October 11, 2010

$170k Salary Isn’t Enoughfor Top Energy Advisor to Sen. Reid — Dude Turns Tidy Profit Buying andSelling Wind, Solar Stocks – Right Before His Office Announces New TaxCredits for ‘Em.Wall Street Journal (10/11) reports, “Chris Miller nearlydoubled his $3,500 stock investment in a renewable-energy firm in 2008. It wasa perfectly legal bet, but he’s no ordinary investor. Mr. Miller is the topenergy-policy adviser to Nevada Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,who helped pass legislation that wound up benefiting the firm. Jim Manley, aspokesman for Mr. Reid’s office, initially defended Mr. Miller’s purchase ofshares in the company, Energy Conversion Devices Inc. He said the aide had noinfluence over tax incentives for renewable-energy firms, and that otherfactors boosted the stock. But on Sunday, Mr. Manley added: "Mr. Millershowed poor judgment and Senator Reid has made it very clear to Chris and allhis staff that their actions must not only follow the law, but must meet thehigher standards the public has a right to expect from elected officials andtheir staffs." On May 8, the company issued an earnings report that beatanalysts’ expectations and sent the stock up 43% that day. Mr. Miller sold mostof his stake on May 12 and May 14, according to filings. On May 14, the Houseintroduced its version of legislation to extend the tax credit and voted toapprove it a week later. Mr. Miller continued to hold the remainder of his ECDstake. On Sept. 22, Mr. Miller sold his final ECD shares when the stock wasdeclining; in all, he gained about $3,200 on an investment of about $3,500 in hisECD holdings during 2008. That’s a 91% gain.



OMB OMG: WH Budget OfficeBrings Runaway EPA to Heel on Agency’s Carbon Cap Plan – Ever Defiant,Jackson Says Cost Will Play No Role At All in Final Rule.Politico (10/8) reports, “A contentious climate change policy is beingheld up at the White House as Obama administration officials spar over thecosts of installing pollution controls, according to a source close to thenegotiations. The Environmental Protection Agency was expected to unveillong-anticipated guidance this week on how large polluters like power plantsand refiners will be forced to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, but thatrelease has been stalled amid an inter-agency brawl, said Bill Becker,executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. The“guidance document is being delayed indefinitely,” said Becker, who wasinformed about the White House negotiations. He said some officials are tryingto set federal cost caps on pollution controls against the will of EPA,although it is unclear who is pushing the provision. The EPA policy arrived atthe White House Office of Management and Budget last month but is languishingthere as administration officials hash out the details. OMB spokeswoman MegReilly did not deny the delay, but declined to comment on the closed-doordeliberations.



We May Just Clip This StoryEvery Day This Week: Calif. Air Resources Board Misses the Mark on PollutionAnalysis By About 340 Percent – And Mary Nichols Refuses to Say Why.San Francisco Chronicle (10/8) reports, “California grosslymiscalculated pollution levels in a scientific analysis used to toughen thestate’s clean-air standards, and scientists have spent the past several monthsrevising data and planning a significant weakening of the landmark regulation,The Chronicle has found. The pollution estimate in question was too high – by340 percent, according to the California Air Resources Board, the state agencycharged with researching and adopting air quality standards. The estimate was akey part in the creation of a regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board in2007, a rule that forces businesses to cut diesel emissions by replacing ormaking costly upgrades to heavy-duty, diesel-fueled off-road vehicles used inconstruction and other industries. The staff of the powerful Air ResourcesBoard said the overestimate is largely due to the board calculating emissionsbefore the economy slumped, which halted the use of many of the 150,000diesel-exhaust-spewing vehicles in California. Independent researchers,however, found huge overestimates in the air board’s work on diesel emissionsand attributed the flawed work to a faulty method of calculation – not theeconomic downturn.



Interior Secretary Salazar,On the Chopping Block in DC, Takes the Weekend to Come Back Out to Colorado,Campaign For Another Politician About to Lose Her Job. The Hill (10/10) reports, “Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is back inhis home state Sunday to campaign for Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), a formeremployee of Salazar’s who is also one of the more vulnerable Democraticincumbents in this midterm election. Salazar was scheduled to participate in anevent at a park in Greeley, Colo. “Rain or shine, my rally with Ken Salazarwill go on!” Markey tweeted Sunday. It was scheduled from 11:30 am to 1pm MST.Salazar visited the same park in Markey’s district two years ago to campaignfor her before she unseated three-term Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave.Salazar in August also campaigned for another embattled Democratic incumbentfrom Colorado up for reelection, Sen. Michael Bennet. Markey was a districtrepresentative for Salazar when he was a Democratic U.S. senator from Colorado.She is facing a stiff challenge from Republican Cory Gardner – minoritywhip in the Colorado General Assembly.



Want to Frack a Well in theEagleford or Bakken Shale Plays? Get In Line – Presence of Oil Changesthe Dynamic Completely, Resulting in Lots More Jobs and Revenue. Dan Pickering writes on the Houston Chronicle’s Fuel Fix (10/8) blog, “Thought the shale frenzy wasover? Think again. But the names are different now. It’s no longer Barnett,Haynesville or Marcellus. Those plays are gassy…and gas prices have been lowenough for long enough to make you cringe. The 2010 hot shale plays are theEagle Ford (in South Texas) and the Bakken (in the Rockies). Their commoncharacteristic? Oil. With oil now trading almost 4x higher than gas on a btuequivalent basis, players in the energy business are going nuts to drill for oil.So we shouldn’t be surprised that Eagle Ford rig count has ramped from 15 rigsin January 2009 to 99 rigs currently. Bakken rig count has moved from 88 to152 in the same time frame and production there will probably reach over400,000 barrels per day by the end of next year. Both plays rely on drillinghorizontal wells and using multi-stage fracture treatments to tap the tightrocks, so we shouldn’t be surprised that high-end drilling rigs and frack crewsare sold out in both plays. Further proof the oily shale wave hasn’t crestedyet – over 2500 people converged on a San Antonio conference for the pasttwo days to eat, sleep and breathe the Eagle Ford Shale.



Did You Know the “World’sBiggest Day of Climate Change Activism” Was Yesterday? Neither Did We. But WeWere Aware It Was Tanya Tucker’s Birthday. AFP(10/10) reports, “Environmental campaigners planted trees, collected rubbishand rallied against pollution on Sunday for what organisers aimed to make theworld’s biggest day of climate-change activism. The 10/10/10 event known as the"Global Work Party" kicked off in Australia and New Zealand beforespinning its way across the globe via more than 7,000 community events in 188countries. "The only countries that aren’t taking part, we think, areEquatorial Guinea, San Marino, North Korea, so it’s clearly the most widespreadday of environmental action," co-founder of the 350.org campaign BillMcKibben said. The event comes as long-running United Nations efforts to brokera global deal to tackle global warming have stalled, and McKibben said whileorganisers had feared that people would be disillusioned by this, the oppositewas true. "People are discouraged but they are taking out theirfrustrations in action," he told AFP by telephone from Washington."They have decided that we are going to have to show our leaders whatleadership looks like."


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