Climate & Energy

Realism, not rhetoric

Details on Bush’s anti-efficiency budget

Bush's phony rhetoric from the State of the Union: The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change, and the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more energy-efficient technology. His actual energy-efficiency budget, summarized by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute executive director, Carol Werner (my previous post on the budget is here):

Stimu-lie?

The green tax credits are good ideas, but not good stimulus ideas

So, maybe you've heard: the economy looks like it might be headed for the tank. You may have also noticed that there's an election this year. That means it must be time for a stimulus package on Capitol Hill. No one up there wants to head into reelection with rising unemployment, a rash of foreclosures, and falling incomes on their hands, without at least looking like they're doing something about it. So there's a rush on the Hill to get a "stimulus package" out the door to help boost the economy ASAP. Cynicism aside, I think this is a good thing. People are suffering, and if the government can do something about it, why shouldn't they? It sometimes seems like heresy these days, but I tend to think it's what we pay them to do. The problem is that some of the stimulus proposals floating around, including ones by our green friends (see Josh Dorner's post for example), are not very good stimulus policies. It's not that any of these ideas are bad. Most of them are downright good. Excellent, even. The problem is that almost none of them can be remotely classified as stimulus. Here's the problem, or at least one of them: Since World War II, the average recession has lasted just 11 months. Add the fact that it takes a fair bit of time (anywhere from 3 to 6 months) before we even recognize that we're in a recession. Add still more time to decide what to do about it, and more time on top of that for whatever we decide to do to actually have an effect, and you see the problem. Even for the quickest policy approach, we could be solidly 7 months into an 11 month recession before we can have any impact. There is a very short window for policy to stimulate the economy. If we don't act fast enough, the policy won't take effect soon enough to help anyone. If we're late enough, the policy ends up hitting the economy when it's on the upswing, and instead of smoothing out the business cycle, we end up contributing to it.

Wind-power technicians are in high demand

As the wind industry experiences a huge boom, trained technicians are in high demand. Wind techs must have smarts in mechanics, hydraulics, computers, and meteorology — and, of course, not be afraid of heights. The relatively new industry’s oldest independent training programs aren’t even five years old, and the industry is hustling to support training programs at community and technical colleges. “It’s a career that has a good future in it and it’ll help the environment because it doesn’t pollute,” says one Kansas wind-energy student. “I figured there’d be a lot of job opportunities when I graduated.” That seems highly …

Church of England urges carbon fast for Lent

Planning to give up alcohol or chocolate for 40 days when the season of Lent begins tomorrow? Two Church of England bishops are urging churchgoers to instead take part in a carbon fast.

Masdar

I know you can never bank on these things until they’re completed, but if this goes as planned it sure will be righteously cool: Groundbreaking is scheduled for Saturday for Masdar City, a nearly self-contained mini-municipality designed for up to 50,000 people rising from the desert next to Abu Dhabi’s international airport and intended as a hub for academic and corporate research on nonpolluting energy technologies. The 2.3-square-mile community, set behind walls to divert hot desert winds and airport noise, will be car free, according to the design by Foster + Partners, the London firm that has become a leading …

Way better than oil dependence

Conservatives love energy independence and nuclear power. In other news (sub rqd): Russia could earn more than $5 billion selling nuclear fuel to U.S. utilities over the next 10 years under an agreement it reached Friday with the Bush administration. The Commerce Department deal allows Russia to sell low-enriched uranium and other uranium products directly to utilities in increasing quantities starting in 2011. … … The additional fuel source will provide some relief for utilities as global demand for enriched uranium is expected to increase when dozens of new nuclear reactors come online over the next 10 years. The Nuclear …

Romney flip-flops, does not support California CO2 waiver

Remember how Mitt Romney joined with the other GOP presidential candidates in appearing to support California in its quest to gain a waiver from the U.S. EPA to allow it to regulate vehicle CO2 emissions? How Romney said, and we quote, “I side with states being able to make their own decisions, even if I don’t always agree with the decisions they make”? Well, the Mittster, a fervent Big Auto supporter, has flip-flopped clarified his position: he favors state regulations for some pollutants, but that list does not include carbon dioxide. “It makes more sense to have one set of …

Donkeys v. ponies

The latest on green tax breaks in the stimulus bill

I hope everyone saw Josh’s Saturday update on the green tax breaks that may or may not end up in the stimulus package. The L.A. Times has another update today. There are quite a few Dem heavyweights behind Baucus’ alternative stimulus bill, the one with green tax breaks, but its fate is unclear. The vote happens Wednesday. Two bits of the story are worth specifically calling out. First, this: … the proposed benefits for green energy mark another advance for an industry that is becoming one of the darlings of Democratic-controlled Capitol Hill. "It’s a unique moment in history for …

Bush: the uncompassionate, anti-technology president

Dubious 2009 energy budget released

On the heels of giving away the (decorative) centerpiece of his climate technology effort, NeverGen FutureGen, Bush released a heartless and mindless FY09 energy budget yesterday. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sent around an email on the President's Budget Request for FY2009 (I will post budget details later). Bingaman is "pleased to see overall growth in the DOE budget, particularly in the area of basic research," but critical of a number of dubious administration choices:

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