Monday, 23 February 2009

Chery Makes Its First Electric Car

BEIJING -- China's Chery Automobile Co. said it has produced a prototype of its first alternative-energy vehicle.

The company also is setting up a separate electric-car company, people familiar with the matter said. A Chery spokesman said such a "possibility can't be ruled out" but that the company's plans "have not been settled yet."
The electric car, called the S18, travels 120 to 150 kilometers on a charge. It can be fully charged in four to six hours using a 220-volt home outlet, the auto maker said Thursday.
Chery said its car will be priced at a level that is "very suitable for families to buy." The company, which is No. 1 in sales volume among Chinese auto makers that don't have a foreign joint-venture partner, didn't say when the car would be available.
China's BYD Co. began selling its plug-in electric hybrid car in China in December. Called the F3DM, the car plugs into a home outlet and comes with a small gasoline engine that can recharge the battery on the go. BYD's car, which is priced at 150,000 yuan, or around $22,000, can run 80 to 100 kilometers exclusively on electricity.
China this month said it plans to subsidize purchases of alternative-energy vehicles by government departments.—Patricia Jiayi Ho and Ellen Zhu

The green movement must learn to love nuclear power

The public debate about energy options needs to be realistic
Monday, 23 February 2009

This country faces a serious energy crisis. Within a decade a large fraction of the UK’s antiquated power-generating capacity, both coal-fired and nuclear, is due to close. If it is not replaced, we face a nightmarish future of power shortages and blackouts. In the meantime, we desperately need to reduce this country’s greenhouse gas emissions: 90 per cent of our energy currently comes from fossil fuels. This country’s current and past emissions are far more than our share of the world population. Unless we reduce our carbon pollution urgently, we will be in breach of our moral, as well as EU and UN, obligations.

These enormous twin challenges mean we need to get real about energy. At the moment the public discussion is intensely emotional, polarised and mistrustful. This is particularly the case for nuclear power – too often people divide into sharp pro- or anti-nuclear positions, with no middle ground. Every option is strongly opposed: the public seems to be anti-wind, anti-coal, anti-waste-to-energy, anti-tidal-barrage, anti-fuel-duty and anti-nuclear. We can’t be anti-everything, and time is running out. Large projects take many years to construct.
It’s important to understand the scale of the challenge. Yes, Britain has enormous renewable resources – but as David MacKay’s excellent new book, Sustainable Energy –Without the Hot Air shows, we will need country-sized energy investments to extract them. You hear a lot about wave and wind, but if 1,000 km of Atlantic coastline were completely filled with Pelamis wave machines, this would generate enough electricity to cover less than 10 per cent of our current consumption. Delivering two thirds of today’s electricity supply from wind would require a 30-fold increase in British wind power. Both of these are technically feasible, but would require massive and sustained investment as well as higher prices for electricity.
In contrast, small-scale and unobtrusive renewable installations such as solar photovoltaic panels on residential houses will only ever make a tiny contribution to our overall energy supply – though panels providing solar hot water are already a good investment. In general, the land-use implications of renewables are critical, because their energy density is so low: to provide one quarter of our current energy consumption by growing energy crops, for example, would require half of Britain to be covered in biomass plantations. Even “concentrated solar power” plants in the Sahara desert will need a lot of space – at least 15,000 sq kms – about the same size as Yorkshire and Humberside put together. Clearly, anyone who wants to live on renewable energy but expects the associated infrastructure not to be large or intrusive is deluding themselves.
Two thirds of Britain’s energy consumption today goes into heating and transport. Big efficiency savings are possible in both. By electrifying heating using heat-pumps, it can be made four times more efficient; electric cars are also much more energy-efficient than fossil-fuel cars. Of course, making these technology switches will require a significant increase in Britain’s electricity production, all of which must be low-carbon. While consuming less energy overall is certainly an option, consuming less electricity is not.
The public debate about energy options needs to be realistic. Energy plans can be made to add up in different ways with differing contributions from competing energy sources. But a decision needs to be made soon about what proportion should be supplied from each technology. Including nuclear power in this mix will make a low-carbon and energy-secure future easier to achieve. Nuclear power has substantial drawbacks, but the consequences of not embracing it are likely to be significantly worse.
Germany provides a useful cautionary tale. Despite huge subsidies for solar panels, photovoltaics have not yet replaced one per cent of fossil fuel electricity generation. Indeed, because Germany – under pressure from well-meaning environmentalists – is phasing out nuclear power, it is inexorably turning back towards dirty coal: 30 new coal plants are planned, including four burning lignite (brown coal), the dirtiest fuel of all.
Bridging the energy gap at the same time as phasing out fossil fuels won’t be easy. To succeed with this choice, we need to develop clear and reliable support from a wide spectrum of the UK population – not just a few politicians who may not be around in five years time, or a tight circle of environmental or industry lobbyists. So far, the public has not been fully engaged. Nevertheless the issue is vital – one of a small handful of questions on which a genuine and informed consensus is now desperately needed. We have no time to lose.

