Category: Energy

California Sets "Green Jobs" Example; Rest of the Country (Hopefully) Follows Suit

By Melissa Lafsky | October 22, 2008 12:28 pm

green jobsThere’s a lot of talk about “green jobs” in this election. But for all the questions raised by the phrase—just how many jobs will be generated, where will they come from, how fast will they get here—so far we’ve had few definite answers.

Which is why it’s helpful to have at least one state paving the way as an example of how to incorporate energy efficiency and “greening” into the economic scheme, and save money and create jobs in the process. The state in question is California, and according to a new study out of U.C. Berkeley, its planned investments in fighting global warming and improving energy efficiency will create as many as 403,000 jobs and jack up household incomes by $48 billion in the next 12 years. These results are a big jump even from the state’s own estimates, which were around 100,000 new jobs and $14 billion in personal income.

The key to the mystical “green job,” according to the Berkeley study, is reallocation: When people use less energy, they spend less on energy bills, and thus have more cash to spend on other things, like consumer products. Cue economic growth and job creation.

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High Gas Prices = Good; High Gas Prices = Bad

By Melissa Lafsky | October 13, 2008 12:23 pm

So we’ve been driving a lot less, which is good. We’ve also been shifting attitudes about oil as a resource and adjusting our lives to consume less of it, which is even better. And we’ve been lavishing more time and attention (and money) on alternative energy, which is best of all.

But now oil prices are plummeting as fast as they rose, and analysts are worried that all those silver linings will be ripped out and tossed aside. As the economy grinds to a halt and the government doles out $700 billion checks, Time‘s Bryan Walsh wonders if alternative fuel initiatives—and, for that matter, any climate change legislation—might be shoved to the back of the line behind our bubbling economic woes.

Even if the gas price dip is temporary and/or U.S. consumption habits remain changed, the credit and spending slashes that are already underway could put the kibosh on funding for many alt-energy projects, as Walsh points out. Plus there’s the matter of gas prices as a source of political leverage: The Warner-Lieberman bill, Congress’ first real attempt to pass cap-and-trade legislation, was defeated when Republicans throttled it with the charge that carbon caps would lead to even higher oil prices.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Climate Change, Energy

As the Economy Plummets, So Do U.S. Driving Miles

By Melissa Lafsky | October 8, 2008 3:59 pm

earth trashedFor all those climate change activists celebrating (rightfully, in our view) the steep gas price increase as a means of forcing U.S. drivers to stop guzzling fossil fuels, here’s more good news: As the Climate Progress blog notes, Americans drove 9.6 billion fewer miles, or 3.6 percent less, in July 2008 than July 2007, putting 2008 on track to hit the largest dip in vehicle-driven miles since 1983. Which, from a glass-half-full perspective, means that all those potential fuel emissions are staying out of the air … or, from a glass-half-empty view, that we’re careening towards the end of civilization as we know it. Which in and of itself would probably be good for the Earth—if not so good for us.

Image: iStockphoto 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Climate Change, Energy

Will the Bailout Save Solar Tax Credits?

By Melissa Lafsky | October 2, 2008 1:08 pm

EcoGeek’s Hank Green notes that while nothing could touch the 500 mph freefall of bank stocks last week, the stocks that took a surprising second-worst hit were solar. Green’s reasoning for this, which we agree with, is that the solar industry was a victim of seriously bad timing: Just as renewable energy tax credits—which have been floundering in political quicksand for months—were finally passed in the Senate, a host of mega-banks decombusted, leaving the House with the small task of saving the American economy from collapse.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Climate Change, Energy
MORE ABOUT: economy, solar, taxes

Obama & McCain Answer DISCOVER's Questions on the Environment

By Melissa Lafsky | September 26, 2008 12:50 pm

While there’s little doubt the economy will be the defining issue in this election, the candidates’ positions on environmental issues can’t be downplayed (after all, what good are $700 billion bailouts if our coastlines are underwater). With the goal of keeping the environment front and center during this election season, best-selling author and DISCOVER contributor Thomas Kostigen put five questions to the two candidates, on topics including climate change, the dwindling water supply, hazardous waste, alt-energy investments, and the private sector’s role in contributing to the clean-up.

As you may recall, both Obama and McCain recently answered 14 questions on science policy from ScienceDebate 2008. While the Obama camp’s answers concerning climate change and alt-energy investments are largely consistent with what ScienceDebate received, this time he includes more detail, including his plans for allocation of the revenue generated by cap-and-trade auctions as well as his proposal to create a $10 billion venture capital fund to bolster clean technology development.

Similarly, McCain’s responses on energy and global warming echo what he told ScienceDebate, including his pledge to instate permanent alt-energy tax breaks (a promise that Obama makes as well) and a vow to “lead by example” in the “greening of the federal government.”

