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July 2nd, 2012 Archives
Posted: 07/01/2012 1:14 pm
John Tirman, Executive Director, MIT Center for International Studies
Among the unnoticed ironies of the controversy over Obamacare is the effect it had on climate change. No, not the trees felled to produce the paper for the Supreme Court's decision, but the tendentious politics besetting the health care debate in 2010 that convinced several lawmakers and the Obama White House that they could not push an energy bill in that same session. Ryan Lizza's fine piece of reporting on that in the New Yorker ("As the World Burns") in the autumn of 2010 showed this effect very clearly when quoting Obama adviser David Axelrod: "The horse has been ridden hard this year and just wants to go back to the barn."
During the victory dance over the Court's Obamacare decision, the West was on fire and record heat and severe weather punished much of the rest of the country. It is hard not to draw the connection between our abject failure to address climate change and the septic politics that have infected Washington. We know this, of course, but every now and then the profundity of it really hits home.
Out West, the right-wing blogger Michele Malkin and her family were among the unfortunate thousands to be evacuated due to the Waldo Canyon fire near her home in Colorado Springs. It's hard to imagine how harrowing that must be, especially with small children. Remarkably, however, Malkin's writing about the events there failed to notice or admit that the wildfires erupting all over the West -- due to drought and high temperatures -- very likely are the consequence of human-induced climate change.
This sort of denial or head-in-the-sand neglect is evident in Mitt Romney's campaign, whose website does not mention climate change at all. Of 27 issues listed, none addresses global warming, although his position on regulating greenhouse gases -- "Amend Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview" -- does give the back of his hand to those who seek some remedies.
The right wing's petulant attitudes about climate change are perplexing for those of us who appreciate traditional conservatism's innate caution about preserving what we have in society and questioning radical disruptions. And what we are beginning to understand -- what the scientific community is trying to tell us -- is that climate change is the most destructive disruption imaginable, and it is already well underway.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-tirman/climate-change_b_1641286.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=GreenShare This Post
By T.W. Farnam, Published: June 27 | Updated: Thursday, June 28, 1:46 PM
Energy issues don’t spark much excitement among voters, ranking below health care, education and the federal budget deficit — not to mention jobs and the economy.
And yet those same voters are being flooded this year with campaign ads on energy policy. Particularly in presidential swing states, the airwaves are laden with messages boosting oil drilling and natural gas and hammering President Obama for his support of green energy. The Cleveland area alone has heard $2.7 million in energy-related ads.
The disconnect between what voters say they care about and what they’re seeing on TV lies in the money behind the ads, much of it coming from oil and gas interests. Those funders get the double benefit of attacking Obama at the same time they are promoting their industry.
Democrats also have spent millions on the subject, defending the president’s record and tying Republican candidate Mitt Romney to “Big Oil.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/energy-ads/2012/06/27/gJQAD5MR7V_story.htmlShare This Post
By JOHN M. BRODER June 29, 2012, 3:52 pm
Al Armendariz, who resigned from the Environmental Protection Agency at the end of April after it came to light that he had suggested that the agency “crucify” polluters to deter others, is joining the Sierra Club to work on its campaign to end the use of coal.
A former regional administrator based in Texas, he embarrassed the administration for what top officials called his “inappropriate and inaccurate” comments on the agency’s enforcement policy.
He will join the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign as a senior campaign representative based in Austin.
“This is an exciting day for clean energy and public health supporters in Texas,” said Bruce Niles, a top Sierra Club official. “Al has worked closely with the Sierra Club for many years, as an environmental scientist and professor. He understands the critical importance of developing clean energy to create jobs, protect people and protect air and water.”
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/e-p-a-official-who-resigned-over-crucify-comment-joins-sierra-club/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Barry Cassell | Jul 01, 2012
The Sierra Club on June 28 released a new, 28-page study claiming that the days of cheap coal-fired power are now over, both in the U.S. and around the world.Share This Post
Recent coal industry layoffs cited in greenhouse gas hearing
06/29/2012 By Barry Cassell
If you’re a Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, greenhouse gas (GHG) rules are economic and coal industry Armageddon, while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency thinks this is the only path forward to a clean, sustainable future.Share This Post
Published: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 9:25 PM Updated: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 10:54 PM
By Scott Learn, The Oregonian
GILLETTE, Wyo. -- To feel like a Lilliputian in Gulliver's world, tour the Black Thunder coal mine.
The roads are twice as wide as the Interstate Bridge. The dump trucks have 10-foot tires and haul up to 360 tons a load. The mine's largest dragline stands 12 stories tall and weighs nearly 15 million pounds, with screaming winches inside and a bucket scoop that could swallow a studio apartment. When the crane-like rig spins to grab more dirt, it's like being inside a rotating warehouse.
