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Years before it was announced that Van Jones, the premier green-jobs advocate in the country, was headed to the White House, it was clear that Van Jones was headed to the White House. Thomas Friedman devoted an entire 2007 column to Jones, writing of his lofty goals, "I would not underestimate him." Jones muscled his way through Congress to get a Green Jobs Act passed in 2007 and then lavished praise on Nancy Pelosi and now-Labor Secretary, then-Rep. Hilda Solis. Pelosi returned the favor with a rave book blurb for Jones' 2008 best-seller The Green Collar Economy, writing that Jones possessed "sparkling intelligence, powerful vision, and deep empathy." When he wasn't running his fix-poverty, fix-the-planet nonprofit in Oakland, Calif., he was seeding Obama's transition team with ideas for an all-encompassing environmental/labor/energy/
This winter, as Congress was scrambling to pass the stimulus package, the bottom fell out of the renewable energy sector -- the very industry that lawmakers have held out as our best hope of salvaging the economy. Trade groups like the American Wind Energy Association, which as recently as December was forecasting "another record-shattering year of growth," began predicting that new installations would plunge by 30 to 50 percent. Solar panel manufacturers that had been blazing a trail of growth announced a wave of layoffs. Some have since cut their workforces in half, as stock prices tumble and plans for new green energy projects stall.
Hackers Reportedly Have Embedded Code in Power Grid
By Jeanne Meserve | CNN
Computer hackers have embedded software in the United States' electricity grid and other infrastructure that could potentially disrupt service or damage equipment, two former federal officials told CNN.
The code in the power grid was discovered in 2006 or 2007, according to one of the officials, who called it "the 21st century version of Cold War spying."
Department of Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano would not confirm such a breach, but said Wednesday that there has been no known damage caused by one.
For millenniums, microbes have been a staunch technological ally. They have leavened our bread and cured our cheeses. Now, engineers are asking them to convert carbon dioxide into fuel and to build a new generation of batteries. Some of the smallest life forms with which we share the planet are helping us cope with the energy challenges of the 21st century.
Forget about the so-called hydrogen economy for a moment. The much-discussed plan to use hydrogen as a major power source has serious problems, such as how to deliver the fuel to consumers.
Bruce Logan at Penn State says methane could be a much more appealing candidate. Through the study of how microbes produce methane in swamps, bogs, and landfills, he and his colleagues believe they have found a perfect source for the gas.
In a move sure to stoke a diplomatic frenzy, the United Arab Emirates, with U.S. interests, may be the first Arab state with a civilian nuclear-energy program.
U.S. President George W. Bush signed a treaty with the United Arab Emirates during his last week in office to give American companies the opportunity to enter into nuclear trade relations in the Emirates, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The United Arab Emirates would purchase nuclear fuel from approved contractors for the facility rather than rely on controversial autonomous uranium enrichment.
Washington sees the United Arab Emirates deal as a model of nuclear energy in the Gulf region and could put legislation before Congress as early as next week, the Journal reports.
Iran and Syria signed a broad memorandum of understanding in the oil and gas sector that includes exploration and pipeline development.
Sufian Allaw, the Syrian energy minister, said the package foresees development of upstream activities, drilling and exploration and the possible construction of the Persian Pipeline from Iran to Europe.
The 2,100-mile Persian Pipeline would bring an estimated 1.3 trillion cubic feet to markets in Europe along a path that includes Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
Both sides are also expected to move forward with the development of oil refineries in Syria as well as discuss plans to include Iraq in the Persian Pipeline talks, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reports.
People died---and are still dying---at Three Mile Island.
As the thirtieth anniversary of America's most infamous industrial accident approaches, we mourn the deaths that accompanied the biggest string of lies ever told in US industrial history.
As news of the accident poured into the global media, the public was assured there were no radiation releases.
That quickly proved to be false.
The public was then told the releases were controlled and done purposely to alleviate pressure on the core.
Both those assertions were false.
The public was told the releases were "insignificant."
DC! Tomorrow! Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on "Preparing for Climate Change: Adaptation Policies and Programs"
Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Hearing on "Preparing for Climate Change: Adaptation Policies and Programs" | Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC The Subcommittee on Energy and Environment will hold a hearing titled, "Preparing for Climate Change: Adaptation Policies and Programs" on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. This hearing will examine ongoing domestic and international efforts to reduce climate change vulnerability, and potential policies in climate change legislation that could assist such efforts.
