May 31, 2009

Dr. Chu - He's got the whole world in his hands...

I read this article from the times and dozens of other articles that clearly pick Dr. Chu as President Obama Green Leader...

Indeed - Change is an inevitable and unstoppable succession.

Dr. Chu has the challenge of using his brilliance to make this change better or for the worse for us all.

So far, we have observed the dim side of his potential to influence 'positive change'
My hope is that with enough academic encouragement and critical information we can influence Dr. Chu's brilliant mind to focus on the problem and not the politics.

We need tangible energy options that can save use from our peak and fiscal crisis. I do see the answers in the years of Mr. Chu's influences and we need him to step up and call out the technology that is 'not ready for prime time' so we can throw everything we have at fixing this mess in our lifetimes.

The short finite timeline and not the perpetual propaganda machine that is spinning his current ideas into unrealistic, unobtainable hoop dreams.

Technology, painted roofs and space lasers will not save us... The utilization of energy options that do not use or influence finite resources will... that is and has been the truth for three decades. Geothermal, fastbreed, synth2waste, solar to H2, sodium solar storage, CH4 reuse and reductions, 50mpg with high carbon use tax.

What can justify a policy that deliberately increases the price of food and fuel?

This is where the EPA's analysis is especially interesting. Given the results published in Science, many biofuels might not meet the greenhouse gas reduction required by EISA. This would largely gut the biofuel mandate. 
Calling passage of the bill the "shot heard 'round the world," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it would improve the "health of our children." ... this is questionable at best.
While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis suggests that the switch toward renewables will decrease ammonia, carbon monoxide, and benzene, it also predicts "significant increases in ethanol and acetaldehyde emissions" and "more modest increases in nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, acrolein, and sulfur dioxide." Citing time constraints, the EPA did not do a full analysis of the net health effects of these emission profiles, but a reasonable assumption is that the detrimental health impacts from increased particulate matter will at least offset the health improvements from the predicted reductions in the other pollutants.
The EPA's analysis suggests that the switch toward renewables will significantly increase various emissions.
Supporters of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) also claimed that it will reduce greenhouse gases. Both Speaker Pelosi and then-President Bush said the bill will help reverse global warming.
Indeed, much of the early enthusiasm for biofuels was based on the belief that their use would reduce greenhouse gases. It is true that burning biofuels results in less tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases relative to burning petroleum. Yet this ignores the increase in emissions that results from the production of biofuels, especially the land use changes as farmers convert forest and grassland into cropland for biofuel production. An article published in Sciencemagazinein 2008 found that "corn-based ethanol nearly doubles greenhouse gas emissions over 30 years and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years." Another article in Scienceconcluded that crop-based biofuels create a "biofuel carbon debt of 17 to 420 times more carbon dioxide than the greenhouse gas reductions that these biofuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels."
The EPA's findings indeed show a substantial increase in greenhouse gas emissions stemming from the initial land use changes needed to meet the mandate. Only over a long time horizon do the relatively clean-burning fuels start to accrue reductions in greenhouse gases relative to petroleum.



The following figure from the EPA's analysis shows the estimated emission profiles for corn-based biofuel, soy-based biodiesel, sugarcane ethanol, and switchgrass ethanol, stemming from the 2022 mandate of 36.0 billion gallons. There is an extremely large spike in emissions due to initial land-use changes, especially for corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel. It takes more than 30 years for the emission reductions from these cleaner burning fuels to make up for the spike in emissions from the land-use changes. (Sugarcane and switchgrass biofuels fare much better.)

Opting not to substantially gut EISA's biofuel mandate, the EPA evaluates these time profiles using either a very long time horizon of 100 years (so that there are more years in the future garnering emission reductions in order to dominate the first-year emissions spike), or a shorter time horizon (30 years) but with a zero discount rate (eliminating the typically assumed preference for current benefits relative to future benefits).
This figure clearly calls into question the merits of the renewable fuel standard. At a cost of higher fuel prices (the EPA predicts 2.7 to 10.9 cents more per gallon), higher food prices (the EPA predicts $10 more per person per year on food), increases in harmful local pollutants, and a considerable increase in short-term greenhouse gas emissions, the standard only starts paying climate-related dividends many years in the future.

Oregon a geothermal 'hotbed.'

Central Oregon correspondent Ethan Lindsey reports from one of the hottest "hotbeds" of geothermal power and research, Klamath Falls.
The tropical fish aisle in your local Petco isn't glamorous. In fact, it can be downright depressing.
But, and this is no big fish story, this mega pet mart is part of our country's renewable energy future.
...remember, this is the high desert of southern Oregon. Why in the heck is this guy raising tropical fish outdoors here?
Ron Barnes: "It's cold here. And these fish -- we keep these ponds here at 80 degrees year-round, so when it's 5 degrees outside, we create our own fog bank."
That 80-degree water is the answer. Barnes gets it for free, from a regular-old well.
Ron Barnes: "What we do is impossible, without the geothermal water. It's ridiculous. You couldn't do what we do economically, and almost physically, because there's 3 million gallons of water in ponds here. And you can't keep that hot enough, if you were paying to heat it. It's just not, basically, possible."
That free, renewable energy in the hot water is why many see geothermal power as a key piece of a green energy future.
In Klamath Falls, for example, geothermal wells benefit more than just fish.
John Lund is the director of the Geo-Heat Center at the Oregon Institute of Technology.
John Lund: "They heat most of the eastside of the city, most of the schools. We have greenhouses that are heated in town, we melt snow, and we even have a brewery that makes their beer using geothermal energy."
Right now, worldwide, about 25,000 megawatts of heat energy comes from geothermal sources.
Many experts predict that could double in the near future – saving a lot of natural gas and electrical heating power in the process.
The city estimates that its geothermal sources replace 60 megawatts worth of conventional power every year and that amounts to a savings of 50,000 barrels of oil and millions-of-dollars.
And remember, because of its consistent nature, geothermal is an ever-present, baseload power source.
The cost is relatively inexpensive, ranging from 3 to 7 cents per kilowatt-hour.
That's a little less than Oregon customers pay for power right now.
Read more from Ethan Lindsey here

'eco' companies causing pollution... it's the water of death. It kills the crops we put it on

The great carbon credit con: Why are we paying the Third World to poison its environment?

