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Congress Moving Closer to Ending Oil Subsidies?

Is Congress moving closer to ending subsidies on oil companies, even as those companies make enormous, multi-billion-dollar profits? We've been urging that for a long time, and now it's looking a bit more likely, based on the following two news items. First, here's Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, agreeing that oil subsidies and "corporate welfare" should end.

National Coal Expert: “Mining is a Loser” in Practically Every Way

Originally posted at The Great Energy Challenge blog

Anytime coal’s cost to America is discussed, the coal industry reflexively talks about what an economic lifeline it is for the states in which it operates. Headwaters Economics, a Bozeman-based think tank focusing on natural resource issues, has a solid new study that’s getting national attention for undercutting those claims. For instance, the Headwaters study finds that “[f]ossil fuel production has not insulated energy-producing states from fiscal crisis,” that “[f]ossil fuel extraction has a limited influence at the state level on economic indicators such as GDP by state, personal income, and employment,” and that “[t]he volatility of fossil fuel markets poses obstacles to the stability and long-term security of economic growth in energy-producing regions.”

This is a problem for the coal industry, which spends heavily to construct a fantasy world in which it’s a “clean” industry to which we should feel grateful, a vital supplier of our power, and an economic lifeline to host communities.

But in the real world, coal’s case is even weaker than the Headwaters study shows. The work of Professor Michael Hendryx of West Virginia University goes even further. His work has looked at the costs of coal mining to the Appalachian communities that host it.

In light of the House of Representatives’ aggressive efforts to eliminate already-loose controls over the coal industry’s egregious practices – blowing the tops off mountains and violating the Clean Water Act – we interviewed Hendryx and found his views especially timely and powerful. The highlights:

Jeff Jarvis's "Hard economic lessons for news"

Jeff Jarvis is a leading thinker on where text news is going.  Although we don't always agree with everything he has to say,  many of his points in this post on BuzzMachine are hard to argue with.  For instance:

New Study by Pew: Mining Companies Take $1 Billion per Year From Public Lands Without Compensation

The Pew Environment Group is out with a new report that's definitely worth checking out.  Here's an excerpt:

Gambling when we don’t have to

By Mike Casey

New Study by Cornell; Time to Reassess Natural Gas as "Clean?"

There's a great deal of buzz right now over a new study by Cornell professors on the topic of natural gas' environmental impact.  Specifically, the Cornell study calls into question the status of natural gas as a supposedly clean-burning alternative to coal, potentially a "bridge fuel" between oil and coal on the one hand, and clean energy on the other.  The problem is this:

Kanellos: "Can a Country Get 90 Percent of Its Power From Renewables?"

Can a country get 90 percent of its power from renewables like solar and wind? Writing at Greentech Solar, Michael Kanellos refers us to a new study that clearly answers "yes."