Monday, April 30, 2007

Landfill going on the grid

Portland Press Herald

Tux Turkel

HAMPDEN - It's hardly a tourist attraction, but the Pine Tree Landfill here is certainly Maine's most-visible dump -- a 200-foot mountain of trash sprawling across 42 acres on the edge of Interstate 95.

The thousands of motorists who pass the landfill every day can watch trucks and loaders scurrying across the expanding summit. But it's what they can't see, behind the mound, that's most surprising: A 50-foot high flame, shooting into the sky like a giant cigarette lighter.

Every day, rotting garbage beneath the Pine Tree Landfill gives off enough methane gas to power thousands of homes and provide heat for industry. Now it's just being wasted. Even worse, as the gas wafts into the atmosphere, it acts as a powerful heat trapper that contributes to global climate change.

All that is about to end.

On May 14, the landfill's owners will break ground for Maine's first power plant that converts landfill gas into electricity. When it's operating later this year, the $6 million project will generate enough energy to light roughly 3,000 homes for the next 15 years. It also has the potential, perhaps, to dry lumber or grow vegetables with waste heat from the turbines.

While the 3-megawatt power plant is noteworthy by itself, its larger significance is tied to a second project up the interstate at the state-owned Juniper Ridge Landfill in Old Town. Still in the planning stages, a power project there could light more than 15,000 homes for up to 60 years. It would use engines retired from the Pine Tree Landfill.

"As our gas declines here, we can pull the engines out and use them elsewhere," said Don Meagher, planning and development manager for Casella Waste Systems Inc., which operates both landfills.

What's happening at Hampden and Old Town reflects a national effort to capture the methane from solid waste landfills, to produce home-grown energy and fight global climate change. New tax credits and other financial incentives have made it profitable for Casella and other waste firms to get into the power business.

"Our landfills aren't that large," said David Burns, who monitors landfill gas activity at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. "There hasn't been enough gas production to make them worthwhile, and the incentives haven't been there. That's all changing."

The United States has at least 2,300 operating or recently closed municipal solid waste landfills. Four hundred have methane power plants, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 560 additional landfills have the potential to produce enough electricity for 870,000 homes.

At least four other landfills scattered around Maine are candidates to produce energy from methane, Burns said.

These plants also could remove greenhouse gas emissions associated with climate change. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide. Municipal landfills are the single largest man-made source of the gas, according to the EPA.

To encourage methane power, Congress included production tax credits for landfill gas projects in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Some New England states that want to encourage renewable power production have put a premium on electricity from landfills. Looking ahead, a pending multi-state agreement to fight global warming is expected to include additional financial incentives for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

"It has created some revenue to offset expenses," Meagher said.
Casella owns Pine Tree and operates Juniper Ridge for the state. It also owns the Maine Energy trash-to-energy plant in Biddeford and has two landfill gas plants in New York and Vermont.

Maine has closed 300 municipal landfills over the past 25 years; 12 are still operating. Any landfill that accepts household garbage and other organic wastes will generate methane eventually. But to make power production worthwhile, there has to be a large enough output and a system in place to capture the gas.

The Pine Tree Landfill first starting burying waste from the Bangor area in 1975, and now holds 6 million cubic yards. It stopped taking municipal trash in the 1980s, and is set to close by 2010. Most of the disposal now is ash and other residue from the state's waste-to-energy plants, as well as construction and demolition debris.

But tons of household garbage are decomposing in the core, and although the power potential of the landfill has peaked, Casella estimates there's still enough methane for 15 years of electricity generation.

"We're really harvesting energy from the past," Meagher said.


A recent tour of the landfill shows how the system works.

Sprouting from the mountain are a scattering of plastic pipes and valves. These wellheads are connected to a network of horizontal pipes buried under the landfill. Casella installed the collection system in 2002, not for power, but to control the rotten smell that offended neighbors. The system sucks up gas and pipes it to a central point, where it's burned by a flare inside a chain-link fence. All that remains of the smell -- and the energy -- disappears in a shimmer of flame buffeted by the wind.

Nearby, workers are preparing to set utility poles where the power plant will rise. The plant is designed by Industry and Energy Associates of Portland, which has done similar projects in Delaware and New Jersey. Cianbro Corp. will build it.

Landfill gas generators aren't set up like big power plants. They're more like modular units. Engineers can measure how much methane a landfill is emitting today. They take an educated guess on how much is remaining, based on the age of the facility, how much waste it contains and other factors. Then they plug in a series of one-megawatt engines. Each can be removed as gas output declines.

The Pine Tree Landfill will have three engines. Casella plans to swap them over to Juniper Ridge, if that project goes forward. This arrangement spreads out the company's capital investment. Along with government incentives, engine sharing makes the Pine Tree project economically viable, Meagher said.

At least four other landfills in Maine are candidates for some form of gas power, according to the DEP.

Topping the list is the large Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock, which also has a gas collection system installed.

In Bath, the DEP is working with the city to reduce odors from hydrogen sulfide gas. In Fort Fairfield, it's involved with the Tri-Community Landfill, which is leaking methane underground. In Augusta, the DEP saw enough power potential at the Hatch Hill Landfill that new boilers at Cony High School were designed to burn landfill gas, Burns said.

"We're really at the beginning of gas-to-energy projects in Maine," Burns said. "It's really hard to say how many will go forward."
Methane power plants have an added benefit. Like all combustion engines, they give off plenty of waste heat. At other landfills, such as the one in Burlington County, N.J., engineers recover the heat to warm greenhouses. The New Jersey operation grows flowers and tomatoes; it even includes a fish farm.

Casella is exploring the economics of a greenhouse, lumber-drying kiln or other ventures at the landfill, Meagher said. That could make Pine Tree Landfill a real tourist attraction some day, a place where tomatoes tossed out 25 years ago are helping to grow the vegetables of tomorrow.

Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or:

Ogunquit envisions lure of being 'green town'

Portland Press Herald
By ANNE GLEASON, Staff Writer

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Meadowmere Resort in Ogunquit displays a flag on its property to let visitors know that the hotel is a Maine Environmental Leader.
To earn its "green" certification, the resort worked with the state to become more environmentally friendly. Its vending machines and arcade games operate using motion sensors. It switched to nonchlorinated cleaner in the swimming pool and installed energy-efficient light bulbs.

A similar state program, which involves earning enough points to receive certification, has been developed for restaurants.

Ogunquit officials are exploring ways to create a similar label for the town. And the benefits of being an official "green town" would be twofold, said Conservation Commission Chairman Mike Horn.

In addition to saving energy and helping the environment, the tourist town could market itself to travelers concerned about the environment and climate change, he said.

"It would be highly advantageous to be able to promote the town as Maine's green town," Horn said. "(Ogunquit's) almost totally a tourist town."

Other communities are going green, through efforts such as the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Portland, Saco and Kennebunk have signed a pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Horn believes Ogunquit could start by encouraging its many hotels and motels to participate in the state's lodging program. The program could then be expanded to restaurants, other businesses and residents who wished to participate to help achieve a townwide green status.

"It's blue sky now, but the more I talk to people, it seems doable," Horn said.

For assistance, the Conservation Commission reached out to Peter Cooke, program manager with the state Department of Environmental Protection's Pollution Prevention Program. Cooke oversees the green-certification programs for lodging and restaurants.

Using existing environmental programs, such as the lodging policy and the Governor's Carbon Challenge, Cooke said a town might be able to develop a communitywide certification program. He said the effort is worth exploring.

"Using a combination of programs to obtain green status as a town there's potential there," he said.

The carbon challenge requires participants to sign a pledge to lower emissions. The state's program has 60 participants. With the exception of about eight to 10 residences, all are businesses, municipalities or nonprofits, Cooke said.

The state program for hotels and motels, launched a year and a half ago through the state DEP's Pollution Prevention program, has 48 participants.

"It's well worth it, not just morally, but it has also made a lot of business sense," said Allyson Cavaretta, director of sales and marketing at the Meadowmere. "I can't stress enough the importance of taking care of the things that people come here to see."

The Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth was among the first to receive certification.

In recent months, the hotel started using biofuel and joined, allowing guests to donate to the fund to offset carbon dioxide emissions they contributed on their trip by checking a box on their bill, said Rauni Kew, the inn's director of marketing.

Kew said travelers are becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues. A recent TripAdvisor survey found that 38 percent of worldwide travelers see environmentally friendly tourism as a consideration when taking trips.

Also, corporations and businesses that are environmentally conscious have chosen to hold conferences at the hotel because of its efforts and designation, Kew said.

The hotel's environmental practices also have earned Inn by the Sea publicity, including being designated as a top environmental hotel in the Americas by MSNBC. The state, as a whole, could benefit in the same way by getting more entities in line with green initiatives, Kew said.

Vermont and New Hampshire have regional certification programs similar to Maine's lodging and restaurant programs, she said. The Boston Green Tourism initiative encourages hotels and restaurants to go green and promotes Greater Boston as a green destination, according to its Web site.

"It's time to market Maine as a green destination," Kew said. "We are the perfect place to do that, because we are green."

In Bar Harbor, a midcoast tourist town flush with lodging facilities, Graycote Inn owner Roger Samuel said he expects his bed and breakfast's green certification to become increasingly attractive.

"You might find some people who think, 'I can make perhaps a little impact by staying (at a green hotel) as opposed to somewhere else.' It's getting on the radar of more and more people," he said.

