FROM Luke Popovich
Climate Change, Immigration Reform and California Today was the day that Democrat John Kerry, Republican Lindsay Graham and Independent Joe Lieberman were set to introduce a new climate change bill in the Senate. But over the weekend, Senate leader Harry Reid said immigration reform would come first. Graham called that a " cynical ploy " that would leave climate change with "no chance of success."
Senate Republican Goes Cold on Climate Bill Fallout from Arizona's new immigration law has already reached the US Senate, where Harry Reid now say it's time to deal with what is, after all, a federal issue. Republican Lindsay Graham calls that a “ cynical ploy ” to appeal to Hispanic voters, and he's backing away from a bipartisan compromise on climate change. Cut to California, where Texas oil companies are spending big money to repeal what's now the toughest climate-change law in the country. If voters agree in November, will the effort to curb global warming suffer a double whammy?
Coal: A Necessary Evil? Twenty-five miners are known to have died in this week's massive explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. The effort to rescue four men still unaccounted for may be a lost cause. Even before this week's tragedy, the Obama Administration took aim at surface coal mining with a new set of environmental regulations. The loss of human life in the Upper Big Branch mine will likely produce new safety measures for methane gas deep underground. The coal industry and miners themselves claim new rules threaten their economic survival. Can coal mining be made safer and cleaner, or does America's appetite for energy mean putting up with so-called "hidden costs?"
Energy Security versus Environmental Stability Just over 15 months ago, OPEC was worried that the price of oil would drop below $50 a barrel. Now, it's $110. With record-high oil prices overseas supplies increasingly uncertain, Vice President Cheney is expected to ask Saudi Arabia next week to help push the price down by producing more from its massive reserves. In the interests of energy security, the United States is looking to tar sands in Canada and development of domestic coal. But both alternatives are devastating to the environment, creating some agonizing questions. Can the US have energy security at the same time it tries to cope with global warming? Can wind, solar and other renewables be developed in time, or will there be a trade-off between economic growth and environmental destruction? We look at some of the contradictions that result as the US gropes toward a coherent energy policy. Download the PowerPoint presentation on tar sands
Leveling Appalachia's Ancient Mountains for Cheap Coal For the past 20 years, coal operators have been removing the tops off peaks and ridges and plugging up streams in the Appalachian Mountains, one of the world’s oldest ranges, allowing them to mine more coal with fewer people than they can with traditional mining. Today, the Bush Administration is issuing new rules for a practice that can change the landscape of southwestern Virginia, southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and Tennessee, and wreak havoc on fish, wildlife—and people. The old rules said mine operators had to prove they would not damage water supplies. The new ones say it’s alright, as long as they plan to make repairs later. We consider how the drive for cheap energy and oil independence impacts the environment and public health.
House Republicans release their Obamacare replacement As two House committees take up "repeal and replacement" of "Obamacare," there may be life left in the Affordable Care Act after all. Even Republicans are divided, and proposed changes won't make good on President Trump's promise to provide "health insurance for everybody."
Political appointments and the reshaping of the judiciary President Trump has the chance for a long-term impact -- not just on the US Supreme Court, but on the entire federal court system. And his nominees are likely to get the support of a massive spending campaign by donors who don't have to reveal their names. Can President Trump "pack" the federal court system?
The airline electronics ban and what it means President Trump's Department of Homeland Security has banned all electronic devices larger than cell phones on some foreign airlines flying direct to the US. It's causing confusion as well as inconvenience. Is the motive really just increased security?