Pre-Election Maneuvering Marked by Fits of Climate Skepticism

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

“Recent comments from top White House and congressional contenders suggest an awkward mix of outright hostility or, at best, ambivalence toward the widespread scientific consensus that humans are responsible for the warming planet,” reports Politico.

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) blames his loss in the GOP primary to his public assertions that climate change is real. Only two Republican gubernatorial candidates running for election this November believe in action on climate change; both are running in states where their Democratic opponents feel the same.

In one race for the House in Virginia, a Democratic incumbent may lose his seat in part because of his vote for the House cap-and-trade bill.

Colorado’s tight race for U.S. Senate is turning into a referendum on the power of views on climate change to sway voters, at least in that state: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) is attacking his opponent, Tea Party favorite and Republican Ken Buck, for saying climate change is a “hoax.” It’s a stance that earned a sharp rebuke from Colorado’s climate scientists (the state hosts one of the country’s premier centers for the study of climate change, the National Center for Atmospheric Research).

Despite support from some of his potential constituents — “Climate change doubt is Tea Party article of faith,” says the New York Times — Buck appears to be responding to the criticism by shifting his focus to the economy.

Green groups say they are pouring more money into this electoral season’s races than ever, especially in the fight to rescue incumbent Virginia Democratic freshman Tom Perriello, but their spending can’t match funds coming from fossil-fuel-related industries. Mother Jones says Alaska write-in candidate (and incumbent) Lisa Murkowski, in a dead heat with Tea Party favorite and Republican nominee Joe Miller, is a beneficiary of those funds.

On Tuesday, Jimmy Carter opined the Tea Party is backed by anti-green “hard-right oligarchs who want to prevent the oil companies and major corporations from having to pay their share of taxes or to comply with environmental laws.”

Which Will Characterize the Next Two Years on the Hill: Compromise or Gridlock?

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) told students at Utah State University to expect “two years of good old-fashioned gridlock” if the GOP wins the House in November, including, possibly, a shutdown of the federal government. Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) declared there will be “no compromise” with President Barack Obama on major issues.

It’s possible energy will be spared the fate of, say, the health care bill, says Darren Samuelsohn of Politico, suggesting incentives for nuclear, clean coal and even renewables might be prime candidates for bipartisan legislation. Lindsey Graham, who once participated in the creation of the senate cap-and-trade bill, says the GOP should work with Obama on energy, perhaps in the incremental approach currently favored by the Obama administration.

The oil and gas industry is already depositing checks into the coffers of candidates likely to head influential House committees after November; the industry remains focused on emissions rules and what it contends are unrealistic expectations about the ascension of renewables.

A “technology-first” approach to tackling carbon emissions is gaining favor among think tanks.

Are We Getting Cap, but No Trade?

Stephen Spruiell at National Review argues emissions regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will make emissions for certain industries expensive without letting them trade for those emissions, as they would have under cap-and-trade. He also argues it may be nearly impossible to prevent the EPA from regulating emissions in this way.

Outlets on the left agree with Spruiell and argue, more or less, “see, we told you this would happen.”

The regulations at issue include the EPA’s first-ever fuel efficiency standards for trucks and buses, which the trucking industry supports. Canada is issuing its own rules in harmony with U.S. regulations.

Emissions Regulations Will Knock Out up to 7 Percent of U.S. Generating Capacity, says Study

A huge debate has erupted over a North American Electric Reliability report arguing in a worst-case scenario, the shutdown of coal-fired power plants will, as a result of emissions regulations, significantly impact U.S. generating capacity.

In Texas, farms, cities and environmentalists say the state has insufficient water for more coal-fired plants.

And Now Some Good News …

A four-seater electric Audi with ample trunk space managed to travel 375 miles on a single charge. The non-partisan (even though so far all of its members seem to be partisan) Climate Hawk movement gained momentum.

GM just released its first ad for the Chevy Volt: “This is American, man.

Spending money on greenhouse gas mitigation efforts in developing countries could make up the shortfall in domestic commitments to existing Copenhagen pledges, says a new paper.

Nissan just fired up production for the all-electric LEAF, Tesla is about to open a factory to produce its all-electric sedan and Mazda is releasing a gasoline-powered car in Japan that gets 70 mpg.

OxFam’s new ads aim to bring immediacy to the impacts of climate change.

The U.S. government just approved the world’s largest solar thermal project — big enough to double U.S. capacity for solar thermal all by itself. We’re $100 billion away from increasing the proportion of U.S. electricity from solar to 4.3 percent by 2020.

