Saturday, September 12, 2009
- Energy and Global Warming News for September 11: New York City braces for risk of higher seas; EU environment chief sees 100% chance of deal in Copenhagen
- Dirty coal group's 14th forgery impersonated American veterans. Real vets support strong efforts to action on climate and clean energy — as does GOP Senator John Warner, former Armed Services Committee chair
- Obama to speak at U.N. special session on global warming; Todd Stern testifies "Nothing the U.S. can do is more important for the international negotiation process than passing robust, comprehensive clean energy legislation as soon as possible…. President Obama and the Secretary of State, along with our entire Administration, are committed to action on this issue."
- Energy and Global Warming News for September 10: Nukes will be part of Senate energy bill, Boxer says
- EIA: Clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill would make America more energy independent, cutting U.S. foreign oil bill $650 billion through 2030, saving $5,600 per household
Posted: 11 Sep 2009 09:10 AM PDT
On a day of remembrance for that epic tragedy to hit New York, here's a story about how New York is preparing for the tragedy ever knows is coming..
Dirty coal group's 14th forgery impersonated American veterans. Real vets support strong efforts to action on climate and clean energy — as does GOP Senator John Warner, former Armed Services Committee chair
Posted: 11 Sep 2009 07:01 AM PDT
Climate change is a major threat to U.S. Security. The clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill would enhance our security by reducing oil dependence and environmental harm. That's why the conservative Virgina Republican, John Warner, is pushing hard to pass the bill — because he is a former Navy secretary and former Senate Armed Services Committee chair and because he is a former Forest Service firefighter now "just absolutely heartbroken" because "the old forest, the white pine forest in which I worked, was absolutely gone, devastated, standing there dead from the bark beetle" thanks in large part to global warming (see interview below).
So it's no surprise the deniers and delayers spread disinformation to try to undercut this core message. As Brad Johnson reports at Think Progress:
As the Washington Post reported:
Also yesterday, we saw Alstom quit the scandal-ridden coal industry front group, ACCCE, joining Duke and Alcoa.
Real veterans of the Iraq War explain their support for the American Clean Energy and Security Act in this new advertisement from VoteVets.org:
Yesterday, more than 150 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — real ones — visited the White House and the Congress to argue that "climate change legislation is absolutely critical." E&E Daily (subs. req'd) has the full story:
Warner's is a remarkable story — a hard-core conservative Republican aggressively supporting the climate and clean energy bill. He is "trying to build grass-roots support for congressional action to limit global warming," as Politics Daily reports. "He is traveling the country to discuss military research that shows climate change is a threat to U.S. national security, and this fall he'll testify to Congress on the issue for the fourth time." PD has a long interview with him, which I excerpt below:
It's knowledge of the facts that makes people climate science realists.
Obama to speak at U.N. special session on global warming; Todd Stern testifies "Nothing the U.S. can do is more important for the international negotiation process than passing robust, comprehensive clean energy legislation as soon as possible…. President Obama and the Secretary of State, along with our entire Administration, are committed to action on this issue."
Posted: 10 Sep 2009 03:15 PM PDT
Obama's (first) big speech on global warming is going to come sooner than expected.
And all the nonsensical media reporting on how the administration is supposedly backing away from a sense of urgency on the climate issue — urgency on passing the clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill and getting a global deal — should be dispelled by reading today's House testimony from our top climate negotiator, Todd Stern (here, excerpted below). Every word in that testimony is signed off on by the administration, so when Stern presses Congress for a bill ASAP and says Obama is committed to action, that comes from the White House.
E&E News PM reports:
I think he'll still need to give a more political speech before the Senate vote. When will that vote be? A key administration witness testified in front of a House Committee today that it really needs to be before a certain big international climate conference in Europe this December:
Worth noting is that Stern doesn't pull his punches on the cost of inaction or the historical . As he testified:
Posted: 10 Sep 2009 02:40 PM PDT
File this under Duh!
Yes, the nuclear title will mostly be MDT (Money Down the Toilet) stuff, but other than the taxpayers actually doling out $10 billion (or more!) per plant, I can't see many nukes being built no matter what is in the nuclear title because they just cost too damn much (see "Nuclear Bombshell: $26 Billion cost — $10,800 per kilowatt! — killed Ontario nuclear bid") — no matter what EPA and some other models say. Nukes appear to be the minimum price for admission for some moderate Democrats and a few Republicans ("Lamar Alexander (R-TN) calls nuclear "the cheap clean energy solution," renews GOP call for 100 new nukes, which would cost some $1 trillion") — particularly McCain.
