Posts filed under ‘Energy’

Liz Sidoti, AP’s National Political Editor, Moving to BP to Become Head of (Ahem) “US Communications”

The folks at British Petroleum (BP), you know, the people who destroyed the Gulf of Mexico, think Liz Sidoti, the Associated Press’s national political editor is so good at spin, they’ve hired her to be the head of “U.S. communications.”

Liz Sidoti on Twitter

(Image via Liz Sidoit on Twitter)

Got that?  Sidoti is supposedly in the news business, you know, as in honesty and facts.  But BP, which has launched a massive operation to demonize victims of its calamitous 2011 Deepwater Horizon disaster, thinks she’s so good at what she does — BP isn’t into honesty and facts — she caught their eye and they offered her a job.  Oh, and she took it.

Ah yes. Liz Sidoti: A Dedicated bearer of the truth?  Clearly not.  If she were, (1) BP wouldn’t have offered the job and (2) she wouldn’t have accepted.

Liz Sidoti, Associated Press Political Editor, Joins BP

P.S.  This is the first time I’ve seen Liz’s Twitter photo.  Unprofessional or what?  I mean, is this acceptable at the AP too?


December 16, 2013 at 6:35 PM Leave a comment

We’re Romanticizing Oil Spills? Really?

This, from the Daily Mail.

The most destructive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ever, after which people and animals are still suffering is mesmerizingly beautiful?

Really?  Is that where we are?  Is that what we’ve become?  People who see beauty in oil spills?

The Deadly Beauty 12-15-13

December 15, 2013 at 9:12 PM 3 comments

New White House Adviser Forced to Recuse Himself From the Keystone LX Pipeline Issue Because He’s AGAINST It

John Podesta via Wikimedia Commons

John Podesta (via Wikimedia Commons)

Podesta Recuses Himself from Keystone Issue: White House Aide

The Big Question:  If a newly-appointed adviser to President Obama is forced to recuse himself from the Keystone XL pipeline issue because he’s against it, why aren’t advisers and others who are for it made to recuse themselves too?

(I met John Podesta in July, 2004 at the premiere of Outfoxed at The New School in New York City.  I don’t think the guy has an ounce of fat on his body.  He must be a runner.)

December 11, 2013 at 2:40 PM Leave a comment

Xcel Energy Sucks

The electricity has been off at my house for roughly three hours today. (That’s what it’s like in Baghdad.)

This is Al waiting for it to come on:

Xcel Sucks Lost power 12-10-13

Xcel’s gas was out at my brother’s house for roughly 48 hours over the weekend.  The temps were in the below zeros.

Xcel doesn’t want to invest in infrastructure and nobody’s saying it should.  It wants to steer its profits to the execs and shareholders and our tax laws are structured such that they can; they encourage them to do that (thanks bought-and-sold congress).

Meanwhile, Al and I wait…



Pray tell I’ll have time to look into the subsidies I’m paying for this piece of shit “public utility.”

Love how that label has stuck.

What a lie.

December 10, 2013 at 8:30 PM Leave a comment

We Could Retrofit Every Home in the U.S. For This Amount

Imagine spending $8 trillion on solar power here in the U.S. which we wouldn’t have to spend billions “guarding” every year:

Solar Panels image via wikipedia

(Image via Wikipedia)

It has cost the United States $8 trillion to provide military security in the Gulf since 1976. According to Roger Stern, a Princeton economist, the US has spent as much on Gulf security as it spent on the entire Cold War with the Soviet Union! In recent years through 2010 it has been $400 billion a year, though the US withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011 and the gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan this year and next presumably means that the figure is substantially reduced. Still, we have bases in Kuwait, Qatar and elsewhere, and a Naval HQ in Bahrain, none of which is cheap. If it were $200 billion a year, that is a fair chunk of the budget deficit the Republican Party keeps complaining about. And if we could get that $8 trillion back, it would pay down half of the national debt.


And shame on our so-called leaders for not talking about cutting some of this expense instead of food stamps for the poor.

Oh, and this is what just one trillion dollars looks like.  Multiply this by eight and you have an idea how much we’re spending guarding our oil.

