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April 5th, 2012 Archives
Posted: 04/ 2/2012 5:57 pm
If you enjoy public beaches, state parks or fishing piers, you can thank the sixth-century Roman emperor Justinian. He's credited with introducing the public trust doctrine, a legal concept that forbids private ownership of certain natural resources, instead preserving them for public use. This idea has spread worldwide since then, protecting everything from beaches and streams to oyster beds and fish stocks.
It was an early tenet of English common law, later encoded in the Magna Carta, and also has a long history in U.S. courts, dating back to at least 1842's Martin v. Waddell. During a 1983 case about water use at California's Mono Lake, the U.S. Supreme Court specifically quoted this section of Roman law to explain public trust:
"By the law of nature these things are common to mankind: the air, running water, the sea and consequently the shores of the sea." -- Justinian Code of Rome, c. 534
The court ultimately added its own, slightly more specific wording:
"[T]he public trust is more than an affirmation of state power to use public property for public purposes. It is an affirmation of the duty of the state to protect the people's common heritage." -- U.S. Supreme Court, 1983
This is all well-established by now, leaving little doubt about the state's duty to maintain public resources. But there is still some fuzziness about what exactly counts as a public resource -- and how far a government must go to protect it.
A lawsuit in U.S. District Court, however, could soon add a little more clarity. Filed by teen and twentysomething plaintiffs (and backed by environmental groups), the suit calls on federal agencies to protect the atmosphere as a public resource, including from excess carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. It's part of a broad campaign to fight global warming via the public trust doctrine, and it's mirrored by similar lawsuits or administrative actions the coalition has filed in all 50 states.Share This Post
By JOHN M. BRODER April 3, 2012, 1:19 pm
It is a rare day that you pick up a newspaper without encountering a reference to “job-killing regulations” from a pro-business Republican complaining about the burden of a new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency or other government office. Sometimes large and scary job loss numbers are attached to the assertion and attributed to a study, most often financed by the affected industry.
For example, when the E.P.A. issued a final rule in December limiting emissions of mercury and other airborne toxins from power plant emissions, opponents from the coal and utility industries said the regulation would cost 1.4 million jobs. Supporters of the rule, conversely, said the rule would create 1.4 million jobs in environmental restoration, retrofitting of plants and conversion to renewable electricity sources.
The E.P.A. and the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which reviews all proposed federal regulations, have never used job figures as part of the calculus of the costs and benefits of rule-making, largely because there is no accepted methodology for assessing them.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/environmental-rules-job-killers-or-job-creators/Share This Post
Do they help or hurt job formation?
Ken Silverstein | Apr 04, 2012
With the presidential election paring down to two candidates, the subject of environmental regulations and economic implications is building up. A new report by a non-partisan think tank is now forewarning the electorate to disregard the political rhetoric and to ask more critical questions.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.energybiz.com/article/12/04/economics-epa-regs&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=EB_DAILY2&utm_term=Original-MemberShare This Post
Critics point to subsidies
Bill Opalka | Apr 03, 2012
Renewable energy generation has grown nationally by 27% in the past three years, largely due to federal policy support and favorable tax policies, recently released data show.Share This Post
No procurement targets, for now; deliberations continue
Phil Carson | Apr 03, 2012
Energy storage is the holy grail of the power industry. No one has escaped hearing that mantra.Share This Post
States hoping to capitalize on their energy booms are running into resistance from local officials who want to be able to police the noise and industrialization that accompany oil-and-gas drilling.
The municipalities are fighting laws that bar them from regulating drilling, enacted by state lawmakers who feared towns would stunt job-creation and a stream of tax revenue.
Last Thursday, seven towns collectively sued Pennsylvania in state court to overturn a law passed in February that prevents them from using their zoning authority to regulate oil-and-gas development. The day before, an Ohio state senator introduced legislation to grant local officials more control over where companies can drill.
Also late last week, an energy company and a landowner appealed rulings in New York state courts that towns can use their zoning power to ban gas-drilling, despite a state law that prevents them from regulating the industry. The state has temporarily blocked companies from drilling in the Marcellus Shale while regulators weigh the environmental impact.
The balance between local land-use regulation and energy development has been hard to strike in Pennsylvania, which is carved up into more than 1,000 townships, some of which worry about how drilling would affect traffic, property values and public health.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304750404577319960306479218.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By JOSEPH CHECKLER Updated April 4, 2012, 5:40 p.m. ET
Dynegy Holdings LLC reached a preliminary agreement with nearly all its creditor groups on a debt-restructuring plan, less than a month after an independent examiner denounced asset transfers by the power provider.
The proposal announced Wednesday would shift the assets of Dynegy Holdings' coal-fired power plants back to creditors. The assets had been transferred to shareholders of parent Dynegy Inc. DYN -24.81% before Dynegy Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection in November.
Burying the Hatchet
Some highlights of Dynegy Holdings' preliminary agreement with creditors:
- Coal-fired plant assets would shift back to bankruptcy creditors
- Unsecured creditors would get 99% stake in parent Dynegy Inc.
- Current Dynegy Inc. shareholders would get 1% stake plus warrants
- Holder of bonds secured by power-plant leases would get half the proceeds of plants' sales and could recover maximum of $571 million for all claims
The new deal would all but wipe out Dynegy Inc.'s shareholders. Under the pact, Dynegy Holdings' unsecured creditors would get a 99% stake in the parent. Current Dynegy Inc. shareholders initially would receive 1%, plus warrants that could boost the stake to 13.5% over five years.
Dynegy said the settlement includes a deal with a unit of U.S. Bancorp, USB -0.89% which represents holders of bonds secured by power-plant leases who had sued over the asset transfers. Creditors with such bonds would receive half of the proceeds from the sale of the plants, with a cap on their total recovery set at $571 million. While it is unlikely that the plants would sell for enough to hit the cap, Dynegy's previous plan would have given them much less.
