Last Thursday, Christie announced that he would withdraw New Jersey from the nation's first cap-and-trade scheme, which he called a failure and an ineffective approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The diversion of funds from the state's Global Warming Solutions Fund from fiscal year 2010 to 2011 limited the program's reach. The $65 million in proceeds were initially intended for the state's Clean Energy Solutions Capital Investment (CESCI) loan/grant program, which supports renewable energy, energy efficiency and customer assistance projects in New Jersey.
Last year, the state had allotted $29.6 million for 12 large-scale projects, but eventually scaled back to only six projects worth $12.3 million in loans after Christie spent some of those funds on the budget.
Under RGGI, power plants in 10 participating Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states must cap carbon dioxide emissions at 188 million short tons per year through 2014, with additional annual reductions of 2.5 percent from 2015 to 2018. States then sell carbon allowances through auctions to fund their respective clean energy programs.
Participating states have raised nearly $861 million in carbon allowances from the 11 quarterly online auctions that have been held since 2008. Sixty-three percent of the earnings have helped improve energy efficiency and accelerate renewable energy deployment, according to RGGI figures.
New Jersey's revenues total $102 million to date, the fourth highest amount behind New York, Maryland and Massachusetts. (Reuters, 5/31/2011)
Germany gets nearly a 1/4 of its electricity from nuclear power.
If Germany shutters its nuclear power plants, there will be no real choice but to turn to its own coal reserves, to Russia for additional natural gas supplies or to France, which exports electricity from its own nuclear power plants, which also supply 80 percent of France’s electricity.
Switzerland, which gets 40 percent of its electricity from nuclear power, also announced last week that it plans to shut down its reactors once they reach their expected life span of 50 years. The last plant would come off the grid in 2034. (Wash Post, 5/30/2011)
NJ Dept of Environmental Protection Statement
STATEMENT FROM THE PARTICIPATING STATES OF THE REGIONAL GREENHOUSE GAS INITIATIVE ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT FROM NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRISTIE
May 26, 2011 -- In response to today’s announcement by Governor Christie that New Jersey will pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the RGGI participating states confirm that RGGI CO2 Allowance Auction 12 will be held as scheduled on Wednesday, June 8, 2011.
RGGI, a collaborative effort of ten states, is delivering more than 700 million dollars in investments in the clean energy economy that are saving energy consumers money, making businesses more competitive and creating jobs throughout the region. With each state exercising its independent authority to achieve low-cost greenhouse gas emissions reductions, the RGGI market-based program has widespread support across the region and will continue.
Based on information provided by the state of New Jersey, the participating states will evaluate how New Jersey’s proposed withdrawal might affect New Jersey allowances currently in circulation.
RGGI participating states will publish any amendments to the Auction Notice for RGGI CO2 Allowance Auction 12 no later than 5PM on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at www.rggi.org.
About Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc. (RGGI, Inc.) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to provide technical and administrative services to the states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. More information.
90 Church Street
New York, NY 10007
Japanese Nuclear Engineer Says Meltdown Started Hours After Cooling Systems Failed
The Center has been calling for covering the four damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site in Japan since the disaster began. Two other reactors were largely undamaged. A sarcophagus should be constructed over the 4-reactor complex.
The Center believes the USA should institute a protocol (Fukushima Protocol) that calls for sealing a nuclear plant immediately upon the failure of all back up cooling systems. Such a protocol would authorize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to order the immediate flooding of a containment dome or building with boron, cement, concrete, cadmium and any other substance the NRC deems appropriate to prevent a hydrogen explosion. Nuclear utilities could have arrangements with regional concrete batching companies to provide emergency services. The utilities could also have onsite cement batching facilities for the protocol. The point is to absolutely prevent the sort of explosions that led to the disaster at Fukushima.
|4 reactors at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex|
The University of Tokyo’s nuclear engineer Naoto Sekimura told a committee of the National Academy of Sciences that the nuclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant began melting just five hours after Japan’s March 11 earthquake. According to Sekimura, about 11 hours later, all of the uranium fuel in the facility’s unit 1 reactor had slumped to the bottom of its inner containment vessel, boring a hole through a thick steel lining.
In the Center's opinion, Sekimura’s assessment not only further damages the credibility of the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), it also justifies our calling for the president of the company to resign, which he did last week. The Center is also calling for Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to resign over mismanaging the aftermath of the disaster.