Forget nuclear and focus on renewables

Monday, 23 February 2009

Very careful analysis is still needed before going with the nuclear option. By making this choice we could inadvertently waste time and money and therefore not achieve what we could do by pursuing other options – for example, through energy efficiency, cleaner cars and renewable power.

The first issue is the scope of what nuclear can do. Today, nuclear provides only electricity and thus could do little (in the short-term at least) to reduce emissions from other sectors such as heating and transport, which are mainly powered, respectively, by gas and oil. Because of this constraint even a doubling of British nuclear capacity would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by just 8 per cent. This is, of course, a significant proportion but must be weighed against what we might achieve by spending the same effort and money on truly sustainable options.
Then there is the wider economic picture. New nuclear build would be based on imported technology, from France probably. While this might be good for French jobs and industry, we could gain more economic and employment benefits for the UK through developing renewable energy sources – such as offshore wind, tidal and wave power. Using the engineering capacity in our declining North Sea oil and gas, and shipbuilding industries to do this would improve both energy security and create jobs. More jobs could be also created in upgrading our grossly inefficient housing and a major high-speed rail programme.
No one seriously expects nuclear power stations to be built without some official subsidies (none ever have been), so we must ask if public funds will achieve the best impact through this route. One US study found that a dollar invested in energy efficiency achieves seven times more carbon reduction than a dollar spent on nuclear.
Getting renewables going alongside more efficient energy use, cleaner cars, lower traffic levels, micro-power systems for buildings and making fossil generation more efficient and cleaner is a better package. Alongside this approach we need a new cultural dimension in energy policy whereby there is popular acceptance of the need to reduce overall consumption.
Tony Juniper is a former director of Friends of the Earth. He is the Green Party general election candidate for Cambridge.

Small businesses in England help cooking oil move from restaurants to roads

By Elisabeth Rosenthal
Published: February 22, 2009

NUNEATON, England: As he has done frequently over the past 18 months, Andy Roost drove his blue diesel Peugeot 205 onto a farm here, where signs pointed one way for eggs and another for oil.
He unscrewed the gas cap and chatted nonchalantly as Colin Friedlos, the proprietor, poured three large jugs of used cooking oil - tinted green to indicate the environmental benefit - into the car's gasoline tank.
Friedlos operates one of hundreds of small plants in Britain that are processing, and often selling to private motorists, used cooking oil, which can be poured directly into unmodified diesel cars, from Fords to Mercedes.
Last year, when the price of crude oil topped $147 a barrel, a number of large companies in Europe and the United States planned to set up plants to collect and refine used cooking oil into biodiesel.
The global recession and the steep drop in oil prices have now killed many of those large refining ventures. But smaller, simpler ones like the plant Friedlos runs are moving in to fill the void, having been deluged by offers of free oil from restaurants.

