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July 16th, 2012 Archives
July 14, 2012
The Republicans and Mitt Romney have relentlessly accused President Obama of not moving swiftly enough to tap the nations’ considerable offshore reserves of oil and natural gas.
It is a tired complaint. Except for a necessary drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill in 2010, Mr. Obama has always embraced offshore oil and gas exploration as an important component of a rounded energy strategy. What he has not embraced is the drill-now-drill-everywhere approach of President George W. Bush, now embodied in a House bill that would open the entire continental shelf and all of Alaska’s waters to drilling.
The Obama administration’s latest drilling plan, which covers the years 2012 to 2017, would allow 12 large lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and three smaller, carefully selected lease sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas and the Cook Inlet in Alaska. There would be preliminary seismic testing, but no leasing, in the Atlantic. The approach is broadly similar to the leasing program announced in March 2010 and put on hold after the BP spill.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/opinion/sunday/drilling-strategies-sensible-and-fantastical.html?_r=1Share This Post
Stanford Report, July 12, 2012
George Shultz leads a group preparing to propose a federal tax on carbon to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption, a seemingly unlikely policy from a Republican Party statesman.
By Mark Golden and Mark Shwartz
George Shultz was an economist in the Eisenhower administration, as well as secretary of the Treasury and Labor, and director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Nixon administration. Under President Ronald Reagan, he was secretary of state for almost seven years. Despite the reluctance of his fellow Republicans to embrace action on global warming, Shultz is confident that when the time is right conservatives will support a carbon tax, for a number of reasons.
For several years, Shultz has worked intensely on energy policy. In 2010 he and entrepreneur Tom Steyer, a Democrat, led the successful campaign to defeat Proposition 23, a California ballot initiative to suspend the state's ambitious law to curb greenhouse gases. In addition to leading the Hoover Institution's Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy, Shultz chairs the advisory boards of two energy research umbrella organizations: Stanford's Precourt Institute for Energy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Energy Initiative.
Why did you get so involved in energy?
I've been worried about our energy problem for a long time. President Eisenhower said that if we imported more than 20 percent of the oil we use, we were asking for trouble with national security. By 1973, I'm secretary of the Treasury and we have the Arab oil embargo. They seek to deny us oil in order to change our policies. I thought then, you know, President Eisenhower knew something.
At that point people were coming in with ideas on how to reduce oil imports, and some research started. Then the price of oil went down and everything stopped. That's happened a few times since then. We've been on this roller coaster ride. This time it's important to make it different. I'm really impressed by the research that is being accomplished here at Stanford and MIT and elsewhere, and by the efforts of companies that are attempting to do something about it.
You recently traded in your hybrid car for an all-electric one, which is powered by solar panels on your roof. Can you talk about that a little?Share This Post
The United States is posting rapid growth in the waste of natural gas in new oil fields where the fuel is either burned or vented into the atmosphere. Experts say the process damages the environment and fails to maximize the return to investors.
By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / July 13, 2012
The United States is flaring so much natural gas into the atmosphere - burning it as oil-field waste rather than extracting energy from it in power plants - that it now leads the world in the growth rate at which it is trashing that energy source.
Evidence of the trend can be seen flickering in the night across western North Dakota, where new oil drilling in the Bakken shale formation there has helped propel a surge in US flaring since 2007. As is often the case, many companies find it cheaper to burn off gas that emerges in new oil fields, rather than build pipelines and facilities to collect it.
But that common practice has created a big problem globally. About 5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were flared or vented without burning worldwide last year. That huge amount of wasted energy is roughly equal to a quarter of all natural gas consumed in the US annually, the World Bank reports. Flaring also dumped 360 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over the same period, equal to the exhaust of 70 million cars.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2012/0713/Thanks-to-North-Dakota-US-waste-of-natural-gas-grows-rapidlyShare This Post
Published: Friday, July 13, 2012, 8:00 PM Updated: Monday, July 16, 2012, 7:06 AM
By Robert L. Smith, The Plain Dealer
Fourteen years after pulling its corporate staff out of Cleveland, BP is reintroducing itself to Northeast Ohio. Not with a skyscraper on Public Square, but with a modest field office in Warren, within striking distance of its stake in Ohio's Utica shale.
BP chief executive Bob Dudley, on a visit to Cleveland Friday morning, said the quiet beginning could mushroom into something huge. The global energy giant is poised to become a major player in Ohio's emerging natural gas industry.
"Who would have thought, 20 years ago, that we would be re-entering the production business in Ohio," Dudley told a gathering of business and civic leaders at the InterContinental Hotel on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic. "Really, we made a new and exciting investment. We're taking a big play in the Utica."
In March, London-based BP announced it had begun to secure mineral rights to nearly 85,000 acres in Trumbull County, north of Youngstown. Friday, Dudley said exploration and testing will soon commence and that BP expects to begin drilling next year.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2012/07/bp_ceo_talks_of_bringing_inves.htmlShare This Post
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, with opposition from all angles, renews call for drilling tax hike to back income tax cut
Published: Friday, July 13, 2012, 7:30 PM Updated: Saturday, July 14, 2012, 1:43 AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Against a stiff wind of opposition from several fronts, Gov. John Kasich on Friday renewed his call for steeper oil and gas drilling taxes to pay for an income tax cut for Ohioans.