TEPCO has admitted for the first time this week that nuclear fuel in three of the plant’s reactors had melted, a conclusion that independent scientists had reached long ago. (Wash Post, 5/26/2011)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has announced that the state will pull out of the region’s Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). New Jersey’s departure from RGGI requires an administrative change in regulations but no approval by the State Legislature. Governor Christie called the program "gimmicky" and was doing nothing to solve the problem. Christie acknowledges the effects humans are having on climate change. According to Governor Christie:
"This program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future. The whole system is not working as it was intended to work. It’s a failure."The goal of the initiative is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants across 10 Northeast and mid-Atlantic states from Maine to Maryland by 10 percent in the next seven years. It’s the first cap-and-trade program of its kind in the United States, and is considered a trial run for a possible nationwide program in the future. Under RGGI, power plant operators buy credits at quarterly auctions for the carbon dioxide they emit.
The Center is registered in the RGGI cap-and-trade program.
Proceeds are then to be used to pay for renewable energy initiatives. The program had raised more than $860 million through March. In New Jersey, the program has paid out $29.6 million for 12 large-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, according to RGGI Inc., the nonprofit that oversees the initiative. RGGI Inc. said in a statement that the planned auction for June 8 will continue as scheduled.
Several states, including New Jersey, have raided RGGI proceeds recently to fill budget gaps. Christie took $65.2 million from the state’s Global Warming Solutions Fund to balance the current budget.
As of last August, participating states had invested 63 percent of RGGI auction proceeds in programs to improve energy efficiency and accelerate the use of renewable energy technologies. The investments are intended to help reduce greenhouse gases. (NJ. com, 5/26/2011)
With the release of these plans, the Administration is taking immediate steps to significantly reduce burdens on individuals, small businesses, and state and local governments, while maintaining the critical health and safety protections that Americans deserve. There are hundreds of creative ideas for updating our regulatory framework in these plans. One particular highlight of interest to the Center:
· EPA will propose to eliminate the redundant obligation for many states to require air pollution vapor recovery systems at local gas stations because modern vehicles already have effective air pollution control technologies. The anticipated savings over the next decade is about $670 million.
View and comment on all 30 preliminary regulatory “look-back” plans here
Switzerland is the second country in Europe, after Germany, to drop nuclear energy as an electricity source. The government hasn't yet fixed a date for when the last nuclear-power station will go offline. The country's five existing reactors have operating licenses that expire between 2020 and 2040.
Switzerland generates roughly 40% of its energy from the country's five nuclear reactors. The rest comes mostly from the more than 1,000 hydropower plants located in the Alps and along Switzerland's rivers. The government will invest in new hydroelectric plants and attempt to add wind and solar, which are not reliable sources of baseload power.
Switzerland's decision to discontinue the country's nuclear-power plants comes as a shock to Swiss utilities. Leading power companies Axpo Holding AG and BKW FMB AG had planned to build two new plants, and pledged to invest some $10 billion. The companies had said new plants are needed if Switzerland wants to avoid being dependent on expensive energy imports. The companies also warned that Swiss industry would suffer from high energy costs.
The Center agrees with the position of the utilities that there are no viable alternatives to nuclear energy for delivering bulk baseload electrical power. (WSJ, 5/26/2011)
Constellation Energy Group filed an application with Maryland’s Public Service Commission Wednesday seeking approval for its $7.9 billion sale to Chicago-based Exelon Corporation. The merger would create the largest power supplier in the United States.
The companies have already sought approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the New York State Public Service Commission and the Public Utility Commission of Texas. Shareholders of both companies also must approve the deal. (The Daily Record, 5/25/2011)
The 2010 fuel economy rule, developed with input from major automakers, environmental groups, and the states, will dramatically increase the energy efficiency of cars and trucks built in model years 2012 through 2016, saving 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program and the average consumer $3,000 in fuel costs.
In July, the administration plans to finalize the first-ever national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial trucks, vans and buses built in 2014 to 2018. These standards are expected to save hundreds of millions of barrels of oil over the life of these vehicles and promote the development and deployment of alternative fuels, including natural gas. The administration is also developing the next generation of joint fuel economy/greenhouse gas emission standards for model year 2017-2025 passenger vehicles and expects to announce the proposal in September 2011.
The new labels will for the first time provide:
· New ways to compare energy use and cost between new-technology cars that use electricity and conventional cars that are gasoline-powered.
