Monday, August 31, 2009

Old news but sad news

According to the Care2 website:

"In the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve of Costa Rica, there were so many harlequin frogs that it was hard not to step on them when walking alongside streams. But today, they have vanished.

"About two-thirds of harlequin frogs disappeared in the 1980's and 1990's -- the culprit? Climate change. Research done in Costa Rica shows that global warming makes clouds form higher above the forests where they cannot bring as much moisture to the ecosystems below. Dry spells are getting longer and in turn, many species are disappearing.

"Rising temperatures also shrink the cloud forests, which forces species to live more densely, causing the spread of disease and a fungus that kills some frogs. The harlequin frog is on its way to extinction."

Unfortunately, little Harley isn't alone.

A January 2006 Washington Post article says t
hat 112 species of amphibians are extinct or endangered by climate change.

What does this have to do with our daily lives? Perhaps nothing but it is a harbinger of change that will soon affect all living creatures if things are not done to halt human emissions.

And not to wax too religious, these creatures are prime examples of God's splendor. No human created the magnificent beauty of these semi-aquatic animals. That was nature itself and I would hate to see something as beautiful as a blue dart frog cease to exist for the sake of our own convenience.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Houston petroleum plant sued for emissions

The Sierra Club and Environment Texas are taking the Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. to federal court in order to force it to reduce harmful emissions at its Cedar Bayou chemical plant in Baytown, according to the Houston Chronicle.

It's not unprecedented. In 2003, the groups sued Shell Oil and its Deerpark refinery and petrochemical complex. The company agreed to reduce emissions and paid $6 million for past violations of the Clean Air Act.

A spokesman for Chevron Phillips said that "the company is committed to complying with laws and has reduced emissions."

The violations primarily arise from events called "upsets." Upsets occur "during startup and shutdown, equipment malfunctions, unscheduled maintenance and other unforeseen events." According to the environmental groups, this has occurred hundreds of times over the last six years.

The groups say most of these upsets are preventable if measures are taken and proper technology is installed.

To be fair, this is probably not entirely true.

Situated on the Gulf Coast, the plant has often fallen victim to damage and power outages caused by hurricanes and other phenomena that are beyond the company's capability to control.

Part of the problem, says a representative of Environment Texas, is that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is not doing enough. They want the state to take a harder line.

The TCEQ has fined the company $250,000 since 2003.

The plaintiffs want to see them further penalized and forced to upgrade.

Unfortunately, tying up the courts seems to be the only way to address the issue, especially since Governor Rick Perry, in his infinite and greedy wisdom, has given the leadership of the TCEQ to Bryan W. Shaw, an industry stoolie who doubts the human contribution to climate change.

Gotta keep the oil lobbyists happy, right Goodhair?

Federal courts, however, are less easily bought and will probably fine Chevron Phillips, hopefully reducing the emission-causing upsets.

This is disgusting on so many levels

Nieman-Marcus apparently has ocelot fur-trimmed boots.

This is not only reprehensible; it is illegal - the ocelot is an endangered species.

As the blog says, "Not a good or likely choice for Dallas-based luxury retailer Neiman Marcus."

Well, according to N-M, it's ocelot-printed goat fur but an investigation is still underway.

Still, how disgusting can you get?

To go from this:

To this:Not only would it be against international law and the Endangered Species Act, it is definitely in violation of taste.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Houston workers rallying against climate change legislation

Today, thousands of workers in the energy industry are gathering at the Verizon Wireless Theater downtown at 12:30.

Story here.

These are not necessarily denialists; the organizers believe that the proposed emissions trading bill will negatively affect the economy by eliminating jobs in the fossil fuel industry. They are not, however, taking into account jobs that will be created by ramping up research and development in alternative energy fields.

Granted, the money required to do so is somewhat daunting, but once it is there, jobs will abound.

They also want to see nuclear pushed harder. I agree.

