The Skywriter

Weekly roundup 12/17/10: A brand new Skywriter!


Weekly roundup 12/17/10: A brand new Skywriter!


This week on the roundup we're looking at Fox News "reporting," some good news on emission cuts and some bad news for coal plants. But, first thing's first...

New blog!

As you can see, a few things have changed around here. Welcome to the brand new Skywriter Blog! You'll find all the same great content, but now in our sleeker layout. You have even more ways to share the blog with your friends. Share an article on your Facebook profile; e-mail a policy update to your mom; tweet about an update on great rally we've just had. The Internet is your oyster. You can find posts through our archives or even by popular tags. With our new Disqus tool, commenting and staying in the conversation has never been easier.

This new layout is fresh out of the package, so tell us what you think. If you run into any problems as you browse through posts, comment, share or 'likes', please let us know. We're working to iron out any hiccups along the way.

Fox News climate "reporting"

Fox news is spreading climate change skepticism, one newscast at a time. Media Matters posted an e-mail this week from Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon to staff members stating,

we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies."

The e-mail came last December after Fox's White House correspondent, Wendell Goler reported on a U.N. scientist data that described 2000-2009 as "expected to turn out to be the warmest decade on record." Despite the ever-growing scientific evidence on man-made climate change, Fox is doing its part to undermine the numbers. Even Al Gore weighed in on this "Fair & Balanced" journalistic directive,

Fox News has consistently delivered false and misleading information to its viewers about the climate crisis. The leaked emails now suggest that this bias comes directly from the executives responsible for their news coverage."

Bonus: Fox host and former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee denies his support for cap-and-trade, despite Politico reporting on some pretty contrary quotes from a 2007 Global Warming and Energy Solutions Conference. Huckabee said, during a larger speech on environmental policy,

I also support cap and trade of carbon emissions [emphasis added]. And I was disappointed that the Senate rejected a carbon counting system to measure the sources of emissions, because that would have been the first and the most important step toward implementing true cap and trade."

Closing in on Coal

Moving off the court ruling defending the Clean Air Act, The Brattle Group released a study saying the EPA's regulations could mean the retirement of more than 50,000 megawatts' worth of coal plants in the near future. The number climbs to a possible 67,000MW -- or about 20% of installed coal plants if all EPA regulations still being drafted are enacted. Now we're getting somewhere.

For coal plant operators, the choice comes down to retiring plants or installing emission control equipment that comes with some pretty hefty fees. For the plants that stay out of retirement, according to Brattle, that could mean $100 billion to $180 billion to meet potential EPA standard for emissions control equipment and cooling towers. By their estimation,

The combination of retirements and increased operating costs would reduce coal demand by about 15 percent by 2020… Assuming that all of the lost generation from coal plants were to be replaced by gas-fired combined-cycle generating plants, CO2 emissions could fall by 150 million tons per year, or approximately 7 percent of all CO2 emissions from the electric power sector."

California hears the call for the cap

Carbon-trading has found new life in California. Just this morning the LA Times announced 600 major industrial plants in the state, starting in 2012, will have to limit emissions.

Regulators began hearing testimony on Thursday of this week to consider the emission cutting policy. The Air Resource Board has been a proponent of enacting cap-and-trade rules, especially with California's dire need for economic recovery. Mary Nichols, the Air Resource Board chairwoman explained the rules are

a critical piece because it's the tool we're using to make sure we reward businesses that invest in efficiency and renewable technologies, and that we are pushing and creating the right incentives."
The regulations were 3 years in the making, but the California Air Resource Board didn't take long to vote in their 9 to 1 approval.

The money from carbon markets could provide billions for the state, further strengthening clean air programs. Jason Dearen at the AP explains the policy further.

The amount of allowed emissions would be reduced over time, and the regulations would expand in 2015 to include refineries and fuel distributors like oil companies. The cap would reach its lowest level in 2020, when California wants its greenhouse gas emissions reduced to 1990 levels."

With California already paving the way with the strictest climate-related regulation in the U.S., it's high time this climate legislation become the craze that's sweeping the nation. Fuel the economy, clean the air.

The Government Sues BP

This week, the Justice Department sued BP and eight other companies for removal costs and damages caused by the historic oil spill, including damages to natural resources. While the government estimates 200 million gallons of oil leaked from the company's undersea well, BP still disputes the figure.

This is just the biggie in over 300 mounting suits resulting from the spill. Seafood industry, tourism workers, and property owners have filed lawsuits as well against the oil company. Lawsuits came flooding in after the presidential commission looking into the spill found 11 dangerous decisions made by several companies -- BP, Transocean and Halliburton among them. Though no amount of money could reverse the damages, holding these companies legally accountable is just one of many steps in the right direction to renewing the Gulf Coast.

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Check out Treehugger's Holiday Guide for some very merry, very green, last minute gifts. For the Green Geek in you, check out the latest in solar powered accessories.

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