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Archive for September, 2008

The energy battle unfolding in the halls of Congress carries one clear lesson: energy prices and economic insecurity present a profoundly more powerful political imperative than calls for environmental protection and climate action. Rising gas prices and plummeting stock prices have dramatically altered the political landscape around energy, creating a pivotal moment for clean energy and climate advocates.

Republicans successfully capitalized on the changing energy landscape to advance an expanded oil drilling agenda, pushing Democrats back with cries of “Drill Baby, Drill!” and seizing control of the energy debate for the first time since the 2006 election.

Democrats won a tactical victory yesterday, passing a true “all of the above” energy bill out of the House that authorizes expanded oil drilling and creates new renewable energy production requirements for electric utilities. Pelosi and the House Democrats forced all but 15 Republicans to vote No on a pro-drilling bill, calling their empty “we support an all of the above energy strategy” bluff.

But make no mistake: while this was a tactical win, when Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic House passes a pro-drilling bill, you’re looking at nothing less than a political earthquake. We’re witnessing a fundamental realignment of the energy debate. (more…)

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We can no longer trust greens to save the planet. Their track record and anti-pragmatic approach demonstrates one thing above all else: environmentalism is still dead. It’s time to lead or leave, and until greens are ready to grow up, we shouldn’t take their marching orders. The moment is simply too urgent.

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Since 2004, greens have risen slowly but surely from “The Death of Environmentalism” pronounced by Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus. “An Inconvenient Truth,” a new Democratic Congress, the green marketing frenzy — it seemed that greens had risen from the grave throwing punches, and it was only a matter of time before the final “tipping point” on global warming action was reached.

But this summer, environmentalism’s coffin was buried once again. The failure of Lieberman-Warner in June was just the beginning — two years ago, it would have been inconceivable for Democrats to cave in on offshore drilling, or for greens to oppose an energy bill crafted by Democrats. Environmentalists were completely destroyed by “drill, baby, drill.” Indeed, a new era of escalating energy prices and economic crisis has provoked a paradigm shift in the national political climate. As Environment & Energy Daily reported yesterday (subscription req’d):

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The Folly of Green

Here’s a question for all us greens: why do we call ourselves “green”? Why has the mantra stuck for so long? And is it a symbol we should continue to promote?

I’ve always avoided using “green.” As a clean energy advocate, I strive to avoid association with traditional environmental stereotypes — and in my experience, “green” evokes environmental culture. Many other sustainability and climate advocates have made similar choices. Adam Werbach even launched what he envisions as the evolution of sustainability, “BLUE.”

But clearly this isn’t an experience shared by all clean energy and climate advocates. Friedman’s new blockbuster book calls it the “green revolution.” On September 27th, hundreds to thousands of us will join Green for All, 1 Sky, and The We Campaign in their “Green Jobs Now” day of national action. And whether or not you think “green” is the best approach, these are efforts we can all throw our weight behind.

As a comrade in the clean energy revolution, however, I feel a duty to address basic assumptions when I think they might be limiting our efficacy. So I ask my fellow greens: is “green” a symbol that can rally a national movement powerful enough to transform the entire economy?

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