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May 3rd, 2012 Archives
Posted: 05/ 2/2012 11:25 am
Co-founder, LittleSis.org; Co-founder, Public Accountability Initiative
In the latest sign that massive natural gas fracker Chesapeake Energy is in deep trouble, the company has retained George Sard, the CEO of Sard Verbinnen. Sard was described as a "spinmeister of the apocalypse" by Portfolio magazine in April 2009, because he has worked as a PR consultant for so many high-profile clients in moments of utter, humiliating public collapse.
Chesapeake is in distinguished company. Sard's clients have included the Madoff brothers (Ponzi scheme), Eliot Spitzer (prostitution), Martha Stewart (insider trading), former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld (Ponzi scheme), and AIG (Ponzi scheme). His firm was also on the scene during the Enron collapse -- JPMorgan hired him to beat back accusations that the bank was complicit in the Enron fraud (it eventually paid $135 million to settle SEC charges).
The first reports of Sard's hiring came today, amid news that Chesapeake's board had decided to replace CEO Aubrey McClendon as chairman (he will continue as CEO). The company made the move following two weeks of controversy first sparked by a Reuters report that the CEO had borrowed $1.1 billion in secret, personal loans in order to finance his investments in the companies' wells.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-connor/in-latest-sign-of-trouble_b_1468922.html?ref=businessShare This Post
Written by: Antoine Gara 05/02/12 - 5:04 PM EDT
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Chesapeake Energy's(CHK) largest shareholder is turning into an activist. The move by Southeastern Asset Management, Chesapeake's largest shareholder, signals that even after the company said it would split the chairman and CEO roles and agreed on early termination of a controversial oil & gas well ownership program for its co-founder and CEO Aubrey McClendon, investors may push for bigger changes to overcome a balance sheet in crisis and an all-time low in shareholder confidence.
On Wednesday, Southeastern, with an over-13% stake in Chesapeake, changed its status to an activist investor so that it can work with the struggling gas giant's management to boost shares. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Memphis, TN-based Southeastern said that it would work with management and outside parties on "possible courses of action to assist in building corporate intrinsic value per share or to cause the company's true economic value to be recognized."
To read the entire article go to: http://business-news.thestreet.com/denver-post-energy/story/chesapeake-energy-shareholders-meet-your-would-be-savior/11517699Share This Post
Posted: 05/ 2/2012 5:23 pm Updated: 05/ 2/2012 5:32 pm
A new study has raised fresh concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, concluding that fracking chemicals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have previously predicted.
More than 5,000 wells were drilled in the Marcellus between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to the study, which was published in the journal Ground Water two weeks ago. Operators inject up to 4 million gallons of fluid, under more than 10,000 pounds of pressure, to drill and frack each well.
Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth's underground geology is a cornerstone of the industry's argument that fracking poses minimal threats to the environment.
But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as "just a few years."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/fracking-fluids-aquifers_n_1472355.html?ref=greenShare This Post
Published Thursday, May. 03, 2012
TAFT – The drilling fields of Kern County shook long before the earth collapsed last summer, swallowing Chevron oil worker Robert David Taylor.
Shallow rock formations in the sprawling Midway-Sunset Oil Field, pumped full of steam by oil companies to help lift heavy crude, had buckled and cracked for years.
"These are locations where the earth opens up and spews fluids, solids and gases," California's then-oil and gas supervisor Elena Miller said in an August email to Derek Chernow, then acting director of the state Department of Conservation.
Under Chernow and Miller, permitting of injection projects had slowed in 2010 and 2011. To them, Taylor's death in June – in an area they feared had been affected by ongoing drilling elsewhere in the region – was further evidence of the need for stricter oversight.
But the oil companies already had begun pushing back against a regulatory system they said was unreasonable, and eventually the companies would prevail.
They were lobbying the Brown administration even before Taylor's death, and on Nov. 3, 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown fired Chernow and Miller. Under their successors, Mark Nechodom and Tim Kustic, the state Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources has relaxed the permitting process. From Nov. 15 through early January, 77 injection drilling permits that had been on hold were granted under the division's new review process, according to the state.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/03/4461862/permits-flow-again-for-risky-oil.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 05/03/2012 12:00 AM
Western States Petroleum Association topped the list of big spenders for lobbying in the first three months of this year, forking out $948,840, according to newly released state records.
The petroleum association had its hand in numerous issues, ranging from a low-carbon fuel standard to waste discharge requirements and implementation of a landmark state law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also lobbied for or against more than a dozen bills, records show.
To read the entire article go to: http://m.sacbee.com/sacramento/db_99258/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=de1EqpGiShare This Post
Don Bauder, April 25, 2012
On September 9, 2010, a Pacific Gas & Electric natural gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno. Eight people were killed and 38 homes destroyed. Early last year, Bay Area assemblyman Jerry Hill told the California Public Utilities Commission that its lax regulation was greatly responsible.
Michael Peevey, president of the commission, indignantly huffed that a panel had been named to study the tragedy, so the assemblyman’s remark was “contemptible.”
