Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Good News in the Fight to Beat Back Fracking

Today some very welcome news emerged from the State Geologist. According to the FAQs posted on the office's website, which you can read in full here, fracking is “probably not” coming to Massachusetts:
Based on a survey of all available scientific data, the geologic conditions in the Connecticut Valley in western Massachusetts are not optimum for shale gas development.  Black shale units in the Hartford Basin are generally too thin, laterally discontinuous, and are cut by too many pre-existing natural fractures and extinct faults. This makes extraction of hydrocarbons economically not feasible with today’s technology at current market prices... However, more data need to be collected to completely rule out that possibility.  
In addition, oil and gas wells used for conventional or enhanced hydrocarbon recovery are defined as Class 2 wells under the Massachusetts Underground Injection Control Regulations (310 CMR 27.00).  Class 2 wells are currently prohibited in the Commonwealth.
This is certainly worth at least one sigh of relief. But even if Massachusetts itself stays frack-free, the state is still complicit in the practice. After all, most of the electricity we use here comes from natural gas. So every time we turn on a light (or type a blog post) we can be sure it’s because somebody somewhere in the country is having their land fracked. By the way, the effect of fracking on one American community is the subject of the new feature film Promised Land, starring Matt Damon. To see a two-minute trailer, just click here.

As well as ensuring that we stay frack-free, there is something we can do right here in Massachusetts to stop fracking elsewhere in the United States. By using our market power, we can force energy companies to certify that the natural-gas they burned to generate electricity they are selling us did not pollute anybody’s drinking water. That is the idea behind a bill the Sierra Club promoted in the last legislative session, with the support of the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s state convention.

If you would like to learn more about this bill and other legislative proposals to speed up the switch from fossil fuels to renewables, please come along to the next meeting of the Pioneer Valley GRP, which is at the forefront of the fight to Beat Back Fracking. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 21, 7:00 p.m. in Agawam Public Library.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pioneer Valley GRP October Meeting

Here's the agenda for the next meeting of Pioneer Valley Green-Rainbow Party, scheduled for Thursday, October 18, 2012, 7:00 p.m. at Treehouse, Easthampton.

1.         Introductions
2.         Additional agenda items
3.         Minutes of last meeting
4.         GRP Fundamental Platform
                        Action: Suggest ideas to platform committee
5.         Budget for All ballot question
                        Action: Volunteers                                       
6.         Organizing a public meeting on fracking
                        Action: Volunteers
7.         Emergency response committees: update regarding local vacancies
8.         GRP Farmers: update from convenors
9.         Scott Laugenour 4th Berkshire campaign update
                        Action: Volunteers to canvass and make calls
10.       Facebook and e-communication update
11.       Any other business
12.       Close: 8:30 p.m.
□          Next meeting 7:20 p.m., Thursday, December 6th
            Unitarian Universalist Society, 220 Main Street, Northampton

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Book Review: Public Meltdown

By Ben Plotzker, Guest Reviewer

Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, by Richard Watts.

The science behind nuclear energy is one thing, but the management of a nuclear plant is another. This book outlines the management of a nuclear power plant owner in the United States. 

You will learn so much from this book. It is very important to understand what is allowing my night light to be on or my laptop to charge. There are usually mixed sources of sources for electricity, but which sources are more controversial?

In 2010, Vermont legislators voted to shutter a nuclear power plant, putting the state at odds with the federal government and the plant’s owner—the Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation.  Public Meltdown explores the debate that roiled Vermont, including the lawsuits and court action that followed. The story starts out with the early days of the plant back in the 1970’s and how it developed since then. The intriguing use of more than 1,000 news articles, approaches the highly controversial issue with non-bias towards nuclear energy. It is hard to find a book out there that does so like Public Meltdown. As an American citizen that consumes electricity from nuclear means, every person should read this and understand what is going on with that nuclear power plant. Energy is a big issue in the future of the U.S. and the rest of the world, so the question about using nuclear is still in debate.

