December 10, 2010

Cave Men: New “Compromise”Senate Tax Package Includes Lots of Honey for Big Corn – Guess Ole’ BobDinneen’s Got More Juice Than We Thought.E&E News (12/10, subs. req’d) reports, “A renewableenergy grant program, ethanol tax credit and other energy tax credits would beextended one year in a compromise tax package announced by Senate MajorityLeader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) late yesterday. Reid last night filed cloture on thecompromise package. The Senate will vote on whether to end debate on thepackage Monday afternoon. The package is still headlined by the extension ofexpiring income tax cuts for all tax brackets negotiated earlier this week bythe White House and Republicans but includes changes to the renewable energygrant program. Last-minute lobbying efforts paid off for lawmakers andalternative energy companies on the ethanol blend tax credit and especially forthe Treasury Department’s 1603 renewable energy grant-in-lieu-of-tax creditprogram. The 1603 program had been left on the cutting room floor after theWhite House and Republicans reached the income tax cut agreement. The billwould extend the 1603 program — originally passed as part of the stimulus bill– through 2011, according to a bill summary from Reid’s office. The extensionwould cost about $3 billion over 10 years, according to a Joint Committee onTaxation (JCT) score from yesterday afternoon being circulated among lobbyinggroups.



Enviros “Furious” overEPA’s Decision to Delay Completely Outlandish, Technically Unattainable BoilerRule – Professional Quote-Emailer Frank O’Donnell Absolutely Unhinged. NY Times (12/10) reports, “The Obama administration is retreating onlong-delayed environmental regulations — new rules governing smog andtoxic emissions from industrial boilers — as it adjusts to a changedpolitical dynamic in Washington with a more muscular Republican opposition. Environmental advocates are furious. They fear a similar delay on theapproaching start of one of the most far-reaching regulatory programs inAmerican environmental history, the effort to curb emissions of carbon dioxideand other greenhouse gases. “Obama has already signaled that in his quest forre-election he’s more than willing to turn against his base in order to make acompromise with his adversaries,” Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean AirWatch, an advocacy group, said in an e-mail, responding to the rules delay. Mr.O’Donnell said the administration was clearly “running scared” from theincoming Congress and said he suspected that it was willing to moderate itsstand on a variety of environmental regulations, including pending greenhousegas rules aimed at reducing the pollutants that contribute to global warming.



“Revolutions Do Not goBackward”: Former Secretary Official, Gov. of Penna. Sees HistoricalSignificance in Development of Natural Gas from Shale. The Oklahoman (12/9) reports, “Revolutions do not go backward.” Former U.S.Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge offered up that Abraham Lincoln quoteThursday as proof that Americans need to develop a sustained, coherent andforward-looking national energy policy. There isn’t one now, and time isrunning out to make it a reality, Ridge told his Chesapeake Energy Lectureaudience at the University of Tulsa’s Allen Chapman Activities Center. FormerCabinet official sees U.S. security in natural gas In fact, Ridge threw ineverything from the 16th president’s immortal words to “The Daily Show” hostJon Stewart while also interweaving his own “all in” conception of the Americanenergy future. “What we have is natural gas,” Ridge said. “It’s here, it’ssecure.” Now retired from public life, at least temporarily, Ridge has his owncompany and is a strategic adviser to the Marcellus Shale Coalition, whichoversees natural gas exploration and production in the deep reserves beneaththe Pennsylvania soil and neighboring areas of the Northeast. “I think it’stime we put America at the head of the global energy parade,” Ridge said.“That’s our mission; that’s not a mirage.”



Wet Our Beak: DelawareRiver Basin Commish More than Happy to Allow Folks Develop Resources fromMarcellus Shale – Just Need to Pay Millions of Dollars in Fees.NY Times/E&E News (12/9) reports, "DRBC wells will tie up moreworking capital than wells in other parts of the formation," said Book,managing director of the Washington-based consulting firm ClearView EnergyPartners, "making it more attractive to drill other places first." The amount of financial assurance has been a key sticking point in negotiationsabout the rules, and has been interpreted by some as an indicator of howwelcoming the regulators and the body’s member states will be to natural gasdevelopment in the Northeast. Tom Shepstone, a landowner and businessman inHonesdale, Pa., who supports drilling, said the operating requirements in therules are reasonable, but the commission is asserting itself too deeply intoland use. "It’s not practical, and it can be used by overzealousregulators or protestants to stop almost anything unless there is a betterdefinition," Shepstone said. One industry group says the regulations senda mixed message, indicating that the four states involved do want development,while making it financially difficult for it to occur. "Unfortunately,while a lot of the words in here sound good, a lot of the numbers sound like aswift kick to the stomach," said Chris Tucker, spokesman for Energy inDepth. "I’ve never seen bonding and fee requirements this high. They verywell might prove prohibitive."