In the fields around this giant chemicals factory in Gujarat, the barren soil smells of paint stripper and the water from the well makes you gag. So why has it been given tens of millions of pounds of taxpayer-funded UN 'green reward points', which are traded hungrily on the financial markets at huge profit? The Great Carbon Credits Merry-Go Round graphic
...Radha, a tough, sinewy widow and the only female farmer here, says that the well, which draws from deep groundwater, used to adequately supply the village and surrounding farms.
'We have plenty of water – but water is the problem,' she says.
As the bucket returns to the top, we can make out a white, almost oily-looking film on the surface of the liquid, which has formed little snowflake shapes.
She scoops up some water and asks us to smell it. It has an odour so acrid it catches in the back of our throats, making us cough.
'We can't irrigate our crops with it,' she says. 'It's the water of death. It kills most crops we put it on.'


In theory the carbon-credit trading scheme is a thoroughly modern and intelligent approach to reducing world pollution. The graphic above explains the system – in a nutshell, rich First World companies are financially encouraged to help poorer Third World companies clean up their manufacturing processes. They do this by accepting 'carbon caps', or limits, which if exceeded can be replenished by purchasing carbon credits – via specialist traders – from manufacturers in the developing world.

In practice, however, there are loopholes that seriously threaten the schemes' credibility. The most significant are these: they take into account only greenhouse gases, money made through trading credits can be used to expand a business so increasing pollution and, perhaps most questionably, auditors of the scheme are paid for by the companies.


Carbon credits have become such a profitable commodity that market speculators – hedge funds, banks and pension funds – have enthusiastically bought into them. Traders buy and sell credits issued by both the UN and EU schemes. For trading purposes, one allowance or Certified Emission Reduction
(CER) is equivalent to one ton of CO2 emissions.

These credits can be sold privately or on the international market. Louis Redshaw, head of environmental markets at Barclays Capital predicts that 'carbon will be the world's biggest commodity market – and it could become the world's biggest market overall.'

But that was before the recession. A global fall-off in manufacturing means that companies are producing far less carbon. In recent months, companies in this position have dumped their credits on the market. This has not only provided heavily polluting firms with funds to plug gaps in their balance sheets but has also pushed down prices. Carbon has now dropped to such a level it's cheaper to burn polluting fossil fuels and buy up credits than find ways of reducing emissions. 


NIF providing a path to explore the frontiers of basic science

"NIF will be a cornerstone of a critical national security mission, ensuring the continuing reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile without underground nuclear testing, while also providing a path to explore the frontiers of basic science, and potential technologies for energy independence."

The world's largest and highest-energy laser was certified to operate by the U.S. Department of Energy on March 27, 2009. In 2010, NIF will focus the intense energy of 192 giant laser beams on a BB-sized target filled with hydrogen fuel — fusing, or igniting, the hydrogen atoms' nuclei in the world's first controlled thermonuclear reaction. This is the same fusion energy process that makes stars shine and provides the life-giving energy of the sun. More on NIF ..

Affordable, Real Electric Cars

The world is not short of electric car start-ups.   As Mike's round up of 23 Electric Cars Driving the Revolution showed, even the big players in the auto world are finally getting in on the act - though few are anywhere close to actually selling an affordable electric vehicle. but, in general, the smaller players in this market gravitate more toward flashy, sporty concepts like Dale Vince's electric sports car, and less toward vehicles that your or I would actually drive. Enter the UK's Quiet Electric Car Company, who have put together two affordable, real electric cars that won't break the bank. Click link for performance and pricing details, video of the car in action, and some thoughts from the founders on how government help could kick start the electric car market. Read more here

Can the Oil Industry Save Your Retirement

From the Green Machine to the Greed Machine we will make horrible short decisions to prevent the inevitable putting great problems on future generations...
Hey, might as well profit from it? Read about it here
According to new analysis by the American Institute for Economic Research, federal tax revenue fell $138 billion last month compared to just one year ago. News headlines will likely focus on how the drop could severely hinder Washington's ability to pay down the projected $1.7 trillion budget deficit. That's missing a major point -- how the drop will impact American workers' outlook for prosperity and retirement.

Pundits will also certainly ignore the role our
oil industry could play in easing these problems. Let's look at both issues.

U.S. Energy Oxymorons: Energy Independence & Security (PDF)

amenorrhea affecting millions of healthy women

Female Athletes Share Quadruple Health Threats study led by sports medicine researcher Anne Hoch, D.O., at The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee has revealed that young female professional dancers face the same health risks as young female athletes when they don't eat enough to offset the energy they spend, and stop menstruating as a consequence.
"These two components of the female athlete tetrad put them at higher risk for the other two; the cardiovascular and bone density deficits of much older, postmenopausal women,"
High-dose Folic Acid Supplements Improved Vascular Function in Amenorrheic Runners
In a related study, presented earlier at the American Society of Sports Medicine meeting in Tampa, Fla., researchers at The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee found that four to six weeks of high-dose folic acid supplementation could improve vascular function in young female runners who were amenorrheic (not menstruating).
This is the first study to use folic acid supplementation to improve vascular function in young runners, and is important because folic acid may not only decrease cardiovascular risks but also improve athletic performance for these women. The research was conducted at Froedtert Hospital.
"Previous studies have shown that amenorrheic women runners have decreased dilation in the main (brachial) artery of the arm in response to blood flow," says lead author Stacy Lynch, M.D., a women's sports medicine fellow at the College. "Athletic amenorrhea has a hormonal profile similar to menopause, when the earliest sign of cardiovascular disease is reduced vascular dilation, which can limit oxygen uptake and affect performance."
While the benefits for women of an active lifestyle, including running, are profound and well-known, there are nearly three million girls in high school sports and approximately 23 million women who run at least six times a week. The prevalence of athletic-associated amenorrhea among these runners is now estimated at 44 percent.


Fusion We Will Know In Two Years

Rick Nebel, the head of EMC2 Fusion (Polywell), has a few words to say in the comments at Next Big Future about the progress he is making in understanding The Polywell Fusion Reactor and its chances for power production.
Rick Nebel
I believe we will know the answer for the Polywell in ~ 1.5-2 years. I haven't looked at MSimons design, but I know he has a lot of good ideas. We'll probably take a closer look at D-D reactors over the next 2 years.
I'm honored Rick thinks that I have made some useful contributions to the advance of this technology.

