August 26, 2010

Rockin’Bakken: Innovative Technology, Leadership of Folks from Whiting, Others,Helping Transform North Dakota’s Economy – So Much So that Even NPR Is Smitten. NPR(8/25) reports, "JEFF BRADY: Head out to the wheat fields south of Stanley, andthe peace and quiet folks around here value is interrupted.  Whiting Petroleum owns this talldrilling rig and plans to drill about 400 wells in the region. It can take 20days to drill just one, according to the company’s Blaine Hoffman.  Mr. BLAINE HOFFMANN (Whiting): We’lldrill two miles down and then two miles out. BRADY: Hoffmann is a North Dakotanative, and he’s seen oil booms before. This one started in 2006. The number ofdrilling rigs in the state has steadily increased to more than 140. Each rigneeds a crew and plenty of supplies, which Hoffmann says helps North Dakota’seconomy Mr. RON NESS (President, North Dakota Petroleum Council): North Dakotawas ninth-largest oil-producing state in 2006. Today, we’re the fourth-largestoil-producing state, and we’re growing rapidly. BRADY: There’s plenty of newconstruction and some, like Betty Harstad, now get royalty payments. She hasone well on her farm outside town. Ms. HARSTAD: So for farmers it was a nicegift because farming isn’t all that economical. There’s, you know, a lot ofstress with it. So it relieved the stress of some of the farmers in the areathat were able to receive royalties.

"TheyOwe Us": Greens Incensed over Justice Dept. Brief Arguing that Suing Utilitiesfor Providing People Power Under "Nuisance" Statutes Isn’t Such a Great Idea. Greenwire (8/25, subs.req’d) reports, "The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court to tossout an appeals court decision that would allow lawsuits against major emittersfor their contributions to global warming, stunning environmentalists who seethe case as a powerful prod on climate change. In the case, AEP v. Connecticut,the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a coalition of states,environmental groups and New York City. The decision, handed down last year,said they could proceed with a lawsuit that seeks to force several of thenation’s largest coal-fired utilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.Matt Pawa, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, said he and hiscolleagues expected the White House to stay out of the matter. During a meetingwith more than 30 administration lawyers at the solicitor general’s office onJune 24, it seemed they had "a lot of friends in the room," he said."We feel stabbed in the back," Pawa said. "This was really adastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of theenvironment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?" Professional reaxpurveyor Frank O’Donnell writes in (8/26) to Politico, "Some believe theObama White House, having failed to enact climate change legislation, hasadopted the old maxim when it comes to polluters: if you can’t beat ’em, join’em….I think they owe us a better explanation than the one given so far."

DayAfter Biden Calls Green Pork Stimulus the Greatest Accomplishment of His Tenure(Scary: He’s Right), AP Blows It Up with Big-Time Fact Check Rebuttal. Associated Press(8/25) reports, "The Obama administration claimed this week that $100 billioninvested in innovative technologies under the economic stimulus law is"transforming the American economy" by putting the nation on trackfor technological breakthroughs in health care, energy and transportation. Butan examination of details in the 50-page report unveiled Tuesday by VicePresident Joe Biden reveals something a bit different: a collection of rosyprojections that ignore many of the challenges, pitfalls and economic realitiesin all those areas. The claim: Thanks to the stimulus, the U.S. is on track to"doubling U.S. renewable energy generation capacity and U.S. renewablemanufacturing capacity by 2012." Robert L. Nelson, a partner at the AkinGump law firm who co-chairs its renewable energy group, said that themanufacturing claim reminded him of a story told in the old Soviet Union. Acommissar, or government official, asks a farmer how good next year’s crop willbe. The farmer says it will be 10 times as good as last year’s. The commissarthinks to himself, "Ten times zero is zero."

