June 17, 2010

Deepwater-Gate: TechnicalExperts Whose Views Were Misrepresented by Salazar Call Obama Ban on CurrentOffshore Exploration "Craziness." WallStreet Journal (6/17) editorializes, "The experts were certainly under theimpression they were reviewing a comprehensive document, as some of therecommendations would take six months or even a year to implement. And thereport they agreed to did address moratoria: It recommended a six-month ban onnew deepwater permits. Yet Benton Baugh, president of Radoil, said that in atleast two separate hour-and-a-half phone calls among Interior and the experts,there was no discussion of a moratorium on existing drilling. "Because ifanybody had [made that suggestion], we’d have said ‘that’s craziness.’" "This was a political call; this wasnot a technical call," says Mr. Arnold. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar hassince testified that the call was his. But Robert Bea, from the University ofCalifornia at Berkeley, who also reviewed the report, told us Interior had senthim a letter that "stated clearly that [the moratorium] had been insertedat the request of the White House." As for Ms. Browner’s claim that no onewas "misrepresented," Mr. Brett disputes that. Several reviewers saidthey had, in fact, received "apology" notes from the InteriorDepartment acknowledging the misrepresentation. "We did not mean to implythat you also agreed with the decision to impose a moratorium on all newdeepwater drilling," read one. All of this matters because it offers proof the moratorium was driven bypolitics, not safety.

Cracks in the Façade: SalazarTells Out-of-Work Residents of the Gulf Coast that Offshore Ban "Might" BeLifted Early – But Doesn’t Have the Juice to Guarantee It. NewOrleans Times-Picayune (6/16) reports, "Interior Secretary Ken Salazarrejected calls Wednesday from Gulf Coast officials for the immediate lifting ofa six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, although he said it’s possible itcould be shortened. "We will not allow wells to be drilled unless we canbe assured of safety," Salazar said after a meeting with about 20 Gulf Coastcongressional members. He repeated the message in a meeting later with Sen.Mary Landrieu, D-La., and state and local officials from Louisiana, led byinterim Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle. Salazar, following up on President BarackObama’s statement Tuesday night that the commission investigating the DeepwaterHorizon accident might issue its findings on improving drilling safety soonerthan six months, said it is "possible" the moratorium could endsooner. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said the deepwater drilling moratorium"is a huge job-killer that may ultimately do more damage to our economythan the oil spill itself, and the Obama administration needs to end itnow."

Sen. Kerry Tells Press that "EverySingle Study" Shows Mass Subsidization of "Green Jobs" Is an Economic Winner -But Spain (and DK, et. al) are "Anomalies." CEI’s Chris Horner writes (6/17) for the DailyCaller, "One should hold deeply mitigated expectations for a senator who,as lead author of a cap-and-trade bill, admits he doesn’t know whatcap-and-trade means. But Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is tempting me to thinkthat, if he is merely uninformed, it must be willfully so. Or else he’s got anuncomfortable relationship with the truth and, it would seem particularly giventhe absence of specifics or examples, is making stuff up. Kerry Picket reportsthe following stunner,in the face of Spain’s disaster: Senator Kerry told reporters that "every study"shows that the subsidizing of alternative energy creates jobs, tellingreporters on Tuesday, "We just told you that every study that has been madesays that this creates hundreds of thousands of jobs a year," he said. However,according to a 2009 study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain,the subsidizing of renewable energy was a complete disaster. In fact, the studysaid that for every new job depending on energy price supports, at least 2.2jobs in other industries will disappear. I asked Senator Kerry about Spain’sown failed experience in the area of subsidizing alternative energy: "You havesome anomalies in some countries where they began slowly. They didn’t have theright incentives, they over-subsidized a couple of different things- we’velearned something from some of those mistakes, but I’m confident that the waywe’re approaching this is really private sector determined." (Audiofile available)