What most excites me is that we will probably know in two years or less if this technology is viable. That is very exciting.

Bussard's IEC Fusion Technology (Polywell Fusion) Explained

Why hasn't Polywell Fusion been fully funded by the Obama administration?

If you want to learn more about the basics of fusion (Polywell is a little more complicated) may I suggest:

Principles of Fusion Energy: An Introduction to Fusion Energy for Students of Science and Engineering  or Roger Fox video IEC Fusion for Dummies v5.7

H.R. 2454 Climate Bill Standard Severely Weakened; May Have Little to No Impact

VIA It's Getting Hot In Here  "at 0.001 percent, 35 percent growth doesn't amount to much."

Advocates of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454, or "ACES" for short) argue that the bill is far more than just a climate bill. It's a comprehensive piece of clean energy, efficiency and climate legislation, and taken as a whole, they argue, it should be considered transformational — even if the cap and trade portion of the bill may have been significantly weakened (see Breakthrough's detailed analysis of the ACES cap and trade program here).

But the question remains: will ACES really be transformational? And will it propel American quickly away from business as usual and towards the prosperous clean energy economy and dramatic emissions reductions we need?

Breakthrough's team has taken a close look at the bill's cap and trade provision, and discovered that the combination of offset provisions and a little-known provision called the "strategic reserve pool" could allow U.S. emissions to greatly exceed the supposed emissions "cap" set by the legislation.

Here we examine one of the other major provisions of the ACES bill, the national renewable electricity standard (RES) established by Title I of the bill. Unfortunately, our analysis concludes that the RES has been severely weakened since initially proposed in the discussion draft version of the ACES bill; as it now stands, the RES may barely increase U.S. renewable electricity generation compared to business as usual projections.

We conclude that as it now stands, business as usual renewable electricity generation may exceed the renewable electricity requirement if the discretionary efficiency waivers are fully utilized, and will boost qualifying renewable electricity generation to just 2 percentage points higher than business as usual in 2025 if the efficiency waivers aren't utilized at all. In short, the ACES RES will have between little to no impact on renewable electricity generation through 2025

We also compared the amount of qualifying renewable electricity required by the two version of the renewable electricity standards, and conclude that the H.R. 2454 version of the renewable electricity requirement, as passed by the E&C Committee, is 14% weaker than the originally proposed discussion draft standard in 2020 and 40% weaker in 2025, as illustrated in the graphics below…

It's no wonder neither the American Wind Energy Association or VoteSolar are particularly exuberant about the passage of the ACES bill through the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Here's AWEA's remarks & here's VoteSolar:

Nearly any policy action that encourages more renewable energy is A-OK with us. … However, as currently written, none of the pending RES policies will deploy significant amounts of solar. According to the Department of Energy's analysis of that 25 percent RES by 2025, which again is much stronger than the compromise goals emerging from Committees, the federal RES structure could lead to a 35 percent increase in solar compared to a 678 percent increase in wind. When you're starting at 0.001 percent, 35 percent growth doesn't amount to much.

Read full originally posted at the Breakthrough Institute (VIA It's Getting Hot In Here )

May 30, 2009

Which is better 42.2 mpg or 35.5. mpg?

Which is better? A national fleet fuel economy standard (think CAFE) of 42.2 mpg or 35.5. mpg?
The former, right?
Well, 42.2 is exactly what China has put in place and, from that one number, they seem to be beating the U.S. The trusty John O'Dell over at Green Car Advisor breaks down why we need to look beyond the numbers so that when the political debate on "why are the Chinese so far ahead of the U.S.?" gets going, we can answer the question with a bit of background.
    Fact 1: China's current mpg standard of 36.8 mpg is higher than what we have in the U.S., so it's not as big a leap to 42.2.
    Fact 2: The national fleet in China is mostly made up of small cars that are inherently more efficient than American land barges.
    Fact 3: Fuel economy is used as a basis for taxes in China, so consumer demand for smaller cars exists in a way it doesn't here in the U.S.

Size does matter?... Smaller Cars Top Safety Marks

From NY Times: Smaller Cars Earn Top Marks in Safety Tests
A study of car safety released on Wednesday shows that four of the top-scoring automobiles in tests of five new models were small cars or so-called super-minis — including the Honda Jazz, Hyundai i20, Kia Soul and Peugeot 3008.
The study, conducted by Euro N.C.A.P., a group that campaigns for automobile safety, was backed by European governments and motoring and consumer organizations. The results, the study's authors said, show that in "these economically challenging times, consumers who wish to downsize their cars can still place safety at the top of their wish list."
Seats installed in the Kia Soul, for example, "achieved a good result in the program's whiplash testing, again revealing that it is not only larger or expensive cars that achieve impressive results in safety."

Hasta La Vista, Baby: Arnold May Close 220 California State Parks

I have friends, family and colleagues in California... for all their hard work, this is devastating to watch. of hard work by regulators and environmental protections agencies thrown away in one term.
CA is dumping environmental and energy goals at a biblical pace.
It is my prediction that - like leading our nations 'fiscal fall' California will also be the beginning of our environmental fallings
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget cuts could mean the closing of up to 220 state parks, among them the home of the world's tallest tree and other attractions that draw millions of visitors. Schwarzenegger this week recommended eliminating $70 million in parks spending through June 30, 2010. An additional $143.4 million would be saved in the following fiscal year by keeping the parks closed.

What's puzzling about the decision is the relatively small savings this would provide-- California's the 6th largest economy in the world, remember. A couple hundred million seems like an awful small amount when considering the gain: state parks draw tourism revenue every year, and are a beloved institution to many Californians. It seems like the political loss alone--the move is sure to be deeply unpopular--wouldn't be worth the minor gains to the budget.

May 29, 2009

Joke that fusion is the power of the future - NOT funny anymore...