· Useful estimates on how much consumers will save or spend on fuel over the next five years compared to the average new vehicle.
· Easy-to-read ratings of how a model compares to all others for smog emissions and emissions of pollution that contribute to climate change.
· An estimate of how much fuel or electricity it takes to drive 100 miles.
· Information on the driving range and charging time of an electric vehicle.
· A QR Code that will allow users of smartphones to access online information about how various models compare on fuel economy and other environmental and energy factors. This tool will also allow consumers to enter information about their typical commutes and driving behavior in order to get a more precise estimate of fuel costs and savings.
The new labels are required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. (EPA)
More information about fuel economy
More EPA information on the new label
More DOT information on the new label
San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled on Friday that the state Air Resources Board (ARB) did not properly consider alternatives to cap and trade when it picked the market-based mechanism to achieve about 20 percent of overall emissions reductions by 2020. The Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment and other environmental justice advocates had sued over a provision in the California Environmental Quality Act requiring state agencies to analyze the environmental justice consequences of their policies.
California regulators still might be able to start their greenhouse gas trading program in January 2012, despite the court decision (pdf) to stay the first trading system in the United States for greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, oil and gas refineries, transportation fuels and other heavy industries.
Judge Goldsmith ruled that the agency's "functionally equivalent document (pdf)" that it released in December 2008 to explain its selection of cap and trade was insufficient. ARB must set aside its December 2010 decision approving the trading system for emitters over 25,000 metric tons per year and must cease all rulemaking activities related to cap and trade until it complies with the law, Goldsmith ruled. Goldsmith could have ruled that a trading scheme was an unacceptable method of reducing emissions. He could also have stayed the entire suite of regulations that the state is pursuing, 69 in all, including a low-carbon fuel standard, local development and smart growth guidelines, and emissions reductions from ships and trucks.
The cap and trade component was the heart of A.B. 32, the 2006 California global warming law.
The question now is whether ARB can get back on track by Oct. 28, the date that it has to finalize the program according to internal regulations. If it misses the deadline, agency employees will have to begin the process over again, starting with submitting the original cap-and-trade regulation back to the board for approval. The decision might also delay rulemakings going on at other agencies, including a proceeding in the California Public Utilities Commission on how to spend proceeds from the auction of allowances.
Governor Jerry Brown has not shown expressed his position on this issue yet. (NYT, 5/23/2011)
Hearing on the Effects of Environmental Regulations and Jobs
As usual, Administrator Jackson defended the mission of the agency while showing that regulations are not hindering the creation of jobs. In many of the issue areas, EPA appears to have studies or delays instead of actual hindrances of energy development.
Deputy Secretary Hayes confirmed that the Interior Department was complying with Continuing Resolution restrictions on establishing more wildlife areas. Members challenged Hayes about accenting renewable resources over traditional fossil resources. Hayes acknowledged that the agency was proud of its record in developing fossil fuel resources.
The report released today by Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa highlights evidence that the statements by President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu about intentionally raising energy costs for Americans can be seen across the federal government: from blocking production in the Gulf of Mexico, to hindering “fracking” technology, and stifling oil and gas production on public lands. The 42 page report, “Rising Energy Costs: The Intentional Result of Government Action” identifies numerous Administration efforts to suppress domestic oil and gas production that lead to higher costs while helping the Administration promote expensive alternative sources of energy.
Conditional Authorization for Sabine Pass LNG Terminal Could Bring Thousands of Jobs
|Sabine Pass LNG Terminal|
Project sponsors expect approximately 3,000 jobs will be created or sustained during the design, engineering, and construction of the project, and an estimated 150 to 250 full-time positions will be required to operate and maintain the Project. In addition, they estimate 30,000 to 50,000 permanent jobs would be supported in the exploration and production sector associated with natural gas upstream development.
In August 2010, Sabine Pass Liquefaction, LLC filed a two-part application requesting authority to export up to 803 billion cubic feet per year of domestically produced natural gas as LNG for a period of 20 years. On September 10, 2010, the Department approved these exports to 15 countries with which the U.S. already has a Free Trade Agreement covering natural gas. Today the Department is extending this authorization to include all other countries except those that lack the ability to receive imports or those with which trade is prohibited by U.S. law or policy.
