Friday, April 26, 2013

World's First Comparison of Tim Kaine to Derek Jeter

With Tim Kaine taking a bold stand against the dirty, destructive Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, has my long history of questioning Kaine's motives come to the end of the road?

Back in the 2003 playoffs, I watched Derek Jeter take a head-first dive into the stands while making an incredible catch. On the spot, I pledged to never make fun of Jeter again. I've held to that (while rededicating myself to mocking his teammates like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira).

I've been on Tim Kaine's case for years now, ever since he served as apologist-in-chief for Dominion Virginia Power's incredibly polluting, wildly expensive, unneeded Wise County coal-fired power plant. But doing the right thing on Keystone XL, especially when so many Democrats like fellow Virginia Sen. Mark Warner are bowing to polluter pressure, is just as clutch as Jeter's dive.

Have I been wrong about Kaine? Should I give him the benefit of the doubt going forward - or even the full Jeter treatment?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Climate Science Deniers: Really Old and Really Strange

The Heartland Institute has a new climate denial "book" out called The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism. I can only assume the title is a reference to the movie It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, even though the Heartland version is for some reason one "Mad" short.

How old are the folks over at The Heartland Institute? Their book title references a movie that came out a half century ago. Its star, Spencer Tracy, died when President Obama was six years old.

How strange are the folks over at The Heartland Insitute? Look at that "book" cover. Are those ... hip-hop polar bears? I think? Driving a convertible through ... a corn field that's getting hit by a thunderstorm? Also, the polar bears are terrible drivers taking up both lanes of what is apparently a one-way street through the middle of nowhere.

It's like something your old crazy conservative uncle would post to Facebook and think it was HILARIOUS, which tells you a lot about The Heartland Institute's membership and funders, and about the ability of climate deniers to connect with anyone outside their cocoon of crazy old conservatives.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Because Driving Sucks, That's Why

Why Driving SucksMy answer to the question in the headline of this Brad Plumer post, which you should go read.

Driving is expensive, time-consuming, boring*, makes you road rage-y, pollutes the air, and cooks the planet. What's not to like?

Taking the bus or train is no picnic, but at least you can let the driver stress out while you relax. Biking is also not a magic carpet ride, but at least you get some exercise and fresh air and it's extremely cheap.

I would also point out that advances in phone technology have made taking the bus or train significantly more fun. It used to be that you'd have to lug a book or a Walkman with you if you wanted to read or listen to music - and if you forgot one of those, welcome to Boringville. Now I can not only do either of those things on my lightweight, long-battery-life iPhone, I can also play games, read news or text my friends, and it's already in my pocket so there's no remembering involved.

* - I like long drives through scenic areas as much as anyone, but we all know this is 0.0001% of driving. The other 99.9999% involves wishing you were already there.

Monday, April 15, 2013

President Obama & Climate Change: Bold Talk, Meek Action

Washington, DCHey, remember President Obama's inaugural address and State of the Union speech? How he compared the need for climate action to the civil rights movement? Pledged to stand up for the victims of climate-fueled extreme weather like superstorm Sandy? Said that if Congress wouldn't act on climate change, he would?

Now that we're past the time for dramatic speeches, President Obama is back to barely mentioning climate change in his budget, considering delaying and/or watering down first-ever limits on industrial carbon pollution, and refusing to talk about whether the Arkansas tar sands pipeline spill means we should reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

It was fun while it lasted.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Polluter Conspiracy to Delay Cape Wind, Massachusetts Jobs

Governor PatrickWith Cape Wind finally on the verge of construction, I have an op-ed in today's New Bedford Standard-Times pointing out that the years-long wait has unnecessarily delayed hiring thousands of workers here in southeastern Massachusetts:
What makes this damaging delay so outrageous is that it's no accident — a coalition of big polluters and big-money landowners on the Cape have conspired to fund the "Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound," a front group that's spent millions to keep Cape Wind tied up in red tape. On Tuesday, the Alliance is set to hit an outrageous new low: At exactly the same time as Gov. Deval Patrick and Mayor Jon Mitchell are finally breaking ground on the South Terminal here in New Bedford, the Alliance's head will be in Washington urging Congress to kill incentives for offshore wind energy.
Please click over to read the whole thing here, and if you agree, share it on your Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Fun fact: I've written 1,654 posts here at The Green Miles, but this is the first op-ed I've submitted and gotten published in the dead tree edition of a newspaper.

Friday, April 12, 2013

When Climate Polls Collide with Political Conventional Wisdom

A new Gallup poll shows worry about global warming and acceptance of the climate science consensus is up sharply in the last two years. The spike isn't being fueled by Democrats - it's being fueled in large part Republicans.

