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Stephen Lacey's Posts

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Fear and polluting on the campaign trail: Clean energy needs to hit back

Can clean energy hold its own against fossil fuel propaganda?Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Politics is the art of controlling your environment. -- Hunter S. Thompson I've been writing for years about how renewable energy is "an issue we can all rally around" that shouldn't involve partisan politics. In an ideal world that would hold true. But after seeing the relentless campaign waged by a small-but-powerful group of belligerents determined to marginalize the industry, my opinion changed in 2011. That shouldn't stop us from trying to bring this issue above politics. But we're in a fiercely partisan election year. And after …

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Former pipeline inspector calls Keystone XL a potential ‘disaster’

Photo: Steven DepoloCross-posted from Climate Progress. By forcing the White House to make a decision on the politically and environmentally toxic Keystone XL pipeline as part of an agreement reached in December to extend the payroll tax cut, Republicans are being lambasted by environmental groups for undercutting the federal environmental review process. Now, a whistleblower is claiming that the company overseeing the development of the proposed project, TransCanada, also has a track record of undercutting quality at the expense of the environment -- further calling into question the decision by Congress to prevent a new federal environmental impact study for …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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‘Like being on steroids’: PBS links extreme weather to climate

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Mainstream news outlets spent a lot of time in 2011 covering the record-breaking year for extreme weather in the U.S. But only a few of them spent much time exploring the link between those events and global warming. So PBS deserves a special mention for a segment that aired last week looking at how global warming is influencing extreme weather events. As Jeff Masters, co-founder of the Weather Underground, explained in the piece: "They all tend to get increased when you have this extra energy in the atmosphere. I call it being on steroids ... for the atmosphere." …

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Top 10 clean energy stories of 2011

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. What an odd year. While businesses around the world were making record-level investments in renewables and efficiency, a growing number of conservative politicians and members of the American media punditry -- lead by the outrageously ignorant "reporting" by Fox News -- have been foolishly projecting (even cheering on) the demise of the sector. Aside from the mind-boggling disparity between the science and politics of climate change, I've never seen such a large gap between perception and what's actually happening on the ground. Of course, we can't ignore the enormous challenges -- from cheap natural gas to relentless …

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Photos don’t lie: See the dramatic expansion of Canadian tar sands

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Extraction of Alberta's energy-intensive tar sands has expanded steadily in recent years, with about 232 square miles now exposed by mining operations. Tar-sands production is expected to double over the next decade, which could mean the destruction of 740,000 acres of boreal forest and a 30-percent increase in carbon emissions from Canada's oil and gas sector. New satellite images show the dramatic expansion that has taken place from 2001 through 2011: Photos: Robert Simmon, NASA/Landsat/USGS So what's the actual impact on the ground? Here's what happens when you turn a carbon sink like the Boreal Forest …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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Vermont’s ‘energy secession’ goal: 90 percent renewables by 2050

Renewable energy could become a standard part of Vermont's idyllic image.Photo: Sterling CollegeCross-posted from Climate Progress. Vermont is known for its lush Green Mountains, idyllic farm landscapes, and progressive politics. What many people may not realize is that Vermont has a pretty active secessionist movement too. Vermont isn't likely to secede from the U.S. But it is undertaking an ambitious renewable energy program that could at least put it on a path toward "energy secession" -- developing a road map for procuring 90 percent of its heat, electricity, and fuels from renewables by 2050. Under Vermont's new governor, Peter Shumlin, …

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Canadian fakin’: Officials admit lack of evidence for cleaner tar sands

Tar sands: Getting cleaner all the time. Promise.Photo: NWFblogsCross-posted from Climate Progress. Canada was once seen as a progressive leader on environmental issues. Today, the country is becoming an international pariah when it comes to climate change -- facing fierce criticism from environmental groups and world leaders over its decision to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol and push dirty tar sands around the world. It's not just verbal criticism. The Europeans are currently considering a law that would label the carbon content of tar-sands crude in the E.U. as 22 percent higher than conventional crude. That would discourage refiners, …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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Pipe dreams: Boehner insists pipeline can be approved by deadline

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Congressional Republicans are sticking to their attempt to force a rushed decision on the controversial Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline. Speaking on Meet the Press yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner called the need for more environmental review "nonsense," claiming "all the studies have been done." As part of a package to extend the payroll tax cut as President Obama requested, Republicans have thrown in a major political and climate bomb -- a mandatory 60-day decision on Keystone XL, the proposed 1,700-mile pipeline that would bring energy- and carbon-intensive tar-sands crude from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline …

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What can we expect from the Durban climate talks?

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Next week, Climate Progress will be heading to the COP 17 climate conference in Durban, South Africa, to report on any developments coming out of the meeting. Hopes are not high for any major progress. But Andrew Light, coordinator of international climate policy at the Center for American Progress (CAP), warns against making assumptions about what will or will not happen. Since the failure to get an international climate treaty in 2009, negotiators have focused on setting aside funds for adaptation and mitigation programs in developing countries. One of the goals at this year's meeting will be …

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Google phases out clean energy R&D in favor of deployment

Cross-posted from Climate Progress. Buried at the bottom of an innocuous "spring cleaning" post on Google's blog yesterday, the internet giant made a very important announcement: It will stop funding its Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE<C) initiative. But that's not the whole story. And if you believe the headlines -- "Google Abandons Renewable Energy Push" or "Are Google's Green Days Over?" -- you might think this is a negative development. But if you look at the details, it's a story about how the company is adapting to a changing market and actually increasing investments in renewables. Announced in 2007 …