Climate & Energy

The Achilles heel of nuclear power

Nuclear plants require lots of water in an increasingly dry world

No, I don't mean cost, safety, waste, or proliferation -- though those are all serious problems. I mean the Achilles heel of nuclear power in the context of climate change: water. Climate change means water shortages in many places and hotter water everywhere. Both are big problems for nukes: ... nuclear power is the most water-hungry of all energy sources, with a single reactor consuming 35-65 million litres of water each day. The Australians, stuck in a once-in-a-1000-years drought, understandably worry about this a lot:

If you worry about the impact of climate mitigation on the poor ...

CBPP launches a climate equity program

You'll be glad to know The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has launched a major climate program whose goals are to ensure that: the increased energy prices that are an essential part of climate-change legislation do not drive more households into poverty or make poor households poorer; and climate-change legislation generates sufficient revenue both to protect low-income households and to address other needs related to the fight against global warming, so that it does not increase the deficit. CBPP is a great group. But they need to understand that a central strategy for fighting the impact of higher energy prices on low-income consumers is an aggressive energy efficiency strategy to keep overall bills from rising, which I don't see in their work so far.

The ‘Nissan bloc’

Xenophobia rears its ugly head in the CAFE debate.

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Next steps

What to expect going into Thursday

Thursday's the first "big day" for the Lieberman-Warner climate bill -- the first time the bill can be officially changed, for better or worse, before the vote determining whether the full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will consider it. As it stands, the bill has the support of its authors, subcommittee chair Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and ranking member John Warner (R-Va.), plus, as announced last week, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mon.). That leaves four unknowns on the subcommittee that Lieberman chairs: Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). If they all vote no, the bill dies a quiet, unexpected death in subcommittee. I say unexpected because the sense on the Hill right now is that the bill will move forward. One Democratic staffer told me that four no's is not "a likely scenario." "It's important for people to know that nobody's looking for perfection" at this stage, the staffer said. What they're looking for is evidence that some of their more fundamental concerns are addressed and that the bill doesn't just move to the full committee exactly as introduced earlier this month. That said, Lautenberg and Sanders are ambitious environmentalists, and their fundamental concerns are many. They'll likely be expecting at least some strengthening of the weak emissions-credit auction, and some sharing of the extremely generous subsidies now going overwhelmingly to coal and auto industry. (Sanders wants more for clean energy.) [See this memo (PDF) from Friends of the Earth for the sheer magnitude of the proposed handouts.] As more information comes along, I'll pass it your way, and will provide continuing coverage on Thursday.

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Bernie bashes the bill

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is no fan

Some harsh words just in from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):

Post-Kyoto international climate policy

Two analysts argue for ditching Kyoto and finding something better

This is an interesting commentary in Nature, right on many details if, I think, wrong in spirit. Gwyn Prins & Steve Rayner argue that Kyoto has failed and should be abandoned. Its successor policy should: Focus mitigation efforts on the big emitters Allow genuine emissions markets to evolve from the bottom up Put public investment in energy R&D on a wartime footing Increase spending on adaptation Work the problem at appropriate scales I’d say that 3 and 4 command pretty broad agreement. Everyone thinks we need to be spending far more on energy R&D. Adaptation raises some hackles, as a …

Research panel discourages presidential plan for U.S. nuclear-waste reprocessing

A 17-member panel of researchers from the National Academy of Sciences released a report yesterday discouraging President Bush from continuing on his quest to resume U.S. nuclear waste reprocessing. The researchers said the president’s proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership plan has not been adequately peer reviewed and relies on unproven technology. Instead, the panel suggested that money currently going to GNEP should be redirected — to speeding construction of new nuclear power plants. Sigh, and we were all set to be cheery there for a moment.

Notable quotable

“I’ve been a Republican my whole life, but I’ll be doggoned if Al Gore isn’t right. Is it fair for you and me — this generation — to pollute for all the generations to come when we’re already seeing the effects — global warming, mercury, particulate matter?” – newly minted environmentalist Sammy Prim

From Campus: Making a power shift

Students organize summit on climate change

You know how some days you just get so wrapped up with those new Facebook apps that you barely notice when columnists in the nation's newspaper of note are talking shit about you behind your back? Earlier this month, Tom Friedman wrote: America needs a jolt of the idealism, activism and outrage ... of Generation Q [for "Quiet"]. That's what twentysomethings are for -- to light a fire under the country. But they can't email it in, and an online petition or a mouse click for carbon neutrality won't cut it ... Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy didn't change the world by asking people to join their Facebook crusades or to download their platforms. Activism can only be uploaded, the old-fashioned way -- by young voters speaking truth to power, face to face, in big numbers, on campuses or the Washington Mall. Big numbers? Washington Mall? Why haven't students thought of this before? Oh, wait:

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