Climate & Energy

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Senate Environment Committee hearing

Prepared statements of those testifying before the committee

Prepared statements, now available: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Ca), Chairman, Committee on the Environment and Public Works David Hawkins, Director, Climate Center, Natural Resources Defense Council Dr. David Greene, Corporate Fellow, Geography and Environmental Engineering, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Robert Baugh, Executive Director, Industrial Union Council, AFL-CIO Andrew Sharkey, President and CEO, American Iron and Steel Institute Donald R. Rowlett, Director of Regulatory Policy and Compliance, OGE Energy Corp.

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Senate Environment Committee hearing

Cardin wants more money for public transit

Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) says he can support the bill if it provides more funds for public transportation, including at the state level. He said this in the context of a response to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who wants the bill changed to a sector-by-sector (as opposed to economy-wide) cap-and-trade system. Cardin suggested that Senators shouldn't be demanding extraordinary changes to the legislation and threatening to withhold support unless their demands are met. My guess? Cardin's suggestion is futile.

Tracking Lieberman-Warner: Senate Environment Committee hearing

Tom Carper requests improvements in ASCA

Tom Carper (D-Del.) has said he will be able to support the legislation if it: includes provisions to mitigate pollutants like nitrogen oxide and mercury found most widely in the northeastern United States; moves to a more just allocation system -- one that devotes more credits to cleaner energy sources; contains no built-in punishment of early actors, companies that have already begun mitigating their emissions. Not the most ambitious of demands, but there they are.

Coal: Still not cheap

The cost of the FutureGen ‘clean coal’ plant doubles

This from Greenwire today ($ub req'd): "The DOE FutureGen program has announced that their "clean coal" plus carbon sequestration is checking in at $1.8 billion for a 275 MW plant, or $6500/kW." OK, so it's at an early stage, but even if you cut that cost in half, it still doesn't pencil out. How long before we get over the illusion that coal is cheap? Story below the fold. (Note that I have given them the benefit of the doubt that their description of the plant as a "275 watt" facility was a typographical error.)

The heart of the matter

Everything comes down to whether fighting climate change will hurt ordinary voters

Many, many, many, many people have criticized the astonishingly stupid headline on last Tuesday’s front-page Washington Post story: "Climate Is a Risky Issue for Democrats." The Republican base still clings to denial of plain reality, …

How 'bout investing in Chinese coal?

Maybe get filthy rich

Now that the U.S. housing market has cooled off, American investors are looking to the Chinese coal industry. Another risky proposition, but for different reasons. As China's appetite for coal is booming, American investors and businesses are cashing in. American pension and mutual fund money is being invested in the Chinese coal industry ... "In general, they're doing a very smart thing," said Mike Tian, an analyst with independent investment research company Morningstar. "That's where the money is."

Alaska oil-tax bribery scandal widens, may include members of Congress

For the last year or so, ugly truths about Alaskan politics have been oozing into the limelight as state and federal officials unravel a scandal involving cash bribes, an oil tax, bowling scores, and sleeping …

Toxic optimists vs. plaid shirts

Delusional Beltway optimism about energy

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a seminar hosted by several departments at the University of Texas on the topic of "peak oil." The occasion was the visit of David Sundalow of the Brookings Institution, who is hawking his new book Freedom from Oil. This was mutually convenient for him and the university, which is trying to carve out a position as an optimistic, rolled-up-sleeves, can-do problem-solver in the fields of energy and water. I have no objection to that approach and am pleased to be somewhat distantly associated with it. That said, I did not leave the event with great enthusiasm for Sundalow's book. It was worthwhile in that it drew for me a sharp distinction between can-do optimism and unrealistic, delusional optimism. I think a train wreck of development, energy, food, environment, and warfare, all driven by a hugely overpopulated planet, is going to be very hard to avoid. I think we can avoid it, and even when I am pessimistic I whistle a happy tune and act as if we can avoid it -- because without optimism there is no hope. Optimism is a moral imperative. That said, it needs to be reality-based optimism. Sometimes the things we want to work aren't the things that are going to work.

Priorities

Here’s a nice little graph showing U.S. R&D spending in various types of energy compared to spending in Iraq for 2007 (click on the image for background): This is what we, collectively, deem important.