The U.S. may have the world’s second-largest emissions of greenhouse gases, but on a map of per capita emissions it’s easy to lose the U.S. among all the countries with higher emissions, and Amazon wants to shrink their carbon footprint even further by offering greener shipping options.

… But New Challenges to a Livable Climate Continue to Arise

China’s chronic dependence on coal is still a monumental problem, reports Scientific American, and Chicago’s two coal-fired power plants cost neighboring communities $127 million in health-related expenses.

Cellulosic ethanol may be the cold fusion of biofuels, and fundamentally unsustainable, to boot, argues Grist’s Tom Philpott. Your next bottle of bioplastic might be made from plants, but in a world where cheap ethanol comes from cleared Brazilian forests, the move away from oil may not be all good.

Economists think energy efficiency might lead to more emissions, not fewer.Trees are prevented from soaking up extra atmospheric carbon by limited supplies of nitrogen, and just 1,000 spaceflights a year would warm the planet as much as the entire airline industry currently does.

Andrew Revkin, the New York Times’s lead climate commentator, reports climate change is “boring.” Perhaps that’s why the lead researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory believes “climate change journalism has gotten worse [in recent years].”

Is Americans’ Climate Ignorance a Tragedy or an Opportunity?

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Half of Americans polled by researchers at Yale University are woefully ill-informed about climate change, including the 43 percent that believe “if we stopped punching holes in the ozone layer with rockets, it would reduce global warming.”

That’s the same percentage of Americans who are unaware it takes Earth one year to orbit the sun, so perhaps this poll is about as meaningful as a bowl full of tea leaves. Grist argues the poll indicates Americans are hungry to know more about climate, and once they do, they’ll start worrying, while risk expert David Ropeik argues more information won’t change anyone’s mind.

Where Americans Learn About Climate Science

Everyone wants to pour their climate message into the chasm of ignorance, the Yale study revealed, including Glenn Beck and possibly an oil company-backed group of Evangelicals, who are pushing the notion climate change is a “false religion,” says Think Progress.

Meanwhile, Republican West Virginia senate candidate John Raese says global warming is a “myth,” and his Democratic opponent, if you recall, recently shot the climate bill.

The National Resource Defense Council unveiled the results of a poll it claims shows voters support candidates who voted for cap-and-trade, but even progressives aren’t buying it. The Christian Science Monitor argues climate change simply isn’t a big campaign issue, even though Republican challengers to Democrat incumbents are uniformly against its existence.

Goodbye Greenhouse Gas Regulation, Hello Energy Policy

If Republicans take the House, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich) promises to dismantle the House climate change committee and thwart the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.

Perhaps there’s another plan to bolster clean energy Upton won’t be as averse to: a bipartisan proposal issued by think tanks arguing the U.S. should spend billions of dollars on clean energy innovation.

Climate Hawks Gearing Up to Eviscerate Climate Appeasers

A nascent effort to re-brand People Who Care About Climate and Clean Energy as distinct from “environmentalists” has settled on the term Climate Hawks.

China’s Clampdown on Exports of Rare Earth Minerals Threatens Global Clean-Tech Industry… Soonish

China has a global monopoly on the “rare earth” minerals without which the global clean-tech industry would grind to a halt, so when rumor hit the wires that it would be reducing exports of the materials, the response in some circles was apoplectic.

The Chinese government immediately moved to deny the reports, but it’s clear the issue has reached a turning point: Chinese domination of this market is forcing manufacturers to build factories in China itself, while Chinese media are explaining the environmental destruction wrought by the country’s mining of the minerals, which aren’t mined outside China because, in general, other countries aren’t prepared to deal with the toxic fallout from their extraction and processing.

Export reduction or no, here’s the bottom line: “Rare Earths Deposits in China Forecast to Last 15-20 Years, Ministry Says.”

New Climate Change Impact Perfect for Remake of “Day After Tomorrow”

Mega-landslides begotten by melting mountains could threaten 39 cities with populations above 100,000 in a warming world. Nearly a third of Western Chinese glaciers could be gone by 2050, with significant impacts for downstream crop production.

Much of the globe, including the U.S., will be threatened by drought within decades, reports the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Meanwhile, “higher-latitude regions from Alaska to Scandinavia are likely to become more moist.”

Human influence on the environment, including climate change, means we are now in an era of “megafires,” says Popular Mechanics.

