The Climate Post: Why Solar Can't Go Mainstream Without Sarah Palin

Author: Travis Leipzig

What is a Thursday without The Climate Post? Not as informative as it could have been! So, here is your weekly re-posting of The Climate Post. Read this weeks post to learn: how pertinent Sarah Palin could be for the solar power transition; why putting a price on carbon truly is so necessary; and what Greenland is doing to protect itself from offshore oil drilling.

The Climate Post is a weekly recap of climate related news, trends and events that is put together by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

Enjoy this week's post!

Solar-power buying club One Block Off the Grid makes a case on its blog that of the millions of American households that could be saving money with solar, only a fraction are – and the secret to getting the rest on board is convincing folks like Oprah, Jim Cramer and Sarah Palin solar is mainstream.

The Most Compelling Reason to Put a Price on Carbon … We’re Running out of It

Ever since the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook report came out last week, the mainstreaming of “peak oil” has proceeded at a rapid clip. Its implications for climate policy could not be more profound. Bill Chameides, dean of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, points out the IEA says putting a price on carbon and encouraging the use of renewables means more oil will stay in the ground, and its future price spikes, which will play an important role in future economic contractions, will be less severe.

Meanwhile, China is suffering a shortage of diesel fuel – ironically, as a result of efforts by the state to curtail energy use – and India’s prime minister announced his country’s demand for hydrocarbon fuels will increase 40 percent in the next 10 years.

The Brookings Institute argues a second reason to put a price on carbon is the revenue from it could help address fiscal shortfalls.

Murkowski Claims Victory as Write-in Candidate

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will be returning to the Senate, though her status as the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee remains in doubt. But what’s happening in the house, where a GOP win means all new committee heads?

The most likely candidate, by seniority, is Fred Upton (R-Mich.), but Rep. Upton has drawn criticism for his past support of energy-efficient light bulbs. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) is also campaigning for the post. Shimkus has in the past used theological arguments to contend climate change does not threaten humans.

Whither EPA Regulations of Carbon?

Whether you’re terrified of the awful power the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could wield or ecstatic it might pick up where Congress failed with the climate bill, the first hints of what the EPA plans to do are likely to please no one. David Roberts of Grist offers an explainer in which he argues the EPA’s alternatives are to be either very mild or quite draconian in its efforts to curtail emissions, and the agency appears to have gone with the milquetoast option – not that this will please its critics.

On the legislative front, four Republicans and 21 Democrats are backing an effort to get a federal renewable energy standard passed during the lame duck session of Congress, but it’s a long shot, says Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones.

So Are We Getting Our Scopes Monkey Trial on Climate Science, or What?

In the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert predicts a GOP-led House will put climate science itself on trial, but Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the representative who had originally threatened the inquiry, is already backing away from the idea.

Drill Baby Drill – in the Arctic

The Pew Environment Group cites multiple hazards and the Gulf oil spill in a report calling on Congress to block drilling for oil in the Arctic. Simultaneously, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) is pushing for a meeting with the Obama administration and threatening hardball tactics if oil companies aren’t allowed to proceed with exploratory offshore drilling in his home state.

Greenland has its own vast mineral and oil wealth to unlock, but it’s going about it in a different way – the country is demanding companies that wish to drill in its coastal waters must set aside $2 billion (in some cases, in advance) in order to cover the cost of cleaning up any potential spills.

The Polarizing Effect of Electric Vehicles

Motor Trend just named the Chevy Volt its “Car of the Year,” but columnist George Will hates the government subsidies offered to buyers of the vehicle.

The CEO of Nissan predicts his company will sell 500,000 electric cars a year by 2013. General Electric might take delivery of a not insignificant portion – the company has promised to buy 25,000 electric cars by 2015, the largest-ever purchase of such vehicles.

Yet Another Pro-Technology “Post-Partisan” Energy Proposal

In what’s becoming a trend, a new group called the Coalition for Green Capital proposes a broad plan for financing renewable energy.

Challenges for a Host of Green Technologies

Peak oil or no, the aviation industry is giving up on hydrogen-powered planes. The federal government probably isn’t going to renew its tax credit for investment in solar, which would mean more bad news for financing in that industry.

Makers of the PBS documentary on the future of energy Beyond the Light Switch report one of the most surprising discoveries they made in researching their film was the fact carbon capture requires 20-30 percent of the power produced by a plant.

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