The Dernogalizer

November 24, 2010

Rep. Inglis attacks GOP on climate change

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 6:27 pm
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This video with Bob Inglis has been making the rounds over the last week for his excellent commentary on why the United States needs action on global warming and clean energy legislation, as well as some choice words for his Republican colleagues.  Since this video has come out, Inglis has given more interviews about the importance of global warming solutions.  Unfortunately, Inglis lost his Republician primary earlier this year, but he may be looking to fill a new role as a leading conservative voice on climate solutions, green jobs, and energy security.

This bold rhetoric from Inglis raises a larger question… how can the climate movement create space for conservative voices like Inglis who are excellent at speaking to the climate issue in a way that can resonate with a broader spectrum of the American public?  Given the structure of the US political system, climate solutions from the Federal government will require some Republican support for the foreseeable future.

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November 22, 2010

Fossil Fuel Factual Fallacies: New York Times Called Out by Renowned Geoscientist

Filed under: energy — Matt Dernoga @ 12:25 am
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I received an excellent rebuttal in my e-mail today regarding a New York Times article about how plentiful fossil fuel energy supplies were in the future despite fears from a few years ago.  Reading the article and reading from a Geoscientist actually literary in the topic shows an incredible contrast between the lens the media reports about energy, and what reality actually is.

Fossil Fuel Factual Fallacies: New York Times Called Out by Renowned Geoscientist

Santa Rosa, CA (22. November 2010) Rarely is the public treated to such inaccurate, misleading and unhelpful journalism as in “There Will Be Fuel” <source: “http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/business/energy-environment/17FUEL.html?_r=1> by New York Times correspondent, Clifford Krauss (New York Times, November 17, 2010), even in this era of political spin and smoke and mirrors surrounding energy.

Let’s begin with the article’s concluding comment:

“When you add it up,” Mr. Morse noted, “you get something that very closely approximates energy independence.”

The facts of the matter are that no nation on earth is more dependent on imported oil than the U.S. Although consumption has declined somewhat, due to the Great Recession, imports accounted for more than 61 percent of U.S. oil consumption in 2009. Net 2009 U.S. imports of 11.5 million barrels per day exceeded China’s TOTAL OIL CONSUMPTION of 8.6 million barrels per day by 33 percent. Americans, with a population of 310 million, consumed 18.7 million barrels per day in 2009 compared to China, a country with 1.32 billion people, which consumed a mere 8.6 million barrels per day. This works out to 22 barrels of oil consumption per American in 2009 compared to 2.4 barrels per person in China.

Although American oil production increased slightly in 2009 from a recent low in 2008, it is down 36 percent from its all time peak in 1970. Meanwhile oil imports are up by 358 percent since 1965. The vaunted 100,000 barrel per day growth in shale oil production by 2013 in Krauss’ article, if it occurs, would amount to half a percent of current U.S. consumption.

The search for subsalt oil in deepwater locations in the Atlantic, deepwater exploration in the Gulf, and Arctic exploration, represent the last frontiers, as less hostile locales have already been thoroughly explored and exploited. Enough growth in deep water production in the Gulf of Mexico to offset declines in the onshore U.S. fields remains to be seen, given the fallout from BP’s Macondo blowout. The Santos Basin fields in the Atlantic off of Brazil may contain 40 billion barrels, and the mean estimate in the recent circum-Arctic study by the USGS was 90 billion barrels. Added together these equal perhaps four years of world consumption at current rates of 31 billion barrels per year – the catch being that this oil, if it exists, will take decades to produce.

Groups other than the uber-optimists at CERA cited in the article have expressed concern <source: http://peakoiltaskforce.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/itpoes_deepwater-briefing-note_nov20101.pdf> about deepwater production by non-OPEC countries, which constitutes much of the future potential for new production, and about the implications <source: http://peakoiltaskforce.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/final-report-uk-itpoes_report_the-oil-crunch_feb20101.pdf> of peak oil production globally. There are many other credible recent reports on the implications of peak oil, which the author of this article willfully chose to ignore.

