With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
Midterm Election Wrap
By Desi Doyen on 11/4/2010, 1:25pm PT  

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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Let the plutocracy begin! Republicans Rejoice: Victory in the midterm elections, re-shaping the House of Representatives, and re-writing the rules of "compromise," with consequences for clean energy and the planet; PLUS: To put it all into perspective: Another natural disaster bearing down on Haiti ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Jan.-to-Oct. 2010 tied for hottest in satellite record; Pakistan's emergency rations to run out in 30 days; Halliburton may be shielded from liability in BP Oil Disaster; Can SCOTUS whale ruling be used to halt other projects?; U.S. solar-panel maker to close a factory; WA state nuclear plant scores low in reliability; RFK Jr: ‘A coup d’etat against the carbon cronies’ ...PLUS: The best U.S. cities for electric cars ...


  • HAITI: Still Devastated From Earthquake 10 Months Ago, Now In Direct Path of Tropical Storm (Hurricane?) Tomas:
    • Tropical Storm Tomas approaches Haiti, Jamaica: The storm was expected to brush Jamaica's eastern provinces and then regain hurricane strength before passing near the western coast of Haiti early Friday morning with heavy rains, (AP)
    • Haiti orders earthquake camps evacuated as Tomas nears (CTV News)
    • Tomas Puts Haiti on Red Alert (Mac McClelland, Mother Jones) [emphasis added]:
      The late-season storm is projected to intensify into a hurricane and make landfall on Friday, with winds and rains beginning today, and authorities are warning people that they may have to evacuate. They are not, however, telling them where they all might evacuate to, since a million people already live under little more than plastic sheets after January's devastating earthquake.

      A series of hurricanes in pre-quake 2008 Haiti killed 800 people.

  • Let the Plutocracy Begin! Senator-Elect Rand Paul (R-KY): "We All Work For Rich People":
    • Rand Paul Explains His Support For Plutocracy: 'There Are No Poor…We All Work For Rich People' (Think Progress) [emphasis added]:
      PAUL: Well, the thing is, we're all interconnected. There are no rich. There are no middle class. There are no poor. We all are interconnected in the economy. You remember a few years ago, when they tried to tax the yachts, that didn't work. You know who lost their jobs? The people making the boats, the guys making 50,000 and 60,000 dollars a year lost their jobs. We all either work for rich people or we sell stuff to rich people. So just punishing rich people is as bad for the economy as punishing anyone. Let's not punish anyone. Let's keep taxes low and let's cut spending.
    • Big Oil spends $69.5m on ads to get the Congress it wants: It's worth a lot to the oil and coal lobbies to get the Congress they want and the investment seems to be paying off (Guardian UK)
    • Karl Rove Goes Partisan at Marcellus Shale Fracking Conference (Irregular Times) [emphasis added]:
      The DUG (Drilling Unatural Gas) industry conference taking place on November 3, 2010 in Pittsburgh is not simply or even mainly a technical conference to discuss the practical challenges of fracturing underground shale and recovering natural gas without poisoning water supplies and killing people.
      Invited into this mix is Karl Rove, political mastermind for George W. Bush and the founder of American Crossroads and Crossroads Grassroots, a pair of political corporations that have spent $37,470,938.42 on the congressional campaigns this season. 1 out of 10 independent campaign dollars spent across the whole country can be traced to this man, who has been invited to give a speech to the fracking conference. His subject? "An Update on Mid-Term Elections and its Impact on the Gas Industry."
    • Your 2012 Pres. Election Preview: Energy Interests Drop $247 Million on Ads in 2010 (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones)
  • The New Republican Majority in Congress Ready to Re-Write the Rules of "Compromise" with Obama:
    • The Real Threat to Science in the New Political Climate (NYT Dot Earth) [emphasis added]:
      I see the looming problem as much deeper, with cuts in money for science unlikely to be climate-centric. This election almost guarantees an end to the brief stimulus-driven period of increased investment in advancing energy technologies that could supplant finite fossil fuels.
    • WATCH: President Obama's Press Conference: "Let's Find Those Areas Where We Can Agree" (The White House Blog)
    • TRANSCRIPT of the President's Post-Election Press Conference (The White House)
    • Obama drops plan to limit global warming gases: Battle over global warming now turns to EPA as Obama says he will pursue other solutions (Raw Story)
      Environmental groups and industry seem headed for another battle over regulation of greenhouse gases, as President Barack Obama said he will look for ways to control global warming pollution other than Congress placing a ceiling on it.
      ...The new battle over global warming in Congress will target the Environmental Protection Agency, which is poised to regulate greenhouse gases for the first time, after the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that it could treat heat-trapping gases as pollutants.
    • A Surge in Lawsuits Challenging E.P.A. on Climate (NYT Green)
    • Half Of GOP Caucus Are Climate Zombies, Four Members Admit Science Is Real (Wonk Room, Think Progress)
    • A Referendum on Climate Action? (Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones)
    • Outcome of U.S. Midterm Election Already Clear: Polluters Win Again (Huffington Post Green)
    • WATCH: Darrell Issa: Obama must answer 'several hundred' inquiries
      (Crooks & Liars)
    • GOP congressman apologizes to BP for '$20 billion shakedown' (Raw Story, July 2010) [emphasis added]:
      During a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) called the $20 billion escrow fund that BP has promised to establish a "shakedown" and apologized to BP Tony Hayward.

