Friday, December 28th, 2007
Tuesday, December 18th, 2007
By Bobby Carmichael, USA TODAY
EDWARDSPORT, Ind. — From the top of a hill here in coal country, you can see distant swells of smoke curling up from coal-fired power plants along the flat horizon. Even here, in a town of only 348 residents, a small coal plant has operated off and on since World War II.
But that plant might soon be replaced by a new kind of coal plant, one that could signal a critical turning point in the future of coal and how the United States reconciles its conflicting energy and environmental needs.
STORY: At least 8 clean coal plants blocked
Duke Energy (DUK), the Charlotte-based utility, is now awaiting an air permit from Indiana for a $2 billion, 630-megawatt coal plant, large enough to power about 200,000 homes a year. Considered only average-size as traditional plants go, it would become the world’s largest coal-fired power plant to use a new, cleaner technology called integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC.
“It’s a technology that has the ability to take air pollution out of the debate over coal,” says John Thompson, director of the Coal Transition Program at the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based environmental group that supports the plant. “The day that plant opens, the 500 or so coal plants in the U.S. are obsolete.”
Unlike conventional coal-fired power plants, often called “pulverized” coal plants because they crush coal to a powder before burning it to make electricity, the Edwardsport plant would turn coal into a gas before burning it. “Gasification” makes removing pollutants easier.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, such gasification plants emit about 65% less mercury and 75% less sulfur dioxide than conventional plants, while nearly eliminating particulate matter, the fine particles linked to heart and lung disease.
But perhaps more important, coal-power experts say, the Edwardsport plant’s gasification design would enable Duke to capture the plant’s carbon-dioxide emissions, then inject them underground where they cannot affect the atmosphere, a process known as carbon capture and sequestration. Coal-fired power plants account for a third of U.S. CO2 emissions, the primary gas blamed for global warming, about as much as every plane, train and automobile in the country combined. Yet, most energy experts say the nation can’t meet its energy demand for decades, at least, without a lot of coal.
Deploying coal gasification technology at power plants such as Edwardsport could be a crucial first step toward solving that conflict, supporters say, because capturing CO2 from conventional coal plants is likely to be prohibitively expensive.
“If those (pulverized coal) plants go ahead, it is extremely unlikely carbon will ever be captured from them,” says Doug Cortez, who heads a clean energy consulting firm in California. But with gasification plants, it’s more likely, he says.
Still, the Edwardsport plant and the widespread adoption of the cleaner coal gasification technology face opposition from unlikely bedfellows. Some environmentalists oppose any type of coal plant because, they say, coal is too harmful to the environment every step of the way, from the mines to the smokestacks. And utilities have generally avoided gasification, favoring conventional plants, because, they say, the cleaner technology is unreliable and too expensive.
Roberto Denis, senior vice president of Sierra Pacific Resources (SRP), a Nevada utility that has proposed a 1,500-megawatt conventional coal plant, says he’s uncomfortable with the gasification technology and doubtful it can work as well as pulverized coal plants.
“We’ll watch (the Edwardsport project) with great interest, but we don’t have the luxury of working through the technology evolution,” Denis says.
Is coal a necessary evil?
Howard Herzog, principal research engineer for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Energy Initiative, says coal, which already generates 50% of the nation’s electricity, is here to stay — like it or not.
“Coal is abundant and cheap, and we have increasing energy demand,” he says “We can wish all we want, but people are going to do what it takes to keep the lights on. And that means coal.”
Others, such as environmentalist John Blair, who lives about an hour south of Edwardsport and is fighting the plant, say more coal isn’t inevitable. “The plant is not needed, because we have incredible (energy) efficiency potential in this state,” Blair says. “That’s cheaper than a new coal plant.”
Even worse, says Bruce Nilles, who directs the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign, is that investment in new coal plants — gasification or not — will drain resources from cleaner options. “No investor in their right mind will put money up for renewable energy, because there will be no market for it.”
Only about 2% of U.S. electricity comes from non-hydropower renewables such as wind power. “The fact is, we don’t have a good alternative to fossil fuels at this time,” Herzog says. “People want the world the way they want it, but we have to look at the facts.”
But James Hansen, NASA’s chief climate scientist, says new conventional coal plants shouldn’t be part of the energy picture. In October, he submitted testimony against a coal plant proposed in Marshalltown, Iowa, saying, “The only practical way to prevent CO2 levels from going far into the dangerous range … is to phase out the use of coal except at power plants where the CO2 is captured and sequestered.”
