August 20, 2010

WarmBoot: In Fitting Eulogy to Cap-and-Raid, White House Quietly Removes AllReferences to Policy on Energy and Environment Website – Like It NeverHappened. E&E News (8/19,subs. req’d) reports, "The White House has recently revised its energy andenvironment website, stripping references to a cap-and-trade program forgreenhouse gases and a pledge to funnel $150 billion into clean energyresearch. Gone from the site is a section titled "Closing the CarbonLoophole and Cracking Down on Polluters." The website had pledged to"finally close the carbon pollution loophole" by stemming emissionsthrough a market-based cap, according to a version obtained by Jesse Jenkins ofthe Breakthrough Institute, but the updated version omits any mention of capand trade. The changes were likely made on June 23, according to Peter Bray,co-founder of Versionista, a company that tracks changes to websites. SenateDemocrats continued a last-minute push for a sweeping climate and energy billthroughout June, but prospects for passage appeared grim and Senate MajorityLeader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) punted on an energy and climate bill in late July.The updated site also omits a pledge from President Obama to invest $150billion in clean energy research and development over 10 years. That may bebecause the White House won’t have a way to fund the commitment; Obama’s 2010budget slated $120 billion from cap-and-trade climate revenue toward cleanenergy technologies. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

FriendsLike These: Not a Single Democrat Shows Up in Support of Markey’s Latest ShowHearing on Gulf – Dude Sat on the Dais Yesterday All By His Lonesome. TheHill (8/19) reports, "Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) is a one-man show atThursday’s oil spill hearing hosted by the House Energy and Commercesubcommittee he chairs. No other members of either party in his Energy andEnvironment Subcommittee or the full Energy and Commerce Committee is attendingthe hearing. The hearing features administration officials, ocean experts andseafood-industry representatives testifying about the amount of oil thatremains to be cleaned up in the Gulf of Mexico and about the quality of theseafood in the region. Markey noted the absence of his colleagues at the startof the hearing. "We appreciate the fact that it is the middle of the summer. Weknow that many people have gone away," Markey said in his opening statement. "However,the oil has not gone away, and it is important for the Gulf of Mexico residentsto know that the attention on this issue has not gone away. That is why we arehaving this hearing today." Officials representing the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and DrugAdministration are defending their assessments that seafood from the Gulf isgenerally safe to eat despite the spill and will update how much oil is left tobe cleaned up.

CA"Clean Tech" Investors Know that Unlimited Access to Other Folks’ Money Is theOnly Way to Profit – "Invest" Millions in Fighting Grassroots CampaignTargeting A.B. 32.  Bloomberg(8/20) reports, "California’s clean energy investors are raising millions ofdollars for an advertising battle with oil refiners who want to delay the state’snew law on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The campaign, supported byinvestors such as Tom Steyer, founder of San Francisco-based hedge fundFarallon Capital Management LLC, aims to convince residents to vote against theso-called Proposition 23 when it comes up for approval in November. Theproposal, backed by the oil industry, would delay laws to begin regulating thestate’s carbon emissions in 2012. California’s Global Warming Solutions Act,signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006, requires the state cutoutput of greenhouse gases linked to climate change to their 1990 levels by2020. The state will introduce a cap-and-trade program to put a price on carbonemissions and trade pollution rights. "It would be a big setback for cleanenergy in the U.S. if California’s climate-change law is overturned," KevinParker, the global head of asset management for Deutsche Bank AG, said in atelephone interview. If the most populous state backs away, it would give otherstates and the federal government "a free pass to do nothing" on curbinggreenhouse gases, said Parker, who oversees about $7 billion to $7.5 billion inclimate change related investments as part of about $700 billion in funds.