Some dealers here offer fill-ups in suburban yards and barns. Others - like John Nicholson, founder of a small company in Wales - deliver jugs of green fuel to the doors of hundreds of customers, much like a milkman.
Used cooking oil has attracted growing attention in recent years as a cleaner, less expensive alternative to fossil fuels for vehicles. In many countries, including the United States, the oil is collected by companies and refined into a form of diesel. Some cities use it in specially modified municipal buses or vans. And some drivers have experimented with individually filtering the oil and using it as fuel.
Here, however, the direct-to-the-tank approach is gaining a bit of mainstream popularity, attracting people like Roost, on his way to work, dressed in a suit. The oil, he said, is "good for the environment and it's cheaper than diesel, even now that prices have dropped." It costs $4.88 a gallon, which is about 10 percent less than what diesel costs now - and about one-third less than what diesel cost at its peak last year. Used cooking oil will never erase the need for filling stations, nor will it, by itself, reverse climate change, transportation experts say.
"You can't eat enough French fries" to serve all the cars driven in the West, said Peder Jensen, a transportation specialist at the European Environment Agency. At most, he said, cooking oil might supplant a few percent of diesel fuel consumption. But he said that it was one of many small adjustments that, added together, could have an important effect on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.
Jensen said that cooking oil fuel was "feasible" for diesel engines - Rudolf Diesel predicted that his engine, patented in the 1890s, would run on it - and that it was, "from an environmental point of view, a good idea, taking this waste and making it useful."
The main barriers to the widespread use of cooking oil, Jensen said, are "structural," like the lack of standards for processing the fuel and adapting and maintaining vehicles to run on it.
Stuart Johnson, manager of engineering and environment at Volkswagen of America, called putting raw vegetable oil in cars "a bad idea" and said, "We don't recommend it." The inconsistent quality of cooking oil fuel, he said, means that "it may contain impurities and it may be too viscous," especially for newer, more complex diesel engines with injection systems.
None of that seems to stir concern in Nicholson, the Welsh entrepreneur. He said he first poured vegetable oil from his kitchen into the family car eight years ago, when the filling stations were emptied by a gas crisis. His wife, a nurse, had to get to work.
Over the next few years, he conducted technical experiments and started Bio-Power, a national umbrella group to assist small producers like himself.
"People say, 'I've got no choice but the regular filling station, and they sell only fossil fuel,"' Nicholson said. "You've got to think differently. This does challenge the status quo."
Many diesel vehicles, particularly older models, run fine on cooking oil and do not need adaptation, he said. He said that he was lucky the car his wife was driving was "tolerant."
But Jensen said it was safer to adapt cars for cooking oil use, an adjustment that could be done for about $300 and involved putting in a small heater to preheat fuel so that it was thinner and installing injection nozzles that were somewhat wider.
Thousands of kits have been sold in Europe and the United States, though it is illegal in America to sell cars that have been adapted.
Jensen cautioned that drivers who used cooking oil fuel were taking a risk and might lose their warranty protection.
Vegetable oil is cleaner than either gasoline or diesel, producing virtually no carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas linked to climate change, and far fewer of the tiny airborne particles in pollution that are harmful to human health.
But if the cooking oil is not adequately filtered or prepared for use in cars, studies show, it can also produce high levels of nitrogen oxides, which can form smog.
A directive of the European Union stipulating that all fuel at the pump should contain 5.75 percent biofuel by 2010 encouraged many large corporations to jump into the market.
In Scotland, for instance, Argent Oils set up the largest plant in the world, capable of collecting 330 million pounds, or 150 million kilograms, of used cooking oil a year to produce 45 million gallons of biodiesel.
Nor has the movement been limited to Europe. Towns in Texas and other states have engaged companies like Biodiesel Industries to collect local oil and convert it to biodiesel for municipal vehicles.
Officials in Westchester County, New York, recently announced that they would collect cooking oil from restaurants for a fleet of modified vehicles, including a Veggie Van that traveled to schools to educate students about biofuel diesel.
Producers like Friedlos have taken advantage of simpler brews and lower overhead. Instead of being refined with explosive chemicals at large factories, the oil is simply filtered and mixed with an additive to thin it and make it burn better. And transport costs are minimal.
Used cooking oil can be problematic. It clogs pipes if tossed down the drain, forms huge stalactites in sewers and kills wildlife if it gets into lakes and streams. In Britain, cooking oil cannot be sent to landfills. The oil was once used to make animal feed, but that is no longer allowed because of concerns about mad cow disease.
Two years ago, in the affluent London suburb of Leatherhead, Chris Leveritt starting filtering oil from his restaurant, Trattoria Vecchia, to run the family car. He is now creating a small commercial factory to produce 132 gallons a day in his backyard. Leveritt's partner, a wine distributor, picks up jugs of used oil when he delivers wine to dozens of restaurants in and around London.
In Wales, Nicholson delivers cooking oil fuel to the National Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and about 300 other customers, who like it because it contains no fossil fuel.
But still, many motorists hesitate, Leveritt said. "There is a lot of resistance," he said, "to putting something into your precious car that you brewed in the kitchen sink."