Rising temperatures are likely to shift the ranges of both aquatic and terrestrial animals – at a rate of 430 meters per year, in the case of rattlesnakes and voles.

Zambia became the 18th country to document a record-high temperature in 2010.

The academic tussle over whether or not warmer temperatures lead to more civil wars in Africa continues.

When Clean Energy Subsidies Go Awry

The Spanish government is about to reduce subsidies to producers of solar power, which could hurt a lot of farmers who invested in panels. Some of the stimulus money used to weatherize homes in Illinois resulted in sub-standard workmanship, says a U.S. Department of Energy report.

China’s low-carbon energy incentives are almost three times those available in the U.S.; the Obama administration has promised to investigate these “unfair” subsidies.

What would have been the world’s largest tidal power project, the Severn barrage – big enough to supply 5 percent of the UK’s electricity needs – has been shelved for the umpteenth time.

Shakeups, Reversals and Twists of Fate in Clean-tech Development

Solar thermal power has been touted as a core climate solution, but is it doomed by the falling price of that other means for turning light into power, solar photovoltaics? Solar thermal projects, which tend to be gigantic, are currently plagued by a lack of financing, while a new development in solar PV could reduce the cost of panels by 40 percent.

The substantial cost of batteries for electric cars may not decline as in traditional economies of scale, as demand for them keeps pace with innovation.

Community colleges are gearing up to train Americans for green jobs.

When a Cigar Is Just a Cigar: Psychoanalyzing the GOP’s Flourishing Climate Skepticism

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

A column in the National Journal points out the GOP is the only conservative party in the developed world in which denial of basic climate science is endemic, but one of the New York Times’s token conservative commentators counters that this is only because political parties in Europe aren’t as responsive to their constituents, who tend to be no more skeptical of man-made global warming than Americans.

Climate activist Bill McKibben says it’s all about money; others believe action on climate change would be almost impossible even if the GOP were more like conservative parties elsewhere.

Whatever the cause, Joe Manchin, a Democrat running for Senator in West Virginia who as governor is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its regulation of mountain top removal mining, was moved to shoot the climate bill with a high-powered rifle. Inevitably, parodies followed.

West Virginia will also be the home of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s new $27.6 million climate supercomputer center, which Manchin publicly praised.

California’s Proposition 23 Isn’t Going to Happen, but Proposition 26 Might

A Tuesday Reuters/Ipsos poll has Prop 23 losing by a margin of 49 percent against 37 percent in favor, despite a last-minute infusion of cash from Houston-based Marathon Oil.

The various clean tech interests opposed to Prop 23 have other problems, however, including competition from China so fierce “it’s almost enough to make you want to cry,” says the CEO of one solar company.

Chevron, California’s largest native oil refiner, is officially neutral on Prop 23, but Grist argues it supports Prop 26 because it’s a “polluters protection act.

“Post-Partisan” Effort Attempts to Transcend Failed Climate Bill

The (left-leaning) Brookings Institution and the (conservative-leaning) American Enterprise Institute teamed up with the Breakthrough Institute to release a post climate bill energy plan that relies almost exclusively on a six-fold increase in Federal investment in energy innovation. The New York Times and Politico have more, while Grist’s David Roberts takes issue with the premise that future climate policy is a zero-sum game in which other plans can’t have a role.

A director at JPMorgan says the key to future climate agreements are targets shared by small clusters of regions and countries, not binding global agreements.

Climate Scientist Bracing for Outcome of November Elections

Some Republicans have promised to put climate science itself on trial if they take the house, and Michael Mann, a climate scientist whom many skeptics have singled out, isn’t looking forward to the November elections. Meanwhile, a prominent climate science skeptic and one of the authors of a congressional report critical of Mann’s work is himself being investigated by his university for plagiarism and misconduct in the assemblage of that report.

Democrats in fossil fuel-heavy state who voted for the climate bill might also pay for their connection to the climate come November, says The Wall Street Journal.

America’s Floundering Energy Manhattan Project

The U.S. Department of Energy tacitly endorsed a Thomas Friedman column arguing the U.S. Congress is short-sighted to withhold funding from eight “innovation hubs” designed to tackle the biggest energy problems in the world.

The Climate Prisoner’s Dilemma: China and U.S. Replay ‘You First’ Climate Skit

At global climate-change talks held in Tianjin, China, lead U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern attempted a choke slam of China’s negotiators, accusing them of reneging on pledges made in Copenhagen last December, leading China to respond by comparing the U.S. to “a mythic pig preening itself.

