Archive for February, 2008

Ousted Rep. Pombo’s Aides Set Up Shop as "Responsible Resources"

February 29, 2008

Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) represented California’s 11th congressional district from 1993 to 2007, and lost a re-election bid after concerted opposition from national environmental groups, amid allegations of corruption, misuse of official resources, nepotism, and questionable campaign contributions.

While in Congress, Pombo served as Chairman of the House Resources Committee and proposed legislation to sell roughly a quarter of the land managed by the National Park Service. He advocated for allowed mining companies to buy federal lands and favored oil drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. He proposed weakening the Endangered Species Act in concert with the front group Save Our Species Alliance.

The League of Conservation Voters assigned a lifetime average rating of 7 on a scale of 0 to 100 and released an ad October 31, 2005on, citing Pombo’s acceptance of $120,000 from oil companies and his ties to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Now, according to a February 26, 2008 article by Alex Kaplun in Greenwire, “Former Pombo staffers launch advocacy group,” ex-House Resource Committee aides Brian Kennedy, Lisa Wallace, Dan Kish and Rob Gordon have launched Responsible Resources with an ad campaign asserting that taxes on energy companies are a threat to affordable and reliable energy.

The House had just passed a bill that would repeal a manufacturing tax credit to large, integrated oil companies and other credits targeted at the oil industry and redirect the money to continue tax credits for the development of renewable energy resources like wind and solar power, as well as energy efficiency, which were slated to end this year.

Kennedy, had most recently served as a spokesman to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). He would not disclose the group’s budget, but said it would not take corporate donations and described it as an educational resource principally for members of Congress and their aides with the ultimate goal of growing large enough to influence the debate beyond the Beltway. The group plans to publish a desk reference on energy resources in the United States including how much energy is needed to power the country in the future and how much of that energy could come from the United States.

Wallace is a former chief financial officer to the Resources Committee. Gordon, president of the new group, is the founder and president of the National Wilderness Institute, which has challenged the Endangered Species Act. Kish retired as a senior adviser to the committee after serving as the committee’s chief of staff in the 1990s.

See also: Jim Snyder, “Former GOP Aides Form New Energy Group,” The Hill, 2/27/08.

While Kennedy claims the group is non-partisan, a look at the group’s site reveals it to appear to be a pr effort to counteract environmental arguments and policies espoused by Democrats and some moderate Republicans. For instance, in talking about reducing CO2 emmissions, the site says,

Although the policies would be extremely expensive, consume resources that could be directed to immediate and profound problems, and have limited potential to affect climate, many contend that there is an urgent need to implement some sort of policy. Many potenital factors can contribute to and exacerbate the sense that policies are urgently needed.

These factors identified include “sensational journalism” to justify higher advertising rates, corporations seeking a competitive advantage, researchers in academia and government who want more funding, and foreign countries who want to impose costs on the U.S. economy.

If this is indeed a non-profit group, it will soon enough have to file IRS forms. Until then, it’s hard to know who is actually funding this effort. Here’s the contact information for the group:

PO Box 320247
Alexandria, VA 22320
Phone: (703) 535-3004
Fax: (703) 647-6259
Email: info@resres.org

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Pew Center: More than One in a Hundred in Prison

February 28, 2008

The Pew Center reports today that the United States now incarcerates 2.3 million people, more than any other country in both the number and percentage. That’s more than one in 100 adults in the United States in jail or prison, an all-time high that costs state governments nearly $50 billion a year and the federal government another $5 billion.

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Got to hear folklorist Charles Briggs from UC Berkeley speak this evening at Virginia Tech on the narrative of violence and then went to a pot luck at Jason’s at the old Yellow Springs resort.

House would replace oil tax breaks with ones for renewables

February 27, 2008

The Washington Post today notes that,

The House of Representatives brushed aside threats of a White House
veto today and voted 236 to 182 in favor of an $18 billion tax package that
would rescind a tax break for the five biggest oil giants and use the revenue to
boost incentives for wind and solar energy and energy efficiency.

Rangel’s Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 (H.R. 5351), a February 12 resubmission of last year’s legislation was reported out of the rules Committee yesterday on a motion limiting debates and amendments.

Republican Renzi to run again in Arizona despite indictment

February 26, 2008

As long ago as April 29, 2007, the conservative East Valley Tribune was calling for Rick Renzi’s resignation:

Renzi will be hounded by political opportunists looking to further
undermine his status, and his constituents will receive less than they deserve
while he rallies to protect himself.

The better choice, the honorable choice, would be for Renzi to step aside and let someone else come forward to represent his district and our state in Congress.

Although initially indicating that he might do so and he was indicted February 23 on 35 counts, Ben Pershing of The Washington Post reported that Renzi’s office announced yesterday that he intended to run for re-election, although no press release showed up on his website, as of today.

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Today, I attended a luncheon and panel discussion at the National Press Club on the unitary executive sponsored by the Constitution Project. See my post of February 18 for the details. I had the opportunity to talk to Charlie Savage and Louis Fisher, two men whose writing and research I admire greatly.

