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Harold L. Sirkin
November 29, 2013
A commitment to being green, more and more companies are reporting, does improve the bottom line.
This flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which holds that uncaring corporate despoilers anxious to make a big buck at any cost have no interest in conservation, the environment, or any other "social good" promoted by pure-hearted politicians and enlightened do-gooders.
There's a grain of truth to this. Corporate America often has stood athwart history, as William F. Buckley Jr. once put it, yelling "Stop!"
There have been many disagreements, even monumental clashes, over the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the environmental Superfund legislation, among other initiatives.
But most executives who fought these and other such proposals had no quarrel with the goals; their beef was with the cost of achieving those goals and the means by which Washington would insist they be achieved.
Within the "command and control" framework of government, there was little room for experimentation and innovation. So many companies fought the regulations.
Overall, however, when you step back and view what's been accomplished over the past 40 years or so, you have to concede that our national commitment to the environment, however costly, has been wildly successful.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Business-no-longer-sees-red-over-being-green-5019844.phpShare This Post
By Ben Adler
It has become a common assertion, repeated ad nauseum by hack pundits such as yours truly, that New York City’s outgoing mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has become one of the world’s most forceful opponents of climate change. Journalists typically refer to Bloomberg’s blueprint for reducing New York’s carbon footprint and adapting to climate change, known as PlaNYC. But such passing references typically fail to offer details of how exactly Bloomberg has done it: What are the components of New York’s sustainability agenda, and what is the story behind its adoption?
Into that void steps InsideClimate News with its e-book, Bloomberg’s Hidden Legacy: Climate Change and the Future of New York City. In almost 25,000 words, InsideClimate reporters Katherine Bagley and Maria Gallucci have brought us the definitive account of Bloomberg’s greatest achievement.Share This Post
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 - 9:00 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Nov. 29, 2013 - 9:22 am
MIDLAND, Texas -- All along the highway that leads into this city in West Texas, the rows of black pump jacks seem endless, bobbing up and down as they pull crude oil from beneath the parched scrub desert.
The pump jacks have long been here, in good times and bad, a symbol of this city’s long status as the heart of America’s petroleum industry. Even when U.S. oil production was dropping and many feared the Permian Basin, which feeds Midland’s oil economy, was all but exhausted, the pump jacks continued their work – even when the result seemed hardly worth the effort.
Now, their up and down motion seems all but unstoppable, a symbol of an energy revolution that seems likely to transform the globe.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/27/5926790/fracking-led-energy-boom-is-turning.htmlShare This Post
By Kevin G. Hall
McClatchy Washington BureauNovember 28, 2013
LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — This rust-bucket town near Buffalo is a perfect example of the transformation that fracking has brought to American business, where new life has been breathed into manufacturing and the nation’s railroads even as much the economy bumps along at a subpar pace.
On land that three decades ago bustled with thousands of steel workers, then lay fallow for years when America’s steel industry went bust, a new business now thrives: Welded Tube USA Inc., a subsidiary Welded Tube of Canada Corp. In September, the brand new Lackawanna plant started making steel pipes for private companies that drill for natural gas and crude oil.
Welded Tube plans in its first year to make about 100,000 tons of steel pipe used to push deep below the Earth’s surface in search of oil and natural gas. That’s more than five Eifel Towers annually on a single shift. A second shift is being eyed for February, and if the boom continues, plans call for more than tripling output to 350,000 tons, something the owners of the privately held company expect to happen in five years or less.
“We were primarily a non-energy tube producer until 2005,” said Robert “Butch” Mandel, the company’s president, who recognized that the boom in horizontal drilling would mean opportunity. “We started to reconfigure our capacity (in Canada) to produce pipes. . . . We decided at that point . . . we wanted to locate an operation that was close to the Marcellus and Utica shale plays,” two of the most significant new gas fields in the United States.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/11/28/209030/energy-boom-brings-new-life-to.htmlShare This Post
By Erika Bolstad
McClatchy Washington Bureau November 28, 2013
PITTSBURGH — Here, in the heart of coal country, at the center of the natural gas boom and the former foundation of U.S. manufacturing might, a long-shuttered auto plant now houses the Aquion Energy factory where workers are building innovative batteries to store solar- and wind-generated electricity.