In rich, well-researched detail, Dr. Watts tells a story that spotlights the role of state governments, citizens and activists in decisions about the nation’s aging nuclear power fleet.  A story that continues today as both Entergy, the nation’s second largest nuclear operator, and the state of Vermont have appealed the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals.Entergy owns 10 plants in the U.S., so it should be known by all U.S. citizens how this controversial energy production is handled in our borders. Nuclear plants are usually very quietly controlled, but all people should know who is patrolling and how they are doing so.

The book details a series of missteps by the Louisiana-based Entergy Corporation which owns Vermont Yankee, from inadequate follow-up after one of the plant’s cooling towers collapsed to misleading statements to state regulators about tritium leaks from underground pipes.Each chapter outlines the important aspects of Entergy’s fight to keep the plant open, even though many speed bumps arise. This non fiction book has some cliffhangers of its own because of how history played out. 

Anyone interested in energy issues or state’s rights is highly recommended to read this book.The noticeable characteristics that put this book aside from any other nuclear energy book is the absence of pro or anti-nuclear positions, no focus on scientific aspects of the plant, just the public’s view of Entergy, and that this is the only book that highlights one nuclear plant’s journey through history. 

The book can be found on Amazon. Look up Public Meltdown: The Story of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. Written by Richard Watts.

More info at www.publicmeltdown.org

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Great response in Great Barrington

Something is hatching in the 4th Berkshire District, where Scott Laugenour is the GRP candidate for State Representative. Scott and I hit the sidewalks earlier today in Great Barrington and met with a response that was, indeed, great. 

Ready to hatch?
As usual, most of the doors I knocked belonged to people who were not home (or simply hiding from me) but of those who were at home and planning to vote for a particular state rep in November most said they were voting for Scott. With more than four months until election day and little media attention, I found the level of name recognition and early commitment very encouraging.

Going door-to-door and focusing on core GRP themes like Medicare for All, green jobs, renewable energy, and transparency in government, Scott is running a strong grassroots campaign.

When you have a couple of hours to invest in party-building this summer, please spend them campaigning with Scott in the Berkshires. I'm eager to get back out there soon, and hope you can join me. In the meantime, check out Scott's website www.scottlaugenour.org.
Scott campaigning (photo by Susan Geller)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Greening the Law

Do you think the time has come for Green lawyers in Massachusetts to help build the party by forming their own group? If so, please read on; this post is for you.

Establishing a forum within the GRP for attorneys, law professors, and law students could (1) boost party membership in the legal profession; and (2) help the party develop state-level policies that promote greater environmental, social, and economic justice.

Time to organize?
We would not be breaking new ground. The Democrats have been organizing lawyers as lawyers for years. Consequently there are several state chapters of the Democratic Lawyers Council around the country, such as the Utah DLC.  

Political parties in several other jurisdictions also have organizations specifically for lawyers. For example, in the United Kingdom legal professionals and law students who support the left-of-center Labour Party can join the Society of Labour Lawyers.  Similarly, Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) has the Associationfor Social Democratic Lawyers. These organizations provide a two-way conduit, bringing legal issues to the party and representing the party to the legal community.

So what value would GRP Lawyers/Abogados GRP add?  I believe the organization could offer two strong benefits that the GRP currently lacks. 

First, as a form of outreach it would give lawyers a new point of entry into the party. Both academic and practicing lawyers are in short supply in the ranks of the GRP, compared with the Democratic and Republican parties. Of course, some will say that's no bad thing! But putting anti-lawyer prejudices to one side and acknowledging the important role lawyers play in fashioning public policy, it seems wise to recruit more legal professionals. By hosting networking and educational events, GRP Lawyers could help draw sympathetic professionals, professors, and law students into the party.

Second, in the 2014 legislative elections we should be prepared to present the voters with a raft of legislative proposals that our House and Senate candidates would promote if elected. Similarly, our statewide candidates should have a resource to help them explain the powers and duties of the offices they are running for and what they would actually do should they win.  Attorneys and law professors could ensure that those proposals are legally and constitutionally watertight.

Legal practitioners and academics enjoy a unique vantage point for reviewing legislation, and for monitoring and critiquing the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the officers of state government responsible for writing many of the regulations that put flesh on statutory bones. By organizing ourselves within the party, we could help generate policy proposals tailor-made for Massachusetts that are both imaginative and practical. 