Thompson thinks the Edwardsport plant would help make that phase-out eventually possible, because the project could spur adoption of gasification power plants that enable CO2 capture and sequestration.
Others disagree. An MIT study this year says research could make it more economical to capture carbon from pulverized coal plants and that it’s too early to pick a single technology winner.
Is coal gasification ready?
Depends on who you ask. Only two small coal gasification power plants operate in the USA today: Tampa Electric’s Polk Power Station in Polk County, Fla.; and the Wabash River Power Station in West Terre Haute, Ind., jointly owned by SG Solutions and Duke. Each has been running for more than 10 years.
Yet, including recent delays and cancellations, none of the 24 coal-fired power plants now under construction in 17 states is a gasification plant, according to an energy department report.
Utilities proposing conventional plants usually say gasification power plants can’t be depended on to operate as consistently, or to generate as much electricity, as pulverized coal plants of the same size.
Frank Maisano, a spokesman for New York-based Sithe Global Power, which has proposed a 750-megawatt pulverized coal plant in southeastern Nevada, says the gasification technology is “frankly not really ready … to meet demand where there is huge growth,” because it hasn’t been commercially proven. He estimates Sithe’s proposed plant will be 10% to 15% more reliable: It will operate more consistently because it won’t have to work through the technical kinks that he says a new gasification plant would.
But the plant manager at the Wabash gasification plant, Richard Payonk, says coal gasification power plants are “absolutely” reliable and can be scaled up in size. “A lot of the critics of the (gasification) technology are using old data” about its reliability, he says.
An underlying concern is how much more a gasification plant costs to build and operate.
Cortez says recent studies show a coal gasification power plant would cost 10% to 20% more than a conventional plant. On a $2 billion plant, say, that’s an extra $200 to $400 million.
Maisano puts the cost premium even higher, at 30% to 40% for Sithe’s Nevada plant.
Whatever the premium is, “there is a sticker shock,” Cortez says. That scares utilities, particularly when many question whether coal gasification power plants can be as productive as the cheaper alternatives.
Plans for at least eight clean coal plants have been canceled, rejected or delayed by regulators this year. Rising construction costs, regulatory uncertainty and environmental opposition are all factors.
Supporters of coal gasification say the potential cost of regulations limiting CO2 emissions from coal plants should be taken into account in comparing the costs of conventional and gasification coal-fired power plants. If it was, Cortez says, the coal gasification plants would be at least as cost competitive as their conventional rivals because they’d emit less CO2 and have the ability to capture CO2 at a much lower price.
Utilities continue to build conventional plants instead. That’s why, Thompson says, it’s paramount that federal and state policy use tax credits to close the price gap between conventional plants and the first few gasification power plants.
The Edwardsport plant wouldn’t be possible without the $460 million in local, state and federal tax credits it will receive, says Jim Stanley, president of Duke Energy Indiana. The federal 2005 Energy Policy Act authorized $800 million in tax credits for coal gasification projects to promote clean coal; $133.5 million was awarded to the Edwardsport project.
Both Tampa Electric and Mississippi Power (MPJ) got tax credits of the same size for coal gasification power plants. The Mississippi project is in the early stages of development. Tampa Electric canceled its project in November because the company couldn’t forecast the costs associated with potential federal and state regulations on carbon-dioxide emissions.
Thompson says the most effective action the federal government could take to encourage the widespread adoption of coal gasification plants would be either to tax coal plants’ CO2 emissions or to institute a nationwide cap on them and lower it over time.
Such legislation would make it costly to emit CO2, driving utilities to invest in gasification and carbon capture equipment to reduce emissions, he says.
Dan Lashof, climate director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental group, says carbon-constraining legislation is “inevitable” in the next five years. The bill sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and John Warner, R-Va., includes a cap on CO2 emissions that would be lowered over time. The bill has been approved by two committees and will now go to the Senate floor.
The EPA has declined to require new coal plants to use gasification, though the Clean Air Act requires they use the “best available” pollution controls. EPA spokeswoman Margot Perez-Sullivan says the agency views gasification technology as “an alternative design” of coal plants rather than a way to control pollution, so, legally, the agency cannot require it.
