Posts Tagged 'obama'

And Thursday Makes A Comeback!

Wow, today was looking rough, but now I’m at home, self medicating a cold with Otter Creek Winter Ale and peach tea (the herbal medicine aisle at Whole Foods confuses and frightens me) and watching that episode of The Office where Jim bikes to work.  That isn’t even the good part!

Today Obama outlined his proposed budget for the next year or so, and beyond all the other stuff I like (and don’t) about it, he’s proposing to pay for some of the new spending by starting a cap and trade system for carbon emissions.  Cap and trade programs haven’t worked so great in Europe, mostly because they tend to not limit the total amount of carbon allowed to be emitted very well, they just put a price on it.  However, a good program, with a stringent carbon limit that decreases over time, would go a long way towards assigning pollution a real cost in the marketplace, and prompting the profit-driven to care about it.  So this is a step in the right direction.  Give the market what it needs to do the right thing for now, eh?  Plus it just makes me happy when a government plans to have the money it spends.  Should be interesting to see how Congress actually sets up the carbon market.  Here’s a bit more from the NYT Green Inc. column.

Then, some of my plotting this week paid off!  I’d been asked to review a new eco-thriller, Freezing Point by Karen Dionne, and it came in the mail today. According to the blurb, the main characters are a well-intentioned environmental activist, a declared eco-terrorist, and an apocalyptic horror from deep within the ice: promising! I also got a little Freezing Point-themed natural lip gloss thing with it, which was a nice touch.  See, full disclosure, so you can decide for yourself if the lip gloss prejudices me to like the book (it does, but I read a paragraph in the middle and I think I’d like it by itself anyway).

On to Friday…

(P.S. As I was finishing this up, V. came by with more medication from The Dairy Godmother– gingersnaps and strawberry-rhubarb cobbler with custard.  Take that, head cold!)

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Inauguration Day

swearing in

Obama was getting sworn in on the tiny screen.  I was yelling under the Washington Monument.  It was a cold day.  More photos when I thaw.

We Will Make Decisions Based On Facts

Governance is in a sorry state when you have to make that promise, but Obama spelled it out when he introduced his environment team– Chu, Jackson, and Sutley, just as leaked earlier.  At that link, you can watch the announcement and rea a text of the speech, which goes on to promise that, not only will the administration employ facts, they will also take actions based on those facts.

Wow, why does acknowledgment of that basic, logical decision-making process make me so excited about these new people?  How did we the people let things get so bad in our government that reliance on facts to decide actions is just now a plan?

Anyway, hurrah I guess, but there are questions about Lisa Jackson’s record at the New Jersey EPA (it appears she was good on greenhouse gases and not so good on cleaning up Superfund sites?), so that should keep us on the edge of our seats.  Hopefully this new focus on facts and action in the administration will inspire each of these people to greener heights.

To round out the people working on energy and environment issues, Obama needs to pick an Interior Sectretary to replace Dirk Kempthorne- remember him!?– and word is he’s got Ken Salazar lined up for that.

Oh, Thank Goodness

From the WaPo (free sign-up necessary to see the whole thing, typically):

Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team…

The president-elect has said, for example, that he intends to quickly reverse the Bush administration’s decision last December to deny California the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles…

Before the election, Obama told others that he favors declaring that carbon dioxide emissions are endangering human welfare, following an EPA task force recommendation last December that Bush and his aides shunned in order to protect the utility and auto industries…

They’re reportedly keeping the list open to reverse Bush’s parting blows to the country planned for the next few months.

It’s hard not to be giddy about the administration-elect, actually.  I’m sure they’re going to bug me one day, but for now, I will float upon the realization of my wildest dreams.

The Lamest of Ducks

America did a serious, considered, and inspiring thing yesterday.  Let us savor this for a minute.

Now let us take a deep breath, and smile.

Now let us dance in the streets!