At one point last week, the price of a barrel of crude oil -- which had risen as high as $147 last July and, with the global economic meltdown, hit a low of $32 in 2009 -- rebounded above $51. Prices at the local gas pump are expected to rise as well in the coming weeks. However, given a worldwide falloff in oil use, these price jumps may not hold for long. Still, cheap or not, oil and natural gas (as well as coal) are what drives global civilization, and that's clearly not going to change any time soon.
By Dave Lindorff
It may not be obvious today, and certainly it’s not how the corporate media reported it, but future historians are likely to look back at March 13, 2009 as the day that American imperialism began it’s inexorable decline. That’s the day that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced that his country was “worried” about its holdings of over $1 trillion in US treasury securities, and warned that he wanted the US to assure China that it would maintain its good credit and “honor its promises” and “maintain the safety of China’s assets.”
There is no way that the US can accommodate Premier Wen and still finance and operate a global military system with over 1000 overseas bases, massive aircraft carrier battle groups, and with hundreds of thousands of men and women armed to the teeth with the latest high-tech military hardware, not to mention fight endless wars on the far side of the globe.
By Ted Glick
It was tremendous to be part of the crowd of thousands of people demonstrating last Monday, March 2nd at the coal-fired Capitol Power Plant on Capitol Hill. But I wonder how many of those who have heard about this action or who even took part are aware of the role that the Power Past Coal campaign played in making it a success.
In mid-November, 2008 I traveled to Charleston, West Virginia for the first national climate meeting following the election of our nation's first African American President. Representatives were there from two dozen groups, many of them Appalachian-based, others national groups like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Energy Action, 1Sky and Rainforest Action Network. Over the course of a day and a half we came up with a plan for "100 Days of Action to Power Past Coal." This campaign began on the day after Barack Obama's inauguration.
Exxon Mobil Corp is in constant dialogue with Baghdad to create the investment climate that would allow it to become a significant player in Iraq's energy sector, Exxon's chief executive said on Monday.
The world's largest publicly traded company is in the race for contracts to work on Iraq's biggest oilfields.
Iraq, which sits on the world's third-largest oil reserves, needs billions of dollars of foreign investment to overhaul its oil sector and boost output after years of sanctions and war.
"I hope Iraq creates the conditions that will allow a company like Exxon Mobil to be a participant in a significant way," Chief Executive Rex Tillerson told Reuters in an interview ahead of an energy conference in Qatar.
By Ted Glick
"Throughout this jubilant day, there was a palpable sense of a psychological line being crossed which has had a parallel in all great movements for nonviolent social change. It is the moment when a movement becomes aware that it is tapping into the immensely strong and unstoppable power of truth. It is a time of spiritual awakening, when seekers of change suddenly realize they have unleashed an infinite force far beyond the strength of any individuals - what Gandhi referred to as 'satyagraha.' It is comparable to those moments in time when the peasants of India understood that an entire British empire could be defied and bus riders in Montgomery, Alabama realized that racism was not in reality an immovable fact of life.
By Jane Burgermeister, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
Off-grid solar panels could soon be installed in Iraq in a push to supply electricity to people across the country, many of whom have no access to the national grid.
"They'll be able to go back to Baghdad and teach other colleagues how to build solar-powered street lamps and other systems. That way crucial know-how can spread quickly." -- Matthias Kaiser, Phaesun
Six thousand solar-powered street lamps already light up the streets of Baghdad, where electricity from conventional sources is available on average for only two hours a day as the country struggles to recover from years of war.
Thousands more solar street lamps have been ordered this year from the German off-grid specialist company Phaesun by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity.
Scenes from the "Climate Justice" Rally in D.C. Held March 2, 2009
A huge and spirited rally demanding “Climate Justice,” was held in Washington, D.C., on March 2, 2009. This video reflects some of the crowd scenes from that event; interviews with activists Anne Havemann of Chesapeake Climate Action; and Kate Lally of Baltimore’s Rising Tide; and a speech from Washington, D.C. Council Member, the Hon. Tom Wells (Ward 6).