The lodging program is based on a points system. Hotels must obtain 100 points to receive certification. After two years, they either have to increase their points to 130 or pay a fee to recertify.

Currently, hotels can earn up to 300 points using various suggestions in the state's workbook, such as switching to geothermal heating or composting food waste.

A similar program is in place for restaurants, and O'Naturals in Portland became the first in the state to receive certification last week, Cooke said.

"This whole green thing's not going away," he said.
Ogunquit resident Bernadine Speers got the Conservation Commission talking about the townwide effort last week.

Speers had heard from a friend about cities in France that "had gone green." The cities, she said, go as far as presenting new residents with a bicycle, implementing green education into school curriculum and banning plastic bags in grocery stores.

Some of those efforts would not work in Ogunquit, but Speers said she finds the concept of a green community intriguing.

Staff Writer Anne Gleason can be contacted at 282-8229 or at:

In mosquito, a small tale of climate change

By Beth Daley, Globe Staff | April 29, 2007

Fourth in a series of occasional articles examining climate change, its effects, and possible solutions.

UNORGANIZED TERRITORIES, Maine -- In a woodsy bog on the road between Millinocket and Baxter State Park, a mosquito that can barely fly is emerging as one of climate change's early winners.

The insect, which lives in the carnivorous purple pitcher plant, is genetically adapting to a warming world. By entering hibernation more than a week later than it did 30 years ago, the Wyeomyia smithii mosquito is evolving to keep pace with the later arrival of New England winters.

Along with Canadian red squirrels and European blackcap birds, the mosquito -- a non biting variety found from Florida to Canada -- is one of only five known species that scientists say have already evolved because of global warming.

The unobtrusive mosquito's story illustrates a sobering consequence of climate change: The species best suited to adapting may not be the ones people want to survive. Scientists say species with short life cycles -- Wyeomyia smithii lives about eight weeks -- can evolve quickly and keep up with changing environmental conditions as a result. Rodents, insects, and birds, some carrying diseases deadly to humans, are genetically programmed to win. Polar bears and whales, which take years to reproduce, are not.

"Rapid climate change is actually now driving the evolution of animals -- that is a dramatic event," said Christina M. Holzapfel, who, with her husband, William E. Bradshaw, has documented genetic changes in hundreds of thousands of mosquitoes at their University of Oregon lab in Eugene. The couple, both evolutionary geneticists, began collecting the mosquitoes at the bog here and in other New England locations more than 30 years ago while at Harvard University.

Until now, the effects of climate warming had been most noticeable in the Arctic, as glaciers melt. But dramatic changes are also being seen in northern temperate zones such as New England, where the average winter temperature has risen 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 30 years. Growing seasons have lengthened, winter is arriving later, and the weather has become more erratic.

Scientists are worried that climate change, caused largely by the release of heat-trapping gases from power plants and cars, will drive evolution in unpredictable and unwelcome ways in these regions, where millions of people live. Researchers are trying to determine in more detail how species will adapt to a projected 3.2- to 7.2-degree rise in the world's average annual temperature by the end of the century. Their answers could help predict outbreaks of diseases spread by insects and rodents, and how ecosystems will change as species react at different rates to the warming.

"The world is going to be a very different-looking place," said Loren Rieseberg, an evolutionary biologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He has done rough calculations suggesting that species that take longer than two years to reproduce will not be able to keep up with the current pace of climate change. Some of the laggards will probably become extinct, he said, while others will migrate to new places.

"We are going to have very different sets of organisms living together," he said.

Hibernation in a lab
In a cramped, steamy room at the University of Oregon in Eugene, dozens of mosquitoes feebly flit above rows of red-veined purple pitcher plants. Oversized Petri dishes, each with dozens of mosquito larvae, are stacked nearby.

The windowless room is part of a five-year experiment by Bradshaw and Holzapfel that simulates global warming in Northern Maine. Using sophisticated computers that constantly monitor and adjust the room's temperature and humidity, the couple is replicating the climate of New Jersey -- which northern Maine is expected to experience in 180 years if the current rate of warming continues.

The room's fluorescent lights are programmed to mimic the number of hours of light per day in northern Maine because day length signals mosquitoes to begin hibernating.

In Maine, the mosquitoes mostly begin hibernation on Aug. 25, when there is a little less than 15 hours of daylight. But to survive in New Jersey, they must begin hibernating later in the season, when day length is less than 14 hours, to compensate for the later onset of winter.

Timing of hibernation is a life or death decision for the mosquito: If it begins hibernating too early, it will use up limited nutritional reserves when it doesn't need to and reduce its chance of surviving the winter. If it starts too late, it will freeze to death.

The experiment favors individual mosquitoes in each generation that, because of genetic variation, start hibernating later than the rest of the population. More of these late-hibernating mosquitoes survive the winter and then pass on that later-hibernation genetic trait to the next generation. The process continues until most of the population is hibernating at the best time to ensure they survive the winter.

The experiment, now in its third year, is similar to what is happening in a warming New England, where the growing season is getting longer and winters are arriving later "but the day length stays the same," Holzapfel said.

Survival in a bog
Bradshaw and Holzapfel never set out to study global warming with the fragile Wyeomyia smithii mosquito. As post-graduate students at Harvard in the early 1970s, they became interested in species' biological clocks and settled on the pitcher plant mosquito as a good case study.

The two would pull on hip boots and wade into bogs around Boston and in Northern Maine searching for the stubby plants and their signature tall summer purple blooms.

The plant, which can live 100 years, feeds on ants, moths, and other insects that drown in its water-filled leaves. The mosquito spends much of its life in water and doesn't succumb in the plant's watery trap. The mosquito larvae also feed on the decaying bugs and the adults rarely stray far from the plant: They are so weak-flying, a strong wind will send them crashing to their deaths.

Over the years, Holzapfel and Bradshaw gathered insects and purple pitcher plants from more than 100 sites from Florida to Canada. Back at their lab in Oregon, they would place the mosquitoes in a constant environment and meticulously record at what day length they began hibernating.

As global warming became a pressing scientific issue, the couple pored over their exhaustive records. Their data showed that Millinocket mosquitoes and others at the same latitude (46 degrees north) were starting hibernation 7.5 days later in 1996 than they had in 1972. Bradshaw and Holzapfel demonstrated that this was a genetic response to climate change because the further north they looked, the more mosquito hibernation dates shifted. In Florida, for example, the mosquito hibernation dates didn't change at all.

These observations fit with other scientific evidence that global warming becomes more pronounced closer to the poles.

"No one set out 30 years ago to ask questions about climate warming and evolution," said Bradshaw. "It was a non issue."

'Things are changing'
Nearly every species reacts to changes in the weather. Lilacs bloom earlier if a spring is particularly warm. Mice populations boom in years when winter temperatures are warm enough for them to reproduce.

Yet these responses aren't necessarily genetic: Most species, including humans, have a built-in flexibility -- scientists call it phenotypic plasticity -- that allows them to adjust to temporary environmental conditions. It is partly why we can withstand Boston's frigid winters and steamy summers.

But when the changes are all in the same direction and continue for a long time -- such as the warming taking place in New England -- Charles Darwin's natural selection can take over: Individuals with certain characteristics better suited to the changed environment survive in greater numbers than others in the population. Those individuals then pass on those favorable genetic characteristics to their offspring, eventually leading to evolutionary change in the entire population.

Now that Bradshaw and Holzapfel have demonstrated this shift in the wild among mosquitoes from Maine and elsewhere, they are trying to better understand the exact mechanisms. Their current experiment with Maine day length and New Jersey climate is designed to further illuminate the critical role day length plays in mosquitoes' survival in a warming world.

In the May issue of Genetics, the scientists report that they have identified regions on three chromosomes containing genes involved in controlling mosquitoes' response to day length.

Scientists say that global warming is almost certainly driving evolution of other, less-studied species. And while they know that short-lived species that reproduce rapidly have a better chance of adapting, they cannot yet predict exactly which species will ultimately win and which will face the threat of extinction. Some long-lived species may be able to adjust without genetic changes; humans, for example, can move from flood-prone areas as sea levels rise. Some short-lived species may die because their environment changes too greatly for them to survive.

"The moral of the story is that things are going to be different," said Kevin Emerson, a graduate student in the Bradshaw-Holzapfel lab. "Whether we know exactly what is going to be different . . . I don't think we can say. But people have to accept that things are changing."

Beth Daley can be reached by email at
© Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Earth Portal

I was just made aware of a new web site which is a portal to articles concerning the environment. More specifically and according to the site, the "Earth Portal is a comprehensive resource for timely, objective, science-based information about the environment. It is a means for the global scientific community to come together to produce the first free, expert-driven, massively scaleable information resource on the environment, and to engage civil society in a public dialogue on the role of environmental issues in human affairs. It contains no commercial advertising and reaches a large global audience."

The URL for the site is as follows:

Earth Portal Web Site

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Carbon-Neutral Is Hip, but Is It Green?

NY Times
April 29, 2007


The rush to go on a carbon diet, even if by proxy, is in overdrive.

In addition to the celebrities — Leo, Brad, George — politicians like John Edwards and Hillary Clinton are now running, at least part of the time, carbon-neutral campaigns. A lengthening list of big businesses — international banks, London’s taxi fleet, luxury airlines — also claim “carbon neutrality.” Silverjet, a plush new trans-Atlantic carrier, bills itself as the first fully carbon-neutral airline. It puts about $28 of each round-trip ticket into a fund for global projects that, in theory, squelch as much carbon dioxide as the airline generates — about 1.2 tons per passenger, the airline says.

