February 1 News: Majority of Washington Experts Say the “Conditions Don’t Exist” for Clean Energy Legislation

Other stories below: Climate change a fundamental health risk; Falling solar prices good for climate, bad for firms

Insiders: Energy Legislation Unlikely in 2012

In his State of the Union address last week, President Obama appealed to Congress for energy legislation. Among the items on his wish list: a clean-energy standard for electricity generation, an energy-efficiency program, clean-energy tax credits, and legal measures to boost domestic oil and gas production.

But with a divided Congress mired in election-year politics, the chances of any energy bills making it to Obama’s desk this year are slim to none, most National Journal Energy and Environment Insiders say.

“The annual Congressional Almanac predicts strong drought conditions through at least November 2012, and that’s not due to climate change either!” joked one Insider.

A whopping 81 percent of Insiders said it is unlikely Congress will send any energy legislation to Obama in 2012. Fifty-two percent said the prospects are “very unlikely,” while 29 percent said they are “somewhat unlikely.”

“Enacting legislation requires some level of concert between the House and Senate, and a working relationship between Congress and the president based on solving problems rather than scoring political points,” said one Insider. “Those conditions don’t exist.”

Climate change a fundamental health risk: academic

A leading Australian disease expert says prompt action on climate change is paramount to our survival on earth.

Epidemiologist Tony McMichael has conducted a historical study that suggests natural climate change over thousands of years has destabilised civilisations via food shortages, disease and unrest.

“We haven’t really grasped the fact that a change in climate presents a quite fundamental threat to the foundations of population health,” Professor McMichael, from the Australian National University, said.

“These things have happened before in response to fairly modest changes to climate.

“Let’s be aware that we really must take early action if we are going to maintain this planet as a liveable habitat for humans.”

Falling solar prices good for climate, bad for firms

There is a bright side to the plunge in solar panel prices that has brought down some U.S. and German manufacturers which relied too heavily on subsidies for green energy – solar power costs have fallen faster than anyone thought possible.

The falls in prices for photovoltaic components, pushed down by economies of scale and fierce competition from China, have made solar nearly as cheap as conventional sources in Germany’s electricity grid.

The boom in Germany, the world’s biggest photovoltaic market with 24,000 megawatts of installed capacity, has also helped to drive down costs worldwide, making solar a more viable and accessible alternative to fossil fuels in places ranging from India and the Middle East to Africa and North America.

New anti-Obama ad slams Solyndra ‘fiasco’

The day after Crossroads GPS announced an impressive $32.6 million haul in 2011, it is out with a new ad hitting President Barack Obama over his administration’s investment in Solyndra, the failed green energy firm.

“He gave his political backers billions – a big government fiasco- infused with politics at every level,” a woman says over black and white images of bundled cash and men huddled in the Capital.

The ad includes the president talking up green energy, an apparently unemployed man a park bench with his head in his hands, and closes with the female narrator saying, “Laid off worker: forgotten. Typical Washington. Tell President Obama we need jobs not more inside deals.”

The group is spending $500,000 airing the 30-second spot on cable nationwide for a week, including on CNN. It’s the group’s second ad targeting the president for the loss of $535 million taxpayer dollars in the Solyndra investment.

Petrobras Shuts Fifth Most Productive Well After Accident

Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4), Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer, shut its fifth most productive well after detecting a leak of 160 barrels in deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Petrobras, as the Rio de Janeiro-based producer is known, spilled oil from the production column at the Carioca Nordeste well before shutting output, the company said today in an e- mailed statement. The well produced 25,034 barrels a day, or 1 percent of Petrobras’ domestic output in November, according to the country’s oil regulator.

Brazil’s oil regulator will carry out an inspection of the Dynamic Producer platform tomorrow, the agency said today in a separate statement. The leak has been halted and the spill is being contained, the regulator said. Petrobras said it is collecting the oil and investigating the causes of the accident.

Tucson Electric Power Pairs Solar with Fossil Fuels

Tucson Electric Power said Tuesday that it plans to add solar power to a coal- and natural-gas-fired plant in Tucson, Ariz. The Sundt Solar Boost Project, slated to begin operating early next year, will use solar steam generators from Areva Solar to produce as much as 5 megawatts of power during times of peak demand.

Areva Solar, formerly Ausra, uses sun-tracking reflectors to concentrate sunlight and heat water into steam, which in turn spins a turbine to produce electricity.  Areva’s concentrating solar power (CSP) technology “gives us a cost-effective, environmentally responsible way to expand the output of our largest local power plant without increasing emissions,” Paul Bonavia, CEO of Tucson Electric Power and its parent company, UniSource Energy Corporation (NYSE: UNS), said in a statement.