Good.  Now to work.  The current administration still has 76 more days to pile up the mess they’re leaving behind.  With the help of the his flacks Stephen Johnson and Dirk Kempthorne at the EPA and the Interior Department, Bush will spend his last days rolling back environmental regulations around the country.  From a NYT editorial summarizing the planned changes:

In coming weeks, we expect the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final rule that would weaken a program created by the Clean Air Act, which requires utilities to install modern pollution controls when they upgrade their plants to produce more power. The agency is also expected to issue a final rule that would make it easier for coal-fired power plants to locate near national parks in defiance of longstanding Congressional mandates to protect air quality in areas of special natural or recreational value.

Interior also is awaiting E.P.A.’s concurrence on a proposal that would make it easier for mining companies to dump toxic mine wastes in valleys and streams.

These men have betrayed their public trust time and again:  it should not surprise us that they will continue to do so as long as they hold any power.  It should, however, make us mad.  The Obama administration must reverse these policies, and take the responsibilities of the Int. Dept. and EPA seriously.  Fortunately, as with most things, the Pres-elect is on it already.

He’s considering Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for the position of EPA head.  Kennedy is an environmental lawyer and environmental activist.  Puttin’ the protection back in the Environmental Agency, whoop!  Well, except for that time he was all against the wind farm off Cape Cod, that was not very helpful.  So, mixed bag, but overall good.

I’m looking forward to hearing more on the cabinet over the next few weeks, but the first news is all right.

Move Along, Nothing More to See Here

Speaking of public figures I find ridiculous, remember when McCain was reliable on environment issues? Like, before he started the campaign? His ideas on environmental and climate protection are now at odds with his own party’s platform. But it’s cool, he’s not serious about the environment or global warming in the first place, not now. One can’t be, when one needs the Republican party to actually vote for you, and them’s just the breaks.

By picking Palin, McCain’s gone ahead and given up all pretence of environmentalism.  Palin thinks global warming happens and that it’s bad for Alaska, but she doesn’t think global warming is a man-made phenomenon.  Fortunately, that makes it logical for her to believe the answer to our energy problem is to drill for as much oil as possible, as soon as possible, since our use of fossil fuels has nothing to do with the danger her state and it’s icy resources are in.  She hasn’t offered other ways to solve the energy crisis, and contradicts herself on whether drilling will actually help or just make us feel like we’re doing something.  Plus she is totally into wildlife, in the sense of she likes to kill it.  Details here and here.

She’s not really big on science or truth anyway, so there she’s consistent.

So, hum a dirge for rational, responsible Republican environmentalism, and head on.

(Specifically, head on over to Biden’s record on the environment.  Obama/Biden are the only candidates left with environmental integrity, so it’s now just great that they have an actual plan to solve the energy crisis and reduce our dependance on oil.  Not that voters concerned about the environment won’t have to settle for whatever this pair doles out, but they give a good, strong product, so whew.  Biden is a fine compliment to all the groundwork Obama’s laid on the issue.  Would that they’d talk it up!)

At Last, The Speech

Barack Obama gave his speech on energy policy today.  It’s about 30 minutes long.  He addresses ways to “relieve” high gas prices, but points out that that’s a quick fix, and not the real, big issue.  Obama also says he’s willing, if it’s the only way to get a compromise on new renewable energy development, to include limited new offshore drilling sites.  He’s pretty clear that’s only if there’s no other way to get his plans through.  It’s still irksome.

One of the most important points he makes is that a national energy transformation is going to be rough, and expensive, and people and businesses will have to change their behaviors.  But he promises to eliminate oil imported from the Middle East and Venezuela in 10 years, if we work together, etc.

He gave the speech in Lansing, Michigan, home of a large portion of the failing American auto industry.  Thus, a large portion of his speech is spent on how Americans need to build more efficient cars (100mpg, plug-in hybrids?  yes, please) right here in America, driving innovation and investment and such.

But autos are just the first point in his three-part plan.  What are the other two?  Watch and find out (they’re gooood.  Way more satisfying than more nuclear plants and offshore drilling everywhere).  I will tell you that this all relates back to Michigan.

Also, it’s Obama’s birthday today. Auspicious.


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