"The point is for out-of-state oil companies to pay more and all Ohioans pay less," Kasich said at a Statehouse news conference.
The Republican governor thinks his proposal should be a no-brainer. Ohio has already flung out the welcome mat for oil and gas companies clamoring for access to the state's vast shale rock formations in Eastern Ohio and using the controversial drilling process called horizontal hydro-fracturing, or fracking.
Kasich said he just wants to be sure Ohioans reap some of the good fortune by making oil companies pay more.
"It's just a matter of time rather than if it's going to happen," a confident Kasich said, hoping to win public favor for his plan with the promise of an income tax break.
But the governor faces plenty of opposition from Republicans, Democrats, business and environmentalists, all crying foul for different reasons. Some say the tax hike is unfair to business, while others say the income tax cut on the back end is too tiny to matter.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2012/07/ohio_gov_john_kasich_with_oppo.htmlShare This Post
By DANIEL GILBERT Updated July 15, 2012, 7:31 p.m. ET
Chesapeake Energy Corp. is pushing Ohio landowners to accept revised lease contracts that would help the cash-strapped driller save money while holding on to its prized oil and gas fields.
The company's actions, documented in scores of property and court records, aren't the first time that Chesapeake has tried to change the terms of lease deals, or walked away from them. Since 2008, more than 100 lawsuits have been filed across the country by landowners, who claim the company breached contracts. In some cases, settlements have been reached, in other cases the litigation continues.
The company doesn't dispute that it has sought to renegotiate leases in Ohio. In cases in other states where Chesapeake has walked away from deals, it contends that it had the contractual right to do so.
Chesapeake, the country's second-largest natural-gas producer, has spent about $2 billion to lease the mineral rights to more than a million acres—about 5% of Ohio's land mass—in a bet that Ohio's Utica Shale fields will become a major oil producer. The leases contain deadlines by which the company must drill wells costing millions of dollars apiece or give up rights to the property.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303612804577529002584367334.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By Morgan Lee
Friday, July 13, 2012
Investment bank JPMorgan Chase on Friday vigorously defended its right to withhold emails subpoenaed in an investigation of possible manipulation of electricity markets in California and the Midwest.
Unredacted versions of the 25 emails sought by investigators at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have been provided to a federal magistrate judge pending a decision.
In federal court filings, JPMorgan said it would not be pressured into releasing privileged documents by regulators' public disclosure of the investigation.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/13/jpmorgan-guards-emails-energy-markets-probe/Share This Post
Nuclear energy faced with short-term headwinds, with San Onofre’s issues, state moratorium
By Morgan Lee
Originally published July 13, 2012 at 12:01 a.m., updated July 13, 2012 at 1:49 p.m.
The allure of atomic power endures in California 55 years after the nation’s first civilian, commercial reactor came online to power a small city in Ventura County.
Today, California’s growing push to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions and smog are keeping the long-term prospects for nuclear power plants alive despite a moratorium on new reactors.
In the short term, the role of nuclear energy has taken an uncertain turn with the continued outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The shutdown that began in January, prompted by the rapid degradation of steam generator tubes that help prevent releases of radiation, still has no clear outcome. Southern California Edison, the facility’s operator, is looking for ways to satisfy safety regulators and restart its reactors.
Meanwhile, playing in the nuclear industry’s favor is a 2005 executive order signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that aims to wind back the clock on greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The measure also calls for an additional 80 percent reduction by 2050.
By then, electricity use in California will likely have doubled, even with major advances in energy efficiency, as many more vehicles go electric to reduce carbon emissions, according to a 2011 study commissioned by the California Council on Science and Technology.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/13/power-struggle/Share This Post
By JUSTIN SCHECK Updated July 15, 2012, 9:08 p.m. ET
The U.S. Treasury Department plans to demand back more than $5 million it granted a Montana power plant that later filed for bankruptcy, in what would be a rare foray by the government into the courts to claw back job-creation funds distributed under the 2009 economic-stimulus package.
Treasury plans to use the bankruptcy process to recover funds from Thompson River Power LLC, according to a Treasury spokeswoman.
The move is similar to the Treasury's efforts to recover grants made to other small companies that have hit trouble but gone unnoticed. It also shows how efforts of President Barack Obama's administration to fund green-energy jobs extend beyond high-profile failures such as Solyndra LLC.
The Treasury paid Thompson River $6.5 million in 2010 from a piece of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act known as Section 1603 that reimbursed developers of renewable energy with cash payments equivalent to 30% of their projects' costs. The program has given out more than $11 billion, the Treasury Department says.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303644004577523282632904216.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By ANDREW C. REVKIN July 13, 2012, 3:26 pm
Earlier this week, Climate Progress posted an interesting essay, “Climate Change is Fracking Society,” written by Auden Schendler, who is vice president of sustainability at the Aspen Skiing Company and the author of “Getting Green Done: Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution.”