Notwithstanding the IEA’s recent projection of increases in world oil production to 99 million barrels per day by 2035, this represents a stunning decline in IEA estimates of future oil production, which as recently as 2005 were at 118 million barrels per day by 2030. A closer look at how the recent IEA oil production estimates are to be achieved reveals that all growth in its forecasts will be due to unconventional oil (including biofuels) and natural gas liquids, and that conventional crude production will remain on a plateau below 2006 production levels through 2035 (a highly optimistic assumption in my view).

With respect to shale gas production in the U.S., which the author hypes along with LNG, U.S. gas production in 2009 was still four percent below the 1973 gas production peak. The U.S. is still a net gas importer via pipeline from Canada and via LNG from many countries. Despite the hype of people like Aubrey McClendon, the CEO of shale gas producer Chesapeake, who was recently featured on 60 Minutes, and who testified <source: http://startelegram.typepad.com/barnett_shale/files/AKM_US_Congress_Testimony_FINAL.doc> before Congress that U.S. gas production could increase by 50 percent or more in the next decade, the realities of shale gas make this unlikely. Shale gas wells have very high decline rates, between 65 and 85 percent in the first year, are high tech and hence expensive, utilize large amounts of water, and have environmental costs that are now becoming evident. The EPA has begun an extensive investigation of the environmental issues surrounding “fracking,” upon which shale gas production depends.

In summary, oil and gas are finite resources that are being consumed at unprecedented and growing rates. Despite what Krauss’ article says, the U.S. is the worst offender and is highly vulnerable to future energy price and supply shocks. The growth trajectory of the already high consumption levels in the industrialized world and the rapid growth in consumption in the developing world is patently unsustainable. Articles such as this falsely promote complacency and thus are an extreme disservice to understanding the energy sustainability dilemma facing the World. The premise of this article that the U.S. is approaching “energy independence” could not be further from the truth.

J. David Hughes – Fellow, Post Carbon Institute

ABOUT DAVID HUGHES

David Hughes is a geoscientist who has studied the energy resources of Canada for nearly four decades, including 32 years with the Geological Survey of Canada as a scientist and research manager. He developed the National Coal Inventory to determine the availability and environmental constraints associated with Canada’s coal resources. As Team Leader for Unconventional Gas on the Canadian Gas Potential Committee, he coordinated the recent publication of a comprehensive assessment of Canada’s unconventional natural gas potential. Over the past decade, he has researched, published and lectured widely on global energy and sustainability issues in North America and internationally. He is a board member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas – Canada and is a Fellow of the Post Carbon Institute.

ABOUT POST CARBON INSTITUTE

Post Carbon Institute provides individuals, communities, businesses, and governments with the resources needed to understand and respond to the interrelated economic, energy, and environmental crises that define the 21st century. PCI envisions a world of resilient communities and re-localized economies that thrive within ecological bounds.

In addition to Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg, PCI Fellows include Bill McKibben, Majora Carter, Wes Jackson, David Orr and 24 others. Full list of PCI Fellows.

POST CARBON INSTITUTE

Tel: +1.707.823.8700 • Fax: +1.866.797.5820

http://www.postcarbon.org •   media@postcarbon.org

 

Weekly Mulch: What’s in Your Water? Nuclear Waste, Coal Slurries and Industrial Estrogen

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 12:18 am
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Here’s a re-post of the Weekly Mulch from the Media Consortium

Weekly Mulch: What’s in Your Water? Nuclear Waste, Coal Slurries and Industrial Estrogen

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

It won’t be long before the world has to confront its diminishing supply of clean water.

“We’ve had the same amount of water on our planet since the beginning of time, ” Susan Leal, co-author of Running Out of Water, told GritTV’s Laura Flanders. “We are on a collision course of a very finite supply and 7.6 billion people.”

What’s worse, private industries—and energy companies in particular—are using waterways as dumping grounds for hazardous substances. With the coal industry, it’s an old story; with the natural gas industry, it’s a practice that can be nipped in the bud.

