Environment Forum

Can the U.S. compete with China in the green economy?

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Fred Krupp is president of the Environmental Defense Fund. The views expressed are his own.

It’s as though three mammoth challenges facing America are intertwined like the strands of a rope: reducing our dependence on Mideast oil; creating new American jobs from clean energy; and reducing pollution responsible for climate change.

Together, those strands are a lifeline to the future.

While the House of Representatives passed comprehensive energy and climate legislation last summer, polarization has created gridlock in Washington, paralyzing most major legislative initiatives, including clean energy.

But a new, “tripartisan” partnership has emerged in the Senate that offers a hopeful way forward.

The legislation being crafted now by Sens. John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman is garnering interest on both sides of the aisle.

from The Great Debate:

Obama, politics and nuclear waste

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-Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own-

The project involved more than 2,500 scientists. It cost $ 10.5 billion between 1983 and 2009 and it included one of the most bizarre scientific tasks of all time: evaluate whether nuclear waste stored deep inside a Nevada desert mountain would be safe a million years into the future.

That was the safety standard set in September, 2008, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a condition for allowing nuclear waste to be stored deep in the belly of the Yucca Mountain, 95 miles (155 km) from Las Vegas, long the subject of political debate and a fine example of nimbyism (not in my backyard).

The vastly complex computer models and simulations experts launched to figure out whether Yucca Mountain would be a safe environment in the year 1,000,000 and beyond ended before there was a scientific conclusion.

Senator Graham shouts “Play Ball!”

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Asher Miller is executive director of think tank Post Carbon Institute. Any opinion expressed here is his own.

It should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to the politics of climate legislation to hear Senator Lindsey Graham pronounce, “the cap-and-trade bills in the House and Senate are dead.” The truth is that they’ve been dead for quite some time. It’s just that now we finally have the coroner’s official report.

Many proponents and opponents of climate legislation have had one thing in common for some time now—they hate the American Clean Energy and Security Act (the Waxman-Markey bill which passed in the House by a narrow margin back in June).

Top 5 greenest cities in the world

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This article by Beth Hodgson originally appeared in GlobalPost.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen serious discussions taking place globally as countries and cities pledge to go green.

Some cities have made greener strides than others, which puts them at the top of the list for sustainability goals.

The five greenest cities in the world aren’t necessarily those that are nothing but green space, but they’re on the right track to improving their footprints.

from UK News:

Are you losing faith in climate science?

climatechangeWhile attending a meeting of prominent climate sceptics during the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December (an anti-COP15, if you will), I listened to each of the speakers put forward their theory on why conventional evidence on the primary causes of climate change should be dismissed as, for lack of a better phrase, complete hokum.

Among their denunciations of widely-accepted truths regarding global warming, greenhouse gases, melting glaciers and rising sea levels was the assertion that a change in attitude was afoot; the public may have been duped into believing the mainstream scientific assessment of climate change, but not for long.

There was something in the air, the sceptics said, and soon people would begin to question their trust in the majority view.

Goldilocks and the three fuels

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– Richard Heinberg is the author of eight books, including “Peak Everything”, “Blackout: Coal, Climate and the Last Energy Crisis” and “The Party’s Over”. He is also a senior fellow with the Post Carbon Institute. The views expressed are his own. –

Recent shale gas projects, including those involving the massive Marcellus Shale in several northeastern states, have been yielding significant quantities of fuel. Reserves of the stuff are enormous. But drilling costs and per-well decline rates are high, so producers can make a profit only if gas prices are near historic highs.

Where are oil prices headed in 2010? Forecasts for the year are all over the map, from more than $100 a barrel to under $50.

Shale Gas Valuation Index

Following is the Thomson Reuters North America Shale Gas Valuation Index, based on closing share prices from Feb. 17.

The data comes from StarMine, a Thomson Reuters company, using the 12-month forward SmartEstimate, a measure that selects estimates from only the most accurate analysts.

StarMine Intrinsic Value is a variation on the dividend-discount model methodology that adjusts for biases uncovered in analyst forecasts.

Retailers reject oil sands — a good move?

CANADA BOOMTOWN

Two big U.S. retail chains have turned their back on Canada’s oil sands, a move that was both hailed and derided, split as you might expect along environmental lines.

Whole Foods and Bed Bath and Beyond this week said they were boycotting the Canadian oil sands and they would actively seek alternatives to oil sands fuel for their delivery trucks to reduce their carbon footprints.

The oil sands are the largest source of oil outside of Saudi Arabia, and most of the 1.2 million barrels a day of oil sands-derived crude gets shipped to the United States.

Venezuela tries to make it rain

VENEZUELA TURTLES
global_post_logo This article by Charlie Devereux originally appeared in GlobalPost.

Flying high over Venezuela’s southeastern territories, a plane banks and fires into a mass of clouds.

Venezuela is not at war with the skies but with a severe drought that has caused an electricity crisis and forced the government to resort to unconventional methods to make it rain.

The government began “bombing clouds,” or cloud seeding, late last year after it emerged that the country was facing a dire water shortage.

from India Insight:

Why let a debate determine the fate of GM foods?

Students hold a mock funeral procession against genetically modified brinjal crop in Chandigarh January 28, 2010. REUTERS/Ajay VermaThere's nothing Indians like better than a good debate.

So when Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced last month that he would hold public debates to decide the commercial fate of genetically modified brinjal (eggplant), there were hopes these would provide a chance for all stakeholders to be heard.

But the debates, in seven cities including Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, were chaotic, nothing more than acrimonious shouting matches between environmental activists and scientists, who say they were not given a fair chance to voice their opinion.

One scientist said he had his hand raised for more than half an hour, but was not allowed to speak. Another said he was told he could make a presentation, but was again not allowed to. Others were not even permitted to enter the premises.

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