Energy & Environment

Fracking Won’t Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

American Chemical Society: A new study  finds that “abundant shale gas by itself will neither slow nor accelerate the current rate of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Earlier studies on the effects of this production jump have either done so by comparing emissions from shale gas to those from other fuels or predicting the impacts of a flood of shale gas on energy markets. Last year, Richard G. Newell and Daniel Raimi, energy economists at Duke University, decided to do both.”

“The analysis suggests that by 2040, cheap, abundant shale gas will displace more coal than renewables and nuclear power for electricity, cutting emissions from electricity-generation by 5.1%. However, energy use in general will rise, causing total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to drop by only 0.3% from the baseline scenario. High methane emissions could inflate total emissions by a modest several tenths of a percent.”

Newell: “Natural gas abundance alone has no impact on greenhouse gases.”

“’If we had a carbon policy in place, economic forces would be operating in concert to back out of carbon-intensive sources of energy and to reduce the total amount of energy used, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions,’ says Hillard Huntington, an energy economist at Stanford University.”

Al Gore: Koch Brothers are Behind Climate Change Denial Movement

Huffington Post: “Former vice president Al Gore says he sees the true motivation behind these remarks: currying favor with Republican megadonors like Charles and David Koch.”

“Speaking at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics on Monday, Gore noted that Republicans like John McCain and Mitt Romney had acknowledged and taken steps toward solving the issue before it became politicized by the right.”

Gore: “I don’t think it’s particularly complicated why they have all cowed into abandoning that position … They will face primary opponents financed by the Koch Brothers, and others who are part of their group, if they even breathe the slightest breath of sympathy for the truth about climate science. It’s not really that complicated.”

Gore continued that aspiring Republican candidates “can’t possibly cross the Koch brothers and the others that are part of that group, the large carbon polluters and ideological anti-statists who are really terrified that the government will do anything new.”

Keystone Delays Prompt a Search for Alternatives

Bloomberg: “Delays by the U.S. in reviewing Keystone XL are helping build momentum for an oil pipeline to Canada’s East Coast.”

TransCanada Corp. “may have an easier path to approval with its alternative to the nation’s Atlantic Coast. The C$12 billion ($11 billion) Energy East would be North America’s largest oil line, with capacity to ship 1.1 million barrels a day.”

“Delays to TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline are changing the nature of Canadian and U.S. relations, Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said at the conference.”

“’Nobody believes that this doesn’t set a precedent, that the world is the same as it used to be,’ Girling said, referring to the lack of progress in getting U.S. approval for the pipeline. ‘The crux of the question is, does the U.S. want Canadian oil.’”

Rubio Fumbles Climate Change Response

Sen Marco Rubio on Tuesday attempted to clarify his recent comments on climate change: “I’ve never disputed that the climate is changing … Of course the climate is changing.”

The Wire: “It’s just, well, he doesn’t like any of the legislation proposed in response to it.”

“It appears that Rubio is uncomfortable with [the climate change denier] label, hence his remarks on Tuesday that read like a walk back but don’t actually clarify much of anything. They’re the ‘I’m not not licking toads’ statement of climate change denial.”



Fracking’s New Obstacle: Drought

The New York Times: Concern over fracking’s effects on the quality of water supply has provided “the momentum for about a dozen local governments across California, the third-largest oil producing state, to vote to restrict or prohibit fracking in their jurisdictions.”

“At the same time, a bill that would declare a statewide moratorium on fracking has been gathering support in the State Senate, a year after a similar effort failed.”

“The anti-fracking bill in California, which faces an uphill battle, would not be the first: Vermont banned fracking in 2012, and New York and North Carolina have temporary bans while the states study the impact, which is what California proposes to do.”

“Besides the drought, seismic activity in March in Los Angeles — an earthquake with a magnitude of 3.6, followed by a 5.1 temblor in the course of one evening — has also given traction to fracking critics’ arguments that the procedure is simply too dangerous for California.”

When Climate Change Skeptics Take Action on Climate Change

Touching on the fracas over Sen. Marco Rubio’s recent climate change comments, James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute asks: will “the consensus GOP stance on climate change hurt its 2016 standard bearer? Maybe in that it reinforces the party’s unhelpful image as old-fashioned and out-of-touch, particularly among younger voters.”

“But as I’ve written before, there’s nothing ‘conservative’ about making an all-or-nothing bet that the vast majority of climate scientists have the story completely wrong.”

“Balancing risks and accounting for trade-offs also seem like a political and policy smart way to being thinking about climate change and what to do about it.”

” … a green light given for a robust public research agenda to make advanced nuclear power more cost competitive and carbon capture feasible … and a growing number of environmentalists seem to be embracing that technology … And don’t forget about geoengineering in case those worst-case scenarios begin to play out.”


Reactions to Rubio’s Comments on Global Warming: ‘The Fail Here is Huge’

Juliet Lapidos: “There’s something almost cute about [Rubio’s comments] — a hedge he can bring out in a general election if he’s accused of willful stupidity. I’m not a climate-change denier, he might say, I just don’t think scientists are giving us an accurate picture.”

“Does Mr. Rubio think scientists are lying? Or that they don’t know what they’re talking about? Either way, what leads him to believe that the ‘portrait’ of climate change offered by scientists is inaccurate?”

“He believes that climate scientists have made a schoolboy error, and that he—Marco ‘not a scientist, man’ Rubio — knows better.”