In many cases, dumping pollutants into water is a government-sanctioned activity, although there are limits to how much contamination can be approved. But companies often overshoot their pollution allowances, and for some businesses, like a nuclear energy plant, even a little bit of contamination can be a problem.

Business as usual

Here’s one troubling scenario. At Grist, Sue Sturgis reports that “a river downstream of a privately-owned nuclear fuel processing plant in East Tennessee is contaminated with enriched uranium.” The concentrations are low, and the water affected is still potable. The issue, however, is that the plant was not supposed to be discharging any of this sort of uranium at all. One researcher explained that the study had “only scratched the surface of what’s out there and found widely dispersed enriched uranium in the environment.” In other words, the contamination could be more widespread than is now known.

Nuclear energy facilities must take particular care to keep the waste products of their work separate from the environment around them. But in some industries, like coal, polluting water supplies is routine practice.

The dirtiest energy

In West Virginia, more than 700 people are suing infamous coal company Massey Energy for defiling their tap water, Charles Corra reports at Change.org. In Mingo County, tap water comes out as “a smooth flow of black and orange liquid.” Country residents are arguing that the contamination is a result of water from coal slurries, a byproduct of mining that contains arsenic and other contaminants, leaking into the water table. Residents believe the slurries also cause health problems like learning disabilities and hormone imbalances, as Corra reports.

Newfangled notions

Even so-called “clean coal,” which would inject less carbon into the atmosphere, is worrisome when it comes to water. The carbon siphoned from clean coal doesn’t disappear; it’s sequestered under ground. For a new clean coal project in Linden, NJ, Change.org’s Austin Billings reports, that chamber would be 70 miles out to sea. As Billings writes:

The plant would be the first of its kind in the world, so it should come as no surprise that the proposal is a major cause for concern among New Jersey environmentalists, fishermen, and lawmakers. According to Dr. Heather Saffert of Clean Ocean America, “We don’t really have a good understanding of how the CO2 is going to react with other minerals… The PurGen project is based on one company’s models. What if they’re wrong?”

In this case, it wouldn’t only be human communities at risk (“Polluted Jersey Shore,” anyone?), but the ocean’s ecosystem.

Frack no!

Coal communities in West Virginia have been dealing with water pollution for decades. But a another source of energy extraction—hydrofracking for natural gas—has only just begun to threaten water supplies. Care2’s Jennifer Mueller points to a recent “60 Minutes” segment that explores the attendant issues: it’s a must-watch for anyone unfamiliar with what’s at stake.

Fortunately, some of the communities at risk have been working to head off the damage before it hits. In Pittsburgh this week, leaders banned hydrofracking within the city, according to Mari Margil and Ben Price in Yes! Magazine. They write:

As Councilman [Doug] Shields stated after the vote, “This ordinance recognizes and secures expanded civil rights for the people of Pittsburgh, and it prohibits activities which would violate those rights. It protects the authority of the people of Pittsburgh to pass this ordinance by undoing corporate privileges that place the rights of the people of Pittsburgh at the mercy of gas corporations.”

Environmentalists in other municipalities, in state government, and in Congress would do well to follow Pittsburgh’s lead.

Mutant fish

Of course, you can’t believe every tale of water contamination you hear. At RhRealityCheck, Kimberly Inez McGuire takes on the persistent myth that estrogen from birth control is making its way in large concentrations into the water supply and leading to mutations in fish.

This simply isn’t true. As McGuire explains, “The estrogen found in birth control pills, patches, and rings (known as EE2) is only one of thousands of synthetic estrogens that may be found in our water, and the contribution of EE2 to the total presence of estrogen in water is relatively small.” Where does the rest of the estrogen come from? Factory farms, industrial chemicals like BPA, and synthetic estrogen used in crop fertilizer. So, yes, the water is contaminated, but, no, your birth control is not to blame.

