Today’s Climate: May 8, 2009

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New U.N. Climate Deal: Not Much Bolder than Kyoto? (Reuters)

A planned new U.N. climate pact is shaping up to be only a mildly tougher version of the existing Kyoto Protocol rather than a bold treaty to save what President Obama has called a "planet in peril."

U.S. Fuel Cell Funding Axed in Budget Plan (New York Times)

Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells, once hailed by President Bush as a solution for reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, would not be practical over the next 10 to 20 years, the energy secretary said.

Obama Budget Calls for End to Oil, Gas Tax Loopholes (Salt Lake Tribune)

As part of his plan to push the nation toward green energy sources, President Obama is proposing eliminating "unjustified tax loopholes" for oil and gas companies to the tune of $26 billion over the next decade.

Canada, Montana Join Forces on CCS (AP)

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall signed an agreement with Montana’s governor to work together to develop a carbon capture and storage demo that would export CO2 from fossil fuel burning in Canada and to be buried in the United States.

EPA Report Cited Cancer Threat in Ash Pits (Des Moines Register)

Coal-ash pits pose a cancer risk up to 2,000 times what federal regulators consider acceptable, according to 2002 EPA data made public by two environmental groups.

Google’s ‘Carbon Neutral’: All About the Offsets (CNet)

Google, a company that runs power-hungry data centers, employs thousands of people, and operates a corporate jet, announced it has been carbon neutral for the past two years. How is that possible? Offsets.

Biofuels Subsidies to Cost Taxpayers $28 Billion a Year (Wall Street Journal)

Environmental groups Earth Track and Friends of the Earth released a study quantifying biofuels subsidies through 2022, as the U.S. plans to increase production of biofuels. The upshot? The cost to taxpayers would be about $28 billion a year.

Vermont Renewable Energy Future Now in Gov’s Hands (Times Argus)

Vermont lawmakers passed a major renewable energy and energy efficiency bill that would clear away some regulatory hurdles for small-scale wind and solar and require fixed prices and long-term contracts for utilities to buy the green power.

Auto Suppliers Cross Over to Wind (AP)

Dozens of companies at the American Wind Energy Association conference in Chicago this week had traded auto-related businesses for a niche in wind-power.

Bluewater Wind Plan Moves Forward in Delaware (News Journal)

Bluewater Wind says it has been given the green light to put up a testing station off the Rehoboth Beach coast, the first physical manifestation of its planned offshore wind farm. The $6 million meteorological station will collect data for planning.

Ethanol vs. Electricity (PhysOrg)

A study in the journal Science finds that converting biomass to electricity rather than to ethanol is more efficient and makes the most sense for two policy-relevant issues: transportation and climate.

‘Smart Turbine Blades’ To Improve Wind Power (Science Daily)

Researchers have developed a technique that uses sensors and computational software to constantly monitor forces exerted on wind turbine blades, a step toward improving efficiency by adjusting for rapidly changing wind conditions.

Getting Charged on Lithium-ion (Earth2Tech)

New materials that allow for faster charging, lighter weight, and higher energy density are poised to be the moneymakers of the world battery materials market in coming years.

Putting a Price on Carbon: An Emissions Cap or A Tax? (Yale Environment 360)

Yale Environment 360 asked eight experts to discuss the merits of a cap-and-trade system versus a carbon tax. Here’s what they had to say.