Category Archives: Energy

On Ignoring Trump’s Tweets – Time to Attack GOP’s Bad Policy Proposals

It’s time for Democrats and others who do not support Trump’s proposed agenda and that of the GOP that now controls Congress, to start talking about the issues facing our country. Many of the programs and laws that progressives have put in place to help people and make America a better place to live are now  under threat of being reversed and lost.

It’s time to stop responding to Trump’s inane and diversionary tweets (and other comments) as Jack Shafer on Politico writes in a post entitled “Stop Being Trump’s Twitter Fool” As Shafer says:

“By this time you’d expect that people would have figured out when Donald Trump is yanking their chain and pay him the same mind they do phone calls tagged “Out of Area” by Caller ID. But, no. Like Pavlov’s dog, too many of us leap to object or correct the president-elect whenever he composes a deliberately provocative tweet …”

It’s time to refocus on America and protecting the advances made by Democrats over the years. Trump has dominated the media for the last year and a half with his reality TV show hype and rant. The media was taken in by it as well as the Democratic Party. He has snookered many Americans into voting for him based on short soundbites that says little about what he would do.

We do know however the broad outline based on years of right wing proposals in Congress and Trump seems to be in the their camp on most of these proposals. Have no doubt –  the agenda of the far right, the tea party and GOP conservatives will be advancing through Congress now with Trump winning the Presidency and Republicans controlling both the US House and US Senate. There is no sense that the Republicans will be restrained or reasonable in their moving forward. And there is no longer someone in the White House to veto their proposals.

It’s time to now aggressively go on the offense and work to change the discussion to where they are vulnerable. It’s time, for example,  to emphasize how they are threatening human health and our planet by proposing to ignore or reject the Paris Climate Agreement. We need to aggressively reduce carbon pollution, not work to produce more while enriching coal and oil companies and  generating more pollution. We need to shift to a post carbon economy.

Push them on the national minimum wage not being raised because of Republican opposition since 2009, stuck at $7.25 and no automatic adjustment for inflation. The current minimum wage is a starvation wage, not a living wage. It is an affront to human dignity and decency and Republicans should be ashamed. Push for a $15/hour minimum wage.

Talk about how cutting taxes for the wealthy like the inheritance tax and income taxes is just going to further increase income inequality. The country more and more is a plutocracy where a wealthy few are running it. Electing a so called billionaire who has used the anger of working families to get elected by offering them change he never really defined is a recipe for being hoodwinked.

Talk about how their continuing to propose to privatize medicare and social security will hurt millions of low income people. That is not caring for working families – it is merely following the agenda of those that want to extract more profit for the few at the top of medical corporations and pharmaceutical companies. Health care is a human right and should not turn wage earners into pawns to extract money from to further enrich the wealthy.

Talk about how Democratic economic policies will help working families while Trump’s are focused on helping the already wealthy 1% and corporate America.

Talk about how to educate our children, not make schools into profit machines to enrich the few by using public money for private schools and charter schools.

The change we need is to talk about the impact of his proposed policies, not his personality since we’ve seen that is not effective even if what is said is true. Talk about how Democratic polices  make life better for working families while Republican policies have been a driving force for wealth creation by the 1% at the expense of the 99%.

It’s time to move forward  by emphasizing where the GOP and Trump are  not helping working families. Do this by proposing an aggressive agenda to raise the minimum wage, push for Green jobs and protect public health and safety and welfare from corporate greed.

If Congress won’t do this then work at the state and local level to push these issues and involve the public in building  support for voting the GOP out of Congress in 2 years and replacing them with Democrats who really are working to help the people of America.

It’s time to get to work!

Will Complacency and Progressives Let Trump Win the Presidency?

Michael Moore in his comments to Bill Maher at the Republican National Convention makes a strong point. Complacency by Democrats and independents who think Trump has no chance of winning and then not voting could tip the election to Trump.

Voter turnout has been going down in our elections as voters disengage. Progressives will contribute to this problem by not voting for Hillary and continuing to dwell on her negatively rather than looking at her pluses compared to Trump.

