August 18, 2010

Ragin’Cajun: Landrieu Calls President’s Decision to Institute Blanket Ban on GulfExploration – And Then Fight to Keep It There – "Uninformed," "Reckless." TheHill (8/17) reports, "Senate Small Business chair Mary Landrieu(D-La.) on Tuesday sharply criticized President Obama’s reaction to the oilspill in the Gulf by halting nearly all drilling activity in the area. "Thedecision to stop virtually all new energy exploration in the Gulf of Mexico wasuninformed and in my view borders on reckless," she said in openingremarks at a field hearing on the moratorium’s affect on the local economy."Today, thousands of Gulf Coast businesses are fighting their way out ofthis government imposed economic disaster that only threatens jobs andbusinesses," she said, adding the moratorium has "substantially reducedthe total amount of economic activity taking place along" the Gulf Coast.The senator warned the president’s decision has made the U.S. more dependent offoreign sources of oil since the country continues to consume 20 millionbarrels of oil a day. "[The] U.S. will necessarily increase its oilimports from other countries with far weaker environmental standards andregulatory regimes, such as Nigeria, Angola, and Venezuela," she said."The record shows that these countries suffer significantly more spills ata much, much more frequent rate, causing more harm to the oceans of theworld."

SomethingRotten: Danish Wind Mill Maker, World’s Largest, Loses 30% of Its Value in aSingle Quarter – Three Guesses Who They’re Blaming for That! Bloomberg(8/18) reports, "Vestas, the world’s largest wind-turbine maker, lost more thana quarter of its value in Copenhagen trading after it reported a larger-than-expected loss and cut forecasts, blaming delayed orders.  The stock dropped the most sinceOctober 2008 after Danish company posted a second-quarter loss of 119 millioneuros ($153 million), exceeding the average estimate of a 7.3 million-euro lossin a survey of 15 analysts.  "Rightnow it’s just a shock, and Vestas has suffered a serious blow to itscredibility," Teea Reijonen, a London-based analyst with Royal Bank of ScotlandGroup Plc, said today. "Analysts are going to take a very dim view of marginsfor 2011 given what’s happened this year." Reijonen had a "hold" rating on theshares before today.  Vestas cutits sales forecast for this year to 6 billion euros from 7 billion euros ondelays in expected orders in the U.S., Spain and Germany. The credit crisis hasprompted banks to restrict loans to wind-park developers that buy turbines fromVestas and competitors including Germany’s Siemens AG, Gamesa Corp. TecnologicaSA and General Electric Co. "We were maybe too optimistic on what we expectedwe could execute in the second half of 2010," Vestas Chief Executive OfficerDitlev Engel said today.

FunnyThing About NOx and SOx Emissions from Coal Plants: Declined Another 36% ThisYear; Here’s the Funnier Thing: Had Nothing to Do with "Cap-and-Trade" Program.Greenwire (8/17, subs.req’d) reports, "Coal-fired power plants have continued to cut their soot- andsmog-forming emissions this year, according to newly released estimates fromU.S. EPA.Emissions data for the first two quarters of 2010 show declines intotal emissions as well as emissions intensity — the amount of pollutionproduced per unit of electricity. The roughly 850 coal-fired power plantsregulated under EPA’s existing Acid Rain Program emitted 2.5 million tons ofsulfur dioxide during the first two quarters of this year, a 36 percentdecrease from the 3.9 million tons they released during the first two quartersof 2008. Emissions of nitrogen oxides fell from 1.5 million tons to 930,000tons, a 37 percent decrease. EPA said the new figures should ease worries aboutpossible increases in SO2 emissions while the agency prepares to replace theClean Air Interstate Rule.  As aresult, SO2 prices have continued to fall, leading traders and some utilitiesto ask Congress to intervene. Without an incentive to hold on to bankedallowances, they say, power plants will not install new controls. "Themarket has said, ‘We get the message, these allowances are worthless,’"said Thaddeus Huetteman, chairman of the Environmental Markets Association

Let’sTalk About that Cap-and-Trade Bit on NOx and SOx – Some Folks Like to CompareIt to Cap-and-Raid for CO2 – Here’s Why They’re Wrong. Marlo Lewis writes (8/17) for,"However successful the SO2 trading program may have been, it is a dubiousmodel for climate policy, because SO2 and CO2 are different. Utilitiesparticipating in the SO2 emissions trading program could meet all or part oftheir obligations by purchasing low-sulfur coal and/or installing scrubbers, acommercially-proven emission control technology. In contrast, as Kenneth Green,Steven Hayward, and Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute pointout, there is no low-carbon coal, and no commercial technology to "scrub"carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions out of power plant exhaust streams. Thus, unlikean SO2 trading program, a carbon cap-and-trade program has a high potential tobecome a job-killing energy-rationing scheme. The greater economic risk ofcarbon cap-and-trade schemes derives from another key difference as well.Unlike sulfur, which is an impurity in coal and oil, carbon is intrinsic to thechemistry of fossil fuels. Consequently, whereas capping SO2 does not logicallyentail an unlimited agenda aiming at the abolition of fossil fuels, capping CO2does imply total suppression as an ultimate objective.