Thompson says that is the wrong interpretation. The Clean Air Act, he says, requires new, cleaner technologies, such as gasification, to be used as pollution controls when they become available.
Environmental groups have filed at least 25 court challenges to conventional coal plant proposals across the country, many charging the gasification should be required under the law.
Where to put the CO2?
After coal is gasified and the CO2 is captured, it still must go somewhere. The Department of Energy has estimated that North America has room underground to store 3.5 trillion tons of CO2. In theory, the USA could store all its power plant emissions for centuries.
In fact, oil and gas companies have been injecting CO2 into depleted oil fields without incident for decades. The CO2 dislodges trapped oil and gas, increasing the fields’ yield and profitability.
For example, since 2000, Dakota Gasification in Beulah, N.D., has been gasifying coal, capturing the CO2 and pumping it to clients in Canada, where it is injected into oil fields.
But to make a significant dent in CO2 emissions, the country will likely have to sequester the captured CO2 in what are called saline formations, porous rock one to two miles under the Earth’s surface.
The Energy Department, in partnership with universities, private companies and others, is spending about $2 billion over 10 years to study carbon sequestration and build the world’s first IGCC plant that captures and stores carbon.
But for now, saline storage hasn’t been demonstrated on a large scale, and there is no regulatory framework for monitoring the CO2 and determining who would be liable if something went wrong. The EPA is developing rules for the process.
Many consider large-scale carbon sequestration the only technological hurdle left in the entire process, and want to wait until it is proven. But Thompson says coal gasification power plants must get up and running now. “That is the most important starting point,” he says. “The clock is ticking.”
Wednesday, December 12th, 2007
by The Oregonian
Saturday December 15, 2007, 10:49 AM
In Lake Oswego and West Linn, some TriMet buses often run almost empty
Debbie Whiteley finds it “weird” to be riding an all-but-empty bus in West Linn. She says she’s accustomed to packed buses in Hillsboro and Forest Grove, where she lives.
Mile after mile, the bus stops stand empty.When, at one stop, a TriMet bus heading in the opposite direction appears, the only person aboard is the driver. And yes, the bus is in service.
“When I get on the bus in Hillsboro or Forest Grove, it’s packed,” said Debbie Whiteley, 52, a Forest Grove resident who smoked a cigarette and shivered while waiting for a bus recently in West Linn. “I’m not used to being the only one standing here. It’s weird.”
In affluent, car-happy Lake Oswego and West Linn, who rides the bus?
From Friday’s edition of The Oregonian: Study of Lake Oswego rail link OK’d
Carless youths. The easily overlooked working class. Middle- and upper-class commuters. Environmental do-gooders. Many love the ease of riding. Factor in gas prices and the cost of parking in downtown Portland, and riders are more than happy to let the bus driver battle traffic.
But TriMet ridership in Lake Oswego and West Linn has, for the most part, fallen since at least 1999. Critics argue that public transportation is just too inconvenient and infrequent for it to be a reliable part of daily suburban life.
Mary Fetsch, a TriMet spokeswoman, said, “We look at the existing ridership and match the service with that.”
A small group of riders is almost certainly guaranteed to be waiting at the Lake Oswego Transit Center at Fourth Street and A Avenue, where four bus routes converge, especially during rush hour. Route 35, which travels Oregon 43/Macadam Avenue, and Route 78, connecting Beaverton and Lake Oswego, always carry some passengers. Other Lake Oswego and West Linn routes often run almost empty, with the number of passengers easily counted on one hand.
Novels and naps
Those who do step through the folding bus doors reflect demographics that change as the day progresses. Commuters, often with green intentions, pack the morning buses. As morning fades into midday, the buses increasingly welcome carless teens and twentysomethings, service workers and a batch of reluctant riders wishing the DMV would hand back their revoked licenses.
AVERAGE WEEKDAY RIDERSHIP
These figures show how many people rode TriMet on routes serving Lake Oswego and West Linn during the past eight years:
37-North Shore/Lake Grove
Most who come onboard praise the relatively hassle-free rides. Add in parking and gas costs, and regular commuters say TriMet fares, which top out at $2.05 for a one-way ticket and $76 for a monthly pass, easily win.
Rick Braun, 57, who lives in Lake Oswego’s First Addition neighborhood, said of his regular bus ride, “It’s a block and a half from (home) and it gets me to within a block and a half of work.”
Others cite noneconomic reasons.
“I take it because I want to be a bit more conscious about the environment and careful about how often I drive places,” said T.K. Conrad. “I don’t like the idea of driving myself to work every day when I don’t need a car.”
Conrad lives in West Linn and commutes to Lake Oswego, a route that takes 20 minutes to drive. Instead, he spends about an hour each way walking the 11/4 mile to the bus stop and then taking two bus lines.
Regular riders said they enjoy the extra time to complete work, sneak in that power nap or finish that suspenseful mystery novel.
West Linn resident Judy Smith has finished eight books since she began commuting to downtown Portland via bus in August. Her monthly TriMet pass costs about $100 less than a monthly parking permit, she said. Reasons not to ride
Those who don’t ride the bus cite inconvenient and infrequent service. TriMet runs a total of six lines reaching Lake Oswego and West Linn. By comparison, 66 of TriMet’s 93 bus routes serve Portland. That means most Lake Oswego and West Linn residents do not live within walking distance of a stop and the buses probably do not run where residents want to go.
Throw in waits that can last more than an hour, and few seem willing.
“The people you’re hauling are probably going to Portland,” said driver Chuck Munkres, 60, as he took two riders one recent morning along Route 37, which connects Lake Oswego and Tualatin. “There isn’t a lot of need.”
Even some regulars question why they bother with the bus.
“Buses in Lake Oswego aren’t that reliable,” said Lindsay Moore of Canby, who owns a car but rides three buses to work in Lake Oswego. “It makes me upset because you rely on them to be on schedule. When they don’t show up, it’s like, ‘Why am I taking this?’ ”
Some riders say there’s a third reason many in Lake Oswego choose BMWs over the bus: class. They say some upper-class people associate public transportation with lower-class workers who lack the means to drive. In a culture that values private ownership and material objects, they say, few things represent “disposable income” like driving a luxury vehicle when a gallon of gas costs more than $3.
“It’s bending below their level,” said Whiteley, the Forest Grove resident who was waiting for a bus recently in West Linn. “They’re too good to ride the bus.”
Robert Meredith, 20 — who has reluctantly ridden the bus since his car broke down in April — had another theory.
“A lot of people drive because they think taking the bus is lame and you’re a loser to your friends,” Meredith said. “And if you’re a guy, it might be harder to get a girl if you don’t drive.”
Local and regional leaders have proposed a streetcar linking Lake Oswego and downtown Portland to ease traffic and transit problems.
Metro, the regional government, is scheduled to decide today whether to proceed with a streetcar route along Oregon 43. Options include extending the Portland Streetcar’s route from downtown Portland to the Johns Landing neighborhood in Southwest Portland, then letting riders connect to bus service to Lake Oswego; extending the streetcar to Lake Oswego; or developing a rapid bus line to Lake Oswego. Officials could also decide not to do anything.
Proponents say a streetcar would attract commuters who want to zip downtown — buses don’t save time because they sit in traffic alongside cars.
“Sometimes it’s an hour and a half coming home on a seven-mile road,” said Borah Pavick, 55, while riding the Route 35 bus early one rainy morning.
First Addition resident Jim Bolland said adding a streetcar won’t address the entrenched car culture in two suburbs built with long blocks and spread-out buildings. He doubts the investment in taxpayer money will be worth it.
In many ways, public transportation is a “chicken or egg” issue. Should more people start riding the bus to demonstrate to TriMet increased need for its services? Or should TriMet first improve service, increasing frequency and expanding routes, but at the risk of low ridership and losing millions of dollars?
A new suburban line would cost up to $1.5 million to institute and $500,000 annually to run. In the short run, riders suggest that TriMet invest in more park-and-ride lots in the suburbs and more frequent buses at night and on weekends.
“It’s not the same out here because we’re still kind of a suburb, as much as people say we’re not,” Bolland said. “For people to take public transportation, it’s got to be convenient. It’s got to go where you need to go.”
— Yuxing Zheng; email@example.com
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
Pamplin Media Group, Dec 11, 2007
A federal appeals court has found in favor of Oregon and 10 other states in a case challenging the exemption of SUVs and light trucks from automobile fuel-economy standards.
