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At Scientific American, David Biello writes—Obama Has a Plan for Climate, What If It Involves Tar Sands?

You can imagine how much effort journalists, policy wonks and environmentalists have put into parsing the phrases “significantly exacerbate” and “net effects” (or you don’t have to: you can find various interpretations here and here and here.) One can only hope that the speechwriters (and one day we’ll find out how much of a role Obama himself played in writing this climate change barn-burner) spent as much time carefully crafting these turns of phrase as the commentariat will spend deconstructing them.

Then again, it may all just be a lot of fine sounding hot air. There is no doubt, for example, that Keystone XL and the attendant expansion in oil production from tar sands would exacerbate carbon pollution, but how significantly? And does the fact that a pipeline is a more efficient way to transport oil compared to trains, tankers or trucks mean Keystone XL’s “net effects” are positive or negative? Even the federal government itself is divided on those issues. The State Department’s first crack at an analysis suggests that the pipeline would have a limited impact on CO2 pollutionbecause the tar sands would get developed one way or the other anyway. Not so, counters the Environmental Protection Agency. So get ready for a good old inter-agency fight potentially.

Of course, that’s the least of the EPA’s worries now that they’ve been charged with what’s already been called the “war on coal” (a war worth fighting if you care even remotely about climate change). As Obama noted, despite a mandate from the Clean Air Act and the legal blessing of the U.S. Supreme Court, there are at present precisely zero controls on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. That changes now (though the regulations only appear to bring such controls exactly to the CO2 output of a modern natural-gas fired power plant, which is still not zero. Fancy that.) To soften the blow, the plan also calls for $8 billion in loan guarantees for “clean coal,” or rather any fossil fuel-fired power plant with CO2 capture and storage technology. […]

But there is an inherent tension in what Obama’s trying to do: he wants to both expand U.S. oil and natural gas production while bringing down CO2 emissions. That sort of “all of the above” energy strategy, as Obama has called it, or “both and” as he put it in his speech, is not a sure route to emission reductions.

Another alternative, as Mike Grunwald from Time is fond of pointing out, is the kind of new technology development and implementation funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka “the stimulus.” That’s how you cut carbon pollution in a hurry, and Obama was not shy about pointing out the achievements of the stimulus in this speech, such as doubling electricity generated from sunshine and wind. […]

The worst part about all this? It’s already too late. While U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell to the lowest level since the 1990s in 2012, the first quarter of this year saw a rebound of around 4 percent, thanks largely to an increase in coal burning. And it’s not just CO2, there are also super-greenhouses gases like hydrofluorocarbons to deal with, particularly in countries like China and India, as well as methane. “Even if we Americans do our part, the planet will slowly keep warming for some time to come,” Obama explained. “The seas will slowly keep rising and storms will get more severe.” And we’re locking in yet more for ourselves, our kids and generations to come while we wait for this long, slow transition to a clean energy future.


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003"Beleaguered" Americans and a FUBAR Iraq:

It's been interesting seeing the news media come around the clusterfuck called "Iraq". Note the last paragraph of this CBS News story:

Power grid sabotage could end up causing a cholera epidemic — the last thing the beleaguered Americans need.

"Beleaguered." It's definitely an accurate adjective.

Mass sabotage has brought the nation's critical infrastructure to a grinding halt, while repair crews are assassinated if they attempt to repair the damage.

Meanwhile, as tempers flare in the festering heat (check out Baghdad's 10-day forecast), our soldiers die.


Tweet of the Day:

Uninstalling Pat Buchanan's America....90% complete.
@DCPlod



On today's Kagro in the Morning show, the Texas filibuster & the SCOTUS DOMA case. Both Greg Dworkin & Armando make appearances to discuss the latest exciting news, and we parse it thin for your enjoyment! I think it's safe to say you're not going to get in-depth discussion of the dynamics of that filibuster like you get from Daily Kos Radio anywhere else in the world. And I mean that literally, as Joe Biden might put it. Come and revel in it! Plus, we got the happy news from the Supreme Court mid-show, and we break that down into bite-sized pieces suitable for water cooler and cocktail discussion. A procedure lover's dream!


High Impact Posts. Top Comments. Overnight News Digest.

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