Climate & Energy

Kansas denies permit for coal-fired power plant due to concern over CO2 emissions

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment on Thursday became the first government agency in the United States to reject a permit for construction of a coal-fired power plant based on its carbon dioxide emissions, …

Coal is the enemy of the human race: Roderick Bremby is a hero edition

Kansas coal plant air permit denied on basis of CO2

More bad news for coal / good news for humanity. This is a particularly delicious morsel, to be savored slowly, like a fine truffle. Roderick L. Bremby, enemy of coal, friend of the human race …

Coal is the enemy of the human race: Human race figures it out edition

Bad news abounds for Big Coal

If there’s anything that could drag me out of my hungover stupor today, it’s some bad news for coal, and luckily there’s plenty of it! Get this AP story: At least 16 coal-fired power plant …

A green civil war?

Environmental Defense has abandoned other green groups on Lieberman’s bill; how should they respond?

Over at, the always devastating Matt Stoller writes that "the green civil wars need to begin." He's urging other environmental groups to go after Environmental Defense for offering a ringing endorsement of the latest Warner-Lieberman climate bill. Environmental Defense is justifying a large corporate giveaway under the rubric of environmentalism, and the rest of the green community is letting ED get away with it. In terms of the policy, Environmental Defense is alone here. The green groups are remarkably polite to each other, as most of them started in the 1970s convinced that protecting the environment was a value system. At the time, it might have been. Today, the question is how to manage a commons, and these groups just don't agree with each other. There is no movement around the environment anymore, there are progressives, corporatists, and deniers, all fighting over a large multi-trillion dollar rapidly shrinking commons. The lack of robust internal debate among green groups means that ED's Fred Krupp can nonetheless speak for "the environmental movement," scoop up his corporate money, and throw everyone else to the curb. Having worked in the environmental movement, I've got to say that there is loads of "robust internal debate" and I know from my environmental friends that there has been very spirited debate on this exact issue within the green groups. But on the larger point, Matt is spot-on. Environmental Defense is once again destroying the unity of the environmental movement by endorsing this bill now despite some major weaknesses. In contrast, other environmental groups like Sierra Club are working hard to improve the bill -- and are reserving judgment until the final details are hammered out.

Economics and environmental protection

Nobel winner explains why markets can’t replace public goods

From Reuters: Societies should not rely on market forces to protect the environment or provide quality health care for all citizens, a winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for economics said on Monday. ... "The market doesn't work very well when it comes to public goods," said [Professor Eric] Maskin ... Mechanism Design Theory is one explanation for why even a well-regulated market with external costs priced via Pigovian or green taxes is inadequate in areas like environmental performance or health care. Certain types of goods -- public goods -- simply cannot be allocated efficiently through market mechanisms alone. This was known long before Mechanism Design Theory came along. For example, the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other nation, and gets worse results. There are various reasons for this, but one is that a competitive market in health insurance tends to provide more insurance and less healthcare than public insurance mechanisms.

If you'd like to see a good energy bill this year ...

Take action on the energy bill

... go here and sign the petition. As we've seen, the bill is hanging by thread with a threatened presidential veto and partisan squabbling in the Senate. Still, if Bush is going to threaten a veto, best to actually make him do so, and force the key issues, fuel economy standards and a renewable portfolio standard, into the public eye and hopefully the presidential campaign. This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Global warming divides the GOP presidential field

Rudy Giuliani’s stance on climate and energy

Many GOP contenders acknowledge that humans probably play some role in recent climate change -- but that's as far as the agreement goes, as the NY Times explained today: Senator John McCain of Arizona is calling for capping gas emissions linked to warming and higher fuel economy standards. Others, including Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney, are refraining from advocating such limits and are instead emphasizing a push toward clean coal and other alternative energy sources. All agree that nuclear power should be greatly expanded. McCain recently said, "I have had enough experience and enough knowledge to believe that unless we reverse what is happening on this planet, my dear friends, we are going to hand our children a planet that is badly damaged." Mr. Romney and Mr. Giuliani say little about the potential dangers of climate change and almost nothing about curbing emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. They talk almost exclusively about the need for independence from foreign oil as a necessity for national security. Fred D. Thompson, after mocking the threat in April, said more recently that "climate change is real" and suggested a measured approach until more was known about it. You can read about all the candidates' views (from both parties) at the NY Times election guide on climate change (or better yet, at Grist's special series on the candidates). Hillary will be announcing her energy plan next week, and we've already seen Obama's terrific plan. Since Rudy appears more and more likely to be the Republican nominee, let's look a bit more at where he stands (and at why even the NYT coverage of the subject remains as frustrating as ever):

Get your industrial agrodiesel here

Profit motive is eating the planet

The opening of the Propel Biofuels public pump was a smallish affair. The crowd of about thirty people appeared to consist mostly of investors, public relations personnel, some alternative energy enthusiasts, lots of press, and at least one lawyer. Because of the twelve-hour notice, and because it was in the middle of the week, only two protesters made it. There is going to be a bigger protest this Saturday (October 20), same place, same time (high noon, at the pump located at Bernie's Auto Repair -- see map). Keep in mind this will not be a protest against Bernie, but against industrial agrodiesel. The pump is self-serve and open to the public. Bernie's is closed on Saturdays. Consider dropping by for an hour or so to support those willing to publicly protest the for-profit takeover of the biosphere. It is remarkable how much impact protests can have. Imagine what a big one would do. Al Gore has called for civil disobedience. Some think Al Gore should be arrested. In any case, I'll be there along with my hybrid electric bike. Drop by and say hello. It seemed to me that there were two main goals at the opening:

Umbra on planes and cars

Hi Umbra, Which is less harmful to the environment when traveling long distances, flying or driving? A jet puts out a lot of exhaust, but since it carries a lot of people, maybe it’s less …

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