Climate & Energy

Colleges around the country take green steps

Are you thinking what we’re thinking? Yep: It’s time for a green college roundup! Maine’s College of the Atlantic has made good on its pledge to be a carbon-neutral campus, say school officials. “As far as we know, [COA is] the first in the world to make the commitment, and as far as we know, the first to do it,” says David Hales, president of the 300-student college, which offers one major: human ecology. Meanwhile, Oregon’s Portland State University plans to hire as many as 10 professors with expertise in sustainability to teach subjects from economics to biology to art. …

Don’t tell Canis!

This is one of those stories where you don't know whether to be hopeful or depressed after reading it. Like drug addicts who will try snorting every powder in the house, we seem to be willing to subject any substance on the planet to the real acid test of our age: Will it help us keep carburbia going?

Tax incentives for clean energy not yet renewed — but probably will be

A renewal of tax incentives for building and installing clean energy sources was stripped from the recently signed energy bill, putting wind and solar boosters just a wee bit on edge. Current federal tax credits for renewable energy will expire at the end of 2008; Rhone Resch of the Solar Energy Industries Association predicts that U.S. solar installations, which jumped 80 percent in 2007, will “start to drop off in the second quarter of 2008 if [tax incentives] are not extended.” But all is not lost: Leaders in both chambers of Congress have promised to revisit the tax-credit issue in …

How SUVs can save the climate

When is a Tundra a better buy than a Prius?

This never fails to fascinate me: The chart shows how much fuel is consumed over 15,000 miles by cars of different fuel efficiencies. The curve matters a lot. It means that from the perspective of fuel conservation, it's not terribly important to trade in your Honda Civic to buy a Prius. But it's hugely important to trade in your Dodge Durango for a Toyota Tacoma. I'll use some rough numbers to illustrate. You trade in your Civic, which averages about 32 miles per gallon, and buy a Prius, which gets a whopping 47 mpg. You've bumped up by 15 mpg -- a big deal, right? Sort of. Over the next 15,000 miles of driving, you'll have reduced your fuel consumption by 150 gallons. That's fine. But consider what happens when you upgrade your SUV. That's where the real action is.

The %$@*! filibuster

Dems can’t overcome filibuster threats to get decent legislation — so what should they do?

I’ve talked to many, many people over the past few days who are struggling to figure out how to respond to the passage of the energy bill. There’s a lot of genuine anguish out there. One camp laments this as yet another defeat in a long string. Reid capitulated to Republicans and accepted a wan, emaciated bill. In the name of getting an incremental step forward, he’s allowing Republicans to campaign on having voted for fuel efficiency and Bush to claim credit. He let Big Oil defeat renewable energy. On issue after issue, Reid has let the threat of a …

The Bush administration's hypocrisy on federalism

Bushies laud state policies when excusing inaction, shut them down when they threaten contributors

Back in 2003, the Bush administration sent a negotiating team to Milan for international climate talks. The lead negotiator, then as now, was Harlan Watson. As he always does, Watson attempted to claim that the U.S. was, despite all appearances, taking a leadership role in the fight against global warming. What did he offer as evidence? Take it away, Harlan: Finally, I would like to highlight the efforts being made by State and local governments in the United States to address climate change. Geographically, the United States encompasses vast and diverse climatic zones representative of all major regions of the …

More on EPA’s waiver decision

Juliet Eilperin’s got a really crackerjack story on the California waiver in the WaPo. It’s devastating to Johnson. It also confirms a lot of stuff that I, a mere blogger, could only speculate about irresponsibly. First of all, the EPA staff was foursquare against this decision: EPA’s lawyers and policy staff had reached the same conclusion [that the decision is "legally and technically unjustified and indefensible"], said several agency officials familiar with the process. In a PowerPoint presentation prepared for the administrator, aides wrote that if Johnson denied the waiver and California sued, “EPA likely to lose suit.” If he …

U.S. EPA won’t let California enact vehicle greenhouse-gas limits

The U.S. EPA has denied California the waiver it needed to enact a state law requiring a 30 percent reduction in vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions by 2016. Said EPA chief Stephen Johnson, “The Bush administration is moving forward with a clear national solution — not a confusing patchwork of state rules — to reduce America’s climate footprint from vehicles.” But that decision was at odds with the unanimous recommendation of EPA’s legal and technical teams. The agency had delayed so long on making the decision that California sued to get ‘em to hurry up, obviously hoping for a different outcome. Sixteen …

Johnson's nuts

Analysis of the EPA’s decision to deny California’s waiver

As I mentioned below, today the U.S. EPA denied California’s request for a waiver exempting it from federal fuel economy standards, allowing it to implement its own standards. EPA administrator Stephen Johnson announced the decision in a rushed press conference following President Bush’s signing of the energy bill. The announcement came with a veritable torrent of dishonest spin. Let me try to disentangle some of it. 1. Johnson leaned heavily on today’s passage of the energy bill, saying that a "uniform national standard" is preferable to a "confusing patchwork of state standards." The "patchwork" line is completely disingenuous. There aren’t …

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