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A Climate Action Plan, the water in "gasland," and speculation on Keystone XL

Graph of the Day

ENERGY USE PER DOLLAR OF GDP-SELECTED COUNTRIES 1988-2009.  EIA.  Published in the Washington Post.


Poll of the Day


Big Read of the Day

Oh, Canada.  Foreign Policy.  July/August 2013.


In an important policy speech on climate change, President Obama reset America’s domestic and global energy agenda, laying down goals for reducing carbon emissions and bolstering renewable energy.  Acknowledging that legislative gridlock immobilizes the 113th Congress, the President’s plan rests heavily on his executive power and directs his administration to do everything within the scope of its legal authority to address global warming—circumventing the approval of the House and Senate.  READ»

The reaction to the President’s plan breaks along partisan lines.  On the specific issue of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the President’s carefully constructed comments link KXL’s outcome to our country’s “national interest” to arrest climate change; but, the President’s words taken in and taken out of context impart enough wiggle room to keep both the oil industry and the environmental community awake at night speculating about the outcome of his decision.  READ»

What will it take?  Pew’s recent survey—questioning global attitudes on climate change—finds Americans rank among the least concerned about the issue.  While more than half of all respondents in Europe (54%), Asia (56%), Latin America (65%) and Africa (54%) believe climate change poses a "major threat" to their individual countries, only 40% of Americans surveyed concur.  For those of us concerned about global warming, this isn’t good news.  READ»

The Supreme Court agreed to review a 2012 decision by the D.C. Circuit striking down the Cross-State Air Pollution Control Rule, a pillar of the Obama Administration’s air pollution agenda.  The rule sets limits on sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from coal-fired plants that drift downwind in the form of soot and smog.  In a separate decision also involving a decision by the D.C. Circuit, the Supreme Court refused to revisit a ruling involving fuel blended with 15% ethanol, E15—blocking a petition from the oil and gas industry challenging the feasibility of the higher-ethanol gasoline claiming it damages engines, requires large-scale infrastructure updates and increases gas prices by 30%.

Dennis McGinn is direct and to the point.  There’s no level playing field when it comes to encouraging investments in renewable energy.  Since 1987, only fossil-fuel-based projects have been able to leverage low-cost capital through master limited partnerships (MLPs)—creating a market that currently exceeds $400 Billion in capital investments.  McGinn believes the promising technology of renewable energy warrants a change in the status quo.  He calls for fair competition—calling on Congress to compensate for decades of tax credits and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry by extending MLPs to renewables.  READ»

It’s not uncommon for traces of methane to be found in the drinking water in northeastern Pennsylvania—especially along the formation of the Marcellus Shale.  But, a new study from Duke University finds that homes located within 1 kilometer of natural gas wells contain concentrations of methane that are six times higher than homes located further away.  The new study, building on earlier research, detects higher concentrations of methane in 82% of the 141 homes tested in both studies.  In a related article, the director of Gasland and Gasland II explains why the cement barriers used to prevent gas and chemical migration from fracking fail to do the job.   READ»


“I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that is beyond saving.” President Barack Obama delivering a major policy address on climate, June 25, 2013 at Georgetown University, quoted in the NYT.  

Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution…The net effect of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.” President Barack Obama commenting on the pending Keystone XL Pipeline decision during a major policy address on climate, June 25, 2013 at Georgetown University, quoted in Bloomberg.  

Declaring a ‘War on Coal’ is tantamount to declaring a war on jobs.”  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reacting to President Obama’s climate policy speech at Georgetown University quoted in the Washington Post.

"tired excuses for inaction."  President Barack Obama describing the arguments made by critics of his plan who claim any action on climate change results in lost jobs and economic damages, quoted in the Wall Street Journal.  

“…proposing a regulation and finalizing a regulation is two different things. You have to start, but you have to finish.” Paul Billings, Vice President for national policy and advocacy at the American Lung Association, pragmatically commenting on the President’s ability to curb carbon emissions from power plants through the use of federal regulations, quoted in the Washington Post.  

Fracking has got to be seen as the sum of all parts of the operation.” Josh Fox, director of Gasland and Gasland Part II, making the argument that greater safety precautions must be installed to prevent methane leaks surrounding natural gas drilling sites, quoted in Real Clear Energy.  

"invest, divest"  Instructions given by President Obama to the American public to put money into zero-carbon technology companies, and pull it out of companies contributing to carbon pollution, quoted in QUARTZ

“…if Congress chose not to extend MLPs to renewable energy technologies, it would show that Congress wants the incumbents of the private sector, such as oil and natural gas, to remain winners without even really competing.”  Retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral and President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, Dennis McGinn, quoted in Politico.  



What’s in Obama’s Climate Plan?

Obama’s Ambitious Global Warming Action Plan.

Highlights of President Obama’s Plan to Cut Carbon.

Obama Outlines Ambitious Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases.

Obama Unveils Plan to Tackle Climate Change.  Wall Street Journal.

Obama: Keystone pipeline must not increase greenhouse gases.  Washington Post.


Climate Change and Financial Instability Seen as Top Global Threats.  PEW.


Justices take up air pollution rules.  

Supreme Court sides with ethanol in renewable fuel debate.  


OP ED.  Level playing field for renewables.  Dennis McGinn.


Fracking can increase methane in drinking water, study finds.

OP ED.  Don't Believe Thomas Pyle's Hype.  Josh Fox.

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