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America’s energy use, in one nifty chart

Periodically, it's nice to step back and get reacquainted with some energy basics. There's no better way to do it than with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's famed (or oughtta be famed) energy flow charts. Here's the most recent, from 2009 (click for larger version): Chart: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory I'm not going to ruin the pretty picture with a bunch of wonk talk. Just a few basic things that are worth noticing: 1. Holy sh*t we waste a lot of energy! I mean seriously. Look up there in the top right -- "rejected energy." Well over half of the raw …

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Foreign oil follies: Stop Obama if you think you’ve heard this one before

President Obama is talking big about reducing our consumption of foreign oil. We predict he'll be just as successful as his predecessors ... After the BP oil spill, The Daily Show did a roundup of past presidential calls for us to use less oil. As Jon Stewart concluded, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me eight times, am I a f*cking idiot?"   Here's a rundown: George W. Bush's 2006 State of the Union address: "Breakthroughs on this and other new technologies will help us reach another great goal: to replace more than …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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In face of ‘peak everything,’ governments shrug at environmental cost of energy

Less than a year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the U.S. government has begun issuing new permits for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Pundits think that despite a pause in the "nuclear renaissance," the same thing could happen to nuclear power plants in the wake of Fukushima, at least outside the U.S. The culprit? Dwindling supplies of cheap energy -- and everything else. Peak Everything, the title of peak oil pundit Richard Heinberg's 2007 book, is about many of our favorite subjects: shortages of clean water, livable climate, some minerals, wild-caught fish, and of course cheap fossil fuels, …

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Deepwater Horizon firm gives execs safety bonuses, with no apparent sense of irony

Transocean, the offshore drilling firm that ran the Deepwater Horizon rig, has given its top execs massive bonuses for having “the best year in safety performance in our company's history.” Seriously. Here’s what the annual report says: “Yeah, some people died and some animals died and some livelihoods were ruined, but that was only April through July. On average we did pretty good. Here is a suit made of money and a hat made of money.” Okay, they put it a little nicer: Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety …

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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 …

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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 …

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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.