September 2, 2010

Fearthe Feld: Obama Request for Courts to Toss Out Challenge to Its Always Illegal,and Now Increasingly Unpopular, Offshore Ban Denied by Judge Feldman. WallStreet Journal (9/1) reports, "The federal judge who struck down the Obamaadministration’s initial six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling onWednesday dealt the government another blow. U.S. District Court Judge MartinFeldman denied the government’s request to throw out a suit challenging thedrilling halt that had been filed by offshore oil service companies. JusticeDepartment lawyers had argued the lawsuit was moot because the InteriorDepartment imposed a new, temporary drilling ban on July 12, replacing a May 28order that Judge Feldman had struck down in June. But Judge Feldman ruled thatInterior Secretary Ken Salazar’s second moratorium order "is substantiallythe same as the first one" and "applies to the exact same rigs, tothe exact same deepwater drilling, for the exact same time period," thejudge said in his ruling. Judge Feldman also noted that in crafting the secondmoratorium, Salazar appeared to have relied heavily on documents and data thathe had at the time of the first moratorium order.  "Nearly every statement in the July 12 decisionmemorandum is anticipated by documents in the May 28 record, or by documentsthat were otherwise available to the Secretary before May 28," the judgesaid.

Rallyfor Jobs Event in Houston Turns Out Lots of Very Loud Folks In Support ofResponsible Offshore Development – Think Anyone in DC Was Listening? HoustonChronicle (9/1) reports, "The emcee for the event was Minerva Perez, theco-host of Latina Voices on PBS. The lead-off speakers included Sherman LewisIII, the owner of a local chain of gas stations who is African American;Carroll G. Robinson, head of the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce; andBrandy Jones, founder of the social networking website Energy People Connect.Lewis got the biggest cheer when he talked about killing any cap-and-trade billthat tries to put a price on carbon emissions.  Jones lamented the volatility of the energy job market thatmakes "a geologist in their mid-30s … more scarce than a unicorn."The keynote, however, goes to former Shell USA CEO John Hofmeister. His talk,which started around 12:15 p.m. was being broadcast to rallies in CorpusChristi and Port Arthur. "Mr. President, Democrat to Democrat, I’m givingyou some straight talk," Hofmeister boomed. "When you flew to FortBliss, where’d that jet fuel come from? The Gulf of Mexico. When you haverecord snow fall in Washington, D.C. like you did in the winter of 2010, wheredid the natural gas come to keep people warm? The Gulf of Mexico. So why are weshutting down the Gulf of Mexico? You’ve cut your nose of to spite your face,Mr. President."

YouKnow the NYT Talking Point: Offshore Ban Hasn’t Resulted in Exodus of Rigs;Time to Update It: 1 More Left Last Week, and Another Is Set to Leave NextWeek. Reuters(9/1) reports, "Transocean Ltd has moved one of its deepwater rigs out of theGulf of Mexico, as the Obama administration’s deepwater drilling moratoriumhampers U.S. offshore oil and gas operations. Transocean’s Marianas rig is itsfirst to move from the Gulf since the suspension began and departed last week,bound for Nigeria, a company spokesman confirmed on Wednesday. The rig, undercontract with Italy’s ENI, was set to drill the Triton field. Oil companies andGulf state lawmakers have warned that the Interior Department’s halt onexploratory deepwater drilling will push idled rigs to foreign waters and costthe region thousands of jobs. The department imposed the six-month ban after anexplosion sank Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon rig, ruptured an undersea welland spilled 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. Transocean, the world’slargest drilling rig contractor, had more than a dozen deepwater rigs operatingin the Gulf when the drilling ban was put in place.

