Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CT Post: Credit Lieberman on 'don't ask' shift

It's taken a few decades too long, but officials have made real progress of late in overturning the nonsensical rule that bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the nation's armed services. No small amount of credit belongs with Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman.

For almost a decade, the nation has been fighting at least one war on the other side of the world. Whatever the merits of those engagements, they require personnel at a time when the armed forces have struggled to attract recruits. The idea that qualified, determined people were prevented from serving for no valid reason is baffling.

The Obama administration, to its credit, is following through on a campaign promise to do away with a 17-year-old compromise, the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" policy. This allowed people to serve but required their dismissal if their homosexuality became public.

Lieberman has long been a leader in this fight, and his persistence has helped ensure the wrongheaded policy does not stand. Democratic leaders in Congress said they may raise the matter as soon as this week, and the president has vowed to support the policy shift.

Arguments against changing the rule are based on the same discredited notions of compromised morale and diminished unit cohesion that were raised in opposition to integrating the armed forces and allowing women to serve. These hang-ups are not shared, in general, by the people who matter most -- the men and women who serve our country today.

It's an outdated, unfair policy. It's time to scrap it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Washington Post: The Senate needs to act now on the climate bill

SENS. JOHN F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) have provided Congress with an opportunity. Their climate bill, released last week, is imperfect. But it offers a start, very much in the right direction. Contrary to popular wisdom, acting on global warming is not going to get easier after this year's election. Legislators should seize this moment.

The burning of oil, natural gas and coal for industry, transportation and modern life generally gives off gases that get trapped in the atmosphere, keeping heat in and warming the Earth. The consequences of this human-induced influence on global climate are difficult to predict with precision but are likely to be disruptive, possibly catastrophically. Scientists are clear enough on this to make it obvious that people should begin to reduce their dependence on these carbon-based fuels. Every big country will have to play a role -- but many won't get started unless the United States gets serious.

The most rational action, as we've said before, would be to put a gradually rising tax on carbon emissions and let the market find the cheapest alternatives. The Kerry-Lieberman bill doesn't go that route. But it does, through a system of tradable emission permits, create a gradually rising price on carbon emissions that, if properly administered, could have a similar effect. This is crucial, because left to their own devices, legislators will merely subsidize some of the most expensive alternatives to carbon-burning: new nuclear plants (Republicans), solar plants (Democrats), carbon sequestration (coal-state legislators of both parties). If the market is allowed to work, on the other hand, cheaper and more efficient methods -- conservation, converting the dirtiest coal plants to natural gas -- will probably be used while the rising price of carbon spurs research into currently more expensive solutions, with time bringing down the price of at least some of them.

The longer Congress waits to pass a comprehensive climate bill, the less time America will have to cut its emissions -- and the more expensive the process will be. According to the International Energy Agency, every year the world fails to seriously deal with climate change raises the price tag by $500 billion -- a lot of which, no doubt, Americans will be on the hook for. And then there's the politics. The House already has passed a climate bill. President Obama has said he supports action this year. And the next Congress, possibly with a sizable caucus of newly elected climate-change skeptics, could make any sensible environmentalist nostalgic for 2010.

There's a lot we would change about Kerry-Lieberman, starting with the way it would hand out valuable emissions permits. The legislation can and should improve via amendment. But the bottom line is that Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) should get the process started now.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

T. Boone Pickens on the American Power Act

Pickens: Kerry-Lieberman bill recognizes economic and national security threat of OPEC oil dependence

Boone Pickens, energy expert and creator of the Pickens Plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, released the following statement regarding energy legislation unveiled today by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)

“Senators Kerry and Lieberman are to be commended for a plan that recognizes the economic and national security threat of our ever-increasing dependence on foreign oil, particularly OPEC oil. Achieving energy security is not easy and I applaud their focus on a broad energy package that includes replacing foreign oil/diesel/gasoline with cleaner, abundant domestic natural gas in America’s heavy duty vehicle fleets. I look forward to working with them in the coming weeks to focus attention on that aspect of their legislation. More than 1.6 million Americans have signed on to my campaign to solve the foreign oil crisis, and I’m going to see to it that this objective is achieved as the legislative process evolves. Using natural gas as a transportation fuel is a non-partisan issue. The time to act is now.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The American Power Act: Whay They're Saying

“To create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. And this year I'm eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.”

