Climate & Energy

Umbra on driving versus flying

Dear Umbra, My husband asked me this one the other day and I didn’t know the answer, so I thought I’d ask an expert. Which …

Top Dems in Congress open to possible compromise deal on offshore drilling

Some key Democrats in Congress have said they’re willing to work out a compromise deal to open some offshore areas in U.S. waters to oil …

Notable quotable

Oil in the ocean: light as a feather!

“These [oil] firms have learned a lot over the past two decades and three decades about their ability to go out and put a platform …

Memo to T. Boone Pickens

His energy plan is half brilliant, half dumb

The Phone Call based on a true story Major cable network: What do you think of T. Boone Pickens' latest energy plan? Me: Half of it is great -- the big push on wind power. Heck, even the Bush administration says wind power could be 20 percent of U.S. electricity. But the notion that we would use the wind power to free up natural gas in order to fuel a transition to natural gas vehicles makes no sense. Why would we go to the trouble of switching our vehicle fleet from running on one expensive fossil fuel to another expensive fossil fuel? Any freed up natural gas should be used to displace coal ... Major cable network: I was hoping you liked the whole plan. That way we could use you on the show ... You don't have any ideas of who might like the whole thing?

Cheney reaction

Ex-EPA official details White House interference on climate action

In a letter [PDF] made public today, former deputy EPA administrator Jason Burnett indicates that both the Office of the Vice President and the Council …

Energy ad wars begin

New Obama ad knocks McCain’s energy policy

Barack Obama’s campaign has released a new ad to counter those from the Republican National Committee criticizing his energy plan. Obama’s ad, called “New Energy,” …

E.U. committee vote signals backstep from biofuels

The European Union took another step back from biofuels late Monday, as the Parliament’s environment committee approved 36-0 a proposal to lower the E.U.’s original …

Summit of its parts

Bush administration, other G8 leaders agree to halve emissions by 2050

Today at the G8 summit, which began yesterday in Hokkaido, Japan, world leaders reached a landmark deal: agreeing to cut emissions in half by 2050. …

RNC: 'balance' = a climate in crisis; Senate GOP: 'balance' = climate-destroying shale

Republican leaders advocate domestic shale development

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less." The Republican National Committee just launched an ad called, "Balance" claiming we have "a climate in crisis." Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced the Climate Destruction Gas Price Reduction Act of 2008 late last month that would repeal the congressional moratorium on shale development. In a press release today titled, "A Balanced Approach to Reducing Gas Prices for Americans," he claimed that, "Our western states are sitting on a sea of oil three times as large as the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia." Actually, the shale ain't a sea of anything. It is a clay-like rock, organic marlstone, containing very little energy [PDF] -- per pound, it has one-tenth the energy of crude oil, one-fourth that of recycled phone books, one-third that of Cap'n Crunch. Turning it into a usable liquid fuel would require a massive amounts of energy and probably release more carbon dioxide than even liquid coal. The best analysis of the climate risks of unconventional oil, "Risks of the oil transition," coauthored by the late Alex Farrell, has an outstanding figure that shows that from a climate perspective, shale is probably worse than liquid coal (which is pretty damn bad):