November 9 News: EPA Head Under Bush Sr. Laments GOP’s Anti-Environment, Anti-Health, Anti-Jobs Stance

Other stories below: Global Wind Power Investments to Total $820 Billion Through 2017; The Developing World Leading on Climate Change?

EPA chief under first Bush laments GOP shift on environment

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The head of the Environmental Protection Agency under former President George H.W. Bush on Tuesday called on Republicans to defend clean-air regulations from “demagogic assaults” by members of Congress.

“It’s time once again to put on battle gear, to charge out and remind the country that Republicans, whose party has an admirable record on environmental issues going back to Teddy Roosevelt, in fact still do care about asthma and allergies, about the effects on the young, the ill and the elderly of particulates and hot polluted air, about hospital admissions and lung impairment,” William Reilly said in prepared remarks at a summit on the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act.

Reilly was instrumental in the Clean Air Act amendments, which were aimed at limiting acid rain and air pollution. Reilly called the effort “George H.W. Bush’s monumental contribution to the environment.”

But about 20 years later, Republicans in Congress are targeting the Clean Air Act and EPA efforts to impose a slew of new regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mercury emissions and other air pollutants.

Reilly, a Republican, defended EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s clean-air agenda.

These rules are grounded in the best available science, and what’s more, given the priority we all hold for the economy, they will result in job creation as companies acquire and install pollution controls,” he said.

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Global Wind Power Investment to Total $820 Billion from 2011 to 2017, Forecasts Pike Research

Wind power now accounts for the majority of the world’s non-hydropower renewable electricity capacity. Now that wind power has reached approximately one-fifth of total electricity generation in some countries, most in the energy industry appreciate it as a mainstream technology that is key to not only reducing carbon emissions, but also meeting rapidly increasing electricity demand around the world.

While the global economic recession significantly slowed the pace of new wind power installations in 2010, turbine deployment activity remains strong and overall capacity will continue to rise at a healthy pace. According to a recent report from Pike Research, by 2017 wind power installations will represent a $153 billion global industry, up from $77 billion in 2011. Over that period, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts, cumulative investment in new wind power capacity will total $820 billion.

Over that same period, total wind generation capacity, including both onshore and offshore projects, will increase from 235.8 gigawatts (GW) in 2011 to 562.9 GW in 2017.

The Developing World, Leading on Climate Change?

In what may turn out to be one of the abiding ironies of global geopolitics, leadership on climate change seems to have suddenly passed from the developed to the developing world, as has public anxiety about the damaging effects of a changing climate.

As recently as the Copenhagen summit in late 2009, the West blamed large developing countries such as China and India for scuppering the chances of a “grand agreement” to curb the emission of greenhouse gases. Poor developing countries argued they needed the right to pollute in order to catch up to the West in terms of economic development, while the rich nations clucked that the world could ill afford more carbon emissions.

On the flip side, at the Cancun summit a year later, India’s then environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, was pilloried in the domestic press, and accused, by his own admission, of “caving in to the United States” in the final near-consensus plan that was agreed.

How quickly things have changed.

In the unfolding presidential election campaign in the United States, climate change is not a major issue. According to a recent poll, only 59 percent of Americans even believe that the planet is warming, as compared to 79 percent in 2006.

Renewables set to help European utilities’ profits

Three of Europe’s largest utilities, buoyed by government support, expect renewable energy sources plus ongoing cost cuts to help them weather higher wholesale gas purchasing prices and support earnings for the current financial year.

The world’s number one utility by sales, Germany’s E.ON reported Wednesday it produced 7 percent more green power than a year ago while central Europe’s biggest listed company, the Czech Republic’s CEZ, added its renewable power production remained stable.

One of Britain’s six big energy suppliers, Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), produced 55 percent more renewable energy in the first half of its financial year.

European governments are enticing companies with subsidy systems to expand the use of solar, water and wind power to cut greenhouse gas emissions and assuage public opposition to coal-fired power plants.

Deutsche Bank analyst Hasim Sengl saw “positive developments in the renewable energy segment, especially wind energy” of Germany’s E.ON (EONGn.DE).

Deutsche Bank analyst Martin Brough, referring to SSE, added: “We continue to expect earnings growth to pick up in the coming years as wind farms under construction come on-line and as upstream profits benefit from rising wholesale prices.”

The big issues at the Durban climate summit

Representatives of nearly 200 nations will assemble at the end of November in Durban, South Africa, for their annual summit on climate change.

Following the failure of talks in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancun in 2010 to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol — the only global accord on tackling climate change — diplomats and non-governmental organizations have been managing expectations for the Durban summit.

Rather than a breakthrough, they have emphasized incremental progress and the improvement of existing mechanisms for monitoring and managing climate change.

All observers agree time has run out to get a new version of Kyoto in place before the first commitment period expires at the end of next year.

The European Union has said the world might not be able to agree on a binding climate deal until 2015.

“After Copenhagen, there will probably never be another attempt to agree one global deal all at once,” Tim Gore, international climate change policy advisor at Oxfam, told Reuters. “Durban will be another stepping stone.”

“If we get an EU commitment to continue Kyoto, a signal from the rest of the world that they will undertake legal commitments in the future and delivery in the meantime … then we’ll be making progress toward a sophisticated global architecture for fighting climate change,” he added.

Nebraska lawmakers debate pipeline eminent domain rules

Nebraska lawmakers debated on Tuesday tightening eminent domain rules for procuring land during the second day of a special session to discuss bills related to the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The pipeline’s planned route from Canada to Texas takes it across Nebraska, a move opposed by environmental groups and some property owners who will be affected by the construction.

Nebraska lawmakers are considering five bills to regulate the pipeline and possibly force TransCanada Corp to move its route away from the state’s ecologically sensitive Sand Hills region and Ogallala aquifer, a major source of drinking and irrigation water for several states.

State Senator Bill Avery, speaking at the statehouse on Tuesday, said his bill on eminent domain rules would require a pipeline company to have a state or federal permit before contacting landowners and giving notice that property could be taken via eminent domain rules.

“This bill is to protect Nebraska landowners from the unfair taking of property,” Avery said in morning hearings.