From environmental policies and voting rights to banking, corporate law, and consumer affairs, GRP Lawyers could serve as a sounding board and think tank for the party. If the party is serious about achieving greater diversity on the bench as part of our mission to build a more equal, just, and sustainable society, lawyers have an invaluable perspective to share. And through occasional social events and panel discussions the organization could also help like-minded lawyers from different parts of the state connect with one another. We might even have fun.

If you think the time has come to set up Abogados GRP/GRP Lawyers, please add your comment below.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Segregation in the Pioneer Valley


Greens in the Pioneer Valley have to acknowledge and address a shameful fact: Our communities and our schools are segregated. In 2010, the Harvard School of Public Health issued a report that identified the levels of segregation in schools across the United States. For Hispanic students, Springfield, Massachusetts, ranked second, meaning it had the second-most segregated schools in the country. For African-American students, the city ranked ninth. Quite simply, some of the most racially segregated schools in the United States of America are here in the Pioneer Valley. As a political party founded on the principles of social justice and equal opportunity, we have a duty to tackle this unconscionable state of affairs.

Segregation is unjust, unconstitutional, and morally wrong. It is also unsustainable. If we are sincere about building a society that is truly sustainable, we have to move quickly to integrate our communities and schools and undo generations of inequity. Here in the Pioneer Valley, that will mean developing an approach to land use, transportation, and education that is regional rather than local.
The Soiling of Old Glory, Stanley Forman, 1976

Segregation in the Pioneer Valley

Our commonwealth has a policy, embodied in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 76, Section 5, of basing school assignment on residence.  As a result, where there is residential segregation, there will be racially segregated schools. One example of this phenomenon is Springfield, the largest city in the Pioneer Valley, a racially segregated city within a racially segregated region.

In the United States as a whole, “residential segregation that exists in metropolitan areas does not typically occur within the same towns, but rather occurs between municipalities” James E. Ryan, “Schools, Race, and Money,” 109 Yale L.J. 249, 277 (1999).  The pattern of residential segregation between Springfield and the surrounding communities is consistent with this trend.  The city is 51.8% White and 22.3% African-American, with 38.8% of the total population identifying as Hispanic/Latino.  In 2000, the US Census Bureau’s Housing and Household Economics Statistics Division ascribed Springfield a Gini index value of 0.816 for African-American residents and 0.813 for Hispanic residents, with 1.0 indicating maximum segregation.

In contrast, the eight communities that abut Springfield are overwhelmingly White, with only two of them having populations that are less than 90% White.  For example, East Longmeadow is 94.5% White with African Americans making up 1.4% of the town’s population, and only 2.3% identifying as Hispanic/Latino.

As a result of residential segregation, the public schools in and around Springfield are also segregated.  In the Springfield school district, 13.7% of the students are White, 20.7% are African-American, and 59.8% are Hispanic.  In Springfield Central High School, only 18% of the students are White, while 25.1% are African-American, and 46.1% are Hispanic. In East Longmeadow, by way of contrast, 89.9% of the students are White, 3.1% are African-American, and 3.1% are Hispanic.  Similarly, in Longmeadow, 86.3% of the students are White, 2.8% are African-American, and 2.7% are Hispanic.

In short, in the heart of the Pioneer Valley we have some schools for Whites and other schools for non-Whites. Although litigation – McDuffy v. Secretary of the Executive Office of Education, 415 Mass. 545, 615 N.E.2d 516 (1993) and Hancock v. Commissioner of Education, 443 Mass. 428 (2005) – and so-called education reform did much to remedy the inequity of school funding, the last real effort to tackle educational segregation was in the 1960s and 70s.

METCO and the Racial Imbalance Act

Back in 1966, in order to reduce racial isolation Massachusetts created the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, or METCO program, which covers Springfield as well as Boston. Students travel by bus from their homes in Springfield to predominantly White schools in neighboring towns, called receiving or host communities. Approximately 75% of METCO students are African-American and about 17% are Hispanic.

