February 4 News: Murkowski Lays Out GOP Energy Policy Devoid Of Serious Climate Action

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the top GOP member on the Senate’s energy panel, laid out a sweeping blueprint today that includes opening up more federal lands and waters to oil drilling, launching a new green energy “trust fund,” and general revamping of U.S. green energy policy — but no serious climate action. [The Hill]

The blueprint — which Murkowski hopes will launch a broad discussion of energy and resource policy direction in coming years — includes some proposals that are extremely unlikely to advance any time soon, such as opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

But the blueprint also contains an array of other ideas, such as expediting liquefied natural gas exports to U.S. allies; promoting use of small modular nuclear reactors and creating a new quasi-federal agency for nuclear waste management; and bolstering energy storage R&D, to name just a few.

It calls for steering some revenues from expanded oil-and-gas development into a new federal “Advanced Energy Trust Fund” to finance programs on renewable power and alternative fuels, energy efficiency and advanced vehicles.

Rural communities in Colorado are coming out against the Obama Administration’s decision to open up nearby public lands to oil and gas exploration, while some of the more solidly Republican urban areas in the state are lining up to support the proposal. [NYTimes]

The International Energy Agency has a new report out detailing how Europe’s Nordic region could achieve a carbon-neutral energy system by 2050. [IEA]

By driving out coal here in the United States, the shale gas boom is driving a big increase in the burning of coal by European utilities, despite EU environmental policies designed to curb the share of polluting fossil fuels in the energy mix. [Financial Times]

Bureaucratic fighting between China’s environment ministry and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Sinopec Group has thwarted stricter emission standards for diesel trucks and buses — a main cause of air pollution blanketing dozens of China’s cities. [Reuters]

Two new papers highlight how the hole in the ozone layer, which is beginning to recover because of limits imposed on CFCs, is influencing major wind patterns, ocean circulation, concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere, and even rainfall in the Amazon. [NYTimes]

Using climate models, researchers determined that certain areas could enjoy cooler and wetter summers if currently deforested areas are replanted with trees. [Khaleej Times]

A battery-powered train capable of traveling 600 miles on a single charge is now possible, if not immediately likely to pull into a local station, according to research commissioned by the British Government. [The Guardian]

The Western Australia Greens have unveiled a $68 million plan to install solar panels on all public housing homes, in what could be an interesting test of the ability of solar to gain traction as an election issue. [Clean Technia]