Climate & Energy

Polluter appeasement

Should we question the patriotism of deniers?

Independence Day may be the best day to ask ourselves -- what is the greatest preventable threat to Americans' life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (LLPH). The answer is simple: human-caused global warming. Certainly there are other major threats to LLPH, the gravest of which is probably terrorists using weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapon, in this country. Between Homeland Security and the Pentagon, we spend billions of dollars every month to try to prevent terrorism. Indeed, President Bush and John McCain say Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. If so, the government spends more than $20 billion a month just to fight terrorism -- of which more than half is new money we weren't spending before 9/11 (and we spend more than $50 billion a month total on military and homeland security). Those who oppose such spending are routinely labeled unpatriotic or even appeasers. But unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions are by far the greatest preventable threat to Americans' LLPH. Yet the government spends virtually nothing to fight global warming -- certainly no significant amount of new money has been allocated for this major threat (the Clinton administration tried, but the Gingrich Congress reversed that effort, reducing or zeroing out every program aimed at climate mitigation or even adaptation). Indeed, most conservatives, including John McCain, oppose even continuing existing incentives for carbon-mitigating strategies like solar and wind power. Conservatives in Congress seem likely to strongly oppose any major effort at a legislative solution (see "Anti-science conservatives must be stopped"). Hmm. What should we call people who actively oppose efforts to save America from the horrors posed by the greatest threat to Americans' LLPH? Deniers? Delayers? Worse? The main reason I bring this up today is that conservative columnist Tony Blankley, Newt Gingrich's former press secretary, questioned the patriotism of environmentalists on the Diane Rehm show yesterday:

Chemical in flat-screen TVs is worsening climate change

If you didn’t feel guilty about your TV habits already, here’s a new reason: a chemical used in making flat-screen televisions has been found to …

Climate change imperils July Fourth (again)

Drought conditions in West and Southwest inspire new fireworks bans

Global warming threatens our White Chistmases with winter heatwaves. And our Halloweens with poor pumpkin crops. And our Arbor Days with record wildfires. And our immoral myopia threatens Father's Day. At this rate, the only holiday left will be the gas tax holiday -- for oil companies! But I digress. Last year, Independence Day fireworks fizzled out for many thanks to ever worsening droughts. And MSNBC reports the droughts have done it again this year: Authorities scared of setting off wildfires in drought conditions have imposed new bans on fireworks displays across a swath of the West and the Southwest.

The drill of the chase

RNC to drop $3 million on ads hitting Obama on energy

Roll Call reports ($ub. req’d): The Republican National Committee is launching $3 million in independent expenditure television ads in four states, focusing on the energy …

Milking sustainability

Sustainability goals for the U.S. dairy industry

Last week, we witnessed the dairy industry hold their first ever Sustainability Summit for U.S. Dairy. The week long conference culminated in the announcement of an industry-wide commitment and action plan to reduce milk's "carbon footprint" while simultaneously increasing business value (translation: profit) from farm to consumer. But how truly "green" are their efforts?

Sweetening the deal

Lugar calls for end to tariff on Brazilian sugarcane ethanol

Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) stopped by ($ub. req’d) the American Enterprise Institute yesterday to give a speech arguing that Congress should lift the 54-cents-a-gallon tariff …

Drilling offshore vs. fuel efficiency

Over at CEPR, Dean Baker makes a somewhat cutesy but still quite illustrative comparison: the barrels of oil per day we could get by 2027 …

Driver down

How to reduce California auto emissions faster than Pavley

Last update: 7/22/2008 In my last post I touted the benefits of a fully refunded emissions tax. Let's take a look at how it could work in California. When it comes to a refunded tax, more money for industry doesn't mean less money for consumers. Case in point: Today's gasoline prices in California are averaging $4.58/gal, which equates1 to $536/MT-CO2e. That's how much California drivers are currently paying to emit CO2 -- and how much they could save from fuel economy improvements. The same approach used by the Swedish program could be applied to motivate efficiency improvements in vehicles, consumer appliances, etc., by employing feebates, which can be implemented as a kind of refunded emission tax. The tax would be applied to projected lifecycle emissions (direct or upstream) and would be refunded in proportion to some measure of economic utility (e.g. refrigeration capacity, illumination output, etc.). The tax and refund together would incentivize lower emissions per unit of economic utility. Feebates could be used as an alternative to traditional performance standards, or could be used to effectively impose a price floor on a tradable standard.

The media is (almost) onto McCain's cynical doubletalk

‘Purpose,’ McCain’s new energy ad, features wind turbines he voted against

McCain has a new ad titled "Purpose": The AP critiqued it with a piece titled, "McCain energy ad short on specifics." Okay, mainstream media, half credit. The ad has a much bigger problem than lack of specifics -- McCain is trying to get a political boost by claiming he will champion popular clean energy technologies that he, like President Bush and most conservatives, has consistently opposed: