President Obama’s address to eight thousand graduates at the University of California Irvine campus this weekend made it perfectly clear he’s no longer willing to play games when it comes to regulating emissions. Saying ‘denying climate change is like arguing the moon is made of cheese’, he issued a call to action on global warming.
Republicans on Capitol Hill are issuing their own call to action. According to a report in the New Republic, senior members in the House GOP are seriously contemplating using appropriations bills necessary to keep the government open in order to block proposed EPA regulations on coal emissions. Pursuing this strategy could set the stage for a budget showdown, including a partial government shutdown.
Here’s the lede from Talking Points Memo:
If early Republican enthusiasm is any indication, the upcoming Sept. 30 deadline to keep the federal government open could turn into an all-out war over President Barack Obama’s executive actions to combat climate change.
As TPM reported earlier this week, senior House Republicans are considering using appropriations legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s new restrictions on coal-fired power plants, aimed at cutting climate-warming pollution by 30 percent by 2030.
The Freedom Partners Action Fund
Why the desperation? Perhaps because the people with the money to fund conservative causes say fighting to save dirty energy is a priority. A mere twenty miles south of the UC Irvine event, the Koch brothers told donors at a secret meeting in Dana Point this past weekend about the newest weapon in their political arsenal, a super PAC called Freedom Partners Action Fund.
Politico.com reports this group will spend $15 million in the 2014 midterm campaigns supporting specific candidates as part of a much larger spending effort expected to total $290 million. And the focus of all this spending will be the fight against climate change regulations, a carbon tax, and subsidies for renewable energy.
Marketing this dirty energy push will be wrapped around the term “affordable energy” with ads warning consumers of impending massive increases in utility bills.
A Koch-financed campaign against renewable energy standards in Kansas, according to a story in the Daily Beast, involved mailing thousands of post cards to seniors claiming there had been 15 rate hikes since 2009 when the renewable standards were enacted. The article notes “A state commission has found less than 2 percent of recent rate increases can be attributed to the renewable standards.”
Inside the Koch Bros Dana Point Lovefest
The Nation magazine has posted an exclusive report about the inner workings of this past weekend’s meeting at the St. Regis Monarch Bay resort. Three hundred ultra-wealthy individuals paid room rates ranging from $495 to $2000 nightly, with the Koch bros.”Freedom Partners” group spending more than $870,000, including large fees to shut down public access to the golf course, the Michael Mina restaurant Stonehill Tavern and Motif Restaurant.
The highly secretive mega-donor conference, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” featured a who’s who of Republican political elites. According to conference documents obtained through a source who was in attendance, Representatives Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Jim Jordan (OH) were present, as were Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL). Cotton, Gardner and McConnell are all running for the Senate this year; Jordan for re-election in the House. Rubio is widely considered a major contender for a 2016 presidential run. According to the documents, the conference attendees discussed strategy on campaign finance, climate change, healthcare, higher education and opportunities for taking control of the Senate. (The draft agenda is available for viewing here.)…
…Intriguing in its ambiguity was the “Energy: Changing the Narrative” session, presumably meant to change the narrative of climate change to one of energy independence. Panelists listed include Nancy Pfotenhauer, the president of MediaSpeak Strategies and former director of the Washington office of Koch Industries; Hubbel Relat, a former associate director of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation; and Karen Steward, the Director of Research at Freedom Partners—none of whom are scientists.
Meanwhile, Back in Washington
The changes in leadership in the GOP have muddied the waters for members hoping to derail administration actions to address climate change.
From the New Republic:
With a little over three months until the September 30 fiscal year deadline, there are any number of ways this can play out, especially if there is a shift in the leadership’s strategy or a short-term compromise. Members of the House have already introduced bills that target the EPA’s coal plant on several fronts. One bill from Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) would require four other federal agencies to certify the rule has no effect on jobs or electricity. Another bill from Democratic Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia would also roll back the EPA’s rulemaking so coal plants can pollute freely.
The Koch Brothers and their minions have their work cut out for them. A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that more than two-thirds of Americans support President Barack Obama’s new climate rule and more than half say the U.S. should address global warming even if it means higher electricity bills.