What $1 Trillion Looks Like via the sleuth journalcom

(Image via

December 8, 2013 at 11:43 AM Leave a comment

TEPCO to Dump Radioactive Water From Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean

Oh, brother (throws up arms, faces the ceiling and shakes her damn head):

Fukushima image Steve Herman via Wikimedia

(Image Steve Herman via Wikimedia)

The man in charge of the clean-up at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant says growing stores of contaminated water from the site will eventually have to be dumped into the sea.

In an exclusive interview with the ABC, the chairman of the Fukushima Monitoring Committee, Dale Klein, has also admitted there are likely to be more blunders and slip-ups at the plant in the months and years to come.

“I think the best word to use with Fukushima is challenging,” the former chief nuclear watchdog in the US said.

Since the 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami sparked the nuclear disaster, TEPCO has been pouring millions of litres of water onto Fukushima’s reactors to try and keep them cool.

That radioactive water is now being stored in tanks at the site but already thousands of litres have leaked into the Pacific Ocean.

Mr Klein says the biggest challenge for TEPCO is dealing with these ever-growing volumes of contaminated water being stored at Fukushima.

He believes that after the water is treated and stripped of most radioactive elements, it will be safe to dump into the Pacific.


Riiight.  If you’ve been following this story like I have, you know TEPCO is just about the most incompetent company on the face of the Earth.  That said, I smell a scandal brewing as in, 15 years from now, oops, what?  We forgot to “strip” 95% of the radioactivity from that water?


December 6, 2013 at 4:23 PM Leave a comment

Colorado Oil & Gas Industry Sues Towns Whose Voters Banned Fracking

So, the oil and gas industry thinks what citizens want — and vote for — doesn’t much matter:

Fracking Well Heads via Wikipedia

Fracking Well Heads (via Wikipedia)

A mandatory recount on Broomfield’s anti-fracking measure confirmed voters approved a five-year moratorium on the oil and gas drilling practice, but the future of the measure still hangs in the balance because of a lawsuit filed Tuesday night by a pro-fracking group. The suit alleges Broomfield did not correctly conduct the election.

Meanwhile, on the same day suit was filed against Broomfield for the way the election was conducted, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association brought suits against Lafayette and Fort Collins for fracking bans passed by voters in those communities.


Another reason to loathe these corporations who think the planet itself is theirs to be mined and sold off in bits and pieces for their private gain.

December 6, 2013 at 4:11 PM 1 comment

OMG, Solar Already!

Geezus can we please, please, please ween ourselves off of oil already:

BP Logo

BP is leading an industry-wide push to develop technology that can retrieve oil from formations that are so deep under the sea floor, and under such high pressure and temperature, that conventional equipment would melt or be crushed by the conditions.

One BP field in the Gulf of Mexico, called Tiber, makes the Macondo field that the Deepwater Horizon rig was probing look like simple puddle of oil. It is thought to hold twenty times the amount of oil as Macondo. At 35,000 feet below the sea floor _ 6.6 miles into the earth’s crust _ it is about twice as deep.

There’s an extraordinary amount of oil in similar discoveries around the world, several of which are controlled by BP. But BP first must figure out how to get it. New equipment, including blowout preventers far stronger than the one that failed on the Deepwater Horizon, must be developed. Then BP must convince regulators it can tap this oil safely.

Another disaster could threaten BP’s existence, but success could restore the company’s fortunes _ and perhaps its reputation. “There’s 10 to 20 billion barrels of oil just for BP in this,” says Kevin Kennelly, who runs BP’s global technology operations. At today’s prices, that’s worth up to $2 trillion.


$2 trillion and the potential destruction of the environment but oh well, money’s all that matters.

We are insane.



December 6, 2013 at 1:26 PM Leave a comment

Maine’s Republican Governor Prevents the State From Becoming a Global Wind Power Leader

Republicans at work, killing stuff, which they’re so good at:

Wind Turbine via Wikimedia Commons

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Usually when energy development moves into deeper waters to harness marine energy resources, coastal residents have nightmares of risky technology and oil spills.

But not when that development means floating wind turbines.

Statoil, the Norwegian-based oil and gas company, received approval from the United Kingdom’s Crown Estate to build five floating wind turbines in 100 meters of water off the coast of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Combined, they will generate 30 megawatts of energy, and the planned hub will be the largest in Europe.


