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April 9th, 2012 Archives
Posted: 04/07/2012 03:03:39 PM PDT
Updated: 04/08/2012 04:26:39 AM PDT
For the past 10 years, California has struggled with huge budget deficits and wrenching cuts. Suddenly, however, the state is poised to raise billions from an unusual new source: the proceeds from its landmark global warming law.
The windfall could come as soon as this fall, when state officials are set to begin auctioning off pollution credits to oil refineries, power plants and other major polluters as part of a new "cap-and-trade" system.
The amounts are potentially enormous: from $1 billion to $3 billion a year in 2012 and 2013, jumping to as high as $14 billion a year by 2015, according to the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst's Office. By comparison, the state's current budget deficit is $9 billion.
But like thirsty castaways on an island surrounded by ocean water they can't drink, Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators face strict constraints on how they can spend the money. More than 30 years of court rulings and ballot measures -- dating to Proposition 13 in 1978 -- limit its use, probably only to projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_20348096/windfall-cash-could-hit-state-treasury-from-global?source=rssShare This Post
By Steven Mufson, Published: April 6
Ask oil lobbyists, oil executives, and former employees and board members of the American Petroleum Institute how they describe API President Jack N. Gerard, and one thing they don’t say is soft. One calls him a “hard-nosed guy.” Another says he is “a political animal” who “loves a fight.” Yet another dubs him “Voldemort.”
And those are people who consider themselves supporters of the oil industry.
If Gerard loves a fight, he must be a happy man. Energy is one of this year’s biggest and most divisive political issues. Drilling. Fracking. Tax breaks. Soaring gasoline prices. Even pipeline permits have become front-page news.
Ever since taking the helm at API in November 2008, the pugnacious Gerard has worked to reshape the political landscape on energy issues. From the outset, he told API staffers that the group, founded in 1919 in part to promote industry-wide standards, needed to be run more like a political campaign. He ordered up newspaper and television ads targeted at the districts of lawmakers out of step with the oil industry. “I want to hang their feet to the fire,” one former senior employee recalls him saying.
Three and a half years later, Gerard is holding President Obama’s feet to the fire. A longtime supporter of fellow Mormon and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Gerard has repeatedly castigated Obama for his energy policies. He has also leaned on estimates — about the number of jobs the oil industry creates and the president’s power over oil prices — that many energy economists say are greatly inflated.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/jack-gerard-the-force-majeure-behind-big-oil/2012/04/06/gIQA1hjC0S_story.htmlShare This Post
Published: Saturday, April 07, 2012, 6:00 PM Updated: Monday, April 09, 2012, 9:36 AM
By Aaron Marshall, The Plain Dealer
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio's black gold rush has struck the Statehouse.
The frenzy of activity surrounding the energy-rich shale deposits changing the face of Eastern Ohio has also begun pumping up Ohio's oil and gas industry into a lobbying heavyweight.
The billion-dollar bets on Ohio shale being made by energy giants such as Chesapeake Energy have brought a fresh crop of lobbyists to Statehouse corridors and a new source of campaign contributions.
While the added lobbying muscle of Ohio's oil and gas industry is still emerging, campaign finance reports show five of the major oil and gas industry PACs poured nearly $600,000 into politician coffers since 2010, including nearly $100,000 since last March to state lawmakers from Chesapeake Energy.
The industry's new might has critics from the political left worried that the industry may be strong enough to swamp the environmental concerns some have about the horizontal fracking done to crack open the shale and release energy.
And Ohio's Republican governor John Kasich -- as far from a tree-hugging lefty as you can find -- has called into question whether a recent House Republican decision to block a proposed tax hike on drillers was the victim of the growing lobby.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2012/04/ohios_oil_and_gas_industry_eme.htmlShare This Post
To manage the natural gas bust wisely, look to municipalities, not the oil and gas companies.
Written by: Eric Rosenbaum
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Robert Glass has been through his share of oil and gas booms and busts, and the historic slide in natural gas pricing to near-$2 and a 10-year low, which has brought gas drilling to a halt in Louisiana, doesn't faze him.
Before becoming director of public works for Louisiana's Caddo Parish, which includes the city of Shreveport, Glass clocked 18 years in the oil and gas business. In fact, the former oil and gas executive became a municipal official just as the Haynesville shale gas boom was flooding Louisiana with cash.
"It's somewhat normal down here. It's always been that way with gas. No matter how good it gets, two or three years down the road, it will turn," Glass said.
In fact, Louisiana's familiarity with this harsh cycle goes back to 1910, when the Pine Island oil and gas field was discovered in Caddo Parish. "Pine Island was one of the biggest oil fields in Louisiana. Back during that time there were good-sized boom cities and now they are little bitty towns lucky if they have a few thousand people," Glass said.
To read the entire article go to: http://business-news.thestreet.com/denver-post-energy/story/in-natural-gas-bust-boom-town-teaches-drillers-a-lesson/11486225Share This Post
April 6, 2012
With the Republicans hammering away at higher gas prices, President Obama has gone out of his way in recent weeks to show that he is friendly to the idea of oil and gas exploration on federal lands. This is a sound part of any broad energy strategy as long as it balances energy needs with environmental protection. The administration has done a better job on this score than the Bush administration, which took a “drill now, drill everywhere” approach.
