November 22, 2010

Sierra Club Drops the FigLeaf on Coal: “We Don’t Want It Burned At All” – Too Bad the ChineseDon’t Speak Na’vi. NY Times (11/21) reports, “At ports in Canada, Australia, Indonesia,Colombia and South Africa, ships are lining up to load coal for furnaces inChina, which has evolved virtually overnight from a coal exporter to one of theworld’s leading purchasers. The United States now ships coal to China viaCanada, but coal companies are scouting for new loading ports in WashingtonState. New mines are being planned for the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest.Indeed, some of the world’s more environmentally progressive regions arenascent epicenters of the new coal export trade, creating political tensionsbetween business and environmental goals. Traditionally, coal is burned nearwhere it is mined — particularly so-called thermal or steaming coal, usedfor heat and electricity. But in the last few years, long-distanceinternational coal exports have been surging because of China’s gallopingeconomy, which now burns half of the six billion tons of coal used globallyeach year. And the rush to feed this new Asian market has helped double theprice of coal over the past five years, leading to a renaissance of mining andexploration in many parts of the world. “This is a worst-case scenario,” saidDavid Graham-Caso, spokesman for the Sierra Club, which estimates that its“Beyond Coal” campaign has helped to block 139 proposed coal plants in theUnited States over the last few years. “We don’t want this coal burned here,but we don’t want it burned at all. This is undermining everything we’veaccomplished.”



Action Jackson: EPA’sUnilateral Assault on American Economy “Unprecedented” – And FindingItself Less Grounded in the Law by the Day. Wall Street Journal (11/22) editorializes, “The scale of theEPA’s current assault is unprecedented, yet it has received almost no publicscrutiny. Since Mr. Obama took office, the agency has proposed or finalized 29major regulations and 172 major policy rules. This surge already outpaces theClinton Administration’s entire first term—when the EPA had just beenhanded broad new powers under the 1990 revamp of air pollution laws. … A casestudy in the Jackson method is the EPA’s recent tightening of air-qualitystandards for sulfur dioxide. The draft SO2 rule was released for the formalperiod of public comment last December. Yet the final rule published in Junesuddenly included a "preamble" that rewrote 40-odd years of settledEPA policy. EPA has heretofore measured the concentration of pollutants in the ambientair by, well, measuring the concentration of pollutants in the ambient air. Thepreamble throws out this sampling and ultraviolet testing and substitutescomputer estimations of what air quality might be. The EPA favors modelingbecause it can plug in the data and assumptions of its choosing, like how oftena power plant is running at maximum capacity. Gaming the models will allow theagency to punish states and target individual plants, even if actualmeasurements show that SO2 is under the new EPA standard.



Dog and Phony Show: SalazarOn Hand in New Orleans Today to Talk About How Much He Loves the O&GIndustry – Notwithstanding the Permitorium that Remains In Place.The Hill (11/22) reports, “Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will meetMonday with oil industry officials in Louisiana to talk about offshore drillingpermits. The session is part of the deal that ended Sen. Mary Landrieu’s(D-La.) months-long obstruction of Jacob Lew’s confirmation as White Housebudget director. The department has promised a closed-door “informaldiscussion” with Salazar “to discuss the challenges affecting the offshore oiland gas industry and to hear the Secretary’s path forward to issuing permitsand getting this vital industry back to work,” according to Interior’sinvitation. Industry sources believe Salazar may announce the processing ofsome shallow-water drilling permits, and perhaps a nebulous roadmap fordeepwater projects. Oil-and-gas companies bashed the deepwater drilling freezeimposed after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill began, and have also criticized aslowdown in permits for shallow-water projects that were not covered by theformal ban. While the department lifted the official deepwater ban in October,industry critics claim a de facto freeze remains for both deepwater andshallow-water projects. Interior has imposed a suite of new rig safety mandatesin recent months, but says it wants to work with industry to get permitsrolling under the beefed-up standards.



