September 23, 2010

IronyIs the Sincerest Form of Fate: “Green” Stimulus Funds Go Unspent By States– Why? Because They Can’t Acquire Necessary NEPA, CleanWater Act Permits. Energy Guardian (9/23, subs.req’d) reports, “The Energy Department inspector general has found that stateswere ill-equipped to handle stimulus money and have failed to spend the vastmajority of the funds they received to encourage renewable energy andefficiency. The audit released Wednesday found that as of July, states hadspent just 7.2 percent of the $3.1 billion they were sent under the stimulusfor energy efficiency and renewable energy.“Even though the Department hadgranted authority to expend funds as early as May 2009, actual spending at thestate level had been lethargic, adversely impacting planned increases in energyefficiency and economic benefits, both of which are critically important to thenation,” the report said. The stimulus money was supposed to be spent quicklyto spur job growth and lower energy usage, but the audit found that statesweren’t equipped to carry out the mission quickly, a theme echoed in otherrecent audits of stimulus programs that haven’t operated as expected. Forinstance, the IG concluded that states proposed using the money on complexprojects that required lengthy compliance checks with four major federal laws:Davis-Bacon Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Buy American provisions ofthe Recovery Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act.



Left-FringeEnviro-Crowd in the Senate Grudgingly Goes Along with National Wind Mandates– But Quick Count Suggests They’re Not At 60 Yet. Politico (9/23)reports, “Now, the bipartisan effort is drawing interest from the White Houseand Democrats, who see it as a last-ditch attempt to pass anything on energybefore Republicans swarm Capitol Hill in the midterm elections. Liberalsenators, including Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and JohnKerry (D-Mass.), have signed on as co-sponsors. And they’re getting plenty ofhelp from environmental groups and labor and clean energy advocates, who havebeen waging a late-summer advocacy blitz. But Andrew Wheeler, former GOP staffdirector of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sees the measureas a ploy. “I think it’s mostly trying to appease some of the environmentalistsbefore the election,” he said. “It’s a political plot, just like what Sen. Reidis doing on the Senate floor with ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the DREAM Act andcampaign finance. It’s just another way to show the Democratic base thatthey’re trying to accomplish their priorities.” Senate Minority Leader MitchMcConnell also isn’t a fan. “Sen. McConnell does not support an electricityrate hike, particularly in the middle of a recession,” said spokesman DonStewart. “He wasn’t for the president’s job-killing national energy tax, andhe’s not for this utility rate tax hike on Kentuckians either.”



AndHere’s Why They Won’t Get 60: Even RES Supporters Admit Mandate Has Nothing toDo with Protecting the Environment.ClimateWire (9/22,subs. req’d) reports, “Bingaman’s bill requires utilities to purchase up to 15percent of their power from renewable sources by 2021. About one quarter ofthat can be achieved through energy efficiency programs. One thing it won’t dois deeply slash carbon. An RES requiring utilities to buy 25 percent of theirpower from clean sources would cut power plant emissions 2 percent by 2025, orby 277 million metric tons annually, according to an analysis by the Union ofConcerned Scientists. Compare that to the Senate’s failed climate bill thatcalled for a 17 percent cut in carbon by 2020. Bingaman’s bill would achieve"considerably less" emissions reductions, says Marchant Wentworth,deputy legislative director for the climate and energy program at UCS. "AnRES is an important but relatively small step," Joshua Freed, director ofthe Clean Energy Initiative at Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank,said of the larger effort to address climate. "But none of this should be looked at through the frame of theenvironment."



