Energy and Global Warming News for September 9th: Salazar says U.S. climate bill remains high on agenda; Boxer vows to introduce bill by months end; First Solar to build 2000 Megawatt plant in China

Salazar says U.S. climate bill remains high on agenda

Despite Washington’s nearly single-minded focus on healthcare reform, the Obama administration still expects the U.S. Senate to pass climate change legislation, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Tuesday.

“Right now we are focused on this crusade for healthcare reform for the country and that’s where our time and energy will go for the days ahead,” Salazar said during an interview at the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit.

Even so, he added, “We want both (healthcare and climate bills). The president has been very clear that these are two big issues for the United States and for our time”….

If Congress fails to produce a climate bill for President Barack Obama to sign into law, Salazar noted, the White House could direct executive-branch offices to go ahead with new regulations controlling carbon pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency already has started that process.

But Salazar also pointed out: “It (climate change) will not be addressed in a complete and long-term manner unless there is congressional action.”

While public support for healthcare reform has slipped in recent weeks, polls indicate that the public still backs Obama’s efforts to expand solar, wind and other alternative energies and to wean the United States off its reliance on foreign oil….

Without tough new steps, environmentalists fear worsening droughts and floods, the spread of disease and melting ice caps that would contribute to dangerously rising sea levels.

For the media, it’s always “environmentalists fear worsening droughts.”  How about “Without tough new steps, the top scientists of the world and every major government project worsening droughts and floods, the spread of disease and melting ice caps that would contribute to dangerously rising sea levels”?  But even Reuters prefers the political drama to straight reporting.

Boxer Vows to Introduce Energy Bill by Month’s End

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who heads the Environment and Public Works Committee, insisted Tuesday that her panel will introduce sweeping energy reform legislation by the end of the month.

“The bill will be introduced this month, and we’re going to be marking it up shortly thereafter,” Boxer said.

The Californian, who has been working alongside Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) on the bill, tossed aside suggestions that the Senate’s overwhelming focus on health care reform will curtail its ability to also tackle energy policy this year.

Boxer and Kerry were originally slated to introduce a bill this week, but the Aug. 25 death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), coupled with Kerry’s hip surgery in August, contributed to the delay. Kerry is also a member of the Finance Committee, which is expected to take up a massive health care bill in the coming weeks.

Six Senate committees have jurisdiction over climate change: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Commerce, Science and Transportation; Energy and Natural Resources; Environment and Public Works; Finance; and Foreign Affairs. Boxer maintained Tuesday that jurisdictional issues over which committee is responsible for certain portions of the energy bill will not be an issue.

“I think all the committees will do their work. We’ll do our bill, the others will do their bill and the [Majority] Leader will marry it,” she said.

First Solar To Build 2-Gigawatt Solar Power Plant in China

Solar-panel maker First Solar is cracking open the Chinese market, which could become one of the world’s most promising for solar power.

Arizona-based First Solar said today it signed a deal with Chinese officials to build a 2,000 megawatt solar-power plant in Inner Mongolia over the next decade at an estimated cost of $5 billion to $6 billion.

UPDATE: That figure is apparently what it would cost to build a similar plant in the U.S. today; building a large plant in China in the future would likely cost less, due to labor costs especially, say First Solar spokesmen.

For First Solar, which already has contracts to build smaller, though still utility-size, solar-power plants in the U.S., the Chinese deal could be a game-changer. “If you have two gigawatts, it could change the image of solar power from niche to nuclear-plant-size installations,” said First Solar chief executive Mike Ahearn in an interview.

State predicts bright future for jobs in solar energy

The number of jobs in the state’s solar energy industry nearly doubled from 2007 to 2008 – and the numbers are on pace to grow sharply again this year, according to Massachusetts officials.

Ian A. Bowles, secretary of the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said he would disclose the numbers today at the trade show Cleantech Forum XXIII. The two-day show opened today at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

A survey of nearly 100 solar energy employers in Massachusetts showed the number of jobs in the sector grew from 1,086 in 2007 to 2,075 in 2008, Bowles said. The growth is “indicative of the health and welfare” of the local solar energy industry, he added.

Green Force: U.S. Military’s Interest in Algae Fuel Grows

Here’s a future checklist for a military deployment: rations, boots, camouflage, bullets “¦ algae?

Solazyme Inc. said today it had a contract from the Defense Department for 20,000 gallons of algae-derived diesel fuel for testing.

What is the Pentagon doing? Dreaming some more about cutting its own supply lines, perhaps. Imagine a mobile army that can take an algae farm that can produce diesel fuel along with it, reducing the need for fuel convoys.

Governor Rendell Announces Federal Funding for Diverse, Renewable Energy Technologies

Governor Edward G. Rendell today announced the first in a series of competitive grant programs to help fund large-scale renewable energy projects.

Green Energy Works! is now accepting applications for $11 million in federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for combined heat and power projects, which generate power and thermal energy from a single source. All projects must create jobs, be able to start work within six months, and be completed within 24 months and before April 30, 2012.

EU cuts funding for post-Kyoto climate deal

The European Union has scaled back plans to give billions of euros to poor countries to persuade them to help battle climate change, a draft document shows.

Funding from rich nations to the developing world has emerged as the main stumbling block to progress in climate negotiations ahead of international talks in Copenhagen in December.

Ethiopia warned last week that Africa would veto any deal at Copenhagen that was not generous enough.

