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Cuomo arigato!

New York attorney general subpoenas energy companies over disclosure of coal-plant risks

A new weapon has been brought to bear in the war on coal, and it's aimed right at the corpulent industry's soft underbelly: risk. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo just sent out a round of subpoenas to energy companies. He wants to see internal documents demonstrating that the companies -- AES Corporation, Dominion, Dynegy, Peabody Energy and Xcel Energy -- fully disclosed the financial risks of planned coal-fired power plants to investors. (This is Cuomo's twist on a once-obscure statute -- the Martin Act, a 1921 state securities law -- that his predecessor Eliot Spitzer revived and used to …

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New York state investigates power companies’ emissions on behalf of shareholders

New York state used a new tactic last week to try to prompt coal-fired power plants to clean up their climate changing emissions: concern for shareholders. State attorney general Andrew Cuomo sent letters and subpoenas to five coal-lovin' power companies on Friday requesting internal documents and questioning if investors had been given adequate information on the financial liabilities that could result from CO2 emissions at their planned power plants. "Any one of the several new or likely regulatory initiatives for CO2 emissions from power plants -- including state carbon controls, EPA's regulations under the Clean Air Act, or the enactment …

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The present the whole world needs

With more ‘zero-zero’ buildings, maybe we could still have cake now and then

This story appeared on my birthday (a prime number year). I'll consider it my present.

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Debunking Bjorn Lomborg: Part II

Lomborg misrepresents possible sea-level rise

Lomborg is a champion cherry-picker when he isn't just getting his facts wrong, as I argued in Part I. He has a deceptively misleading -- and outright erroneous -- discussion of sea-level-rise projections in Cool It. Let's start with a few all-too-typical howlers: Antarctica is generally soaking up more water than Greenland is shedding, as the IPCC predicts. The IPCC estimates that the very worst additional increase to be expected from Greenland could be 8 inches over the century, but this is possible only in a model where CO2 levels rise two to four times more than expected by 2100 …

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On the Ball: Wild ride

Freelance writer embarks on biodiesel tour of sporting events

Freelance sports writer Joe Connor is embarking this fall on a four-month-long Green Power Sports Tour (holy neon website!), visiting more than 100 football, hockey, and basketball venues -- in a biodiesel car, natch. Hey ladies ... he's self-described "very, very single" ...

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Quote of the day

White House advisor reveals Bush view of climate change policy

White House science advisor, on the options available for addressing climate change: You only have two choices; you either have advanced technologies and get them into the marketplace, or you shut down your economies and put people out of work. Remind me again how long until these clowns are gone?

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Rates of black lung disease double in a decade

Rates of black lung disease have doubled in the last decade, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The disease, which is caused by inhaling coal dust, now occurs in almost 10 percent of coal miners who work 25 or more years underground, as opposed to about 4 percent a decade ago. Safety standards enacted in 1969 were supposed to prevent black lung altogether, but, uh, that hasn't so much happened. Black-lung expert Dr. Robert Cohen says the respirable-dust standard set by the Mine Safety and Health Administration is probably both too high and not being enforced. …

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'Climate change: The limits of consensus'

A must-read article from Science on the underestimation of climate change impacts

The new issue of Science has a terrific article that underscores many of the points I have been making here. Its central argument is that the scientific consensus most likely underestimates future climate change impacts, especially in the crucial area of sea-level rise and carbon-cycle feedbacks. The authors are highly credible, led by Princeton's Michael Oppenheimer, one of the most widely published climate experts. I will excerpt the article here at length ($ub. req'd): The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just delivered its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) since 1990. The IPCC was a bold innovation when it was …

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More thwarting

Ladies and gentlemen, Bush’s ‘scientific enquiry’ is still a sham

Every few months, if you pay close enough attention, you'll discover new and exciting ways the Bush administration is gumming up the machines of scientific inquiry. This will happen basically every time the likely results of a particular line of inquiry will be at odds with public policy as determined by the Bush administration. It's an elegant system. And as a result, there's a quick and dirty way to find examples of meddling. For instance, while you're unlikely to find meddling in biotechnological research (non-stem cell), most government-funded environmental research will eventually be sabotaged in some way. That's the basic …

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O Canada, what are you doing?

Tar sands are the enemy of the planet

Our civilization's addiction to oil is being displayed in all its nefarious glory in the tar sands of Canada. According to Chris Nelder: What we have here is arguably the most environmentally destructive activity man has ever attempted, with a compliant government, insatiable demand, and an endless supply of capital turning it into "a speeding car with a gas pedal and no brakes." It sucks down critical and rapidly diminishing amounts of both natural gas and water, paying neither for its consumption of natural capital nor its environmental destruction, to the utter detriment of its host. And all to eke …

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