The Real Scandal Out West: Sex and Drugs at MMSOffice In Denver? Nope: BLM Presiding over 79 Percent Drop in Leases Issuedover the Past Five Years in Region. Wyoming Business Report (12/9) reports, “Western Energy Alliancetoday announced the release of a compilation of government data related to oiland natural gas development on Western public lands. In Wyoming, the Bureau ofLand Management (BLM) issued 314 leases in FY2010, a 61 percent drop from the797 leases issued in FY2005, the data report. Since FY2008, 90 percent ofoffered parcels have been protested. Because this type of government data aredifficult to access, Western Energy Alliance has compiled the information tohelp policymakers, the media and the public identify trends in Western oil andgas development over time, a company release says. This new data resource showsa continued decrease in the use of public lands for domestic oil and naturalgas development, and a corresponding decline in revenue to federal and stategovernments. The BLM has overseen a 79 percent drop in leases issued over fiveyears in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. Leasingrevenue dropped 46 percent over the same period, and overall onshore royaltieshave declined 33 percent over two years. "Western Energy Alliance remainsdedicated to providing timely and credible data to enable policymakers to makeinformed decisions on how to best manage our public lands," said SpencerKimball, manager of Government Affairs.



“New” Approach Offered atClimate Kleptocrat Conf. in Cancun: U.S. Businesses Pay Brazilian Enviros toProduce Reports on Deforestation – What Can Possibly Go Wrong There?Washington Post (12/10) reports, “In response to growingfrustration that the U.N. climate negotiations are not producing real-worldresults, individual nations, states and business are cobbling togetherpatchwork solutions to preserve forests, produce clean energy and scrubpollution from the air. Under this new approach, businesses in California willoffset their greenhouse gas emissions by funding tropical-forest preservationin Mexico and Brazil, Japan will help pay for nuclear power plants indeveloping nations, and South Korea will invest in promoting renewable energyat home. But the central question remains: Will a bottom-up network of ad hocarrangements and bilateral deals be enough to avert dangerous climate change?For years, international policymakers operated on the assumption that theywould develop a successor to the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only legallybinding international accord to reduce greenhouse gases. They expected to agreeon a common path for cutting the world’s carbon output, dole out key nations’specific obligations and create a common market for trading greenhouseemissions. That vision has evaporated, replaced by a much looser web ofclimate-related efforts across the globe.



Can Someone Please Explainto Us Why U.S. Sen. Johanns Is Siding with Greenpeace, NRDC and the DamnedTides Foundation in Opposing Keystone Pipeline?E&E News(12/10, subs. req’d) reports, “Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) remains the strangestof bedfellows for the coalition of Democrats and environmental groups leaningon the State Department to more closely scrutinize the potential risks of theKeystone XL pipeline project. "All I’m asking," Johanns said, is thatSecretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s team more closely examinealternative routes for Keystone XL that would limit the pipeline’s impact onhis state’s ecologically delicate Sandhills region. If the department declinesto conduct that extra environmental assessment, he added, they "couldnever make the argument, then, that they’re environmentally sensitive."But for Johanns, the issue of extra environmental review remains a simplequestion of finishing the job before construction starts. "If they’re notwilling" to look at alternative routes for Keystone XL, Johanns said ofthe State Department, "it would speak very loudly and clearly that theywere willing to sacrifice thoroughness." The department does notanticipate a final decision on the proposed pipeline until early next year,after it weighs in on the proposed extra environmental review, which is alsobacked by U.S. EPA.



Speaking of Keystone,Canadian Energy: You Thought the LCFS Only Sought to Target the Oil Sands,Right? Turns Out Oil Shale Gets the Boot Too – and CTL. ClimateWire(12/9, subs. req’d) reports, ‘More than 25 companies are working to developU.S. oil shale, which holds a fuel called kerogen that can be turned intokerosene, jet and diesel fuel and gasoline. The majority of the reserves sit ina swath of the West stretching from Colorado to Utah. Climate regulations suchas proposed low-carbon fuel standards pose additional risks for investors inboth fuels, Logan said. Section 526 of a 2007 federal energy bill forbidsfederal agencies from procuring alternative fuels unless their life-cyclegreenhouse gas emissions are equal to or less than those of conventional fuels."Unless the section is actually repealed, section 526 could limit themarket for oil shale and coal to liquid developers," Ceres said. Outsideof California, low-carbon fuel standards are furthest along in Oregon, Washingtonand New England, said Chris Tucker of the Consumer Energy Alliance. In theNortheast, governors from 11 states signed a memorandum of understanding lastyear to develop such a standard. A model rule is expected early next year thatwould have to be approved by state legislatures in the region, with a possibleenactment date of 2013.



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