Offshore wind is big in Europe, but turbines are limited to shallow waters (around 60 meters) because the pylons that support them have to be blasted into the seabed. Floating turbines, however, just require a few cables to keep the floating shaft in one spot, and they can be installed in water as deep at 700 meters.


Statoil successfully demonstrated the world’s first floating turbine off the coast of Norway in 2009. In October, Statoil pulled the plug on a $120 million project off the coast of Maine due to regulatory uncertainty. Republican Governor Paul LePage had long opposed the project, which would have made his state a center of global offshore wind innovation, and pushed a law through the legislature that forced a delay in the negotiations over Statoil’s contract.


Wow.  Astonishingly shortsighted on LePage’s part but of course he’s got to be loyal to his oil energy masters.  Not only that, I’m sure this project would have created a lot, lot, lot of jobs and isn’t that what Republicans are always squawking about?




November 26, 2013 at 5:41 PM Leave a comment

Follow-Up On the Exxon Oil Pipeline Spill in Mayflower, Arkansas

Remember back in late March when an Exxon oil pipeline burst and spilled gooey oil all over a residential neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas? Here are some pics.

Exxon Oil Spill Mayflower Ark via EPA huff post

(Image the EPA via

Fast forward seven months and man-oh-man, the once tight community has been torn apart:

Eight months after an ExxonMobil pipeline leaked Canadian oil across an Arkansas subdivision, a cloud of uncertainty looms large over the young families, singles and retirees who chose the affordable, decade-old Northwoods neighborhood to establish roots. Nearly half of them have put their houses up for sale in search of a fresh start they never wanted.

“The area is blanketed with ‘For Sale’ signs,” said April Lane, a community health advocate who has worked with the spill victims. Twenty-nine of the development’s 62 homes have either been sold to Exxon under its buy-out program or are on the open market.

Some people were forced to sell because oil settled in their homes’ foundations, where removing it is nearly impossible. Others chose to leave because of fears about potential health effects and the marketability of their properties. Those who are staying aren’t necessarily doing so by choice: Many don’t have enough equity to afford a down payment on a new home in another suburb, according to local real estate brokers.

The upheaval has torn at the fabric of the once tight-knit central Arkansas neighborhood, where barbecues were regularly held and neighbors watched after each other’s kids, who played in Northwoods’ three cul-de-sacs and five streets. Ryan Senia, a 30-year-old bachelor who bought his Northwoods home in 2009, said it was either sell to Exxon now or risk “holding onto that thing forever.”

“It’s like selling a salvaged car—nobody wants to buy it.”


The subdivision was thrust into this position on March 29, when 5,000 barrels of oil spewed out of Exxon’s 65-year-old Pegasus pipeline. Twenty-two homes were evacuated, almost one-third of the Northwoods development.

The leaked oil was from Alberta’s tar sands region, similar to the diluted bitumen (dilbit) that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL project, if it’s built.


Really sad and entirely avoidable.  Who the hell approved the construction of a subdivision on top of an oil pipeline?


Few if any even knew that an oil pipeline was buried under their lawns.




November 25, 2013 at 12:25 PM Leave a comment

House Passes Bill to Prevent Regulation of the Fracking Industry

SMDH.  This is really upsetting.  It’s a case of the House of Representatives voting 100% against the interests of We the People and in favor of corporations that pollute the planet:


On Wednesday, the House passed a bill that will block the Department of the Interior (DOI) from regulating fracking in states that already have regulations in place. The bill, H.R. 2728, passed the House in a 235 – 187 vote. Twelve Democrats voted in favor of the legislation and two Republicans voted against it.

“Hydraulic fracturing has been safely and effectively regulated by states for decades,” said Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA), according to The Hill. “So the Obama administration’s proposed regulations are unnecessary.”

On Tuesday, Hastings added a last-minute amendment to another piece of oil and gas industry-friendly legislation that was also passed by the House on Wednesday. His amendment to the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act cuts government funding for renewable energy projects by 50 percent.


