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May 4th, 2012 Archives
By JOHN M. BRODER May 4, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday issued a proposed rule governing hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on public lands that will for the first time require disclosure of the chemicals used in the process.
But in a significant concession to the oil industry, companies will have to reveal the composition of fluids only after they have completed drilling, not before — a sharp change from the government’s original proposal, which would have required disclosure of the chemicals 30 days before a well could be started.
The walkback of the rule followed a series of meetings at the White House after the original regulation was proposed in February. Lobbyists representing oil industry trade associations and individual major producers like ExxonMobil, XTO Energy, Apache, Samson Resources and Anadarko Petroleum met with officials of the Office of Management and Budget, who reworked the rule to address industry concerns about overlapping state regulations and the cost of compliance.
Production of domestic oil and natural gas has surged in recent years as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have opened new fields and allowed renewed production from formations that had seemed depleted.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/05/us/new-fracking-rule-is-issued-by-obama-administration.html?_r=1&hpShare This Post
Duke Energy Corp. posted lower first-quarter earnings as it took a $420 million charge for cost overruns at its Indiana coal-gasification plant, and the company said it hopes to close its pending merger with Progress Energy Inc. in the next two months.
Duke, of Charlotte, N.C., announced last month that it reached a settlement agreement that would allow it to pass on to its customers $2.6 billion of the Edwardsport plant's expected $3.3 billion cost. Indiana utility regulators are reviewing the deal between Duke, some of its large customers and Indiana's utility consumer advocate.
Duke previously took a $265 million charge for the plant, which is one of a small handful of expensive clean-coal plants that have been built.
Duke Chief Executive Jim Rogers said that as one of the few new coal plants being built in the U.S., the Edwardsport plant is important for Duke and for the power industry.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304746604577384112119715218.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Posted: 05/03/2012 5:10 pm
In a dramatic lockdown on the coal-hauling train tracks leading into the Marshall Steam Station, a half-century-old toxic coal-fired plant owned by Duke Energy on the outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina, legendary mountaintop removal activist Mickey McCoy and other Appalachian coalfield residents teamed up with Greenpeace and regional groups to launch a new phase in a galvanized anti-Big Coal movement across the country.
On the heels of Rainforest Action Network's surprise scaling of Charlotte's Bank of America stadium yesterday, where activists draped a 70-foot "Bank of Coal" banner highlighting the financial world's shadowy investments in Big Coal operations, and two days before revered climate scientist James Hansen and Canadian activists vowed to stop Warren Buffett's BNSF's coal trains on unceded Coast Salish territory in British Columbia, the big question is whether today's action in North Carolina marks a ramped up commitment in the coal free movement for a historic summer uprising.
"Corporations must understand that the use and demand for coal from bombing mountains in Appalachia is not only destroying one of the oldest most bio-diverse mountain ranges in the United States," McCoy declared, who was arrested with five others from RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival), Katuah Earth First! and Keepers of the Mountains Foundation, while protests took place outside Duke offices in Charlotte. "But it is also -- by releasing carcinogenic heavy metals into our streams - killing Appalachians, and contributing to the sickness and death of countless others outside the area who depend on these headwaters for their water source."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/anti-big-coal_b_1475632.html?ref=greenShare This Post
May 04, 2012 Elizabeth McCarthy
Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=6088
Rising temperatures and the continuing outage of the 2,200 MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station highlights the constraints and intricacies of Southern California’s grid. It also spotlights the other coastal power plants in the region.The region’s transmission system has more challenges than Northern California’s largely because of the area’s much larger and more urban population.
The region’s transmission system has more challenges than Northern California’s because of the area’s much larger and more urban population.
“The transmission system has not kept up with growth,” said Jesus Arredondo, energy consultant.
Several intertwined factors affect power flows along Southern California’s high voltage system. They include:
-High voltage line capacities;
-Thermal limits of power lines;
-Voltage support needs;
-Power plant locations;
-Line and plant outages; and
-Demand-response.Share This Post
By MIREYA NAVARRO May 3, 2012
Vexed by declining revenue, officials of the Niagara Falls water utility seized on a new moneymaking idea last year: treat toxic waste from natural-gas drilling at its sewage-treatment plant once hydrofracking gets under way in New York State.
Accepting the waste would both offset the drop in revenue and help keep water rates down for customers in the economically strapped region, they reasoned.
But the thought of having fracking fluids trucked into the city, treated and discharged into the Niagara River frightened local residents, many of whom still recall the Love Canal environmental crisis of the 1970s. In a unanimous vote, the Niagara Falls City Council blocked the plan this spring by banning the treatment, transport, storage and disposal of drilling fluids within city limits.
“We’re not going to deal with this again — a chemical disaster,” said the council chairman, Samuel Fruscione.
