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Weekly Grist, 07 Feb 2006 February 07, 2006 10:40 AM

Tuesday, 07 Feb 2006
From Bobby to Breeders
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. takes up modeling and Kermit shills for Ford, this week in The Grist List. Sign up to get The Grist List by email.

Feds Say the Darnedest Things
Bush's quasi-bold pronouncements on oil prompt criticism, backpedaling

In his State of the Union address last week, President Bush declared that "America is addicted to oil" and that he would "make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past." Within 24 hours, fiasco ensued. Saudi Arabia's ambassador said he would ask Bush, ahem, "what he exactly meant by that." Oil industry lobbyists squealed; libertarians nigh fainted. Energy experts (read: the literate) pointed out that most of the R&D programs mentioned in the speech -- "clean coal," nuclear, wind, solar, etc. -- are designed to generate electricity and wouldn't have any effect on oil consumption. And to cap off the furor with appropriate absurdity, administration officials said Bush's declaration that the U.S. would cut its Middle East oil imports 75 percent by 2025 was not meant to be taken literally. It was meant to dramatize the issue in a way "every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands." So ... lies lead to understanding. We're starting to get the whole WMD thing!

straight to the source: Knight Ridder News Service, Kevin G. Hall, 01 Feb 2006

straight to the source: The Christian Science Monitor, Mark Clayton, 02 Feb 2006

straight to the source: The New York Times, Elisabeth Bumiller, 02 Feb 2006

Performance Anxiety
EPA program offers carrots to polluters, takes away sticks, enviros say

Come and get it! Photo: Clipart. An EPA program designed to give flexibility to companies that are "top environmental performers" ma  [ send green star]
 February 07, 2006 10:41 AM

performers" may be giving a free pass to some heavy polluters and lawbreakers, says a coalition of enviros. Muckraker looks into the claims that Performance Track program participants -- including DuPont, International Paper, and Monsanto -- are getting off easy.

new in Muckraker: Performance Anxiety

Exxon Lax
Exxon posts record-breaking profit, tries to evade Exxon Valdez penalty

ExxonMobil has announced that it reaped $36 billion in profits for 2005 -- the largest single-year profit ever by any American corporation. In related news, Exxon lawyers recently asked a federal court to effectively waive $5 billion in punitive damages related to the massive 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, meant to compensate thousands of Alaskans who lost their livelihoods. The company, which has been tenaciously resisting the fines since the day of the spill, argued that it had already done enough by spending $3 billion on cleanups and settling other lawsuits. Some in the packed courtroom openly laughed as an Exxon lawyer argued that "harm was largely avoided" by what the company's paid so far. Yup, that's funny all right. Ha. Ha.

straight to the source: The New York Times, Simon Romero and Edmund L. Andrews, 31 Jan 2006

straight to the source: The Seattle Times, Associated Press, David Kravets, 28 Jan 2006

Getting Evon
Native Movement director Evon Peter answers Grist's questions

Evon Peter To Evon Peter, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding lands aren't a remote wilderness -- they're home. He served as a chief in his Gwich'in village in far northern Alaska for three years during his 20s, and now dedicates his time to Native Movement, a collective of activists working on projects ranging from environmental justice and the protection of sacred sites to youth leadership development. He's also this week's InterActivist. Send him your burningest questions by  [ send green star]
 February 07, 2006 10:42 AM

noon PST on Wednesday; we'll publish his answers to selected questions on Friday.

new in InterActivist: Getting Evon

Bullied Pulpit
Evangelical association decides not to fight global warming after all

You know all the fuss this past year over the evangelical Christian community becoming a powerful partner in the fight against climate change? Well, never mind. The 30-million-member National Association of Evangelicals had been expected to issue a public statement on the dangers of global warming, marking a potentially fatal rift in the right-leaning coalition of climate-change humbugs, but last week the organization said it's been unable to reach consensus on the issue and thus won't take a stand. The change of course came after NAE President Ted Haggard received a sternly worded letter last month from 22 Bush-friendly evangelical leaders, including James Dobson, pointing out that "Bible-believing evangelicals ... disagree about the cause, severity, and solutions to the global-warming issue." The subtext: Let's not forget on which side our bread is buttered. Amen.

