Climate & Energy

Weasel of the week

Tim Kaine burns national ambitions in coal furnace

Virginia's Democratic governor Tim Kaine, often mentioned as a possible vice presidential nominee, seems to be flushing his ambitions for national office down the toilet by actively working to build yet another coal-fired power plant for one of his biggest campaign donors. Tim Kaine. Photo: virginia.gov Kaine has tried to present himself as a green, forward-thinking governor by proposing a "Virginia Energy Plan" he claimed would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 30 percent. True, Kaine is going ahead with plans to purchase 27,000 compact fluorescent bulbs (which will save the amount of electricity used by -- wait for it -- 1300 [!] homes). But when it comes to things that actually matter -- like where Virginia gets its energy -- he's actively backing the construction of a new greenhouse-gas- and toxic-pollution-belching coal-fired power plant in Virginia's Wise County. Behind this coal plant is Dominion Power, which has contributed over $135,000 directly to Kaine's campaign and inaugural funds. Is the governor acting on behalf of Virginia or the country's well-being, or is he offering quid pro quo for financial support? As it is, Kaine is looking a lot like a dinosaur pol, practicing a kind of politics eerily similar to the Republican culture of corruption.

Paging Vinod Khosla ...

Billionaire Branson regrets mindless biofuel support

Time was when biofuels, including corn-based ethanol, had no stauncher supporter than Richard Branson, the U.K. airline and entertainment magnate. Now, according to the BBC, he "regrets his investments in biofuels on economic and environmental …

A trillion here, a trillion there

Another day, another trillion dollars for the clean-tech industry

It seems that a day doesn't slip by without someone raising the stakes in the alternative-energy poker game. The most recent bombshell wager: Cambridge Energy Research Associates report that alternative energy investments will -- hold on to your hats! -- top $7 trillion by 2030. That's an audacious number by any measure, and normally it would be enough to suck the oxygen right out of a convention of wind-farm enthusiasts. But that's not the half of it. The most startling aspect of the report is that it barely raised a ripple in the investment community. And why should it?

This is how dumb they think you are

Walker/Cat’s coal-happy ads in rural West Virginia

Prompted by Pompey Road in comments, I went looking for some commercials that have been running in rural West Virginia, put out by a company called Walker/Cat that makes heavy machinery for coal operations. (George …

In case you’re wondering

Yes, Thursday night’s Democratic debate will once again be sponsored by the coal industry.

Why solar?

The numbers add up for solar power, whether you’re in Seattle or Albuquerque

The New York Times published an article yesterday titled "Silicon Valley Starts to Turn Its Face to the Sun": "This is the biggest market Silicon Valley has ever looked at," says T. J. Rogers, the chief executive of Cypress Semiconductor, which is part-owner of the SunPower Corporation, a maker of solar cells in San Jose, Calif."The solar industry today is like the late 1970s when mainframe computers dominated, and then Steve Jobs and I.B.M. came out with personal computers," says R. Martin Roscheisen, the chief executive of Nanosolar, a solar company in San Jose, Calif. Why all the excitement? You need only look at a few numbers and a graph to get the picture.

Tax-and-rebate vs. auction-and-rebate

The major differences between carbon pricing plans are political

Putting a price on carbon is probably an unavoidable part of phasing out fossil fuels to fight global warming and air pollution. For years, Peter Barnes has advocated a brilliant means of mitigating many of the harmful economic side effects: take the revenue from carbon taxes or auctions and rebate it back to the people, dividing it equally among each citizen. Barnes advocates doing this via an auctioned permit system. However,the same thing could be done with a carbon tax. Instead of auctioning permits, simply tax those same embedded emissions and rebate that revenue to consumers. Raise the tax periodically to lower emissions. Inevitably, with either a tax or auctioned permits, the price charged for carbon will be passed down the supply chain to consumers. By rebating the revenue back to consumers, you minimize the impact of those price increases. They have to pay more, but they have more money to pay with. You get the price signals to affect behavior, without lowering consumer net income.

ILSR, spinning like a top

This is really, really sad. A group, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which has done stalwart work on relocalizing the economy, has let their pro-local passion overcome their principles. Now they simply embarass themselves, beating the drums for corn ethanol, using flackery techniques that would do any corporate PR shop proud. Let's start in:

Castro resigns

… and Bush talks big

A year and a half after ceding Cuba’s reins (and reign) to his brother Raul, Fidel Castro has apparently officially resigned after nearly 50 years at the helm. For me, the news brought to mind …

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