Paul Ryan’s budget, which means austerity for most Americans, turns out to mean prosperity for Ryan and his family.
That budget, which the GOP-led House adopted as its blueprint, slashes funding for everyone from seniors to the disabled to students while preserving $45 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for Big Oil over the next 10 years, as has been widely reported.
But what we have only just learned from Ryan’s financial disclosure forms for Congress (here) that were made public this week is “he and his wife, Janna, own stakes in four family companies that lease land in Texas and Oklahoma to the very energy companies that benefit from the tax subsidies in Ryan’s budget plan,” as The Daily Beastreported today.
Ryan’s father-in-law, Daniel Little, who runs the companies, told Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the family companies are currently leasing the land for mining and drilling to energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy, Devon, and XTO Energy, a recently acquired subsidiary of ExxonMobil.
These energy giants stand to profit directly from the $45 billion in subsidies and tax breaks. How cozy!
When asked about the blatant conflict of interest, Ryan’s spokesperson offered up the newly-popular “wife” defense:
As the legislative session comes to a close in North Carolina this week, lawmakers have begun to undo the decades of progress that made the Tar Heel state a regional leader in clean energy for the Southeast.
Republican lawmakers, who in 2010 took control of both houses in the General Assembly for the first time since the 1800s, have pushed an agenda that has hit important environmental programs. The trend of state-level environmental rollbacks has become a nationwide epidemic, but North Carolina has distinguished itself among the numerous states where Republicans are successfully pushing the state towards a dirty energy future.
The state’s budget has been the most contentious fight of all. The Senate and House overrode Democratic Governor Bev Perdue’s veto of the 2011-2012 budget this week. As a result, the $19.7 billion spending plan contains a 12% cut to the state’s Department of Environment & Natural Resources, with $23 million in program cuts that get rid more than 150 positions in DENR. The budget also includes cuts of 90 percent, or $89 million, to the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which enables the state to protect rivers and streams.
Echoing that sentiment, the legislature’s Joint Regulatory Reform Committee, with the purpose of creating “ a strong environment for private sector job creation by lifting the undue burden imposed by outdated, unnecessary, and vague rules,” just released its Regulatory Reform Act of 2011, to prevent any new environmental protections stricter than the federal minimum, and creates a process for eliminating any existing rules stronger than the federal minimum.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm
This Saturday, June 18, millions of people in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom will join the solar power movement to push for energy reform and raise awareness of solar power’s benefits. SolarDay 2010 was the largest solar awareness program in U.S. history, and 2011 promises to be even bigger.
America is falling behind in the clean energy race: China invests an estimated $12 billion per month in clean tech, while clean energy initiatives in America are under attack in New York and elsewhere. Yet the global market for efficient and renewable energy technologies will likely reach $2 trillion by 2020.
Fast action on certain pollutants such as black carbon, ground-level ozone and methane may help limit near term global temperature rise and significantly increase the chances of keeping temperature rise below 3.6 degrees F. Protecting the near-term climate is central to significantly cutting the risk of amplified global climate change linked with rapid and extensive loss of Arctic ice on both the land and at sea, said assessment authors including Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a climate and atmospheric scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.
While I’m running around Minneapolis, the Center for American Progress’s Associate Director for Ocean Communication Kiley Kroh was nice enough to step in for me, interviewing journalist Paul Greenberg about his most recent book—and the most delicious and sustainable ways to eat fish. Thanks to her for this post.
The Center for American Progress’s Ocean Team will be on the road and on the water in New England next week, touring some of America’s oldest and most profitable fishing towns as we investigate the implementation of a new management structure in our nation’s first fishery, the groundfishery. European fishermen plied the waters of the northwest Atlantic for cod, haddock, and flounders for over a century before even Columbus “discovered” America. Today, the industry is in recovery from decades of overfishing, and attempting to climb back to a state of prosperity and abundance.
As we prepared for our trip, we enlisted award-winning author, journalist, and lifelong fish enthusiast Paul Greenberg to help us set the stage. His book Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food recently won the 2011 James Beard Award for Writing and Literature.
We will be traveling in New England next week, talking with fishermen and policymakers, and plan to partake in the local cuisine; tell us about the best seafood meal you’ve eaten.
I am a big fan of eating what I catch. The mortality stats on catch-and-release don’t impress me and so over the years I’ve strived to fish less but make sure to eat all of what I catch. In that respect probably the most satisfying meal I’ve had recently was a New England/New York favorite – snapper blues baked whole with scalloped potatoes, garlic, olive oil and parsley. “Snappers” are young bluefish that come into the harbors in late summer and they have a much more delicate taste than their big brothers and sisters. It can also be argued that eating the smaller fish rather than the big spawners might be little less impacting on the environment. In any case, I adapted a recipe from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking that was normally meant for large sardines. It worked great and nothing went to waste. Read more
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jun 17, 2011 at 8:33 am
Don Shelby, a long-time newsman and investigative journalist, in a MinnPost cross-post.
The Minnesota Senate’s most notable authority on global warming comes from East Bethel. Michael Jungbauer was once its mayor. He is in his third term at the state Legislature and he has fashioned himself into a force of nature when it comes to the environment.
But Jungbauer doesn’t believe the planet is warming. In fact, he told me, “I think the earth is going to cool.” From his position on the Senate Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, he has the power to change the way Minnesota approaches the issue. And his influence is apparent. The Minnesota Legislature has been busy undoing much of Minnesota’s nation-leading policies enacted to deal with global warming.
He is also a television star, of sorts. He makes little videos on his pet theories and puts them on his webpage and on YouTube.com. You can see a few of his lectures here.
