Climate & Energy

I do not think that word means what you think it means

Forest Service objects to Va. ‘clean coal’ plant that would be one of state’s biggest polluters

I should have added this to my account of state-level coal backlash: The U.S. Forest Service is warning Virginia environmental officials that pollution from a $1.6 billion coal-fired power plant proposed for Wise County would violate federal clean-air laws. In a letter to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the supervisor of the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina said the plant proposed by Dominion Virginia Power would pump enough sulfur dioxide into the air to possibly damage plant life and visibility in the 12,000-acre Linville Gorge Wilderness. This part is particularly, and bitterly, amusing: The plant, called the Virginia …

Senate Republican minority blocks energy bill

The Senate held a cloture vote this morning to overcome a threatened filibuster from Senate Republicans. It failed 59-40 — one vote short of the 60 votes needed. Reid now says he’ll introduce the bill again later today without the clean-energy tax provisions. More later. Right now I’m so disgusted and pissed off I don’t know what to say. UPDATE: Well, here’s one thing to say, to the Associated Press: the first line of your article says that Republicans blocked the bill because of “new taxes” on oil companies. That is straightforwardly false, and deserves a correction. Nobody proposed any …

Notable quotable

“The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming. Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines.” – NASA climate scientist Jay Zwally

Aaawkwaaard [sing-song voice]

Which is more painful, Giuliani’s line that we can deal with global warming through energy independence or Romney’s line that it’s not “American warming” but “global warming”? (A question for the Mittster: if, as you say, tackling this problem is going to enrich our economy, our environment, and our national security, why on earth would we wait for China to act? Seems like we’d want to get right on that, no?) (Thanks LL!)

Do we see a trend here?

NASA says 2007 second-warmest year ever, with record warmth likely by 2010

According to NASA scientists (PDF): Through the first 11 months, 2007 is the second warmest year in the period of instrumental data, behind the record warmth of 2005, in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis. The unusual warmth in 2007 is noteworthy because it occurs at a time when solar irradiance is at a minimum and the equatorial Pacific Ocean has entered the cool phase of its natural El Niño -- La Niña cycle. ... barring the unlikely event of a large volcanic eruption, a record global temperature exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next 2-3 years.

State of play in Bali

Second-to-last issue of the Bali ECO newsletter

Issue #10 if the Bali ECO is here (PDF). You may need to read between the lines a bit if you haven't been following the negotiations. But it's not hard.

Now it's the CAFE standards

Yet more energy bill woes

This may seem narrow and technical, but it's actually extremely significant: The White House has raised last-minute concerns over regulation of automobile emissions and fuel economy that aides said Tuesday could lead to a presidential veto of the energy bill now before Congress. The bill, which passed the House and is pending in the Senate, requires automakers to meet a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, but does not specify which government agency should enforce the new rule. Primary regulation of mileage standards has historically fallen to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Transportation Department. But vehicle tailpipe emissions are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Supreme Court ruling this year affirmed the E.P.A.'s authority to regulate emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from passenger vehicles, which basically would mean regulating their fuel use. The administration's argument is that the energy bill will create unnecessary confusion over which agency has proper jurisdiction over mileage standards. And at a glance it seems like a reasonable argument. But, of course, it's absolutely not reasonable at all. This is better understood as a bank-shot effort by the Bush administration to block the EPA from functionally regulating carbon emissions from automobiles on behalf of the interest groups that don't want to be bothered with reducing auto pollution.

Call your senator now!

Energy bill to be voted on in Senate tomorrow

Some days are uneventful, with little but the promise of extra pie for dessert to get you through. And then ... some days are pivots upon which the course of history turns, moments in time when each of us are called upon to decide the kind of future we want for ourselves and our children, and take to the ramparts. Tomorrow is one such day. Tomorrow, the Senate will vote on a revised energy bill. Negotiators have jettisoned the renewable electricity standard (RES) and altered some of the revenue-raising tax provisions to make it more palatable to oil-aligned senators and the White House. Still in are CAFE and critical solar investment tax credits necessary to bring solar into the mainstream. The vote will be extremely close -- the bill needs 60 votes to pass, and the opposition is burning up the phone lines, urging Senators not to vote for a bill that eliminates unneeded production incentives for the oil and gas industry. Word is the good guys are one vote short. Some people are taking advantage of this moment in history to call their senators and tell them how they feel about renewable energy. Those people find the number of their senators here. Bill text, bill summary, and solar talking points can all be found here.

'Decision-makers' rank GHG abatement technologies

Guess which type of energy comes in last in a recent poll

GlobeScan, a self-styled "global public opinion and stakeholder research" organization based in Toronto, has just published the results of a survey of 1,000 climate "decision-makers and influencers" from across 105 countries, conducted in the two weeks leading up to the Bali Climate Conference (Nov. 22-Dec. 5, 2007). According to the firm's website: Unlike public opinion polls, this survey focuses on the views of professionals in position to make or influence large decisions in their organizations and society. This focus, together with the survey's large global sample and good balance of respondents across all geographies and sectors, makes this survey unique. A bar chart showing the results in graphic form is found below the fold.

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We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.