In the Pipeline: 4/12/11

What? You mean that people take advantage of venal and corrupt government extortion efforts to feather their own nests? E&E News (4/12/11) reports: Officials along the Gulf Coast have spent tens of millions of dollars — furnished by BP PLC — on gear, technology and vehicles, much of which has little to do with the oil cleanup…Much of the money was provided with no strings attached by the oil giant last spring while the crisis was unfolding. Many of the expenditures were only remotely connected with spill cleanup efforts…Reserve police officers in a Mississippi town bought Tasers. A Louisiana parish president received an iPad. A Florida county spent $560,000 on concerts to promote its oil-free beaches…Some of the money went to towns and cities that were never even touched by the oil…Altogether, BP said it paid state and local governments more than $754 million as of March 31, not including $694 million in reimbursements to the federal government…Although BP and the federal government took the lead on cleanup efforts, many communities said they needed additional tools…Charlotte Randolph, the Lafourche Parish president who received the iPad, said she needed it in addition to her parish-paid Blackberry to communicate with staff and officials. She purchased the iPad on Aug. 26, 2010, a month after the well was capped and a few weeks after the federal government said it had cleaned up most of the oil.

Governor Moonbeam plans on powering California with sunbeams Seattle Times (4/12/11) reports:Gov. Jerry Brown plans to sign legislation that would require California utilities to get one-third of their power from renewable sources, giving the state the most aggressive alternative energy mandate in the U.S.Under the bill, California utilities and other power providers would have until the end of 2020 to draw 33 percent of their power from solar panels, windmills, landfill gases, small hydroelectric plants and other renewable sources…Supporters said the increase from the current 20 percent target will reassure investors that demand for renewable energy will grow, fueling a field that has been one of the few growth spots for California’s economy during the recession…U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu was expected to attend the bill signing ceremony Tuesday at the SunPower-Flextronics solar manufacturing plant in the San Francisco Bay area city of Milpitas.

Oscar Wilde once described second marriages as the triumph of hope over experience.  Which sounds like a pretty good description of the Obama Administration’s fetish with solar and wind power E&E News (4/11/12) reports: California’s most aggressive large-scale solar power developer today won a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the federal government…The Department of Energy announced plans to direct the funds to Oakland-based BrightSource Energy Inc. for completion of a 392-megawatt solar-thermal generation facility in Ivanpah, Calif. The plant, which is expected to go live in 2013, is one of a handful of renewable energy projects to be streamlined by the Obama administration under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act…The DOE loan adds to $530 million in investments from private equity investors (E&ENews PM, Feb. 15)…Also assuming liability for the DOE loan are NRG Solar LLC and Google Inc. A BrightSource spokesman reached today said Google has joined the partnership with a $168 million investment, making the Internet search giant a new equity partner…In October 2010, NRG said it would invest up to $300 million in the project.

Even potheads understand the need for access to affordable and reliable energy Evan Mills (4/11/11) reports: What kind of facility has lighting as intense as that found in an operating room (500-times more than needed for reading), 6-times the air-change rate of a biotech laboratory and 60-times that of a home, and the electric power intensity of a datacenter?…The emergent industry of indoor Cannabis production results in prodigious energy use, costs, and greenhouse-gas pollution.  Large-scale industrialized and highly energy-intensive indoor cultivation of Cannabis is driven by criminalization, pursuit of security, and the desire for greater process control and yields. The practice occurs across the United States and in many other countries…The analysis performed in this study finds that indoor Cannabis production results in energy expenditures of $5 billion each year, with electricity use equivalent to that of 2 million average U.S. homes. This corresponds to 1% of national electricity consumption or 2% of that in households. The yearly greenhouse-gas pollution (carbon dioxide, CO2 ) from the electricity plus associated transportation fuels equals that of 3 million cars. Energy costs constitute a quarter of wholesale value…In California, the top-producing state—and one of 17 states to allow cultivation for medical purposes—the practice is responsible for about 3% of all electricity use or 8% of household use. Due to higher electricity prices and cleaner fuels used to make electricity, California incurs 70% of national energy costs but only 20% of national CO2 emissions.

Up, up and away! Gas prices soar as President Obama continues his war on affordable and reliable energy CBS Chicago (4/11/12) reports:  At one time, $5 per gallon gas seemed like a far-fetched idea, but that is no longer the case…As of Monday, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the Chicago area is $4.11, compared with $3.71 a month ago, and about $3.10 a gallon at this time a year ago…Some experts say $5 per gallon gas is possible by Memorial Day-or sometime in summer. Others caution that reaching that mark is unlikely over the next six weeks. In Chicago, the prices keep rising to near-record levels–with no relief in sight…Right now, oil markets are so skittish that records set in 2008 could fall.

T. Boone “Rent Seeker” Pickens gets some favorable ink in the NYT and the author is right to point out it’s not about money, but power — in every sense of the word New York Times (4/12/11) reports: On Wednesday, amid all the hullabaloo over the budget battles, a simple, discrete and largely overlooked bill was dropped into the Congressional hopper. Sponsored by two Democrats and two Republicans — that’s right: an actual bipartisan piece of legislation — its official title is the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act, or the Nat Gas Act, for short. People in the know, however, call it the Boone Pickens bill…. His critics like to point out that anything that boosts natural gas will put money in his pocket. But so what? He’s already plenty rich, and, he says, “I’m sure not doing this for the money.” Besides, he’s right…The bill introduced last week is an offshoot of the Pickens plan, his cri de coeur for energy independence, which he put together in 2008 and has spent more than $80 million promoting. Although Boone believes that our continued reliance on OPEC oil is dangerous, he also knows that even if you drill, baby, drill, as many Republicans want, it won’t make much difference. Quite simply, America is running out of oil. The Pickens plan calls for increased use of wind, solar, nuclear, even coal. ”I’m for anything that’s American,” he said.


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