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Republicans confirm they don’t know squat about science

John Boehner's Flickr feed
House Speaker John Boehner -- not a scientist

GOP politicians are using a new tactic when they talk about climate change: playing dumb.

As the Huffington Post reports, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told journalists on Thursday that he's "not qualified to debate the science over climate change" -- but he does know that Obama's "prescription for dealing with changes in our climate" involves hurting the economy and "killing" American jobs.


Oily withdrawal

Chevron and BP are pulling out of wind and solar

Chevron & BP signs
Roo Reynolds |

Beyond Petroleum? More like Bake the Planet.

BP and Chevron, two of the corporations that are doing the most to toast the climate, bleat at us in costly advertisements about their meager efforts to harness renewable energy. But now even their modest renewables programs are being quietly dismantled.

"Renewable energy is vital to our planet," Chevron helpfully reminded us in one of its insincere "We Agree" ads. "At Chevron, we're investing millions in solar and biofuel technologies." (Millions! From a company that made $21.4 billion in profits last year.) Beyond the marketing hype, here's an injection of reality from Bloomberg's Businessweek:

In January, employees of Chevron’s renewable power group, whose mission was to launch large, profitable clean-energy projects, dined at San Francisco’s trendy Sens restaurant as managers applauded them for nearly doubling their projected profit in 2013, the group’s first full year of operations. But the mood quickly turned somber. Despite the financial results and the team’s role in helping launch more than a half-dozen solar and geothermal projects capable of powering at least 65,000 homes, managers told the group that funding for the effort would dry up and encouraged staffers to find jobs elsewhere, say four people who attended the dinner. ...

“When you have a very successful and profitable core oil and gas business, it can be quite difficult to justify investing in renewables,” says Robert Redlinger, who ran a previous effort at Chevron to develop large renewable-energy projects before he left in 2010. “It requires significant commitment at the most senior levels of management. I didn’t perceive that kind of commitment from Chevron during my time with the firm.”


More oil spills ahead for Puget Sound?

Puget Sound
Ingrid Taylar
The Puget Sound -- prettier without an oily sheen.

It looks like Puget Sound -- which isn't actually a noise but a sprawling and ecologically rich estuary in Washington state -- is about to get a whole lot oilier.

An ugly trifecta of fossil fuel export projects proposed around the sound would substantially boost shipping traffic, and a new report funded by the EPA and produced by academic scientists for a state agency warns that can be expected to bring oil spills with it.


Could a bullet train take you from the U.S. to China to Europe?

bullet train

If the Chinese government is to be believed, the U.S. could one day be connected with Moscow, Paris, Turkmenistan, and Beijing by bullet train. The proposed high-speed rail network might resemble one of those maps you absentmindedly stare at in the back of in-flight magazines.

Chinese media is reporting that construction of the 8,000-mile system could begin next month. If actually completed, it could ferry passengers over a substantial swath of the Northern Hemisphere at speeds greater than 200 miles per hour.


Billions of barrels of new reasons to not frack California


The health, environmental, and climate impacts of fracking haven't been enough to convince California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) to curb the process. Even as Brown urges California restaurants to limit servings of water to help conserve during a drought, oil drillers are gearing up to use the water-hungry practice of fracking to suck more crude out of the vast Monterey shale deposit.

But now the federal government has drastically downgraded its estimate of the amount of oil that could be fracked from the deposit, spurring environmentalists to demand yet again, and even more loudly, that Brown support a fracking moratorium in the state.


These are the states where climate hawk Tom Steyer will wage political war

Tom Steyer
Fortune Live Media

Climate deniers, science haters, and planet degraders, here's the latest on your newest and deepest-pocketed political foe.

As Grist's Ben Adler told you in February, billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer is spoiling for an expensive battle against politicians who are standing in the way of climate action. Steyer plans to funnel about $50 million into campaigns this year to support climate-friendly political candidates and attack the climate-denying variety. His super PAC, NextGen Climate, expects to raise that much again from other like-minded donors, for a total war chest of $100 million -- a vast amount that Adler pointed out will nonetheless pale in comparison to the fossil fuel industry's spending on its candidates of choice.

The Washington Post reports on newly released details about Steyer's plans for 2014:


India’s new prime minister is big on solar power

Al Jazeera English on Flickr

The world's biggest-ever election just spat out a potentially worrying result. Narendra Modi, a conservative Hindu nationalist who ran on a pro-development platform, will soon be India's prime minister. What does that mean for the climate?

An American accustomed to conservative attacks on climate science and clean energy could be forgiven for assuming that it is bad news. But not all cultures equate conservatism with profligate fossil fuel burning and utter disregard for the climate. Despite his conservative chops, Modi is talking big when it comes to solar energy.

We've previously told you that India is making tremendous strides in building powerful solar arrays, boosting its grid-connected solar capacity from 18 megawatts to more than 2,000 megawatts in just four years. That's a heartening trend in a nation that depends heavily on coal and frequently runs short of power -- and that has shown belligerence in the face of international pressure to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately, on solar development, Modi looks set to continue the outgoing government's admirable quest for more. Bloomberg reports:



Evangelical Christians call on Florida politicians to take climate action

Jesus and palm trees
Paul Simpson

When it comes to using energy, what would Jesus do?

We're guessing he wouldn't use more than he needed, and he wouldn't condemn generations to climate hell by burning fossil fuels when cleaner options were available.

Some Evangelical Christian leaders in Florida are making just that point, calling on Republican politicians in the state to take climate change seriously. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently went full-on climate denier, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is a denier too.

Rev. Mich Hescox, president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, has started a petition drive calling on Scott to make climate change and "creation care" priorities. Here's an excerpt:


A workforce in a fast lane

Want a job? Knock on Tesla’s door

Inside Tesla's factory

Hey, Toyota, eat Tesla's dust!

The electric-car maker added 3,000 jobs during the past year or so as it ramped up production of its Model S sedan and prepared for the release of an SUV model, building up its Californian workforce to 6,000 factory workers, engineers, and other employees. And the company is expected to add another 500 jobs in California by the end of this year.

Bloomberg reports that Tesla now employs more Californians than any other automaker. Toyota, which used to hold that honor, now provides just 5,300 jobs in the state. And that number will fall to 2,300 after it shifts many of its white-collar workers from Torrance, Calif., to Texas over the next few years. More from the Bloomberg story:


San Francisco considers banning exports of coal and petcoke

Port of San Francisco
Chris Chabot

The city that kicked off a gay-marriage revolution, cracked down on Happy Meal toys, and battled bottled water is gunning for a new first. San Francisco wants to lead the nation in limiting fossil fuel exports.

At a hearing scheduled for Thursday, the San Francisco Environment Commission will consider a proposal to ban the bulk transportation of "hazardous fossil fuel materials," such as coal and petroleum coke, within city limits. If the commission agrees, the proposal will be passed up to city and/or port leaders for further consideration. The proposed ban would also apply to crude oil, though crude exports are currently banned nationally -- a ban that industry is fighting to overturn.

San Francisco isn't acting alone in trying to stymie exports of coal and other fossil fuels to Asia. In February, the city's lower-income neighbor, Oakland, rejected a bid by Bowie Resource Partners to use its port as a coal export terminal. And residents throughout the Pacific Northwest have been successfully campaigning against proposals to build hulking new coal terminals along their waterfronts.