September 7, 2010

Obama’s PiggyBank: As Economy Continues to Struggle, White House Looks Increase Taxes on Oiland Gas Industry to Fund Second Stimulus Package. TheHill (9.6) reports, "President Obama Monday called for an upfrontinvestment of $50 billion to improve roads, railways and runways as part of alarger six-year strategy to update the nation’s aging infrastructure. Obamaannounced the strategy at the Milwaukee Laborfest in Wisconsin hosted by theAFL-CIO and Milwaukee Area Labor Council and was joined by Labor SecretaryHilda Solis and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The president wantsCongress to approve this first-year $50 billion "as soon as possible" and payfor it by scaling back oil and gas industry tax incentives, a senioradministration official said. "Over the next six years, we are going to rebuild150,000 miles of our roads – enough to circle the world six times," Obama said,according to remarks prepared for delivery the White House released ahead ofhis speech Monday afternoon. "We’re going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles ofour railways – enough to stretch coast-to-coast. "We’re going to restore150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air-traffic control systemto reduce travel time and delays for American travelers – something I thinkfolks across the political spectrum could agree on."

Shrimp and OilFestival Marks 75th Anniversary in Morgan City, La, "We Still Need Both…That’s what makes our community. That’s our lifeblood." LATimes (9.6) reports, "After the BP oil spill, the organizers of one ofAmerica’s more unusual civic celebrations began fielding the phone calls, theones that invariably asked: Are you really going to have it this year? Inresponse, they erected a big billboard on U.S. 90 as it winds west from NewOrleans through the heart of Cajun country. "YES," the sign said."We Are Having 75th Annual Shrimp and Petroleum Festival." MorganCity’s civic leaders never doubted they would green-light their paean tocrustaceans and crude, even though one of the featured industries has beenthreatening, of late, to wipe the other one out. "We still needboth," said Lee Darce, assistant director and vendor chairwoman of thefestival, as she drove a golf cart on this muggy September Sunday among busybooths hawking boiled shrimp, shrimp on a stick, bacon-wrapped shrimp andshrimp etouffee. "That’s what makes our community. That’s ourlifeblood." Mayor Tim Matte is aware that the festival can seem pretty weirdto outsiders. "But we’ve always thought it’s unusual that they think it’sunusual," he said. "As far as the workers are concerned, there’salways been a kinship of working over the water." Matte and others say theoil spill, instead of smothering this year’s festivities, has infused them witha new intensity: a yearning for catharsis after a soul-crushing summer, a hopefor a return to a lost harmony between the two industries, and a celebration ofa culture that is resilient enough to withstand the worst. "There’s aspirit here that we’re going to overcome this," said Adams, carrying hisking’s crown on the city docks Sunday morning."

Seeing theAttention Waxman and Markey Received During BP Oil Spill, Nick Joe Rahall Quickto Call for Hearings/Investigation into Mariner Rig Fire; Won’t be Outdone ThisTime Around. Politico (9.3)reports, "The House is beginning to ratchet up its investigatory power inthe wake of the second offshore drilling accident this year. House NaturalResources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) on Friday sent InteriorSecretary Ken Salazar a letter requesting a slew of documents, saying he is "alarmed"by the disaster aboard the Mariner Energy rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Thisfollows on the heels of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s request thatMariner brief committee members. Those against offshore drilling likely will beemboldened by this disaster. The fire didn’t happen in deep water but, rather,in just 350 feet of water, a fact Rahall highlighted in his letter to Salazar.Rahall seems to be readying for a full-blown investigation, asking forunredacted copies of several records, including well activity reports, requeststhat Mariner made to modify its drilling plans and the rig’s inspectionreports. He also is asking for e-mails between Mariner employees and thegovernment – federal malfeasance has been a particular interest of committeesinvestigating oil drilling disasters."

Big Wind Goeson Defense. Study out Earlier This Year Sheds Light on Carbon Footprint of WindEnergy; Bode and Co. Go on PR Blitz to Discredit Study. TheOklahoman (9.5) reports, "The Obama administration’s emphasis on cleanenergy and the fight in Congress over energy legislation is creating sometension among certain sectors, including the natural gas and wind powerindustries. The American Wind Energy Association has been fighting to counter arecent column in The Wall Street Journal that challenged a key selling point ofwind – that it reduces carbon emissions. The industry also is defending itsfederal subsidies, arguing that they are actually less than those received byoil and gas companies. "We’ve been under attack by the fossil fuelindustry for the last six months," Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind EnergyAssociation, told reporters in July. Now, her organization is claiming that anoil and gas company trade group and think tanks financed in part with energymoney are spreading misinformation to discredit wind as a renewable energysource. The Western Energy Alliance, formerly the Independent PetroleumAssociation of Mountain States, released a report earlier this year that concludedrenewable electricity mandates had actually caused pollution increases in Texasand Colorado because coal and natural gas plants operated less efficiently toaccommodate the variability in wind sources. The study was cited in The WallStreet Journal column, written by Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at theManhattan Institute, and that column was then cited by the Heritage Foundation,a conservative think tank in Washington. Bryce questioned whether wind energy’scontribution to reducing emissions would ever be significant and argued thatthe emphasis should be on natural gas."

