Today’s Climate: June 12, 2009

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DOE Announces $1B to Restart Planning for FutureGen CCS Plant (Wired)

The Department of Energy announced a $1 billion agreement today to restart planning for the controversial FutureGen project, an experimental power plant in Illinois that seeks to capture CO2 emissions from burning coal and store them underground.

Blocked Drilling Leases May Be Reinstated (Los Angeles Times)

Under pressure from GOP lawmakers, the Obama administration is considering reinstating more than a third of the 77 oil- and gas-drilling leases near national parks in the Mountain West that it blocked.

Farm State Wish List Could Hold Key to Climate Bill (Wall Street Journal)

House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson bluntly warned in a hearing that climate legislation doesn’t stand a chance of passing unless it’s amended to assuage the fears of Farm Belt lawmakers. He also took his complaints to Nancy Pelosi.

Sen. Boxer: Senate Energy Bill on Tight Deadline (Politico)

Sen. Barbara Boxer expects to mark up a Senate version of climate and energy legislation before the August recess. It will be based on the House bill but is likely to include tougher short-term targets for capping carbon dioxide.

Russia to Bolster Presence in Energy-Rich Arctic (AP)

Russia will rebuild its Soviet-era network of polar stations and use its icebreaker fleet to help support its claim to the vast resources of the Arctic, the man who led a mission to plant a Russian flag on the Arctic seabed says.

Virtual Power Plants Could Tame Grid Chaos (New Scientist)

Treating groups of dispersed power sources, such as solar and wind generators, as a single virtual power plant would overcome many of the problems with intermittent sources without requiring radical changes to the current grid infrastructure.

U.S. Startup Turning Human Waste into Fuel (Reuters)

Fifty miles east of Los Angeles, a small and inconspicuous facility is using something most of us would rather not think about to create a resource we can’t live without.

World’s Science Academies Push for G8 Climate Action (Reuters)

Science academies from the Group of Eight industrialized nations, plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, called on the G8 to include tackling climate change in its efforts next month to rebuild the global economy. 

Peru Suspends Deforestation Decrees that Fueled Amazon Violence (AFP)

Peruvian lawmakers suspended a controversial law that had eased restrictions on lumber harvesting in the Amazon rainforest and that had sparked deadly clashes between police and indigenous protesters.

FEMA Measuring Climate Change Impact on Flood Insurance (New York Times)

Federal officials are struggling to calculate the fiscal impact that climate change could have on the nation’s troubled public flood insurance program, amid predictions of intensifying downpours and more potent hurricanes.

Analyst: Carbon Pricing Likely to impact Asia within 3 Years (Finance Asia)

Even if no global treaty emerges this year, there is reason to believe that carbon pricing in one form or another will begin to affect a range of companies across every Asian market within the next three years, writes UBS analyst Simon Smiles.

Google-Backed eSolar Plans New Mexico Solar Farm (Fortune)

eSolar and utility giant NRG Energy will build a 92-megawatt solar thermal power plant — New Mexico’s first — near the Texas border that will go online in 2011. It’s part of an NRG goal for 500 MW of solar power in the Southwest.

IBM Targets Powerful, Lightweight Batteries (MIT Tech Review)

IBM Research is beginning an ambitious project that it hopes will lead to the commercialization of batteries that store 10 times as much energy as today’s within the next five years.

Study: Amazon Deforestation Doesn’t Make Communities Richer (Mongabay)

Deforestation generates short-term benefits but fails to increase affluence and quality of life in the long-run, a new study of forest clearing in 286 municipalities across the Brazilian Amazon finds.

Abrupt Global Warming Could Shift Monsoon Patterns (Science Daily)

A new study tracks how abrupt change in climate historically were associated with a shift of seasonal monsoons, causing more rain to fall over the oceans than in the Earth’s tropical regions, and leading to a dramatic drop in global vegetation growth.

As Wind Power Grows, a Push to Tear Down Dams (New York Times)

Some hydropower agencies are starting to go green, embracing wind power and energy conservation. The most aggressive is the Northwest’s Bonneville Power Administration.

For Greening Aviation, Are Biofuels The Right Stuff? (Yale 360)

Biofuels made from algae and non-food plants are emerging as a potentially viable alternative to conventional jet fuels. Although big challenges remain, the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could be major.