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May 7th, 2012 Archives
May 5, 2012
The federal government has given generously to the clean energy industry over the last few years, funneling billions of dollars in grants, loans and tax breaks to renewable power sources like wind and solar, biofuels and electric vehicles. “Clean tech” has been good in return.
During the recession, it was one of the few sectors to add jobs. Costs of wind turbines and solar cells have fallen over the last five years, electricity from renewables has more than doubled, construction is under way on the country’s first new nuclear power plant in decades. And the United States remains an important player in the global clean energy market.
Yet this productive relationship is in peril, mainly because federal funding is about to drop off a cliff and the Republican wrecking crew in the House remains generally hostile to programs that threaten the hegemony of the oil and gas interests. The clean energy incentives provided by President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill are coming to an end, while other longer-standing subsidies are expiring.
If nothing changes, clean energy funding will drop from a peak of $44.3 billion in 2009 to $16 billion this year and $11 billion in 2014 — a 75 percent decline.
This alarming news is contained in a new report from experts at the Brookings Institution, the World Resources Institute and the Breakthrough Institute. It is a timely effort to attach real numbers to an increasingly politicized debate over energy subsidies. While Mr. Obama is busily defending subsidies, the Republicans have used the costly market failure of one solar panel company, Solyndra, to indict the entire federal effort to encourage nascent technologies.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-clean-energy-subsidies.htmlShare This Post
Nuclear, Green Energy at issue
Ken Silverstein | May 06, 2012
What do France and the United States have in common? A presidential election occurring in the same year. In other words, be careful not to draw too many parallels between the two.Share This Post
Posted: 05/04/2012 1:37 pm
TransCanada’s latest Keystone XL tar sands pipeline plan filed with the U.S. State Department has done nothing to quell local Nebraska opposition to the controversial project to pipe tar sands oil all the way to the Gulf for export. Nebraska residents say the massive pipeline plan still jeopardizes the world’s largest fresh drinking water source, the Ogallala Aquifer, risking the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers across country’s breadbasket. Jane Kleeb, director of Bold Nebraska, a local grassroots group of farmers, ranchers and concerned citizens, immediately blasted the plan and said they will continue to fight it.
“The fundamental facts remain, Americans are being asked to put clean water at risk and Nebraskans are being asked to give up their property rights for an extreme form of energy that will add nothing to our energy security. We are subsidizing this extreme form of energy to boot with over 1 billion of our tax payer dollars used to retrofit a Saudi-owned refinery for their tar sands headed straight to the export market.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rocky-kistner/new-keystone-xl-tar-sands_b_1478153.html?view=print&comm_ref=falseShare This Post
Posted: 05/06/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 05/06/2012 01:24:37 AM MDT
By Mark Jaffe
The Denver Post
Sitting on a tower just above the rooftops in the town of Erie, a coffin-size instrument automatically sucks in air, freezes it with liquid nitrogen and analyzes it for up to 100 compounds.
What the round-the-clock sampling has detected is a brew of airborne chemicals, including traces of hazardous pollutants such as benzene, according to researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"EPA set those rules to protect public health," Sgamma said.
Still, researchers say that the nature and size of oil and gas field emissions are not well-understood.
"We know that there are emissions from the oil and gas industry," said Lisa McKenzie, a research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health.
"But there are big, unanswered questions: How much is emitted? How far away you need to be to protected?" said McKenzie, author of a study that found elevated emissions close to drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, near Battlement Mesa.
McKenzie found particularly elevated levels during fracking and flowback at wells.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_20553795Share This Post
Published: Sunday, May 06, 2012, 6:54 AM
By McClatchy-Tribune News Service
FAIRFIELD, Ill. -- BMWs, Lincolns and other cars with Louisiana, Texas and Colorado license plates fill so many parking spaces around the Wayne County Courthouse that it's tough for residents to find spots for their pickups.
Two blocks west, lunchtime business at Jemini Coffee House nearly doubles on some days with new customers who are a little secretive.
And fresh phrases are creeping into the local vernacular -- vocabulary such as "lease hound" and "modern-day Clampetts," a reference to the hit 1960s TV comedy "The Beverly Hillbillies," about a backwoods family that strikes oil.
Wayne County, a rural locale about 270 miles south of Chicago, is experiencing a land rush thanks to a controversial effort to tap into hard-to-reach oil and gas deposits.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2012/05/fossil_fuel_exploration_may_tr.htmlShare This Post
Michigan company will not use ‘fracking’ methods at area site.
By Steve Bennish, Staff Writer 7:09 PM Friday, May 4, 2012
YELLOW SPRINGS — Some time this month about two miles from here, a Michigan company plans to begin test drilling for oil, a commodity never before found anywhere close.
