By a vote of 236-182, the House of Representatives has approved legislation that would boost renewable-energy tax incentives by repealing $18 billion in tax breaks currently enjoyed by oil and gas companies. Take a moment to enjoy that small victory, because the bill faces steep odds in the Senate, and President Bush has promised to veto it.
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is once again leading Friends of the Earth’s Big Ask Campaign. (Hey, he likes Big Ask and he cannot lie.) The campaign calls on 17 countries and the European Union to sign on to legally binding, yearly greenhouse-gas emissions targets. More specifically, FoE is asking the E.U. to adopt a target of at least 30 percent reductions by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050. And to stop making "big ass" jokes.
More than a year ago, I wrote about Stephane Dion's election as Liberal leader, and was guardedly optimistic about what it meant for Canadian environmentalists. Let's just say that the last year has been pretty disappointing. The latest came yesterday, after the Conservative government announced a budget that shovelled hundreds of millions of dollars toward fossil fuels and nuclear power. Dion has said his party will support the budget and not trigger an election. How bad is this budget? Well, probably the best indication is normally mild-mannered Tyler Hamilton's reaction: New subsidies for the coal, oil and nuclear industries and new handouts to major automakers. No mention of climate change. No extension of incentives for renewables. The cancelling of incentives for buying energy efficient vehicles. Dismissal, once again, of a carbon tax. I think I'm going to throw up. We're screwed.
The House just passed the tax package that was voted down late last year as part of the energy bill. It contains tax incentives for renewables, paid for by removing some of the Big Oil subsidies from the 2005 Energy Bill. It also closes a fuel efficiency loophole for SUVs. More later.
Daylight-saving time was enacted as an energy-saving measure, but when time springs forward on March 9, people may actually use more energy, says a new study. When all of Indiana began to participate in daylight-saving time — before 2006, only 15 of the state’s 92 counties would spring forward and fall back — researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara started tracking Hoosiers’ energy bills. The result: Indiana households paid an extra $8.6 million annually for electricity after the switch, likely due to increased air-conditioner use. Critics say that Indiana’s situation might not apply nationwide. Besides, says Rep. Ed Markey …
Wow! Now that the caucuses are safely behind us, an Iowa paper notices that "ethanol" is how corporations and troglodyte utilities pronounce "laundered coal," AKA, The Enemy of the Human Race. Specifically, 300 tons a day, per plant. Here's an Orwell-Award winning statement for you: Officials with Alliant Energy, which has proposed a new coal-fired plant in Marshalltown, told the Iowa Utilities Board recently that if Iowans want renewable energy, they will need more electricity from coal plants. Apparently if you don't want coal you need to use more of it. QED.
Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby, in an absurdly titled column, "Obama's Missing Ideas," proves once again that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Obama's ideas about climate solutions are probably the very last place one can find something missing. Obama has a terrific climate plan, full of winning ideas, as I have blogged many times. Yet Mallaby claims that "good ideas are actually quite scarce. Just take a look at climate change." Mallaby's "case" is based on two climate ideas many people have always thought were lame (which he never actually bothers to link to Obama), one climate problem that is pretty straightforward to solve, and one idea Mallaby thinks is new that is in fact quite old, is not really a climate idea, and as such has limited climate benefits. First he says, "A couple of years back, ethanol was touted as a good answer to global warming." Uh, no. Corn ethanol, which is what he attacks, was not considered a "good answer to global warming" by any energy or climate expert I have ever met. To the extent climate advocates even tolerated the fuel, it was strictly as a bridge to cellulosic ethanol. To the extent that corn ethanol was supported on policy grounds by politicians [as opposed to support for the farmers or a desire not to offend Iowans], it is primarily from people who are concerned about our dependence on imported oil, not global warming. Does Mallaby even know that Obama supports "a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard," which would block any fuel that increases greenhouse-gas emissions -- or that he supports accelerating the development of cellulosic (i.e., low-carbon) ethanol? These are good ideas. Next Mallaby complains about "carbon trading with developing countries":
The tiny village of Kivalina, built on a barrier reef in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against 24 oil, coal, and power companies, alleging that Big Fossil Fuel’s greenhouse-gas emissions are contributing to the climate-change-caused coastal erosion that threatens the village’s very existence. Kivalina says that the companies should pay for its relocation. The lawsuit also accuses eight of the companies of conspiracy to “create a false scientific debate” and “mislead the public about the science of global warming.”
The National Governors Association has linked up with “a team of Wal-Mart energy experts” to “green the capitols.” That’s fantastic — and I’m sure it will draw well-deserved huzzahs in certain green circles. (It’s touching to see Wal-Mart giving back some of what it has been siphoning off in state taxes!) But read a little deeper into the press release, and you see what the National Governors Association means by “green.” Turns out that when it comes to energy, the govs love some pretty dubious stuff. I’ll let Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell take it from here: [I]t’s clear that charting …