There is no way progressives win with a Trump victory. Progressives can put pressure on Hillary and Democrats in Congress if we take back the Senate and the House. Nothing will happen positively with a Trump win and Republicans holding both houses of Congress.

Some of us have lived through numerous Republican Administrations and seen the power of the presidency. And as President  Obama has shown the President does have the power to affect a lot of things despite not controlling Congress. including Supreme Court nominations and who gets appointed to run the Government and executive orders. But a President Trump combined with a Republican House and Senate would be a wipeout for Democratic programs and American society in general, reversing decades of progressive action.

We win by being involved, not by sitting on the sidelines and complaining or disengaging. Turnout for Protest votes like Brexit have consequences. Who turns out to vote can have tremendous impacts. Younger voters were expected to vote “remain” but voted in lower numbers than older voters.

The same impact of low voter turnout by particular groups supporting Democrats happened in the US in the 2014 Senate and Governor’s race resulting in the US Senate being taken over by the Republicans. As Sam Wang noted in his post in the American Prospect entitled “One reason the Democrats Lost So Big in Midterms:Exceptionally Low Voter Turnout”:

A larger question is why voter turnout hit a new post-World War II low. Compared with 2012, the number of votes cast dropped by about 42 percent. Democrats lacked a coherent message, de-emphasized their own policies in immigration and health care, and sidelined their highest-profile messenger, Barack Obama. Instead, issues such as Ebola and ISIS dominated the news. Relative media inattention to the election may have depressed turnout more than usual. These and other factors affecting turnout are inherently difficult for pollsters to anticipate. In 2014, the Midterm Curse, which this year afflicted both pollsters and Democrats, was in all likelihood caused by exceptional voter apathy.

Lower voter turnout by Democrats  this year could help Trump become President despite lagging in the polls. Some of the reasons for lower democratic voter turnout could include:

  • Lack of a strong motivating message by Democrats that Hillary will move forward strongly on addressing issues like income inequality, increasing job creation, opposing bad trade agreements, funding educational opportunities and expanding health care for all.
  • Progressives sit on the sidelines upset because Bernie Sanders was not nominated.
  • Progressives vote for a third party candidate like Jill Stein.
  • Democrats think there is no way someone like Trump can be elected and don’t bother to vote.
  • Young voters who supported Bernie Sanders become disenchanted and don’t vote.
  • Voter suppression efforts prevent enough Democratic voters from voting in key states
  • Progressives and others believe FOX News, Roger Ailes and other right wing media that Hillary is “evil” and don’t vote.
  • Progressives and others help spread the right wing message that Hillary is “evil” and cause others to not vote.
  • Conservatives continue to believe Trump represents the middle class rather than the 1% he really represents.

There can be other reasons also but the real challenge is convincing Democrats and independents that this election is a change election and that Hillary is the change agent. Put the blame for income inequality on Republican tax policy. Lowering taxes on the wealthy as Trump proposes will only make things worse.

Not raising the minimum wage means that more people may have jobs but can’t afford basic things like food and housing in the current economy. Trump and Pence oppose raising the minimum wage. Hillary has proposed significantly raising the minimum wage to $15/hr.

Trump and the Republicans oppose acting on climate change and support continued mining of coal for producing energy. Hillary proposes shifting to green jobs and renewable energy.

Hillary has proposed overturning Citizens United with a Constitutional Amendment to help get Big Money Out of Elections while Trump has been silent on this and Republicans oppose any changes.

These and other issues point to a clear difference in the direction the country would move under their Presidency. Hillary’s positions represent a significant change from the direction Trump wants to go and that Republicans have so far prevented us from going.  Elect Hillary and boot the Republicans out of Congress and the people of America can really move forward to a better American future for all, not just the 1%. That is real change!

Surprise – US Court Rules Kids Have a Constitutional Stake in the Future

A Federal Judge in Eugene, Oregon has confirmed the right of a group of plaintiffs representing young people to sue the Federal Government over its climate change policy.

