Climate & Energy

Notable quotable

“Conservation is great, but conservation does not equal growth. To sit out there and say people need to buy less and less heating oil, okay. Buy natural gas furnace, or any number of things, but if this country has always been about: ‘You need heating oil? It’s going to be there. You need gasoline? It’s going to be there.’ The burden is not on you to conserve so that it’s always there!” – radio host Rush Limbaugh (h/t: Sir Oolius)

Can we tax for transit?

New transportation proposals to ease energy dependence

This is one of those weeks when it feels like things are changing fast. Here are two stories that caught my attention: A panel organized by Congress -- the melodically-named National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission -- just called for higher federal gas taxes. In fact, they recommend a 40-cent-per-gallon hike. It sounds like the tax would go mainly to repair and maintain current road infrastructure rather than road expansion. The panel also recommended a bevy of other fees, including tolling, congestion pricing, weight fees, and so on. And they recommended big investments in transit and other alternatives too. (Via Erica at Slog.) Meanwhile, British Columbia continues to lead. Not only is the province considering a carbon tax, but the provincial government just released a $14 billion transit plan. That's $14 billion just for transit. In fairness, however, not everyone in B.C. is thrilled by the proposal. As Andrew points out on the Livable Region blog, the transit projects may be delayed until after some major road-building work is completed.

Coal is the enemy of the human race: Edwards in the debate edition

Edwards puts the coal issue into the Dem debate

Below the fold, I’ve put the entire portion of the transcript from last night’s Dem debate that deals with climate and energy. It is to the candidates’ credit that they took a narrow, stupid question about Yucca Mountain and managed to expand it into a discussion of energy. JMG scolded me for not giving kudos to John Edwards for bringing up the fact that coal is the enemy of the human race. And rightly so: he deserves kudos. This is what he said: I believe we need a moratorium on the building of any more coal-fired power plants unless and …

Leading Dem candidates talk nuclear power at Nevada debate

The three leading Democratic presidential candidates came together in Nevada last night for yet another debate. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama all wooed Nevada voters by voicing opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste repository, with Edwards taking his opposition a step further and coming out against all new nuclear construction. The highest drama came before the debate: candidate Dennis Kucinich had been invited to participate, but the invitation was withdrawn after his poor showing in New Hampshire and Iowa. Kucinich sued, a judge found in his favor, and the case was appealed to the state Supreme Court — …

Spectacularly ignorant claim of the day

Nukes don’t replace oil

Over at the New Republic‘s blog, Adam Blinick writes: As it stands, nuclear power is the only environmentally friendly, economic, and efficient source of energy that can help the U.S. wean itself off foreign oil. For the record: Oil is primarily a transportation fuel. Nuclear power, in contrast, is a source of electricity. Ergo, nuclear power will do absolutely nothing to "help the U.S. wean itself off foreign oil" (unless we miraculously electrify our entire transportation and freight system in the next 20 years). In fact, nothing could help the U.S. wean itself off "foreign" oil. Oil is a fungible …

Notable quotable

"I really think the more I look at this whole cellulosic issue, there is a lot bigger problem to overcome here than people realize in terms of the feedstocks. We have a lot of work to do in that regard. I’m not sure cellulosic ethanol will ever get off the ground." – Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee

Soliciting the House of Saud

Bush and big U.S. banks beg for help from the oil barons

Bush has been doing some fast talking in the court of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, imploring His Majesty to boost oil production to so that gas prices for U.S. consumers can come down in time for the fall election. As part of his charm offensive, Bush has promised to bolster the dictatorship’s arsenal with “900 sophisticated satellite-guided missiles.” He also rattled his tattered saber against Iran, Saudi Arabia’s archenemy. While Bush and the King talk bombs, oil, and war amid the bling of the royal family’s “lush horse farm,” bankers over on Wall Street are squirming to get their paws …

White House talks up its Hawaii climate-change meeting

The White House has released a statement regarding its very own climate-change meeting for the world’s biggest economies, to be held Jan. 30-31 in Hawaii. “The two-day meeting will further the shared objectives of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, increasing energy security and efficiency, and sustaining economic growth, and will help to advance the negotiations under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change,” the White House Council on Environmental Quality announced, fooling no one. Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and the United Nations are invited to send …

Umbra on nuclear vs. coal

Dear Umbra, I work for a certain large environmental organization, and I have often had to deal with the issue of nuclear and coal-fired power plants. If ever asked which is better, we are officially supposed to say “neither.” But I think a response like that doesn’t always work for the real world, so I’d like to ask you, oh answerer of environmental questions, which type of power plant do you think is best (or, least worst) for the environment, nuclear or coal? And your answer can’t be neither! MF San Francisco, Calif. Dearest MF, You are evil. I publish …