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Oil shale drilling another terrible aspect of GOP transportation bill

An oil-shale drilling operation in Australia. (Photo by SkyTruth.)

Earlier this month, the Obama administration and the Republican-dominated House Natural Resources Committee took diametrically opposed steps regarding development of oil shale across the West. Not surprisingly, House Republicans are attaching the by-now-meaningless labels of “job creator” to its bill, and “job killing” to the Department of Interior’s action. Also not surprisingly, House Republicans’ views are not tethered to reality.

On Feb. 1, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a three-headed monster of an energy bill: drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, drilling off the California coast, and expansion of oil shale drilling. But hey, the bill has the magic word “jobs” in the label, so it’s all good! The committee’s press release trumpets the quantity of oil shale lurking deep under the Green River formation (Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming), and the need for job creators’ certainty.

The committee doesn’t bother with the thirsty facts of oil shale mining.

Read more: Energy Policy, Politics

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Situation normal, all fracked up: Obama embraces fracking

Last week, the Obama administration gave what may be its first formal statement favoring hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of natural gas, in a report called Investing in America: Building an Economy That Last [PDF]. Until now, the Environmental Protection Agency has, generally, been moving slowly on the issue, with initial study results due out this year and a final report due in 2014. However, the Investing in America report endorses the "safe and environmentally responsible" extraction of natural gas. Key paragraphs: Since the mid‐2000s ... the discovery of new natural gas reserves, such as the Marcellus Shale, and the development …

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Keystone cave? No, Keystone Kabuki.

The payroll tax cut extension deal, approved by the Senate 89-10 this morning, is being widely reported as including a requirement that the State Department act on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days. Talking Points Memo labels it a GOP win on Keystone, and Politico reports:Greens call out Keystone XL deal. However, David Dayen at Firedoglake - a site not normally known for reflexive defense of Democrats' negotiating tactics - sees it differently: Republicans demand to kill the Keystone XL pipeline. A careful analysis shows that the in all likelihood the deal will simply allow both sides to generate hot-button quotes …

Read more: Uncategorized

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Water. Coal. Texas. Sanity. One of these words does not belong.

Texas' water problems won't be over anytime soon.Photo: SeanIn case anyone missed it, Texas had a big drought last summer -- the worst one-year drought in the state's history. Lakes dried, animals were slaughtered, cities imposed lawn-watering restrictions, the governor prayed for rain. Among the doom-and-gloom sector of the left, talk has been circulating of Texas as a failed state. That's easy to dismiss as tit-for-tat revenge for Texas' age-old talk of secession; after all, droughts end, and places recover. Unless they don't: When one takes a hard look at Texas' water supply, and plans to build nine water-intensive coal …

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A mini-Keystone XL in Utah

Photo: RL MillerThe Keystone XL pipeline symbolizes our national debate: a governmental policy to be made that will set policy, for good or bad, for years to come: claimed energy security (access to friendly North American oil) and jobs vs environmental ruin and carbon bomb continuing our addiction to cheap-ish fossil fuels. Keystone XL is a huge decision to be made at a Presidential level. However, all across America, similar decisions are being made: fossil fuel production is being expanded with the blessing of the federal government. Consider Alton Coal. But first, consider Bryce Canyon National Park.   Bryce Canyon is best …

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Will other states follow Nebraska’s lead in fighting Keystone XL?

Nebraskan protesters outside the state capitol.Photo: Mitch PaineThe Keystone XL pipeline will cross six states: Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Opposition has been fiercest in Nebraska, whether because of a desire to protect the Ogallala Aquifer and Sand Hills or because of tremendous organizing by Jane Kleeb and Bold Nebraska (or both). Gov. Dave Heineman (R) has called a special session of the state legislature, beginning Nov. 1, presumably to regulate safety or, if possible, route the pipeline out of Nebraska entirely. The red state populist rebellion is now spreading beyond Nebraska. Now, South Dakota's Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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Solyndra and Keystone XL: A case study of skewed coverage at Politico

An investigation reveals that Politico has indeed given more weight to Solyndra in its coverage.Like it or not, Politico drives morning chatter in Washington, D.C. Subject matter tip sheets are emailed every weekday morning. I subscribe to Morning Energy, "sponsored by America's Natural Gas Alliance," which lately has seemed like All Solyndra, All The Time. While Republicans want Solyndra to be an excuse to shut down all renewable energy stimulus, Democrats have been fuming at the amount of ink and pixels devoted to a non-scandal. About a week ago, I started tweeting the number of times Morning Energy mentioned Solyndra, …

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Why the insurance industry won’t save us from climate change

StephenMalibu is a notoriously high-risk area, prone to landslides, but that doesn’t stop people from paying high premiums to live there. A myth floats around among those seeking free-market solutions to climate change that insurers will be a positive force. Insurers are worried about the impact of climate on their business model. They will increase rates. Expensive insurance will drive people off the coasts. People and property won't be as affected by coastal storms. Most recently, Fast Company asked whether trillion-dollar storms will drive us off the coasts: "Just how long until large chunks of America's coastline become virtually uninsurable, starting …

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Solyndra was collateral damage in a trade war with China

Connect the dots and you see China.Step back from the details of the Solyndra bankruptcy and connect the dots. The big picture is an ongoing solar trade war between the United States and China. Every war has winners, losers, casualties, and traitors. So far, the winners are Chinese manufacturers, American consumers, and the future of the planet. The big loser may be the American solar manufacturing industry; Solyndra was simply the highest-profile example. Wondering who's giving aid and comfort to the enemy? Beginning in early 2009, the Obama administration's use of stimulus money under the Department of Energy's loan guarantee …

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Finally, PolitiFact calls out GOP candidate on climate

Science? Who needs it?Photo: IowaPolitics.comAt long last, mainstream media begins to pay attention to the flat denial of basic climate science being pushed by right-wing Republican presidential candidates. Last year, my work on Climate Zombies -- climate-denying candidates running for Congress -- earned me a snippet on a New York Times blog, but most mainstream media ran stories presenting climate science as an issue with two sides. Things have been changing as the media realize that people who deny climate science also deny other scientific realities. PolitiFact, the independent fact-checking website, finally took on a Republican candidate for president over his claim …