Schendler’s summation of the science pointing to dangerous human-driven climate change is pretty overheated. But I really like how he describes the sometimes uncomfortable need to fracture old alliances and cross longstanding battle lines if you’re serious about finding ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions that can work in the real world.
Here’s an excerpt making his prime point, followed by more from Schendler on a climate-friendly energy deal he just helped broker between his employer, which runs four of the region’s marquis ski resorts, and a coal mine owner whose company is a member of a group promoting the myth that global warming is a “great delusion.” Read on:
From Schendler’s Climate Progress post:
To read the entire article go to: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/turning-a-coal-mines-gas-problem-into-a-ski-resorts-co2-and-energy-solution/Share This Post
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012, 9:00 AM
By Rich Exner, The Plain Dealer
International Business MachinesThe variety of computers has changed over the years.
$2,024: Average household energy expenditures nationally in 2009, up 12 percent from 2005, largely because of bigger homes, more electronic devices and more major appliances such as having two refrigerators, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last week.
$1,949: Cost per household in Ohio and Indiana, states for which figures were reported jointly.
$3,065: Cost per household in New Jersey, highest in the country.
$1,423: Cost per household in California, lowest in the country.
$2,634: Cost per household in homes ranging from 3,000 to 3,499 square feet.
$2,088: Cost per household in homes ranging from 1,500 to 1,999 square feet.
Source: U.S. Energy Information AdministrationShare This Post
Shames readied SDCAN before leaving consumer group
Friday, July 13, 2012
The former head of the Utility Consumers’ Action Network began setting up a new advocacy group weeks before UCAN sought to close amid dwindling reserves and a federal subpoena for its financial records.
According to records obtained by The Watchdog, Michael Shames registered the domain name SanDiegoCAN.org on Jan. 31. Nearly a month later, UCAN announced it was the subject of an FBI inquiry and asked a Superior Court judge to dissolve the nonprofit corporation.
Days after he left UCAN, Shames filed paperwork to award his new San Diego Consumers’ Action Network a key stake in a rate-hike case pending before the California Public Utilities Commission.
If the request is granted, Shames would be eligible to receive $330 an hour for work related to the case — the same amount he earned while serving as UCAN executive director, a commission spokeswoman said.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/13/ucan-boss-prepared-an-out/Share This Post
Sunday, July 15, 2012
BORREGO SPRINGS — Charlie Smith had built every type of power plant imaginable in his 42 years in the business: nuclear, coal, geothermal, wind — all but one.
That’s why he came out of retirement, leaving his two Labrador puppies back in Texas, to be the project manager for a 204-acre solar field being erected in Borrego Springs.
“It kind of completes the circle,” Smith, 64, said in his slight Texas drawl.
Expected to be completed by mid-December, the field is being built where a grape vineyard once stood years ago.
Once online, the solar field will produce enough energy to power 10,000 to 20,000 homes each day in San Diego County. It could have been bigger — NRG Energy bought a 300-acre parcel — but 26 megawatts is the most that can be transferred to the existing transmission lines in the area.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jul/15/solar-field-borrego-boon-local-economy/Share This Post
Posted: 07/15/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
Updated: 07/15/2012 10:45:02 AM MDT
By Mark Jaffe
The Denver Post
David Amster-Olszewski, chief executive of SunShare, shows off some of the panels that homeowners can buy into in his solar garden near Fountain. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
Solar gardens are poised to sprout across Colorado — from Fort Collins to Leadville to the Paradox Valley near Utah — and some are already taking root.
Looking to take advantage of a new incentive program from Xcel Energy, the state's largest electric-utility company, community groups and developers are crafting garden proposals.
Solar gardens enable people who don't have a sunny roof or the money to buy a full array to buy or lease a piece of an array — in some cases for as little as $1,000.
"This is a way to make solar available to all our customers," said Robin Kittel, Xcel's director of regulatory administration. "We are also looking for creative low-income projects."
More than a dozen states — including Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, Arizona, Nevada and California — are promoting solar gardens, according to the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_21073777Share This Post
Published: Saturday, July 07, 2012, 11:00 AM
By John Funk, The Plain Dealer
Dovetail in six years has grown from a quarter-million dollars in annual sales to nearly $10 million, and could double that by 2013.
Solar power isn't going to replace big power plants tomorrow. Or even next year.
But mass production and technological improvements have accelerated the growth of solar even as government subsidies have shrunk.
The price of solar panels has fallen by nearly 50 percent in the past year, and the new modules make more electricity per square foot than those manufactured just a couple of years ago.
The ubiquitous blue-black panels increasingly make business sense, said Alan Frasz, president of Dovetail Solar and Wind, a fast-growing Ohio installer of larger and larger solar arrays, many of them on businesses and public buildings.
Frasz spent 28 years working in the computer industry, starting on the technical side, moving to sales and then into business operations. He worked for large multibillion-dollar companies and smaller multimillion-dollar operations before deciding to chuck his career and six-figure salary in 2005.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2012/07/dovetail_solar_wind_is_a_compa.htmlShare This Post