Climate cash could create “Copenhagen stimulus”

Climate talks could draw on global recovery spending to smooth a deal in Copenhagen in December to replace the Kyoto Protocol, said Nick Robins, head of HSBC’s climate change research center.HSBC analysts estimate the green portion of a $3.1 trillion fiscal stimulus at about $512 billion.

Those funds to boost renewable energy, efficiency, public transport and water treatment so far exclusively focus on domestic economies and jobs, but could be turned to the aid of faltering U.N. talks meant to agree a new climate treaty.

“If we’re anywhere near the $500 billion we’ve identified, then one should hope there is some scope for governments to think about a contribution that would be the Copenhagen stimulus,” Robins said at the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit.

“The missing element in the stimulus debate is that all the stimulus angles, unsurprisingly, have been very domestically focused, stimulating our economy, our sectors.”

Denmark to help Maldives attend climate talks: minister

Denmark on Tuesday said it was ready to help the Maldives, whose fight against rising sea levels has become a cause celebre for environmentalists, to attend key climate talks in Copenhagen.”In the past two years we have allocated 2.5 million euros to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change so that the poorest states and islands can attend the Copenhagen summit with three delegates each,” Cooperation Minister Ulla Toernaes told AFP.

It is “clear that the Maldives, which is one of the worst affected nations by climate change, must take part in the Copenhagen summit as their future depends on it,” Toernaes said of the December summit.

The Indian Ocean atoll nation said Monday it would have to skip UN climate change talks because of lack of funding.

11 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for September 9th: Salazar says U.S. climate bill remains high on agenda; Boxer vows to introduce bill by months end; First Solar to build 2000 Megawatt plant in China

  1. Climate talks could draw on global recovery spending to smooth a deal in Copenhagen in December “The missing element in the stimulus debate is that all the stimulus angles, unsurprisingly, have been very domestically focused, stimulating our economy, our sectors.”

    It seems that it would be easier to give that aid to the developing nations if it included a provision that they must buy American (or Japanese, or whoever gives the aid). The money would come back to America in the form of demand for wind power plants, solar cells, etc, that are manufactured here.

  2. paulm says:

    US and China to unveil joint plan to ‘take over’ cleantech market

    Business collaboration between US and China to secure clean technology market opportunities will be unveiled at World Economic Forum in Dalian

  3. paulm says:

    We are way down the path than we think. Life is going to get tough within the next 10-15yrs. It’s a sad state of affairs.

    Grizzlies starve as salmon disappear

    As salmon numbers drop, bears are also few and far between along B.C.’s wild central coast – signalling what conservationists say is an unfolding ecological disaster.

    “The lack of salmon last fall, coupled with a long, cold winter, is what’s at the root of this,” he said.

    “The collapse of the Fraser sockeye and now the north-coast chum salmon runs is leading to ecological collapse of our coast ecosystems,”
    First the salmon vanished, now the bears may be gone too. “I’ve been doing this for 11 years and this is the worst I’ve seen it,” he said. “Last year on the Mussel River, I saw 27 bears. This year it’s six. That’s an indication of what it’s like everywhere.”

    … but now there just aren’t any bears. It’s scary,” he said.“ I think a lot are dead. I think they died in their dens [last winter],” he said.

    “And we haven’t seen any cubs with mothers. That’s the most alarming part of this,” Mr. McAllister said.

    He said the problem is that chum salmon runs in the area have collapsed.

  4. paulm says:

    Now Turkey & Argentine believe Climate Change is real and dangerous …

    Highways turned to rushing rivers!

    S America storm kills at least 17

    “Whole houses disappeared,” said Ricardo Veselka, the civil defence director for San Pedro.

    The local mayor, Orlando Wolfart, described the devastation as “incredible”.

    “This is something we’ve never seen,” he told reporters.

  5. ecostew says:

    Sea ice now at third lowest aerial extent:

  6. ecostew says:

    Climate Effects of Atmospheric Haze a Little Less… Hazy

    September 9, 2009

    Scientists have used a new approach to sharpen the understanding of one of the most uncertain of mankind’s influences on climate—the effects of atmospheric “haze,” the tiny airborne particles from pollution, biomass burning, and other sources.

    The new observations-based study led by NOAA confirms that the particles (“aerosols”) have the net effect of cooling the planet—in agreement with previous understanding—but arrives at the answer in a completely new way that is more straightforward, and has narrowed the uncertainties of the estimate. The findings appear in this week’s Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres.

  7. ecostew says:

    From the USGS

    Until recently, nearly the entire (90 percent) population of Pacific brant wintered in Mexico, but now as many as to 30 percent are opting to spend their winters in Alaska instead, according to the U.S. Geological Survey-led study. Although records are sparse, fewer than 3,000 brant were detected wintering in Alaska before 1977, a number that has jumped to as many as 40,000 birds now.

  8. ecostew says:


    Cod are doomed to disappear from the North Sea because of climate change and not just as a result of over-fishing, researchers have discovered.

    In the past 40 years the average temperature of the North Sea has increased by one degree centigrade with catastrophic effects on its delicate eco-systems.

  9. ecostew says:

    On September 9th, 2009, the NSF Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education introduced an update of their January 2003 release: Transitions and Tipping Points in Complex Environmental Systems.

  10. sparkle says:

    I’m in un for studnts and i’m working on the melting ice caps.I was wondering if any of you could help me make a difference.I’m 11 almost 12 and my the time i’m grown up and can make a difference it will be to late.Many past and presant generations have trashed the planet and I get to have a trashed planet , it’s not right.