Archives for February, 2012

Bill Gates sees the transformative potential of low-cost energy. “Cheaper energy would be on the list of the three or four things you would want for the poorest people in the world,” he said Tuesday at the 2012 Energy Innovation Summit, sponsored by ARPA-E, the Department of Energy’s three-year-old advanced energy research agency. Cheaper energy…

If you’re a primary voter, you’ve got your pick of candidates who’ll promise to bring down the price of gasoline. Unfortunately, whoever wins is going to run up against the limits of presidential power pretty quickly. The fact is that presidents don’t have that much authority over the price of oil, for a number of…

Earlier this week, top scientists released a paper urging governments to take restorative steps for the planet’s ecosystem. Faced with today’s challenges, “Society has no choice but to take dramatic action,” the authors write. They note the important role that energy –- and particularly reliance on fossil fuel — plays in climate change, biodiversity loss…

Frito Lay has been steadily making inroads on sustainability throughout their operations. Beginning in late 2010, they launched an innovative electric fleet of delivery vehicles around the U.S., and have steadily been building out the fleet in key markets since then. EarthTechling recently sat down with Frito Lay’s National Fleet Sustainability Manager, Steve Hanson, and…

A top climate researcher—Peter Gleick, head of the Pacific Institute—admitted he lied to obtain documents from the Heartland Institute, which he then leaked to media and revealed the organization’s plans to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change. Gleick resigned from the board of the National Center on Science Education, and stepped down as chairman of the American Geophysical Union’s…

The recent plummet of the natural gas spot price to a 28-month low has stirred discussion about implications for renewable energy—the majority electrical generating component in RMI’s vision of the 2050 U.S. energy economy. Since mid-2009, it has been increasingly clear that the amount of natural gas supplied via hydraulic fracturing (popularly known as “fracking”) will create…

Congressional deadlock and new scientific insights force new direction. The news on the avoid-dangerous-climate-change front seems to get ever bleaker. On the Policy Side, Little to No Progress The probability of a U.S. policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions any time soon is as close to zero as you can get — President Obama said…

More than two years after the 2010 earthquake that left Haiti in rubble and displaced 2.3 million people, recovery has been slow in coming. Hundreds of thousands are still living in camps such as Corail-Cesselesse, a relocation area set up in the aftermath of the quake. And the cholera outbreak that has taken nearly 7,000…

David Owen continues to blame energy efficiency for the ills he ascribes to growth and wealth. His misunderstandings of “rebound” in energy use were devastatingly rebutted when he published them in The New Yorker, and now he’s expanded them to book length. But his post in last week’s Wall Street Journal lucidly confirms that his…

Big Bend National Park is known for its beauty — and its haze problem. So it might come as a surprise to some that it recently earned the designation of a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park. The designation makes the 801,000-acre (324,153-hectare) West Texas park, which borders the Rio Grande, one of only 10…

Sometimes the decisions we make are less decisive than they seem. Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued its first license for a new plant in forty years. But that decision, significant though it is, doesn’t do anything to settle the major questions we face on energy. Here’s three points to consider when you think…

For the first time in 34 years, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission cleared the way for licensing of new nuclear reactors in the United States. It’s not the first step for the addition to the Vogtle site outside of Augusta, Georgia, which four years ago began what was supposed to be a streamlined approval process.…

For almost six years, a dam project in the Aysén region of Chile (map) has provoked a battle over whether it is the best way to help meet the country’s growing energy demand. The HidroAysén would construct five hydroelectric dams in the Baker and Pascua rivers, delivering an estimated 2,750 megawatts of power to a…

Maldives leader Mohamed Nasheed, called the “world’s most environmentally outspoken president” because of his calls for drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions, was forced to resign—at gunpoint, he claimed. He had used stunts such as an underwater cabinet meeting to highlight his island nation’s vulnerability to sea-level rise. His resignation followed weeks of protests and was apparently motivated by internal politics unrelated to…

Steady as we go with energy but definitely not on our climate target. Presidential Disconnect? A little more than two years ago in Copenhagen President Obama committed the United States (in a non-binding pledge) to work with the international community to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) above…

It could easily have been one of the most fossil fuel-intensive Super Bowls ever. Not only did the New York Giants and the New England Patriots face off in Lucas Oil Stadium, named for a petroleum motor lubricant company, but the facility’s bright stadium lights, signature retractable roof and giant screens all draw energy from…

Following on last week’s State of the Union address that supported hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” in shale gas deposits, President Obama called the U.S. “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas” and unveiled a new proposal to provide tax breaks to boost the use of natural gas as a fuel for trucks. But the market has…

On March 31 last year, a region in northern Spain quietly granted a concession of land, dubbed Arquetu, for natural gas exploration. In Cantabria, the Arquetu traditionally was known as a mythological traveler who carries a coffer full of gold coins and lives an extremely simple lifestyle. Having disappeared from Cantabria’s folklore, now the Arquetu…

The group fighting SolarWorld’s bid for duties on Chinese-manufactured crystalline photovoltaic cells and modules on Monday released a report that claims protectionist measures would result in between 14,000 and 60,000 fewer American jobs than would otherwise exist by the end of 2014—but that wasn’t the only news in the solar trade battle. SolarWorld claimed a…