All eyes will be on the President tonight as he lays out an agenda that is expected to include action on climate change. Green groups are hopeful that Obama will bypass Congress and go for executive action. Speculation is that EPA may tighten restrictions on existing coal plants, forcing more to close down. Complicating things is the oil bonanza that is bringing forth new supplies of oil and gas and blunting the effort to reduce use of fossil fuels.
Climate activists are planning their own hootenanny next Sunday with a big White House demonstration aimed at stopping the Keystone Pipeline. Movie stars are all on board and the Sierra Club has promised to up the ante by engaging in civil disobedience. Club president Michael Brune (above) says he plans to be arrested and the membership seems to be backing him. Still, there are a few dissenting voices in the crowd. Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish environmentalists, says hurricanes, droughts and forest fires are NOT getting worse, as claimed by the President, and James Lovelock, the veteran British environmentalist who discovered the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, says that windmills may become the modern equivalent of the Easter Island statues – “monuments of a failed civilization.”
Solar energy is having its troubles as the realization sets in that manufacturing solar panels produces lots of hazardous waste. The AP has a story that pollutions sludge and contaminated water from PV manufacturing plants is being carted hundreds and even thousands of miles for safe disposal. The industry is looking to expand, however, through the leasing rather than outright purchase of panels by homeowners. And the Russians are talking about building a solar-powered airplane. Good luck with that one.
Finally, Germany has closed the door on fracking for natural gas, at least for the time being. Environmental minister Peter Altmaier made the announcement Monday. With no nuclear and no domestic natural gas supplies, Germany seems to be putting its head in the noose of Gazprom. Poland is trying to free itself from Russian dependence by developing its own resources but is meeting resistance from rural farmers. The land has often been in families for generations and they are reluctant to have huge fracking operations moving in. Fortunately, farmers and ranchers in Texas are not as reluctant and Texas is filing plans to build an LNG facility to export natural gas.