The drilling rig will stand about 20 feet tall on property along West Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road in Miami Twp., said Pat Gibson, vice president of Traverse City, Mich.-based West Bay Exploration. It will only be operated during daylight hours unless it hits oil, he added. At that point, it could be operated around the clock.
The company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on seismic testing that revealed “interesting leads” up to 1,700 feet underground, Gibson said.
Results from the drilling should be available in a month or so. Another site will also likely be drilled. Gibson declined to reveal the second site.
It’s impossible to predict whether drilling will strike oil, water, or none of the above, Gibson said. The last oil and gas lease in the area was in early 1980s, and no oil or gas has ever been extracted nearby, Gibson said.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.daytondailynews.com/business/oil-drilling-tests-near-yellow-springs-to-begin-this-month-1370790.htmlShare This Post
By Rick Orlov Staff Writer
Posted: 05/06/2012 12:26:57 PM PDT
Updated: 05/06/2012 12:30:49 PM PDT
They are not the words most residents want to hear from Fred Pickel.
"Given the mandates on the DWP, people should not expect rate decreases merely by having a ratepayer advocate," Pickel told the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee last week.
Pickel, of course, is the Department of Water and Power's first ratepayer advocate and is beginning to look at his first rate increases for the system with the assistance of consultants until he can hire his own staff.
What he hopes to provide is greater public confidence that any rate increases sought by the agency are justified.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.dailynews.com/politics/ci_20559154/rick-orlovs-tipoff-dwp-ratepayer-advocate-dampens-hopes?source=rssShare This Post
Marisa Lagos,Wyatt Buchanan
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown warned this week that his administration's soon-to-be unveiled plan to tackle the state's water delivery challenges is "going to be controversial" but vowed he would "push it through."
Saying that state leaders have failed for five decades to ensure water reliability in the Golden State, Brown told a group of about 900 business leaders in San Jose Thursday that his administration would soon announce its preferred plan - widely expected to be two giant pipelines that move water out of the Sacramento River and under the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the Bay Area, Central Valley and Southern California.
In a speech peppered with references to his first two terms as governor 30 years ago, Brown said that the water issue "has been kicking around for 50 years" and that his father, Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, started working on it in the 1960s.
"One piece in the delta, it's crucial," he said. "If those levees ... break in an earthquake, you can cut off water to Santa Clara (Valley), just like that. We have to ensure water reliability, and I will unveil a program people have been working on for several years."
Later, he told reporters that details would emerge when his administration releases a "massive" draft environmental impact report "soon."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/05/BAO01ODIDA.DTLShare This Post
Published Sunday, May. 06, 2012
Concerns that area rivers will flow high in winter and that extreme weather events will result in floods were on the minds of 50 people who gathered Saturday morning at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area levee as part of a worldwide demonstration.
That event dovetailed with the recent release of a report that predicts that, locally, climate change will result in more rainfall earlier in the winter and less snowpack runoff later in the season, causing rivers to remain fuller for a longer period of time.
The Davis event was part of "Climate Impacts Day," organized by the international climate campaign organization 350.org, founded by global warming author Bill McKibben.
Events took place at more than 1,000 locations in 150 countries. In the Sacramento region, a similar group gathered at the Guy West Bridge in Sacramento. In Davis, the emphasis was climate change and how it may affect flooding, especially at the Yolo Bypass and levees regionwide.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/05/06/4469254/flooding-climate-concerns-spur.htmlShare This Post
By BRADLEY BERMAN May 4, 2012
CRITICS of electric vehicles say they are too expensive and lack sufficient driving range. But I wonder if those gripes would disappear if the E.V.’s on sale weren’t so — let’s not mince words — homely. I adore my all-electric Nissan Leaf, but its wide rear end, bulging headlights and odd proportions evoke a Japanese gizmo aesthetic that doesn’t necessarily appeal to mainstream American car buyers.
Enter the handsome 2012 Ford Focus Electric, the first all-electric car from an American automaker in the 21st century. Ford will begin selling the electric version of the new Focus in the next few weeks in California, New York and New Jersey, followed by 19 additional markets in the fall.
The Focus Electric looks nearly identical to the gas version, a small “Electric” badge the only clue that internal combustion has been supplanted by swift and silent electric propulsion. Sit in the low-slung, well-conforming seats and you feel oh-so normal. There are no circuit-board motifs, techno start-up sounds, weird shifter knobs or special Eco modes. The driver chooses among standard gear selections: park, reverse, neutral, drive and low.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/automobiles/autoreviews/the-battery-driven-car-just-got-a-lot-more-normal.htmlShare This Post
By JIM WITKIN May 4, 2012
IN the effort to establish standards that will encourage the acceptance of electric vehicles, there has been much wrangling over the development of a universal design for the plugs that connect battery chargers to cars.
