Suzy Khimm

Is King Coal Tossing Us Another Red Herring?
July 30, 2008

"Clean" coal, that still-mythical beast, is rearing its head once again. This time it's in the form of carbon capture and storage (CCS), the technology that promises to remove CO2 from burning coal, liquefy it, and pump it underground. CCS has been in the works for well over a decade, mostly in Europe and Canada, but has recently gained a slew of coal-go-lucky supporters in America. As Yale Environment 360 explains, the cost of retrofitting old plants for CCS is so high that it would only be practical for newly constructed coal plants.

Epa To Staff: Shut Your Trap
July 29, 2008

The EPA has instructed its staff "not to talk with congressional investigators, reporters and even the agency's own inspector general," the Associated Press reported yesterday.

Why Doha-haters Are Deluded
July 28, 2008

Over at Grist, Tom Philpott rails against the news from Doha that U.S. has offered to reduce its farm subsidies--so long as other countries open up their markets to American farm exports: What [U.S. trade rep Susan Schwab] seems to be demanding is a license to dump industrially produced U.S. farm goods onto foreign markets…Surprise, surprise. The Bush administration is using farm-subsidy cuts as a lever to pry open markets, mainly in the global south, to U.S.

Not With A Bang But A Whimper
July 25, 2008

Mount St. Helens finally stopped erupting last week...a mere four years after it began. The crater started trembling on Sept. 23, 2004, but it was only this month that scientists said that the eruption was finally over, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer tells us. Everyone had been fearing a reprise of the 1980 catastrophe when the tremors first began. (CNN kept cutting away from Kerry vs. Bush to the steaming mountain, the story notes.)  But Mount St. Helens has confounded the world's volcanists by keeping it at a slow burn for the past 40 months: More than anything, scientists say, Mount St.

Mccain's Lama Love
July 24, 2008

While Obama basks in the glow of his European lovefest, McCain's also hoping for a wee sprinkling of international stardust. Tomorrow McCain will be meeting with the Dalai Lama in Colorado, where the Tibetan leader has been hobnobbing with the other bigwigs at the Aspen Institute.

Parched And Hungry In The Middle East
July 22, 2008

Middle Eastern countries are being forced to choose between food and water, The New York Times reports: For decades nations in [the Middle East and North Africa] have drained aquifers, sucked the salt from seawater and diverted the mighty Nile to make the deserts bloom. But those projects were so costly and used so much water that it remained far more practical to import food than to produce it. Today, some countries import 90 percent or more of their staples. Now, the worldwide food crisis is making many countries in this politically volatile region rethink that math.

Can The Feds Lead Us Out Of The 'valley Of Death'?
July 17, 2008

The Wall Street Journal ruefully points out that it will take some $3 trillion to realize Al Gore’s plan to end our dependency on carbon-based electricity by 2018. How, exactly, are we going to scrape together that kind of money? In his speech today, Gore described how “billions of dollars of new investment” have already been flowing into clean energy development, and his organization describes the growing enthusiasm of greentech venture capitalists. But at the heart of Gore’s proposal is how the government should put the foot on the (renewable) gas pedal.

The Audacity Of Courts
July 15, 2008

So the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has formally requested an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur. To no one’s surprise, the Sudanese government has rejected the charges as baseless, but one criticism that’s also coming from some members of the international community is that the ICC’s actions will jeopardize the fragile humanitarian relief effort and security environment in the country.

Epa To America: Your Life Is Worth Less
July 14, 2008

From the Associated Press (via FP): The EPA has decided that the average American life isn't worth as much as it once thought. The agency lowered the statistical value of a life from $7.8 million to $6.9 million--about a $1 million drop from five years ago. The calculation is important because it figures into the agency's cost-benefit analysis of proposed regulations: Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths.

Green-collars On The Rise
July 10, 2008

The numbers are in... at least for 2006. According to the Worldwatch Institute, some 2.3 milion people worldwide were employed by the renewable energy industry that year, either directly or by one of their suppliers. The breakdown: wind power employs about 300,000 people, solar energy employs some 794,000 people, and biomass/biofuels account for more than 1 million jobs. The U.S.