I take this as a good sign that Boxer is it really trying to start with a bill that could ultimately be passed. I'd also expect a modified 'price collar', which could be both a useful addition to the bill and a key way to get more votes, depending on how it is written.
I don't, however, think you are going to see nuclear power included in the renewable energy standard — but you might see an addition to the standard that goes beyond the renewable and efficiency standard and includes low carbon energy.
Posted: 10 Sep 2009 10:37 AM PDT
Although the House-passed clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill doesn't have a big focus on the transportation sector, it does achieve real benefits in oil savings at low cost (see "EIA analysis of climate bill finds 23 cents a day cost to families, massive retirement of dirty coal plants and 119 GW of new renewables by 2030 — plus a million barrels a day oil savings"). Some people have asked me for more detail on this, which I provide courtesy of this guest post from Jeremy Symons, Senior Vice President, Conservation and Education, National Wildlife Federation (bio here).
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA's) recent analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) includes the first government estimates of the legislation's impact directly on oil imports. A number of models, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have determined that ACES would save significant amounts of oil, but EIA is the first to project the specific impact on oil imports so that we can more directly assess the security and financial implications.
Overall oil imports would decline by 590,000 barrels per day by the year 2020 under ACES, according to EIA . This is roughly equivalent to the total amount of oil we imported from Iraq in 2008 (620,000 barrels per day). Over the next twenty years, America would save $650 billion on foreign oil (cumulatively through 2030). This is in constant 2007 dollars, and is calculated by applying EIA's forecast of oil prices to EIA's projected savings in oil imports.
ACES has many features to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, including strong investments to promote vehicle battery technologies and household smart grid connections to power our cars with electricity. EIA acknowledges that it wasn't able to model a number of these features, so the actual oil savings would likely be larger.
[JR: I'd add that EIA, unlike the IEA doesn't get peak oil (see World's top energy economist warns peak oil threatens recovery, urges immediate action: "We have to leave oil before oil leaves us"). So it lowballs future prices. You can probably increase the numbers in this psot 50% for actual savings.]
In the meantime, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has reached new heights in misinformation by claiming that oil imports of refined oil products would go up under ACES. That is, we might import less crude oil but we will have to import more diesel or gasoline. Let's set the record straight: EIA's study of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act determined that the bill would reduce imports of refined oil products by 20% by the year 2025. Environmental Defense Fund has valuable information on this topic at http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2009/08/25/api-misses-the-mark-why-refineries-will-do-just-fine-under-aces/ — see also (see "Even fantasy-filled API study finds no significant impact of climate bill on US refining").
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- 100 clean energy jobs at closed auto plant? Looks good to Michigan
- NOAA: "El Niño is expected to strengthen and last through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2009-2010″
- Clean Energy Works launches: New grassroots effort unites faith, labor, veterans, environmental, sportsmen, business, youth, farm, and community groups to fight for for clean air, clean water, clean energy job bill
- Sure Obama ended the Bush depression, cut taxes for 98% of working families, and jumpstarted the shift to a clean energy economy with a $100 billion in stimulus funds — but what has the green FDR done lately?
- Huge wind and ocean energy project planned for offshore North Carolina
- EPA blocks permit for giant mountaintop removal mine
- NSIDC: Arctic sea ice extent falls below 2005 minimum, now third lowest on record
- Nicholas Stern, world's top climate economist, endorses 350 ppm as "a very sensible long-term target."
- ACCCE takes on water: Alstom quits scandal-ridden coal industry front group, joining Duke and Alcoa — time for GE and Caterpillar to jump ship, too
- Energy and Global Warming News for September 9th: Salazar says U.S. climate bill remains high on agenda; Boxer vows to introduce bill by month's end; First Solar to build 2000 Megawatt plant in China
Posted: 10 Sep 2009 07:46 AM PDT
Pretty much the only bright spot in the Michigan job market is clean energy jobs, as the NYT reported today:
And that explains the excitement over even a seemingly modest piece of good news:
The picture on the right is GM's
Of course, in the not too distant future the only jobs left will be green. That's why smart states like Michigan — and smart presidents like Obama — are pushing to ensure that the United States becomes the world leader in what will certainly be the biggest job creating industrial sector of the century. Here's more on what the state is doing:
Now if only GE would quit the coal industry front group that is trying to block our clean energy future
Let's hope GM's new 230mpg Chevy Volt succeeds.
