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October 15th, 2012 Archives
Special to The Bee Published Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012
Peter Asmus has been writing about energy for 25 years and is author of the book "Introduction to Energy in California," published by the University of California Press.
The first televised debate between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney showcased their very divergent views of what makes America work. Yet despite those differences, their respective platforms are surprisingly similar on an all-important topic – energy.
While health care, abortion and public education spending all affect each of us on a very personal basis, what happens on the energy landscape will drive the economy in terms of job creation. Energy choices made by the next U.S. president will also influence the fate of the developing world, where some 80 percent of the world's population resides, but where only 30 percent of total energy is consumed.
There are critical differences between the energy policies of Obama and Romney, but mostly in rhetoric and emphasis. An exception to that generalization pertains to the overarching issue of global climate change.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/14/4907715/obama-vs-romney-the-energy-debatewhos.htmlShare This Post
Players big and small in the state's rapidly growing industry worry a Romney win will strip them of federal subsidies they say are key to clean energy's future.
By Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times
7:28 PM PDT, October 10, 2012
SACRAMENTO — On 7,300 isolated acres in eastern Kern County, a plan for dozens of wind turbines 20 stories high to generate enough electricity for tens of thousands of homes may hinge on who is elected president.
Millions of dollars have been spent laying the groundwork. Permits are in order, contractors are lined up, government planners are on board. But like many other green energy efforts in California, the Avalon Wind Project awaits the fate of key federal subsidies.
For Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, such aid represents government run amok, allowing bureaucrats to pick winners and losers in renewable energy rather than letting the free market sort them out. Romney has not offered many specifics about what he would cut, but his opposition in general to aid for alternative energy production has been a pillar of his campaign. The candidate punctuated his point with a news conference at the vacant former headquarters of bankrupt solar company Solyndra, which lost $527 million in government money.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-election-energy-20121011,0,4154109.storyShare This Post
By FELICITY BARRINGER October 13, 2012
LEGGETT, Calif. — Braced against a steep slope, Robert Hrubes cinched his measuring tape around the trunk of one tree after another, barking out diameters like an auctioneer announcing bids. “Twelve point two!” “Fourteen point one!”
Mr. Hrubes’s task, a far cry from forestry of the past, was to calculate how much carbon could be stored within the tanoak, madrone and redwood trees in that plot. Every year or so, other foresters will return to make sure the trees are still standing and doing their job.
Such audits will be crucial as California embarks on its grand experiment in reining in climate change. On Jan. 1, it will become the first state in the nation to charge industries across the economy for the greenhouse gases they emit. Under the system, known as “cap and trade,” the state will set an overall ceiling on those emissions and assign allowable emission amounts for individual polluters. A portion of these so-called allowances will be allocated to utilities, manufacturers and others; the remainder will be auctioned off.
Over time, the number of allowances issued by the state will be reduced, which should force a reduction in emissions.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/science/earth/in-california-a-grand-experiment-to-rein-in-climate-change.html?partner=rss&emc=rssShare This Post
Posted: 10/14/2012 05:17:07 PM PDT
Updated: 10/14/2012 05:45:11 PM PDT
Having fended off a challenge to groundbreaking emissions standards for new cars, California now finds itself in a legal tug-of-war to preserve some of its unprecedented regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of fuels.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday will hear arguments in a legal challenge to the 2006 regulations, which a Fresno federal judge last year struck down as unconstitutional. The judge sided with an array of gas, trucking and farming industry interests aligned against the complex effort to curtail the carbon footprint of transportation fuels.
Legal experts say the appeal could crucially test how far a state can go with such broad greenhouse gas regulations.
"Any comprehensive plan is going to have to confront this issue," said Daniel Farber, co-director of UC Berkeley's environmental law clinic. "A negative decision in this case could pose a barrier to aggressive state efforts to address climate change."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_21772831/california-greenhouse-gas-rules-face-major-court-test?source=rssShare This Post
October 12, 2012 By Steven Kelly
Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=6440
“Least-Cost/Best-Fit” has been the guiding procurement principle at the California Public Utilities Commission for some time now. The intent is to ensure that the utilities procure power to meet their needs at the lowest cost to ratepayers. Originally arising in the Renewable Portfolio Standard legislation, the principle now is applied generically to all utility long-term procurement practices.
From a procurement perspective, this is a fine guiding principle. However, what does “least cost/best fit” mean in practice? In California, while we have competitive markets to help achieve “least-cost” outcomes, the marketplace has become inundated with developers, i.e., sellers, operating virtually in the dark when it comes to knowing what it will take to “fit” into the utilities’ needs.
I suggest that the lack of transparency in procurement practices is not cost-free. In reality, the current practices have tremendous and often costly consequences--congested interconnection queues which drive up costs and delay development, congested Requests For Offers which result in delay due to hundreds of bids from hundreds of bidders, etc. In the end, the state often has to rush to procure resources just in time to maintain overall grid reliability.Share This Post
Published Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012
Whenever Allen Young walks into his office at The Met High School, he gets a reminder of his teenage years.
