September 28 News: Google Wants to Buy Solar For Your Home; Rand Paul Wants to Stop Pipeline Safety Standards

A round-up of the top climate and energy stories. Please post additional stories below.

Google wants to help homeowners add solar power panels

Google wants to buy solar panels for your house.

The search giant announced yesterday that it will provide $75 million to build 3,000 residential solar electricity systems across the country. Google will own the panels, and get paid over time by customers who purchase the electricity the panels produce.

Google is creating a fund with a San Francisco company called Clean Power Finance that local solar installers will be able to tap so they can offer financing plans to prospective buyers. The plans allow homeowners to install a $30,000 solar electricity system on their house for little or no money up front. Instead, customers pay a monthly fee that is the same or less than what they would otherwise be paying their local utility for power.

Google will earn what it calls an attractive return on its investment in two ways. It gets the monthly fee from homeowners, and, as the owner of the systems, Google will get the benefit of federal and state renewable energy subsidies.

Sen. Paul places hold on pipeline safety bill

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is blocking legislation aimed at tightening safety standards for the nation’s oil and natural-gas pipelines, arguing that the bill would create a new layer of burdensome regulations and government bureaucracy.

Paul has placed a procedural hold on the legislation, which enjoys bipartisan support in the Senate. The hold effectively prevents lawmakers from fast-tracking approval of the bill.

The fight over the bill comes amid growing concerns about the country’s pipeline infrastructure, spurred in part by a number of recent accidents.A California natural-gas pipeline exploded last year, killing eight people. And two recent pipeline leaks, one in Michigan and one in Montana, spilled thousands of gallons of oil.

EPA delays auto emissions, mileage rule rollout

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department are delaying the release of proposed regulations establishing the next round of joint greenhouse gas and mileage standards for cars and light trucks.

The agencies plan to issue rules for model years 2017-2025 that establish a standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, a plan that has won support from major automakers.

The proposed rule was slated for release at the end of September, but is now expected to surface by mid-November, according to EPA.

The agency cited factors including the time needed to coordinate with the state of California, which has authority to set its own standards but has again agreed to harmonize its rules with the Obama administration standards.

Waxman to Issa: Get Solyndra facts straight

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is rebutting House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) claim that Waxman helped the now-bankrupt solar company Solyndra secure its $535 million federal loan guarantee.

Waxman said in a letter to Issa on Monday that he had no role in the financing.

“I am writing to let you know that I had no involvement in the selection of the Solyndra loan. In fact, the first time I met with representatives from Solyndra was in July 2011, when the company’s CEO, Brian Harrison, informed me — erroneously, it turned out — that the company’s prospects were bright,” writes Waxman, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Issa made the allegation when announcing Sept. 20 that his committee would broadly investigate federal loan support to private companies. His probe joins the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s ongoing Solyndra investigation.

China opposes EU’s ‘unilateral’ airline tax plan

China on Wednesday criticised European Union plans to charge airlines for carbon emissions, accusing it of “unilaterally” introducing the new tax.

Airlines, which contribute 3.0 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, will be included in the EU’s carbon trading market on January 1.

China has said it fears its aviation sector will have to pay an additional 800 million yuan (about $125 million) a year on flights originating or landing in Europe, and that the cost could be almost four times higher by 2020.

“China appreciates the EU’s efforts in climate change but opposes the EU’s forced implementation of unilateral legislation,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told journalists at a briefing.

The tax would affect the country’s major airlines — including Air China, China Eastern and China Southern — which plan to jointly lodge a legal case with the China Air Transport Association (CATA), the group told AFP.

Hainan Airlines, another large carrier, will also take part in the litigation.

CATA deputy secretary general Chai Haibo said “dozens of airlines” would be involved in the lawsuit and it aimed to lodge the case by the end of the year.

How Climate Change Could Hurt Yellowstone National Park

Before the end of the century, Yellowstone National Park could experience summers that feel like Los Angeles’s, according to a report released Tuesday. These warming temperatures will imperil everything from native cutthroat trout to aspen forests and the $700 million in annual economic activity that they and other gems in the park generate by attracting tourists, the report said.

The report, the first evaluation of how climate change will affect the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, is a joint project of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, a nonprofit that advocates for carbon emission reductions by drawing attention to the likely consequences of climate change, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a conservation organization concerned with the park and the land around it.

The authors used two warming scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, one based on a medium-to-high-range level of carbon emissions in the future and another one based on a lower set of carbon emissions.

Already Yellowstone, which sits at a relatively high average elevation of 8,000 feet above sea level in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, is warming faster than the rest of the globe, the report found. It has warmed 1.4 degrees on average over the last decade, compared to the one-degree global average increase.

Enbridge: Mich. oil spill cleanup may cost $700M

A pipeline company is increasing its estimate of the cleanup cost of last year’s more than 800,000 gallon oil spill that contaminated southern Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.