Also, a largely unregulated carbon-cutting business has sprung up. In this market, consultants or companies estimate a person’s or company’s output of greenhouse gases. Then, these businesses sell “offsets,” which pay for projects elsewhere that void or sop up an equal amount of emissions — say, by planting trees or, as one new company proposes, fertilizing the ocean so algae can pull the gas out of the air. Recent counts by Business Week magazine and several environmental watchdog groups tally the trade in offsets at more than $100 million a year and growing blazingly fast.

But is the carbon-neutral movement just a gimmick?

On this, environmentalists aren’t neutral, and they don’t agree. Some believe it helps build support, but others argue that these purchases don’t accomplish anything meaningful — other than giving someone a slightly better feeling (or greener reputation) after buying a 6,000-square-foot house or passing the million-mile mark in a frequent-flier program. In fact, to many environmentalists, the carbon-neutral campaign is a sign of the times — easy on the sacrifice and big on the consumerism.

As long as the use of fossil fuels keeps climbing — which is happening relentlessly around the world — the emission of greenhouse gases will keep rising. The average American, by several estimates, generates more than 20 tons of carbon dioxide or related gases a year; the average resident of the planet about 4.5 tons.

At this rate, environmentalists say, buying someone else’s squelched emissions is all but insignificant.

“The worst of the carbon-offset programs resemble the Catholic Church’s sale of indulgences back before the Reformation,” said Denis Hayes, the president of the Bullitt Foundation, an environmental grant-making group. “Instead of reducing their carbon footprints, people take private jets and stretch limos, and then think they can buy an indulgence to forgive their sins.”

“This whole game is badly in need of a modern Martin Luther,” Mr. Hayes added.

Some environmental campaigners defend this marketplace as a legitimate, if imperfect, way to support an environmental ethic and political movement, even if the numbers don’t all add up.

“We can’t stop global warming with voluntary offsets, but they offer an option for individuals looking for a way to contribute to the solution in addition to reducing their own emissions and urging their elected representatives to support good policy,” said Daniel A. Lashof, the science director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But he and others agree that more oversight is needed. Voluntary standards and codes of conduct are evolving in Europe and the United States to ensure that a ton of carbon dioxide purchased is actually a ton of carbon dioxide avoided.

The first attempt at an industry report card, commissioned by the environmental group Clean Air/Cool Planet (which has some involvement in the business), gave decidedly mixed reviews to the field, selecting eight sellers of carbon offsets that it concluded were reasonably reliable.

But the report, “A Consumer’s Guide to Retail Carbon-Offset Providers,” concluded that this market was no different than any other, saying, “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Prices vary widely for offsetting the carbon dioxide tonnage released by a long plane flight, S.U.V. commute or energy-hungry house. The report suggested that the cheapest offsets may not be legitimate.

For example, depending on where you shop for carbon credits, avoiding the ton of carbon dioxide released by driving a midsize car about 2,000 miles could cost $5 or $25, according to data in the report.

Mr. Hayes said there were legitimate companies and organizations that help people and companies measure their emissions and find ways to cut them, both directly and indirectly by purchasing certain kinds of credits. But overall, he said, an investment in such credits — given the questions about their reliability — should be looked at more as conventional charity (presuming you check to be sure the projects are real) and less as something like a license to binge on private jet travel.

In many ways, the carbon-neutral campaign mimics other efforts that use markets to save the environment. For nearly two decades, for example, forest protection groups have disputed the merits of “certified” tropical hardwood and other products that manufacturers claim are harvested in ways that don’t imperil virgin forests.

Some environmentalists say it’s better to offer some income to those who use forests in a renewable way. But others insist that instead of trying to police the trade by rooting our fraudulent planks, it’s better to avoid the timber altogether. Only one of many forest certification programs, run by the Forest Stewardship Council, has been widely endorsed by environmental groups.

Michael R. Solomon, the author of “Consumer Behavior: Buying, Having and Being” and a professor at Auburn University, said he was not surprised by the allure of the carbon-offsetting market.

“Consumers are always going to gravitate toward a more parsimonious solution that requires less behavioral change,” he said. “We know that new products or ideas are more likely to be adopted if they don’t require us to alter our routines very much.”

But he said there was danger ahead, “if we become trained to substitute dollars for deeds — kind of an ‘I gave at the office’ prescription for the environment.”

Charles Komanoff, an energy economist in New York, said the commercial market in climate neutrality could have even more harmful effects.

It could, by suggesting there’s an easy way out, blunt public support for what will really be needed in the long run, he said: a binding limit on emissions or a tax on the fuels that generate greenhouse gases.

“There isn’t a single American household above the poverty line that couldn’t cut their CO2 at least 25 percent in six months through a straightforward series of fairly simple and terrifically cost-effective measures,” he said.

Jonathan Shopley, the chief executive of Britain’s CarbonNeutral Company, which does only 5 percent of its offsetting directly for individuals and the rest for businesses, insisted that the voluntary markets fill a vital gap.

This is particularly true, he said, because laws or treaties, like the Kyoto Protocol, that have mandatory limits on greenhouse gases have so far failed to blunt the relentless global rise in such emissions.

“That isn’t going to get us where we need to go,” Mr. Shopley said.

Friday, April 27, 2007

How green are your consumers?

Maine Today
Laurie Banks

Friday, April 27, 2007

Marketers take note: It's a green consumer audience and it's getting greener every week. Can you feel it? More green-targeted news stories every day, more attention being paid to carbon footprints, more pressure to understand and be part of this latest trend.

There are signs of the "greening of America" everywhere. And people agree, that's a good thing. To satisfy the demands of this growing consumer segment, marketers are reaching deep into the "green" list of features and benefits for all kinds of products and services, finding the power of an "Energy Star" endorsement and calculating the cost/benefit of a low carbon policy.

But who are these green consumers and what motivates them to buy?

A recent marketing assignment led us to dig deep into the mind-set of the new American green consumer. Here is what we found.

Historically, green products were seen as inconvenient and expensive, and their use often included a sacrifice in performance.

Now, consumers' perceptions are changing. More and more, the image of green products might include being efficient, cost-effective, high-performing, convenient, healthy or safe. Sometimes ownership carries an enhanced social status; think of a solar home or a hybrid automobile.

Of course, we don't all buy in to being green to the same degree. The Ropers ASW Green Gauge Report has done a great job of segmenting and describing consumers so that marketers will have an easier time of matching message to audience.

In the world of green marketing, here is how consumers stack up:

- 9 percent are True Blue Greens - defined as most interested and typically an influencer of others; highly educated with higher incomes.

- 6 percent are Greenback Greens - these people vote with their pocketbook. They are interested in environmental issues but not always willing to spend that extra cash. They are unwilling to sacrifice comfort and convenience.

- 31 percent are Sprouts - a marketer's dream, these environmental fence-sitters are undecided consumers. They evaluate environmental issues one at a time and are willing to listen and compare each purchase to their personal benefits or costs.

- 19 percent are Grousers - You might have your own mental image, but Ropers defines this group as disinterested. For them, environmental issues are too big and too complicated to address.

- 33 percent are Basic Browns - those with the least amount of interest. Notice that they are also the largest segment. They typically have finished high school and earn a modest income.

Ready to add "green" to your marketing palette? Here is what you need to know.

For most consumers - regardless of the tendencies we just listed ­ product purchase and consumption are the primary ways Americans feel they help out the environment.

Ask yourself: Where are your products or services on the path to greenness? They could be marketed as such if you adopt or promote one or more of these directions:

1. Adding value to your process. Perhaps you could introduce some new technology or a modification of existing technology to reduce your product's environmental impact.

2. Changes in the way you do business. Can you establish or ensure implementation of systems that promote higher environmental, health or safety standards?

3. Altering what the product is made of. You might be able to switch to environmentally safe raw materials or components that make up your product.
One word of caution, though: Beware of so-called Green Washing, which is the tendency to overstate your company's environmental benefits. Once you are labeled as a Green Washer, it might take years for your company to recover the impression that you deliver a trusted message.

There are many driving forces that motivate a marketing movement. For boomers, the concern might be helping to shape their grandchildren's world; for the millennium or mi generation segment, a growing concern with the state of their planet might be part of their social fiber and core values.

No matter whom you target, consider how your process and product affects the environment, and make sure you communicate the truthful environmental benefits your company brings to your consumers' life.

James R. Woolsey's Congressional Testimony

Below is the text of James R. Woolsey's April 18 testimony to
the U.S. House of Representatives Select
Committee on Energy Independence and Global
Warming Hearings on Geopolitical Implications of
Rising Oil Dependence and Global Warming. He gave
similar testimony April 19 to the Senate Finance
Committee Hearings on Grains, Cane and
Automobiles: Tax Incentives for Alternative Fuels
and Vehicles, representing the National Commission on Energy Policy.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee it is
an honor to be asked to testify before you today
on this important subject. I represent only my
own views and not those of any institution with which I am affiliated.

There are many aspects of our dependence on oil
for 97 per cent of our transportation needs that
affect both our national security in a
traditional sense and, via oil's contribution to
global warming, our security in a broad sense as
well - oil contributes over 40 per cent of the
global warming gas emissions caused by fossil fuels.