French Fusion Experiment Delayed Until 2025 or Beyond -  "The old joke is that fusion is the power of the future and always will be. But it's not looking so funny for ITER, an EU10 billion fusion experiment in France. According to Nature News, ITER will not conduct energy-producing experiments until at least 2025 — five years later than what had been previously agreed to. The article adds that the reactor will cost even more than the seven parties in the project first thought:'...Construction costs are likely to double from the 5-billion (US$7-billion) estimate provided by the project in 2006, as a result of rises in the price of raw materials, gaps in the original design, and an unanticipated increase in staffing to manage procurement. The cost of ITER's operations phase, another 5 billion over 20 years, may also rise.'" Read full from slashdot

Real hope for change... giving when things get hard.

Community Foundation Giving Increased 6.7 Percent in 2008 Despite Economy,
Even in the face of a worsening economy, the nation’s 717 community foundations raised their giving by an estimated 6.7 percent in 2008 to a record $4.6 billion, according to Key Facts on Community Foundations, a new report from the Foundation Center. The amount given by community foundations also surpassed corporate foundation funding for the first time on record.

While community foundations have benefited in recent years from strong increases in the value of their existing assets and from new gifts and donor bequests, undoubtedly they will be forced to reduce giving in 2009, along with independent and corporate foundations. Close to three-fourths of the community foundations responding to the Center’s annual forecasting survey said that they expect to decrease their giving this year.  Full Report via Foundation Center

Haase - "I am always amazed that in the hardest of times the great people who step up when it hurts...."

May 28, 2009

EHS News from the wire...

OSHA lays out regulatory plan in semiannual agenda
Recently, OSHA published its semiannual agenda of regulations. The Spring 2009 agenda consists of regulations that have been selected for review or development.  Link

New legislation would allow OSHA to shut down dangerous workplaces immediately
According to Congressman Tim Bishop (NY-1), OSHA should have the right to step in immediately when lives are on the line. With an average of 16 workers losing their lives each day on the job, Congressman Bishop wants to strengthen the agency's ability to protect workers. Link

EPA rethinks two hazardous waste rules

In response to concerns raised by stakeholders, EPA announced steps it will take with two final hazardous waste rules published in 2008 — the Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) Rule and the Emission Comparable Fuels (ECF) Rule.  Link

New legislation would require large, multi-site employers to report work-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses annually
New legislation, introduced by Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL), would require large multi-site companies to accurately report the numbers and rates of work-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses at all their worksites. Link

Provided by JJkeller online - If you don't get it... get it here

How insane? carbon footprint as big as the Pilgrims in 1620...

The climate change/carbon cap bill that cleared the House Energy Committee looks likes the most expensive thing to hit the economy since the financial crisis began,”...

“First off, the stated objective of cutting carbon emissions by 83% by 2050 will go down in history as outrageous — To meet the Waxman-Markey bill’s goals would mean we have to go back to a carbon footprint about as big as the Pilgrims’ at Plymouth Rock circa 1620."

“...who cares what I think? As the great Jeffers wrote, “Be angry at the sun for setting/ If these things anger you.” This is the way the world works. We have to play the ball where it is. And that means we have to figure out who wins and who loses.

“And as if the government doesn’t help financial firms enough, it is going to hand them a nice tomato in trading carbon credits. The head of Morgan Stanley’s U.S. emission trading desk said: “Carbon, while relatively small, is a critical piece of our commodities offering.” So some financial firms with trading desks in carbon get a nice little payday.

Read more of Investing in Climate Change By Ian Mathias


DARPA Communicate Without Electricity - Look mom no electricity.

Researchers at Harvard and Tufts University have developed a way to send coded messages without using electricity.
David Walt, professor of chemistry at Tufts, and Harvard's George Whitesides have developed 'infofuses' that can transmit information simply by burning. The fuses — metallic salts depositing on a nitrocellulose strand — emit pulses of infrared and visible light of different colors whose sequence encodes information. They were developed in response to a call from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for technologies to allow soldiers stranded without a power source to communicate. In the first demonstration of the idea, they used the infofuses to transmit the message look mom no electricity."
Currently the researchers are "trying to figure out a way to dynamically encode a message on the fly in the field without specialized equipment." Read full from slashdot....

Cancer Death Rate Steadily Declining

According to the American Cancer Society’s annual cancer statistics report, Cancer Facts & Figures 2009, and its companion article “Cancer Statistics, 2009,” published in the Society’s CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The drop is driven in large part by better prevention, increased use of early detection practices, and improved treatments for cancer.

Cancer death rates dropped 19.2% among men during 1990-2005 and 11.4% among women during 1991-2005. Cancer incidence rates are also on the decline – they decreased 1.8% per year among men from 2001-2005 and 0.6% per year from 1998-2005 among women.

Read full from source: American Cancer Society

CA could save Millions$ on water conservation...Enough to Supply LA, SD and SF

and More Than Enough Water to Supply Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco

In the midst of a third consecutive dry year, California’s water supply continues to shrink as the state’s population grows, but according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the state’s commercial, industrial and institutional (CII) sector has the tools to save more than enough water to meet the annual needs of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego combined. Some leading California businesses and institutions are already catching on – saving water and money at the same time.

In February of 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger called for a 20 percent reduction in per capita water use by 2020,
and legislation to help reach that target is currently pending in the State Assembly (AB 49). California’s CII sector – which includes office buildings, hotels, oil refineries, golf courses, schools and universities, restaurants and manufacturers – is responsible for one-third of urban water use, making progress in this sector essential to reaching this reduction goal. The CII sector uses the equivalent of more than a million Olympic-sized swimming pools of water annually. NRDC estimates California businesses could save about 25-50 percent of that water with efficiency measures, or as much as 700,000 -1.3 million acre-feet – the equivalent to 350,000-650,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Read more from Natural Resources Defense Council

May 27, 2009

DeCaf - Hold the TCE & Methylene Chloride

Newly Discovered Decaf Coffee Plant Might Replace Chemical Extraction of Caffeine

Charrier coffeeCoffea charrieriana, one of 2008's "most interesting new species discovered by scientists", is the first known coffee plant that contains no caffeine. It was discovered in Cameroon, where an extremely wide variety of coffee plants exist. Under the common name Charrier coffee, the plant was named after a scientist who managed coffee breeding research in central Africa's diverse jungles for 30 years. Scientists posit that the new species could be used for breeding naturally caffeine-free coffees. There is potential for this plant to replace the methylene chloride chemical extraction process used in most coffee production to remove caffeine (methylene chloride is a potential carcinogen and pollutant). How big is the market for decaf coffee?  Continue Reading from TriplePundit

Haase - They make DeCaf... what is the point again?

