Patt Morrison for December 20, 2007

EPA Denies California Emissions Waiver

Attorney General Jerry Brown was none too pleased with word from Washington that the EPA denied California a waiver to impose tougher tailpipe emissions standards. He responded to the action by stating that he and the Governor "are preparing to sue at the earliest possible moment." According to the EPA, part of the reason for not granting the waiver was the energy bill that the President signed into law on Wednesday. That bill raises fuel economy standards for all cars and trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 which - according to the EPA - makes the state law unnecessary. California disagrees. * Mark Melnick, Deputy Attorney General for the State of California

Energy Bill: Path to Energy Independence or Major Short Circuit?

No one will doubt that the Energy Independence and Security Act, signed into law yesterday by President Bush, is sweeping in its scope and ambition. The bill will mandate an increase in the nation's fleet of vehicles to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020; it will phase out inefficient incandescent light bulbs by 2012; the bill requires that the nation use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022; and it pours billions of dollars into research and development of new alternative fuels. However, there are also short circuits in this energy bill: Huge government subsidies for the insanely profitable oil companies are continued, and likewise corn growers and ethanol producers won a bounty of federal money for a questionable renewable fuel. Is this bill a true path toward energy independence for the United States? * Daniel Kammen, director of UC Berkeley's Renewable & Appropriate Energy Laboratory; professor in the Energy and Resources Group at Cal Berkeley; also professor of nuclear engineering * Bob Dinneen, president & CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association

Energy Bill: Phasing Out Incandescent Bulbs

Get ready to say goodbye to your classic incandescent light bulbs and hello to cone-shaped spiral florescent replacements (also known as CFLs). By the year 2012 the incandescent bulb will be phased out of the U.S. market with hopes of a complete changeover by 2014. Congress recently approved the bill in hopes of saving energy and consumer dollars. Nations like Australia have already developed a total ban on the bulbs, but are Americans ready to make the change? * Marianne Lavelle, senior energy reporter for U.S. News & World Report * Richard Glickman, consulting engineer in the entertainment industry and a long-time member of the Science and Technology Counsel for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Read Marianne Lavelle's FAQ column "The End of the Lightbulb as We Know It."

America's Top Cash Crop is Illegal!

With an estimated annual value of $35.8 billion - that surpasses the combined value of corn and wheat - marijuana production in the United States is enough to fund the entire operating budget of a small country. Imagine if marijuana were legalized, grown on a massive scale and commercialized just like any other vice product; the tax revenue possibilities are staggering, not to mention the money saved in law enforcement activities against marijuana growers, sellers and users. If policymakers could strip away the moral components of the argument against legalizing drugs, would it make economic sense to decriminalize pot? KPCC's tour of the underground economy continues, this time examining the massive black market for the whacky tabaccy. * Jeffrey Miron, director of undergraduate studies at Harvard University's Department of Economics

TIME Magazine's Person of the Year 2007: Vladimir Putin

Every December, TIME magazine considers the individuals that made the significant impacts on the world stage for its "Person of the Year" issue. While the main contenders for 2007 included Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, former Vice President Al Gore, Chinese leader Hu Jintao, and U.S. commanding general in Iraq David Petraeus, the distinction was given to Russian President, Vladimir Putin. In a nation where headlines were full of stories on global warming, the war in Iraq, and China's rise as a world power, how do the editors decide what makes someone worthy enough to grace the cover of one of its notable issues? * Nathan Thornburgh, Senior Editor at TIME
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