Archive for January, 2013

 

Oil has been good and bad to North Dakota (NY Times).

A judge accepts BP’s $4 billion criminal settlement with the government (NY Times).

Paris will dim its lights (NY Times).

LED lights are saving LA millions (Forbes).

States are reexaming their severance taxes (Stateline).

While Concord has passed a water bottle ban that has been decried across the nation, the state of Massachusetts has tried to impose the 5-cent refund, which is now in place for soda bottles and cans, for water bottles. And many politicians are outraged, vowing to thwart the attempt to impose the refund. But why impose it on soda and not water? It’s true that soda is unhealthy, but bottled water could be unhealthier than tap water since it’s far less regulated. As this video from Insurancequotes.org shows, it would be far healthier for us, our pocketbooks and our environment if we got rid of bottled water:

http://www.insurancequotes.org/hidden-cost-bottled-water

 

 

Resources can’t keep up with demand, scientists say (BBC).

China’s smog is having big consequences (LA Times).

An EPA biofuels mandate is overturned (NY Times).

Andes glaciers have melted significantly (BBC).

Air travel has a lot of carbon emissions (NY Times).

Texas and New Mexico battle over the Rio Grande (LA Times).

 

Obama frames climate change in moral terms (Washington Post).

John Kerry says climate change is a threat to the U.S. (Washington Post).

Nebraska’s governor signs off on a new Keystone XL route (NY Times).

It’s really, really cold (NY Times).

Ikea double its renewable energy spending to $4 billion (LA Times).

President Obama’s second inaugural address (as Terry pointed out yesterday) pushed climate change to the forefront of his agenda. Obama’s words launched a fresh optimism among environmental activists.

What Obama has achieved during his first 4 years (raising EPA standards for automobiles) is a step in the right direction and will yield some results:

The cumulative effect is estimated to be a 10 percent drop in the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions, a measurable and significant start but only a down payment on what is needed to stave off the dangers of severe climate shifts, rising seas and economic disaster.

But there is more to be done in the second term and high goals that Obama has to live up to after his address on Monday. What might be part of his agenda? Here’s a guess:
1. New efficiency standards for household appliances
2. Regulations for emissions from existing power plants
3. Regulations to trap methane emissions from fracking
4. Allowing efficiency standards for light bulbs to go into effect
5. Committing to $125B per year invested in clean energy projects
6. Use soon-to-be Secretary of State John F. Kerry to make a climate change deal with a group of India, China, Brazil, Europe and Russia.
Of course, we can’t ignore the Keystone Pipeline, which will likely be approved by the Obama administration and will hurt climate change, but 6 good things would outweigh one bad thing. Here’s to getting things done in term two!

 

Climate change was a focus of the inaugural address (NY Times). The upcoming XL pipeline decision will be a big test of that focus (BBC).

Nissan and General Motors remain committed to electric cars (NY Times).

140 countries agree on mercury pollution limits (BBC).

 

The State Department’s review of the Keystone XL pipeline is nearly finished (Washington Post).

An offshore wind power line moves ahead (NY Times).

Shell finds trouble with Arctic drilling (NY Times).

Black carbon has a bigger impact on temperatures than previously thought (Washington Post).

China leads in protecting watersheds (BBC). Meanwhile, coverage of its air pollution has been unusually open (NY Times).

President Obama, who saw great stability in his energy team during his first team, will reportedly be replacing all three of his top guns: EPA director Lisa Jackson resigned last month; Department of the Interior secretary Ken Salazar resigned today; and Energy Secretary Steven Chu is expected to resign in the coming days. It’s not uncommon to see so much shuffling before a second term, so there are no alarms being raised, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the situation and how it might foretell Obama’s commitment to fighting climate change.

In the race to succeed Chu, The Hill blog mulls over a few rumors:

At the DOE, possible Chu successors include former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D); former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.); Center for American Progress founder John Podesta, who was President Clinton’s chief of staff; and Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

Others include former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D); and Stanford University’s Dan Reicher, who formerly headed climate and energy initiatives for Google and served on Obama’s transition team.

The same article then tackles replacements for EPA administrator Jackson:

Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe will replace Jackson on an acting basis and could also get the formal nomination.

He has already been confirmed twice by the Senate for senior roles in President Clinton’s EPA and his current job.

Another potential EPA choice could be Gina McCarthy, who is currently the EPA’s top air pollution regulator, a Senate-confirmed position that’s formally called the assistant administrator for air and radiation.

Politico, however, has different thoughts on the Energy secretary post. Deputy defense secretary Ash Carter, who was passed over for defense secretary, might be plugged in at the energy department.

Although he lacks a distinctive energy policy background, Carter would bring attention to the department’s often overlooked but immense responsibility overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and efforts to pursue nonproliferation agreements.

Carter sounds like he might not be a great fit if the administration is willing to fight climate change. However, one final thought is that Obama’s pick for secretary of state – John Kerry – was among those trying to craft massive legislation to fight climate change just a few years ago. Perhaps he will add some heft to our international negotiations in those areas. Obama has 4 more years no matter what, let’s hope he aligns his administration to help fight climate change during that time.

 

Climate change’s effects are accelerating (LA Times).

Beijing’s air pollution is off the charts (NY Times).

Texas focuses on water policy (NY Times).

Cold temperatures threaten California’s citrus industry (LA Times).

The UK has high tidal power potential (BBC).

Some countries are making climate change progress (BBC).

 

Extreme weather is increasing worldwide (NY Times).

The U.S. orders an expedited Arctic drilling assessment (Washington Post).

Canada’s oil sands increase carcinogen levels (NY Times).

2013 should bring lower gas prices (Washington Post).

Mercury emissions are growing (BBC).

Wildfires rage in Australia (BBC).