UseIt or Lose It, Anyone? Dilettante Solar "Developers" Snatch Up Prime Solar RealEstate in the Desert, But Refuse to Do Anything with It – Turns Out Solar’sExpensive! AssociatedPress (9/1) reports, "Nowhere is this more evident than in Nevada, where aGoldman Sachs & Co. subsidiary with no solar background has claims with theBLM on nearly half the land for which applications have been filed, but no firmplan for any of the sites. The Obama administration says it is expediting themost promising projects, with some approvals expected as soon as September."Clearly we spent a lot of time and effort on oil and gas, but thosepriorities have changed," Ray Brady, BLM’s head of energy policy inWashington, told the AP. BLM’s solar leasing system ended up allowingdevelopers to lay claim to prime sites – many located in the deserts that spanCalifornia, Nevada and Arizona. All developers had to do was fill out anapplication, pay a fee and file development plans. But many were so vague thatit was difficult for BLM to separate the serious projects from the speculativeones. In the Southern California desert near Palm Springs, for example, SanDiego-based LightSource Renewables filed an application in August 2008 for2,500 acres, BLM records show. The small, two-person development firm knewenough to recognize the land’s worth – it was close to transmission lines – buthad no previous experience with such projects. Co-founder Paul Whitworth saidit is now focusing on getting private land, and is not pursuing plans for itsBLM site. The agency, however, still considers the application active, meaningother interested firms cannot access it.

We’reNot Saying All Enviros Are as Nuts as the Guy Who Stormed Discovery Channel HQwith a Gun Yesterday Demanding Action on Climate – But They Read the SameBooks. WashingtonPost (9/1) reports, "Animals and bugs were good, Lee wrote. But war wasbad, along with global warming, pollution and international trade. As forcivilization?  The environmentalmilitant who was killed Wednesday at the end of a tense hostage standoff atDiscovery Communications headquarters in downtown Silver Spring, termed it"filth." Lee, who once listed a Silver Spring homeless center as hisaddress but who had inherited property in Hawaii that he sold for $90,000, heldextreme views about the environment. According to writings on the Internet, hebelieved that humanity had polluted the planet and that human reproduction wasthe worst pollutant. "Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutivecreatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their falsemorals and breeding culture," he wrote in an 11-point Internet communiquethat authorities said was similar to demands he made Wednesday. "Savingthe Planet means . . . decreasing the Human population. That means stopping thehuman race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!" "Theplanet does not need humans." What a coincidence: The WoodrowWilson Center in DC is holding a briefing today on "scarcity and populationcontrol."

ChetEdwards Generally a Guy Who Understands Difference Between Good, Bad andIrrelevant on Energy – Which Makes His Full-Throated Support for DOE Bizarre. DallasMorning News (9/1) reports, "Rep. Chet Edwards  dinged Republican challenger Bill Flores today forsuggesting earlier this year that the Department of Energy be eliminated."Maybe Mr. Flores doesn’t understand what the Department of Energy does,but that is a very dangerous misunderstanding," said Edwards, D-Waco, in acall with reporters. "This proposal would have serious consequences, bothhere in Texas and across our nation." The criticism derives from commentsthat Flores made at a radio candidates’ forum in March, where he suggestedcutting funds for the department. Edwards said the proposal would negativelyimpact research projects at Texas A&M and jobs for the expansion of theComanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant. The Department of Energy also plays animportant role in protecting against nuclear terrorism and working for energyindependence, he said. " The Flores campaign brushed aside the criticismas a "desperate attack." "Since the Energy Department wascreated in 1977 to end our dependence on foreign oil, it has failed to meet itsprimary objective even though it costs taxpayers about $30 billion eachyear," he added.

Facebook,Google, YouTube – You Know What They All Have in Common? They Use Electrons,and Those Come from Reliable Coal – Enviros Hate That. UKGuardian (9/1) reports, "Facebook is coming under pressure from its usersto switch to renewable energy. In one of the web’s fastest-growingenvironmental campaigns, Greenpeace international says at least 500,000 peoplehave now protested at the organisation’s intention to run its giant new datacentre mainly on electricity produced by burning coal power. Facebook will notsay how much electricity it uses to stream video, store information and connectits 500m users but industry estimates suggest that at their present rate ofgrowth all the data centres and telecommunication networks in the world willconsume about 1,963bn kilowatt hours of electricity by 2020. That is more thantriple their current consumption and more electricity than is used by France,Germany, Canada and Brazil combined. The company has said it will source itselectricity from Pacific Power. It uses coal power for 67% of its electricity,and produces less than 12% of its electricity from renewable sources. Thecompany has said it plans to generate more electricity from renewables infuture but has given no detailed information.

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