The Weirdest New Source of Alternative Energy: Underwater Vibrations
Researchers say this longtime bane of offshore drilling is more cost-efficient than wind and solar.
By Andrew Grant | Discover
~Chip's note: Ford Motor Company refused government bailout funds.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement after the Ford Motor Company announced that the Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1 will resume production and become the first Ford manufacturing site in the world to produce EcoBoost engines:
“This is a new beginning for Cleveland and the Ford Motor Company. I thank Ford management and the members of the United Auto Workers who have made this possible.
President Barack Obama is taking the first step toward blocking a proposed repository for U.S. nuclear waste, by slashing money for the program in his first budget, according to congressional sources.
Obama's budget to be announced Thursday (Friday in Jakarta) will eliminate virtually all funding for the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada with the exception of money needed for license applications submitted last year to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because the document had not been made public.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who has fought the Yucca Mountain dump for years, said Obama's decision to cut funding "represents our most significant victory to date in our battle to protect Nevada from becoming the country's toxic wasteland."
Now to the day's post: All forms are made to be broken. It's been an unbroken form at TomDispatch for me to introduce each post. Sometimes, when no introductory comments spring to mind (particularly on subjects I know less about), I'll ask an author if he or she has come across a relevant news clipping or has any passing thoughts about what to write. When I asked Chip Ward the other day, he responded with an introduction so striking that I decided to turn the space over to him. And so here he is, in a site first, introducing himself. Tom]
By Dave Lindorff
Barack Obama’s first address to Congress provided Americans with yet another example of competent speechmaking, and I suppose, given that we’ve just endured eight painful years of oratorical farce, being able to listen to your president without wincing is something.
The problem is that the way forward proposed by the president as laid out in this address was almost always half-hearted, wrong-headed or doomed.
Obama declared at the outset of his address that the economic crisis was the major issue confronting the country, and while one could argue that this crisis is merely a symptom of much bigger issues, like the nearly completed deindustrialization of the nation, the death grip of militarism, and the growing political power of corporations, one could also concede that there is an urgent need to deal with the deepening recession.
EV1 - Was it really a battery problem?
Exxon, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, recorded $45.22 billion in annual profits in 2008, as oil prices soared. In 2007, the company posted annual profits of $40.61 billion.
GM is a major recipient of TARP funds, received $13.4 billion taxpayer dollars, and faces a March 31st deadline to submit a restructuring plan to keep the funds. Hey! Here's a thought: how about using TARP funds to retool and start producing the EV1 again? Maybe the Car Czar should get on it.
"I tend to think Obama is up to the task of repairing all the destruction brought about in a mere eight years by George Bush. But, as we always must ask, does he have the political will to do so?"
One wonders, looking at America after eight years of George W. Bush's destructive policies and actions, why anyone would want to go through the struggle to win the presidency. A quick survey of the United States among the world's nations should be enough to discourage anyone from wanting to wade through the cesspool of a presidential campaign only to find a congregation of crocodiles waiting at its end.
From its high point shortly after the 9/11 attacks, when the sympathy of the civilized world was with us, America's image around the world has been systematically shredded by Bush and his cabal of neocons, along with other assorted right-wing policymakers.
Code Pinker Medea Benjamin at the Obama Inauguration - Re-Directions to Solutions
Michael Munk reports: Media reports, which barely acknowledged this program when it began in 2004, seemed happy to claim that lower oil prices forced Venezuela to cancel it. For example, NYTimes' "Venezuela Suspends Heating Aid to the U.S" by the dedicated critic of Venezuela, Simon Romero, begins: "Venezuela’s national oil company is suspending a program that provides discounted heating oil to poor communities in the United States, as officials here struggle to find ways of preserving hard currency reserves amid a plunge in oil revenues."
Thought of a certain way, for better or worse, the last century and a half of history -- of human beings on this planet -- comes down to oil rigs, pipelines, and tankers. Like it or not, we're in an oily world where the most essential bets, large and small, are regularly energy ones. Just recently, oil prices plunged as low as $33 a barrel amid a global economic meltdown that offered relief to some consumers, but left others suffering. Think, for instance, in a winter when it's generally going to be far cheaper to heat your home, of those who, fearing that the soaring oil prices of the first half of 2008 would never end, locked in their heating oil for this winter at $4 a gallon.