- President Barack Obama

“Senators Kerry and Lieberman are to be commended for a plan that recognizes the economic and national security threat of our ever-increasing dependence on foreign oil, particularly OPEC oil. Achieving energy security is not easy and I applaud their focus on a broad energy package that includes replacing foreign oil/diesel/gasoline with cleaner, abundant domestic natural gas in America’s heavy duty fleets. I look forward to working with them in the coming weeks to focus attention on that aspect of their legislation. Using natural gas as a transportation fuel is a non-partisan issue. The time to act is now.”

- T. Boone Pickens
Energy expert and creator of the Pickens Plan

“Passage of comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation will allow the U.S. to be a worldwide leader in the next great global industry, green technologies. This pragmatic framework is crucial to the success of American entrepreneurship and will ensure a cleaner, stronger and more secure future for us all.”

- John Doerr
Partner at venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

“In order for the U.S. to compete in this global economy, there needs to be a price on carbon. A price on carbon will level the playing field and give businesses the certainty they need to invest in the new energy economy.”

- Ralph Izzo
Chairman, President and CEO of PSEG

“This framework puts America on a clear pathway to create a vibrant, innovative clean energy economy to lead the next great global industrial revolution. NRG’s planned construction of new nuclear generation would employ 6,000 workers and drive billions of dollars in additional American business spend. When this bill becomes law, it will call forth thousands more clean energy projects, right here at home.”

- David Crane
President and CEO of NRG Energy, Inc.

“The catastrophic event in the Gulf Coast is a tragedy that serves as a reminder that we need to accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy. This framework will allow companies to continue to develop and bring to scale innovative, low carbon technologies to ensure our country’s energy security.”

- Jonathan Wolfson
CEO and co-founder of Solazyme, Inc.

"Comprehensive energy and climate policy that includes a clear market based price signal for carbon that rewards innovation is key for companies across the country to accelerate our transition to a sustainable clean energy infrastructure and market. The leadership of these Senators is critical to our success in bringing to bear investments in new technologies that will create new American jobs."

- Martin Lagod
Managing Director and co-Founder of Firelake Capital Management LLC.

“The substantive structure provided by Senators Kerry and Lieberman will allow the US Senate to begin the discussion around a long term energy policy – one that strengthens our country by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, creating new American jobs, and supporting energy intensive industries in a smooth transition to the clean energy economy of the future.”

- Jack Oswald
CEO of SynGest Inc.

“We cannot afford further delay in adopting a national policy that addresses our many energy-related challenges. We call on members of Congress to work together constructively across the aisle to pass this prudent and carefully balanced legislation this year. There have been few instances in our nation’s history when legislators have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy-- to have the appendage ’statesman’ added to their names by appreciative future generations. This is one of those rare occasions.”

- Rob Sisson
President, Republicans for Environmental Protection

"I am proud of what my Senator from Massachusetts is doing today. This legislation holds one of the keys to meaningfully accelerate the transition to clean energy solutions for transportation and the grid, which will increase our energy security and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. From the perspective of a leading U.S.-based advanced battery company that is creating thousands of new U.S. jobs for the 21st Century, this legislation points the way to put America back in control of its energy future. All those who understand this imperative need to let their voices be heard now in support of Senator Kerry's and Lieberman’s tireless efforts."

- David Vieau
President and CEO, A123Systems

“The American Power Act is essential to strengthening our national security. Military leaders of every stripe have confirmed that America’s dependence on hostile nations for oil puts money in the pockets of our most dangerous enemies. This tri-partisan bill will defund terror and make the world a safer place for our troops. America’s military leadership – at the Defense Department, the CIA, and the National Intelligence Council – have all identified climate change and oil dependence as security threats. Now is the time for politicians in Washington to follow their lead.”

- Statement from Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations

“Exelon commends Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their leadership in crafting federal climate legislation to address the nation’s energy security, jobs and environmental goals. We are pleased that the draft bill announced today by Senators Kerry and Lieberman proposes a system for putting a price on carbon, which will use market forces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest possible cost, as well as a firm price collar to protect consumers. As the nation’s largest nuclear operator, Exelon also appreciates that the senators have recognized nuclear power as a low-emission source of baseload electricity with an important role to play in the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy.”

