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Charles Komanoff's Posts

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Anti-wind now not just for NIMBY’s

Opposition to wind power used to be the province of NIMBY's who quailed at the supposed intrusion into their viewsheds and soundsheds. No more. Wind power is big — its share of U.S. electricity reached 1.3% last year — and getting bigger fast enough to alarm the Far Right and other feeders at the trough of coal and nuclear. The latest poke at wind was posted yesterday on the American Spectator blog, and it's a doozy: [W]ind does not directly displace fossil fuel generating capacity, but will make this capacity less profitable to maintain. Translated: wind turbines, with running costs …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The Kheel-Komanoff Plan: A congestion toll to liberate New York

Back in 1993, I took a scalpel to the "AUTO-FREE NEW YORK" sticker on my bike, excising the first "R" so that "AUTO-FREE" became "AUTO-FEE." After years of battling motor vehicles, first as an urban cyclist and later as president of the bike-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, I became convinced that it made more sense to charge for cars' use of roads than to try to eliminate them. "Don't ban cars, bill them!" Discourage vehicle use by internalizing the harms from driving in the price to drive, and invest the revenues in mass transit and other alternatives. Since then, cities like …

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Will carbon cap-and-trade be the next Ponzi scheme?

Even as the tsunami of Bernard Madoff's busted Ponzi scheme was submerging hapless rentiers around the world, another esoteric financial enterprise quietly took a step forward this week. At a couple of hundred million bucks, this new venture is just spare change alongside Bernie's 50 billion. But in time it could grow to rival Madoff's swindle in scope, and in the process thwart our planet's last shot to head off climate catastrophe. The new venture is a national carbon cap-and-trade system, and for its Phase I the traders have crafted a ten-state Northeast compact dubbed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. …

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Advocates launch the Price Carbon Campaign

What do the defeat of the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill, the burst of the oil-price bubble, the Wall Street meltdown, the promise of a new political landscape in the wake of the fall elections, and the exigencies of the climate crisis have in common? To the Carbon Tax Center and CTC's partners at the Climate Crisis Coalition, these events together augur for a resurgence of interest in, and potential political support for, the "gold standard" for carbon pricing: a national, revenue-neutral carbon tax. Consider: The ignominious defeat of Lieberman-Warner, which collapsed in June under its 800-page weight, made crystal-clear that any …

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Hansen’s message to the planet

Maybe it was the thought of two decades of climate-crisis exhortation, little more heeded than words shouted at a hurricane. Photo: germuska via Flickr. Maybe it was the temporizing of the Democrats and the obstructionism of the GOP. Or it might have been the images of cities, houses and farmland of his native Iowa drowned by the latest "500-year" floods. Perhaps it was all three. Whatever the reasons, the climate crisis' Paul Revere turned it up a few more notches in a speech yesterday (PDF) at a Congressional staff briefing in Washington D.C. Yet James Hansen's headline-grabbing broadside against Big …

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National environmental justice coalition blasts cap-and-trade, backs carbon tax

Condemning carbon trading as "fraught with uncertainties, lack[ing] transparency and creat[ing] large opportunities for emitting facilities to engage in fraud," a national coalition of environmental justice organizations has called for a federal carbon tax to address "the most critical issue of our time" -- the climate crisis. Photo: Brooke Anderson. The June 2 statement from the Climate Justice Leadership Forum is the latest sign of mounting disaffection with the top-down push for carbon cap-and-trade. It is particularly significant because the 28 signatory organizations, which span the country from Anchorage to New Orleans and from Oakland to New York City, have …

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Subsidies for wind power pale beside subsidies for nuclear

I long ago swore off the Wall Street Journal's editorial page -- the last straw for me was their cruel swipe at departed "dope fiend" Jerry Garcia back in 1995. But on Monday a friend forwarded me a WSJ editorial whaling away at renewable power's production tax credit: Solar energy is subsidized to the tune of $24.34 per megawatt hour, wind $23.37 and ... nuclear power $1.59. Wind and solar have been on the subsidy take for years ... Now, they insinuate, it's time to kick wind and solar out of the nest to fly (or not) on their own, …

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Why it took us so long to internalize the rise in gas prices

With gas at $3.50 a gallon in April, the U.S. mainstream media is replete with stories of drivers abandoning SUVs, hopping on mass transit, and otherwise cutting back on gasoline. Yet a year or two ago, when pump prices were approaching and even passing the $3.00 "barrier," the media mantra was that demand for gasoline was so inelastic that high prices were barely making a dent in usage. Which story is correct? I lean toward the more "elastic" view, and here I'd like to share some of the data that inform my belief. I've been tracking official monthly data on …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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CBS/Times poll: We reject gas-tax holiday

The margin was narrow -- 4 percentage points. And 5 percent of those polled didn't choose sides. But a CBS News/NY Times poll released Sunday just might signal the moment when Americans began to grasp the intertwined realities of climate, energy and national security. The poll [PDF] found that 49 percent of Americans think suspending the gasoline tax this summer is a bad idea, while 45 percent approve of the plan (see Question 49). If memory serves, this is the first time in at least a generation that the American public expressed a willingness to be taxed more rather than …

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Energy prices that tell the truth: the real presidential litmus test

Calling all greens: Barack Obama, battling to remain the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, this weekend took on the most sacred cow in American politics: cheap gas. Campaigning in Indiana, Obama distanced himself from the gas tax "holiday" proposed by Sen. John McCain, saying it may not bring down prices and would require raising other taxes to pay for highway maintenance. "The only way we're going to lower gas prices over the long term is if we start using less oil," Obama said in Anderson. McCain pounced, saying through a campaign spokesman that "Americans need strong leadership that can …