Energy


Breaking The Vicious Circle of Oil

By David Dayen

Kevin Drum has a very important piece that shows us the predicament of the oil-fueled society we’ve constructed over the past several years. The story is basically this. Oil production is static, if not falling, and emerging markets are increasing and broadening their wealth, leading more and more Chinese and Indians and Indonesians and Brazilians to desire a higher standard of living. Invariably this means oil demand goes up.

Earthquake Near Virginia Nuclear Reactors Is a Reminder of the Risks in California

By Emily Rusch
CALPIRG

Tuesday’s earthquake in Virginia, which shut down two nuclear reactors less than 10 miles away, is a jolting reminder of exactly the type of unpredictable risk that threaten the safety and security of nuclear power plants here in California and across the country.

Because of the immediate, serious danger if radioactivity were to be released, Governor Brown should be moving California away from this inherently dangerous technology and towards safer energy sources.

Jerry Brown Gives Vote of Confidence to High Speed Rail

By Robert Cruickshank

30 years ago, Governor Jerry Brown brought the concept of high speed rail to California. He fought hard to get Caltrans to embrace it and when a group of Japanese investors proposed a Shinkansen-style train from Los Angeles to San Diego in the early 1980s, Brown helped their project along, including giving it a CEQA exemption. The project died after Brown left office in 1983, but the concept remained.

As California is on the verge of building its first set of high speed tracks in the Central Valley, there's been a lot of criticism of the project from longtime opponents. They've been getting traction given the general political movement towards reckless and insane austerity. But Jerry Brown, once again occupying the governor's office, refuses to give in and abandon support for this transformative and important project.

Clean, Safely-Delivered Energy Should be California’s Top Priority

By State Senator Mark Leno

One of the biggest challenges we face in securing a sustainable future is finding alternative sources of energy that are affordable, environmentally friendly and safe to deliver to consumers. With an energy industry that is driven by fossil fuel, this is not an easy task to accomplish. But as utility rates continue to increase, so does the public's awareness of where we get our energy.

Improved Vehicle Mileage Ratings a Win-Win

By Alan Kandel

At President Obama’s urging, the “Detroit Three” (automakers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler), agreed to increase fuel efficiency of vehicles to an average 54.5 miles per gallon by year 2025. The fuel efficiency is doubled compared to that of the average vehicle today – 27 mpg. Quite to my liking, greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes will be half what they are now. Not only this, but based on today’s numbers, a vehicle owner can expect to save $8,000 over the lifetime of a year 2025-purchased vehicle. Overall oil consumption could be reduced by as much as 40 percent.

Now those are impressive numbers. And, no doubt, it’s a giant leap in the right direction. But all this makes me wonder whether this is the course that should have been taken some 30 years ago when waiting in long lines to fill the tank up was the order of the day.

Support Drops for More Nuclear Plants, Rises for Offshore Drilling

Public Policy Institute of California

In the wake of the Japanese nuclear crisis, support for building more nuclear power plants in California has dropped sharply in a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), with funding from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Today, 65 percent of adults oppose building more plants and 30 percent are in favor—the lowest level of support since PPIC began asking the question and a 14-point drop since last July (44% in favor).  

Commuter Benefits: How a Bill With Bipartisan Support Turned Into a Partisan Fight

By Rebecca Saltzman

At the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV), we often know early on what bills will be contentious in the legislature. We plan ahead and work on securing votes of legislators who are on the fence. But at other times, good bills seem to be sailing through. This was the case with SB 582, which would establish a commuter benefit pilot program. Unfortunately though, the key word here is "was".

The pilot program would allow metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) and local air districts to jointly adopt a regional commute benefit requirement. Employers in these regions would have the following options:

  • Give employees the option to pay for their transit, vanpooling or bicycling expenses with pre-tax dollars, as currently allowed by federal law;
  • Offer employees a transit or vanpool subsidy up to $75 per month;

Darrell Issa Still Absent on Radioactive Tritium Leaking from San Onofre

By Lucas O’Connor

Note: “Issa Exposed” is a project of the Courage Campaign that tracks Darrell Issa's public record as well as the ongoing investigations and hearings he's involved with as the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

It's been months now without Darrell Issa lifting a finger to address safety concerns at the nuclear power station at San Onofre in his district, and the terrifying problems continue to mount while Issa fiddles.

Speculation Adds 83 Cents A Gallon to Gas Prices at the Pump

By Jonathan Fox
CALPIRG

CALPIRG, a statewide consumer advocacy organization I work for, just released a new report entitled “How Speculation is Driving Up Gasoline Prices Today”. The report was authored by Robert Pollin and James Heintz with University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Americans for Financial Reform (AFR), a coalition of more than 250 national and state organizations working together for strong financial reform.

It confirms the obvious: price hikes at the pump are not simply a result of supply and demand.  This report found that Wall Street speculation drove prices at the pump up by 83 cents last month. Short term market speculation has played a greater role in distorting the true price of gas at the pump than changes in global markets. In fact, there is more supply and less demand today than there was two years ago when gas prices averaged $2.44 cents. Rampant speculation on oil prices is driving up the cost of gas at the pump and it needs to stop.

Nuclear Dangers Close to Home

By Norman Solomon

SEVERAL DECADES AGO, three expert nuclear engineers told a congressional panel why they decided to quit: "We could no longer justify devoting our life energies to the continued development and expansion of nuclear fission power — a system we believe to be so dangerous that it now threatens the very existence of life on this planet."

The Joint Committee on Atomic Energy heard that testimony in 1977, when the conventional wisdom was still hailing "the peaceful atom" as a flawless marvel. During the same year, solid information convinced me to move from concern to action against nuclear power.