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California is marching forward with the nation’s first cap-and-trade regimen as of January 1. There are already promises of rebates to customers and virtual net metering for solar. Solar output in the Golden State just passed 1 gigawatt and the government announced $1.8 million in funding for microgrid and electric vehicles. But the most interesting news may come from the Monterey Shale, which is thought to contain more tight oil than the Bakken and Texas’ Eagle Ford, which are already developing. A look at the potential of shale oil makes you understand why the International Energy Agency is talking about American energy independence.

A carbon tax is getting a big debate in Washington as Congress wrestles with the problem of how to deal with the deficit. The Christian Science Monitor sees beauty in the carbon tax, as long as the poor are exempted, but the Heritage Foundation says it will cost one million jobs. Thomas Friedman has suggested phasing in the tax to ease the transition but the Washington Times sees only mischief in the idea. Interestingly, Australia’s carbon tax, which raised huge objections when imposed last year, now seems to be winning some public acceptance.

Keith Kloor, writing on Slate, finds an interesting trend – a pro-nuclear wing in the environmental movement (above). He finds such climate stalwarts as James Hansen of NASA say talk of running the world on wind and solar is like “believing in the tooth fairy.” Jeffrey Sachs, the big sustainability advocate at Columbia University, is another nuclear supporter. A documentary about pro-nuclear environmentalists is even about to crack the Sundance Film Festival. Is a Matt Damon movie next?

Fred Pearce, writing on Environment 360, suggests that nations should be held liable for their climate damages. Ben Schiller, on CoEXIST, describes a German hybrid locomotive that cuts energy use 25 percent. And Kevin Bullis of MIT Technology Review discovered Achates Power’s multi-cylinder diesel engine that uses only half the fuel.

Finally, Germany continues to struggle through its energy transition as rising energy and food prices are fueling inflation. E.On workers have gone out on strike for higher wages and uncertainties are delaying the development of offshore wind. German officials swear there will be no turning back on the drive to eliminate nuclear but Kristina Chew, on Care2, says there is a sooty truth behind German’s green future.

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