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Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’

EPA’s Proposed Greenhouse Gas Rules: Not Radical But Radically Pragmatic

June 16th, 2014

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As expected, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent proposal to regulate power plant emissions sparked some mild hysteria on the left and the right. The right says the proposed rules will usher in an economic catastrophe. The left says they are just shy of salvation for the climate. You would think the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas rules were a radical approach to a tough problem – and you’d be half right.  Climate change is a very tough problem – but the EPA’s proposed solutions are far from radical.

In reality, the state-based approach taken by the agency is perhaps the most practical solution yet proposed to address climate change. That’s because it leaves it up to the states and utilities, who best understand their markets, to sit in the driver’s seat and use existing technologies and strategies to write their own emissions plans that maintain the affordability and reliability of their electricity.  It’s a novel, practical approach. This is not just the view from Washington, D.C. Editorials across coal and oil country echoed the same sentiments. Read the rest of this entry »

A Bipartisan Opportunity in Advanced Energy Manufacturing

March 27th, 2013

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Our nation’s history is proof that manufacturing jobs lead to middle-class growth. At roughly the same time manufacturing’s share of the total workforce dropped from 20% to 9%, the middle class has shrunk from 61% of the U.S. population to 51%. While the U.S. manufacturing sector has recovered 500,000 jobs since early 2010, a major opportunity is surfacing in the clean energy sector. A $7 trillion clean energy market is developing around the world, and clean energy manufacturing provides an opportunity to renew and modernize our manufacturing sector.

The Obama Administration is already moving to help companies seize the clean energy opportunities. The Department of Energy is launching a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative (CEMI), focused on growing American manufacturing of clean energy products. Led by Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, the initiative includes modern analysis of the global clean energy manufacturing supply chain to inform the Department’s future funding decisions. This is a program that will empower companies to use our nation’s competitive advantages for their and America’s gain. It is ensuring our government is the most-well-informed government in the world and can help American companies out-compete the likes of China, South Korea, or Germany.

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On gun control, taxes and other issues, Democrats must seize this moment

January 4th, 2013

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This piece was originally published in The Washington Post.

The collapse of John Boehner’s effort to get his party to rally behind a plan to raise taxes reveals the disarray and disagreement among Republicans. Democrats are urging them to forget about the hard-liners and go back to the negotiating table.

That’s good advice for Democrats as well.

If Democrats play their cards right, a combination of political and demographic forces, and dangerous precipitating events, could create a tipping-point moment, when they can advance their priorities not just on taxes, but also on guns, marriage for gays and lesbians, immigration, and even climate change.

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Tough Choices in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

November 2nd, 2012

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Everyone from Mayor Bloomberg and Businessweek to Bill Clinton and LA Times are linking Hurricane Sandy to climate change. Do we know for certain that this highly destructive hurricane is the result of climate change?

The short answer is: we don’t. There will always be contrary opinions, but when we look across all the weather events of the past 10, 20, or 50 years, the trend is clear. Climate is the average of weather over a period of time, and we’re seeing 100-year floods occurring every 3-20 years. We’re seeing each year become one of the hottest years on record. And we’re seeing more severe droughts more frequently. This has contributed to a rise in sea level across the East Coast, which makes cities like New York and destinations like the Jersey Shore more prone to flooding when storms do hit.

Why should you care? Read the rest of this entry »

Energy Policy after 2012

October 23rd, 2012

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Summary points

  • Thanks to continued partisan gridlock, major congressional action on energy is unlikely after the 2012 elections. However, this could change if there is a deal to address the budget deficit or if one party makes significant gains in seats.
  • Domestic oil and natural gas production will continue to grow under either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
  • A second Obama administration would be likely to seek to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of clean energy through a mix of tax incentives, encouraging private financing, and regulation of conventional and climate pollutants.
  • A Romney administration would be likely to focus on increasing domestic conventional energy production by reducing environmental regulation, particularly on coal-burning power plants, and opening more public land to oil and natural gas development. Excluding basic research, government incentives for clean energy would most likely be eliminated.

Introduction

In 2008, the price of natural gas in the United States was roughly $8 per thousand cubic feet (tcf), coal was used to generate more than 47 per cent of all electricity, and there was a consensus among Democrats and Republicans that climate change was real, caused by humans, and needed to be addressed immediately. It seemed only a matter of time before the country adopted a cap-and-trade system similar to one backed by both parties’ presidential nominees.

Four years later, the energy landscape has changed dramatically. Cap-and-trade is on the ash heap of history, and climate change and clean energy have become enormously politicized. The price of natural gas has dropped as low as $2.25 per tcf thanks to the hydraulic fracturing drilling process (fracking) that has given the United States access to more than 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and sent domestic coal use into a precipitous decline. That same fracking technology has led to a domestic oil boom, with imports dropping to 42 per cent of use, the lowest level in two decades. Clean energy, particularly wind and solar, also saw a boom in the early years of the Obama administration thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

The growth in domestic shale oil and gas production seems inevitable. But the broader future of US energy faces much more uncertainty. There are enormous differences in how the two candidates would approach regulation of energy production and generation, climate change and America’s competition in the global clean energy race. Polling shows that these issues will have little impact on the decisions voters make. But they will have enormous implications for the price and source of the energy Americans consume, the success of America’s energy industries and the fate of international efforts to stem climate change.

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Is Global Warming Causing Wild Weather?

July 10th, 2012

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Yes.

Now let’s move on.

Climate deniers want to keep having this debate. It gives them the excuse to call for more studies, which is the most effective way in Washington to avoid solving a problem. It’s the same strategy deployed by cigarette makers as far back as 1946 in their ultimately failed attempt to fight scientists’ link between smoking and cancer.

As these dead-enders (to coin a phrase) trap us in what they hope will be an endless discussion over whether climate change is real, the rest of the world is moving to clean energy and energy efficiency. That’s creating a potentially $2.3 trillion global clean energy market that is driving innovation, reducing energy costs, and spurring manufacturing. Read the rest of this entry »