In the Pipeline: 3/23/11

It’s sad that a new coal permit is newsworthy — Sec. Salazar relishes the pomp and circumstance as he conducts what should be routine business Tribune (3/23/11) reports: Nearly 758 million tons of Wyoming coal will go up for sale in the coming months, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday… The sale of the leases announced Tuesday could produce up to $21.3 billion when factoring in bonus bids and royalty payments, Salazar said. Just more than half of the total would go to the federal government, with the state getting the rest…Flanked by Gov. Matt Mead at Cheyenne South High School, Salazar said coal will continue to be a mainstay of U.S. energy consumption and an important contributor toward U.S. energy indepedence. Wyoming’s low-sulfur coal is a key part of that mix, he said…”Coal is a critical component of America’s comprehensive energy portfolio as well as Wyoming’s economy,” Salazar said…Mead joined Salazar for what Mead called a “great announcement.”…”Energy absolutely is critical to this state and absolutely critical to our country,” Mead said. “Particularly in these times when we’re coming out of what is called the Great Recession, we need energy, we need the jobs that come from energy, we need electricity.”

This permit was already issued to Exxon Mobil, but BOEMRE wants to redo the ribbon cutting to score political points while Americans suffer at the pump The Hill (3/22/11) reports: The permit BOEMRE approved will allow Exxon Mobil to drill a new well in 6,941 feet of water about 240 miles off the coast of Louisiana. It’s the first of the four deepwater drilling permits approved by BOEMRE since the spill that would allow new drilling…Exxon Mobil had received approval to drill the new well prior to the spill, but the project was halted in the aftermath of the disaster. The company had to receive approval from BOEMRE under a series of new safety standards put in place in the aftermath of the spill….The Interior Department announced Tuesday it has approved another Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling permit under a series of beefed-up safety standards…It’s the fourth such approval for the type of project that was halted in the aftermath of last year’s Gulf oil spill…The approval comes a day after Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) approved the first deepwater exploration plan in the Gulf since the spill, a key step in moving forward with new drilling in the region.

Dem. Senators argue that cuts to Commodity Futures Trading Commission will increase gas prices — that’s weird, I always thought high gas prices were the result of the war on affordable and reliable energy The Hill (3/22/11) reports: Forty-five Senate Democrats have written a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) arguing that the $56.8 million in cuts to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission proposed under House Republicans’ long-term government funding resolution could lead to higher gas prices…In the letter, which was spearheaded by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the Democrats argue that the cuts to the regulatory agency “will condemn our country to continued reliance on foreign oil and allow market manipulation that could lead to gas prices rising unchecked.”

While Germany and Italy renounce nuclear energy in a fit of hysteria, Japan emerges as the voice of reason Bloomberg (3/22/11) reports: Japan remains committed to nuclear power after a tsunami crippled the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, leaking radiation, because the country needs non-polluting energy sources, the government’s nuclear safety spokesman said…“While people may become more cautious, renewable energy alone isn’t sufficient, so nuclear power is essential,” Hidehiko Nishiyama, a director general at the trade ministry, said in an interview in Tokyo yesterday…Workers have toiled round the clock to prevent Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s plant from leaking more radiation into the air and sea, after a tsunami triggered by the magnitude-9 earthquake on March 11 damaged auxiliary generators running its cooling systems. The world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 prompted officials in China and India and U.S. lawmakers to call for a review of atomic energy plans…“You can yell all you like about nuclear power, but sooner or later you’ve got to decide how we’re going to keep the lights turned on,” David Wark, a professor in high energy physics at Imperial University in London, said by phone yesterday. “You’ve got three choices: freeze, burn a lot of fossil fuels or build nuclear power plants. All those countries that are planning to build nuclear plants, in the end they don’t have any choice.”

Finally some good news — subsidies for renewable energy are getting chopped around the world as governments tighten their belts Forbes (3/23/11) reports: Many have lauded various nations for subsidizing alternative energy production as part of a concerted world-wide effort to wean humans off destructive carbon-based energy. But they forget that governments, especially when pressed by finances or fear, can change their minds rapidly…For example, much of the world is currently seeing a pull-back of government support for alternative energy, largely because governments are struggling with financial problems and are instituting austerity programs…This reduction in enthusiasm for pure green energy is most noticeable in Europe, where governments have been subsidizing–primarily solar–power producers for some time


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