- John W. Rowe
Chairman & CEO, Exelon

“The ‘American Power Act’ represents an important step toward a strong national energy policy, and GE applauds Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their leadership on an issue that is critical to the future of our nation and our economy. National energy policy must drive the accelerated deployment of new technologies in the United States if America is to compete and win in the global race for clean energy technology leadership. China and Europe have already enacted robust clean energy policies that are powering technology investment and job creation. It’s time for America to do the same. GE supports the process Senator Kerry and Lieberman have initiated today. We stand ready to work with them and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle on the substance and details of final legislation.”

- Statement from General Electric

“National policy – including an effective price on carbon and a strong, nationwide clean energy standard – is needed to drive increased investment, which in turn creates new technologies and jobs.”

- Jeff Immelt
Chairman and CEO, General Electric

"Today’s action by Senators John Kerry (Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.) jumpstarts the Senate debate over America’s energy future. Their unwavering leadership has been critical to the progress made thus far. Every day the Senate fails to pass comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation we put our economy, our national security and our environment at greater risk. Inaction is too costly, and the challenge is too urgent. The Gulf Coast oil catastrophe is yet another reminder that the United States must reduce its dependence on oil to protect our security, economy and environment. The millions of Americans we represent demand a Senate vote on comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. President Obama and leaders of both parties in Congress must provide the leadership necessary to develop a clean energy and climate solution that becomes law this year.”

- Statement from Alliance for Climate Protection, Audubon, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Climate Solutions, Defenders of Wildlife, ENE (Environment Northeast), Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Fresh Energy, Green For All, League of Conservation Voters, National Tribal Environmental Council, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oxfam America, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, The Wilderness Society, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Wildlife Fund

“The nuclear-related provisions of this legislation provide a solid platform for the expansion of nuclear energy to meet our electricity needs, create thousands of jobs and help achieve the desired reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. All mainstream analyses of the climate change issue show that reducing carbon emissions will require a portfolio of technologies, that nuclear energy must be part of the portfolio, and that major expansion of nuclear energy is essential. I applaud Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their collaborative work on this legislation and for seeking input from a variety of interested parties to craft this proposal. While he is not a part of today’s announcement, Senator Graham’s committed work to advance this issue cannot be overlooked and we thank him for his efforts. We believe there is solid consensus on the need for, and the value of, the nuclear energy provisions in this proposal.”

- Marvin Fertel
President and CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute

"If businesses have a clear price signal, they will respond by creating innovative new solutions to our climate and energy problems. I applaud the effort to put a price on carbon this year. It is time for our country to be a leader in the new, low-carbon economy."

- Jeffrey Swartz
President and CEO, The Timberland Company

“Smart, bold and comprehensive climate and energy legislation will reduce our dependence on oil, increase our nation’s security and create jobs. What’s more, it will ensure that we remain competitive in the clean technology revolution taking place around the world. We must not miss this opportunity to help unlock a clean and prosperous future for America.”

- Amy Davidsen
US Executive Director, The Climate Group

"Nike has long advocated for Congress to pass a comprehensive climate and energy policy because we believe it's a pathway to environmental progress, economic growth and stimulating innovation. Business needs certainty and a level playing field to help spur green jobs and unlock innovation essential to creating technology and infrastructure solutions for a sustainable future. We applaud Senators Kerry and Lieberman for their leadership and introduction of this important legislation and stand ready to support along with our BICEP coalition members.”

- Hannah Jones
Vice President of Sustainable Business and Innovation, Nike

“Operation Free is very encouraged by today’s announcement. Our massive transfer of wealth to gulf nations to pay for oil is a destabilizing force, enriching some of our most dangerous enemies there and around the world. Taking a strong stance on carbon pollution could deprive Iran, one of the world’s most aggressive and unpredictable nations, of up to $100 million a day. Given their record of hostility to us and our allies, we can’t afford to allow them even one more dime.”

- Jonathan Murray
Operation Free Campaign Director and former US Marine

“Many in the national security community are standing squarely behind this legislation because the connection between our safety and energy could not be more clear. Controlling our energy future means a safer America, a stronger military, and a robust and growing economy here at home. America can and must lead by example in this, one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.”

- Jonathan Powers
COO of the Truman National Security Project

"This isn't an environmental issue, this is a security issue. Our strategic interests, and therefore our national security and the safety of Americans, are threatened by climate change and our continuing dependence on oil. Military leaders know this isn't about polar bears and ice caps, it's about international stability and national security.”

- Lt. General John G. Castellaw
US Army, Retired

“We make a profound strategic error if we underestimate the impact that climate has on regional and international stability. Some of our most worrisome trouble spots around the world are dangerous because of a combination of climate problems and social unrest – Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen are strong examples. Congress must pass this legislation to make the world a safer place.”

