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Clean coal nonsense: New industry ad claims ‘real environmental progress’

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

“The clock is ticking, America. It’s time we focused on reality instead of rhetoric.”

Finally, a national ad about the threat of climate change? Nope. It’s another piece of spin from the coal industry.

Under threat from cheap natural gas, savvy activist groups working overtime to shut down plants, and the declining cost of renewable energy, the coal industry has rolled out a new ad trying desperately to paint itself as “clean.”

Read more: Coal

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Romney supported cap-and-trade in 2003 as a way to combat climate change

Photo by Dave Lawrence.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

A new document has surfaced [PDF] showing Mitt Romney’s strong support for regulating carbon dioxide in 2003, when he called cap-and-trade “an effective approach” to combating climate change.

The comments were made in a letter from Romney to New York Gov. George Pataki (R) about a regional cooperative system for regulating greenhouse gases. In the letter, Romney agreed with Pataki on the need to “reduce the power plant pollution that is harming our climate.”

But today, in trying to align himself with conservative political backlash against climate science, Romney says “we don’t know” whether humans are warming the planet, and that doing something about the problem “is not the right course for us.”

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HEAT stroke: House energy action plan reads like a bad April Fools’ joke

With its latest energy action plan basically a how-to for warming the planet, HEAT lives up to its name.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

It’s April 2. So you know that what we print here today isn’t a joke.

But after reading the latest energy action plan from House Republicans over the weekend, I wish I could tell you that I’m making up their latest strategy.

Last May, ThinkProgress reported on the creation of a House Energy Action Team (HEAT), a group of more than two dozen House Republicans pushing an “all of the above” approach to energy. But it should really be called an “all of the below” strategy -- as it focuses exclusively on carbon-based fuels buried in the ground.

HEAT has just released its latest messaging plan for House Republicans to use while working in their districts on recess this summer. It’s no surprise that the plan calls for greater domestic use of fossil fuels. But the document reveals just how disconnected Washington politicians are from what scientists are telling us about global warming.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Etch A Sketchy: Romney used to favor high gas prices

Image by Donkey Hotey, using photo by Matthew Reichbach.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

These days, Mitt Romney falsely accuses Obama of wanting “to see gasoline prices go up.” But back in 2006, it was Romney who championed high gasoline prices. He opposed a reduction in the state gas tax by arguing, "I’m not sure there will be the right time for us to encourage the use of more gasoline.”

Ironically, Mitt Romney is in damage control mode after one of his top campaign spokesmen compared the candidate’s stance on issues to an Etch A Sketch yesterday.

“I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign,” said campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom on CNN yesterday morning. “Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”

The comments illustrate what conservative Republicans fear and what the Democratic opposition is celebrating: The candidate’s stances have changed so dramatically, it’s nearly impossible to know who the real Romney is.

The latest Etch A Sketch moment for the campaign relates to gas prices. In 2006, saying he didn’t think high gas prices would go away, Romney pushed for alternatives to petroleum fuels. When Romney came into office, his administration even proposed quintupling a fee on wholesale fuel deliveries in order to fund environmental clean up.

Read more: Fossil Fuels

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Chinese cheaters? U.S. slaps modest tariffs on solar panels from China

Chinese workers with a solar panelCross-posted from Climate Progress.

After months of speculation and debate about unfair Chinese subsidies to domestic solar manufacturers, the U.S. solar industry finally has an answer to one piece of the ongoing trade case: Solar panels imported from China will be hit with a small tariff.

The Department of Commerce issued a preliminary decision today based upon the agency’s impartial review of Chinese subsidies to domestic solar companies.

The tariffs range from 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent -- dramatically lower than the 20 percent expected by many industry analysts. But this decision from Commerce is just the first of two key tariff rulings. While today's ruling addressed the issue of subsidies, a separate decision on whether Chinese companies are dumping panels into the U.S. market below cost is expected in May.

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Algae damn: Obama’s failed message on climate and energy innovation

Photo by the White House.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

When did "innovation" become a dirty word in American politics?

I suppose it was right about the time when college aspirations became snobbish, when electing a presidential candidate could magically reduce the global price of oil, or when environmental protection became a "phony theology."

Welcome to the 2012 campaign circus, arguably the most bizarre in history.

And now, adding to the long list of oddball attacks, Republican politicians and media pundits are launching an assault on President Obama's offer of $14 million for research on algae-based biofuels -- calling for a "pond scum czar" and offering the president "the algae in my fish tank" for this "goofy gas."

Really? Yes, really. A $14 million grant for an innovative, abundant fuel that could potentially displace 17 percent of petroleum use in the country is now the focus of a coordinated political attack. It seems innovation is now becoming a politically untouchable word.

Well, not completely. Innovation just means different things to different people.

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Congress toys with the future of wind energy

It's time to stop playing around and get serious about funding wind energy.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

With every passing day, Congress outdoes its own abysmal environmental record.

Even as federal policymakers consider a transportation bill that would open up sensitive areas for offshore drilling, encourage use of dirty oil shale, force a decision on the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, and derail public investments in public transportation, they couldn’t even compromise on a simple short-term tax credit for wind energy.

Wind businesses were calling an extension of the credit an “emergency” due to looming mass layoffs in the industry. But as history has proven time and time again, if it’s clean and renewable, it doesn’t force any urgency in Congress.

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House fit for a green: Sustainable home construction booms

When it comes to home building, green is queen.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

With the construction industry still recovering in the U.S., companies offering “green” services may be able to set themselves apart and grow business faster, according to a survey conducted by McGraw Hill Construction.

In 2011, green builds in the residential sector made up 17 percent of construction, totaling $17 billion in economic activity. And the value of the residential green building market is expected to grow fivefold by 2016, taking up to 38 percent of the market and representing $87 billion to $114 billion.

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Even the Saudi oil minister says oil doesn’t create jobs

Ali Al-Naimi. (Photo by Paradoxicalengineer.)

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Americans use the term “Saudi Arabia of" to describe an abundance of something -- usually energy. We are the “Saudi Arabia of wind,” the “Saudi Arabia of coal,” the “Saudi Arabia of efficiency,” and so on and on and on.

I’ve come to jokingly use this term for anything really huge. (We are, after all, the Saudi Arabia of climate denial.) So in true American spirit, I am dubbing yesterday’s speech by Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi the Saudi Arabia of bold statements.

In a speech at the Middle East and North Africa energy conference in London on Monday, Al-Naimi -- who once called renewable energy a “nightmare” -- hailed energy efficiency and solar as important investments, called global warming “real” and “pressing,” and explained that drilling for oil “does not create many jobs.”

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U.S. government downgrades projections for coal. Again.

Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

In 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that coal would drop to 44 percent of America’s electrical generation by 2035. Actual generation dropped to that level in 2011.

This week, the agency again adjusted its long-term figures for coal in the U.S., projecting that generation will fall to 39 percent by 2035. But groups on the front lines of fighting coal plants say those figures are still far too conservative.