Barack Obama

Thu, 2011-02-03 14:42TJ Scolnick
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Oil Industry Spins Subsidies Discussion In Wake of President Obama's State of the Union Address

In his State of the Union address, President Obama urged Congress to stop subsidizing oil companies and set a goal for 80% of electricity generated by 2035 to come from “clean” energy sources. While there is much dispute over some of the technologies included in the “clean” category, the President is proposing some wise investments in genuine cleantech. To pay for low-carbon energy alternatives, the President proposed $302 million for solar energy research and development (up 22 percent); $123 million for wind energy (a 53 percent increase); and $55 million for geothermal energy (up 25 percent).

But fossil fuels subsidies are holding back growth in burgeoning clean energy industries, which face a momumental challenge to compete with entrenched industries that receive far greater government subsidies.

And when it comes to oil subsidies, the President says enough is enough:

“…I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.”

Mon, 2011-01-03 15:20Brendan DeMelle
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Future of Coal Dims Further in 2010, But Dying Industry Still Killing and Polluting

2010 was a dark year for the dirty U.S. coal industry, with the deaths of 48 coal miners – the deadliest year in nearly two decades – and widespread recognition of the threat posed by hazardous coal ash waste to waterways nationwide. 

2011 hasn’t started off very well either, with a New Year’s Day article in the Washington Post noting the industry’s failure to begin construction on a single new coal-fired power plant in the United States for the second straight year.

An excerpt from the Post story:

“Coal is a dead man walkin’,” says Kevin Parker, global head of asset management and a member of the executive committee at Deutsche Bank. “Banks won’t finance them. Insurance companies won’t insure them. The EPA is coming after them… . And the economics to make it clean don’t work.”

Not only are the coal barons failing to build new plants, but their aging fleet is also facing a huge wave of coal-plant retirements thanks to new and emerging EPA regulations, as Grist’s Dave Roberts summarized last month. 

Nevertheless, the coal industry’s best efforts to flood Washington with lobbyists and dirty PR tricks seem to have crippled President Obama’s campaign pledge to end mountaintop removal and stalled out EPA administrator Lisa Jackson’s momentum towards regulating coal ash as the hazardous waste it surely is.

Mon, 2010-12-06 11:40Brendan DeMelle
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New Ad Asks President Obama To Stop Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil extracted from Canada’s dirty tar sands over 2,000 miles through two provinces and six U.S. states to Gulf Coast refineries. Unless it is stopped, the U.S. and Canada are set to continue guaranteeing decades of mutual, self-inflicted oil addiction.

Fri, 2010-01-22 13:19Brendan DeMelle
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When Corporations Rule The World (thanks to the Supreme Court)

With its ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Supreme Court has granted corporations even further unfettered access to destroy the fundamental Constitutional protections against corporate control of government.  The Chamber of Commerce and ExxonMobil must be thrilled.

The title of David Korten’s excellent 2001 book about the rise of corporate control in  America popped into my head as I read the depressing news about the Supreme Court’s gift to corporate America (as if they need another handout from U.S. taxpayers). 

Corporations, Wall Street and other special interests can now spend as much as they want on commercials and literature to call for the victory or defeat of federal political candidates.  Unlike previously acceptable “issue ads,” candidates can now be mentioned by name, as long as there’s no coordination with the candidates or campaigns.

The decision, a 5-4 vote, overturned a 20-year-old ruling barring such ads.

Fossil fuel interests, rejoice.  Working American families, not so much.  Efforts to create good-paying green jobs, transition to a clean energy future and ambitiously address global warming just got a lot harder.

Tue, 2010-01-19 20:38Kevin Grandia
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Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts will put the chill on climate legislation

Republican candidate Scott Brown has won the race to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts and, as I wrote earlier today, this does not bode well for the clean energy and climate change legislation currently being considered in the Senate.