It looks like this new plant will be building batteries for the Chevy volt:
Posted: 10 Sep 2009 07:19 AM PDT
NOAA's National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center released its monthly El Niño/Southern oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion:
This should be enough to drive us to record temperatures, but there is typically a few month delay between an El Niño and the full global temperature impact. So if this is only a moderate El Niño but it lasts through the winter, then it may be 2010 that is the record. For more details on the implications, see here.
Clean Energy Works launches: New grassroots effort unites faith, labor, veterans, environmental, sportsmen, business, youth, farm, and community groups to fight for for clean air, clean water, clean energy job bill
Posted: 10 Sep 2009 06:18 AM PDT
The progressive and clean energy has finished putting together a major effort to fight for clean air, clean water, and clean energy jobs. I had first reported the first green shoots of this effort at the end of July. As the Washington Post now reports:
Many in the status quo media remain eager to spin even positive stories negatively. Here is the Politico:
Again, I don't see any evidence that prospects for passing a climate bill have dimmed. Still the same tough job it always was given the massive disinformation and lobbying campaign from Big Oil and the big corporate polluters.
But now the side of clean air, clean water and clean energy jobs has a major champion to compete with those who don't want clean air, clean water, and clean energy jobs. Here is the press release:
Yes, CEW includes CAPAF, which supports my work. So I do have first hand knowledge that this is already a first-rate organization that will make a key contribution to the effort to pass the clean energy jobs bill that will clean the air, protect clean water, and preserve a livable climate while starting to take back control of this country from the greedy corporate polluters.
Sure Obama ended the Bush depression, cut taxes for 98% of working families, and jumpstarted the shift to a clean energy economy with a $100 billion in stimulus funds — but what has the green FDR done lately?
Posted: 09 Sep 2009 03:42 PM PDT
The Washington Post has yet another dubious spin on Obama today, "Environmental Groups Wait to See Definitive Action From Obama":
Uhh, no, no, and no. Van Jones was the green jobs advisor. He was an ardent advocate for reducing pollution and poverty together with clean energy. So a media story that starts with his resignation can't utterly ignore the staggering achievements in both clean energy and greenhouse gas emissions that Obama has already attained — gains that exceed his four predecessors combined. Well I should said a story "shouldn't utterly ignore" since this story does.
Obama's record so far on clean energy and the most important environmental issue — global warming — may not be politically radical, but it is unparalleled in U.S. history.
Let's remember, for instance, that Obama will raise new car fuel efficiency standard to 39 mpg by 2016 — The biggest step the U.S. government has ever taken to cut CO2. And the Obama EPA declared carbon pollution a serious danger to Americans' health and welfare requiring regulation. The final EPA announcement should come this month, leading to the first ever national global warming regulations (at least for new power plants) — no matter what Congress does. Of course Obama helped get through the House of Representatives its first ever climate bill, which is also the first clean air bill in two decades — see The U.S. House of Representatives approves landmark (bipartisan!) climate bill, 219 – 212. Waxman-Markey would complete America's transition to a clean energy economy, which started with the stimulus bill.
And then we have that amazing stimulus. Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com, in his post "Obama Has Cut Taxes for 98.6 Percent of Working* Households**" asserts, "One thing I don't quite get has been the White House's reluctance to highlight the non-infrastructure parts of the stimulus package." In fact, the White House hasn't done a very good job of touting the $100 billion in clean energy benefits of the infrastructure or most of its other energy and environmental achievements. Since the media, among others, seems to have forgotten, let me excerpt from my April 26 post, "The Green FDR: Obama's first 100 days make — and may remake — history":
Obama has clearly demonstrated he has a serious chance to be the first President since FDR to remake the country through his positive vision. Indeed, if Obama is a two-term president, if he achieves even half of what he has set out to, he will likely be remembered as "the green FDR."
