The Dernogalizer

January 15, 2010

Now would be a great time for environmental groups and climate activists to thank Senator Harry Reid

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:10 am
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It’s got to be tough being Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid these days.  His approval rating is 36% and he is trailing Republicans by 8 points for his re-election bid.  He is getting absolutely shelled in the media, the right, and some of the left for his bonehead remarks about Barack Obama’s viability as an African American candidate for president.  Joe Lieberman is likely the only Senator the progressive left is more frustrated with for the final state of the Senate health care bill next to Reid.  Reid has to negotiate with the likes of Senators Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu for every piece of progressive legislation.  He’s in danger of losing his Democratic super majority to a Republican in Massachusetts!?  You know the dysfunctional Senate that progressives and climate activists have been railing against?  Reid is in charge of that mess!  Next to Obama, Reid has to bear the brunt of everyone’s frustrations and outbursts over the fact that the Senate screws everything up.

So why in the world should the environmental and climate community have this guy’s back right now?  Because with all the crap Reid has on his plate, he has held his ground on two of our most important issues to this point.

#1. Conservative coal state Democrats have been whining for a long time now that the Senate shouldn’t touch climate legislation this year, and instead pass a lousy renewable energy bill that passed out of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee last year.  More than ever, the mainstream media has been drinking the kool-aide and recycling the same complaints from the same Senators that climate legislation is dead.  As is no secret by now, the Democrats prospects in the 2010 midterm elections look in the toilet.  I don’t know about you, but I want us to pass clean energy and climate legislation that puts a price on carbon, and lives up to our weak  yet important international obligations for emissions reductions, fighting international deforestation, and providing adaptation and mitigation aid.  With the Senate looking to take on a major jobs bill, financial reform, and finish health care, it would be very easy in an election year for Reid to give in and kick the can down the road.  At times, it’s seemed that’s what was going to happen.

But Thursday in a speech to the Geothermal Energy Association’s Finance Forum, Reid made numerous assertions that passing clean energy and climate legislation was very important to him, and that he was looking to get it done this spring.

“Finally – and perhaps most importantly – Congress needs to send the market a clear signal on the costs of global warming pollution to drive far greater investments into geothermal and every other form of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

“As you know, the House has passed a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that does many of these things. I support addressing each of these issues in the Senate’s version, and I expect that to happen this spring.”

Reid also said towards the end “taking on the clean-energy challenge also may be the most important policy we will ever pass.  And we cannot afford to wait any longer to act.”

Now some of you might be saying,” alright, well I think the current climate legislation on the table is a load of garbage, I’d just as soon see nothing pass.”  Fair enough.  I disagree with you, but fair enough.  But this is where we come to number two.

#2. The Clean Air Act is under attack by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is trying to stage a floor flight to add an amendment aimed at halting EPA regulations to address climate change.  An amendment written for Murkowski by a coal lobbyist whose employers gave Murkowski 35 grand.  Yikes!  Environmental groups have been gearing up for a fight, and rightfully waging a war to make Lisa Murkowski look bad for trying to destroy her state and corrupt for not asking where that bag of cash came from.  I agree, lets go after her, but at the same time that we’re all jumping on Murkowski, we need to all take a minute to thank Senator Reid.  Here’s more from his remarks Thursday.

“For example, next week Senator Murkowski of Alaska may offer an amendment – to a completely unrelated bill, it should be noted – that would stop the EPA from protecting Americans from global warming pollution.  It’s a highly political move, and a highly hazardous one to our health and the environment.  If this Senator succeeds, it could keep Congress from working constructively in a bipartisan manner to pass clean energy legislation this year.  That’s why I will work hard to defeat this misguided amendment.  I hope that doesn’t come to that.  It would be an embarrassment for the United States to fall any further behind other countries, competitors of ours in the global economy whose governments strongly support their own renewable energy companies.”

Score two for Senator Reid!(or one if you want the climate bill to implode).  We will need to be pressuring all our Senators to do a much better job of fighting climate change and passing strong clean energy and environmental legislation.  That includes Reid.

But we also need to recognize something I don’t think has been said enough.  This guy is on our side! He gets it.  He has a tough job, and most of the time, we’re going to rightfully make it tougher with our advocacy so he chooses us over Ben Nelson.  But at a time where everyone is doing a great job of making Harry Reid’s life more difficult, we need to thank him for his leadership in standing up and taking our side on two of the most important battles we face this year.  It will pay off for the climate movement and Reid in the long run.

