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… before nature does it for us

Following a recent study forecasting permanent drought in the southwest U.S. in coming decades comes this news in today's Salt Lake Tribune. It's a proposal being floated to pipe some of the already dwindling Lake Powell reservoir (currently just half full) in a new direction, to three thirsty counties in southern Utah. Living Rivers' End Lake Powell Campaign says that draining Powell would actually add water to the Colorado River system, given the evaporative losses the lake suffers every day, but federal and state agencies are so far blunt to good logic, which is a shame, when restoring natural flows …

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This is what we’ve come to

This article is just plain bizarre -- a great illustration of how skewed and narrow the mainstream energy dialogue has become. It's allegedly about the new "war on oil" in the U.S. (Oh good, another war.) Apparently, though, that war consists of firing away wildly with exactly one weapon: ethanol. Here's the frame the author tries to put around the piece: [Rep. Steve] Israel [D-NY] worries the government could further derail alternative energy's progress by not allowing the marketplace to determine which technologies will come to the forefront and instead picking its own favorites to promote and fund. It is …

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Only the little people fly scheduled airlines

In response to this story, about how the airport tax paid by proles being herded onto commercial boxcars is spent to make life even cushier for the big guys flying Lear jets, someone defended the poor abused jet setters thus: It is worth pointing out that those "Learjets" burn bunches of fuel and pay the corresponding fuel taxes, so they aren't getting a totally free ride. Figure 200 gallons an hour as a usable figure (jet pilots figure burn in pounds, with taxes of $.50 a gallon or so (I don't have the actual figures), and they are paying $100 …

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What’s Produced Here Stays Here

Air Force, Nevada go all crazy with the solar energy The largest solar photovoltaic plant in North America is coming soon to an Air Force base near you -- if you live in Nevada. Nellis Air Force Base will install 140 acres of solar panels, powering 30 percent of its electricity needs and reducing electric bills by some $1 million a year. "It allows the Air Force to show its leadership in applying renewable energy and new technology to reduce our needs to use traditional forms of electric power," says Maj. Don Ohlemacher. And Nevada's got more up its solar …

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And cellulosic might too — plus it’s still a decade off

Yes, this is another bitter polemic against ethanol, but I want to make one point up front, because I sometimes forget to: The only concrete alternative energy/climate policy that our political class can agree on -- a plan that unites Democrats and Republicans to commit some $5 billion per year and rising -- is a clear and obvious boondoggle: a cash sieve that has done and will do much more harm than good. This is our main public intervention into the energy markets on behalf of "alternative fuel"? The opportunity costs alone are staggering. Say what you want about Amtrak, …

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Yahoo!

Yahoo! is going carbon neutral, and the founders seem to have a pretty sensible take on the issue. Also, they have an Earth Day site, FWIW.

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Indirect greenhouse-gas savings

(Part of the No Sweat Solutions series.) Previously I pointed out that efficiency, doing more with less, is a key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (A lot of people on Gristmill are fans of conservation, doing less with less. I have nothing against this, so long as it is a voluntary choice, but I won't be spending a lot of time on it.) Normally, when people think of efficiency they think of direct savings -- insulating homes, electric cars, and so on. That is: make the same sort of goods we make now, but more cleverly, so they require fewer …

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Music to the ears of us corn hataz

From the WSJ energy blog: Is the anti-ethanol crusade beginning to gather steam among mainstream Western publications? Two weeks after The Economist confessed, in a stunned-sounding editorial that it found itself in agreement with Fidel Castro's vehement critique of foods-as-fuels, Foreign Affairs magazine has also jumped on board. In the magazine's May edition, two professors from the University of Minnesota write that, like Castro and The Economist, they believe the growing use of biofuels may starve the world's poor by pushing up food prices for minimal environmental gains. "Washington's fixation on corn-based ethanol has distorted the national agenda," charge the …

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The view from Washington

So here I am in Washington (the other one) in a homey B&B just eight blocks from the White House. I came here for a number of reasons, not the least of which is attending a conference called Climate Change and International Development (which was, by the way, recorded, and it is said that videos will be available here.) It was pretty good, and the less-public strategy meeting that followed it today (at the Friends of the Earth offices) was even better. Strategically, very little could be more important than the development folks joining the climate battle. Especially if they …

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It’s time to accept dire climate realities

A review of recent climate science findings finds that Jim Hansen's bright-line standard and timeframe for global action [1.0ºC limit on further increase in global temperature / 475 ppm cap on atmospheric carbon with <10 years for global action] is, if anything, not conservative enough. A rash of recent reports identify major climate forcings wholly unaccounted for in IPCC models -- such as a five-fold increase in methane releases from Siberian peat bogs -- that support the view of rapid, discontinuous climate change predicted by Hansen. Energy market projections show that current climate policies will barely dent the ramp-up of …

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