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Senate Democrats this week are still discussing what should go into a catch-all bill on the oil spill, energy, and climate change. One proposal that might make it into the final bill is a carbon emissions cap on utilities. Now powerful utility companies, who contribute large sums to federal campaigns, are demanding to be exempted from existing Clean Air Act regulations on other harmful and toxic emissions (e.g. mercury and particulates), in exchange for supporting a weak carbon cap. David "Dr. Grist" Roberts referred to the proposed quid pro quo as "the scam of the decade."

My petition, the text of which is posted below, asks Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to push as hard as possible for a stronger cap on carbon emissions and to oppose trading our air quality for climate progress.

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UPDATE: I've change the title to reflect that the agency made a last-minute extension of the deadline earlier today. It's no longer due at midnight tonight, but we don't know when it will be, so you should still comment as soon as possible.

If you oppose the proposed expansion of offshore drilling, please submit a public comment (public meaning your name will be attached to it unless you unselect that) to the official review process at the agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service. The deadline is midnight tonight (Eastern time). Even a short "I oppose this proposed expansion of offshore drilling" would be helpful.

Direct link to comment form:

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On May 20th, I interviewed U.S. House candidate John Carney on energy and the environment, for my internet radio show at the University of Delaware. You can listen to the full show here (mp3).

Full Disclosure: I worked as an intern on John Carney's House campaign from February through May this year. This interview was conducted through my show at the university, and the campaign and Mr. Carney were only told the overall topic in advance. Since John Carney has been vocally opposing offshore oil drilling off Delaware (and the other areas the President plans to open), I feel this interview somewhat qualifies as "earned media" attention, especially in light of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. The campaign has authorized me to publicize the interview here, although I no longer work there and they have not read this ahead of time.

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This past week, I interviewed Chris Coons on my University of Delaware radio show. He's running for US Senate in Delaware this year (he's the presumptive Democratic nominee), and he's currently the County Executive for the largest county in the state. While I asked him about a variety of topics, I was struck, especially in this era, by his vigorous defense of government and the good that it can do in American society. The interview is posted below.

To be clear, I have no ties to his campaign. I'm just a (newly-minted) Delaware Democrat who doesn't want to see Joe Biden's old seat fall into Republican hands this year. And I have a radio show, so this was a good opportunity as a netroots progressive to ask him about his campaign. Nobody from the campaign has authorized or seen this diary in advance.

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Ronald Reagan popularized the somewhat nonsensical phrase "Trust But Verify," for describing the US position on Cold War arms reductions. The US and the Soviet Union both usually went into negotiations hoping to cut nuclear stockpiles, but neither felt certain that the other would make the agreed-upon reductions. Opening up to inspectors from the other side meant national security might be compromised. Yet neither wanted to just trust the other to make stockpile cuts.

 title=A similar impasse has arisen at the Copenhagen climate talks this week over the reductions of national carbon outputs...

Adapted from "Arms control deja vu in climate talks" from my site.

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Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) has a big opportunity to help Maine, and at the same time to reform our energy policy and influence the outcome of the US - and global - response to global climate change. If she supports the Kerry-Boxer bill, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, she wins, Maine wins, and America wins. The bill isn't perfect, but it's a big step in the right direction, and Senator Collins can be there to make that happen.

(Full disclosure: I am a Massachusetts resident, not a Maine resident.)

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Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 09:34 PM PDT

Massive Storm Hits Philippines

by Cpt Robespierre

Pacfic Typhoon Ondoy (aka Tropical Storm Ketsana) is the name.

From what we know it sounds like the storm itself may be far worse in some respects than Hurricane Katrina. (Edit: As Doc Gonzo points out, this storm is less forceful and is not hitting an area with the same type of topography as NOLA, so in some respects, Katrina was definitely far worse than this. The rainfall was much heavier, though, than Katrina, while the windspeeds were much lower up to this point.) Yesterday, in the span of six hours, more than 13 inches of rain hit the Manila area, with rain continuing much longer at a somewhat slower rate. Rivers are overflowing catastrophically, much like the breached levees in NOLA. (Edit: Perhaps not in magnitude) I've been following the mess from a relative there, and she's been posting a lot of videos from people she knows.

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A new DK-Greenroots series will examine the role of various US Senators as the American Clean Energy and Security "ACES" climate bill makes its way through the Senate. This isn’t as much about assessing the relative merits or problems with the bill as it stands after House passage, as much as whether it can be strengthened and which Senators will help or hinder that effort – and whether it will even be possible to pass it at all. I volunteered to help cover Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

(See also the recent post on this series by Meteor Blades)

Disclosure: I am not a Maine resident. Just so you know.

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I don’t know if this has been proposed before, but I was inspired to write this diary by A Siegel’s diary last night entitled "Health Care Series: Six Degrees of Intertwining" on the relationship between health care reform and energy reform, as well as by riding by a few hundred wind turbines in Wyoming today while on the train. This isn’t meant to be a silver bullet solution, but I think it could help deal with both health care reform and the climate crisis/clean energy. I’ve been worried, however, that health care has forced the extremely urgent climate situation to the backburner, and this is a way to work on both at the same time.

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Cross-posted here. This topic area has been touched upon at Daily Kos, both on the front-page and in some recent diaries, but I wanted to develop on it further.

For all of Politico's faults, they do produce some good stuff from time to time. This evening they published a really well-written and well-researched trend story on nail-biter election returns and the prevalence of court challenges. The apparent trend is even the foundation of the 2008 movie, "Swing Vote" that I saw last summer, where the whole presidential election comes down to one guy, who gets a do-over when the machine cancels his vote. The probability of that occurring is infinitesimal, but the likelihood of extremely close elections, according to the Politico story, is higher than ever before.

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Cross-posted from a broader series of discussions at my home base, Starboard Broadside. I've modified the intro and title to make more sense here.

On my site, we recently had, as one site author put it, "a rather spirited debate" on the use of Predator drone planes in counterterrorism operations in Southern/South-Central Asia (i.e. Afghanistan and Pakistan). I'm generally opposed to their use, except in certain specific circumstances (e.g. if we have specific intelligence that a target like Osama Bin Laden is in a particular location for a limited time). We can't keep using them in a widespread/mission-critical manner because too many civilians are killed and resentment grows. Now, a reader has provided me with even more interesting links, and I've been doing more of my own research as well, and I have a lot more to add to the subject, enough to post here.

For background, the drones are operated remotely from the US, but they are launched closer. They then fly to targets and either snap photos or release weapons on the targets. That's created another reason why the people of Pakistan are overwhelming not really fans of the government there:

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