Another argument is that CO2 emissions won't be affected because developing countries are contributing far more to the output and any cutbacks the US makes will be negligible.

Well then, why not make it a cool, hip, American thing to be green? Asians delight in Coco-Cola, Levi's, McDonald's and whatever other ridiculous pop (and often unhealthy) fad we as Americans come up with, so why not set an example in the environmental category as well?

Europeans are kicking our butt in alternative energy but they also enjoy our fast food chains.

Between the EU and the US, leading by example may be the best way to get countries like India and China to literally clean up their acts.

What have we got to lose but industrial stagnation and dirty air?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Please sign these petitions

The right wing is working to support dirty, antiquated energy policies. Among them are Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh who have joined forces with ExxonMobil and other obstructionists to fight meaningful climate warming legislation.

Urge your Senators to resist the obstructionists and pass a strong global warming bill.

The U.S. House has already done its part and passed a bill that would set a legal limit on America's global warming pollution. Now it's the Senate's turn.

But the right wing has millions in dirty money, and with America's clean energy future at stake, we need your help.

Don't let Palin and Limbaugh bring back the "Drill-Baby-Drill" mantra. Send a letter to your Senators urging them to support the strongest possible global warming bill.

Thanks for taking action!

The link above shows many listings for climate petitions sign one or all of them, PLEASE! You may need to register first, and you will be informed of many important progressive petitions and news stories. It is not spam!

Company information below:, Inc.
275 Shoreline Drive, Suite 300
Redwood City, CA 94065

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ocean temperatures hit record high.

From the Environmental News Network:

Surprise, Sea Temperatures in July Hottest on Record!

The Earth's oceans were the warmest ever this July, according to a study released by the National

Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration yesterday.

The planet's ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for July, breaking the previous high mark established in 1998 according to an analysis by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 ranked fifth-warmest since world-wide records began in 1880.

Interesting statistics from the NOAA analysis:

  • The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the fifth warmest on record, at 1.03 degrees F (0.57 degree C) above the 20th century average of 60.4 degrees F (15.8 degrees C).
  • The global ocean surface temperature for July 2009 was the warmest on record, 1.06 degrees F (0.59 degree C) above the 20th century average of 61.5 degrees F (16.4 degrees C). This broke the previous July record set in 1998. The July ocean surface temperature departure of 1.06 degrees F from the long-term average equals last month's value, which was also a record.
  • The global land surface temperature for July 2009 was 0.92 degree F (0.51 degree C) above the 20th century average of 57.8 degrees F (14.3 degree C), and tied with 2003 as the ninth-warmest July on record.
  • El NiƱo persisted across the equatorial Pacific Ocean during July 2009. Related sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies increased for the sixth consecutive month.
  • Large portions of many continents had substantially warmer-than-average temperatures during July 2009. The greatest departures from the long-term average were evident in Europe, northern Africa, and much of western North America. Broadly, across these regions, temperatures were about 4-7 degrees F (2-4 degrees C) above average.
  • Cooler-than-average conditions prevailed across southern South America, central Canada, the eastern United States, and parts of western and eastern Asia. The most notably cool conditions occurred across the eastern U.S., central Canada, and southern South America where region-wide temperatures were nearly 4-7 degrees F (2-4 degrees C) below average.
  • Arctic sea ice covered an average of 3.4 million square miles during July. This is 12.7 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent and the third lowest July sea ice extent on record, behind 2007 and 2006. Antarctic sea ice extent in July was 1.5 percent above the 1979-2000 average. July Arctic sea ice extent has decreased by 6.1 percent per decade since 1979, while July Antarctic sea ice extent has increased by 0.8 percent per decade over the same period.

For more information

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Australia 86s climate bill

In an unsurprising move, Australian parliament has rejected a bill that has been called "the world's most ambitious emissions trade regime," according to a Reuters story.

"This bill may be going down today, but this is not the end," Climate Change Minister Penny Wong told the Senate.

