Climate & Energy

More significant energy developments in D.C. today

Lots of stuff going on in D.C.

Lordy, the developments are happening so fast I can barely keep up with them. Here are a few more of note. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va) are teaming up to put together comprehensive climate legislation. You can bet that whatever they come up with is going to be way over on the business-friendly side of things, but nonetheless this is a big development. Lieberman and Warner are both key members of the Senate EPW committee, where chair Barbara Boxer has come under fire lately for losing control of the climate change issue and letting it slide. Warner …

How we know we're not wrong about climate change

A professor of History and Science Studies explains

For those interested in why the scientific community is so certain about climate change, take a look at this presentation and this book chapter, both by Naomi Oreskes. She does a great job explaining how science reaches conclusions, and why we can be pretty sure that humans are indeed warming the climate.

More Dingell

The House’s most indecipherable, um, cipher

I’ve been getting some interesting — and widely varied — reactions to this post on Dingell. So here’s a follow-up. First, MoveOn’s political action campaign director, Ilyse Hogue, sends me this: Rep. Dingell has been late to the game and is well behind other Democratic leaders whose vision can make our country competitive in the 21st century. His calls in the last couple days for greenhouse gas reductions and (maybe) a carbon tax are good steps. But this is not about horse trading; it’s about listening to the American people and a climate bill that takes stand against industry and …

RPS, as viewed from the states of the Old Confederacy

Their reasons aren’t all that unreasonable

Yesterday, I spoke to a group of manufacturers in Arkansas. Throughout the conference there was a fair amount of pride in the successful squashing of Bingaman's RPS bill -- and for reasons that are not entirely unreasonable. Among the speakers was the chair of the Arkansas Energy Commission, who said that he personally objected to the bill because it was unfair. Specifically, it would not allow Arkansas to count their existing hydro-electric capacity in the RPS targets, but would allow existing wind to count. From his perspective, this looked like a sop to Bingaman's wind-rich home district, and while we might personally dispute this interpretation, it is easy to see how it could happen. It is further proof for my earlier point that a path-based RPS is bound to fail, for the simple reason that you will never get a majority of states to agree that a wind/solar dominated RPS is in their interests. Change the structure so that it provides incentives for the goal rather than the path and you could break the southern opposition. There are more low-zero carbon fuels out there than are dreamt of in current RPS philosophies. If your state is long on biomass, bagasse, waste heat or wind, those should all be eligible -- not because we redefine our eligibility targets, but because we define the goal in terms of carbon reduction and then open up the door to any path that can get there. Until then, we're not going to get an RPS.  Note that the southern utilities are boasting about their success in killing this last one -- let's not give them more to crow about. From Greenwire (sub. rqd.): Southern utilities led effort to squash Senate RPS proposal ATLANTA -- Southern utilities played key roles in the effort to undermine plans in the Senate last week to require power companies to generate at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable energy. The fingerprints of the Tennessee Valley Authority and those of the Tennessee Valley Power Providers Association, whose members distribute TVA power to nearly 9 million customers in the South, were all over the successful effort to keep the so-called renewable portfolio standard (RPS) out of the sweeping Senate energy bill.

Liquid coal op-ed

Come and read it

I’ve got an op-ed on the Guardian‘s opinion site about — what else? — liquid coal. Here’s how it starts: They say the first thing you should do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging. But if there’s one thing the coal industry loves, it’s digging. Generating electricity by burning coal has ravaged the climate, but it’s made coal barons in the US rich. They worried for a while that global warming would mean the end of the gravy train – they’re the ones who started the massive climate-change disinformation campaign back in the 1980s – …

Another great benefit of global warming

Especially for dermatologists

Those who argue that increasing carbon dioxide is good because it's "plant food" should consider this article from the WSJ about poison ivy. It says: Poison ivy, the scourge of summer campers, hikers and gardeners, is getting worse. New research shows the rash-inducing plant appears to be growing faster and producing more potent oil compared with earlier decades. The reason? Rising ambient carbon-dioxide levels create ideal conditions for the plant, producing bigger leaves, faster growth, hardier plants and oil that's even more irritating. Although the data on poison ivy come from controlled studies, they suggest the vexing plant is more ubiquitous than ever. And the more-potent oil produced by the plants may result in itchier rashes. "If it's producing a more virulent form of the oil, then even a small or more casual contact will result in a rash," says Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Md.

Solar sale

Better than the redhead

So you want to get in on the solar boom, but don't have the cash to buy a manufacturing plant. What to do, what to do ... I know! Why not try the same place that got you a date with the redhead on the bus, your last apartment, and your '79 Mercedes that you'd run on biodiesel if you could ever get the damn thing to turn over? Yes, Craigslist. They are having a sale on triple junction thin-film amorphous PV manufacturing plants. Give it a shot. Maybe it will work out better than the redhead.

Is this the right time to attack Dingell?

He’s pro-carbon tax, anti-CAFE — which matters more?

Last week, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chair of the Energy & Commerce Committee, dropped this bomb (sub. rqd.): My own judgment is that we are going to have to adopt a cap-and-trade system and some form of carbon emission fee to achieve the reductions we need. Lest you missed it, “carbon emission fee” is clever poli-speak for carbon tax. Meanwhile, the liberal grassroots group MoveOn has launched a full frontal assault on Dingell, with radio ads calling him a "Dingellsaurus." They’re joined by several other groups, including Greenpeace, which has called for Dingell’s ouster as chair of the E&C Committee. …

A Ruckus in Caracas

ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips leave Venezuela over oil dispute Say what you will about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the guy knows how to keep things interesting. Tired of multinational oil companies having all the fun in his resource-rich country, he has pushed for state control of the Orinoco Belt, the largest energy reserve in the Western Hemisphere; the area holds an estimated 260 billion barrels of extractable crude. Four companies, including Chevron and BP, agreed to minority stakes in their own operations, but two big guys — ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips — backed out. The departure leaves Exxon with no Venezuelan ventures, although …

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