If there is a God and if there is a Heaven and a Hell, Rep. Hastings will go to hell.  He wants to cut government funding for renewable energy projects by 50 percent (as do his 234 colleagues who voted in favor) when we’re on the cusp of tipping into irreversible global warming?  I don’t think God takes kindly to people who want to destroy our lovely planet and everything on it.



November 22, 2013 at 2:47 PM 1 comment

Cable “News” Climate Change Coverage April 1 – August 14, 2013

Here’s a graph showing the number of minutes the cable “news” outlets devoted to climate change between April 1 and August 13 this year.  Note the stars on O’Reilly’s and Hannity’s shows. Those stars mean the coverage was dismissive of climate change (natch –  hey, we’re talkin’ Fox).

Oh, and CNN is supposedly a flaming liberal channel, right?  It looks like Erin Burnett’s show, OutFront, devoted about four minutes to the issue while Anderson Cooper didn’t touch it. Liberal?  What a joke that is.

Cable News Climate Change coverage

(Image via

What a sorry state of affairs.

November 21, 2013 at 2:40 PM Leave a comment

Wild Horses — Another Casualty of Fracking

Wild Mustangs in Wyoming by SteppinStars via Wikimedia Commons

Wild Mustangs in Wyoming (Image: SteppinStars via Commons.Wikimedia)

SAN FRANCISCO, Ca. (November 21, 2013)–The public is outraged more indigenous wild horses will be rounded up and permanently removed from public land to grab water and frack the land. Protect Mustangs is calling for protests to stand up for the American mustang and a tourism boycott targeted at Wyoming who promotes ”Roam Free” in their marketing yet ignores the wild horse. 700 Adobe Town and Salt Wells herds will be rounded up from the public-private land known as the “Checkerboard” starting this week. The majority will live in captivity, be at-risk for going to slaughter and forever lose their freedom to roam.

“Fracking for oil and gas is polluting the environment and wiping out America’s wild horses,” states Anne Novak, executive director of Protect Mustangs. “It’s time for clean energy that can coexist with wildlife.”


Amen, amen, amen to that.

November 21, 2013 at 2:30 PM Leave a comment

What Should be the Top News Story

After watching this video — Fukushima:  Beyond Urgent — I’d say what’s happening at Fukushima these days should be reported on way more than it is, as in not at all (thanks “liberal media!”).

Words from the last frame:

Nothing like this has ever been attempted.  All of humanity will be threatened for 1,000s of years if rods in Unit 4 pools touch during removal process.

(My emphasis.)

See links to more info about Fukushima here (scroll down).



November 19, 2013 at 10:52 AM Leave a comment

Colorado Republican Wants People to Pay a $5,000 Fee to Protest an Oil or Gas Drilling Project

This is the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States:

Constitution 1-4-10

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is what Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Oil) is working on in D.C.:

This week, the House will vote on a bill [introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn] that could impose a $5,000 fee on any person who opposes a proposed drilling project. The bill, also known as the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, will make it easier for oil and gas companies to drill on public lands…

Should the bill become law, onshore drilling permits will automatically be approved if the Department of the Interior (DOI) does not act on the permits within 60 days. It will also require any individual who wishes to oppose a proposed drilling project to pay $5,000 to file an official protest.


Imagine the Founding Fathers writing an amendment that read something like this:

Congress shall require that a $5,000 fee be paid by any member of We the People who object to an oil and/or gas company drilling wherever it wants.

You go Doug.  You probably wear a flag pin on your lapel too, huh?

November 19, 2013 at 10:32 AM 1 comment

Behind the Scenes of Texas’s Energy Boom

In September Texas Governor Rick Perry spoke “at an energy summit at the Bush Institute…[and] credited legendary oilman  George Mitchell  and the free market with creating the state’s energy boom, which helped Texas sustain a healthy economy in recent years as the nation plunged into an economic recessions.”

Sounds great huh?

Well let’s peel back a layer or two.  Check out this photo of a fraction of the 100,000 fracking wells that are helping Texas “sustain a health economy.”  The question is, at what cost and will it be worth it in the end?  Are George Mitchell and the “free market” really doing Texas a favor?

Photo Amy Youngs on Flickr via

(Image Amy Youngs on Flickr via

Larger version here.