Number of Senators DemandingPermanent Lock-Down of Alaska’s Coastal Plan Continues to Dwindle – ButBegich and Murkowski Aren’t About to Let ‘Em Off the Hook.EnergyGuardian (11/23, subs.req’d) reports, “Alaska lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, vowedto oppose any move by President Barack Obama to add new wilderness protectionsto the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A group of 25 senators, including Sen.Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and 24 Democrats, Friday called on Obama to use the50th anniversary of the refuge, on Dec. 6, to “grant the Arctic Refuge thestrong protections it deserves.” They noted that more than 100 million acresoutside ANWR have been made available for exploration. “Now is the time to findbalance in managing our public lands,” they said. Begich and Alaska Sen. LisaMurkowski, a Republican, urged that the appeal be ignored. “This is anothermisguided attempt to lock up ANWR by Sen. Lieberman and others who truly don’tunderstand its potential to help bring national and economic security to ourcountry,” Begich said. Begich and Murkowski support directional drilling, whichthey say can safely extract oil and gas from the 1.5 million coastal acres inthe ANWR that are not already off-limits. Exploration on the coastal acres issubject to congressional approval. “We should be discussing how to make thathappen, and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, rather than writingmore letters that paint ANWR as this last bastion of wilderness,” Begich said. “The letter from my Senate colleagues offers no alternatives to ANWR’sresources, only more of the same old arguments about why America’s resourcesshould never be developed,” Murkowski said.



Your Government At Work: 6Months Removed from Federal Approval of Cape Wind Project, Folks Up in Mass.Still Can’t Get Any Permits from EPA, Interior. Boston Globe (11/20) reports, “The developers of theproposed Nantucket Sound wind farm said yesterday that they would not meet adeadline to qualify for a 30 percent federal cash grant for the project.However, it is not clear if the cost of Cape Wind’s electricity will rise,because the project could receive numerous other federal financial incentives.The price of electric power from Cape Wind, which would amount to roughly 2percent of electric bills for National Grid customers in Massachusetts, hasbecome one of the biggest controversies of the project. Cape Wind developershad asked the state Department of Public Utilities to rule by Nov. 15 on aproposed contract between the wind farm and National Grid for the utility topurchase 50 percent of the project’s electricity. They sought the rulingbecause they wanted to start construction by the end of this year, arequirement to receive the federal grant that is possibly worth hundreds ofmillions of dollars. That DPU decision has been delayed to at least Monday, buta Cape Wind official said last night that the main reasons for the misseddeadline were outstanding permits from the US Environmental Protection Agencyand the US Army Corps of Engineers.



Ethanol Fuel Mandate Uppedto 15%? No Problem, Says EPA – Totally Safe for Your Car, Unless YouHappen to Drive Anything Built Between 2001 and 2006. The Hill (11/19) reports, “EPA is delaying a decision likely untilearly next year on whether a higher ethanol blend is appropriate for vehiclesin model years 2001 through 2006 in order to conduct more federal testing. TheEnergy Department "has informed EPA that lab testing of E15 in model year2001-2006 vehicles will now be completed by the end of December. EPA will makeits decision shortly after receiving that data," according to an EPAstatement to E2. The EnergyDepartment was initially expected to complete testing by this month on whetherE15 — a fuel blend comprised of 85 percent gasoline and 15 percentethanol — was safe for vehicles in model years 2001 through 2006. EPA inOctober announced that E15 was safe to use in engines in model year 2007 andnewer cars, light trucks and sport-utility vehicles. That decision —strongly supported by ethanol advocates — has been challenged in court byfood, farm and oil industry groups, charging that the decision violated theClean Air Act. Additional groups — including petroleum refiners —may challenge that decision as well. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said thereason for the delay in EPA’s decision is because of the need to continuetesting “one particular car that hadn’t been properly maintained and serviced.”



Return to Sender: FourYears Ago, Richard Branson Offered $25 Million to Anyone with a Cool Way toHandle CO2; Needless to Say, That Check Won’t Be Written.NY Times (11/21) reports, “An initiative from Richard Branson, theshaggy-haired billionaire owner of Virgin Atlantic airlines, was emblematic. InFebruary 2007, he offered a cash prize of $25 million to anyone who could comeup within just a few years with a process that would suck large amounts ofgreenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Flanked by Al Gore, the former U.S.vice president and the author of the book “An Inconvenient Truth,” Mr. Bransonlikened his offer to an 18th century competition for a method of estimatinglongitude accurately that eventually saved thousands of lives at seas. “Mancreated the problem, therefore man should solve the problem,” said Mr. Branson,who was referring to global warming. His initiative to help ensure thestability of the climate was “the largest ever science and technology prize tobe offered in history,” Mr. Branson said. Nearly four years later, Mr.Branson’s plans to award that prize, known as the Virgin Earth Challenge, areeffectively on hold. One problem is that some of the most promising ideasamong the approximately 2,500 applications submitted for the award proposedprojects raising tricky environmental and social issues.


Speak Your Mind


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