I do not believe that we will reach a sound
energy policy if we ignore any of three key
needs: to have a long-term supply of
transportation fuel that is as secure as
possible, as clean as possible (in terms of
global warming gas emissions as well as other
pollutants), and as inexpensive as
possible. Today oil meets none of these three
criteria. The reason this is important to us is
that oil is a strategic commodity today insofar
as we are in near-total dependence on it for
transportation - not merely a commodity. Until a
little over a century ago salt was such a
strategic commodity as well (I am indebted to
Anne Korin of IAGS for pointing out this
analogy). Wars were fought and national
strategies driven in part by salt, because it was
the only generally-available means of preserving
meat, a major portion of our food supply.

Today we haven't stopped using salt, but no part
of our national behavior is driven by the need
for it - it has a market and is shipped in
commerce. But because it has affordable and
effective competitors for meat preservation --
refrigeration, among other technologies - its
dominant role is over. No nation sways world
events because it has salt mines.

For a number of reasons we must strive for a
similar path of decline in influence for oil -
away from being a strategic commodity and toward
being simply a commodity. Oil will still be
useful and valued for its high energy content and
its relative ease of shipment for a long
time. It will be used in heating and in the
production of some chemicals as well - in those
uses it is already, in a sense, no longer a
strategic commodity because it has
competitors. Doubtless it will be used for many
years to produce transportation fuel as
well. But in the interests of our national
security, our climate, and our pocketbooks we
should now move together as a nation - indeed as
a community of oil importer nations - to destroy,
not oil of course, but oil's strategic role in
transportation as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.

National Security

The national security reasons to destroy oil's strategic role are substantial.

Over two-thirds of the world's proven reserves of
conventional oil lie in the turbulent states of
the Persian Gulf, as does much of oil's
international infrastructure. Increasing
dependence on this part of the world for our
transportation needs is subject to a wide range of perils.

Just over a year ago, in response to bin Laden's
many calls for attack on such infrastructure, al
Qaeda attacked Abcaiq, the world's largest oil
production facility, in northeastern Saudi
Arabia. Had it succeeded in destroying the
sulfur-clearing towers there through which about
two-thirds of Saudi crude passes -- say with a
simple mortar attack -- it would have succeeded
in driving the price of oil over a hundred
dollars a barrel for many months, perhaps close
to bin Laden's goal of $200 a barrel.

Royal succession in Saudi Arabia could also bring
major problems. King Abdullah is a sponsor of
some reforms in the Saudi system and sometimes
works toward cordial relations with us and other
oil importers, but he is in his eighties, as is
Crown Prince Sultan. Prince Nayef, the Interior
Minister, is one possible successor to the
throne. His views are famously close to those of
the extremely reactionary Wahhabi religious
movement in the Kingdom. It was he, for example,
who decided not to inform the US before the
Khobar Towers bombing when "… a few months
earlier Saudi authorities had intercepted a car
from Lebanon that was stuffed with explosives and
headed for Khobar." (Wright, The Looming Tower,
2006, pp. 238-39). Cordial relations with the US
may not be at the top of his agenda.

Iran's President is part of a circle, the
Hojateih, around Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi that is
radical even by Iranian post-1979
standards. Indeed Mesbah-Yazdi was exiled to a
school in the city of Qum by Ayatollah Khomeini
because the latter thought Mesbah-Yazdi too
radical. The Hojatiehs' views center on the
importance of encouraging the return of the
Twelfth Imam from the 10th century (the Mahdi) so
that he may begin the battles between good and
evil that they believe will end the world. The
efficacy of deterrence and containment in dealing
with Iran's nuclear weapons development program
is not clear when Iran's leaders talk of the
desirability of Iran's becoming "a martyr nation"
and shrug at the possibility of millions of
deaths by saying "Allah will know his own."

In response to Iran's nuclear program, this past
winter six Sunni Arab states, including Egypt and
Saudi Arabia, announced that they too would have
"peaceful" nuclear programs. But since a number
of these states have very plentiful supplies of
oil and gas it seems unlikely that all these
programs will be limited to electricity
generation. We may be seeing the beginning
stages of a nuclear arms race in the Gulf region between Sunni and Shia.

The US now borrows from its creditors such as
China and Saudi Arabia over $300 billion per
year, approaching a billion dollars a day of
national IOU-writing, to import oil. This
contributes heavily to a weakening dollar and
upward pressure on interest rates (our annual oil
debt is well above our trade deficit with
China). For each of these daily billions of
dollars that we can avoid borrowing and can
figure out how to spend productively producing
domestically for our transportation needs we
create 10,000 or more jobs in the US. Another
interesting perspective is that net farm income
in the US is in the range of $80 billion
annually. So by replacing about a fourth of our
imports with domestically-produced alternatives,
we create value in this country about equal to a doubling of net farm income.

If these IOUs we send abroad put a strain on the
world's wealthiest economy, think what they do to
the economies of developing countries in, say,
Africa that have no oil themselves. Debt is the
central inhibitor of economic development -
importing expensive oil is helping bind hundreds
of millions of the world's poor more firmly into poverty.

A share of our payments for oil, along with
others', find their way to Saudi Arabia. The
Saudis provide billions of dollars annually to
their Wahhabi sect, which establishes religious
schools and institutions throughout the
world. Lawrence Wright in his fine work, The
Looming Tower, states that with about one per
cent of the world's Muslim population the Saudis
support via the Wahhabis "… 90 per cent of the
expenses of the entire faith, overriding other traditions of Islam." (p.149)

These Wahhabi teachings, if one reads the fatwas
of their imams (see Shmuel Bar, Warrant for
Terror: Fatwas of Radical Islam and the Duty of
Jihad, 2006), are murderous with respect to the
Shia, Jews, homosexuals, and apostates and
horribly repressive with respect to everyone
else, especially women. They are essentially the
same basic beliefs as those expressed by al
Qaeda. The Wahhabis and al Qaeda do not disagree
about underlying beliefs but rather, a bit like
the Stalinists and Trotskyites of the 20's and
30's, about which of them should be in
charge. The hate-filled underlying views of
both, however, point in the same overall
direction. Many Wahhabi-funded madrassahs,
world-wide, echo and perpetrate this hatred and
thus promote its consequences. Thus, as has
often been said, when we pay for Middle Eastern
oil today, this Long War in which we are engaged
becomes the only war the US has ever fought in which we pay for both sides.

Finally, as Tom Friedman of the New York Times
puts it, "the price of oil and the path of
freedom run in opposite directions". Work by
Collier at Oxford and other scholars has pointed
out the link between commodities commanding huge
amounts of economic rent, such as oil (or the
gold and silver brought from the New World by
Spain in the sixteenth century) and political
autocracy. Such a commodity, unless it is
acquired by a mature democracy such as Norway or
Canada, tends to concentrate and enhance the
power in the hands of a ruler. "There should be
no taxation without representation" says Bernard
Lewis, "but it should also be noted that there is
no representation without taxation." If a
country is so oil-rich that it doesn't need taxes
it does not need, and often does not have, any
real legislative body to levy them - and thus no
alternate source of power in the State. And as
for enhanced power from oil wealth, note the
behavior recently of Messrs. Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Putin.

So the national security reasons to move against
oil's role as a strategic commodity are substantial.

Carbon Emissions

Most of the attention regarding climate change
has centered on reducing CO2 emissions from coal
because of its central role in many parts of the
world, including the US, in electricity
generation. This testimony will not deal with
these particular emissions except to note that
oil use in transportation is only lightly
affected by the steps that may be taken, such as
carbon taxes or carbon cap-and-trade systems, to
limit CO2 emissions from coal. An increase in
price of many dollars per ton of CO2 will have
only pennies' worth of effect in the price of
gasoline. So while such methods of limiting
emissions from coal combustion have much to
commend them, they have little to do with
reducing the over-40 per cent of CO2 emissions
that come from oil, especially in its
transportation uses. Other tools must be found.

Replacing gasoline with corn-derived ethanol
provides a start, but only a start. As a general
proposition, fuels made from renewable resources
merely recycle differently the CO2 that is
already in the atmosphere and that will stay
there in any case, e.g. by unharvested grasses
(which have fixed CO2 in the photosynthesis
process) dying and decaying in the field. Thus
compared to fossil fuels, which introduce into
the atmosphere CO2 that could otherwise remain
sequestered below-ground, renewable fuels
typically exhibit much lower net CO2 emissions on
a well-to-wheels basis. When ethanol is made
from corn, however, the process may use enough
natural gas in producing fertilizer and,
(depending on the fuel used to fire the ethanol
plant), on ethanol production that its use
reduces global warming gas emissions perceptibly
but only modestly compared to those from gasoline
(although even corn ethanol of course reduces oil
use). Also, beyond the range of replacing
approximately 10 per cent of gasoline, use of
corn-derived ethanol for transportation fuel
begins to create problems with land use. Other
fuels (see below) need to be utilized

In my judgment it is important to limit the CO2
emissions from oil used for transportation
(somewhere around a quarter of our fossil-fuel
CO2 emissions), but I find much of the current
debate, couched in terms of belief, to be less
than enlightening. Belief in a scientific
theory, even one that has been accepted by many
reputable scientists for many years, should
always be held tentatively and, Karl Popper
taught us well I believe, a theory should always
be regarded as a candidate for refutation. Such
refutation may be total - the late senior Saudi
imam Ben Baz to the contrary notwithstanding, the
sun doesn't rotate around the earth. Or it may
be partial: Newton wasn't so much proven wrong
by Einstein but rather his theories were shown to have limitations.

