October 19, 2010

Who Really Killed theElectric Car? Its Battery Pack – the One Featured on the Nissan LeafCosts $16,000 – With Very Little Hope of Price Coming Down.Wall Street Journal (10/19) reports, “The push to get electriccars on the road is backed by governments and auto makers around the world, butthey face a big hurdle: the stubbornly high cost of the giant battery packs,which can account for more than half the cost of an electric vehicle. Both theindustry and government are betting that a quick takeoff in electric-car saleswill drive down the battery prices. But a number of scientists and automotiveengineers believe cost reductions will be hard to come by. Unlike with tires ortoasters, battery packs aren’t likely to enjoy traditional economies of scaleas their makers ramp up production, the scientists and engineers say. Theseexperts say increased production of batteries means the price of the key metalsused in their manufacture will remain steady—or maybe even rise—atleast in the short term. They also say the price of the electronic parts usedin battery packs as well as the enclosures that house the batteries aren’tlikely to decline appreciably. Current industry estimates say the battery packin the all-electric Nissan Leaf compact car coming out in December costs NissanMotor Co. about $15,600. That cost will make it difficult for the Leaf, whichis priced at $33,000, to turn a profit. And it also may make the Leaf a toughsell, since even with federal tax breaks of $7,500, the car will cost about twicethe $13,520 starting price of the similar-size Nissan Versa hatchback.



By the Numbers: 18 Billion Gallons of Water Flows ThroughPA’s Susquehanna Watershed Each Day – How Much Do Marcellus ProducersNeed? 2 Million Gallons.Williamsport Sun-Gazette (10/17) reports, “According to theSusquehanna River Basin Commission, the gas industry is removing about 2million gallons of water per day from the watershed, though it is permitted toremove 25 to 30 million gallons. That is a drop in the bucket compared to theamount of water flowing out of the watershed at any given moment, he said."We have a decent idea that on average, there’s about 18 million gallons perminute that flow from the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake Bay," Richenderfersaid. "That equates to 26 billion gallons per day." Richenderfer saidthe bay is the river’s sole discharge point, though water also leaves thewatershed through other means, such as evaporation and consumption. Gasindustry usage ranks fourth behind the water supply, power generation andrecreation industries, according to the commission. The water-supply sector -the largest water-consuming sector in the basin – is permitted to remove about325 million gallons of water per day from the basin. The number-two and -threewater-consuming sectors – power generation and recreation – are permitted touse 150 million and 50 million gallons per day, respectively. Gas explorationcompanies seek withdrawal permits from multiple sources to ensure they haveplenty to use in case one or more sources become unavailable, Richenderfersaid.



Interior Design: WesternEnergy Alliance Sues Interior, Salazar for Withholding $100 Million Worth ofLeases from the Folks Who Bid On, Paid For Them.E&E News(10/18, subs. req’d) reports, “Oil and gas companies sued the InteriorDepartment today for failing to issue Western minerals leases long after theleases have been paid for. In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court inWyoming, the Western Energy Alliance and several oil and gas companies allegethat Interior is violating mineral laws by failing to issue leases within 60days of selling them. The alliance is asking Interior to issue 118 pendingleases in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and other Western states. Energy developerspaid Interior more than $4.5 million for the leases between 2005 and 2008, saidKathleen Sgamma, the alliance’s director of government affairs. The 118 leasesrepresent a "sliver" of the total number that Interior is holdingpast the 60-day limit, Sgamma said, putting the total worth of the withheldleases at more than $100 million. Politico’s MorningEnvironmentalist (10/19)reports, “WEA’s Jon Haubert says the group plans a second suit challengingBLM’s new categorical exclusion policy. "The lawsuit is aimed at what weconsider to be an unlawful rewrite of the specific, limited categoricalexclusions mandated by Congress for situations where the environmental impactis low and/or existing documentation has already been conducted in accordancewith NEPA," Haubert said.



