- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Senators begin work on renewable standards

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee takes up a proposal that would mandate that 20 percent of electricity generated in the United States must come from renewable energy sources - including wind, solar and geothermal sources.

The proposal, which likely will be offered as an amendment to the new energy bill, would gradually increase the amount of electricity sold in the United States that is generated from renewable sources up through 2039.

Google agua

Not to worry when, in 10, 20 or 30 years, the sea has reclaimed your vacation home on the shore. Google’s got you covered - it has mapped the ocean.

While lacking some of the Orwellian qualities of a first-person, virtual tour of your neighborhood streets from the comfort of your desk, the ocean software grants some “breathtaking” views.

“While on other maps all you see of the oceans is a blue surface, here you can see that Hawaii is actually the top of a massive undersea mountain and take a breathtaking three-dimensional flight over its underwater peaks and troughs,” said Julia Marton-Lefevre, director general of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and a member of the Council of Advisers to develop Ocean in Google Earth.

Bored of terrestrial pursuits via the Web? Google’s also mapping Mars in 3-D.

This week’s celebrity spotting …

It’s likely the members of the House Natural Resources Committee will know Ted Danson’s name when he testifies this week about environmental concerns surrounding offshore drilling.

Mr. Danson co-founded the nonprofit Oceana, which tracks the health of the world’s oceans and sea life. He’ll be testifying during a three-day series of hearings examining the impact of offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.

President Obama has said he is open to offshore exploration as long as it is part of a broader plan for energy independence.

… and next month’s

Want to get some face time with NASA climate scientist James Hansen? You can join him and about 1,000 other environmental activists on March 2 outside the Capitol Power Plant. Greenpeace USA is leading the Capitol Climate Action, which is asking that the power plant, which heats federal buildings, stop burning coal.

Pending global warming legislation is expected to clamp down on carbon emissions, and the coal industry has waged an extensive public relations campaign over the past year to re-craft its image, but coal still dominates in the field of American electricity; it accounts for 50 percent of the nation’s consumption.

The HR File

The revolving door of Republican staffers departing from government as Democratic supporters ascend to the Capitol continued last week.

Laura Henderson and Kevin Kennedy joined the Institute for Energy Research last week as communications director and director of federal affairs, respectively. Ms. Henderson left her role as spokeswoman for Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican, and Mr. Kennedy leaves his gig with the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Karen Wayland took over energy policy for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week, leaving her role as legislative director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where she frequently clashed with the Bush administration. Ms. Wayland takes over for Amy C. Fuerstenau.

Also, retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who was an early supporter of Mr. Obama during the campaign, latched on with Growth Energy last week to co-chair the fledgling ethanol group.

Tom LoBianco can be reached at tlobianco@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4891.

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