GREEN Products... "we, don't have a clue."

Product Sustainability Roundtable in Lancaster, Pa., ...showed how confused consumers are about the terms green, natural, organic, and sustainable. Here are a few highlights of their comments:
"All fruits and vegetables are organic since you grow them, right?"
"Natural has pesticides? Could organic have pesticides?"

"It's natural, but it's not. I don't know."

"Green is overhyped. Who can really tell you if something is green or not?"

"I don't have a clue."

"Frankly, I'm surprised consumers aren't more confused about what green and sustainable mean. We work in the sustainability field and even in this room, we can't agree on what sustainability means. It's our fault that consumers are confused. It's chaos in our own companies and it's chaos in the marketplace."

The discussion that followed revealed that in some companies, sustainability includes the usual suspects like LCAs and energy efficiency. At other companies, safety and social responsibility are also included in the sustainability bucket.

There just doesn't seem to be a standard definition, and the result is, well, confusion.

Read more at:

U.S. Energy-related emissions continue to declined

The U.S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions Declined 2.8% in 2008

Despite a 1.1% increase in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, the nation's carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels declined by 2.8% in 2008, according to preliminary estimates by DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA). The record decline was caused in part by a 5.2% decrease in emissions from transportation. Sky-high fuel prices in the first part of the year, followed by economic woes in the fourth quarter, contributed to a record-breaking decline in vehicle miles traveled in 2008 and an upsurge in the use of public transportation. Carbon dioxide emissions from industries also fell by 3.2%, following a five-year trend of falling industrial emissions, according to the EIA. While overall industrial output fell by 2.2% in 2008, the drop in output from energy-intensive industries—such as chemicals, primary metals, and non-metallic minerals—was much larger, in the range of 5.8%-7.8%.

While lower energy use in the transportation and industrial sectors partly contributed to the drop in carbon dioxide emissions, that's not the full story. The EIA notes that U.S. energy demand fell by 2.2% in 2008, which is less than the drop in carbon dioxide emissions. That means that some of the energy shifted to a source that produces lower carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, the electric power sector, which generates 41% of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, decreased its power generation by 1% in 2008, but decreased its carbon dioxide emissions by 2.1%. In other words, the power sector decreased its emissions intensity by 1.1% in 2008. The EIA attributes that accomplishment to a decrease in the use of all fossil fuels at power plants, a feat credited in part to an increase in electricity generated from wind power.

See the EIA press release and preliminary report via EERE Network

FREE - world's largest online renewable energy and energy-efficient conference

The world's largest online conference for renewable energy and energy-efficient practices in businesses is coming in late June, and to attend, all you need is a computer. The Virtual Energy Forum will be held for free on June 24 and 25 and will feature such speakers as Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund, and Mark Ginsberg of DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The forum replicates a typical conference experience online, including keynote speeches, industry-specific presentations in five parallel tracks, "Meet the Expert" live video chats, and an emerging technology showcase. DOE will host a Global Green Cities track during the event. And if you tire of the presentations, you can also visit the virtual exhibit floor, which allows you to chat with the exhibitors, exchange contact information, and collect materials in a virtual briefcase. All the presentations will also be available on demand after the conference.
 See the Virtual Energy Forum Web site.

DOE Partnership for Energy Efficiency

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu met with energy leaders from around the world this weekend to launch the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC), a high-level forum for facilitating improvements in global energy efficiency and encouraging market implementation of energy efficiency technologies. By promoting the exchange of information, best practices, policies, and measures that support energy efficiency efforts, this partnership will offer opportunities for the participating countries to create green jobs domestically while helping to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The signatories included the entire Group of 8 (G8), which consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as key emerging economies, including Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and the Republic of Korea. The International Energy Agency will host the IPEEC Secretariat in Paris, France.

The launch of the IPEEC was part of this weekend's three-day G8 Energy Ministers Meeting in Rome, where G8 members and other interested countries discussed new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies, ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and investments countries can make to grow their economies and promote global security and development.  See the DOE press release and the Web site for the G8 Energy Ministers Meeting.

May 26, 2009

Green Chemistry Leader to Head EPA Research!

Obama makes a grab for the future... Dr. Anastas, the real deal.
Paul Anastas, the Director of Yale University's Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering and Teresa and H. John Heinz III Professor in the Practice of Chemistry for the Environment, has been selected by President as EPA's Assistant Administrator for Research and Development. He will lead EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD), which is the scientific research arm of EPA.

Trained as a synthetic organic chemist, Dr. Anastas is credited with establishing the field of "green chemistry"
— a term he coined in 1991 — during his time working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where he was the chief of the Industrial Chemistry Branch in EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances and director of the U.S. Green Chemistry Program. From 1999 to 2004, during the Clinton administration, he was the assistant director for the environment in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He then served as the founding director of the Green Chemistry Institute, headquartered at the American Chemical Society. While there, he established 24 green chemistry chapters in countries around the world, including China, Ethiopia, India, Japan and South Africa.

Much awesomeness for all of us in the 'Green Chemistry field'.

Kudos Dr. Anastas!

Green chemistry is the study of how to design chemical products and processes in ways that are sustainable and not harmful for humans and the environment. Dr. Anastas spoke about green chemistry at NCSE's 2007 national conference: Integrating Environment and Human Health (linked here).

May 23, 2009

"cap and trade" May Let U.S. Emissions Rise for Next Twenty Years

This all leads one to wonder: where's the cap in the "cap" and trade program?

Breakthrough Institute  While the bill intends to reduce economy-wide U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 20% below historic 2005 levels by 2020, 42% by 2030 and 83% by 2050, the use of international offsets would allow U.S. emissions to continue at up to 1.5 billion tons higher than the emissions reduction path intended by the bill. For capped sectors of the economy only, up to two billion tons of additional emissions would be permitted by full use of offsets.

The following graphics illustrate the effect of the offset provisions. Click any of them to enlarge.