Today the clear weight of scientific opinion -
e.g. the views of the US National Academy of
Sciences -- is on the side of the proposition
that global climate change is in part
anthropogenic and that it is related to the
release of CO2 and other gases such as
methane. And although critics are right to point
out that earlier predictions by others have not
occurred - global cooling, massive famine from
population increase - this should not affect our
judgment about CO2 and global climate change
(except to give all of us a reasonable reminder
about the importance of scientific theories
always needing to be held tentatively).

I find most congenial the approach to these
issues adopted by Nobel-Prize-winning economist
Thomas Schelling, who points out that we insure
against many phenomena which we are not certain
will occur, but which we nonetheless take
seriously. It is a question of the insurance
premium's appropriate size. With respect to
coal-fired electricity there is a major debate
because most steps to abate CO2 emissions have
cost - e.g. moving toward carbon capture and
sequestration - but no major benefits other than
limiting CO2 emissions, at least none (e.g.
pollution abatement) that can't be dealt with more cheaply.

But breaking oil's strategic role in
transportation, I would maintain, is
different. As discussed below, such an objective
has modest costs (some of them indeed are
negative) and substantial other benefits. Oil
should thus be an early candidate for public
policy decisions to speed its strategic demise.


We have made some substantial mistakes with
regard to affordability in the past. Ignoring
cost in attempting to destroy oil's strategic
role in transportation is not only expensive, it
is self-defeating. For example, in the aftermath
of war, revolution, and oil crises in the Middle
East in the 1970's the US initiated the very
expensive Synfuels Corporation. It promptly went
bankrupt in 1986 after the Saudis increased
production from their reserves and drove the
price of oil down to near $5/barrel. Something
similar happened to various expensive petroleum
alternatives in the late 90's when, for a number
of reasons, oil prices sank to around $10/barrel.

Our most recent mistake has been investing so
heavily in hydrogen fuel cell technology for
passenger vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cells have
real utility in many fixed applications, in the
space program, and perhaps, once their cost has
been adequately reduced, for some types of fleet
vehicles. Hydrogen production for chemical use
may also be one reasonable way to utilize
stranded electricity (electricity produced at a
site for which no, or inadequate, transmission is
available). But to install an adequate number of
hydrogen fueling stations in our neighborhoods to
support family cars driving on hydrogen would
require a huge investment in infrastructure, by
some estimates nearly a trillion dollars.

And then one needs to answer a few questions
about creating hydrogen from either natural gas
or electricity. Why reform natural gas into
hydrogen for fuel cells and not just put the
natural gas into internal combustion engines in
the first place, especially since the conversion
wastes about a third of the original
energy? Many cities have natural-gas-powered
buses and Iran is even modifying its existing
automobile fleet to be dual-fuel vehicles of a
sort that can use either gasoline or natural
gas. Or why convert electricity (via
electrolysis of water) into hydrogen and then via
a fuel cell into electricity again, losing about
three-quarters of the energy in the process? Why
not put the electricity into the vehicle's
battery, as with a plug-in hybrid, in the first place?

If we insist on expensive single solutions such
as hydrogen - a platinum (not just silver) bullet
- and ignore cost and the utility of building on
existing infrastructure, we will fail. This is
in part because in addition to oil's being a
strategic commodity for transportation from the
point of view of us, the importers, it is also a
strategically manipulable commodity from the
point of view of those who control it. Chinese
and Indian demand, and the possibility that the
peak oil theory will prove out and the major
Middle Eastern fields will see declining
production capability, may keep oil prices
high. But many investors will still be worried
about a repeat of the sharp oil price drops of
the mid-eighties and the late nineties. The
world changed in important ways in the early
1970's when the Railroad Commission of Texas was
in effect replaced by OPEC as the arbiter of the world's oil prices.

We need to convince our investors and ourselves
that our economy is not subject to being
manipulated by others based on their perception
of whether we are being too aggressive in
developing alternatives to oil, or supporting
Israel's existence too determinedly. Instead we
should develop a portfolio of approaches to
breaking oil's strategic hold on us, building on
existing transportation capabilities wherever
possible and keeping in mind cost, carbon emissions, and national security.

Toward a Portfolio


As modern battery technology has developed in
response to the markets for electronics,
communications, power tools, and a host of other
uses, it has brought with it opportunities to
substitute electricity for oil products in
transportation. Hybrid gasoline-electric cars
have now been provided with these advanced
batteries -- such as lithium-ion - with improved
energy and power densities. Dozens of vehicle
prototypes are now demonstrating that these
"plug-in hybrids" can more than double hybrids'
overall (gasoline) mileage. With a plug-in,
charging your car overnight from an ordinary
110-volt socket in your garage can let you drive
20 miles or more on the electricity stored in the
topped-up battery before the car lapses into its
normal hybrid mode. If you forget to charge or
exceed 20 miles, no problem, you then just have a
regular hybrid with the insurance of liquid fuel
in the tank. And during those 20 all-electric
miles you will be driving at a cost of between a
penny and three cents a mile instead of the
current 10-cent-a-mile-plus cost of gasoline.

Utilities are rapidly becoming quite interested
in plug-ins because of the substantial benefit to
them of being able to sell off-peak power at
night. Because off-peak nighttime charging uses
unutilized capacity, DOE's Pacific Northwest
National Laboratory estimates that adopting
plug-ins will not create a need for new base load
electricity generation plants until plug-ins
constitute more than 84% of the country's 220
million passenger vehicles. Further, those
plug-ins that are left connected to an electrical
socket after being fully charged (most U.S. cars
are parked more than 20 hours a day) can
substitute for expensive natural gas by providing
electricity from their batteries back to the grid
to aid in stabilization of the grid's frequency
and voltage, and "spinning" reserves to help deal with power outages.

The economic savings that can result from these
vehicle-to-grid (V2G) connections are very substantial.

First of all, V2G takes advantage of the fact,
surprising to most people, that today's light
vehicle fleet has twenty times the power capacity
of our electric power system and less than
one-tenth its utilization. A relatively few
vehicle batteries can thus store much larger
amounts of energy relative to the grid's needs
than most people realize. Vehicles that are
fully charged can be left plugged into electric
outlets and serve useful, and profitable,
purposes. I would refer the Committee to experts
on this matter - particularly Professor Willett
Kempton of the College of Marine and Earth
Studies at the University of Delaware who,
together with his colleagues there, has published
widely on this subject. But one example is that
if only 3 per cent of the nation's light vehicle
fleet were plug-in hybrids, plugged into the
grid, they would alone be able to handle the grid
stabilization market, on which utilities today spend about $10 billion.

Second, major infrastructure changes are not
needed in order to use V2G. Forty out of fifty
states today have net metering laws which let
homeowners sell power they generate, such as from
rooftop photovoltaics, back to the grid - those
who have solar systems on their roofs can
literally watch their electricity meters run
backwards. V2G's flexibility will improve as the
grid gets "smarter" but it can be done
today. Professor Kempton's work thus suggests
that utilities can save a great deal of what is
now spent on fossil fuels by substituting V2G
connections and that this in turn can benefit
consumers quite substantially. In his models the
credits a consumer obtains from connecting his
plug-in hybrid to the grid, after it has been
fully charged, for several hours a day cover a
substantial share of the consumer's monthly car
payments. It seems too good to be true that both
consumers and utilities could make money while
together they reduce fossil fuel emissions, but
such seems to be the clear logic of the economics of plug-in hybrids and V2G.

Once plug-ins start appearing in showrooms,
(company announcements now make it seem likely
that we will see the first production models
within 2-3 years), it is not only consumers and
utility shareholders who will be smiling. If
cheap off-peak electricity supplies a portion of
our transportation needs, this will help insulate
alternative liquid fuels from OPEC market
manipulation designed to cripple oil's
competitors. Indian and Chinese demand and
peaking oil production may make it much harder
for OPEC today to use any excess production
capacity to drive prices down and destroy
competitive technology. But as plug-ins come into
the fleet low electricity costs will stand as a
substantial further barrier to such market
manipulation. Since OPEC cannot drive oil prices
low enough to undermine our use of off-peak
electricity, it is unlikely to embark on a course
of radical price cuts at all because such cuts
are painful for its oil-exporter members.
Plug-ins thus may well give investors enough
confidence to back alternative liquid fuels
without any need for new taxes on oil or subsidies to protect them.

Environmentalists are joining this march, and
over time with increasing enthusiasm. The
Environmental and Energy Study Institute has
reported that, with today's electricity grid,
there would be a national average reduction in
carbon emissions by about 60% per vehicle when a
plug-in hybrid with 20-mile all-electric range
replaces a conventional car. Further studies are
underway on this important subject, but it seems
clear that replacing a conventional vehicle with
a plug-in hybrid will show substantial reductions
in carbon emissions today in clean-grid areas
such as the West Coast and some reductions on an
average basis nation-wide (coal fuels about 51
per cent of our overall electricity
generation). In states where coal-fired
generation dominates the electricity market there
may still be some reductions in carbon emissions
on a net basis by moving toward plug-in
hybrids. In any case, if other public policies
such as cap-and-trade lead to electricity's
increasingly being generated from less
carbon-emitting sources -- such as renewables,
nuclear power, or coal with carbon capture and
sequestration - this process will further reduce net vehicle emissions as well.

And as far as infrastructure investment is
concerned, some is indeed needed for plug-in
hybrids: each family with such a vehicle would
need an extension cord. Period.

