Climate & Energy

White courtesy phone, paging Homer Simpson

Necessity is the mother of invention … and some really bad ideas

Mein Gott. I was so hoping that this article was from The Onion or something. Porta-nukes will power oil-shale melters, because there's just no topping the American spirit -- the willingness to take a truly abysmal idea (oil shales) and make it worse:

No second helpings on gas

Per-person gas consumption has decreased in the last year

On the heels of the year's biggest travel week, some interesting news: Consumers purchased an average 9.32 million barrels of gasoline a day in the week ended Nov. 23, down 1.7 percent from the same week last year ... It was the fifth consecutive week that demand at the pump dropped compared with a year earlier. The price [of gas] was 38 percent higher than a year earlier. That's right, population rose, but gas consumption fell, year-over-year. Measured per person, that's a decline of about 3 percent -- not huge, but still noteworthy. So does this mean that higher prices are starting to take a bite out of our appetite for fuel? That a slowing economy is making consumers tighten their belts? Either way, as long as it isn't a temporary blip in the data, it's a trend worth paying attention to.

Not that coal has any undue advantage

Coal industry sponsors another presidential debate

Tonight’s CNN/YouTube debate for the Republican presidential candidates is, like the previous CNN debate for Dems, brought to you by the coal industry. From ThinkProgress: Sponsorship of tonight’s debate appears aimed at influencing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who is leading a "crusade against coal." Crist has unveiled a plan to reduce his state’s carbon dioxide emissions by replacing coal plants with solar thermal power plants. He has also canceled plans to build new coal plants that were pushed by his predecessor, Jeb Bush. … This CNN debate isn’t the first sponsored by the coal industry. On Nov. 15, it …

You know what they say about a guy with a big footprint?

GAO says the electric sector’s got a big subsidy to match

The GAO has reported on subsidies to our electric sector, proving what Grist readers already (sadly) know, namely that subsidies to the dirty folks vastly exceed existing or proposed subsidies to cleaner generation. The most remarkable thing is that the biggest subsidies, like nuclear liability guarantees and lower debt costs through rate payer guarantees, aren't even included in the list (although, to the GAO's credit, it does acknowledge their existence). So who's packing the biggest, er, subsidy?

Report from the World Meteorological Organization

CO2 levels hit new record in 2006

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in its new 2006 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, reports: In 2006, globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere reached their highest levels ever recorded ... 381.2 parts per million (ppm), up 0.53 per cent from 379.2 ppm in 2005. Note this is a one-year rise of 2.0 ppm, continuing the accelerated trend of the past decade, which is due to increases in global economic activity and carbon intensity, together with decreased efficiency of natural sinks, like the ocean.

Splitting up is hard to do

Pelosi joins Reid in bifurcating the energy bill

A couple weeks ago, as I wrote here, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was keeping mum about her efforts alongside Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass the energy bill. She would neither confirm nor deny rumors about a split bill. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that she's no longer keeping quiet: Democratic leaders have wrestled for months with how to meld the Senate bill, which includes a new fuel-economy mandate for auto makers, and the House bill, which would require power companies to use greater amounts of wind, solar and other renewable fuels. With only a few weeks left in the year, Democrats are now considering a new option: moving two separate bills.One measure would include the proposed fuel-economy increase as well as a proposal to boost production of ethanol and related biofuels. The companion bill would include the utility mandate, as well as a tax package rolling back oil industry tax breaks. How this makes the utility mandate any less likely to be filibustered remains a total mystery to me. But I suppose there is some logic to moving as many parts of the bill as are immediately passable, thereby narrowing the battle to one over renewables alone. Maybe Reid will just jam clean energy into some difficult-to-filibuster legislation down the road.

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