News February 16

Senator Sanders

Global Warming Appearing at a news conference with Sen. Bernard Sanders, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer said she plans to bring carbon tax legislation to the Senate floor in the coming months. The two senators initially would impose a $20 fee per ton on carbon and methane emissions. The panel’s ranking Republican, David Vitter of Louisiana, reiterated his opposition to a tax on carbon, Congressional Quarterly reported. LINK

Symbolic The Guardian’s assessment in a separate article was that “the bill is largely seen to be a symbolic initiative with little chance of becoming law so long as Republicans – and some coal and oil state Democrats – remain implacably opposed to widespread intervention in the economy.”  LINK

Climate Crisis ”Unless we take bold action to reverse climate change, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history and ask a very simple question: Where were they?,” wrote Sen. Sanders in a column published online by the guardian. “Why didn't the United States of America, the most powerful nation on earth, lead the international community in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the devastating damage that the scientific community was sure would come?” LINK

Green, Pink and Gold Climate activists support the polluter tax bill introduced by Sens. Sanders and Boxer on Thursday, also known as a “fee and dividend” bill. “Many greens will be rallying behind” the measure, Grist reported under the headline “Greens Tickled Pink.” Boxer called Sen. Sanders’ legislation “a gold-standard bill,” The Nation and The Raw Story reported. LINK,  LINK, LINK,

Climate Change in the House A bloc of House Democrats is vowing to spotlight the risks of climate change in floor speeches every day the House is in session, Congressional Quarterly reported. The formation of the Safe Climate Caucus follows the introduction on Thursday in the Senate of Sen. Sanders’ climate protection bill.  LINK

Opinion “We can't think of any [climate experts] that (sic) agree with Sanders,” an Investor’s Business Daily editorial asserted. “Boxer and Sanders are looking to drum up support for what might be the best carbon bill we've ever seen,” according to The American Prospect.


Russian Meteorite A meteorite exploded over central Russia on Friday after entering Earth’s atmosphere, causing a shock wave that smashed windows, damaged buildings and injured 1,200 people, Reuters reported. No deaths were reported, but the Emergencies Ministry said 20,000 rescue and clean-up workers were sent to the Chelyabinsk region.  LINK

North Korea and China North Korea has told ally China that it is prepared to stage more nuclear tests in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks, Reuters reported. Despite U.N. sanctions on the development of missile or nuclear technology, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test Tuesday. LINK


Sequester The House and Senate will have only four days to reach a deal on the $85 billion sequester after the Senate returns from the Presidents Day recess, The Hill reported. House Republicans have said they will not act on any bill to avoid the sequester until the Senate passes a bill. Senate Democrats have proposed a bill to replace the sequester with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. LINK

Bank Regulation Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who campaigned on holding Wall Street actors involved in the financial crisis accountable, pressed regulators sharply in her debut on the Senate Banking Committee, Politico reported. Video of Warren’s questioning, including inquiries into a lack of criminal trials for Wall Street firms, got heavy traffic Thursday. LINK

Charter Schools A report by Reuters unveiled how some charter schools, privately managed institutions funded by taxpayer money, screen student applicants as aggressively as private colleges. In addition, thousands of charter schools do not provide subsidized lunches, mandate volunteer hours from parents, and, in one case, required an investment into the company that built the school.  LINK


Small Business A new report from the Small Business Administration indicated that the vast majority of Vermont businesses are operated and staffed by a single owner. In 2011 more small businesses closed than opened, resulting in a negative change in net employment, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Irene Recovery Gov. Peter Shumlin and Sen. Patrick Leahy announced a $950,000 federal grant to help convert a now-empty building in what was the Waterbury state office complex into 27 units of affordable housing. Plans still have to be finalized to rehabilitate the entire complex for about 1,000 state workers, AP reported.