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July 08, 2004

Comments

I saw a theater piece called "Patriot Act" Tuesday at New York Theater Workshop. An NYU professor, Mark Crispin Miller discusses the Neocon attitude on the environment. Evidently, they take Genesis literally when it says that Man shall have dominion over the water and the fowl etc. so they think God has given Man a blank check, so to speak. He even quotes Ann Coulter as saying basically the Earth is ours to rape at will, case closed (and yes, she actually used the word rape in this context).

It's certainly a different view of man's rights from how I was raised, Wilfred. We believe one doesn't own the land so much as care for it until the next generation takes it over. There's a deep-seeded sense of responsibility toward the future.

It's not "ours" to rape.

That's a tortured reading of scripture, wilfred. A better word than 'dominion' is stewardship, but that word doesn't scare liberals as much. As for Teshekpuk, let's not make automatic assumptions, especially when a partisan like Babbitt is making the insinuations.

As for Teshekpuk, let's not make automatic assumptions,

Do you suggest waiting until Norton makes a decision allowing the drilling to proceed without the safeguards? Babbitt doesn't share his sources, but I would assume he, better than you or I, would have connections into what's going on behind the scenes.

I think their atrocious environmental record has more to do with being in bed with the oil and coal industries, than with any reading of scripture.

And I'm not sure why we've focused so heavily on Alaska. Bad things--often worse things--also happen in the continental U.S.

Right now there is an increasingly common coal mining method in the Appalachains called "mountaintop removal." It is exactly what it sounds like. Clear cut the forest, blast apart the top of the mountain with dynamite to get to the coal, 300 feet away from people's houses in some cases. Push the rocks and dirt that remain into the valley, fill in the streams, leave the rainwater with nowhere to run but into the towns at the bottom of valleys. Claim that that the fatal floods would've happened anyway.

What do you think the Bush administration's policy is on mountaintop removal? I'll give you one guess:

Dozens of miners, environmentalists, religious leaders and coalfield residents pleaded with the Bush administration Tuesday to rethink its plan to ease a buffer-zone rule that protects streams from mountaintop removal mining.

At an Interior Department hearing that had the anger of a political rally and overtones of a religious revival, 42 foes of the rule change described mountaintop mining as everything from "the epitome of irresponsible mining" to "environmental rape" and "economic insanity."...

The department in January proposed easing a 1983 rule that sets limits on coal mining near streams. Current policy says mining cannot disturb land within 100 feet of a stream unless a company can prove it will not affect the water's quality and quantity.

The new rule, which the Office of Surface Mining has described as a "clarification," would require coal operators to minimize only "to the extent possible" any damage to streams, fish and wildlife by "using the best technology currently available."

Department officials have said the current policy is impossible to comply with during mountaintop removal mining, which involves shearing off the tops of ridges to expose a coal seam. Dirt and rock are pushed below, often in stream beds, a practice known as valley fill....

In an overheated [Charleston] Civic Center conference room crammed with about 100 people, only two of 44 speakers spoke in favor of the new rule: Bill Raney of the West Virginia Coal Association and a Charleston lawyer who represents coal companies....

In the Washington, D.C., hearing at an Interior Department auditorium, more West Virginia residents told tales of floods, flattened peaks and homes swept away or devalued. More than two dozen speakers opposed the plan, while only a lawyer for the National Mining Association praised it.

Mary Miller of Sylvester said the value of her home had dropped from $144,000 to below $12,000. Residents in her coalfield town, which is home to one of the largest mountaintop removal sites in West Virginia, won economic damages last month suing a mining company over coal dust covering their homes, vehicles and other property.

And I'm not sure why we've focused so heavily on Alaska.

I think part of why there's such a focus on Alaska is its symbolism (as a vast untainted stretch of land), but you're right in that it's hardly the worst of what's going on.

Mountaintop removal is something you would have expected only from a sci-fi horror movie about aliens coming down to rape the earth and not giving a damn about the destruction they left behind.

But this article offers another perfect example of the delusional "faith-based" approaches the Bush Admin promotes:

The new rule...would require coal operators to minimize only "to the extent possible" any damage to streams, fish and wildlife by "using the best technology currently available."

They could use that technolgy, but if Bush gets his way there'd be nothing stopping them from not doing so if they didn't care to.