Oh, and then there’s this from the American Petroleum Institute (API):  10 Facts Everyone Should Know About Shale Energy:

The economic impacts of developing shale gas resources are revolutionary. Hydraulic fracturing will account for nearly 75 percent of natural gas development in the future. Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling apply the latest technologies and make it commercially viable to recover shale gas and oil. Without it, we would lose 45 percent of domestic natural gas production and 17 percent of our oil production within 5 years.


But again, at what cost?  The API people undoubtedly envision a United States that is covered in fracking wells.  Hey, let’s make it so the whole country looks like that photo.

November 5, 2013 at 9:54 AM 1 comment

Put Some Fracking Wells In My Backyard Tonight!

I saw this ad on my local Denver/ABC News station tonight.  I guess I better run out and sign up to have “Energy From Shale” put five or ten fracking wells in my backyard tonight.  Sounds so idyllic!

Just kidding.

I’d never eat meat from Ms. Kern’s ranch and man-oh-man, I feel sorry for her kids.  I have a bad feeling about this.  I think she’s going to regret it.  When you “talk with experts” from the fracking industry about fracking ah, yeah, it’s gonna sound great.

As an aside, Ault, Colorado is in Weld County.  On November 5, Weld County will vote on seceding (or not) from Colorado.

October 22, 2013 at 8:10 PM 3 comments

A Sad, Haunted Ocean

Ocean via Wikipedia

(Image via Wikipedia)

This article, from the Australian newspaper, The Herald, is about Ivan Macfadyen’s trek from Melbourne to Osaka, ten years go and then again this past spring:

IT was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.

Not the absence of sound, exactly.

The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.

And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.

What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.

The birds were missing because the fish were missing.

Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.

“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.

But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.

No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.


But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.

North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.

“All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship,” he said.

And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.


“And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish,” he said.

“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.

“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.


Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.

No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.

If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.


After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.

“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.


“In a lot of places we couldn’t start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That’s an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.


Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.

And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.


Tough as it is, I recommend reading the whole article.  It isn’t all that long and it’s good to get a first-person account — with a first-person, ten-year perspective — as opposed to reading about “what scientists predict…”

Far as I know, what Macfadyen experienced is what scientists are predicting will happen 30, 40 years from now, not RIGHT NOW.

October 22, 2013 at 6:53 PM Leave a comment

Moose Populations Plumeting

The ripple effect of climate change is going to be devastating.  It already is.  Very sad news here:

Moose via

(Image via

For such large creatures, moose are a relatively hidden species. They are hard to count. They live where humans do not like to go, along the boggy fringes of northern lakes and rivers where the sound of summer mosquitoes fills the air. They thrive in cold weather, and their well-being depends on sharp, cold autumns and late springs, which protect them from their most important predator: not the wolf, but the winter tick.

Moose are dying off across North America for a number of reasons, most of which can be linked to a warming climate and an eroding winter. Long, warm autumns and early, wet springs benefit winter ticks, which can cluster on moose in unbelievable numbers, causing anemia, loss of appetite, hair loss from rubbing — weakening the animals at the onset of winter, just when they need their strength most.


In British Columbia, they have lost protective cover thanks to the die-back of white pine forests caused by an epidemic of pine bark beetles. The epidemic, largely attributed to climate change, has also robbed grizzly bears of the seeds they depend on for winter food.


The collapse in moose numbers — one Minnesota population has fallen from 4,000 animals to fewer than 100 — is something scientists can track but otherwise can do nothing about.


Sometimes — like right now — I’m so ashamed of we humans.



October 17, 2013 at 4:59 PM Leave a comment

Oil and Gas Companies Making Billions Off Our Land

This is a shot of well pads on Colorado’s Roan Plateau.  That would be the Colorado River there in the background.  This is what the entire western United States is going to look like if oil and gas companies have their way.

Well Pads Co. Roan Plateau via EcoFlight

(Image EcoFlight via

Flying northwest of Aspen in a small aircraft – a single-engine Cessna Centurion 210 – I discreetly vomit into a bag of candy I find in the side door of the cockpit. The pilot, Bruce Gordon, glances back and nods with approval.

“You vomit beautifully,” he says.

“Thank you.”

