July 8, 2010

Poll Released This Week – Oversampled withDemocratic Voters – Finds 70 Percent of Respondents Oppose National Energy TaxBeing Debated by Congress. E&E News (7/7, subs. req’d) reports, "Voters areoverwhelmingly opposed to any policy they perceive as increasing taxes onenergy and have little interest in seeing climate legislation become a reality,according to a poll released today by a conservative-leaning think tank. The pollfound that roughly 70 percent of voters opposed such a policy, while 28 percentexpressed support. Sixty-three percent of voters did say they see the proposalas a tax, compared to 33 percent who do not. In a follow-up question, 61percent said they are unwilling to pay any amount more in gasoline taxes inorder to address global warming. Institutefor Energy Research spokesman Patrick Creighton said that the pollingconducted by environmental groups often ignores the cost aspect, painting thelegislation as benefiting the consumers through rebates and other policieswhile downplaying the potential financial hit to individuals andbusinesses."We ask about cost; they don’t ask about cost," Creightonsaid. "The reason we did this, pure and simple, is because wheneverpolling data comes out on energy and environmental issues, there’s never anycost associated with it."

Chu on This: Even As Energy Dept. Tells Americansto Install Expensive Lighting All Over the Joint, DOE Delinquent in Doing theSame Things In Its Own Compound. NY Times (7/7) reports, "Likeflossing or losing weight, saving energy is easier to promise than to actuallydo – even if you are the Department of Energy.  Its Web site advises that choosing new lighting technologiescan slash energy use by 50 to 75 percent. But the department is having troubletaking its own advice, according to an internal audit released on Wednesday;many of its offices are still installing obsolete fluorescent bulbs.  And very few have switched to the mostpromising technology, light-emitting diodes, which the department spentmillions of dollars to help commercialize. In one case, the Department ofEnergy made most of the investment by installing timers to shut off lights atnight when it moved into a new building in 1997. But it got no benefit: as ofMarch of this year, it had not bought the central control unit needed to runthe system.  "We are requestingpeople in the federal sector and the private sector to do the cost-benefitanalysis and make the investment," Gregory H. Friedman, the inspector general,said in a telephone interview. "We should do it ourselves."  Asked about the report, a spokeswomanfor the Energy Department, Stephanie Mueller, said, "We can acknowledge there’smore work that needs to be done."

"No Regrets": 9/11 Truther and Former Top WH EnviroAdvisor Says Fall from Grace "Worth Every Minute" If It Translates Into HigherEnergy Taxes for Americans.Politico (7/7) reports, "Thelast time Van Jones spoke at a Campus Progress National Convention, he was anenvironmental adviser in the White House – "and now I’m not," he said at thisyear’s conference Wednesday. "That sucks." But despite his self-described "roughexit" from the White House last September, he said he wouldn’t trade theexperience for anything. "What I learned in those six months [in the WhiteHouse] I am going to be able to take with me forever," he said addressing agroup of 1,200 young liberal activists at the Campus Progress nationalconference in downtown Washington. It was Jones’ first high-profile remarksabout his White House experience. "If you were given the same opportunity I wasto go and serve for six months, and it was 100 percent guaranteed that you’dhave the same rough exit that I had, do it – it’s worth every minute," hesaid.  Paul Begala, who ended theconference’s speaker lineup, focused on the way Democrats can win in Novemberin a non-presidential election year. "This is not a hope election, it’s a fearelection," Begala told POLITICO. "Since you don’t have your hero [Obama] on theballot, make sure you have a villain."

Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Lautenberg: Pressurefrom Congressional Dems Forces BP to Halt Multiyear Project in Alaska’s LibertyField.Wall Street Journal (7/7) reports, "BPPLC probably will postpone exploratory drilling at the Liberty field offAlaska’s coast until next year, as it responds to inquiries from federal andstate regulators about the safety of the enterprise, a company spokesman saidWednesday. BP’s plans to drill fresh wells at the Liberty field in the BeaufortSea using new techniques have come under fire from environmental groups andsome lawmakers in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf ofMexico. The company originally planned to start drilling the wells this fallbut is now considering postponing the start date to next year, said SteveRinehart, a spokesman for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. The U.S. InteriorDepartment and its new offshore drilling agency, the Bureau of Ocean EnergyManagement, Regulation and Enforcement, as well as the Alaska Oil and GasConservation Commission, have asked BP to provide more information about theLiberty project for a new round of reviews.

Ahead of Schedule: BP Expects to Intersect Macondowith Relief Wells over the Course of Next 2 Weeks – Potentially Weeks Ahead ofInitial Timetable.Wall Street Journal (7/7) reports, "BPPLC is pushing to fix its runaway Gulf oil well by July 27, possibly weeksbefore the deadline the company is discussing publicly, in a bid to showinvestors it has capped its ballooning financial liabilities, according tocompany officials. At the same time, BP is readying a series of backup plans incase its current operations go awry. These include connecting the rogue well toexisting pipelines in two nearby underwater gas and oil fields, according tocompany and administration officials. Much of the additional planning has beenpushed by the U.S. government, which has urged BP to develop what one officialcalled the "backup to the backup plan." Both BP and the federalgovernment are concentrating on their next steps, particularly because ofuncertainty caused by the imminent hurricane season and the protractedpolitical and financial damage caused by the endless spill. Both BP and theCoast Guard continue to state publicly they’re aiming to have a fix in place inearly to mid-August. BP has discussed its backup plans only with administrationofficials, who in turn have briefed President Barack Obama.

Massive Subsidization of Solar Installations inWashington State Not Enough to Get Folks to Jump – State "Is the Last Place inthe World" Where Solar Can Work. Seattle Times (7/7) reports, "Countingthe Deans, the statewide number of solar-power systems using allWashington-made parts stands at only 15. "We’re going at it at a slowpace," said Mike Nelson, who’s been involved in solar power since 1979 andis now director of Shoreline Community College’s clean-energy program. TheLegislature created the Renewable Energy Cost Recovery Incentives Program yearsago. It pays people or businesses using renewable-energy systems – such aswind, solar or anaerobic digesters – a base rate for each kilowatt-hourproduced by the system. The rate increases if various parts are manufactured inWashington, up to 54 cents per kilowatt-hour. There’s also an incentive forsolar-power manufacturers: They get a 43 percent break on their business &occupation tax. Even though there are incentives for both manufacturers andconsumers, the two combined aren’t as attractive as subsidies in other states.Electricity in California costs 15 cents a kilowatt-hour, compared with 7 centsin Washington. Cheap hydroelectric power makes Washington "the last placein the world" where solar power will reach a competitive price, Nelsonsaid.

You Know It’s Bad When: Even Federal GovernmentSays California Solar Giveaway "Presents Significant Risk to Lenders" – andShuts the Program Down Cold. Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat (7/7) reports, "SonomaCounty has suspended an innovative 16-month-old program to help property ownersfinance solar installations and other energy-saving retrofits after a federalagency announced Tuesday that such programs present a risk to giantgovernment-chartered mortgage lenders. The decision prevents new applicationsand freezes 578 pending applications with the county’s Energy IndependenceProgram. It does not affect participants who signed their deals with the countybefore Tuesday. Still, the suspension of new business – and the federalguidelines prompting it – are a significant blow to the momentum and moneyflowing toward energy efficiency and green building locally, said countyofficials, contractors and others. Some experts say the new guidelines alsocould affect many mortgage holders with no connection to the county’s programby lowering loan limits. The Federal Housing Finance Agency said Tuesday thatsuch arrangements "present significant risk to lenders" and "are not essentialfor successful programs to spur energy conservation."

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