Intoned Timothy Alan Simon, a commissioner, “I find it personally offensive for the member of the legislature to come before this body and try to even imply or indicate the slightest scintilla that we have been complacent in this area.”
Peevey had shown some humility right after the disaster, but in mid-2011, after the panel came out with the study lashing the utility for its incompetence and the commission for its weak-kneed regulation, Peevey gulped down a big helping of humble pie. He pledged that the commission would improve enforcement. Then, that year, he took four overseas trips paid for by utilities — to the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, and Australia. Simon went along on the Sweden and Italy junkets. His fiancée, San Francisco port commissioner Kimberly Brandon, went on the Sweden trip. Assemblyman Hill said the trips were shameful.
The California Public Utilities Commission continues to be marked by arrogance, ineptitude, bureaucratic sclerosis, pro-utility and anti-consumer bias, blindness to conflicts of interest, and the publishing of misleading information about its commissioners. The utilities the commission regulates are just as…well…contemptible. Pacific Gas & Electric wants its customers to pick up a significant part of the tab for future improvements in its pipelines. This smacks of San Diego Gas & Electric’s outrageous attempt to get its customers to pay for uninsured costs of the 2007 wildfires, for which the utility was found negligent. And the local utility wants customers to indemnify it against costs of future fires.
So what is the commission doing? The administrative law judge handling San Diego Gas & Electric’s attempt to fleece its customers is Maribeth Bushey, a former lawyer for — you guessed it — San Diego Gas & Electric. In 1993, her husband, then an inventor for a company 80 percent owned by SDG&E, owed the utility $110,000.
The commissioner handling the wildfire case is Timothy Alan Simon, who was appointed five years ago amid controversy. Simon’s biography on the commission website says he is “a former securities and banking industry attorney” who serves on several nonprofit boards, particularly ones tied to the Roman Catholic Church, and “is engaged and is the proud father of three children.”
But documents from other sources raise many questions about that Simon biography. Unfortunately, he did not respond to a request for information. He is a son of the legendary Joseph “Bunny” Simon, who owned eight nightclubs in San Francisco. One, the Play Pen, was adjacent to the first campaign headquarters of political powerhouse Willie Brown, who later recommended Bunny’s son for the commission post.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2012/apr/25/citylights1-timothy-alan-simon-commissioner/Share This Post
Portland General Electric vetoes initial proposal for coal export terminal at Oregon’s Port Westward
Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 5:16 PM Updated: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 7:32 PM
By Scott Learn, The Oregonian
Portland General Electric has rejected an initial proposal for a coal export terminal at the Port of St. Helens, saying coal dust from the terminal could foul the air used for combustion in its two natural gas plants nearby.
The utility has leasehold control and effective veto power over 850 acres at the port's Port Westward industrial park along the Columbia River. Kinder Morgan wants to build an export terminal close by, all or part on PGE-controlled lands.
"The facility as they've described it to us really just isn't compatible with operations of our power plants there," PGE spokesman Steve Corson said Wednesday. "We've invested quite a lot on behalf of our customers there, and we can't accept that risk."
Kinder Morgan spokesman Alan Fore said the company is studying multiple configurations at Port Westward, not just the one PGE rejected. The terminal would minimize dust from coal piles by using full-time automated sprinkler systems to keep the coal wet, he said.
The configuration PGE rejected "is only one option and we're still exploring our options," Fore said.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/05/portland_general_electric_veto.htmlShare This Post
By Warren Smith | 05/02/12 12:00 AM PST
The demise of small businesses due to AB 32 has been greatly exaggerated. I should know – I founded a small business and clean energy laws like AB 32 are a big part of the reason we are still here. Not because I am a clean tech investor or venture capitalist but because our company, which partners with businesses and communities to convert organic waste to renewable energy, is leading the wave of clean energy job creation that is sweeping across the state.
In “Small businesses feel pinch of curbing greenhouse gases,” (April 25, 2012) John Kabateck of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) references a poll released last week – funded by the AB32 Implementation Group (whose leadership worked with out-of-state oil companies back in 2010 to try, unsuccessfully, to derail AB 32) – and suggests that voters don’t support the state’s efforts to address climate change. We must not have read the same poll results because the data I saw shows plenty of evidence that California voters strongly support the state’s efforts to address climate change.
In fact, the poll shows that a majority of Californians support AB 32 and favor the market-based “cap and trade” system that will launch this year. To Kabateck’s point that voters won’t pay more for goods and services to address climate change – if you frame something as a “hidden energy tax” that will bankrupt businesses, which is right out of the oil companies’ playbook, of course the average person doesn’t want that.
The truth is that there is no component of AB 32 that involves anything hidden or a tax. The cap and trade program is about putting an economy-wide cap on emissions for the largest polluters in the state. There is nothing about that program that is going to negatively impact small businesses. In fact, there are opportunities that business owners can take advantage of through California’s clean energy policies, if planned correctly.
I should know – our company is developing facilities that make renewable energy and fuels from discarded food that would otherwise rot in landfills, releasing pollution and greenhouse gases. And the technology we use is “homegrown” – developed nearby at UC Davis.