As noted in a press release from Our Children’s Trust   entitled “Federal Court Affirms Constitutional Rights of Kids in Landmark Climate Case” that was posted on the website Common Dreams:

On April 8, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District Court in Eugene, OR, decided in favor of 21 young Plaintiffs, and Dr. James Hansen on behalf of future generations, in their landmark constitutional climate change case brought against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The Court’s ruling is a major victory for the 21 youth Plaintiffs, ages 8-19, from across the U.S. in what Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein call the “most important lawsuit on the planet right now.” These plaintiffs sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and their right to essential public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging, and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production, and combustion of fossil fuels.”

The case is significant in that the judge ruled that the young plaintiffs had standing to sue and that the outcome of the case would involve climate science. The central question will be a presentation of climate changes impacts  on the future of the young people and the responsibility of the Federal Government to act on behalf the public trust doctrine.

As Our Children’s Future noted:

 “In denying the motions of the federal government and the fossil fuel industry, the Court’s decision framed the issue as follows: “Plaintiffs are suing the United States … because the government has known for decades that carbon dioxide (C02) pollution has been causing catastrophic climate change and has failed to take necessary action to curtail fossil fuel emissions. Moreover, plaintiffs allege that the government and its agencies have taken action or failed to take action that has resulted in increased carbon pollution through fossil fuel extraction, production, consumption, transportation, and exportation. Plaintiffs allege the current actions and omissions of defendants make it extremely difficult for plaintiffs to protect their vital natural systems and a livable world. Plaintiffs assert the actions and omissions of defendants that increased C02 emissions ‘shock the conscience,’ and are infringing the plaintiffs’ right to life and liberty in violation of their substantive due process rights.”  The Court’s decision also upheld the youth Plaintiffs’ claims in the Fifth and Ninth Amendments “by denying them protections afforded to previous generations and by favoring short term economic interests of certain citizens.” Finally, Judge Coffin upheld Plaintiffs’ assertion of violations under the public trust doctrine, ruling that there is a federal public trust and plaintiffs’ claim can proceed.”

You can click on this link to read Judge Thomas Coffins’ “ORDER and FINDINGS & RECOMMENDATION “

See also:

“Sorry, Feds: Kids Can Sue Over Climate Negligence, Judge Says”  Nation of Change

Judge greenlights Oregon climate change lawsuit against Federal government”  –



Naomi Klein – “On why young people see radical action as practical”

Author and activist Naomi Klein has some perceptive comments in an interview in the Tyee – the independent British Columbia journal on why young people are more ready for drastic change to address continuing problems like climate change where progress has been slow or not much at all.

The full article is entitled, “We Faces a Series of Radical OptionsContinue reading

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and Climate Change

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee was a featured speaker at the Budget Matters 2014 Conference held Friday December 12, 2014 in Seattle Washington at the Washington State Convention Center. Remy Turpin, the Executive Director of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center asked the Governor questions in a conversation on climate and income inequality.


Remy Turpin and Governor Jay Inslee

Governor Inslee started out by responding as to why he was concerned about climate change and pointed out a number of reasons. One reason Inslee said was personal – it was about what kind of world we were going to leave our grandchildren and this was at risk in fundamental ways. Another reason is about economic passion – how we grow jobs. But he said it was also about health issues caused by pollutants released from burning fossil fuels. He noted that asthma rates are high along heavily traveled roads and industrial sites. Asthma rates statistically go up closer to freeways. Children are particularly vulnerable and Inslee commented on a 14 year old he recently talked with whose friends all had asthma and thought it was normal until realizing that not all children had asthma.

Inslee also noted the impacts of carbon pollution on  increasing ocean acidification and its impacts on sea life. Warming associated with climate change is also increasing health risks by increased forest fires and the resultant air pollution.

Carbon pollution is particularly hard on low income people who live in lower priced homes next to freeways or in or near industrial areas releasing  pollutants from burning carbon based fuels. The current economy while growing is mostly benefiting those at the top and is not working for many working families leaving them more vulnerable.

Asked about what type of legislation he was going to propose to the Washington State Legislature on dealing with carbon pollution, the Governor said that to reduce carbon pollution it was necessary to internalize the cost.  The costs to the environment, peoples’ health and the economy are not currently borne by those making money off of carbon fuels but is passed back to everyone else.  Governor Inslee said there were two main ways to internalize the cost and they were to pass either a carbon pollution tax or a cap and trade system that puts a fixed cost per ton of CO2 produced.