SeaWorld’s Research Questioned
An inquiry reported on by Slate.com is raising serious questions about the SeaWorld claims about the benefits derived from keeping captive orcas. It seems as though some of the oft-touted studies of the large marine mammals in “controlled environments” aren’t quite what they are cracked up to be.
A new investigation of these papers by Ingrid Visser, a marine biologist with New Zealand’s Orca Research Trust, shows that SeaWorld may have systematically misrepresented the research resulting from work with captive orcas. Visser’s investigation of the list, which is part of a larger analysis, stems from “a concern that SeaWorld often misrepresents their claims of science and the justification of keeping orca in captivity,” she told me, and as a scientist herself, she “wanted the public to have a better grasp of just how duplicitous SeaWorld was being about their ‘research.’”
According to Visser, of the 52 articles on SeaWorld’s list, three are duplicates, the exact same paper listed twice. Another of the papers on the list is a review by a SeaWorld employee of a book written by someone who claimed to be able to communicate with orcas. Others involved SeaWorld staff, but the research was performed entirely on wild populations. A few could not be tracked down with the citation information provided; SeaWorld’s director of research didn’t have access to them when Visser inquired. Several are not peer reviewed, and at least one had the title changed to imply that captive orcas played a more important role in the research (which was a statistical model) then they actually did.
“After holding orcas in captivity for almost 50 years, this is, quite frankly, a pathetic research output in that time period, even for an individual researcher, let alone an institution with multiple researchers,” says Naomi Rose, a marine mammal scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute.
City Councilman Refuses to Meet With OB Activists
The saga of the OB Community Plan just keeps getting weirder. The San Diego Planning Commission rejected language supplied by the City Attorney’s office regarding developmental “footprints”, a move leaving the beachfront areas vulnerable to the kind of cheek-by-jowl build outs that have left Mission Beach a soul-less (and butt-ugly) tourist trap.
Residents are circulating petitions to preserve the language in the original version of the Community Plan that keeps the tool of floor-area ration restrictions intact. Their City Councilman, however, won’t give them the time of day, despite having met with opponents of the plan.
From the OB Rag:
Councilman Ed Harris’ office abruptly cancelled a meeting that had been scheduled with OB planners to discuss the OB Community Plan. The meeting had been set for Thursday, June 19th.
While the Plan goes before the full City Council on June 30th, OB planners had expected to be able to have a sit-down with the Councilman of OB before the hearing in order to explain in detail why the Community Plan is a good deal.
Harris had earlier met with the leader of the opposition to the Plan, property investor and owner, David Stebbins.
The two members of the committee responsible for the Plan Update and who have been working with City staff and who were expecting to meet with Harris, Gioivanni Ingolia and Peter Ruscitti, both were notified by Harris’ staff on Tuesday, June 17 about the cancellation. Ingolia is the Co-chair of the Update Committee and Ruscitti is the current Chair of the Planning Board.
The reason for the cancellation? It’s unclear.
Anonymous sources familiar with the details said that the Ocean Beach planning reps were told that Harris’ office had been advised by the City Attorney’s Office not to meet privately with people on one side of the dispute regarding the OB Plan, as that would constitute an ex parte meeting that would then require Harris to recuse himself from the vote on the 30th.
A representative of the City Attorney’s office has denied giving Councilman Harris that advice.
Harris’ office is refusing to return calls on the matter, according to OB Rag/SDFP editor Frank Gormlie.
DC Football Team Hits Marketing Roadblock
Team owner Daniel “I’m not a racist” Snyder is facing some legal difficulties with his pro-sports enterprise.
Six federal trademark registrations for the name Washington Redskins were voided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office today, which ruled the name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and therefore can’t be trademarked under federal law banning the protection of offensive or disparaging language.
The USPTO ruling does not mean that the Redskins will be forced to change the team name. It does impact the team and the NFL merchandising because it limits legal options when others use the logos and the name. And team swag is a huge part of the NFL’s money making strategy.
On This Day: 1942 – The U.S. Navy commissioned its first black officer, Harvard University medical student Bernard Whitfield Robinson. 1953 – The International Longshore and Warehouse Union began a 4-day general strike in sugar, pineapple, and longshore workplaces to protest convictions under the anti-communist Smith Act of “the Hawaii Seven” activists. The convictions were later overturned by a federal appeals court 1967 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience made its debut performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in California.
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