Calling all greens: Barack Obama, battling to remain the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, this weekend took on the most sacred cow in American politics: cheap gas. Campaigning in Indiana, Obama distanced himself from the gas tax "holiday" proposed by Sen. John McCain, saying it may not bring down prices and would require raising other taxes to pay for highway maintenance. "The only way we're going to lower gas prices over the long term is if we start using less oil," Obama said in Anderson. McCain pounced, saying through a campaign spokesman that "Americans need strong leadership that can deliver lower gas prices and a healthier economy, not Barack Obama's inexperience and indecision." Obama's Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, did likewise, unveiling a new ad calling for suspension of the gasoline tax -- a proposal first advanced by McCain on April 15. As U.S. political campaigns go, the contrast between McCain-Clinton's playing the gas-tax card and Obama's brave clarity couldn't be clearer.
There's lots of buzz about green-collar jobs these days (sort of like blue-collar jobs, but with a sustainable edge) -- whether you're listening to Obama, McCain, or Clinton; Gregoire, Kulongoski, or Schwarzenegger. You hear this kind of thing a lot: A study conducted by the RAND Corporation and the University of Tennessee found that producing 25 percent of all American energy fuel and electricity from renewables by the year 2025 would produce the following: "$700 billion of new economic activity, carbon emission reduction by 1 billion tons, and 5 million new jobs." Fine and dandy, but, some might ask "where are those five million new jobs? When will we see them?" Some skeptics have begun to ask whether it's bordering on hype. Big projections are just that - big projections. But there's nothing like local industry reporting 2000 new jobs here and 500 jobs there -- right in our neck of the woods -- and a steady stream of investment dollars to keep skeptics pondering the possibilities. So, we're happy to report a real-live green-collar workforce is materializing in the Northwest, and it's likely the wave is just gathering strength. With more policy measures encouraging green-tech investments and training programs it could swell to something much bigger. Looking at Oregon's green-collar boom, Ted Sickinger of the Oregonian calls it a "small tsunami." Some real numbers from Oregon and Washington:
This column from Newsweek editor Evan Thomas is largely a witless recitation of conventional wisdom, but it does raise one point I want to make. …
Originally posted at the Think Progress Wonk Room. The American Petroleum Institute, the trade organization for the oil and natural gas industry, has just begun running a feel-good commercial that argues "America's future" lies in drilling out domestic reserves of oil and natural gas. Here's what the ad says: Oil and natural gas powered the past. But the future? Fact is, a growing world will require more. 45 percent more by 2030, along with greatly expanding alternatives. We have substantial oil and natural gas resources right here. Enough to power 60 million cars and heat 160 million households for 60 years. With advanced technology and smart policies, together we can secure America's future. Log on to learn more. [Text: EnergyTomorrow.org / The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Industry] Watch it: The "facts" in Big Oil's ad are based on a 36-page API document [PDF] entitled "The Truth About Oil and Gasoline." This "primer" was published last week, with numerous figures and charts on oil company profits and gas prices, but nary a single mention of climate change or greenhouse gas emissions. Here are the facts Big Oil left out:
Wags used to joke that Bush and Co. would put a coal-fired power plant in the Grand Canyon if you let them. As Lily Tomlin observed, "It's hard for cynics to keep up these days."
The goal of this post is to explore how peak oil and, yes, peak coal might affect the world's effort to stabilize CO2 concentrations. Here I present calculations I haven't seen anywhere else, and since different sources provide different numbers, please view these as a crude estimates. I welcome corrections. At recent growth rates for oil consumption, we are all but certain to peak in oil production within two decades -- and if we follow the recent trend-line for coal use (and for coal reserves), we could hit peak coal within three decades. It looks like it simply isn't possible for oil and coal use to sustain for decades the trends that led CO2 emissions to rise 3 percent per year since 2000, if the analysis below is roughly correct. That would be a very good piece of news. Oil: I have already written at length on oil (see "Peak Oil? Bring it on!"). In 2006, the world consumed about 85 million barrels a day (MMBD) of oil. Oil use had been rising about 2 percent per year, though the recent price jump may have slowed things a tad. And, for the first time, not just the "peakists" but the CEOs of major oil companies think we have a big problem.
It is rare that my idiosyncratic and widely ignored Friday music blogging overlaps with the subject matter that occupies the rest of my time. But …
Last night, I went to a panel at the Museum of American Finance on Wall Street (no, really!) on what's financially hot or soon will be in non-coal, non-oil energy technologies. I love these kinds of events; typically, what comes of them is reality-based information, dealing with who has the money, where it's going (or ought to go), and what will get it there, in order to transform our energy system. I come away from these things more hopeful than from any number of political rallies, because these are people who are walking their talk instead of posing in their Rogan jeans and "Save the planet" t-shirts. The panel was co-sponsored by Sierra Club, so the articulate Carl Pope was one of the speakers, natch. The other speakers were Pete Cartwright, CEO of Advanced Power Projects, Inc.; Daniel Abbasi, head of regulatory and public policy research for MissionPoint Capital Partners ("Financing transition to carbon free economy"); Michael Molnar, VP at Goldman Sachs, responsible for alt. energy and coal sectors in the Energy & Materials Equity Research Business Unit; and moderator Myron Kandel, founding financial editor at CNN. You can read my liveblog-style notes for the whole evening at my own blog. A few juicy nuggets:
If you build it, they will come. But if you build it green, you just may be able to save the planet. R.K. Stewart. Or …
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