Government Policies

Report tries to claim energy efficiency counterproductive

Report tries to claim energy efficiency counterproductiveIn a remarkable coincidence, congressional Republicans are attempting to repeal energy efficiency for light bulbs just weeks after the Breakthrough Institute issued a report claiming that energy efficiency standards actually increase energy consumption. But a closer reading of the report belies its own conclusion.

The reasoning behind the paradoxical conclusion that energy efficiency increases energy consumption is based on the idea that money saved from reduced energy costs will be spent on as high or higher energy activities, resulting in a “rebound effect.” The claim is that by reducing the cost of energy through efficiency, more of it will be consumed. For example, someone who purchases a high mileage car might then drive more miles, or homeowners who insulate their house would then turn up the thermostat.

Green yet? Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday: Be the Dan Kanter or get the Charlie Sheen out!

Green yet? Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday: Be the Dan Kanter or get the Charlie Sheen out! Dan Kanter is the lead guitarist in Justin Bieber’s band. He’s supportive, in the background even though he could be famous, but most importantly wanted by his colleagues. Charlie Sheen supposedly just the opposite. Which role will you pick on this Fat Tuesday or any holiday, the supportive one? Who will you support? Family and friends by overcooking and overloading on food and drinks or your body and planet by eating a healthy meal and not overdoing it? How green is your behavior?

When it comes to choosing between our own comfortable pleasures which are very easy to imagine and anything unimaginable, no matter how good it is, we always tend to pick the most comfortable thing. Does that mean we’re only as green as it suits us? Most of the time and in most countries.

High gas prices force UK government to finally take action

High gas prices force UK government to finally take action Its been a stunning year so far in Northern Africa with long standing dictators and despots being forced out of power by public uprisings. As the clashes in Libya continue many oil companies are having a hard time getting their products out of the region. While Americans may whine that $4.00 is a lot for a gallon of gas, drivers in the UK are paying about $8.00 for the same product. Angry drivers are forcing the British government to take a hard look on how they can back away from foreign oil while they keep their economic recovery on track.

Elected leaders focus on wrong debt crisis

Elected leaders focus on wrong debt crisisConcerns over the rising national debt helped sweep the Republican majority into Congress. Everyone in Washington seems to agree that spending needs to be reined in; the only debate is what to cut and by how much. But these concerns about the public debt could just as well be applied to the nearly unheralded – and more important - natural debt crisis.

Everyone understands financial debt and what happens when you spend more than you make. Although people can live on credit for some time, a day of reckoning sooner or later arrives. To be financially responsible requires living within one’s means.

Report concludes that BP oil spill was “entirely preventable.”

Report concludes that BP oil spill was “entirely preventable.”On April 20, 2010, a BP drilling rig exploded, killing 11 men and wounding 17 . For three months, the world watched aghast as oil poured from the failed well into the Gulf of Mexico. When the well was finally capped, nearly 5 million barrels of oil escaped, making the accident the biggest marine oil spill and the worst environment disaster that ever occurred in the Gulf. After months of investigation, the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill recently released its report. The committee concluded that the root cause of the accident was poor management decisions. This report needs to be a wake-up call to industry to put safety and environment before profits.

Energy companies hope Gasland gets no love at the Oscars

Energy companies hope Gasland gets no love at the Oscars Documentaries don’t get a lot of love in America, but an Oscar nomination can certainly grab them attention and a prime spot on your Netflix queue. Gasland, a documentary by Josh Fox on the issue of hydraulic fracturing of natural gas, also known as hydrofracking, is generating a lot of buzz. The film has riled up natural gas companies who are now trying to spoil Fox’s hope for an Academy Award.

In Hollywood, getting attention for a film can be a costly affair. Big budget movies like Transformers or Tron spend millions on advertising so you’ll buy a ticket. All Josh Fox had to do to promote his film was to get a lobbying firm called Energy In Depth angry. Created by industry heavyweights like BP, Halliburton, and Shell the firm is giving Gasland a lot of free publicity because they claim that the documentary contains falsehoods when it comes to hydrofracking.

Obama 2012 budget: goodbye fossil fuel subsidies, hello clean energy funding

Obama 2012 budget: goodbye fossil fuel subsidies, hello clean energy fundingObama wants to create jobs in the United States, and his administration strongly asserts that green jobs will follow the money. His logic makes sense from a small business and research perspective because without startup funds or sponsorships it’s difficult to gain traction on a new project. He’s far from gaining agreement in Congress though, with several Republicans openly disagreeing on his approach. They point to existing jobs in the oil and gas industries that are currently made possible by the existing subsidies.

DOE to make risky bet on renewable energy process for biofuels

DOE to make risky bet on renewable energy process for biofuelsOne of the imperatives of the 21st century is to develop a renewable energy source to replace the once cheap and readily available crude oil that has fueled the world’s energy needs for the last 100 years. So what if biomass, such as wood waste or agricultural residues, could be converted directly into crude oil? KiOR, Inc., based out of Pasadena, TX, purports to be able to make such a biofuel, and in a convincing enough manner to possibly receive a $1 billion loan guarantee from the US government. But is it really a good investment?

KiOR’s process uses fluid catalytic cracking technology with a proprietary catalyst to convert woodchips and other organic material into a biofuel branded as “Re-CrudeTM.” This biofuel can be then processed by a standard refinery and made into gasoline and diesel.

Ricky Gervais & Jamie Oliver join the “Fish Fight” in the UK

Ricky Gervais & Jamie Oliver join the “Fish Fight” in the UK While the UK may not be known internationally as a food mecca, they’ve produced some of the world’s most popular chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay. Writer and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall enlisted them and a slew of other celebrities like Ricky Gervais for his “Fish Fight” campaign that highlights wasteful fishing laws in the European Union (EU) and how consumers can fight back by eating sustainable seafood.

Will China export reductions wither Nissan LEAF on the vine?

Will China export reductions wither Nissan LEAF on the vine?With the roll-out of the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, 2011 could be a banner year for electric cars. But the current battery technology for EV’s requires rare earth metals, and China controls the supply. Recent moves by China to limit the export of rare earth metals could derail the market growth of EV’s – both to the detriment of the US economy and the environment.

The enthusiasm over the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt, and the anticipation for models from other manufacturers such as Ford’s Electric Focus and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, shows that a lot of consumers are ready to embrace electric cars. Even at a price tag of $41,000 for the Volt, GM plans to increase production from 10,000 cars in 2011 to 45,000 in 2012. While the era of the internal combustion engine isn’t quite over, the interest in EV’s in a growing phenomenon.