  Now though, I don't think it is.

by dmfox 2007-05-18 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

I checked the Obama site again.  His policy is pretty incrementalist.  4% annual raises in fuel efficiency standards is a nice start, as is funding for hybrids, and cutting down carbon in gasoline. His stern talk to Detroit automakers was also pretty bold. However, Edwards and Richardson's proposals are much more serious, in-depth, and international in scope.  Hopefully, Obama elaborates a more comprehensive policy.  The prominence of E85, Ethanol, Biodiesel and CTL in his plan is frankly ridiculous.

by dmfox 2007-05-18 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Look, some very intelligent people believe that not only is it okay to set a long-term cap without any specific short-term requirements, some of them think it's better to do that.

The reason is that whatever we do over the next 5 years is just fiddling at the edges - the important thing is how much CO2 is allowed to accumulate over the decades and centuries.  Which means the most important thing is innovation, not stop-gap measures to meet short-term targets.

Given the extremely long replacement cycles for many kinds of energy production, the important thing is making it clear that we need new large-scale applications of renewables ready to take over.  With a long lead-in, companies will be able to devote their energy to fundamentally changing the way energy is produced.  with a short lead-in, they'll be constantly jerry-rigging their systems to meet the current caps and a lot of money and time that could have gone into innovation might be lost.

At the very least, it's an argument for building innovation waivers into a shorter term cap.

But still, even if you don't agree with these arguments, enough people are making them that it doesn't render Obama's (or any of the other candidates') plan not "serious."

by Baldrick 2007-05-18 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

This is also, by the way, why I think it's incredibly important that a Democrat win, but I'm not all that any specific one does.  The important thing is to get a framework in place - what framework exactly matters less than simply having one.

And then the important task is to lock it in socially and culturally so that a new administration can mess around with it.  Beginning to fix the problem over the next decade won't ultimately matter very much if a GOP president comes in and wipes away the policies.  It needs to have institutional staying power that will last beyond one person.

This is also a reason why Gore might very well be right that he can do more outside of the Presidency than he could inside.  He wants to build a political culture that demands serious engagement on this issue less than he cares about instituting a particular policy in the next few years.

by Baldrick 2007-05-18 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

I definitely agree.  I made a similar argument further down the thread.  However, I do believe it is important to spell out a comprehensive framework to tackle the problem.  I don't doubt Obama is serious about global warming.  However, his plan devotes more space to E85, Biodiesel, and CTL than to a systemic, national, well funded plan to cut carbon.

As an Obama supporter, I hope he takes the cue from Richardson and Edwards, who have much more detailed and in-depth plans right now.

by dmfox 2007-05-18 08:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Fair enough.  I think we're pretty much in the same boat - Obama supporters who would like to see him do better on climate.  

by Baldrick 2007-05-18 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Look, some very intelligent people believe that not only is it okay to set a long-term cap without any specific short-term requirements, some of them think it's better to do that.

The reason is that whatever we do over the next 5 years is just fiddling at the edges - the important thing is how much CO2 is allowed to accumulate over the decades and centuries. ...

The problem with long-term goals without any specific short-term requirement is that instead of getting started doing something, they are just a promise to do something in the future ... in some respects, a promise to do something after the end of even an eight year Presidency.

On the other hand, capping carbon emissions at 2010 levels, and then bringing them down by 14% by 2020, means they start to actually take effect during the administration that proposes the policy, so they do not have the same excuse to leave the political fight to the next administration.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-18 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

I already said this.  

The problem with short term goals is that they interfere with actual effective innovation.

These two things are at loggerheads.  Do you have a solution?  If not, do you mean to imply that short-term goals are definitely good?

by Baldrick 2007-05-18 07:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

First, it should be noted that discussing things in terms of the effects of "long term goals" and "short term goals" sui generis is so vague as to be nearly meaningless.

Second, it should be noted that in most case, biases or normal tendencies of a particular decision horizon are just as readily something to be aware of in order to be able to offset as something that affects the choice of decision horizon.

So, with those two points read, and talking about goals for CO2 emissions in particular, a long term goal for CO2 emission has to to include immediate incremental steps toward that goal that take effect in the near term future.

And, no, doing that does not interfere with actual effective innovation ... the long term goal with incremental steps to that goal taking effect in the near term future will drive innovation far more effectively than a long term goal with no binding short term increment.

The issue that has to be understood with CO2 emission and technological change is that we must not merely engage in research and development within one or more existing technological tracks ... but rather, we must in fact establish multiple new technological tracks.

And the process of establishing a new technological track requires incentives to get out of existing technological tracks and explore what has been to date lightly explored technological terrain.

Early across-the-board incentives to engage in that exploration encourages a wider diversity of exploratory technological development, and that increases the opportunities to develop new technological tracks that are suited to the New Energy Economy that we need to develop.

This is why it is worrying that Obama is willing to be an original co-sponsor of McCain-Lieberman. Not only does its long term goal fall short of the current IPCC consensus ... making it that much more difficult to revise the goal downward when the consensus shifts further down ... but it includes up to 30% offsets from outside the cap. Those offsets mean a substantial delay in the cap becoming binding, and therefore a delay until the CO2 emission permits start to act as an effective incentive to explore lower CO2 emission technologies.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-19 05:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Grist and Climate Politics

Points well taken.  I don't really disagree with anything you've said, with the possible exception that I do think if a clear political consensus was established, and a binding requirement was created for a harsh long-term cap on emissions, there's some chance it would be more effective than a strategy that micromanaged.  

Now, that's dependent on getting the preconditions, which are not easy, and it also depends a lot on what short-term strategies are employed.  I'm not convinced a strict cap by 2020 that didn't make allowances for innovation strategies would be ideal (though of course it would be better than nothing), but targeted efficiency requirements for things like appliances, R&D for alternative technologies, etc. - strategies which aim to change the framework for evaluating energy policy - certainly should be supplemental to ANY effective strategy.

by Baldrick 2007-05-20 11:27AM | 0 recs
I don't think any of the cap and reduce ...

... systems micromanage ... they set a medium and long term target, and then pretty much straight line the annual caps to get to the targets.

More important than the decision horizon is the difference between selecting specific "winners" and setting outcome goals, with individual stakeholders working out how they get to those outcomes.

I'm happy to see some of Edwards $13b annual New Energy R&D fund set aside to political boondoggles ... as long as the boondoggles get a dedicated fund, as opposed to competing with the real solutions for money, and the majority of the R&D spending goes to real New Energy Economy R&D.

After all, if we ask whether actual New Energy Economy R&D will have enough of a payoff to carry a 30% boondoggle overhead, I'm confident that the answer is "yes".

But I will start to get nervous if the political boondoggles are penciled in for more than half the fund.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-20 12:06PM | 0 recs

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