Climate & Energy

Colbert on ethanol and the energy war

Coal and agrofuels win the subsidy sweepstakes

Via the WSJ energy blog, follow the money: Since 1999, federal energy subsidies have more than doubled-from $8.2 billion to $16.6 billion in 2007. Who gets the most? 'Renewables' landed $4.8 billion last year, but that includes $3.25 billion for ethanol and other biofuels. Coal and cleaner-burning "refined" coal took home $3.3 billion, while the nuclear power industry got $1.3 billion. In all, about 40% of the energy subsidy pie went toward electricity production; the rest for things like alternative fuels and energy conservation. More here.

Hansen for the plebes

A non-technical piece on climate science

The nation's top climate scientist, James Hansen, has just published a general-audience article, "Tipping Point" [PDF], in State of the Wild 2008-2009 from Island Press. It is well worth sending to folks who don't like all the math. His key points: We are at the tipping point because the climate state includes large, ready positive feedbacks provided by the Arctic sea ice, the West Antarctic ice sheet, and much of Greenland's ice. ... Prior major warmings in Earth's history, the most recent occurring 55 million years ago ... resulted in the extinction of half or more of the species then on the planet. ... In my view, special interests have undue sway with our governments and have effectively promoted minimalist actions and growth in fossil fuels, rather than making the scale of investments necessary. You might also like this figure on "cumulative fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions by different countries as a percent of global total" --

The latest on the expensivest cheap power around

The fight over coal heads to a climax in Kansas

The fight over coal in Kansas is headed to a climactic battle on Wednesday, when the legislature gathers to finish its session. Twice it has sent bills to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius that would allow two …

President Bush stumps for ANWR drilling and dirty-energy expansion

In a speech Tuesday, President Bush aimed to pacify Americans’ concerns about skyrocketing fuel and food prices with the assurance that it’s all Congress’ fault. Bush advocated tackling energy prices by throwing environmental protection to …

OPEC chief joins $200 oil chorus

Bush, Big Oil offer more of the same

Yesterday, David noted comments by an oil analyst who predicted $200 oil by 2012. Today, that analyst was joined in his prediction by none other than the chief of OPEC, Chakib Khelil (who's also Algeria's energy minister). Mr. Khelil's comments were not date-specific, though this article leads me to believe he was thinking $200 oil could come much sooner than 2012. Meanwhile, we saw more of the same from both President Bush and Big Oil.

Markets vs. emission reductions

Why secondary carbon markets should be minimized in climate legislation

It is fine and necessary to put a price on carbon, via either a carbon tax or 100 percent auctioned cap-and-trade permits. But in the latter case, when those permits are not sold directly to polluters but are released into a secondary market (either via auctioning or, worse, via giveaways), those markets tend to prioritize maintaining their own existence over reducing emissions. In short, a price is fine; an actual market is not.

The fossil bloc makes its play

New Senate alternatives to L-W would take climate policy backwards — way backwards

George Voinovich. There’s an important story in yesterday’s edition of E&E (as always, $ub. req’d) about two alternatives to Lieberman-Warner that have recently been floated in the Senate. One comes from Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) …

Details matter: Winner-picking and social engineering

Lieberman Warner criticism, Part 3

This is the third in a five-part series exploring the details of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act. See also part 1 and part 2. Let's do a thought experiment. Imagine that tomorrow morning, you wake up, reach in your pocket, and find that you suddenly have billions of dollars of cash. Before you have a moment to celebrate, you also realize that you are lying in the middle of an interstate, and there is a big truck coming. What do you do? (a) Issue an RFP for research, development, and deployment of technologies that will help you get off the highway; (b) Issue an RFP for research, development, and deployment of crash-retardant pajamas; (c) Invest in wildlife conservation measures to protect the flora and fauna on the side of the highway that are about to be covered in blood, guts, and twisted metal; (d) Set aside money for truck driver grief counseling, or; (e) All of the above. If you chose (e), read no farther. You have identified yourself as a person who thinks that the Lieberman-Warner approach to greenhouse-gas reduction is perfection incarnate. If, on the other hand, you think that there was a fairly important idea not even listed amongst the options above (hint: it has to do with getting your butt off the highway and/or stopping the truck), then you understand the flaws innate to the Lieberman-Warner approach. (And if you chose a, b, c, or d ... you're one odd duck. But at least you've signaled your self-interest in high-tech solutions to simple problems!)

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