August 11, 2010

Fmr.Sen. Ted Stevens Remembered as Indefatigable Proponent and Exponent ofAffordable, Reliable, American Energy.TheHill (8/10) reports, "American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard onTuesday joined the list of people expressing sadness over the death of formerAlaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) in a plane crash. "Ted Stevens loved Alaska andcared deeply about his constituents. He understood the importance of the oiland natural gas industry, and he worked tirelessly to help secure a strongerenergy future for Alaskans and all Americans. We express our condolences to hisloved ones," Gerard said in a statement. Stevens was a longtime advocate of theoil industry and helped bring jobs and revenues to the state by backingdrilling throughout his career. Stevens steered legislation through Congress inthe early 1970s that authorized construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Buthe fell short in his decades-long push to open the Arctic National WildlifeRefuge to oil drilling, calling a late 2005 vote that defeated ANWR drilling "thesaddest day of my life."

EPAWilling to Spend $2 Million of Your Tax Dollars on Duplicative Study onHydraulic Fracturing – But Not Willing to Pony Up a Few Extra K to Hold CivilForum in Binghamton. NYTimes (8/10) reports, "The hearing had just been moved to Syracuse afterthe original venue, Binghamton University, set conditions that E.P.A. officialsfound unacceptable and sent the agency looking for an alternate site in ahurry. Judith Enck, the E.P.A.’s regional administrator in New York, said thatBinghamton University had been squared away as a site last month but suddenlydecided to change the meeting’s location to a room with no air conditioning.When the E.P.A. "pushed back" on this change, she said, the university relentedbut raised its fee for the event.  "Itis regretful that Binghamton University has put E.P.A., and more importantly,thousands of people on both sides of the issue who had planned to attend thismeeting, in this inconvenient and difficult position," Ms. Enck said in astatement. "Universities are places where civic participation should flourish,especially on a major environmental topic like hydraulic fracturing’s potentialimpact on drinking water." But university officials countered that they hadraised the price to cover security and logistical costs after consulting locallaw enforcement officials, special interest groups and others that indicatedthat as many as 8,000 people could show up for the hearing, far more than the1,200 participants that the E.P.A. had pre-registered for the event.

HouseGOP Puts Members on the Record Regarding Support or Opposition to Using LameDuck Session as Means to Ram Thru Unpopular Carbon Criminalization Bill. E&E News (8/10,subs. req’d) reports, "House lawmakers today derailed a Republican bid to blockDemocrats from pushing through controversial climate legislation during alame-duck session. On a 236-163 procedural vote, the House quashed a resolutionfrom Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) pledging that Congress would not convene betweenNovember and January except in the case of a national emergency. Price andother GOP lawmakers are looking to fend off Democrats’ efforts to pass majorlegislation including a sweeping climate and energy bill after the Novemberelection. Top White House officials and Democratic leaders have suggested thatclimate legislation that stalled in the Senate this year may have a better shotonce political pressure on Capitol Hill has dissipated. "Democrats aretrying to avoid accountability by delaying the passage of a national energy taxand other unpopular policies until after Election Day," Price said in astatement. "Some might think that is a good way to override the will ofthe public, but it is a terrible way to govern. A lame duck session should notbe used as a post-election blitz to impose liberal programs that Americans donot support."

Lotsof Talk About How a Boxer Loss Might Impact Cap-and-Raid in DC – But WhatHappens to CA’s A.B. 32 if Jerry Brown Loses the Governor’s Seat? Politico (8/11)reports, "Nowhere is the battle more intense than in California, whereDemocratic Attorney General Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman are at oddsover the state’s landmark law to reduce heat-trapping emissions to 1990 levelsby 2020. Whitman favors a one-year suspension of the law, known as AB 32, togive the state’s economy time to recover from the recession. The former eBaychief executive said last fall that the climate law, which Republican Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger signed in 2006, "may have been well-intentioned, but itis wrong for these challenging times." Brown’s campaign has seized on Whitman’srightward shift during her heated GOP primary, which waded into doubts on thescience of global warming. And his campaign said Whitman is waffling when itcomes to her views on a separate ballot initiative – funded by out-of-state oilcompany interests – that would halt AB 32 unless there’s a dramatic economicturnaround. "We’re opposed to climate change, and Meg Whitman isn’t sure it’sreal," said Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford. "That’s the critical distinctionon that issue."

