Posts filed under ‘Energy’
The ripple effect of climate change is going to be devastating. It already is. Very sad news here:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
I read this shocking factoid this morning in my local newspaper:
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.
This is the future if we keep fracking:
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.
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.
This is so cool:
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.
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.
The Canadian government works for oil companies and it’s spending millions trying to convince we Americans that constructing the Keystone XL pipeline right through the heart of our country (only to be shipped off to who knows where) would be a lovely thing.
Gee. I used to have a lot of respect for the Canadian government — like when it gave refuge to Vietnam war resisters back in the 60s and 70s — but now they’re owned by you-know-who. Disheartening:
Combating the growing global apprehension over Alberta crude oil has become a major policy initiative of the Harper government. Federal ministers along with provincial premiers from Alberta and Saskatchewan have been visiting Washington, D.C. and key US states to promote the embattled Keystone XL pipeline which will carry Alberta crude to US oil refineries.
Along with Harper’s visit to New York City, the Canadian government has opened a new front in Europe to fight the FQD. Last week, Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver travelled to Brussels, Paris and London in a round of high-level visits to EU members, disputing the possible designation of Alberta oil sands crude as dirty and claiming the move is “discriminatory and non-science based.”
“While we do not object to real, tangible measures to reduce GHG emissions for transportation fuels, we do object to discriminatory treatment currently contemplated in the FQD, singling out Canada’s oil sands–derived fuels without sound scientific justification,” said Oliver in a statement.
The government argues Alberta crude is no dirtier than oil produced by other nation such as Russia, Venezuela and the state of California, yet it’s Canada that’s being penalized. Ottawa is asking for “fair and equal treatment.”
The takeover by the corporatocracy is moving like a tsunami across the planet. Now we wait to see what Obama does regarding Keystone XL. He put off making a decision, again.
The pressure on him to say yes to it is probably overwhelming. You know, that corporatocracy thing again.
Wow. This is fantastic news, especially in light of the fact that I read something the other day about how President Obama is surrounded by pro-Keystone corporate types:
With President Obama preparing to return to California on June 6 for fundraising in the Bay Area, a crowd of major donors — including from California — have signed a strong letter urging his rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline extension.
The letter comes in a week when it appears Vice President Joe Biden may have tipped his hand regarding his opposition to the pipeline.
On June 6, the President will travel to the Bay Area for a DSCC event in the evening, White House officials have said.
On June 7, the President will travel to Los Angeles for a DNC lunch event.
The letter on Keystone includes signatures of major California deep pocketed donors who regularly write big checks to the Democratic party — folks like San Francisco Democrat Susie Tompkins Buell, one of the Party’s most generous donors, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, and CREDO Mobile’s Michael Michael Kieschnick, among many others.
Click on “More…” immediately above to read the letter and to see the huge list of signatories. Fantastic.
Read this article from the WashingtonPost about that ExxonMobil oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas. It’s based entirely on what Karen Tyrone, ExxonMobil’s “on-scene coordinator” tells the reporter:
MAYFLOWER, Ark. — Some people whose homes were evacuated when an oil pipeline ruptured in central Arkansas could go home as early as Thursday, officials said.
Authorities evacuated more than 20 homes in Mayflower, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock, after an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured March 29, spilling thousands of barrels of oil.
The residents of four of those homes could be allowed back on Thursday, federal on-scene coordinator Nick Brescia said Thursday. The residents of eight or nine more homes could return in the coming days, Brescia said.
It’s not clear when the rest could come back, but some people may not want to return as cleanup crews and their heavy equipment are still trying to get rid of what’s left of the spill.
“We have not had a strong interest to get back into homes,” Karen Tyrone, ExxonMobil’s on-scene coordinator, told reporters.
So far, crews have recovered about 28,200 barrels of oily water and about 2,000 cubic yards of oiled soil and debris, according to a statement from ExxonMobil and local officials. Officials estimate that about 5,000 barrels of oil spilled, though a final number isn’t expected until the pipeline has been repaired and refilled.
Officials hope to remove the ruptured part of the Pegasus pipeline in the next few days, Tyrone said. Then, investigators may be able to piece together why it burst.
“You cannot know what happened until you get this piece of pipe out and you get it to a lab,” she said.
ExxonMobil said the spill has not affected Mayflower’s drinking water supply, which comes from a lake about 65 miles northeast of the city. But that hasn’t put a stop to concerns about drinking water in other parts of the region.
Officials with another water system — Central Arkansas Water — are slated to meet Thursday afternoon to discuss asking ExxonMobil to move the Pegasus pipeline away from an area that drains into a drinking water source.
“We understand their concerns,” Tyrone said. “We have spoken with them. They understand that we’re in a recovery effort right now and our focus right now is the Mayflower community.”
