Exploring the tubes so you don’t have to
Ohio recently passed a renewable portfolio standard that falls prey to the worst pitfalls of that particular policy mechanism:
Gov. Ted Strickland wants to require that 25 percent of the electricity sold in Ohio by 2025 come from alternative energies, such as fuel cells, solar panels, windmills, nuclear and hydroplants. Half of that would have to come from renewable energy while the other half would come from nuclear, fuel cells or clean coal sources.
The point of RPSs should be to boost renewable energy technology. If the point of this jerry-rigged contraption is to reduce GHG emissions, why not just mandate GHG reductions without reference to particular technologies? This is the worst of both worlds.
What Matt Yglesias says here is worth remembering:
What the subject of farm subsidies mostly shows, however, is that at the end of the day nobody in politics really seems to care what intellectuals and policy people think. If some big ideas or serious policy research or principled ideological stance can help advance important priorities of key interest groups, then suddenly ideology and policy analysis begin to appear very important. But when all the interest group pressure is for farm subsidies, it doesn’t matter that all the policy analysis is on the other side.
As I’ve mentioned before, California Attorney General Jerry Brown is hacking away at global warming one local development project at a time. It’s caused some controversy. Recently the L.A. Times hosted a debate about it between Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, and Ventura City Manager Rick Cole. Witness the hackery of Spence and understand why the state Republican party in California is a national joke.
Here’s a story we can expect to see more of soon: suburban and exurban houses bought during the real estate bubble are being foreclosed, leading to blight in the suburbs, leading to more exodus. We’ve seen what abandoned and economically devastated inner cities look like, but we haven’t seen the same condition in suburbs and exurbs, not on a wide scale, not yet. Soon we’ll find out what it looks like.
Alex Steffen has some characteristically wise thoughts on planetary thinking. Also on Worldchanging, Alan AtKisson has a thoughtful post on carbon offsets, arguing that NGOs working to fight climate change would be better off spending the money on their primary work.
Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the typically staid editor in chief of the typically staid U.S. News & World Report, unleashes a short editorial about oil that hums with urgency.
Steve Outing, in Editor & Publisher, fires the latest round at he-said she-said climate journalism.
The most dangerous point in the trajectory of any new legislation is the conference committee, where House and Senate negotiators resolve their differences. … a rising awareness in Congress of the risks of climate change and oil dependency has brought forth two respectable, if incomplete, energy bills that could be merged into one truly outstanding bill. The committee’s task will be to marry the best of both, resisting the historical tug to trade away anything good and controversial in the interest of compromise.
Forbes has a piece on "energy sources of the future" by Elizabeth Eaves, who may nor not be the author of that book about stripping. It comes with a good slideshow (the Forbes piece, I mean). Also in Forbes, "The Sunshine Economy," a nice little rundown on the solar market, with profiles of various companies and technologies and another sweet slideshow of (fantastically expensive) solar homes. It comes complete with this little chart, which shows just how crappy my hometown is for solar:
According to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, bike paths and trails "really are not transportation."
Making electricity in central power plants is so 20th century. K.R. Sridhar has a better idea: Create energy on the spot, right where it’s consumed. His startup, Bloom Energy (formerly known as Ion America), is developing a fuel cell that could kick-start the distributed-energy industry.
And finally: pssst … the GOP is screwed:
“It’s always darkest right before you get clobbered over the head with a pipe wrench. But then it actually does get darker,” said a GOP pollster who insisted on anonymity in order to speak candidly.