June 16, 2010

EPA Did Its Best to Hide It, Butin Agency’s Report on Kerry-Lieberman, an Interesting Nugget: Bill Will OnlyReduce Fossil Fuel Usage by FOUR PERCENT over Next 20 YEARS. LATimes (6/16) reports, "Major changes in energy policy – and attendantpolicies on climate change – are hard to bring to fruition because they requiresupport from Congress and a broad array of contending interest groups. So far,even modest steps toward energy independence have proved unacceptable. Case inpoint: EPA said Tuesday that additional fossil fuel costs imposed by anObama-blessed energy proposal being discussed in the Senate would cut petroleumconsumption only 4% over the next 20 years. Environmentalists want thepresident to use the oil spill as a bully pulpit to push harder on renewableenergy sources, such as wind and solar power, while avoiding fossil fuels.Conservatives have advocated more efforts at extracting fossil fuels. "TheUnited States has over a trillion barrels of oil shale out West. Billions ofbarrels of untapped oil in Alaska. And more coal and natural gas than we knowwhat to do with," said PatrickCreighton, a spokesman for the free-market Institute for Energy Research."An effective energy policy would treat these homegrown, job-creatingenergy resources as an asset, not a liability," he said.

Speaking of that EPA Report: TheRest of It Is a Heap of Garbage – But Even Cooked Research Shows Annual Cost toMiddle-Class Families of $150 – Not Peanuts. E&E News(6/15, subs. req’d) reports, "Sponsors of a Senate climate and energy bill hopea U.S. EPA analysis showing a modest increase on household energy costs willcreate a wave of new momentum for their legislation. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.)and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) released EPA’s analysis of their cap-and-trade billtoday, which states the measure would cost households between $80 and $150annually over the next 40 years. The analysis also shows that households’energy bills will decrease through 2030 under the bill. Critics of theKerry-Lieberman bill, meanwhile, accused EPA of underestimating the costs ofcap-and-trade legislation."The American people overwhelmingly oppose anincrease in the gas tax — yet, it’s included in this legislation," said Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute forEnergy Research. "We can argue about how high the costs of thislegislation will be, but no one denies that the consumer will end up with lessmoney in their pockets after this legislation is signed into law."Cap-and-trade legislation faces a difficult battle getting 60 votes in theSenate, where many moderate lawmakers have indicated opposition.

Obama Uses Primetime Address toLink Spill in the Gulf with Need to Pass Carbon Criminalization Bill – But AtLeast One Key Democrat Isn’t Buying It. UnitedPress International (6/15) reports, "A key Democrat on the U.S. Senateenergy committee said backers lack the votes to get climate-change rules intothe energy bill. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., a senior member of the SenateEnergy and Natural Resources Committee, noted adding the rules would require 60votes. "I doubt very much whether those 60 votes exist right now," hesaid on C-SPAN’s "Washington Journal," The Hill reported. TheWashington publication noted President Barack Obama and Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid, D-Nev., are preparing to squeeze an energy bill into a busy summerschedule on Capitol Hill. Obama has e-mailed supporters to try to expand their ranks.Reid has told committee heads to prepare for work on an energy bill. A loss ofDorgan’s support would mean Democrats would be at least two votes short ofmoving ahead with climate-change regulations.

Obama Announces Replacement forBirnbaum over at MMS – Some Fellow Named Michael Bromwich, Who Has ZEROExperience in Energy. CNN(6/15) reports, "President Barack Obama on Tuesday appointed Michael Bromwich,a former Justice Department watchdog in the Clinton administration, as the newhead of a reorganized federal effort to regulate offshore oil drilling."He has a mandate to implement far-reaching change and will have theresources to accomplish that change," the statement said. InteriorSecretary Ken Salazar previously announced plans to split MMS into three newdivisions — the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety andEnvironmental Enforcement, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue. Bromwich,a lawyer who specializes in internal investigations and regulatory matters, wasthe Justice Department inspector general from 1994-1999 under President BillClinton. The job entailed investigating alleged corruption and misconduct inthe department. A graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School and Harvard’sJohn F. Kennedy School of Government, Bromwich was a federal prosecutor in NewYork and served as an associate for the independent counsel office in theIran-Contra case.

