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Evangelicals Ally With Democrats on Environment

Stephanie Simon, LA Times
Religious leaders hope the global-warming campaign sends a message to the GOP.
Democratic strategists are joining forces with conservative evangelicals to promote a faith-based campaign on global warming, in an improbable alliance that could boost Democratic hopes of taking control of Congress.

At a news conference today, the president of the Christian Coalition and a board member of the National Assn. of Evangelicals – both groups closely tied to the religious right – will announce Call to Action, an effort to make global warming a front-and-center issue over the next three weeks for Christians in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado and several other states with pitched election campaigns.

Through ads on Christian radio, sermons from the pulpit, Bible studies, house parties and a documentary film, “The Great Warming,” Christians will be urged to view protecting the environment as a religious and moral issue every bit as urgent as opposing abortion and same-sex marriage.

…In recent years, as their leaders emphasized abortion, gay rights and school prayer, “evangelical” has come to seem synonymous with “conservative.” In fact, the shift to the right is a new development. As recently as a decade ago, white evangelicals were fairly evenly divided between the two parties. (Bush is an evangelical, but so are former Presidents Carter and Clinton, both Democrats.)

Some top evangelicals now worry that they’ve become too predictably right-wing. Global warming offers a way to get out of that box.
(19 Oct 2006)

Mr. Pombo’s Map

Editorial, NY Times
When you add up the energy resources of the American West, one of the biggest items in the ledger is oil shale – rock formations containing deposits that can be distilled, by heating, into oil. The estimate of the petroleum locked up in these deposits is enormous: perhaps 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil, most of it in the Green River Formation, which lies beneath Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.

The processes for extracting oil shale are still hugely expensive – which is fortunate, because the potential environmental costs are staggering.

…None of this has stopped Congressman Richard Pombo of California – champion of the idea that we can drill our way to energy independence – from throwing yet another economic bone to the energy sector. In a little-noticed provision of the much- reviled Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act – which the House passed in June and the Senate will take up when Congress returns – Mr. Pombo lowered the royalty rate for oil shale from 12.5 percent to 1 percent. Should the day arrive when the price of shale oil becomes competitive, this could turn out to be an extraordinary giveaway of federal revenue (most oil shale lies under federal land) and a huge incentive to wreak environmental damage.

…We believe that this country must pursue energy independence. But unlike Mr. Pombo, we believe that there is a vibrant new economy to be found in conservation and that is where our future lies. When we try to envision the America that Mr. Pombo has mapped out for us, all we can see is a nation committed to devouring itself, one barrel of oil at a time.
(19 Oct 2006)

More energy policy gridlock seen in next Congress

Chris Baltimore and Tom Doggett, Reuters via Yahoo!News
If Democrats gain control of one or both houses of the U.S. Congress, they will likely face continued energy policy gridlock, industry lobbyists and congressional experts say.
(19 Oct 2006)

Greasing the Skids

Nomi Prins, The Nation
…Manipulation can be physical or psychological. No, Bush wasn’t calling his broker to short the market and Cheney probably wasn’t conversing with oil execs to back it up. But long-term mutual back-scratching relationships are potent. An overly speculated market like oil (the most traded commodity in the world) picks up on subtle signs. Just as traders push the market up, they can take it down, depending on those signs.

If detectives from CSI were investigating the plummet in oil prices, they’d look for motive and method. Motive’s obvious: strategically important midterm elections. With Iraq and swarming allegations that the Administration has created more terrorism than before, there’s not a lot the GOP can control. According to Doug Henwood’s Left Business Observer study, there’s a 78 percent correlation between the direction of gas prices and approval for the GOP.

…Just as Enron and others could manipulate, if not directly control, California prices by closing power plants at will, so can oil companies reduce refining profit margins (which were gigantic) to keep their friends in power. That’s easier to control than futures where other players are in the market, and it’s something retailers pass on to drivers. This is not conspiracy, but self-preservation.

Other strong messages came from Washington. My favorite is the one that came directly from the Federal Reserve. For two years, the Fed has been raising interest rates due to inflationary pressures (such as the high cost of gas). Then, it stopped–the day after gas prices reached their August 7 peak of an average $3.04 per gallon. The next day, the Fed said that despite high energy prices, inflationary pressures would “moderate.”

The market slide started that day, not a sudden change in supply or demand.
(18 Oct 2006)
Also at Common Dreams. Manipulating the price of oil would seem to be much more difficult than the article portrays. -BA

Calif. Ballot Battle Over Big Oil May Be Costliest in U.S. History

John Pomfret, Washington Post
LOS ANGELES — Call it the battle of Big Oil vs. Silicon Valley with a whole lot of Hollywood funding thrown in. Oil companies are squaring off against venture capitalists in a fight over a California proposition that would tax oil production in the state to fund alternative energy.

To date, $107 million has been raised in the fight. If it is all spent, it will make Proposition 87 the most expensive proposition in the nation’s history…
(20 Oct 2006)