Carbon allowances set to soar as 'perfect storm' hits

The price of carbon allowances could rise by more than 600pc in the next three years as a "perfect storm" of events causes a supply squeeze, according to a report to be issued later this week.

By Garry White Last Updated: 9:40PM GMT 22 Feb 2009

The report, written by corporate finance and equity capital markets adviser Tom Frost, of Akur Partners, predicts that the price of carbon could increase to €64 (£57) from the current €8.40 before the end of this trading period, know as Phase II, in 2012. It is expected to be published on Wednesday evening.
The EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) started in January 2005 the largest multi-national emissions trading scheme in the world and is central to the EU's climate change policy. The scheme is based on the allocation of carbon gas emission allowances to specific industrial sectors. These allowances can be traded.
The report claims that an extremely pronounced period of price inflation will start at the end of 2011, peaking in the second or third quarter of 2012. This will be caused by the reduction of emissions targets in the current phase.
Emissions targets in Phase II were reduced by the European Commission across almost all the member states. Assuming a recovery of the global economy over the next few years, there will be a shortage of allowances, according to the report.
The deficit will be compounded by the factthat participants such as utility groups can borrow allowances from the next year to meet compliance needs or to trade. However, this cannot happen between Phases, so there will be no way to borrow allowances between 2012 and 2013.
If any participant has sold additional allowances they will need to cover any shortfall before 2012. The result is expected to be a significant number of distressed buyers in 2011 and 2012. This could result in something similar to a short squeeze, pushing up prices, according to Mr Frost.

West blamed for rapid increase in China's CO2

• Consumer exports behind 15% of emissions - study• Campaigners suggest new criteria for climate deal
Duncan Clark
The Guardian, Monday 23 February 2009

The full extent of the west's responsibility for Chinese emissions of greenhouse gases has been revealed by a new study. The report shows that half of the recent rise in China's carbon dioxide pollution is caused by the manufacturing of goods for other countries - particularly developed nations such as the UK.
Last year, China officially overtook the US as the world's biggest CO2 emitter. But the new research shows that about a third of all Chinese carbon emissions are the result of producing goods for export.
The research, due to be published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters, underlines "offshored emissions" as a key unresolved issue in the run up to this year's crucial Copenhagen summit, at which world leaders will attempt to thrash out a deal to replace the Kyoto protocol.
Developing countries are under pressure to commit to binding emissions cuts in Copenhagen. But China is resistant, partly because it does not accept responsibility for the emissions involved in producing goods for foreign markets.
Under Kyoto, emissions are allocated to the country where they are produced. By these rules, the UK can claim to have reduced emissions by about 18% since 1990 - more than sufficient to meet its Kyoto target.
But research published last year by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) suggests that, once imports, exports and international transport are accounted for, the real change for the UK has been a rise in emissions of more than 20%.
China, as the world's biggest export manufacturer, is key to explaining this kind of discrepancy. According to Glen Peters, one of the authors of the new report at Oslo's Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research, about 9% of total Chinese emissions are the result of manufacturing goods for the US, and 6% are from producing goods for Europe.
Academics and campaigners increasingly say responsibility for these emissions lies with the consumer countries.
Dieter Helm, professor of economics at Oxford University, said "focusing on consumption rather than production of emissions is the only intellectually and ethically sound solution". "We've simply outsourced our production," he added."
By contrast, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc), argues that these "embedded emissions" in Chinese-produced goods are not the UK's."The UK calculates and reports its emissions according to the internationally agreed criteria set out by the UN," it says.
However, the Decc admitted to the Guardian that "the footprint associated with the UK's consumption has risen".
Even if world leaders did agree a deal based on consumption rather than production of CO2, it is unclear how national figures would be calculated.
Jonathon Porritt, head of the Sustainable Development Commission, said: "Ultimately, the only place to register emissions is in the country of origin - in this case, China. Otherwise, the whole global accounting system for greenhouse gases will be undermined by the complexity of double-accounting."
The difficulty of measuring exported emissions is reflected in the fact that the new research focuses on the years 2002 to 2005. Relevant trade data is not yet available for subsequent years.
However, Dieter Helm believes these challenges can be overcome with political will. "It's complicated but there are ways of taking consumption into account, such as a border tax on carbon transfer," he said.