While Inslee did not say which way he was going to propose, he seemed to talk most about the benefits of a cap and trade system. British Columbia has a carbon pollution tax but Australia’s right leaning government earlier this year repealed it’s carbon tax. California three years ago moved forward on implementing its cap and trade system  signed into law by former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

Inslee noted that eight New England states participate in a cap and trade system that is legally binding, that is limiting the number of pollution permits and that operate by a market system that auctions the permits. Cap and trade was also successfully used 20 years ago in the east to limit sulfur dioxide from coal burning.

Some 20 European countries also have a cap and trade system. While there has been some controversy over the declining permit costs to emit carbon pollution, the goals that were purposed to be met look like it is working. As noted in a New York Times post by Stig Schjolset:

“…the European Union experience suggests that designed in the right way, in line with the polluter-pays principle and with a strong compliance regime, emissions trading systems will put an effective cap on carbon emissions – a cap that can be gradually tightened as politicians sign up to more ambitious reduction targets.”

Governor Inslee warned that any attempt to put a price tag on carbon pollution would result in a full court press by the carbon extraction industries that are creating the pollution. Inslee said it was time to make ” the polluting industries rather than poor people pay.”  He said the fight would be expensive and like that the tobacco industry launched-  full of nonfactual and untrue statements.  He said the fight has already started  but that this effort will create thousands of jobs and help build infrastructure for repairing highways and education as well as help clean the air we all breathe.

GOP – the Party of the Grand Old Polluters

It seems that the GOP – the Grand Old Party has in recent years transformed itself into representing the Grand Old Polluters – the oil, gas and coal industries. It wasn’t always so. As Paul Krugman points out in a column entitled “Pollution and Politics” in the New York Times:

“…the reason pollution has become partisan is that Republicans have moved right. A generation ago, it turns out, environment wasn’t a partisan issue: according to Pew Research, in 1992 an overwhelming majority in both parties favored stricter laws and regulation. Since then, Democratic views haven’t changed, but Republican support for environmental protection has collapsed.”

Krugman says that party ideology, namely that government needs to be limited and not restrict free enterprise is one reason but that the most likely underlying reason is “rising inequality”:

“The basic story of political polarization over the past few decades is that, as a wealthy minority has pulled away economically from the rest of the country, it has pulled one major party along with it. True, Democrats often cater to the interests of the 1 percent, but Republicans always do. Any policy that benefits lower- and middle-income Americans at the expense of the elite — like health reform, which guarantees insurance to all and pays for that guarantee in part with taxes on higher incomes — will face bitter Republican opposition.” 

Krugman’s analysis of the Republican Party’s sleeping with the polluters is pretty much the same as what Naomi Klein is saying in her recent book, “This Changes Everything – Climate Vs. The Climate” The environment and the climate are being ravaged by the polluters who are resisting responding to climate change because it will ultimately repudiate their cash cow – the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy.

The polluter’s cash cow has unfortunately been producing and belching and expelling gases like CO2 and methane that Naomi Klein notes 97% of climatologists say is causing uncontrolled climate change that threatens the future of life on this earth. Climate changing emissions are continuing to rise, with drastic changes occurring, including increasing loss of glaciers, melting of the polar ice cap, rising sea levels and ocean acidification. Klein asserts that:

“…we have not done the things necessary to lower emissions because these things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis. We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe – and would benefit the vast majority – are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our media outlets.”

Corporate globalism according to Klein has worked to

“…lock in a global policy framework that provided maximum freedom to multinational corporations to produce their goods as cheaply as possible and sell them with as few regulations as possible – while paying as little in taxes as possible …

The three pillars of this new era are familiar to us al: privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the public sector, and lower corporate taxation paid for with cuts to public spending .. Very little, however, has been written about how market fundamentalism sabotaged our collective response to climate change, a threat that came knocking just as this ideology was reaching its zenith.”

