Energy efficiency in transportation is now in the national spotlight. Washington is acknowledging an “energy crisis,” and as part of a solution to this problem, passenger rail in the United States is set for an upgrade. With the inauguration of President Obama, new impetus has been given to constructing a nationwide high speed rail network intended to accelerate US ground travel to speeds upwards of 220 mph. In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, eleven corridors have been earmarked for construction: (more…)
In the past week, I have seen mainstream media stories explaining that the Obama White House plans to use the President’s “political capital” to deliver on the climate change bill, health care reform, and the Sotomayor confirmation.
As I noted in a previous post, one of the reasons that these initiatives require him to expend any capital at all in a majority Dem Congressional session is the breakneck speed with which he claims to want it all done. Add the arm-twisting he has already had to perform to get the stimulus bill through, and more recently to get what fragile buy-in he has for his auto bailout, and there must be a lot of sore shoulders in the Capitol. (more…)
George Soros, one of the world’s most successful investors and boldest philanthropists, has been more perceptive than almost anybody on the economic crisis – warning about “market fundamentalism” and the emerging credit “superbubble” since the 1980s. “The idea that financial market are self-correcting,” Soros writes, “remains the prevailing paradigm.” And it is wrong.
Rather than thinking markets are always right, Soros thinks of markets as “almost always wrong” – and has made billions by trading on this insight.
Now nearing 80, Soros’ observations carry more weight than ever. The new edition of The Crash of 2008: the new Paradigm for Financial Markets is Soros’ 11th book – and his first bestseller. In it he explains his theory and argues that clean energy investments are central to macroeconomic policy.
While coal-fueled power plants are directly responsible for roughly one-third of our CO2 emissions, the DOE indicates that coal is expected to dominate our domestic power generation at least for the next 25 years. Globally, the increased demand for coal-fueled electricity will translate into a 57% rise in related CO2 emissions by 2030 according to the IEA.
One technology that attempts to solve the CO2 emissions crisis is carbon capture and storage, or CCS. Generally speaking, CCS captures the CO2 emissions from coal power plants and other industrial sites and injects the CO2 into underground porous rock formations in hopes of permanent sequestration.
A key U.S. congressional committee has approved historic legislation that for the first time would put a cap and a price on carbon dioxide emissions. After weeks of debate and an intensive, multi-million dollar lobbying campaign by industry and environmental groups, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill calling for a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2020 and an 83 percent reduction by 2050.
There’s a kernel of good to this story, if you care about climate change and high food prices.
Sure, ethanol has been a great example of how America can begin to overcome its dependency on foreign fossil fuels. But using a staple like corn to make the biofuel has driven up food prices and displaced other food crops.
Now comes the Obama administration, which has proposed new rules for renewable fuels, aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions. At the same time, he’s vowed to help prop up the corn ethanol industry with stimulus dollars, and commit stimulus funds to biofuel research.
This article is part of a series on the Stimulus Update. Previous posts:
– Smart Grid Funding Guidelines Released
As part of an ongoing effort to reduce US dependence on foreign oil and address the climate crisis by increasing the use of domestic renewable fuels, Secretary of Energy Chu announced Tuesday plans to provide $786.5 million in ARRA funding to accelerate advanced biofuels research and development, and to provide additional funding for commercial-scale biorefinery demonstration projects.
The funding is available through ARRA’s Research and Development program and will be awarded through competitive grants from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
But a bigger wind and water story was hatched this week in the Great Plains. President Barack Obama, in an Earth Day speech in Iowa, said his administration is clearing the red tape for siting windmills on the outer continental shelf.
Forbes.com reports that the Department of Interior’s Mineral and Management Service will grant wind developers leases and easements to erect wind farms on the shelf, along with rights of way to wire wind power from water to land. There’s been a moratorium on offshore wind development for about four years in the United States; all the offshore wind is in Europe for now.
Until recently, T. Boone Pickens was better known for greenmail than green energy. Pickens – oilman turned corporate raider - leveraged Mesa Petroleum and Michael Milliken’s junk bonds to make billions during the 1980’s hostile takeover craze.
But with his recent $10 billion tilt toward Texas wind farms and solar, who’s to say whether Pickens is an energy visionary or just the consummate frontrunning egomaniac? One thing is certain: Pickens has always had a plan, and he’s been spotting trends and making fortunes in energy for over half a century.
The “Pickens Plan” is basically a $58 million marketing campaign to wean the US off foreign oil within 10 years by using natural gas for vehicles, and wind and solar for utilities – and for Pickens to receive as much credit for it as possible.
No, it’s not the latest CD from Verve, it’s the latest rumble from industry groups and states: Raise the percentage of ethanol blended into unleaded gasoline.
The current cap is 10 percent. An ethanol trade group called Growth Energy has formally requested an increase to 15 percent, saying it will create more than 100,000 jobs and pump more than $24 billion into the economy, Reuters reports. There’s also the added benefit of increasing the demand for ethanol by 6 billion gallons a year, MSNBC says.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is studying whether a higher blend would harm older cars. Some newer vehicles are designed to run on E-85 (an 85 percent blend).