I'm very actually a conservative environmentalist. (You'll either have to believe me or read old posts). I'm very much from a 'be careful how you use things' school of thinking.

I think a useful lesson here could be drawn from looking at how the ANWR issue has developed over the years. (The issue has really developed over 20 years or so).

The development of the ANWR issue has not been 'how can we use one set of natural resources (oil) without spoiling another set of natural resources (the natural setting)'. It has increasingly turned in to a 'untouched' vs. 'rapine' scenario. Unless you suspect you can win forever, allowing that kind of situation to develop (even if it really is all your opponent's fault) isn't helpful.

I can't testify to the old view of the environmental movement, but I know that many people in the US are suspicious that environmentalist movement is really a modern Luddite movement. You can't fight that with an absolutist environmental movement.

(Note. This is not at all a defense of Bush's approach. This is a longer term view on how the environmental movement can be more effective.)

And I'm not sure why we've focused so heavily on Alaska.

One reason might be that Alaskans don't have as negative a view of oil development as lower-48 environmentalists:

ANCHORAGE (AP) - Leigh Ann Bauer, who has lived in Alaska for 12 years, calls herself a "big-time animal lover." She also considers herself "pretty pro-oil development."

To many people in Alaska, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, sometimes it seems as if people outside Alaska see a bigger conflict between the environment and oil and gas drilling than those living here do - a phenomenon made clear during the recent debates over exploiting new sources of energy in Alaska as existing stores become tapped out.

Alaska's economy is heavily dependent on oil, while its vast wilderness is a lure for outdoors enthusiasts.

As far as many people are concerned, those two interests exist in remarkable harmony, with about 60 million hectares of national parks, refuges and forests where development is either restricted or prohibited altogether.

The folks up there want more oil development. And with proven reserves that's where the oil development is.

I'm of two minds on this subject (two more than most of you probably thought I had). On the one hand I'd really like to leave some pristine tundra up there. On the other hand I'd like to see us be less oil dependent. And face it, folks, we won't get there through conservation or alternative fuels. It's oil for the foreseeable future.

Sebastian,

I've actually been convinced somewhat that your view is a fair and balanced one in my research over the past year. A demand for widespread pristineness is not sustainable or sensible.

I think ANWR and Teshekpuk Lake represent two separate issues and challenges though.

ANWR is different because it was set aside to remain undeveloped. Not carefully developed or enviro-friendily developed. Undeveloped. Full stop. That concept either has integrity or it doesn't. As soon as the first oil well is sunk in ANWR our national wildlife reserves concept becomes a joke. Regardless of how carefully it's done.

Teshekpuk Lake is another matter and although years ago I would have been upset that something so pristine was being developed, I now believe a less-destructive compromise can be reached. That's why Babbitt's essay is so disheartening. I made an effort, a leap of faith if you will, to believe that the Oil Companies can actually be trusted to be good stewards because they recognize the implications of not being so. Now, however, I'm not so convinced they can. It looks as if the moment we let our guard down, they'll use their political influence to push aside efforts to enforce that they use the technology they insisted they would if only we'd give them the licenses and rights they wanted.

They are not trustworthy.

Dave,

Alaskan's should certainly have a say in non-wildlife reserve parts of the state (but I suspect if they had other jobs available to them, we wouldn't be having this disucssion).

However, when it comes to ANWR, it's a NATIONAL reserve, and all the opinions of ALL Americans deserve to be considered, not just the unemployed Alaskans.

On the other hand I'd like to see us be less oil dependent. And face it, folks, we won't get there through conservation or alternative fuels. It's oil for the foreseeable future.

That's a counsel of despair, Dave. Whatever oil is under Alaska, it won't last forever: it's main symbolic value is that it appears to represent freedom from dependency on democracies like Venezuela or dictators who may not be permanently loyal to US interests like the House of Saud.

The only way to be free of oil dependency is both to encourage conservatism* and to invest in alternative sources of energy**. There is no other way forward. (And naturally, the current oil-dependent administration isn't going to do either.)

*Little things like discouragingly high taxes on oil-hungry cars, or, hell, getting people to shut down appliances when they're not using them. Little things, but 270 million people can save or waste an awful lot on little things.