- Major General Paul Monroe
US Army, Retired

“By opting for renewable energy over fossil-based sources, customers currently have the power to reduce their carbon footprint and overall impact on the environment. We look forward to continuing to work with Senators Kerry and Lieberman to ensure that this bill preserves the ability of individuals, companies, and government agencies to make meaningful choices about their electricity supply.”

- Jay Carlis
President, the Renewable Energy Markets Association

“Senators Kerry and Lieberman are to be commended for their leadership in introducing meaningful climate change legislation, and, in doing so, helping the United States take a major step forward in solving the biggest challenge of our time. With vital assistance from Senator Graham, Senators Kerry and Lieberman have provided the Senate with an excellent proposal for a comprehensive legislative package that will reduce our country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Entergy supports the bill’s market-based approach, which will put a price on carbon dioxide. This is the most effective and efficient way of achieving reduction of greenhouse gasses and spurring innovation and investment into new carbon-reducing technologies.”

- J. Wayne Leonard
Chairman and CEO, Entergy Corporation

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sens. Lieberman and Brown introduce Terrorist Expatriation Act

Senators Joe Lieberman and Scott Brown today introduced the Terrorist Expatriation Act today.

The Terrorist Expatriation Act would bring existing federal law up to date by adding another item to the list of acts for which a U.S. national would lose his/her nationality: providing material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization, as designated by the Secretary of State, or actively engaging in hostilities against the United States or its allies.

Below is a bill summary:

Background: An existing federal statute, 8 U.S.C. § 1481, identifies seven categories of acts for which U.S. citizens lose their citizenship if they voluntarily perform one of those acts “with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality.” The list includes acts such as:

• Serving in the armed forces of a “foreign state” if such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States;
• Formally renouncing nationality whenever the United States is in a state of war; or
• Committing treason against the United States.

The Terrorist Expatriation Act would simply add another category to the list of acts for which a U.S. national would lose his nationality, namely: providing material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization, as designated by the Secretary of State, or actively engaging in hostilities against the United States or its allies.

Purpose: The Terrorist Expatriation Act brings existing federal law up to date for the war on terror that the United States is currently fighting against terrorists at home and abroad. Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) are not covered by the existing expatriation law because they are not “foreign states.”

When the existing statute was enacted decades ago, Congress could not have anticipated enemies like the ones we are fighting today. Nonetheless, U.S. nationals who join al-Qaeda and other FTOs, declare America to be enemy soil, and take up arms with the goal of killing Americans should forfeit their rights to American citizenship or other nationality status, just as they would if they had joined the armed forces of any nation with whom the United States was at war.

This Act will provide another important tool for our military and intelligence communities to use against homegrown terrorists who travel abroad and join groups intent on attacking our homeland and Americans and our allies throughout the world. Under this Act, those individuals will not subsequently be able to use their American passports to travel back to the United States or elsewhere in the world to commit acts of terror.

How the Existing Statute Works: Under the existing federal statute, to which this provision would be added, the State Department must make an administrative determination that an individual has lost his or her U.S. nationality. The Secretary of State must approve a certificate of loss of nationality, and a copy of the certificate must also be provided to the Attorney General. There is also a review process within the State Department, and an individual may also challenge the State Department’s decision in federal district court. The burden of proof, by a preponderance of evidence, would be on the party asserting that loss of citizenship has occurred. This statutory scheme has been upheld, including the burden of proof, by the United States Supreme Court in a 1980 decision, Vance v. Terrazas. In1986, Congress amended the existing statute to codify the Supreme Court’s holding that an expatriating act must be committed with the intent of relinquishing citizenship status for loss of citizenship to occur. This bill does not alter that requirement in any way.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

No Fooling Mother Nature

The New York Times | Op-Ed Columnist
May 5, 2010

There is only one meaningful response to the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and that is for America to stop messing around when it comes to designing its energy and environmental future. The only meaningful response to this man-made disaster is a man-made energy bill that would finally put in place an American clean-energy infrastructure that would set our country on a real, long-term path to ending our addiction to oil.

That is so obviously the right thing for our environment, the right thing for our national security, the right thing for our economic security and the right thing to promote innovation. But it means that we have to stop messing around with idiotic “drill, baby, drill” nostrums, feel-good Earth Day concerts and the paralyzing notion that the American people are not prepared to do anything serious to change our energy mix.

This oil spill is to the environment what the subprime mortgage mess was to the markets — both a wake-up call and an opportunity to galvanize a constituency for radical change that overcomes the powerful lobbies and vested interests that want to keep us addicted to oil.

If President Obama wants to seize this moment, it is there for the taking. We have one of the worst environmental disasters in American history on our hands. We have a public deeply troubled by what they’ve seen already — and they’ve probably seen only the first reel of this gulf horror show. And we have a bipartisan climate/energy/jobs bill ready to be introduced in the Senate — produced by Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham — that would set a price on carbon and begin to shift us to a system of cleaner fuels, greater energy efficiency and unlock an avalanche of private capital to the clean energy market.

American industry is ready to act and is basically saying to Washington: “Every major country in the world, starting with China, is putting in clear, long-term market rules to stimulate clean energy — except America. Just give us some clear rules, and we’ll do the rest.”

The Kerry-Lieberman-Graham bill is an important step in that direction. It is far from perfect. It includes support for more off-shore drilling, nuclear power and concessions to coal companies. In light of the spill, we need to make this bill better. At a minimum, we need much tighter safeguards on off-shore drilling. There is going to be a lot of pressure to go even further, but we need to remember that even if we halted all off-shore drilling, all we would be doing is moving the production to other areas outside the U.S., probably with even weaker environmental laws.

Somehow a compromise has to be found to move forward on this bill — or one like it. But even before the gulf oil spill, this bill was in limbo because the White House and Senate Democrats broke a promise to Senator Graham, the lone Republican supporting this effort, not to introduce a controversial immigration bill before energy. At the same time, President Obama has kept his support low-key, fearing that if he loudly endorses a price on carbon, Republicans will be screaming “carbon tax” and “gasoline tax” in the 2010 midterm elections.

Bottom line: This bill has no chance to pass unless President Obama gets behind it with all his power, mobilizes the public and rounds up the votes. He has to lead from the front, not the rear. Responding to this oil spill could well become the most important leadership test of the Obama presidency. The president has always had the right instincts on energy, but he is going to have to decide just how much he wants to rise to this occasion — whether to generate just an emergency response that over months ends the spill or a systemic response that over time ends our addiction. Needless to say, it would be a lot easier for the president to lead if more than one Republican in the Senate was ready to lift a finger to help him.

Our dependence on crude oil is not just a national-security or climate problem. Some 40 percent of America’s fish catch comes out of the gulf, whose states also depend heavily on coastal tourism. In addition, the Chandeleur Islands off the Louisiana coast are part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. It was created by Teddy Roosevelt and is one of our richest cornucopias of biodiversity.

As the energy consultant David Rothkopf likes to say, sometimes a problem reaches a point of acuity where there are just two choices left: bold action or permanent crisis. This is such a moment for our energy system and environment.

If we settle for just an incremental response to this crisis — a “Hey, that’s our democracy. What more can you expect?” — we’ll be sorry. You can’t fool Mother Nature. She knows when we’re just messing around. Mother Nature operates by her own iron laws. And if we violate them, there is no lobby or big donor to get us off the hook. No, what’s gone will be gone. What’s ruined will be ruined. What’s extinct will be extinct — and later, when we’re finally ready to stop messing around, it will be too late.

Monday, May 3, 2010

WTNH: Coltsville could become a national park

By Keith Kountz

Hartford, Conn. (WTNH) - A big push is being made to get the 'Coltsville' site in Hartford named a national park.

It is the site where Samuel Colt patented the first revolver in 1835. Now, after almost a decade of work the state's congressional delegation is ready to introduce legislation to make the 260 acre 'Coltsville' site a national historic site.

"When you think about the industrial revolution and where it all began, to think that Henry Ford came here to study the practices of manufacturing, to know that Pratt and Whitney apprenticed here," said Rep. John Larson of Hartford.

The site is not just the famous 'former' gun-making plant founded by Samuel Colt. It also includes buildings where workers were once housed, a church facility and a park. Lawmakers say designating these grounds as a National park would be a huge boost to the local economy and create jobs.

"We believe in this project, we believe in this part of Hartford, we believe in the developing going on here has natural significance to our country," advocated Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Hartford.

Larson says he expects legislation to pass the house by the end of the month to make Coltsville a National Park. From there,it's up to Chris Dodd and Joseph Lieberman to get it through the Senate.


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