Climate & Energy

Court justice frolicked with coal exec while fraud case was pending

When found guilty of fraud and penalized $50 million by a West Virginia jury, coal company Massey Energy appealed to the state Supreme Court — and won in a 3-to-2 decision. Now a motion has …

The Antarctic ice sheet hits the fan

Antarctic shrinking much faster than expected

The global warming deniers (and the rest of us) just can't catch a break: Vast areas of the Antarctic ice sheet -- which has 10 times as much ice as Greenland -- is losing mass much faster than anyone expected. And the rate of ice loss has quickened in the last decade. In fact, 2007's ice loss was 75 percent higher than 2006's. Jeez, it's almost like ... I don't know ... the whole friggin' planet is melting, and we are to blame! If only we had a group of scientists who would, like, report regularly on the impending catastrophe and explain to us how to avoid it ... As the Washington Post reports:

Waxman vs. EPA

What will the House Oversight Committee chairman turn up next?

Henry Waxman is trying to get to the bottom of the EPA's refusal to allow California to regulate greenhouse gases more strictly than the federal government does. Ryan Grim at Politico has the details: In the letter, Waxman, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee gives a hint that the investigation will likely soon escalate to subpoenas. "In prior investigations, the Committee has allowed counsel representing the agency to be present during transcribed interviews. In this case, since your own conduct is being examined, this accommodation would not be appropriate, although counsel employed by the agency may participate if they certify that their presence is as counsel for the witness," he wrote. I'm sure the explanation for all of this is not corrupt or disgraceful. No sir. The full text of the letter is below the fold.

A smarter, thriftier grid

Field test documents big consumer savings

A Northwest field test of smart-grid technologies has documented tremendous potential to run a grid that delivers power far more economically by controlling peak demand. The Pacific Northwest GridWise Demonstration Project has just announced the results of their year-long test, which included two pieces: On the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, 112 homes, three onsite generation units and municipal water pumps were equipped with automated systems that allowed them to adjust grid power demand in response to price signals. Appliances embedded with microchips capable of automatically responding to grid power fluctuations were placed at 150 homes in Washington and Oregon. The aim of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory-managed project was to document the ability of automated control systems to cut usage of the most costly power. Reducing demand can eliminate the need for peak power plants and delivery systems used only a relatively few hours of the year. Among the study's findings: Average power bill savings among customers who participated in the Olympic test were 10 percent, and peak load reductions 15 percent. Power use reductions plus distributed generation reduced peak power distribution loads 50 percent for days at a time. These technologies have potential to lower peak power prices plus save $70 billion over 20 years by avoiding the need to build peaking plants and wires. If all appropriate appliances were equipped with the intelligence to respond to grid conditions, 20 percent of U.S. power demand could be adjusted, tremendously reducing the level of blackouts and brownouts.

President Bush asks OPEC to boost oil production

President Bush, on a trip to Saudi Arabia, has urged the key member of OPEC to boost oil production. “Oil prices are very high, which is tough on our economy,” said Bush. “I would hope, …

Business-y news I should write more about, but probably won’t

GE is going to double its investment in renewable energy from $3b to $6b; Toyota plans to offer plug-in hybrids by 2010; meanwhile, GM, which also promises a plug-in by 2010, just struck a deal …

Pragmatists v. environmentalists, part II

Hybrid emissions: Facts and numbers

Having laid out my views in part I, let me turn to the actual data regarding hybrids -- both from an environmental and economic perspective. How do carbon emissions per mile driven compare for various cars? The Volt is expected to be "less than $30,000" with a 1.0L engine. Compare this to the Corolla, with a 1.8Lengine (peak hp of 126; 31 mpg) and a price of $14,400. It's worth noting that this is in the optimistic, no-gasoline-use scenario for the Volt, computed below along with carbon emissions for the Volt running on cellulosic ethanol and gasoline, and emissions for comparable-sized ICE cars. Questions on the Volt's actual usage patterns remain: how many people will recharge everyday? What percentage of total miles will be on the grid, and what percentage on gasoline?

E.U. says it will be mindful of sustainability in boosting biofuels

Realizing that biofuel production can have negative social and environmental consequences, the European Commission says it will propose “strict conditions that biofuels used in the European market are produced in a sustainable way” instead of …

Antarctica ice melt more widespread and faster than thought, says study

Antarctica holds about 90 percent of the Earth’s ice, so it’s a bit problematic that the continent seems to be melting faster than expected. Not only is large-scale ice loss more widespread than thought, but …

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