This first chart illustrates the range of potential emissions across the entire U.S. economy allowed by the ACES bill if international emissions offsets are utilized at the levels permitted by the legislation (1 billion tons in normal circumstances; up to 1.5 billion tons if domestic offsets are unavailable). Because the use of domestic offsets will merely shift emissions reductions from the sectors that fall under the greenhouse gas cap and trade regulations to non-capped sectors of the U.S. economy (assuming they are credible offsets), they are not considered in this chart.

ACES_Emissions_Economy_Wide.jpgAs the graphic illustrates, offsets could create a major oversupply of emissions allowances during the first nine years of the cap and trade program. This oversupply would either collapse the market value of emissions allowances or allow significant quantities of emissions permits to be banked for future compliance years (ACES allows unlimited banking of unused allowances) — or both. (Compare this graphic with this analysis from the World Resources Institute, which does not consider the impact of international offsets on U.S. emissions levels.)


Note: All of these graphics and the underlying calculations and assumptions can be downloaded here as a .xlsx file.

Waxman-Markey Foreign Investor Windfall

Cap-N-Trade could take away 2/3 of our future investments and 100% chance of U.S. reaching energy independence 
Breakthrough Institute If all foreign offset provisions in the Waxman-Markey climate bill are used, the cap and trade regime would spend nearly three times more money overseas for carbon offset programs than it would invest in home-grown clean energy industries, technologies, and job creation.
Last week, our analysis showed that Waxman-Markey would, on average, invest between $6 to 9 billion annually in clean energy technology and energy efficiency between 2012-2025. These funds would be raised by auctioning a cumulative total of 8.4 billion emission allowances. This stands is contrast to the $41 billion in allowances that would be given to polluters each year, and it is far less than the $15 billion President Obama has promised for clean energy R&D.

But how do these clean energy investments stack up against Waxman-Markey's spending on international offsets? The bill would allow polluting firms in the U.S. to finance emissions reductions overseas instead of reducing their own global warming pollution. The number of U.S. emissions that could be covered by foreign offsets every year is one billion tons, however, if too few domestic offsets are available, this number could rise to 1.5 billion tons. Breakthrough Institute analysis shows this could allow U.S. emissions to rise through 2030.


Clean Coal potato chips as a diet food, or a couch as an exercise device.

"Clean coal" is a brilliant marketing slogan.

Unfortunately, it is, at best, a distant dream. At worst, an oxymoron.
True clean coal technology does not yet exist.
Touting coal as clean is a bit like pushing potato chips as a diet food, or a couch as an exercise device.

May 22, 2009

My comments on the 235 mpg VW... ouch.

It was hardly 'new news' as I reported it back in 2006 but a reality check regarding the viability of 35mpg standards...

My fear is that the big two (Ford/GM) are so far behind Nissan (link) and China BYD motors in battery and electric tech. Miles behind VW and BMW in clean high MPG diesels that regardless of the billions we give them... they will be slaughtered unless they build partnerships or offer equally competitive vehicles.

Their foreign competition is not only offering superhigh mpg cars,
they are marketing full electric to the mass market for $1,000 and up (link).
It is NOT impossible,
both Ford and GM have 50+ mpg cars and minivans sold internationally (link), a first step to basic survival would be to unconditionally offer those cars here.
And yes, I know they may not meet ALL U.S. safety and emission standards... but how does a Harley or scooter? They don't.

A simple Obama addendum to existing laws could allow deregulation to 'micro car' and 'eco-mileage' classes (50mpg+) with a predetermined safety and emission standard date within a reasonable amount of time
(China has already done this-link). Do they understand that now China has the largest car market in the world (link)? In this depression they will need to have a viable product for that market JUST to compete, let alone meet their future 'sales dreams'.

Regardless of the hype and propaganda surrounding 'global warming and peakoil' this is a matter of national security and business prosperity that we actually make cars that conserve and are built for the future of declining resources... and not some 35mpg standard that was clearly obtainable two if not three decades ago.

Earth to U.S. automakers, America needs you.... evolve or face extinction.

May 21, 2009

Why our economic downturn will beat KYOTO...

U.S. carbon emissions fall by most since '82 (2.8 percent last year), according to an estimate by the Energy Information Administration, driven down by high oil prices and the sagging economy.


greencarcongress The economy, as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), grew by 1.1% in 2008, notwithstanding the economic downturn at the end of the year. Energy demand declined by 2.2% indicating that energy intensity (energy use per unit of GDP) fell by 3.3% in 2008. Carbon dioxide intensity (carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP) fell by about 3.8%.

From 1990 to 2008, the carbon dioxide intensity of the economy fell by 29.3% or 1.9% per year. From 1990 to 2007 (the latest year of data for all greenhouse gases), carbon dioxide intensity had fallen by 26.4% and emissions of total greenhouse gases per dollar of GDP had fallen by 28.0%.

EIA will continue to refine its estimates of 2008 carbon dioxide emissions as more complete energy data become available. A full inventory of all US greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 to be issued in late 2009 will include updated energy data and provide a further analysis of trends.

Read full at Washington Post (lead

Even the French must think we’re nuts.... about oil


Chief economist Fatih Birol tells the WSJ: "What we're saying is that come around 2012 the impact of this big recession on oil investment and capacity, if current trends continue, could be severe with much higher oil prices."

Cheaper oil is hobbling Iraq's ability to rebuild its Army, and threatens to leave billions of dollars in American equipment in disrepair, in the WaPo.

The Obama administration's new fuel-economy standards show just how much heft Detroit has lost in recent years, as one-time opponents embrace tougher environmental rules, in the NYT. The L.A. Times has the deal's backstory, and how close it came to collapse.

One big question is whether consumers will really want to buy smaller cars, notes the WaPo. The WSJ edit page has no doubts:
"One thing seems certain by 2016: Taxpayers will be paying Detroit to make the cars Americans don't want, and then they will pay again either through (trust us) a gas tax or with a purchase subsidy.  Even the French must think we're nuts."

Read more from Wall Street Journal Blog

WallStreetJournal - renewable power generation in 2009 may tumble by almost 40%

The problem: The world is being urged to do more just as it has fewer means to do so.
Case in point: The International Energy Agency says the recession is dealing a body blow to global efforts to rein in emissions.

In a report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the Paris-based agency says worldwide investment in wind and other renewable power generation in 2009 may tumble by almost 40% to $51 billion as many of the small companies in that sector abandon or postpone projects for lack of financing.

