Published on December 29th, 2008 | by Timothy B. Hurst4
From Solar Panels to Sarah Palins: The Top 10 Green Politics Stories of 2008
Campaign politics dominated the headlines in 2008, making it a banner year for the armchair pundit and the politically uninitiated alike. 2008 was also a year that issues like energy use, climate change and carbon footprints came to the forefront of popular culture and political reality. And that’s where we came in.
In the tradition of more credible media outlets, we’ve compiled our most popular stories of the year into an easily digestible top 10 list. As it is based purely on pageviews, we realize that our list of the top ten environmental politics stories of the year is by no means scientific – and we’re okay with that.
In July, Andrew Williams reported on a piece of legislation introduced into Congress called The 10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2008 which would have offered rebates for up to half the cost of installing solar photovoltaic systems, and run for ten years. The bill didn’t make it too far on its own, but some of the same renewable energy development mechanisms are still being considered as part of an economic stimulus plan. This story did well at StumbleUpon.*
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Nevada’s Republican senator John Ensign launched an offensive against solar energy lobbyists, ahead of a crucial vote on extending the renewable energy tax credits. In a post that drew a lot of attention at digg, Andrew Williams wrote:
“Breaking ranks with the the state’s increasingly important solar industry, Ensign said that efforts by the Solar Energy Industry Association to force his hand on tax breaks had in fact had the opposite effect of ‘personally alienating’ him and other senators.”
The emergence of Sarah Palin from a place of relative obscurity to the center stage of American politics provided us with more than enough fodder just learning who she was. A cursory count of our coverage at RG&B turned up more than fifty posts between August and December about Palin. Palin’s position on global warming was one of many green themes picked up by observers. After first denying human-caused warming, she later said the causes of global warming didn’t matter. Tim Hurst described it:
“This is not a nuanced-shift in the technical specifics of some obscure policy. This is a drastic change in a major policy question that is apparent to even the most casual political observer.”
This post by Alex Felsinger delved into the energy cred of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and explored the difference between the theory of energy independence and the application of it. This post got heavy traffic thanks to both Yahoo! buzz and StumbleUpon. Felsinger wrote:
“An agreement was reached in January this year, and never once did Palin suggest that the natural gas should instead be used in the lower 48 states. Instead, 100 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas will be exported from Alaska’s Cook Inlet to Japan and other Asian countries, where the fuel sells for double what it does in America.”
Although we had several posts about what is arguably the biggest story in politics this year—Barack Obama—the only post in our top 10 with Obama’s name in the title was tangentially related to the president-elect. In the wake of Republicans mocking Obama’s suggestion that proper tire inflation was the cornerstone of his energy policy, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger helped launch a new website essentially endorsing Obama’s claims. Written by Timothy Hurst, this one got a bunch of traffic from digg.