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Boxer Sticks It to Johnson

Senate hearing probes EPA chief's delay on tailpipe decision Can U.S. states enact stricter tailpipe regulations than the feds? That question has been hovering in the air since California requested a waiver from the U.S. EPA in late 2005. Why no answer yet? At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing yesterday, EPA head Stephen Johnson said the delay is due to a "rigorous analysis" of 60,000 public comments. But committee chair Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said some 53,000 of the comments were a mass mailing supporting the waiver, and Johnson's position is weak. "When history is written, I …

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Crappiness

Navajo nation at odds over coal-plant plan Members of the Navajo nation are at odds over a plan to build a $3 billion, 1,500-megawatt coal-fired power plant on reservation land in New Mexico. Tribal leaders say the plant -- whose juice would go to Las Vegas and Phoenix -- will generate $50 million in much-needed annual revenue and create 400 permanent jobs. But worried opponents, both within and outside the Navajo nation, say the project will pose health risks to those who live nearby, while adding to global warming. The reservation is already home to one coal-fired plant that, along …

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Carbon sinks threatened by increasing ozone

More great news from the climate

Nature has published another landmark study showing how the complex interplay of human-generated pollution with natural systems worsens climate change. Their news article (subs. req'd) explains: Rising levels of ozone pollution over the coming century will erode the ability of plants to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, a new climate-modelling study predicts. Ozone is already known to be a minor greenhouse gas, but the new calculations highlight another, indirect way in which it is likely to influence global warming by 2100. High levels can poison plants and reduce their ability to photosynthesize, says Stephen Sitch of the UK Met …

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A conversation with energy guru Amory Lovins

If politicians think in sound bites and intellectuals think in sentences, Amory Lovins thinks in white papers. His speech is studded with pregnant pauses -- you can almost hear the whirs and clicks as an enormous mass of statistics, analyses, and aphorisms is trimmed and edited into a manageable length. I've talked to experts who struggle to substantiate their answers. Lovins struggles to leave things out. Amory Lovins. Photo: © Judy Hill No one has done more to change the world of energy, both its intellectual underpinnings and its real-world practice, than Lovins. Beginning with a seminal Foreign Affairs article …

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Hansen on 'trains of death'

Yeah, coal again

Still more from James Hansen's email: Ed Wilson explains that the 21st century is a "bottleneck" for species, because of extreme stresses they will experience, most of all from climate change. He foresees a potentially brighter future beyond the fossil fuel era, beyond the peak human population will occur if developing countries follow the path of the developed world to lower fertility rates. Air and water can be clean and we will learn to live with other species in a sustainable way, using renewable energy. The question he asks is how many species will survive the tremendous pressure of the …

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Plug-in hybrids rule; PHEV Hypercars rule even more

Let’s go all the way

When David pointed out that plug-in electric hybrids (PHEVs) can reduce carbon emissions in all possible futures, two main arguments were raised in opposition -- practicality, and the possibility that they will provide too low a reduction, while blocking the path to something better. The way commercial plug-ins look to be implemented within the next five years is that normal hybrids will be built with large batteries and the ability to plug into a socket in your dedicated parking space. They will travel the first twenty miles or so on electricity and then turn on their gasoline engine around the …

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Why does Robert Samuelson hate America?

He thinks we’re too shallow to beat global warming

For the most part, the jackassery of Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson is background noise for me, easy enough to ignore. But when he writes about global warming, I can't help but pay attention, despite the dyspepsia that inevitably ensues. Samuelson has one of his characteristically cranky, daft columns up, making an argument that Matt aptly summarizes as, "since the best measures to stop global warming are politically unpopular, it's obvious that environmentalists are all frauds and we shouldn't do anything to stop global warming." Here are three particularly irksome features of Samuelson's writing on this issue (features that are …

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GE's climate credit card

Mock, yes, but then take a closer look

How about that GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard? Hard not to make fun of it, right? So hard, in fact, that Daily Grist failed. To not make fun of it. That is to say, they made fun of it. And by "they" I mean "we." Moving on. Beyond the mockery, there's actually a reasonably interesting story here, and less of a Paradigmatic Example of Our Greedy, Rotten Culture than you might think. Joel Makower, as usual, has the goods. This is particularly relevant: The launch of the card is accompanied by the release of a standard for carbon credits …

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Fatally flawed attack on renewables by Jesse Ausubel

Forthwith debunked

Every silver lining has a cloud -- or so we are told. Climate analyst Jesse Ausubel is getting a lot of press with his new, controversial, deeply flawed study, "Renewable and nuclear heresies" (available here with subscription, but you can get the main points from this 2005 Canadian Nuclear Association talk and the accompanying PPT presentation). He says ramping up renewables would lead to the "rape of nature." His study concludes: Renewables are not green. To reach the scale at which they would contribute importantly to meeting global energy demand, renewable sources of energy, such as wind, water and biomass, …

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Economic effect of cap-and-trade: A wager

Will you take it?

So, Reuters took a look at the EPA's economic analysis of the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act (so I didn't have to!). In case your memory is hazy, the CSA is a cap-and-trade bill that would cut emissions 65% by 2050. Here's the nut: The EPA found that the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007 would shave up to 1.6 percent, or $419 billion, off a baseline forecast for U.S. gross domestic product in 2030 and up to 3.2 percent, or $1.332 trillion, by 2050. That is, by any reasonable measure, a modest price to pay. Even so, I bet …