Enviro News Wrap: Energy and Climate in Obama's Second Term; Natural Gas - A Bridge Too Far; Flirting With a Carbon Tax, and more...
GlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up and comments on the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:
- What is Obama's plan to push renewable energy forward? He did some great things in his first term, like opening up military land for development and giving money to the military to spend on renewable energy projects. But, he needs to introduce a new idea in his second term to keep the wind and solar industry from slowing in the short term.
For example, a carbon tax would place a greater dis-incentive on consuming fossil fuels and would create a way to fund steady government support for developing the renewable energy industry. But, the Republicans have a new plan that any Environmental agenda will have to overcome. Republicans are going acknowledge global warming but try to force it into a low spot on the list or priorities, essentially downplaying the threat. Obama might not do anything great and just kick the can down the road.
- Grover Norquist apparently said that a national carbon tax would not violate his pledge that strangles much of Congress, but a Koch brothers group stepped in and reigned in Grover in a strange public scene of infighting on the Right.
- The fate of the federal wind tax credit is being decided by Congress while they face daunting budget issues. Dirty energy tax credits are also being debated, both industries claim that jobs will be lost if tax credits are taken away. How does the oil industry make that claim, are all their profits tied up in executive bonuses? Despite short-term issues the wind industry is projected to grow a lot in the next two decades.
- Natural gas is often thought of as a "bridge fuel" to replace coal (and maybe oil too) and allow renewable energy to develop as an industry. What is happening is coal is not going away, its just being reigned in by the EPA and undercut by the price of natural gas, and renewable energy is finding a lack of investment capital which will slow the industry down (despite investments from high-profile companies like Google), making it more dependent on government subsidies. How is natural gas going to do all of this? Through oversupply and low prices, and deregulation overseen by Obama.
- Under the ground in Utah and Colorado lies a shale oil deposit that could march us into climate catastrophe. Its expensive on the wallet and on our environment but could extend our way of life for at least 100 years - what will America do? The money from exporting is very lucrative.
- GE just finished a plant in India for making wind turbines. That is a long-term bet and I hope it pays off.
- China is changing leadership right now, deciding the fate of their environment and the global climate.
- Another oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico blows up - this is not my preferred method of powering my life. In places like Nigeria oil spills are routine and people just have to live with it. Humans have to switch to a cleaner source of energy.