      "I'm speaking totally for myself and I'm not speaking for the Republican Party and I'm not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself, but I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday," Barton began.

      "I think it's a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown," he continued, "in this case, a $20 billion shakedown with the Attorney General of the United States --- who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people --- participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, that's got no legal standing, and that I think sets a terrible precedent for the future."

      "I'm only speaking for myself," Barton repeated. "I'm not speaking for anybody else, but I apologize. I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong and is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown. So I apologize."

    • GOP firebrands ready assault on Interior (Energy & Environment Daily):
      Committee Republicans, hoping to hold the gavel next session, are planning to bring Salazar and other top department officials to their turf for a host of oversight hearings. In the past two years, Republicans have accused Interior of instituting a de facto moratorium on shallow and deepwater offshore drilling, conspiring to unilaterally block development on millions of acres of public lands by creating "secret monuments" and weakening national security by subjecting U.S. Border Patrol agents to overly onerous restrictions on Southwestern wilderness.

      If Republicans control the committee, they hope to turn those accusations into hearings, and lots of them.

    • Solar industry gives a shout out to GOP friends (The Hill)
  • CA's Clean-Energy-Killing Proposition 23 Fails, But Chevron-Funded Prop 26 Squeaks By:
    • Calif.'s Little-Noticed Prop 26 Squeaks Through in Dead of Night (NYT Green):
      The same California voters who rejected a proposition yesterday that would have suspended the state's climate change law also approved a separate ballot referendum that could undermine how cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are implemented by changing the definition of environmental fees.

      Proposition 26, which passed officially early this morning, will tighten how the state constitution defines taxes and regulatory fees. It has been called the "evil twin" of Proposition 23 by environmental activists who fear it would inhibit the state's ability to regulate carbon emissions.

      Proposition 23 would have delayed the state's climate law, A.B. 32, until unemployment dropped to 5.5 percent for a full year. The measure was roundly rejected, with more than 60 percent of the electorate voting against it (ClimateWire, Nov. 3).
      An analysis released last week by the law school at University of California, Los Angeles, found that Prop 26 could "erect significant barriers" to many environmental programs in California, including A.B. 32 (Greenwire, Oct. 27). This despite claims by the "Yes on 26" campaign (and supporters like Chevron Corp.) that the measure would simply make it more difficult to increase taxes.

  • ...And With Major Consequences for the Planet:
    • January-to-October tied for hottest in satellite record: New U.S. daily high temperature records in October outpace record lows by nearly 5-to-1 (Climate Progress)
    • Healing from Global Warming May Take 100,000 Years (Treehugger):
      The geological evidence from the 55 million year event and from earlier warming episodes suggests that such an addition [a massive increase in greenhouse gases caused by the activities of mankind] is likely to raise average global temperatures by at least 5 to 6C, and possibly more, and that recovery of the Earth's climate in the absence of mitigation measures could take 100,000 years or more. Numerical models of the climate system support such an interpretation. In the light of the evidence presented here it is reasonable to conclude that emitting further large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over time is likely to be unwise, uncomfortable though that fact may be.

