The Washington Post

Report: Path to clean-energy innovation means anger on the left and right

Here’s what we’re reading/watching today:

President Obama gestures during a speech on climate change, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at Georgetown University in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Obama gestures during a speech on climate change, June 25, 2013, at Georgetown University in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

1) The non-profit technology-focused think thank the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is out with a new report, offering a prescription for the nation’s clean-energy future. The report, “Drilling for Innovation: Funding Clean Energy R&D with Oil & Gas Revenue”, was released Wednesday morning — a day after President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan — a sweeping agenda to tackle climate change.

The president’s plan includes instructing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to propose limits on carbon dioxide emissions by 2015 for existing coal- and gas-fired utilities, reports The Post’s Juliet Eilperin. Utilities executives as well as conservative Democrats and Republicans have voiced their disapproval.

ITIF report authors, Megan Nicholson and Matthew Stepp conclude, however, that a proposal with bipartisan appeal, hard as it may be to believe, can be crafted:

“Generating new revenue for public investments in energy innovation from oil and gas drilling is fertile ground for high-impact, bipartisan policymaking. Proposals on the left raise drilling fees to invest in limited clean energy technology efforts; proposals on the right demand expanded drilling but keep rates and fees relatively low. A compromise between these proposals is not difficult to imagine: expand drilling in specific offshore territories while moderately increasing fees and royalty rates, and direct the new revenue toward R&D efforts that will eventually eliminate the country’s fossil fuel dependence.”

The definition of compromise, as the saying goes, is when both parties walk away dissatisfied. And expanding oil and gas drilling while significantly raising fees on drilling activity is one way to leave many people on both sides unhappy.

The report assumes that fossil fuels will remain the United States’ dominant energy source. But the authors propose spending the fees from increased drilling on R&D undertaken by programs such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) — think DARPA, but for energy — to speed up the pace of clean-energy innovation. The funds, they write, should be held in an “Energy Innovation Trust Fund” which would be dedicated to funding work on clean energy technologies. Agree/disagree? Let us know in the comments.

2) The Microsoft developers conference begins today. This year, Microsoft has released the Surface. But talk of the “start” button (read: desktop operating system) seems to be dominant at a time when mobile is the direction consumer technology innovation appears to be focused. (Hayley Tsukayama and Market Place Morning Report)

3) Is innovation easier at Google or Twitter? Wired’s Cade Metz explores the question. Metz follows the career of Marius Eriksen, who has gone from the search giant to Twitter:

“…Eriksen — who once worked on the vaunted Google infrastructure — believes that, at least in the data center, there’s far more room for freeform experimentation at Twitter. Unlike Google — which is built atop software designed at Google and closely guarded by the web giant — Twitter is willing to embrace open source software in fashioning even its most fundamental of systems.”

The piece offers an interesting summary of Finagle and Twitter’s transition from the programming language Ruby to Scala, and how it helped them beat back the once ubiquitous “fail whale.” (Wired)

4) The Daily Dot has an interview with Chris Lee, the man behind the “Full Scale Falcon” project. The falcon in question is the Millennium Falcon, the space ship captained by the swashbuckling smuggler Han Solo in “Star Wars.” That’s right, Lee is attempting to build a full-scale model of the Millennium Falcon, complete with sound and physical effects. And he’s not alone, as The Daily Dot’s Gavia Baker-Whitelaw writes:

“Thanks to Star Wars fan forums and a steady stream of people visiting the Full Scale Falcon website, the project has attracted Makers (of the geeky, DIY-fanatic breed) as well as the expected audience of Star Wars superfans. At the moment, the project’s core team includes a PR rep, a 3D model builder, and “a couple of dozen” international contributors currently hunting for Falcon parts across the globe.”

The project, which started in 2005, is still very much in the works, but Lee is confident that the finished product will leave “everyone … satisfied.”

5) And the Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Here is raw video of reaction from crowds gathered outside the High Court:

Emi Kolawole is the editor-in-residence at Stanford University's, where she works on media experimentation and design.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Dominic Basulto · June 25, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.