Solar-silicon companies start moving in
Here in the shadow of microprocessor giant Intel Corp., most Portlanders associate silicon wafers primarily with computer chips. That may change as three California companies take steps to site plants in Oregon, focusing on the fastest-growing sector of the silicon market: photovoltaic cells used for solar power.
Santa Clara-based Solaicx opened a plant Nov. 20 in the Port of Portland Rivergate Industrial District that, at full capacity, will employ 180 people and produce 180 megawatts’ worth of solar wafers annually.
Two other solar silicon makers also are planning facilities in Oregon: XsunX, of Aliso Viejo, has chosen an unspecified site in Oregon for a 100-megawatt thin-film solar cell plant. Peak Sun, based in Carlsbad, plans a plant in Millersburg, near Albany, that initially will employ 50 people, and may boast 500 jobs by 2011.
The solar silicon industry appears poised to take off worldwide. In September, the Financial Times reported that world production of polysilicon, the raw material for solar cells as well as microchips, was likely to quadruple over the next three years. The solar industry was set to eclipse semiconductor makers as the largest consumer of polysilicon by the end of this year, it said.
Both Solaicx and Peak Sun create the polysilicon wafers and ingots used in solar cells, while XsunX makes complete photovoltaic modules.
SUV fuel-efficiency case finds friends in court
A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of Oregon and 10 other states in a case challenging the Bush administration’s lax fuel economy standards for SUVs and light trucks.
In the ruling, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Betty Binns Fletcher held that the administration had violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act by failing to take global warming into account when exempting the vehicles from automobile fuel-economy standards.
The case, Center for Biological Diversity v. National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, was consolidated with challenges from Oregon and other states, as well as the District of Columbia and four other environmental groups.
“This is an important victory in the fight against global warming,” Deborah Sivas, the attorney of record on the case, said in a statement released by the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s hard to imagine a federal action more significant to the problem of climate change than one which dictates fuel-consumption standards.”
OSU launches ecological engineering program
Oregon State University recently launched the nation’s first undergraduate degree program in ecological engineering.
The program is expected to draw about 100 students from high schools nationwide. The new degree was announced Oct. 18, and the university has begun accepting applications for enrollment in 2008.
The program’s students will learn to take on projects such as restoring ecosystems and rivers, using ecosystems analysis to solve difficult environmental problems, and designing and managing constructed wetlands.
In a statement on the university’s Web site, Dean of the College of Engineering Ron Adams said, “This new degree sets Oregon State apart from any other engineering school in the country.
“Many students study engineering because they want to solve complex problems [and] move the world toward a healthier, more sustainable place. This new degree is a major step in offering our students another engineering option that will impact the future in a positive way.”
Wave-energy test buoy sinks, but data lives
An experimental buoy touted as the first commercial-scale wave energy converter deployed on the West Coast has sunk, but its creators say the mishap won’t derail their plans.
The $2 million AquaBuoy 2.0, created to convert wave energy into electrical power, found the waves a bit too energetic Oct. 27. It sank in 115 feet of water near Newport, just a day before engineers had planned to remove it.
Representatives for Finavera Renewables, the Canadian company that created the device, admit that the sinking was not an ideal result. But they say that ultimately, they got what they wanted out of the buoy’s two-month deployment.
“That’s really hard to explain to people when the device sank. that we still got a lot of valuable information,” Mike Clark, a Finavera spokesman, told the environmental Web site https://evergreensolar.com “The actual data we got was positive and validated all the modeling.”
The buoy uses the natural rise and fall of ocean waves to drive seawater though a turbine, generating electricity. The company hopes eventually to deploy clusters of such buoys connected by cable to the land-based power grid.
Finavera plans to recover the buoy from the seafloor in the spring, when the waters are calmer.
Report urges closer scrutiny of biofuels
A new report from the Oregon Environmental Council warns that all biofuels are not equal when it comes to sustainability, and says that biofuel practices need to be evaluated on a “field to wheel” basis.
Fuels like biodiesel and ethanol are often touted as more environmentally sound alternatives to fossil fuels, and Oregon was the first state in the nation to provide incentives for growing crops specifically to make biofuels.
However, the biofuel movement has drawn criticism from some who argue that the biofuels are not always grown and processed in a sustainable way.
The report outlines a set of principles for policymakers and industry leaders. These include supporting only biofuels that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions on a life-cycle assessment basis, processing the fuels with minimal fossil-fuel input, and growing biofuel feedstocks using sustainable agricultural practices.
