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Oil to get scarce, new arrangements to be made

The latest from Kunstler

Jim Kunstler's heard the latest data on oil exports/imports, and he sees trouble a'comin': The implication in [the coming dropoff in oil imports] is that the activities that have become "normal" for us during the post World War Two era will very shortly become untenable. An economy based on suburban expansion and incessant motoring is on the top of the list of supposedly "normal" activities that will not be able to continue. ... This new information is consistent with my view that we had better prepare to make other arrangements for living in this country, by which I mean specifically …

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Bummer for Hummer

Reps to discuss dropping the tax break on massive SUVs

For the "wow, about time" files: the tax write-off for Hummers might be a thing of yesteryear, if one legislator gets his way. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) has introduced legislation to remove the $25,000-or-so tax break that people who drive massive SUVs and Hummers have been getting for years. The break was intended to help farmers, ranchers, and other people who might actually (possibly) have a concrete need for the beasts, but instead it's been helping planet-haters conspicuous consumers average business folks who just want to drive tanks around town. See, there used to be a tax break for businesspeople …

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The auction vs. free allocation debate reaches Capitol Hill

I’m sure whoever has the best argument will win, right?

There's an interesting piece today in CongressNow on the debate over auctioning vs. giving away credits in a cap-and-trade system. (CN requires a subscription, which you can get for the low, low price of $1500 or so. I'm on the 10-day evaluation thing, so enjoy these pieces while they come, 'cause there's no way Grist is coughing up that kind of dough.) The basic lay of the land is this: enviros, and other people concerned about making the system actually work to reduce greenhouse gases, favor auctioning the credits and using the revenue to support renewables and reduce the impact …

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Obama's attempt to [your metaphor here] on liquid coal

It ain’t working

The Washington Post has a piece about Obama's attempts to split the difference (thread the needle? straddle the fence?) on the subject of liquid coal. Y'all are probably sick of hearing me talk about this (watch for an op-ed soon!), so I'll outsource the making of the basic point to Brian Beutler and Brad Plumer, namely: this is a difference that cannot be split / needle that cannot be threaded / fence that cannot be straddled. Time to pick a side: coal industry or planet.

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Scientific hubris?

Climate change science questioned

In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, Emily Yoffe asks an interesting question: All this is not to say that it's not getting warmer and that curbing our profligate environmental ways is not a commendable and necessary goal. But perhaps this movement is sowing the seeds of its own destruction -- even as it believes the human species has sown its own. There must be a limit to how many calamitous films, books and television shows we, and our children, can absorb. It doesn't seem sustainable to expect people to remain terrified by such a disinterested, often benign -- it …

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Reframing the debate on low-carbon generators

Don’t call it a subsidy

David Roberts' recent post compelled some ideas that have been germinating for awhile, but are too long for just a comment on his post. Namely: we should stop talking about the need to subsidize green technologies, and instead frame the debate as a need to level the playing field. It is a strange feature of energy policy that it is easier to create subsidy than it is to remove one. Thus, whenever energy bills get drafted, they are layered with pork that include very little actual structural reform. Renewables get a subsidy here, nukes get insurance liability waivers there ... …

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Boulder and Wiser

IBM plans green data-center expansion in Colorado High-tech grandpappy IBM will undertake an $86 million expansion of a greenish data center in Boulder, Colo. The company will add 80,000 square feet to a 225,000-square-foot facility, using energy-efficient lighting and heating, efficient building design, and energy-conservation technologies in the data gear. It's all part of a cunning plan to double data-center capacity by 2010 without increasing energy usage or emissions. And that, in turn, is part of Project Big Green, an initiative the company unveiled in early May that will see it spend $1 billion a year to improve its and …

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Random observation of the day

I read a lot of arguments about coal in a carbon-constrained world, given my, um, obsession with it, and I frequently run across these two claims, sometimes in the very same article: There's so much coal, and renewables are so far from competitive, that it's not realistic to think we could live without it. Coal gasification is awesome, but it needs tons of subsidies. Coal liquefication is awesome, but it needs tons of subsidies. Carbon sequestration is awesome, but it needs tons of subsidies. We can't live without it, but it can't survive without subsidies. Weird.

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GOP analyst: Democrats now must compromise on global warming

Hold the applause on the administration’s

On a new blog called Terra Rossa -- "Where Conservatives Consider a New Energy Future" -- GOP consultant Whit Ayres argues that when President Bush at the G8 summit declared his willingness to "seriously consider" carbon emission reductions over the next forty years, he took a "major step" in the direction of his environmental critics. Says Ayres: I don't think anyone could argue that conservatives are not trying to compromise on the issue. While many conservative voters, politicians, and business leaders might prefer to take no action to limit carbon emissions, they have heard the call to action and are …

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The power of feedback

Getting rid of the remnants of the sell-more-power utility model

This is an important article on one of the best, simplest, and fastest ways to reduce home electric usage: make it visible.

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