US policy - Nov 22
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Attorney David Hayes sees push for environment policy change in new House (transcript and video)
Monica Trauzzi, E&E TV
With the Democrats poised to take over leadership of the House at the start of the next session of Congress, questions are arising as to the amount of emphasis that will be placed on climate change and other environmental issues. During today's OnPoint, David Hayes, partner and Global Chair of Latham & Watkins' Environment, Land & Resources Practice and former deputy secretary of the Interior, says the new Democratic leadership will want to be progressive on the environmental front.
Hayes sees a big push ahead on creating technologies for alternative energy but also talks of a vigorous drilling debate as the United States continues to try to meet its growing energy demands. Hayes also comments on how changes in the House Resources Committee will affect land conservation, water conservation and the Endangered Species Act.
(22 Nov 2006)
Iraq: Yes, things can get worse
Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly
...Conventional wisdom tacitly assumes that the worst that can happen in Iraq is a continuation of the current low-level civil war, resulting in the loss of thousands of Iraqi lives and dozens of U.S. soldiers each month. But as bad as that is, it's worth keeping in mind that the American occupation has actually made the Iraqi situation worse every single year since it began, and will probably continue to make things worse as long as we're there. And the worse the violence, the worse the Iraqi theocracy that eventually takes root in its wake is likely to be.
But that's not all. The dynamics of violence are nonlinear in the extreme, and the odds of an Archduke Ferdinand moment continue to rise inexorably as our occupation continues to make things ever worse and ever more unstable. A year from now, we could end up in the middle of a full-blown civil war costing a thousand American lives a month. We could end up taking sides in a shooting war against Turkey, a NATO ally. We could end up fighting off an armed invasion from Iran. We could end up on the receiving of an oil embargo led by Saudi Arabia. Who knows?
All of these developments may be individually unlikely, but you're not trying hard enough if you can't dream up plausible scenarios leading to each one of them. Pundits and policymakers alike should keep this in mind when they're mentally totting up the costs and benefits of staying in Iraq and concluding that we might as well try a Last Big Push because, heck, it can't do any harm to try. In fact, it can. The longer we stay in Iraq, the worse things are likely to get.
(20 Nov 2006)
Kevin makes clear why the price of oil is so unpredictable. -BA
Send in the subpoenas: energy a ripe target
Ron Suskind, Washinton Post
...The vast U.S. energy industry may be the ripest target for a corruption investigation. When Vice President Cheney's energy task force was meeting in early 2001 -- meetings whose secrecy Cheney has managed to protect against legal challenge -- the goal of U.S. energy independence was barely an afterthought. Now, with the United States mired in the affairs of petro-dictatorships in the Middle East, even the president has emphasized the need to cure our addiction to oil.
Studied inaction on this front stems from the coziness between the administration and big oil -- a relationship that affects the global warming debate, Iraq, gas prices and oil company profits. Investigations into that relationship are a sure win for the Democrats. Just lining up oil company executives under the hot lights -- much like the seven tobacco company chief executives were lined up in 1994, looking like gray-suited deer -- creates the image, if not necessarily the fact, of activist government. (Suggested witnesses: Lee Raymond, chief executive of Exxon Mobil until this year; Spencer Abraham, former energy secretary; Cheney; and David Addington, Cheney's deputy on many energy matters.)
While some inquests set the table for responsible policy -- much as hearings on pollution helped spur 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act -- most are designed to strengthen accountability and deter future perfidy. The administration's repeated practice of strong-arming experts who stray off message makes for a bevy of high-intensity witnesses. They include global warming experts in various departments as well as Richard Foster, the Health and Human Services accountant who was threatened with dismissal for trying to alert Congress about the deceptive cost estimates on the Medicare prescription drug program. Hearings would show who gave the order to mislead the public on these issues of pressing concern -- a proper investigation for any Congress. (Suggested witnesses: Tom Scully, Foster's boss; James Hansen of NASA; Rick Piltz, formerly of the U.S. Global Change Research Program; and former Environmental Protection Agency director Christine Todd Whitman.)
Ron Suskind is author of "The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11" (Simon and Schuster).
(19 Nov 2006)