Observers believe the upcoming talks in Cancún will be more of the same inaction, leading Andrew Revkin of the New YorkTimes to wonder whether there isn’t something more fundamental going on here.

In all the confusion, Hezbollah seized the moment to take the lead on climate action, sort of.

Maybe the U.N. should just give up on international climate negotiations all together? The Wall Street Journal certainly thinks so.

Why Is Google Investing in Wind Farms?

The Atlantic Wire sums it up best: basically, the company wants to create an undersea transmission backbone that will enable a huge expansion of offshore wind power generation.

China is Winning the Global Race for Green Jobs

China’s clean tech job growth is on an “unstoppable upward path,” while America’s green jobs suffer from low visibility and might not be in the sectors most people think they’re in.

Emissions controls have created rather than destroyed jobs, argues unconventional natural gas producer EnCana. Spending cuts in the U.K. could cost up to 60,000 jobs related to offshore wind power.

The solar industry gets 1/72nd the subsidies received by fossil fuels, argues solar buying club, One Block Off the Grid.

Stimulus funds have enabled a factory to make battery materialsno one will use, argues Technology Review.

Energy from America’s first offshore wind farm is going to be expensive, even compared to electricity from other renewables.

Nuclear Fusion is still nowhere near viability, and neither, on account of cost and the difficulty of finding financing, is conventional nuclear power.

58 percent of Americans think our energy problems are an issue of supply rather than demand.

Electric Cars Hit a Rough Patch

GM’s new plug-in hybrid, Volt, appears to be no more fuel efficient than the average hybrid vehicle; there aren’t enough charging stations for it yet, either. An economist suggests the funds used to subsidize the purchase of electric vehicles would be better spent on research and development.

Electric cars are gay,” declares actor Vince Vaughn in a forthcoming movie.

Novel Green Technologies

South Korea is using three million meters of superconducting wire to connect its smart grid, and 3M has come up with a flexible plastic alternative to the glass now used to protect solar panels. The U.K. may fund carbon capture and storage – formerly aimed solely at coal-fired power plants – for gas-fired plants as well.

Fighting Climate Change with Condoms and Air Capture

Slowing the growth of Earth’s population by 2050 would be equivalent to cutting more than 10 percent of fossil fuel use per year. The CDC has issued its first ever grants to states and cities for the study of the effects of climate change on health.

Scientists at Cornell declared our only chance of reaching a safe level of atmospheric greenhouse gases is air capture geoengineering, in which carbon is drawn from the atmosphere directly and then stored. Another variety of geoengineering, fertilizing the oceans with iron, was dealt a blow by an experiment conducted by nature itself, involving a 2008 volcanic eruption.

Everybody Loves Clean Energy, But Nobody Wants To Pay For It – Except for the Department of Defense

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

Cleantech venture capitalist David Anthony points out that utilities and taxpayers don’t want to pay to meet states’ Renewable Energy Standards, so it’s probably a good thing the Department of Energy has its own reasons for attempting to lead the renewably-powered, distributed-energy revolution.

Fuel convoys are one of the many liabilities today’s Army could do without, and so is dependence on hostile regimes for supplies of oil. The second goal doesn’t always lend itself to going with the greener option: Senators on the Armed Forces Committee want to repeal a 2007 law that prevents the military from buying oil derived from Canada’s tar sands.

Announcement of Solar Panels on White House Recalls… George W. Bush?

Carter may be famous for putting solar panels on the White House, but since Reagan, no one dared recall that symbol of America’s last energy crisis until George W. Bush followed suit. Energy Secretary Steven Chu trumpeted the announcement that Obama would expand on Bush’s solar installation on his blog, and solar companies across the country began warming up their PR engines in anticipation of the competition to determine who will be the provider of the panels themselves.

Obama, EPA, Lisa Jackson: So it’s Come to This

A lengthy dissection of the failure of the bipartisan Senate version of the climate bill lists miscommunication, infighting and a lack of support from the White House as the sources of its demise, ending with the zinger “Barak Obama was the James Buchanan of climate change.”

The piece makes it clear that the threat of EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses was sufficient incentive for some sectors of industry to support the bill, and with its failure the battle has indeed moved to this front:

Texas’ Governor Rick Perry declared the EPA is a “rogue agency,” that has “targeted” the oil and gas-rich state even as his state climatologist declared that Texas is uniquely susceptible to drought and searing temperatures as a result of future global warming.