We are cruising the Roan (pronounced ROE-AHN) Plateau at 180 miles an hour from an altitude of 10,000 feet. It is a wildlife refuge in Colorado teeming with animals. But it is also federal land that is hotly contested by oil and gas drillers. Etched across the mountainous terrain are hundreds of winding paths leading to drill sites.

Dotting the high ridges and forests are outbuildings and drill rigs – camouflaged in accordance with a handbook stipulating colors acceptable to federal regulators – as well as dingy wastewater pools left over from the drilling process, which cannot be concealed.

The drilling areas are easy to spot. “In the past few years, it has totally taken over the landscape,” says Gordon, executive director of EcoFlight, a nonprofit that sponsors flights over drill sites, forest clear-cuts and strip mines to educate those who don’t get to regularly see the full impact on the land of the energy-extraction process. “The pristine areas are so few now, they really catch your eye,” he said. “You can’t fly 30 minutes in any direction without seeing the wreckage.”


The Roan Plateau figured prominently in that turnaround, reaping the greatest amount ever paid in the lower 48 states to the U.S. Treasury by drillers looking to strike it rich on federal land. Yet the total paid for ground leases came to just over $100 million, a drop in the bucket compared with the revenue oil and gas companies reported in the whole of Colorado that year – well over $9 billion.

Some gripping numbers: In the past five years, more than one third of crude oil and more than one fifth of natural gas have been drilled from territories owned by the U.S. taxpayer and leased to the oil and gas majors. Yet the lease rates Big Oil pays for access to this precious acreage, last updated in 1987, are based on valuations from a year when oil prices averaged around $18 a barrel. Since then, the cost of leases has not budged, even as America has witnessed an energy revolution and oil prices have climbed to more than $100.

Why is America lowballing itself?

“There is a lot of blame to go around when it comes to how much the American taxpayer is getting for all this drilling,” says Peter Kolbenschlag, an energy consultant with Mountain West Strategies in Paonia, Colo. “What we’re seeing right now is the result of a lot of special interests influencing fiscal policy in Washington.”

Americans may be surprised to learn that although leases on taxpayer-owned territories can fetch thousands of dollars an acre in the competitive bidding process, the starting bid for an annual lease to explore for 10 years is just $2 an acre. (That is not a typo.) Put it this way: America charges less for drilling on an acre of taxpayer-owned land for a decade than Starbucks charges for a cup of coffee. According to the Bureau of Land Management, the arm of the U.S. Department of the Interior that manages land leases, there are no plans to change that.


Of course there are no plans to change that because like so many federal agencies, the Bureau of Land Management is in the business of managing the land for the corporatocracy not for We the People.

This is SO, SO WRONG.

October 17, 2013 at 4:39 PM Leave a comment

“Once in a Decade” Typhoon Headed Toward Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

Oh, god:

Fukushima image Steve Herman via Wikimedia

(Image Steve Herman via

A once-in-a-decade typhoon threatened Japan on Tuesday, disrupting travel and shipping and forcing precautions to be taken at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Typhoon Wipha is moving across the Pacific straight towards the capital, Tokyo, and is expected to make landfall during the morning rush hour on Wednesday, bringing hurricane-force winds to the metropolitan area of 30 million people.

The center of the storm was 860 km (535 miles) southwest of Tokyo at 0800 GMT, the Japan Meteorological Agency said on its website. It was moving north-northeast at 35 kph (22 mph).

The storm had weakened as it headed north over the sea but was still packing sustained winds of about 140 kph (87 mph) with gusts as high as 194 kph (120 mph), the agency said.

The agency issued warnings for Tokyo of heavy rain, flooding and gales, and advised people to be prepared to leave their homes quickly and to avoid unnecessary travel.

A spokesman for the meteorological agency said the storm was a “once in a decade event”.

The typhoon is expected to sweep through northern Japan after making landfall and to pass near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, on the coast 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, later on Wednesday.


Typhoon Wipha is the strongest storm to approach eastern Japan since October 2004. That cyclone triggered floods and landslides that killed almost 100 people, forced thousands from their homes and caused billions of dollars in damage.


October 15, 2013 at 4:30 PM Leave a comment

Global Temperatures Over the Last 11,000 Years

Pretty scary:

Recently a group of researchers from Harvard and Oregon State University has published the first global temperature reconstruction for the last 11,000 years – that’s the whole Holocene (Marcott et al. 2013). The results are striking and worthy of further discussion.

