Energy & Environment

Jump-start the smart grid

Among energy and tech industry insiders, the promise of the “smart grid” is as familiar as it is tantalizing. But to advance this promise, legislators in Washington need to play a part in working with businesses to adopt smarter energy policies.

Unfortunately, Congress will soon head home for the midterm elections. Everyone seems to agree that little, if anything will be accomplished on the energy policy front before the end of the year. Although, there is dim hope that there will be movement on bipartisan renewable electricity standard legislation introduced earlier this week in the Senate. If passed, this bill would only address one part of the larger equation to spur investment in a smart grid.

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Ethanol: A good deal for America’s economy

Congress and the news media are focused on infrastructure stimulus packages but they’re overlooking one legislative issue that is guaranteed to have a significant impact on jobs, especially in rural economies: biofuels.

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The U.S. needs to become energy independent before it’s too late

Despite our current economic climate, the opportunity exists to create jobs and to help our country achieve much needed energy independence. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes billions of dollars for cities and states across the country was a step in the right direction, but we need an increased urgency and immediate emphasis on achieving energy independence.

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Assert yourself, America; Don’t be an illegal trade victim

Long-suffering victim is hardly the American image. Paul Revere, Mother Jones, John Glenn, Martin Luther King Jr. -- those are American icons. Bold, wry, justice-seeking.

So how is it that America finds herself in the position of schoolyard patsy, woe-is-me casualty of China’s illegal trade practices that are destroying U.S. renewable energy manufacturing and foreclosing an energy-independent future?

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Safety and offshore drilling are not mutually exclusive (Rep. John Culberson)

The oil spill in the Gulf is a tragedy in every sense of the word. The deaths of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon rig are heartbreaking and the environmental impact is distressing. A report released this week from British Petroleum notes that the tragedy in the Gulf arose from a complex and interlinked series of mechanical failures and errors in human judgment. This is the first in a series of examinations of the accident to be published in the months ahead.

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Moratorium on deepwater drilling must be lifted (Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao)

On Thursday, September 2nd, the Gulf Coast states suffered another environmental scare when an offshore oil rig caught fire less than five months after an explosion ripped through the Deepwater Horizon rig, killing 11 workers and causing the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.  But this time, safety systems and procedures worked, and another disaster was avoided.  After the fire broke out on Mariner Energy Inc.’s offshore oil production rig, “Vermillion Block 380,” about 100 miles south of Louisiana’s coast and some 200 miles west of the Deepwater Horizon spill site, 13 workers jumped overboard to rescue and safety, but not until some of them had shut down the seven active production wells on the platform, preventing a catastrophic leak.  Even so, the incident has prompted calls from some for the government to extend its six-month moratorium on offshore drilling, currently set to expire November 30th.

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Latest oil platform accident is a grim reminder of our energy challenges (Sen. Tom Carper)

My visit to the Gulf Coast of Louisiana this week turned out to be even more interesting than I had expected. We went on this trip to investigate the progress of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup and the ongoing claims process for those affected by the disaster. However, shortly after the Army Black Hawk helicopter touched down in Grand Isle, Louisiana, right on the Gulf of Mexico, we were greeted by news of an oil platform explosion some 135 miles or so to the southwest of us out in the Gulf. Thirteen men went over the side of the platform into the water following the explosion. Fortunately, all of them survived, apparently without serious injury. They were luckier than the eleven men who perished during the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig more than four months ago.

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Senate should move on climate change legislation

At the turn of the 20th Century, smoke meant jobs. When noxious fumes spewed from factory stacks, workers brought home paychecks. Industries hired. The future was bright as molten iron flowing from a blast furnace.

In industrial Pittsburgh’s heyday, the smoke was so dense streetlights remained lit at noon. White collar workers changed soot-covered shirts mid-day. The region’s residents suffered high rates of asthma and emphysema. In 1948, an inversion trapped industrial pollution in a small town south of Pittsburgh, killing 20.

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