EtTu, Jane? 3 Months Ago, Greens Loved Them Some Jane Lubchenco; But Now NOAAChief Says Most of Oil is Gone from Gulf, and So She Must Pay. Politico (8/19)reports, "The Obama administration isn’t backing down on the declaration thatonly 25 percent of spilled oil remains in the Gulf of Mexico in the face ofcriticism from scientists, lawmakers and environmentalists. While the Aug. 4announcements from the White House briefing room and morning news shows drewpositive headlines, they have put officials in the uncomfortable position ofdefending a view of the spill that some say is far rosier than the picture inthe water. Administration officials say they are damned if they do, and damnedif they don’t, when it comes to releasing information from one point in time inthe midst of a fluid situation. "Folks are seriously now saying we shouldn’t have told people whatwe knew. We disagree," one official told POLITICO, noting the White Housewas criticized earlier this summer when it didn’t update the flow rate andother information immediately. "We’re comfortable with our numbers and aswe continue to learn more about what’s happening below the surface andelsewhere, we will build that into our estimate," Jane Lubchenco, thechief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said on ahastily-organized call with reporters Thursday.

Here’sHow You Know These Guys Are Serious: One Shell Platform in the Gulf Cost Moreto Engineer (Three Times More, Actually) than NASA’s Mars Pathfinder. NPR(8/18) reports, "New technology has changed oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexicotoo. As seen in the wake of BP’s blown-out well in the Gulf, companies havesophisticated technology like remote-controlled submarines. That means they canexplore for oil in places humans can’t even go. Sometimes the projects resemblea space mission. "The space program and the offshore industry have longshared technologies and learned from each other," says Tyler Priest,professor of global studies at the University of Houston. In 1996 NASA launcheda probe to Mars, and that same year Shell launched a drilling platform in 3,000feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. "The difference being that Shell’splatform cost more than three times as much as NASA’s Mars Pathfinder, and arguablyinvolved more sophisticated technology and more sophisticated remoteengineering," Priest says. Now companies are drilling in 10,000 feet ofwater. "The fact that you can count on one hand the kind of blowouts thathave occurred in the face of these tens of thousands of wells is a prettyremarkable testimony to the safety and the risk management that the companiesprovide," Hofmeister says.

Centerfor Biological Diversity Has Two Departments In Its Office: One Files LawsuitsAll Day Long; The Other Issues Snarky Quotes to Politico and E&E Reporters. E&E News (8/19,subs. req’d) reports, "An environmental group asked a federal court today tostop construction of a 677-mile natural gas pipeline that would link producersin the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest and California. The Center forBiological Diversity filed a motion for an injunction in the 9th U.S. CircuitCourt of Appeals here, asking for a temporary stay that would stop Ruby PipelineLLC, a subsidiary of El Paso Corp., from proceeding. The group has also filed alawsuit to halt the pipeline separate from the injunction attempt. El Paso hasignored the legal challenge and broke ground on the project earlier this month.A corporate spokesman reached in Houston said the company has no plans to stopand is proceeding as planned. The center in its lawsuit argues that federalpermits from BLM and an endangered species analysis from the U.S. Fish andWildlife Service are flawed. Noah Greenwald said the pipeline would jeopardizea number of endangered fish, including the Lahontan cutthroat trout, WarnerCreek sucker, Lost River sucker and Colorado pike minnow. Officials at El Pasosaid that a conservation agreement drafted by a number of parties to protectsage grouse habitat and purchase grazing leases is enough mitigation to offsetthe project’s effects in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California.

RyanReynolds (of Van Wilder, Mr. Scarlett Johansson Fame) Applies Just a Bit Too MuchBronzer (Made from Oil) to Cut "PSA" Ad for NRDC Targeting … Oil. Politico(8/19) reports, "He may be best known for his six-pack abs, for his roster ofrom-coms or as Mr. Scarlett Johansson, but Ryan Reynolds is also speaking upfor battling climate change. The actor spent the summer in New Orleans filmingaction flick "The Green Lantern" and was moved to make a statement after flyingover the Deepwater Horizon site. He teamed up with the Natural ResourcesDefense Council to create a short video urging viewers to remember the BP oilspill and ask the Senate to continue fighting climate change. "What’s the priceof a gallon of gas?" asks Reynolds, with images of the spill flashing on thescreen. "It’s one thing here in Louisiana, it’s another in the tar sands ofAlberta and it’s something else in the skies over Los Angeles." All thoselocales are of course close to Reynolds’ heart as he is a Canadian residing inL.A.   Reynolds (who seems tobe wearing a touch too much man bronzer in the video) is among a handful ofcelebs who have joined forces with the NRDC, including Sigourney Weaver, whoblogged about the NRDC’s film "Acid Test" in July.

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