Thursday, June 25th, 2009
Of all the lines in the envisioned US high speed rail network, California is the one with the most momentum behind it. The state has started to fund the line that is designed to take passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two and a half hours. Money is the biggest obstacle to realizing America’s rail modernization, but California is countering this problem by showing the value added these trains will bring to the state.
Concerns over cost is the principle argument against high speed rail in the US, but independent economic studies done on the feasibility of the project show that the line will generate $1 billion in surplus revenue annually after completion. Start-up costs for this infrastructure in the nation’s most populous state are estimated to be roughly half of what it would cost not to build the route. Highway and airport expansion would be much more costly and detrimental to the environment. These facts are pushing California to have the nation’s first true high speed rail at the current pace of development.
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
One of the more interesting subtexts in the ongoing Waxman-Markey negotiations is the irony that as the bill gets closer to garnering the support it needs for passage — through horse trading, earmarking, compromise and watering down — it looks less and less like a positive step for renewable energy advocates to have a federal regime at all.
Thanks to preemption doctrine, whatever does emerge from Congress will likely trump much of what already exists at the state level for energy-environment regulation. Sure, the bill may hold out state autonomy to set higher renewable standards or more ambitious target dates than those federally prescribed, and that kind of dual sovereignty — especially where expressly permitted by Congress — has long been held constitutional. But, for a “progressive” energy state like Massachusetts, there are likely to be direct conflicts with the federal law, and in those cases the state standard (in many cases the more aggressive one) will be preempted.
Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
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…)
Friday, June 12th, 2009
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…)
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009
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.
Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
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.
Friday, May 22nd, 2009
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.
Friday, May 8th, 2009
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.
Friday, May 8th, 2009
This article is part of a series on the Stimulus Update. Previous posts:
– Smart Grid Funding Guidelines Released
- Inching Towards Smart Grid Funding Guidelines
- EE and Conservation Block Grant Funds Releases
- Next Generation Electric Vehicles Funds Released
- Energy Efficiency Funds Released
- Climate Change, the Stimulus Bill, and how CleanTech will benefit
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).
Friday, April 24th, 2009
The news out of New York was big. The New York Power Authority is working on rules for siting 120 megawatts of offshore wind turbines in Lakes Erie and Ontario.
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.