Articles by Josh Dorner
Yesterday, David noted comments by an oil analyst who predicted $200 oil by 2012.
Today, that analyst was joined in his prediction by none other than the chief of OPEC, Chakib Khelil (who's also Algeria's energy minister). Mr. Khelil's comments were not date-specific, though this article leads me to believe he was thinking $200 oil could come much sooner than 2012.
Meanwhile, we saw more of the same from both President Bush and Big Oil.
Here in D.C., we're deadlocked (thanks largely to Republicans beholden to Big Oil) over no-brainers like taking back $13.5 billion in giveaways to Big Oil in order to fund the extension of key clean energy tax incentives and forestall a crash in the renewable energy industry. Meanwhile, cities, states, and counties continue to take the lead in putting in place the kind of progressive, innovative policy solutions that we can only dream of at the federal level for the time being.
A great example of the continuing groundswell of local government action to combat global warming happened just yesterday in Montgomery County, Maryland -- a wealthy suburban area just across the D.C. line.
The county council passed a series of seven bills that make up a package of 25 far-reaching environmental initiatives designed to help slash the county's global warming emissions.
The centerpiece of the county's Earth Day legislative extravaganza is a mandate requiring all new homes built after January 2010 to meet federal Energy Star standards. This would help cut residential energy use some 15-30 percent -- cutting both emissions and consumers' energy bills.
With today's green energy boom (and over 100,000 existing jobs in the wind and solar industries alone) hanging in the balance, the Senate voted this morning by an overwhelming 88 to 8 margin to attach short-term extensions of key clean energy tax incentives set to expire at the end of this year -- the Production Tax Credit that mostly goes to wind power, the Investment Tax Credit for solar, and other incentives for energy efficient appliances and the like -- to the housing bill that the Senate then went on to pass by an also overwhelming 84 to 12. (None of the presidential contenders were around for today's votes, for those keeping track of such things.)
(The overwhelming popularity of wind power was also clearly on display this morning. An effort by wind-hatin' Sen. Lamar Alexander [R-Tenn.] to double the extension to two years by cutting the subsidy to wind in half was trounced on a 15-79 vote -- fewer votes than similar efforts by Alexander have received in the past.)
Today's victory -- the first time this Congress that the Senate has approved even short-term extensions of these clean energy incentives -- is sweet, to be sure, as it underscores the strong, bipartisan support for these measures and the urgent need to extend them. However, unless the House and the Senate can bridge some key differences, this particular strategy may not ultimately result in victory on this make-or-break issue.
Today's second panel -- Carl's, on "conservation and the environment" -- opened with remarks from Houston Mayor Bill White. Despite my earlier comments about the road-crazy Bayou City, Mayor White laid out some items from what appears to be a truly progressive energy agenda for Houston, including making it an international leader in green buildings.
Some of his more interesting comments came when White told the story of being one of the staffers that helped write the Energy Policy & Conservation Act of 1975, the original fuel economy law. He spoke of the doubling in fuel economy occasioned by the law, but then -- in a story I'd never heard -- spoke of trying to incorporate pickups and the forebears of today's gas-guzzling SUVs into the law. Unfortunately, this provision was "hijacked," as he put it, and became an exemption for so-called "work trucks," even when they did nothing more than ferry suburban hausfraus around. Thankfully last year's energy bill finally closed this disastrous SUV loophole.
White noted that he himself drives a car that gets 49 miles per gallon and while he's happy about the big boost in CAFE, we "can do, shoulda done, and will do better." He agreed that doubling our current fuel economy is "not a stretch" and could be done with technology that exists today. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that he's switched over the vast majority of the city's fleet of passenger vehicles and public buses to hybrids and is now looking to the other vehicles like garbage trucks.