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King Coal’s year of rejection by banks, judges, and a lot of other folks

Earth Policy Institute just released this revelatory chronology of really sad, horrible, and depressing events in the life of the coal industry since February 2007. What's next -- will Santa be switching to lumps of dirt? Feb. 26, 2007: James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a leading climate scientist, calls for a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants that do not sequester carbon, saying that it makes no sense to build these plants when we will have to "bulldoze" them in a few years. Feb. 26, 2007: Under mounting pressure from environmental groups, …

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Van Jones on Colbert Report

Am I the only one who just doesn't much like the Colbert Report? The interviews, especially. Colbert always comes off like a dickhead -- that's his shtick -- but the guests are in a catch-22 as well. They look bad if they play along and bad if they try to play it straight. It just ends up being awkward and conveying virtually no information. Why bother? Jon Stewart is a notorious pitcher of softballs, but at least he actually tries to engage his guests.

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Almost always, but the reason is more subtle than you think

In two previous posts, I've attempted to establish that additionality is neither some strange concept relevant only to carbon offsets nor an awkward patch used to fix a defect in the design of carbon markets. Rather, the concept of additionality is applicable to any incentive system, whether subsidy, tax, or whatever. The real question is what degree of additionality is actually necessary or desirable in any given system. Put another way, when should we care enough about additionality to incur the costs of measuring and enforcing it? Those costs can be quite high, and the benefits sometimes uncertain. Let's return …

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Shame on Nature for quoting Hoffert on behalf of Pielke without noting they’re colleagues!

Suppose the prestigious journal Nature published an analysis of mine that they knew many people would disagree with. How would you feel if Nature then ran accompanying commentaries for and against my analysis, including another Senior Fellow from the Center for American Progress raving about how important and brilliant it was? You'd probably think that was kind of lame of them. Now suppose the Nature article never mentioned that I was a CAP Senior Fellow or that my mysterious admirer was, too. No way, you say. No way a journal like Nature would ever do that. That would be like …

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New Mattel line lets you wear Barbie’s discards

We are not making this up: Mattel is planning a new line of accessories made from "excess fabric and trimmings from other Barbie doll fashions and products which would otherwise be discarded." The "playful and on-trend" Barbie BCause collection -- including handbags, hats, pillows, and diaries "each featuring its own unique variations and kitschy patchwork details" -- will be sold exclusively at Toys"R"Us. Says a Mattel marketing person, "Barbie BCause is for eco-conscious girls who believe that being environmentally friendly is the right thing to do, and we are thrilled to give extra meaning and extra style to what was …

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European biodiesel industry being bankrupted by loophole

They call them U-boats because they pull into a port just long enough to do a U-turn and head off to Europe. They stop just long enough to blend a touch of fuel into the tank so they can claim the government subsidy. Let's say you have a million gallons on board from, say, a palm oil plantation in Indonesia, or a soybean operation in South America. An hour or two after your arrival, your pockets are bulging with just short of a million U.S. taxpayer dollars. From the Guardian: ... the European Biodiesel Board, has uncovered the trade as …

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U.S. auto sales take a nosedive

Chrysler and General Motors sold 19 percent less automobiles in the U.S. this March than they did last March, according to new sales figures. Ford reported a sales drop of 14 percent in March 2008 compared to March 2007, and even Toyota, which has reported steady sales through other hard times, reported that sales dropped 10 percent. As has been the case for a while, sales of big ol' gas guzzlers (relied upon by American companies) decreased, while sales of smaller, daintier-sipping vehicles were steadier. High gas prices, a weak economy, and the credit crunch are taking their toll, and …

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Activists worldwide target coal plants and banks

Rainforest Action Network's Matt Leonard provides this roundup of Fossil Fools Day actions targeting coal plants, coal minings, and the banks funding it all. Rising Tide (North America, U.K., and International units) spearheaded these efforts and others. Cliffside: 8 Arrested as North Carolina residents shut down construction at Cliffside coal plant At 6:30 a.m., North Carolina residents locked themselves to bulldozers to stop the construction of Duke Energy's massive Cliffside coal-fired power plant being built 50 miles west of Charlotte, N.C. "In the face of catastrophic climate change, building a new coal plant is tantamount to signing a death sentence …

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Subsidies contribute to muddying of biodiesel instead of boosting the industry

The WSJ reports today: The U.S. taxpayer forks over a $1 subsidy for every gallon of biodiesel that is blended in the U.S. for export later. The idea was to give a nudge to the U.S. biofuel industry. But it is boomeranging, as the Guardian reports today in the latest installment on biodiesel "splash-and-dash." ... Increasingly, traders ship biodiesel from Asia or Europe to U.S. ports, where it is blended with a "splash" of regular diesel, the paper reports. That qualifies the shipment for U.S. export subsidies. Then it is shipped back to Europe where it is also subsidized. European …

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When additionality always matters

Sean Casten and Adam Stein have been discussing when it is important that a carbon savings be additional -- that is, when it is important that we not pay for a saving that would have happened anyway. You guys are making this way more complicated than it needs to be. Iron-clad additionality is critical when you're selling a permission for someone else to pollute. If you are reducing emissions, generating a financial instrument from that fact, and then selling it to someone else to use as a substitute for reducing their own emissions, your reduction had damn well better be …