Climate & Energy

Friday night fights

Senate turns back sneak attack from climate action opponents

Opponents of climate action launched a surprise assault last Friday night. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) led an attempt to add an amendment to the budget bill that Congress should hold off on enacting cap-and-trade legislation until China and India take more action. You'd expect Climate Security Act co-sponsors like Virginia's John Warner, Minnesota's Norm Coleman, Maine's Susan Collins, and North Carolina's Elizabeth Dole to oppose the amendment. But then another surprise -- South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, New Hampshire's Judd Gregg, Florida's Mel Martinez, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, Kansas' Pat Roberts, Oregon's Gordon Smith, Maine's Olympia Snowe, Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter, and New Hampshire's John Sununu also voted against it. In all, 61 senators voted to kill Sen. DeMint's amendment, with 12 Republicans joining nearly every present Democrat and independent (West Virginia's Sen. Robert Byrd voted for it). Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) then led a counterattack.

We Get It -- the joke, that is

Corporate evangelical leaders cloak opposition to climate policy behind concern for poor

Those of you following Grist’s news feed (if you’re not, you should) are aware that last week a group of conservative evangelicals launched the "We …

Let it blow

Wind power: a core climate solution

Wind power is a key climate solution. It is one of the few zero-carbon supply options that can plausibly provide more than one of the 14 or so "wedges" we need to stabilize below 450 ppm of CO2 (see "Is 450 ppm politically possible? Part 2: The Solution"). I plan to go through all of the major solutions this year. The stunning new Bush administration report, 20% Wind Energy by 2030 (discussed here), convinced me it was time to write a long piece, which has just been published in Salon. The article -- "Winds of change: The U.S. can greatly boost clean wind power for 2 cents a day. Now all we need is a president who won't blow the chance" -- explains the more than 2,000-year history of wind power, how conservatives cost America the chance to be the world wind leader, and why the global industry is so successful in spite of our government's relative apathy:

Oil Futures

What we don’t know (but think we do) about oil prices might hurt us

Predicting the future is hard. It's so difficult that even teams of analysts using fancy models get results like this: This isn't back-of-the-envelope stuff. This is the U.S. Energy Information Administration's official prediction for oil prices, circa 2007. According to the "high price" scenario, oil may reach $100 per barrel some time around 2030. But wait: oil was at $127 last week. So, not only was the EIA projection wrong -- it was wildly and completely wrong. Okay, everyone makes mistakes, even energy analysts. In 2008, the EIA cleaned up its act and produced this forecast:

Daily Show on green McCain

A man on emission:

Carly Fiorina on McCain

RNC ‘Victory Chair’ talks about McCain’s climate agenda

Grist recently caught a few minutes with Carly Fiorina, the “Victory Chair” of the Republican National Committee. (Quite the title, eh? Apparently it means she’s …

Driven to abstraction

The climate crisis cannot be solved without cost-benefit analysis

Lisa Heinzerling, a Georgetown law professor, has written an essay arguing against the embrace of cost-benefit analysis by environmentalists. She suggests that environmentalists enjoy nature …

Note to media/Bush

Saudis/OPEC don’t control the price of oil any more

With Bush going to Saudi Arabia to beg -- again -- for lower prices, the media is gaga over a confrontation that has about as much significance as a Rocky Balboa fight. Even the venerable NYT just published an article, "Bush Rebuffed on Oil Plea in Saudi Arabia," that opens, "With the price of oil hitting record highs, President Bush used a private visit with King Abdullah to make a second attempt to persuade the Saudis to increase oil production and was rejected yet again." Unlike the 1970s and 1980s and even much of the 1990s, neither OPEC nor the Saudis any longer control the price of oil. If any country had a million barrels a day of (sellable) spare oil capacity, they could make more than $100 million a day selling it, even if that much new oil dropped prices 20%, which it probably wouldn't. Who would sit on that kind of money? Yes, the Saudis are selling over 8 million barrels a day, so they don't really need the money. But if they have any significant excess capacity, it is sour or high-sulfur crude (see the other experts on the full CNBC interview here). Such crude is not currently in demand: "Many refineries are not set up to process such crude because it is more difficult and expensive to refine into products."

Nitrogen bomb

‘Science': nitrogen as important as carbon in climate change

Speaking of the troubles associated with industrial agriculture and its fertilizer regime, check this out: The public does not yet know much about nitrogen, but …