**Which is, ultimately, the only way forward for us all - and yes, Dave, that is the foreseeable future.

I know a bit about this, have taken an environmental engineering class and worked two summer jobs in this field. I promise, promise, promise that we can do more to reduce oil dependence by conserving than by drilling in Alaska. (It is still possible to argue that both are needed; I don't think it's worth it.)

And to my fellow liberals, on the "serenity now" front, how accurate is this? Down to the bag of Veggie Booty in the picture.

I promise, promise, promise that we can do more to reduce oil dependence by conserving than by drilling in Alaska.

You know, in all my debating on this, I've never once got a solid response as to why the emphasis is NOT on conservation. There are mumblings about the economy or our lifestyle and other nonsense, but not one single pro-drilling-whenever-and-wherever advocate could answer why, if the need were so urgent we should drill in a wildlife reserve, the nation was not on some sort of high alert toward conservation.

OT: That Onion piece is priceless!

The only way to be free of oil dependency is both to encourage conservatism* and to invest in alternative sources of energy**. There is no other way forward. (And naturally, the current oil-dependent administration isn't going to do either.)

These are some of the most important reasons I didn't vote for Bush last time around. And it's not despair, Jes, it's realism. A good reference point is this post by Den Beste.

Oil exploration and development is going to be an important part of the mix for the foreseeable future. There just isn't any other rational alternative.

I promise, promise, promise that we can do more to reduce oil dependence by conserving than by drilling in Alaska.

Of course. I mean, if we abstain completely from oil consumption, it's a true statement without any need at all for evidence. Why don't we do that, instead?

Oh, I know. Little old ladies would freeze, the world economy would instantly seize up, and other assorted bad things would happen. So that's out. Somewhere between the extremes, there's a crossing-over point; the trouble is there's no clue provided where that point is. Just saying that we can conserve is almost completely without meaning.

Yes, bad things have happened. Yes, very poorly worded restrictions (if we can call them that; just how in the hell can "where possible" be enforced?) have been imposed. This sort of thing has been going on as long as there's been an industrial America (and probably long before then, too). One has only to go drive around Leadville, CO to see some decapitated mountains, and those have been in that state since long before Bush stepped into office. I guess what I'm trying to say is, none of this is new. You can attempt to keep the environment nice and tidy, but if you use environmental policy as a pretext for political attack (really, Edward: were you this alert for abuse when Clinton was in office?) then it's going to fail to change environmental policy, because you've polarized the issue along party lines.

JFTR, here's what I think:

I think ANWR can be drilled without significant impact to the environment, and that such restrictions should be a condition for drilling. I think that forests can be managed to reduce widespread fires, and that management ought to be accomplished jointly between the forestry service and the lumber industry. And I think that the mining industry is going to have to rethink how they do business; it's no longer acceptable to leave mine tailings in the watershed.

Edward: were you this alert for abuse when Clinton was in office?

Slarti, I've admitted that a balance can be reached, and indeed Clinton and Gore outlined a rather pro-business balance in 1996.

The issue today is whether we can expect that just because enviro-friendly technology exists, it will be used. So far the answer to that does indeed seem to depend on who's in the White House.

I think ANWR can be drilled without significant impact to the environment

Even if that were true, and Babbitt indicates such efforts are not high on the Oil Companies' list of priorities, ANWR cannot be drilled without significant impact on the concept of our National Wildlife Reserves program. Period.

And it's not despair, Jes, it's realism.

Sorry, Dave. Trying to believe that the planet's oil supply is an infinite resource (which is what the refusal to invest hugely in conservatism or alternative energy sources amounts to) isn't realistic: it's despairing. It's head-buried-in-sand despair: believing that it's impossible to find a solution to the problem, pretend the problem (finite oil resources and an oil-dependent economy) isn't there.

It is not realistic to focus on oil exploration and development - it's a way of whistling past the graveyard.

Edward: You know, in all my debating on this, I've never once got a solid response as to why the emphasis is NOT on conservation.

Because conservation doesn't make money for the oil companies. Drilling in Alaska does.

"Even if that were true, and Babbitt indicates such efforts are not high on the Oil Companies' list of priorities..."

But this is what the environmental groups ought to be for. I would love to be able to support an environmental group that is interested in making sure such efforts actually go through.

But instead I am forced to choose between Greenpeace and Exxon.