Greening the US

Stories like these, of environmental pollution by corporations, seem to come up again and again. They’re barely news anymore and so easy to ignore. But it’s more important than ever for environmentalists to fight back against these challenges and push for a green economy that minimizes pollution. The American Prospect‘s Monica Potts recently sat down with The Media Consortium to explain the roadblocks to a green economy. If green-minded people want to stop hearing tales like the ones above, these are the obstacles they’ll need to overcome. Watch the video:

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

November 17, 2010

PLASTIC STATE OF MIND – Parody with Purpose

Filed under: environment — Matt Dernoga @ 3:32 pm
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I have to say, definitely an A for creativity.  Check out this video on banning single use plastic bags.

New FHA PowerSaver Program to offer low-cost clean energy financing

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:15 am
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Ever since the PACE clean energy financing program was strangled by the lovely Fannie and Freddie, money originally slated to be loaned out by states, counties, and municipalities to residents was stopped, but it looks as though the federal government is trying to jump-start a new and similar program that avoids the problems of PACE, and still delivers results.  Lets hope the pilot-program goes well!  press release

HUD ANNOUNCES PILOT PROGRAM TO HELP HOMEOWNERS PAY FOR ENERGY IMPROVEMENTS TO THEIR HOMES
New FHA PowerSaver Program to offer low-cost financing to credit-worthy borrowers

WASHINGTON – Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today announced a new pilot program that will offer credit-worthy borrowers low-cost loans to make energy-saving improvements to their homes. Backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), these new FHA PowerSaver loans will offer homeowners up to $25,000 to make energy-efficient improvements of their choice, including the installation of insulation, duct sealing, doors and windows, HVAC systems, water heaters, solar panels, and geothermal systems.

HUD and FHA developed PowerSaver as part of the Recovery Through Retrofit initiative launched in May 2009 by Vice President Biden’s Middle Class Task Force to develop federal actions that would expand green job opportunities in the United States and boost energy savings by improving home energy efficiency. The announcement is part of an 18-month-long interagency effort facilitated by White House Council on Environmental Quality with the Office of the Vice President, 11 departments and agencies and six White House offices.

Vice President Biden said, “The initiatives announced today are putting the Recovery Through Retrofitreport’s recommendations into action – giving American families the tools they need to invest in home energy upgrades. Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle class families save money and energy.”

“HUD and FHA are committed to lowering the cost and expanding the availability of affordable financing for home energy retrofits,” said Secretary Donovan. “PowerSaver will help more homeowners afford common sense, cost saving improvements to their homes, and will create jobs for contractors, installers and energy auditors across the country.”

More homeowners are interested in making their homes energy efficient, according to industry forecasts. Yet options are still limited for financing home energy improvements, especially for the many homeowners who are unable to take out a home equity loan or access an affordable consumer loan. HUD today published a notice seeking the participation of a limited number of mortgage lenders in the two-year pilot program slated to begin in early 2011.

“PowerSaver provides lenders with a new product option to serve a potentially growing market,” said David H. Stevens, FHA Commissioner. “We believe there are a number of lenders who will be interested in working with us to help save energy and money for homeowners, while creating jobs and cutting greenhouse gas emissions”

Lenders will be selected to participate in the PowerSaver pilot based on their capacity and commitment to provide affordable home energy improvement financing. Lenders will be required to serve communities that have already taken affirmative steps to expand home energy improvements. HUD will help lenders identify such markets – which exist in many suburban, rural and urban areas across the country.

PowerSaver loans will be backed by the FHA – but with significant “skin in the game” from private lenders. FHA mortgage insurance will cover up to 90 percent of the loan amount in the event of default. Lenders will retain the remaining risk on each loan, incentivizing responsible underwriting and lending standards. FHA will provide streamlined insurance claims payment procedures onPowerSaver loans. In addition, lenders may be eligible for incentive grant payments from FHA to enhance benefits to borrowers, such as lowering interest rates.

“Home energy retrofits are good investments that save families money,” said Ginnie Mae President Ted Tozer. “As the financing arm of HUD, we are proud to support this important home-improvement segment of the housing market and look forward to working with lenders and FHA to develop appropriate secondary market options.”

