John McCain has a brilliant, original idea: Let's encourage Americans to drive more by lifting the gas tax for a summer "holiday." Presumably it's the same principle as the "surge" in Iraq: so many soldiers are getting killed, let's send even more! Here are some guaranteed effects from McCain's brainstorm. It would: Deepen the federal deficit, thereby weakening the dollar. Increase gasoline consumption, in one stroke worsening highway gridlock, compounding U.S. oil dependence, and speeding up global warming. Transfer what used to be tax revenue -- potentially usable for public benefit -- to the oil companies and the Saudis by pushing up oil demand. Terrific, eh? McCain could drive to a gas station, perhaps in a jumpsuit with a padded crotch, stand surrounded by Uzi-toting Blackwater thugs while a parade of Hummers top off their tanks, and proclaim Surge II a success.
A group of influential governors will meet this week at Yale University to discuss taking the reins in the fight against climate change. The discussion will center around “blending a set of state efforts, some of which are already up and running, with an emerging federal climate system,” according to Dan Esty, the director of Yale’s Center for Environmental Law and Policy. Those state efforts include three regional climate initiatives, in the Northeast, West, and Midwest. Esty added, “I think we have high hope this will mark a significant turning point in a commitment to action on climate change.” Governors …
Remember how the U.S. EPA was instructed by the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant? And how that was more than a year ago? A senior EPA official said in a speech this week that “given the time frame available to the agency, it’s not realistic” to expect that the EPA will make that decision before the Bush administration ends. Such a bummer that time’s running out, because you know they really wanted to.
This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- As you'll recall, Barack Obama made a controversial sartorial decision last October about what he will and will not wear on his lapel. He declared he will not wear one of those American flag pins that have become so popular among politicians since Sept. 11. "I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said while campaigning in Iowa. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great. Hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism." His decision was instant red meat for a number of people who wear their patriotism on their sleeves as well as on their lapels. They questioned Obama's allegiance to his nation and to our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Four Americans working on the documentary Sweet Crude, about the impact of the petroleum industry on the economy and environment of the Niger Delta, were arrested in Nigeria this weekend and are still being detained. A Nigerian man accompanying them was also seized. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter and the fourth-largest exporter to the United States, and its petroleum industry is infamous for pollution, injustice, and corruption.
Virginia’s State Corporation Commission today rejected American Electric Power’s request to build a massive ($2.23b) new dirty coal plant in West Virginia. Why, you ask? The commission said the plant’s estimated price, which dates back to November 2006, isn’t credible. It also said AEP has no plans to provide a detailed, updated estimate until it gets full regulatory approval. So picky!
Any remaining glimmer of hope that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) might be the principled, non-cynical politician to transform our energy policy and avoid the dual calamities of peak oil and climate catastrophe died today. The Associated Press reported that: John McCain called Tuesday for the federal government to free people from paying gasoline taxes this summer ... aimed at stemming the public's pain now from the troubled economy. ... To help people weather the downturn immediately, McCain urged Congress to institute a "gas-tax holiday" by suspending the 18.4 cent federal gas tax and 24.4 cent diesel tax from Memorial Day to Labor Day. ... Among other proposals, McCain said he would ... Suspend for one year all increases in discretionary spending for agencies other than those that cover the military and veterans ... Sad. In fact, doubly sad.
This is the saddest, creepiest story I’ve seen in a long while.
Other than energy efficiency (see here), I don't believe any set of technologies will be more important to the climate fight than concentrated solar power (CSP). I have a long article on CSP in Salon: "The technology that will save humanity: The solar energy you haven't heard of is the one best suited to generate clean electricity for generations to come." OK, maybe "will" should be "may help" (I'm an optimist, sue me!) and readers have heard about CSP for a while. But I do think CSP deserves much more attention: It is the best source of clean energy to replace coal and sustain economic development. I bet that it will deliver more power every year this century than coal with carbon capture and storage -- for much less money and with far less environmental damage ... How much less? Many industry experts told me CSP will likely deliver power for well under $0.10 per kilowatt hour fully installed in the next decade. What is its market potential? I think it could be more than two wedges, which is several thouand gigawatts: