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Energy Policy


shale shocked

Pittsburgh’s drinking water is radioactive, thanks to fracking. Only question is, how much?

The drinking water of tens of millions of Pennsylvanians is threatened by natural-gas fracking -- including the 2.3 million who live in Pittsburgh.Photo: Via Tsuji Residents of Pittsburgh -- as well as potentially tens of millions of other everyday citizens in the Northeast corridor who rely on their taps to deliver safe water -- are consuming unknown and potentially dangerous amounts of radium in every glass of water. That's the buried lede in the Sunday New York Times' massive exposé on fracking, the relatively new process for extracting natural gas from the massive shale formation that stretches from Virginia to …


Are you fracking kidding me?

EPA lets natural gas industry brazenly pollute my state’s drinking water

That's some fracked up sh*t: a natural gas rig does its thing in Dimock, Pa. Photo: Helen Slottje, via arimooreIn a perfect world, everyone would read The New York Times' frankly terrifying exposé on the EPA's rather timid oversight of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania -- and public outrage would force the EPA to do its job. That means protecting my state's water from the ravages of the natural gas industry. But just in case it doesn't work out that way, I'll soldier on. As a Philly resident, I very much have a dog in this fight. As jaded …


purple mountain's travesty

Will natural-gas fracking turn New York into a 21st century Appalachia?

How much is it worth to you to put up with contaminated drinking water?Photo: Helen SlottjeLet's define "Appalachia" at the beginning: a place blessed with mountains above below-ground natural resources, but cursed with chronically high unemployment; a place where natural resources are not owned by the landowners; a place where extracting those natural resources poisons its waters, land, air, and human beings. The Appalachian Mountains run from New York to Georgia. The term "Appalachia" usually refers to the coal-dependent central and southern parts, i.e., West Virginia and adjacent states ... until now. The Marcellus Shale is turning Pennsylvania and upstate …


Sen. Sherrod Brown and the Clean Air Act

Sen. Sherrod Brown.Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. There are things to like in Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-Ohio) letter to President Obama today about the Clean Air Act and carbon pollution. However, the letter is off base in its concern about EPA's reasonable steps to assure that big new plants reduce their pollution to protect public health. Sen. Brown starts by recognizing the achievements of the nation's 40-year-old air pollution law: "For decades, the Clean Air Act has been a remarkably successful law that has protected the health and well-being of all Americans by significantly reducing the emissions of …


baby steps

New EPA regulations better but not good enough

The regulations will require the installation of scrubbers at plants like this one.Photo: Duke EnergyEPA released revised regulations for industrial and commercial boilers and incinerators this week. Implemented under the Clean Air Act, the move is a step in the right direction for reducing air pollution. But it misses out on opportunities to maximize net economic benefits for the American public.  In this version, revised in the face of significant political backlash, the rules were made less stringent to lower compliance costs. Compared to an earlier draft of the rule, emissions limits for many pollutants are more forgiving, and some …


over a barrel

SYMPATHY RAGE: Watch Henry Blodget yell about this country’s complete lack of an energy plan

Feeling angry that America's economy is about to fall apart because oil and gas industries have a stranglehold on our political landscape, sprawl rules your city and no one seems willing to move toward a more rational energy and transportation future? You're welcome.


Plugging in

Chicago to build electric car charging network

An electric car charging station next to a gas station in Lake Oswego, Ore.Photo: Todd MecklemFirst Chicago gets Rahm Emanuel, now electric cars. Well, at least an electric car infrastructure. In a move that indicates electric cars won't just be a phenomenon of Greater Portlandia, utility Exelon and the city will roll out 280 charging stations across Chicagoland by year's end. Two stations will even be solar-powered. It's part of a smart grid demonstration project, partially funded by the federal government, to get a jump-start on the potential impact on the electric system if Chicagoans start buying battery-powered vehicles in …


No less qualified than the gipper

Guy who punked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is running for Congress as Green Party candidate

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Helvetica} The story of Ian Murphy -- the editor of the Buffalo Beast who convinced Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) that he was billionaire David Koch and then recorded their union-bashing, possibly illegal phone conversation -- just keeps getting better. Murphy just revealed to Samantha Henig of The New Yorker that he's going to run for Congress, under the banner of the Green Party -- for the seat recently vacated by Republican Christopher Lee of shirtless-photo-on-Craigslist fame, no less. [For those who missed the first act of this story: Prank call proves billionaire …

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Boiler room for improvement

Why it’s hard to make polluters pay for their own messes

Scoffing at the idea of externalities is a lot easier when wearing a gas mask.Industrial boilers and incinerators currently receive an enormous public subsidy. They emit toxic air pollutants like mercury, cadmium, and acid gases, which even in extremely small amounts cause a range of health maladies from asthma to heart attacks to premature death, yet the operators of those boilers and incinerators do not pay those health costs. The public picks up the tab for that. You're welcome, boiler operators! The public health costs imposed by boilers are classic "externalities" -- costs of production that aren't paid by producers, …


By leaps and rebounds

Rebounding to a smarter energy efficiency perspective

It's easy to tangle up ideas, especially when we approach an issue from a narrow perspective. That seems to be the case with the newly published report by the Breakthrough Institute. Their topic? The "rebound effect." Their target? Greater levels of energy efficiency. Their conclusion? The rebound effect will negate most of the energy and emissions gains we might see from more productive investments in energy efficiency. Many in business and policy communities increasingly see energy efficiency as a smart, no-regrets investment opportunity for the U.S. Just one example? It turns out that our current system of generating and delivering …