New Yorker on Carbon Footprints

February 25, 2008

Photograph by Horacio Salinas illustrating the article “Big Foot” by Michael Specter.

I’m off to DC for a few days. Here’s something to read while I’m gone, in case I don’t get to post.:

Aviation Biofuels?

February 24, 2008

Richard Branson holds up a vial of biofuel.

What we are using today isn’t going to be the fuel that we are using when we come to commercial use.

Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group was talking about the use of so-called second generation biofuels, such as algae in his quotation cited by Tim Cornwell of The Scotsman, in his 2/25/08 story, “It’s Coconut Airways” about a test flight of a Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet flown between London’s Heathrow and Amsterdam using fuel derived in part from a mixture of Brazilian babassu nuts and coconuts.

The flilght stemmed from the September 2006 annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, where Branson pledged that Virgin’s air and rail profits would go to combat climate change with investment in alternative energy through Virgin Fuels. But when Virgin ran it’s test flight yesterday, some environmental groups would quick to savage him, with the lengthliest quotes in a story in Rudolph Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph of Australia.

One has to wonder just how green Murdoch is compared to Branson, how often he otherwise covers the groups and how much sand the same groups are kicking up over initiatives like coal-to-liquid aviation fuel.

British Columbia leading the way with a carbon tax

February 23, 2008

Columbus, Ohio chemist-turned-cartoonist Drew’s (website, blog, email) Toothpaste for Dinner cartoon of January 9, 2008, “Climate Change: A Libertarian View.”

“Selling B.C.’s historic carbon tax similar to anti-smoking campaigns, say experts in Canadian Press hosted by Google draws an interesting parallel between carbon emissions and smoking and reveals a marketing strategy for addressing the argument I’ve heard raised by Mr. Morris, the CEO of American Electric Power on Monday when addressing Tech students that “cap and trade” is necessary rather than a more efficacious (according to a recent study) carbon tax, because you can’t pass a tax.

Obviously British Columbia, which is admittedly not the U.S., has passed such a tax, and it was supported, according to other coverage, by the business community, although the public isn’t sure that it will work. The article provides some background on trends in other provinces.

Although the story provides the conservative position, it devotes only one line and doesn’t really offer evidence of the pros and cons of each approach. I would have also liked to have seen information on how the initiative gained support for its passage.

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I need to leave because I have friends due for dinner before the contra dance tonight in Giles County with Toss the Possum and Shawn Brenneman, but I will provide links tomorrow.

Hopefully, I’ll also be able to catch up on the “coming soon” entries I’ve been doing all week, while working for NewsTrust (we’ve had the usual workload, plus I hosted U.S. Congress and blogged and participated in staff conference calls Monday, Thursday and Friday), while researching Fairmont LLC for BURG Sunday, helping address AEP on Monday and spending time with Jack Spadaro on Tuesday and Wednesday and conducting a lot of correspondence by email and working on organizing the poetry reading.

Thank you patient readers.

Sweeney Todd’s at the Lyric

February 22, 2008

… There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit
and the vermin of the world inhabit it
and its morals aren’t worth what a pig could spit
and it goes by the name of London.
At the top of the hole sit the privileged few
Making mock of the vermin in the lonely zoo
turning beauty to filth and greed…
I too have sailed the world and seen its wonders,
for the cruelty of men is as wonderous as Peru
but there’s no place like London!

There was a barber and his wife
and she was beautiful…
a foolish barber and his wife.
She was his reason for his life…
and she was beautiful, and she was virtuous.
And he was naive.
There was another man who saw
that she was beautiful…
A biased vulture of the law
who, with a gesture of his claw
removed the barber from his plate!
And there was nothing but to wait!
And she would fall!
So soft!
So young!
So lost and oh so beautiful!

lyrics to “No Place Like London,” thanks to the site AllMusicals.com

So opens Sweeney Todd, which started a week’s run at Blacksburg’s Lyric Theatre tonight and was much more a filmed musical (or opera, one could argue) than I expected, having abstained from reading the reviews, and gorier, but in a characteristically Tim Burton computer-generated imagery kind of way–sort, of a Sweeney and the Meat Pie Factory.

In fact, there was one moment in the film, where Depp’s Sweeney looks upon Bonham Carter’s Mrs. Lovette with the same queasiness at human contact we saw in his embodiment of Roald Dahl‘s Willie Wonka, in another Burton film, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

I found the acting of everyone involved excellent and the singing by the two leads affecting, an extension of their portrayals, rather than a mere breaking into song. Other reviewers either liked he film more–or less–than I did. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, Peter French of the Guardian/Observer, Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers, and A.O Scott in the New York Times raved. Salon.com’s Stephanie Zacharek panned the effort.

So, while I’m a fan of the two protagonists, of the filmmaker and of Sondheim, and while, I’d recommend you see the flick, I still came away a bit disappointed, as I found myself interested, but not transported.

Activist Women Poets Read at Gillies March 10 at 7

February 21, 2008

coming

A day with Jack Spadaro plotting on behalf of Appalachia

February 20, 2008

coming soon