FunnyThing About Wind: It’s Been Around for 14 Billion Years; Folks Have Been Tryingto Convert It Into Something Useful for Just as Long – Here’s Why ItFailed. John Droz, Jr. writes(9/20) for,“Trying to pin down the arguments of wind promoters is a bit like trying tograb a greased balloon. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, itsquirts away. Let’s take a quick highlight review of how things have evolved.Wind energy was abandoned well over a hundred years ago, as it was totallyinconsistent with our burgeoning more modern needs of power, even in the late1800s. Why was a mandate necessary? Simply because the realworld reality of integrating wind energy made it a very expensive option.As such, no utility company would likely do this on their own.They had to be forced to. Interestingly, though the stated main goal of theseRES’s was to reduce CO2, not a single state’s RES required verification of CO2reduction either beforehand or after the fact from any wind project. Thepoliticians simply took the lobbyists’ word that consequential CO2 savingswould be realized. The reality is that saying “wind is an energy source” is atrivial statement, on a par with saying “wind turbines are white.” The fact isthat your cat is an energy source too. So what? Lightning is an energy source.So what? Should we also connect them to the grid (after subsidies, of course)?



BuffaloMo Hinchey Has Made a Career Out of Shutting Down Development Thousands ofMiles from His District – His Latest Pillage? PAMarcellus Activity. NYTimes/Greenwire (9/22) reports, “Brig. Gen. Peter "Duke" DeLuca,commander of the North Atlantic Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, lastweek declined a request from Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) to use the federalgovernment’s vote on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to seek atemporary ban on gas production in the Delaware watershed. Hinchey wantsdrilling there to wait until the commission completes a "cumulative impactstatement," but DeLuca said that could delay drilling for years. "Thecitizens of the basin are counting on the commission to make smart choices thatallow for environmental protection to proceed together with economicdevelopment," DeLuca wrote in the Sept. 14 letter. The letter was writtena day before Lt. Col. Philip Secrist, representing DeLuca and the Obamaadministration on the commission, voted to continue limited exploratorydrilling in the basin. The vote denied a request by environmental groupsseeking to block the drilling of test wells that were "grandfatheredin" when the commission imposed a de facto moratorium. "Just to be clearhere, Hinchey was trying to use a federal agency to direct the actions of aregional water board for the purposes of preventing the development of naturalgas in a state where he doesn’t even live," said Chris Tucker, spokesmanfor Energy in Depth, a group of independent drillers. "Next thing youknow, he’ll be ordering the Army Corps to build levees around our well sites inWyoming."



Tortoiseand the Tear: Greens in California Torn Between Massive Solar Project andPotential to Disrupt Habitat of Desert Turtle – So They Decide to OpposeSolar. The (Riverside, Calif.) PressEnterprise (9/22) reports, “A 370-megawatt solar field in rural northwestSan Bernardino County unanimously cleared the California Energy Commission onWednesday, the latest in a string of projects on a fast track to qualify forfederal stimulus money by the end of the year. The development involvesenvironmentally sensitive land and would displace a protected species, thedesert tortoise, which is threatened with extinction. David Lamfrom, Californiadesert field representative for the National Parks Conservation Association,said it will harm desert tortoises and encroach on theneighboring Mojave National Preserve with glare and other spillover effects."Pristine, tortoise-rich habitat … is not the right place for thisproject," he said in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon. "What message arewe sending if we sacrifice lands and species we have legally committed toprotect when we all know a better alternative exists?" That alternative,he said, is "hundreds of thousands of acres of disturbed lands prime forrenewable energy development, close to communities that use the energy anddesperately need the jobs." The company has said that trying to find the5.6 square miles needed for the project on disturbed lands isn’t realisticbecause such properties are scattered and privately owned, meaning thatpotentially several owners would have to be persuaded to sell.



WhichIs a Problem – Since Later Today, California ARB Is Slated to Vote on a33% RES – Never Mind That It Can’t Meet the Current Mandate. AssociatedPress (9/23) reports, “California environmental regulators are consideringa plan that would require utilities to derive a third of the electricity theysend to consumers from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2020. TheCalifornia Air Resources Board is scheduled to vote on a proposal Thursdaythat, if adopted, would create the most aggressive clean energy standards inthe nation. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger favors raising the state’s renewablemandate to 33 percent as one way for the state to meet the requirements of a2006 state law mandating reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. If the boardadopts the new standard, a state office that reviews new regulations has a yearto determine if it complies with the gas emissions law and to certify it.



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