Look up, the principal says at the cozy downtown campus. Pristine wood planks lining the entryway ceiling once lived as bleachers at his alma mater.
"My wife and I both went to Sac High, so our butts graced this stuff," muses Young.
The Met, a Sacramento City Unified charter school, had a $7.5 million renovation last year driven by green energy guidelines. Insulation consists of recycled blue jeans. Countertops were once glass jars. Bathrooms have high-tech "airblade" dryers, and nary a paper towel is found.
Environmentalists say Proposition 39, which hikes California taxes on companies based elsewhere, would help aging schools upgrade their campuses as the Met has.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/10/13/4908139/proposition-39-seeks-to-tax-out.html#Share This Post
By Juliet Eilperin, Published: October 14
In Maryland’s Zekiah Swamp, one of the Chesapeake Bay’s most important tributaries, 8.4 million tons of coal ash in pits from former operations of the Morgantown power plant are leaking into groundwater. Residents on the Moapa River Reservation north of Las Vegas blame a spike in respiratory illnesses on the uncovered ash ponds and ash dump from a generating station nearby.
The ash left after burning coal includes toxic elements such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, selenium and mercury. Produced by 431 coal-fired power plants, which supply 36 percent of the nation’s electricity, coal ash piles up at the staggering rate of 140 million tons a year.
More than 40 percent of it is recycled to help make concrete, gypsum wallboard and pavement. But utilities store the rest in landfills, ponds or mines, and evidence has been growing in recent years that leakage is a problem.
“The time has come for common-sense national protections to assure safe disposal of these materials,” Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. That was in 2010.Share This Post
Despite its findings, the environmental impact study has deepened tensions between an oil field owner and those opposed to the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique used to extract oil.
By Ruben Vives, Los Angeles Times
9:59 PM PDT, October 14, 2012
The environmental impact report on hydraulic fracturing at the Inglewood Oil Field was supposed to address key concerns raised by residents of the Baldwin Hills area.
Instead, the report has deepened tensions between the oil field's owner, Plains Exploration & Production Co., and the community after the findings were released last week.
The yearlong study — conducted by an environmental consulting firm and paid for by the owner and operator of the oil field —concluded that the controversial extraction method used at two wells did not affect the environment or health of those living nearby.
But critics, after days of reviewing the study, say it lacks independent scientific scrutiny and that at least one of the peer reviewers has close ties to the energy industry. Moreover, the critics say, the report's conclusion is based on near-term impacts and fails to address fears of long-term damage — such as the potential risk of chemical additives leaching into groundwater. The report was peer reviewed by two firms selected by the oil company and Los Angeles County.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-fracking-study-20121015,0,4459928.storyShare This Post
By DANIEL GILBERT October 11, 2012, 2:50 p.m. ET
Chesapeake Energy Corp. is selling a chunk of its holdings in Oklahoma as the cash-strapped natural-gas producer continues to trim acreage to raise money for drilling.
The Oklahoma City-based company is selling drilling rights to more than 28,000 acres in western Oklahoma, in an area abutting its "Hogshooter" oil discovery, which the company touted in June. The package for sale includes some of Chesapeake's 30,000 Hogshooter net acres; it doesn't include a well the company boasted to be among the best in drilled decades in the continental U.S.
A Chesapeake spokesman said the property for sale is a "small, noncore package of acreage and not connected to our significant Hogshooter discovery."
The sale wouldn't change the company's drilling plans or budget, he added.
The move is another sign that Chesapeake is trimming its vast land holdings—which span more than 15 million acres across the country—to raise cash for its operations and reduce capital spending. Chesapeake, the country's second-biggest natural-gas producer after Exxon Mobil Corp., continues to grapple with gas prices that hover near decade lows and is shifting to produce more-profitable oil.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444799904578050753352691338.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
By KIRK JOHNSON October 11, 2012
FERNDALE, Wash. — At age 94, Mary Helen Cagey, an elder of the Lummi Indian tribe, has seen a lot of yesterdays. Some are ripe for fond reminiscence, like the herring that used to run rich in the waters here in the nation’s upper-left margin, near the border with Canada. Others are best left in the past, she said, like coal.
“I used to travel into Bellingham and buy my sack of coal,” she said, standing in sensible shoes on a pebbled beach at a recent tribal news conference, talking about her girlhood of rural subsistence and occasional trips to the nearby market town. The idea that coal producers would make a comeback bid, with a huge export shipping terminal proposed at a site where she once fished, called Cherry Point, is simply wrong, she said. “It’s something that should not come about,” Ms. Cagey said.