Up until a couple of weeks ago this was seen as an easy win for the Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, but as the polls began to tighten, the political punditry began to speculate what a Republican win would mean for President Obama’s health care reform package. In a nutshell, and without getting into wonky talk about super-majorities and the like, a Brown win in the Bay State most likely means health-care-for-all is dead in the water.

While the ramifications for the health care package have rightly been the talk of the town and the cable news talking heads, there are other parts of Obama’s plan that will also suffer. One of the biggies is the American Clean Energy And Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill or the green jobs/clean energy bill.

ACES proposes, among other things, to invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency incentives for homes and buildings, grants for green jobs and a cap-and-trade program that aims to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent by 2020.

Wed, 2009-12-23 16:14Emily Murgatroyd
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Did China Kill Copenhagen?

The Guardian published an interesting and depressing article yesterday on China’s behind-the-scenes involvement in killing Copenhagen.

A fascinating peek into the closed door meeting between Barack Obama and around 50 other international representatives during their last ditch effort to cobble together an internationally binding treaty. You might want to add some extra spike to your eggnog when you’ve finished reading.

Sat, 2009-12-19 05:05Richard Littlemore
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Canada Demoted from "Honest Broker" to "Lunch Date"

There was a time - hell, there was half a century, beginning with the Nobel Prize-winning work of later-to-be-Prime Minister Lester Pearson in 1956 - when Canada could be counted upon as an honest broker on the world stage. It was a country that you wanted at the negotiating table, because it could be relied upon to take a prinicpled position and because it had the capacity to exercise a little influence in the North American sphere. Uncle Sam has never had the capcity to listen closely but when Canada spoke, at least they listened.

Alas, apparently no longer. Regardless that Canada can surely claim status as a fossil fuel “super-polluter,” we Canada didn’t make the short list of five countries that actually negotiated the Copenhagen Accord. Canada didn’t even make the long list of 17 countries that U.S. President Barack Obama gathered around him when he first arrived at COP15.

But there was one list that Harper topped: a group of mostly second-and third tier nations whose leaders were just bursting to tell the folks back home that they’d met the U.S. President. Admittedly, Harper and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres had met Obama before. But they were reduced to rubbing shoulders with former East Block “giants” like the presidents of Georgia and Montenegro.

Tue, 2009-09-22 11:22Richard Littlemore
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UN Climate Summit: Flickers of Hope, but the Building is Still Burning

Heard on the street: “I hate it when the president comes to town”

New York is in disarray. Almost every mid-town street corner east of Broadway is choked with flatfoots, guns and radios tugging at their belts. As you get closer to First Avenue - closer to the United Nations Building - the barricades start appearing on the sidewalks and the traffic ebbs and flows depending on whether a presidental cavalcade is currently in motion.

In the last block, traffic disappears altogether. The constant thrum of this boundless city gives over to the quiet clatter of helicopters high overhead. Small clusters of UN delegates, bureaucrats, activists and journalists wait for permission to move to the next choke point - wait for the passing of the next parade.

As it turns out, there is not just one president in town. There are probably 60 - among almost 100 heads of state here today for the UN Climate Summit. You can judge the perceived importance of these various world leaders by how many police cars and high-security SUVs are in each individuals convoy - and by the tension on the faces of the soldiers riding in those SUV’s, their M16s at the ready.

Thu, 2009-06-25 17:08Kevin Grandia
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Merkel Greeted On U.S. Trip by Dancing Green Hard Hats Demanding Strong Climate Action

While most climate activists are focused solely on the Waxman-Markey legislation that is due to be voted on by the US Congress any time now, a group of youth climate activists are taking the time to make sure that President Obama and Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel know that the youth movement demands strong action at the upcoming G8 summit and December’s Copenhagen climate summit as well. 

Fri, 2009-02-20 14:08Kevin Grandia
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President Obama's best strategy for Harper and Climate Change

This just might be the soundest strategy for US President Obama to employ when dealing with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the issue of climate change and greenhouse gas reduction.

obama-harper-hand-climate-change

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