Climate & Energy

Big Oil will shell out for groundwater cleanup

Some of the nation’s largest oil companies will over the next 30 years have to pay to clean up groundwater befouled with gasoline additive MTBE. …

Coal moratorium now!

Preventing dirty coal plants is the most urgent climate policy

A livable climate can (probably) survive the burning of almost all of the world's conventional oil and gas -- but not if we also burn even half the coal (see here [PDF] and figure below). So the top priority for any climate policy must be to stop the building of traditional coal plants -- which is why that has become the top priority of NASA's James Hansen (see here). The next priority is to replace existing coal plants with carbon-free power, which could include coal with carbon capture and storage (CCS), as fast as possible. And that means a related priority is to encourage the introduction of CCS as quickly as possible, to see if that is a viable large-scale solution. A climate policy that does not start by achieving at least the first goal, a moratorium on coal without CCS, must be labeled a failure. By that measure, the cap-and-trade system currently being employed by the Europeans looks to be a failure, as we'll see.

How to get people to pay attention to peak oil

I can’t decide if this is horribly crass or effing genius, or both:

Senators both GOP and Dem introduce destined-to-fail legislation

Senate Democrats are trying once again to yank $17 billion in tax breaks away from oil companies that are enjoying booming profits. The Consumer-First Energy …

Mille grazie!

Should we take Italian nuclear waste?

So an industry CEO tells E&E News that nuclear is the only non-carbon baseload power (not!) and that therefore nuclear is our only future and since the United States does such a great job of dealing with low-level radioactive waste, we should become the world's repository. That would be the logic of one Steve Creamer, CEO of EnergySolutions, "a full-service nuclear fuel cycle company" (in contrast to all of those "partial-service nuclear fuel cycle companies," sometimes called electric utilities). Why shouldn't we take the world's low-level radioactive waste? asks Creamer. Other countries take our recycled computers [!], so it's the perfect division of global labor:

To preserve and protect

Valuing environmental services saves lives

As this new BBC article points out, it appears that the loss of mangroves around cities in Myanmar made the impact of the cyclone much worse, resulting in higher casualties and greater destruction. Scientific evidence compiled after the 2004 Asian tsunami showed that areas with more intact coastal ecosystems suffered less destruction, showing the upside of investing in the preservation of coastal swamps and forests, especially in disaster-prone areas. These developments highlight the urgent need to continue to demonstrate and make clear to policymakers the tremendous value these coastal environmental services provide. Of course, coastal ecosystems are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the full range of environmental services that forests (both tropical and temperate), wetlands, coral reefs, and prairies provide. Identifying these values and estimating their magnitude is the first step in making sure that they are not ignored when development decisions are made, or when assessing the value of restoring systems that have been degraded. This is one area where the combination of economics and ecological science can demonstrate why conservation not only pays but saves lives.

Corny weather

FT: Midwest rains threaten U.S. corn crop

Remember in February, when a fertilizer magnate raised the specter of widespread famine if any of the globe’s big farming regions hit a rough patch …

Big biz ranked on greenness

Takeaways from a new ranking of eco-friendly practices in big biz: Consumer companies are getting greener, but there’s plenty of ground to gain. In its …

Alaska legislature looking for polar-bear skeptics

The Alaska legislature wants to use $2 million in state money to fund an “academic based” conference to highlight the views of scientists who don’t …