Jaeah Lee

Associate Interactive Producer

Jaeah reports, writes, codes, and charts at Mother Jones. Her writings have appeared in The Atlantic, GuardianWiredChristian Science MonitorGlobal PostHuffington PostTalking Points Memo, and Grist. She is a 2013-14 Middlebury fellow in environmental journalism. Her work has been named a finalist in the Data Journalism Awards. In a former life, she researched and wrote about China at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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New Bill Would Cut $113 Billion in Fossil Fuel Subsidies

| Fri May 11, 2012 2:30 AM EDT
Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) at a 350.org rally.

A new bill introduced yesterday could put a near end to fossil fuel subsidies. The "End Polluter Welfare Act," introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), would eliminate a long list ($113 billion's worth) of tax break provisions aimed at oil, gas, and coal companies in the 2013 federal budget. Environmental groups such as 350.org and Friends of the Earth praise the bill as the most daring and comprehensive proposal to cut subsidies yet.

"This is a true stab at ending fossil fuel subsidies in full," Treehugger's Brian Merchant writes.

If passed, the bill would:

  • stop oil and gas companies from claiming that as "manufacturers" they are entitled to tax credits, about $12 billion in subsidies
  • eliminate a provision that allows oil and gas companies to use losses from fossil fuel investments to "shelter other income", $82 million in subsidies
  • remove the cap for oil spill liability (at $75 million) and pipeline clean-up (at $350 million) for tar sands
  • remove tax credits provided for the construction of advanced coal plants, $2 billion in subsidies

Past experience doesn't bode well for the likelihood that the bill would pass. As Merchant notes, a similar bill targeting big oil companies by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) in March failed to pass through the Senate with the 60 votes required to avert a fillibuster.

Michael Briggs, a Sanders spokesperson, says they've got a plan. Their first goal is to mobilize popular support around the bill. "It's important to let the public know about all of the egregious subsidies that exist in order to build support for ending them," Briggs wrote in an email to Mother Jones. As of late yesterday, 904 people had signed onto a petition supporting the bill, he  says. Next they'll look for cosponsors in Congress.

M83 Takes Synthpop Back to the Future

| Mon May 7, 2012 5:00 AM EDT

M83 performs at The Fillmore in San Francisco, April 22, 2012.: Photo: Katrina PagaduanM83 at the Fillmore on April 22. Photo: Katrina Pagaduan

Anthony Gonzalez's music has been called "celestial, epic, and astral," and it's no wonder. The charming 31-year-old behind synthpop group du jour M83 is quite the science-fiction nerd. He grins sheepishly as he recalls the late-'70s and early-'80s sci-fi flicks whose soundtracks helped inspire M83's lush, grand sonic persona. He even uses space analogies, and speaks of music as a portal. "The only way I found to reconnect with my past was to write songs about my childhood and my teenage years," Gonzalez says.

Growing up in on the French Riviera in the '80s, he fell in love with music and began playing guitar and later keyboards—he studied piano as a lad—but his career would take a while to germinate. Over more than a decade, Gonzalez made five M83 albums, and scored tours with the Killers and Depeche Mode. But his big break came just late last year, when his latest, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 and hit No. 1 in the US Dance/Electronic category. His single, "Midnight City," topped Pitchfork's list of the year's top 100 tracks, beating out Adele, tUnE-yArDs, and Kanye West. This momentum landed M83 a major slot at Coachella this year, and the current tour has sold out in advance. Luckily, I scored a pass for one of the very first shows, at The Fillmore in San Francisco. In his backstage dressing room, clad in dark jeans and a fitted white T-shirt showing off his muscular physique, Gonzalez told me about his sci-fi fandom, his need to overproduce, and the scary part about making music in an era when anyone with a laptop can do it.

Mother Jones: Are you happy with people's response to the new album?

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