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Losing to the Greens

Robert D. Novak, Washington Post
“I’ve never seen industry so deathly afraid of the current politics surrounding climate change policy,” a Bush administration environmental official told me. With good reason. As Democrats take control of Congress, once-firm opposition to the green lobby’s campaign of imposing carbon emission controls is weak.

Panicky captains of industry have themselves largely to blame for failing to respond to the environmentalists’ well-financed propaganda operation. One government official says “industry appears utterly helpless and utterly clueless as to how to respond.” But the Bush administration itself is a house divided with support for greens and severe carbon regulation inside the Energy Department, reaching up to the secretary himself.

None of this necessarily means climate change will become law during the next two years, with President Bush wielding his veto pen if any bill escapes the Senate’s gridlock. Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, reassuming chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee after a dozen years’ absence, will try to protect the automotive industry from draconian regulation. But over the long term, industry is losing to the greens.
(25 Dec 2006)
Both sides apparently see that the tide of battle has shifted.

Response from Adam Browning at Gristmill:

Apparently, thanks to “environmentalists’ well-financed propaganda operation,” there are supporters for carbon legislation in even the Bush administration, and industry is “utterly helpless” and “utterly clueless as to how to respond.”

So unfair, with all the cards stacked up against industry that way. Tell you what, Mr. Novak, environmentalists are nothing if not fair — and what the hell, it’s Christmas — so here’s what we’ll do.

We’ll swap budgets with your industry pals.

Yes, I know, it seems almost suicidally generous, but we wouldn’t want to win unfairly. We’ll take Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Utility, and Big Auto’s dough, and you and your friends can laugh all the way to the bank on Sierra Club’s famous riches. I’ll even throw in Vote Solar’s private island as a personal gesture of apology.

Friedman: And the color of the year is …

Thomas Friedman, NY Times via Marin I-J
…had I been editing Time magazine I would not have opted for the “you” in YouTube as Person of the Year – although that was very clever. No, I’d have run an all-green Time cover under the headline, “Color of the Year.” Because I think that the most important thing to happen this past year was that living and thinking “green” – that is, mobilizing for the environmental/energy challenge we now face – hit Main Street.

For so many years, the term “green” could never scale. It was trapped in a corner by its opponents, who defined it as “liberal,” “tree-hugging,” “girly-man,” “unpatriotic,” “vaguely French.”

No more. We reached a tipping point this year – where living, acting, designing, investing and manufacturing green came to be understood by a critical mass of citizens, entrepreneurs and officials as the most patriotic, capitalistic, geopolitical, healthy and competitive thing they could do. Hence my own motto: “Green is the new red, white and blue.”
(25 Dec 2006)

House to target Big Oil breaks
Democrats might go after write-offs, but not gas guzzlers

Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Hearst Newspapers via SF Chronicle
After they take control of Congress next month, Democrats want to roll back tax breaks that reward the oil industry for expanding refineries and drilling inside the United States.

House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has vowed to repeal “the multibillion-dollar subsidies for Big Oil” during the first 100 hours of the new session of the House. Democrats are expected to push to eliminate a handful of tax cuts for the oil and gas industry, but avoid more controversial proposals, such as raising mileage standards for SUVs.

But the Senate is another story. There, leading Republicans and a key Democrat have signaled they will vigorously oppose any changes in the tax laws that benefit oil and gas.

Pelosi and other Democrats say that tax deductions established during the last two years confer financial relief to an industry that doesn’t need it.
(24 Dec 2006)

Schwarzenegger Remakes Himself as Environmentalist

John Pomfret, Washington Post
Governor Challenges GOP on Global Warming
SACRAMENTO — Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the type of guy you would necessarily associate with tree hugging. When he bought a Hummer in the early 1990s, it kicked off a nationwide craze for the gas-guzzling behemoths. His lighter-fluid-dowsed action flicks and protein-packed chest bespoke more of American excess than environmentalism, more violence than vegan.

But as governor of California, Schwarzenegger has engaged in a savvy makeover, befitting a Hollywood star. He retooled one of his four Hummers to run on alternative fuels and is quickly fashioning himself into one of the most aggressively pro-environment governors in a state known for leading the nation on that issue.

This year he signed the nation’s first environmental law of its kind, committing the state to lowering its greenhouse gas production to 1990 levels by 2020 and setting up an international program that provides manufacturers with incentives to lower carbon emissions, which is supposed to begin by 2012. He has vowed to fight any attempt to drill for oil off California’s coast.

And now Schwarzenegger, a Republican, wants to use his star power to turn global warming into an issue in the 2008 presidential election. “There is a whole new movement because of the change of people sent to Washington,” Schwarzenegger said in an interview this week, referring to the Democratic Party’s impending takeover of Congress.
(23 Dec 2006)

California warming law applies pressure to industries

Glen Martin, SF Chronicle
Agriculture, forestry, car makers need to reduce emissions
California’s landmark law to drastically cut greenhouse gases could boost the state’s economy or make it even more expensive to live in California. It may do both.

The Global Warming Solutions Act, which drew international attention when it became law in September, is vague on details about how the state must cut emissions that cause the planet to warm — most notably carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Still, the act portends unprecedented change in the ways Californians live and work, probably affecting the power that we use, the cars we buy and how our food is grown.

“Long term, it will mean more and better choices for Californians,” said Linda Adams, the state secretary for environmental protection. “They’ll be able to choose from a wide range of efficient electric or alternative fuel vehicles. They’ll be able to buy power from utilities that generate electricity from low-carbon sources, or they’ll be able to take advantage of incentives to install solar systems.”
(25 Dec 2006)