In the near term, the recession will actually help curb emissions by thumping manufacturing activity. Longer term, though, the clean-tech financing crunch threatens to send emissions higher again.

And don't expect the developing world to pick up the slack. The UN panel says that developing nations such as China should cut emissions only 25% from 2000 levels by 2050.

That might be music to China's ears-the country, like other developing-world economies, figures the rich world should shoulder the burden of big cuts-but makes it even less likely the world will be able to commit to emissions reductions scientists say are needed to stave off climate catastrophe.

Read full from WallStreetJournal Blog

China and U.S. climate talks are not a secret... but the concerns are.

If I am wrong and they are simply talking about the weather (climate) ... we are indeed in store for pain.

If anyone thinks these meetings are about reducing emissions by 20% by 2050 I have some good news:
China and the U.S. WILL CUT emissions by 25% by 2050.

The reality of 'peak of oil' will sink in and low cost coal reserves will be depleted and naturally reduce global emissions by 2050 as finite resources dwindle.

Now I have some bad news...
This shortens our deadline for alternative energy and renewable resources.

Last week the news 'broadcasted' that the U.S. and China had 'secret' talks regarding climate. If our media mongers were as concerned about news as they are about the next American idiot Idol or number of twitter fans, they would know there is nothing secret about these meetings.

What us the secret behind these meetings?
 Energy and ecological strategy is not a secret, but the concerns are.

As the largest consumers of world resources ... no other nations have the dire concerns for energy or environment as do China and U.S.

While the problems the U.S. faces appear grim, they are not bleak or hopeless.

China is entering an age of 'pain' due to massive ecological, energy and resource constraints.

China is where we were decades ago during our industrial revolution and are even further behind the eight ball due to massive population and natural resource constraints the U.S. never faced during their 'growing phase'.

The U.S. is 'deeply troubled' by the extreme measures China will have to face up to in the next decade.

These problems make our current economic crisis look like a pimple on prom night.

They import their main food, raw materials and energy resources... and it will get much, much worse.

They have few options and the options they are entertaining are making volatile and potentially dangerous partnerships.

If we do not offer a window of hope and prosperity to China, we could risk losing everything with them.

Thus, we are discussing viable options with China regarding finite world resources and expanding populations.

Hardly a secret.

Read more about the 'climate secret meetings' at the guardian

May 20, 2009

Department of Interior "Partners in Conservation Award"

From EPA's GreatLakesNews
One of 26 national awards to individuals and organizations presented at a "Partners in Conservation Award" ceremony in Washington, D.C. to honor “those who achieve natural resource goals in collaboration and partnership with others.”

“Casting Light Upon the Waters” Committee with a Partners in Conservation Award for their work in protecting fishery resources and reducing user conflicts in Wisconsin.

The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration was named as one of the award recipients because of its support for boater education on preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species under the GLRC's Clean Boats Every Day initiative at the Casting Light Upon the Waters  Committee's Partners Fishing Event on June 12, 2008.

For further information please visit GLRC

Lexmark - $440.4 million of government printing costs is wasteful.

 According to a study released by Lexmark International, $440.4 million of the annual $1.3 billion spent on government printing costs is wasteful.

As descriptions of government spending increasingly mention “trillion,” a mere $440 million seems trivial. However, unlike controversial spending such as TARP money, stimulus packages or auto bailouts, this waste is indefensible even to federal employees. According to the study, 92 percent admit they do not need all of the documents they print in a day. Furthermore, employees discard 35 percent of printed pages in the same day.

Clearly, this lack of individual accountability leads to lack of restraint. Over 60 percent of employees admitted to printing “significantly more” while working in the office compared to working at home.

While elevating accountability standards constitutes a first step, the study reveals a more complex technological challenge. Employees continue to prefer paper to digital copies - and we aren't just talking about your old-school boss who just never got the hang of the computer. Negligible differences were found among the Baby Boom, Gen X, and Gen Y age groups.

Over two-thirds of those surveyed acknowledged a heavy reliance on paper trails, and 41 percent preferred hard copy to on-screen editing. In addition to increased accountability, a conscious effort to introduce digital editing and storage needs to be made. Programs such as GoogleDocs or WebNotes need to be explored and efficiently used.

If the government truly intends to go green, agency and department heads must not dismiss these findings, but interpret them as a mandate for innovation.

Luckily, Lexmark has made its insightful study available online.

Read the full post at Oh My Gov (HatTip ;-).

Children Who Get Flu Vaccine Have 3 Times Risk Of Hospitalization For Flu

From sciencedaily
In order to determine whether the vaccine was effective in reducing the number of hospitalizations that all children, and especially the ones with asthma, faced over eight consecutive flu seasons, researchers at the Mayo Clinic determined who had and had not received the flu vaccine, their asthma status and who did and did not require hospitalization. Records were reviewed for each subject with influenza-related illness for flu vaccination preceding the illness and hospitalization during that illness.

They found that children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization,
as compared to children who had not received the vaccine. In asthmatic children, there was a significantly higher risk of hospitalization in subjects who received the TIV, as compared to those who did not (p= 0.006). But no other measured factors—such as insurance plans or severity of asthma—appeared to affect risk of hospitalization.

"While these findings do raise questions about the efficacy of the vaccine, they do not in fact implicate it as a cause of hospitalizations," said Dr. Joshi. "More studies are needed to assess not only the immunogenicity, but also the efficacy of different influenza vaccines in asthmatic subjects." Read more
from sciencedaily

Forget Cap-and-Trade, Just Deliver Clean-Tech Investment...WSJ

From Keith Johnson's Wall Street Journal Blog

Hint: The key is to pour real capital into clean technology, not political capital into a cap-and-trade plan.

Here's a teaser, but go read the whole thing:
Greens have sunk enormous political and intellectual capital into an emissions reduction framework that simply can't succeed - at least as long as the price gap between fossil fuels and clean alternatives remains large and so requires the maintenance of high carbon prices to close. This is what we identified in 2007 as "global warming's Gordian Knot": price carbon too high and provoke political backlash that results in the evisceration of emissions caps and other policies to reduce emissions; price it too low, and you don't have a sufficiently high price to drive the innovation and technology investment necessary to make the transition to clean energy alternatives.
The main point - Why is so little money being set aside to fund research into cleaner energy?
clean tech does have a handy lobby-the sector overwhelmingly supported President Obama. The DOE, meanwhile, has put out a call for “transformational” energy technologies, but with only modest funding...

