Politics

'Mideast Oil Forever?': Part V

Pollution prevention and preparing for the future

The final part of "MidEast Oil Forever?" (subs. req'd) discusses pollution prevention. I think the discussion still holds up, and as you can see, I am no Johnny-come-lately to the global warming issue. What is particularly sad about the Bush administration, is that while they eschew the anti-clean-technology rhetoric of Reagan and Gingrich -- indeed claim to be pro-clean-technology, they have gutted some of the best clean tech and energy efficiency programs. In particular, they have slashed the budget for the Energy Department's major pollution prevention effort, the Industries of the Future program (described briefly in the article), and the president has proposed zeroing it out entirely. This administration's energy and climate policy make the final sentence of this article, sadly, as true as ever: "Only a misbegotten ideology could conceive a blunder of such potentially historic proportions." Here is what we wrote:

Sanders alone

Why isn’t Joe Lieberman scared of Bernie Sanders?

Readers following Brian’s excellent coverage will have noted that Joe Lieberman rejected most of the amendments offered by Bernie Sanders to the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. And if you watched the hearing, you’ll have seen that …

Grist: not yet universally beloved

So, the field hearing of the House global warming committee is just getting underway. I was chatting with Rep. Jay Inslee a few minutes ago, when a burly, ruddy-faced man tried to get past us. …

Energy bill for dummies

What’s going on with the energy bill in Congress

The following is a guest essay from Julia Bovey, federal communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and blogger at NRDC’s Switchboard. —– When I left my native Boston for Washington, D.C., I bought …

U.S. Mayors Climate Conference: Gore III

Gore: It’s not Kyoto but its successor that needs political support

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks stood to introduce himself and Gore said dryly, "I spent a lot of time there." Marks: "I wasn’t mayor then!" He asked Gore how to influence Congress to adopt Kyoto. Gore’s …

China's immoral energy policy: Part II

The efficient alternative to coal power in China

China's rapacious coal plant building is neither moral nor sustainable, as discussed in Part I. Yet many supply-side alternatives, like nuclear and hydro, are problematic for the country. What should China do to satisfy its insatiable thirst for energy? Go back to their amazing energy efficiency policies of the 1980s and early 1990s. China's energy history can be divided into several phases, as we learn from Dr. Mark Levine, cofounder of the Beijing Energy Efficiency Center (see terrific video here). The first phase (1949-1980) was a "Soviet Style" energy policy during which there were subsidized energy prices, no concern for the environment, and energy usage that rose faster than economic growth (GDP). The second phase (1981-1999) was "California on steroids," when the country embraced an aggressive push on energy management and energy efficiency, surpassing the efficiency efforts California achieved since the mid-1970s. This came about as a result of Deng Xiaoping heeding the advice of a group of leading academic experts who suggested a new approach to energy. Chinese strategies included:

China's immoral energy policy: Part I

China’s coal policy is breathtaking (literally)

Yes, America's climate policy is immoral. But that doesn't make China's rapacious coal-plant building moral. The N.Y. Times has published the sobering numbers, which bear repeating: The country built 114,000 megawatts of fossil-fuel-based generating capacity last year alone, almost all coal-fired, and is on course to complete 95,000 megawatts more this year. For comparison, Britain has 75,000 megawatts in operation, built over a span of decades. China is now the main reason the world is recarbonizing -- the carbon content of the average unit of energy produced has stopped its multi-decade decline, as noted. Yes, America is still responsible for a great deal more cumulative emissions, which is what drive concentrations, and China is doing much of its dirty manufacturing for U.S. consumers (I never said our hands were clean). But China seems to have adopted a policy of building as many coal plants as humanly possible until they are forced to stop -- or, I suspect, until they get a deal that pays the country to shut them down (much as they have gamed the clean development mechanism under Kyoto). If China won't alter its coal policy to make its environment livable today even with the Olympics coming, it will require very strong international leadership (led by an America with a moral climate policy of our own) to have any chance at making them alter it to preserve a livable climate in the future. So why doesn't China pursue alternatives? The NYT story explains:

Activists ask Congress to close regulatory loopholes for oil and gas companies

At a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing yesterday — Wait! It’s not as boring as it sounds! — scientists and conservationists asked Congress to plug legislative loopholes that exempt oil and gas …

Bush names a new USDA chief

The former governor of North Dakota loves biofuel and GMOs

Speaking yesterday at a gathering of the Grocery Manufacturers Association — a trade group whose member list reads like a directory of multinational food corporations — President Bush waxed coy about his new choice for …