Climate & Energy

Our national water policy

Oh, wait, we don’t have a national water policy

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom's kind permission. --- "Lisa, the whole reason we have elected officials is so we don't have to think all the time. Just like that rainforest scare a few years back. Our officials saw there was a problem and they fixed it, didn't they?" -- Homer Simpson On June 24, 2008, Louie and I curled up on the couch to watch seven of the nation's foremost water resources experts testify before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. This was a new experience for us. For my part, the issue to be addressed -- "Comprehensive Watershed Management Planning" -- was certainly a change of pace from the subjects I ordinarily follow in Judiciary and Intelligence Committee hearings. I wasn't even entirely sure what a "watershed" was. I knew that, in a metaphorical sense, the word referred to a turning point, but I was a bit fuzzy about its meaning in the world of hydrology. (It's the term used to describe "all land and water areas that drain toward a river or lake.") What was strange from Louie's point of view was not the topic of the day, but that we were stuck in the house. Usually at that hour, we'd be working in the backyard, where he can better leverage his skill set, which includes chasing squirrels, digging up tomato plants, eating wicker patio chairs, etc. On this particular afternoon, however, the typically cornflower-blue San Jose sky was the color of wet cement, and thick soot was charging down from the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains. Sitting outside would have been about as pleasant as relaxing in a large ashtray. It would have been difficult, on such a day, not to think about water.

House GOP offers Americans false hope, failed policies, and eco-havoc

Memo calling for increased offshore drilling and shale development

I have received the text of an Alice-in-Wonderland memo (below) that House Republican leaders will circulate today on legislation they plan to offer. It claims: To increase the supply American-made energy in environmentally sound ways, the legislation will: * Open our deep water ocean resources, which will provide an additional 3 million barrels of oil per day;* Open the Arctic coastal plain, which will provide an additional 1 million barrels of oil per day; and* Allow development of our nation's shale oil resources, which could provide an additional 2.5 million barrels of oil per day First off, we opened the vast majority of our deep water ocean resources to drilling two years ago and oil prices doubled. Second, according to the Bush administration's own energy analysts, ending the federal moratorium on coastal drilling would add perhaps 150,000 barrels of oil per day in the 2020s and have no impact on prices through 2030, unless, as seems likely, California blocks drilling off its coast, in which case it would add well under 100,000 barrels of oil per day in the 2020s. Third, opening up the "Arctic coastal plain" (GOP-speak for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) would also have no impact on prices, according to the Bush administration's own energy analysts. Fourth, you can't develop U.S. shale in environmentally sound ways. Yet Republican leader John Boehner, Republican Whip Roy Blunt, Conference Chairman Adam Putnam, and Chief Deputy Whip Eric Cantor still have the chutzpah to write:

Matt Yglesias is making sense

On Republican gas price demagoguery: [Anti-density zoning and minimum parking mandates] are regulatory barriers to solving our energy problems every bit as much as the …

Meet the Blogger

Better questions for Gore

In response to my rant about Gore on Meet the Press, a certain boss of my acquaintance asked me what questions I would have asked. …


Viscount Monckton, a British peer, says his paper was peer-reviewed by a scientist

"The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley" is full of crap himself. Before casting a wary eye on his new ribaldry, however, let me direct you to yet another dismantling of his "thesis" -- this one by Deltoid at ScienceBlogs: "Monckton's triple counting."(Even more debunking here.) But I digress. The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, as he prefers to call himself, or TVMOB, as I will call him because, damn, the acronym is just too sweet, has penned an epistle to the president of the American Physical Society, which you can peruse here [PDF]. (Please note that the picture on the right is not TVMOB nor do I think he would ever participate in this.) TVMOB is displeased with the new APS disclaimer on his article: "The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community. The Council of the American Physical Society disagrees with this article's conclusions." TVMOB writes, "This seems discourteous." You see, TVMOB holds the view that peer review occurs if his article gets suggested edits by a co-editor who happens to be a scientist. Let me not make the obvious point that being edited by an editor ain't scientific peer review. You can read the editor's requested edits on page two of TVMOB's letter [PDF]. Anybody who has actually been peer-reviewed will note that the proposed edits aren't anything close to what a peer-reviewed set of comments looks like, especially for an analysis as flawed as this one. Since TVMOB's letter is straight out of Monty Python, let me rather make the point in kind that a peer is "a person who holds any of the five grades of the British nobility: duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron." By that definition, I am sure that TVMOB's paper was not given proper peer review. Indeed, I'm not certain TVMOB has a proper peer on this Earth. Perhaps Senator Inhofe or President Bush. But pity the poor modern British viscount who whines in his letter, "I had expended considerable labor, without having been offered or having requested any honorarium." Join the club, buddy. Since when do you think scientific newsletters pay you a nickel? Oh, I forgot. You aren't a scientist. I especially love the conclusion to his epistle:

Oregon trail

Grist talks to Oregon Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Merkley

Oregon Senate candidate Jeff Merkley was in Austin for Netroots Nation, where he appeared on a panel about energy issues. Merkley is attempting to unseat …

Skeptical climate-change documentary found unfair, but not misleading

A British documentary that declared climate change to be a willful and conspiratorial hoax broke impartiality rules and misrepresented the views of some participants, British …

My coal Kentucky home

Kentucky to build new coal-to-liquids plant

The following post is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress. Kentucky has selected a site to build a $4 billion coal-to-liquids plant in Pike County that would produce 50,000 barrels of liquid coal a day. According to Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader: ... The county would use federal and state grant money to put the basic infrastructure in place, including water and sewer, and the company chosen to operate the facility would pay for the rest.County officials have not yet secured funding, but Ruther­ford said he has received support from Gov. Steve Beshear, as well as several others, including state Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook. Joe has written often about the climate dangers of coal-to-liquids, and recently about the health dangers of living near coal plants. There are also other consequences. An Op-Ed in the Lexington Herald-Leader serves as a stark reminder that coal will never be clean. Robert Richardson, a former coal miner, writes passionately about the death of Kentucky's streams under the onslaught from mountain-top removal. On revisiting a favorite spot, he writes:

Bush admin proposes rules for domestic oil-shale development

The Bush administration today will propose rules for tapping the U.S.’s vast oil-shale deposits, estimated to hold up to 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil. …