July 14, 2010

Game-Changer:Chair of Obama Spill Commission Changes His Mind on Need for Offshore Ban AfterVisiting Gulf Coast – "It’s Not Clear to Me Why It Should Take So Long." NYTimes (7/13) reports, "Three weeks ago, William K. Reilly, the newly namedco-chairman of the presidential commission appointed to investigate the BP oilspill, said he thought the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in theGulf of Mexico was necessary – and maybe even too short. He said in aninterview with The Times that the commission was unlikely to recommend that theban be lifted before the panel completes its work in January. He said thatgovernment and industry must first adopt profound changes in how they operatebefore he would be willing to advocate lifting the moratorium. "Those thingswould have to happen faster than past history would suggest is possible," hesaid. But on Tuesday, after two days of touring the gulf region and a day and ahalf of hearing testimony from a variety of aggrieved local officials, businessinterests and oil executives, Mr. Reilly changed his tune. The moratorium isspreading economic pain across the region, he said, and for many is worse thanthe effects of the spill itself. "It’s not clear to me why it should take solong," Mr. Reilly told reporters during a break in testimony on Tuesday.

Welcometo 7th Grade: In Wake of Reid Announcement that "Energy" and "Climate"Bill Will Be Run Week of July 26, Host of Other Senators Scurry into Corner toPlan Their Way In. E&E News (7/14,subs. req’d) reports, "The architects behind this year’s sweeping Senate energyand climate proposal are working overtime to round up support for aslimmed-down version of their bill that would curb emissions from only theelectric utility sector. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)had previously conceded that they would be willing to scale back their goal ofan economy-wide price on carbon, and the pair are now ramping up efforts totake the lead in making such a utility-only bill a reality. A draft proposalfrom the duo surfaced yesterday shortly after Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nev.) announced his plans to address emissions from power plants as part ofa larger energy bill later this month. Meanwhile, Kerry worked late into theevening to try to drum up support from stakeholders off the Hill. Themaneuvering comes as a number of senators are feverishly working to ensure thattheir priorities make the cut when Reid unveils the final package. Reidprovided a rough outline yesterday of what he plans to include in the four-partpackage: oil spill response, energy efficiency, clean energy production andefforts to slash greenhouse gases from power plants. That leaves Reid a lot ofwiggle room to pick and choose which measures he will include in the finalpackage, which he wants to send to the floor the week of July 26.

Round3: Did Salazar Really Think That Updated Obama Ban Would Survive Without LegalChallenge? Ensco Files Suit This Time Around. HoustonChronicle (7/13) reports, "The Obama administration may have hoped that anewly revised ban on deep-water drilling would end the legal battle over theissue, but it became clear Tuesday that the fight over offshore exploration isfar from over. Ensco Offshore Co., a U.K.-based rig owner, filed a lawsuitaccusing the administration of illegally imposing new requirements on theindustry and dragging its feet in permitting shallow-water drilling. AlthoughEnsco is arguing against the same original ban that other companies also havesued over in federal court, the company also is challenging new safetystandards imposed on the industry and delays in issuing shallow-water drillingpermits. Meanwhile, Hornbeck Offshore Services, the drilling rig owner thatsuccessfully challenged the first ban in federal court, was skeptical of thenew moratorium and weighing its response. A third challenge of the originalban, by Houston-based Diamond Offshore also is pending in a federal district court.Secretary Ken Salazar issued the new directive Monday, in response to a June 22federal court ruling that invalidated the original ban on drilling in at least500 feet of water. Although Salazar’s order was rewritten so it would applyregardless of water depth – and was accompanied by more than 20 pages of newjustification – it essentially maintains the status quo in the Gulf of Mexico,where deep-water drilling has been blocked since May 27.