But the political conventional wisdom in Washington presents a very real obstacle to this reality breaking through. The same pundits who bemoan partisan polarization in one breath perpetuate it the next - all Democrats hate coal, and all Republicans hate clean air! The nuance of rank-and-file Republicans disagreeing with Republican party leadership stands little chance of breaking through these stereotypes.

Let's dig into the poll numbers. You could make the case that Republicans are just cooling off from the heated fight over clean energy & climate legislation that had party leaders, polluters, and conservative media telling them that they had to oppose climate action to support the team.

But we're just coming off an election year in which Republican candidates went after climate science and clean energy with renewed fury, yet rank-and-file Republican acceptance of the climate science consensus went up anyway. What's really going on here?

Another poll, this one from the Yale Forum on Climate Communication, fills in some of those gaps. It finds rank-and-file Republicans frustrated with their party leadership on climate change & clean energy:
  • A majority of respondents (52%) believe climate change is happening, while 26 percent believe it is not, and 22 percent say they “don’t know.”
  • By a margin of 2 to 1, respondents say America should take action to reduce our fossil fuel use.
  • Only one third of respondents agree with the Republican Party’s position on climate change, while about half agree with the party’s position on how to meet America’s energy needs.
  • A large majority of respondents say their elected representatives are unresponsive to their views about climate change.
There are organizations like ConserAmerica and former GOP Rep. Bob Inglis' Energy and Enterprise Initiative trying to break through. But when the Koch brothers and other billionaire polluters are funding such massive operations to keep GOP leadership polluter-aligned, what chance do true conservative reformers have of breaking through?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Will the Next Major Tar Sands Spill be in New England?

Oiled MarshHomes evacuated. Chemicals fouling the air. Wildlife soaked in tar sands oil. Could it happen in New England?

I traveled to Arkansas last week to monitor wildlife impacts of the Exxon Mobil Pegasus tar sands pipeline rupture for the National Wildlife Federation. I kept thinking, if the tar sands industry gets its wish and reverses the Trailbreaker pipeline across northern New England to carry tar sands, will I be in New Hampshire covering a spill like this in a few years?

The parallels to the Exxon Mobil Pegasus pipeline are eerie: An old pipeline built to supply oil where it was needed, now reversed to carry corrosive tar sands at high temperature and pressure to supply profit to Canada's polluting tar sands industry. Exxon claimed Pegasus was safe, right up until a 22-foot-long gash opened in it below an Arkansas subdivision, unnoticed until local homeowners called 911.

A Boston Globe editorial raises all the right questions:
As President Obama weighs approval of Keystone XL sometime this year, concern over tar sands oil has spread from the Midwest to New England. Hundreds of people rallied earlier this year in Portland, Maine, against even the possibility that such crude from Alberta, which environmentalists say is the stickiest and dirtiest form of oil, would wind its way through the pristine lakes, rivers, and rugged terrain of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Five years ago, Enbridge floated a proposal to reverse pipelines that currently send imported oil into the interior of New England from the marine terminal in Portland, Maine. Instead, Enbridge would transport oil from the tar sands of Canada to tankers in Portland, bound for southern refineries along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Enbridge managing director Steve Letwin said in a 2008 investor conference call, “We’re pretty excited about this opportunity,” because it was a much cheaper alternative for that company than building a new pipeline such as Keystone. [...] 
[T]he endless Kalamazoo cleanup, and disputes now erupting in Arkansas as to how much damage is being done by that spill, raise inevitable questions that must be answered before anyone should contemplate reversing the pipelines through New England. Though Keystone is foremost in the mind of the White House, the EPA and NTSB should also take the time to assess the risk of bringing tar sands oil through one of the most beautiful and environmentally sensitive parts of the United States.
Much stronger safety standards are clearly needed for existing tar sands pipelines, as the National Wildlife Federation and partners from Texas to Maine have called for. But the bigger question is, why are we letting America serve as the middleman to get Canadian tar sands to the international market at all

Whether it's Pegasus, Trailbreaker or Keystone XL, these tar sands pipelines all have one thing in common: They go to coastal ports. America gets all the risk of spills and climate disruption, the international market gets all the oil, and Canadian tar sands producers get all the profit.

Right now, the national debate centers on Keystone XL, and that's where you need to make your voice heard. Please take a moment right now to ask President Obama to say no to Keystone XL. If we can stop Keystone XL, we can turn the tide against dirty tar sands oil.

Or maybe in a few years we'll be looking at pictures of oiled wildlife and watching videos of oiled creeks in northern New England. It's up to us to raise our voices loud enough that Canada will be forced to look elsewhere to peddle its dirty tar sands oil.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Back From America's Newest Flammable Marsh

Oiled MarshApologies for a lack of posts this week, was traveling to Arkansas for the National Wildlife Federation to monitor impacts of the Exxon Mobil tar sands pipeline spill. Read about my trip at the NWF blog.