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Making Room for Renewables: Grid Integration Solutions for California’s Clean Energy Future

I’ve blogged many times about the clean energy policies California has in place that have made it a leader. The state is well on its way to supplying 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and now, in a visionary step to dramatically reduce global warming emissions, is considering ways to increase that amount to 50 percent by 2030. Read More

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Five Reasons the Ozone Standard Should Be Strengthened

I’ve talked here, here, and here about the EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) update to the ozone standard.  Today is the last day of the EPA’s public comment period (to which I have submitted a comment). So I thought it would be a good time to do a quick review of the top five reasons the ozone standard should be strengthened in order to provide an adequate margin of safety for the most vulnerable populations—including the elderly, children, and those with lung diseases. Read More

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Lawyers for Coal

Laurence Tribe – popularly known as “President Obama’s old law professor” – is testifying today against the Clean Power Plan before the House Subcommittee on Energy & Power, on behalf of Peabody Energy. But here he’s not acting as a teacher- he’s a lawyer fiercely advocating for his paying client.  We have a full preview of how he will distort the case against CO2 regulation from the comments he co-wrote with Peabody Energy on December 1, 2014. Read More

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Book Review: How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate by Andrew Hoffman

A few years ago, my colleagues and I worked with Andrew Hoffman, the director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, to host a forum on increasing public understanding of climate change. The event sticks with me because the participants came from so many different backgrounds: environmental justice, Creation care, energy production, social science, media, climate science, and service in Congress.

Hoffman has condensed the myriad approaches to climate communication we discussed that day — and much more — into an indispensable guide. At a slim 100 pages, Hoffman’s book offers a fine distillation of the growing body of social science that explains our curious and conflicting approaches to climate issues. In addition to identifying the problematic ways we often approach climate change, he also suggests several potential ways forward that can restore the climate debate to what he calls a “more civilized plane.” Read More

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Risking Our Clean Energy Future by Gambling with an Overreliance on Natural Gas

Many U.S. electric utilities are doubling down on natural gas to generate power as they retire aging and polluting coal plants. While this unprecedented shift does provides some near-term benefits, dramatically expanding our use of natural gas to generate electricity is an ill-advised gamble that poses complex economic, public health, and climate risks. Read More

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Will the Clean Power Plan Enable a Risky Over-dependence on Natural Gas?

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is a significant opportunity to accelerate a transition to a cleaner, more climate-friendly power system. But the final rule, due out this summer, must include improvements and safeguards that constrain the role of natural gas. The Natural Gas Gamble, a new UCS report released today, points out that deploying more renewable energy and energy efficiency can help limit the economic and climate risks of an over-dependence on natural gas. Read More

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Tallahassee, We Have a Problem: The Harm Done by Florida’s Climate Leadership Void

What could justify the Governor of Florida, a state widely considered “ground-zero” for climate change in the U.S., to prohibit the use of that term by state staff? Read More

Categories: Global Warming  

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Can Republican Politicians Change Their Tune on Climate and Energy?

When former Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) ran for president in 2011, he flatly rejected climate science and even claimed that scientists had manipulated climate data. But last week, in response to a question about climate and energy issues at the Conservative Political Action Conference, he touted his environmental record, instead. Read More

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Days of Haze: How Palm Oil and Landscape Fires Affect Health in Southeast Asia

On a recent trip to Singapore, after the day’s discussion about how best to stop deforestation in Southeast Asia had ceased and the jet-lag was just beginning to take a hold of me, I hopped into bed to fall asleep. Or probably more accurately, I collapsed into bed. I turned on the television and what I saw on the screen was surprising. Read More

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Smothering Snow, Spiking Sea Levels, and Other Climate Plot Twists: Expecting the Unexpected in the Northeast

When I first started digging into climate impacts, I used to think that the northeastern U.S., where I live, was a pretty good place to have landed. I still think so. It’s unlikely we’ll see historic mega-droughts, like those forecast by some for the U.S. Southwest. We’ll see heat that we’re far from prepared for, but it’ll be hotter still in the South. Our forests are expected to change, but they’re not under pressure like those in the Mountain West, nor are they currently experiencing rising risks of wildfire. We have our own problems, to be sure, like coastal vulnerability and trends in extreme precipitation.

But this week in the news there are two new studies that reminded me to expect the unexpected. While we understand the general pathway of change, the shorter-term directions the climate can take along the way can take us by surprise. Read More

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