Nasa launches carbon dioxide tracker satellite

Alok Jha
The Observer, Sunday 22 February 2009

The world's first satellite designed to map concentrations of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere is to be launched by Nasa.
Policymakers and governments will be able to use the data when setting and monitoring CO2 emissions targets designed to tackle climate change. "It's critical that we understand the processes controlling carbon dioxide in our atmosphere so we can predict how fast it will build up in the future and how quickly we will have to adapt to climate change," said David Crisp, principal investigator for the Oco. The Oco will blast off on a Taurus XL rocket from Vandenberg air force base in California in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
It will help scientists answer one of the biggest mysteries about the movement of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere. Of all of the greenhouse gas emitted into the air since the industrial revolution, around 40% has stayed there. Half of the remainder has been absorbed by the Earth's oceans, but the rest has not been be accounted for. Scientists think the gas must have been absorbed on land but no one really knows where these missing carbon sinks are. Oco will collect about 8m measurements every 16 days for at least two years.
• For more on this story and a video of the rocket that will launch Oco go to

Clinton urges China to fight climate change

By Mark Landler
Published: February 22, 2009

BEIJING: Declaring that "we hope you won't make the same mistakes we made," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited China to join the United States in an ambitious effort to curb greenhouse gases.
"When we were industrializing and growing, we didn't know any better; neither did Europe," Clinton said as she toured an energy-efficient power plant in Beijing on Saturday. "Now we're smart enough to figure out how to have the right kind of growth."
The gas-fired power plant, which uses sophisticated turbines made by General Electric, is nearly twice as efficient as the coal-fired plants that supply much of China's electricity and that helped vault China past the United States as the world's leading emitter of carbon dioxide.
The Obama administration hopes to make climate change the centerpiece of a broader, more vigorous engagement with China. For Clinton, the two-day stop in Beijing at the end of a weeklong Asian tour represented an effort to put her own stamp on a relationship that was dominated by the Treasury Department in the latter years of the Bush administration.
"The opportunities for us to work together are unmatched anywhere in the world," Clinton declared, on a hectic day filled with meetings with President Hu Jintao and other top Chinese officials.

Human rights groups have criticized Clinton for soft-pedaling on Tibet and other issues during her first visit as secretary of state. She said she did not want these disputes to interfere with critical challenges like climate change, the global economic crisis and security concerns.
It was a stark contrast to 1995, when Clinton, then first lady, gave a speech in Beijing at a UN conference in which she catalogued abuses against women and concluded by saying that "human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights."
Speaking after a meeting with the foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, Clinton said she had raised the Tibet issue and other concerns. But she argued that the work of advocacy groups and people in civil society in this area was "at least as important" as that of government officials.
Yang repeated China's customary statement that Beijing was ready to discuss human rights with Washington on the basis of "equality and noninterference in each other's affairs." The "smiling faces" on Chinese people, he said, attested to the country's respect for human rights.
A local rights group, Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said the Beijing police put a number of dissidents and activists under surveillance during Clinton's visit, confining some in their homes.
On the global economic crisis, the two governments said they would work together to chart a recovery. Clinton said she expected to see changes in the economic relationship between China, with its high savings rate, and the United States, with its heavy borrowing.
During their meeting, she said, Yang told her that Chinese people were spending more on home appliances. "It would also be fair to say that many Americans have now come to terms with the fact that saving might be a good habit to acquire," Clinton said.
She thanked Yang for China's "continuing confidence" in the United States, as the largest foreign buyer of Treasury securities. He offered a noncommittal statement that China would decide where to invest its foreign exchange reserves on the basis of safety, value and liquidity.
In an interview Sunday that was broadcast on Dragon Television, Clinton pressed her case for why China should continue to buy U.S. Treasury bonds.
"It's a good investment; it's a safe investment," she told Yang Lan, the host of the show.
The Chinese government, Clinton said, had an even more compelling incentive to keep buying: It needs the United States to recover as a market for Chinese goods. To jolt the economy back to life, she said, the United States needs to be able to take on more debt.
"We are truly going to rise or fall together," she said. "We are in the same boat, and, thankfully, we are rowing in the same direction."
Clinton's visit to the Taiyanggong Thermal Power Plant allowed her to steer the focus back to climate change. She introduced her special envoy for climate change, Todd Stern, who noted that the United States and China accounted for 40 percent of the world's emissions.
"This not a matter of politics or morality or right or wrong," he said. "It is simply the unforgiving math of accumulating emissions."
So far, the United States and China are mainly collaborating on research projects and ventures like the power plant. The harder work, analysts said, would come if the United States presses China to accept mandatory caps on its emissions - something Beijing has so far rejected.
Still, some China specialists say they believe that climate change could give relations between the countries fresh energy. The White House has paid close attention to a report by the Asia Society and the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, which offers a road map for cooperation.
"If you look at U.S.-China relations, there are a lot of issues that can go either way," said Orville Schell, a China scholar at the Asia Society who was involved in producing the report. "What's missing is an issue in which the two countries can lean into a problem together."

