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June 5th, 2012 Archives
Climate-Change Deniers Are On the Ropes -- But So Is the Planet
Posted: 06/04/2012 9:41 am
Author of a dozen books, including 'The End of Nature' and 'Deep Economy'
Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com
It’s been a tough few weeks for the forces of climate-change denial.
First came the giant billboard with Unabomber Ted Kacynzki’s face plastered across it: “I Still Believe in Global Warming. Do You?” Sponsored by the Heartland Institute, the nerve-center of climate-change denial, it was supposed to draw attention to the fact that “the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.” Instead it drew attention to the fact that these guys had over-reached, and with predictable consequences.
A hard-hitting campaign from a new group called Forecast the Facts persuaded many of the corporations backing Heartland to withdraw $825,000 in funding; an entire wing of the Institute, devoted to helping the insurance industry, calved off to form its own nonprofit. Normally friendly politicians like Wisconsin Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner announced that they would boycott the group’s annual conference unless the billboard campaign was ended.
Which it was, before the billboards with Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden could be unveiled, but not before the damage was done: Sensenbrenner spoke at last month’s conclave, but attendance was way down at the annual gathering, and Heartland leaders announced that there were no plans for another of the yearly fests. Heartland’s head, Joe Bast, complained that his side had been subjected to the most “uncivil name-calling and disparagement you can possibly imagine from climate alarmists,” which was both a little rich -- after all, he was the guy with the mass-murderer billboards -- but also a little pathetic. A whimper had replaced the characteristically confident snarl of the American right.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-mckibben/climate-change-denial-_b_1567513.html?ref=greenShare This Post
By MIREYA NAVARRO June 4, 2012, 6:04 pm
The cap and trade system known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative announced on Monday that carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the nine participating states on the East Coast fell by an average of 23 percent during the first three years of the program.
The pioneering program, known as RGGI (pronounced reggie), sets a ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions from electric power providers and requires the companies to pay for their emissions by buying allowances in auctions held four times a year. As an incentive to cut emissions, companies that pollute less can sell their unused allowances to other companies at the auctions.
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/04/emissions-fell-under-cap-and-trade-program-report-says/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
CleanEdge sees a doubling in number of states with 10-percent-plus renewable power, not counting biomass and hydropower.
Jeff St. John: May 31, 2012
Six states got 10 percent or more of their power from wind, solar and geothermal power in 2011. That's double the number from just a year ago. Not bad for a down year.
CleanEdge released its State Clean Energy Index on Wednesday, tallying up the state of green energy and technology across the 50 states of the union as of the end of 2011. Among the milestones, the Portland, Ore.-based research firm marked a doubling in the number of states that have 10 percent or more of their utility power coming from renewable sources, not including hydropower.
The list included South Dakota at 22.3 percent, Iowa at 18.8 percent, North Dakota at 14.7 percent, Minnesota at 12.7 percent, California at 11.2 percent and Wyoming at 10.1 percent. Last year’s top-three states were North Dakota, Iowa and California.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/stat-of-the-day-6-states-in-the-double-digit-green-power-club/Share This Post
By John Upton
Canals are ecologically barren channels built for the utilitarian purpose of draining rainwater and snowmelt away from rivers and delivering it to farmers, factories, and homes. But something unusual has been lurking in an irrigation canal in rural Washington that promises to turn these concrete water conveyors into climate-friendly power plants.
A bright yellow turbine resembling a 15-foot roll of Scotch tape was dropped into the gushing waterway near Yakima, Wash., in March to generate cheap, renewable electricity while emitting no carbon.
The experimental hydrokinetic turbine is an archetype of an emerging technology that could quickly become commonplace in the canals that crisscross great swaths of continents.
“There are huge regions of the world that are irrigated, where they have built these highways of water,” said Burt Hamner, founder and CEO of Seattle-based startup company Hydrovolts, which invented and manufactured the prototype turbine. He expects the devices, capable of powering several homes, to sell for $20,000 apiece once they hit the market within the next couple of years. “We’ve found a way to make a little power off it without any environmental impact.”
As water streams down the canal, the turbine spins, which in turn generates electricity — just as breezes spin windmills to create wind energy. The device sits right on the canal’s concrete floor. Hydrovolts’ turbines could also be placed in spillways, water treatment plants, and other places where water flows through a human-made structure free of snags.Share This Post
Updated June 4, 2012, 7:02 p.m. ET
Under pressure from shareholders, Chesapeake Energy Corp. is replacing more than half of its board with new directors, a move that limits the power of its controversial co-founder and ushers in a new phase for the natural-gas giant.
Troubled Times at Chesapeake
See a timeline of the energy company's business woes.
Aubrey McClendon, the company's co-founder and CEO, has led Chesapeake on a massive expansion in recent years. The company acquired drilling rights to a territory three times the size of New Jersey and became the nation's second-largest gas producer after Exxon Mobil Corp. But Mr. McClendon's appetite for risk, coupled with what critics say is his tendency to flout normal standards of corporate governance, have given rise to a shareholder rebellion in recent weeks.
