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Energy Policy


Chart attack

Charts explain our current situation and how to improve it

The hundreds of data sets that accompany Lester Brown’s latest book, World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, illustrate the world’s current predicament and give a sense of where we might go from here. Here are some highlights from the collection. Veering toward the edge: As the world economy has expanded nearly 10-fold since 1950, consumption has begun to outstrip natural assets on a global scale. The same values that have allowed ecological deficits to grow are contributing to ballooning fiscal deficits around the world, threatening to undermine economic progress. Some of the planet’s natural capital, …


Polls apart

New polls: Americans trust the EPA over Congress

Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Just days after a series of budget votes in the U.S. House, which NRDC Executive Director Peter Lehner called "an unprecedented assault on public health, clean air, fresh water, open space and wildlife," NRDC is releasing 20 new polls to probe how Americans nationally and in 19 key districts feel about votes to block the EPA's work to protect public health. The new results are consistent with what we've found in previous polls and the American Lung Association showed just last week, Americans want the EPA to be able to do its job. …


The Coase isn't clear

The shaky foundations of free-market environmentalism

Photo: Steve RhodesCross-posted from Sightline Daily. [CORRECTION: As mentioned in the comments under this post on Sightline, this discussion of the "Coase theorem" contains several errors -- most notably, that Coase himself did not present his arguments mathematically. In fact, according to a number of sources, there really is no single "Coase theorem" -- instead, there are several different and somewhat conflicting notions that followers and interpreters of Coase have presented as theorems. For more, please read the comments on Sightline.] Those inclined to be uncharitable might see the phrase "free-market environmentalism" as somewhere between oxymoronic and greenwashing. But I'm …


Utah’s auction hero

Climate activist Tim DeChristopher goes to trial

An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law. -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Jennifer PredigerTim DeChristopher talks about his upcoming trial with filmmaker Jon Cooksey. Dearest readers, I want to share a story of an ordinary citizen using peaceful direct action to take a stand. When Tim DeChristopher woke up one morning in December of 2008, what he was intending to do that day was disrupt …


Wonk fight!

Climate reformists challenge old economic models

A few weeks ago I wrote about the seemingly different futures foretold by climate science and climate economics. The former is filled with peril and haunted by the unthinkable, the latter blithely assured of continued prosperity. Most economic modeling, you'll recall, forecasts the continued rise of global gross domestic product (GDP) -- people in the future will be richer than we are today. Depending on various assumptions, climate damage will reduce the rate of GDP growth anywhere from 2 to 20 percent by 2050, but under no scenario does climate damage stall or reverse that rate of growth. Collapse is …


Revolution greens

The energy [r]evolution has begun

Access to energy is vital for our economies, but energy is one of the main sources of the greenhouse gas emissions putting our climate at risk. It follows that we need to transition to a low-carbon, renewable energy mix. That aspiration is frequently debated -- at times encouraged, often mocked -- but it bears emphasizing: the energy revolution is already underway. Greenpeace, the German Space Agency (DLR), and the European Renewable Energy Council -- representing over 400,000 renewable energy workers -- joined forces back in 2007 and have since published more than 40 global, regional, and national Energy [R]evolution scenarios. …


Can you hear me now?

The American people really, really support clean energy

This is from a USA Today/Gallup poll from last month: The same month, House Speaker John Boehner said to the new Congress, "The people voted to end business as usual and today we begin to carry out their instructions." I'll be looking for those solar incentives then.


'Til Jeff do us part

Jeff Bingaman retiring; Senate to get even dumber on clean energy

New Mexico Sen. Jeff BingamanBig news today: Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is retiring. He won't run for reelection in 2012. All political pundits are required by law to write something about What This Means, so here goes. First, it means Senate Dems are not very optimistic about their chances in 2012. Jim Webb (Va.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) are also declining to run for reelection. Janet Napolitano recently announced she won't run for the open Arizona seat. The basic problem is that 21 Senate Dems are up for reelection in 2012 and …


scorched earth policy

GOP would rather shut down the government than protect your air and water

Photo: Nathan ColquhounHouse Republicans, who have been spending much of the term so far creating jobs via strict regulation of women's uteruses, are now doing their damnedest to create jobs via destroying the EPA. The plan is basically "1) thwart progressive ideals; 2) step 2; 3) jobs for everyone!" What if you don't want a job on the Fallopian Patrol or the Pro-Pollution Brigade? Well, screw you, buddy, this is the only idea they have. Tricky dicks: Rather than propose their environment-killing provisions individually, Republicans are sticking them in as amendments on spending legislation. It's basically 10 pounds of sh*t …


been there, skimmed that

Another bogus report tries to discredit energy efficiency

If you think efficiency doesn't save money, you haven't been looking at the data.Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. This piece was coauthored by Ralph Cavanagh, senior attorney and co-director of NRDC's energy program. Throughout almost four decades of societal progress in getting more work out of less energy, those who deny the promise of energy efficiency have persisted in a bizarre claim: Any energy savings from efficiency are offset by activities that demand additional energy consumption. While implausible concerns about "rebound effect" have been around since the mid-19th century, they have not impeded recent progress in improving the efficiency …