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Aggregating Energy Since 2006
We focus on energy policy and issues relating to climate change. Anyone may comment on an item; all views solely reflect the opinion of the author. Please email us if you have comments or questions.

Know Thy Opponent

And watch these advertisements about 'alleged global warming.' I haven't watched them yet (i'm at work) but i get the gist behind em. Interesting/scary.

A sigh of relief

We can all breathe a sigh of relief... a federal court has ruled that oil companies did not engage in price gouging.

Nonetheless, some members of Congress still want to intervene to lower prices.

This all makes me doubt whether Congress will ever let market forces make the switch to alternative fuels as conservatives love to say.

City 2020 Campaigns

That's 20% renewables by 2020 for cities. Some intrepid souls in North Dakota have launched an effort to break king coal's grip on the state and organize cities to adopt renewable electricity standards starting in Fargo and Grand Forks. The idea is similar in spirit to the Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement. It's a new tactic in a place where statewide legislative initiatives for renewable electricity have failed over and over again for a decade. Will it work? Is it worth the effort? Hard to say, but the organizers are hoping it will catch on an sweep the country. Not much on their website yet, but I hear there's more to come.

Think Fresh?

ME3 has a new name...Fresh Energy. Knee jerk responses to the name? I much prefer ME3. But that is a tech geek for you.

As for their new site - it has lots of flash on the front page so I'll be using it a lot less than I used to. Grrrrrr.

I'm sure they'll keep up their hard work though!

Central Corridor

Public hearings on the central corridor light rail project start tonight. Funding for the project was not included in the billion dollar bonding bill that just passed the Minnesota Legislature.

Light rail would be faster than buses along the corridor, but not fast enough for some folks. Estimated travel time from downtown to downtown would be 35 minutes. I think the current non-express buses take 45-55 minutes.

With light rail completed, the faster Express 94 bus would run less often - it will essentially be a commuter bus in mornings and evenings apparently.

RFI

So here's my general request, somewhat tangently related to this blog... I am working at LCMR this summer, and I am helping to compile a strategic plan for the trust fund. Thus all you crazy cool people can help me out! Let me know of any good strategic plans you may know of - environmental organizations, other states - regarding environmental resources, and I will utilize those ideas in creating a stellar plan for Minnesota's resources. The connection to this blog is that air quality is a portion of this plan, thus renewable energy issues are as well.

Sweet!

<a href="http://michaelpollan.com/">Michael Pollan</a>

This dude is speaking tonight at Barnes & Noble at the Galleria in Edina at 7:30pm. He wrote some pretty cool stuff, including 'The Botany of Desire' which V had to read for class this last year. He is also a contributing riter to the NYT magazine, and has written some pretty interesting looking things about food and where it comes from. I'm going

Midmorning on Gas Guzzlers

Kerri Miller on Midmorning today - "Are Americans ready to say goodbye to gas guzzlers?"

Guests include

Walter McManus: Director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Phil Reed: Consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com, a Web site that offers research and advice on new and used automobiles.

3 Gorges Dam

China is getting closer to finishing this massive project.

Although the construction of the dam's main span is complete, much work remains. The entire project is set to be completed in 2009, when the reservoir will reach its full level and its 26 turbines will all come online, bringing its total power-generating capacity to 18 gigawatts.

The dam is 607 feet tall and 7,575 feet long. The dam and its locks have consumed 35 million cubic yards of concrete.

Not a Parody (really)

There are those who are fighting for the right of pregnant women to use HOV lanes when appearing to ride alone. Seriously? I read about this from a Freakonomics blog post.

Mission Statement:

Our mission is to promote the rights of expectant mothers and their pre-born children to use carpool lanes and other HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on highways. Use of these lanes requires usually two or more passengers per vehicle, and we believe that parents should be able to count all of their children, both born and unborn.

Brazil n Ethanol

MoJo has a commentary looking at Brazil, ethanol, and lessons for the United States.

Though the article starts somewhat disengenuously - by suggesting ethanol is not important to Brazil (only 10% of its "energy liquids") - but later makes several valid points. One interesting point:

In the middle 1970s Brazil struggled to produce just 180,000 barrels of oil per day while importing four times that amount. Today it produces about 2 million and is self-sufficient. Indeed, the current milestone of self-sufficiency arrives with the inauguration of Brazil’s newest deep water platform, the “P50.” When P50 reaches its full output later this year, that one platform will deliver more liquid to Brazil than the country’s entire ethanol program.

The first lesson for the United States:

First is that ethanol, with current technology, will do little to sever our dependence on imported energy. Today’s approach involves growing a crop—sugar in Brazil, corn in the United States—and then fermenting the fruits to yield fuel. Sugar plants in Brazil’s climate are a lot more efficient at converting sunlight to biomass than is corn in the Midwest, but U.S. policy nonetheless favors corn (and imposes tariffs on imported sugar) because the program is really a scheme to deliver heartland votes rather than a commercially viable fuel.

The final lesson from David Victor is:

Third, we should learn from Brazil not to confuse the goal of greater self-sufficiency with the illusion of independence. Even as Brazil has become self-sufficient it has also, ironically, become more dependent on world markets. That’s because the Brazilian government has wisely relaxed price controls so that the prices of fuels within the country are set to the world market. Thus Brazilians see real world prices when they fill up at the pump, and the decisions about which cars to buy and how much to drive reflect real costs and benefits of the fuel they consume. That is why, even as the country becomes self-sufficient, Brazilians are working ever harder to be more frugal with oil—because the price at the pump is high and rising.

Hydro Tour

Anyone sticking around Minnesota for the summer should pencil 21,22, and 23 July into their calendar. Head over to St. Paul and check out Highland Fest!

I don't see any information about it on the website, but this is the one time of the year that they open the Ford Hydroelectric dam up to the public and give tours of it. This is the dam right by the Ford Parkway / 46 str bridge that spans the Mighty Mippississi.

When the time gets closer, they put out a newsletter with details. Sadly, I won't be in town then, so I won't be around to remind you. For those of you that forget, I hope to go the next year!

An Incovenient Truth

A friend of mine sent me a link to a documentary that's coming out on May 24 about global warming. Has anyone else heard of this?

www.climatecrisis.net

I cringed when I came across this statement on their site:

"If the vast majority of the world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced."

I have not heard of this 10-year time limit. While I applaud their efforts to raise awareness of global warming, this looks like the sort of alarmist viewpoint that can do more harm than good. I hope that they're just trying to be provocative to get people to see the movie and the actual film handles the issue more honestly.

No Gas Tax Increase

Last week, the House Ways and Means Committee in Minnesota removed provisions to increase the gas tax by 6 cents over the next 2 years.

Apparently, they were afraid that Pawlenty would veto a bill with a gas tax increase. The gas tax has not changed since 1988. For Minnesota, it is still 20 cents a gallon.

Also, on Tuesday, the Pioneer Press published a letter to the editor opposing the "gas tax holiday." Read the Strib's opposition to it here.

Tax Changes

St. Cloud Times is reporting a story which may change the tax rates of utilities.

The [Minnesota] state Department of Revenue wants to tweak the rules that determine the amount of taxes utilities must pay on their land, buildings, equipment
and other "personal" property.

Apparently, this will have some important impacts on small communities which have long depending on revenue from generation plants in their area.

I wonder if this will affect wind development projects in small communities around the state. Will they not be able to rely on as much tax revenue from wind production?

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