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May 11th, 2012 Archives
By JAMES HANSEN May 9, 2012
James Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is the author of “Storms of My Grandchildren.”
GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/10/opinion/game-over-for-the-climate.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 05/10/2012 11:53 am
A veteran leader in the environmental movement, Carl Pope is the former executive director and chairman of the Sierra Club. Mr. Pope is co-author -- along with Paul Rauber -- of Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress, which the New York Review of Books called "a splendidly fierce book."
Ohio (along with my own California) has one of the nation's biggest tax give-aways to the fossil fuel industry. It's severance tax on natural gas is essentially zero -- only 0.42 percent. Texas levies 7.5 percent, Oklahoma 7.1 percent, and neighboring West Virginia and Pennsylvania 5.79 percent.
So it might seem sensible that Governor John Kasich, whose proudest credential when he served in Congress was that he was serious about budgets and deficits, called on the Ohio legislature to raise the severance tax very modestly -- 1.4-4 percent, but only on oil and natural gas liquids and only 1 percent on methane itself. So small were the increases that groups concerned about the state's huge financial shortfall and cuts to education blasted them, pointing out that if Kasich had simply gone along with Texas, "enough money would be generated to pay for damages to local roads and infrastructure, stop the layoffs of thousands of police, fire and other public safety workers -- or prevent increases in local property taxes that pay for schools."
Former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum loudly proclaimed the Koch Brothers-Tea Party orthodoxy on such efforts to eliminate tax give-aways to oil and gas so they would "drive up the cost of energy, destroy this economy and do so at the behest of a bunch of radical environmentalists who do, in fact, want to drive up the cost of energy and slow down this economy..."Share This Post
By FELICITY BARRINGER May 9, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO — California and Quebec moved to knit together their fledgling carbon markets on Wednesday as California proposed a new regulation allowing cross-border trading of the permits that industries must acquire to cover their emissions of greenhouse gases.
It is the first cross-border carbon trading system created since 2005, when the European Union introduced such a trading network to help it meet emissions limits set by the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that went into effect that year.
For advocates of market-based systems, the linking of the two systems is a significant step forward. But the move, involving just one state and one province, underscores the incremental and scattershot way that governments are generally adopting regulations to slow climate change.
A cap and trade system sets an overall ceiling on the emissions and issues pollution allowances to industries. Companies that do not use all their allowances can sell their surplus to companies that need allowances. That gives flexibility to high-emitting industries like steel and cement manufacturers as they make the transition.
Financial services companies like Goldman Sachs are also poised to take part in the new markets.Share This Post
By Mike Taugher
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 05/10/2012 06:16:00 AM PDT
Updated: 05/10/2012 08:17:08 AM PDT
As investigators poured into San Bruno in the immediate aftermath of the September 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people, PG&E gave them a piece of astonishingly inaccurate information.
Although the pipe's failure would eventually be traced to faulty welds, including one along a lengthwise seam on the pipe, PG&E's database showed the pipe to be seamless.
But the bad data was only the "tip of the iceberg" in a woefully inadequate record keeping system, a safety consultant later concluded. The company knew so little about the thousands of miles of large-diameter, high-pressure gas lines in Northern California that it could not possibly maintain them safely, said the consultant.
Since PG&E's sloppy record-keeping came to light, hundreds of technicians and engineers have spent thousands of hours poring through millions of individual documents in an unprecedented effort to build a detailed view of PG&E's vast gas transmission system -- and to repair the utility's tattered reputation.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mercurynews.com/pge/ci_20583937/pg-e-seeks-restore-pipeline-safety-documents-reputation?source=rssShare This Post
Delay in building “significant” infrastructure a boon to competitors
By Rebecca Penty, Calgary Herald May 10, 2012
CALGARY — Canada must speed development of liquefied natural gas export projects to compete with emerging international players also vying to supply growing Asian economies, Ernst & Young argues in a new report that puts the tab for infrastructure needed over the next decade at $50 billion.
Low natural gas prices across North America are forecast for years to come, amounting to an erosion of Canada’s primary market south of the border, which means moving quickly on gas exports across the Pacific is critical, said Lance Mortlock, senior manager in the consultancy’s oil and gas advisory practice.
“We really don’t think that Canada has a choice here,” Mortlock said ahead of Thursday’s release of the report on Canada’s place in the global LNG industry.
“The opportunity window will be open for a finite period of time,” he said. “Certain companies are asking the question, ‘Canada has these resources, can they get those resources to the Asian market and can they do it quickly?”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/energy-resources/6599320/story.htmlShare This Post
By Steven Mufson, Published: May 10
The consortium building two new nuclear power units in Georgia has told Southern Co. that it will have to pay an additional $400 million to finish the units on time, according to Southern Co. filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Southern’s Georgia Power unit owns 45 percent of the reactors, which just three months ago received the first new construction and operating license for a new nuclear power plant since 1978 and which also received $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees.
The cost overruns would mean that a total of $900 million would be added to the $14 billion cost of the new reactors at the Vogtle site. But in its quarterly SEC filing, Southern said its Georgia Power unit “has not agreed with the amount of these proposed adjustments” and would seek dispute resolution or sue its partners in court if they cannot reach a compromise on the cost overruns.
The Energy Department in February 2010 approved $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for the new reactors, saving Southern and its partners hundreds of millions of dollars in financing costs, one of the biggest expenses of building nuclear power plants. Critics said then that the Obama administration underestimated the risk of default, cost overruns and delays.
Georgia Power has received permission from the state public service commission to charge its customers $1.7 billion of the company’s $6.1 billion in costs before the plants come online.Share This Post