In issuing a conditional authorization for exports to non-free trade agreement countries, the Department considers a number of factors, including the impact of exports on domestic supply. In the event the Department receives subsequent applications for LNG export, it will closely examine the cumulative impacts of additional exports on the domestic market. (DOE)
View the approval document
As part of the deal, the companies will sell off three coal-fired electric plants in Maryland within 180 days. The stations — Brandon Shores and H.A. Wagner in Anne Arundel County, and C.P. Crane in Baltimore County, generate a total of 2,648 megawatts.
In addition to their filing with FERC, the companies said they filed applications in favor of the merger with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the New York State Public Service Commission and the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
The merger will be put to shareholders in the third quarter. Exelon and Constellation expect the deal to close in the first quarter of 2012. Constellation Energy Group shareholders have filed six lawsuits in Baltimore City Circuit Court since the power company announced in late April that it had agreed to sell itself to Chicago-based Exelon Corp. for $7.9 billion in an all-stock deal. (More) (The Daily Record, 5/20/2011)
EPA Sets Hearing Dates for 1st National Standard for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants
WHAT: Public hearings on proposed mercury and air toxics standards
WHEN: May 24 and 26, 2011
Each hearing will begin at 9:00 a.m. and continue until 8:00 p.m. (local time)
WHERE: May 24: Chicago, Ill.
Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro
799 West Madison Street
Chicago, Ill. 60611
May 24: Philadelphia, Pa.
99 South 17th Street at Liberty Place
Philadelphia, Pa. 19103
May 26: Atlanta, Ga.
Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth Street SW
Atlanta, Ga. 30303-8960
The public may register with Ms. Pamela Garrett, telephone 919-541-7966, to speak at a specific time at a hearing or register in person on the day of a hearing. EPA also will accept written comments on the proposed standards for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. We expect the standards to be published shortly.
For more information and instructions for submitting written comments
A proposal by Senate Democrats to end tax breaks for big oil companies failed a test vote Tuesday, and a Republican counterproposal to ease new drilling is expected to fail Wednesday, underscoring Capitol Hill's energy-policy impasse.
A White House-backed Democratic proposal to end about $2 billion a year in oil and gas tax breaks for five major oil companies failed to win enough votes to move forward. Senate Democratic leaders needed 60 votes to advance the bill under Senate rules, but got only 52, as three Democrats joined all but two Republicans in opposing the bill.
The Senate is expected to act on an alternative Republican bill today that aims to speed up government approval of drilling permits. The measure would require the government to determine within 60 days whether to grant a permit. If officials failed to make a determination, permission would be granted automatically. The GOP bill, which would also direct the administration to increase offshore lease sales to the industry, is also expected to fail. (WSJ, 5/18/2011)
NRC and Army Corps Issue Final Environmental Impact Statement
Many Questions Remain For Proposed 3rd Reactor
On May 13, 2011, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as a cooperating agency, issued NUREG-1936, “Environmental Impact Statement for the Combined License (COL) for Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3: Final Report” (FEIS).
NRC website. The FEIS is also available for public inspection at the NRC Public Document Room (PDR), located at One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike (First Floor), Rockville, Maryland 20852, or at the Calvert Library, Prince Fredrick and Sothern Branch locations. The FEIS is also available from the NRC’s Agencywide Documents Access Management system (ADAMS), which is accessible from the NRC website Reading Room. The FEIS is under the accession numbers ML11129A167 and ML11124A179. Persons who encounter problems in accessing the documents located in ADAMS should contact the PDR reference staff by telephone at 1-800-397-4209 or 1-301-415-4737 or by sending an e-mail.
A notice of availability of the FEIS is anticipated to be published by both the NRC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on May 20, 2011, in the Federal Register. If you have any questions or wish to request a CD or hardcopy, please contact Ms. Laura Quinn or by phone at 301-415-2220 or Ms. Sarah Lopas at 301-415-1147.
Update [5/20/2011]: Shimizu Resigned Today. Good. Hopefully the new president will seal the site.
Center Calling For Resignation of Tokyo Electric Power Company President
The Center is calling for sealing the Fukushima site and has been calling for a sarcophagus to be placed over reactors 1, 2, 3 & 4. Tepco management should have begun sealing the facility just as soon as they lost control of cooling the reactors. Instead, they are unnecessarily sending workers into the facility in some futile attempt to salvage the facility.