Some commentators believe that the new focus on emissions will hurt Obama’s 2012 chances in states whose economies are heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA, continues to fire back at critics. “The Clean Air Act is a tool. It’s not the optimal tool. But it can be used,” she said. “And, in fact, I’m legally obligated now to use it.”

Meanwhile, Obama asserted that energy legislation will be passed in the future, but in “chunks.” He also upped the ante on the link between clean energy and the economy, asserting that no other industry has more potential to create jobs.

Will California’s Proposition 23 Create or Destroy Jobs?

Proponents of California’s Proposition 23, which would effectively nullify California’s greenhouse gas reduction law of 2007, issued a study (pdf) arguing that it would create 1.3 million jobs by 2020, while opponents of Prop. 23 fired back that the report is hardly unbiased.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research argued that a recession is precisely the time that greenhouse gas regulations will create jobs.

The No on Prop. 23 campaign is out-fundraising the Yes campaign by a wide margin, including gifts from notables like the wife of Google co-founder Larry Page.

U.S. Energy Innovation Agency Might Get the Ax

ARPA-E, the advanced energy research division of the U.S. government established in 2007, might become the victim of Congress’ failure to pass a 2011 budget.

Dangerous Climate Change Closer Than We Thought

Research published in the Journal of Quaternary Science suggests the 2degC limit of warming deemed “safe” by the IPCC and U.N. probably isn’t, echoing claims made by NASA researcher James Hansen and climate advocate Bill McKibben of Based on a study of a period approximately 125,000 years ago, study author Chris Turney says that temperatures during that period, which were 1.9degC warmer than now, led to sea level almost 10 meters higher than present.

Apparently conceding the infeasibility of the approach he U.N. is giving up on binding agreements on the hard caps for emissions it already had in place.

A first of its kind study by NASA reports a “huge” increase in the amount of fresh water flowing into the oceans as a result of more intense storms caused by global warming.

A new study suggests that the warming effects of emissions of methane and nitrous oxide, both powerful greenhouse gasses in their own respect, will be even more powerful due to additional carbon cycle feedbacks.

It turns out the sun’s influence on earth’s temperature is the opposite of what everyone assumed.

Artists visualize what London will look like if the Thames Barrier is ever breached by rising seas.

As Climate Threats Mount, Plans C Through Z Get a Workout

U.S. policymakers are looking into ways to fund research on geoengineering.

The results of the National Climate Adaptation Summit are in: the federal government needs a plan for coping with future impacts.

Future ocean acidification could wipe out what is currently a significant protein supply for billions of people.

“By 2050, growth in livestock production could generate as much as 70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions considered to be a safe threshold for the planet.”

India just pulled ahead of Russia to become the world’s third largest emitter of carbon. Russia isn’t resting on its laurels, however: the country recently presented its vision for exploitation of the oil and gas riches of a rapidly thawing arctic.

Pakistan on the Brink

If Pakistan’s record floods are a result of global warming, will that nation’s potentially impending coup be modern history’s first climate-related regime change?

We’re not sure how anyone would quantify the damages associated with revolution, but legal scholars suggest that developing countries could sue over damages associated with climate change.

The All-Electric Nissan Leaf is a “Drivable iPod”

The Nissan Leaf gets a glowing review from an influential car aficionado, and it may herald a wave of fuel-efficient and electric cars as the Obama administration floats a passel of vehicle emissions standards that could go as high as a 62 mpg fleet average by 2025.

Meanwhile, Americans are buying more SUVs than they have in years.

Green-Tech Investment Plummets

But concentrated solar thermal plants of significant scale are set to rise on Federal land for the first time ever, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar just signed a lease for the first-ever offshore wind farm in Federal waters, and global installations of solar photovoltaic panels will increase 42.3 percent in 2011.

2011 Could See Truly Epic Legislative Battles Over Climate, Energy

The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University

“One of my top priorities next year is to have an energy policy that begins to address all facets of our over-reliance on fossil fuels,” President Barack Obama told Rolling Stone.

If Republicans regain a majority in the House, the recent health care bill isn’t the only thing they have vowed to roll back: Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) “wants to keep the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming alive so it can investigate climate science and police President Obama’s green policies.”

In the same vein, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has promised to make re-investigating “climategate” a top priority.

In what could be a taste of things to come, Sen. Inhofe (R-Okla.) issued a report arguing  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules on industrial boilers could cost 800,000 jobs – a report the EPA immediately dismissed.

