The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that Range Fuels Inc., which will make ethanol from pine tree wood chips (and other biomass) has received “key environmental and construction permits from Georgia for a proposed $225 million cellulosic ethanol plant.” The company “plans to break ground on its 100-million-gallon-a-year factory in Soperton this summer.”
Kudos to Vinod Khosla, the Energy Department, and state of Georgia for making this important commercial breakthrough possible.
A recent Washington Post expos© on Dick Cheney revealed that the vice president often gives secret guidance to President Bush that frequently dictates the president’s final decision on key issues.
This morning on CNN, Joe Wilson said the Post series was an affirmation of Cheney’s negative influence throughout the administration. “I see the fine hand of Dick Cheney everywhere. I admit my bias on that,” he said. “But of course I read ‘The Washington Post’ four-part series last week, and I’ve seen the hand of the vice president in the trail of the covert identity of a CIA officer, as have the rest of the world now.”
At this afternoon’s White House press conference, reporters peppered Tony Snow with questions about Cheney’s possible involvement in the pardon, which Snow refused to answer. “Did the vice president weigh in?” one reporter asked. “I’m sure that everybody had an opportunity to share their views,” Snow replied, failing to note that Bush issued his decision without much consultation.
Later, Snow waffled on Cheney’s involvement, stating on the one hand, “I’m sure that the vice president may have expressed an opinion,” but then backtracking. “He may have recused himself. I honestly don’t know.” Watch it:
One reporter asked Snow if he is aware of any plans Vice President Cheney may have to bring Scooter Libby back into his office. “I don’t have any idea. This is not something that’s come up,” Snow responded.
UPDATE: Raw Story has more.
Transcript: Read more
Global warming is not a political issue whose box we can check and move on; it is an intricate web of moral obligations, resource management, development, and an extensive network of once- or twice-removed consequences that are no less important.
For example, in a piece I helped put together with Kit Batten and Nat Gryll (at the Center for American Progress), we look more closely at what global warming means for the immigration debate – it is easily forgotten that the U.S. will not be exempt from global migration pressure as a result of warming.
“Frustrated” by President Bush’s use of presidential signing statements to challenge or ignore provisions of over 1,100 laws, “Senate Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has reintroduced legislation to rein in President Bush’s ability to use the tactic.”
Trees are terrific in every way but one: They make lousy carbon offsets. That was the point of the First Rule of Carbon Offsets. But a number of comments at the Grist blog, and some media queries, have led me include two rare exceptions: certified urban trees and certified tropical forest preservation. The word “certified” is key in both cases.
For these two rare cases, I would allow trees to comprise no more than 10% of an overall offset portfolio (which should be heavily weighted toward efficiency, renewables, fuel switching, and perhaps carbon capture and storage). Also, their offset value should probably be discounted over time (because urban trees are unlikely to be permanent and tropical forest accounting is quite uncertain).
Let’s start with urban trees. I am a big fan of those — I have coauthored a Technology Review article and blogged on how shade trees in particular reduce the urban heat island, providing direct cooling as well as reduced air conditioning use. A good article on urban trees as offsets is here.
I would especially support urban trees that were 1) planted as shade trees and 2) part of an overall heat island mitigation strategy that included lighter color roofs. That said, I am unaware of any tree offset program that actually focuses on urban trees — primarily because they tend to be more expensive to plant and more expensive to maintain and monitor then trees outside of cities, which can be planted in large number in a small space (rather than individually over a large city).
The tricky part of urban tree planting is to set up a certification system that ensures these trees are permanent — and not, say, cut down by some landowner expanding their house or lost in a storm. I expect these will be rare offsets.
Now to tropical forest preservation, which is clearly both important and difficult. These are rare offsets for two reasons.
I’m reading James Kakalios’ The Physics of Superheros which, combined with Google, eventually led me to this discussion of Magneto and diamagnetism:
It’s fascinating stuff. You can see Dutch scientists levitate all kinds of objects here on the University of Nijmegen’s website.
On NBC’s Today Show this morning, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol defended President Bush’s decision yesterday to spare former Cheney aide “Scooter” Libby from a 2½-year prison term, saying “this was a courageous decision” because Bush had to deal with “all the screaming and yelling” from Americans opposed to the commutation. “Look at Joe Wilson’s ridiculous comments just now,” added Kristol. “Look at Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the New York Times, the Washington Post…”
Host Meredith Viera cut off Kristol and interjected, “There are many people who feel that this is a travesty of justice. So those who believe that are ridiculous?” “Yeah…I do think it is ridiculous,” responded Kristol. Watch it:
Kristol believes a great majority of Americans are “ridiculous.” According to a poll taken last night by SurveyUSA, 60% of Americans say Bush should have left the judge’s prison sentence in place. Only 32% of Republicans and 20% of Independents said they agree with the president’s decision.
Additionally, Kristol’s defense of the commutation does not hold up to scrutiny. Kristol argued Libby should not serve time in jail “for having a different recollection about a conversation with Tim Russert, which is the only thing he was indicted or convicted on.” Libby was found guilty of obstruction of justice, which special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said is like when “the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes,” preventing the discovery of why Valerie Plame’s covert identity was leaked.
It wasn’t only “a conversation with Tim Russert” either, as prosecution lawyer Peter Zeidenberg noted in his closing statement. In fact, Libby claimed to have forgotten “nine conversations with eight people over a four-week period,” which the jury simply did not find credible.
During the White House press briefing this morning, spokesman Tony Snow characterized President Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison term as “routine.”
“The president spent weeks and weeks consulting with senior members of this White House about the proper way to proceed,” said Snow, adding, “I think it handled it in a routine manner in the sense that the president took a careful look.” Watch it:
There was nothing routine about this commutation. Although Snow said Bush consulted with White House advisers, the New York Times reported this morning that the decision “seemed to catch Justice Department officials, and even some of Mr. Bush’s closest aides, off guard. … They were floored.” Additionally, the Washington Post noted that Bush circumvented the normal route for commuting a sentence:
For the first time in his presidency, Bush commuted a sentence without running requests through lawyers at the Justice Department, White House officials said. He also did not ask the chief prosecutor in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, for his input, as routinely happens in cases routed through the Justice Department’s pardon attorney.
Bush granted Libby clemency even though he was appealing his sentence and had not yet served any jail time. According to the Justice Department, commutation requests “‘generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence,’ and they are generally not granted to those appealing their convictions.”
Additionally, Snow’s comment that Bush “spent weeks and weeks” figuring out how to proceed on Libby is contradicted by a senior administration official who said that “Bush quickly made his decision yesterday after hearing that the U.S. Court of Appeals had refused to keep Libby out of prison while his appeal ran its course.”
UPDATE: Arlen at The Daily Background has more on Libby’s “supervised release.”
Transcript: Read more
Catherine says “Art Brut is an acquired taste.” I think I liked them from the get-go, but I’m kind of weird like that. One way or another, I’m digging the new album. Here’s the video for “Direct Hit”
I say it’s funny. Also note that they do a great live show.