As New York State environmental regulators fine-tune proposed rules governing horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial natural-gas extraction process, wastewater has emerged as a challenging issue for the industry and regulators.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/nyregion/wastewater-is-an-issue-in-hydrofracking.html?_r=1&ref=mireyanavarroShare This Post
By MIREYA NAVARRO May 4, 2012, 7:39 am
As I report in Friday’s Times, disposing of the waste produced by natural gas drilling will become a larger and more contentious issue if New York State gives the go-ahead to horizontal hydraulic fracturing, which uses millions of gallons of fluids per well to release gas from the Marcellus Shale.
New York already deals with waste from about 6,800 active vertical and horizontal gas wells upstate. Although these wells require just a fraction of the water that would be needed for fracking in the Marcellus, they still produce waste that needs to go somewhere.
Officials with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation say that in 2010, New York’s gas wells produced more than 23 million gallons of waste, 17 million of which stayed in New York. Most of it went to sewage treatment plants or was used for de-icing roads.
Take the sewage treatment plant in Auburn, N.Y., near Syracuse. The sewage plant has treated industrial waste, including wastewater from natural gas wells, for about a decade. But last summer, a jittery city council voted to ban the practice after the state’s proposal to allow fracking brought more attention to the contamination risks of drilling in general.
“We’ve heard the horror stories about the composition of the water,” said Mayor Michael Quill, who voted for the ban.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/04/wastewater-jitters-in-new-york/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Posted: 05/ 3/2012 11:58 am
By Sarah Pavlus
WASHINGTON -- An influential trade association representing companies that provide water services to one in four Americans says it will continue its membership with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group that has worked with the energy industry to create loophole-filled water protections and opposes federal oversight of fracking.
The National Association of Water Companies represents the far-reaching privatized water utility industry that serves "nearly 73 million people every day," according to the association's website. NAWC represents more than 150 private water companies, each of whom pay an annual fee to the association. Its board of directors is drawn from the leadership of some of the country's largest water companies.
NAWC works with ALEC to persuade state and local officials to adopt policies favorable to the private water industry. NAWC declined to comment on when it first became involved with ALEC and the amount it pays in annual dues. According to The New York Times, ALEC "is primarily financed by more than 200 private-sector members, whose annual dues of $7,000 to $25,000 accounted for most of its $7 million budget in 2010."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/nawc-alec-membership_n_1472752.html?view=print&comm_ref=falseShare This Post
Matt Weiser | McClatchy Newspapers
last updated: May 01, 2012 02:08:55 PM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- ]
Chipps Island is packed with stories. The 1,000-acre tract in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been the stage for a variety of human scheming and struggling.
Legend has it the island once was owned by the Italian mafia, where a spat between mobsters resulted in one being run over by a bulldozer.
The island was also, until 1956, the terminus of a railroad that carried produce and people from Sacramento. A ferry then floated whole train cars across the Sacramento River to Pittsburg in an era before big bridges.
If John Sweeney has his way, the next story will look more like the first one, when Chipps was among hundreds of natural islands in the Delta and a vital nursery for fish.
Sweeney, managing partner of a duck-hunting club that owns most of the island, hopes to sell it in what may be the Delta's biggest modern land rush: a stampede to buy land for fish habitat.
State and federal water agencies face a number of hard deadlines over the next seven years to restore at least 16,000 acres of fish habitat.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/05/01/147253/sacramento-san-joaquin-delta-set.htmlShare This Post
Caging a wildcat
Shareholders curb Aubrey McClendon
May 5th 2012 | NEW YORK | from the print edition
“WILDCAT” was once American slang for risky business; then it was applied specifically to drilling for oil or gas in virgin land. Either way, it fits Aubrey McClendon, the boss of Chesapeake Energy. Since co-founding the firm in 1989, the tall Oklahoman has overseen the acquisition of vast tracts of land and found oodles of natural gas under it. As Chesapeake became America’s second-largest natural-gas producer, Mr McClendon became the face of fracking, a gas-extraction technique hated by greens.
More recently Mr McClendon has enraged shareholder activists. On May 1st they clipped his wings. While remaining chief executive, Mr McClendon will give up the chair of Chesapeake to someone independent. Shareholders hope this will stiffen the spine of a boss-friendly board. Mr McClendon will also negotiate the scrapping, by 2014, of a programme by which he was allowed to buy a 2.5% stake in every new well drilled by his company.
Mr McClendon has long argued that this unusual arrangement was in the best interests of shareholders. “You could say I’m the only CEO in America who truly participates alongside his company in the day-to-day business activity on the same basis as the company,” he told Forbes last year. Presumably he believes that his incentives will now become less well-aligned. Many shareholders disagree.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.economist.com/node/21554220Share This Post
By BEN FOX RUBIN Updated May 3, 2012, 5:13 p.m. ET
The company's board this week forced Mr. McClendon to step down as chairman, bowing to pressure from shareholders amid revelations that he was borrowing against personal stakes in company oil and gas wells that he purchased through a controversial perk. Mr. McClendon used his stakes in the wells as collateral against loans worth up to $1.4 billion, which he arranged with a firm that has financial ties to Chesapeake. The Wall Street Journal reported last week the SEC had opened an informal probe of the arrangement.