NaturalGas Documentary Called HaynesvilleMay Not Have Gotten Nod from Bob Redford to Be in Sundance, But Still WowingAudiences Wherever It’s Played. Houston Chronicle (7/14)reports, "The natural gas documentary Haynesville has been out quite a bitlonger than the film Gasland, but hasn’t attracted the same sized audience asthe decidedly anti-drilling movie. Maybe it’s because a positive take onnatural gas is a harder sell (or taking a negative turn on anythingenergy-related is much easier?) Being off on the timing for Sundance in 2009probably didn’t help, as the warm embrace of Sundance 2010 has certainly helpedGasland. It’s too bad because Haynesville director Gregory Kallenberg wouldmake a great foil to John Stewart on the Daily Show. In any case, Haynesvilleis making another stop in Houston today and tomorrow at the Alamo Draft House.The filmmakers are embracing the greater notoriety of Gasland by including aquote from Fort Worth Star-Telegram film writer Bud Kennedy in its promotionalmaterial: "Battle of the gas movies: The emotional @GasLandMovie is on HBOMonday, but Louisiana-based @HaynesvilleFilm is fairer and smarter. Seeboth."

PublicEnemy No. 1: Forget the Coal Plants, Forget the Offshore Oil and Gas -Policymakers in Australia Concerned About One Thing on Climate Change: CattleBurps. NYTimes (7/13) reports, "But while cattle belch enormous amounts of methaneto digest the food, kangaroos release virtually none – they burp only harmlessacids that can be turned into vinegar. Sure, Mr. Klieve, an expert on bovinestomachs, has fiddled around with the ruminants’ diet to make them less gassy.But on a tour of the new $28 million Center for Advanced Animal Science here,Mr. Klieve grew animated when he talked of leading a team of microbiologistsand genetic researchers to make cattle guts behave like kangaroos’. "Feedadditives can lead to incremental decreases in methane," Mr. Klieve said,standing inside a nearly complete high-tech chamber where cattle will bebrought in to have their methane burps measured precisely. "But we’re trying todo other things that might give us a quantum leap, and that’s why we’re lookingat kangaroos." Australia contributes more greenhouse gases per capita than justabout any other country, with its coal-fired power plants leading the way. Butmore than 10 percent of those gases come from what bureaucrats call livestockemissions – animals’ burping.

Aufwiedersehen!German Wind Farm Gets Shelved Thanks to Host of Environmental Concerns -Apparently Screwing Up Habitat for Porpoises (!). Bloomberg(7/14) reports, "The construction of new offshore wind parks in Germany may bedelayed as a government agency refuses to grant building permits because ofenvironmental concerns, Financial Times Deutschland reported, citing aninternal document. The Bundesamt for Naturschutz, an agency for the protectionof the environment, said construction work on the foundations for the windmillsis driving porpoises from their natural habitat and is harming crustaceans andother marine life, FTD reported. Companies specializing in offshore wind parks may now face higher costsas licensing processes become more complex and investments are jeopardized, FTDsaid.

PoliticoPiece on Al Gore Attempts to Lure Pro-Energy Crowd Into Saying Nasty ThingsAbout VP’s Failed Private Life – But We’d Rather Talk About His FailedPolicies. Politico (7/14)reports, "While maintaining his innocence in the Portland case, Gore hasn’tskipped a beat in his pitch for a controversial limit on greenhouse gasemissions, lending a critical voice from the left as the Senate edges closer toa vote on an issue to which Gore has dedicated the past decade of his life,ever since losing the White House to George W. Bush. "I don’t think this recentstuff can help," said Ken Green, a resident scholar at the American EnterpriseInstitute. "It looks like he exaggerated the strength of his marriage for along time. And while the climate stuff doesn’t reach the tabloid level, themarriage stuff does." "He’s lost some standing with that average person," Greenadded. Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at theCompetitive Enterprise Institute, said he’d prefer that the climate debatecenter on the merits of the policy Gore is advocating for and not dwell on hispersonal life."By and large, people on our side don’t stoop to thepersonalizing of these things," he said. "We’d rather engage him as thepolitical figure who peddles nonsense, misleading rhetoric and falsehoods."

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