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Short-sighted government chronicles

Ontario has higher capacity for renewable energy projects than the government estimates

The Toronto Star has been doing some excellent work on the environment and energy issues in Ontario lately -- I pointed to some not too long ago. Many of those stories come from the Roberts-endorsed Tyler Hamilton. Yesterday, Hamilton had an excellent piece in the front of the business section. It's on the alternatives to nuclear construction that the province is ignoring; it tallies up all the missed opportunities. The conclusion is that Ontario could build ten times as much renewable energy as the government currently estimates, more than enough to displace the planned and allegedly necessary nuclear reactors. Some …

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Revenge of the offset nerds

Thursday event in D.C. seeks carbon questions

Gear up your brains and flex those diatribe muscles, carbon offset nerds -- the offset debate is coming to the Capitol, and you're all invited to participate. Institute of Ecosystem Studies Dr. William Schlesinger is going to be speaking at 6:00 pm this Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., about his recent work on the interaction between forests and climate -- and its implications for how and whether carbon offsets should be allowed. I'm on the board of the American Lands Alliance, the organization sponsoring the event, and we'd like to get some hot questions to fire at Schlesinger …

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Notable quotable

Nate Tyler, organizer of Lights Out San Francisco: If we don't do something, by 2050, all the polar bears will be gone. That's where Santa Claus lives, man. That's a bummer.

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Why coal is the enemy of the human race: Reason no. 836,372

Mercury moves from coal plant to fish dinner as fast as its name implies

A Scientificblogging post explains that it only takes three years for mercury emitted by coal-fired plants to travel up the food chain into fish that we eat: "Before this study, no one had directly linked atmospheric deposition (mercury emissions) and mercury in fish," says study co-author Vincent St. Louis of the University of Alberta. The experiment filled a major gap in scientists' understanding of how mercury moves from the atmosphere through forests, soils, lakes and into the fish that people eat. It's immediate value is that it provides undeniable proof of a direct link, said St. Louis, who specializes in …

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Yesterday

We had a lot of great stuff on the blog yesterday -- so much that it was difficult to keep up. If you have time, go back and check out: Bill McKibben's review of two new books on climate change politics, one by Bjorn Lomborg, on from Shellenberger & Nordhaus. Sierra Club head honcho Carl Pope also reviewed S&N's book. PETA VP Bruce Friedrich responded to the hullabaloo over his organization's latest campaign. Joe Romm sang the praises of renewable portfolio standards. An embarrassment of riches!

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Discover Brilliant: Trends in smart-grid policy

Next up, a discussion of trends in energy industry smart-grid policy. Starring: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Rob Pratt, Staff Scientist and Manager of Gridwise Activities Gridwise Council, Alison Silverstein Snohomish County PUD, Jessica Wilcox, Government Affairs Wilcox (who is, I add inappropriately, gorgeous): Most people on Capitol Hill don't even know what a smart grid is. Even the people writing the bills that include smart grid provisions don't understand or much care about it. The problem is smart grid is getting defined much too narrowly. It needs to be expanded to include renewables, conservation, responses to climate change, etc. People …

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EPA to Supreme Court: Take a hike!

EPA gives permit to new Utah coal plant; Waxman cries foul

Given the opportunity last month to adhere to the Supreme Court's findings in the case of Massachusetts vs. EPA, the EPA chose instead to completely ignore the ruling and proceed as if the case had never been heard. It issued a permit to Deseret Power to construct a 110-megawatt coal-fired power unit at an existing power plant in Uintah County, Utah. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, today sent a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson urging him to reverse his decision and asking him to answer some important questions. The letter …

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Discover Brilliant: Smart grid R&D

Next up, a discussion of trends in energy industry R&D. Starring: Gridwise Council, Alison Silverstein (Moderator) PIER and California Energy Commission, Merwin Brown, Director of Transmission Research Modern Grid Initiative, NETL, Steve Pullins Bonnevile Power Authority, Terry Oliver, Chief Technology Innovation Officer Oliver: Electric utilities invest tiny amounts of money in R&D -- "less than the dog food industry." This is bad on its own, but particularly bad because utilities are facing big and growing challenges. Transmission is getting stressed; reliability standards are getting more stringent; more renewables coming online; physical security is poor; demand response is lagging; more and …

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When the heat and the humidity are in tandem

Another positive feedback loop

Scientificblogging reports on the link between atmospheric water vapor and greenhouse gases: The water vapor feedback mechanism works in the following way: as the atmosphere warms due to human-caused increases in carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor increases, trapping more heat in the atmosphere, which in turn causes a further increase in water vapor. Basic theory, observations and climate model results all show that the increase in water vapor is roughly 6 percent to 7.5 percent per degree Celsius warming of the lower atmosphere. The authors note that their findings, when taken together with similar studies of …

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San Francisco plans hour of darkness for October

If you'll be in San Francisco between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, be sure to have a candle handy. Green group Lights Out San Francisco is encouraging residents to turn off all unnecessary lights during that hour to raise awareness of energy use. Nate Tyler, a former Google spokesperson who is spearheading the campaign, was inspired by a trip to Sydney during its annual light-extinguishing Earth Hour in March; he has printed up "Good Things Happen in the Dark" T-shirts and plans to give away 110,000 energy-efficient bulbs on the day of darkness. Just imagine: Without …

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