Photo: Andreas JohannsenThe once-buried renewable electricity standard (RES) has a pulse again, a faint one. There’s no guarantee that this latest attempt to bring it back won’t be just another tease in a year of withered expectations.
It’s alive!: Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) revived RES yesterday by introducing legislation that would require utilities to generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources — wind, solar, biomass — by 2021. If there is a vote on the bill, it won’t be until after the November elections. In the meantime Bingaman and Brownback will trawl for support from enough senators to convince Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to open it up to a floor vote. Which means showing Harry that 60 senators could vote for it.
That won’t be easy. While two other Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and John Ensign (Nev.) — have signed on as co-sponsors, at least a handful of Democrats have said they don’t want anything to do with RES. That includes Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), and Big Oil’s buddy, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who was quick to take her stand yesterday: No way she supports RES until the Obama administration lifts the moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf. That’s the spirit.
Of course, this RES bill is pretty much identical to one that green groups previously shunned as being way too weak. But that was then and this is now. As Marchant Wentworth, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The New York Times:
The R.E.S. passed by the Senate Energy Committee in 2009 is not as strong as it should be, but it would establish a first-ever national framework for increasing the use of renewable electricity. That is a crucial step toward a lower-carbon economy, and we must take it now.
In other green news:
Show them the money: Democratic Party insiders are complaining that green groups aren’t showing enough love for House Dems who voted for cap-and-trade last year and, as a result, are getting hammered this fall for supporting “Pelosi’s job-killing agenda.” [Los Angeles Times]
They can’t handle the truth: If you can’t keep track of the Republican candidates for Congress who are climate change deniers, you need this refresher video. [Flat Earth TV]
Lord of the lies: Speaking of world class deniers, 21 top climate scientists sent Congress a report refuting the testimony last spring of the infamous British skeptic, Lord Christopher Monckton — a man who refers to climate change as a “non-problem.” The scientists described statements by Monckton as “very misleading,” “profoundly wrong,” “simply false,” “chemical nonsense,” and “cannot be supported by climate physics.” [Guardian]
Surely you jest: Two more independent studies conclude that we’re in the middle of unprecedented global warming. [Climate Progress]
Wheat, don’t fail me now: Seeds brought to Mexico centuries ago by priests to make communion wafers may offer salvation to Mexican farmers dealing with climate change. [Reuters]
We’ve created a monster: MIT meteorologist and hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel says most climate models show that the number of hurricanes may actually decrease in the future. But as ocean temperatures rise, more of the storms that do form are likely to be monsters. [Yale's Environment 360]
Details, details: California may pass a truth-in-advertising law that will prevent companies from calling a product biodegradable when it really isn’t. Imagine that. [Triple Pundit]
Run silent, run cheap: Half the new cars in North America will have start-stop systems by 2016. That’s the technology, already widespread in Europe, where a car’s engine stops when its idling, then restarts when you accelerate. [Detroit News]
They be jammin’: Remember the recent Traffic Jams From Hell in China. Well, last weekend traffic in Beijing reached a new level of insanity. Government officials counted 140 simultaneous cases of gridlock in the city on a balmy Friday night. The previous record was 90 during a snowstorm last winter. [AFP]