“Biofuels can clearly provide positive environmental benefits,” Oregon Environmental Council’s director of programs, Chris Hagerbaumer, said in a statement. “Oregon’s goal should be to maximize those benefits and mitigate any negative environmental consequences of feedstock production and fuel processing.”
The full report is available online at www.oeconline.org/economy
— Marty Smith
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
The Democratic candidate calls for a new energy paradigm. But are Americans ready to be “in harmony with nature”?
By Amanda Griscom Little
Dec. 11, 2007 | He may be eating the front-runners’ dust in the polls, but among deep green voters, Dennis Kucinich is considered a trailblazer. A Democratic U.S. representative from Cleveland, Kucinich is calling for a radical overhaul of the U.S. government and economy — one that would infuse every agency in the executive branch with a sustainability agenda, phase out coal and nuclear power entirely, and call on every American to ratchet down their resource consumption and participate in a national conservation program.
A vegan who counts Ralph Nader among his heroes, Kucinich doesn’t exactly embody the sensibility of the average American. He says his commitment to sustainability “extends to everything I am and do” — from the food he eats and clothes he wears to the policies he espouses. It’s the same progressive platform that made him a darling of the far left when he ran for president in 2004. Will it take him any farther this time around?
I reached Kucinich by phone at his home in Ohio.
For more information on his platform and record, check out Grist’s Kucinich fact sheet.
Why should voters consider you the strongest green candidate?
Because mostly our candidates aren’t going to be able to do anything about the underlying issues that threaten our environment. Many of the candidates — [John] Edwards, [Barack] Obama and [Hillary] Clinton — are heavily funded by hedge funds on Wall Street, which are driven by a psychology of short-term profits and investments. And with candidates taking that kind of money from those interests, it defies belief that they’re going to be in a position to take this country in the direction it needs to be taken.
What sets your green platform apart from the rest?
As president of the United States, I’m going to shift the entire direction of America. We need to see the connection between global warring and global warming, and it’s oil. Sustainability is the path to peace. And I’m the only true peace candidate in this election. So peace means being in harmony with nature. If you’re in harmony with nature, you don’t exploit nature. You don’t ruin the land, you don’t extract the oil, you don’t take the coal out of the earth.
My underlying philosophy is a green philosophy. It means that I’m looking at a total reorganization of the federal government to create a cooperative and synergistic relationship between all departments and administrations for the purpose of greening America.
You propose, for instance, the Works Green Administration.
The Works Green Administration harks back to the days of Franklin Roosevelt and the Works Progress Administration, where he put millions of people back to work rebuilding America’s infrastructure. I too have an infrastructure-rebuilding program which will put millions of people back to work. Picture this: You take every area of involvement in the federal government — whether it’s the Small Business Administration, or the Housing and Urban Development Department, or the Department of Agriculture, or the Department of Labor. Each would incorporate green goals. We’d have billions of dollars loaned to the states at zero interest for green development programs; we’d have programs furthering green housing; agricultural policies would relate to green.
Do you think Americans are ready to answer the call to conserve?
Of course they are. They’re just waiting for leadership, and it has to come from somebody who’s not tied to any of these interest groups, or is worried about whether he’s going to offend a contributor. And so, yes, I think people know that their future’s at stake.
What I intend to do as president is to call forth that instinct which is within every person for not just survival but to be able to thrive. We need to make the connection between prosperity and sustainability. It also means we have to turn toward peace, we have to stop warring, because war is ecocide, war destroys the environment. And so I’m going to call forth the people of this country for a whole new direction. I think America’s not just ready for it, it’s overdue and people know that.
I will also ask the American people to participate in a grand and great conservation effort. Imagine if tens of millions of homes suddenly had an awareness that when you don’t need the electricity, don’t flip the switch. That you use only the water that you need and you don’t use any more — you don’t let the faucet run.
Do you believe that we need a carbon tax in addition to a cap-and-trade program, or neither, or both?
We need to do whatever we can do to create disincentives for the use of carbon-based energy. But that’s not enough. Carbon-based taxes alone won’t cut it because some people may be willing to pay an extra tax to use something that’s bad for the environment. Inevitably we need a requirement to move away from all carbon-based technologies and to fund fully all alternative-energy research that is in harmony with the environment.