At present, only four school districts around Springfield receive METCO students, namely East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Hampden-Wilbraham, and Southwick-Tolland. According to the director of the Springfield public schools this is because of “limitations of the transportation provided by the host communities.”  There are approximately 25,000 students in the Springfield school district. But in 2010-11 the number of students from Springfield attending schools in neighboring communities via the METCO program was just 141, or 0.5% of the total number of the city’s students. Clearly, METCO alone is not going to integrate our schools.

Without question the situation in and around Springfield violates the state constitution as well as the applicable state statute. Where more than fifty percent of the pupils attending a public school are non-White, Massachusetts law defines the situation as one of “racial imbalance” (M.G.L. c. 71, §37D, the Racial Imbalance Act).  Like METCO, this statute dates from the mid-1960s and its purpose is clear:
“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the commonwealth to encourage all school committees to adopt as educational objectives the promotion of racial balance and the correction of existing racial imbalance in the public schools. The prevention or elimination of racial imbalance shall be an objective in all decisions involving the drawing or altering of school attendance lines, establishing of grade levels, and the selection of new school sites.”

Despite having been on the statute books for 47 years, the Racial Imbalance Act has not produced racially balanced schools. Because Springfield and the surrounding communities are residentially segregated according to race, Chapter 76, Section 5, has the effect of assigning students of color in Springfield to segregated schools. This is an outrage. It is also a violation of our state constitution.

Article 1 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights provides that “[e]quality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed or national origin.”  The Supreme Judicial Court considered this provision in the context of efforts to desegregate the public schools in Boston and Springfield during the early 1970s.  As a result of those decisions, there is no doubt that in Massachusetts it unconstitutional to use “[s]tate power to promote and entrench racial separation in all those schools whose communities have segregated residential patterns,” Opinion of the Justices, 363 Mass. 899, 906 (1973).  

By continuing to operate an education system that both reflects and perpetuates residential segregation, the Commonwealth is violating Article 1. Enforcing the local-schools policy but not the Racial Imbalance Act means that we are denying students of color in and around Springfield their right to equality under the law.

The Commonwealth’s practice of confining students of color to schools in their racially segregated neighborhoods – unless those students successfully opt en masse into the inter-district school choice program – entrenches both educational and residential segregation.  The fact that Springfield Central High School, for example, remains racially imbalanced demonstrates that the Racial Imbalance Act, METCO, and the school choice program are inadequate responses to the ongoing violation of constitutional rights.

Regional Approach

Segregation becomes self-perpetuating. As the Supreme Court of the United States observed in a landmark desegregation case: “People gravitate toward school facilities, just as schools are located in response to the needs of people. The location of schools may thus influence the patterns of residential development of a metropolitan area and have important impact on composition of inner-city neighborhood,” Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, 402 U.S. 1, 20-21 (1971). The Pioneer Valley’s experience demonstrates how, over the years, patterns of residential and educational segregation in and around metropolitan Springfield have become mutually reinforcing.

How do we open the padlock of segregation? I believe that the key is identifying those decisions that have a regional impact, and putting power over those decisions into the hands of a democratic, accountable regional body. Ceding power upward from the municipal to regional level may strike some Greens as counter-intuitive, to say the least, and inconsistent with our goal of greater decentralization. But I believe that it is completely consistent with our commitment to grassroots democracy, the first of our party’s Ten Key Values, ensuring that people have a say in the decisions that affect their lives and creating political forms that directly include people in the decision-making process.

Here in Massachusetts, where “local” has often served as codeword for White, local control and local schools have worked together to perpetuate racial inequality. We need to break with the past, and design policies that promote regional equity. Here is a link to a video featuring Professor john a. powell (he uses lower-case only in his name) of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University. Professor powell explains that racial and economic segregation segregates people of color not just from White people but from opportunity. He argues that we need to address the “opportunity structure at the regional level” rather than trying to tackle segregation at the local level.

If we are to follow this advice and ensure that the opportunity structure in the Pioneer Valley is accessible, inclusive, and equitable, we will have to design a new governmental structure with the authority to make decisions about fair and affordable housing, public transportation, commercial development, and school assignments. In a state that effectively abolished county government, relishes local control over zoning, and amended its constitution to prevent "forced busing" there will be plenty of resistance. 