Geezus. Why send a reporter down there at all? Just print ExxonMobil press releases under the banner of a so-called news article.
Disgusting. Oil companies are poisoning our planet one oil spill, pipeline and drilling well at a time.
Exxon Mobil Corp. says crews are working to contain and clean up an oil spill near Mayflower, Arkansas after its Pegasus pipeline ruptured Friday afternoon.
The pipeline carries Canadian heavy crude oil from Patoka, Illinois to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast.
Exxon Mobil issued a release that said the company was responding to a spill of more than 10,000 barrels, and that some 4,500 barrels of oil and water had been recovered.
The company said the 20 inch pipeline had been shut down as crews tried to prevent the spilled oil from reaching a nearby lake.
It said cleanup operations were being co-ordinated with the Department of Emergency Management and other local authorities, and that the cause of the spill was being investigated.
On Monday federal regulators proposed that Exxon Mobil pay $1.7 million in civil penalties for safety violations linked to a pipeline rupture that spilled an estimated 238,000 litres of crude oil into Montana’s scenic Yellowstone River in July 2011.
Pity the children who will inherit what’s left of our Earth:
Ecuador plans to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, angering indigenous groups and underlining the global environmental toll of China’s insatiable thirst for energy.
According to the California-based NGO Amazon Watch, seven indigenous groups who inhabit the land claim that they have not consented to oil projects, which would devastate the area’s environment and threaten their traditional way of life.
If oil soaked Abu Dhabi is building gigantic solar power plants, maybe we should take a hint:
The 100-megawatt plant, called Shams 1, is a first step in a plan to make seven percent of Abu Dhabi’s energy resources renewable, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, head of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, said during a news conference. Abu Dhabi is part of the United Arab Emirates, which are famed for their oil wealth. The emirates rank 13th in the world for per capita GDP, a standing driven mostly by their oil exports.
The new plant includes a huge field of parabolic mirrors located in the desert about 74 miles (120 kilometers) south of Abu Dhabi. Shams 1 will serve 20,000 homes and cost an estimated $600 million to build, the BBC reported. Similar Shams 2 and Shams 3 plants are in the works, Clean Technica reported.
Shams 1 is a concentrated solar energy plant, which means its technology is a little different from the flat, black photovoltaic panels you might have seen on people’s roofs. Shams 1′s uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy to heat a fluid, which produces steam to turn turbines to make electricity.
Come fly the fatty skies.
New Yorkers for the first time can take a commercial flight from Kennedy Airport to Amsterdam on a jumbo jet fueled by the same grease that makes french fries and chicken wings.
Dutch airline KLM announced its eco-friendly technology at JFK yesterday before completing the first of 25 round trips between the Big Apple and the land of windmills.
“I was with the guy fueling the plane this morning, and he said it smelled like fries,” KLM executive Camiel Eurlings, a former Dutch transportation minister, said yesterday at the airport.
The Boeing 777s are fueled by a blend of 25 percent cooking oil and 75 percent jet fuel.
“It’s indistinguishable on a molecular level” from regular kerosene jet fuel, said Capt. Rick Shouten, 48, who piloted the fat-fueled jet, which carries 318 passengers.
“For the pilots, it was totally transparent. It’s as if you’re flying a normal aircraft,” said Shouten, a KLM pilot for 25 years.
The oil for the flight comes from Louisiana.
Waste oil left over from frying up crawfish, cracklins, catfish and other Cajun treats is refined at a plant near Baton Rouge and then trucked to JFK Airport so it can help spin the giant KLM engines.
Biofuels are expensive. KLM says the cooking-oil-based fuel it used yesterday costs about $10 per gallon, roughly three times the price of regular jet fuel.
But the airline industry hopes the price will come down as biofuel use spreads.
Very cool and good on KLM for taking on the added expense in order to help push this.
It’s amazing what other countries are doing while we’re sitting around twiddling our thumbs:
Electric vehicle chargers aren’t close to reaching ubiquity in the United States — a shortcoming highlighted by the recent Tesla / New York Times debacle — but other countries are already making great strides. Take Estonia for example, which just opened up a nationwide EV fast-charger network totaling 165 stations, each of which is positioned no further than 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the last. Juicing up your EV isn’t free, but drivers have different options when it comes to making payments. A single charge can vary between 2.5 [$3.29] and 5 euros [$6.59], but a monthly 30 euro fee [$39.54] will net unlimited charges throughout the country.
(H/t Jenny S.)
I have to think Rupert Murdoch is smarter about climate change than his most recent tweet suggests; that his aim at playing dumb is to protect his corporate buddies who stand to lose big if we seriously tackle that issue.
