Blue State Views

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Kennedy’s Stooge

1259380692_3731 Temporary U.S. Senator Paul Kirk, flaccid and uninspiring to date in his stewardship of a Massachusetts seat in the Senate, has now sprung to life, revealing why members of the Kennedy family (and other wealthy denizens of the Cape and the Islands) were so keen to see him appointed as Ted Kennedy's interim replacement.  Kirk has embraced cowardice and self-interest by urging President Obama to delay federal approval of the Cape Wind project.  Like Kennedy before him, Kirk has now done the bidding of all his fellow wealthy elitists and NIMBYists.  They're no doubt delighted with him.   I say shame on him.  

As flawed as they may be in other ways, all four Democratic candidates vying for this Senate seat support the Cape Wind project.  They are on the right side of this issue.  

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Breath of Fresh Air

From the lead article in today's New York Times:

President Obama
will direct federal regulators on Monday to move swiftly on an
application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile
emission and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday.

The directive makes good on an Obama campaign pledge and signifies a
sharp reversal of Bush administration policy. Granting California and
the other states the right to regulate tailpipe emissions would be one
of the most emphatic actions Mr. Obama could take to quickly put his
stamp on environmental policy.

Mr. Obama’s presidential memorandum will order the Environmental Protection Agency
to reconsider the Bush administration’s past rejection of the
California application. While it stops short of flatly ordering the
Bush decision reversed, the agency’s regulators are now widely expected
to do so after completing a formal review process.

Refreshing to have a President who wants to protect the broad public interest rather than the interests of big business.  Encouraging to have a President who frees government agencies to do the work for which they were created rather than hampering and blocking their pursuit of their missions.

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Thank God for the Coal Industry

From Think Progress:

Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection and the “Reality” coalition have a new ad out today on the myth of “clean coal.” The ad is part of a national grassroots effort to emphasize that there is no such thing as clean coal and features a “coal executive” saying, “Coal isn’t dirty. We think it’s clean. Smells good, too.” Watch it:

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Science is Back! Smart is Back!

I wrote earlier in the week about how exciting it is that we will have a president who will value science and restore a role for scientists in national policymaking.  President-elect Obama's choice of Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy was such an encouraging sign.  Now, it appears that Obama is also appointing another scientist, Harvard's John Holdren — an expert on energy policy, climate change, environmental policy, energy security, nuclear nonproliferation, etc.** — to be his White House science advisor.   Very exciting.  Science is back.   The selection of Holdren is the strongest message yet that Obama intends to tackle the climate-change problem aggressively.

** Holdren is incredibly smart, a Big Thinker.

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U.S. Energy Policy: Grasshoppers’ Crap

Remember the fable about the Grasshopper and the Ant?  Here’s a good take on it, as it applies to Republican and Democratic approaches to our national energy policy.  The article is not long, and the whole thing is worth reading (it will remind you how wise Jimmy Carter was), but here are the parts I liked best:

You remember the fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant? The
grasshopper spends the warm months–when food is abundant–singing,
dancing, and generally enjoying himself while the ant works hard to
store up food for the colder months, which he knows are coming. And
sure enough, when winter comes, the ant is prepared and the grasshopper

Well in the world of politics–and particularly when it comes to
energy policy–there are a lot of grasshoppers and very few ants, and
unfortunately, the grasshoppers have been setting policy for a long
time now.

. . .

Over the years, leaders of the Republican Party–like Dick
Cheney–have been openly hostile to the very concept of conservation and
have allowed lobbyists for the oil companies to literally write our
nation’s energy policies. And during that time, almost three decades,
we’ve become far more dependent on foreign oil, and our government has
made little if any effort to encourage the development of alternative
energy sources or even to take simple steps to improve energy
efficiency (such as raising CAFE standards for automobile makers).

In short, for the last three decades, the Republican Party has been
a party of grasshoppers, blissfully encouraging the consumption of ever
greater amounts of oil while doing absolutely nothing to prepare for
the winter ahead. Indeed, they’ve done everything in their power to
marginalize those who have warned that the good times can’t last and
that we need to embrace conservation initiatives and develop
alternative energy sources.

And now that the long-awaited winter has finally come and we’re all
suffering under the weight of sky-high oil prices, what is the
Republican response? They seize upon an imaginary quick fix–off-shore
oil drilling–and they all rally around it, accusing their opponents of being the obstacle to lower gas prices. They preen and pose, convening fake sessions of Congress to show that they
are the ones who really care about gas prices. They ignore what their
own government experts have acknowledged, that allowing further
off-shore drilling won’t produce a drop of new oil for at least a
decade and, even then, will do little if anything to reduce gas prices.

Apparently in the Republican version of the fable, rather than
admitting that he’d been short-sighted and reckless in not preparing
for the winter, the grasshopper pretends that there’s actually a
winter’s worth of food located just beneath his feet and that the only
thing keeping him from digging it up is that damn ant.

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Check out CarbonRally

The "Cyberfamilias" column in last Thursday’s New York Times provided an interesting introduction to, a website that helps you figure out ways to ease your carbon footprint.  As Michelle Slatalla, the article’s author, says, unlike many carbon footprint calculators, CarbonRally makes you feel good about what you already do to save energy instead of feeling guilty about what you don’t.  Check out the website — and Slatalla’s article.  Both are good.

(The graphic below synchs with a riff in Slatalla’s article)