On the other hand, Massachusetts also created the Cape Cod Commission, a regional authority which manages growth and promotes environmental protection on Cape Cod. Fifteen towns in Barnstable County ceded zoning power to the commission in order to protect the scenic value, water supply, and quality of life on the Cape. Clearly, Bay Staters are quite capable of surrendering some local control to a supra-municipal body when we realize that the stakes are high. 


Although policymakers in Massachusetts have devised a variety of programs over the past 50 years, our society remains a segregated one. Programs such as METCO and school choice are still alive and produce positive results for the participants, but do little to bring about genuine integration. The Racial Imbalance Act and the law enshrining local assignment work against each other, and display the inadequacy of an exclusively local – as opposed to regional – approach to building social cohesion. 

As the site of some of the most racially segregated schools in the country we have to change the way we distribute decision-making power and other resources, and we have to do so urgently and effectively. In order to achieve an increasingly just, equal, sustainable, and democratic society, Greens in the Pioneer Valley should put regional equity at the top of our list of policy priorities.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A new approach to phasing out fossil fuels

In November and December of last year, coal’s share of US electricity generation fell below 40% for the first time since 1978, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). While that sounds like good news, coal's relative decline is not so much about the rise of renewable energy but rather about the boom in shale gas. Advances in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) are making it much easier for drillers to extract gas from deep underground, so that by 2035 almost half of the natural gas we use in the United States will be shale gas.

Natural gas emits less CO2 than coal, but one of its components is methane. Emissions of methane from the extraction and distribution of natural gas are a potent driver of climate change. Why? Because in terms of heat-trapping potential, methane is 21 times more effective than carbon dioxide.

If we are going to tackle climate change, we need a realistic, integrated approach to coal and natural gas. And, as you will have noticed, we do not have much time.

The year 2010 was the warmest year on record, says the World Meteorological Organization. Last year, 2011, was the warmest for a year that experienced a La NiƱa event, which is supposed to cool the atmosphere. In the US, only six states had a near-normal December. Arctic sea ice extent for 2011 was the fifth lowest on record opening up the Northwest Passage for the second consecutive year, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The pressing, global nature of the problem is why we have a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At Cancun, our government pledged to reduce GHG emissions significantly, so that by 2020 they would be 17% below 2005 levels. But in fact our GHG emissions have gone up, and they continue to rise. In 1990 we emitted approximately 6,000 million tons. In 2006, the figure was about 7,075 million tons. This year, we will probably reach 7,700 million tons, i.e. 25% more than in 1990. That should put the good news about coal in context.

Power companies are using less coal and more natural gas because the latter is cheaper than the former. Why is natural gas cheaper? Because of advances in fracking technology. But how can fossil-fuel companies afford to invest in fracking technology when the price is dropping? The EIA explains: "high crude oil prices... significantly improve the economics of natural gas plays that have high concentrations of crude oil, condensates, or natural gas liquids." This interplay of oil, coal, and natural gas prices is an important factor that we need to take into account as we devise policies for reducing fossil-fuel use.

As we fashion those policies, we need to understand the scale and urgency of the problem. Together, coal and natural gas make up 50% of the country’s energy consumption. This year they will account for about 3,000 million tons of CO2 equivalents. Last year, the federal government projected that 23 years from now that figure will have climbed to 3,738 million tons. This year, the projection for 2035 is lower but still predicts that our country's total electricity-related carbon dioxide output will grow by 4.9% from 2012 to 2035. 

We cannot slow down climate change if our CO2 and other GHG emissions increase. Yes, natural gas is supplanting coal in the electricity sector and, arguably, natural gas produces less CO2 than coal. At the point of use (i.e. excluding the carbon cost of extracting it) natural gas is cleaner than coal. Another supposedly redeeming feature of natural-gas power stations is the possibility of re-powering them to run on hydrogen. After all, hydrogen is not a climate change culprit. 

