Germany’s Power Play: Book Review of Clean Break

There’s a positive review of Clean Break in the current issue of The Washington Spectator (reviewed by Kate Gordon, Vice President and Director of Energy & Climate at Next Generation).

Gordon raises an issue I didn’t directly address in the book: The potential effect if inexpensive natural gas becomes available to Germany through newly discovered deposits in Poland.

“If it’s cheap and plentiful enough,” Gordon warns, “natural gas can undermine the renewable-energy sector just as it’s getting off the ground.”

She raises an interesting issue. And while I don’t have a definitive answer, I do have a couple of first-thoughts about this. German’s renewable-energy industry is well-established and enjoys broad political support — unlike its U.S. counterpart. That support, and the fact that the economic benefits of renewables are spread throughout German society, may protect the sector from a flood of cheap gas.

Also unlike in the U.S., the EU has a carbon permit trading program. The system is flawed, but there is pressure to make the cost of emitting carbon conform better to the economic and social consequences of climate change. Will that be enough to stop a surge in artificially cheap natural gas? I don’t know and Gordon’s point deserves serious consideration.

The U.S. suffers from climate-denial disorder. Fortunately, it hasn’t gone viral—or global. Osha Gray Davidson’s refreshing Clean Break: The Story of Germany’s Energy Transformation and What Americans Can Learn From It tells the story of how one rich country has committed to transforming its economy into one powered by low-carbon renewable technologies.

via Book Review: Germany’s Power Play | Book Reviews.

When it comes to climate change, Congress is a Fact-Free Zone

“The ocean levels are rising, the icecap is melting, severe storms are more intense and more frequent; Climate change is real. Not that you’d know it in this body.”

— United States Representative Peter Welch (D-VT)

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Floor Statement of Rep. Peter Welch
*Safe Climate Caucus
March 20, 2013

Rep. Peter Welch.

Mr. Speaker, the ocean levels are rising, the icecap is melting, severe storms are more intense and more frequent; Climate change is real. Not that you’d know it in this body.

We’re still having a debate about the reality. This is a fact-free zone in Congress when it comes to climate change. But we can still make progress even if we debate the science.

We should do things that allow all of us to use less energy. Energy efficiency is good, regardless of what fuel source you use. It creates jobs for the folks out of work in the home construction industry, doing retrofits for commercial and residential buildings. It saves families money, and saves businesses money.

There’s an enormous amount of advocacy on both sides of the aisle to do this practical, commonsense step. It will have an incidental benefit as well of reducing carbon emissions.

Even as we have an unresolved debate about the science of climate change, let’s take practical steps that are good for jobs, good for the economy and good for saving taxpayers money.

Rep. Welch tours Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op solar project, March 16, 2012.

Welch is one of 24 Representatives who comprise the Safe Climate Caucus — a group organized in February 2013 and headed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. According to the group’s website, each day that Congress is in session a member of the caucus will speak about climate change on the House floor.

U.S. Representative: Keystone XL “poses major threats at every turn”

United States Representative Steve Cohen (D – TN) spoke against the Keystone XL pipeline, on the House floor yesterday.

“When you brush aside the studies by TransCanada and other oil companies and you analyze the pure scientific studies,” said Rep. Cohen, “every analysis clearly demonstrates the Keystone XL pipeline poses major threats at every turn – in its extraction, its transportation, its refining, and its consumption – threats to our earth.”

Here’s the video of Cohen’s brief remarks.

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And here’s the text:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share my grave concerns about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, the decision and existence of which is awaiting a decision by the Administration.

Last week, 84 of my colleagues (82 Republicans and 2 Democrats) introduced H.R. 3, a bill that would approve the construction and maintenance of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The world’s foremost climatologist, Dr. James Hansen—and one of the first scientists to warn of the dangers of burning carbon fuel and a partial recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize—has likened the building and use of the Keystone pipeline to the “lighting of a carbon bomb.”  Game over.

DC rally against the Keystone XL pipeline.

DC rally against the Keystone XL pipeline.

When you brush aside the studies by TransCanada and other oil companies and you analyze the pure scientific studies, every analysis clearly demonstrates the Keystone XL pipeline poses major threats at every turn – in its extraction, its transportation, its refining, and its consumption – threats to our earth.

The truth of the matter is, the U.S. isn’t even going to be using those fossil fuels transported by the pipeline—they’re going straight to China.

In fact, the only proposed feasible method of getting those Canadian tar sands to China or any other country is by building the Keystone XL pipeline, to feed into the port in Houston, Texas.

I urge my colleagues to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, avoid lighting that carbon bomb in our country. Oppose H.R. 3 and return our focus to initiatives that center on true energy independence through renewable resources and greener production.”

Cohen is one of 24 Representatives who comprise the Safe Climate Caucus — a group organized last month and headed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.