Despite campaign promises, Donald can’t revive the American coal industry

President Donald wants to revive America’s coal industry. He says regulations, most notably from the Environmental Protection Agency, have forced coal plants to close. So he wants to do away with those damn unfriendly regulations (such as the mercury and air toxics standards, the proposed cross-state pollution standard and the proposed limitations of carbon dioxide emissions). After that, Appalachian coal will again be riven from the earth, reviving the industry.

Nope. Won’t happen. Coal lost. Natural gas, thanks to fracking, won. Continue reading

The Tesla Powerwall – Renewable Journal for 5/1/2015

Three ways that the Tesla Powerwall might be a big deal – load shifting, battery backup, and solar storage.

For more posts in this series, please click here.

I’ve been reading about Elon Musk’s newest introduction into the world of renewable technologies – the Tesla Powerwall. Here’s the basics – for $3500 you get a 10 kWh battery for your home that mounts to your wall. There’s a 7 kWh version for $3000, and installation costs extra. And if you’ve got a home or business that consumes lots of electricity, you can mount several of these units in parallel to get even more battery storage.

At this point I see a few different ways that this could be a big deal. Continue reading

Why I chose the Leaf over the Jetta TDI – Renewable Journal for 7/4/2014

Tax credits and rebates, low cost of operation, and reduced air pollution all made the Leaf the better choice for my family.

[MotorTrend]For more posts in this series, please click here.

I know I’m going to get asked why I spent over 30k (before all the crazy tax rebates) on a car that only goes 80 miles. My father especially will ask at some point, and he’s already called it a “toy” car.

He’s not entirely wrong, either. I’m in my 40s now, and it’s actually quite a bit of fun to drive around in a car that can go from 0 to 60 in just a tad over 6 seconds. I’ve never had a car that has this kind of acceleration. Continue reading

America gets divorced: what about custody of the energy and the nukes?

Part three in a series.

First look at this map:

Now this one, which indicates the location of US military installations: Continue reading

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #105: The Illustrated Dick

“When all you are becomes defined as the amount of information traceable to you, what are we then? What have we become, in a world where there is no separation, no door, no filter beyond which we can say, ‘No. This is my personal space. Not yours. Here I am alone with my thoughts and free of any outside influence or control. This, you cannot have.’ I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: study says offsets make ACES carbon cap almost meaningless

carboholic

breakaces

Michael Shellenberger is one of environmentalism’s persona non grata de jour. He and Ted Nordhaus founded the Breakthrough Institute in order to push for technological solutions to environmental problems instead of policy solutions that both men have argued are doomed to failure from the word “Go.” This was not exactly a popular thing to say in the halls of Congress or around the water cooler at any number of large environmental organizations dedicated to creating policy solutions.

An analysis of the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACES) by Shellenberger and Jesse Jenkins, Breakthrough’s Director of Energy and Climate Policy, found that the offset provisions of the legislation are so loose that they essentially make the carbon cap portion of the ACES-defined “cap-and-trade” system almost meaningless. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: Pew poll says climate lowest priority, but results are curious

carboholic

pewpriority

A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in early January says that, of the priorities listed in the poll, “dealing with global warming” was dead last, with only 30% of respondents declaring it a “top priority.” This was below other issues such as the economy, jobs, fixing Medicare, crime, and the environment. But as is so often the case with polls, the devil is in the details and the methodology. For example, climate disruption is certainly an environmental issue, yet the issues are polled separately. And when you broaden the poll results beyond just the “top priority” category to include “important but lower priority,” global warming attracts support of 67% of the poll’s respondents. Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker, Part 4


On Monday we introduced you to Bill Becker and heard all about PCAP’s policy suggestions. Tuesday we focused on how the United States could wean itself off of carbon using a cap-and-auction market system, and yesterday we talked about national security and how it relates to energy and climate.

Today, in our final segment, we talk about the science of global heating, the technology that can help address it, and it’s deniers.

S&R: How do you address the concerns of the person who just spent $4.30 per gallon to fill up their tank with gas, who is concerned that the price of gas for their furnace is going up, who sees their electricity prices rising because Chinese demand for coal is driving up coal prices, when you say that you’re going to make all of that carbon-based energy even more expensive?

Bill Becker: Well, first you tell them that the price has gone up not because of climate change or anything we’ve done to solve climate change, it’s gone up because these are fossil fuels, they’re finite fuels and it’s inevitable that they’re going to run out. Continue reading

S&R interviews PCAP's Bill Becker – Part 1


During the Democratic National Convention, I had the opportunity to interview Bill Becker, the executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Program (PCAP). Over the course of the interview, the topics ranged from PCAP’s recommendations to the next President and Congress to the national security implications of global heating to cap-and-trade carbon emission markets to climate science and fossil fuels. What follows is the first part of the interview where Becker talks about what PCAP does, what its recommendations are, and what the United States needs to do in order to respond to the looming climate crisis.

In the interests of disclosure, I’ve rearranged the order of the questions and answers in order to group them logically by topic instead of chronologically. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: Gore launches massive global heating media campaign

carboholic

We logoThe Washington Post reports that Al Gore and his Alliance for Climate Protection are launching one of the most expensive advocacy programs ever. The We campaign will run over the next three years and cost $300 million, of which about half has already been raised. The goal of the campaign is to change ingrained habits and behaviors directly if possible, but primarily through legislation.

“This climate crisis is so interwoven with habits and patterns that are so entrenched, the elected officials in both parties are going to be timid about enacting the bold changes that are needed until there is a change in the public’s sense of urgency in addressing this crisis,” Gore said. “I’ve tried everything else I know to try. The way to solve this crisis is to change the way the public thinks about it.” Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the first wave power program in the United States. The program is for four 250 kW bouys anchored in Makah Bay off the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. Finavera Renewables, a renewable energy company out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and Portland, Oregon, is the owner of this particular technology, bouys that use wave motion to force water through a turbine to generate electricity. While the project has only been granted a 5-year conditional approval from the FERC, Finavera hopes to generate enough power from wave motion to power 150 homes. And if this technology works out, then wave motion along the Pacific coast could generate up to 12% of the U.S.’s present power needs if 100% utilized. Continue reading