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Consumers express renewed interest in natural-gas vehicles

High oil prices, increased domestic natural-gas production, and a well-publicized push from a former oil man have all boosted interest in natural-gas vehicles in the United States lately. This spring, the natural-gas equivalent of a gallon of gasoline was selling for about $1.50 less than gasoline on average nationwide. And in some places like Utah, where vertical integration of natural-gas utilities keeps prices unusually low, the difference is even larger. Energy independence enthusiasts in and out of Congress are (naturally) gassed about the possibilities. Right now, the U.S. only imports some 2 percent of its natural-gas supply and new drilling …

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Ending fossil-fuel subsidies would help climate and economy, U.N. says

Ending fossil-fuel subsidies around the world could slash greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 6 percent and help the economy at the same time, according to a new United Nations report [PDF]. Globally, governments spend some $300 billion on fuel subsidies that encourage consumption, delay transition to cleaner energy sources, and mainly benefit the already-rich even though most of the programs are intended to help the poor with fuel costs. "In the final analysis, many fossil-fuel subsidies are introduced for political reasons but are simply propping up and perpetuating inefficiencies in the global economy," said U.N. Environment Program director Achim Steiner. …

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Energy is a hot topic at the DNC; also, Death Cab

Here it is, almost 3 a.m., I'm at my hotel, and this is the first time I've had an internet connection all day. There's no wireless in the convention hall and no wireless at any of the venues I've been to so far. There's (allegedly spotty, slow) wireless at the Big Tent for bloggers, but who wants to go sit in the Big Tent when there are all these interesting events happening? Don't these people know there are journalists in town? Why is there not universal wireless yet? And where's my jetpack? I was promised a jetpack. Long and short …

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Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on bringing green to the heartland, and the rest of the country

Sadly, I missed Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius giving her speech Tuesday evening. Here are some excerpts from the full text. "Millions of Americans are proud to make their homes in rural communities, where values are deeply-rooted and passed down, like the family farm, from generation to generation. Too many in Washington are willing to write off these communities as part of an America of the past. But not Barack Obama. He'll help us revitalize rural America by harnessing our natural assets, creating "green jobs" and linking the heartland to America's future. Barack Obama knows it's time for tax breaks for …

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Clinton, Warner, and Schweitzer cite energy as they stump for Obama and bash McCain

In a rousing speech endorsing Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton said her erstwhile rival would "transform our energy agenda by creating millions of green jobs and building a new, clean energy future." Virginia Senate candidate Mark Warner also addressed energy and climate (as he told Grist he would): "If we actually got ourselves off foreign oil, we can make our country safer," he said in his keynote address. "We'll start to solve global warming, and with the right policies, within 24 months, we'll be building 100-mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrid vehicles right here, with American technology …

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Montana guv brings the one-liners

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer was all over the energy issue in his speech tonight, ripping on John McCain's policies and calling for a new energy future. "At a time when American families are struggling to keep their gas tanks full, John McCain voted 25 times against renewable energy, biofuels, solar energy. He even voted against wind energy," said Schweitzer. "At a time when Americans should be working even harder on new sources of energy, John McCain wants more of the same." "He as taken more than a million from the oil and gas industries ... he wants to give those …

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Virginia Senate candidate focuses on energy and climate challenge

As promised, Virginia Senate candidate Mark Warner devoted a portion of his keynote tonight to energy and climate concerns. "Two wars, a warming planet, an energy policy that says let's borrow money from China to buy oil from countries that don't like us," said Warner. "How many people look at these things and wonder what the future holds for them? Their children? Their country? How many?" "People always ask me, 'What's your biggest criticism of President Bush?' I'm sure you all have your own. Here's mine: It's not just the policy differences. It's the fact that this president never tapped …

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Media focuses on high costs of clean energy, but gives nuclear a free pass

When the media talks about clean energy, it usually deals with the cost issue with a rational, balanced analysis. Something along the lines of, say, "It's so expensive!" Yet somehow, in Keith Johnson's Environmental Capital blog post today slamming greens for not supporting nukes, the cost issue is little more than an afterthought. The nuclear industry wants $50 billion in loan guarantees? Hardly seems worth mentioning. A full 320 words into a 346 word post, Johnson shares this insight: Plus, nuclear power's not cheap. Oh, really? Glad he managed to squeeze that five-word footnote in. Johnson also finds the space …

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Bill Becker, head of the Presidential Climate Action Project, talks to Grist

Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project, is here at the Democratic convention talking about what the next administration will need to do on climate and energy. Becker is also the Wirth Chair in Environmental and Community Development Policy at the University of Colorado Denver's School of Public Affairs. He was previously the director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Central Regional Office, where he focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies, and sustainable community development. The Presidential Climate Action Project has outlined approximately 300 things the next administration could do in its first 100 days, and …

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NSIDC: Arctic shortcuts open up; decline pace steady

Fresh from its Olympic-record in denier debunking, the National Snow and Ice Data Center has released a new update: Sea ice extent is declining at a fairly brisk and steady pace. Surface melt has mostly ended, but the decline will continue for two to three more weeks because of melt from the bottom and sides of the ice. Amundsen's Northwest Passage is now navigable; the wider, deeper Northwest Passage through Parry Channel may also open in a matter of days. The Northern Sea Route along the Eurasian coast is clear. NSIDC has put together a nice animation (click on figure): …

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