Climate & Energy

Boosts for renewable energy get another go-round in the Senate

Wind- and solar-boosting folk are crossing their fingers that new Senate legislation will succeed in extending renewable-energy tax credits set to expire at the end of 2008. The Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act is framed as an economic boon: “If both houses of Congress don’t pass a bill and the president doesn’t sign it into law soon, we will start to see as much as $20 billion of anticipated investment in 2008 delayed or cancelled and more than 100,000 jobs lost,” warns cosponsor Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). The bill has bipartisan support, in large part because, unlike previous failed legislation, it …

IMF report says economic costs of climate-change action negligible

The International Monetary Fund said in a report released today that sharply reducing the world’s carbon emissions will cost relatively little economically if a carbon-pricing scheme is adopted soon that includes all the major-emitting countries. The report didn’t endorse one specific pricing mechanism, but said that either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system could work if it gradually increased the price of carbon. “There are significant risks from climate change; damages could be severe,” said IMF economist Natalia Tamirisa. “The costs of mitigation could be moderate provided that policies are well designed.” Meanwhile, at the ongoing United Nations climate …

Against the grain: What are they thinking? Part 2

Time bashes grain ethanol

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- All that glitters is not gold. And all that grows is not green. That is the belated realization about grain ethanol -- in fact, about any ethanol whose feedstock is grown on cropland. Joe Romm has done a good job posting on this issue, including his report on the recent studies featured in Science magazine. I'd like to weigh in with a few additional points.

File under: Sherlock, No sh*t

I give you clean coal: The study, “Relations between Health Indicators and Residential Proximity to Coal Mining in West Virginia,” found that in the 14 counties where the biggest coal mining operations are located residents reported higher rates of cardiopulmonary disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, diabetes, and lung and kidney disease. In each of those counties, mining topped 4 million tons of coal a year.

Solar’s new mega-plants

Good stuff. (Thanks, Brian)

Polar bears are ... doing great?

So say Big Oil-friendly opponents of protecting them

You know, if you set aside the massive threats to their habitats posed by global warming and oil and gas development, polar bears are an "otherwise healthy" species. That was the argument made Wednesday by William Horn, an attorney and former Assistant Interior Secretary for Fish and Wildlife in the Reagan administration, at a Capitol Hill hearing about the ongoing delay in whether to cover the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. Horn's case was echoed by several Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. To listen to Horn, the 33-51 percent chance that the recently signed oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea on Alaska's northwest coast would result in a major offshore oil spill is no big deal. And Horn clung to outdated projections that widespread Arctic Sea ice loss is 45 to 50 years away when, just four months ago, a NASA scientist predicted the Arctic Sea could be ice-free in the summer as soon as 2012. We all know the threats to polar bears posed by rapid climate change. But what would happen in the case of a major oil spill?

Hydrogen-powered plane makes successful flight

A plane powered by hydrogen fuel cells made three successful test flights earlier this year, Boeing officials announced Thursday. The propeller-driven two-seater, carrying passengers, climbed to 3,300 feet on the power of lithium batteries, then cruised at 60 miles per hour for about 20 minutes powered solely by fuel cells. Sounds like they’ve got the Wright stuff! (Ooh, that was bad even for us. Sorry.)

'Bombshell'? Really?

RPJr.’s latest achievement in getting huge news coverage for saying very little

I don’t want to get too far into the kerfuffle over the Nature commentary from Pielke Jr. et al. Just a few quick and I guess fairly cynical thoughts: • The trend toward "spontaneous" technology development and efficiency has been going on for centuries, only to pause during the last few years thanks to a burst of new dirty coal plants in the developing world. The whole commentary is premised on the idea that this is the new norm — that "spontaneous" movement toward carbon efficiency is now a thing of the past. That strikes me as wildly speculative at …

The Big Lump gets thumped

King Coal’s year of rejection by banks, judges, and a lot of other folks

Earth Policy Institute just released this revelatory chronology of really sad, horrible, and depressing events in the life of the coal industry since February 2007. What's next -- will Santa be switching to lumps of dirt? Feb. 26, 2007: James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a leading climate scientist, calls for a moratorium on the construction of coal-fired power plants that do not sequester carbon, saying that it makes no sense to build these plants when we will have to "bulldoze" them in a few years. Feb. 26, 2007: Under mounting pressure from environmental groups, TXU Corporation, a Dallas-based energy company, abandons plans for eight of 11 proposed coal-fired power plants, catalyzing the shift from coal-based to renewable energy development in Texas. April 2, 2007: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and that EPA's current rationale for not regulating this gas is inadequate. May 3, 2007: Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signs a bill that prevents new power plants from exceeding 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour of electricity generated, creating a de facto moratorium on building new coal-fired power plants in the state.