BigSolar, Mighty Wind Ramp Up Lobbying by 1,200 Percent over Last 10 Years – WhileActual Percentage of Energy Derived from Their Products Remained a RoundingError. posts: "By 2007, the alternative energy industry had begun todrastically increase its lobbying spending, almost doubling its expendituresfrom the previous year. In 2009, alternative energy organizations shelled outan unprecedented $30 million to protect and promote their interests on CapitolHill, and this year, it’s on pace to equal that record output. The alternativeenergy industry’s lobbying expenditures have grown to 12 times from its 1998level. In comparison, oil and gas spending and mining spending have grown lessthan three times their 1998 amount, and electric utility spending has grown tojust twice its 1998 amount. By 2009, there were about 200 alternative energycompanies and organizations employing lobbyists to help advance the industry’sinterests.  The American WindEnergy Association is one of those organizations that recently andsignificantly increased lobbying efforts. The recent involvement of AWEA infederal affairs, she said, "reflects the urgency of the industry’s numberone priority — passing a national renewable electricity standard withaggressive, binding near- and long-term targets, as part of comprehensiveenergy and climate legislation." Azua de Real cites "marketcertainty" as a concern of AWEA’s members, who need legislative support oftheir industry "in order to expand their operations and invest in newmanufacturing as well as new wind farm facilities."

ProtractedEconomic Downturn Great News for Folks Who Care About Slashing Energy Use – US Continuesto Use Less and Less and Economy Grows Worse and Worse. ChristianScience Monitor (8/25) reports, "The United States used significantly lesscoal and petroleum in 2009 than in 2008, and significantly more wind power,according to energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore NationalLaboratory (LLNL), a government national security laboratory in Livermore,Calif. There also was a decline in natural gas use and increases in use ofalternative energy sources, including solar, hydrothermal and geothermal power,the researchers say. However, the consumption dip doesn’t necessarily reflect asea change in the way Americans think about and use energy, or a shift to more"green" behavior. Rather, the decrease is due, in part, to thecurrent economic downturn as well as advances in technology. "Energy usetends to follow the level of economic activity, and that level declined lastyear," said A.J. Simon, an energy systems analyst for LLNL. "At thesame time, higher efficiency appliances and vehicles reduced energy use evenfurther." "As a result, people and businesses are using less energy ingeneral," Simon added. "The reduction in the use of natural gas, coaland petroleum is commensurate with a reduction in carbon emissions," Simonsaid. "Simply said, people are doing less stuff. Therefore, they’reburning less fuel."

AllIn a Day’s Work: Guy Who Makes His Living Fracking Wells in Northern PA Savesan Old Woman from a Burning House in Southern NY. ElmiraStar-Gazette (8/23) reports, "A gas industry worker who recently moved toWellsburg from Oklahoma got an unusual opportunity on his birthday Monday: thechance to save a life. Billy Watts, who turned 37 Monday, was driving home onSouth Broadway from Troy at about 6 p.m. when he saw black smoke in the air.Watts, a hydrofracturing operator for Cudd Energy Services in Pennsylvania,pulled over and helped a volunteer firefighter at the scene before any firetrucks arrived. The pair went down the hill toward the burning home at 2726South Broadway and saw a woman who looked to be in her 70s, Watts said."As we got there she was in the back yard by the fence," Watts said."She was bent over the fence and couldn’t get out, couldn’t breathe."A dog was with her, he said. Watts and the firefighter helped the woman and dogget away from the house. Watts said he breathed in some smoke and feltcongested from it, but otherwise he was fine. "It’s important for peopleto stop and try to help out," Watts said, noting that other bystanderscame by. Some helped carry the woman up the hill from her home; another triedto call the fire department, he said.

CAAssembly Loves Passing Outrageous Energy Mandates – Like the One Targeting HDTVs; But Then It Comes Time to Implement Them, and They Run Like Rats. AssociatedPress (8/25) reports, "The nation’s first energy-efficiency standards fortelevisions would be delayed by six months if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signsa bill approved by the California Senate. The bill sent to his desk Wednesdaywould push the regulations adopted last year by the California EnergyCommission back to July 2011. Republican Sen. Bob Huff of Diamond Bar says thatwould give the Federal Trade Commission time to develop its own nationwideenergy efficiency labeling rule for televisions. His bill lets California’srules take effect only if the federal commission fails to act by next July.State regulators had hoped to lead the nation in setting new standards. Therewas no spoken opposition to the bill, SB1198. It passed on a 26-9 vote.

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