Yet Aquion’s best customers are across the globe, not down the street. The battery manufacturing plant sits southeast of Pittsburgh, atop the Marcellus Shale, the rich geographic formation that is one of the epicenters of the natural gas boom. So the battery storage systems the company makes aren’t likely to be used here, a region brimming with abundant natural gas reserves and reliant on coal-fired plants for energy.
“The interesting paradox here is that we are a clean energy sitting on top of the largest natural gas deposit known in North America, maybe the world,” said Jay Whitacre, a scientist who spun Aquion off from research conducted at Carnegie Mellon University. “And we are producing technology to ship elsewhere, where there is no natural gas.”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/11/28/209029/saudi-america-fracking-boom-a.htmlShare This Post
By Sean Cockerham
McClatchy Washington BureauNovember 28, 2013
WASHINGTON — Fracking, the controversial drilling technique that is driving America’s energy boom, has been around for decades. But it was only in the last decade that the process of blasting underground rocks with water and chemicals was refined enough to deliver a long sought oil and gas bounty and stir a furious debate over its health and environmental consequences.
The fracking revolution began in an underground rock formation known as the Barnett Shale outside of Fort Worth, Texas. That’s where a wildcatter named George Mitchell, the son of an immigrant Greek goat herder, began searching in the 1980s for the right cocktail of water, sand and chemicals that would crack shale a mile underground and free the natural gas trapped inside. His company finally found the formula in the late 1990s, and it took a few years after that for others in the American oil industry to catch on to the transformative power of the new techniques.
“It took a long time to get to the starting line, but once we got there it’s really gone pretty fast,” said Pulitzer-Prize winning author and historian Daniel Yergin.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/11/28/209031/fracking-requires-chemicals-and.htmlShare This Post
Loren Steffy, Contributor
I write about the crossroads of energy and money.
11/29/2013 @ 10:31AM
New York has issued a moratorium for hydraulic fracturing in the portions of the Marcellus Shale that fall within its borders, but the state is benefiting economically and environmentally from the fracking going on in neighboring Pennsylvania, as NPR reported.
New York City, for example, has rolled out a program, “NYC Clean Heat,” to encourage building owners to switch from heating oil to natural gas. One building owner told NPR that by switching, he expects to reduce his building’s energy costs by 50 percent.
The abundance of natural gas produced by fracking in places like the Marcellus has driven down prices and made those savings possible. The irony, as NPR points out, is that most New Yorkers oppose frackingThe disparity between voters’ views on fracking and their embrace of cheaper heating bills and less pollution from natural gas underscores our broader national illiteracy about energy issues and the tradeoffs they require. For decades, much of our oil and natural gas production was extracted from remote areas of the country — places like West Texas and Alaska. Fracking has not only unleashed huge new reserves, it’s literally brought the drilling rigs closer to home for many Americans.
For years, we could ignore the tradeoffs that energy production required. We jumped in our cars and drove, we flicked on a switch and expected the lights to come on. Energy was made somewhere else, by some esoteric process that we could easily ignore. When a disaster, such as BP's BP +0.23% 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, did draw attention to the costs of production, we embraced unrealistic responses — shut down offshore drilling, switch to renewables.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorensteffy/2013/11/29/new-yorks-fracking-hypocrisy-underscores-energy-illiteracy/?ss=business%3AenergyShare This Post
on November 27, 2013 at 2:25 PM, updated November 27, 2013 at 3:12 PM
Sen. Ron Wyden told community members in Coos Bay on Sunday that he had made it possible, in his role as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, for the Jordan Cove Energy project to get full consideration as a facility to export liquefied natural gas.
The controversial project has been under consideration for years, first seeking a federal license to import natural gas, and now as a $7 billion terminal and pipeline to export gas from the Rocky Mountains and Canada.
