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Amanda Little's Posts

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Activists are split on a proposed wind project off Cape Cod

  Look there, friend Sancho Panza, where 30 or more monstrous giants rise up, all of whom I mean to engage in battle and slay, and with whose spoils we shall begin to make our fortunes. For this is righteous warfare, and it is God's good service to sweep so evil a breed from off the face of the earth." "Look, your worship,'' said Sancho. "What we see there are not giants but windmills, and what seem to be their arms are the vanes that turned by the wind make the millstone go." It has been four centuries since Cervantes …

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Students compete to build the house of the future

At midnight one late-September evening, a convoy of 18-wheeler flatbed trucks carting 14 houses (some whole, some in parts) and thousands of square feet of solar panels rolled past the Washington Monument, drove along the National Mall, and headed up to the front lawn of the Capitol building. Upon arriving, the first truck in line barreled through a yellow ribbon held by members of a hooting and hollering welcoming committee, as if it had finally reached the finish line. But the race was about to begin. Airstream of conscientiousness. Photo: Warren Gretz, NREL. Fourteen teams of architecture and engineering students …

Read more: Cities, Living

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Plugging developing nations into renewable energy

The groaning has largely subsided over last month's World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, but one of the biggest disappointments of the event still deserves scrutiny: the failure to create a strategy to disseminate renewable energy throughout the developing world. "The Johannesburg summit's plan for renewable energy has two fundamental flaws -- there is no plan and nothing to implement," says Cowan Coventry, chief executive of the Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG), a U.K.-based nonprofit. "The U.S. and the OPEC states scuppered the chance to switch on lights, refrigerators, water pumps, and other essential devices in the …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Marketing the revolution in clean energy

Last month, 10 solar-powered race cars zipped around a 1.5-mile NASCAR track at the legendary Texas Motor Speedway, some of them reaching the dizzying speed of 35 miles per hour. With all its technological novelty and timely political implications, the Dell and Winston Solar Challenge (named for the computer and cigarette companies that sponsored it) might have been a grand public spectacle. But the entire 155,000-seat stadium was empty. Apparently, the sweeping historical significance of solar power was lost on the NASCAR and monster-truck crowd that normally flocks to this Fort Worth hotspot -- much as it still seems to …

Read more: Cities, Politics

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Cutting emissions to raise profits

As the epidemic of accounting scandals continues to spread and the term Corporate Responsibility rings with the oppressive severity of an 11th Commandment, it's nice to catch a little glimpse of the brighter side: A growing number of U.S. companies have been making voluntary pledges to reform their internal operations in order to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming. And surprisingly -- or maybe not so surprisingly -- the trend has less to do with greenwashing, reputation-polishing, or do-gooder ambitions than with the far more authentic corporate drive to improve the bottom line. These corporate climate initiatives …

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When it comes to renewable energy, the DOE is DOA

The question isn't whether the Bush administration is in bed with the old-school energy industry; most of us have pretty much accepted that Big Oil and King Coal are the current sexy interns in the White House. Nor is the question whether we should be bracing for another oil shock; given the Iraqi oil boycott and political turbulence in Venezuela and Nigeria (two of the biggest oil suppliers to the U.S.), the likelihood of a third oil crisis heightens with every passing headline. The question is not even whether Washington should accelerate the shift toward a new-school energy system based …

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A breakdown of the renewables vote in the Senate

One day after declining to support tougher fuel-efficiency standards, the Senate yesterday voted down a measure that would have required 20 percent of the nation's electricity to be produced from wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources by 2020. Currently, less than 2 percent of U.S. electricity comes from renewable resources. The measure that could have changed all that, which was sponsored by Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), was defeated by a disheartening 70 votes to 29. How did your senators vote on Amendment 3017? Odds are, badly -- but see for yourself. Amendment 3017 Yeas Max Baucus (D-Mont.) Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) …

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A breakdown of the CAFE standards yeas and nays in the Senate

By a vote of 62 to 38, the U.S. Senate decided yesterday to remove from the energy bill a provision that would have increased Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency vehicle standards. Instead, the Senate opted for an industry-backed proposal to give the Bush administration two more years to study the implications of raising CAFE standards. You can find the full text of Amendment 2997 here; the English translation is that a yea vote for the amendment is a thumbs-down to cleaner, greener vehicles. See how your senators voted. Meanwhile, by a vote of 56 to 44, the Senate agreed to exempt …