straight to the source: The Washington Post, Alan Cooperman, 02 Feb 2006

Lights, Camera, Traction
Al Gore and electric car star in films unveiled at Sundance

Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim at Sundance. Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster. Think you know all there is to know about the man once mocked as "Al Bore"? Think again. At the recent Sundance Film Festival, audiences got an eyeful of a new man with a powerful message: "Dudes, we've gotta do something about climate change, yo." And, believe it or not, the documentary about Gore's climate quest was a smash hit. Meanwhile, another green documentary made its world premiere, a whodunit entitled Who Killed the Electric Car? Addiction to oil, us? Nah.

 [ send green star]
 February 07, 2006 10:43 AM

new in Arts and Minds: Lights, Camera, Traction

Meter Aid
New power meters help customers cool juice use

Millions of California households will soon be able to see at a glance how much electricity and money is being gobbled up as they flip on their hairdryers and plasma TVs. California regulators and two of the state's biggest utilities are rolling out a $2 billion program to install "advanced" electricity meters in select homes. The devices display how much electricity a customer is using and how much it's costing in real time, encouraging folks to cut back during peak hours. The utilities will use the data provided by the meters to offer variable-rate plans that reward good power behavior -- like running dishwashers off-peak -- to help alleviate California's perpetual power crunches. In a pilot project, electricity use fell by an average of 13 percent in the 2,500 participating homes. Similar programs have cut electricity consumption in Pennsylvania, Florida, Sweden (natch), and elsewhere, says a California energy commissioner.

straight to the source: Los Angeles Times, Marc Lifsher, 06 Feb 2006

Tastes Like Geoduck
A dispatch from the 2006 Seafood Summit

Seattle is for fish-lovers. Photo: iStockphoto. Here at Grist, we're always on the lookout for opportunities to score free food -- oops, we meant "cover compelling eco-events." So we were excited to discover that this year's Seafood Summit, an annual gathering of sustainable-fisheries advocates, would take place in Seattle. We sent Katharine Wroth down the street to find out what's new with the movement -- and how many types of fish she could eat without getting sick.

new in Dispatches: Tastes Like Geoduck

Book Your Guilt Trip Today!
British enviros curb flying to protest airplane emissions

A growing number of British enviros are quitting or cutting back on air travel, resisting the siren song of low-fare, no-frills airlines. "I just realized that  [ send green star]
 February 07, 2006 10:43 AM

all my other efforts to be green -- recycling, insulating the house, not driving a giant 4x4 -- would be totally wiped out by a couple of holidays by air," said Michael Gibson, one participant in this fledgling movement. A round-trip flight from the U.K. to Florida produces about as much CO2 as a year's worth of driving by the average Brit, and the number of such flights is expected to soar over the coming years: The British government forecasts that more than twice as many people will use the nation's airports by 2030 as do now. Flight abstainers will soon launch a website that will encourage people to pledge to cut back on or refrain from flying. The activists are also pressuring the European Union to tax airplane fuel, which would raise the price of flying and thus tamp down demand.

straight to the source: The Observer, Tom Robbins, 29 Jan 2006

Rock the Coat
Umbra on eco-friendly paint

Different strokes for different folks. When it comes to disturbingly pleasing odors, fresh paint ranks right up there with the interior of a new car. But alas, we must put our olfactory peccadilloes aside and remind you of the terrible chemicals in paint, and how important it is to find less-toxic applications for your thirsty walls. When a new homeowner asks Umbra Fisk for tips on which paint to use, our advice maven lays it on thick.

new in Ask Umbra: Rock the Coat

Color Us Grateful
Do you work for Hewlett-Packard? Do you love Grist?

We're seeking Grist-loving Hewlett-Packard employees to help us get a new color printer via the company's employee giving program. Though green is our favorite color, of course, we'd like to see some other hues around here too. If you could lend us a hand, drop a line to Thanks!

 [ send green star]
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