The Climate Post: First They Came For The Bill; Now, the EPA
First things first:
Some environmental groups are giving up, for now, on a cap and trade bill. Sen. Dick Lugar predicted that the EPA, which is moving forward on efforts to curtail emissions of greenhouse gasses via its rule-making authority, would see a “rebellion” that would lead to its powers being “substantially curtailed.”
Some of that rebellion could come from an unexpected quarter – environmental groups themselves, who are incensed that the EPA is “backtracking” on regulation of greenhouse gasses.
In order to pass a bill full of financial aid to the states, Congress “borrowed” $1.5 billion from its renewable energy loan guarantee program. Al Gore is not happy. Nancy Pelosi has been “assured” by the administration that the money will be returned, along with the $2 billion borrowed last August to fund the “Cash for Clunkers” program.
Wags pointed out that Cap and Trade was originally a Republican invention brought about under George Bush Sr., and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu resuscitated a second innovation of the elder Bush, a 12-member political advisory boardstacked with beltway insiders.
Primaries in advance of November elections suggest that the eight House Republican “turncoats” who voted for the House version of the original climate and energy bill have successfully fended off the resulting attacks from opponents within their own party. Rep. Waxman, on the other hand, is happy to see “difficult” Democratic opponents of energy legislation lose their seats in the upcoming election.
November will also see Californians voting on Proposition 23, designed to undo the state’s Kyoto-inspired caps on emissions, but not if the newly politically engaged folks at Google have anything to say about it.
Birthday of “Global Warming” Celebrated With Countless Environmental Disasters
It’s the 35th anniversary of the coining of the term “global warming,” and the Earth celebrated by disgorging a 240 square kilometer, 16 megaton glacier from Greenland that is four times the size of Manhattan. The “unstoppable” iceberg could take up to two years to melt and could threaten shipping lanes and Canada’s oil platforms.
At a House hearing, scientists pointed out that more significant than the glacier itself is the overall trend in arctic warming and sea-ice loss, which, according to NASA’s Robert Bindschadler, will contribute 1 meter to global sea level rise by 2100 – enough to engulf 232,000 square miles of North America and turn the Walrus into the next poster child for global warming.
Meanwhile, in absolute terms July was the hottest month ever, with records set and broken in the Middle East, Sudan, Russia and Asia. In China, Pakistan and Indonesia, flooding continues, and scientists are ready to attribute both Russia’s conflagration and the inundation of Asia to climate change. As a near-arctic country, Russia’s warming is anticipated to continu
e to outpace trends in more southerly lattitudes.
The Atlantic remains significantly hotter than usual, setting up conditions for an active hurricane season.
The (next) big threat to the world’s oceans you probably haven’t heard of isn’t elevated temperatures or ocean acidification, it’s “a looming oxygen crisis.”
In an interview guaranteed to hurt somebody’s feelings, Deutsche Bank’s Kevin Parker said that his employer has given up on investing in alternative energy in the U.S.:
“You just throw your hands up and say … we’re going to take our money elsewhere,” said Kevin Parker in an interview with Reuters. “They’re asleep at the wheel on climate change, asleep at the wheel on job growth, asleep at the wheel on this industrial revolution taking place in the energy industry.”
Using similar logic, Chicago’s Climate Exchange is firing employees. On the other hand, insurance companies are financing green energy, and Wal-Mart released a roadmap for accounting for its emissions.
Innovation Marches On
New solar panels use the sun’s heat as well as its light, and a transparent sticker with an elaborate micro-structure makes existing solar panels up to 10% more efficient.
George Bush Jr.’s ‘FutureGen’ carbon-capturing coal-fired power plant has been resurrected as a retrofit to an existing plant, and the coal industry, not content with next-generation supercritical steam processes, presses on with new“Ultrasupercritical” coal fired plants that should be even more efficient.
Biorefineries are hurting, and a new study suggests their transgenic feedstocks’ custom genes are impossible to contain. Opponents of biomass power plants are raising serious questions about the renewability of this fuel source.
Portland just installed America’s first public quick-charge station for electric vehicles, a critical piece of infrastructure for their eventual adoption, and hybrid vehicles that use hydraulics instead of electrical components are slashing fuel use on dump trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles by up to 50%.
China is shutting down 2,000 of its least energy-efficient factories in a bid to decrease the energy intensity of its economy, Portugal went from 17 percent to 45 percent of its electricity produced from renewables in just five years, and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said it was unlikely the world would reach a new global climate change agreement at the upcoming conference in Cancun.
The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.