Many environmental groups and green-minded politicians in the Pacific Northwest are already on record as opposing a wave of export terminals proposed from here to the south-central coast of Oregon, aiming to ship coal to Asia. But in recent weeks, Indian tribes have been linking arms as well, citing possible injury to fishing rights and religious and sacred sites if the coal should spill or the dust from its trains and barges should waft too thick.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/us/tribes-add-powerful-voice-against-northwest-coal-plan.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD October 11, 2012
WASHINGTON — A Maryland man is awaiting sentencing for what may seem an unusual crime: selling bogus renewable energy credits and using the $9.3 million in illicit proceeds to buy jewelry and a fleet of luxury cars.
In a similar case in Texas, a man has been indicted for selling a whopping $42 million in counterfeit credits. He bought real estate, a Bentley and a Gulfstream jet.
As a result of such cases, the Environmental Protection Agency is scrambling to retool a program that relies on such credits to encourage the use of cleaner diesel fuel in engines. The refining industry has meanwhile seized on the schemes to argue that government fuel mandates don’t work and the rules should be relaxed or scrapped.
Under the E.P.A. program, initiated in 2009, a producer who makes diesel fuel from vegetable oils and animal fats receives renewable energy credits for every gallon manufactured. The producer can then resell the credits to refiners, who pay millions of dollars for them under a government mandate to support a minimum level of production.Share This Post
By MATTHEW L. WALD October 11, 2012
The Indian Point nuclear plant is going on trial.
On Monday, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will open a hearing to determine whether opponents, among them the Cuomo administration, have valid arguments against a 20-year extension of operating licenses for the Westchester County site’s reactors.
Three administrative law judges from the commission will take up an unusually long list of issues at the hearing, which will take place at a hotel in Tarrytown, N.Y., on 12 days in October and December.
In granting license extensions for reactors around the country, 70 to date, the commission has usually agreed to hear arguments on only a few technical issues. But in the case of Indian Point, the judges will hear at least 14.
Some of the issues from parties in the case are mechanical. Has Entergy, the plant’s owner, properly accounted for the possibility of corrosion in old pipes? What is the condition of the plant’s electrical cables, some of which are submerged in water and cannot be easily inspected? Has the plant been adequately monitoring buried pipes, some of which have already leaked, that carry radioactive materials?
Others are more slippery, like calculating the potential human costs of a major release of radioactive materials from the plant, in Buchanan, about 35 miles north of Midtown Manhattan.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/science/earth/hearings-set-on-renewing-indian-point-reactors-licenses.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
By Jacob Fischler | Medill News Service
last updated: October 04, 2012 07:29:18 PM
WASHINGTON -- ]
Massachusetts and California are the two most energy-efficient states, according to a report this week from a group that promotes new energy policies, technologies and investments.
In its annual scorecard, the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy found that those two states topped all others as far as advocating energy-efficiency programs.
Others in the top 10 were: New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland and Minnesota. Each had been in the top 10 last year as well.
Bringing up the rear was Mississippi, though Gov. Phil Bryant hosted an energy summit this week where improving the state’s energy efficiency was a main topic.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/10/04/170615/some-states-score-high-on-energy.htmlShare This Post
By DANA HULL | San Jose Mercury News
last updated: October 01, 2012 04:49:03 PM Posted on Tue, Oct. 02, 2012
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- ]
Twelve years ago, the U.S. Green Building Council launched a rating system called LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, hoping that architects, engineers, designers and real estate firms would improve energy efficiency and increase the use of recycled materials and nontoxic paint in their projects to win "LEED-certified" recognition.
Now LEED has grown into a powerful brand and global phenomenon. There are 14,044 LEED-certified commercial projects, covering more than 2 billion square feet, in 140 countries. Another 34,601 projects are in the pipeline.
"Green building is not a curiosity anymore - it's a huge market," said Aditya Ranade, a senior analyst with Lux Research in Boston. "The green building sector will be a $280 billion global industry by the end of the decade. LEED is dominant around the world, but there are other standards. Malaysia has its own Green Building Index, and China has developed its own three-star rating system."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/10/01/170243/leed-rating-system-for-green-building.htmlShare This Post
ANNE CHRISTNOVICH | Island Packet
It's lights out for the standard 100-watt incandescent light bulb after new national energy-efficiency laws took effect Monday.
Consumers in Beaufort County, however, may have already noticed a shortage of the particular pear-shaped bulbs because most stores in the area stopped carrying them months ago as manufacturers phased out their production.
The legislation, signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007, gave manufacturers nearly five years to increase energy efficiency in certain bulbs by at least 25 percent. The 100-watt bulb used too much energy to meet the law's requirements, prompting many companies to discontinue them.
"Some of the better brands -- GE, for example -- have stopped making them," Debbie Teresi, showroom manager at Bluffton's Graybar Lighting Showroom, said Tuesday. "We sold all ours about a month ago."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/10/03/170451/standard-bulbs-phased-out-alternatives.htmlShare This Post