Reid’s Office #  is: 202-224-3542

I think a lot of us forgot this video…

December 29, 2008

Faster Climate Change Feared

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 9:25 pm
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Here’s a good article by the Post about a new report issued on the pace of climate change.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/24/AR2008122402174.html

December 12, 2008

EU Strikes Weak Climate Deal

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:01 pm
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So as climate talks continue into 2009, the EU appears to have settled on an agreement for reducing emissions by 20% by 2020. However, it appears that there were very large concessions to Eastern Europe, and that only half of this 20% is actually going to be cut within the EU, and will actually be cut in developing countries from EU efforts. My thoughts on this are obviously that the EU needs to do better. They have offered to do 30% if other countries outside the EU jump on board with the 20% cuts. This would be a more ideal target. However, this framework is still being developed, so I would call all of this tenative until 2009 in Copenhagen. On one hand, I am grateful that the EU is making the strongest efforts of anyone to cut emissions. On the other hand, considering the state of everyone else, this isn’t too hard to do. I’m hopeful that with a new US president providing stronger leadership, pushing a cap and trade bill, and a strong green stimulus that we will inspire other countries to agree to strong cuts, and that the EU will be forced to make stronger cuts than they are right now. Only time will tell though, although I certainly wouldn’t call this a good development.

Here’s the link to the article below..

article

December 11, 2008

Obama Picks Energy+Environmental Posts

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:44 am
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So Obama has selected people for the top positions dealing with energy+environment. All that’s left is Interior Dept. You can find the link about who Obama has selected here, but I wanted to specifically shine a light upon the new energy secretary Dr. Steve Chu. Not only is this guy a Nobel Prize winner for work in Physics, but he’s been working on the frontlines of research into new technological breakthroughs when it comes to energy. This is in my opinion Obama’s finest pick. Here is a video of Chu, which gives a very good idea of how much you should be looking forward to this administration when it comes to renewable energy and fighting climate change.

December 10, 2008

New Coal Plant Proposed in Virginia

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:57 am
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Hell No!

Hell No!

There’s a new $4-6 billion coal plant being proposed in Virginia for 2016, and I wanted to draw attention to it. Here’s a link about environmental activists pledging an all-out war against the plant: madness

I really wonder if these boys will ever learn. All out war indeed. Some of this power will go to Maryland too. How about the fact you’re gonna get slapped with a cap and trade? One of the most pathetic statements is by the spokesman for the group supporting the coal plant, stating that it’s okay because they’re going to employ the latest technologies, and are looking to use “clean coal” technology so that the plant is environmentally sensitive. This flies in the face of a few facts I just wanted to bring to light

1. There is no such thing as clean coal yet. Even if there was…well…just read this post and click on the link where I explain why clean coal isn’t viable.

2. It says in the article I linked about the plant that the coal will be burning coal from Appalachia. In other words, the coal will be coming from the very destructive process of mountain top removal.

3. Straight from the article.. “ODEC announced its plans the same week that the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change made final more than 100 recommendations for combat ing global warming in Virginia. Chief among them is reducing greenhouse gases – most notably carbon dioxide – by 80 percent by 2050.”

What are the odds building a coal plant was one of the recommendations?

All out war is putting it lightly.

December 9, 2008

Column on Climate Legislation

So I have my weekly column out today. Due to word constraints, I couldn’t tell people what they can do over the next year to make a difference. The best move could be to find out who your Congressman and US Senators are, depending on where you live. Then at the least make a phone call and write a letter telling them what you want. Scheduling a lobby meeting with their office would be great as well.

In Maryland, the main target should be Steny Hoyer since he is the House Majority Leader. It’s a very powerful postion responsible for setting the legislative agenda, and being the deal broker on votes for a bill. If you live in his district, do everything you can to let him know you want to him to make climate change legislation a priority. His website with contact info is below, as well as my column.

http://media.www.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2008/12/09/Opinion/Climate.Change.It.Has.To.Start.At.Home-3575122.shtml

http://hoyer.house.gov/

The latest round of United Nations climate talks is coming to a close in the next few days in Poznan, Poland. These negotiations, taking place between countries all around the world, are going to lay the foundation for a final deal to be made at the end of 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The need for a strong treaty involving both developed and developing nations is crucial. A failure to replace the previous treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, would put the world on a devastating path of unregulated and unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions.

President-elect Barack Obama (D) has given strong assurances to the countries in Poznan right now that, when he takes office, the United States will re-engage these talks with the objective of leading the world in cooperation on climate change. Rhetoric from Obama and eight years too many of Bush have skyrocketed expectations from foreign countries that the United States is going to be able to sign a strong climate treaty in Copenhagen. There’s a major problem, though. The reality is it’s all but impossible for Obama to get the Senate to ratify a global climate treaty. You need two-thirds of the Senate to go along, and the odds of getting 67 senators in a sharply partisan institution to vote ‘yes’ is not a winning proposition. It would be devastating if the country agreed to a treaty in Copenhagen and then was unable to get it ratified by the Senate. The international agreement would likely disintegrate, harming the United States’ standing in the world and sending emissions spiraling out of control.

