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Spitzer Promotes Clean Energy, Minus Ethanol

Glenn, The Oil Drum: NYC
Early last year, then NY Governor Pataki (R) who had presidential ambitions at the time, touted ethanol as part of his sustainable energy plan for NY State. Since then much of the world has seen as corn ethanol has major sustainability problems of its own. That’s not to say that biofuels or even some types of ethanol might not play a role, but it just shouldn’t be the centerpiece of a sustainable energy plan.

And it seems that NY’s new Governor Spitzer (D), an openly peak oil aware governor has figured this out too. See a PDF of Spitzer’s full speech here.

From this NY Sun in the build-up before Thursday’s speech:

When Governor Spitzer today unveils the details of his clean-energy initiative, he will announce multimillion-dollar state investments in wind and solar power, plans for a new fleet of power plants that emit less carbon dioxide, and a variety of conservation goals.
Absent from the first major energy speech of his administration will be any discussion of ethanol, a notable policy departure from his predecessor, Governor Pataki, who touted the alternative fuel as the wave of a greener future and aggressively tried to encourage its production and use.

“He’s not talking about ethanol at all tomorrow,” Mr. Spitzer’s top environmental adviser, Judith Enck, said in an interview yesterday. “So that should speak volumes.”
New York’s shift in energy policy is the latest in a series of setbacks for ethanol, which some have hailed as a cleaner alternative to gasoline that could help free America from its dependence on foreign oil.

The Spitzer administration is turning away from corn ethanol at a time when evidence is building that calls into question the wisdom of state policies and subsidies in support of ethanol.

“The governor is not closing the door on corn ethanol,” Ms. Enck said. “We’re just not enthusiastically boosting it as the previous administration has. We have concerns that corn ethanol is not as energy efficient as other sources, and there are also air quality concerns.”

…IN one of my favorite parts of his speech, Spitzer rejects skepticism from the highest levels of the current Federal Administration on the power of conservation efforts:

I will admit that the Vice President’s skepticism about the benefits of efficiency may have made sense in 1970, when most people believed energy efficiency meant nothing more than wearing more sweaters in the winter.

But technology has marched on and, in the intervening years, the marginal cost of energy efficiency has plummeted while the marginal cost of energy generation has shot up.

In terms of dollars and cents, it now costs one-third as much to save a given amount of energy through efficiency programs as it does to produce the same amount of energy by building a new power plant. The fact is that energy efficiency now makes economic sense.

This is the logic that the Vice President misses – the simple idea that the cheapest and cleanest power plant in the world is the one you never have to build.

Take that Cheney!
(19 April 2007)

Doing right thing isn’t easy, even for those who want to

Patrick O’Driscoll and Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
Most Americans believe that dramatic steps are needed to conserve energy and reduce the threat of global warming, but they are willing to go only so far in changing their lifestyles to “go green.”

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds that more Americans than ever – 60%, up from 48% a decade ago – believe that global warming has begun to affect the climate. A slightly larger percentage think it will cause major or extreme changes in climate and weather during the next 50 years.

And in a reflection of the impact the environmental movement has had on Americans’ attitudes in the nearly four decades since the first Earth Day celebration, most people now believe that they should take more steps as individuals – such as riding mass transit and making their homes more energy efficient – to help reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

Even so, most people are wary of any government effort to protect the environment by imposing restrictions on how they live, work or get around. A majority of those surveyed in the poll, conducted March 23-25, said they wouldn’t want a surcharge added to their utility bill if their homes exceeded certain energy-use levels. And most Americans would oppose any laws requiring cars sold in the USA to dramatically improve their gas mileage or restrictions on development to try to limit suburban sprawl.

Taken together, the poll responses indicate that Americans are going green on their own terms, depending on their interests and their wallets.
(19 April 2007)

Dodd favors corporate tax for emissions

Andrew Miga, Associated Press
Sen. Chris Dodd, splitting with his Democratic presidential rivals over the best way to cut pollution and curb global warming, wants to tax corporations for their carbon dioxide emissions.

“You have to have a price-driven strategy if you are going to succeed in this thing,” Dodd said in a telephone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press. “Otherwise, I’m afraid it’s just a lot of talk. People are trying to avoid the difficult decisions.”

The Connecticut senator will unveil his energy plan Thursday that calls for a steep increase of auto fuel economy standards to 50 miles per gallon by 2017 and a mandate for the government to use clean-energy vehicles and green technology in all its offices.

“I’m going to set a high goal here and drive it,” said Dodd, who touts his plan as a way to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to boost the economy.

Dodd’s proposal sets a goal of reducing 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

He wants to discourage corporate greenhousee gas polluters by imposing a per-ton fee on businesses for carbon emissions.

The tax revenue, which he estimates at about $50 billion annually, would be used to develop renewable energies and to reduce prices for consumer products.
(18 April 2007)