On Climate Debate, Skepticism and Public Intellectuals

A long posting and following discussion on Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. blog on the topic of “Public intellectuals in the climate space” prompted me to recall an apposite thought, written long before the heated (and often overheated) arguments over global warming. A postcard on my office bulletin board, which I’ve had for at least a [...]

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Powhatan Strikes Back

A small Philadelphia energy trading firm, charged by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with market manipulation, has fired back at the agency with a delightful in-your-face response. Dissecting FERC’s show cause order claiming that Powhatan Energy Fund manipulated the PJM market, Powhatan’s law firm, Drinker Biddle & Reath, makes it clear it is ready for [...]

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Fixed Solar Fees Are Tesla’s Best Friend and a Utility Own Goal

Two developments yesterday, one quiet, one rather loud, suggest the long-predicted existential threat to the traditional utility model may be at hand. The quiet news came from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), which reported that utility-scale solar generation crossed the 5-GW mark for the first time yesterday. Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. PST, [...]

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Latest U.S.-India Nuclear Deal: Less than Meets the Eye?

In late January, President Obama traveled to India and met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a photo op, touting a new civilian nuclear power deal. Obama claimed that the new deal was a “breakthrough understanding.” The Washington Post reported, “The White House said the agreement involved the provision of insurance pools and an assurance [...]

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New Doubts on Climate Models

For more than 25 years, feedback-loop global circulation models (GCMs) have been the staple of predictions of the pace of global warming and the effects of the warming on the world. A new PhD dissertation from The Netherlands casts fundamental doubts about the value of the models. (A hat-tip to Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry for [...]

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Cuban Revolucion Energetica?

The image on the back of a Cuban $10 peso bill is a line drawing of a diesel-fired generator, a line worker, overhead high-voltage electric transmission, oil refineries, two windmills and a modern pickup truck (not American, of course). Above that image is the phrase “REVOLUCION ENERGETICA,” or energy revolution. Cuba clearly needs an energy [...]

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Cheap Oil Won’t Kill Shale

The dramatic collapse in the price of oil—currently flirting with sub-$40/barrel levels—has naturally produced an explosion of commentary on its short- and long-term effects. One curious, though predictable, narrative is starting to emerge from the environmental left: The price collapse is the death knell to shale oil, and the U.S. oil boom—which was never a [...]

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Vermont Yankee’s Contribution to Environmental History

There’s a historical backstory to the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant late last year, which got no mention in the general accounts of the venerable reactor’s demise. The plant played a key role in the 1960s in the evolving issue of “thermal pollution” and once-through cooling of large power plants, a topic still [...]

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Is Shale the Answer for Nuke Waste?

The extensive shale deposits in the U.S. have been getting a lot of attention in recent years as technology has unlocked hydrocarbon deposits trapped in their rock strata – natural gas and natural gas liquids in the Mid-Atlantic states, gas in Texas, and crude oil (and lots of it) and gas in North Dakota. But [...]

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Will Winter Disrupt PRB Coal Deliveries Again?

Last winter saw extreme weather – remember the “polar vortex”? – severely disrupt coal supplies to power plants in the upper Midwest (particularly Minnesota) that burn Powder River Basin coal. Plants had to reduce output, coal piles dwindled to the point they were single digit days away from exhaustion, and the BNSF Railway, the major [...]

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