December 21, 2010

Shuttered: Enviro-BackedThink Tank Created to Shill for Cap-and-Raid Set to Announce Its DissolutionToday – At Least We’ll Always Have the Memories.Politico (12/21) reports, “A panel of well-connected energy experts isending its work after eight years of pitching several ideas successfully intolaw – although the biggest fish got away. "After the inability toadvance an agenda led by climate change, our sense was it’s important to stepback and reevaluate," Jason Grumet, NCEP’s executive director, toldPOLITICO. The group will officially announce its closure Tuesday. Grumet, aformer 2008 Obama campaign adviser, will launch a new energy program in thespring under the banner of the Bipartisan Policy Center, another group he runs.Talks are already underway with several soon-to-be retiring members of Congressabout signing up to help with the energy work at BPC. The National Commissionon Energy Policy follows several prominent environmental groups that also haveclosed or recalibrated their campaigns following the collapse this summer of acomprehensive global warming and energy bill. On the energy front, severalfront-line groups from the left have shifted or shuttered their operationssince the demise of the climate bill. Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protectionhas scaled back its field work from 25 states to about seven. And the CleanEnergy Works coalition that included greens, labor and religious groups has putits campaign on the backburner.



Chain of Command: LisaJackson Cites Objections by the Solar Industry as Reason She Can’t ExtendPublic Comment Period on EPA’s Carbon Criminalization Scheme. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson writes in a letter to U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (12/20), “If EPA were,as you request in your letter, to reopen the guidance document for anothersixty days now, then companies would enter the period that begins on January 2burdened by the regulatory uncertainty that you seek to avoid. Assuming thatthe new, modest requirements are allowed to stand, companies will enjoy theregulatory certainty necessary to invest in job-creating projects. But if thenew requirements were delayed, the result would be regulatory uncertaintydiscouraging job-creating investment. [T]he Biomass Power Association, theSolar Energy Industries Association, and the American Wind Energy Associationpoint out that a delay of two years actually would “extend the uncertaintyaround reducing global warming pollution under the Clean Air Act far longerthan two years” and “would only provide a boost to foreign renewable energyindustries, located in countries that already regulate greenhouse gasemissions. This further disadvantages our own businesses and economy.”



Less Water, Fewer Trucks,More Benign Chemistry – That’s What Shale Gas Development Is All AboutToday, and Is Renewing Its Commitment to for Tomorrow. Houston Chronicle (12/20) reports, “Oil field servicesproviders that offer the service are also rethinking the current model to cutcosts. Indeed, their oil company customers are demanding it as natural gasprices remain low and shale formations take center stage in the onshore U.S.oil and gas business. The latest example came last month, when oil fieldservices giant Halliburton announced a sweeping plan to significantly reducethe surface footprint and environmental impact of its hydraulic fracturingoperations by 2013. Halliburton, the market leader in North America, aims to dothis by redesigning equipment to be more efficient, automating more functionsto reduce personnel and traffic to sites, and reducing the amount of freshwater required in the process. While the company’s motivation may be largelyfinancial, the plan also hints at what could be the oil field of the future.“We’re ready to change the map,” Ron Hyden, Halliburton’s technology directorfor production enhancement, said as he stood amid towering rows of equipment atthe Poth well site. “We were concerned that a 1980s frac operation would not besustainable in this century.” Other oil services companies also have takensteps to clean up fracking, from launching technology that recycles wastewaterstreams to rolling out more robust pumping equipment that lessens the need forso many trucks on-site.



Christmas Miracle? Somehow,Someway, U.S. Gasoline Consumption Falls Even Without Top-DownCommand-and-Control Carbon Rationing Scheme from Washington. Associated Press (12/21) reports, “After seven decades ofmostly uninterrupted growth, U.S. gasoline demand is at the start of along-term decline. By 2030, Americans will burn at least 20 percent lessgasoline than today, experts say, even as millions of more cars clog the roads.The country’s thirst for gasoline is shrinking as cars and trucks become morefuel-efficient, the government mandates the use of more ethanol and peopledrive less."A combination of demographic change and policy change meansthe heady days of gasoline growing in the U.S. are over," says Daniel Yergin,chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates and author of a PulitzerPrize-winning history of the oil industry. This isn’t the first time in U.S.history that gasoline demand has fallen, at least temporarily. Driverstypically cut back during recessions, then hit the road again when the economypicks up. Indeed, the Great Recession was the chief reason demand fell sharplyin 2008. But this time looks different. Government and industry officials -including the CEO of Exxon Mobil – say U.S. gasoline demand has peaked forgood. It has declined four years in a row and will not reach the 2006 levelagain, even when the economy fully recovers. Americans are burning an averageof 8.2 million barrels – 344 million gallons – of gasoline per day in 2010, afigure that excludes the ethanol blended into gasoline. That’s 8 percent lessthan at the 2006 peak, according to government data.



