Climate & Energy

Pricing carbon

Give away rights or sell them?

Joseph Romm in his post on Dingell's carbon tax proposal says: Politically, you can't raise carbon prices high enough to raise gasoline prices since even $1 a gallon -- probably the minimum to significantly change fuel economy if Europe is any evidence -- would require a carbon charge of $400 per tonne of carbon -- which would be very harsh to coal, adding more than 10 cents per kilowatt-hour to coal electricity, and politically impossible (I'll post more on this later). Also, the reason cap-and-trade has not worked well in Europe is that the Europeans didn't have a lot of experience with it and during their trial period they issued too many permits. I don't know If Romm noticed, but paragraph two represents exactly the same weakness for caps as paragraph one represents for a carbon tax: it is politically difficult to get a high-enough tax or a low-enough cap through. Romm also notes that the Clinton administration could not get through even a weak carbon tax. True enough, but the Clinton administration also could not get through ratification of the Kyoto treaty -- which would have included a really easily met cap, much weaker than most (though not all) of the cap-and-trade proposals now before Congress.

More from YearlyKos foreign policy panel

Hey, look, somebody asked a question about energy in the foreign policy panel! Beinart says this issue has undergone a sea change — everyone’s talking about it. Clemons says the global oil situation is heading in a grim direction. On domestic renewables: "There’s a corrupt game going on between those like James Woolsey who just want energy independence and will fund any scam (i.e. corn ethanol) that claims to address it, and those who also want to solve global warming. This is the next big bubble. There’s a gross and corrupt game going on." Word to that. Wish he had …

Scurry Up and Wait

With August recess looming, Congress pushes energy, climate, water bills Know how, when you’re about to go on vacation, you suddenly realize you have a ton of work to do, so you scramble to finish it all, and you do kind of a half-assed job, but you promise yourself you’ll deal with the loose ends when you get back? Hellooooo, Congress. With the four-week August recess starting Monday, the House and Senate have been getting bizzy. The House is debating its version of the energy bill today; to move things along, House leaders skirted a discussion over fuel economy, but …

An interview with Chris Dodd about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. Update: Chris Dodd dropped out of the presidential race on Jan. 3, 2008. Chris Dodd. Photo: Michael Millhollin via flickr Chris Dodd hasn’t been out front on environmental issues during his 32 years in Congress, but he’s clearly aiming to out-green his competitors in the 2008 presidential campaign. He has earned props in enviro circles for being the only candidate with the political cojones to call for a corporate carbon tax as a way to fight global warming, and for endorsing a strict …

Dems do in fact wimp out on CAFE for now


E&E Daily (subs. req'd) confirms earlier press reports: Markey [D-MA] said in a statement yesterday that he decided to pull his amendment after consulting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), even though he believed he had the votes to move the legislation. While Pelosi personally favored a CAFE standard of 35 miles per gallon, industry lobbyists said she did not whip votes on the legislation and it appeared Markey was not assured of the votes needed to pass the bill.

Of cars and carbon

How the Prius stacks up against other cars

Sure, everybody knows that what you drive affects how much you warm the climate. But after the jump: a chart that proves the point.

Q: What's corn ethanol's footprint?

A: The cropland area of several states

According to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), U.S. farmers planted 92.9 million acres of corn in 2007, exceeding last year's corn area by 19 percent and surpassing the USDA's earlier projection (in March) by 3 percent. To put that number into perspective, it is equal to the total arable (cropland) area of four of the nation's leading farm states: Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota and Oklahoma. The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) forecasts that some 2.18 billion bushels of that corn will be converted to ethanol this year. At an average expected yield of 149.1 bushels per acre, that translates into 14.6 million acres -- an area equal to the combined arable cropland of the entire northeastern United States (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York State, and New England). The 6.9 billion gallons of ethanol thereby produced will displace, on an energy-equivalent basis (and not accounting for the energy consumed in producing the ethanol), roughly 3 percent of the nation's annual gasoline consumption. I just thought some readers would find these numbers interesting.

It's time for a national renewable portfolio standard

The energy policy that kicks ass and gets too little support

As this story in the WaPo makes clear, one of the more controversial measures in the House energy bill is a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which would require that utilities produce 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Legislators in Southern states — where, it is conventionally thought, there is little renewable power available — oppose it. They’re afraid their constituents will be stuck with higher energy prices. They are wrong. A national RPS would benefit energy consumers in all states. Furthermore, it is one of the most effective and important measures in shifting from fossil …

Congress debates whether 'clean coal' is awesome or supercool


Witness as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee discusses clean coal: how awesome is it? Should we give it a gazillion dollars, or alternatively, a fajillion? Tough questions! Note: 9:32 [Carl] Bauer [director, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Energy Department] Given current technology and coal consumption, the US has about 250 years of coal use. Um, no. Not according to NAS: It is clear that there is enough coal at current rates of production to meet anticipated needs through 2030, and probably enough for 100 years, the committee said. However, it is not possible to confirm the often-quoted assertion that …

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