Retool the Wonkforce

The Capitol’s move to sugarcane plates and cornstarch cups was a good start. What’s left to clean the House?

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Nancy Pelosi swept into the speakership in 2007 with an ambitious plan to reduce House energy consumption by 50 percent in 10 years. At the time, the House alone was responsible for producing 91,000 tons of greenhouse gases, an output equivalent to the emissions from 17,200 cars. Now, sugarcane plates and cornstarch cups have replaced Styrofoam and plastic in congressional cafeterias, waste is composted, and the food is often local and organic. Four hybrids have been introduced into the Capitol fleet, energy-saving vending machines have been installed, and the Capitol and House office buildings draw part of their electricity from wind power.

While there’s still much left to do—including replacing 30,000 conventional lightbulbs with cfls—these efforts, combined with an $89,000 offset purchased on the Chicago Climate Exchange, have gotten the House partway toward its goal of carbon neutrality. (The Senate, while taking part in some of the House efforts, has yet to devise a plan—or a timeline—to go carbon neutral.)

And what about changing the fuel source of the Capitol Power Plant, DC’s only coal plant and a serial violator of the Clean Air Act? That’s where politics as usual comes in: Senators Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), both from major coal-producing states, have blocked any effort in that direction.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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