14 Responses to February 1 News: Majority of Washington Experts Say the “Conditions Don’t Exist” for Clean Energy Legislation

  1. fj says:

    It’s also highly unlikely that accelerating climate change will wait for bunches of goofy legislatures.

  2. John McCormick says:

    As if we didn’t expect this!!

    After President Obama is re-elected, nothing will change in that story unless we put aside our daydreaming about the electric car and biochar and get down to reality by throwing all of what we have, money, time, whatever to unleash the House and Senate from the anti-science, anti-survival junkyard dogs of both parties.

    There really is no other strategy to save our childrens future.

    It is come to Jesus time for us climate hawks and put aside blathering and bemoaning our fate. We live in a democracy and we control our governance. Now, do we have the REAL commitment to getting America on track or do we want to waste the next decades pontificating about how right we are and how wrong they are…and that includes our obsession with blaming main stream media. Heck, lets buy it. It has a price and we can run it.

    Maybe this is all my daydreaming.

    Folks we are on our own. No big greens out there to solve this for us. Either we get control of the wheel on this ship of fools or our grandchildren and today’s impoverished children perish.

    It is high time to be sitting down with the DNC and bringing along some very large checks.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    So the Washington “insiders” blame political partisanship and a lack of cooperation among the branches.

    That’s not it at all. Many Republican voters prefer clean energy legislation, but the official Republican Party position is climate change denial and obstruction. Sane candidates don’t get nominated.

    Bought, spineless Congressmen are the problem. They are the ones who meet with campaign funders (many from oil companies)early in the process of mounting a Congressional campaign. DC insiders need to get out of town for a while, so they can look at the situation objectively.

  4. John McCormick says:

    So, Mike, your point is????
    “blame partisanship…That’s not it at all.”

    Then, you describe how partisanship is in the hands of fatcats buying spineless congressmen. Which is it?

    We own the process at the voting booth.

    Money may bankroll a campaign for a degenerate but we hawks have the burden of getting between the voter and the cat. And, like it or not, some of that process begins right downtown in DC.

    Fatcat liberals and progressives in California, alone, could change our future if only with their money going to LCV and DNC.

  5. prokaryotes says:


    NASA’s Terra Earth-observing satellite captured this image of Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica on Nov. 13, 2011, after a research team discovered a huge 19-mile (30-km) -long crack running across it.

    Members of the Operation IceBridge mission spotted the crack during a DC-8 flight over Pine Island Glacier (PIG) on Oct. 14, 2011. It’s estimated to be up to 260 feet (80 meters) wide and 195 feet (60 meters) deep.

  6. prokaryotes says:


    Age-related delays in neural timing are not inevitable and can be avoided or offset with musical training, according to a new study.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    That is a great image (art wise) but it is misleading, cause it implies that there are 2 equal parties. A better image to descibe the situation

    Corporate greed

  8. prokaryotes says:

    Amazing photos. A grim reminder of where our energy comes from – Motivation to @quitcoal significantly amped today!

  9. Colorado Bob says:

    Grim news –
    Climate change drying out forests in western Canada

    Research shows northern forests in the three prairie provinces are drying up and shrinking from drought caused by climate change, while the eastern boreal forest is holding its own.

    A paper published Monday suggests the forests of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are already emitting more greenhouse gases than they absorb.

    The finding could overturn assumptions that global warming would improve growing conditions for trees in the North.

    Read more:

  10. prokaryotes says:

    China’s National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to Invest $300 Million in Isofoton Venture for China Solar

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    THE GLOBAL OCEAN is warming, but some places are feeling the heat more than others. The Tasman Sea, east of Australia, has been identified in a new study as one of five global ocean “hotspots”.

    Temperatures here have risen here by 2ºC over the past 60 years – three times the average rate of warming in the the world’s oceans. The warming has been triggered by strengthening wind systems – a result of climate change – which have driven warm ocean currents toward the poles, beyond their known boundaries.

    The rising temperatures could have stark consequences not only for marine life, but for the ocean’s capacity to take up heat and carbon from the atmosphere.

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    SALMON, Idaho, Jan. 28, 2012 (Reuters) — Bird enthusiasts are reporting rising numbers of snowy owls from the Arctic winging into the lower 48 states this winter in a mass southern migration that a leading owl researcher called “unbelievable.”

    Thousands of the snow-white birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have been spotted from coast to coast, feeding in farmlands in Idaho, roosting on rooftops in Montana, gliding over golf courses in Missouri and soaring over shorelines in Massachusetts.