LNG has been a polarizing issue in Oregon, dividing communities where they've been proposed. The projects have been assailed by environmental and landowner groups and backed by trade unions.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/11/wyden_holds_town_hall_on_lng_i.html#incart_riverShare This Post
By David Siders
Published: Monday, Dec. 2, 2013 - 12:00 am
Gov. Jerry Brown, who championed environmental causes when he was governor before and made global warming a focus of his current administration, has been targeted in recent weeks by an increasingly vocal group of activists whose animosity would once have appeared improbable.
Environmentalists frustrated with Brown’s permissiveness of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have followed the Democratic governor to events throughout the state since September, heckling him for his approval of legislation establishing a permitting system for the controversial form of oil extraction.
The protests have become an awkward sideshow for the third-term governor, highlighting the deepening division between Brown and environmentalists – a reliably Democratic constituency – as he prepares for a re-election bid next year.
“The issue … here is about how Governor Brown wants to be remembered, and his history, and what his legacy is going to be in California,” said Victoria Kaplan, campaign director at MoveOn.org Civic Action. “Is he going to be remembered as the governor who backtracked on his commitment to addressing climate change?”
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/12/02/5961428/jerry-brown-followed-to-events.htmlShare This Post
End of an Era in Coal Country, Utah: The Carbon Power Plant, the state’s oldest coal-fired power plant, is set to close by April 2015, a result of new stricter federal pollution regulations.
By DAN FROSCH
Published: November 27, 2013
PRICE, Utah — For generations, coal has been the lifeblood of this mineral-rich stretch of eastern Utah. Mining families proudly recall all the years they toiled underground. Supply companies line the town streets. Above the road that winds toward the mines, a soot-smudged miner peers out from a billboard with the slogan “Coal = Jobs.”
But recently, fear has settled in. The state’s oldest coal-fired power plant, tucked among the canyons near town, is set to close, a result of new, stricter federal pollution regulations.
As energy companies tack away from coal, toward cleaner, cheaper natural gas, people here have grown increasingly afraid that their community may soon slip away. Dozens of workers at the facility here, the Carbon Power Plant, have learned that they must retire early or seek other jobs. Local trucking and equipment outfits are preparing to take business elsewhere.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/28/us/a-part-of-utah-built-on-coal-wonders-what-comes-next.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Slowdown in Radioactive Waste Cleanup: Officials in South Carolina say the federal government has not met its promise to clean up waste at the old Savannah River Site nuclear weapons plant.
Published: November 28, 2013
AIKEN, S.C. — The Energy Department began cleaning up an environmental nightmare at the old Savannah River Site nuclear weapons plant here in 1996 and promised a bright future: Within a quarter-century, officials said, they would turn liquid radioactive bomb waste into a solid that could not spill or dissolve.
But 17 years later, the department has slowed the work to a pace that makes completion of the cleanup by the projected date of 2023 highly unlikely. Energy officials now say the work will not be done until well into the 2040s, when the aging underground tanks that hold the bomb waste in the South Carolina lowlands will be 90 years old.
“I don’t know what the tanks’ design life was intended to be, but it’s not for infinity,” the state’s chief environmental official, Catherine B. Templeton, said in an interview.
The slowdown has set off a fierce battle between the Energy Department and South Carolina, where officials say they have been double-crossed in what they view as the state’s biggest environmental threat. In an unusual display of resistance from a state that was host to a major part of the Cold War effort to make nuclear weapons — and is now home to most of the resulting radioactive waste — South Carolina is threatening to impose $154 million in fines on the federal government for failing to meet its promised schedule.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/29/us/slow-cleanup-of-bomb-waste-pits-south-carolina-against-washington.html?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
November 30, 2013
Andrew Greenfield checks his home's solar power output against consumption through his computer and mobile phone dozens of times each day. The IBM storage engineer enjoys trying to match the power he consumes to heat his pool in Arizona with what he produces during the day from the panels on his roof.
Greenfield has paid nothing for power from his local utility since the system was installed by SolarCity a year ago. And at parties and family gatherings he proudly shares his savings data with anyone who's interested.
He's your utility's worst nightmare, and there are now hundreds of thousands of homeowners and small businesses like him as Silicon Valley entrepreneurs transform monthly ratepayers into smart consumers.
