Opponents of the Keystone Pipeline geared up for a big weekend as a contingent of celebrities chained themselves to the White House fence yesterday and managed to get arrested. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Daryl Hannah, Bill McKibben and NASA scientist James Hansen were all led away in handcuffs. Sierra Club director Michael Brune broke a 120-year tradition of that organization by becoming the first Club director to practice civil disobedience. And this was only the VIP reception. Tens of thousands are expected to show up on Sunday for the main event. As Byron York of the Washington Times says, Keystone has caught President Obama between friends.
Solar in the desert isn’t getting such a good reception as three Arizona environmental groups have sued the Bureau of Land Management over President Obama’s plans to create “solar zones” of several hundred square miles to site giant solar installations. The environmental groups called the solar projects “destructive” and said they violated BLM’s mandate to preserve the integrity of the land. Arizona is also having a big argument over subsidizing rooftop panels and some are starting to argue that solar may not be as green as thought. This isn’t deterring the Saudis, however, who are making big plans to put solar facilities in the Arabian Desert.
Europe is also starting to wonder about how all that renewable energy is raising the price of electricity. Germany and Spain are both talking about cutting back on green support but it may not be easy. A group of investors is already suing Spain over cutting promised subsidies. The European Union may also be about to split over the failed effort to make carbon pricing work. The price has gone so low that many are saying the nations would be better working on their own. The World Wildlife Fund is not discouraged, however. It insists Europe will be 100 percent renewable by 2050.
The Tesla-Times tiff is heating up as the dispute moves off Twitter and into the pages of the mainstream media. Elon Musk released the log of David Broder’s fateful journey from DC to Boston and argued that it contradicts the reporter’s account. Erik Wemple, in the Washington Post, asks whether Broder didn’t’ have “disdain” for the EV. But the story is having an impact. Mark Hachman, writing in PC, lists five other electric vehicles that “failed to go the distance.” The Christian Science Monitor asks whether EVs can stand up to cold weather. And Charles Lane, writing on philly.com, says outright that the electric car push has been a failure.
Finally, California has taken another step toward energy utopia by mandating that Southern California Edison produce 50 megawatts of electrical storage by 2021. The requirement was part of a package where the Public Utilities Commission severely reduced the recommendations of the Independent Systems Operator for new power plants. The ISO had asked for 2,371 new MW of gas-fired generators. The PUC cut that to 1,200. The Natural Resources Defense Council is celebrating but it was such policies that led to the great California Electrical Shortage of 2000. And 50 MW of storage? That’s a lot of lithium-ion batteries.