In The Pipeline 6/23/11

Employment Prevention Agency gets spanked by House Members for 6 year delay in issuing permit to allow drilling in Rich Alaskan Waters. Senators, rumored to never buy their own gas, now on the Hot Seat, as Americans ask, “Hey Senate….are YOU the holdup on getting more jobs and cheaper gas?” Fuel Fix (6/22/11) reports: The House today passed legislation that would accelerate offshore drilling in the Arctic by curtailing environmental reviews of coastal oil exploration projects…The measure, sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, aims to remove legal and regulatory barriers that have stalled Shell Oil Co.’s bid to drill in Arctic waters near Alaska. But the bill’s reach extends beyond the Arctic, and Democrats said the legislation could chip away at the power of California and other states to regulate air pollution…Bill backers said the legislation would fix  “a broken bureaucracy” that has mired critical Clean Air Act permits in tussles between the Environmental Protection Agency and its administrative review panel, the Environmental Appeals Board…“The EPA needs to have a permit approval system in place that is predictable (and) workable,” Green said. Instead, “we continue to see air permits for offshore exploration wells go back between the EPA, the producer and the Environmental Appeals Board with no movement to a solution.”…Although Shell hoped to launch work on its first exploratory well in the Beaufort Sea near Alaska after ice cleared this summer, the company scrapped those plans in February, after the appeals board revoked two EPA-issued air quality permits. The panel faulted the EPA for not fully reviewing potential emissions from a drill ship and support vessels.

Give ‘em hell Senator Murkowski! New bill echoes the House call for more drilling in Alaska E&E News (6/18/11) reports: Following the lead of House Republicans, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is pushing to tweak the Clean Air Act and clear permitting hurdles blocking Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s plan to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean…Murkowski introduced a bill (S. 1226) yesterday as a companion to a measure that easily cleared the House Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this month…House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has said the bill from Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) will head to the House floor before the July 4th recess. It is one of a series of bills aimed at a “tangle of red tape” that is stopping the United States from developing its own energy supplies, he wrote in a letter to the Republican conference last week (E&ENews PM, May 10)…Murkowski said it is unreasonable that Shell and its partners have “spent more than five years and billions of dollars attempting to conduct offshore exploration and production in Alaska, but have been unable to secure the necessary permits from EPA.”…”It’s clear that this process is not just overly costly and time-consuming, but simply does not work,” she said in a statement today…Her bill, like its House equivalent, would spare offshore drilling permits from being challenged to the Environmental Appeals Board, an administrative law panel that EPA created to review its own decisions. The bills would also answer some of the questions raised by the EAB in December when it told EPA to do a better job of showing that Shell’s drilling rig would comply with federal air pollution rules…Shell responded by pushing back its plan to start drilling exploratory wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas until next summer. It was a blow for the company, which has pumped more than $3 billion into a region of the Arctic Ocean that may hold the nation’s second-largest oil and gas reserves after the Gulf of Mexico.

Do you Bing? Google has ‘invested’ almost $1 billion in renewable energy and most of it has been guaranteed by taxpayers Reuters (6/22/11) reports: Google has already put $55 million into that 1.5 GW wind farm, dubbed the Alta Wind Energy Center, which is being built by Terra-Gen Power. Google is structuring the deal in the same way as its previous investment in Alta Wind, and is again working with Citibank to create a leveraged lease, where Google and Citibank purchase part of the project, then lease it back to Terra-Gen, who will manage and operate it. Google now has invested $157 million into 270 MW of wind generation at Alta Wind…Google says it’s not buying the electricity directly from the project, and says the returns are reason enough for the investment. The wind power will be sold to utility Southern California Edison under a power purchase agreement that was signed in 2006. But as I’ve written before (GigaOM Pro subscription required), giving Google more control over the energy it needs for its data centers could be a smart investment in the long run…However, the amount of money that Google is investing in clean power is truly awe-inspiring (or maybe terribly shocking if you are a Google shareholder). Just earlier this month Google created a $280 million fund for solar installer SolarCity, its largest clean power investment to date, and its first in residential solar rooftops. Here’s a run down of what Google has backed in the clean power space.

This is going to be a fun election cycle: Huntsman (and T-paw and Gingrich) have a lot of explaining to do for their support of cap-and-trade The Hill (6/22/11) reports: Republican White House hopeful Jon Huntsman has found a way to explain his embrace of cap-and-trade when he was governor of Utah: Everyone was doing it…Huntsman backed cap-and-trade last decade as a way to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but distanced himself from it in an interview Wednesday, casting it as a policy solution from another era…“Every governor was talking about dealing with emissions back many, many years ago only to find that with the economic implosion, we can’t afford anything that is going to put any kind of hamper on economic growth. So cap-and-trade is not something that is viable today,” Huntsman told Fox News…“Everybody talked about it. At least a lot of people did, consulting with CEOs, consulting with all the experts. Everyone took it seriously,” he said…As governor, Huntsman signed on in 2007 to a program among Western states and Canadian provinces called the Western Climate Initiative aimed at cutting regional greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2020.

This green project was a fluke, but it will work out next time — green technology company is now defunct, leaving taxpayers on the hook for over a million dollars Michigan Capital (6/22/11) reports: In September of 2009, Fisher Coachworks was mentioned in a press release from Gov. Jennifer Granholm as a “green technology” company that was part of the “new energy economy for Michigan.” Two years later, the state says Fisher Coachworks is out of business and the state has to write off $1.6 million it loaned the electric bus manufacturing company…Edgar Benning, general manager of Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority, said in an email that Fisher Coachworks went out of business in the development phase of making two $1.1 million electric buses that Flint was going to purchase with grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, commonly referred to as the “stimulus plan.”…Fischer Coachworks officials could not be reached for comment…Michael Psarouthakis, vice president of business acceleration for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said Fisher Coachworks would not repay $1.6 million in loans it had received from the state. The MEDC had approved Fisher Coachworks for a $2.6 million loan, but never gave out the final $1 million because the company was struggling, Psarouthakis said…“It was clear that they were going to have some serious financial difficulties even with our funding,” Psarouthakis said. “They needed significant funding above and beyond that.

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