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  • SEJ 2006: Energy Companies Try to Out-Clean Each Other

    October 27, 2006
    Energy companies, both new and old, are crowded into the Society of Environmental Journalists conference here in Burlington, Vermont, all playing up the environmental profile of their products. Most are represented by their trade and marketing associations. First up, we have the diesel lovers. Make that clean diesel lovers. They're very insistent on that modifier. It seems diesel fuel is getting cleaner all the time, suggesting it might be possible for such vehicles to be sold more widely in the U.S. Just like the carmakers mentioned below, the Diesel Technology Forum has cars available for attendees to test out: the BMW 120d, Mercedes E320 CDI, and Volkswagen Jetta TDI. In addition, they're giving out little big rig trailers made out of squishy foam,...
  • Bush and Pelosi up the Ante for Sarbanes-Oxley Reform

    October 27, 2006
    Republicans have long been accused of being the party of Wall Street, a campaign charge that's again being leveled in this election. But on the issue of Sarbanes-Oxley, the Elephants have moved very slowly for fear of being allied with big business and the corporate scandals that prompted the 2002 law, which was largely crafted by the then-Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate. The irony of Republican inaction is that it has given leading Democrats the opportunity to outflank the GOP in advocating regulatory relief on this issue, one that's vital for entrepreneurs. Democrats may have been vague on solutions, but they have gone further than leading Republicans who've hardly acknowledged that there was a problem. Earlier this year, when the House Democrats' “Innovation Agenda,” introduced by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, promised legislation to “ensure Sarbanes-Oxley requirements are...
  • SEJ 2006: Battle of the Automakers

    October 27, 2006
    The Society of Environmental Journalists' conference this week is in full swing, with panels and exhibits on everything from sustainable forestry to avian flu. One of the big draws is the auto industry presence and their test drive offers. DaimlerChrysler is also present, with their "F-Cell" vehicle. According to PR Manager Nick Cappa, expect to see one at your local dealership in about 10 years. Nick also mentioned that the only thing that comes out of the F-Cell's tailpipe is water vapor. Of course, water vapor is also a potent greenhouse gas, so I guess DaimlerCrysler still has some work ahead of them. The ethanol folks are also here, and they've decided to sex it up a little with a brightly-painted race car. The IndyCar Series is apparently hot for corn squeezings. According to their...
  • Smoking your way to the presidency?

    October 26, 2006
    I was waiting for Reason to blog about this article in The New Republic. It focuses on the fact that presidential maybe-sayer Barack Obama smokes cigarettes. While that's hardly a revelation, TNR's take on it is — smoking gives him an edge as a candidate. Puffing on those cigarettes makes him seem like a real guy and not another synthetic politician. As writer Michael Currie Schaffer puts it:
    For a Democrat who wants to run in 2008, smoking may well be a tactically perfect vice. On the one hand, it sets Obama apart from the likes of Gore and Kerry, who suffered from the public perception that they had been training for the White House--and thus forgoing (or burying) foolish diversions like smoking--since they were teens. And, on the other hand, it may...
  • Can money offset venality?

    October 26, 2006
    Prizes sponsored by private individuals and organizations seem to be the new way to provide incentives for technological and other advances. Now a wealthy Sudanese entrepreneur, Mo Ibrahim, is offering a post-facto prize to African leaders who have governed well and in the interests of their people. Ibrahim says that the money may provide incentives for some African leaders to leave office, since they will have financial security instead of clinging to their positions of power and perhaps leading their countries into corruption. An index will be used to evaluate heads of state's performances. And the criteria sound similar to those of...
  • Fencing out emigrants better than building levees?

    October 26, 2006
    President Bush just signed a bill to build a 700-mile fence on the 2000-mile U.S.border with Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out. Wow, that's going to do a lot to further relationships with our Central American friends. Congress earlier had appropriated $1.2 billion for the barrier, but it's expected to cost around $6 billion. That's about $4 billion less than the projected cost of building New Orleans' levees to federal standards. But let's get our priorities right. The levees would only protect...
  • Bootsy Collins He Ain’t

    October 26, 2006
    If, as Saul Alinsky, said, “Ridicule is man's most potent weapon,” then it's effective against even hiding foes, like Iraq's violent insurgents—and especially when the ridicule is deployed by private citizens. In Iraq, “Hurry Up, He's Dead,” a popular new TV show that features a fake newscast delivered by “a wacky-looking man with a giant Afro wig and star-shaped glasses” is giving viewers an outlet to vent against the country's precarious situation, reports The New York Times. The show has featured a character named “Rums bin Feld,” and, notes the Times, lampoons, “[e]ven the militias wreaking havoc on the country.” If the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, it's because of words' power to skewer. (...
  • An Ostentatious Display of Escaping Poverty

    October 25, 2006
    Statist environmentalists' stern condemnation of what they consider spendthrift consumption is nothing new in the West—but developing countries unaccustomed to such hectoring might be taken aback enough to react strongly. Officials in the United Arab Emirates have done just that in response to the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF, not to be confused with the old World Wrestling Federation) new Living Planet 2006 report, which claims that, “the world's natural ecosystems are being degraded at a rate unprecedented in human history," and that UAE residents are placing enormous stress per capita on the environment, according to the Dubai-based Gulf News. Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, called...
  • No Unnecessary Travel Allowed in the War on CO2

    October 25, 2006
    I'm going to be flying to Vermont tomorrow, and some of my colleagues are also taking airline trips soon, including a few to far off Guatemala. This will doubtless anger British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, who is busying herself advocating for a "global warming tax" on airline travel of as much as £50 ($94) per ticket, in order to cut down on the number of airline trips her constituents can afford to take. One imagines that the number of flights Ms. Beckett herself takes, will (being taxpayer-funded) see no decline.
  • Does Gulfstream Make a Hybrid Jet?

    October 25, 2006
    In a shocking development, we find out this morning that environmentally fixated, hybrid-loving celebrities don't necessarily live the green dream that they preach to everyone else. When asked about this disconnect, George Clooney's publicist told entertainment website TMZ.com "You clearly have no understanding of certain people's need for private transport." Actually, that's the whole point - we all have our own unique mix of transportation needs, which is why it's a bad idea to try and use the public policy process to force the public into vehicles that don't meet their needs. In other news, new poll results suggest a widespread consensus on public transportation among U.S. consumers.

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