Alec MacGillis: “It would be one thing if Rubio was trying to downplay man-made climate change if he was the senator from a state that is greatly dependent on drawing fossil fuels out of the earth and pumping carbon dioxide into the atmospheresay, Oklahoma or West Virginia or North Dakota. But Rubio represents Florida, and is in fact from Miami. Whichhow to say this nicely?is in the process of drowning.”

Jonathan Chait: “It is possible that Rubio is referring to a notion, popular among climate-science skeptics, that global temperatures have risen and fallen over hundreds of thousands of years. But that can’t be the basis for his confident dismissal of climate science, since, as noted before, Rubio thinks it’s entirely possible the Earth is only six thousand years old.”

John Abraham of the Guardian: “The fail here is huge.”

“I have said this before but it is worth repeating. How we handle climate change should not be a political issue.”

“When we look back on this issue, at the legacies that are being created right now, conservatives will regret making climate obstructionism a litmus test for their politicians.”

Derailed by Keystone XL, Energy-Efficiency Bill Collapses

Bloomberg: “A bipartisan energy-efficiency bill collapsed in the U.S. Senate after a feud over election-year amendments related to President Barack Obama’s energy policies, casting doubt on a separate measure to approve Keystone XL.”

“The Senate voted 55-36 to advance the measure written by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Rob Portman, five short of the 60 needed. The vote also dashes plans for legislation approving the Keystone oil pipeline that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had said would be considered if the efficiency measure was considered without changes.”

Reid: “They have held this bill hostage, as demand after demand has been met.”

“Reid, who opposes it, hasn’t said whether he will schedule a Keystone vote later, although he is being pressed by 11 Senate Democrats who back legislation to approve the project.”

Antarctic Ice Sheet Falling Apart in ‘Irreversible Retreat’

New York Times: “A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries.”

“Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.”

“Two scientific papers released on Monday by the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters came to similar conclusions by different means.”

Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine, said in a NASA news conference that the ice sheet’s retreat has “passed the point of no return.”

A separate team led by Ian Joughin of the University of Washington also “found that a slow-motion collapse had become inevitable. Even if the warm water now eating away at the ice were to dissipate, it would be ‘too little, too late to stabilize the ice sheet,’ Dr. Joughin said. ‘There’s no stabilization mechanism.’”

Rubio: ‘These Scientists’ Are Wrong About Climate Change

In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio “expressed deep skepticism about whether man-made activity has played a role in the Earth’s changing climate … [and] he doesn’t believe there is action that could be taken right now that would have an impact on what’s occurring with our climate.”

Rubio: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it … and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.”

Rubio: “I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow, there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate.  Our climate is always changing.  And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and — and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity…”

Projected Cost of Cutting Carbon Emissions Soars to $44 Trillion

Bloomberg: “The cost of cutting carbon emissions from power generation enough to restrict global warming to safe levels is rising because growing coal use outweighs the progress in renewables, the International Energy Agency said.”

“Investments of $44 trillion through 2050 are needed to decarbonize the energy sector, the Paris-based agency said today in an e-mailed report, up 22 percent from the figure it gave two years ago. The spending would ensure the average temperature rise since the industrial revolution is limited to the 2-degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) target world leaders have endorsed.”

“Investments in renewables, nuclear power and CCS would offer more benefits than costs, according to the agency. It said spending $44 trillion would yield more than $115 trillion in fuel savings.”

Is Climate Change Ushering in Marxism?

Paul Krugman: “Everywhere you look these days, you see Marxism on the rise. Well, O.K., maybe you don’t — but conservatives do.”

“So it goes without saying that Obamacare, based on ideas originally developed at the Heritage Foundation, is a Marxist scheme — why, requiring that people purchase insurance is practically the same as sending them to gulags.”

Then there’s climate change.

“First, we’ll see any effort to limit pollution denounced as a tyrannical act. Pollution wasn’t always a deeply partisan issue: Economists in the George W. Bush administration wrote paeans to ‘market based’ pollution controls, and in 2008 John McCain made proposals for cap-and-trade limits on greenhouse gases part of his presidential campaign. But when House Democrats actually passed a cap-and-trade bill in 2009, it was attacked as, you guessed it, Marxist.”

“Second, we’ll see claims that any effort to limit emissions will have what Senator Marco Rubio is already calling ‘a devastating impact on our economy.’”

“Why is this crazy?  … as soon as anyone proposes adding a few limits to reflect environmental issues — such as a cap on carbon emissions — those all-capable corporations supposedly lose any ability to cope with change.”

Solar Panels Are Back on the White House

LA Times: “After years of delay, solar panels have been installed on the first family’s residence at the White House.”

“Installation got underway in August. Now, in addition to the American-made panels, capable of 6.3 kilowatts of solar generation, the White House has other energy-saving equipment, including updated building controls and variable-speed fans.”

“The announcement was one of several coming on Friday as Obama interrupts a fundraising blitz in California to highlight his second-term push on the environment.”

The president is expected to announce a number of public/private partnerships focused on energy efficiency.

Huge Partisan Divide on Climate Change

David Leonhardt: ” … American exceptionalism on the climate stems almost entirely from Republicans. Democrats and independents don’t look so different from people in Japan, Australia, Canada and across Europe.”

“The Republican skepticism about climate change extends across the party, though it’s strongest among those who consider themselves part of the Tea Party. Ten percent of those aligned with the Tea Party called climate change a major threat, compared with 35 percent of Republicans who did not identify with the Tea Party.”

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