Investor concern about the existing board's close ties to Mr. McClendon, amplified by a cash crunch caused by the lowest natural-gas prices in a decade, have cut the company's market value in half in the last 12 months, to under $11 billion. After the company announced the new board structure, the stock jumped 6% to $16.52 Monday, but it remains down nearly 26% this year.
Facing pressure to make changes in both governance and operations from its two largest shareholders—Southeastern Asset Management Inc. and activist investor Carl Icahn—Chesapeake executives approached other major shareholders, who also advocated changes in the board's makeup, according to a person familiar with the matter. So Chesapeake chose to "take the corporate governance issue off the table" before its annual meeting June 8, the person said.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303830204577446130008185176.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By RUSSELL GOLD Updated June 4, 2012, 4:02 p.m. ET
Chesapeake Energy Corp. CHK +6.03% blames its current cash crunch on warm winter weather that reduced demand for the natural gas it pumps as the nation's second-largest producer of the fuel. But the situation is more complicated: The company compounded its troubles by taking a short-term gamble on gas prices that left it exposed to the worst gas market since 2001.
Last October, Chesapeake sold the financial contracts that were its insurance, or hedge, against low gas prices. Though the company raised cash in the trade, a Wall Street Journal analysis of Chesapeake's disclosures about the hedging positions found losses between $750 million and $900 million.
The losses came mostly in the last few months of 2011 and first months of 2012. And the removal of the hedges has left the company largely unprotected against low gas prices this year.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303506404577444484279186736.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
06/04/2012 By Barry Cassell
The conversion of the existing Albright coal plant to natural gas is not cost-effective and the idea of building new natural gas-fired capacity at the site would need further examination, said Monongahela Power.Share This Post
By GORDON HAMILTON, Vancouver SunJune 4, 2012
Despite a drop in prices in China, Canadian coal companies are not slowing down exploration programs or development of new mines.
“There’s volatility in the market but we think the coal market will continue to grow and there will be opportunities for Canadian companies,” Janice Plumstead, director of consulting and deals at PwC said Monday.
“What we see is companies are investing in mine development, they are doing exploration and they are looking for new deposits. There is the expectation that there will be new opportunities to export to Asia,” she said in an interview after making a presentation at the Coal Association of Canada’s national conference in Vancouver.
Canada produced 67.3 million of tonnes of coal in 2011 according to the preliminary results of a PwC report on the industry, generating revenues of $6.5 billion. About 40 per cent of that is exported. The industry had a $5.2 billion impact on the Canadian GDP.
Plumstead said it will take new mines to increase production. Speakers at the conference explained that demand in Asia for metallurgical coal remains strong but that inventory management in China has resulted in lower prices.
“I think the issue for Canadian exporters will be price pressure.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/resources/King+Coal+still+reigns+despite+drop+prices/6728845/story.htmlShare This Post
By Philip Bump
West Virginia coal activist Maria Gunnoe is used to intimidation, as writer/blogger Aaron Bady points out. It’s one thing to oppose coal companies from the office of the mayor of New York City. It’s another to do it, as Gunnoe does, from the West Virginia valley floors where the coal companies live.
Gunnoe has been an activist for years, in 2009 winning the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work trying to stem mountaintop-removal mining. The prize came with a $150,000 award – money she planned to use modestly: to extend the city water system to her house.
Her water, from a source on her property, wasn’t usable. Like many others in the region relying on wells and local sources, she depended on water that had been contaminated by run-off from the coal industry’s retrieval process. In some cases, the water was visibly polluted, running yellow- or copper-colored directly from the tap. Gunnoe’s efforts to stem pollution somewhat ironically meant she might be able to escape it.
Her neighbors weren’t (and aren’t) as lucky. Last week, Gunnoe joined some of them in Washington, D.C., to present the stories of people in her community at an oversight hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. In a better world, the hearing would have ended with a commitment to stem the pollution. It ended much differently.
Aaron Bady is a journalist who lives in California and writes for The New Inquiry magazine; his mother is the founder of an organization Gunnoe works with. Over the weekend, he told the story of what happened next.
Gunnoe’s planned testimony included this photo of a child bathing in water that is the color of a pumpkin, offset at the far end of the tub by a cluster of bath-fun bubbles. Gunnoe wanted to show the committee this photo, but the presiding politicians decided it was inappropriate. (The child was, as bathing children generally are, unclothed.) So the activist presented other evidence instead: ruined streams, stories of people with polluted water and air.
Then, when she was done and preparing to leave, the Capitol Police pulled her aside. Republican members of the panel had suggested that she be questioned about child pornography.Share This Post
Report Urges Price Increase to Spur Industry to Build More Generating Plants
By REBECCA SMITH June 4, 2012, 7:47 p.m. ET
Texas, which is facing an electricity shortage, should let power prices rise sharply to give companies more incentive to build badly needed generating plants, experts said in a new report to state grid officials.
But consumer groups and a coalition of the state's cities said higher energy costs would hurt customers while the U.S. economy remains sluggish.
As Texas's population has grown, power demand has surpassed increases in generating capacity, which is one solution to the state's problem. That has prompted grid operators to warn the state will be close to the edge this summer and could experience rolling blackouts if a few extra power plants break down.
