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United States - June 28

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This baby is just plain ugly, folks

Thomas Friedman, NY Times via Wilmington Star
When you watch a baby being born, after a difficult pregnancy, it is so painful the mother it is always hard to tell the truth and say, "Gosh, that baby is really ugly." But that's how I feel about the energy legislation passed (and not passed) by the Senate.

The whole Senate energy effort only reinforced my feelings that we're in a green bubble - a festival of hot air by the news media, corporate America and presidential candidates about green this and green that, but, when it comes to actually doing something hard to bring about a green revolution at scale - and if you don't have scale on this you have nothing - we wimp out.

Climate change is not a hoax. The hoax is that we are really doing something about it.

No question, it's great news that the Democrat-led Senate finally stood up to the automakers, and to the Michigan senators, and said, "No more - no more assisted suicide of the U.S. auto industry by the U.S. Congress. We're passing the first bill since 1975 that mandates an increase in fuel economy."

...Here is the truth: The core of our energy crisis is in Washington. We have all the technology we need right now to make huge inroads in becoming more energy efficient and energy independent, with drastically lower emissions. We have all the capital we need as well. But because of the unique nature of the energy and climate-change issues - which require incentives and regulations to build alternatives to dirty, but cheap, fossil fuels - you need public policy to connect the energy and capital the right way. That is what has been missing.

"We have to work to ensure that the House will at least toughen the provisions that the Senate passed," said Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming Program.

The public wants it. But energy policy gets shaped in the halls of Congress - where wily lobbyists, legacy industries and politicians greedy for campaign contributions regularly sell out the country's interests for their own. Only when the public really rises up - as it has finally done against the auto companies - do we even get moderate change.
(26 June 2007)


Tomorrow's Energy Today: How to Ease New England's Energy Crisis and Curb Global Warming Pollution, Starting Now

Environment Maine
New England is heading for an energy crisis. Indeed, it may have already begun. Energy prices are high and increasingly volatile. The region's energy infrastructure is strained. The long-term outlook for oil and natural gas supplies is questionable. And our use of energy contributes to a variety of environmental and public safety problems, not the least of which is global warming.

A clean energy strategy that maximizes our region's near-term potential to use energy more efficiently and generate more of our power from clean, home-grown renewable resources can address New England's energy problems and dramatically reduce emissions of global warming pollutants - providing a "win-win" path forward for the region.

In this report, we describe some of the many opportunities New England has to reduce its use of energy and tap local sources of renewable energy. We focus on addressing the biggest sources of energy use in New England, using technologies that are feasible today.

Achieving the region's near-term energy efficiency and renewable energy potential could shave our energy consumption by at least 18 percent and reduce the region's emissions of carbon dioxide - the leading global warming pollutant - by at least 20 percent.
(25 June 2007)
Press release, full report (PDF), and more of the Executive Summary available at original.


Power Line Aimed At Md.
Interstate Proposal Called Threat to Treasured Sites

Philip Rucker, Washington Post
A new high-voltage line that would deliver electricity to the growing mid-Atlantic region could stretch across parts of Western Maryland and end just shy of the Montgomery County line under a plan endorsed yesterday by the operator of the region's electricity grid.

The proposed $1.8 billion power line is being billed as an important part of an effort to improve the electric power grid serving the East Coast. It would carry enough electricity to power an estimated 2.5 million homes, making it the highest capacity transmission line in the nation, industry sources said, larger than the controversial Dominion Virginia Power line proposed in Northern Virginia.

The approximately 300-mile transmission line would start at a coal plant in Winfield, W.Va., pass through Bedington, W.Va., and end at a substation to be built in Kemptown, Md.

Its specific route has not been determined, but it would likely cut through environmentally sensitive and historically significant terrain, which includes the Potomac and Kanawha rivers, the scenic Allegheny Highlands and the Civil War battlefields at Antietam and South Mountain.

That concerns local officials, residents and environmentalists who are already voicing opposition, arguing that the new line could threaten the rural character of Frederick and alter scenic areas that local and state governments have spent money protecting.
(23 June 2007)
Contributor Greg writes:
Yikes, it's going to be in my backyard! One solution would be to install PV (solar panels). During the hot sunny summer days when power demand is at peak and this when you get the most advantage out of PV. Instead of the $1.8 billion for building the power line it could be used to purchase roof top PV. This what I did on my garage, see: www.xecu.net/thorn/PO/solarPanels.jpg

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