Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Fossil Fuels


World Bank to the poor: ‘Coal’s good enough for you!’

The World Bank -- famous for funding gobsmackingly huge, planet-killing coal-fired power plants -- is changing its tune, sort of. Under a new set of proposed rules, the Bank would only be allowed to fund gobsmackingly huge, planet-killing coal-fired power plants in the world's poorest countries. Progress! Okay, that sounds dastardly, but it’s a little complicated. The world's poorest countries are exactly the countries that will suffer most under climate change, so less coal is good (though no coal would be better). But they’re also the countries for whom energy poverty represents an even bigger threat than climate change, meaning …


Coal plants don’t create the jobs they promise, study finds

Coal-fired power plants sicken and kill tens of thousands of Americans every year, especially those (generally low-income, often minority) Americans who have the misfortune of living near them. So why would any community allow a coal plant to be built in its midst? Indeed, why would communities pay enormous amounts of money in bribes development assistance for the privilege? Simple: jobs. Lots of these communities are suffering from blight and high unemployment. They are desperate. And developers play on that desperation with promises of jobs. It may sicken your children, but at least you'll be able to afford their medicine! …


Peak Oil, not Libya, is the reason you’re paying more at the pump

The further into the post-carbon age we grind, the more mainstream the notion of peak oil becomes. Long derided because it runs contrary to the only two things more American than football and corn syrup -- that would be endless economic expansion and our right to commute 90 minutes a day, should we so choose -- the recent uptick in gas prices has got the Canadians, at least, waking up to the reality of dwindling supplies of cheap oil. A prominent energy scientist blames record-high gas prices on the approach of peak oil -- a point when the world’s oil …


Is Obama’s weak-sauce energy policy just savvy political Kung-Fu?

For the next couple of years, Obama is playing defense on climate change, and that could explain the fairly tame energy policy he announced yesterday, says Ezra Klein of The Washington Post. Like the Kung-Fu masters of yore, he knows that he cannot hope to defeat his opponents in a frontal assault. These are, after all, politicians who would strip the EPA of even its existing power to regulate greenhouse gases, so there's no way in hell they'd vote for strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Rather, he's got to bend like the reed. If he puts forth a …


Senator from Louisiana wants to drill for oil in Alaska

David Vitter (R-La.) has 28 cosponsors on a bill in the Senate that would block EPA climate regulations (par for the course), expand offshore oil exploration (how soon we forget), and … open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling. It's the political football that just won't go away. If this country is around 200 years from now, you can bet we'll still be debating whether or not to audit women's abortions and drill in Alaska. I guess we should be grateful no one has figured out how to turn caribou into fuel … yet.


The conflict at the heart of U.S. energy policy: domestic extraction vs. cheap energy

Imagine you're out to dinner with your spouse. When the waiter comes, she says, "I'm trying to decide between the house salad and the deep-fried twinkie. Which would you recommend?" You might think many things, but "she sure knows what she wants" is not one of them. Now shift to Washington D.C., where we are simultaneously discussing how much we should subsidize domestic fuel production and whether or not we can afford to enact (or even maintain) incentives for clean technologies to wean us off fossil fuel dependence. The stakes are higher than the silly dinner example, but the conclusion …