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SOTU: Coal execs confused, but pleased

The lede for this Wall Street Journal story is hilarious: Power-industry executives reacted with mild puzzlement to President Bush's proclamation that the nation needs to "invest more in zero-emission coal-fired plants" to wean itself off foreign oil. That's because oil isn't used much to make power and no one has yet developed a way to burn coal that produces no emissions. They go on to say, of course, that they're delighted to be the recipient of a whole new bundle of subsidies. And who wouldn't be?

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Feds Say the Darnedest Things

Bush's quasi-bold pronouncements on oil prompt criticism, backpedaling In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Bush declared that "America is addicted to oil" and that he would "make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past." Within 24 hours, fiasco ensued. Saudi Arabia's ambassador said he would ask Bush, ahem, "what he exactly meant by that." Oil industry lobbyists squealed; libertarians nigh fainted. Energy experts (read: the literate) pointed out that most of the R&D programs mentioned in the speech -- "clean coal," nuclear, wind, solar, etc. -- are designed to generate electricity and …

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Might as Well Face It, You’re Addicted to Oil

In SOTU speech, Bush decries oil addiction, promises half-measures Those expecting bold, groundbreaking environmental policy from President Bush's fifth State of the Union address were, uh, deluded. The big "news" is Bush's stark declaration that "America is addicted to oil." Though he's made remarks about dependence on "foreign oil" in every SOTU he's delivered, this was his most blunt acknowledgement of America's energy dilemma. But Bush's policy response -- the "Advanced Energy Initiative," a set of relatively modest subsidies for "clean coal," nuclear, ethanol, solar, and wind -- feel short of historical, to say the least. Notably lacking in the …

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SOTU: Oil addiction

The cat is out of the bag

Despite the modesty -- not to say wimpiness -- the Bush's proposed energy initiative, the real news of the night will be this line: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. I don't know if this is Nixon-goes-to-China territory, but it's every bit as significant as Clinton acknowledging that "the era of big government is over." This kind of cat cannot be put back in the bag. Humorously, Bush tried to put it back in the bag with his very next line: The best way to break this addiction is through technology. …

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Billy-Come-Lately

Bill Clinton calls climate change public enemy No. 1 In a Saturday speech to the assembled corporate bigwigs and governmental muckety-mucks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, former President Bill Clinton called global warming the single most pressing problem facing the world. "It's the only thing that I believe has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it," he said, "and make a lot of the other efforts that we're making irrelevant and impossible." He called on the attendees to support "a serious global effort to develop a clean energy future." A voice …

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Take a Drink Every Time He Says “Nucular”

Bush will talk up nuclear, hydrogen, and ethanol in State of the Union "We've got to wean ourselves off hydrocarbons, oil," said President Bush on Friday. Yup, you read that right. In an interview aired on CBS, the president said he would use this Tuesday's State of the Union address to decry "foreign oil" and offer up initiatives on alternate energy sources and fuel-saving technologies. (Global warming? Didn't come up.) "I want to see different kinds of cars on our road that don't require upon crude oil from overseas," he said with his trademark folksy charm. He was quick to …

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Hush Hush, Keep It Down Now

Top NASA climate scientist says he's being censored by Bush admin If Bush administration officials were trying to keep NASA's chief climate scientist quiet, as he charges, they failed spectacularly. Instead they got a front-page story in The New York Times. In it, James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, charges that since a lecture in early December in which he warned of dramatic changes from global warming and called for quick reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, NASA headquarters has instructed agency spokesflacks -- some of them political appointees -- to screen his upcoming lectures, papers, and postings …

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Re-Spent, Ye Sinners

Bush admin plans to fund new dawn for nuclear power Like an atomic Dr. Frankenstein determined to reanimate the corpse of the civilian nuclear-power industry, the Bush administration intends to allot $250 million in fiscal year 2007 to researching new ways to reprocess spent nuclear fuel -- technology largely abandoned in the 1970s as too dangerous. The funding is seen as a down payment on billions in future federal spending for nuclear power, with the nuclear industry in position to reap millions of dollars in profits as a result. The fuel-reprocessing scheme is part of a larger Bush plan -- …

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Mass. lawmakers pushing to join climate pact, despite Romney’s objections

Gov. Mitt Romney may not get his way on the Northeast climate pact. A handful of Massachusetts legislators are maneuvering to get their state into the most ambitious U.S. effort yet to fight global warming, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, launched in late December. If they succeed, it'll be a smarting wallop for Gov. Mitt Romney (R), who is widely expected to run for a spot on the GOP's 2008 presidential ticket. The pact, commonly called RGGI ("Reggie"), commits seven Northeastern states -- Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont -- to reducing their carbon dioxide …

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Al’s Well That Pens Well

Al Gore to publish new book on global warming The self-proclaimed "former next president of the United States" -- currently at the Sundance Film Festival (and, may we point out, looking quite natty) to promote his new documentary about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth -- has announced that he'll soon be coming out with a new book on the same subject, with the same name. The book, to be published by Rodale (of South Beach Diet, uh, fame), will serve as a sequel of sorts to Al Gore's controversial 1992 best-seller Earth in the Balance. It will cover not only …