Photo: AndjohanEnough with the blah-blah-blah; it was time for a kick start. So yesterday President Obama’s point man on offshore energy, Interior Chief Ken Salazar, went public with the administration’s plan to speed up the development of wind farms along the East Coast.
Not up to speed: Taking a cue from the success of fast-tracking solar energy projects in the Southwest, the feds will first identify the best locations for potential wind farms outside of shipping lanes, then accelerate the permit process so that it takes as little as 18 months. Salazar admitted that painful lessons have been learned from the Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts. So far it’s taken eight years and construction hasn’t even started — not exactly a model that entices clean energy investors. [Bloomberg]
Not surprisingly, the announcement was a big hit among enviros. Typical was this response from the Sierra Club’s Bruce Nilles:
It’s encouraging to see the Interior Department taking serious steps to further accelerate the rapid development of America’s abundant clean energy resources. The Atlantic Coast holds tremendous potential for the kind of large-scale clean energy projects that will create jobs, breathe new life into our economy and help make us a leader in the global clean energy marketplace.
And in other green news:
Coal turkey: It’s relatively cheap now, but a new study in the journal Nature predicts that the days of low-cost coal are numbered. Supplies will be harder to mine, plus growing demand from China will likely drive up prices. [Discovery News]
Safety last: Even before the explosion that killed 29 coal miners last spring, Massey Energy Company had the worst safety record in the country. The Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University dug up the dirty details.
Omission accomplished: The staff of the presidential commission investigating the Gulf oil disaster prepared a slide laying out almost a dozen risky decisions made by BP and its partners before the Deepwater Horizon well blew up. But when the commission made its presentation earlier this month, the damning slide was nowhere to be seen. [Greenwire] Here’s the missing slide. [PDF]
Corn in the USA: Another battle is brewing among Republicans in Congress, this one over the huge subsidies for corn-based ethanol due to expire at the end of the year. Right-wing Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) say that in the Tea Party spirit, the subsidies should go away. But Mr. Ethanol himself, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), is now asking if they also will get rid of oil and gas subsidies. Greg Sargent has more in The Plum Line.
Fred reckoning: As he tries to win the backroom battle among Republicans to become chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is working overtime to show he’s a hard ass. Now he’s sent a letter to Energy Chief Steven Chu asking for a breakdown of jobs created by specific projects funded by the administration’s stimulus package. Here’s his snippy letter. [PDF]
Sleazy does it: Greenpeace is claiming that palm oil and timber companies are trying to take advantage of a $1 billion deal between Norway and Indonesia to cut carbon emissions. They’re reportedly trying to have forests classified as “degraded” land so that they can be replaced with palm tree plantations and biofuel crops. [Guardian]
So much for a cold dip: Lakes around the world are getting warmer, according to a new study by NASA. Warming up most quickly are lakes in northern Europe. [AFP]
Bear necessities: As climate change drives polar bears and grizzlies on to the same turf, the advantage would go to the grizzlies. A study by researchers at UCLA concluded that polar bears aren’t well suited for adapting to more of a vegetarian diet. [Reuters]
Avoid the motha ball soup: When you become an eating machine tomorrow make sure you heed a new warning from the EPA: Don’t eat the moth balls. This may seem like the a classic example of the federal “nannyism” Rush Limbaugh loves to rant about, but it turns out that the Fuji Lavender Moth Ball Tablets from China come in packaging that screams “Eat me.” See for yourself.