PowerSaver has been carefully designed to meet a need in the marketplace for borrowers who have the ability and motivation to take on modest additional debt to realize the savings over time from a home energy improvement. PowerSaver loans are only available to borrowers with good credit, manageable overall debt and at least some equity in their home (maximum 100% combined loan to value).

To read the full text of FHA’s notice, visit HUD’s website.

 

 

November 15, 2010

Green leadership: A lesson for Loh

Filed under: University of Maryland — Matt Dernoga @ 10:58 am
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I have a column out today in the Diamondback containing suggested sustainability initiatives for the University of Maryland’s new President Wallace Loh to undertake.  Unfortunately space limitations shortened the column substantially, below is the extended version.  The link I provided above goes to the published version.

As a member of the University of Maryland’s environmental community, I’m excited to see what steps our new President Wallace Loh will take to build on the progress made under Dan Mote.  In some ways, Loh has much to live up to.  During Mote’s tenure, the university took unprecedented steps in sustainability all the way from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to setting green building standards to increasing our recycling rate.  At the same time, many students and faculty I know felt Mote was more concerned about promoting a green image, regardless of whether that meant taking bold leadership.  Sometimes it did, but other times it meant hypocrisy.  Here are five initiatives Loh can lead on to blaze a new path for the university this decade that’s far greener than the last:

Green East Campus: The nearly billion dollar East Campus redevelopment project now being undertaken by the Cordish Company is an opportunity to revitalize downtown College Park and lead the way on green development.  Since East Campus is in its early planning stages, now is the time to make clear publicly what the university expects from Cordish.  We can set a new standard for green development that goes beyond our current LEED Silver building standard, traps 100% of storm water runoff to protect the Chesapeake Bay, promotes local business, and isn’t car centric.  Getting there is going to require leadership from Loh.

Support the Purple Line for Real: The Purple Line alignment has been an area where the university administration has butted heads with everyone else in the state!  The university has given a myriad of reasons why they favor more expensive and less efficient alignments, and none hold up under a scrutiny.  End the hypocrisy and support mass transit by supporting the Purple Line alignment that’s in competition for federal funding.

Put Solar On It: Although the university has begun to install a little solar such as on the South Campus Dining Hall, we aren’t being as aggressive with it as we should.  One possibility is to enter into a long-term purchase power agreement with a solar company.  Another suggestion is to analyze the recently purchased Washington Post Plant where the university will be relocating facilities for East Campus.  That plant has a huge roof.

Less Plastic: Although we’re doing a better job of recycling it, there’s way too much plastic being given out at this university.  Given that students can drink tap water from the university’s filter stations, there’s no reason we should have bottled water for sale on this campus.  Another problem is unnecessary plastic bags given out by cashiers in the university’s stores.  Students should have to ask for the plastic bags, and they should come with a five cent fee.

More Local and Healthy Food: There is strong support on the campus for the university to provide healthier food options to that have less of an environmental footprint.  Some possibilities for action are providing more vegetarian options, using cage-free eggs, growing some food on campus, and setting ambitious targets for increasing the percentage of food which comes from within a day’s driving distance.

Loh has enthusiastic partners all over campus working on sustainability issues.  If he can match that enthusiasm, and lead with us, we’ll all be successful.

November 13, 2010

Weekly Mulch: For Cancun Climate Summit, Activists Consider the Long View

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 6:53 pm
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The following is a cross-post from the Weekly Mulch on the Cancun Climate Summit, and Coal

Weekly Mulch: For Cancun Climate Summit, Activists Consider the Long View

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

A year ago, it seemed possible—likely, even—that President Barack Obama would sweep into the international negotiations on climate change at Copenhagen and make serious progress on the tangle of issues at stake. The reality was quite different. This year, the expectations for the United Nations Climate Conference in Cancun are less wild.

The conference will be held from Nov 29 to Dec 10 and the same issues from 2009 are up for debate. Countries like the United States, Britain, and Germany are still contributing an outsize share of carbon to the atmosphere. Countries like India and China are still rapidly increasing their own carbon output. And countries like Bangladesh, Tuvalu, and Bolivia are still bearing an unfair share of the environmental impacts brought on by climate change.

