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Barack Obama selects Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate

David Roberts, Gristmill
Barack Obama’s running mate will be Joe Biden.

Here’s a fact sheet on Biden’s environmental record.

Grist interviewed Biden in August 2007, when he was running for president. He said this about dealing with climate change:

To deal with global warming, you have to change the attitude of the world, particularly China and India, the two largest developing nations. But in order to do that, to have any credibility, you have to begin here in the United States by capping emissions, increasing renewable fuels, establishing a national renewable portfolio standard, requiring better fuel economy for automobiles. …

Biden had this to say about “clean coal”:

I don’t think there’s much of a role for clean coal in energy independence, but I do think there’s a significant role for clean coal in the bigger picture of climate change. Clean-coal technology is not the route to go in the United States, because we have other, cleaner alternatives. …

He had this to say about ethanol:

Ethanol is a good start. Because of the amount of [resources] that go into producing corn-based ethanol, it has only marginally less impact on the consumption of fossil fuels. But it has two real advantages: it begins to give us the margin of flexibility we need to deal with being held hostage to any one of the seven unstable countries that supply 35 percent of our oil — Nigeria, Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, etc. No. 2, it’s a transitional means by which you’re going to be pouring billions of dollars into the fields of the Midwest, rather than the sands of Saudi Arabia or the pockets of Chavez.

(23 August 2008)

Energy Politics Proving Difficult to Master

Kirk Johnson and Monica Davey, New York Times
The politics of energy are convoluted and volatile in Congressional campaigns across the United States this summer, as candidates search for a Goldilocks approach that is neither too hot nor too cold, and that voters will believe is sincere.

… The fierce tactical positioning of candidates here and elsewhere – some call it pandering and waffling – is producing a convergence of sorts around the idea that more is better, that an expansion of energy production from all sources and places will somehow fix things, lower prices and restore stability to the economy.
(21 August 2008)

‘A Whole New World’
(oil and Alaska)
Tony Hopfinger, Newseek
For decades, tiny Barrow, Alaska, has been largely unknown and unnoticed. But with increasing global activity in the Arctic–especially from oil speculators–things are changing … fast.

… This year is shaping up to be one of the busiest ever in the Alaskan Arctic, with dignitaries visiting the far north, wildcatters searching for crude, and government researchers mapping the seafloor to determine how much of the ocean the United States might claim as its own. The attention comes as Washington revises its Arctic policy for the first time since 1994, and as the growing energy crisis becomes a bigger subject for the presidential campaign.

… At issue is whether the United States should ratify a treaty that governs ocean rights extending off the coastlines of nations, and thus the natural resources and fisheries that lurk below. Under international law, the United States already holds a 200-nautical-mile zone from its shores. According to an international treaty called the Law of the Sea, the United States could claim an even larger swath if it can show that the Alaskan continental shelf extends beyond the 200-mile limit.

But the United States is the only Arctic nation that hasn’t ratified the treaty. “We do expect to become a party in the near future, perhaps this year or in the next couple of years,” Margaret Hays, director of the oceanic affairs office at the U.S. State Department, told reporters in a conference call last week.

This month, the Coast Guard has already dispatched its cutter, Healy, northward of Barrow to map the Alaskan shelf, which may extend more than 600 miles from the shore—three times farther than the current limit. “We have at least a California-size territory to claim,” Treadwell notes.

Oil is the major prize hiding beneath that vast territory, as dwindling oil discoveries and record demand have pushed explorers into more remote and more hostile regions.
(21 August 2008)

Xcel takes unusual step to shut down coal power plants

Cathy Proctor, Denver Business Journal
State regulators have approved a plan by Xcel Energy Inc. to shut down two coal-fired power plants in Colorado, citing benefits to public health and concerns about carbon-dioxide emissions.

It’s the first time in the nation a utility has volunteered, and regulators have approved, a plan to shut down power plants because of CO2 emissions, which are linked to global warming.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission spent Monday and Tuesday discussing a plan from Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE: XEL) to meet its customers’ power demands for the next several years. A written order offering specific details of the decision is expected in a few weeks.

The closures are two to four years away, and Xcel has proposed using natural gas to make up for the lost power supplies…
(20 August 2008)

Pickens’ Plan and California’s Proposition 10; Auctioning Environmental Commodities

Stephen Lacey, RenewableEnergyWorld
T. Boone Pickens has a plan — but is it the correct plan for the nation? This November, Californians will have the opportunity to vote on an initiative that could be the first step down Pickens’ path toward greater reliance on natural gas for transportation fuel. But this week’s guest says that the initiative, known as Proposition 10, is flawed and could negatively impact renewable energy in California.

We’ll speak with Tony Rubenstein, a Los Angeles-based consultant on clean technologies and corporate social responsibility, about why Proposition 10 is not good for the state’s budget or its burgeoning renewable energy market.
(21 August 2008)
Recommended by reader John.

Californians wary of costs of going green: survey

Most Californians won’t support the state’s ambitious efforts to fight global warming if they lead to sharply higher energy costs, according to a survey commissioned by a pro-business group released on Thursday.

Sixty-three percent of 1,000 registered California voters surveyed this month said they supported the goal of cutting greenhouse gases, but that support fell to 47 percent when the question included the likelihood of higher energy costs.

… Some environmentalists said the survey is flawed.

“I don’t see any merit in a survey that lacks credibility. The questions are so leading and misleading,” said Wendy James, manager of the Global Warming Action Coalition based in Southern California.
(21 August 2008)