Brentin Mock

Brentin Mock is lead reporter for Voting Rights Watch, a partnership between and The Nation magazine. Over the past year, he covered the voter-ID law controversy, felony disenfranchisement, voter intimidation and challenges to the Voting Rights Act.

Recent Articles


Earlier, I posted a quote from the Environmental Defense Fund's Joe Rudek that stated that a carbon tax would have probably no effect on agriculture. Technically that should say no direct effect on agriculture. There is a possible indirect impact. Last week, the federal Biomass Research and Development Board released a "Biofuel Feedstocks Report" that stated farms could be impacted by a carbon tax due to a rise in fertilizer production costs. The board found that a carbon tax or high costs for inputs like fossil fuel-derived fertilizers could offset the pressure to plant more acres for biofuels, perhaps even pushing land use below the 2007 baseline level. Also, in the earlier post, many references were made to taxing cows' asses for the methane they produce, assuming most comes from their rear ends. Most methane emissions actually come from burps -- eructation -- not from the other way around. --Brentin Mock

Green Standards Aren't Just for Detroit

As Congress looks to attach environmental requirements to the automaker bailout, it should consider not just the Northern Big Three manufacturers but also the Southern Big Three: Honda, Hyundai, and Mercedes Benz.

As heads of the Big Three automotive corporations go before Congress looking for at least $15 billion in bridge loans, they come with greener promises. The automakers and members of Congress have offered greater fuel efficiency, even going so far as to pledge working toward a 45-miles-per-gallon threshold (much higher than the "35 miles per gallon by 2020" requirement called for in the energy bill). But while it's the Northern Big Three -- Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors -- that are currently before Congress seeking a bailout, a truly forward-thinking legislative package would apply the environmental standards to all U.S. automakers, not just those in Michigan and Ohio. A new Big Three has arisen in the South, in Alabama in particular, where Mercedes Benz, Honda, and Hyundai have set up shop. Now, Alabama is poised to overtake Michigan as the new center for the automotive industry. Add the Toyota and Nissan plants in Mississippi and the new Kia plant on the Georgia-Alabama border...

Green or Die

TAP Online talks with the Rev. Lennox Yearwood about the cost of environmental degradation on communities of color, how to change the consumerist culture of hip-hop, and what Obama owes the hip-hop generation.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., addresses survivors of Hurricane Katrina and their supporters as they demonstrate outside the White House, Tuesday, March 14, 2006, in Washington. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
The Rev. Lennox Yearwood, executive director of the Hip Hop Caucus, recently wrapped up the "Respect My Vote" campaign to get the "hip-hop vote" out for Election Day. Yearwood -- who in 2004 coined the slogan "Vote or Die" -- claims that the hip-hop vote, more than any other constituency, was responsible for getting Obama into office and that therefore, Obama has a mandate from hip-hop. Looking forward, Yearwood says his new challenge will be mobilizing the hip-hop generation for environmental-justice issues. The hip-hop generation has suffered disproportionately from poor environmental stewardship. What does the greater environmental movement owe to the hip-hop generation? What is their mandate from hip hop? They have a tremendous mandate. It is critical that these organizations come to communities of color not just in charity, but in solidarity. That has to happen. And they must realize that they are not the end-all, be-all. There must be new Sierra Clubs that come out of the hood,...

Races to Watch: Alabama 3

Josh Segall, a 29-year-old lawyer and former campaign worker for Paul Wellstone and Russ Feingold, is enjoying improbable success.

Previous Races to Watch : Pennsylvania 11 Ohio 15 Minnesota 3 Senate and Gubernatorial Races One hundred and fifty thousand new voters have been registered in Alabama since last December and almost two-thirds of them are under the age of 30. That must sound beautiful to 29-year-old Joshua Segall, the Democrat looking to unseat Republican incumbent Mike Rogers in Alabama's 3rd Congressional District, the quietest of three competitive House races in the historically red state. Segall is an unlikely Southern candidate. Though he was raised in Montgomery (next door to George Wallace) he went to college at Brown University and worked on the campaigns of Paul Wellstone and Russ Feingold. He's Jewish, pro-choice, and opposed school vouchers if they result in reduced investment in public schools. All of that considered, Segall came from 40 points down to pulling within 9 points of Rogers (with 18 percent undecided) in the latest Capital Survey Research poll. The growth of Segall's campaign...

Palin's Polar Bear Problem

Sarah Palin's denial of global warming isn't the only scientific idea she has dismissed -- she has also rejected protection of endangered polar bears.

Scientists and comedians alike have derided vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin over her denial of human responsibility for global warming. Palin has repeated in interviews and debates that the "the world's weather patterns are cyclical" and that "over history there have been cooling and warming trends" that explain climate change. She also claims that polar bear populations are stable, not endangered as scientists report. If Palin's against-the-grain views were simple matters of scientific disagreement, then it would be convenient to ignore her. But, as governor of Alaska, her theories have dire consequences because of the world's untapped oil and gas reserves that lie below the Arctic ice carpet. Over 130 billion barrels of these fossil fuels may be available from the Arctic Circle. Tapping these reserves would fuel the kind of consumption that leads to more aggressive global warming through greenhouse gas emissions. Alaskans will have to live with the consequences of those...