Clean energy policies have resulted in a climate of innovation that has allowed us to turn an environmental problem and financial liability into an economic resource. AB 32 has helped us grow our business, and California would be at a competitive disadvantage if it heeded the advice of Mr. Kabateck and the others working to derail the law.Share This Post
By Morgan Lee
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
San Diego Gas & Electric announced Wednesday that it will not pay thousands of claims filed with the utility for losses caused by the Sept. 8 blackout.
SDG&E said it has received 7,229 claims worth about $7 million.
Liability issues have been revived by the results of a federal fact-finding inquiry into the cascading power failure that stretched across southernmost California and parts of Arizona and Baja California.
"Other entities are responsible for causing the outages in SDG&E’s service territory," SDG&E spokeswoman Jennifer Ramp said in an email, citing the results of the probe published the previous day by regulators of the nation's bulk electricity grid.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/may/02/blackout-claims-back-spotlight/Share This Post
By Theresa Harrington
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 05/01/2012 05:33:45 PM PDT
Updated: 05/02/2012 11:17:51 AM PDT
WALNUT CREEK -- Not to be outdone by smaller solar projects, the Mt. Diablo school district and SunPower Corp. have teamed up to build what they assert is the largest K-12 solar photovoltaic installation on earth.
On a windy day with the sun shining through wispy white clouds in a pale blue sky, district trustee Gary Eberhart ceremoniously "turned on the sun" by lowering a giant red lever atop a makeshift stage in the Northgate High School parking lot between two solar carports.
With Howard Wenger, a SunPower president, looking on, Eberhart retraced the district's quest to save money while also being environmentally conscientious. The district will spend about $80 million to install a 12.1-megawatt system at 51 sites, but that initial expenditure is estimated to save the district $220 million over 30 years. It was funded with proceeds from $348 million Measure C bond approved by voters in 2010.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mercurynews.com/green-energy/ci_20525337/sunpower-solar-project-mount-diablo-school-districtShare This Post
Posted: 04/30/2012 08:15:51 AM PDT
Updated: 04/30/2012 07:52:17 PM PDT
Bloom Energy is ramping up production in California and expanding to the East Coast, all under the direction of a legendary figure in American auto manufacturing and a founding father of the former NUMMI plant in Fremont.
Gary Convis became Bloom's chief operating office in January, after a 44-year career in the auto industry that included being chairman of Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Kentucky. In December, he stepped down as vice chairman of Dana Holding, a key supplier for the auto industry. Convis, 69, planned to spend time with his grandchildren and work on his golf game.
Then Bloom Energy, the fuel-cell startup based in Sunnyvale that has a bold mission to make clean, reliable energy affordable to everyone in the world, came calling as it prepared to expand. On Monday, Bloom broke ground on its new 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Newark, Del., and announced several new customers, including utilities like Delmarva Power and Washington Gas and corporate customers like Owens Corning, Urban Outfitters and AT&T. The company also confirmed that Apple's (AAPL) new data center in Maiden, N.C., will be powered, in part, by Bloom's fuel cells.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_20513354/bloom-energy-expands-east-coast-gary-convis-delawareShare This Post
Published Wednesday, May. 02, 2012
A stretch of 55 new wind turbines that will supply energy for 44,000 customers of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District are up and spinning in Solano County.
The new turbines are the latest expansion of SMUD's 5,400-acre wind farm in Rio Vista.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/02/4458284/wind-farm-adds-55-turbines.htmlShare This Post
Published: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 6:45 PM Updated: Wednesday, May 02, 2012, 8:29 PM
By Richard Cockle, The Oregonian
BURNS -- In a green vs. green federal lawsuit, two environmental groups are challenging what they call an "industrial-scale" wind project on the north end of ruggedly beautiful Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon.
"Of all the places in Oregon's high desert, this is perhaps the worst place for wind development," said Brent Fenty, executive director of the 1,200-member Oregon Natural Desert Association based in Bend.
His group has mapped out numerous areas on eastern Oregon's high desert where wind development could occur without the negative social and environmental consequences of the Steens Mountain site, Fenty said.
Bob Sallinger, conservation director for Portland Audubon, concedes going against the project in court puts his group in a new and uncomfortable role.
Portland Audubon supports "responsible renewable energy development, but this is the antithesis," he said. "If you can go into Steens Mountain, what is next? Mount Hood? Crater Lake?"
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2012/05/lawsuit_against_wind_energy_pr.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 04/27/2012 10:00 am
While Sugarland Wind sounds more like a stop along Candy Land’s winding road than an actual wind energy project, it’s a little bittersweet for some tastes. However, Wind Capital Group’s Sugarland project just got unanimous approval from the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners, and can now move ahead with construction later this year.
So what makes this 200 megawatt wind farm sweet? It will be Florida’s first wind farm, according to North American Windpower, producing clean energy on private farmland among the sugar-cane fields. The bitter tinge comes from fact that it also sits within the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), spawning concern over the bird and bat wildlife that also call the area home.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/sugarland-wind-farm-florida_n_1456627.html?ref=greenShare This Post