"I travel a lot and don't always remember to turn off my AC or the pool heater," Greenfield says. "Now I can just do it on my cell phone."
The same rooftop solar providers that are threatening utility revenues are more than just occupying customer roofs - they're inside the home, monitoring usage trends and adapting the systems to meet both the homeowner's needs and their own bottom lines.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Solar-companies-use-data-to-customers-benefit-5022699.phpShare This Post
Published: November 29, 2013
Along the Hudson River in the West Village, temporary lights mounted on minigenerators illuminated determined bicyclists and the occasional dog walker who were out despite a persistent rain one recent afternoon.
The lights, the sort used for nighttime highway construction, are a reminder of the lingering scars from Hurricane Sandy on the city’s streetscape. More than a year after the storm sent several feet of water coursing over Hudson River Park, most of the power has been restored, but about 5 percent of the lights are still dark.
“We built everything to the 100-year flood plain, and then we had a 1,000-year storm, so everything ended up being seven feet too low,” said Madelyn Wils, president of the Hudson River Park Trust, the public benefit corporation that manages the park.
The park, which stretches from Chambers Street to 59th Street, had other damage from the storm, including upturned paving stones on a number of piers. But the biggest blow was to the electrical system. The damage estimate now stands at $31 million, three times the initial assessment, and the majority of that went to restoring power.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/30/nyregion/storm-crippled-lighting-system-in-hudson-river-park-is-making-a-comeback.html?ref=nyregionShare This Post
SolarCity’s new Chico operations center part of a burgeoning industry
This article was published on 11.28.13.
Original source: http://www.newsreview.com/chico/power-up/content?oid=12136469
California’s solar-energy industry—long beholden to state incentives that subsidized the cost of residential installations—appears to be taking off under its own power.
The recent expansion of SolarCity, the San Mateo-based solar installation company that on Monday, Nov. 25, announced the opening of a Chico-based “operation center,” is a local indication of an industry that is finding its legs sans government assistance. The new center has hired 23 employees and has five remaining open positions; statewide, SolarCity will open 10 new operation centers by the end of the year for a total of 24 centers and 2,100 employees.
California has become the largest solar-power market in the country, according to Forbes magazine, largely due to the California Solar Initiative (CSI), which was signed into law in 2006 as part of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Million Solar Roofs program. The CSI set an initial goal of 1,940 megawatts of new solar-generated electricity by 2017, offering rebates to help lower the cost of solar arrays for homeowners. Residential solar-array rebates were exhausted about four years ahead of schedule due to their popularity, leaving installation companies such as SolarCity to their own devices when it comes to attracting customers.
Will Craven, public relations manager for SolarCity, believes that California’s solar industry has “matured past the point of needing state-based incentives.
“The fact that we’re able to keep growing without [the CSI] is a testament to its effectiveness as public policy,” he said during a recent phone interview. “It did exactly what it was designed to do, and succeeded to the point where it was no longer necessary.”Share This Post
Posted on 26 November 2013
By Kate Poole
The Los Angeles Daily News penned a noteworthy editorial last week titled California is drowning in ancient and unfair water rules. It’s noteworthy because the editorial correctly debunks some of the common myths about California’s water system and, in doing so, points the way to several needed reforms:
Myth 1 – urban southern California is the biggest water hog in the state.
Wrong. As the editorial points out, “farming accounts for more than 80 percent of the state’s water usage, while providing less than 5 percent of its gross domestic product.” This is not to say that farming is not important – it certainly is. But because farmers laid claim to a huge amount of California’s water rights in the 19th and early 20th century, the State’s first-in-time, first-in-right system means that they continue to control a vast majority of the state’s water supply, even though agriculture is a far smaller piece of the State’s economic pie than it once was. Meanwhile, many urban southern California water agencies have impressive plans to be highly efficient in their use and reuse of their piece of the remaining 20 percent. When will we demand that agriculture be as efficient with this scarce resource?
Myth 2 – all farmers are careful stewards of scarce water supplies.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/restoring-fairness-world-california-water?utm_source=Daily+Email+11%2F26%2F13&utm_campaign=11%2F26%2F13+Daily+Email&utm_medium=emailShare This Post