Entries Tagged as 'conservation'

An Environmental Nominee Conservatives Should Love

December 7th, 2011 at 12:00 am 24 Comments

Rebecca Wodder, President Obama’s nominee to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks will be a topic of discussion in the business meeting of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Thursday. And many Republicans on the committee are sure to raise tough questions about her.

Wodder, the former CEO of the environmental group American Rivers, holds a number of positions that conservatives largely disagree with. But if they actually believe that frequent (and true) conservative refrain that big government damages the environment, she deserves enthusiastic support from Republicans on the committee.

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The Free Market Can’t Clean Up This Nuclear Mess

November 11th, 2011 at 2:23 pm 19 Comments

Eli Lehrer ably defends the Department of Energy, the flawed and unloved agency whose name fell away from Rick Perry’s lips when his neural network took an inopportune coffee break.

As Lehrer pointed out, about half of DOE’s budget is allotted for watchdogging our nuclear arsenal and cleaning up “legacy wastes” left behind by production of fissile materials and nuclear weapons. One of DOE’s cleanup projects is Hanford.

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Why is There Opposition to Better Lightbulbs?

July 15th, 2011 at 4:02 pm 57 Comments

You don’t buy electricity for the sake of having electricity. You buy it for the services that electricity provides – hot showers, cold drinks, bright lights, and a home that shelters you from the swampy heat outside.

If you can obtain the same level of energy services with new technology that consumes less electricity than old technology, that’s a cause for cheer, not heartburn.

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An Environmental Stance Can Win the GOP Votes

July 7th, 2011 at 12:40 am 48 Comments

Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment recently released the result of polls suggesting that Republican candidates should reconsider pandering to the most ideologically locked-in Republican voters on climate change.

The numbers suggest there is no downside risk for GOP candidates who accept scientists’ conclusions about the impacts of fossil fuel emissions on climate and who support policies encouraging development of alternative energy resources. Their Republican support would largely hold. Indeed, they could gain, by wooing independents and ticket-splitting Democrats.

Republican candidates are, with a few exceptions, tending toward a groupthink of avoiding any hint that they’re willing to listen to climate scientists, or to support any policy that would cool down the rising heat.

Tim Pawlenty, for instance, has taken with gusto to climate change political correctness. T-Paw, trying a little too hard to be Tea Party, has thrown himself on the mercy of the climate-change-is-a-hoax crowd by disowning the mainstream energy and climate record that he compiled as Minnesota’s governor.

For Republican voters who admired Pawlenty’s past life as a pragmatist, it hurts to watch such unseemly displays of groveling.

Stanford’s numbers don’t seem to support the wisdom of such a strategy. In a national study that included interviews with 1,001 voters, respondents were read issue statements assigned to hypothetical Senate candidates.

One of the statements read to respondents randomly assigned to a “green” group was a “green” climate stance. A “not-green” group heard a “not-green” statement. In a third, control group, the hypothetical candidate said nothing about climate.

Among Republican respondents, the “green” statement resulted in a small decline in voter support for the candidate compared to the control group. However, the “not-green” statement resulted in a slightly greater decline. In both cases, green and not green, the candidate’s GOP support largely held.

Among Democrats and independents, the largest support went to the candidate with the “green” statement, as might be expected. The silent candidate was second, and the “not-green” candidate trailed badly.

Similar results were reported from similar surveys among voters in Florida, Maine, and Massachusetts.

Stanford’s researchers offered a few grains of salt. The survey did not focus on gathering the views of likely voters only, hypothetical candidates took positions on only a few issues, and voters were not questioned on how they would react if hypothetical candidates were attacked by opponents for their climate positions.

Still, the research offers a promising indicator that Republican candidates have some room for maneuver on climate change. Donning a straitjacket that forbids even the slightest deviation from climate denial orthodoxy might not be the smartest general election strategy, for which building a majority requires mastering the art of addition, not subtraction.