I mean, does one of the most powerful information and news purveyors on the planet really think
global warming climate change simply means it doesn’t get cold anymore?
I wish the term “global warming” had never come into common use because it lets the likes of the Rupert Murdochs of the world imply that very thing — that it’s only about warming.
Scientists at the US Forest Service and partners at universities, non-profits and other agencies predict that urban and developed land areas in the US will increase 41 percent by 2060. Forested areas will be most impacted by this expansion, with losses ranging from 16 to 34 million acres in the lower 48 states. The agency highlighted the results of a new study in a press release issued last month.
The researchers also concluded that, over the long-term, climate change could have significant effects on water availability, making the US potentially more vulnerable to water shortages, especially in the Southwest and Great Plains. Population growth in more arid regions will require more drinking water. Recent trends in agricultural irrigation and landscaping techniques also will boost water demands.
Given overpopulation, climate change and water and food shortages that are staring us in the face, I feel for today’s kids. The world they’ll live in when they’re in their 30s, 40s and 50s is going to be hellish.
I’m old enough to remember when no one had ever heard of bottled water and when people would have laughed at the thought. I’m old enough to remember when carrying around a bottle of water — as an accessory — was unheard of. I’m old enough to remember when we humans didn’t toss millions of plastic bottles into landfills. So imho, this is good. Very, very good:
Water, water everywhere — just not in plastic bottles, says a town in the US state of Massachusetts.
A law passed by the town of Concord went into effect with the New Year, making single-serving bottles of water illegal.
The ban is intended to encourage use of tap water and curb the worldwide problem of plastic pollution.
The bottled water corporatocracy has created a “need” in us for this product but the bottled water industry is the only winner and we’re fools to go along with it.
Here’s more info about the ridiculous use of disposable plastic water bottles here:
According to a report of the World Wide Fund for Nature, approximately 1.5 million tons of plastic are used in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year.
Again, I’m old enough to remember when this was unheard of.
As if we need more evidence that corporations matter more to our politicians than citizens/voters:
The state [of Colorado] won’t sue Longmont over its fracking ban, but will support any oil or gas companies that choose to do so, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office confirmed Friday morning.
The governor first made the announcement Thursday afternoon to about 300 oil and gas executives at the Rockies Midstream Conference in Denver. The statement marks a shift since Hickenlooper’s last visit to Longmont in September, when he said that banning hydraulic fracturing would likely bring a second state lawsuit.
“After further consideration it became clear that wasn’t the right path going forward,” said Eric Brown, a spokesman for Hickenlooper. “The state will not sue Longmont over the fracking ban because there is uncertainty over whether the state has legal standing to sue in this instance. But we do stand ready to support an energy company that does file a lawsuit in response to the ban.”
On November 6, voters in Longmont overwhelmingly voted to ban fracking:
Longmont’s city charter will now ban fracking.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the ban — Ballot Question 300 — was leading 16,798 votes to 11,544 and had widened its margin of victory with every report, according to the Boulder and Weld county clerk’s offices. That gave ban supporters about 59 percent of the vote.
While the governor thinks there’s some “uncertainty over whether the state has legal standing to sue Longmont,” as he threatened to do in mid-November, he’s not at all hesitant to back oh, say, Exxon-Mobil if it brings a suit of its own. Shorter: The governor’s standing with the oil and gas industry and against the will of the people he was elected to represent.
It’s really, really outrageous.
You’ve probably heard the warnings — that millions of people will probably lose power in the Northeast over the next 48-hours due to Hurricane Sandy — and that restoring the power could take up to a week. What is this? Baghdad?
No, it’s greedy union busting corporateland and of course the “news” organizations aren’t delving into the issue; they’re just accepting it and expecting us to too:
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1900 members claim the failure to restore power outages is due to chronic understaffing and Pepco’s [Potomac Electric Power Company] shift from hiring union utility workers to non-union temporary contractors.
“We have half the linemen we had 15 years ago,” says IBEW Local 1900 Business Agent Jim Griffin, whose union represents 1,150 Pepco workers. “We have been complaining for a very long time. They have relied for a long time on contractors. They are transients, they don’t know our system, and we typically have to go behind them to fix their mistakes. It’s very frustrating. We take ownership in our work, we make careers out of this.”
Griffin says that starting 15 years ago, Pepco stopped hiring workers to replace retiring electrical workers and offered incentive-laden buyout deals to get electricians to retire. In order to address understaffing problems, Pepco has at times hired non-union temporary contractors, instead of hiring new workers. Griffin estimates that Pepco currently employs 1,150 union workers and approximately 400 non-union contractors. The understaffing has led to problems that the IBEW warned about years ago.
