Environment and Energy
Back in May, the EPA surprised a lot of people when they gave the greenlight to 42 out of the 48 permits for mountaintop-removal mining that were under review, saying that none of the approved projects "would permanently impact high-value streams that flow year-round." Many environmentalists have grumbled that the practice of blowing up mountains to get at the minerals underneath should be stopped altogether, and the move was a warning that the Obama administration might chicken out of its green agenda. But yesterday’s announcement was a sign that a permanent change might well be in the works:
Here's a novel way of looking at China's greenhouse-gas emissions: Nicholas Stern, the British author of an acclaimed review on climate change, told students in Beijing’s People’s University that 13 Chinese provinces, regions and cities had higher per capita emissions than France. Six also overtook Britain. "There are many parts of China where emissions intensity and emissions per capita are looking much like some of the richer countries in Europe," he said in a speech that laid out his predictions on global warming. Good point.
Now that Chris Dodd has decided to keep his chairmanship of the Senate banking committee, it looks like Tom Harkin will leave his agriculture post to go take Ted Kennedy's former spot atop the HELP committee. To the dismay of a lot of food-policy reformers, this means the more conservative Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas will be next in line for the Ag Committee gavel (there are more senior members on that committee, but they all have other, more powerful chairmanships already). It's not unreasonable to ask if this will really make a big difference as far as agricultural policy's concerned.
The Washington Post takes stock of Obama's environmental record to date and finds it pretty lackluster. I don't quite agree.
Sure it hasn't been any sort of stroll in the park trying to enact climate-change legislation here in the United States. But it's not like we're uniquely stubborn on this front. Keith Johnson tells the sordid tale of what happened when Nicolas Sarkozy proposed a modest—and revenue-neutral—carbon tax in France this summer: In reality, France’s carbon tax is basically just a gasoline tax—and a tiny one at that. The electricity sector, overwhelmingly powered by emissions-free nuclear power, isn’t part of the plan, Prime Minister Francois Fillon told Le Figaro.
By now it's stale news that Van Jones resigned on Saturday night, but I did want to link to Marc Ambinder's wrap-up of the whole affair. It's a thoughtful take, and I think he gets the main questions more or less right: on why the White House wasn't going to spend its time defending a low-level adviser like Jones, and on why this affair simply won't give Glenn Beck the momentum he needs to hound out the rest of his favorite bogeymen in the administration, like Cass Sunstein or John Holdren. (Although that won't stop Beck from trying.)
I am loathe to think that one solution to the problem of the credibility of bankers and the banking system is prison. Yes, I know Bernie Madoff is in prison and there are a few more Ponzi schemers who will join him there.
Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Ball discovers there are people who don’t want renewable energy projects going up in their backyards—the "new NIMBYs," he calls them, fueling a "backlash" against solar and wind plants. But Ball only tells one side of this story. It is true that in some places, people aren’t excited about wind turbines on their ridgelines; he even quotes a couple of them. So did The New York Times, back in 2006—the people raising a ruckus about these sorts of projects may be NIMBYs, but they’re hardly new.