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As GOP Takes House, VA Clean Energy Champion Perriello Loses Seat

The first-termer is one of many clean energy promoters to fall as Republicans make big gains in Washington

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 3, 2010

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia—Rep. Tom Perriello looked so buoyant and sounded so effervescent during his concession speech Tuesday night that backers not yet aware of the final election numbers might have thought the clean energy champion was headed back to a second term in Congress.

But in this third straight, independent-instigated “wave election,” voters booted Perriello and at least 60 other House Democrats out of office.

Though Democrats retained a slimmer Senate majority, the House turnabout erased significant pickups that Democrats made in 2006 and 2008. With the lower chamber flipping to the GOP, Ohio Republican John Boehner is in line to replace California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker.

Living Planet Report Says Rich Nations Inhabit a "False Paradise"

Populations of tropical species are plummeting and humanity’s demands on natural resources are sky-rocketing to 50% more than the earth can sustain


Nov 3, 2010
Map Showing Global Ecological Footprint

Populations of tropical species are plummeting and humanity’s demands on natural resources are sky-rocketing to 50% more than the earth can sustain, according to the 2010 edition of WWF’s – the leading survey of the health of the earth.

The study -- produced in collaboration with the and the -- uses what it terms “a series of indicators to monitor biodiversity, human demand on renewable resources and ecosystem services”.

This “Living Planet Index” reflects changes in ecosystems by tracking trends in nearly 8,000 populations of vertebrate species -- more than 2,500 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. The global index, says the report, shows a 30% decrease from 1970 to 2007; the tropics have been hardest hit, with a 60% decline in less than 40 years.

“There is an alarming rate of biodiversity loss in low-income, often tropical, countries while the developed world is living in a false paradise, fuelled by excessive consumption and high carbon emissions,” according to Jim Leape, director general of WWF International.

Two Companies Seek Trade Secret Status for Fracking Fluids in Wyoming

Disclosure is the rule, anything else is a rare exception, state official says

by Marie C. Baca,

Nov 2, 2010

Two chemical manufacturers are seeking an exemption from new rules in Wyoming that require public disclosure of the chemicals used in , a controversial natural gas drilling process suspected of polluting groundwater.

ChemEOR, based in Covina, Calif., and CESI Chemical Inc., based in Marlow, Okla., have asked the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to grant their fracturing fluids trade secret status, according to state oil and gas supervisor Tom Doll. The designation would still require the companies to share their formulas with the state but would exempt them from making the information available to the public.

"Disclosure is the rule," Doll said. "Anything else is a rare exception, and one we will look at very, very closely."

Study: Only 47% of Republicans Think Global Warming Is Happening

Researchers say the results are "not a surprise" and reflect a growing divide first noticed in 1997

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 2, 2010

WASHINGTON—Democrats are not only more prone to think that global warming is happening but they are also much more apt to worry about it than independents and Republicans.
That partisan split emerged loud and clear when Yale University researchers crunched a separate set of numbers from an in-depth climate change study they released in mid-October. The prospect of a looming Election Day prompted the survey collaborators to in attitudes toward global warming.
“We always go into our research with an open mind,” Anthony Leiserowitz, with the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, told SolveClimate News. “These results are not a surprise because it’s a phenomenon we’ve been witnessing for many years now.”

BP Oil Spill Costs to Hit $40 Billion

BP's pre-tax profits for the third quarter of 2010 down to $1.8bn, compared with $4.98bn a year ago.

Nov 2, 2010

BP said today it expects the cost of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster to be $7.7bn (£4.8bn) bigger than previously thought, pushing the total bill to nearly $40bn.

The oil giant announced the new charge to cover the cost of the Gulf of Mexico spill alongside its financial results for the third quarter of the year. It blamed the delays that dogged its attempts to seal the leak, along with higher clean-up costs and legal fees.

The new charge knocked BP's pre-tax profits for the third quarter of 2010 down to $1.8bn, compared with $4.98bn a year ago.