“Everything is keyed on dollars and cents profit,” warned IBEW Utility Director Jim Hunter back in 2005. “Storm outages are longer, and utilities are asking for more and more help from other utilities. The problem is that other companies are in the same boat. And they are still not hiring.”
So, if you lose power and you keep hearing “they’re working as fast as they can” and “they’re calling in crews from all over the area,” now you know the dark underbelly of that bulls*it.
Bravo to this crowd:
The University must divest — or remove investments from — the portion of its endowment in the fossil fuel industry by 2020, Kyoto NOW!, a student organization that advocates sustainability, is urging.
Although the University has set a goal of eliminating or offsetting all carbon emissions from the Ithaca campus by 2050, Kyoto NOW!’s petition asks that the University completely divest from fossil fuels by 2020. Additionally, the group is working on a Student Assembly resolution that calls on the University to reinvest 30 percent of the endowed funds previously invested in traditional energy to sustainable companies and renewable energy.
In its petition, the group said that its requests stemmed from a call “to uphold our commitment to creating a more sustainable world while fulfilling our fiduciary duty, and to responsibly direct our University in accordance with our mission and values.”
That this process has to take so long is kind of upsetting but at least there’s movement here. Good on the students for that.
The first nuclear power plants in the United State went on line in roughly 1974. 40 years later, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided to study cancer rates around six of those plants:
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced plans Tuesday to launch a pilot epidemiological study of cancer risks near six nuclear power plants, including San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in north San Diego County.
The commission is acting out of growing concern that using uranium to produce electricity may be dangerous even without accidents at nuclear plants. In addition, recent epidemiological studies in Germany and France suggest that the children living near nuclear reactors are twice as likely to develop leukemia.
The U.S. study will be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, which will also help the commission determine whether to extend the study to all 65 U.S. nuclear power plants and certain nuclear fuel sites.
There is “growing concern that using uranium to produce electricity may be dangerous even without accidents at nuclear plants?” Gee. Ya think?
During discussions surrounding the near meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan immediately after the March, 2011 tsunami there, I heard untold people talk about how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is so in bed with the nuclear power industry that the word “regulatory” should be removed from its name. So sadly, we probably shouldn’t get too excited about this.
Fracking is a big issue here in Colorado People are very much against it.
Then there’s this:
Matt Damon’s latest film Promised Land – a tale about the impact of fracking on small-town America – doesn’t hit movie theaters until December 28, but it’s already being targeted by the fossil fuels lobby.
The story, written by Damon and John Kraskinski (best-known for The Office) and directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting), centers on a small Pennsylvania town sitting atop rich natural gas reserves that can be tapped only if the residents allow fracking on their land. The economy is depressed and residents are tempted by the money they can get leasing their land for fracking.
The movie pits Damon, a slick natural gas company salesman, against Kraskinski, an environmentalist. The money looks great to local residents until Kraskinski exposes the tradeoffs – risks to their drinking water and air quality that Damon fails to mention.
The Independent Petroleum Association of America, which represents oil and gas interests, is so concerned about the film’s message that it’s planning several strategies for the upcoming release – including distributing leaflets to moviegoers, providing film reviewers with “data” and launching a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook, reports The Wall Street Journal.
“We’ve been surprised at the emergence of what looks like a concerted campaign targeting the film even before anyone’s seen it,” James Schamus, CEO of Focus Features, told the Journal.
The lobbying group has already started screening their own documentary on the subject, “Truthland,” showing it incommunity centers and hotels across the US.
People, we can’t let the petroleum lobby win this one!
Here’s the trailer for Damon’s film:
On a windy night in September, whilst most people were sleeping, wind power reached a record of 64.2% of Spain’s electricity demand.
The vast majority of Spain’s power that night came not from fossil fuels but clean, renewable energy generated by wind turbines on the Spanish hills.
And what couldn’t be used in Spain wasn’t wasted.
Some was exported via giant cables linking Spain to the rest of Europe and some was used to pump water uphill so it could be allowed to flow back down later, when demand was higher.
Pumped storage and interconnectors are just two of the way Spain has found to make sure wind works.
And there’s this:
Germany continues to outstrip the rest of the world in solar power capacity, and is adding new solar faster than any other country as well.
The US energy corporatocracy wants to believe that drilling for oil, fracking and transnational pipelines are the key to energy independence. Believe that at your children’s and your grandchildren’s peril.
Countries like Germany and Spain (despite their financial difficulties) are moving ahead with clean energy yet the US is held hostage by companies who wouldn’t mind destroying the entire planet to make a profit.
Why does the New York Times think “Mitt Romney Shifted to the Right on Energy” is news? He’s been “shifted to the right” on almost everything for six years.
When, oh when, will we have a better media?