Klein goes on to say much more and I urge you to read “This Changes Everything – Capitalism Vs. The Climate“. She is tackling the same issues that Progressive Democrats have been trying to address and suggests that drastic change is need. Too many Democrats have followed a line of accommodation and centralism and compromise, thinking that this was the way to move forward.  Unfortunately Republicans and the multinational corporations and the wealthy interests and people they represent have been more skilled at conning the American people and others around the world into believing that helping the multinational corporations would be good for them.

The greed mentality and profit triumphed  over the public good and a sharing of wealth  in the free market economic game. The resultant extreme income inequality that has resulted is only one of the major disasters of the unfettered free market free for all.  Worsening climate change and environmental degradation has also happened. The world under the free market system is now conducting a giant experiment on environmental change and degradation and the earth’s ability to adapt and survive. Unfortunately there are no referees to stop the experiment if it starts to spiral out of control. There are no rules it seems save increase profits. It is a rigged game that saner heads need to call an end to now. There are too many injuries to people and to the earth all for the increased profits of a few who have externalized the costs to the many.

McCain – Palin Drill Team Marching to Beat of Oil Drums

One of the obscenities of the recent Republican Convention was the chanting of “Drill Baby Drill.” Obscured by the novelty of a new dancing Republican puppet in the form of the previously nationally unknown Governor of Alaska, John McCain shamelessly continued to promote more of the antiquarian Bush Era perversion of drilling and ignoring the perilous future of being tied to oil, both national and international.

Continuing the oil economy drains American capital from being reinvested in our own country in alternative renewable energy. It continues to tie our future national economy to a ecologically dangerous fossil fuel industry. It promotes an industry that is profit motivated only and not concerned about American energy security or the impacts on consumer’s pocketbooks.

“Drill Baby Drill” should raise the hair on the back of any independence loving American because of its backward looking vision that obscures the future of the world in a haze of global warming gases. It ignores the need for the nation and the world to change their profligate burning of carbon based fuels. It is like trying to promote the use of manual typewriters in the computer age.

John McCain lacks vision in his support of the oil economy. He is a man so desperate to win the Presidency that he has thrown common sense out the window and is pandering to the least of our nation’s sensibilities and wasting precious time and resources needed to move to a post oil economy.

“Drill Baby Drill ” says John McCain is not really serious about attacking global warming. Just as his pandering proposal to drop the gas tax this summer was a shortsighted attempt to appeal to irrationality for votes, the idea that drilling for oil in America is some type of energy solution for the future is pandering to the lowest common denominator of selfishness and greed of the oil companies.

Our nation needs to come up with practical real solutions to find a mix of environmentally sound energy policies that also reinvest in America and American jobs rather than sending money to the Middle East and other countries so they can come back and buy up America.

The New York Times in a recent editorial entitled “John McCain’s Energy Follies” noted that “increasing oil production remains the centerpiece of his strategy” They stress that “a nation that uses one-quarter of the world’s oil while owning only 3 percent of its reserves cannot drill its way to happiness or self- sufficiency.”

Will McCain really make any effort to make a transition to a post carbon energy economy that emphasizes wind, solar, geothermal or energy efficiency?

We’ve all heard many campaign promises from candidates, broken once they are elected. For McCain it is possible to determine what he will do on energy not based on promises but on his past actions or inactions. That unfortunately does not bode well for a reasoned and enlightened change in America’s energy policies if McCain is elected President.

The record shows that John McCain missed critical votes for renewable energy while he was running for President. If you think John McCain is going to support renewable energy in any serious way consider the following written by Thomas Friedman for the New York Times. In a commentary entitled, Eight Strikes and You’re Out“,

” …on July 30, that the Senate was voting for the eighth time in the past year on a broad, vitally important bill — S. 3335 — that would have extended the investment tax credits for installing solar energy and the production tax credits for building wind turbines and other energy-efficiency systems.

Both the wind and solar industries depend on these credits — which expire in December — to scale their businesses and become competitive with coal, oil and natural gas. Unlike offshore drilling, these credits could have an immediate impact on America’s energy profile.