Changing climate numbers

Published: February 22, 2009

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its fourth assessment report, summarizing evidence collected and weighed by scientists around the world. At the time, it was the best estimate of where the planet was, climatically speaking, and the news the report offered was daunting.
The panel warned that further warming could have devastating consequences, including rising seas and widespread drought.
The 2007 assessment established a base line of expectation, but it is already looking outdated. Sea ice has melted more quickly than expected. And, according to a recent report from the United States Geological Survey, sea levels in 2100 could increase by more than double the 1.5 feet rise projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Add to that the hard reality that carbon dioxide is a long-lived gas, and the picture of global warming is both volatile and forbidding.
The authors of the climate-change panel's report knew that events could overtake their findings. A fifth assessment is currently under way.
It is imperative, of course, that the Obama administration - and every other government around the world - keep abreast of the changing data. What is equally imperative is that the governments tailor any prescriptions to the possibility of more ominous news in the future.

A new carbon detective to study how half of gas disappears

By Kenneth Chang
Published: February 22, 2009

Thirty billion tons of carbon dioxide go into the air from the burning of fossil fuels each year. About half of it stays in the air. The other half disappears. Where it goes, nobody quite knows.
With the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a NASA satellite scheduled to be launched Tuesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, scientists hope to better understand the comings and goings of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving the warming of the planet.
The new data could help improve climate models and improve the understanding of the "carbon sinks" like oceans and forests that absorb much of the carbon dioxide.
In some years, all of the excess carbon dioxide disappears. In other years, all of it stays in the air. The variations indicate that some of the sinks might fill up and spill carbon dioxide back into the air.
"Something out there is changing dramatically," said David Crisp, a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the principal investigator of the mission.

Natural sources like the decay of dead plants account for 98 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions. Humans account for only 2 percent, but that is enough to tip the balance. Before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago, carbon dioxide levels were at about 280 parts per million. Today, the level is 387 parts per million and projected to rise sharply in the coming decades.
Scientists have good estimates of how much carbon dioxide is released by the burning of fossil fuels, but other human influences like the clearing of forests and the harvesting of crops affect carbon dioxide "in ways we don't understand," Crisp said.
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory will measure carbon dioxide by using an instrument with three spectrometers to analyze light reflected off Earth. Carbon dioxide absorbs certain wavelengths of light, particularly in the near infrared, and by measuring how dim those parts of the spectrum are, the observatory can determine how many carbon dioxide molecules the light has passed through.
At the same time, the instrument will make a similar measurement for oxygen. Combining the two measurements gives the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air. Because carbon dioxide mixes quickly with the other gases in air, the measurements will have to pick out small variations, expected to be less than 5 percent.
Crisp said the spacecraft would be able to pick out emissions from a power plant or from along highways. More difficult will be picking out the carbon sinks, which tend to be spread out over large areas. Scientists know that the oceans are by far the largest sinks, but the absorbing power of forests, for example, is still uncertain.

