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Obama energy thoughts

David Roberts, Gristmill
Thoughts and reactions on Obama’s bold new energy proposal

Staying with the Monday Is Obama Day theme, here are a few thoughts on Obama’s energy plan. (Full plan here; speech introducing the plan here.)

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised — even shocked — at its quality. It’s a deft mix of good politics and strong, substantive policy. Here are what I see as the three headlines:

  • 100% auction of cap-and-trade credits. This is a home run, a real act of standard-setting boldness (the kind that Obama always promises but rarely delivers). The green community should immediately use it to push Clinton and Edwards into making the same commitment, insuring that it’s the new baseline for any cap-and-trade program.

  • Smart investment. The revenue from auctions will be considerable, up to $50 billion a year, and Obama’s smart about putting it to work, dividing it between energy R&D, protections for low-income workers, and market deployment of existing clean tech.
  • A focus on efficiency. Clearly Obama gets that efficiency is the easiest route to emission reductions, and he’s got a set of thoughtful, detailed initiatives to make it work.

(8 October 2007)
Energy Factsheet (PDF) from the Obama website

Green Collar Revolution: Van Jones interview
(audio and transcript)
Steve Curwood, Living on Earth
Today’s green revolution must involve people of all economic levels. That’s according to Van Jones, co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California. Jones recently attended the Clinton Global Initiative conference where his “green for all” campaign – to promote green business training for people of color and low incomes – was featured. He talks with host Steve Curwood.
(5 October 2007)

America’s Energy Wars – A New Front – Africa

Lloyd Hart, Indymedia UK
With the U.S. military announcing this week that it is opening up what it is calling The Africa Command the military industrial complex in the U.S. and Europe is revealing its new front in it’s latest round of the resources wars it is conducting under the guise of the War On Terror. This new front is no different than the invasion of Iraq’s oil fields other than fact that the energy the U.S. is after is contained in several nations and makes up a complex energy (oil and natural gas) corridor that travels through a series of traditional ethnic territories in each of the following named nations. This far reaching energy corridor runs from Somalia through Ethiopia, southern Sudan, the Darfur region of Sudan and into Chad. Along this energy corridor are vast reserves of oil and natural gas from oil rich Chad to the natural gas rich Darfur to Sudan’s largest oil reserves located in the southern region of that nation to Ethiopia’s oil rich eastern region.

From what I’ve been able to ascertain from research and e-mail communications with sources on the ground is that the U.S. is leading a mostly military proxy based series of actions with limited direct action (in a mostly military train and air support role) under the guise of the War On Terror but clearly in the interest of securing some of Africa’s largest proven and developed energy reserves.
(7 October 2007)

Report questions Energy Star labels

Kathryn Young, CanWest News Service
The credibility of blue Energy Star labels that consumers use to identify energy efficient TVs and other home electronics could be damaged because many products are tested in standby mode rather than when turned on, while other tests could have been manipulated using computer controls, said a report by the United States’ Government Accountability Office — the equivalent of Canada’s Auditor General.

Many American products with Energy Star labels are available in Canada and 24 other countries, said Mark Gaffigan, in charge of the report and environment issues for the GAO.

“We could do a better job,” he said when asked whether consumers could trust the labels.

Televisions are tested in standby mode because the latest available standards for operations-mode testing were written for black-and-white TVs
(6 October 2007)

U.S. Fails to Track Critical Minerals
Study Recommends Ways to Avoid Economic, Military Threats

Shirley Gregory, Associated Content
Oil isn’t the only natural resource we rely on to keep society humming; many non-fuel minerals are also essential to our daily lives. But neither the government nor industry has enough key information to make sure those mineral supplies are secure, according to a new study by the National Research Council.

The U.S. depends on a number of critical minerals to make everything from cellphones and toothpaste to flat-screen TVs and pacemakers, and many of those minerals are increasingly being imported from other parts of the world.

“Minerals are part of virtually every product we use,” began the study, “Minerals, Critical Minerals, the the U.S. Economy.” “Their unique properties contribute to provision of food, shelter, infrastructure, transportation, communications, health care, and defense. Minerals used in common applications include iron to produce steel, copper used in electrical wiring and plumbing, and titanium used for the structural frames of airplanes and in paint pigments. Every year over 25,000 pounds (11.3 metric tons) of new minerals must be provided for every person in the United States to make the items that we use every day, and a growing number of these minerals are imported.
(7 October 2007)