Read full from Keith Johnson's Wall Street Journal Blog

Non-Hybrid Combined 70 mpg (Not Yours in U.S.)

It's not a hybrid and it doesn't have a plug, but Vauxhall's new Corsa ecoFLEX is rated at 71 mpg . This is a boost of 13 percent compared to the previous high-mpg Corsa and is due to the ecoFLEX treatment of minor tweaks to the aerodynamics and weight of the tires and wheels and taller gearing in the transmission. 

  • Max speed 104mph
  • Urban economy 54.3mpg
  • Extra-urban economy 85.6mpg
  • Combined economy 70.6mpg
More details at autobloggreen

May 19, 2009

Bureaucracy wastes more $ than it would cost to provide health care to all of the uninsured

Filed under ouch... that's obvious. Do we 'want' to save Medicare and Social security really? We can... singlepayer

From medicalnewstoday The U.S. wastes more on health care bureaucracy than it would cost to provide health care to all of the uninsured. Administrative expenses will consume at least $399.4 billion out of total health expenditures of $1,660.5 billion in 2003. Streamlining administrative overhead to Canadian levels would save approximately $286.0 billion in 2003, $6,940 for each of the 41.2 million Americans who were uninsured as of 2001. This is substantially more than would be needed to provide full insurance coverage.

These results are derived from detailed data on administrative costs in the U.S. and Canada in 1999 which appears in tomorrow's New England Journal of Medicine. This report updates the New England Journal estimates of nationwide administrative spending and potential savings to 2003. The complex and fragmented payment structure of the U.S. health care system increases administrative overhead in the U.S. relative to Canada, where a single-payer national health insurance program has existed since 1971.

These potential administrative savings (of singlepayer)  are far higher than recent estimates of the cost of covering the uninsured. For instance researchers from The Urban Institute estimate that covering all of America's uninsured with an "average" private insurance policy would cost $69 billion annually (Hadley and Holahan, Health Affairs, May/June, 2003). Thus, the $286.0 billion in administrative savings could cover all of the uninsured, with $217 billion left over to upgrade coverage for Americans who are currently under-insured - e.g. to offer first dollar drug coverage to seniors.

Read full
from medicalnewstoday

May 18, 2009

OBAMA knows we can already have 35mpg about 50mpg!

With Obama setting a tighter timeline and target on 35mpg standards for U.S., many people are concerned this is a little aggressive... He is not.

I assure you that Obama is fully aware this is a easy and MUCH needed standard. Most family cars in the mid 80's-90's exceeded 35mpg and a few trucks. And both Ford and GM have sold dozens of models  for both trucks and cars that exceed 35mpg for decades.

What will happen if U.S. auto makers ignore timeline?
Easy consumers will buy foreign models like the VW cargo van that gets over 50 mpg.

I repeat these are huge 12 seater CARGO VAN's!

Volkswagen even made a Commercial Vehicle  that the combined mpg figure for the vehicle stated above is 46.3mpg.

However, where vans in this class were driven in real world conditions, found that this vehicle actually achieved 52.48mpg.

Making it the only van in its class to achieve over 50mpg.

These significant achievements are a result of a combination of improvements, including new manual gearboxes, a modified DPF (Diesel Particular Filter), enhanced BlueTDI common rail, direct injection diesel engines and refinements used on Volkswagen's latest BlueMotion models.that have increased engine torque by up to 13.6 per cent, plus improved fuel consumption to help reduce running costs. 

YEP 34mpg city / 50 mpg highway CARGO VAN's   Read more about these at VW

Biomass Crackpot or “one-pot” reaction

From sciencedaily
Scientists have now developed a new catalytic process to convert components of bio-oil directly into alkanes and methanol. The process is based on a "one-pot" reaction catalyzed by a precious metal on a carbon support combined with an inorganic acid. (Credit: Copyright Wiley-VCH)

Biomass As A Source Of Raw Materials
For the protection of the environment, and because of the limited amount of fossil fuels available, renewable resources, such as specially cultivated plants, wood scraps, and other plant waste, are becoming the focus of considerable attention.

 Bio-oil is an aqueous, acidic, highly oxidized mixture. However, its high oxygen content and instability turn out to have a negative impact: bio-oil cannot be used directly as a liquid fuel. It would, however, be highly interesting as a source of basic raw materials if it were possible to convert it to alkanes. Alkanes, which are also commonly called paraffins, are saturated hydrocarbons; they are among the most important raw materials for chemical industry, and in particular as starting materials for the production of plastics. Furthermore, they are among the primary fuels in the world's economy. Read more here

New York Times - Cap and trade from theory to a Consensus

The Cap and Trade 'Theory'
NYTimes - How did cap and trade, hatched as an academic theory in obscure economic journals half a century ago, become the policy of choice in the debate over how to slow the heating of the planet? And how did it come to eclipse the idea of simply slapping a tax on energy consumption that befouls the public square or leaves the nation hostage to foreign oil producers?

The answer is not to be found in the study of economics or environmental science, but in the realm where most policy debates are ultimately settled: politics.

History of Cap and Trade
NYTimes - Cap and trade evolved from an academic debate that began in the early 1960s when Ronald H. Coase, then a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, wrote an influential paper, "The Problem of Social Cost,” that examined when government should intervene in cases where a private entity causes public harm.

In 1971, W. David Montgomery, a Harvard graduate student in economics, fleshed out the idea of emissions trading in his doctoral thesis and has spent much of the last three decades trying to figure out how the marketplace can deal with environmental problems that are caused by relatively few actors but have consequences felt globally.

He supported the acid rain trading program, but said it was based on “unique historical and economic circumstances” that did not apply to the much more difficult problem of carbon dioxide emissions.

Mr. Montgomery, now a vice president at Charles River Associates International, a consulting firm, said Mr. Waxman’s proposal would ultimately act like a tax on carbon-producing industries, disguised by a complex cap-and-trade system.

“It is a steel fist of regulation covered by a velvet glove of emission trading,” Mr. Montgomery said. “Why not just impose a carbon tax?”

Read more from NYTimes