WASHINGTON—Bill McKibben might be an optimist.
But he isn’t delusional enough to think that what he’s billing as the first planetary art show centered on climate change will cause world leaders to suddenly hug, then break into a verse or two of Kumbaya while signing a treaty that slices greenhouse gas pollutants to scientifically recommended levels.
He’s cognizant that the march toward meaningful, binding action on taming carbon dioxide is a painfully sluggish slog.
“Every movement that has ever been successful has appealed to people’s emotions and reason,” the founder of the advocacy organization 350.org tells SolveClimate News in an interview from his Vermont home. “It is necessary if we’re ever going to get anything done in Washington or anywhere else. We need to build support to force recalcitrant actors to act.”
WASHINGTON—Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s single-handed effort to stall the EPA’s newest initiative to curb heat-trapping gases could fade away if a vote isn’t shoehorned into an already jam-packed and topsy-turvy lame duck session that began Monday.
Months ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had promised the Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia that his proposal would gain floor time. But this week the Nevadan appeared to backpedal on that pledge.
“We are at a critical time here,” Reid told The Hill newspaper Tuesday, the same day he and Rockefeller were scheduled for a strategy meeting. “It is real hard just to say ‘yeah, we can do this,’ because we have limited time to go through all the procedural motions. But if there is a way we can do it, I will be happy to work with him.”
Understandably, the measure Rockefeller introduced in March has environmental organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council on edge.
WASHINGTON—It turns out there is more than one way to stir up the color purple on the post-midterm elections paint palette.
Look, for instance, to Colorado and Pennsylvania for variations on that hue.
While geographically distant, the two political battleground states share numerous characteristics. Both supply bountiful energy resources—Colorado with coal, oil, natural gas and uranium, Pennsylvania with coal and natural gas—and are split between urban progressives with a wide green streak and rural conservatives who tend to be more leery of environmental initiatives.
And until Election Day, both states had bold Democrats in their respective governor’s mansions who are disciples of renewable energy, clean technology and low-carbon economies. However, results from Nov. 2 indicate that while that legislative momentum likely remains intact in Colorado, it could backslide in Pennsylvania.
WASHINGTON—Call it Bill Richardson’s last green hurrah.
Even though cap-and-trade measures were maligned as poison for the tottering economy during the midterm election cycle, New Mexico’s Democratic governor is finally able to boast that his state has endorsed such a method for slicing global warming pollutants.
Fittingly, it was Election Day when a regulatory body named the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board voted 4-3 to approve a controversial and relatively aggressive plan to restrict greenhouse gases beginning in 2012. The New Mexico Department of Environment–backed policy requires major polluters such as coal-fired power plants and the oil and gas industry to curb carbon dioxide emissions 2 percent per year until 2020.
But with Republican governor-elect Susana Martinez opposed to the initiative, will Richardson’s joy be short-lived?
WASHINGTON—Now that Republicans will be calling the shots in the House, the Democratic duo responsible for crafting the polemical cap-and-trade energy legislation are on their way out of powerful positions.
Rep. Henry Waxman of California will lose his chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts will no longer head up the Select Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee. The latter committee, formed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in 2007, might be disbanded by Republican leaders.
On Nov. 2, both Democrats were re-elected to what will be their 19th terms in the 112th Congress. Compared with Waxman, the three Republicans now jockeying to lead the energy committee have “radically different scores” for their environmental voting records from the League of Conservation Voters, said Gene Karpinski, president of the advocacy organization.
The California Democrat has earned a lifetime score of 91 on a scale of 100 from the league.
WASHINGTON—Environmental organizations fearful of being blamed for Tuesday’s devastating Democratic losses trotted out a poll they say shows support for cap-and-trade legislation did not contribute significantly to the defeat of House incumbents.
Those findings come from a survey of 1,000 voters who actually cast ballots in 83 battleground House districts nationwide. Washington, D.C.-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted the poll Nov. 1 and 2.
When voters who chose the Republican candidate were asked to name their biggest concern about the Democrat, only 1 percent cited an answer related to energy or cap and trade. When offered a list of six arguments that Republicans made against Democrats, 7 percent selected what the GOP mislabeled a “cap and tax.”
WASHINGTON—Smack-down. Shellacking. Drubbing. Pasting. Thrashing. Thumping. Trouncing. Walloping.
Indeed, there are as many words to describe what happened to the Democratic Congress during midterms Election Day as there are analysts to provide Wednesday-, Thursday-, and Friday-morning quarterbacking.
A group of seven environmental advocacy organizations presented one hypothesis to reporters Wednesday afternoon at the National Press Club, and it goes something like this: Energy policy—or lack of it—isn’t what caused voters to ditch enough Democrats to give the GOP a resounding majority in the House and more seats in the Senate. And they say they have the poll numbers to back it up. (Also see "Poll: Voters Say Economy, Not Energy, Motivated Ballot Decision")
“Obviously, [the elections] were a little disappointing because we did lose a lot of very good friends,” said League of Conservation Voters president Gene Karpinski, adding that jobs and the economy dominated voters’ decisions. “In state after state, some members who voted for clean energy legislation won and some lost.”
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia—Rep. Tom Perriello looked so buoyant and sounded so effervescent during his concession speech Tuesday night that backers not yet aware of the final election numbers might have thought the clean energy champion was headed back to a second term in Congress.
But in this third straight, independent-instigated “wave election,” voters booted Perriello and at least 60 other House Democrats out of office.
Though Democrats retained a slimmer Senate majority, the House turnabout erased significant pickups that Democrats made in 2006 and 2008. With the lower chamber flipping to the GOP, Ohio Republican John Boehner is in line to replace California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.
WASHINGTON—Democrats are not only more prone to think that global warming is happening but they are also much more apt to worry about it than independents and Republicans.
That partisan split emerged loud and clear when Yale University researchers crunched a separate set of numbers from an in-depth climate change study they released in mid-October. The prospect of a looming Election Day prompted the survey collaborators to examine what role politics play in attitudes toward global warming.
“We always go into our research with an open mind,” Anthony Leiserowitz, with the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, told SolveClimate News. “These results are not a surprise because it’s a phenomenon we’ve been witnessing for many years now.”
WASHINGTON—Republicans delight in skewering Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the GOP-turned-independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, as a political opportunist.
But what about his Republican opponent, Marco Rubio? Before becoming a climate change denier and darling of the Tea Party movement, the up-and-coming state legislator was intent on blazing a Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger–like green trail in the Sunshine State. That’s why the environmentally informed say Rubio is the candidate who changed his stripes to be elected to Florida’s open Senate seat.
“It’s purely politics,” California environmental adviser Terry Tamminen told InsideClimate News. “Rubio recognizes that if he wants to run as a Republican in a statewide race, he has to tack to the right. He is doing exactly what he feels he has to do and, frankly, probably holding his nose about it.”