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Debunking Shellenberger & Nordhaus -- Part III

What Californians know that Shellenberger & Nordhaus don’t

"The kind of technological revolution called for by energy experts typically does not occur via regulatory fiat" claim Shellenberger & Nordhaus. Actually, that is typically the only way it occurs. I defy anyone to name a country that has successfully adopted alternative fuels for vehicles without employing some kind of regulatory mandate. This is also true in the electricity sector. Consider that in terms of electricity consumption, the average Californian generates under one third the carbon dioxide emissions of the average American while paying the same annual bill. Did California accomplish this by technology breakthroughs that S&N mistakenly say we …

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He's even lazy about pandering

Fred Thompson half-heartedly justifies flip-flop on ethanol

Ol' Fred Thompson has decided that ethanol's great after all, even though he voted against subsidies as an allegedly-small-government conservative in the Senate. Why, Fred? We know it can't be a craven pander to Iowa voters, so what's the explanation? "I have voted against subsidies in the Senate," said Thompson. "But I think it's a matter now of national security and we've got to avail ourselves of a lot of different resources, and I think renewable has to be a part of that picture." Uh ... what? Can you explain, perhaps in English? Thompson noted the difference in oil prices …

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Climate campaigners could have a shot at winning the Nobel Peace Prize

Word around the campfire is that climate campaigners Al Gore and Sheila Watt-Cloutier may be on the short list of nominees with a shot at landing this year's Nobel Peace Prize. The prestigious award -- to be announced Oct. 12 -- has traditionally been awarded to human-rights activists and peace advocates (except for that whole Henry Kissinger thing). In 2004, the Peace Prize committee branched out somewhat to award environmental activist Wangari Maathai "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace" through her Green Belt Movement that has planted millions of trees in Kenya, marking the first time the …

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Fighting global warming from space

Hillary lays out science proposals

Today, in an address to the Carnegie Institution for Science (timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Sputnik), Hillary rolled out her science agenda. After some strong rebukes to the Bush administration for its "war on science," she offered this course of action: Expand human and robotic space exploration and speed development of vehicles to would replace the space shuttle. Launch a space-based climate change initiative to combat global warming. Create a $50-billion strategic energy fund to research ways to boost energy efficiency and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Comply with a legal requirement that the executive branch issue …

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California makes efficiency 'business as usual'

New energy proposal in California

California -- already a leader in intelligent utility regulations -- is taking aggressive steps to stay the leader. The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) made the following remarkable proposal last month: All new residential construction in California will be zero net energy by 2020 All new commercial construction in California will be zero net energy by 2030 In addition, the PUC established "a new system of incentives and penalties to drive investor-owned utilities above and beyond California's aggressive energy savings goals." Under this framework: Earnings to shareholders accrue only when a utility produces positive net benefits (savings minus costs) for …

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Notable quotable

"At the risk of oversimplifying, our current energy policy in the United States involves shooting bearded people. It's not hard to imagine better ideas coming out of a reality TV show." -- Scott Adams (thanks Kate!)

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Bill Clinton explains utility decoupling

Regulatory reform of utilities could lessen the need for new power plants

Last week, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) announced that eight utilities "are committed to seeking regulatory reforms and approvals to increase their investment in energy efficiency by $500 million annually to about $1.5 billion annually." The utilities -- Con Edison, Duke Energy, Edison International, Great Plains Energy, Pepco Holdings, PNM Resources, Sierra Pacific Resources, and Xcel Energy -- represent nearly 20 million customers. The extra efficiency effort would "reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 30 million tons" and "avoid the need for 50 500-megawatt peaking power plants." What regulatory reform? Our former President offered "to try to explain it to …

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Discover Brilliant Q&A: Bill Williams of Zenn Motors

A chat with Zenn about NEVs and EEstor

I talked to a few people at Discover Brilliant. I'll be getting Q&As up over the coming weeks. Bill Williams is the California sales director for Zenn Motor Co., maker of neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). In addition to selling one of the most full-featured NEVs, Zenn has an exclusive contract with a tight-lipped and somewhat mysterious company called EEstor. EEstor claims it's making an ultracapacitor that will so far outperform previous capacitors that it will effectively replace the electrochemical battery in all applications -- most notably cars. It could revolutionize the auto industry, and Zenn alone will have rights to …

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Times Square New Year’s Eve ball goes green

The ball that drops in Times Square on New Year's Eve is -- say it with us now -- going green. This year, the 100th anniversary of the tradition, the fifth iteration of the ball will have an aluminum skeleton and be lit by energy-efficient LED lights. With 16 times as many lights, it will use half the wattage of the last ball. That's the power equivalent of 10 toasters toasting for six hours, for the curious. Says project lighting designer Christine Hope, "People are going to be blown away by the variety and the saturation of colors." We'd advise …

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Responsible development of fossil fuels?

The energy department’s strategic unconventional fuels fantasy

The DOE's Strategic Unconventional Fuels Task Force has issued its surreal final report: Responsible development of America's oil shale, tar sands, heavy oil, coal, and oil resources amenable to recovery by carbon dioxide injection, by private industry, supported and encouraged by government actions to reduce uncertainties and stimulate investment, could supply all of the Department of Defense's domestic fuels demand by 2016, and supply upwards of 7 million barrels [a day] of domestically produced liquid fuels to domestic markets by 2035. Seriously. How does the Task Force explain how one can have "responsible development" of resources to an extent that …