But on one new project, the Interior Department is making the wrong move. It has tentatively approved a huge, overly aggressive natural gas drilling project in northeastern Utah. Gasco, a Denver-based company, plans to sink 1,298 wells in the next 15 years on 206,000 acres. About 200 of these wells would threaten Desolation Canyon, a wild, spectacular and fragile landscape.
Conservation groups, chiefly the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, have tried without success to sit down with the company to see whether it would be willing to eliminate these 200 wells and use lateral drilling farther away to access reserves that might lie under Desolation Canyon. The company would still be left with 1,100 wells.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/07/opinion/a-win-win-deal-on-natural-gas.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 04/ 5/2012 5:45 pm Updated: 04/ 5/2012 5:45 pm
In less than a month, "fracking," a controversial drilling method that involves injecting a chemical compound into the earth to release natural gas, is coming to Illinois. In preparation, Illinois lawmakers are scrambling to pass legislation that will solidify regulations to limit the long-term damage of the high-impact drilling method.
Proposed safeguards include Senate Bill 3280, a bill currently being considered in the General Assembly that would define requirements for storage and disposal of wastewater, and require companies to disclose the chemical composition of their "fracking fluid" to the public and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. An identical bill is currently moving through the House, as well as another piece of legislation that would establish a twelve percent tax on oil and gas revenues.
Lawmakers are rushing to get restrictions on the books before drilling begins, in part to avoid the high-profile mishaps other states have seen with water contamination and lasting environmental damage in areas surrounding drill sites. In Wyoming, the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are in the midst of testing and evaluating contaminated groundwater after an earlier EPA report suggested nearby pollution could have been a side effect of hydraulic fracturing.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/05/illinois-fracking-regulat_n_1406433.html?ref=green&ir=GreenShare This Post
Posted: 04/02/2012 04:31:47 AM MDT
Updated: 04/02/2012 08:02:47 AM MDT
DENVER—Front Range farmers bidding for water to grow crops through the coming hot summer and possible drought face new competition from oil and gas drillers.
At Colorado's premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers.
The prospect of tussling with energy industry giants over water leaves some farmers and environmentalists uneasy.
"What impact to our environment and our agricultural heritage are Coloradans willing to stomach for drilling and fracking?" said Gary Wockner, director of the Save the Poudre Coalition, devoted to protecting the Cache la Poudre River.
"Farm water grows crops, but it also often supports wildlife, wetlands and stream flows back to our rivers. Most drilling and fracking water is lost from the hydrological cycle forever," Wockner said. "Any transfer of water from rivers and farms to drilling and fracking will negatively impact Colorado's environment and wildlife."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_20306480?source=pop_section_businessShare This Post
Published: Friday, April 06, 2012, 6:17 PM Updated: Friday, April 06, 2012, 10:31 PM
By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian
From a hushed control center tucked into a building in Portland's Pearl District, Kit Blair and dispatchers at Iberdrola Renewables captain a fleet of 3,000 wind turbines spread over 17 states.
Laid out before them on a wall of flat panel displays is the performance of every Iberdrola turbine component in the United States.
A few keystrokes can bring up a real time schematic of an individual turbine's gear box in Texas, feather every blade at a wind farm in upstate New York, or still Iberdrola's entire fleet on the Columbia Plateau.
Across the river in Northeast Portland, Blair's counterpart sits in a control center at the Bonneville Power Administration, juggling the output of 31 hydroelectric dams in The Columbia Basin.
The teams usually work in perfect harmony. Bonneville, in tandem with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, fine-tunes hydroelectric output minute-by-minute to compensate for Iberdrola's fluctuating generation. It sends more water through its turbines when wind farms aren't generating enough electricity, or dials back when a squall sends windmills spinning.
But all bets are off for the next few months. It's springtime in the Northwest, meaning rain, warmer temperatures, snow melt and blustery wind. Occasionally, it also means more hydro and wind electricity is pulsing into the grid than anyone can use.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/04/wind_farms_bpa_brace_for_power.htmlShare This Post
April 6, 2012 | 5:57 pm
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who toured the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant Friday, assured reporters that the plant would not restart until officials understand the root cause of the cause of systems failures that forced the plant's closure.
Jaczko made a trip, accompanied by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), to tour the plant and talk to Edison officials about the unexpected wear in steam generator tubes that carry radioactive water in the plant's two working reactor units.
The steam generators at both of the plant's reactor units were installed within the last two years, at a cost of $671 million.
"The issue of the steam generators is a very serious issue, we take it seriously, and after some very frank discussions today, I can say that Southern California Edison takes it seriously, too," Jaczko told reporters.
To read the entire article go to: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/04/san-onofre-to-remain-closed-indefinately-nrc-chief-says.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+%28L.A.+Now%29Share This Post
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Kelp off California was contaminated with short-lived radioisotopes a month after Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant accident, a sign that the spilled radiation reached the state's coastline, according to a new scientific study.