All right, then ubstitute "taking modest conservation measures which would not noticeably affect our quality of life, let alone cause little old ladies to freeze".

It's not that there aren't hard choices and tradeoffs ahead, and that some extreme environmentalists would ignore the economic and human effects given the chance. But those are so, so far from being on the table. We're not close to the hard questions, we haven't solved the easy ones and now we're moving in the wrong direction.

There is no reason auto efficiency has to decline year after year after year. There is no reason to exempt SUVs from normal CAFE standards, or to keep CAFE standards frozen. There is no reason to subsidize coal and oil power more than wind or solar. There is no reason for those coal dinosaur plants in the midwest to continue to be exempt from the Clean Air Act, and to operate decades after they would have closed without this de facto subsidy. Even a new coal plant would be much better. There is no reason to allow mountaintops to be dynamited and the rubble pushed into valleys on federal land. There is no reason, now that the scientific consensus is clear, to pretend that climate change doesn't exist. There is no reason to subsidize highways much more than public transportation. There is no reason to allow clear cuts in the national forests that cost the Agriculture Department more in road building than they make from the timber. There is no reason to allow off road vehicles to do permanent damage to federal land, and do this at the expense of the majority of visitors. etc. etc. ad infinitum.

The issue today is whether we can expect that just because enviro-friendly technology exists, it will be used. So far the answer to that does indeed seem to depend on who's in the White House.

I'd want a little evidence for that. But that's just me, I guess.

As far as such measures being on the oil companies' list of priorities: it's government land. Let the government set conditions (if any) for exploitation. IIRC, Federal and State government owns over 25% of the land area of the United States. If it's going to be up to the government to set environmental standards, why expect the oil companies to do it?

There is no reason...

Sure, there is. I can express it succinctly:

Other people have different priorities than you do.

I'd want a little evidence for that. But that's just me, I guess.

The article is the evidence. The Adminstration is pushing aside the recommendations for ice roads and other measures. Why? Such efforts are highlighted as proof the oil companies are worthy. Let them live up to the PR.

I'd want a little evidence for that. But that's just me, I guess.

You should get it from next January, with any luck: over four years, Bush demonstrated that he won't insist on enviro-friendly technology being used, just because it exists. And Kerry/Edwards, not being in bed with the oil companies, will (we can hope) demonstrate the reverse. If that works out, will that be sufficient evidence for you that it matters who's in the White House?

You should get it from next January, with any luck

I prefer to look at history, it's much more verifiable. Show me how Clinton did. I'm not saying he wasn't a whole lot better than Bush, I'm just saying that Edward's statement that Democrats are much better than Republicans in that respect needs a little substantiation. But I repeat myself.

Other people have different priorities than you do.

Somehow that scene between Jack Hall and the VPOTUS at the beginning of The Day After Tomorrow* - fragile ecology vs. fragile economy - keeps coming to mind.

"We were wrong--I was wrong."

*Yes, I know it was a cheesy movie and the science was silly and there were many wild improbabilities. Still, it had its moments.

I did not say Democrats were better than Republicans, Slarti. I said the use of green technology requires that the WH encoruages/enforces its use.

I don't think the environment is a Dem vs. GOP issue. Nixon did more than any other president, as far as I'm concerned, to put this country on the right track and Bush Senior wasn't bad either.

It's just W who seems to believe a wink and a nudge from industry is a "good enough" indication that things will be fine.

I did not say Democrats were better than Republicans, Slarti.

Coupled with:

So far the answer to that does indeed seem to depend on who's in the White House.

seems to indicate that perhaps there's a third possibility. Have we elected any Greens to the Presidency that I'm unaware of?

Ah. Reading comprehension. You really did mean WHO is in the White House.

Consider this line of questioning closed, and my apologies for the diversion.

Show me how Clinton did. I'm not saying he wasn't a whole lot better than Bush, I'm just saying that Edward's statement that Democrats are much better than Republicans in that respect needs a little substantiation.

But didn't you hear, Slarti: September 11 changed everything!

*grin*

Seriously, Slarti, I read back through this thread, and I've seen no such assertion by Edward that "Democrats are much better than Republicans". He has certainly identified respects in which the Bush administration is bad to the bone: this is a specific, verifiable assertion, and one that is very different from the sweeping one you claim he's made. Identify the post or the comment in which you saw Edward say this, if you can.

