Climate & Energy

What is Gore's next step?

From fossil fuels to manufacturing for wind and solar energy

A couple of years ago, Al Gore made the case, in a film called An Inconvenient Truth, that we have a big problem called global warming. But the film was not effective at pointing to a solution. Humans evolved to consider a crisis as a challenge, as long as a solution is readily available. Otherwise, panic or resignation sets in. Now, Gore has moved a significant step further by arguing that all sources of electricity should be carbon-free -- in other words, all of our electricity should be generated using wind, solar, or geothermal power, instead of coal, natural gas, or oil. The next step should be to explain how we move to a fossil fuel-free electrical system. Gore continues to advocate a revenue-neutral carbon tax, but it feels like he's searching for something else, something that would be part of the effort to clean up the energy system. He might consider the idea that rebuilding the manufacturing economy by building solar and wind equipment would not only lead to a carbon-free system, but also would revive the national economy and the middle class.

No icebergs required

Smart economic development policy for the 21st century

The following is an elaborated version of the brief talk I gave at my Netroots Nation panel. The U.S. economy is in serious trouble, mired …

Trees win in California solar panels vs. redwoods dispute

Trees have emerged victorious in a California dispute that pitted redwoods against solar panels. Six months ago, Silicon Valley residents Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett …

Bush admin proposes low royalty rates in push for U.S. oil-shale development

The Bush administration proposed rules [PDF] for U.S. oil shale development Tuesday that include charging lower royalty rates for oil-shale production on public lands than …

Lime for a change

Could lime absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide?

If this pans out, this is a huge idea -- and potentially a reprieve from climate disaster:

Shale Mary

It’s a 1980 flashback, as energy price spikes make oil shale economical once again

The Bush administration’s latest push to force dirty energy extraction down the throats of Americans living in western states has some historical pedigree. Extracting oil …

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 …