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Posts Tagged ‘Obama Adminsitration’


Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Having spent less than a year working out the details, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is getting ready to impose widespread rules on carbon emissions across the entire economy beginning January 1.

The issue promises to be wildly contentious – particularly if the Republicans get control of either branch of Congress in November. The bipartisan opposition is already being led by several coal state Democrats, most prominently Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, one of the most reliable liberal voices in the Senate. Almost 90 percent of the electricity in the Midwest comes from coal and no new construction projects will be allowed to go ahead if reductions in emissions are not made. Whole state economies are at stake.

The confusion that is likely to prevail is evident in this morning’s Politico article, which refers constantly to the question of carbon emissions as “pollution controls.”  “The Obama administration has said it will limit its regulations to only the biggest sources at first, but it’s still unclear exactly what pollution controls will be required,” says the article. “[G]uidance [from the EPA] has been stalled indefinitely at the White House, where officials are sparring over the costs of installing pollution controls.”

But carbon emissions are not “pollution” in the classic sense of a “resource out of place.”  They are the unavoidable by-product of combustion. There is no way to “control” them except by cutting back on fossil fuels or replacing them with something else – like nuclear power.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried an editorial charging that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is breaking the law by not allowing the states three years to come up with their implementation plans for enforcing the new EPA regulations, as specified by the Clean Air Act.

It’s going to get interesting after the first of the year.

Read more at Politico


Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Now we know where the term "environmental purity" originates.

A handful of environmentalist activists, still smarting because the Obama Administration was not able to push climate legislation through the Senate, have begun openly talking about fielding an "environmental candidate" for President in 2012.

Such talk is years premature, of course, but it’s a strong indication of how little the professional environmental movement understands about compromise and how cultish it can be in its behavior.

“Obama’s environmental record has been dismal, especially on climate, oil and endangered species,” Kieran Suckling, executive director at the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity, told Politico. But then the Center for Biological Diversity has done some pretty dismal things itself.  For instance, it is one of the principal opponents who have managed to delay the Green PATH North Renewable Electricity Transmission Line, designed to carry wind and solar electricity from the California Desert to Los Angeles, for the past five years. []

What die-hard activists seem to be longing for is a European-style "Green Party" that would concentrate the 5 percent or so of voters who place environmental causes above everything else. In a European parliamentary system, such fractional minorities can play a key role – as Germany’s Green Party has proved. In the American electoral system, however, such splinter groups can only be counterproductive. After all, wasn’t Ralph Nader running on the Green Party ticket in 2000 when he mined Al Gore’s base?
As outlined on this site last week, the major reason environmentalist activists failed to get significant climate legislation is because they insisted on  purity and refused to strike alliances with other clean energy sectors, notably nuclear energy.  Had card-caring environmentalist been willing to acknowledge that only nuclear can replace coal for base load power, the political establishment might have taken them seriously.  Even now, if they were going for a carbon-free clean energy standard for electricity instead of a limited "renewable" standard, it might have been possible to get some kind of clean energy mandate through the Senate — as yesterday’s Washington Post editorial suggested. 

In July, Vinod Koshla, Silicon Valley’s most prominent investor in renewable technologies, suggested that a renewable mandate of 15 percent would easily become practical if it were expanded to include any low-carbon technology such as carbon capture or nuclear power. Within hours, Joseph Romm, the indefatigueable blogger on "Climate Progress," ran a critique entitled, "Is Anyone More Incoherent Than Vinod Koshla?"  [] You can steer literally hundreds of millions of dollars into wind and solar projects, but if you once say something positive about nuclear power, you are immediately read out of the picture.

That’s what killed climate legislation.  


Read more at Politico



Thursday, July 29th, 2010

There has been speculation for some time that renewable energy has all the components inherent in the subprime mortgage fiasco -– an economically shaky idea inflated way beyond its potential by federal interventions until the whole thing collapses.

If you want to see this crisis in its embryonic stage, take a look at the battle now shaping up between state and municipal governments and Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac over financing rooftop solar installations. In early July, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – newly conscientious about the possibility of mortgage defaults – ruled that it would not accept a new system pioneered in northern California where municipal governments pay the high cost of solar installations – usually around $35,000 – and then allow homeowners to pay back the loans over ten or twenty years on their property tax assessments.

The program, called PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) has the backing of the Obama Administration and was earmarked for some stimulus money.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac objected, however, noting that the loan would have priority over any mortgage and would thereby endanger the integrity of any mortgages the two government-run corporations might insure.

The Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA), set up to supervise the two corporations after the subprime meltdown, agrees. Together the three government agencies insure about half the mortgages in the country. 

California officials and solar enthusiasts are vowing to fight the ruling.  California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who is running for governor, has vowed a lawsuit.  Senator Barbara Boxer is promising legislation.  The federal agencies have vowed to defend their decision.  Meanwhile, nuclear supporters can take solace that financing of new construction is nothing unique to nuclear but applies to all forms of energy generation.

Read more at the San Diego Union-Tribune