Senator McCain did not show up for the crucial vote on July 30, and the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. In fact, John McCain has a perfect record on this renewable energy legislation. He has missed all eight votes over the last year — which effectively counts as a no vote each time. Once, he was even in the Senate and wouldn’t leave his office to vote.”

Actions speak louder than any words. It would be a mistake to count on John McCain leading us to a renewable energy future. “Drill Baby Drill” and free market economics seem to be his political philosophy. The free market economy has been great for the giant oil corporations in America but a disaster for energy independence and lessening global warming impacts. Voting for McCain would be a vote for continuing things as they are. Now is the time when we need to change to a post carbon energy future. McCain isn’t going to do that.

Republicans Recycle Rovian Rhetoric in Attack Ad on Obama

The Republican Party is out to try to fool the American public again. Remember compassionate conservatism? With John McCain -the Republican Party is trying to sell us more snake oil in the form of an attack ad on Obama that touts McCain’s “balanced” energy plan and accuses Obama of “no new solutions”. In reality MCCain is the one with no new solutions.

According to the first major ad by the Republican National Committee supposedly done independently of the McCain Campaign, McCain’s going to solve our energy problems now with a “balanced” plan that pushes “more production at home”. This translates to opening up our beaches and coastline for off shore oil drilling and more nuclear power plants for which there still is no long term solution to dealing with the nuclear waste.

And he’s still touting his pandering proposal to suspend the Federal gas tax this summer, which unfortunately would remove money for repairing decaying roads and bridges. Of course such an approach would encourage people to drive more, not less, which is counter to his professed concern about “a climate in crisis” Drilling for more oil and suspending needed gas taxes are retro proposals from the Bush Era that are not real solutions to our energy and climate problems.

Of course the Republican ad campaign slips in the words “alternative energy and conservation” sort of like politicians slip in the words “God bless America” when ever they can but let’s look at the record. McCain has offered no new solutions to the energy problem – just a recycling of old Republican campaign tactics of mouthing vague generalities that may have some resonance with the public but which lack specifics to really evaluate.

For example the Detroit Free Press recently reported on McCain”s plan for fuel efficiency for cars and trucks. They noted that “the Republican’s proposals lacked key details” and that his “comments lead to confusion”.

“McCain said that to boost development of hybrids and electric vehicles, he would launch a $300-million award for a battery pack “that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”

The senator offered no other details, leaving some observers confused about his intent. There are no commercially available plug-in hybrid vehicles today, and the few electric vehicles on the market range from low-power minicars using traditional batteries to the Tesla Roadster, a $100,000 two-seater that uses lithium-ion cells found in computers and other devices.

The McCain campaign said the point of his proposals was to spur change, and that the method for meeting whatever goals he would set for the industry was less important.

“John McCain is not interested in knowing the details of the fuels that go in” to vehicles “and the technologies that process them,” said adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin. “What matters is: Do you get effective transportation with low carbon emissions coming out the tailpipe? Let the best technologies, the smartest invention, win.”

Sounds like John McCain supports the free market approach – no surprise here, but that’s what got us into the mess we’re in now. Change just for the sake of change is not what we need. One prime example is that we are now coming to realize that increased ethanol production can come with a lot of other problems, like increased costs for food. We need to understand the consequences of what we do so that we can make better choices. We need a President and Administration that understands that.

The free market approach, like John McCain espouses, works to optimize profits for corporations. Unfortunately corporate interests often conflict with national interests like conservation of fuels and resources for sustainability, reduced dependence on foreign oil and shifting to a carbon free economy that reduces global warming impacts. We need a President that works to promote the interests and well being of all the the citizens of our country, not just the profits of big corporations.

Just as John McCain is no economist he is also not an engineer or a scientist. John McCain’s voting record on energy and environmental issues is dismal. While most Democrats assume decisive action needs to be taken to deal with global warming , John McCain is getting a special break with the Press and Media because he is a Republican exposing some of these views.

Yet McCain’s voting record really belies this supposed message of someone looking for solutions. John McCain’s lifetime voting record with the League of Conservation Voters is just 26%. By contrast Ron Paul’s lifetime average is 30%.