We’ve seen this happen before. Former President Bill Clinton agreed in international talks to the Kyoto Protocol, and along with former Vice President Al Gore, he brought it back for consideration by the Senate, which never put it to a vote. This was embarrassing and made Kyoto grossly inadequate and ineffective. What’s the point of emissions reductions if the biggest emitter isn’t on board? To this day, the U.S. is the only developed country whose government has not moved to ratify Kyoto.

Obama needs to learn from past mistakes. There’s a way to turn these climate talks into walk. We need to pass a strong climate change bill in our country before talks in Copenhagen finish. A national bill is more politically feasible than ever before with a new Congress and a progressive president leading the charge. Obama would only need 60 votes in the Senate for a bill.

This is how we can give assurances to our European partners that the U.S. will be able to follow up on what it says it will do. This is how we can break the inaction from China and India. This is how we can restore the United States’ standing in the world. Congress historically moves slowly unless an issue is on the tip of constituents’ tongues. We need to let them hear it, including in Maryland.

Right now we have a situation where everybody is waiting for everybody. The world is watching. All eyes are on us. It’s about time we put our best foot forward.

Matt Dernoga is a junior government and politics major. He can be reached at mdernoga@umd.edu.

November 28, 2008

Record Hurricane Season

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 2:43 pm
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Interesting article out here: http://news.aol.com/article/atlantic-hurricane-season-breaks-records/261515

One key thing to note is to look at the total damages costs they put out accorrding to the insurance companies. This all is relevant to a post a made a few monthes ago here : https://madrad2002.wordpress.com/2008/09/07/ike-and-insurance/

says all I need to say

November 26, 2008

Direct Action

Chill Man

Chill Man

So I thought it would be interesting to give my perspective on direct action activism versus more traditional forms, based on an experience I had last Friday.

Here’s my column on the topic: http://media.www.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2008/11/25/Opinion/Protests.Lobbying.Will.Take.You.Far.But.Only.So.Far-3560835.shtml

And Here’s a Couple of News Links About the Protest..

http://media.www.diamondbackonline.com/media/storage/paper873/news/2008/11/17/News/Students.Protest.Coal.Funding.At.Bank-3547014.shtml

This one in the PG Gazette has a picture of me holding the sign

http://www.gazette.net/stories/112020

November 25, 2008

John Dingell Ousted!

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:19 am
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Pwned!

Pwned!

I’m a couple days behind the news on this one, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. Here’s an interesting article in case you want more background http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/us/politics/23waxman.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

For anyone who doesn’t know, Democrat John Dingell of Michigan has been one of the most powerful members of Congress, and held his seat for well over half a century. He used to be the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell is one of the main reasons why environmental and climate legislation has been so difficult to pass in the House. He “protected” the auto industries fro decades from improved CAFE standards, and emissions standards. Ironically enough, he’s probably one of the main reasons why the auto industry has been driven into the ground. Dingell’s chairmanship was challenged by Henry Waxman of California, a Congressman who has been much more proactive on energy and environmental legislation. Just having Democrats in control of Congress isn’t enough. We need to have the right Democrats in charge of the right committees. I’m looking forward to seeing how things change in 2009 with Henry Waxman as the new chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

It’s about time John Dingell got what he deserved.

November 17, 2008

Action Against Coal, Politician Galore, and CCAN Retreat

So I should have pictures and press hits being linked eventually for everything I was a part of Fri-Sun. First I joined some people in protesting in front of the Bank of America since their bank has funded coal companies performing mountaintop removal to the tune of 6 billion dollars since 2001. We delivered letters from concerned students, and then did a “die-in” in front of the bank where we pretended to be dead/dying to symbolize the thousands of lives that coal and coal mining ruins and kills every year. There was a good deal of media there, and it was an interesting event. I’ve never protested anything like that, so I wanted to see what it was like.

Then Friday night I went to a Frank Kratovil victory party to celebrate, and get a picture of him with my Sierra Club buddies. So I met Kratovil, got to talk with him, and we got our pic taken with him as he wore a Sierra Club hat that said on it “here to save the planet”. Then, I realized that there were all sorts of big names in the house. I had the privilege of talking to Ben Cardin, Steny Hoyer, Congressman Dutch Rupersberger, soon to be leaving Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, and Governor O’Malley. All of my conversations went well except the O’Malley one, the Cardin one went real good. O’Malley didn’t seem to be too polite to be honest, but after thanking him for his support for the Global Warming Solutions Act, I told him in my opinion he should discontinue funding the ICC, and he pretty flatly and without elaboration said no. Not that I expected much different.

Then this weekend I went on a retreat held by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, where I met a lot of great activists, networked with people, talked about the climate movement, and did some planning for the winter and spring to achieve objectives. I had a great time, and I got to talk with Mike Tidwell too. I also got to give a speech about what students were doing.

So there will be pictures and press from some of this. Definitely pictures of some of my run-ins with the politicians to prove all this actually happened. Quite an exciting weekend!

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