Tag archives for politics

Can good economic times roll while carbon emissions decline? Maybe so. Last week the Obama administration proposed new rules to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants under the auspices of the Clean Air Act. Once EPA officially publishes the rule in the Federal Register (most likely in a week or two), a…

Yes, failing … just like the coal ash ponds along the Dan River. What Put the Stuff on the Map Despite being a political football [pdf] that had been tossed around Capitol Hill, the coal industry and EPA headquarters throughout the ‘90s and early aughts, coal ash was rarely a topic of dinner conversation around most American supper tables I suspect.…

New study concludes that biofuels can be part of climate-energy solution.

OK, with the government shutdown that kicked in at midnight this morning, it should come as no surprise that we have a highly dysfunctional Congress. Still, when Congressional gridlock derails a good, sensible, popular bill on energy efficiency in a country that harnesses less than half of the energy we produce and loses almost 30 percent due to inefficiencies, at least some attention should be paid.

The United States and China are talking different languages when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.

U.S. Representative Lamar Smith’s strutting his science cred. Smith, a Republican, represents the 21st District of Texas, which includes his hometown of San Antonio, and chairs the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. I met him a few weeks ago at a hearing on climate held by the Subcommittee on the Environment. He was the consummate…

The question on many minds following the inaugural speech was: would climate change rank high enough as an issue to appear in his State of the Union address? And if so, would its inclusion indicate a strong intent on the part of the president to act quickly? Or would it be a mere mention to placate those worried about the planet’s health, with no assurance that anything substantive would happen? Last night we seemed to get our answer.

History suggests he’s wrong.

Clean Coal Turnabout?

A clean-coal lobbying group talks of a “shared … commitment” with the Obama administration on the environment. Hmm.

Hoping for lower prices at the pump? Don’t hold your breath. Here’s why. During presidential election years, pretty much anything can become a political football. And so it‘s not surprising that with gasoline prices well above $3 a gallon, the cost of gasoline has become a topic on the stump. Mitt Romney and his fellow…

A lack of wind won’t stall our future renewable energy economy, but Congress might. Debunking the Myths That Take the Wind out of Wind Energy’s Sails Wind has its downsides. It’s intermittent; it’s too expensive. Fair points, but there are ways around them. For example the whole intermittency issue could be handled now by using…

How do Obama’s words on energy compare to Team Romney’s? Last week, while the Republicans were celebrating the Romney-Ryan ticket in Tampa, Florida, we posted a count-the-words analysis of their energy plan. The plan’s overall aim is to achieve energy independence for North America. The numbers told us the path to independence for the Romney…

Oil, gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar, efficiency. Which are the Republican hopefuls’ priorities? This week, it’s convention time for the Republican presidential and vice presidential nominees. Last week, the Romney-Ryan team rolled out its energy policy [pdf] for the nation. Entitled “The Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class: ENERGY INDEPENDENCE,” the new plan, running…

Our neighbor to the south plans to swim against the tide. The tide in question is the world’s rising emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), and with the March 2012 data from the Mauna Loa Observatory now in, that tide has risen to new heights. At 394.45 parts per million, it is the highest monthly average…

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…

The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, but there seems little chance that the 17th Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa, will end with an international plan on the next steps for climate change. The major sticking point remains how to split the responsibility for emission cuts between developed and developing economies.

Three scientists walk into a hearing room … Seriously. This week I was on Capitol Hill talking about global warming with Richard Muller of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project and Ben Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab. The Congressional briefing was organized by Congressmen Ed Markey (D-MA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), who…

Obama: A No-Go on Ozone

A tactical retreat or an abdication? It’s a scant 14 months to the 2012 elections. The economy’s in the tank, as are the president’s poll numbers. (See here, here, here and here.) The pundits tell us (for instance here and here) that Obama will pivot to jobs, jobs, jobs in an effort to rehabilitate his…

What wasn’t to dislike about the spectacle of this summer’s recently concluded budget battle? There was the impending economic disaster, the Full Monty on just how dysfunctional Congress has gotten, and the outsized role given by those operating on the political fringe. But for clean energy advocates, there was another reason to throw the remote…

I spoke this week on a panel at REFF Wall Street about the U.S. utility solar market. REFF is one of my favorite conferences in the renewable industry. It’s well attended and presents a mid-year opportunity to catch up on the year’s progress and compare notes on the challenges ahead. This year my message was…

This was a funny week to be in Washington DC. I happened to be in town on Tuesday when the Senate was debating whether to repeal the numerous tax subsidies given to the oil and gas industry. To give you a sense of scale, the subsidies on the block add up to $21 billion over…

Tax breaks and other subsidies for oil companies have been getting a lot of attention lately, to the extent that cutting them has even made it into an actual Congressional proposal. The issue has been around forever, but I like to flatter myself by thinking that the Environmental Law Institute’s report on fossil subsidies that…

When it comes to energy policy, do we really need to agree on the why before we can agree on the what? That’s been the working assumption of lots of people on all sides of the debate so far, and it’s stopped climate change policy dead in its tracks.  One of the few things the…

Kate Sheppard, energy and environmental politics writer for Mother Jones, recently answered some questions for Planet Forward about the future of energy efficiency (http://planetforward.org/ask-an-expert/ask-an-expert-kate-sheppard/). Sheppard addressed Obama’s goal to make 80% of the United States’ energy sources “clean energy” by 2035–she not only believes that the goal is attainable, but asserts that we are more than…