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U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rise in 2013: Troubling Sign for Climate Goals

In a troubling sign, data from the EIA released today show that U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 2.5% in 2013, from 5,267 million metric tons (MMmt) in 2012 to 5,396 MMmt in 2013. This increase comes after two years of declining emissions. Market trends on their own are clearly insufficient to achieve sustained, sharp reductions in heat-trapping emissions: we need strong policies that drive renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read More

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An Honest Conversation about Hardworking Coal Miners

I applaud David Roberts over at Grist for elevating a very interesting and timely conversation on worker transition for coal miners. On Monday he argued that the Democratic Party should simply cede Coal Country as collateral damage from the culture war, and instead focus on its base of environmentally minded liberals. And yesterday, in response to many tweets and comments, his blog asked the question, Should the Feds Bail Out Coal Miners? While I agree with many of his arguments, I’d have to disagree with his conclusion (in short, “no”) and offer some ideas about why protecting our coal workers is critical to successfully solving the climate problem. Read More

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EPA Clean Power Plan Underestimates Power of Renewable Energy to Reduce Carbon Emissions

UCS released a new analysis today showing that strengthening the contribution from renewable energy can significantly increase the emissions reductions from the EPA’s 2014 Clean Power Plan. We found that increasing non-hydro renewable energy sources from about 6 percent of U.S. electricity sales today to 23 percent by 2030—or nearly twice as much renewable energy as the EPA proposed—could raise the reductions in U.S. power plant carbon emissions from the EPA’s estimated 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 to 40 percent. We also found that increasing renewables to these levels is affordable, resulting in little impact on electricity prices and lowering natural gas prices for both utilities and consumers. Read More

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EPA Clean Power Plan: We Must Do Better, We Can Do Better

Today, UCS unveiled a proposal to strengthen a laudable but modest U.S. EPA rule to cut carbon dioxide emissions from our nation’s power plants by increasing renewable energy use.

We make this proposal because of the urgent need to dramatically lower the emissions of this heat trapping gas, and because power plants are 40 percent of the problem and offer the most cost-effective option we have to cut carbon. Implementing our approach to expand the role of renewable energy could increase total power sector carbon reductions under the rule to nearly 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, or 220 million metric tons more reduction than proposed by the EPA. Read More

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Ohio Senate President Stacks the Deck against Renewable Energy

Ohio’s clean energy standards may never get the evidence and science-based review that was promised. Last week, Ohio senate president Keith Faber appointed outspoken opponents of renewable energy and energy efficiency to a committee supposedly intended to do an objective review of Ohio’s clean energy standards. Most disappointing is the inclusion of Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who has waged a biased and misleading campaign against Ohio’s clean energy standards for the past two years. Read More

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Climate, Carbon, and Clarity

Guest Bogger

Christopher Gambino, Ph.D. Candidate
Nitrogen Systems: Policy-oriented Integrated Research and Education (NSPIRE) IGERT Fellow, Washington State University

Pullman, WA

I’m as passionate as anyone about the reality of climate change (no really, it’s real) and the need to adapt now to its threats and alleviate the major drivers. Yet, as our nation and its leaders narrow the debate around one particular cause, vital sign, metric, or goal, we fall short in truly protecting and preserving our world for future generations. Read More

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The Colorado Oil and Gas Task Force: Still a Chance for Science to Inform Fracking Policy

When news broke last month that the state of Colorado would be creating a blue-ribbon task force to study the impacts and inform regulation of hydraulic fracturing in the state, I wrote about the opportunity for science. In a state that has been ground zero in the fracking debate in many ways, this is a chance, I wrote, for Colorado to take a step back and consider how science can better inform oil and gas development there. Unfortunately, yesterday’s announcement of the task force membership shows this has yet to be the case. Read More

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Cap and Trade: Alive and Well

After reading his obituary, Mark Twain famously remarked that “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” When a national climate bill failed in 2010, a lot of people said that so-called cap and trade programs to cut heat-trapping gases were dead. The claim was exaggerated then, and proven wrong now. Recent results in the northeast and California show that cap and trade is alive and well, and poised to expand in the next several years. Read More

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Fracking: Energy Abundance or Crisis?

As the boom in fracking wells in the northern Appalachian Marcellus shale region now produces seven times more natural gas (methane) than in 2010, the implications for policy and impacts on the energy market are starting to show. Read More

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The Colorado Hydraulic Fracturing Deal: Amidst Politics, A Chance for Science

News broke this week of a controversial deal in Colorado around hydraulic fracturing. In exchange for the withdrawal of four ballot propositions (two promoting oil and gas development and two regulating it), the state agreed to convene a blue-ribbon panel of stakeholders to discuss how the state should handle oil and gas development. The panel will make policy recommendations to the state legislature and Governor Hickenlooper early next year. What does this mean for fracking in Colorado? Read More

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