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

  • January-to-October tied for hottest in satellite record: New U.S. daily high temperature records in October outpace record lows by nearly 5-to-1 (Climate Progress)
  • Halliburton: BP Contract Offers Gulf Oil Spill Liability Protection, Analysts Say (Huffington Post Green):
    Halliburton Co. should be protected by its contract with BP from having to pay for most damages for the Gulf oil spill despite new concerns about the cement mix used to seal BP's ill-fated well, two analysts said Friday.
  • PAKISTAN FLOOD Relief: World Food Programme's rations to run out in 30 days: Pakistan seeking more funds from donors (Pakistan Observer):
    The World Food Programme (WFP) has been left with only one month's worth of rations for Pakistan's flood victims.

    WFP spokesperson Amjad Jamal said that in isolated areas like the North of Pakistan where flood victims are extremely vulnerable, the WFP will supply full rations. But rations to parts of Sindh, Punjab and Gilgit Baltistan will be halved in November, and may be closed completely if adequate funds are not received.

    Jamal said an appeal of $600 million was made but only $200 million have been received so far.

    The spokesperson said the WFP has to provide food for about 7.2 million people and expressed fear about the plight of flood victims in the future.

  • Debate continues over '08 whale ruling's impact on enviros' bids to halt projects (Greenwire):
    the opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, also had broader implications on the ability of environmentalists to persuade judges to grant preliminary injunctions, which have the effect of putting a stop to potential environmental damage before, from activists' perspective, it is too late.
  • U.S. Solar-Panel Maker to Close a Factory and Delay Expansion (NY Times):
    Solyndra, a Silicon Valley solar-panel maker that won half a billion dollars in federal aid to build a state-of-the-art robotic factory, plans to announce on Wednesday that it will shut down an older plant and lay off workers.

    The cost-cutting move, which will reduce the company's previously announced production capacity, is a sign of the notable shift in the prospects for cutting-edge American solar companies, which now face intense price competition from Chinese manufacturers that use more established photovoltaic technologies.

    Just seven weeks ago, Solyndra opened Fab 2, a $733 million factory in Fremont, Calif., to make its high-tech solar panels. The new plant was supposed to be the first phase of a rapid expansion of the company.

    Instead, Solyndra has decided to shutter the old plant.

  • Washington state nuclear plant scores low in reliability (McClatchy DC):
    Energy Northwest's nuclear power plant near Richland, Wash., has been rated as one of two nuclear plants in the nation that are in greatest need of operational and human performance improvement.
  • ‘A coup d’etat against the carbon cronies’: chatting with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (David Roberts, Grist):
    Q. Given there's no prospect of a comprehensive climate/energy bill for two, four, who knows how many years, what should climate and energy folks be doing? Where should their energies and attentions be focused?

    A. There are a lot of things that the federal government can do without going through Congress. Those are the lessons Bush and Cheney taught us. The Supreme Court has given the EPA the authority to put a price on carbon. We ought to be doing that. The administration also ought to be putting a cost on mercury from coal plants. They should altogether ban mountaintop-removal mining. They should try to force the carbon industry to internalize their costs the same way that they internalize their profits.
    We need a marketplace that turns every American into an energy entrepreneur and every home into a power plant, that powers our country on what Franklin Roosevelt called "America's industrial genius."

  • Best U.S. Cities For Electric Cars, Says GE, Are The Ones Where Everyone Already Drives (Treehugger):
    If you were asked what the best U.S. city for electric cars will be, what would you say? A compact city where keeping within your new e-car's range would be a cinch? Or would you guess the best city for electric cars will be the one with the most charging posts? Wrong on both tries, says General Electric (which by the way makes a charging post, the WattStation): the "best" cities for EVs will be those where nearly everybody already drives to work.