Sen. Jungbauer is fond of making pronouncements from on high regarding the scientific weakness of the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He takes positions in direct opposition to 98 percent of published and peer-reviewed climate, atmospheric scientists and glaciologists. But the water and sewer treatment specialist by day is, apparently, quite knowledgeable on all manner of science. It certainly appears to be. He uses big words and cites studies in his lectures.
The problem is, he is not a scientist. Even though his published biography lists his higher education credits from Moody Bible Institute, Anoka Ramsey Community College and Metropolitan State University and that he is working on his master’s degree in environmental policy and that he has a background in biochemistry, it turns out he has never graduated from college. He doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree.
He is an ordained minister, of sorts. But, although his official biography says he has a degree from Moody, he does not. In direct answer to my question, Jungbauer responded: “No I did not graduate. But I have a certificate.”
The truth is that Jungbauer was ordained by Christian Motor Sports International out of Gilbert, Ariz. His Senate biography says the organization provides “chapel services, pastoral care, outreach and Christian fellowship at car races, car shows, cruise-ins and tractor pulls.”
Last fall, facing pressure about the absence of solar from the White House roof since the Reagan Administration took off the solar thermal panels President Carter put it, the Administration promised that the White House would have solar panels up on the roof “before the end of spring.” But as of today, June 17, 2011, the White House still doesn’t have solar panels on it.
The clock is ticking. Even with climate disruption messing up our seasons, spring still ends 20 June….
A year ago today, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who has received $1.5 million in career campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, faced public outrage when he apologized to BP – who only two months earlier had been responsible for the worst environmental disaster in US history. The Deepwater Horizon tragedy was still spewing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and devastated local economies, yet Barton found it necessary to extend a personal apology to the oil giant:
I am ashamed of what happened at the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation would be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown – in this case a $20 billion dollar shakedown…So I’m only speaking for myself, I’m not speaking for anybody else. But I apologize.
Watch it again:
While Republicans distanced themselves from the comments at the time, GOP treatment of the oil industry since the disaster in the Gulf has been reminiscent of an amnesiac. A year after the spill, the New Orleans’ Times Picayune reported that Congress has failed to act:
A year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Congress has done virtually nothing to address the issues raised by the oil spill — from industry liability limits, to regulatory reform, to coastal restoration, to broader issues of energy policy.
Instead of addressing safety concerns that came out of the disaster in the Gulf, the Republicans ramped up their “oil above all” plans to do whatever would benefit the oil companies. Just this year, the House GOP has taken 13 votes that would directly benefit Big Oil, three of which maintained billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies and royalty relief for oil companies. Barton even defended these subsidies, arguing that “if you put so many disincentives against any U.S. manufacturing or production company, or oil and gas exploration company, they’ll go out of business.”
And just yesterday, House Republicans voted to slash funding for the agency tasked with patrolling oil markets to prevent market manipulation and corruption.
Even further, Republicans pushed bills that would short circuit the review process essential to prevent future blow outs and force sweeping new drilling in sensitive areas, which would “undercut” the administration’s ability to respond to or prevent future disasters and have no effect on gas prices. All this flies in the face of recommendations of the President’s National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, which stated unequivocally in its report that laws for spill prevention and response need to be improved before drilling is expanded.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) said that the House’s package of bills “reflects a pre-spill mentality of speed over safety…We need to review the lessons from the BP spill, not lessen safety review.” And BOEMRE director Michael Bromwich, who oversees off shore drilling permitting and safety, lashed out against H.R. 1229, the House-passed bill that “requires that the Interior Department act on offshore drilling permit requests within 30 days. The bill allows two 15-day extensions, but it specifies that permit would be deemed approved if the Interior Department does not act within 60 days.” Bromwich called the bill a “suicide pact:”
Well, that’s sort of a suicide pact, where we’re going to go in, we’re going to be forced to do lease sales with inadequate environmental analysis and we’ll be enjoined from those lease sales. Who wins then? Nobody.
But those votes don’t come cheap. BP celebrated the year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster by doling out campaign contributions to Republicans and Republican leadership (and one Democrat.) So far this year, oil and gas companies have contributed a whopping $2 million in campaign donations to Republicans, compared to $250,000 to Democrats.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jun 17, 2011 at 7:31 am
by David Friedman, Union of Concerned Scientists
It has been said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
That observation holds true for the latest version of a Center for Automotive Research (CAR) report on fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards, which came out this week, saying new vehicle efficiency standards could destroy up to 260,000 jobs in the auto industry. It contains many of the same or similar flaws found in the first version the center issued last year, and yet CAR somehow expects to be taken seriously when it again claims that reducing the amount of gas we guzzle will hurt—not help—the auto industry and consumers.
Like the original, the revised analysis ignores basic facts and cherry-picks assumptions to support its conclusion. We would file this in the bin marked for “garbage in, garbage out” methodology if the analysis were going to sit on a shelf, but the auto industry has been citing CAR’s shoddy work to lobby against strong fuel efficiency and auto pollution standards being developed by the Obama administration and the state of California.
The auto industry’s “problem” with those standards is that the administration and California’s preliminary analysis found that the strongest standards they are considering would save consumers thousands of dollars, cut millions of tons of global warming pollution , and dramatically reduce U.S. oil dependence. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ (UCS) own analysis came to the same conclusion as the administration.
What did CAR do when faced with such overwhelming evidence? It ignored it.
CAR’s original version, which it issued in December 2010, was riddled with errors and false assumptions. Based on an International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) analysis, for example, the analysis misused data and made basic technical and mathematical errors. As a result, the ICCT found that these errors “overstate increases in average vehicle cost and systematically underestimate fuel savings.”
“If CAR had used a more credible analytical approach and representative estimates for technology and cost,” ICCT concluded, “it would have reached exactly opposite projections: positive impacts on industry and growth in U.S. automobile sales, production, and employment.”
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