In the Pipeline: 8/26/11

You should probably be aware of this effort because it argues that economic growth is the right answer.  Which is a completely revolutionary (and accurate) thought Open the Gulf (8/26/11) reports: In June 2010, the federal government instituted a moratorium on all deepwater drilling and nearly halted shallow-water drilling following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.   As the region recovered from the oil spill, it became increasingly obvious another tragedy was unfolding… At first, we heard stories of laid-off roughnecks and idled service operators.  With every rig in the Gulf shutdown, rigs either moved abroad or sat idled, leaving thousands of hard-working Americans without a source of income.  As the months passed and the industry was prohibited from resuming operations, the tumult started to spread…Vendors throughout the country lost orders for equipment.  Manufacturers from Illinois, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and even California – areas thousands of miles from the Gulf but clearly dependent on the region – lost orders and were forced to cut back…When the Administration announced that it was lifting the moratorium, we all felt a sense of relief – until Interior Secretary Salazar also announced that he would continue to deny permits in both the deep water and shallow water while he developed a new regulatory regime. This permit freeze has led to a 250% increase in pending exploration and production plans and an 80% drop in the number of permits issued in the Gulf.

About the whole James Richard Perry thing…you might want to think about what his federal energy policy will look like; we might have a George W. Bush big government type masquerading around as a fiscal hawk Texas Tribune (8/26/11) reports: The cost of building thousands of miles of transmission lines to carry wind power across Texas is now estimated at $6.79 billion, a 38 percent increase from the initial projection three years ago…The new number, which amounts to roughly $270 for every Texan, comes from the latest update on the project prepared for the Public Utility Commission (see page six). Ratepayers will ultimately be on the hook for the cost, but no one has begun to see the charges appear on their electric bills yet because the transmission companies building the lines must first get approval from the commission before passing on the costs to customers…A commission spokesman, Terry Hadley, says that the first of these “rate recovery” applications may be filed before the end of the year. Ultimately, the commission says, the charges could amount to $4 to $5 per month on Texas electric bills, for years…In 2008, when the Public Utility Commission approved the project, it was estimated at $4.93 billion. Gov. Rick Perry, who appoints the three Public Utility Commissioners, has strongly backed the build-out, which will result in several thousand miles of new transmission lines carrying wind power from West Texas to large cities hundreds of miles across the state. This is expected to spark a further boom in wind farm development, particularly in the Panhandle. Texas already leads the nation, by far, in wind power production. Electricity generated by other sources, like natural gas, coal or solar, can also use the lines.

Another milepost in California’s sad, depressing decline into the Third World Los Angeles Times (8/25/11) reports: In a major effort to create more high-tech jobs, Gov. Jerry Brown is sponsoring legislation to extend a state program that collects about $400 million a year from utility customers and invests it in renewable energy and efficiency programs…The surcharge, added to monthly electric bills since 1997, is set to expire at the end of the year, and the Legislature has only two weeks to reauthorize the levy…But because the surcharge is a tax, the bill has to be passed by a two-thirds majority of the Legislature. That would require rare bipartisan approval, yet some Republicans have shown support for the idea…A draft of the bill — which the Brown administration calls the Clean Energy, Jobs and Investment Act of 2011 — was presented at a private meeting late last week in the governor’s office with utility executives, legislative staffers, environmentalists and power plant developers, The Times has learned…The measure is a “priority for Gov. Brown because of its proven job-creation potential and role in galvanizing California’s innovative clean-tech economy,” Nancy McFadden, Brown’s top legislative aide, said in an email.

Who is more valuable to Obama, the greens or the unions? The Keystone XL Pipeline hangs in the balance while Americans suffer from higher energy costs The Hill (8/26/11) reports: Environmental groups are ratcheting up political pressure on President Obama to reject a massive proposed oil pipeline, warning that approval of the project could make the president vulnerable going into the 2012 elections…“It will be increasingly difficult to mobilize the environmental base and in particular to mobilize young people” if Obama approves the pipeline, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said Thursday… Environmental groups have mounted an increasingly aggressive opposition campaign to TransCanada’s 1,700-mile proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Canadian oil sands from Alberta to refineries in Texas…In recent weeks, the groups have sought to shine a spotlight on the White House, stressing that the final decision to approve the controversial pipeline lies with the president.

The truth is almost always difficult to face.  Fortunately, Congresswoman Lummis is one tough customer Wyoming Tribune (8/25/11) reports: U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., on Wednesday called out three prominent conservation groups that she said “are giving responsible environmental organizations a black eye.”…Speaking at the Petroleum Association of Wyoming’s annual meeting in Casper, Lummis singled out WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Western Watersheds Project…”These are three organizations that are filing constant litigation, that have cottage industries built up to fund their lawyers and their lawsuits against federal agencies and the federal government to stop certain activities,” she said…Lummis and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., have introduced legislation that would cap attorneys’ fees and block groups whose net worth exceeds $7 million from filing for payment under the Equal Access to Justice Act, which reimburses attorney’s fees and costs associated with suing the federal government…Lummis and others have alleged that environmental groups have abused the act, using taxpayer dollars to block government actions that they oppose…How much money environmental groups have received under the EAJA is disputed…According to the Missoulian newspaper, Lummis claimed earlier this year that 14 environmental groups have recovered $37 million in judgements and legal fees from 1,200 lawsuits under settlements with the federal government.

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