Even the Greens Scratchin’ TheirHead Over Obama’s Mystery MMS Pick – But Taking Comfort in the Fact He "MaxedOut" for Obama in 2008. E&E News (6/16, subs.req’d) reports, "Bromwich’s scarce experience in the field does raise eyebrowswith some Interior veterans."It is interesting that the president wouldselect someone who does not appear to have any natural resource or energyexperience to both reform and lead this organization during a time ofchallenge," said David Bernhardt, solicitor at the Interior Departmentduring the George W. Bush administration and now a lawyer in the Washingtonoffice of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. "However, he will actually findmany talented and dedicated public servants within Interior who will want tohelp him succeed, and who are radically different from the way they aredescribed in the talking points of politicians." "I don’t know himpersonally. I have not even heard of him," said Bill Snape, senior counselwith the Center for Biological Diversity. "Bromwich looks solid, though hedoes come out of a corporate law culture himself." Bromwich is not acomplete stranger to politics. He "maxed out" on politicalcontributions to President Obama’s 2008 campaign, giving $4,600, the limit underthe law. He gave $2,000 in 2004 to then-Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry(D-Mass.).

Obama Calculation on MoratoriumProbably Didn’t Account for Constant Bird-Dogging from Gulf Coast Lawmakers -Scalise, Vitter, Landrieu Leading the Charge. Politico (6/15)reports, "House Republicans on Tuesday accused President Barack Obama of usingthe oil spill crisis as an excuse to push a new energy policy and an unpopularcap and trade proposal. Republican lawmakers also ripped the moratorium ondeepwater drilling.  "This jobkilling ban on drilling is causing more problems right now than the oil [spill]long term because it’s threatening over 40,000 jobs," said Rep. SteveScalise (R-La.). "It’s starting to already have reverberating, cripplingeffects to our economy and it doesn’t do anything to cap the well and toactually address the problems of the oil coming onto our shore."  Scalise, who visited Grand Isle, La.last week, said he heard from local leaders that they’re "spending moretime battling the federal government and BP than they are battling theoil." He said he’s heard that workers on the ground have waited as long asfive days to get answers from federal agencies.  "There’s no excuse for that," he said.

Labor Dept. Announces Plan toSpend Millions on New "Green Jobs" Programs – Only a Week After Admitting(Again) It Didn’t Know What a Green Job Was. E&E News(6/15, subs. req’d) reports, "The Labor Department awarded $9 million in grantstoday to train military veterans for "green" jobs, such as installingsolar panels and weatherizing homes. The competitive grants, provided throughthe Veterans’ Workforce Investment Program, are separate from a $500 millionAmerican Recovery and Reinvestment Act initiative the Labor Department isspearheading to position workers in the energy efficiency and renewable energyindustries. Twenty-two governments, nonprofits and work force investment boardsin 19 states and the District of Columbia will can begin tapping into the fundon July 1, an agency spokesman said. The organizations will use the money toprovide about 4,000 veterans job skills assessments, counseling, training,placement assistance and follow-up services. The grant recipients are: theColorado Department of Labor and Employment ($500,000); Goodwill Industries ofHouston Inc. ($500,000); Veterans Outreach Center Inc., Rochester, N.Y.($270,000); Commonwealth of Massachusetts ($500,000); Community Solutions forClackamas County, Ore. ($500,000); East Central University, Ada, Okla.($500,000); American G.I. Forum National Veterans Outreach Program Inc., SanAntonio, Texas ($500,000); Pima County, Ariz. ($500,000); Pennsylvania Departmentof Labor and Industry ($500,000);

Unearthed Report from FederalMine Safety Administration Seems to Indicate that Agency Gave Massey SomePretty Bad Advice on Methane. Reuters(6/15) reports, "Massey Energy Corp, owner of the coal mine where 29 men diedin a blast in April, said on Tuesday that mine safety regulators knew of cracksin the mine floor years earlier and made contradictory recommendations onpreventing deadly methane gas leaks. The company cited a July 15, 2004, reportby the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) regarding twoprevious methane outbursts at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia."Importantly, the report contained recommendations inconsistent withMSHA’s recent handling of ventilation at UBB," Massey said in a pressrelease. Massey said MSHA personnel internally discussed prior methaneoutbursts at UBB in July 2003 and February 2004 that occurred when cracks inthe mine floor allowed methane to escape into the mine. "MSHA personnelrecommended that a number of steps be considered to address the potential forfuture outbursts," the company said. The primary recommendation was forincreased airflow to dilute the methane at the coal face. "Contrary to therecommendation, MSHA in 2009 and 2010 mandated changes resulting in less air onthe UBB longwall (coal face)," Massey said.

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