Gillette is the self-proclaimed U.S. energy capital, and Arch Coal's Black Thunder mine is its gargantuan showpiece, the largest surface mine in North America, stripping a tenth of the nation's coal-fired power plant supply from Wyoming's Powder River Basin each year.
For the first time, growth of the basin's coal mines banks on the Northwest. Arch and other Powder River Basin coal companies are pursuing space in at least six ports in Oregon and Washington to export as much as 150 million tons a year to Asia. The Northwest has no coal export terminals now, and the proposals are hugely controversial.
The stakes are high in the basin, too.
Supplying China, Japan, India and other energy-hungry Asian countries would bolster mines facing flat U.S. coal demand, preserve high-paying jobs and keep coal cash flowing to state and local government.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/06/coal_clash_out_of_the_gigantic.htmlShare This Post
Published: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 4:25 PM Updated: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 6:52 PM
By Scott Learn, The Oregonian
RAINIER -- The Ol' Pastime Tavern has a blue-collar clientele, Teamsters stickers on the fridge and a sign reminding customers that "Loggers are an Endangered Species, too." A hotbed of green activism it's not.
But owner Sloan Nelson, also a Rainier city councilman, is as worried as any environmentalist about a coal export terminal planned at the Port Westward industrial park 15 miles northwest of town.
At full capacity, the Kinder Morgan terminal could trigger 12 round-trip coal trains a day -- arriving full, returning empty. Each would be 1- to 1 1/2-miles long, running 10 mph on tracks past Nelson's bar and down the middle of A Street.
"I'm not going to stand up and say coal's going to kill the environment," says Nelson, 38. "But this is a small community of 1,800 people that is not flourishing. We can't afford to have 1,400 coal cars rattling through downtown every day."
The race to export Montana and Wyoming coal through Northwest ports to Asia could have a big payoff. Developers of six terminals pledge private port investments topping $2 billion if the projects reach full capacity.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/06/coal_clash_trains_roll_slowly.htmlShare This Post
Published: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 4:20 PM Updated: Saturday, June 30, 2012, 6:05 PM
By Scott Learn, The Oregonian
Thirty years ago, Asian coal markets were booming. Ports from Vancouver to Portland to Coos Bay pursued export terminals. But Asian demand evaporated, and a $43 million coal terminal in Portland belly flopped without ever moving a chunk of coal.
Five years ago, the rage was importing natural gas into Oregon. Now it's exporting it.
Three months ago, the U.S. reported its highest coal exports in decades, led by Asia.
Last month, the industry journal Platts reported at least 30 coal ships idled off China's coast, unable to unload as coal prices plummeted.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2012/06/coal_clash_the_risky_business.htmlShare This Post
By Steven Mufson, Published: June 30
Fort McMurray, ALBERTA — When Armand Morin was a junior in high school, hanging out with friends and doing badly in class, his uncle sat him down and told him to do something useful, such as train for a job in the oil industry. So he moved to Fort McMurray, enrolled in a community college program for process engineering and took a job at Shell.
He just turned 23, and last year he made $176,000. After three years, he’ll get a retention bonus. He bought his first home, a three-bedroom, two-story house, for $810,000. He lives with a serious girlfriend. They have a Labradoodle and a pet lizard. They talk about the pluses of having a lawn for children. Upstairs, he has a 70-inch television where they were going to settle in to watch a movie to celebrate his birthday.
“I want to work hard and absorb all this information,” he said, sitting on a brown leather chair in a living room covered with plush white carpeting. He is already moving up the ranks at Shell, where he monitors pressures on pieces of equipment. “But,” he adds, “I’m in it for the money, too. Otherwise I wouldn’t have moved here.”
Morin is just one of thousands of people flocking to Fort McMurray, where the rapid expansion of oil sands mining has turned this northern outpost into a bustling small city. Not all of them have fared well, with many succumbing to drink or drugs; one worker at a bar wrote down on a cocktail napkin, so no one would overhear, that crack cocaine was widespread. Other workers spend their money on travel and inflated rents in a city that is bursting at the seams.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/boomtown-of-fort-mcmurray-is-busting-at-the-seams/2012/06/30/gJQAYZDhEW_story.htmlShare This Post
By Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun June 29, 2012
VANCOUVER -- Kinder Morgan on Friday filed an application with the National Energy Board relating to the contract terms and tolls it would implement on its proposed $4.1 billion expansion of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline system between Edmonton and Burnaby.
The application does not deal with the proposed 1,150 kilometre pipeline's route or construction plans.
