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a walk through the week's climate news

The Climate Post: Obama’s new budget would make Big Oil pay for clean energy

The president gives a preview of his budget in his weekly address.Republicans are vowing to fight President Obama's newly released budget for the 2012 fiscal year. Among other things, the new budget includes a few significant changes to spending on climate and energy research. In the energy sector, it calls for slashing tax breaks and loopholes for fossil fuel producers to bring in about $4 billion dollars of additional revenue. Obama has asked to end these fossil fuel subsidies in the past two years' budgets, however, and was shot down each time. (Meanwhile, a House bill called the Ending Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act would …

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It ain't Monopoly money

Hidden costs, despite being hidden, are costs

Harold Pollack has a post on gold mining making the familiar point that there are all sorts of market failures that support destructive environmental practices. If the mine in question actually had to pay for the costs it imposes -- or even pay fair price for the land it occupies -- it could never compete in an open market. In short, the gold mine survives by privatizing profits and externalizing costs. Like I said, this point about "externalities" is familiar to greens the world over. But Pollack says something in his last line that's worth expanding on: When companies actually …

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Road to recovery act

The Recovery Act: the most important energy bill in American history

If the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) had been an energy bill, it would arguably have been the single-most important piece of clean energy legislation in our nation's history. It drove unprecedented new investments -- both public and private -- into modernizing America's clean energy infrastructure. And its clean energy provisions alone have already saved or created 63,000 jobs and are expected to create more than 700,000 jobs by 2012. Now that ARRA has run its course, we need to stay committed to these investments to keep building the U.S. clean energy industry and remain globally competitive. Newly elected …

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Can you hear me now?

New poll: The public trusts EPA, loves the Clean Air Act, and wants Congress to butt out

That's love.Original photo: Matt CramptonAs everyone knows by now, Republicans have launched a massive, coordinated assault on EPA, attempting to block its greenhouse gas regulations, its air and water regulations, and in some cases its very existence. In the surreal hothouse atmosphere of the Beltway, where anti-government radicals are ascendant and everybody's watching the same three cable news channels, this can seem reasonable -- even inevitable. But if we can collectively pull our heads out of the Beltway's ass and take in a wider view of the country, it quickly becomes clear that the Republican attack on EPA is radically …

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Batteries included

California to green its grid with energy storage

With intermittent sources like wind and solar becoming more common, energy storage is increasingly seen as crucial for greening the grid.Photo: mike_tnIn just about every story on renewable energy, there's a familiar cast of characters: green power developers, utilities, and sundry state and federal regulators. But there's one key player that often lurks in the background -- the grid operator. In the Golden State, most of the power grid is controlled by the California Independent System Operator. Based in a suburb of Sacramento, Cal ISO, as it's known, essentially ensures that electricity supply and demand stay in balance to prevent …

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Just in case

The U.S. government is an insurance conglomerate and it should insure against climate change too

Photo: David HilowitzMainstream economic modeling isn't very good at incorporating the more severe risks of climate change, as I mentioned last week. The low-probability, high-impact possibilities that show up in the "long tail" of probability distribution -- collapsing ice sheets, massive methane emissions from the permafrost -- just completely short-circuit conventional models. As a result, economists have created better models largely ignored those risks. Rather than incorporating the wide range of probabilities, economists use seemingly firm numbers like the median or mean, which creates projections that have a comforting illusion of precision. "The modelling thus becomes a knob-twiddling exercise in …

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Giving the coal shoulder

Behind the scenes in the big fight against coal

Down with coal!The climate fight hasn't been going well lately. The Copenhagen conference in Dec. 2009 seemed to mark the effective end of international efforts to control carbon. The U.S. Senate couldn't even bring itself to vote on cap-and-trade last summer. In November, a GOP committed to climate denial won new strength in the Congress. Right now, the House is busy trying to strip the EPA of the right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Oh, and 2010 was the warmest year on record. But there is one fight that's gone very much the right way, and it holds lessons for …

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Holes in our pockets

House Republican budget cuts would strangle innovation

This article was cross-posted from the Center for American Progress. President Barack Obama's State of the Union on Jan. 25, 2011, waved the green flag for innovation and competition in the cleantech sector. He proposed a number of programs to speed the development and manufacturing of domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors to help American businesses race with their Chinese, German, and other competitors. But before the president's proposals had completed their initial laps in Congress, the Republicans' proposed House "continuing resolution" (or spending bill) for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 (FY 2011) waves the yellow caution flag …

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My obligatory grumpy budget post

Budget posturing is a game, and the left is losing

Chop chop.Today is Budget Day -- Obama unveils his FY 2012 budget proposal -- and political reporters the land over are aflutter. I'm being bombarded with press releases, think tank analyses, denunciations, and counter-denunciations. Politico is having multiple Os. Meh. Ryan Avent gets it right: it's political theater, and poor theater at that. Congress controls the budget, not Obama -- specifically the House of Representatives, currently controlled by Republican radicals. Everyone's positioning themselves for political battles to come. So the nitty-gritty details of Obama's budget don't much matter. Congress will do what it will do. What matters is the larger …

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New Contest for Exposing Polluter Lobbyists’ Influence

Are you a lobbyist for the coal industry, looking for the best way to meet members of Congress who will put your dirty energy money ahead of modern environmental standards and their constituents' health? Maybe the chairman of a powerful congressional committee, seeking yet another industry lobbyist to join your staff and help roll back the Clean Air Act, choosing polluters over children's health? Or a giant oil company who wants everyone to forget about that devastating oil spill and need some insiders to pull the strings in the halls of power? If so, then you need to check out Polluterharmony.com …