Renewable Liquid Fuels

Because, as discussed above, renewable liquid
fuels hold the promise of very substantial CO2
reductions on a well-to-wheels basis I will limit
this discussion to them. It is of course
possible that technological innovation will make
possible a sufficient degree of carbon
sequestration from other alternative fuels - from
oil sands, oil shale, coal-to-liquid - that they
will meet relevant CO2 emissions requirements.

In my view, even if the nation moves toward
plug-in hybrid gasoline electric vehicles, and
even with expected battery improvements, there
will be a substantial market for liquid
fuels. This is because in order for a driver not
to be concerned at running out of electricity I
believe there will be substantial motive to have
liquid fuel in the tank. Liquid fuel will be
necessary for road trips in a plug-in hybrid
beyond the battery-charge range. And although
over time we can probably expect battery
performance to improve and the need for liquid
fuel to decline, battery cost today (perhaps
$500-600/kilowatt hour) substantially limits
battery size for moderate-cost vehicles to the
plug-in hybrid ranges rather than
all-electric. In addition to battery cost
reductions, wide availability of quick-charging
could reduce the demand for liquid fuels over
time, but those renewable fuels with a
substantial cost advantage may prove particularly durable in the public market.

Cost advantages can accrue from a number of sources.

For example, the ability to grow feedstocks such
as switch grass on many types of land effectively
removes the land limitations frequently
associated with corn-derived ethanol. We found
on the National Energy Policy Commission in our
2004 report that, with reasonable assumptions
about improvements in vehicle mileage and yield
per acre of feedstocks, enough switch grass could
be grown on the amount of farm land equivalent to
the soil bank (about 30 million acres, or around
7 per cent of US farm land) to replace over the
next twenty years about half of US gasoline.

Further, over time cellulosic ethanol and
cellulosic methanol may exhibit cost advantages
over corn-derived ethanol; for example,
cellulosic ethanols' production is likely to be
simplified by the perfection of consolidated
bioprocessing (so that hemi-cellulose and
cellulose may be processed together). Its
production costs may be lowered by rapid yield
improvements using new genetic techniques,
possibly but not necessarily including the
genetic engineering of the feedstocks themselves
- e.g. to simplify the breaking down of the
grasses' or other feedstocks' lignin. And its
shipping costs may be lowered by locating small
facilities near markets - switchgrass will grow
in more parts of the country than corn.

Bio-butanol may exhibit the above advantages and
also profit from the fact that it is both more
energy-intensive and more pipeline-friendly than ethanol.

Renewable diesel, made by thermal processes from
many types of carbon-based waste -- from turkey
offal to hog manure to used tires - and P-Series
fuels, made from waste and biomass, may both
exhibit cost advantages from environmental
cleanup. Conversion of only a portion of
industrial, municipal and animal wastes-using
thermal processes now coming into commercial
operation-appears to be able to yield several
million barrels a day of diesel, or with modest further processing, methanol.

In Europe the negative costs ("tipping fees")
that a fuel producer can obtain while making fuel
from such clean-up processes are substantial -
approximately $100/ton in some cases. We may be
about to see some of these processes that
simultaneously clean up the environment and
produce fuel leave the United States and migrate
to Europe, particularly since the executive
branch has recently decided to extend to oil
refineries the $1/gallon "renewable diesel"
credit previously focused on cleanup renewable
fuel-producing technologies. (See IRS Notice 2007-37)

And one or more of the above processes may also
find cost advantages in the production of
high-margin niche products in biorefineries that
do not produce only fuel. For example, today
polylactic acid, a major ingredient in many
plastics that is ordinarily made from
hydrocarbons, is being produced from
carbohydrates (corn) in Nebraska. In relative
short order we may see other such products moving
us in a transition from hydrocarbon to
carbohydrate feedstocks for a range of chemicals.

In short there is a good deal of promise that we
may be able to shift our liquid fuel consumption
toward renewable fuels that radically reduce our
reliance on oil products. A key policy step to
enabling liquid fuel choice is to ensure that
most new cars are flexible fuel vehicles, cars
that can run on any combination of gasoline and
alcohols such as ethanol and methanol. Every car
sold in the U.S. is required to have seatbelts
and airbags; similarly, every car should enable
fuel flexibility, a feature which adds less than
$100 to the manufacturing cost of a vehicle and
provides a platform on which fuels can compete.

Materials and Other Fuel Efficiency Steps

There are a range of fuel efficiency steps that
can be undertaken. I will mention here only one:
constructing vehicles with inexpensive versions
of the carbon fiber composites that have been
used for years for aircraft construction. This
can substantially reduce vehicle weight and
increase fuel efficiency while at the same time
making the vehicle considerably safer than with
current construction materials. This is set forth
thoroughly in the 2004 report of the Rocky
Mountain Institute's Winning the Oil Endgame
("WTOE"). Aerodynamic design can have major
importance as well. Using such composites in
construction breaks the traditional tie between
size and safety. Much lighter vehicles, large or
small, can be substantially more fuel-efficient
and also safer. Such composites have already been
used for automotive construction in Formula 1
race cars and BMWs, Corvettes, and other
high-end automobiles. Adoption by automobile
manufacturers for wider use is underway. The goal
is mass-produced vehicles with 80% of the
performance of hand-layup aerospace composites at
20% of the cost. RMI's investigations suggest
that such construction is expected approximately
to increase the efficiency of a normal hybrid
vehicle by something in the range of 70 per cent
without increasing manufacturing cost. (WTOE 64-66).
A Portfolio of Programs and Criticisms Thereof

None of us is wise enough to be able to tell
today how quickly and affordably, say, battery
improvements will occur compared with progress in
the production of bio-butanol, or when it will be
more economic to produce family cars from carbon
composites than to spend the marginal dollar on
improving consolidated bioprocessing for
cellulosic ethanol. This sort of decision is
best made by the market, once access to it has
been made possible. Indeed, as with the family's
investments, the nation is better off putting
stock in a portfolio of approaches rather than
looking for any single solution. The search
should not be for a platinum bullet such as
hydrogen fuel cells but rather for a number of
pieces of silver-plated buckshot.

Indeed I believe that the principal effort of the
federal government on these issues should be to
remove market barriers to entry for
transportation programs such that oil, as a
strategic commodity, sees vigorous competition.
These steps will, if undertaken wisely, help
introduce Americans and others sooner rather than
later to practical alternatives in their daily
lives - the ability to choose rather than the
requirement to take what OPEC decides to give us.

Critics of Moving Away From Dependence

Broadly speaking there seem to be four main types
of critics of developing a portfolio to move away from oil dependence.

The first, more or less characterized by a r

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Franklin Chamber supports wind farm

Kennebec Journal
Thursday, March 29, 2007

FARMINGTON -- The Board of Directors of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce has voted to support TransCanada's plan to construct and operate 44 wind turbines on mountains in northern Franklin County.

The multibillion dollar Canadian energy company has estimated the cost of the project at $270 million.

The chamber's board met with a TransCanada representative and had questions about the economic impacts, the types of studies done in preparation for a development of this size and type, and where the power would be sold, according to chamber president Kent Wiles.

"All of our questions were answered to our satisfaction and we believe that this project and the company that would own and operate it, TransCanada, would be an excellent addition to Franklin County," he said.

Opponents of the project, however, warn that the turbines would be an industrial project placed in Maine's undeveloped wild lands. They say it will dominate the landscape and that it will be precedent setting if the Land Use Regulation Commission approves a zoning change and development permit to build in a mountain area protection zone.

In January, LURC rejected a similar wind farm proposed by Maine Mountain Power in Redington Township near Carrabassett Valley.

"People are rushing to find a solution to global warming but these projects have small benefit and their costs to Maine, in loss of its mountain resources, are high," said Robert Kimber of Temple, a member of the Friends of the Boundary Mountains.

"The solution to global warming is demand reduction," he said.

The wind farm is proposed along Kibby Mountain and Kibby Range in the Boundary Mountains north of Eustis in Kibby and Skinner Townships. The project would have 44, 300-foot tall wind turbines, 25 miles of power collection lines, a substation, a service building and access roads.

According to company literature, the electricity generated would be capable of powering about 50,000 homes and would go into the electrical grid in Maine and other parts of New England.

To show its support for its host communities, TransCanada, which would pay about $1 million in property taxes to the state, would give the towns of Stratton and Eustis $100,000 a year, a company spokesman said in January.

During construction, 250 people would be employed for 12 to 18 months, with 10 to 12 permanent maintenance jobs upon completion, according to company literature.

In addition to boosting employment, the Kibby Wind Power Project would probably be one of the largest taxpayers in Franklin County's unorganized territory, Wiles said.

"This type of clean, sustainable economic development sponsored by a socially responsible company is critically important to the future of Franklin County," Wiles said.

The company has filed its application with the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission to rezone portions of the protected zones. According to LURC's Marcia Spencer-Famous, the formal review process will begin this spring.

Betty Jespersen -- 778-6991


By Lester R. Brown

If you think you are spending more each week at the supermarket, you may be right. The escalating share of the U.S. grain harvest going to ethanol distilleries is driving up food prices worldwide.

Corn prices have doubled over the last year, wheat futures are trading at their highest level in 10 years, and rice prices are rising too. In addition, soybean futures have risen by half. A Bloomberg analysis notes that the soaring use of corn as the feedstock for fuel ethanol “is creating unintended consequences throughout the global food chain.”