The project would twin Trans Mountain's existing 60-year-old pipeline, boosting capacity along the route from 300,000 to 750,000 barrels per day.
“That is a separate application we expect to file in late 2013,” Kinder Morgan Canada president Ian Anderson said in a news release.
“This application to the NEB is about the contracts and fee structure that will be charged to shippers who will move product through the proposed expanded pipeline.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/resources/Kinder+Morgan+files+toll+application+Trans+Mountain+Pipeline+expansion/6862172/story.htmlShare This Post
Published Sunday, Jul. 01, 2012
WASHINGTON – As the Arctic Ocean's ice cover declines in summer and oil companies move in with ships, drilling equipment and seismic surveys, what used to be a mostly very quiet home for whales and other marine animals is getting a lot louder.
This month will mark a new stage in oil and gas development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas north of Alaska, when Shell returns to the Alaskan Arctic to drill exploratory wells. If it's successful, this could be beginning of a new boom.
Scientists are asking how whales and other marine animals will react to the sound. The overall level of manmade underwater noise in the Arctic is increasing, not only from oil and gas development but also from shipping and soon from commercial fishing and tourism vessels. Whales, dolphins, walruses and seals all rely on sound in the water. Bowhead whales, for example, are adept at using their voices to navigate in complete darkness through ice.
"They can live to 200, and they're adapted to a world of extreme quiet under the frozen ocean, broken at times by extremely loud tectonic crashes of giant blocks of ice," said Christopher Clark, the director of the Bioacoustics Research Program at Cornell University.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/01/4602467/oil-explorers-move-in-on-arctic.htmlShare This Post
By Jeffrey Jones and Euan Rocha, Reuters June 28, 2012
CALGARY/TORONTO - Malaysia's state oil company launched a $4.8 billion takeover of its Canadian joint-venture partner, Progress Energy Resources Corp, on Thursday to gain control of vast shale gas reserves and advance plans to ship gas to Asia.
The bid by Petronas for Progress, at C$20.45 a share, represents a hefty 77 percent premium on the stock's Wednesday closing price. It spurred investors to drive up the shares of other Canadian producers with shale gas assets at a time when they had been languishing due to depressed gas prices.
It is the first instance of an Asian investor launching a buyout of its Canadian partner in a gas project.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/energy-resources/Shell+proposes+project+alongside+Korean+Chinese/6855604/story.htmlShare This Post
By DANIEL GILBERT July 1, 2012, 7:03 p.m. ET
Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s two largest shareholders, now effectively in control of its board, are in position to steer the embattled natural-gas giant toward a sale in a bid to extract greater value from its assets.
But there would be steep obstacles to selling the nation's second-largest gas producer—notably, an elaborate web of financial entanglements that makes it difficult for even seasoned energy veterans to get a firm handle on the real value of Chesapeake's holdings, and the extent of its obligations.
Frustrated that Wall Street is not giving greater value to Chesapeake's assets, shareholders Southeastern Asset Management Inc. and activist investor Carl Icahn have advocated for the company to consider a sale for a rich enough price. It isn't clear that Southeastern and Mr. Icahn will push for a sale, but together they own more than 20% of Chesapeake shares and won a concession last month to replace four board members with their own picks.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304830704577496800206812374.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Jaxon Van Derbeken
Updated 11:26 p.m., Sunday, July 1, 2012
Nearly two years after the pipeline explosion that killed eight people and devastated a neighborhood in San Bruno, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. considers 239 of its natural-gas transmission lines to be at risk of a similar failure, according to a company assessment obtained by The Chronicle.
PG&E has identified more than 500 trouble spots on those lines, along sections ranging from a few feet in length to more than a mile, spanning a combined 48 miles. The stretches have pipe-seam welds susceptible to failing because they are old, or because PG&E pressurized the pipes beyond legal limits without testing them afterward for possible problems.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/PG-E-identifies-239-pipelines-at-risk-of-failure-3677897.phpShare This Post
firstname.lastname@example.org Published Sunday, Jul. 01, 2012
The projects are dissimilar in many respects.
Yet the huge natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno in September 2010 is giving some state energy regulators pause about approving a plan to store 7.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas under a Sacramento neighborhood.
The storage project goes before the California Public Utilities Commission on July 12.
The vote by that five-member panel will determine whether Sacramento Natural Gas Storage LLC can, in turn, seek approval from the city of Sacramento to store the gas in a sandstone formation 3,800 feet below the Avondale Glen Elder neighborhood in southeast Sacramento.
A few years ago, an underground gas storage project such as this likely would have met with commission approval.
This time, it's not so clear.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/01/4602523/hgfhgjhklgjhgjhkghjf.htmlShare This Post