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Vehicles sold in the U.S. will be outfitted with fuel-economy stickers

This is spiffy: all U.S.-sold cars, trucks, and SUVs manufactured after Sept. 1 will feature a window sticker that announces the vehicle's expected miles per gallon, estimated annual fuel cost, and fuel economy compared to similar vehicles. Which will just make it all the more apparent that performance always trumps size.

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Poplar mechanics

A closer look at producing ethanol from poplar trees

Oregon Public Broadcasting is reporting on the efforts of a WSU researcher to turn poplar trees into transportation fuel: [P]oplars [are] an on demand fuel source. Trees can be chopped down year round, chipped up and then fermented to create ethanol. According to the researcher, an acre of poplars could supply about one thousand gallons of ethanol per year -- which is about three times the per-acre yield of corn ethanol, with a lot less plowing and fertilizer consumption. Cool! Of course, inveterate skeptic that I am, I had to run the numbers ... Let's ignore, for a moment, any …

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Yup. Stuck with coal.

The word from today’s hearing of Markey’s climate committee

As I suggested earlier, the crux of today's hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Climate Change was to suggest that carbon capture and storage is necessary quickly, via enormous government subsidies, or else we're screwed. Remember, this is Ed Markey's committee. He's the guy who's supposed to advise Congress about upcoming climate-change legislation, and, for all intents and purposes, he's an ally to Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the environmentally minded members of the Democratic caucus. This we expect from Markey: There are over 150 new coal-fired power plants on the boards in the United …

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Collision course

The coal industry’s rush to build new plants is bumping up against reality

One thing the coal industry seems to get, but that isn't yet common public knowledge, is how fragile it is. It's a filthy relic of the 19th century and a rational society with a free and open energy market would have ditched it already. It has survived almost purely based on inertia -- its stranglehold on the political process and the persistence of various myths (like, say, the myth that it can be cheap and clean, or the myth that we can't meet our needs with renewables). As those myths meet reality and the U.S. starts taking global warming seriously, …

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Costs soar for new nuclear power plants

Strict safety guidelines cause construction delays at nuclear plants in Finland and Taiwan

Bloomberg has a very long article on the troubles plaguing Finland's Olkiluoto-3, "the first nuclear plant ordered in Western Europe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster." The plant has been delayed two years thanks to "flawed welds for the reactor's steel liner, unusable water-coolant pipes and suspect concrete in the foundation." It is also more than 25 percent over its 3 billion euro ($4 billion) budget. The article notes: If Finland's experience is any guide, the "nuclear renaissance" touted by the global atomic power industry as an economically viable alternative to coal and natural gas may not offer much progress from …

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Can't vs. shouldn't

It’s time to stop accepting the claim that we ‘can’t’ switch to renewable energy

This started as a response to Michael Tobis in this thread, but seemed worthy of moving to its own post. Photo: pcesarperez Michael said: "I started by defending sequestration on the grounds of the conventional wisdom that renewables do not seem adequate for the whole energy picture ..." This is a common refrain. You frequently hear people say that we "have to" continue using fossil fuels for the foreseeable future because we "can't" meet our energy needs with renewables. Naturally, if that's true, the debate is over. Can't is can't; impossible is impossible. Or is it? What's known as our …

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The coming carbon-sequestration era

Reporting from a coal hearing of the House Select Cmte. on Global Warming

If you dream of a near future in which coal mines are abandoned, coal workers are employed in emerging green energy fields, coal executives are feeding at the trough of welfare assistance (and not corporate welfare), and China and India are all too happy to buy our clean technologies at a healthy price ... well, then it's good you didn't attend this morning's hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Climate Change. I'll be posting a few entries here detailing the most significant ground Markey's hearing covered. But the nickel version is that, though everybody from the …

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Ted Stevens, climatologist

Alaskan senator invents new theory of global warming

Ted Stevens, the Republican senator whose vacation home was recently raided by the FBI, and who made over $800,000 from a shady real estate deal last year, has come up with a brand-new theory of global warming. He told a NBC reporter in Alaska: We're at the end of a long, long term of warming, 700 to 900 years of increased temperature, a very slow increase. We think we're close to the end of that. If we're close to the end of that, that means that we'll start getting cooler gradually, not very rapidly, but cooler once again and stability …

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CTL hearing report

My testimony to Congress on liquid coal

Here's the inside skinny on yesterday's liquid coal hearing before the House Science & Technology Committee. It was four on two (NRDC's David Hawkins and me vs. the other witnesses). You can read my testimony here and all the witness statements here -- not that I would recommend doing so unless you are a serious liquid-coal junkie like me. About 10 members of Congress were there at any given time -- about evenly split on how they view liquid coal. The ranking Republican on the full committee, Ralph Hall from the great state of Texas, interrogated me at length -- …

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Four cents a kilowatt-hour

The high price of electricity deregulation

In David Cay Johnston's NYT article "A New Push to Regulate Power Costs," he writes about the fact that many states are rolling back their deregulatory initiatives. The main reason, he says, is price. Ahh, price. That magic number at the nexus of supply and demand. The problem with price in electricity markets is that it is not determined by supply and demand, as in a free, deregulated market -- even in those states where there was, supposedly, deregulation. In fact, we've long argued that deregulatory initiatives, as they were designed and implemented, had nothing to do with what most …