However, the Fusina hydrogen plant in Italy currently relies on fossil fuels from a neighboring petrochemical facility for feedstock.  The petrochemical facility captures the carbon dioxide but, to make the whole process cost-effective, the owners then pump it underground to help extract more oil. A power plant that not only requires fossil fuels to operate but also facilitates the extraction of even more fossil fuels is hardly a model of sustainability.

The current trend from coal to natural gas is not reducing our CO2 emissions in any meaningful way. In the past, subsidies may have encouraged the renewable energy industry to come up with new products, but as Richard Kauffman, Senior Adviser to the Secretary of Energy, points out: "Without financial mechanisms to encourage creation of a domestic market, there’s no domestic demand for developing these products in the United States." This is a market failure that we need to fix, and fix fast.

As a nation we need a coherent, integrated policy that encourages the market for renewables. A starting point could be the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires electricity providers to increase the proportion of renewable energy they use by one per cent every year. Scaling this policy up to the national level -- and upping the annual increase from one per cent to five percent -- would help renewables take the place of fossil fuels over the course of ten years. 

Given the political complexion of Congress, we are not likely to see a national renewable-energy mandate in the next few years. But we cannot wait in the hope that the Republicans lose their majority at the next congressional elections. And a state-by-state approach has not borne fruit so far. Instead I believe that we need to look at regional, multi-state responses. Again, Massachusetts helps point the way.

Massachusetts is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which in 2005 established a market for carbon trading. Despite the fact that it comprises nine different states RGGI is not an interstate compact, which would require congressional approval, but simply an agreement between the signatories. Whatever the merits of RGGI in terms of actually reducing emissions, it provides a precedent for an interstate agreement that bypasses Congress entirely.

Based on the renewable energy portfolio standard and RGGI, I believe that it is both necessary and feasible to set up a multi-state renewable energy agreement. Using their combined market power, a dozen or so states could require all power utilities in their jurisdiction to provide an increasing percentage of electricity from non-fossil, non-nuclear sources so that by, say, 2035, at least 50% of the electricity in the region would come from renewables. 

With the economic and political power of the fossil-fuel industry, a collective approach makes sense. If Vermont, for example, tried to adopt a 50%-by-2035 rule, the big utilities might well be able to push the state into changing its mind (although Vermont's determination to adopt single-payer healthcare despite heavy lobbying by the insurance industry might give them pause). By joining together with the others, each state would be punching above its weight. 

If you agree that it is time for an interstate agreement requiring 50% of our electricity to come from renewables by 2035, please let me know.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Greens battle fossil foolery in Australia

As Greens in the United States wrangle with fracking, we can learn a thing or two from our counterparts in Australia. Greens like Senator Larissa Waters are trying to put the brakes on the rush to extract coal seam gas (CSG), the latest fossil foolery to hit New South Wales and Queensland. CSG is not the same as shale gas exactly, as this article explains, but both are forms of natural gas that exacerbate climate change.

Senator Larissa Waters (Green)
Waters, a Canadian-born environmental lawyer, won her seat in 2010. Since then she has been pressing for a Senate inquiry into the impacts of CSG but so far the state government has refused, despite the fact that two-thirds of Queenslanders agree with putting CSG extraction on hold.

Here's a video of Senator Waters explaining why Greens are standing with farmers in their struggle with the mining companies.

Friday, March 16, 2012

No Fracking says Northern Ireland Assembly

Mixed news from both jurisdictions of Ireland this St. Patrick's Day. First the good news. 
Steven Agnew, the sole Green member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, successfully pushed for a moratorium on fracking.  His motion (which he filed jointly with the Alliance party) won 49 votes in the Assembly last December, with 30 members voting against. 
Steven Agnew (r)
This success shows what even one Green legislator can achieve with a few allies on the inside and strong grassroots support on the outside. 

Now the not-so-good news from Ireland's other jurisdiction. The fossil-fuel extractor Tamboran is pushing ahead with its plans to drill in Ireland's Bundoran shale and the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, has issued the company a licensing option. Rabbitte is a Labor member of the coalition government and his letter to the Irish Times last year suggests that the government is focusing more on short-term revenue concerns than on long-term climate impacts.

Let's hope for better news next St. Patrick's Day.