A very different set of expectations are building in the climate movement this year. If last year was about moving forward as fast as possible, this year, climate activists seem resigned to the idea that politicians just aren’t getting it. Change, when it comes, will have to be be built on a popular movement, not a political negotiation.

Climate change from the bottom up

Last year, climate activists put their faith in international leaders to make progress. This year, they believe that it’s up to them, as outside actors, to marshal a grassroots movement and pressure their leaders towards decreased carbon emissions.

“There’s a recognition that the insider strategy to push from inside the Beltway to impact what will happen in DC, or what will happen in Cancun has really not succeeded,” Rose Braz, climate campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Making Contact’s Andrew Stelzer. “What we’re doing in conjunction with a number of groups across the country and across the world is really build the type of movement that will change what happens in Cancun, what changes what happens in DC from the bottom up.” (This entire episode of Making Contact is dedicated to new approaches to climate change, at Cancun and beyond, and is worth a listen.)

Fighting the indolence of capitalists

Here’s one example of this new strategy. As Zachary Shahan writes at Change.org, La Via Campesina, an international peasant movement, is coordinating a march that will begin in San Luis Potosi, Guadalajara, Acapulco, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, then converge on Cancun. The march will include “thousands of farmers, indigenous people, rural villagers, urbanites, and more,” Shahan reports.

After they arrive in Cancun, the organizers are planning an “Alternative Global Forum for Life and Environmental and Social Justice” for the final days of the negotiations, which they say will be a mass mobilisation of peasants, indigenous and social movements. The action extends far beyond Cancun, though. Actually, they are organizing thousands of Cancuns around the world on this day to denounce what they see as false climate solutions.

These actions echo the strategy that environmentalist and author Bill McKibben and other climate leaders are promoting to push for climate change policies in the U.S. All this talk about building momentum from the bottom up, from populations, means that anyone looking for change is now looking years into the future.

The U.S. is not leading the way

Of course, ultimately, politicians will need to agree on a couple of standards. In particular, how much carbon each country should be emitting and how fast each country should power down its current emission levels. The U.S. is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to agreement on these questions, especially due to the recent mid-term elections. As Claudia Salerno, Venezuela’s lead climate change negotiator wrote at AlterNet:

Unlike what many suggest, China is not the problem. China, along with India and others, have made considerable commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are already working to realize them. Other developing countries have done the same, although we only generate a virtual drop in the bucket of global carbon emissions. The key player missing here is the U.S.

China, the U.S. and Clean Coal

The most interesting collaborations on clean energy, however, aren’t happening around the negotiating table. This week, The Atlantic‘s James Fallows wrote a long piece about the work that the U.S. and China are doing together on clean coal technology, the magic cure-all to the world’s energy ills.

In the piece, Fallows recognizes what environmentalists have long argued: coal is bad for the environment and for coal-mining communities. But, unlike clean energy advocates who want to phase coal out of the energy equation, Fallows argues that coal must play a part in the world’s energy future. Therefore, we must find a way to burn it without releasing clouds of carbon into the atmosphere. That’s where clean coal technology comes in. So far, however, researchers have had little luck minimizing coal’s carbon output.

A few progressive writers weighed in on Fallows’ piece: Grist’s David Roberts thought Fallows was too hard on the anti-coal camp, while Campus Progress’ Sara Rubin argued that the piece did a good job of grappling with the reality of clean energy economics. And Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum had one very clear criticism—that the piece skated over the question of progress on carbon capture, the one real way to dramatically reduce carbon pollution from coal. He wrote:

All the collaboration sounds wonderful, and even a 20% or 30% improvement in coal technology would be welcome. But that said, sequestration is the holy grail and I still don’t know if the Chinese are doing anything more on that front than the rest of us.