So you would propose a strict cap on carbon emissions, a carbon tax and a massive government-supported plan to promote renewable technologies?
Yes, but I’d want to put the emphasis first on the government supporting renewable technologies. A tax could reflect the full cost to society of certain types of energy. But the answer is not simply punishing those people who are using carbons. You have to do everything you can to move people toward renewable energy.
You’ve been calling for years for a renewable portfolio standard that would have the U.S. get 20 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2010. Now that 2010 is around the corner, what sort of RPS plan would you implement as president?
Well, obviously we’ve lost the advantage of that particular time frame. For the next time frame, I think we could set something by 2020 and look to 30 or 40 percent. But that means we’re talking about a very sharp turnaround here.
How would you shift the utility industry toward renewables, toward this whole new paradigm?
One of my proposals is to have millions of homes with wind and solar technologies, and people can sell energy back to the grid. The role of utilities will change dramatically because it’s not going to be a centralized approach toward energy production. They’ll have to figure out different ways that they might be able to provide support for green alternatives. I want to see, eventually, all the homes in this country have the option of that technology. In turn, you can create millions of jobs building alternative technologies.
Would nuclear power play any role in your energy policy as president?
Nuclear has to be phased out. The hidden costs of nuclear are enormous — of building these plants and storing the waste forever. It’s not financially or environmentally sustainable.
Nuclear makes up 20 percent of America’s electricity supply. What would you replace this with?
You don’t want to leave a gap in our energy needs, but at the same time, with a program of conservation and movement toward alternative energy, we can begin phasing out nuclear.
What about coal, the source of more than half of our electricity supply? Would you phase that out, or do you believe in the promise of advanced coal technologies?
No, coal has to be phased out. In the same way that the Department of Agriculture for years was paying some farmers not to grow, I think we can get to the point of paying coal miners not to mine. Why should the miners have to suffer from the lack of foresight of our energy policies? That’s something that I intend to address in my Works Green Administration.
The electric utility industry would argue that such a massive shift would pass along huge rate hikes to consumers. How would you protect Americans from these expenses?
We do not need to be held hostage by the utility industry. I’m not someone who’s going to roll over when these utility industries issue their threats. We’re going to break up the monopolies in utilities; that’s No. 1. No. 2, these utilities are going to be closely regulated for their activities. No. 3, they’re going to be required to go green as license conditions. No. 4, they’re going to be closely monitored and shut down if they violate the Clean Air Act. We’re going to have a very aggressive Environmental Protection Agency, and utilities are not going to be dictating energy costs. I don’t mind working with them, I don’t mind moving toward areas where they can be cooperative in protecting the environment, but they’re not going to run energy policy.
But such a transition would create huge costs. How would you pay for them?
It pays for itself. See, the whole idea about sustainability is that you conserve, you save and then you use the savings for other things. However, where we need financial incentives, this is where the government can play a major role in putting money into circulation for the production of these [green] products, and in putting people to work. Roosevelt understood in the ’30s that there were things he had to do to move the economy. And I understand what we need to do to move the economy in a green direction.
Do you support subsidies for ethanol or other gasoline alternatives, like biodiesel?
I don’t know about subsidies. I think those technologies are transitional to fuel-cell technology. I wouldn’t want to create incentives to lock us into usages that are not where we ultimately want to go. And there is a serious issue with ethanol and its impact on food supplies.
Many argue that the U.S. shouldn’t commit to a global greenhouse-gas reduction target that doesn’t involve China and India. Do you agree, and how would you bring them to the table?
First of all, as president, I’m going to let the rest of the world know that the days of America trying to be a nation above nations is over. We have to quit trying to dominate other countries, and we have to step out of our isolation and into the brotherhood and sisterhood of all people. I think the world is ready for an American president who puts the sword down, so that nations won’t have to spend a tremendous amount of their resources trying to prepare for war.
We have to be ready to take the lead, but we need to have harmony with other nations. As president, I intend to work with the leaders of China and India and other nations to promote an environmental consciousness and sustainable economies. I will use trade as a vehicle to try to raise the level of living for all people, and environmental sustainability must be the watchword. All of our trade agreements must have within them requirements for protecting the air and the water and the land of all the countries we do business with.
After climate and energy, what do you think is the most important environmental issue facing the nation?
Agriculture — the way we grow our food — and we really need to make sure that we protect our water supply. These issues are closely tied to each other.
