Archive for January, 2012

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (1/31/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on January 31st, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (1/31/12)

  1. Energy Boom reports, “Two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports provide back-to-back confirmation that the potential for electricity from coastal wave and tidal stream energy could reach as high as 15 percent of the total of current U.S. electrical demand.”
  2. According to the U.S. Energy Department: “Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, the National Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall today hosted a lighting ceremony to celebrate the installation of energy-efficient LED lights on the Mall.  The LED lights, donated by OSRAM SYLVANIA and installed pro bono by Pepco, the electric utility that serves Washington, D.C., will reduce lighting energy use for the streetlamps by up to 65 percent.”
  3. Greentechmedia reports that “experts in finance and cleantech will be discussing the new era of renewable energy funding at the latest Clean Energy Connections panel in New York City,” specifically “offer[ing] a realistic assessment of where cleantech is headed now that the appetite for tax equity has diminished.”
  4. According to Science Daily, “A new NASA study underscores the fact that greenhouse gases generated by human activity — not changes in solar activity — are the primary force driving global warming.”
  5. The New York Times Green blog reports that Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi is “definitely distancing himself from the politicians and oil executives who persist in challenging the science behind global warming…gave a big plug to solar energy, perhaps not surprising since his kingdom is bathed in sunlight all year long and wants to blanket some of its vast desert with solar panels.”
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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (1/30/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on January 30th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (1/30/12)

  1. Reuters reports, “Global renewable energy deals climbed 40 percent to a record high of $53.5 billion last year from $38.2 billion in 2010, as solar, wind and energy efficiency overtook hydropower as the main deal drivers for the first time.”
  2. The New York Times editorializes “In Defense of Clean Energy”: “There is a powerful case to be made that clean energy investments that will create real jobs and keep America competitive in a $5 trillion global market for advanced energy technologies. If the president doesn’t make it, the Republicans’ defense of big coal and oil will prevail.”
  3. According to the Huffington Post, the natural gas industry doesn’t like the word “fracking” to describe the process of “hydraulic fracturing,” claiming that “the word is deliberately misspelled by environmental activists and that it has become a slur that should not be used by media outlets that strive for objectivity.”
  4. DeSmogBlog reports: “As the New York moratorium on fracking continues to hang in jeopardy, towns within the state are taking it upon themselves toissue fracking bans locally, what may become a last-ditch effort to keep fracking out if the moratorium is lifted. Over 20 cities, including Buffalo, Ithaca, Syracuse, and others in the Finger Lakes regions, have passed bans through the “municipal home rule” to keep fracking outside of their city limits.”
  5. According to the New York Times, “The difficulty and uncertainty in predicting natural gas resources was underscored last week when the Energy Information Administration released a report containing sharply lower estimates.”
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Did TransCanada Violate U.S. Securities Disclosure Laws in Keystone XL Push?

Posted By Lowell F. on January 27th, 2012

At Get Energy Smart! NOW!, Adam Siegel points us to a letter “Greenpeace has sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) making a case that TransCanada is potentially in violation of security laws due to its use of inflated job figures as part of a strategic influence campaign to drive the Obama Administration into supporting this misguided and risky venture.” According to the letter:

[TransCanada] has consistently used public statements and information it knows are false in a concerted effort to secure permitting approval of KXL from the U.S. government. In the process, it has misled investors, U.S. and Canadian officials, the media, and the public at large in order to bolster its balance sheets and share price. We think these statements violate U.S. securities disclosure laws, notably SEC Rule 10b(5) – Employment of Manipulative and Deceptive Practices. It is incumbent on TRP to immediately and publicly correct this information – or be forced to do so by the Securities and Exchange Commission…

…Specifically, TRP has asserted that each mile of KXL pipeline constructed in the U.S. would create American jobs at a rate that is 67 times higher than job creation totals given by the company to Canadian officials for the Canadian portion of the pipeline.

How misleading TransCanada has been was highlighted recently by Cornell University researchers, who have published the only independent study done to date of the net economic impact of Keystone XL.  The main findings of that report were clear: “The company’s claim that KXL will create 20,000 direct construction and manufacturing jobs in the U.S is not substantiated.”  In fact, the Cornell report adds, “By helping to lock in US dependence on fossil fuels, Keystone XL will impede progress toward green and sustainable economic renewal and will have a chilling effect on green investments and green jobs creation.”

