March 26 News: Prioritizing Climate Action Not On Congressional Agenda?

Here are five pieces of energy legislation that are likely to occupy Congress’ time before they directly address climate change. [National Journal]

  • Energy Efficiency: The House has started a bipartisan caucus aimed at passing energy efficiency legislation—bills that would require buildings that provide the same amount of light and heat with less fuel, for example.
  • Offshore Drilling: Murkowski, the panel’s ranking Republican, has introduced a bill with Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana that would expand offshore drilling, give coastal states a taste of the profit, and require some of the money to go toward development of renewable energy.
  • Nuclear Waste Storage: Proposals to build an interim “medium-term” nuclear-waste dump were also stalled until this year, as the most likely site for such a facility is New Mexico. But Bingaman, the New Mexican who chaired Senate Energy and Natural Resources, was not a fan. Now that he’s retired and been replaced by Wyden—whose state has a closed nuclear-power plant that still stores radioactive waste—plans for a “medium-term” nuclear-waste storage dump are suddenly on the move.
  • Ethanol Reform: There’s growing opposition to the provisions of a 2005 law mandating that oil refiners blend an increasing share of plant-based ethanol into the nation’s gasoline mix…. Given those pressures, there’s a growing coalition of strange bedfellows—the oil industry, environmentalists, food manufacturers, and antipoverty groups—pushing for the law to be reformed. To that end, Upton and Waxman are working on a series of white papers aimed at opening up the issue for debate and, they hope, legislative action.
  • Hydropower: In January, House Republicans brought to the floor a bill to speed construction of small hydropower plants in the Pacific Northwest…. Wyden has introduced a companion measure in the Senate. Members of both parties in both chambers are optimistic about its prospects.

Could the cooler spring have something to do with the dramatic Arctic sea ice loss seen this year? Scientists think so. [Guardian]

If you want to know what’s happening to clean energy, watch the Renewable Energy Standard fights in the states. [Washington Post]

Dave Roberts writes of the non-inevitability of fossil fuels, and how important it is to say this explicitly. [Grist]

More on Sen. Whitehouse’s “straw poll” of the U.S. Senate on the idea of pricing carbon. [LA Times]

A tax on carbon could bring the prices of goods into line with their true costs. [New York Times]

Australia merged its Climate Change Department with several other departments. [The Australian]

Global warming is leading to larger plants, more pollination, and increased allergies. [Fox 11 Reno]

The EPA has created the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel, which will peer-review the agency’s research on fracking. [The Hill]

U.S. shale gas will be exported and used to heat homes in Britain, according to a deal struck yesterday. [Guardian]

12 Responses to March 26 News: Prioritizing Climate Action Not On Congressional Agenda?

  1. Sasparilla says:

    “Univ. of Calgary team developing nanocatalysts for underground upgrading of heavy oil and bitumen; possible “next generation” of oil sands production”

    Tar sands “innovation” continues…

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    We’re getting tired of the excuses from Congress to avoid climate change. All of the topics listed intersect with climate directly.
    Who are they afraid of? Devo may explain it as further devolution, where humans regress toward bacteria in a stagnant, dirty pool, grabbing whatever they can to survive instead of cleaning up the pool. It’s unbecoming.

  3. Sasparilla says:

    The article on “More on Sen. Whitehouse’s “straw poll” (from above) of the U.S. Senate on the idea of pricing carbon” gives a good snapshot of where a Carbon Tax would be in the Senate.

    This was an amendment on the Senate floor and was an open vote on a Carbon Tax (a very generic basic one at that) and it lost 58 to 41, which is rather discouraging – I’d hoped it would have been at least close.

    There’s no fear among the legislators in D.C. of voting down climate change legislation and there needs to be (i.e. guarantee of sponsored Primary Opponents).

  4. prokaryotes says:

    Two-Headed Shark Found by Fisherman

    A fisherman working off the Florida Keys recently caught a bull shark, then opened it up to find that it contained two live fetuses, including one highly unusual one with two heads. The fishermen gave it to scientists, who wrote about it in an article published in the Journal of Fish Biology this week.

    As further reading, Wagner pointed to the recent Ocean Health Index published in the journal Nature

  5. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Nanocatalysts’, eh? Rigorously tested for safety, no doubt. Or simply declared ‘substantially equivalent’ to bread and butter pudding by diktat of a panel of ‘industry experts’ seconded to the relevant bureaucracy.

  6. As old Mahatma said, “First the ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    A carbon tax is an idea whose time has (almost) come. With luck, it won’t be too late to save us from the BIG CRASH before we start leaving the stuff in the ground.

  7. Allowing humans to conceive and execute such concepts —think GMO’s, as well — is part of nature’s plan to make sure that, once we kill ourselves off via general ecocide, any human stragglers won’t start reviving the race. They’ll ingest the nanoparticles and croak — or at least their reproductive organs will shrivel.

    Then, whatever species survive the current mass extinction can, with us out of the way, begin to repopulate the and “rediversify” the biosphere.

  8. Sasparilla says:

    Yeah, probably the latter. ;-)

  9. Sasparilla says:

    You’re right Philip, I hadn’t thought of that angle, nano materials often have very bad biological side effects out in the real world and these bozos want to inject it in the ground so it’ll eventually find its way to someones water table and do god knows what.

  10. Sasparilla says:

    I agree Philip and great quote.

    Seems like it’ll still be a couple more years (as it sure isn’t getting through the Senate anytime soon and they’re the best ones) – I’m hoping the initial Arctic Melt Through will be a catalyst moment to focus the energy that is building and will continue to build in the coming years.

  11. Sasparilla says:

    Sure can’t be from all the nasty stuff we pour into the oceans and rivers….naaahhh.

    I miss your posts prokaryotes, nice to see you around. ;-)

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    All part of ‘The Plan’, I assure you. No species, not even one as unstable and corrupted as our own, could possibly attack its own survival, and that of all higher life on this planet, in so very many ways, completely accidentally, simply as an unfortunate ‘externality’ to the manic pursuit of power and gelt.