Politics

The Lieberman-Warner full committee markup …

… will take place on Dec. 5 (sub. rqd.). Lieberman says he’s open to some changes, as long as they don’t splinter the coalition: Lieberman …

No coal? OK, then what?

Beware the allure of liquefied natural gas

Two years ago, one of us (Jason) was at an energy industry conference planning committee and he made the point that whether or not everyone around the table agreed on global warming, the issue was just about to break out and dominate the public conversation on energy. Because of global warming, he went on to say, getting a new coal-fired power station built was just a "prudency review waiting to happen." For those of you that remember, it was, in many ways, the prudency review process that killed the nuclear industry back in the 1980s. In the past several weeks, several announcements suggest that this situation has indeed come to pass. Here's what's going on: the Kansas Department of Health and Environment turned down a permit for 1400-MW of coal-fired power based on emissions of global warming gases. This is arguably the first time a coal plant has been denied for this reason. Let's repeat the state: Kansas. It's not California, Florida, New York,or Oregon. Kansas has historically been a coal-friendly state. Another story revealed that even in Montana, a coal-producing state (or at least one with significant coal reserves), coal plant permits are being fought by bipartisan coalitions, and that electric utilities concede that these groups are effective. In other reports that cross our desks regularly, we note that more than 10,000 MW of coal plants recently have been canceled or postponed around the country. No doubt many are of you are cheering! But there are trade-offs in all things -- especially in energy, environmental, and economic issues. As enthusiasm for coal wanes, it grows for nuclear, even among some that have fought tooth and nail against nuclear in the past. However, there's a problem. The fastest any nuclear plant can come online, given regulatory and financing hurdles, is around 2015. Meanwhile, electricity demand continues to grow. As much as the rewewables camp wants to believe it, solar and wind are not going to supply all or even most of the necessary power anytime soon. (We strongly believe in renewable energy, but also believe that we need energy storage to make it work on a scale that will be able to replace a significant amount of fossil fuels.) So what's going to replace coal as the dominant fuel for electricity production?

Kansas, Minnesota pledge to green up government computer systems

Think of states that are environmental frontrunners, and Kansas and Minnesota may not leap immediately to mind. But it’s those two that are taking the …

Bye, bye, Ms. Renewable Pie

Dem leadership considers axing renewable energy from the energy bill

OK. I'm still trying to report this out. What I have for now comes from environmental advocates, off-the-record conversations, and, for what it's worth, my own speculation. The situation is very fluid, and can change at any time (as in, by the time you read this). Near as I can tell, though, this is how things look going into tonight: I've learned from concerned advocates that Democratic congressional leadership is considering stripping the production tax credits for wind and solar, along with the federal renewable portfolio standard, from the conference bill. Losing the RPS and the PTC would mean jettisoning basically every measure that the White House has complained about. Apparently, Reid and Pelosi may have decided that a bill with a Renewable Fuel Standard (i.e., monstrous subsidies for ethanol) and a boost in CAFE standards is enough to secure Democratic bragging rights on energy. If this happens, it will mean there's bupkis in the energy bill for renewable electricity, imperiling probably billions of dollars in solar and wind contracts that have been written with the expectation that the production tax credits will lower costs to investors and consumers.

Nefarious legislative shenanigans

Domenici tries to kill the energy bill and sneak nuclear loan guarantees into the farm bill

Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) is up to some serious shenanigans up on the hill. First, he has introduced an amendment that would attach the Renewable …

China …

… will not accept binding emissions caps in any international agreement. But according to Guido Sacconi, chairman of the European Parliament’s climate change committee, China …

Masters of their domain

Politicians and the art of deception

Compare this video (posted by David) of Hillary squirming while she tells a whopper with the video below of McCain being brutally honest (via a comment by greyflcn in same post). Refreshing. We human beings are masters of deception, and of detection of said deception -- the result of an evolutionary arms race: Update: I didn't realize that this is old footage before his flip flop.

Getting nervous

Via Boucher, Bush signals willingness to sign onto (weak) mandatory carbon controls

According to E&E (sub. rqd), Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Coal) says President Bush would sign a climate bill with mandatory carbon controls as long as it …

Cool things happening at the local level

California ‘cool cities’ are taking the lead on climate change

Now in her seventh term, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice) represents California's 36th Congressional District. Jane Harman. Even sunny skies and pleasant ocean breezes over much of our state can't mask the fact that Californians breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation. California is the world's 12th largest source of carbon dioxide, the chief heat-trapping gas that causes global warming. As dirty as our air is, we are taking the lead nationally in trying to make the air cleaner and our actions greener. Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law ambitious legislation establishing the goal of reducing dangerous emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. And yet many in Washington, D.C., are unhappy with California's efforts and are working to undermine and override state laws and regulations designed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and promote cleaner fuels. Several weeks ago, emails from the U.S. Department of Transportation suggested senior-level administrators, and possibly the secretary of transportation herself, have been lobbying on behalf of automobile interests to persuade the EPA not to issue a waiver allowing California's clean-air rules. Currently, the Bush administration and Gov. Schwarzenegger are at odds over whether California can do its part to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles. Sixteen other states have either adopted or are planning to adopt the California standard, so if the U.S. EPA grants the waiver, it would directly impact 40 percent of the U.S. auto market. In April, Schwarzenegger sent a letter to the EPA giving them six months to act on his waiver before he would be forced to file a lawsuit. Six months have now passed, and the EPA has still not made a decision. Not one to make an empty threat, Schwarzenegger's administration filed suit today demanding that the EPA make a decision on the waiver. It is unclear how this standoff will end, and whether the Bush administration will allow California the leeway to regulate its own emissions. Fortunately, the feds cannot impede a growing effort to address global warming now underway at the local level: the "Cool Cities" program.

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