19 Reasons Congress Won’t Pass a Renewable Energy Standard, or Any Other Energy Legislation, This Year

Citing the complexity of any such bill, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Tuesday  any energy bill slated for the upcoming lame duck session of Congress is “a long shot.” Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) agrees.

Perhaps more important for the fate of such a bill are the 19 other bills Senate Democrats have lined up for the six-week legislative session, many of which appear to be a higher priority. If it did happen, a bipartisan Renewable Energy Standard would probably include both nuclear and natural gas, which vexes environmentalists no end.

Will California Defeat Climate Regulation-Killing Proposition 23?

As the date for California’s many November statewide ballot initiatives creeps up, the intensity of the battle over Proposition 23, which would effectively repeal California’s impending greenhouse gas reduction initiative, is ramping up.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used the fourth anniversary of the passage of California’s landmark climate change law to ask “Does anybody really believe they [out-of-state energy companies who are financing Proposition 23] are doing this out of the goodness of their black oil hearts –  spending millions and millions of dollars to save jobs?”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times articulated its reasons for citizens to vote no on 23, and Grist infographicized the unexpected bolus of cash donated to the campaign to defeat the measure.

Related: the Center for American Progress would like to remind you last year the oil and gas industry spent about a half a billion dollars lobbying against, among other things, climate legislation.

The Mobius Strip of Clean Energy and Economics

A new poll reveals  a majority of Americans believe global warming exists and is due to human activity, but economics trumps it as an issue of concern. The reality at the local level is more complicated, however: despite twelve percent unemployment in their area, locals in Bay City, Texas are now condemning the construction of a coal-fired power plant in their town.

More than 180 U.S. lawmakers argued  China is using “predatory trade practices” to fashion an industrial policy that “gives its manufacturers an unfair advantage in the green technology revolution.”

“Crude from Alberta’s tar sands is destroying the planetut at least Canadians are nice.”

Canada’s Tar Sands might be even worse, as a source of automobile fuel, than plain old crude from the Middle East in terms of net greenhouse gas emissions, but at least they’re not located in Iran or Venezuela, says Lindsey Graham (R – S.C.) and a growing chorus of Canadian conservatives.

The Slippery Carbon Accounting Behind Biomass

Builders of biomass plants from Maine to Oregon are up in arms about forthcoming EPA rules that wouldn’t automatically treat biomass emissions as carbon neutral.

U.S. Energy Policy is “Just Stupid,” Says CEO of General Electric

The lack of U.S. legislative action on emissions hasn’t done green technology investors any favors, says the CEO of Spanish wind power utility Iberdrola SA. The company “is investing $10 billion in wind power and energy-related projects across the U.S. over the next few years, but political and regulatory uncertainties could stall future investments.”

Venture Capitalists at the early end of the green tech investment spectrum aren’t doing well, either, apparently because investments in that field require huge amounts of cash and decades to pay off.

The FutureGen clean coal plant has secured $1 billion in financing from the U.S. Department of Energy and could begin construction as early as 2012.

Waiting for the Electric Car? Don’t Hold Your Breath

One of the co-founders of Tesla motors said in a speech gas would have to be at $10 a gallon before the economics of an electric family car make sense for most Americans, but  gas-electric hybrid technology could have a big impact on work vehicles.

Wind on Tap

Italian towns whose chief export had previously been olives are now selling enough electricity produced by wind turbines to completely subsidize local services like trash pickup.

States on the East coast of the U.S. could get half their power from offshore wind turbines, says advocacy group Oceana.

Some wind technologies may have reached maturity in terms of falling costs, at least for now. A report from the U.K. says  the cost of offshore wind is unlikely to fall in the immediate future, which may increase electricity costs there.

Scotland’s first minister has declared  the country could get 100 percent of its energy from renewables by 2025.

The Greenhouse Gas That’s Easy to Ignore and Reduce

Methane is between 27 and 72 times as potent a climate warming agent as CO2, depending on your time horizon, so it’s a good thing  the U.S. and Mexico are trying to get other countries to sign on to an initiative to reduce emissions of it.

Green Lifestyles of the Rich and Possibly Deluded

Economists at Newcastle University believe  the “rebound” effects of policies designed to reduce carbon emissions mean  neither shopping online or working at home are the “green” choice.

Architects in the U.S. are no good at green building because they’re educated as designers, not engineers. Case in point: the new Las Vegas hotel whose curved glass exterior cooks its inhabitants with focused sunlight, like a giant magnifying glass.

Google just invested $1 million in the world’s first human monorail.