The fact is, Keystone XL is simply a bad energy investment. As the Globe and Mail explains, “getting this resource out of the ground and ready for refining is expensive, by some estimates the planet’s most costly major oil source.” How expensive? According to the Globe and Mail article, Canada’s National Energy Board “recently pegged the minimum price needed for new projects to be commercially viable at $85 to $95 (U.S.) a barrel.”  With current oil prices around $95-$100 per barrel, this means that the economics of tar sands are “relatively marginal,” and that it wouldn’t “take a lot to slip them into the red.”

As if the questionable economics of tar sands weren’t bad enough, there’s also the fact that it’s an environmentally disaster, with no benefit in terms of kicking the U.S. oil import addiction. As Oil Sands Truth explains, tar sands “are already slated to be the cause of up to the second fastest rate of deforestation on the planet behind the Amazon Rainforest Basin,” while “[h]uman health in many communities has seriously taken a turn for the worse with many causes alleged to be from tar sands production.” And, as the Carnegie Council points out, “the idea that Keystone XL will decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil is demonstrably false,” as this is an export pipeline (with the oil headed to China and Europe), but instead will “feed the growing trend of exporting refined products out of the United States, thereby doing nothing to enhance energy security or to stabilize oil prices or gasoline prices at the pump.”

The bottom line is clear: the Keystone tar sands export pipeline would not help the United States economically, environmentally, or in any other way. To the contrary, investment in clean, domestic, inexhaustible wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources would boost the U.S. economy, strengthen U.S. national security, and do so without polluting the air and water we rely on. To put it mildly, this is not a difficult choice.

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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (1/27/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on January 27th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (1/27/12)

  1. According to Climate Progress, “Coal Does More Harm Than Good in Kentucky: $62 Million for Asthma Costs, $10 Billion for Lost Lives.”
  2. Energy Boom reports, “FirstEnergy Corp. shares rose nearly 2% in midday trading Thursday after the company said it will shut down six coal-fired power plants by September 1, 2012. Four of the plants are located in Ohio, while the other two closures will happen at facilities in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Collectively these plants have a total capacity of 2,689 MW. According to FirstEnergy Generation president James H. Lash, the cost of retrofitting these facilities to meet the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) forced the company’s decision to shut down operations.”
  3. According to greentechmedia, “The new numbers from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) are impressive. U.S. cumulative installed capacity is at 46,919 megawatts, second only to China… 2011’s total of 6,810 megawatts installed was 31 percent higher than the 2010 total. Q4’s 3,444 megawatts beat 2010’s Q4 (3,296 megawatts). And there hasn’t been so much wind capacity under construction since the middle two quarters of 2008, just before the recession hit. “
  4. Think Progress Green reports: “TransCanada, the foreign tar sands company behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, is facing a potential inquiry into whether it deliberately deceived investors by inflating the job-creation potential of the project. Greenpeace has filed a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over TransCanada’s ‘false or misleading statements about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project.’”
  5. According to Huffington Post Green, “President Barack Obama began laying out his “all-of-the-above” energy strategies in a campaign-styled stop in Las Vegas on Thursday, expanding on the energy blueprint he first described in his State of the Union address Tuesday night.”
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Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (1/26/12)

Posted By Lowell F. on January 26th, 2012

Here are five recommended reads for today (1/26/12)

  1. According to Renewable Energy World, “With a little help from the government, geothermal energy has the potential to take a much larger share of the renewable energy market in the U.S. in the near future.”
  2. A Media Matters analysis finds that: “as a whole, news coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline between August 1 and December 31 favored pipeline proponents. Although the project would create few long-term employment opportunities, the pipeline was primarily portrayed as a jobs issue. Pro-pipeline voices were quoted more frequently than those opposed, and dubious industry estimates of job creation were uncritically repeated 5 times more often than they were questioned. Meanwhile, concerns about the State Department’s review process and potential environmental consequences were often overlooked, particularly by television outlets.”
  3. DeSmogBlog reports, “On January 16, the Los Angeles Times revealed that anti-science bills have been popping up over the past several years in statehouses across the U.S., mandating the teaching of climate change denial or “skepticism” as a credible “theoretical alternative” to human caused climate change came.”
  4. The Center for American Progress has a detailed analysis of President Obama’s “clean energy plan for an America built to last.”
  5. The Charlotte Observer reports, “Elevated levels of metals have been found in groundwater near ash basins at all 14 N.C. coal-fired power plants, state regulators say after intensified monitoring.
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