In the Pipeline: 5/5/11

My gut tells me that locally grown organic tofu wasn’t served at his son’s wedding Washington Post (5/4/11) reports: Prince William’s dad — also known as Charles, the future king of England — knows a bit about taking verbal punches…Promoting sustainable farming and green living has been one of his life’s missions. But because he’s a royal with easy access to carbon-hogging jets, a handful of estates, flotillas of attendants and all sorts of resource-gobbling goodies, his oft-praised crusade tends to get lampooned with some frequency…“I have been venturing into extremely dangerous territory by speaking about the future of food,” the Prince of Wales told an audience Wednesday at Georgetown University, evoking an image that could just as easily apply to his efforts to promote reducing dependence on fossil fuels. “I have the scars to prove it!”

Gas consumption is down, but the grocery truck still needs to get to the store — buckle up for high gas prices Business Week (5/4/11) reports: Gasoline demand continues to fall in the U.S. as pump prices keep climbing…Reports from government and industry groups show motorists have been cutting back on the amount of gas they put into their tanks for more than a month. That could signal trouble for the economy since Americans typically cut spending on other activities before they do less driving…Since January, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded has risen 91 cents, or 30 percent, to $3.98. The main reason is a 20 percent gain in the price of oil this year. Gas rose more than 30 cents in April alone, as refinery problems led to an unusually big drop in supplies…Gas is now above $4 per gallon in 13 states and Washington D.C.

My favorite part?  How almost all of the completed reviews were for categorical exclusions.  You know, the process the Obama Administration went out of its way to shut down in offshore permits E&E News (5/4/11) reports: Federal agencies continue to complete timely environmental reviews for stimulus-funded projects, filing more than 99 percent of the required National Environmental Policy Act reviews, according to the White House…The White House Council on Environmental Quality submitted its ninth report to Congress today on agencies’ compliance with NEPA, reporting that federal agencies had completed 190,000 of 190,694 required reviews…Agencies are required to conduct NEPA reviews for most of their decisions and actions, using the process to reveal any potential environmental impacts. Some reviews are more time-consuming than others. The vast majority of projects only require a “categorical exclusion” that indicates no environmental concerns; others must go through a thorough analysis with public comment.

High profile Brit enviro admits reality–the problem isn’t too little fossil fuels, but that we have too much… The Guardian (5/5/11) reports: You think you’re discussing technologies, and you quickly discover that you’re discussing belief systems. The battle among environmentalists over how or whether our future energy is supplied is a cipher for something much bigger: who we are, who we want to be, how we want society to evolve. Beside these concerns, technical matters – parts per million, costs per megawatt hour, cancers per sievert – carry little weight. We choose our technology – or absence of technology – according to a set of deep beliefs: beliefs that in some cases remain unexamined…The case against abandoning nuclear power, for example, is a simple one: it will be replaced either by fossil fuels or by renewables that would otherwise have replaced fossil fuels. In either circumstance, greenhouse gases, other forms of destruction and human deaths and injuries all rise…The case against reducing electricity supplies is just as clear. For example, the Zero Carbon Britain report published by the Centre for Alternative Technology urges a 55% cut in overall energy demand by 2030 – a goal I strongly support. It also envisages a near-doubling of electricity production. The reason is that the most viable means of decarbonising both transport and heating is to replace the fuels they use with low-carbon electricity. Cut the electricity supply and we’re stuck with oil and gas. If we close down nuclear plants, we must accept an even greater expansion of renewables than currently proposed. Given the tremendous public resistance to even a modest increase in windfarms and new power lines, that’s going to be tough.

Remember all those liars who said the new GHG regs would be no big deal? E&E News (5/4/11) reports: Two environmental groups have challenged the air pollution permit for a $750 million iron plant in southwestern Louisiana, which is the first project that was approved under the greenhouse gas regulations that were implemented by U.S. EPA in January…The petition, which was filed yesterday by the Sierra Club and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, asks EPA to throw the brakes on a $3.4 billion complex being developed in southeastern Louisiana by Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor Corp…The groups argue that when the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality signed off on a final permit for the direct reduced iron (DRI) plant in late January, it was required to combine the project with a pig iron plant that got approval from state regulators last year. Their petition also claims that the amount of greenhouse gases the plant would be allowed to release is “considerably higher” than it should be…Joanne Spalding, an attorney at the Sierra Club, said Nucor appears to have rushed the pig iron facility through the permitting process to avoid subjecting the higher-emitting plant to the new climate regulations. Though the permit could set a precedent because it is one of the first ones reviewed under the new climate regulations, the Sierra Club would have challenged the project anyway, she said.

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