Boiler Makers: EPA Not Usedto Getting Push-Back from House, Senate Dems on Outrageous Stuff It Proposes– But Then Came the Boiler Rule, and All Hell Broke Loose. Politico (10/19) reports, “It is clear to us that, if not significantlyrevised, this proposal will cause the permanent loss of a large number of[well-paying] jobs, well beyond the job losses contemplated in EPA’s economicanalyses,” the trade groups said in comments filed with the agency in August. Many boilers would shut down under the new rules, they said, either becausethey wouldn’t be able to achieve the strict standards or because the costswould be too high. Some of the EPA’s friends in Congress have joined stalwartEPA foes like Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) in attacking the rules. Largebipartisan groups in both the House and the Senate have penned letters to EPAAdministrator Lisa Jackson in recent months that echo industries’ concerns,warning of dire economic consequences and urging the agency to set standardsthat are more favorable to businesses. More than 100 House members —including 45 Democrats — urged the EPA in August to consider flexibleapproaches “that could prevent severe job losses and billions of dollars inunnecessary regulatory costs.” Seventeen Senate Democrats last month joined 24Republicans in sending a separate letter that detailed the same concerns usingsimilar language.



In a Week in Which Prof.Calzada Is Once Again in the USA, Dispatch from Spain Details Just How AwfulGreen Hand-Outs Have Been for Spanish Economy.Bloomberg (10/19) reports, “Spain stands as a lesson to other aspiringgreen-energy nations, including China and the U.S., by showing how difficult itis to build an alternative energy industry even with billions of euros insubsidies, says Ramon de la Sota, a private investor in Spanish photovoltaicpanels and a former General Electric Co. executive. “The government totallyovershot with the tariff,” de la Sota says. “Now they have a huge bill to pay– but where’s the technology, where’s the know-how, where’s the value?” U.S.President Barack Obama highlighted solar energy as part of his plan to creategreen jobs this month with a decision to install photovoltaic panels on theroof of the White House. In 2007, the Spanish parliament approved Zapatero’splan to introduce a feed-in solar tariff — called that because it fixed theprice at which producers can sell their power to the grid — for photovoltaic plantsat 10 times the wholesale rate. Spain’s number crunchers failed to anticipatethe spiraling cost of an open-ended incentive, says Charles Yonts, a renewable-energy analyst at CLSA Ltd. in Hong Kong. “Spain is the poster child of howthings can go badly awry,” he says. “Far too much money was being paid out.”



We Love This Strategy: NRDCReleases Push-Poll Designed to Give Allies in Congress the Nerve to Stand Upand Defend (!) Vote on Cap-and-Raid.ClimateWire (10/18, subs. req’d) reports, “A majorenvironmental group is encouraging vulnerable House Democrats to stand by theircontroversial vote last year on climate legislation amid heavy campaignattacks. The group points to a series of new polls that show there would bestrong support for renewable energy platforms put forward by hypotheticalcandidates. The Natural Resources Defense Council surveyed likely voters in 23congressional districts where Democratic incumbents are locked in tight racesthat might determine control of Congress next year. The polling revealedmajority support for clean energy messages, versus Republican attacks on"energy taxes," in 21 of the battleground districts. The outcome wastoo close to call in two races. "The repetition of opposition messagescombined with money that’s been spent on this issue and the Senate’s failure toact has really fed into a story line that somehow support for clean energylegislation has become a tough sell," said Heather Taylor-Miesle, directorof the NRDC Action Fund. "If anything, what it tells me is if I keep mymouth shut and I get elected, people will actually support the policy as longas we just ultimately come back to it and call it something different, and tryto explain it to them in a better and different way," Leiserowitz said.



Scream IV: Actor DavidArquette Joins James Cameron, Usual Suspects, to Funnel Tens of Millions ofDollars Into Opposition to Proposition 23. Politico’s MorningEnvironmentalist (10/19)reports, “Actor David Arquette joins Academy Award-nominated director MatthewCooke in Sacramento today to unveil a new video critical of the Californiaballot initiative that would effectively kill the state’s main climate law.Arquette stars in "You Can’t Bully California," which will beavailable on social networking sites, YouTube and other No on 23 campaignsites. Video will be up at 5 p.m. EDT. Opponents of Prop 23 are clobberingtheir rivals when it comes to fundraising. Team No has surged over the lastweek to $27 million compared to $9 million for the yes camp. Several bigspenders over the last week for the no side include: the National WildlifeFederation ($3 million), "Avatar" director James Cameron ($1 million),former Intel CEO Gordon Moore ($1 million), venture capitalist Vinod Khosla($1.04 million), Climateworks Foundation ($900,000), Rockefeller Family Fund($300,000), PG&E ($250,000) and Google co-founder Sergey Brin ($200,000). The biggest checks over the last week for Team Yes came from Texas-based CVREnergy ($150,000) and $5,000 apiece from a southern California tomato farmer(The Morning Star Co.) and Ingomar Packing Co. of Los Banos.


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