Slarti, that statement is so vague as to be meaningless. It's a purely semantic argument that makes no attempt to address the substance of what I'm saying. Yes, I used "no reason" as a shorthand for "no good reason" or "no sufficient reason" or "no legitimate reason" or "no reason other than that it's cheaper for the industries in question and they donate a lot of money to the politicians in question" or "no reason other than an ideological opposition to all environmental regulation without regard to whether it will help or harm people" or "no economic reason unless you don't believe in externalities". It was slightly careless phrasing, but the meaning was pretty clear from the context. Sue me.

Do you think those are actually good decisions? If so, which ones and why?

Identify the post or the comment in which you saw Edward say this, if you can.

Oh, ignore me. Events on this thread have moved faster than I can type.

"But instead I am forced to choose between Greenpeace and Exxon."

Not really. They're just really loud so it seems like it.

Katherine:
Fruit Booty über alles!
Trader Joe's is my Mecca.

Edward, I'm surprised that you didn't mention that the State of Alaska is planning to lease drilling sites off of the shores of ANWAR.

What I would really like to know is what impact did the Alaska Pipeline have on the local animal population.

It was slightly careless phrasing, but the meaning was pretty clear from the context. Sue me.

Yes, it was clear. My answer stands: other people have different priorities than you do. If they didn't, you'd have nothing to be upset about.

A more detailed answer might question how you'd force those who disagree with you to behave in a manner you approve of, but that's probably unsatisfactory territory as well. FTR, I'm mostly in agreement with your list of gripes, but I'm at a loss for how to remedy them.

I'm similarly stymied as to how to get that pesky slower traffic to move right, BTW. Not on the same scale, but the same sort of problem. Some people just live in the left lane.

Jes, Edward, et al, not to pull a Carnak, but have you read Den Beste's pieces on this issue?

I'd appreciate it if y'all would identify the alternative energy sources you're talking about and then dispute his arguments regarding them, or identify alternatives he does not discuss.

I'd also appreciate it if you would dispute his math with regard to conservation.

Because I don't see where he's wrong. And if he's not wrong, and we are in the trouble some ecologists say we are, shouldn't we be talking about rationing energy? And I don't mean rationing just gas. I mean giving every person a set amount of energy they can consume, and letting them decide if they want to use part of that energy allotment to buy a new car that took X amount of energy to create, or store ice cream that takes Y amount to keep frozen.

But then, despite the disparity in use by the US both past and present, we'll have to force those restrictions on the world somehow, won't we?

PS. Sorry to take this off-topic Edward, but SDB's math looks right to me. FWIW, I'd like to see energy companies use less invasive techniques.

I'm similarly stymied as to how to get that pesky slower traffic to move right, BTW. Not on the same scale, but the same sort of problem. Some people just live in the left lane.

I don't mind it so much when there's a right and a left lane to be had. Idiots who refuse to use turnouts on two-lane roads and who decide that straights mean "floor it", however, are the bane of my existence.

Criona, I went and read Den Beste's column that you linked to, and I don't see that he contradicts anything I've said. I agree with his opening statement: "One thing I've learned as an engineer is that it's a pointless waste of time to try to speculate too far into the future, or to try to design for far future problems."

Indeed.

My point is quite simple and quite realistic: we have a finite supply of oil in the world. That's just a fact. No one is claiming otherwise.

We are using up that finite supply of oil like nobody's business. (And there are still areas in which conservation is definitely more than possible: even den Beste doesn't claim otherwise.)

Either we simply despair, and assume that when the oil runs out the vast majority of us die because our civilisation is unchangeably dependent on oil, or we decide that there must be an alternative source or sources of energy, and invest in research, pure and applied, towards finding one.

Those are our two choices: there are no other realities for us. It may be that there is no solution, that the vast majority of those who are alive when the oil runs out are doomed to die. But I choose hope rather than despair: and wish for governments to do likewise. (Though I suspect that governments, being mostly still made up of those who can hope to have died a natural death before the oil runs out, are not precisely despairing: they're simply locked into passing that problem on to whoever's unlucky enough to be in charge when it's no longer possible to ignore the situation.)

