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June 2 Energy and Climate News: GOP plan slashes efficiency and renewable energy; Nature ‘is worth billions’ to UK

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"June 2 Energy and Climate News: GOP plan slashes efficiency and renewable energy; Nature ‘is worth billions’ to UK"

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Norm Dicks speaks at a press conference. | AP Photo

Norm Dicks didn’t mince words in his reaction, calling the plan ‘penny-wise and pound-foolish.’ AP Photo

GOP plan slashes renewable energy

House Republicans unveiled a scaled-back $30.6 billion energy and water budget Wednesday that makes deep cuts from energy efficiency and renewable energy programs while trying to stabilize science and defense investments within tighter spending caps.

Total energy and water appropriations would drop another $1.06 billion on top of the more than $2 billion in reductions already enacted in April. And the cumulative effect is to push back annual spending –measured in real dollars— to levels not seen since early in President George W. Bush’s first term.

“Penny-wise, pound-foolish decisions in the present will look foolish in the future,” warned Washington Rep. Norm Dicks, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. But within this tighter framework, clear priorities can also be seen as the bill managers stretch the dollars left on the table.

Within the Department of Energy, for example, science programs are held stable at $4.8 billion—just $42 million below the agreed upon 2011 level. And in the defense field, nuclear weapon activities are promised nearly $7.1 billion, a cut from the department’s request but still $195 million over 2011.

By comparison, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs are big losers. Total funding in this sector is set at $1.3 billion, less than half of President Barack Obama’s request and $491 million below current funding.

World Bank to Help Cities Control Climate Change

The World Bank signed an agreement on Wednesday with mayors from 40 of the world’s biggest cities to work on technical and financial assistance for projects to minimize the effects of climate change.

The deal, announced at the C40 large cities climate meeting here, will ease access to financing for climate-change-reduction projects. It was hailed by many of the mayors, including Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City, and by former President Bill Clinton, who attended the event as part of a new partnership with Mr. Bloomberg.

“The World Bank announcement is terrifically important,” Mr. Clinton said. “It will give credibility to these projects to get private capital.”

The agreement will make it easier for investors who have been hesitant to finance projects to assess city action plans by providing a standard approach, said Robert B. Zoellick, the World Bank’s president.

Obama Wilderness Protection Plan Abandoned

Under pressure from Congress, the Obama administration is backing away from a plan to make millions of acres of undeveloped land in the West eligible for federal wilderness protection.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a memo Wednesday that his agency will not designate any of those public lands as “wild lands.” Instead Salazar said officials will work with members of Congress to develop recommendations for managing millions of acres of undeveloped land in the West. A copy of the memo was obtained by The Associated Press.

Salazar’s decision reverses an order issued in December to restore eligibility for wilderness protection to millions of acres of public lands. That policy overturned a Bush-era approach that opened some Western lands to commercial development.

Nature ‘is worth billions’ to UK

The UK’s parks, lakes, forests and wildlife are worth billions of pounds to the economy, says a major report.

The health benefits of merely living close to a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year, it concludes.

The National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) says that for decades, the emphasis has been on producing more food and other goods – but this has harmed other parts of nature that generate hidden wealth.

Ministers who commissioned the NEA will use it to re-shape planning policy.

“The natural world is vital to our existence, providing us with essentials such as food, water and clean air – but also cultural and health benefits not always fully appreciated because we get them for free,” said Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman.

Mexico Advances Renewable Goals But “Much More” Could Be Done

Mexico is on track to elevate its renewable power capacity to 5,700 MW or 7.5% of its energy matrix by 2017 but that is a drop in the bucket when considering the Aztec country’s clean energy potential, according to industry observers.

“The administration’s goals are little ambitious when considering the potential Mexico has to develop clean and sustainable energy,” says Gustavo Ampugnani, a Greenpeace director in Mexico City.

In a study last year, Greenpeace slammed the government for failing to launch a viable plan to replace fossil and nuclear energy sources for renewables. It said the country could satisfy 95% of its electricity requirements from green energy by 2050 and 42% by 2015.

Devilish Packaging, Tamed

The Pyranna, the Jokari Deluxe, the Insta Slit, the ZipIt and the OpenIt apply blades and batteries to what should be a simple task: opening a retail package.

But the maddening — and nearly impenetrable — plastic packaging known as clamshells could become a welcome casualty of the difficult economy. High oil prices have manufacturers and big retailers reconsidering the use of so much plastic, and some are aggressively looking for cheaper substitutes.

“With the instability in petroleum-based materials, people said we need an alternative to the clamshell,” said Jeff Kellogg, vice president for consumer electronics and security packaging at the packaging company MeadWestvaco.

Companies are scuttling plastic of all kinds wherever they can.

 

 

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