Potemkin "Religious" Group -Funded Exclusively By the Godless – Comes Up with Six-Figure Ad Buy BlastingLindsey Graham for Backing Out on Cap-and-Raid. Politico(6/16) reports, "Sen. Lindsey Graham is under fire from a religious advocacygroup that once hailed his work on climate change but now is running ads oncable TV in the Washington market that question his reversal.  The American Values Network started airingcommercials Wednesday on MSNBC, CNN and Fox that contrast the South CarolinaRepublican’s past remarks in support of a major global warming bill with newsheadlines announcing that he no longer supports the legislation. "Now he’sbacking what he himself called a ‘half-assed energy bill,’" a narrator says inthe ads, citing perhaps Graham’s most widely quoted statement from earlier thisyear, in which he challenged the push by moderate Democrats to focus on energylegislation and skirt a vote on limits for greenhouse gases. Eric Sapp,executive director of the American Values Network, said his organization madethe "six-figure" ad buy to highlight Graham’s steady retreat over the past twomonths from closed-door talks with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman(I-Conn.).

These Are the Days of Our Lives:As Rest of the Nation Trips Over Itself to Figure Out Best Way to TakeAdvantage of Shale Gas, New York Continues to Wait for Godot. Peter Applebome writes (6/16) in the New YorkTimes, "Gas drilling isn’t new in New York. There are 13,000 active wellsin the state; the industry says the first gas well was drilled at Fredonia in1821. What’s new is the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontaldrilling in the rich gas deposit known as the Marcellus Shale, which runsroughly 600 miles – including in parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio,Pennsylvania and New York. "It’s an awful idea," said Scott Kurkoski, a lawyer forthe Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, which represents 37 landownersgroups whose members own 800,000 acres. He said the failure to develop gas wasan economic hardship to landowners and to the state. Proponents of drilling saythat while New York has dithered, drilling in Pennsylvania has created 44,000jobs and has had a $1.8 billion economic impact. He added: "If there was alegitimate, rational reason to study this further, it would be one thing, butthis has already been studied to death. The calls for a delay are coming frompeople who don’t want to see it happen in New York."

Backers of NortheastCap-and-Raid System Cite Precipitous Drop in Emissions as Proof that RGGI IsWorking – Except: New Study Shows the Drop Had NOTHING TO DO with RGGI. E&E News (6/16,subs. req’d) reports, "Prices for RGGI allowances for the current commitmentperiod fell below $2 per short ton of carbon dioxide equivalent at the latestauction held on June 9 to $1.88 and are nearing the $1.86 price floorestablished under the cap-and-trade scheme. That is down from a record clearingprice of $3.51 per short ton netted at an auction held in March 2009.Allowances for the next RGGI commitment period are already trading at the floorprice. ENE says record low natural gas prices are behind the fall. Low gasprices and pressure to reduce greenhouse gas pollution have seen firmsswitching from coal-fired generation to gas in a big way. The sharp drop injust the first two years of RGGI’s existence, though driven by economicdecline, proves that quick gains in emissions reductions at minimal costs toratepayers are possible, ENE analysts say. Low natural gas prices helped pushfuel oil generation down 38 percent lower in 2009 than the prior year, whilecoal generation decreased 24 percent. "It appears that 2009 emissionslevels were caused more by relative fuel prices than by the RGGI capitself."

EU Finally Waking Up to the Factthat All the Suncatchers They Want to Install Require "Rare Earth" Metals ToWhich They Don’t Have Access – Hoping China Will Send Some Over. NYTimes (6/17) reports, "The European Union is facing shortages of 14critical raw materials needed for mobile phones and emerging technologies likesolar panels and synthetic fuels, according to a study by the EuropeanCommission to be released on Thursday. The commission is ringing the alarm bellon raw materials as China again plans to tighten its control over its rareearth minerals by allowing just a handful of state companies to oversee themining of the scarce elements that are vital to some of the world’s greenesttechnologies. To tackle the problem, the commission proposed that the EuropeanUnion improve its recycling policies, develop products that require fewer rawmaterials and encourage research on finding substitutes. But the commissionattributed the shortages to trade, taxation and investment policies in emergingeconomies that were aimed at reserving their resource bases for their exclusiveuse. "We need fair play on external markets," the European Union’s commissionerfor enterprise, Antonio Tajani, said in a draft statement that he plans todeliver on Thursday at a conference in Spain.

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