TheWorld Is Not Enough: EPA Announces Plan for Regulating Economic Activity OutsideUS Jurisdiction – "Pollution Doesn’t End at the Border, Neither Can OurProtections." E&E News (8/17,subs. req’d) reports, "U.S. EPA will focus on six major internationalpriorities, including climate change and electronic waste, Administrator LisaJackson told environmental officials from the United States, Canada and Mexicoduring a summit yesterday. Announced during a meeting of the Commission forEnvironmental Cooperation in Guanajuato, Mexico, the goals were outlined in amemo to EPA employees yesterday. They are: building strong environmentalinstitutions and legal structures, combating climate change by limitingpollutants, improving air quality, expanding access to clean water, reducing exposureto toxic chemicals and cleaning up e-waste. The agency is committed tointernational work "at a time when our challenges are no longer local oreven national, but global," Jackson told an audience that includedCanadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice and Mexican Environment SecretaryJuan Elvira Quesada. "Pollution doesn’t stop at international borders, andneither can our environmental and health protections," Jackson said in astatement. "This document sends a strong message to our partners in theinternational community that our challenges are shared challenges, and that weare eager to work together on solutions."

Here’sHow Angry Al Gore Is that Congress Didn’t Pass Cap-and-Raid: He’s So Angry, HeFiled a Post on His Blog Today Calling on Other Folks to Do a Rally. TheHill (8/17) reports, "Former Vice President Gore is calling for majorrallies to protest congressional inaction on climate change. In a post on hispersonal blog headlined "The Movement We Need," Gore linked to and quoted froman Australian wire service report that "tens of thousands of protesters … havetaken to the streets across Australia to urge the major political parties totake action on climate change." "Across the world, when politicians fail totake action to solve the climate crisis, people are taking action," Gore wrote.He added after excerpting the news report: "It is my hope we see activism likethis here in the United States." Gore noted he trained activists in Australiato deliver the slideshow that formed the basis for the documentary film thatwon him an Academy Award. A representative of Gore’s Alliance for ClimateProtection addressed the rally in Sydney. Gore has in recent weeks stepped uphis criticism of the Senate for its inability to pass a comprehensive energyand climate bill that would put a price on carbon. In a conference call withenvironmental activists last week, he reportedly said "the United Statesgovernment in its entirety, largely because of the opposition in the UnitedStates Senate to taking action on clean energy and a solution to the climatecrisis, has failed us."

GunControl Ain’t About Guns, As They Say – It’s About Control; So It Is with theEnvironmental Movement: Not About the Environment, Just About Moving Your Jobto China. Robert J. Walker,former president of Handgun Control, Inc., writes on,"Supporters of climate-change legislation have much to learn from anorganization that is often rated as the most powerful lobby in Washington: theNational Rifle Association. Don’t fear to be feared.  Progressive groups, including many supporters ofclimate-change legislation, love to be loved.  The gun lobby doesn’t care if you don’t like it, so long asyou fear it.  The NRA, the mostpowerful lobby in Washington, is one of the most reviled.  Many members of Congress, even pro-gunmembers, privately bristle at the tactics of the NRA, but that doesn’t stopthem from voting in lockstep with the gun lobby. Don’t get mad, get even.  Bruised, scarred, and brushed aside, noone could blame supporters of climate-change legislation for being angry at apolitical process that has stymied action on an issue of such greatimport.  When I worked on gunissues, I ran into a lot of activists, particularly the victims and survivorsof gun violence, who were incensed at Congress for its failure to adoptsensible gun laws.  The key was tochannel that anger and frustration into constructive action, and we did thatwith the passage of the Brady Law and the federal assault-weapons ban.

Meanwhile,Back in the Parts of the World that Actually Produce Energy: Massive Deepwater FindsOff the Coast of Australia – This Time, for Natural Gas. WallStreet Journal (8/18) reports, "Three significant deepwater gas discoveriesoff the west coast of Australia announced this week by Chevron Corp. andWoodside Petroleum Ltd. could add momentum to the nation’s emergence as a topnatural gas exporter.  Chevron onMonday said its Acme well, about 150 kilometers off the coast of WesternAustralia state, encountered a net gas pay of 896 feet, making it "one ofour most significant natural-gas discoveries in Australia." It was one ofnine discoveries by Chevron in the area since August 2009 and twice the size ofits next biggest discovery there. The news came as Perth-based Woodside said the Larsen Deep-1 andAlaris-1 wells struck material amounts of gas. Larsen Deep-1 is owned in ajoint venture with Hess Corp. A projected surge in demand for cleaner-burningfuels from developing Asian economies is prompting energy companies to investbillions of dollars on exploration campaigns and large-scale gas exportprojects. Australia’s stable political environment, substantial gas reservesand proximity to Asia make it an attractive place to invest, particularly withU.S. gas prices kept low by ballooning domestic supplies.

ReadingNYT’s Interview of Massey’s Blankenship Is Like Reading Tocqueville’s DemocracyIn America – Dude Can’t Believe Something Like This Even Exists! NYTimes (8/17) reports, "As energy executives go, few manage to stircontroversy and elicit vitriol from environmentalists with as much relish asDon L. Blankenship, the mustachioed chief executive of Massey Energy, one ofthe largest coal companies in Appalachia. Massey was the company involved in adeadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine earlier this year, it is alsodrawing fire for its plans to surface-mine a West Virginia mountaintop thatactivists in the area, realistically or not, would rather see turned into awind farm. In a lengthy interview, Mr. Blankenship was characteristicallyunreserved in explaining why he sees this idea – along with global warming andopposition to destructive mountaintop-removal mining techniques – as absurd. "Somepeople believe in CO2 so strongly it trumps every other thought that they’vegot, so we wouldn’t expect them to favor coal mining," Mr. Blankenship said. "Somepeople believe that the country should be socialized so they are opposed tofree enterprise. I mean, you have to have your own beliefs, your own corebeliefs, your own strengths and do what you think is right. You can’t do whatothers believe is right, you have to do what you believe is right."

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