Edward, I'm surprised that you didn't mention that the State of Alaska is planning to lease drilling sites off of the shores of ANWAR.

That's one of the topics my doctor has warned me to avoid, lest I have an aneurism., Timmy. ; )

What I would really like to know is what impact did the Alaska Pipeline have on the local animal population.

I've seen really cute photos of caribou frolicking among the pipeline supports and then read where the lush evergreens in the background had been photoshopped in.

What's your point, though? That Oil can be trusted to extract the resources without damaging the environment?

If that's the case, then why can't they be trusted to use the greener technology they say they will? Why do they have their homeboy in the White House roll back the...serenity now...serenity now...

nevermind.


I have only a paltry bachelor's degree in Civil engineering but I cannot see an engineer signing on to any blowing off of mountaintops in order to mine coal. It just doesn't make any sense. I will have to assume that someone is engaging in hyperbole, here.

What's your point, though? That Oil can be trusted to extract the resources without damaging the environment?

Well no, but permanetly damaging the environment takes constant effort in many but not all cases. Pipeline studies would give some background.

Nathan,

It sounds like hyperbole, but...

here's more text


and here's some images

Edward,

I do not know much about hard rock mining at all(we really only do surface mining here), but I am quite surprised. Very odd practice.

we really only do surface mining here

I'm sorry if you're asked this all the time, but where is "here"?

It saves a lot on labor costs, and by all accounts they're not bearing the full reclamation costs, and these are lower, rounder mountains than what you may be picturing. That said, it doesn't make any sense to me either.

The EIS may give more details from an engineering standpoint but the PDF freezes my computer.

but have you read Den Beste's pieces on this issue?

Not yet, Crionna, got a link?

e

Edward, Here are links to some of SDB's stuff: alternative energy, the scale of the problem, and conservation.

Jes, I choose hope over despair too, but hope ain't a plan. I bring up SDB because he pretty well shows, IMO at least, that the current plans don't cut it, not by the longest of shots and I've not heard any new plans, just tons of talk from people who haven't done the math (or had it shown to them). I mean, fine, I'm convinced that we're going to run out of oil and coal eventually, but nothing I've heard says that there's anything out there, BUT those two to power the world economy. So, we better stop wasting time and money on stuff we know won't scale up and figure out how to better save what we have and find more oil and coal to tide us over until someone figures out the answer.

I ask this not to be snarky, and with the best of intentions, I swear to, well, me: Edward, have you ever been to Alaska? Do you have any intention to visit anytime soon?

I'm curious about these alternative energy sources too. Until the NIMBYs are ready to compromise by having the view from Martha's Vineyard full of wind generators, and the enviros are ready to stop opposing wind and hydro projects because they kill birds or flood habitat, and the no-nukes crowd is ready to learn some basic science, there don't seem to be a lot of directions to go in.

I ask this not to be snarky, and with the best of intentions, I swear to, well, me: Edward, have you ever been to Alaska? Do you have any intention to visit anytime soon?

Haven't been yet. Do intend to visit in the next few years though.

Not at all sure how that's relevant though. Can you elaborate?

So, we better stop wasting time and money on stuff we know won't scale up and figure out how to better save what we have and find more oil and coal to tide us over until someone figures out the answer.

So far from "wasting time and money", it doesn't seem to me that enough money has been spent on useful options. It may be that no one option is ever going to be the "perfect solution" that oil and gas has been. (I bet all the home-owners in California caught in the rolling blackouts were wishing they'd invested in solar panels, though.)

Save what we have: get rid of SUVs and other oil-wasting forms on transport. Katherine's right: if the situation is so desperate the US government must drill for oil in wildlife reserves, the situation is too desperate to permit people to waste oil in SUV commuting.

And yes: research. Pure research. Applied research. How to make technology we currently know about scale up as far as possible. New technology that may be as far beyond what we can envisage at the moment as the silicon chip is beyond what the transistor generation ever thought of.

Edward,

Lovely Alberta. Home of Banff, Canmore, West Edmonton Mall, Fort McMurray oilsands, and superior beef, of course.

As I understand it, we do surface mining because we are on the Great Plains, whereas Ontario (for example) is on the Canadian Shield, hence they engage in deep mining.

Pertinent to this discussion, we also have rather large deposits of coal, particularly around Grande Cache.

