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Randy Rieland's Posts

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Energy chief pumps up cleantech as the new Sputnik

Energy Secretary Steven Chu made the case that China's heavy investment in cleantech is like the early days of the space race.Photo: NASAWith Republicans taking aim at the EPA and the Energy Department, Steven Chu, the top dog on the latter, is trying to make sure he's at least a moving target.  A change of race: At a speech in Washington yesterday, Chu made the case that China's heavy investment in cleantech R&D is like the early days of the space race when the Soviet Union threw down the gauntlet by launching Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the Earth. Chu argued …

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Study says climate change could make a billion homeless

Floods, like those in Pakistan this year, and other effects of a 7 degree temperature rise could cause up to a billion people to relocate.Photo: nb77Nothing but low expectations out there about the U.N. climate conference in Cancun. But a new study released today reminds everyone gathering in Mexico how much is at stake. Cast the worst stone: The research by British scientists concludes that if the Earth's temperature rises by 7 degrees Fahrenheit the rest of this century -- and some researchers think that could happen as soon as 2060 -- up to a billion people would have to be relocated. …

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Feds push to speed up wind farms off the East Coast

The Obama administration plans to fast track the development of offshore wind farms along the East Coast.Photo: AndjohanEnough with the blah-blah-blah; it was time for a kick start. So yesterday President Obama’s point man on offshore energy, Interior Chief Ken Salazar, went public with the administration’s plan to speed up the development of wind farms along the East Coast. Not up to speed: Taking a cue from the success of fast-tracking solar energy projects in the Southwest, the feds will first identify the best locations for potential wind farms outside of shipping lanes, then accelerate the permit process so that it …

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Greenhouse gas pledges aren't enough to stop global warming

Even if countries cut emissions as they pledged, it won't be enough to thwart the effects of climate change.Here's a little something not to be thankful for: If all the countries that pledged last year to cut their greenhouse gas emissions actually lived up to their commitments, it still wouldn't be enough to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels.   Mind the gap: That's the sobering news in a U.N. report released today, leading up to the start of the climate change conference in Cancun next week. It looks like there's an "emissions gap" of 5 gigatons of …

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EPA targets polluters who do their business on poor communities

EPA chief Lisa Jackson is getting tough on businesses dumping on poor communities.It's one of those economic realities that usually gets short shrift in lofty debates on environmental policy: Whether it's coal ash or hazardous waste or just bad air, low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be dumped on. Time for some ash-kicking: To her credit, EPA chief Lisa Jackson has made focusing on what she calls "hot spots of contamination" one of her agency's priorities. She's instructed regional offices to get feedback from low-income and minority groups when making decisions and has made it clear that "environmental justice" should be …

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Study suggests climate scientists should leave out the scary parts

So here's a fresh theory on how in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, the number of believers in cataclysmic climate change keeps dropping: People don't want to hear about the cataclysmic part. Slowly place fingers in ears: That's the conclusion coming from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley who say that dire messages about the future of the planet can backfire. They found that people who view the world as a fundamentally fair and stable place often choose to tune out threatening forecasts of the future. But those same people, if presented with positive solutions to global …

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The battle over drilling moves north to Alaska

Lisa Murkowski is back in the Senate, so expect more Alaska drilling talk.Now that Republican Lisa Murkowski has held on to her Senate seat, expect Alaska to become ground zero in the battle to ratchet up oil and gas drilling in the U.S. Moving in for the drill: No question that Murkowski was the lesser of two weasels in her race with Tea Party Republican Joe Miller. But she's long been a big booster of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling -- an initiative that will have a lot more support in the House come …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Another report, another BP bashing

Not that we haven't heard this before, but the latest thrashing of BP's performance on its doomed well in the Gulf may carry more weight than previous ones. This one comes from people who really know how a huge rig is supposed to be run. Keeper of the blame: The report from the National Academy of Engineering is the result of the most comprehensive investigation yet of the Gulf disaster. And while it avoids specifics, it's littered with damning language. Like "an insufficient consideration of risk." Or "a lack of management discipline." Or "lack of onboard expertise and of clearly defined …

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Upton takes right-wing beatdown for incandescent bulb ban

Rep. Fred Upton's (R-Mich.) support of a incandescent light bulb ban may dim his chances to chair the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Courtesy of thorinside via FlickrVery soon Republican leaders will choose who will run the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. And the sad truth is that the decision may come down to light bulbs. They found his bulb spot: The front-runner for the top position is Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who's been bending over backwards recently to pump up his conservative cred. But alas, Upton has committed, in the past, a sin so vile that in the right-wing …

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Melting glaciers make it more likely the coasts will be toast

Scientists say ice melting in Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating.Who wouldn't like to believe global warming is a hoax? Unfortunately, the science keeps screaming otherwise. Researchers who've been working in Greenland and Antarctica recently said the meltdown of ice sheets in both places is only accelerating. And they're becoming more anxious that it will cause ocean levels to rise too quickly for heavily populated coastal areas to adjust. The coast ain't clear: Scientists had long projected that melting polar ice would cause the planet's oceans to rise seven inches this century. Now the most common estimates are five to 10 times higher. …

Read more: Climate & Energy