Climate & Energy

Big Stone II sinking fast

Administrative law judges give controversial coal plant thumbs down — final decision up to PUC

One of the most controversial coal plant proposals in the country just took yet another big hit. Minnesota's two administrative law judges on the hearings for the Big Stone II plant in South Dakota, Steve Mihalchick and Barbara Neilson, recommended today that the state Public Utilities Commission deny a certificate of need for the plant's transmission lines in western Minnesota. If adopted by the PUC, the ruling will kill the highly controversial project. According to the ALJs' recommendation [PDF], the sponsors of the plant "have failed to demonstrate that their demand for electricity cannot be met more cost effectively through energy conservation and load-management measures ..." In September 2007, two of the co-sponsors of Big Stone II, representing about 27 percent of the plant's capacity, pulled out of the project. The withdrawal rocked the project, but the remaining sponsors announced plans to redesign it and continue seeking permits. Today's ALJ recommendation, which has been closely watched by the broad multi-state coalition that had gathered against the plant, is not curtains for Big Stone II -- but we may be in the final act. The demise of the plant promises to unlock the huge wind potential of the Upper Midwest region, which to date has scarcely been tapped.

The $3 trillion shopping spree

How are you going to spend your $3 trillion? I just put this in my cart.

Colbert on gas prices and oil profits

(thanks LL!)

Break up with your utility company ... or get dumped

Millions of Americans may not be able to afford heat or power this year

So, I spent almost $2,000 today ... to fill up our oil tank. We heat primarily with wood, but we use oil as a backup system to keep the pipes from freezing and occasionally on days when we're going to be out for an extended period. Our hot water is also heated with oil. For whatever reason, most oil heat in the U.S. is in the Northeast, mostly in towns beyond gas lines like mine. I suspect today's purchase may well be the last tank of heating oil we ever buy. Unfortunately, that's not true for most Americans.

Polar-bear listing would hurt the poor, says industry

If the U.S. Interior Department decides that polar bears are endangered, litigation will be immediate from a group arguing that bear protection will “result in higher energy prices across the board, which will disproportionately be …

Timothy LaSalle of Rodale on the surprising climate benefits of organic farming

Organic methods: good for carrots and for the climate. The Rodale Institute, founded by organic farming visionary J.I. Rodale, is one of the nation’s leading organic-farming research and advocacy organizations. Today, Rodale sits on a …

Gearing up for an eco-week

McCain kicks off series of environmental events with address in N.J.

John McCain gave a campaign speech in New Jersey today in which he touched on environmental issues and talked up his record in that area. “There is no doubt our environment is globally challenged,” McCain …

Coal is the enemy of the human race: Criminal negligence edition

Mining accidents and deaths cause a flurry of press coverage and then fade into our collective memory. But for a moment, let’s think back to those horrific weeks last year as we waited to find …

Life after coal

We can’t wait for new nukes, so what do we do now?

Suppose the leaders of this country were wise enough to put a moratorium on traditional coal (the most urgent climate policy needed, as discussed here)? How will we meet our steadily growing demand for carbon-free power over the next decade? And to get on the 450 ppm path, we don't just need to stop U.S. emissions from rising -- we should return to 1990 levels (or lower) by 2020. Nuclear Nuclear is an obvious possibility, beloved of conservative Francophiles like McCain and Gingrich, but energy realists understand that it is very unlikely new nuclear plants could deliver many kilowatt-hours of electricity by 2018, let alone affordable kwh. Indeed, back in August, Tulsa World reported: American Electric Power Co. isn't planning to build any new nuclear power plants because delays will push operational starts to 2020, CEO Michael Morris said Tuesday ...Builders would also have to queue for certain parts and face "realistic" costs of about $4,000 a kilowatt, he said ..."I'm not convinced we'll see a new nuclear station before probably the 2020 timeline," Morris said. And that in spite of the amazing subsidies and huge loan guarantees for nuclear power in the 2005 energy bill (see here).