Of Course, Even with thatDrop in Demand, Price for Gasoline Expected to Soar in Q1 of New Year –Partially a Result of the Administration’s Bans in the Gulf.Houston Chronicle (12/20) reports, “Today’s gasoline prices,while higher than normal for this time of year, could end up looking cheap comespringtime, says one prominent oil analyst. Pump prices nationwide for regularunleaded could hit an average of $3.25 to $3.75 a gallon early next year onhigher crude oil prices and a seasonal rise in gasoline demand, Tom Kloza,senior oil analyst with the Oil Price Information Service predicts. “My view of2011 suggests that we are looking at the second fuel price apocalypse of the21st century, commencing during a time line that will begin with springtraining and end when the Cubs are written off as a baseball non-contender,”Kloza writes. As for whether U.S. pump prices will reach an average of $3 agallon before the end of 2010, he says it could go either way. The nationalaverage retail price for regular unleaded held overnight at $2.98 a gallon,while the Houston average rose a fraction of a cent to $2.80 a gallon,according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. The national average has notsurpassed $3 in more than two years, and has never hit the $3 mark in December.The all-time record is $4.11 a gallon, set in July 2008.



Follow This Logic: TexasAnnounces It Has No Intention of Trying to Impose EPA’s Ridiculous Carbon Ruleson Public; So Enviro Groups Sue … EPA?Dow Jones (12/21) reports, “Six environmental groups sent the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency a notice of intent to sue if the federal agencydoes not resolve Texas air-permitting issues that it has objected to in atimely matter. Advocacy groups including the Environmental Integrity Project,the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Environment Texas, Air Alliance Houston, and TexasCampaign for the Environment sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jacksonfor "failing to issue or deny" permits for 43 facilities afterraising objections to them. The groups intend to file a suit in 60 days afterthe EPA receives the notice to compel the agency into action. Since the ObamaAdministration took office, the EPA has been vocal in its concern that varioustypes of air permits issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,or TCEQ, violate the national Clean Air Act. At the heart of the problem isthat permits issued to heavy-polluting oil refineries, chemical plants andother facilities do not properly regulate or provide adequate information aboutemission sources. There is a high concentration of these types of facilities inTexas such as those operated by Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron, Valero EnergyCorp., and E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. Under federal law, Texas had 90days to submit revised permits after the federal agency issued its objections,but it failed to do so, and the "EPA has a duty" to take over thattask, the letter said.



Sino Evil? French HaltSolar Panels from Coming Into Country – Not Because They’re OutrageouslyExpensive, But Because They’re Made By the Chinese.Bloomberg News (12/21) reports, “France’s decision to suspend mostsolar-energy projects for three months was done partly to curb cheaper importsof Chinese solar panels, Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet saidtoday on France Info radio. “Ninety percent of the solar panels installed inFrance come from China and our import criteria must be strengthened,”Kosciusko-Morizet said. “We are not here to subsidize the Chinese economy butto create green jobs in France.” European governments are revising solarpolicies after realizing their subsidies were too generous and that developersbought a majority of the panels from Chinese suppliers including Yingli GreenEnergy Holding Co. rather than manufacturers such as Q-Cells SE of Germany.France on Dec. 10 suspended projects for three months as it studies whether tolimit construction and further cut subsidized rates paid to solar-powerproducers. The feed-in tariffs, among Europe’s highest, sparked a boom inproject applications and France, following similar moves in Spain and Germany,is seeking to limit the spiraling cost of clean energy for consumers. TheFrench halt applies to projects with a capacity of more than 3 kilowatts.


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