Temperature Change over last 11,000 Years via

(Image via


September 18, 2013 at 5:26 PM 1 comment

Japanese Prime Minister Lies to the World About Fukushima Radiation

Fukushima image Steve Herman via Wikimedia

(Image Steve Herman via

Wednesday, August 28:

Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday upgraded the rating of a leak of radiation-contaminated water from a tank at its tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant to a “serious incident” on an international scale, and it castigated the plant operator for failing to catch the problem earlier.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s latest criticism of Tokyo Electric Power Co. came a day after the operator of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant acknowledged that the 300-ton (300,000-liter, 80,000-gallon) leak probably began nearly a month and a half before it was discovered Aug. 19.

Tanaka said there is a much larger ongoing problem at the plant: massive amounts of contaminated ground water reaching the sea. But that problem cannot even be rated under the IAEA’s International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale because it is unknown exactly how much ground water is escaping, how contaminated it is and what effect it is having on the sea and marine products.


Saturday, September 7:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Saturday that radiation leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant were under control and did not pose any health risks.

 Speaking to the IOC before Saturday’s vote to decide the 2020 host city, Abe wasted no time addressing the major issue that has raised doubts about Tokyo‘s chances of staging the world’s biggest multi-sports event.

“Let me assure you the situation is under control,” Abe said. “It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo.”

“I explained about the water contamination in Fukushima and explained that the contaminated water was blocked.

“Yes please come to Japan. You can be assured.”



September 8, 2013 at 11:36 AM Leave a comment

Socialism! (Or Something)

Solar Panels image via wikipedia

(Image via

After nearly three years, the White House began installing solar panels on the First Family’s residence this week, a White House official confirmed Thursday.

The Obama administration had pledged in October 2010 to put solar panels on the White House as a sign of the president’s commitment to renewable energy.

The White House official, who asked not to be identified because the installation is in process, wrote in an e-mail the project is “a part of an energy retrofit that will improve the overall energy efficiency of the building.”


Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the White House in 1977 and Ronald Reagan took them down in 1986.  Finally, 28 years later they’re going back up.

August 15, 2013 at 11:01 AM Leave a comment

Oil and Gas Companies Screw Americans Out of Lease Fees

Fracking via Summit County

(Image via

Surprise, surprise!

Another reason why we have to get this whole fracking thing under control before we go any farther:

Don Feusner ran dairy cattle on his 370-acre slice of northern Pennsylvania until he could no longer turn a profit by farming. Then, at age 60, he sold all but a few Angus and aimed for a comfortable retirement on money from drilling his land for natural gas instead.

It seemed promising. Two wells drilled on his lease hit as sweet a spot as the Marcellus shale could offer – tens of millions of cubic feet of natural gas gushed forth. Last December, he received a check for $8,506 for a month’s share of the gas.

Then one day in April, Feusner ripped open his royalty envelope to find that while his wells were still producing the same amount of gas, the gusher of cash had slowed. His eyes cascaded down the page to his monthly balance at the bottom: $1,690.

Chesapeake Energy, the company that drilled his wells, was withholding almost 90 percent of Feusner’s share of the income to cover unspecified “gathering” expenses and it wasn’t explaining why.

“They said you’re going to be a millionaire in a couple of years, but none of that has happened,” Feusner said. “I guess we’re expected to just take whatever they want to give us.”

I’m going to fast forward to the last two paragraphs.  The article is quite long and I’m leaving a lot out:

Even if a gas company were found liable for underpaying royalties in Pennsylvania, it would have little to fear. It would owe only the amount it should have paid in the first place; unlike Oklahoma and other states, Pennsylvania law does not allow for any additional interest on unpaid royalties and sets a very high bar for winning punitive penalties.

“They just wait to see who challenges them, they keep what they keep, they give up what they lose,” said Root, the NARO chapter president. “It may just be part of their business decision to do it this way.”


This is outrageous.  As usual, the oil and gas companies’ lobbyists — with the help of local, state and federal lawmakers — have paved the way for a very good life for them.  As for We the People?  Not so much.

