What Matters This Week: A Price for the Volt, but None for Carbon
RIP, Energy Bill: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he didn’t have the votes to pass a climate-change bill that puts a price on greenhouse gases. With that statement one of Obama’s major campaign promises crashed to earth, along with hopes for slowing global warming or using cleantech to jump-start the U.S. economy. In place of a real energy bill is an “energy bill” that gives homeowners efficiency rebates and regulates deepwater oil drilling. But with a midterm election in the offing and more Republicans likely heading to Congress, the notion of cap-and-trade is, well, cap-and-dead.
BP Plugs the Spew in Gulf, Boardroom: Having capped its oil spill for what might be for good, BP replaced its foot-in-mouth CEO Tony Hayward with Robert Dudley, an American who says he’ll make safety his top goal. Meanwhile, while no one was paying attention, Obama became the first president to take a stab at managing the oceans.
LEAF is Cheaper, Volt Goes Farther. Who Wins? General Motors finally named a price for the Chevy Volt: $41,000, or about $8K more than its electric rival, the Nissan LEAF. In its defense, Chevy argues that the Volt can go 340 miles with its “extended range” gas engine, while the LEAF’s battery dies after 100 miles. Who will go the distance with buyers? Time will tell.
Blow, Google, Blow: The king of search officially became a utility as it arranged to mainline 114 megawatts of power from an Iowa windfarm. Also this week, the Alta Wind Energy Center in the California foothills announced it had secured the funds to grow to 1,550 gigawatts and so become the largest windfarm in the world.
Take the NASA Quiz: This week, NASA unveiled snazzy maps that reveal the answers to two not-so-trivial questions: Where are the tallest trees in the world, and where are the biggest dead zones in the ocean? Let’s tackle the second question first. The U.S. East Coast and Northern Europe have the largest dead zones, victims of too much chemical fertilizer leaking off the farms. The tallest trees (which sequester the most carbon) are in Southeast Asia and in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
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