Today’s Climate: January 1, 2009

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Bush May Be Giving Obama Breathing Room to Fight Global Warming (Los Angeles Times)

Recent moves by lame-duck officials, though frustrating to environmentalists, offer Obama time and political cover to deliberately craft rules on CO2 emissions, some energy lobbyists have said.

Tenn. Gov. Promises More Oversight of Ash Ponds (AP)

Tennessee’s governor has promised greater oversight of coal ash retention ponds after viewing damage from a spill that released more than a billion gallons of ashy sludge.

Duke Energy’s Solar Panel Plan Approved (Charlotte Observer)

The North Carolina State Utilities Commission has approved Duke Energy’s $30 million plan to place solar panels at up to 425 sites to generate some 8 megawatts of electricity — or enough to power 1,300 homes.

Environmentalists Challenge SC Coal Plant Permit (AP)

A coalition of green groups is challenging a state-issued air pollution permit for a coal-fired power plant in Florence County, South Carolina, lawyers for the Southern Environmental Law Center have said.

Electricity Study Embraces Energy Efficiency for Texas (Houston Chronicle)

Texas could reduce its peak electric usage by more than 23% in the next 7 years if utilities would invest more in efficiency programs, according to a study released by the Public Utility Commission.

Report: Toyota Developing Solar Powered Car (AP)

Toyota is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy, although it will be years before it will be available on the market, the Nikkei business daily has reported.

Acciona Energy Connects Massive 46-MW Solar Plant to Grid in Portugal (

What is being called the largest solar power plant of its kind was connected to the grid last week by Acciona Energy in the Alentejo region of Portugal.

Climate Change Forcing Penguins North? (Inter Press Service)

Warm ocean currents may have confused some 2,500 penguins from Argentina’s Patagonia region that washed up — dead and alive — on Brazil’s northern coast.

Poison Shrub Oil Powers New Zealand Airline Flight (Reuters)

An Air New Zealand Boeing 747 flew for two hours on Dec. 30 with one of its four engines powered by a 50-50 mixture of jet fuel and jatropha oil, the airline has said.