The Green Party wanted tougher emission standards while the conservatives felt that any action should be delayed until after the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December, which expected to amend the Kyoto Protocol.

The culprit causing the dissension is a program similar to the proposed US cap-and-trade system, wherein pollution producing companies are forces to buy carbon permits which they can sell if they switch to cleaner energy sources.

Australia's is the world's largest coal exporter and 80 of its electricity is generated from coal. The emissions standards could wreak havoc with their economy.

From an environmental standpoint, however, Australia has much to gain from lower emission standards.

"Scientists say Australia, the world's driest continent and prone to drought, faces a rapid rate of climate warming."

But the current bill could possibly see up to 20 percent of their power plants shutting down.

Unless they find something else to produce electricity aside from coal.

The infrastructure conundrum again rears its ugly head, but the planet's health and future relies on planning, cut backs and more green initiatives.

Here's to hoping the Copenhagen conference will settle some disputes and gives countries like Australia viable options.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Green jobs floundering, will recovery help?

Speculation is that hiring in the alternative energy industry will increase in the next 12 months but probably won't become a bigger part of the US job market. This is according to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis in an Associated Press story from the second National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.

What is lacking is investment, which supporters hope to see increase over the next year. This will only happen, however, if people get back to work and pique interest in expanding. Sound like a Catch-22? Solis hopes not.

"There'll be more, hopefully, credit available for this expansion because there will be more confidence because that's what we're lacking right now - that investment and confidence in the market."

That's a big "hopefully."

Former veep Al Gore put in his two cents (of course) by saying: "The economic crisis, the security crisis and the climate crisis are all intertwined, and the common thread running through them is our absurd and dangerous overdependence on carbon-based fuels."

I have no problem with, nay I very much enjoyed and agree with An Inconvenient Truth, but such rhetoric is doing more to alienate potential supporters than it is winning them over.

But despite the above statement, venture capitalists increased investments by 73 percent in the last three months over the previous three (see the KBR blog below) according to Ernst & Young. However, this is far below investments from just a year ago.

Before government initiatives were announced last year, investments were at a record high. That was well before the recession's full impact was felt.

The big downside has been the loss of jobs in wind, solar and other alternative energy companies. Projects were scuttled when credit markets froze and venture capital dried up.

Investments have been slow in coming as those with money conduct research to make the "wisest possible investments."

Union leaders are calling for large federal public works projects due to the fact that commercial and new housing projects are virtually non-existent.

Time will tell, but with the economy in dire need of stimulation and increasing proof of human involvement in global warming, such projects are beyond needed.

That said, give me a job!

Monday, August 10, 2009

KBR researching biofuel manufacturing

Yes, the same KBR surrounded by controversy while providing logistical support to the US military in the Middle East is looking to make biofuel production economically feasible, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Because KBR is headquartered in Houston, one of the centers of the international oil and gas industry, it has the infrastructure in place to scale up biofuel production; one of the problems is that biofuel manufacturing works in the lab but mass production is hampered by lack of funds, technology and space.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 calls for the supply of renewable fuels to grow to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

KBR is backing the construction of a 27 million gallon per year plant in Iowa and is providing engineering support to five more cellulosic ethanol plants.

Exxon and other oil companies already exploring the possibilities of biofuel. Maybe soon, the bloodshed and backstabbing over foreign countries' oil will begin in the American cornbelt. That's actually just sci-fi speculation, but human nature is what it is.

At least the corporate assassins will be doing it over less polluting power sources.

Pond scum gets a good rap

That's right, algae looks to be the new corn when it comes to ethanol production. Recently, it has become apparent that corn is not actually necessary for the production of ethanol - virtually any plant matter will do and now Dow Chemical and Florida's Algenol Biofuels see algae and the Texas Gulf Coast as the prime source and place of new developments, as the Houston Chronicle reported Sunday.