On every front, then, the view on climate change is now a long one.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

November 11, 2010

Markey Will Seek Top Democratic Slot on House Resources Committee

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 6:18 pm
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I think this is a perfect fit for climate champion Ed Markey, and I hope the Democrats give this one to him.  Press release

WASHINGTON (November 10, 2010) – Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today announced he will pursue the ranking member position on the Natural Resources Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. As one of Congress’s leaders on energy and environment issues, Rep. Markey cited as reasons for seeking the position the need to create jobs in the energy sector, especially clean energy, and to fight against possible attacks against bedrock environmental protections for America’s land, water, air and threatened species. Rep. Markey has served on the committee since 1976.

“The stakes have never been higher for creating new energy jobs, protecting our environment, and increasing our national security by properly managing our own natural resources,” said Rep. Markey. “Now is not the time to capitulate to an agenda that will allow China and the rest of the world to win the clean energy jobs race, all at the expense of the planet. Following the largest oil spill in our nation’s history, it is imperative that we have a cop on the beat policing the oil industry.”

Rep. Markey has a long history of legislative accomplishments in energy and environment issues. He is the House author of the fuel economy standards in the 2007 energy bill, co-author of the clean energy and climate bill that passed the House in 2009, and several energy efficiency bills.

During his tenure in the Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Markey has authored or co-authored many pieces of legislation. Examples include:

–Legislation to ensure American taxpayers receive a fair return on oil, gas and other minerals produced on federal lands.

–Legislation following the BP oil spill to ensure that this type of disaster never happens again.

–Legislation to reduce the federal deficit by recovering up to $53 billion dollars in lost royalty payments from oil companies who are drilling for free offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

–Legislation to promote renewable energy development while protecting our environment.

–Legislation to protect our nation’s most important natural treasures such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Georges Bank off the coast of New England.

Rep. Markey is the most senior member on the Natural Resources Committee who has not served as chair or ranking member of that committee, or of another committee.

Rep. Markey will keep his senior status on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but intends to relinquish his right to serve as ranking member of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the next Congress.

MD Offshore Wind now at Request for Interest Stage

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:54 am
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See the exciting press release below, and check out the MD Department of Natural Resources website about the entire stakeholder process to this point.

ANNAPOLIS, MD (November 8, 2010) –Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland Energy Administration today joined the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in announcing a significant step forward in bringing offshore wind power generation to Maryland’s coast. The federal government, which controls the Outer Continental Shelf, has accepted the planning recommendations of the Maryland Offshore Wind Task Force and today issued both a Request for Interest (RFI) and a map of an offshore wind leasing area in federal waters adjacent to Maryland’s Atlantic Coast.  Today’s announcement makes Maryland only the second state in the nation to reach this point in the process.

“Today’s announcement marks another step forward for Maryland’s new economy,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “By harnessing the outstanding wind resources off of Maryland’s coast, we can create thousands of green collar jobs, reduce harmful air pollution, and bring much needed, additional clean energy to Maryland.” (more…)

November 7, 2010

Don’t believe in global warming? That’s not very conservative

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt Dernoga @ 6:17 pm
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There’s a spot on op-ed in the Washington Post today by Bracken Hendricks about how being opposed to action on global warming is not only nonconservative, but will lead to a greater role for government in managing the damage from a warming planet.  The column is re-posted below.

Few causes unite the conservatives of the newly elected 112th Congress as unanimously as their opposition to government action on climate change.

In September, the Center for American Progress Action Fund surveyed Republican candidates in congressional and gubernatorial races and found that nearly all disputed the scientific consensus on global warming, and none supported measures to mitigate it. For example, Robert Hurt, who won Tom Perriello’s House seat in Virginia, says clean-energy legislation would fail to “do anything except harm people.” The tea party’s “Contract From America” calls proposed climate policies “costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.” Even conservatives who once argued for action on climate change, such as as Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), have run for cover.

But it’s conservatives who should fear climate change the most. To put it simply, if you hate big government, try global warming on for size.

