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January 28, 2011

This Week's Blogosphere Soup

Fridaysoup
A quick review of this past week's happenings in the blog world

Sometimes the State of the Union commentary reminds me of high school gossip -- like teenagers who walk around with their secret crush. "Does he/she like me? Did he/she mention my name?!" The SOTU is a similar game of whether certain issues and agendas get any sort of mention. And Politico is a top-notch, one-stop shop for such observations. In terms of what you and I care about (i.e. energy/climate change):

WHAT OBAMA SAID: The president called for a "clean energy standard" of 80 percent by 2035 and an end to (roughly $4 billion worth of) tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. He also named-dropped: high-speed rail, plug-in vehicles, nuclear, clean coal, natural gas, wind, solar, biofuels and ... salmon.

WHAT OBAMA DIDN'T: There was no mention of climate change, global warming, cap-and-trade, EPA regulations, the Clean Air Act or the BP oil spill.

It seems like Obama would rather go to the prom with a "clean energy standard" than "climate change." Anyway, for my dose of SOTU punditry, I read Easterbrook's blog, Chait's blog, Nate Silver, and Krugman, who gave the speech an emphatic "meh." David Roberts, however, read (or listened) between the lines and liked what he heard.

He said we should shoot for 80 percent "clean energy" by 2035. In that he includes renewables, nuclear, "clean coal," and natural gas. But think about it: what would that exclude? It's pretty much everything except dirty coal. What Obama is calling on Congress to do is to reduce the amount of dirty coal America uses, from its current level -- around 45 percent -- to 20 percent.

(Note: I'm assuming by "clean coal" Obama means coal plants that capture and bury the majority of their carbon emissions. There are currently no such plants operating in the U.S. All coal is dirty coal, at least for now, and most experts expect that to be true for another decade at least.)

Opening up the domestic "clean energy race" to a wider field of competitors is smart both substantively and strategically.

But Roberts wants the words "climate change" mentioned by the president.

Here is the Sierra Club's official response to the Tuesday speech.

Other things happened this week in the blogosphere:

-- Here's a company that wants to "be the McDonald's of solar."
Solar Universe collects a franchise fee of $0.10 per person per service territory. So a franchisee that wants to do business in a city of 250,000 people will pay $25,000. Solar Universe also takes 3 percent of the gross sales from each franchisee, [CEO Joe] Bono said.

Solar Universe markets the installation service and generates sales leads that are then passed on to the franchisees, who send people to visit home and business owners to talk about costs and designs to fit solar equipment on their roofs. The company also gets better pricing through bulk purchasing of equipment for its franchisees. Solar Universe also offers software for marketing, invoicing, permitting and other administrative tasks.

-- GM hopes to double its Chevy Volt production for 2012.

-- Check out infrared images of nuclear waste on a train.

-- Where's the beef in Taco Bell's beef tacos? Taco Bell's official answer is here.

-- And last but not least, islands are being born! Watch the remarkable video here.

-- Brian Foley

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