The countries initially hit by rising food prices are those where corn is the staple food. In Mexico, one of more than 20 countries with a corn-based diet, the price of tortillas is up by 60 percent. Angry Mexicans in crowds of up to 75,000 have taken to the streets in protest, forcing the government to institute price controls on tortillas.

Food prices are also rising in China, India, and the United States, countries that contain 40 percent of the world’s people. While relatively little corn is eaten directly in these countries, vast quantities are consumed indirectly in meat, milk, and eggs in both China and the United States.

Rising grain and soybean prices are driving up meat and egg prices in China. January pork prices were up 20 percent above a year earlier, eggs were up 16 percent, while beef, which is less dependent on grain, was up 6 percent.

In India, the overall food price index in January 2007 was 10 percent higher than a year earlier. The price of wheat, the staple food in northern India, has jumped 11 percent, moving above the world market price.

In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that the wholesale price of chicken in 2007 will be 10 percent higher on average than in 2006, the price of a dozen eggs will be up a whopping 21 percent, and milk will be 14 percent higher. And this is only the beginning.

In the past, food price rises have usually been weather related and always temporary. This situation is different. As more and more fuel ethanol distilleries are built, world grain prices are starting to move up toward their oil-equivalent value in what appears to be the beginning of a long-term rise.

The food and energy economies, historically separate, are now merging. In this new economy, if the fuel value of grain exceeds its food value, the market will move it into the energy economy. As the price of oil climbs so will the price of food.

Some 16 percent of the 2006 U.S. grain harvest was used to produce ethanol. With 80 or so ethanol distilleries now under construction, enough to more than double existing ethanol production capacity, nearly a third of the 2008 grain harvest will be going to ethanol.

Since the United States is the leading exporter of grain, shipping more than Canada, Australia, and Argentina combined, what happens to the U.S. grain crop affects the entire world. With the massive diversion of grain to produce fuel for cars, exports will drop. The world’s breadbasket is fast becoming the U.S. fuel tank.

The number of hungry people in the world has been declining for several decades, but in the late 1990s the trend reversed and the number began to rise. The United Nations currently lists 34 countries as needing emergency food assistance. Many of these are considered failed and failing states, including Chad, Iraq, Liberia, Haiti, and Zimbabwe. Since food aid programs typically have fixed budgets, if the price of grain doubles, food aid will be reduced by half.

Urban food protests in response to rising food prices in low and middle income countries, such as Mexico, could lead to political instability that would add to the growing list of failed and failing states. At some point, spreading political instability could disrupt global economic progress.

Against this backdrop, Washington is consumed with “ethanol euphoria.” President Bush in his State of the Union address set a production goal for 2017 of 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels, including grain-based and cellulosic ethanol, and liquefied coal. Given the current difficulties in producing cellulosic ethanol at a competitive cost and given the mounting public opposition to liquefied coal, which is far more carbon-intensive than gasoline, most of the fuel to meet this goal might well have to come from grain. This could take most of the U.S. grain harvest, leaving little grain to meet U.S. needs, much less those of the hundred or so countries that import grain.

The stage is now set for direct competition for grain between the 800 million people who own automobiles, and the world’s 2 billion poorest people. The risk is that millions of those on the lower rungs of the global economic ladder will start falling off as higher food prices drop their consumption below the survival level.

In February 2007 the World Food Programme Director James T. Morris reported that 18,000 children are now dying every day from hunger and malnutrition. This daily loss of life is six times the number of U.S. combat fatalities in Iraq over the last four years.

There are alternatives to this grim scenario. A rise in auto fuel efficiency standards of 20 percent, phased in over the next decade would save as much oil as converting the entire U.S. grain harvest into ethanol.

One option that is gaining momentum is a shift to plug-in hybrids. Adding a second storage battery to a gas-electric hybrid car along with a plug-in capacity so that the batteries can be recharged at night allows most short-distance driving--daily commuting and grocery shopping, for example--to be done with electricity. If this shift were accompanied by investment in thousands of wind farms that could feed cheap electricity into the grid, then cars could run largely on electricity for the equivalent cost of $1 per gallon gasoline.

Encouragingly, three auto manufacturers--Toyota, Nissan, and GM--have announced plans to bring plug-in hybrid cars to market. Plug-In Partners, which is spearheading a national campaign to shift to plug-in hybrid cars already has 508 partners, including electrical utilities, corporations, state and city governments, and farm and environmental groups. Among its fast-growing list of partners are the American Public Power Association, Electric Power Research Institute, American Wind Energy Association, American Corn Growers Association, and the cities of Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, and Boston. Already a number of Partners have collectively pledged to purchase for their own fleets more than 8,000 plug-in hybrids as soon as they reach the market.

Ethanol euphoria is not an acceptable substitute for a carefully thought through policy. For Washington, it is time to decide whether to continue with the current policy of subsidizing more and more grain-based fuel distilleries or to encourage a shift to more fuel-efficient cars and a new automotive fuel economy centered on plug-in hybrid cars and wind energy. The choice is between a future of rising world food prices, spreading hunger, and growing political instability, or one of stable food prices, sharply reduced dependence on oil, and much lower carbon emissions.

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Lester R. Brown is President of the Earth Policy Institute and author of Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble.

See also “Distillery Demand for Grain to Fuel Cars Vastly Understated” at

Farming in the City

By Lester R. Brown

While attending a conference on the outskirts of Stockholm in the fall of 1974, I walked past a community garden near a high-rise apartment building. It was an idyllic Indian summer afternoon, with many people tending gardens a short walk from their residences. More than 30 years later I can still recall the setting because of the aura of contentment surrounding those working in their gardens. They were absorbed in producing not only vegetables, but in some cases flowers as well. I remember thinking, “This is the mark of a civilized society.”

In June 2005, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that urban and peri-urban farms--those within or immediately adjacent to a city--supply food to some 700 million urban residents worldwide. These are mostly small plots--vacant lots, yards, even rooftops.

Within and near the city of Dar es Salaam, capital of Tanzania, there are some 650 hectares of land producing vegetables. This land supplies not only the city’s fresh produce but a livelihood for 4,000 farmers who intensively farm their small plots year-round. On the far side of the continent, an FAO project has urban residents in Dakar, Senegal, producing up to 30 kilograms of tomatoes per square meter each year with continuous cropping in rooftop gardens.

In Hanoi, 80 percent of the fresh vegetables come from farms in and immediately adjacent to the city. These urban farms also produce 50 percent of the pork and the poultry consumed in the city. Half of the city’s freshwater fish are produced by enterprising urban fish farmers. Some 40 percent of the egg supply is produced within the city or in its shadow. Urban farmers ingeniously recycle human and livestock waste to nourish plants and to fertilize fish ponds.

People living in wetlands in the region of East Calcutta in India manage wastewater fish ponds that cover nearly 3,500 hectares. Bacteria in the ponds break down the organic waste in the city’s sewage. This, in turn, supports the rapid growth of algae that supply food for the various local strains of herbivorous fish. This system provides a steady supply of fish for the city, fish that are consistently of better quality than any entering the Calcutta market.

The magazine Urban Agriculture describes how Shanghai has in effect created a nutrient recycling zone around the city. The municipal government manages 300,000 hectares of farmland to recycle the city’s night soil. Half of Shanghai’s pork and poultry, 60 percent of its vegetables, and 90 percent of its milk and eggs come from the city and the immediately surrounding region.

In Caracas, Venezuela, a government-sponsored FAO-assisted project has created 4,000 microgardens of one square meter each in the city’s barrios, many of them located within a few steps of family kitchens. As soon as one crop is mature, it is harvested and immediately replaced with new seedlings. Each square meter, continuously cropped, can produce 330 heads of lettuce, 18 kilograms of tomatoes, or 16 kilograms of cabbage per year.

Venezuela’s goal is to have 100,000 microgardens in the country’s urban areas and 1,000 hectares of urban compost-based gardens nationwide. Leonardo Gil Mora, vice minister of integrated rural development, points out that “in the barrios as in Venezuela in general, people are the most important thing we have. Through urban agriculture, we hope to increase the poor’s self-confidence, and so increase their participation in society.”

There is a long tradition of community gardens in European cities. As a visitor flies into Paris, numerous community gardens can be seen on the outskirts of the city. These small plots produce not only high-quality food but a sense of well-being and community.

As a result of a national campaign in Cuba to expand urban farming after the loss of Soviet support more than a decade ago, Havana now produces half of the vegetables its residents consume. The city-state of Singapore has 10,000 urban farmers who produce four fifths of the poultry and a fourth of all the vegetables eaten there. A 2003 Urban Agriculture study reports that 14 percent of London’s 7.6 million residents produce some of their own food. For Vancouver, Canada’s largest west coast city, the comparable figure is an impressive 44 percent.

In the U.S. city of Philadelphia, community gardeners were asked why they gardened. Some 20 percent did it for recreational reasons, 19 percent said it improved their mental health, and 17 percent their physical health. Another 14 percent did it because they wanted the higher-quality fresh produce that a garden could provide, 10 percent did it for spiritual reasons, and 7 percent said it was mostly economic--cost and convenience. Urban gardens are social gathering places that engender a sense of community. In addition, those who garden three to four times a week get the same physical benefits as people who engage in moderate walking or bicycling.