To Get Elected, Florida's Rubio Leaving Climate Action Past Behind

Crist gets flak for political opportunism. But it's Tea Party favorite Rubio who's shifted from climate promoter to climate denier

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 1, 2010

 WASHINGTON—Republicans delight in skewering Florida Gov. , the GOP-turned-independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, as a political opportunist.
But what about his Republican opponent, ? Before becoming a climate change denier and darling of the Tea Party movement, the up-and-coming state legislator was intent on blazing a Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger–like green trail in the Sunshine State. That’s why the environmentally informed say Rubio is the candidate who changed his stripes to be elected to Florida’s open Senate seat.
“It’s purely politics,” California environmental adviser  Terry Tamminen told SolveClimate News. “Rubio recognizes that if he wants to run as a Republican in a statewide race, he has to tack to the right. He is doing exactly what he feels he has to do and, frankly, probably holding his nose about it.”

Wind or Oil? New Mexico Voters Face Sharp Choice on Nov. 2

Teague's clean energy agenda draws some, but others say Pearce will defend the state's oil industry

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 1, 2010

Editor's Note: SolveClimate News political reporter Elizabeth McGowan traveled to New Mexico to cover the 2010 midterm elections race in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. It pits an incumbent against a former legislator, both with long careers in the oil and gas industry. This is the final installment in a three-part series. Read Part 1 and Part 2.
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M.—Mention cap-and-trade systems, renewable electricity standards or low-carbon economies to Hatty Smith, and her snappy blue eyes quickly telegraph that such Washington gibberish gives her a headache.

But turn the conversation toward harnessing her home state’s ferocious winds to create electricity and the 83-year-old’s ears perk up.

“I think it’s the best thing they could ever think of,” says Smith, a retired restaurant owner. “It’s natural. We have plenty of wind, and it’s free. I don’t understand why we’re not using more of it.”

Boosting wind power is one of the reasons Smith is backing renewable-energy champion Democrat who’s in a down-to-the-wire match with a climate-change denying Republican to hang on to his House seat in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.

U.S. Navy Tests Boat Powered by Algae

Fleet sails towards sustainability with biofuel-powered gunboat

by Suzanne Goldenberg,

Oct 31, 2010

It looked like a pretty ordinary day on the water at the U.S. naval base in Norfolk, Va.—a few short bursts of speed, a nice tail wind, some test maneuvers against an enemy boat.

But the 49-foot gunboat had algae-based fuel in the tank in a test hailed by the navy yesterday as a milestone in its creation of a new, -saving strike force.

The experimental boat, intended for use in rivers and marshes and eventually destined for oil installations in the Middle East, operated on a 50-50 mix of algae-based fuel and diesel. "It ran just fine," said Rear Admiral Philip Cullom, who directs the navy's sustainability division.

Senators Assail Clinton Over Tar Sands Pipeline Comments

Concern that State Department is pre-judging the outcome of a pipeline permit without adequate analysis

By Stacy Feldman

Oct 29, 2010

Leading Senate Democrats are scolding the State Department for hastily moving to approve a Canada-to-Texas pipeline that would nearly double U.S. oil sands imports and cut through the nation's largest underground aquifer.

Eleven senators, led by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), fired off Friday morning to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clinton set off a firestorm earlier this month when she at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco that the agency is "inclined" to approve the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, after 50 House Democrats, the Environmental Protection Agency and the all recently raised serious concerns about the project.

Clinton said that piping Canadian crude is preferable to creating more dependence on Middle Eastern oil. The senators said it is premature to signal support for the 1,700-mile pipeline while the agency's legally mandated environmental review is in progress.

"We believe the Department of State (DOS) should not pre-judge the outcome of what should be a thorough, transparent analysis of the need for this oil and its impacts on our climate and clean energy goals," they wrote.

Concern Over Ocean Acidification Ramps Up Research Dollars

National Science Foundation announces more than $24 million dollars for 22 research projects

By Lisa Song

Oct 29, 2010

Mounting concerns over ocean acidification—a consequence of CO2 emissions—has accelerated research funding aimed at understanding the process potentially endangering marine life in ocean waters all across the earth.

In early October, the National Science Foundation awarded over $24 million dollars to 22 projects through a new grant program targeted to study how ocean acidification affects marine environments. While the NSF has funded ocean acidification in the past, it is the first time the agency has created a special program aimed at the field of study.

As CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increase, much of the gas is absorbed by the oceans, where it dissolves in the water. As a result, the oceans are getting more acidic over time. However, the long-term effects of the process are poorly understood.