Climate & Energy

Notable quotable

"… there are a number of pieces of legislation where [McCain's] views are out of the mainstream, at least in my view, of conservative Republican thought. So, for instance, he’s opposed to drilling in ANWR, I believe. … … And then now McCain-Lieberman, which is a unilateral — meaning U.S.-only imposed — cap-and-trade program, which puts a burden, as much as 50 cents a gallon, on gasoline in this country. It basically says Americans are going to pay for the cost of global warming, not the Chinese and Indians and forth. So those views are outside the mainstream of Republican …

More Blankenship bashing …

… from the folks at FirstPost. Blankenship bashing on Grist here, here, and here. Why this guy isn’t every progressive’s bogeyman is beyond me.

Duke Energy will build likely its last coal plant in North Carolina

Well, we’ve got good news and bad news: North Carolina air-quality officials have granted Duke Energy a permit for a new coal plant (boo) in what Duke Carolinas President Ellen Ruff says is “very likely the last coal plant you’ll see coming from Duke” in the Carolinas (rah!). The permit stipulates that four older Duke coal plants in the state be retired before the new one goes online, the idea being that total emissions will not increase. “What we are signaling through these actions is our intention to reduce our carbon footprint and our openness to the public for ideas …

Senators include clean-energy incentives in economic stimulus bill

More than 40 senators, of both the Democrat and Republican persuasion, got behind a successful effort to include green-job boosting and renewable-energy incentives in the Senate version of an economic stimulus package. The legislation passed markup in the Finance Committee today and now heads to the Senate floor for a final vote.

Solar to the electric car: You complete me

The electrification of transportation will also help green the grid

I promised more on the impact of Project Better Place's electric car plans -- and I deliver with an article here.

Let the sunshine in

Judicial ethics and global warming

Community Rights Counsel has spent much of the last decade researching and documenting undue, anti-environmental corporate influence on the federal judiciary, exposing the proliferation of privately-funded junkets billed as "judicial education seminars." Through reports such as 2004's Tainted Justice, we've highlighted the agenda of particular hosting groups, one steeped in libertarian economics and a regulatory agenda that is deeply opposed to government efforts to combat global warming. Recent ethics rules for the federal judiciary have addressed judges' participation in these junkets, but contained loopholes that have continued to benefit their supporters.

Barbara Boxer is on the hunt …

… for 60 votes (sub rqd) to overcome the inevitable filibuster of Lieberman-Warner. Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth — the only green group to come out against L-W early and consistently — has launched a “fix it or ditch” campaign on the bill. It’s running print ads in The Hill and Roll Call. Frankly, I don’t see any scenario in which the L-W bill is “fixed” during this session of Congress. Everything Boxer’s going to have to do to get the votes is going to make an already-weak bill weaker. In the immortal words of Han Solo, I’ve got a …

Obama joins Illinois legislators pushing to revive FutureGen

When the DOE announced it was yanking support for FutureGen, I wondered where Obama would come down on it. Pro-Illinois, or pro-green-coal-haters? Here’s our answer: Nine members of Illinois’ congressional delegation are urging President Bush to keep the FutureGen clean-coal power plant on track. In a letter sent to the president today, the bipartisan group said it has lost faith in Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman after meeting with him Tuesday. Bodman, in that meeting, told the lawmakers that his agency wants out of the public-private partnership planning to build the plant in Mattoon. The Energy Department, which was supposed to …

An infrastructure problem

Public works and investment must be part of the solution to global warming

As I've said before, certain types of goods -- public goods -- simply cannot be allocated efficiently through market mechanisms alone, even if we get prices right. Now this is not a "government good/private sector bad" post. It is a suggestion, as was my original post on this subject, that a market system requires not only regulation but large-scale public investment, and that one of the places we are making way too few public investments is energy infrastructure. Again, this is not to say that public investment is the way to run everything; just as there are public goods, there are private goods. But we are trying to meet needs that are clearly public goods via private means. Full social pricing, though needed, will not change that. Before focusing on energy, consider health insurance. The U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other nation, and gets worse results. There are various reasons for this, but one is that a competitive market in health insurance tends to provide more insurance and less healthcare than public insurance mechanisms. (When I gave this example back in October, biodiversivist argued that our healthcare system "does not resemble any free market I know of." That does not change the fact that our healthcare system is less regulated than healthcare systems in any other rich nation.) Every intervention that can be cited as possible government over-involvement in our medical system can be found in other systems that spend much less on healthcare and get far better results. If I have to, I'll do a whole post on healthcare -- but the bottom line is that moving a large part of the health insurance system from private to public spending would improve efficiency. Note that we are talking health insurance, not health care. A major part of fighting global warming will consist of switching from polluting to clean energy. That is largely a matter of major infrastructure, and infrastructure, at least since the fall of feudalism, has always required large public investment, not just regulation.

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