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Articles by praktike

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  • New York Times identifies broad coalition for smart energy policy

    The New York Times gets it:

    Step outside the White House and Congress, and one hears a chorus of voices begging for something far more robust and forward-looking than the trivialities of this energy bill. It is a strikingly bipartisan chorus, too, embracing environmentalists, foreign policy hawks and other unlikely allies. Last month, for instance, a group of military and intelligence experts who cut their teeth on the cold war - among them Robert McFarlane, James Woolsey and Frank Gaffney Jr. - implored Mr. Bush as a matter of national security to undertake a crash program to reduce the consumption of oil in the United States.

    The consensus on the need for a more stable energy future is matched by an emerging consensus on how to get there. In the last two years, there have been three major reports remarkable for their clarity and convergence, from the Energy Future Coalition, a group of officials from the Clinton and the first Bush administrations; the Rocky Mountain Institute, which concerns itself with energy efficiency; and, most recently, the National Commission on Energy Policy, a group of heavyweights from academia, business and labor.

    Homage is paid to stronger fuel economy standards, which Congress has steadfastly resisted. But all three reports also call for major tax subsidies and loan guarantees to help Detroit develop a new generation of vehicles, as well as an aggressive bio-fuels program to develop substitutes for gasoline.

    One could quibble here with this detail or that, and one could wonder whether what the struggling General Motors needs most in order to compete is not a direct subsidy but rather relief on the health care front, but the Times, over all, understands the importance of coalitions. Good for them.

  • Find out the biggest pollution sources near you!

    One of my favorite tools is the EPA's eGRID database, which contains emissions data on nearly every electric power generation source in the United States.

    You can use it to educate yourself and your friends about which coal-fired power plants upwind of you will benefit from Smokey Joe Barton's latest transparent attempt to gut the Clean Air Act.

    Spend a few hours exploring the power plants in your area and state, and in no time you'll be the toast of your town's cocktail circuit. Download it now, while the EPA still exists!

  • U.S. and China collaborate to prepare Beijing for Olympics

    Mike Millikin reports:

    The Department of Energy (DOE) is leading a U.S. multi-agency team to help Beijing achieve World Health Organization (WHO) standards for urban air quality by 2008--in time for the Summer Olympics.

    The Chinese government intends to invest $17-$23 billion to meet the goal, and is planning on  major reductions in coal use, tougher fuel-quality and emissions standards and further development of a protective greenbelt that separates north China from silt-laden desert winds.

    I was briefly in Beijing in the summer of 2001 as a tourist, and the air pollution there was absolutely staggering. It's hard to imagine that a crash program would get the city up to WHO standards by 2008, but I suppose stranger things have happened. In any case, it's good to see collaboration between the U.S. and China on this issue.