EPA Set to Move Toward Carbon-Dioxide Regulation

Climate Czar Says Agency Will Determine That Greenhouse Gas Endangers Public, Propose New Emissions Rules


WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's climate czar said the Environmental Protection Agency will soon determine that carbon-dioxide emissions represent a danger to the public and propose new rules to regulate emissions of the greenhouse gas from a range of industries.
Carol Browner, special adviser to the president on climate change and energy, said in an interview Sunday that the EPA is looking at a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that requires the agency to determine whether carbon dioxide endangers public health or welfare. And the agency "will make an endangerment finding," she said.
"The next step is a notice of proposed rule making" for new regulations on carbon-dioxide emissions, said Ms. Browner, speaking on the sidelines of the National Governors Association meeting in Washington.
Officially recognizing that carbon dioxide is a danger to the public would require the government, under the Clean Air Act, to draw up regulations governing greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, refineries, chemical plants, cement firms, vehicles and any other emitting sectors.
White House climate czar Carol Browner, center, examines an electric car earlier this month. She said Sunday that the U.S. is seeking to create a national policy for auto emissions.

Administration officials have said they would limit regulation to facilities over a certain size. But legal experts say designating carbon dioxide a public danger could open up any emitters to legal challenge. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers have been lobbying the EPA for months against trying to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, warning that such action would lead to costly new regulations affecting not only coal plants and large manufacturers but also schools, apartment buildings and hospitals.
"Once carbon dioxide is regulated, they can no longer contain the Clean Air Act...and it would completely shut the country down," said William Kovacs, a chamber vice president.
Speaking to governors and reporters later Sunday, Ms. Browner said the administration also is seeking to establish a national policy for auto emissions that could mean tougher efficiency mandates for auto makers. The White House said Sunday that the standard would be developed as part of the continuing restructuring negotiations between the government and major auto makers.
Ms. Browner's comments provided the clearest outline to date of the Obama administration's regulatory strategy for tackling global warming. But critics warned that moving too quickly and aggressively could cripple an already ailing economy, and some business groups vowed to step up their fight against the proposed changes.
Some Democratic lawmakers, mainly from states dependent on coal or manufacturing, are also leery of letting the EPA regulate emissions. Rep. John Dingell (D., Mich.), a longtime advocate for Michigan's auto makers, has warned of "a glorious mess."
Ms. Browner dismissed criticism that the administration's proposed moves would exacerbate the current recession. She said businesses hoping to invest in carbon-dioxide-mitigation projects need clearer policy direction before investing.
Ms. Browner declined to say when the EPA would act on the endangerment issue, but EPA chief Lisa Jackson has indicated it could be on April 2, the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency.
The White House has separately been pressing Congress to pass legislation that would aim to cut greenhouse gases to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. It has threatened to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate these gases if legislators don't move fast enough.
Based on government data, calculations suggest that such a reduction would be equivalent to taking several hundred conventional coal-fired power plants out of service, possibly more than all 600-plus coal stations currently in the U.S.
Ms. Browner said that even though the EPA will move forward with its rule making, the administration prefers that Congress draft legislation that could more deftly regulate carbon dioxide through a cap-and-trade system.
Under such a system, emitters would be required to cut their carbon-dioxide emissions every year. Those exceeding their emissions limits could buy credits on a newly created market.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said Friday that he aims to pass a climate-change bill by the end of the summer; Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), head of the House panel responsible for drafting such a bill, said he wants it approved in May.
Tom Williams, a spokesman for Duke Energy Corp., one of the nation's largest generators of energy, including from coal-fired power plants, said the company believed the best way to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions was through congressional legislation, not the Clean Air Act. "It's best not to try and shoehorn climate rules in a law passed 18 years ago, as there are too many implications on the economy," he said.
Ms. Browner said the administration had directed the EPA and the Department of Transportation to develop a national policy for auto emissions. The DOT is developing new efficiency standards, but Ms. Browner indicated that the administration could look for guidance to a set of strict emissions standards proposed by California.
The administration is considering a request from California to implement its proposed standards, which would also consider cars' greenhouse-gas emissions, as opposed to just fuel efficiency, a move that a dozen other states are likely to follow.
Ford Motor Co. spokesman Mike Moran said his company supported a national policy, but without knowing the details of the administration's plan, he couldn't comment on how it would affect his firm. Like other car companies, Ford has said in the past that California's proposals were too aggressive.
Wade Newton, a spokesman for the U.S. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said his organization has been seeking a national policy, but warned that auto makers continue to face unprecedented challenges, as car sales tumble and manufacturers' costs continue to rise.
"A single national standard that pulls all of our interests and efforts together will allow us to continue our work bringing consumers across the country more fuel-efficient automobiles," he said in an email.
Write to Ian Talley at