Climate & Energy


An account of a House hearing on auctioning permits under cap-and-trade

Last Wednesday, the House Global Warming Committee held a hearing on "auctions and revenue recycling in cap and trade," which took a close look at the advantages of auctioning (rather than giving away) pollution permits under a cap and trade system, and what might be done with the revenue. I didn’t manage to watch the hearing, but as always it has been ably summarized by the mysteriously monickered The Cunctator, publisher and editor of Hill Heat. If you’re looking for a just-the-facts account of action on Capitol Hill around climate and energy, you need to bookmark the site immediately. I’ve …

Sen. Ted Kennedy endorses Obama

Influential Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), whose family has long been friendly with the Clintons, has nonetheless endorsed Barack Obama for president. Included among Ted’s reasons: “With Barack Obama … we will make the United States the great leader and not the great roadblock in the fateful fight against global warming.” Kennedy is the brother of late President John F. Kennedy; JFK’s daughter, Caroline, also announced her support for Obama.

White House SOTU energy BS preview

Right on time, here’s the White House’s "State of the Union 2008" statement on "Increasing Our Energy Security And Confronting Climate Change." It more or less confirms everything I said here. It touts the energy bill and the Major Economies Meetings, and trumpets the wonders of clean coal, nuclear power, and sweetheart neoliberal trade deals.

USDA food-safety czar: Ethanol waste causes tainted beef -- and that's okay

Let cows eat vaccines along with distillers grains

In December, a study came out suggesting a link between distillers grains — a waste product of the corn-ethanol process — and a spike in cases of beef tainted with the deadly E. coli 0157 virus. You see, the government-mandated ethanol boom has dramatically pushed up corn prices. To cut costs, feedlot operators have been substituting cheap distillers grains for pricey corn. Thus in the past year or so, we’ve seen an explosion in use of distillers grain as livestock feed, especially for cows. When I heard about the possible E. coli 0157 link, I put two and two together …

The health externalities of coal

A while back I commented on a post over at Common Tragedies, an excellent environmental economics blog of recent vintage. As is my inimitable style, my comments were hastily written and full of wild generalizations. One had to do with the health externalities of coal burning, which I alleged were extensive. Recently, an email to the post’s author came to my rescue: I’m just commenting on your last note. You shouldn’t be so dismissive of the health effects from eliminating coal. Asthma is only one small health effect of PM, SOx, and NOx. The National Association of Clean Air Agencies …

Dominion Power's dirty plans for Virginia

Mike Tidwell speaks out in the WaPo against coal

Mike Tidwell, director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, regularly has me on his Earthbeat radio show, so I'm returning the favor with this great letter to the editor he had in the Washington Post yesterday: Fact: Virginia gets less than 1 percent of its electricity from "green" sources such as the wind or the sun. Fact: Virginia ranks 38th among U.S. states in energy efficiency. Fact: Climate change is real, and fossil fuel substitutes are needed, according to President Bush's State of the Union address last year. So how would Dominion Virginia Power respond to these facts? Savagely blow up entire mountains in southwest Virginia. Feed the resulting exposed coal to a proposed power plant that is unnecessary and would cost ratepayers at least $1.8 billion. Create lots more greenhouse gases in the process. Doom the good people of southwest Virginia to living with a brutal extraction industry that has no future. Whew! Talk about getting everything wrong. And yet Gov. Tim Kaine supports the plan:

Feebate watch

California mulls nation’s first feebate bill

Feebates are one of the most promising strategies for lowering vehicle fleet emissions. This week, the California Assembly will vote on the nation’s first feebate bill, the California Clean Car Discount Act. It would levy a fee of up to $2,500 on gas guzzlers, with commensurate rebates for fuel efficient cars. The L.A. Times has some good analysis. Opposition to the bill comes from about where you’d expect — the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the California Motor Car Dealers Assn., the United Auto Workers — but their arguments strike me as incredibly weak. An AAM rep says “feebates harm businesses …

Tonight's SOTU

House members ask Bush to shill for clean coal in his speech

I suppose I should write some insightful comments about Bush’s upcoming State of the Union speech, which everyone expects to be sucky, since the guy’s a lame duck and everyone hates him. There are lots of emails and PR releases flying around, fact-checking previous SOTUs and promising to fact-check tonight’s. To summarize: Everything he’s said on environmental subjects in previous SOTUs has turned out to be bullshit, and there’s every reason to believe that anything he says in tonight’s SOTU on environmental subjects will turn out to be bullshit. You’re welcome! One interesting tidbit, from Greenwire (sub rqd): A group …

U.S. sets low expectations for this week’s climate meeting

Leaders from the world’s major economies will fly big planes to Honolulu this week for a chat about reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions. Ironicalicious! Even better, the Bush administration, which is hosting the meeting, isn’t expecting much out of it. “I think these will be iterative discussions, which the initial goal will be to lay out a variety of options without holding any country to a particular proposal,” says James Connaughton of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “We’re trying to do this in a collaborative way, rather than in the more classic ‘You bring your number, I bring my …

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