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Al Gore and electric car star in films unveiled at Sundance

At 25 years of age, Sundance is the country's premier festival of independent film. But a lot has changed over that quarter century. Well, actually, one thing has changed: m-o-n-e-y. There's a ton of Hollywood cash spent at Sundance, and I could see it everywhere I looked last week. The "VIP" corporate parties on Main Street. The piles of free stuff for celebrities. The Moviefone flacks in their garish red suits. The furry boots worn by nearly every female in town. In the midst of the hype, plenty of not-so-glamorous films were being screened. In fact, some watchers called this …

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SOTU: Coal execs confused, but pleased

The lede for this Wall Street Journal story is hilarious: Power-industry executives reacted with mild puzzlement to President Bush's proclamation that the nation needs to "invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants" to wean itself off foreign oil. That's because oil isn't used much to make power and no one has yet developed a way to burn coal that produces no emissions. They go on to say, of course, that they're delighted to be the recipient of a whole new bundle of subsidies. And who wouldn't be?

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This Global Thing Is Everywhere!

Weird weather is messing with marine ecosystems along the West Coast Tens of thousands of starved seabirds washed up on West Coast beaches last spring, and researchers are blaming -- surprise! -- above-normal ocean temperatures and weird weather and wind patterns. Half of the auklets in California's Farallon Islands didn't even try to breed last spring, and those that tried started late. One colony of birds in Washington state fledged 88 chicks instead of the usual 8,000. And it's not just birds that have been suffering as ocean temperatures along the Pacific coast have risen the last three years. Populations …

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Feds Say the Darnedest Things

Bush's quasi-bold pronouncements on oil prompt criticism, backpedaling In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Bush declared that "America is addicted to oil" and that he would "make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past." Within 24 hours, fiasco ensued. Saudi Arabia's ambassador said he would ask Bush, ahem, "what he exactly meant by that." Oil industry lobbyists squealed; libertarians nigh fainted. Energy experts (read: the literate) pointed out that most of the R&D programs mentioned in the speech -- "clean coal," nuclear, wind, solar, etc. -- are designed to generate electricity and …

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SOTU: 'Replace' mideast oil with what?

Maybe oil from elsewhere?

In an earlier post, I calculated (based on 2004 figures -- I may update them shortly) that Bush's "great goal: to replace more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025" would involve lowering U.S. oil consumption by 10.5% over 19 years. Not very ambitious. But it's worth noting that even there I may be giving Bush too much credit. I'm assuming that he means to "replace" the Middle Eastern oil with alternatives -- biofuels, electric cars, hydrogen cars, whatnot. It's at least possible, though, that he means to replace Middle Eastern oil with non-Middle …

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Might as Well Face It, You’re Addicted to Oil

In SOTU speech, Bush decries oil addiction, promises half-measures Those expecting bold, groundbreaking environmental policy from President Bush's fifth State of the Union address were, uh, deluded. The big "news" is Bush's stark declaration that "America is addicted to oil." Though he's made remarks about dependence on "foreign oil" in every SOTU he's delivered, this was his most blunt acknowledgement of America's energy dilemma. But Bush's policy response -- the "Advanced Energy Initiative," a set of relatively modest subsidies for "clean coal," nuclear, ethanol, solar, and wind -- feel short of historical, to say the least. Notably lacking in the …

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SOTU: Oil addiction

The cat is out of the bag

Despite the modesty -- not to say wimpiness -- the Bush's proposed energy initiative, the real news of the night will be this line: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. I don't know if this is Nixon-goes-to-China territory, but it's every bit as significant as Clinton acknowledging that "the era of big government is over." This kind of cat cannot be put back in the bag. Humorously, Bush tried to put it back in the bag with his very next line: The best way to break this addiction is through technology. …

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Book Your Guilt Trip Today!

British enviros curb flying to protest airplane emissions A growing number of British enviros are quitting or cutting back on air travel, resisting the siren song of low-fare, no-frills airlines. "I just realized that all my other efforts to be green -- recycling, insulating the house, not driving a giant 4x4 -- would be totally wiped out by a couple of holidays by air," said Michael Gibson, one participant in this fledgling movement. A round-trip flight from the U.K. to Florida produces about as much CO2 as a year's worth of driving by the average Brit, and the number of …

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High oil prices make for the strangest bedfellows

A coalition plugs (ha ha) for plug-in hybrids

How did everybody miss this? Declaring the country's economy, environmental health and national security at risk, a grassroots coalition of cities including Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle as well as electric utilities and national policy organizations today kicked off a nationwide campaign to urge automakers to accelerate development of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Click on the webcast if you want to see a bunch of stuffed shirts give speeches. Even Senator Hatch (the ultra conservative Republican from Utah) shows up late to throw in his two cents. The only real expert on the panel was Dr. Andrew …

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Billy-Come-Lately

Bill Clinton calls climate change public enemy No. 1 In a Saturday speech to the assembled corporate bigwigs and governmental muckety-mucks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, former President Bill Clinton called global warming the single most pressing problem facing the world. "It's the only thing that I believe has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it," he said, "and make a lot of the other efforts that we're making irrelevant and impossible." He called on the attendees to support "a serious global effort to develop a clean energy future." A voice …