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Climate & Energy

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Pricing carbon

Give away rights or sell them?

Joseph Romm in his post on Dingell's carbon tax proposal says: Politically, you can't raise carbon prices high enough to raise gasoline prices since even $1 a gallon -- probably the minimum to significantly change fuel economy if Europe is any evidence -- would require a carbon charge of $400 per tonne of carbon -- which would be very harsh to coal, adding more than 10 cents per kilowatt-hour to coal electricity, and politically impossible (I'll post more on this later). Also, the reason cap-and-trade has not worked well in Europe is that the Europeans didn't have a lot of …

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More from YearlyKos foreign policy panel

Hey, look, somebody asked a question about energy in the foreign policy panel! Beinart says this issue has undergone a sea change -- everyone's talking about it. Clemons says the global oil situation is heading in a grim direction. On domestic renewables: "There's a corrupt game going on between those like James Woolsey who just want energy independence and will fund any scam (i.e. corn ethanol) that claims to address it, and those who also want to solve global warming. This is the next big bubble. There's a gross and corrupt game going on." Word to that. Wish he had …

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Scurry Up and Wait

With August recess looming, Congress pushes energy, climate, water bills Know how, when you're about to go on vacation, you suddenly realize you have a ton of work to do, so you scramble to finish it all, and you do kind of a half-assed job, but you promise yourself you'll deal with the loose ends when you get back? Hellooooo, Congress. With the four-week August recess starting Monday, the House and Senate have been getting bizzy. The House is debating its version of the energy bill today; to move things along, House leaders skirted a discussion over fuel economy, but …

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An interview with Chris Dodd about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Chris Dodd dropped out of the presidential race on Jan. 3, 2008. Chris Dodd. Photo: Michael Millhollin via flickr Chris Dodd hasn't been out front on environmental issues during his 32 years in Congress, but he's clearly aiming to out-green his competitors in the 2008 presidential campaign. He has earned props in enviro circles for being the only candidate with the political cojones to call for a corporate carbon tax as a way to fight global warming, and for endorsing a strict …

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Dems do in fact wimp out on CAFE for now

Sadly

E&E Daily (subs. req'd) confirms earlier press reports: Markey [D-MA] said in a statement yesterday that he decided to pull his amendment after consulting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), even though he believed he had the votes to move the legislation. While Pelosi personally favored a CAFE standard of 35 miles per gallon, industry lobbyists said she did not whip votes on the legislation and it appeared Markey was not assured of the votes needed to pass the bill. Sad, really. This is a centerpiece of any energy or climate legislation -- and much of the heavy lifting had …

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Of cars and carbon

How the Prius stacks up against other cars

Sure, everybody knows that what you drive affects how much you warm the climate. But after the jump: a chart that proves the point. Just to be clear: this includes only the emissions from the highway fuel itself. It doesn't include upstream emissions from drilling for oil and refining it into gasoline or diesel. And it doesn't include emissions from vehicle manufacturing. In other words, these are conservative figures -- so use them with caution. This is all fairly obvious stuff -- I mean, at this point, doesn't everyone understand that a Hummer pollutes more than a Prius? Still, I …

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Q: What's corn ethanol's footprint?

A: The cropland area of several states

According to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), U.S. farmers planted 92.9 million acres of corn in 2007, exceeding last year's corn area by 19 percent and surpassing the USDA's earlier projection (in March) by 3 percent. To put that number into perspective, it is equal to the total arable (cropland) area of four of the nation's leading farm states: Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota and Oklahoma. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) forecasts that some 2.18 billion bushels of that corn will be converted to ethanol this year. At an average …

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It's time for a national renewable portfolio standard

The energy policy that kicks ass and gets too little support

As this story in the WaPo makes clear, one of the more controversial measures in the House energy bill is a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which would require that utilities produce 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Legislators in Southern states -- where, it is conventionally thought, there is little renewable power available -- oppose it. They're afraid their constituents will be stuck with higher energy prices. They are wrong. A national RPS would benefit energy consumers in all states. Furthermore, it is one of the most effective and important measures in shifting from fossil …

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Congress debates whether 'clean coal' is awesome or supercool

Oy

Witness as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee discusses clean coal: how awesome is it? Should we give it a gazillion dollars, or alternatively, a fajillion? Tough questions! Note: 9:32 [Carl] Bauer [director, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Energy Department] Given current technology and coal consumption, the US has about 250 years of coal use. Um, no. Not according to NAS: It is clear that there is enough coal at current rates of production to meet anticipated needs through 2030, and probably enough for 100 years, the committee said. However, it is not possible to confirm the often-quoted assertion that …

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Economist stuff

Two short articles of interest in The Economist. One describes the nascent attempts to conceive and build a network of high-voltage DC power lines across Europe, which would enable wind and solar to play the role of baseload power. The other is about compressed-air storage. This is nifty, but confusing: Meanwhile, General Compression, a small firm based in Attleboro, Massachusetts, is taking another approach. Its windmill compresses air directly. This has the advantage of eliminating two wasteful steps: the conversion of the mechanical power of a windmill into electricity and its subsequent reconversion into mechanical power in a compressor. But …

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