Dow's huge Freeport complex will be the center for this new experiment. The idea is to set up long clear plastic tubes filled with salt water and algae across the flatlands of south Texas and then pump CO2 from refineries and chemical plants in the area through the tubes. The yield: ethanol.

This would promote both ethanol and biofuel production, a much cleaner source of fuel than petroleum and is just as versatile (it can even be used in plastics) as well as capturing and using CO2 in a sustainable way.

By making waste CO2 the carbon component in the production process, it cuts down on emissions. The CO2 output from biofuels is a fraction of that from petroleum.

Let's hope the experiment works.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Twitterers, support A Cooler World

Now you can get your own A Cooler World twibbon!

It's free minus the time spent on Twitter.

Copper Indium Gallium Selenide - not just for solar cells anymore

The heat conversion properties of Copper Indium Gallium Selenide (CIGS for short) have long been one of the primary elements of photovoltaic cells.

But according to Discover magazine, the alloy is being put to different uses. They can also be used for, say, converting the heat from factories into the electricity used to run the factories. This doesn't mean that said factories will suddenly become the industrial equivalent of a perpetual motion machine, but it could cut down on outside fuel costs and reduce dependence on ubiquitous and dirty coal-powered electrical plants.

Research is also going into vehicles. CIGS can be used to convert heat from car engines into the electricity needed for radio, AC and other non-locomotive functions of a vehicle, seriously reducing the draw on batteries and saving consumers money and the hassle of needing a jump if the heat-generated power can be stored efficiently.

It isn't quite comic book science fiction Halo technology, but it's step toward fuel efficiency and keeping dirty car batteries out of landfills.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bad news

Even if we make massive changes now, the damage to out ecosystem may be irreversible, according to a team of US, Swiss and French researchers.

It has already been established that CO2 stays in the atmosphere longer after it is emitted. (For example, emissions from an Edison experiment in the 1880s are still present in the atmosphere.)

"'Current choices regarding carbon dioxide emissions will have legacies that will irreversibly change the planet,' said the report's lead author, Susan Solomon, from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."

But this doesn't mean that we have gone past the point of no return.

The effect is more like nuclear waste than acid rain, meaning it won't go away but it is manageable.

In other words, the bottom line is that we have to reduce our carbon output or face conditions similar to the 1930s Dust Bowl. Permanently.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sorting out soot

Common soot from things such as cooking fires is one of the main culprits of climate change. Fortunately, it is also very easily combated.

In the September issue of Discover magazine, the subject of soot is dissected by Peter Fairley.

You see, CO2 is not the only bad guy when it come to ice loss. Common soot, aka black carbon is doing its fair share of damage. It comes from engines, power plants and forest/field clearing as well as the aforementioned open cookstoves of developing countries.

Unlike light-colored sulfates produced by combustion that reflect sunlight and therefore help cool somewhat, soot is is black, settles and absorbs sunlight, heating it and melting any ice it is resting upon.

(Here's where I say to the denialists: "Now tell me humans have nothing to do with rising temperatures and the shrinking of our planet's ice shields." Read on.)

Although sulfates do lend themselves to cooling, measures enacted in the 1970s to combat acid rain have minimized this effect. Worse, when soot and sulfates combine in the atmosphere, they absorb sunlight and enhance the warming effect.

Soot primarily affects the northern hemisphere; the ramifications in Antarctica are negligible because there are almost no major population centers anywhere near it (ahem, denialists?)

It is a different story in the Arctic, however. As the ice cap shrinks, more ships can sail through the waters, adding more soot and shrinking the ice cap further in a positive feedback loop (nothing positive about that). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the Arctic could contain year-round shipping lanes by 2030.

"Then again," according to the article, "by 2030 soot emissions may largely be a thing of the past. Capturing soot is a lot easier than controlling carbon dioxide."

Automakers are even now phasing in "baghouse filters" that act as particle traps, cutting tailpipe emissions from diesel engines.

The positive (this time for real) impact on climate would practically occur overnight because soot has a short life span. CO2, apparently, stays in the atmosphere for quite some time. The article states that the "tiny amount of CO2 relaeased when Thomas Edison cranked up his pathbreaking Pearl Street generator in Manhattan is still circulating 127 years later (yipes! and another reason to refute Edison's so-called "genius.")

And the EPA has already stated in May that "'Eliminating black carbon can immediately slow down the loss of Arctic ice.'"

Hillary Clinton, NASA's James Hansen (the New Yorker's "catastrophist") and Al Gore have all called for immediate action against black soot and Congress is considering legislation aimed at reducing it.

This is good, VERY GOOD, news.

Or, to put it in the words of Fairley:

"In the war on climate change, tackling black carbon may be a relatively simple and powerful fix."

And hopefully one that will be free of the usual political wrangling.

I've been a lazy, lazy boy

Ok, so I haven't been putting hardly any of my own personality into these lately, just posting links and copying and pasting stories. No more, my friends no more! Back to condensing articles with my own voice as the God of Blogs intended.

Back in a few.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The 2009 Millenium Report

A rundown courtesy of ENN:

Millennium Project Report Issued on the Future of the World

A major report issued by the United Nations Millenium Project has just been released. It finds that half the world appears vulnerable to social instability and violence due to increasing and potentially prolonged unemployment from the recession as well as several longer-term issues: decreasing water, food, and energy supplies

per person; the cumulative effects of climate change; and increasing migrations due to political, environmental, and economic conditions. It also finds some good in the global financial crisis, which may be helping humanity to move from its often selfish, self-centered adolescence to a more globally responsible adulthood.

After 13 years of the Millennium Project’s global futures research, it is increasingly clear that the world has the resources to address its challenges. Coherence and direction has been lacking. But recent meetings of the U.S. and China, as well as of NATO and Russia, and the birth of the G-20 plus the continued work of the G-8 promise to improve global strategic collaboration. It remains to be seen if this spirit of cooperation can continue and if decisions will be made on the scale necessary to really address the global challenges discussed in this report.

Major Findings include:

  • The vast majority of the world is living in peace, conflicts actually decreased over the past decade, cross-cultural dialogues are flourishing, and intra-state conflicts are increasingly being settled by international interventions.
  • The world is beginning to wake up to the enormity of the threat of transnational organized crime.
  • Freedom House’s 2009 survey found that democracy and freedom have declined for the third year in a row, and press freedoms declined for the seventh year in a row. It estimates that only 17% of the world’s population lives in 70 countries with a free press, while 42% lives in 64 countries that have no free press.