And, no. I do not work for the Ministry of Tourism.

Thanks for asking.

crionna:

Thank you.

I must second Dave in thanking Crionna, although I'd hate to be stuck in a troubled space capsule with Den Beste. He strikes me as unimaginative and an awful defeatist.

get rid of SUVs and other oil-wasting forms on transport

Groovy. How do you propose to accomplish this?

and superior beef, of course

Of course! Must be the lack of coal dust in the cattle's drinking water.

He strikes me as unimaginative and an awful defeatist.

I've fact-checked denBeste on this (in a limited way) and found him to be right on, for the most part. DenBeste doesn't say things can't be done, he just says there's a limit to what can be done using current technology. Placing a price tag on converting the country to solar power, for instance, is a valuable piece of data to have when discussing such a thing.

I bet all the home-owners in California caught in the rolling blackouts were wishing they'd invested in solar panels, though

No, most of us found it far more economical to purchase a gas generator that could provide guaranteed power when it was needed.

SUV commuting. C'mon Jes, the problem isn't that a 40 mile per day roundtrip is done in an SUV, its that its done at all. In 1997 there were 1.8M SUVs in CA. In 1998 CA used about 37M gallons of gas per day. So, if we got SUV owners out of 20mpg vehicles and into 40mpg vehicles, they'd save 1 gallon per day for less than a 5% reduction in gas usage.

Look, I think we're on the same side here, but I personally don't think pitting Honda Civic owners against Honda Passport owners is helpful. Its divisive. You want to lower demand, phase in rationing and let people decide how to spend their energy credits themselves.

Look, I think we're on the same side here, but I personally don't think pitting Honda Civic owners against Honda Passport owners is helpful.

I'm thinking that the Honda Element must go. It's just the most awful-looking vehicle on the road.

In 1997 there were 1.8M SUVs in CA.

Surely this must be a mistake. I didn't think there were that many Republicans in CA.

edward:

I must second Dave in thanking Crionna, although I'd hate to be stuck in a troubled space capsule with Den Beste. He strikes me as unimaginative and an awful defeatist.

Well since he safe in the captain's chair of his starship that won't be a problem. ;-)

I like quite a bit of what SDB has to say but in the dictionary entry for prolix they should have his picture.

I like quite a bit of what SDB has to say but in the dictionary entry for prolix they should have his picture.

Sorry, shoulda warned you. Thought SDB's prclivity in that manner was well-known ;)

Surely this must be a mistake. I didn't think there were that many Republicans in CA.

Well, I owned about 10. I'd cable them all together and tow my giant yacht with them on the last Friday of the month. I'd stand on the bow like a stage coach driver and scatter those Critical Mass bicyclists like pigeons.

Oh. I'd always thought that was a Catholic-rebellion thing.

You want to lower demand, phase in rationing and let people decide how to spend their energy credits themselves.

I'd go for that, though you have the problem that people will howl whatever the rationing is.

Edward,
One often overlooked point in these discussions is that building and using ice roads is becoming increasingly difficult throughout the North, including the North Slope. More and more winters are just not cold enough for long enough to make ice roads efficient. (If you move equipment over them when it's too warm, or try to build them when it's too warm, you can get a lot of the damage to the ground and vegetation that you were trying to avoid).

So perhaps the removal of the requirement to build no permanent roads is a tacit admission that finding the oil and gas without doing much environmental damage is now economically unattractive.

One often overlooked point in these discussions is that building and using ice roads is becoming increasingly difficult throughout the North

That had occurred to me, Yukoner, but the Bush administration hasn't cited it as an excuse (thanks for helping them, btw). Guess that will be rather difficult for an administration that's done next to nothing to help fight global warming to admit.

So perhaps the removal of the requirement to build no permanent roads is a tacit admission that finding the oil and gas without doing much environmental damage is now economically unattractive.

The chronology here is frustrating though. Pristine land, although not sensibly the Holy Grail, does hold highly spiritual meaning for many environmentalists. To address that issue, the energy industries go out of their way to highlight the efforts they've made to research greener technology. In a political brawl, they shout again and again that past examples of environmental impact should not enter into decisions, because they can now avoid such problems.