Who is your environmental hero?
Oh, I have many. Thomas Berry, whose book “The Great Work” talked about how our great work in life is to achieve a real harmony with the environment. I think Lester Brown has done some incredible work on raising the consciousness of people. Amory Lovins has done some excellent work, and I think Ralph Nader has pointed to a lot of the environmental implications of corporate conduct and trade laws. And John Robbins has been so incredible in his awareness of the impact of the food we eat on our environment.
What was your most memorable wilderness or outdoor adventure?
As a child, we lived in the city, we moved around a lot. But there was one place we lived, above railroad tracks, and on the other side of the tracks was this vast acreage called “the gulley” that was created with the blasting of the railroad. It had these huge rock piles and vegetation everywhere and it almost looked prehistoric. It was a place that I would go to often and find solitude and be able to just think. So much of my own life has been connected with a desire to be close to nature, to be close to the water, to be close to green.
If you could spend a week in one natural area of the U.S., where would it be?
I would say somewhere in northern Maine. The whole state is beautiful, but northern Maine is just extraordinary, and I’ve seen all 50 states. I also love Maui.
What do you do to lighten your environmental footprint?
My philosophy of life extends to everything I am and do. If I say I’m for peace, I’m for peace in the kind of products that I use, in the kind of shoes that I wear, and in terms of the clothes that I wear, in terms of my eating habits. I’m always thinking in terms of sustainability. That’s the way I live. I live in a small house and we’re very conscious of our energy usage. I drive an American car, a Ford Focus, but it’s one of the highest fuel-economy cars.
I’ve been living an essentially vegan lifestyle since 1995, and that has led me to a condition of extraordinary health and clarity. Now, I’m not, as president, going to tell everyone what they have to eat, but I will share my own story about how the choices that I’ve made have meant, for myself, a better life, and a happier life. I’m 60 years old, but I’ll bet that I’m in better physical shape than a lot of people a lot younger.
If George Bush were a plant or an animal, what kind of plant or an animal would he be?
I don’t want to go there.
Fair enough. Would you spin it around on yourself? If you were a plant or animal, what kind would you be?
How so? Truly American?
No. Keenness of vision.
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
Original link: http://portland.dbusinessnews.com/shownews.php?newsid=143559&type_news=latest
-One of Five Recipients of Award “Celebrating Greatness in Oregonians”-
Portland – A pioneering Oregon company, SeQuential Biofuels, is among the recipients of the prestigious Governor’s Gold Awards. Governor Ted Kulongoski presented the award to SeQuential founder Tomas Endicott and CEO Dave Garten on December 7, 2007, at the Oregon Convention Center.
“We are honored to be recognized by the Governor for making an important contribution to Oregon. Our biofuels are better for the environment, and they help promote independence from foreign oil. They are also locally produced, which creates new jobs in the Oregon economy,” says Garten.
SeQuential, which opened the nation’s first biofuels station in 2006 on McVay Highway in Eugene, will open additional stations in Portland and Eugene in 2008. The company sells biofuel blends for every vehicle, with no engine conversion required. SeQuential’s products include E10, which can be used in every gas vehicle and decreases carbon dioxide emissions by about seven percent. Its E85 bioethanol, for use in Flex Fuel Vehicles, decreases carbon dioxide emissions by 59 percent. B99 biodiesel is suitable for most diesel vehicles and cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent. SeQuential also sells reduced-carbon B5 and B20 biodiesel blends suitable for any diesel engine.
In addition to reducing carbon dioxide and other toxic emissions into the environment, these biofuels directly displace foreign petroleum. In 2007, Oregon consumers avoided using more than 360,000 gallons of petroleum by using SeQuential biofuels.
The company, which was founded in 2002, also operates the largest biofuels retail network in the region with more than 35 biofuel pumps at independent retailers and 5,000 loyal customers. It is a partner in the SeQuential-Pacific biodiesel production facility in Salem, which will expand capacity from one million to five million gallons in 2008.
Past business Gold Award winners include Intel Corporation, Nike, Inc. and New Seasons Market. This year’s corporate award recipient is Gerding Edlen Development Company, LLC.
For further information about SeQuential Biofuels, visit www.sqbiofuels.com.
Monday, December 10, 2007 01:12 PM
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
From Hotel Vintage Plaza to SE Portland.