August 13, 2013 at 3:58 PM Leave a comment

Oil and Gas Companies Running Roughshod Over Colorado

I read this shocking factoid this morning in my local newspaper:

Colorado Map via

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State government enforcers increasingly are letting oil and gas companies that break rules do public service projects instead of imposing formal penalties.

The shift reflects evolving efforts by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to cope with expanding industrial operations in a way that demonstrably helps harmed communities.

The COGCC “continually seeks to put into practice a robust enforcement program,” COGCC director Matt Lepore wrote in response to Denver Post queries.

But Colorado’s ability to minimize environmental harm is strained as the number of active wells statewide now exceeds 51,000 and the state has only 15 inspectors to keep track of them, as well as monitor cleanup at closed wells.

Oil and gas spills are happening at the rate of one a day — with 2,475 spills reported by companies since 2008, state data show. Many spills aren’t treated as violations under current state rules.

Recent spills — 241 so far this year — include one that contaminated groundwater with cancer-causing benzene at levels up to 340 times higher than state limits, state data show.


So Colorado has 15 inspectors who are charged with inspecting 51,000 wells?  Clearly we’re moving way too fast around here.  We’ve got to stop issuing permits until this insanity has more balance to it.  My God.

August 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM Leave a comment

Towns in Texas Running Out of Water Due to Fracking

This is the future if we keep fracking:

Drought via

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Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.

“The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes,” she said, blinking back tears. “I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind.”

Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers.


They are sucking all of the water out of the ground, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of water trucks here every day bringing fresh water out of the wells,” Owens said.


August 12, 2013 at 9:07 AM Leave a comment

Update on Fukushima

Fukushima via Wikipedia

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Here’s the latest on what’s happening at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday ordered increased efforts to stop radiation-contaminated water from spilling into the Pacific Ocean from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

A government official told reporters Wednesday that an estimated 300 metric tons (330 tons) of contaminated water was leaking into the ocean every day from the Daiichi plant, which was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Reuters reported.

The official also said the government believed the leaks had been happening for two years.


In response, TEPCO announced that it would begin pumping out the contaminated underground water at a rate of 100 metric tons (110 tons) a day starting this week.

The cleanup operation is expected to take more than 40 years and cost $11 billion, Reuters reported.


So, 330 tons of radioactive water have been leaking into the ocean for two years, there’s no end in sight and yet officials expect to have it cleaned up in 40 years?

How about tens of thousands of years:

Radioactive material may also fall out of a water supply by settling to the bottom of a reservoir or via adsorption (adhesion) onto the surface of soil particles in a reservoir. Another option with some radioactive contaminants is to wait until they radioactively decay to safe levels—a period known as half-life, which greatly varies with the particular isotope, from seconds to tens of thousands of years.

August 7, 2013 at 12:04 PM Leave a comment

Korea Doing Amazing Things With Electric Vehicles

This is so cool:

electric plug via wikipedia

(Image via

Wireless charging is becoming an increasingly common smartphone feature – but the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) decided to think big about the relatively new technology’s potential. KAIST, in a partnership with the South Korean town of Gumi, has developed a pair of electric commuter buses that recharge wirelessly while driving over specially-equipped roads.

The Online Electric Vehicle (OLEV) motor coaches, which run round-trip journeys of 24 kilometers (15 miles) while completing their stops, are special because they can be charged while driving or stationary. Built with special electrical coils underneath their chassis, the buses collect energy while driving over power lines that are embedded in the asphalt – thus removing the necessity to plug in at a charging station from time to time.


Roads that automatically recharge electric vehicles.  Brilliant.

August 7, 2013 at 9:38 AM Leave a comment

The Situation at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan is Dire

Fukushima via Wikipedia

(Image via Wikipedia)

Japan’s nuclear watchdog has said the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is facing a new “emergency” caused by a build-up of radioactive groundwater.

A barrier built to contain the water has already been breached, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority warned.

This means the amount of contaminated water seeping into the Pacific Ocean could accelerate rapidly, it said.


Go to the link immediately above to watch a 2.07 minute video explaining the hurtles that have to be overcome to fix the situation.  It sounds impossible to me.

August 6, 2013 at 11:26 AM Leave a comment

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