Barack Obama’s League of Conservation Voter record is 96%. Hillary Clinton’s lifetime average was 90%. Dennis Kucinich’s was 92%.

You can also view a comparison of Obama’s and McCains positions on energy done by Bob Deans of the Cox News Service at the Dayton Daily News. While John McCain proposes reducing carbon emissions by 60% by 2050, Barack Obama proposes reducing them by 80%. While Barack Obama proposes a target of 25% of our electricity needs being met by renewable energy by 2025, John McCain would rather we commit to building 45 nuclear power plants by 2030.

Another way of viewing McCain and Obama’s commitment to energy and environmental issues is to view how they responded to votes in Congress, including missed votes while they were campaigning. As the Center for American Progress’s Action Fund notes, John McCain has a poor record on Energy and Global Warming issues. They note that on numerous occasions McCain voted for legislation supporting big oil companies and against renewable energy and increased efficiency standards.

McCain for example had an opportunity to cast a decisive vote in 2007 for renewable energy legislation but sided with Big Oil. As the Center for American Progress notes:

In 2007, McCain was the only senator who failed to vote on a motion to invoke
cloture (thus limiting debate) on the Energy Independence and Security Act. This
vote was about whether to close $13 billion in tax breaks for major oil and gas
companies to invest in new clean energy technologies such as wind and solar, and
efficiency. Sixty votes were required for passage. The motion was rejected
59-40. [; HR 6, Vote #425

One needs only to look at the record to realize McCain’s spoken word of wanting energy security and energy independence and conservation and on and on is only hot air and lacks substance. His actual voting record and missed opportunities to make a difference speak louder than anything else. McCain is at heart a Republican and Republicans as a whole are beholden to big corporations and big oil.

The only change McCain is doing is running away from previous positions like opposing off shore oil drilling which gave him some independence from most other conservative Republicans. To win the election he believes he has to cater to traditional Republican conservative voters. As such he is giving up his name brand maverick positions.

McCain is becoming just another conservative, knee jerk reacting to the problems facing America and uttering platitudes. We need fresh ideas and a new vision and leadership to solve our energy problems and respond to global warming. McCain unfortunately will take us back to the past when it is the future we need to deal with.

Just Where is Rossi on Global Warming?

Listening to Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi’s answer to a question on where he is on global warming leaves one wondering just where he is. It seems he really is nowhere. He says “There’s still a lot of debate going on on this” and that “there’s going to be a big debate the next 2 to 3 years” and that he “doesn’t think anyone should panic”

Seem’s he hasn’t even talked with John McCain who says “the facts of global warming demand our urgent attention.”

You can see an interesting contrast on McCain and Rossi ‘s take on global warming on a YouTube clip posted by the Washington State Democratic Party.

See it here

Rossi’s position on climate change really hasn’t changed since he was in the Legislature. As Craig Engelhardt, Sierra Club lobbyist noted in the last gubernatorial race:

Rossi voted against efforts to fight global warming: Rossi voted against a bill to create a privately funded Washington climate center that would research simple and innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington. The center would have also helped identify what types of impacts climate change could have on Washington and what we can do about it. (SB 5674, 2001)”

David Postman in his blog yesterday has a misleading headline saying “Rossi warms to climate change” but then presents Rossi’s doubletalk saying it’s important to have clean air but his spokesperson says that he would have vetoed one of the bill’s the Legislature passed earlier this year to try to reduce global warming. As Postman reports:

Rossi opposed “this year’s major legislative action on global warming. House Bill 2815 set up goals for carbon reduction, but does not fund those efforts. Gregoire signed the bill and has called it a major accomplishment.

Rossi, according to spokeswoman Jill Strait, would not have signed the bill. Strait said Rossi believes “we should focus on rewarding people, not punishing them.”

“The bill she just signed aims to use the power of the government to force people to cut vehicle miles traveled down to the level of 1980 in just ten years, and that is only the first step. Dino’s vision is based on personal freedom and engaging Washington’s creative economy. His plan provides incentives for people to use new, clean technology. “

The only problem is we’ve seen the free market approach that Rossi proposes. It does not respond to issues like global warming unless there is a personal cost attached to it. The cost of global warming is being passed on to the commons. The oil industry and coal industry and auto industry are extracting profits from their business interests but do not currently pay for the true costs of their industries. Besides pollution itself and dirty air affecting health we now have increased global warming which will affect everyone but which the producers who profit from their sales of coal and oil pay very little or nothing to mittigate.