Enbridge said Monday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that cleanup could cost about $700 million. The Battle Creek Enquirer and the Kalamazoo Gazette report that’s about 20 percent more than the previous $585 million estimate.

8 Responses to September 28 News: Google Wants to Buy Solar For Your Home; Rand Paul Wants to Stop Pipeline Safety Standards

  1. Lazarus says:

    Excellent idea. In the UK there is a similar government backed scheme where they buy additional solar energy at an agreed which encourages home owners to install solar or ‘rent there roofs’ to solar companies.

  2. malcreado says:

    A fire has intensified at Royal Dutch Shell’s largest refinery, its half-a-million barrel per day Singapore plant, sending a plume of black smoke over the city-state.

  3. Paul Magnus says:

    Climate Portals
    The crazyness of sticking with fossil fuels….

    AP Enterprise: Appalachia faces steep coal decline |
    GARRETT, Ky. — When business screeched to a halt at Jerry Howard’s eastern Kentucky mine engineering company two years ago, he decided to call it quits after four decades in the coal industry.

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    Boycott The New York Times

    Enough is enough!

    The New York Times’ recent coverage of crucial issues and events has been even more dismal than ever. The Times didn’t even cover Moving Planet, as far as I can tell. Their early coverage of the Wall Street protests was abysmal, as I understand it. Today’s article about Keystone XL barely even mentions climate change and, because of that, implies that climate change isn’t really the crucial problem with the pipeline. The other day, Bill Keller’s tribute to, and defense of, President Obama — which purported to discuss the key issues facing America, and how Obama has done — didn’t even mention climate change as far as I can remember. The pattern is repetitive and indefensible.

    Why The New York Times? Why not Fox News? Well, we all know (and most everyone else does) that Fox News is off its rocker. But one of our central problems — and one we keep ignoring and ducking — is that even folks who are supposed to be on the side of truth and responsibility, even folks who try to appeal to us as if they’re on the right side of the issue, are dropping the ball and ultimately facilitating confusion and inaction. I’ve had it with that. No more.

    If we, yes we, are serious at all about climate change, we ought to be boycotting The New York Times at this point. Actions speak louder than words. Subscriptions — money — speaks. It’s easy to get news — and indeed better news — for free, elsewhere. Try the BBC online. Make the most of the FREE 20 articles per month on The New York Times online. Get news elsewhere. At this point, whatever we do, we shouldn’t be sending our money to The New York Times, and we should be strongly expressing frustration at the dismal, dismal, and debilitating job they’re doing.

    Where are Bill McKibben and the folks on this — after The Times didn’t even cover Moving Planet? (Please correct me if I’m wrong on that.) I would be hooting and hollering about it, and we all should be.

    So, we can’t get President Obama — a Democrat who made promises — to even give a big speech about climate change? So, The New York Times’ coverage of climate change is dismal, and we can’t prompt it to improve? (And we won’t even raise the point?) So, President Obama seems likely to approve Keystone XL, and we won’t even make our votes for him conditional on whether he does or not? Well then: I know a good place for us: We should open up lemonade stands so that the children who currently operate lemonade stands can take our places in the battle to do something about climate change in order to preserve a good future for themselves.

    Let’s do a swap: The present leaders of the movement to address climate change should open lemonade stands, so the elementary school children currently operating the stands can afford to surround the White House and occupy the Halls of Congress until something real actually gets done.

    In the meantime, The New York Times simply doesn’t deserve our support at this point. At the very least, we (CP that is) should probably do another biting overview of The New York Times’ failure.

    Or else it’s back to the lemonade stand idea.


  5. Patrick Linsley says:

    And these nuts are still lobbying to get a port opened in Washington to ship even more coal to China (one of Massey Coals former C.E.O. Don Blankenship big pushes while he was there). Doesn’t matter if it’s there or not they’ll keep blasting and pretending to their shareholders that there is 200 years left! Reminds me of the oil industry…and the oil shale….and the well you get it.

  6. Joan Savage says:

    Date: Sept. 28, 2011

    WASHINGTON – The National Research Council today released the third edition of the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence. Developed to guide judges as they encounter scientific evidence at trials, it replaces an edition published in 2000 and includes new chapters on areas such as neuroscience, mental health, and forensic science. The new manual was developed in collaboration with the Federal Judicial Center, which produced the previous editions, and was rigorously peer-reviewed in accordance with the procedures of the National Research Council.

    Link to TOC and chapters.

    Note the Third Edition includes chapters relevant to how judges would decide on climate science and climate change issues.

    These include statistics, multiple regression, survey research, epidemiology, toxicology, exposure science, economic damages.

  7. Patrick Linsley says:

    I’m sure they’ll blame Obama and regulations too for the fact that Anthracite coal peaked in that region in the 50s.

  8. Anne van der Bom says:

    More federal money to develop clean energy. Why isn’t Rerry protesting? Oh wait, the money goes to Texas. And it is green power with a black lining: a ‘clean’ coal project.