As an interesting side note, President Reagan, who is held in some esteem with historians these days, will almost certainly be relegated to a second-tier, if not third-tier, president by the painful dual realities of global warming and peak oil. After all, it was Ronald Reagan who put conservatives strongly and permanently on the pro-pollution, anti-efficiency, anti-clean-energy side, where they remain today (see "Who got us in this energy mess? Start with Ronald Reagan" and "Why is our energy policy so lame? Ask the three GOP stooges" and "Hill conservatives reject all 3 climate strategies and embrace Rush Limbaugh"). It is Reagan, more than anyone else, who put the GOP on the self-destructively wrong side of scientific reality (though Newt Gingrich is a close second).
Here is a partial list of what Obama has achieved in his first 100 days, laying the groundwork for him becoming the Green FDR:
Years from now, long after the economy has recovered, this may well be remembered as the time that progressives, led by Obama, began the climate-saving transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy built around green jobs.
Of course, it's entirely possible that this history-making first 100 days won't remake history. It's more than possible that we won't stop catastrophic warming. But if we don't stop the 100s of years of misery, of Hell and High Water," that will almost certainly be because the conservative movement threw their entire weight behind humanity's self-destruction (see "Anti-science conservatives must be stopped") — because conservative in both chambers refuse to conserve anything, including a livable climate, and willingly sacrificed the health and well-being of the next 50 generations of Americans for their ideology.
But even if we fail to stop the catastrophe, there is no escape from Americans, indeed, all humans, ultimately having a low-carbon, low-oil, low-water low-natural-capital lifestyle. And thus the vast majority of Obama's initiatives will be recognized by future generations and future historians as the point at which the U.S. government embraced the inevitable and started down the sustainable path that presidents either chose to embrace voluntarily in time to avoid the worst impacts or were forced to embraced by the collapse of the global Ponzi scheme.
Obama is the first president in history to articulate both the why and how of the sustainable vision — and to actively, indeed aggressively, pursue its enactment. And that is why he is likely to be remembered as the green FDR.
The Post claims the administration has left "questions unanswered about the way it would balance environmentalism and the economy." I don't think so. Obama has reiterated his view at every chance — and followed through with serious policies:
Obviously, if Obama fails to get a serious climate and clean energy bill through the Senate and onto his desk in 2010 — and thus fails to get a global climate deal — then he won't be remembered as the green FDR. So that must remain a top priority, and I expect it will.
But it is absurd to say today that Obama has been anything less than a top tier president on both clean energy and the most important environmental issue we face.
Posted: 09 Sep 2009 02:56 PM PDT
While some are still building new climate-destroying coal plants in North Carolina, the Outer Banks Ocean Energy Corp. sees clean energy potential in the windy "First in flight" state.. The Energy Daily (subs. req'd) reports:
But OBOE sees more opportunity for clean energy that never runs out than just offshore wind:
North Carolina ranks third among states (after Louisiana and Florida) that have the most area in jeopardy from a 5 foot sea level rise — and would lose the equivalent of a Delaware, including, of course, Kitty Hawk where "the Wright brothers made the first controlled powered airplane flights December 17, 1903."
So perhaps wind and wave and current power might be better for the state.
Posted: 09 Sep 2009 02:31 PM PDT
In a letter issued last week, the Environmental Protection Agency "moved toward revoking the largest mountaintop-removal permit in West Virginia history." Citing "clear evidence" of likely damage, the EPA has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to "suspend, revoke or modify" the permit it granted in 2007 to Arch Coal to dig a 2,278-acre coal stripmine and fill six valleys and 43,000 linear feet of streams with the toxic debris:
Obama's EPA has granted most of the mountaintop removal permits it has reviewed. "It's not the death of mountaintop coal mining," said Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club's campaign to limit the use of coal, told Bloomberg News. "But it's clear that it's not just going to be blanket approval of anything the Corps wants to do, which was essentially the case under the Bush administration."
This is a Wonk Room repost.
Posted: 09 Sep 2009 01:11 PM PDT
The National Snow and Ice Data Center reports:
Not a big surprise — see "NSIDC: Record low Arctic ice extent unlikely in 2009." Since the 2009 arctic extent AREA is no longer that close to 2008 levels, which set the record for minimum ice VOLUME, it seem unlikely 2009 will set a volume record (see "Will we see record low Arctic ice VOLUME this year?").
The long-term trend remains the same (see "Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, 'seminal' study finds") and hence the medium-term also remains the same (see North Pole poised to be largely ice-free by 2020: "It's like the Arctic is covered with an egg shell and the egg shell is now just cracking completely").