Scientists from CSU Long Beach tested giant kelp collected off Orange County, Santa Cruz and other locations after the March 2011 accident and detected radioactive iodine, which was released from the damaged nuclear reactor.
The largest concentration was about 250 times higher than levels found in kelp before the accident.
"Basically, we saw it in all the California kelp blades we sampled," said Steven Manley, a CSU Long Beach biology professor who specializes in kelp.
The radioactivity had no known effects on the giant kelp, or on fish and other marine life, and it was undetectable a month later.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/08/BAO51O00HO.DTLShare This Post
04/06/2012 By Wayne Barber
Spring continues to bring more troubling news for the U.S. nuclear industry with the latest development coming April 5 when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) acknowledged that finishing a never-completed reactor will take longer and cost far more than originally anticipated.
TVA officials said in a news release they now expect completion of the Watts Bar 2 unit in Spring City, Tenn., to cost between $4bn and $4.5bn and be finished sometime between September and December of 2015.
By comparison, when the TVA board approved the project in 2007, it predicted a 60-month construction schedule and a cost of $2.49bn.
The updated figures were issued following a seven-month construction review. TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore said the project is still worth doing, even at the higher price. The TVA board will be asked to approve the increased funding for the project.
To read the entire article go to: http://generationhub.com/2012/04/06/more-bad-nuclear-news-tva-watts-bar-2-could-cost-4Share This Post
Don Bauder, April 4, 2012
Sempra Energy, the San Diego–based utility, is wealthy by comparison with other utilities. It is obsessed with handing out its riches to its shareholders (particularly its own top executives) at the expense of its customers. Quietly, officials of the California Public Utilities Commission, supposedly the unbiased regulator, rake in some of that lucre.
Sempra consists mainly of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) and Southern California Gas, although the parent company has wind, solar, pipeline, storage, and liquefied natural gas assets, too.
In theory, public utilities are supposed to provide reasonably priced, reliable service to customers, as well as pleasing shareholders. A major mandate of the state utilities commission is to safeguard consumers. But Sempra and the commission are fixated on pleasing Wall Street.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2012/apr/04/citylights1-san-diego-gas-electric-profits/Share This Post
Posted: 04/08/2012 08:47:59 PM PDT
Updated: 04/08/2012 08:56:58 PM PDT
When he took the job as ratepayer advocate for the Department of Water and Power, Fred Pickel knew he would be busy. But not this busy and not this soon.
Pickel last week was told to prepare to analyze the latest increases being suggested by DWP management, 10.5 percent for power over two years and 5 percent for water.
"I don't even have my assistant hired yet, and forget about the other staff we need," Pickel said. "And they are asking for an expedited review at a time when the office is new.
"If I'm lucky, I'll have my executive assistant by May 1 and then we will begin professional searches for staff."
In the meantime, he said he might have to rely on the private firm PA Consulting, which has analyzed DWP rate proposals for the City Council in the past, to help with the staff work.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.dailynews.com/politics/ci_20354111/ratepayer-advocate-swamped-work?source=rssShare This Post
Carla Marinucci Monday, April 9, 2012
Van Jones, a pioneer among the nation's eco-activists, has made his mark from the Bay Area - where he's headed three major community organizations - to the White House, where he served as President Obama's "green jobs czar."
But Jones, whom Time Magazine named one of the 100 most influential people in the world and who has written a new best-selling book, "Rebuild the Dream," reached another landmark a week ago: The New York Times Magazine crowned him the Mr. Dreamy of the left.
"You have these fantasies that someday they will notice you and talk about your educational achievements," the 43-year-old, Yale-educated attorney and civil rights activist said in an interview with The Chronicle last week. "Little did I know I was just a pinup."
With the publication of his latest book, which is a call to arms to American liberals, Jones said he has attempted to showcase what he calls his "unique perspective in American life" almost three years after he resigned his White House post in the midst of a political firestorm.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/09/MN191NVJ7J.DTL&feed=rss.pageoneShare This Post
By Morgan Lee Thursday, April 5, 2012
San Diego-area residents gave a largely hostile reception Thursday to a request by San Diego Gas & Electric to have its customers pay for wildfire liabilities, including the catastrophic 2007 wildfires triggered by utility equipment.
More than 400 people packed an auditorium in Clairemont Mesa for the first of two back-to-back public participation hearings before representatives of the California Public Utilities Commission.
The crowd erupted in boos and outraged laughter as an SDG&E official described a cost sharing arrangement between utility customers and corporate shareholders for fires in which the utility bore some responsibility. Investors would pay 5 percent of costs not covered by insurance, with a cap at $30 million a year. Ratepayers would pay the rest, under the provision.
Several local public officials urged the utilities commission to reject SDG&E's request, including State Sen. Christine Kehoe, Solana Beach Deputy Mayor Dave Roberts and San Diego County supervisors Dianne Jacob and Pam Slater-Price.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/apr/05/hearing-rekindles-controversy-over-2007-wildfires/Share This Post