In some countries, such as the United States, there is a huge unrealized potential for urban gardening. A survey indicated that Chicago has 70,000 vacant lots, and Philadelphia, 31,000. Nationwide, vacant lots in cities would total in the hundreds of thousands. The Urban Agriculture report summarizes why urban agriculture is so desirable. It has “a regenerative effect…when vacant lots are transformed from eyesores--weedy, trash-ridden dangerous gathering places--into bountiful, beautiful, and safe gardens that feed people’s bodies and souls.”

Given the near inevitable rise in future oil prices, the economic benefits of expanding urban agriculture, even in affluent societies, will become much more obvious. Aside from supplying more fresh produce, it will help millions discover the social benefits and the psychological well-being that urban gardening can bring.

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Adapted from Chapter 11, “Designing Sustainable Cities,” in Lester R. Brown, Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006), available on-line at

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rock goes GREEN

Portland Press Herald
April 3, 2007

Sheryl Crow is touring in a bus that runs on biodiesel. The Dave Matthews Band uses clean fuel, too, and invests enough money into renewable energy to offset its fossil fuel use for the past 15
years. The Barenaked Ladies sell concert T-shirts made with organic cotton and collect broken guitar strings so they can be recycled into bracelets.

A lot of rock stars are going green as they and their fans grow concerned about global warming and the environment. Those musicians also share something else in common: They get help from a Portland couple who use their passion for music and the environment to "green up" some of the biggest names in the business.

Lauren Sullivan and her husband, Guster guitarist Adam Gardner, run Reverb, a nonprofit environmental consultant to the rock stars. Reverb helps musicians reduce the environmental effects of their concert tours and at the same time spread the message to their fans.

"Just since Reverb started three years ago, there's been a lot of momentum," Gardner said in an interview last week before a Guster concert in Macon, Ga. "Now, all of a sudden you're seeing a whole new wave of artists."

Rock star environmentalists are not a new phenomenon. Bonnie Raitt, a major inspiration for Reverb, has made it a big part of her career since the 1970s. In the 1980s, R.E.M. had a hit song about acid rain and named an album "Green," and Sting tried to save the rain forest.
But now, partly because of global warming concerns and partly because of new options for renewable energy, the notion is taking off in a big way.

Sullivan and Gardner have also worked with Avril Lavigne, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jack Johnson and O.A.R., among others, and they're talking to more artists, including Incubus.

Reverb does what the performers ask, from arranging for biodiesel fuel to negotiating contracts with concert halls that require organic food and reusable or recyclable cups, plates and utensils.

"We sort of meet the artists where they're at," Sullivan said.
On some tours, the group sets up an eco-village with educational tents for fans to learn more about global warming and other environmental issues.

Reverb covers its costs in different ways, depending on the tour.
Some bands donate 50 cents from every ticket, and corporate sponsors such as Stonyfield Farm or Ben & Jerry's also provide support. The group also auctions off VIP tickets to concerts and autographed guitars, Gardner said.

Reverb was a natural for Sullivan and Gardner, both 33 years old. Sullivan has a degree in environmental education and used to work for the Rainforest Action Network, while Gardner and the other members of the Boston-based band tour so much they used to call their bus "the Earth eater."

Guster is now one of the greenest groups around. Its new CD, for example, is billed as being carbon neutral, meaning that the group invested in renewable energy and reduced carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere by the same amount that was added to produce the disc. Scientists say carbon dioxide emissions are a primary driver of global warming.

And Guster doesn't just pay its way out of feeling guilty. Switching to a biodiesel fuel blend alone has meant the band kept 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere over the past year, Gardner said.

Gardner and Sullivan are now traveling with Guster's second Campus Consciousness Tour, which takes its music and green message to college campuses. Before last Friday's concert in Macon, for example, Gardner met with students and faculty at Mercer University to discuss environmental issues.

"The feedback from fans has been great," he said. "I just got an e-mail today that says, 'I learned about biodiesel from one of your shows and now I'm starting my own biodiesel company.'"

Guster's current tour will not bring the band to Maine, but Reverb is helping to plan a music and environmental festival for Portland's Deering Oaks park in September, Sullivan said.

Gardner also plans to continue a Reverb radio show he started last year on WCLZ, a Portland-based rock station. The talk show format will be replaced with shorter broadcasts about the environment, he said.

Reverb clearly is part of a bigger trend.

The convergence of music and environmentalism will become a huge global spectacle July 7, when the Live Earth rock concert series is scheduled to take place on all seven continents within one 24-hour period. The concerts are intended to focus attention on global warming.

"There's a lot of energy behind the greening of the music industry," said Wren Aigaki-Lander of MusicMatters, which has been consulting with musicians for more than a decade. The Minneapolis-based business is setting up a nonprofit organization to provide a certification standard for green musicians.

Some performers are spending more than others on the efforts, though it doesn't add significantly to the cost of a rock tour or a concert ticket, according to Aigaki-Lander.

"There are some items that do have an incremental cost," she said. "But there are plenty of things an artist can do that don't have an increased cost and in some cases save money. Being energy-efficient can save money in the long run."

Along with recognizing the massive amount of energy that goes into the modern rock tour with light shows and bus caravans, the trend also is driven by the large audiences that rock stars attract. "You have a chance to have exponential impact when you're spreading the message among thousands of fans," Aigaki-Lander said.

The movement seems to be injecting social activism back into rock 'n' roll. But, the rockers say, they're still out to entertain, not sermonize.

"As artists, we don't want to be coming at this from a preachy standpoint," Gardner said. "It's just, 'Hey, this is what we're doing. If you want to learn more about it, you can. If not, here's the next song.' We understand our main mission as a band is to entertain people."

And, Gardner said, it feels good to be doing it without the "Earth eater."

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or

Justices side with Maine in two air pollution cases

Portland Press Herald
April 3, 2007

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Bush administration must consider limits on carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles as a way to slow global warming.

The landmark decision, which divided the court 5-4, could lead to a range of federal regulations to fight climate change and could help bring more fuel-efficient cars to Maine dealerships as soon as next year.

It was one of two major air pollution cases decided Monday in favor of Maine and other states that have been pushing in the courts for stronger federal action on the environment.

The second ruling, a unanimous one, said the federal government must continue to use a strict standard for requiring added pollution controls at power plants that increase production. Maine and other states feared a loosening of standards could have meant more air pollution blowing into the state.

"These decisions represent clear wins for the health of the American people," said Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe, whose office submitted arguments in favor of both lawsuits.

The global warming lawsuit was filed by 12 states, including Maine, and 13 environmental groups. The lawsuit argued that carbon dioxide produced when motor vehicles burn gasoline and diesel fuel should be regulated as a pollutant because it contributes to global warming and rising sea levels.

The EPA argued that the states did not have legal standing, that Congress did not mean to cover carbon dioxide in the Clean Air Act and that regulating vehicle emissions won't stop global warming, among other things.

Justice John Paul Stevens criticized the EPA in the majority opinion. He was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, who is considered the court's swing vote in the case.

"EPA has refused to comply with this clear statutory command. Instead, it has offered a laundry list of reasons not to regulate," Stevens wrote.

EPA can't dismiss regulation because it won't reverse global warming or because there is uncertainty about the effects of climate change, among other arguments, he wrote. "EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change," Stevens wrote.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Roberts wrote a minority opinion, arguing that he was making "no judgment on whether global warming exists, what causes it, or the extent of the problem." But, he said, the states went to court because they did not get what they wanted quickly enough in the political process and that "redress of grievances of the sort at issue here is 'the function of Congress and the chief executive,' not the federal courts."

Although the decision was a close one, it also is clear, according to Rowe. "EPA sidestepped its obligations, and that's what the court found," he said.

The court did not order EPA to regulate the emissions, but said it must do so unless there is a scientific reason to decide against it. Rowe said he believes EPA will act. "If the EPA focused on the science of global warming, it would be forced to regulate," he said.
Environmental groups that joined the lawsuit issued statements hailing the decision.

"This will be a huge turning point in federal policy," said Philip E. Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust.

"Today's ruling is not just about vehicle emissions," said Kieran Suckling, policy director of the Center for Biological Diversity. He said the ruling could force the federal government to fight global warming -- by protecting polar bears as an endangered species, for example.

Steve Hinchman of the Conservation Law Foundation in Brunswick said the ruling will help Maine defend a state effort to require the sale of more fuel-efficient cars, starting with model year 2009.

The automobile industry is now challenging laws adopted by Maine and about 10 other states, saying the pollution laws interfere with federal fuel-efficiency standards.

"This decision unequivocally says that (carbon dioxide) is a pollutant and can be regulated under the Clean Air Act," Hinchman said.

Reacting to the court ruling Monday, automakers called for an across-the-economy approach to global warming, cautioning that no single industry could bear the burden alone.

EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood said the agency is studying the court's ruling. She defended EPA's voluntary efforts to reduce emissions. "These national and international voluntary programs are helping achieve reductions now while saving millions of dollars, as well as providing clean, affordable energy," Wood said.

The second ruling Monday also was welcomed by Maine officials and environmentalists as having long-term implications for air quality in Maine.

The ruling hinged on when EPA must require power plants to increase their pollution controls. Existing federal rules require added controls whenever a plant increases the amount of air pollution.
Duke Energy Corp. and industry groups argued that improvements shouldn't trigger expensive pollution controls if the plants don't increase hourly emissions. Under that standard, a plant could operate for more hours -- increasing annual pollution -- without triggering the tougher standards.

Maine and others states, as well as the EPA, argued the federal government should continue to base the rules on annual emissions.
The Supreme Court sent the case back to a federal appeals court that had sided with Duke Energy.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: