Climate & Energy

McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin opens up on climate and energy

Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Opinions differ on the quality of John McCain‘s domestic policy agenda, but you’d have trouble finding anyone in Washington who would disparage the man he’s chosen as one of his top advisers. Douglas Holtz-Eakin has a dauntingly long resume and a reputation among policy wonks on both sides of the aisle for fair-minded number crunching. He has taught economics at top-notch universities, served as a senior economist in both Bush administrations, and run the Congressional Budget Office from 2003 to 2005 (where he was a “thorn in the side” of the current administration). He is now running the …

Fortune Brainstorm Green

Shai Agassi talks electric cars in Israel

I’m watching Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Project Better Place, talk about the scheme he put together to fill Israel with electrical cars and recharging stations, with the ultimate goal of eliminating oil as a transportation fuel in the country. (He’s going to do it in Denmark as well.) (A side note: this meeting room is filled with Herman Miller Aeron chairs. Sweet!) I’m a little behind on the details (dude talks fast), but it’s a torrent of goodness. We’re talking about full-size, five-seat, highway-speed vehicles, thousands of charging stations all over the country (where a depleted battery is …

California utilities scuffle over cap-and-trade

California is well aware that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions is easier said than done. The state’s attempts to craft an effective cap-and-trade system are causing infighting among public utilities and their privately owned counterparts. Public utilities, which source more of their power from coal, protest that they’re going to end up paying out the nose to the state and seeing the money redirected into private utilities’ coffers. That means public utilities will be lining private utilities’ pockets instead of having money available to, say, boost renewable-energy capacity, they argue. But regulators say they don’t intend to create a scheme that allows …

Fortune Brainstorm Green

I flew down to Pasadena today for the Fortune Brainstorm: Green conference. There’s tons of interesting stuff on the agenda — a mix of corporate types and NGO types, technology and policy topics. I’m moderating a panel on Monday night called "Meet the Rabble Rousers," an informal discussion wherein activists answer questions about the rabble they’ve roused. It stars Mike Brune of the Rainforest Action Network, Sister Patricia A. Daly of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, John Passacantando of Greenpeace USA, and musician/activist/author Chuck Leavell. The panel starts at 9:30pm, after an entire day of presentations, a performance from …

Climate policy and purity tests

Enough with the internecine warfare over Lieberman-Warner

A lot of green folks of my acquaintance seem to have two and only two things to say about the Lieberman-Warner climate bill: It won’t achieve what science demands. Those who support it, even with qualifiers, even while pushing for improvements, are earth f*cking, corporate bootlicking sellouts. Maybe I’m just feeling kumbaya because it’s 4/20 (ahem), but I don’t much care for purity tests like this. Thing is, No. 2 does not necessarily follow from No. 1. It’s not enough to say that the bill doesn’t do what science demands. Of course it doesn’t. No bill, not even Sanders-Boxer, does …

Three-point plan

RFK Jr. advocates for cap-and-trade, renewables, smart grids

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s got a three-point plan for the next president. I think it would work.

Can the coal industry be saved in spite of itself? Should it be?

New analysis explores whether Congress can do a better job with CCS than Bush administration

One of biggest debates about climate solutions is whether coal generation with carbon capture and storage (CCS) is going to be practical and affordable on the timescale needed to avoid catastrophic outcomes. And, of course, there are many who don't think coal should be saved at all. I am not in the second camp, but I doubt coal with CCS is likely to exceed one wedge (I'll discuss this more next week). And we probably need 14 wedges to stay below 450 ppm. I have no doubt concentrated solar will delivery far more power than coal with CCS -- two or three wedges are possible. The coal industry has long been in denial about the reality of human-caused global warming, so they are woefully unprepared for what is to come. And the administration has botched FutureGen, the centerpiece of its CCS effort. Can Congress do a better job? The answer can be found in a new analysis by Bob Sussman and Ken Berlin for the Center for American Progress, "Maximizing Carbon Capture and Storage Under the Lieberman Warner Global Warming Bill." Here is a summary:

Kennedy clan vs. clean power

Your last chance to be heard about Cape Wind

A friend once described Nantucket Sound as a body of water surrounded on three sides by money. The outcome of the six-year-long effort to use a small part of that water to house a 130-turbine, 468-megawatt wind farm -- still the largest proposed renewable-energy project in the eastern U.S. -- will help determine whether we, as a nation, are serious about confronting the climate crisis. The federal agency in charge of the formal review of the Cape Wind project, the Minerals Management Service, is receiving public comments through Monday, April 21. It's the last opportunity for ordinary citizens to outshout the Kennedys and other plutocrats who would rather keep subjecting Cape Cod waters to oil tanker spills than sully their viewsheds with matchbox-sized spinning blades (which is how they'll appear from land). The Cape-based citizens group Clean Power Now ("It's not the view, it's the vision") has an e-mail form you can fill out in a few seconds to register your support. If you prefer to compose your own message, use this form from the project developers, Cape Wind. That's how I beat the deadline with my comments, below.

A story in pictures

  Minorities are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution … is suspected of posing the greatest health danger, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. … • The Government Accountability Office concluded earlier this year that EPA devoted little attention to environmental equality when it developed three major rules to implement the Clean Air Act between 2000 and 2004. • The EPA’s inspector general reported last year that the agency hadn’t implemented Clinton’s order nor “consistently integrated environmental justice into its day-to-day operations.” The watchdog said EPA had not identified minority and …

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