LouisianaOfficials Hit the Road to Talk Water Management, Hydraulic Fracturing in anEffort to Educate, Get the Facts Out on Shale Gas Development. ShreveportTimes (9.7) reports, "As predicted several years ago, water has becomea critical limiting factor as the natural gas industry expands from one shaleplay to the next, according to Gary Hanson, director of the Red River WatershedManagement Institute at LSU-Shreveport. Hydraulic fracturing is required in all of the gas shale plays and it iscrucial that industry continues to work with northwest Louisiana communitiesand voluntarily use predominantly surface water or the Red River AlluvialAquifer instead of the limited Carrizo-Wilcox groundwater for fracing. "Byaddressing our water concerns in a proactive manner and allowing development toproceed in a responsible way, we are a model to other areas of the countrywhere unfortunately, fear, instead of facts, is driving resistance to shale gasdevelopment," Hanson said. As a result of Louisiana’s success, Hanson hasbeen invited to several water and energy venues in the Southwest and on theEast Coast to share the story and lessons learned. In one of the sessions setnext month in Pennsylvania, Hanson will be joined by Lt. Gov. Scott Angelle,state conservation Commissioner Jim Welsh and Mike Mathis of Chesapeake Energy.Recent water policies, including the newly adopted surface water use law, arebeing driven by the Haynesville activity. However, DNR’s approach shows"institutions that are typically considered rigid and inflexible can infact become flexible and adaptive with the right leadership," Hansonadded. "In an unprecedented manner, but typical of his hands-on managementstyle, Scott Angelle (interim lieutenant governor) has chaired numerous andlengthy Ground Water Commission meetings throughout the state. This has givenLouisiana residents, statewide, the opportunity to attend and have their waterconcerns heard."

OffshoreDevelopment Continues in China; Chevron Purchases Stake in South China SeaProject. WallStreet Journal (9.7) reports, "Chevron Corp. has acquired operatinginterests in three exploration blocks in the South China Sea, and China’sgovernment has given approval for BP PLC to take a stake in part of thedeep-water acreage despite its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a statement by CnoocLtd. said Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal were not released. Theacquisitions from Devon Energy Corp. underscore how western energy giants areseeking to stake out new positions in the South China Sea, after largelyabandoning the area decades ago when shallower wells turned up dry. They alsoshow that BP’s involvement in the worst U.S. oil spill in history isn’tstopping governments from allowing the U.K. major to participate in newoffshore drilling, or rival producers from selecting it as a partner indeep-water projects. Chevron has taken a 59.18% interest in block 42/05 fromDevon Energy, and BP will hold the remaining interest. Water depths in theblock-located around 250 kilometers south of Hong Kong-range from 198 meters tomore than 1,980 meters across an area spanning nearly 7,000 square kilometers.San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron has also acquired 100% interests in nearbyblocks 53/30 and 64/18 in separate deals with Devon."

Harry Reid’sClean Energy Summit Kicks off Today; Wonder if He’ll Address Nevada’s 14.2Percent Unemployment Rate.  LasVegas Review-Journal (9.7) reports, "The National Clean Energy Summitlooks like it’s running a little low on wattage. Tuesday will bring the thirdannual installment of the summit, a creation of Senate Majority Leader HarryReid, D-Nev. And when the curtain rises on the event at the University ofNevada, Las Vegas, it will show considerably less star power than 2009’sversion, which featured former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President AlGore, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, amongothers. This year’s summit boasts an array of prominent policymakers andbusiness leaders, to be sure, but no participants beyond Reid himself andnatural-gas magnate T. Boone Pickens carry household names or holdCabinet-level positions in the Obama administration. Attendees includingventure capitalist John Doerr, former White House Chief of Staff John Podestaand Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee all serve in important positions,but you won’t see them collecting Oscars or appearing on the cover of theNational Enquirer (wait — that could be a good thing). The summit will alsolaunch a parade of economic and fiscal studies. Consider the Center forAmerican Progress Action Fund, an event organizer that will use the summit torelease the results of a study evaluating states on policies that promoteenergy efficiency (Nevada’s set to earn high marks, the group’s researcherssaid Tuesday). But some clean-energy watchers say other factors have forcedchanges in the summit’s guest list. Start with the economy. Nevada inparticular continues to suffer a deep recession, and the rest of the nationisn’t exactly enjoying a roaring recovery. That makes clean energy, with itshigher costs and federal subsidies, politically unpopular these days, said JackSpencer, a research fellow in nuclear energy policy for the HeritageFoundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C."

Speak Your Mind


Anonymous says:
Your email has been received. Thank you for signing up.