  • Although government and business leaders are beginning to respond more seriously to the global environmental situation, it continues to get worse. Each day, the oceans absorb 30 million tons of CO2, increasing their acidity. The number of dead zones—areas with too little oxygen to support life—has doubled every decade since the 1960s. The oceans are warming about 50% faster than the IPCC reported in 2007. The amount of ice flowing out of Greenland during the summer of 2008 was nearly three times more than that lost during the previous year. Arctic summer ice could be gone by 2030, as could many of the major Himalayan, European, and Andean glaciers. Over 36 million hectares of primary forest are lost every year. Human consumption is 30% larger than nature’s capacity to regenerate, and demand on the planet has more than doubled over the past 45 years. This growth continues as, for example, more cars are expected to be produced in China in 2009 than in the U.S. or Japan.
  • World energy demand could nearly double by 2030, with China and India accounting for over half of the increase. China uses more coal than the U.S., EU, and Japan combined, but it now has a policy to close an old coal plant for each new cleaner burning plant that turns coal into a gas before burning it. Without major policy and technological changes, fossil fuels will meet 80% of primary energy demand by 2030. If so, then large-scale carbon capture, storage, and/or reuse should become a top priority to reduce global climate change.
  • In March 2009 an asteroid missed Earth by 77,000 kilometers, 80% closer to the planet than our moon is. If it had hit Earth, it would have wiped out all life on 800 square kilometers. No one knew it was coming. The time between its discovery and close approach was very short.
  • Nearly 25% of humanity is connected to the Internet. There are more people using the Internet in China than the total population of the U.S. Mobile phones are becoming handheld computers. Humanity, the built environment, and ubiquitous computing seem destined to become so interconnected that collective intelligences with “just-in-time knowledge”� will emerge for improving civilization. With an increasingly educated world and the majority of humanity connected to the Internet over the next 20 years, new forms of political power may emerge, growing beyond the control of traditional hierarchical structures.
  • The world’s population is 6.8 billion. It is expected to grow to 9.2 billion by 2050, but it could shrink by 2100, creating a world with many elderly people. Nearly all the population increases will be in developing countries; hence, today’s first world will be tomorrow’s elderly world.
  • Infectious diseases are the second leading cause of death worldwide. About half the people in the world are at risk of several endemic diseases. More than 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, and 74% of these infected people live in sub-Saharan Africa. For the first time in 40 years, WHO declared a pandemic: the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) rapidly infected 60,000 people in nearly half the countries of the world, resulting in 263 deaths between April and June 2009.

The Millennium Project also explored future possible outcomes using its Real-Time Delphi online software. The RTD is a relatively new and efficient method for collecting and synthesizing expert opinions. According to the report, the value of futures research is less in forecasting accuracy than in focusing attention, planning, and opening minds to consider new possibilities and in changing the policy agenda. The goal is not to know the future precisely (how could that be possible?) but to understand a range of possibilities that lead to better decisions.

For More on this important report:

Monday, August 3, 2009

Some limitations

Heat Wave Demonstrates Limitations to Wind Power

The Pacific Northwest just finished four days of triple digit temperatures, which put the heat on renewable energy sources to keep up with demand. Just as records were being set for power consumption, wind power generation slowed due to the calm air from the locked-in high pressure system.

The extreme weather highlights the reality that wind -- and to a lesser extent hydropower -- may not be a panacea for power production.

Southern Washington and the Portland metro area had a record breaking streak of warmth that pushed energy demand to record highs, but the high pressure system also featured calm breezes. The local utility Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) had to quickly balance the reduction in wind power with increases in hydropower.

To make matters worse, during long hot and dry spells the water levels in the rivers that produce power can also drop, further reducing the ability for renewables to meet peak demand.

Granted, this is an extreme example of both weather and a utility that has a strong (and growing stronger) portfolio of renewable power. Despite the Northwest's infamous frequent cloud cover, BPA might consider installing concentrated solar farms on the sunnier (east) side of the Cascades if it wants to avoid adding more fossil fuel production.

BPA has been dealing with wild fluctuations in wind for some time, as reported by the Seattle Post Intelligencer. The utility has been making wind power producers pay for its cost in balancing wind with other resources, and recently spiked fees by "only" 90 percent after considering quadrupling the cost.

Per the paper: "By 2011, the agency estimates the system will run out of the capacity to adjust enough to accommodate for the variations of wind power.

As a result, the BPA, a nonprofit federal power-marketing agency, is accelerating plans for change, including: building more capacity, flexibility and quicker response times; implementing better forecasting tools; and sharing the responsibility for moving power within and outside the region."

While wind is approaching grid parity for cost, it can't be equally dispatchable without energy storage or being augmenting by other more manageable resource. This reality check shouldn't detract from wind investments; it merely suggests a more balanced approach for utilities.

John Gartner is Editor in Chief of Matter Network and an Industry Analyst for Pike Research.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Cash for Clunker Kerfluffle

The idea is sound, but the execution seems lacking.

From Yahoo!News:

WASHINGTON – The House has voted to rush an additional $2 billion into the popular but financially strapped "cash for clunkers" car purchase program.

