Fossil Fuels

Transportation

Why are we so angry at the pump? Because we have no choice

Photo: A SiegelEuropeans want to know: “Why are Americans so angry about petrol prices?“ An article on the BBC earlier this week looks at the question from a very high-minded, almost anthropological perspective. You can almost see the reporter screwing in his monocle to observe the colonists’ colorful ways. Aside from a few man-in-the-parking-lot interviews in Tysons Corner, Va., insight into the perplexing American point of view is left to an “expert” — The Wall Street Journal‘s automotive critic, Dan Neil, who took the grand historical view: “Anger is probably more tied up with a wider sense of decline and …

Oil

Keystone pipeline spilled tar-sands oil 11 times in past year. Do we really want to supersize it?

The routes of the existing and proposed Keystone pipelines. Image: RL MillerThe State Department is currently weighing whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar-sands oil some 2,000 miles southward, from Alberta, Canada, to Houston and Port Arthur, Texas. It would be an expansion of the now-operational Keystone pipeline that goes as far as Cushing, Okla. The original Keystone pipeline has been in operation less than one year, and its owner TransCanada predicts no more than one spill every seven years. Instead of one spill every seven years, oil has spilled 11 times in the last year. …

Saudi Arabia scrambling to get off own oil, build 5 gigawatts of solar power by 2020

What do you do when you're basically a giant welfare state whose stability depends on keeping the money tap open, yet your population is set to double and your electricity consumption to triple by 2032? If you're Saudi Arabia, the answer is build renewable energy as fast as you can. The first volley is a goal of 5 gigawatts of solar power by 2020. That's an enormous amount of generating capacity to build in just 9 years — fully a third of Germany's entire installed base. The idea is that replacing the country's current energy mix with renewables will free …

Critical List: House Republicans demand offshore drilling; climate change eating away at food supply

The House voted yesterday to fast-track new offshore drilling lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia. Look for $0.99 gas within a few weeks. As a group, the drilling bill's primary sponsors raked in more than $8.8 million in donations from the oil and gas industry. Climate change is damaging the world's food supply, according to a new study by Stanford researchers. Over the past 30 years, they found, corn production dropped nearly 4 percent and wheat production dropped 5.5 percent. President Obama will tour an Indiana plant that makes hybrid vehicle technology this …

How to profit from the coming ecopocalypse

While a quarter of Americans have a net worth of zero, Jeremy Grantham controls a hedge fund worth $107 billion, and he has a message for the world: Resource scarcity, peak oil, and climate change could mean big bucks for those who can get out ahead of the disaster. Well, okay, not BIG bucks — just nonzero bucks. "Our goal should be to get everyone out of abject poverty, even if it necessitates some income redistribution," Grantham says in his latest quarterly letter. Hippie! But even that level of success, he argues, will depend on us reconfiguring our expectations to …

Students successfully rally to juxtapose Exxon arch-nemesis with Exxon CEO as commencement speaker

The CEO of America's largest and most profitable company is invited to be the commencement speaker at one of the country's oldest technological universities — you would think everyone would be pumped! But no, the students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute responded to the secret deal to bring the head of WPI mega-donor Exxon Mobile to campus by launching a protest. Improbably, they won. Now, on the same day that Exxon Chief "Rex" Tillerson comes to their school, students will be allowed to hear an alternate address by Big Oil arch-nemesis Richard Heinberg, senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. It …

Green Cars

Chamber of Commerce and auto dealer group lose last-gasp lawsuit to stop clean cars

Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The federal court of appeals in Washington today rejected the last legal attack on California’s landmark greenhouse-gas standards for new cars built in model years 2012-16.  The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sought to overturn EPA’s waiver giving California the green light to set its greenhouse-gas standards. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson granted California the waiver in June 2009, reversing her predecessor’s unprecedented attempt to block California’s program.    The appeals court ruled that neither NADA nor the chamber had demonstrated injury necessary to support their standing. NADA had …

Oil

BP’s still making bank

Looks like the past year hasn’t been so bad after all for BP, which today reported a 16 percent increase in profits over the first quarter of 2010. The company reported $7.2 billion in net earnings — compared to $6.2 billion for the first three months of last year. The company sold off a bunch of assets in order to pay for the Gulf oil disaster, which is how they managed to keep the profits up. BP also hasn’t been drilling in the deepwater since that whole giant oil catastrophe it unleashed last year. But to still report an increase …

Sprawl

Desperate sprawl developer gives away cars with houses

Desperate measures.My head nearly exploded at the breakfast table on Saturday morning. I was reading a piece in The New York Times about an Illinois developer who has finally found a way to unload the new houses he has built some 50 miles from downtown Chicago, in a place he has seen fit to dub a “Village of Yesteryear.” When drastic price cuts weren’t enough to entice buyers, he decided to throw in $17,000 cash toward the purchase of a car with every house. (That money can only be spent at the local General Motors dealer, of course — because, …