Texas, whose 25 million residents make it the second most populous state after California, is expected to have a 2,500 megawatt shortfall in generating capacity—equivalent to five large power plants—as early as 2014. In addition to plant retirements, low natural gas costs that have lowered prices, pushing them to levels that are insufficient to support new investments, experts say.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303506404577444571241195192.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By Morgan Lee
Monday, June 4, 2012
A top federal regulatory official for electrical-grid reliability is confident that San Diego County's summer power needs can be addressed without the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant.
The reactivation of non-nuclear generation plants and preparations to reduce peak power demands in the event of hot weather should ensure uninterrupted service if San Onofre remains offline, said Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff.
The commission, also known as FERC, regulates transmission and the wholesale electricity market, protecting the reliability of the high-voltage interstate grid.
"With the reports that I've read, I believe that there are adequate resources" for the summer, Wellinghoff said Monday after a speaking engagement in San Diego. "I think we're going to be in fine shape."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jun/04/top-grid-regulator-southern-california-fine-shape-/Share This Post
16 hours ago • By ERIC WOLFF email@example.com
San Diego Gas & Electric Co. airlifted the last of 421 steel towers for a 117-mile high-energy transmission line Monday, the utility said.
The utility now has completed most of the heavy lifting on the Sunrise Powerlink, a hotly contested transmission line that will link electric grids in San Diego and Imperial counties. The utility must string 11 miles of cable before it can start testing. It plans to energize in mid-June, according to Jennifer Ramp, an SDG&E spokeswoman.
The powerlink has been buffeted by problems: Long before construction began, regulators bowed to pressure from environmentalists and community activists to change the route of the line; it has been beset by lawsuits; and regulators had suspended construction due to helicopter safety problems.
But the on-schedule activation of the line will help cushion the region against power shortages this summer, while the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station remains offline.Share This Post
By DIANE CARDWELL June 4, 2012
In California’s sun-scorched Central Valley, the monthly electric bill can easily top $200. But that’s just about what George Burman spent on electricity for all of last year.
When the sun is shining, the solar panels on his Fresno condominium produce more than enough power for his needs, and the local utility is required to buy the excess power from him at full retail prices. Those credits mostly offset his purchases from the electric company during cloudy days and at night.
Mr. Burman says the credit system, known as net metering, is a “very nice benefit” for him. But it’s not such a good deal for his utility, Pacific Gas and Electric.
As he and tens of thousands of other residential and commercial customers switch to solar in California, the utilities not only lose valuable customers that help support the costs of the power grid but also have to pay them for the power they generate. Ultimately, the utilities say, the combination will lead to higher rate increases for everyone left on the traditional electric system.
“Low-income customers can’t put on solar panels — let’s be blunt,” said David K. Owens, executive vice president of the Edison Electric Institute, which represents utilities. “So why should a low-income customer have their rates go up for the benefit of someone who puts on a solar panel and wants to be credited the retail rate?”
The net metering benefit, which is available to residential and commercial customers with renewable energy systems in more than 40 states and has helped spur a boom in solar installations, is at the heart of a battle. Utilities, consumer advocates and renewable energy developers across the country are fighting over how much financial help to give to solar power and, to a lesser extent, other technologies. Regulators are in the middle, weighing the societal benefits of renewables as well as how best to spread the costs.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/business/solar-payments-set-off-a-fairness-debate.html?src=me&ref=businessShare This Post
By MELISSA EDDY May 30, 2012
BERLIN — More than a year after pledging to drop nuclear power, Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged that her ambition for a Germany that runs on renewable energy is falling behind schedule and faces a range of obstacles, not least the revamping of the energy grid at a cost of billions of euros.
In recent weeks, Ms. Merkel has redoubled her efforts to push Germany’s troubled energy transformation, replacing her environment minister and declaring that she would make a new priority of the project, which foresees replacing nuclear power with renewable energy sources within a decade.
Since passing the legislation last year, in the aftermath of the tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan, Ms. Merkel’s own energies have been absorbed by the euro crisis and a series of regional elections. Last weekend she conceded that “we are behind on several projects.”
“Time is pressing, because we are completely transforming our energy supply,” Ms. Merkel said Saturday in her weekly podcast. “That means we need a completely different network than previously.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/31/world/europe/german-plan-to-abandon-its-nuclear-energy-lags.html?_r=1&ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By SAURABH CHATURVEDI June 5, 2012, 7:08 a.m. ET
NEW DELHI--India's federal power ministry wants Coal India Ltd. to increase the penalty it's willing to pay for failing to meet supply commitments to utilities, Power Secretary Mr. P. Uma Shankar said Tuesday, a demand aimed at boosting electricity generation in the country.
Coal India, which meets more than 80% of India's coal needs, has been facing stagnation in coal output growth in the past two years for several reasons, such as delays in environment clearances, leading to a supply shortfall and reduced electricity generation.
More than half of India's 200-gigawatt electricity generation capacity is coal-based, and many upcoming projects are also dependent on the dry fuel. An increased supply of coal to power stations will curb electricity outages and also help boost the country's industrial output and economic growth.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303830204577447981755673266.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post