That is not the only E.V. debate under way, however. A less contentious, but still important, issue — the look of the road signs that tell drivers where they can top off a waning battery — has yet to be resolved.
Of equal urgency, there is no broad agreement to define the signs that warn drivers of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines not to park in designated charging spaces — a nuisance that E.V. owners call “being “ICEd.”
An estimated 5,000 public charging spots are available nationwide, according to Plug In America, an electric vehicle advocacy group, occupying parking spaces on city streets and at shopping mall parking lots. Settling on a standard set of signs with an instantly recognizable logo, like the symbol used for handicap parking spaces, will be key to expanding the public charging network, said Richard Lowenthal, chief technical officer at Coulomb, a Silicon Valley company that makes charging systems.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/automobiles/pointing-the-way-to-where-ev-drivers-can-plug-in.htmlShare This Post
By JIM MOTAVALLI May 1, 2012, 6:00 am
MaryEllen Cobb of West Nyack, N.Y., had been in Las Vegas for less than 24 hours, celebrating her daughter’s 25th birthday, when she pulled the handle on a penny slot machine in the Cosmopolitan hotel and casino. The dials aligned on uncommonly clean pay dirt.
Sitting atop that particular bank of slots was the purely electric Tesla Roadster Sport. It was Ms. Cobb’s first visit to the casino.
“I was really excited,” she said in a telephone interview. “There weren’t any bells going off, but all the other machines went black, and then these guys in suits came over and gave me their business cards. I didn’t totally believe it was real until they gave me the W2-G income tax forms to sign.”
To read the entire article go to: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/01/in-las-vegas-a-battery-powered-jackpot/Share This Post
April 29, 2012 10:00 pm • By CHRIS NICHOLS email@example.com
But before the electric car market can power up, key hurdles ---- such as adding charging stations across the region ---- must be cleared, officials added.
The batteries on the Leaf and other electric cars must be recharged after about 80 miles of driving. That can leave drivers scrambling for the few publicly available places to charge on long trips.
"Right now, basically if you drive an electric car, you pretty much have to rely on your own ability to charge (at home)," said Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks, who drives an all-electric Leaf. "Within five years, there'll be a significant influx of electric vehicles and hybrid plug-in vehicles."
In San Diego County, there are only a few dozen places to charge up on the go. Most are free to use.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nctimes.com/blogsnew/news/transportation/region-surge-of-electric-cars-predicted-despite-hurdles-officials-say/article_b2546a1c-1acc-5c50-af94-ddbf331a6664.htmlShare This Post
By SIMON ROMERO May 5, 2012
JACI PARANÁ, Brazil — The revolt here on the banks of the Madeira River, the Amazon’s largest tributary, flared after sunset. At the simmering end of a 26-day strike by 17,000 workers last month, a faction of laborers who were furious over wages and living conditions began setting fire to the construction site at the Jirau Dam.
Throughout the night, they burned more than 30 structures to the ground and looted company stores, capturing the mayhem on their own cellphone cameras, before firefighters extinguished the blazes. The authorities in Brasília flew in hundreds of troops from an elite force to quell the unrest.
Men in camouflage fatigues still patrol the sprawling work site, reflecting a dilemma for Brazil’s leaders. Even as they move to tap one of the world’s last great reserves of hydroelectric power, the Amazon basin, strikes and worker uprisings at the biggest projects are producing delays and cost overruns.
“No one burns anything if they’re satisfied,” said Altair Donizete de Oliveira, a union leader here in Brazil’s western frontier. He listed salaries, cramped living quarters and requests for more home visits among the grievances that were contributing to the festering tension among the laborers, who number in the tens of thousands at various work sites in the Amazon.Share This Post
By BENOÎT FAUCON May 4, 2012, 6:59 p.m. ET
Some big oil companies hoped regime change in Libya, and a sense of political opening elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, would bring relief in some of the tough terms they had agreed to in partnership deals with national oil companies.
That hasn't happened.
As Libya's Moammar Gadhafi fell last year with the help of the West and an interim regime took the reins, the hope among some oil companies was that they would receive new tax breaks and a better share of fields' output in current and future deals.
But the interim government in Libya, as well as administrations elsewhere, largely plan to keep the same tough terms in place for most conventional fields, as governments are mindful not to appear to be selling out their countries' crown jewels.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303877604577383932684721676.html?Share This Post