- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Senate calls for more Gore

Former Vice President Al Gore returns to Capitol Hill Wednesday to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. John Kerry, who chairs the committee, had kind words for his fellow former Democratic presidential nominee: “Al Gore has been sounding the alarm on climate change for over three decades, and he understands the urgent need for American engagement and leadership on this issue.”

Mr. Gore, who has opted to stay in private life rather than return with the Democratic administration, still has easy access with President Obama‘s team.

Shortly before taking office, Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. held a closed-door meeting with Mr. Gore to discuss climate change and national energy priorities.

Among the books not likely to be discussed at the hearing: “Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don’t Want You to Know,” written by the recently ousted Virginia state climatologist and longtime global-warming skeptic Patrick J. Michaels and published by the Libertarian think tank the Cato Institute

No congressman left behind

Arizona Republican Rep. John Shadegg, long an informal educator on the benefits - and physics - of hydroelectric power, said Thursday he often has resorted to third-grade textbooks to enlighten his colleagues.

Rep. Lee Terry questioned whether Mr. Shadegg was setting the bar too high.

“Next time, don’t use such advanced texts,” the Nebraska Republican advised.

The quip sparked a roomful of laughter from members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and provided a brief respite from the committee’s grueling markup session on the energy and health care provisions in the stimulus bill.

The gas is always greener

Who was that among the many enviros and alternate-fuel types supporting Mr. Gore’s Green Inaugural Ball? The American Gas Association?

Though natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel, environmentalists like to point out that pockets of natural gas are often found with reservoirs of oil, which they say profit-hungry prospectors are unlikely to leave in the ground.

Nevertheless, oil-turned-wind magnate T. Boone Pickens has said domestic supplies of natural gas are a good transition fuel for a nation looking to wean itself from foreign oil and transition to renewable fuel sources. Ball organizers repeated that tack:

“As we rapidly reduce the carbon dioxide emitted by our economies, because natural gas is a transition fuel, is a cleaner and more efficient burning fuel than coal, and along with renewable energy sources is already available to us for both electricity in our homes and fuel in our cars, we welcomed the sponsorship of the American Gas Association,” said Aimee Christensen, a member of the organizing committee for the Green Ball.

Maybe their ball was greener, after all.

Just across town, organizers of the International Conservation Caucus Ball, which featured organic beer selections and music from the Boys Choir of Kenya, was sponsored by oil giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron. To be fair, oil and natural gas companies have fronted up to 65 percent of money spent on developing alternative and renewable fuels, according to industry lobbyists.

Ins and outs

Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, said last week he will move to chairman of the environmental group once a successor is found to fill the job he has held for 16 years.

Mr. Pope’s pending move continues shakeups in the environmental community following Mr. Obama’s election. John Passacantando ended his eight-year run as executive director of Greenpeace USA last month.

Expect more movement as team Obama starts filling out some of its second-tier appointments at Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, D.C. observers say.

Tom LoBianco can be reached at tlobianco@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4891.

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