Climate & Energy

State workers in Utah will enjoy mandatory three-day weekends

Starting in August, thousands of Utahns will begin enjoying mandatory three-day weekends. Some 17,000 government employees will switch to a compressed workweek — four days a week, 10 hours a day — as the state …

CCS: Environmental whack-a-mole

Carbon capture and sequestration gets heralded as a great way to lower CO2 emissions and keep burning coal. Unfortuantely, it also kills the efficiency of the coal plant, meaning that every other environmental externality associated with coal-fired generation -- from mountaintop removal to power plant siting -- is exacerbated by CCS. Planet Ark puts it succinctly: The process called carbon capture and sequestration requires as much as 20 percent of the electricity a power plant generates. That essentially means that for every five coal plants using the technology, a sixth would be required just to power the capture and burial of carbon dioxide produced.

The Iraqi Oil Ministry's new fave five

All the oil news that’s fit to print

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. ----- On June 19, the New York Times broke the story in an article headlined "Deals with Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back: Rare No-Bid Contracts, A Foothold for Western Companies Seeking Future Rewards." Finally, after a long five years-plus, there was proof that the occupation of Iraq really did have something or other to do with oil. Quoting unnamed Iraqi Oil Ministry bureaucrats, oil company officials, and an anonymous American diplomat, Andrew Kramer of the Times wrote: "Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP ... along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq's Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq's largest fields." The news caused a minor stir, as other newspapers picked up and advanced the story and the mainstream media, only a few years late, began to seriously consider the significance of oil to the occupation of Iraq. As always happens when, for whatever reason, you come late to a major story and find yourself playing catch-up on the run, there are a few corrections and blind spots in the current coverage that might be worth addressing before another five years pass. In the spirit of collegiality, I offer the following leads for the mainstream media to consider as they change gears from no-comment to hot-pursuit when it comes to the story of Iraq's most sought after commodity. I'm talking, of course, about that "sea of oil" on which, as Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz pointed out way back in May 2003, the month after Baghdad fell, Iraq "floats."

The hare and the tortoise

Costs for utilities rise faster than politically palatable rate changes can keep up

This is one for the "Things No One is Talking About But Should" file. Greenwire has this report ($ub. req'd) from Standard & Poor's noting that the credit risk of our utilities depends in large part on their ability to recover rising fuel costs, and this ability is diminished due to the fact that: High fuel costs translate directly to higher customer rates, but instituting constant and often significant increases is politically and socially unpalatable. This gets it half right.

Voters' Voices: Oregon II

A chat with Portland’s Charlie Stephens about petrodollars and oil wars

This is part of a series of dispatches from Melinda Henneberger, who's talking to voters around the U.S. about their views on the environment and the election. One thing I learned traveling around the country a couple of years ago, talking to voters for a political book I was working on, is that Americans tend to give their elected officials a super-size helping of benefit of the doubt. One night, I was in Suffolk, Va., having dinner with some active-duty Navy women -- the real "security moms" -- who were in between tours in the Persian Gulf. One of them, a young Republican named Elizabeth DeAngelo, remarked that the war in Iraq had had no effect on her political views, because she did not consider the decision to go to war a partisan matter. "Being in the military opens your eyes that it is dangerous out there," said DeAngelo, who watched the first "shock and awe" bombs fall from the deck the U.S.S. Kearsarge, "and you have to believe that no president would want to run the government into the ground, for their legacy, if nothing else. So if a Democrat did get elected, I wouldn't think, 'Oh, no!' I don't know if the reasons if we went over there were the right reasons. But even though I didn't like [President] Clinton as a person, I can't believe -- nobody, I think, would put several hundred thousand people in a conflict for oil. Even if it were Clinton, I wouldn't think that. I think they do what they think is right." A number of people I spoke to across the country made that same point -- that politics aside, no American president could possibly be that venal, or stoop so low as to put Americans in harm's way over a mere commodity. Much of the rest of the world does not have this kind of confidence in the best intentions of its leaders, but we do. Which is why we're still unsure about the "real reason" we went into Iraq. It's why most reporters find it easier to believe we wandered into this misadventure as the result of some Oedipal psychodrama in the Bush family, or plain incompetence. And it's why I had a really, really hard time hearing what Charlie Stephens had to tell me when I sat down with him in Portland, Ore., a couple of weeks ago.

Ad lib

RNC drops $3 million to promote McCain’s energy plan

Over the weekend, the Republican National Committee launched their 10-day, $3 million campaign to tout John McCain’s energy policy with this ad: “Record gas prices, a climate in crisis. John McCain says solve it now,” …

Toyota may put solar panels on new Prius to power air conditioning

A Japanese newspaper is reporting that Toyota plans to install solar panels on its next model of the popular Prius hybrid. If the company follows through, it would be the first major automaker to incorporate …

Presidential campaign ads go on attack over energy issues

The first major ad buy this year from a major party aired over the weekend, a TV spot courtesy of the Republican National Committee attacking Democratic candidate Barack Obama for a lack of creativity on …

'I don't think we're going to make it'

Venture capitalist John Doerr shares four lessons on climate change

I don’t know how it is that I’ve never seen this John Doerr talk from TED, but I’m glad I finally did:

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