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Slocum

As the White House finally rights a wrong and installs solar panels to heat and energize the East Wing, the Obama administration will have to determine if the installation is merely a symbolic gesture or a signal of robust leadership on climate and energy policy.

One indication of the latter would be strong leadership on a legislative response to the BP oil spill. Unfortunately, the administration might have its hands full doing damage control after the oil spill commission deemed the government’s spill response “either not fully competent” or “not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem.”

However, a swift, decisive course of action to reform Big Oil and hold the industry accountable might be just the solution the White House needs. Faced with the inadequacies of the spill response, America needs to see accountability for corporations and government agencies alike, stronger safety and environmental regulations for offshore drilling, and more rights for both oil rig workers and Gulf coast residents. Such legislation has already passed in the House of Representatives, but the Senate companion bill has yet to hit the floor.

America needs to see that action now. The immediate Gulf crisis is over, but the underlying causes for it must be addressed – before it happens again.

Big Oil is not wasting a moment cozying up to Congress. Just look at the Senate’s failure to approve subpoena power for the oil spill commission. By denying the commission the authority to subpoena witnesses and compel testimony, Congress is shielding companies associated with the spill from being held accountable.

Yes, the Obama administration should be applauded for its move to go solar. But as soon as the party is over, the administration must get back to work on holding BP accountable.

Tyson Slocum is director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program.

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3032068934_e6e265764bClimate change requires us to rethink and transform the ways we produce and consume energy and the way we transport goods and people. But draft legislation being considered by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (S.1733) fails to hold polluters accountable and falls short of empowering locally controlled sustainable energy.

There is no question that Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) understand the threat posed by climate change and are passionate about and committed to addressing the problem. They are environmental champions. But the draft bill contains compromises, flaws, loopholes and giveaways that defeat its purpose.

The bill is too similar to the flawed legislation passed in June by the House of Representatives that prioritizes nuclear power and coal over solar and wind power, and puts corporate utilities before community-owned power. Science tells us that we must act now to lower our emissions of greenhouse gases, but this legislation locks us in to our coal and oil addictions and relies on a dubious (more…)

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Flickr photo / Texas Photo Wrangler

From Public Citizen’s Texas office:

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including greenhouse gas emissions. If Texas were its own country, it would be the 8th largest greenhouse gas contributor in the world. Texas has a special place in the US economy as its gas tank and its powerplant, but with energy prices skyrocketing, we can no longer afford to let things stay as they are.

Luckily, with every challenge comes opportunity. This week the Texas Public Utility Commission will meet to discuss and possibly decide on upgrading the power grid infrastructure to make sure that we can build new clean, renewable sources of energy in West Texas (where all the sun and wind is) and get it to the people in the major population centers in East Texas.

Wind power in Texas is now a cheaper source of electricity than fossil fuel alternatives. Building newer transmission lines, a so-called “electric superhighway,” is the best way to quit our addiction to fossil fuels. Texas citizens can make their voices heard by going to leaderslisten.org and signing on to the online petition sponsered by State Rep. Mike Villareal.

Want to learn more? Read our press release about our news conference this morning, or read the study and policy paper here. You can also watch a video about renewable energy in Texas and how we can save $1.2 billion dollars here.

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