Thursday, January 24, 2013

Catnip 1/24/13: Highway One


See pretty planet in 1000 px. It may be underwater soon.

Obama Climate Vow Could Make EPA a Political Target 
As Obama's second term begins, the EPA might become an even bigger target as Republicans brace for the likelihood that Obama will use the agency's powers to pursue his climate agenda. Environmental groups have urged the administration to use EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act to limit the carbon emissions power plants are allowed to produce and to implement stricter standards on leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas, both of which can be achieved without any further congressional approval.

The 120-year old Sierra Club will lead a group of environmental activists in an act of invitation-only civil disobedience against the development of oil sands, the first such action in the group’s history. “For civil disobedience to be justified, something must be so wrong that it compels the strongest defensible protest,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. “We are watching a global crisis unfold before our eyes, and to stand aside and let it happen — even though we know how to stop it — would be unconscionable.”

How Much Will Tar Sands Oil Add to Global Warming?
NASA climatologist James Hansen's acts of civil disobedience started in 2009, and he was first arrested in 2011 for protesting the development of Canada's tar sands and, especially, the Keystone XL pipeline proposal that would serve to open the spigot for such oil even wider. "To avoid passing tipping points, such as initiation of the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, we need to limit the climate forcing severely. It's still possible to do that, if we phase down carbon emissions rapidly, but that means moving expeditiously to clean energies of the future," he explains. "Moving to tar sands, one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet, is a step in exactly the opposite direction, indicating either that governments don't understand the situation or that they just don't give a damn."

These 14 fossil-fuel projects could make our climate goals impossible
If we want to avoid severe global warming, we’ll have to stay within a strict carbon budget in the decades ahead. That won’t be easy. There are already 14 major fossil-fuel projects being planned worldwide with the potential to blow past that budget, a new report argues. The key word here, however, is “potential.” The report (pdf), from Greenpeace and Ecofys, identifies 14 of the largest fossil-fuel projects in development. That includes China’s big coal-mining plans for its western provinces; proposed oil and gas drilling in the Arctic; the revival of Iraq’s oil industry; and the current tar-sands boom in Canada. It also includes slated increases in coal exports from Indonesia, Australia and the United States.

Keystone XL Pipeline Decision Still Months Away
Boehner said all six states along the proposed route now support the project, which also is backed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress. Polls show a majority of Americans also back the pipeline. Boehner said he recognizes the political pressure Obama faces from environmental groups and others who oppose the project, but said "with our energy security at stake and many jobs in limbo, he should find a way to say yes." White House spokesman Jay Carney said the State Department was reviewing the project and he did not want to "get ahead of that process."

Obama's Inaugural Speech Rallies Campus Climate Campaign 
President Barack Obama's surprising new focus on climate change is galvanizing a nascent student movement that is trying to turn a university-based assault on oil companies into this generation's version of the 1980s campaign against apartheid in South Africa.

Ikea to Double Renewable Energy Investment by 2020 
Ikea Group, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, will double its investment in renewable energy to $4 billion by 2020 as part of a drive to reduce costs as cash-strapped consumers become more price sensitive. The additional spending on projects such as wind farms and solar parks will be needed to keep expenses down as the company maintains its pace of expansion, Chief Executive Officer and President Mikael Ohlsson said in an interview in Malmo, Sweden.

Sting operations reveal Mafia involvement in renewable energy 
The still-emerging links of the mafia to the once-booming wind and solar sector here are raising fresh questions about the use of government subsidies to fuel a shift toward cleaner energies, with critics claiming huge state incentives created excessive profits for companies and a market bubble ripe for fraud. China-based Suntech, the world’s largest solar panel maker, last month said it would need to restate more than two years of financial results because of allegedly fake capital put up to finance new plants in Italy. The discoveries here also follow so-called “eco-corruption” cases in Spain, where a number of companies stand accused of illegally tapping state aid.