Holders of subordinated notes, who are owed about $216 million, haven't yet agreed to the settlement.
The plan, which hasn't been filed with the court, is subject to approval by Judge Cecilia G. Morris. The new plan also is subject to a creditors' vote.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303302504577323562170015818.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
So much for an 'all of the above' energy strategy.
April 4, 2012, 7:00 p.m. ET
For three years the Environmental Protection Agency has imposed a de facto ban on new coal-fired power while doing everything it can to harm existing coal plants. But for once there's something good to say about the latest EPA carbon rule: At least the agency was less devious when it formalized the coal ban last week.
The EPA proposed what are known as "new source performance standards" for carbon under the Clean Air Act, which are part of the agency's "endangerment finding" to limit greenhouse gas emissions. To control CO2, utilities will need to install new technology, such as capture-and-sequestration systems that are among the world's most complex and expensive industrial equipment.
But great news: The EPA estimates that the total cost of this rule will be $0. It will have no major effect on the economy. Not a single job will be lost.
How can that be? In its cost estimates, the EPA assumes the U.S. will never complete another coal-fired project. Ever. The agency is conceding that coal development has been shut down as a result of its many new regulations, such as the recent mercury rule and the illegal permitting delays that a federal appeals court slapped down last week.Share This Post
April 5th, 2012, 12:00 am ·
posted by Laura Barron-Lopez
The electric bill in January 2011 was $150.23, the usual cost of the monthly bill and typical for this small Laguna Woods home.
One year later, the bill was $514.34.
What could have possibly caused this $364 increase — a leap of 243 percent? A new state of the art Jacuzzi? Millions of holiday lights to rival Disneyland?
No, Pat Wiseman said. The only change to his parents’ home was a new smart meter from the electric company, Southern California Edison. It had been installed at the end of October.
Smart meters are part of the new Edison SmartConnect grid. They connect to “a secure wireless network” which, SCE says, gives customers greater control to manage their usage — even from a cell phone, many miles from home. Smart meters are also read remotely, so employees don’t have to trek to the house to read the meter. By the end of this year, 5 million smart meters are slated to be installed in Southern California. SCE is almost done installing them in Orange County — but there may soon be a way to opt out (at a price).
To read the entire article go to: http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2012/04/05/electric-bill-nearly-doubles-after-smart-meter-opt-out-option-coming/152042/Share This Post
By LESLIE KAUFMAN April 3, 2012, 7:35 am
So, would you stop washing your clothes in warm water if your best friend tried doing it in cold and said her jeans were coming out clean? Would you be more likely to weatherize your house if your college roommate said that it had cut her heating bill by 30 percent? And if your mom got one of those power strips that turn off devices that suck electricity in the middle of the night, would you do the same?
In 2009 I wrote about a company (now called Opower) that blends behavioral science and data analysis to find ways to help utilities get their customers to use less electricity. At the time, it was enabling power companies to send out bills comparing customers’ energy usage with that of their neighbors. Smiley faces adorned the bills of energy-efficient users; their less-efficient neighbors got frowns.
The thinking behind all this, of course, is that it’s not so much factual information that motivates behavioral change — knowing that smoking is bad for you, or that most electricity generation emits heat-trapping carbon dioxide – but the way that such information plays off social relationships and creates peer pressure. Now the company is harnessing social media to further that kind of psychological connection as well.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/on-facebook-some-friendly-energy-rivalry/Share This Post
04/04/2012 By Bill Opalka
Los Angeles has cleared the way for a solar roof program that includes a feed-in tariff (FiT) for what will eventually reach 150 MW of generation.Share This Post
Posted on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 John Murawski | Charlotte Observer
North Carolina will be home to the nation’s largest private fuel cell energy project, a nonpolluting, silent power plant that will generate electricity from hydrogen.
Apple (yes, that Apple) filed its plans with the N.C. Utilities Commission last week to build the 4.8-megawatt project in Maiden, about 40 miles northwest of Charlotte. That’s where Apple has built a data center to support the company’s iCloud online data storage system and its Siri voice-recognition software.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/04/03/143982/apple-starts-fuel-cell-energy.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 04/ 2/2012 1:29 pm
In 2009, the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition sent up a flare bright enough that it could be seen through the glare of a midday sun: “Although the solar [photovoltaics] boom is still in its early stages, disturbing global trends are beginning to emerge,” the group wrote in a white paper [PDF] that went on to detail the risks of careless manufacturing practices and make recommendations for keeping PV from descending in an abyss of environmental degradation.Share This Post
04/03/2012 By Bill Opalka
Mexico’s ventures into renewable energy are starting to branch into solar power. And like a just-approved collaboration with an American utility, cross-border collaborationShare This Post
By VAUHINI VARA April 4, 2012, 3:33 p.m. ET
The Bay Area and surrounding regions are cementing their reputations as hot spots for solar installations.
The city of Santa Cruz had 1.4 solar installations per 100 residents as of last year, the highest in the state among cities with 50,000 or more residents, according to environmental-advocacy group Environment California Research & Policy Center. The total number of solar installations in Santa Cruz was 866, up 59% from 543 in 2009.
Meanwhile, the cities of Sonoma and Sebastopol had the highest penetration among midsize and small cities (populations under 50,000), with 10.3 and 4.5 installations per 100 residents, respectively. Among the biggest cities in the Bay Area, the solar installations weren't as prevalent on a per capita basis—San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland each had 0.3 installations per 100 residents. Statewide, the average installations per 100 people was 0.65.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304023504577319593811577690.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post