Obama tries to pick up the pieces on climate and energy
Barack Obama is officially thinking small. After tossing the last shovelful of dirt on cap-and-trade yesterday as “just one way of skinning the cat,” he ran through a list of what his energy options are now that Republicans have taken over the House: Electric vehicles, converting heavy trucks to natural gas, more energy efficient buildings, and maybe, just maybe, a renewable electricity standard.
Nice effort, but in this case the devil really is in the details. In the Republicans’ new world order, renewable energy becomes a bigger tent so nuclear energy, geothermal energy, and maybe even “clean” coal are invited inside.
Republicans have made clear they will emphasize traditional energy sources during the next two years. For instance, the presumed House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, has declared he wants to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources by expanding domestic production of oil and natural gas.
The doc will knee you now: Right on cue, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), the likely new chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, says he’ll keep the heat on the Obama administration to make sure it doesn’t slow down oil and gas drilling, both offshore and on federal lands. [The Hill]
It’s mourning in America: And John Engler, head of the behemoth lobby, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), is already imagining what the Republican majority in the House will mean towards emasculating the EPA. He also believes it will be a big boon to the NAM’s energy priorities, which are more nuclear power plants and more deepwater oil wells. [The Hill]
It’s sunny in California: But there’s this reminder from Thomas F. Steyer, a San Francisco hedge fund billionaire who served as co-chairman of the group that campaigned against Prop 23 in California [The New York Times]:
When it comes to huge, significant change, the history of the United States is that it does not come from Washington, D.C. It comes from people outside the capital, people much closer to the real world, who force change gradually, bit by bit. A change in this nation’s energy economy is inevitable. The question is, how soon?
And in other green news:
What’s with all the suits?: The number of lawsuits filed against the EPA is rising sharply. A major reason is that big industry groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the American Iron and Steel Institute, are piling on to challenge the EPA’s authority. [The New York Times]
Other ways to skin that cat?: Top White House advisers want President Obama to consider scaling back the program where the Energy Department guarantees loans to move big wind and solar energy projects forward. They say there are better ways to push clean energy. [Wall Street Journal]
Well, blow me down!: South Korea is planning to spend more than $8 billion to build a huge offshore wind farm, one with at least 500 turbines. [AFP]
What the F?: According to internal reports, BP has given an “F-ranking” to 148 of its pipelines on Alaska’s North Slope, meaning 80 percent of the pipe wall is corroded. [Pro Publica]
Not ready for slime time: The idea of using algae as a biofuel on a large scale still needs a lot of work. [e! Science News]
Hold the parch: With more severe droughts on the way, what 10 American cities are most likely to face a water crisis? [GOOD]
Save the Earth from your basement: A British company has released a computer game called “Fate of the World.” You win by saving the planet. Thanks for that. [Reuters]
Talk about guilty pleasures: A nice New Zealand sauvignon blanc is the first wine to list on its label the carbon footprint of each glass you drink. [GreenBusiness.com]