The bill was approved on a vote of 316-109. House members acted within hours of learning from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that the program was running out of money.

Called the Car Allowance Rebate System, or CARS, the program is designed to help the economy and the environment by spurring new car sales. Car owners can receive federal subsidies of up to $4,500 for trading in their old cars for new ones that achieve significantly higher gas mileage.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the new money for the program would come from funds approved earlier in the year as part of an economic stimulus bill.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House rushed Friday to pump $2 billion into a popular cash-for-clunkers program running near empty, with a leading Democrat saying "consumers have spoken with their wallets."

A floor vote was under way at midday on the bill to refuel the car-purchase program. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had said earlier that the additional money would come from funds Congress approved earlier in the year as part of a $787 billion economic stimulus bill.

Hoyer, D-Md., said that at the request of House Republicans — whose approval was required for swift passage — the bill would include provisions for government auditors to make sure the money was being spent as intended.

Republicans argued that Democrats were trying to jam the legislation through.

House Minority Leader John Boehner said it was unclear how many Republicans would support on the plan.

"There are a lot of questions about how the administration administered this program. If they can't handle something as simple as this, how would we handle health care?" the Ohio Republican told The Associated Press.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the cars purchased under the program were much more fuel-efficient than what the bill requires.

But some lawmakers complained that many dealers were left to contend with a chaotic government-run program.

"The federal government can't process a simple rebate. I've got dealers who have submitted the paperwork three times and have gotten three rejections," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich. "What is a dealer supposed to do?"

There had been a $1 billion budget for rebates for new car sales in the program that was officially launched last week and has been heavily publicized by automakers and dealers.

Called the Car Allowance Rebate System, or CARS, the program offers owners of old cars and trucks $3,500 or $4,500 toward a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle, in exchange for scrapping their old vehicle. Congress last month approved the plan to boost auto sales and remove some inefficient cars and trucks from the roads.

The Senate was not scheduled to vote on Friday but lawmakers hoped to win approval for additional funding next week.

Senate action is likely next week, making sure the program would not be affected by the sudden shortage of cash.

"Consumers have spoken with their wallets and they've said they like this program," said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis.

House members acted within hours of learning from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that the program — designed to help the economy as well as the environment — was out of funds. Under the program, car owners can receive federal subsidies of as much as $4,500 if they trade in their old car for a new one that achieves significantly higher gas mileage.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the administration assured lawmakers that "deals will be honored until otherwise noted by the White House." But he suggested that "people ought to get in and buy their cars."

At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs sought to assure consumers that the program is still running and will be alive "this weekend. If you were planning on going to buy a car this weekend, using this program, this program continues to run."

Gibbs would not commit to any timeframe beyond that.

It was unclear how many cars had been sold under the program.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said about 40,000 vehicle sales had been completed through the program but dealers estimated they were trying to complete transactions on another 200,000 vehicles, putting the amount of remaining funding in doubt.

John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, said many dealers have been confused about whether the program will be extended and for how long. Many had stopped offering the deals Thursday after word came out that the funds available for the refunds had been exhausted.

The clunkers program was set up to boost U.S. auto sales and help struggling automakers through the worst sales slump in more than a quarter-century. Sales for the first half of the year were down 35 percent from the same period in 2008, and analysts are predicting only a modest recovery during the second half of the year.

With so much uncertainty surrounding the program, North Palm Beach, Fla., dealer Earl Stewart said he planned to continue to sell cars under the program but would delay delivering the new vehicles and scrapping the trade-ins.

"It's been a total panic with my customers and my sales staff. We are running in one direction and then we are running in another direction," he said.

AP Business Writer Stephen Manning in Washington contributed to this report.

Worse, a lot of the cars that are eco-unfriendly are classics that would be better refurbished and made more fuel efficient than just destroyed. How about cash for conversion?