NSIDC has some good analysis of the summer 2009 melt seasons to put this in some context:
Posted: 09 Sep 2009 11:32 AM PDT
The great environmental writer and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, is the guest blogger.
Nicholas Stern is the most important climate economist in the world. After a stint as chief economist at the World Bank, he was asked by the government in his native Britain to conduct the most thorough review of the economics of global warming yet undertaken.
Released in October of 2006, the Stern Review drew praise from many of his brethren in the field–and it also drew gasps of shock and horror from anyone who bothered to read it. It laid out, quite clearly, the cost of doing too little or moving too late on climate change: economic damage that would be greater than WWI, WWII, and the Great Depression combined. In April, he published a powerful popular account of his work, Blueprint for a Safer Planet, and he's been one of the leading forces preparing for the Copenhagen meeting.
So that's the background. Today in Berlin, a reporter from one of the city's papers, Daniel Boese, asked him about the 350 target–which goes well beyond the numbers he was using in his book even in April.It's a sign of how quickly the tide is shifting, and also of Stern's intellectual integrity, that he said: "I think it's a very sensible long-term target." He went on to explain: "People have to be aware that is a truly long-term target. We have already passed 350ppm, we are at 390 ppm of Co2 and at 435 ppm of Co2-equivalents right now. It is most important to stop the increase of flows of emissions short term and then start the decline of flows of annual emissions and get them down to levels which will move concentrations of CO2 back down towards 350ppm."
Stern is right, of course–even if we do everything right at Copenhagen, we won't be back at 350 soon. But unless we do everything right we'll be back at 350 never ever. His call will help stiffen the push for real measures at the conference.
And in case you're keeping score, here's where we are at the moment. The world's foremost climatologist, James Hansen, first calculated this number with his NASA team. The world's foremost climate politician, Al Gore, endorsed it nine months ago. The UN's chief climate scientist, and with Gore the only other man to win a Nobel for work on climate, India's Rajendra Pachauri, endorsed it late last month. And today the world's foremost climate economist.
But here's the thing: none of this would have happened if you hadn't endorsed it–if you hadn't worked to build the largest movement about climate change ever. Onward!
JR: For the science behind 350, see "Stabilize at 350 ppm or risk ice-free planet, warn NASA, Yale, Sheffield, Versailles, Boston et al." Since the science is preliminary and it is not not yet politically possible to get to 450 ppm, let alone 350, my basic view, as expressed in that post, is Let's start working now toward stabilizing below 450 ppm, while climate scientists figure out if in fact we need to ultimately get below 350. Either way, this is what needs to be done technology-wise: "How the world can (and will) stabilize at 350 to 450 ppm: The full global warming solution (updated)." The difference between the two targets is that for 450 ppm, you need to do the 12-14 wedges in four decades. For 350 ppm, you (roughly) need 8 wedges in about two decades plus another 10 wedges over the next three decades (and then have the world go carbon negative as soon as possible after that), which requires a global WWII-style and WWII-scale strategy (see "An open letter to James Hansen on the real truth about stabilizing at 350 ppm").
Posted: 09 Sep 2009 10:47 AM PDT
When we last left the flagship of the coal industry efforts to stop the clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill, it was fast taking on water (see "Duke Energy quits coal front group over climate bill"). Sure some otherwise sane passengers had joined the crew's efforts to patch up the holes (see "GE fights for change from the inside … of a scandal-ridden coal industry front group!") — for now (see below). But the smart ones, like Alcoa, had quietly gotten on one of the few remaining lifeboats.
Today Greenwire (subs. req'd) reports:
C'mon Caterpillar and GE — do you really want to go down with the ship? Like the Titanic, the good bad ship ACCCE is coal-powered and steaming too fast in the wrong direction:
The whole effort should be sunk to Davey Jones Locker.
Greenwire has more on Alstom, Caterpillar, and GE:
Yes, ACCCE does "want something to happen" — it's called catastrophic global warming, dirty air, polluted water, ruined climate, and loss of clean energy jobs to China.
Posted: 09 Sep 2009 10:11 AM PDT
For the media, it's always "environmentalists fear worsening droughts." How about "Without tough new steps, the top scientists of the world and every major government project worsening droughts and floods, the spread of disease and melting ice caps that would contribute to dangerously rising sea levels"? But even Reuters prefers the political drama to straight reporting.
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