Then, when the resistance to the development finally lessens, we see them backtracking on the promise to use that greener technology...for a host of reasons, but most of them coming down to what's economically unattractive.

I, well aware of my initial objections, am just as capable of bouncing back to my original position as they are of forgetting their promises, however. If the greener technology will not be used because of the costs, then we are all back at square one. Leave the land undeveloped!

Edward;

"thanks for helping them, btw"

My apologies! :)

"Guess that will be rather difficult for an administration that's done next to nothing to help fight global warming to admit."

I must admit that I would find it amusing to see the same group of people who either claim that climate change is a myth or that it doesn't matter somehow turn around and use it as a reason to break their promises.

"Then, when the resistance to the development finally lessens, we see them backtracking on the promise to use that greener technology...for a host of reasons, but most of them coming down to what's economically unattractive."

I'm with you 100% on this one. Whether it's exploring for oil or mining or whatever, if companies cannot afford to pay the full costs of doing things to today's standards then they should not be permitted to do so at all.

I must admit that I would find it amusing to see the same group of people who either claim that climate change is a myth or that it doesn't matter somehow turn around and use it as a reason to break their promises.

If anyone can spin this so it doesn't sound as ridiculous as you and I think it is, though, it's Karl Rove. I'm sure they'll end up arguing that ice roads contribute to global warming.

Latest on mountaintop mining-- turns out the gov't violated the Clean Water Act by letting mining companies dump mountaintops into streams.

http://www.nrdc.org/media/pressreleases/040709.asp

Latest on mountaintop mining-- turns out the gov't violated the Clean Water Act by letting mining companies dump mountaintops into streams.

If there's one thing I've learned in debating the environment, it's to never assume who first allowed a process to occur. That article suggests Mountaintop removal mining is an ill Bush unleashed on the world:

"[T]he Bush administration's rubber stamp used for destroying West Virginia's waterways has been revoked," said Daniel Rosenberg, a senior attorney in NRDC's clean water program.

But from what I can tell, Clinton opened the gates to this:

Clinton/Gore administration has instructed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to re-define what constitutes fill material. This would legalize the disposal of mining waste in our rivers and streams, and would gut the Clean Water Act, setting water quality degradation precedents for the entire nation.

Of course, Bush didn't do anything to reverse it. Quite the contrary:

A federal court [pdf file] decision in 2001 limiting the scope of the Clean Water Act and the authority of the Army Corps of Engineers over “nonnavigable” waters provided the Bush administration with an excuse to issue guidance absolving the government of any responsibility to regulate any waters considered to be non-navigable, including headwaters streams, intermittent streams, and wet weather conveyances, all of which are exactly where valley fills end up. The proposed regulation implementing this “guidance” has been withdrawn, but the instruction to the agencies is still there.

In 2002 the Bush administration issued the rule that eliminated an Army Corps of Engineers ban on mine waste and other pollution in waterways, opening the way for increased dumping of mine spoil in headwater streams. In 2003 the same Bush Administration issued a draft Environmental Impact Statement which purported to address the growing environmental impacts of mountaintop removal mining, but which only recommended streamlining the administrative process for mining companies to receive permits for their operations.


Despite the NRDC hype, this all began before Bush even declared himself to be a candidate. I guess it's a time travel thing.

Doh! Well, Edward's quicker on the draw than I am, today.

Well, I only claimed "the gov't" allowed the mining to occur, which I still think is accurate.

I suppose I could apologize for linking to the NRDC press release on the decision rather than a news article, but I did that because I thought the release actually had more factual information than the article (to be honest I skipped right over the quotes from the NRDC attorneys as spin).

Edward, the climate is always changing. It really isn't an issue. The questions pertain to the various scenarioes related to the change.

the climate is always changing. It really isn't an issue.

Wow. Just... wow.

(I suspect I know what you meant, but even in the trivial sense it's still a remarkable thing to say.)

Edward, the climate is always changing. It really isn't an issue.

Gotta agree with Josh, Timmy. You're right, it is always changing. But sometimes so drastically it wipes out all mammals north of a certain point and has an effect that lasts thousands of years.

When there's nothing we can do about it, your nonchalance is appropriate. When the change is being accelerated by our own actions, however, it's suicidal to ignore that.

The environmentalists are out for profit. Look at http://canadafreepress.com/ontario-hydro.htm

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