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THE DECAY OF AMERICAN MEDIA — Patrick L. Smith on the decline and fall of American journalism; Peter Lee on China and its Uyghur problem; Dave Macaray on brain trauma, profits and the NFL; Lee Ballinger on the bloody history of cotton. PLUS: “The Vindication of Love” by JoAnn Wypijewski; “The Age of SurrealPolitick” by Jeffrey St. Clair; “The Radiation Zone” by Kristin Kolb; “Washington’s Enemies List” by Mike Whitney; “The School of Moral Statecraft” by Chris Floyd and “The Surveillance Films of Laura Poitras” by Kim Nicolini.
The EPA and Public Lands as Climate Movement Weapons

Force Big Government to Kill Big Carbon

by CHRISTIAN PARENTI

The climate movement tends to talk about “theories of change” rather than “theories of power.” But if you think about power – who has it, what are its mechanisms, how can it be used – then government looms large. Government is more than one third of the economy, its judicial and regulatory apparatus touches everything, the private sector depends almost entirely on the infrastructure of the public sector, and during times of crisis the state is private industry’s life-support system.

When pondering mechanisms that the climate movement might use to maximize its impact in the short time still available, consider this: the Federal Government could, without any new laws, significantly restrict both the supply of, and demand for, fossil fuels. In other words, if the climate movement is serious about controlling Big Carbon it needs to get serious about Big Government.

Only the state has the power to euthanize the fossil fuel industry. Divestment and marching are good and important tactics; they demonstrate popular power but that power needs to be brought to bear on mechanisms – like government regulation – that can directly control the fossil fuel industry.

The federal government could restrict demand for fossil fuel by making it expensive, and it could do that by implementing legally mandated, strict EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. Polluters would have to pay heavy fines and that would raise the cost of dirty energy. As for supply, the government could start by taking its own fossil fuel reserves off the market.

The time is right to press on both mechanisms, but neither will happen unless green activists demand robust federal action. Good news: that’s starting to happen.

Obama may have even cracked opened a door that the movement can push further. He has said, “We’re not going to be able to burn it all.” And his mildly ambitious though inadequate emissions reduction agreement with China, will be implemented (if at all) through enforcement of existing laws, most importantly, the Clean Air Act as interpreted by the 2007 Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v EPA. If aggressively applied the Clean Air Act could severely restrict the demand for fossil fuels across the entire energy and transportation sectors.

Less discussed is government control of the fossil fuel reserves beneath public lands. Shockingly – if you consider the climate science – federally owned coal, oil, and gas reserves account for more than one quarter of all fossil fuel production in the US. (That is down from public property sourcing about a third of all production just prior to the fracking boom on private lands.) Control of these massive reserves lies with the president – he could start pulling public fossil fuel reserves from the...

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