Questions to Barack Obama

TK: Ensuring an adequate water supply is a huge issue, arguably a bigger challenge than energy. Recent estimates say we are going to have to increase our supply of freshwater by 20 percent in the next 20 years to meet world demand. Two-thirds of the world’s population will experience water shortages by 2025. Meanwhile, the Clean Water Act hasn’t been updated since 1972. What plans do you have for addressing the freshwater issue?

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Weekly Science & Politics News Roundup

By Melissa Lafsky | September 12, 2008 1:35 pm

• M.I.T.’s president calls for a major R&D funding increase for alternative energy; the world (hopefully) listens.

• Newsflash: Doctors admit to sometimes acting unprofessional. Good thing they’re only laughing at you while you’re anesthetized, and not handing you prescriptions for a drug they’ve been paid to endorse… oh, wait, never mind.

• Ed Brayton summarizes McCain’s “sex ed-gate” mess.

• And Gristmill offers a breakdown of the “Palin v. Palin” climate change message.

• The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund has its say on aerial wolf hunting.

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Why Oh Why Are People So Obsessed with Drilling?

By Melissa Lafsky | September 2, 2008 6:18 pm

Economist Daniel Gross has a great column in Newsweek about why offshore drilling has become so popular, despite the fact that it’s about as likely to drop gas prices and decrease foreign oil dependence as a group prayer session. His theories on drilling’s exponential rise—particularly compared to the gas tax’s crash and burn—include the following:

• Vast right-wing conspiracy: The gas-tax holiday was derided by the economic-policy wing of the Republican Party. By contrast, the Republican noise machine—the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Washington think tanks, talk- radio blowhards, the dwindling core of Capitol Hill Republicans—has marched in impressive message lock step for drilling.

• Screw the foreigners: Call it national security, or call it chauvinism, but drilling for domestic oil sets up a zero-sum game. Every barrel of oil produced here is one we don’t have to buy from our long and growing list of enemies: Venezuela, Iran and Russia. By contrast, a gas-tax holiday just offers more opportunities to enrich Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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MORE ABOUT: offshore drilling, oil

Sweet Irony at the "Green" DNC Convention

By Melissa Lafsky | August 25, 2008 2:44 pm

Last week we discussed the “heavy greening” efforts touted by planners behind both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. So how are the ultra-environmentally-friendly efforts in Denver faring so far? Here’s a report from blogger Carol Keeley on the bag of freebies presented to all credentialed journalists:

The media swag bag was surreal. Examples: a flat white plastic UPS truck that contains mints; an AT&T DNC ringtone gift card; a shitload of advertising for all things green, using shameless quantities of paper and plastic; a card with an embedded radio; Joint Juice; a metal pin of a bicycle advertising a phone company; a metal pin of a windmill; a plantable card; a card announcing that Coca-Cola is the Official Recycling Provider at the Pepsi Center; a plastic water bottle; and Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book, which includes his bio plus tips from How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Et tu, DNC committee?

MORE ABOUT: DNC, global warming

RNC and DNC Compete to Have the "Greenest Convention"

By Melissa Lafsky | August 21, 2008 5:25 pm

The 2008 conventions are fast approaching, and the host cities—Denver for Democrats followed by Minneapolis/St. Paul for the RNC—are bracing themselves for the mass influx of reporters, supporters, and political insiders. Which leads to the inevitable question: What is each party doing to keep the events environmentally conscious?

For its part, the RNC has sprung into action to keep its energy use and waste to a minimum. The St. Paul Pioneer Press via Politico reports that their efforts will include the following:

[H]ybrid electric trucks delivering soft drinks to the Xcel Energy Center. Almost 300 containers for used cans, bottles, paper and all other things recyclable. A thousand bicycles available for convention-goers to get around the Twin Cities. Recycled desk chairs, cubicles and carpeting. Even 45,000 biodegradable discount cards for visitors.

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MORE ABOUT: mccain, obama

Senate Dems Close to Saying Yes to Offshore Drilling

By Andrew Moseman | August 15, 2008 3:36 pm

oil rigIt sounds more and more like some offshore oil drilling is going to happen.

Congress can’t be like “mountain sheep, standing back and butting heads” over drilling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today. Reid, on a conference call with T. Boone Pickens about their National Clean Energy Summit to be held Tuesday in Las Vegas, praised the recent Senate compromise that would allow some drilling as near as 50 miles from shore.

There are a number of well-known problems with offshore drilling: It probably won’t make any sizable dent in the oil market, the oil wouldn’t be available for the better part of a decade, and there’s already a shortage of oil rigs to do the drilling, plus any leaks or other environmental hazards that drilling could create. But a compromise on drilling could be necessary to get what Reid repeatedly praised today as the real key to promoting alternative energies technologies—tax credits. As we covered on Monday, the renewal of solar power tax credits is being held up in the Congress by the current drilling deadlock.

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MORE ABOUT: offshore drilling, oil
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