Many conservatives say they oppose clean-energy policies because they want to keep government off our backs. But they have it exactly backward. Doing nothing will set our country on a course toward narrower choices for businesses and individuals, along with an expanded role for government. When catastrophe strikes – and yes, the science is quite solid that it will – it will be the feds who are left conducting triage.

My economic views are progressive, and I think government has an important role in tackling big problems. But I admire many cherished conservative values, from personal responsibility to thrift to accountability, and I worry that conservatives’ lock-step posture on climate change is seriously out of step with their professed priorities. A strong defense of our national interests, rigorous cost-benefit analysis, fiscal discipline and the ability to avoid unnecessary intrusions into personal liberty will all be seriously compromised in a world marked by climate change.

 

In fact, far from being conservative, the Republican stance on global warming shows a stunning appetite for risk. When faced with uncertainty and the possibility of costly outcomes, smart businessmen buy insurance, reduce their downside exposure and protect their assets. When confronted with a disease outbreak of unknown proportions, front-line public health workers get busy producing vaccines, pre-positioning supplies and tracking pathogens. And when military planners assess an enemy, they get ready for a worst-case encounter.

When it comes to climate change, conservatives are doing none of this. Instead, they are recklessly betting the farm on a single, best-case scenario: That the scientific consensus about global warming will turn out to be wrong. This is bad risk management and an irresponsible way to run anything, whether a business, an economy or a planet.

The great irony is that, should their high-stakes bet prove wrong, adapting to a destabilized climate would mean a far bigger, more intrusive government than would most of the “big government” solutions to our energy problems that have been discussed so far.

Let’s start with costs. The investment needed to slow carbon pollution might total from 1 to 2 percent of global GDP each year for several decades, according to a 2006 study by the British government. This spending would pay for advanced technology, better land use and modern infrastructure. The same study put the cost of inaction – including economic harm from property damage and lost crops – at 5 to 20 percent of global GDP, lasting in perpetuity, with the risk of vastly higher catastrophic damage. You tell me which option is more fiscally responsible.

But it’s not this cost-benefit arithmetic that should most concern conservatives. Their real worry should be what it will take to manage the effects of climate change as they are felt across the economy over the course of our lifetimes.

The best science available suggests that without taking action to fundamentally change how we produce and use energy, we could see temperatures rise 9 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit over much of the United States by 2090. These estimates have sometimes been called high-end predictions, but the corresponding low-end forecasts assume we will rally as a country to shift course. That hasn’t happened, so the worst case must become our best guess.

With temperature increases in this range, studies predict a permanent drought throughout the Southwest, much like the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, but this time stretching from Kansas to California. If you hate bailouts or want to end farm subsidies, this is a problem. Rising ocean acidity, meanwhile, will bring collapsing fisheries, catch restrictions – and unemployment checks. And rising sea levels will mean big bills as cash-strapped cities set about rebuilding infrastructure and repairing storm damage. With Americans in pain, the government will have to respond. And who will shoulder these new burdens? Future taxpayers.

This is just the beginning. If conservatives’ rosy hopes prove wrong, who but the federal government will undertake the massive infrastructure projects necessary to protect high-priced real estate in Miami and Lower Manhattan from rising oceans? And what about smaller coastal cities, such as Galveston and Corpus Christi in Texas? Will it fall to FEMA or some other part of the federal government to decide who will move and when and under what circumstances? Elsewhere, with declining river flows, how will the Bureau of Reclamation go about repowering the dams of the Pacific Northwest?

And while we’re busy at home, who will help Pakistan or Bangladesh in its next flood? What will the government do to secure food supplies when Russia freezes wheat exports? Without glaciers, what will become of Lima, Peru, a city dependent on melting ice for drinking water? Will we let waves of “climate refugees” cross our borders?

As the physicist and White House science director John Holdren has said: “We basically have three choices: mitigation [cutting emissions], adaptation and suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be.”

Today’s conservatives would do well to start thinking more like military planners, reexamining the risks inherent in their strategy. If, instead, newly elected Republicans do nothing, they will doom us all to bigger government interventions and a large dose of suffering – a reckless choice that’s anything but conservative.

 

 

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