The industries are operately in a profit motivated system that is passing the cost of their pollution onto the commons. The costs for pollution cleanup and global warming consequences are not being borne by industry but by the general public. The profit motivated free market system obviously does not adequately addreess the true costs to society of global warming and pollution.

This is where it is necessary for government to step in and change the rules because the consequencces are no longer just local or insignificant. A tax on carbon is one way to add the costs into the equation to address the true system costs of burning fossil fuels for energy. Investing this money in alternative renewable non-carbon energy systems is one way to correct the injustices and flaws in a free market system that puts individual profit above the common good.

It is obvious that Dino Rossi is not going to change the system to address global warming. The free market system has failed but Rossi continues to support the myth that individual consumers freely making choices will somehow do the right thing.

The free market system gave Americans SUV’s and minivans to the exclusion of small cars and public transit. The free market mantra gave corporations the incentive to make mistakes as they attempted to maximize profits making large cars. They were wrong and now people are buying Honda and Toyota hybrids and companies like Ford are money losers.

We’ve had 8 years of Bush denying global warming on the national level and it would be a big mistake to put someone in as Governor who really doesn’t see the problem and seems to be willing to say what he thinks the public wants to hear in a last minute election year conversion. The best gauge of what Rossi will do is to look at what he has or hasn’t done regarding global warming to date. The record suggests that it would be a mistake to think he’s going to do anything. Election year conversions are just another slick ad campaign gimmick.

McCain and Clinton Pandering to Voters

Give Barack Obama credit for the straight talk, not John McCain or Hillary Clinton. Obama has refused to climb aboard the crazy train of his opponents in both parties suggesting that cutting the Federal tax on gasoline this summer makes sense. It doesn’t.

Gasoline usage is price sensitive. Cutting the cost for the summer by suspending the Federal tax of 18.4 cents will not lower the price because the same fixed amount will be available and oil companies will merely raise the price to take advantage of customer demand. Any decrease in prices will be very short term.

The oil companies have no qualms about raising prices. They continue to rake in record profits at the expense of American car and truck users. Republicans in Congress, and President Bush with his threatened veto power, continue to support the oil companies making record profits at the expense of the American economy and American consumers.

And the bulk of the profits raked in don’t even go for producing more oil or alternative energy. For example, as reports:

“Exxon posted record earnings of $40.6 billion in 2007, with revenue higher than the gross domestic profit of Turkey, the world’s 17th-largest economy….
The company has been criticized by some analysts and investors for laying back on capital spending while going full bore on share buybacks.
Exxon spent $31.8 billion to buy back shares in 2007 while shelling out $20.9 billion for capital expenditures.”

Exxon Mobil reported today that they raked in another $10.89 billion in first quarter profits this year.

So American consumers are shelling out their cash so that companies like Exxon can but back their stock. It’s absurd. At least Hillary Clinton proposes that the oil companies be hit with an excess profits tax to pay for her proposed summer tax cut. John McCain does not even support that and says he would cut elsewhere.

Democrats tried to pass legislation to end special subsidies to oil companies but Republicans held fast and stopped legislation passing. Democrats wanted the subsidies to go for funding alternative energy programs like wind and solar, which would help to reduce global warming impacts from carbon fuels. Instead we are left with no approval of existing incentives for solar and wind energy which expire at the end of this year.

And where was John McCain when votes were taking place to pass an energy policy to reduce dependence on carbon fuels and reduce global warming. AWOL – see excellent article by Grist on McCain’s missed votes in Congress, rightly pointing out McCain’s professed concern about climate change action is more hot air than anything else.

see also
Dumb as we Wanna Be – New York Times
The Gas-Guzzler Gambit – New York Times editorial
Summer Fuel-ishness – Seattle Times editorial
Clinton Gas Tax Proposal Criticized – Washington Post