Tesla’s risky vision for the car of the future is putting Detroit to shame. The Silicon Valley-based electric carmaker run by Elon Musk is racking up some prestigious awards for its new sedan. On Monday, Motor Trend became the third respected industry publication to bestow the Model S with a 2013 Car of the Year gong. That’s better than Motown, European or Japanese manufacturers managed.
“Weather varies too much and has too many drivers to attribute any particular event to a single cause like climate change, but there is a clear pattern of crop loss and property damage from increasingly frequent events such as flooding, drought and dangerous storms,” said Dave Courard-Hauri, chairman of Drake University’s Environmental Science and Policy Program, at a press briefing. “We don’t face a choice between our economy and the planet. The choice is between addressing the causes and effects of climate change or spending ever more money cleaning up from events like we’ve seen in the past several years,” he said.
In coming weeks, state policymakers, environmental advocates and energy industry representatives will realign their priorities as state legislatures convene for new sessions, but particularly in those nine states — Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon and Wisconsin — where the balance of power shifted in state House or Senate chambers, or both.
Texas has hit a wind power record, the state’s grid manager reported last week. The growth of the wind sector has stalled lately as developers wait to see whether Congress will renew the production tax credits that attract investment in wind energy nationally. Texas is still home to the nation’s largest wind power industry and is a major manufacturer of wind equipment, and supporters are hoping state leaders will encourage Washington to act on the tax credit extensions.
Environmental advocates have expressed frustration with the lack of discussion of climate change in the presidential race this year, a reticence that persisted even after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. On Wednesday, in his first post-election news conference, President Obama offered his most extensive remarks on climate change in months. They did not particularly thrill environmentalists.
The push to extend a key wind industry tax break maintains solid bipartisan support in Congress, and a new group launched this week wants to make sure it stays that way. John Feehery, a Republican strategist and former spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and Majority Whip Tom DeLay (Texas), is leading the new organization, which aims to reinforce the arguments of Republicans who support an extension of the wind production tax credit and to win more GOP lawmakers to the cause.
By 2017, General Motors Co. plans to build as many as 500,000 electric vehicles a year, according to a company executive. GM global product development chief Mary Barra told reporters the company has prioritized producing cars with some form of electrical power. The number it’s shooting for would be equivalent to more than 5 percent of GM’s total global sales last year of about 9 million.
Wind power could supply up to 12 percent of global electricity by 2020 and more than 20 percent by 2030, a new study by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace shows. Wind energy installations totaled 240 gigawatts globally by the end of 2011, and the industry is set to grow by at least another 40 GW this year, the study says. By 2020, under the scenario put forth by the International Energy Agency, total capacity would reach 587 GW, supplying about 6 percent of global electricity.
Google is investing $75 million in a central Iowa wind farm that produces enough electricity to power 15,000 homes. It’s the California tech giant’s first investment in an Iowa wind generation project. Tuesday’s announcement sparked renewed support from political leaders to fight for extending tax credits for the wind industry, ranging from Sue Dvorsky, chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, who called for bipartisan support, to U.S Rep. Tom Latham, R-Ia., who is “encouraged that Google recognizes the pivotal role that wind plays in securing securing energy independence.”
President Obama revealed yesterday that he’s searching for ways to address climate change in his second term by planning meetings with scientists and experts weeks after a re-election campaign in which he said very little about the topic. But when asked directly about taxing carbon, he declined to endorse the idea, which has gained traction among a handful of conservative think tanks and free-market groups as a source of revenue that might help close the deficit.