In the Pipeline: 3/2/11

Chu wants to grow green energy demand and plans on using your tax dollars as fertilizer CNET (3/1/11) reports: Energy Secretary Steven Chu is drawing on U.S. history in research and development to advocate for policies to encourage clean energy technology innovation for the future…Chu gave the keynote speech at the ARPA-E Summit here today, saying once again that the U.S. is in a race with China, the European Union, and other countries to create energy products expected to grow in demand…He started out by showing a graph of the rise and fall of oil prices over time, saying that people cannot accurately say where oil prices be in a few years time. Oil recently rose past $100 a barrel, and the U.S. spends about $1 billion a day importing oil…”What do we do? Do we hope for the best and plan for an economy at $40 a barrel?” he said. “I suggest taking a longer-term, more measured approach to the problem.”… Beyond the question of volatile fossil fuel prices, Chu argued that there is big spike in demand for accessible clean energy around the world. “Our strategy should not be hoping for the best…Let’s plan for where the world is going to be,” he said.

He’s back! Arnold Schwarzenegger said he popularized body building and will do the same for green energy — can’t wait for the green version of “Terminator” MSNBC (3/1/11) reports: Using analogies to leverage every aspect of his history, Schwarzenegger made the case that transitioning to a green economy, fixing the environment and ending political stalemate over carbon legislation fell well within the power of today ‘s technology and today’s political climate…“We want a new era of energy independence, a new era of green technology and green jobs, a new era of better health from a cleaner environment and a new era of American inventiveness,” Schwarzenegger said…The former governor and action-film superstar compared the current debate over climate change to the state of bodybuilding when he entered that sport in the late 1960s. A pervasive fear of weightlifting’s effects led celebrities to disavow their own exercise routines, and produced euphemisms when discussing the activity. However, scientific evidence eventually came to support the health benefits of weightlifting, and today talk about abs and pecs is common. Confident in having brought weightlifting to the mainstream, Schwarzenegger told the audience he hopes to do the same for climate science.

This proves numbers don’t matter in Congress — EPA claims they will save $2 trillion and prevent 160,000 deaths New York Times (3/1/11) reports: A two-decade-old crackdown on smog and soot under the Clean Air Act will yield about $2 trillion in annual benefits by 2020, according to a study (pdf) that was released by U.S. EPA this morning and was touted as proof that the embattled agency’s rules are an economic boon for the American people…Those rules prevented an estimated 160,000 deaths last year, according to the analysis, and within a decade, that number is projected to rise to about 230,000. That year, the new pollution controls will prevent an estimated 200,000 cases of heart disease, 2.4 million asthma flare-ups and 22.4 million missed school and work days…The study was ordered by the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, which were signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. Most of the stricter limits on smog and soot also date back to those amendments, which passed with support from both parties…In a statement today, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said the benefits of those rules are a testament to “the power of bipartisan approaches to protecting the health of the American people.”

Here’s a business idea that works in Europe — have your government force businesses to purchase a permit from your company to emit carbon Reuters (3/1/11) reports: Carbon trading firms remain optimistic about a European market, after a 50 million euros cyberattack, but have given up hope on a U.S. cap and trade scheme, they told an industry conference on Tuesday…Perhaps indicative of the problems facing carbon markets, attendance was well down on previous years at the Point Carbon conference, at nearly 800, compared with 1,700 in 2008…The reputation of carbon markets has faced headwinds following the hacking in January of electronic emissions permits from a European scheme, the hub of global trade, as well as dimming expectations of a federal U.S. market…In addition, hopes are fading that the world will agree on an extension after 2012 to the Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding emissions targets for industrialized nations and so drives demand for international carbon offsets.

Coin Toss: heads you get a permit and sued by greenies, tails you don’t get a permit and go bankrupt Wall Street Journal (3/1/11) reports: More than two months after the Obama administration lifted its ban on drilling in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico, oil companies are still waiting for approval to drill the first new oil well there. Experts now expect the wait to continue until the second half of 2011, and perhaps into 2012… The administration says it is simply trying to enforce new safety rules adopted in the wake of the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, which killed 11 workers and set off the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Environmental groups say the administration is right to take its time because the Gulf disaster exposed the risks of offshore drilling…But the delay is hurting big oil companies such as Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which have billions of dollars in investments tied up in Gulf projects that are on hold and are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a day for rigs that aren’t allowed to drill. Smaller operators such as ATP Oil & Gas Corp., which have less flexibility to focus on projects in other regions, have been even harder hit… The impact of the delays goes beyond the oil industry. The Gulf coast economy has been hit hard by the slowdown in drilling activity, especially because the oil spill also hurt the region’s fishing and tourism industries. The Obama administration in September estimated that 8,000 to 12,000 workers could lose their jobs temporarily as a result of the moratorium; some independent estimates have been much higher.

Ironic: China and the rest of the world is using our coal to win the future Wall Street Journal (3/1/11) reports: U.S. coal producer Peabody Energy (BTU) said Monday that it has signed a deal with SSA Marine to export coal from the Power River Basin from a proposed export terminal in Washington state…The companies agreed to ship up to 24 million metric tons of coal a year through the proposed terminal, called Gateway Pacific, near Bellingham, Wash. just south of the U.S.-Canadian border…The terminal would serve as the U.S. West Coast hub for exporting Peabody’s coal from Wyoming to China, South Korea, Japan, India and other Asian countries, the company said…Coal from Wyoming and Montana, which traditionally stays within U.S. borders, is now profitable to export, thanks to rapidly industrializing nations such as China, where coal is the most common power-plant fuel…”We ‘re opening the door to a new era of U.S. exports from the nation’s largest and most productive coal region to the world’s best market for coal,” Peabody Chairman and Chief Executive Gregory Boyce said in a statement…The company said demand for seaborne coal demand is expected to top 1 billion metric tons this year, amid fast-growing demand in Asia…Peabody said the coal export terminal could be operational “within several years.” The company plans to ship coal produced from the Powder River Basin to the terminal via the Burlington Northen Santa Fe Railway, a unit of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRKA)

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