The perk was ended 18 months early, and the board plans to name an independent chairman in the near future.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304746604577382400983276824.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By Juliet Eilperin, Published: May 3
The Canadian firm behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will reapply Friday for a federal permit to ship crude oil from the oil sands fields of Alberta to the United States, according to people familiar with the company’s plans.
In January, the Obama administration denied a permit to TransCanada, the firm that would build the project, on the grounds that a congressionally mandated deadline of Feb. 21 did not give officials enough time to evaluate the pipeline’s impact. Since then, TransCanada has said it would proceed with plans to construct a segment that did not require a presidential permit — from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Tex.
The company also unveiled a new route for the pipeline through Nebraska. President Obama, environmentalists and many Nebraskans — including the state’s Republican governor, Dave Heineman — had raised concerns that the project’s original route could imperil Nebraska’s ecologically sensitive Sandhills region, as well as the Ogallala aquifer, a major source of drinking water for state residents.Share This Post
Majority optimistic about country's green industry development
Postmedia News May 3, 2012 8:03 AM
Two-thirds of Canadians believe the country can increase its oil and gas production without creating new environmental hazards, says a new poll.
But the country is split, with support for increased use of Canada's natural petroleum resources much higher in the Prairies.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba all show the highest levels of support on questions about the effects of oil development on Canada.
Four out of five Albertans say the benefits of its oilsands project, which extracts oil and natural gas from a large swath of rocky terrain in the northeast of the province, outweigh the environmental effects.
Critics have called for the end of the extraction of oil from Alberta's oilsands,
They claim the open pits and mining roads, as well as the greenhouse gases produced by the process, pollute the natural landscape.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/resources/Canadians+believe+green+development+possible+poll/6559569/story.htmlShare This Post
By Trish Audette, Postmedia News May 3, 2012 7:13 AM
EDMONTON - Colouring in a protest sign that read, “Our answer is no! Our answer is final!” 11-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney said Wednesday she has a “strong feeling” a massive pipeline proposed to carry bitumen from Alberta to the West Coast will never be built.
“There’s so many people that oppose it,” she said. “Also, Canada needs our consent and they’re not going to get it.”
Ta’Kaiya, from the Sliammon Nation near Powell River, B.C., is one of 40 people travelling by train across Canada this week to protest the proposed $5.5-billion Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project. The train stopped in Edmonton Wednesday so people could rally first at the Alberta legislature, then outside Enbridge’s Jasper Avenue office at 102nd Street. The protesters expect to be in Toronto by May 9, in time for Enbridge’s annual general meeting, and hope to win broad support along the way. Protests are scheduled in Saskatchewan and Manitoba over the next few days.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/news/6559302/story.htmlShare This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD May 3, 2012, 2:01 pm
As I reported in this article, two states with big volumes of military and civilian nuclear wastes are suing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to try to force it to follow the terms of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which called for the development of a waste repository at Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas.
The commission has discontinued work on evaluating the Energy Department’s onetime plan for a repository there since President Obama decided to kill the project. (The Energy Department has sought to withdraw its application for a license.)
Yucca Mountain was chosen by Congress as the repository site in 1987. Its chief backers were senators from other states that were also under consideration as waste sites, including Texas and Washington. Nevada, lacking allies, could not stop it.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/is-yucca-mountain-still-dead-2/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Published Friday, May. 04, 2012
Allan Zaremberg, president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce, is responding to the April 29 Viewpoints article, "Cap and trade has lessons for California." That commentary argued that a cap-and-trade system for utilities in the Northeast "has boosted the economy of every state that has participated."
Reducing carbon emissions in California will cost consumers and businesses money, but that can be mitigated by a well-designed market mechanism, also called cap-and-trade. But the recent commentary by Paul Hibbard ignores the fundamental flaw in California's cap-and-trade auction: It imposes billions of dollars in unnecessary taxes on the California economy without reducing a single molecule of greenhouse gases.
Using markets to reduce pollution is enlightened regulation, especially compared with the typical command-and-control schemes favored by state regulators. Cap-and-trade sets a limit on carbon while the private sector determines how much it will pay for the privilege of emitting greenhouse gases, in the form of emission allowances.
But the California auction turns this concept inside-out. Over the life of the program, the state will sell half of the emission allowances. Selling allowances has nothing to do with the cap, but this new tax will raise billions of dollars for pet projects – new spending by the same Legislature that has presided over enormous budget deficits.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/04/4464809/california-cap-and-trade-will.htmlShare This Post