EdMarkey Likens Vote to Bail Out Public Sector Unions By Cutting Solar Hand-Outsto a "Sophie’s Choice" – Our 8th Grade Literature Teacher Tells UsHe Meant a "Hobson’s Choice." TheHill (8/10) reports, "Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) on Tuesday denounced theSenate for forcing the House into making a "Sophie’s choice" in backingemergency state aid partially paid for by stripping away renewable energyincentives. Markey – who has been a leading lieutenant to House Speaker NancyPelosi (D-Calif.) on energy and environment issues – blamed the Senate forsending the House a $26.1 billion state education and Medicaid funding packagethat is partially paid for by slashing $1.5 billion in renewable energy loanguarantees approved in last year’s economic stimulus bill. "It’s just somethingthat unfortunately I have to deal with in terms of the way in which the Senatehas been forced to operate in 2010," Markey said, shortly before the Houseapproved the Senate-passed aid package. "It’s unfortunate that these kinds ofSophie’s choices [occur] but it in no way undermines the long-term commitmentfor renewable energy, which the Speaker and the Democrats have." Pelosi madethe unusual move of calling House lawmakers back from their summer recess toapprove the emergency funding, and held a signing ceremony afterward. She didnot take any questions from reporters. 

NoSunshine in Britain? No Problem, Say Solar Lobbyists – Just Ensure Our Power IsPrices 10 Times the Market Price, and All Will Be Fine. ClimateWire (8/10,subs. req’d) reports, "A new feed-in tariff 10 times the price of regularelectricity is fueling a boom in photovoltaic solar power generation in theUnited Kingdom. Since the tariff came into effect April 1, 12.4 megawatts ofphotovoltaic solar power generation were installed — that’s 50 percent morethan in the last two years combined, according to the Office of the Gas and ElectricityMarkets, or Ofgem, Britain’s energy regulator. The bulk of the new solar panelswere connected at 4,882 domestic installations in England, Scotland and Wales,accounting for 12.28 megawatts. Twenty-three commercial installations and eightcommunity installations account for the rest. Northern Ireland operates asimilar feed-in tariff program that is not included in this data. The U.K.government hopes the feed-in tariff will encourage deployment of small-scale,low-carbon electricity generation, particularly by individuals, householders,organizations, businesses and communities that have not traditionallyparticipated in the electricity market. The government expects the program willeventually support more than 750,000 small-scale low-carbon electricityinstallations and will save 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

ActivistsAttempting to Target BP Hilariously Miss the Mark in Boycotting, VandalizingBP-Branded Filling Stations – Think These Folks Know BP Doesn’t Actually OwnThese Things? NYTimes (8/10) reports, "BP owns fewer than 2 percent of the 10,000 stationsacross the country that carry its brand, but that did not spare its independentstation owners from boycotts, protests, vandalism and customer tirades aboutfouled beaches and oiled wildlife during the more than three months that crudeflowed into the Gulf of Mexico. "You don’t have a problem like this and have itgo away overnight," said Tom Bower, whose company owns about 30 BP stations inGeorgia and supplies BP brand gas to many more stations in the state. "It’sgoing to take a lot of work, but hopefully they’ll persevere." Sales remaindown at BP stations nationwide, not just those in the Gulf Coast. The degreesof loss vary widely, with a few station owners still experiencing severedeclines in business, and others feeling little or no effect. In general, thedisruption appears to have topped out early in the crisis, with the persistenthit to sales lower than industry observers had expected. To blunt the impact ofthe spill, BP has also offered station owners and distributors small discountson fuel and a break on credit card fees. Those hurt the most by the crisisappear to be small, family-owned stores where a combination of geography andthe proximity of competing stations has driven large numbers of former patronsaway.

Peak-OilerMatt Simmons Was Wrong (A Lot) More Times in His Career Than He Was Right, ButHis Passing Marks Sad Day for Energy Sector. HoustonChronicle (8/9) reports, "Matthew R. Simmons, 67, founder of Houston-basedinvestment bank Simmons & Co. and the Ocean Energy Research Institute passedaway in Maine suddenly on Sunday, according to a statement from his office.According to local press reports he accidentally drown "with heart diseaseas a contributing factor" at his home in North Haven, Maine. He issurvived by his wife, Ellen, and their five daughters.  Details of the services are pending. Inlieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Ocean EnergyResearch Institute. Simmons is perhaps best known for his book Twilight in theDesert, which claims Saudi Arabia’s oil fields were becoming depleted much morequickly than the kingdom would admit. Most recently Simmons expressed seriousdoubts about BP and government accounts of the Gulf oil spill. A formalsevering of ties between Simmons & Co. and Simmons followed some of hisharsher comments.

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