The Center is also calling for Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to resign.
|Mercedes Benz Natural Gas Semi|
Buyers of these natural-gas trucks have received government subsidies that have helped defray the higher purchase price. According to Clean Energy Fuels Corporation., an installer of natural-gas fueling stations that is partly owned by billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens, 15% of U.S. buses and trash trucks run on natural gas.
Trucks configured to burn natural gas cost more than trucks that run on diesel. They need modified engines and bigger and stronger fuel tanks. A trash truck that costs $200,000 outfitted for diesel costs only another $10,000—or 5% more— equipped for natural gas, according to some estimates.
Today, only about 4% of Republic's 14,700 trucks nationwide run on natural gas.
Long-haul trucks present a bigger challenge. In the U.S., they consume about 10 times as much diesel as trash trucks and buses combined. The biggest guzzlers are 18-wheelers, which average six miles per gallon. Some 225,000 were sold in the U.S. last year, but many analysts expect that number to soar to 400,000 this year, as the economy improves. Fewer than 1,000 natural-gas 18-wheeler tractors have been sold in the U.S., industry experts say.
President Obama, 190 Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the natural-gas industry and major trucking firms are promoting a federal bill to broaden that transformation. Under the bill, a company like UPS that spent an extra $100,000 to buy a natural-gas truck would get an $80,000 tax credit.
Federal officials haven't yet officially estimated the bill's cost. But T. Boone Pickens estimates the taxpayer price tag would be about $5 billion over five years, for about 140,000 trucks and the necessary fueling stations. Mr. Pickens and his wife own 41% of Clean Energy Fuels, the installer of natural-gas-vehicle fueling stations. (WSJ, 5/11/2011)
Coal ash was brought prominently to national attention in 2008 when an impoundment holding disposed coal ash waste generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority failed, creating a massive spill in Kingston, Tennessee, that released more than 5 million cubic yards of coal ash to the surrounding area and is regarded as one of the worst environmental disasters of its kind in history. Shortly afterwards, EPA began overseeing the cleanup, as well as investigating the structural integrity of impoundments where coal ash waste is stored.
Since May 2009, EPA has been conducting on-site structural integrity assessments of coal ash impoundments and ponds at electric utilities. EPA provides copies of the structural integrity assessment reports to each facility and requests the facilities implement the reports’ recommendations and provide their plans for taking action. The action plans released today address recommendations from assessments of 70 impoundments at 20 facilities. Many of these facilities have already begun implementing EPA’s recommendations. Last year, EPA completed comprehensive assessments for 60 impoundments that were considered to have a high risk of causing harm if the impoundment were to fail.
The assessment reports were completed by firms under contract to EPA that are experts in the field of dam integrity, and reflect the best professional judgment of those engineering firms. A draft of the reports has been reviewed by the facilities and the states for factual accuracy. The comments on the draft reports are posted on EPA’s website. EPA is continuing to review the reports and technical recommendations and is working with the facilities to ensure that the recommendations are implemented in a timely manner. Should facilities fail to take sufficient measures, EPA will take additional action, if circumstances warrant. EPA will continue to provide additional information to the public on the impoundments and facilities as it becomes available.
Following the TVA coal ash spill of 2008, EPA requested information from companies believed to have facilities with coal ash impoundments. EPA has used the information provided by the companies to inform its ongoing efforts to assess the structural integrity of coal ash impoundments. Today, EPA is releasing responses it has received from 12 additional facilities. These responses will be posted in an updated database. After inclusion of these additional facilities, there are now 240 facilities with 676 surface impoundments in EPA’s database. All these facilities have been assessed, are scheduled to be assessed, or do not have any units that qualify for assessment because they are closed, do not contain coal combustion residues (CCRs), or are below ground level.
In addition to conducting assessments to evaluate and address potential structural integrity issues of CCR impoundments, EPA is also in the process of developing the first national rules to ensure the long-term safe disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired power plants. The proposed regulations will not only ensure stronger oversight of the structural integrity of CCR impoundments, but will also address releases to the groundwater and air to protect people’s health and the environment. The agency is evaluating more than 450,000 public comments on the proposed rule, which was released in May 2010. The target date for release of a final rule will be determined, pending a full evaluation of all the information and comments EPA received on the proposal.
More information on the database
More information on the impoundment assessment reports and action plans
Portrayed By Media As Victory For Industry and Congressional Critics of the Administration's Regulatory Policies
EPA Announces Next Step on Air Toxics Standards for Boilers and Certain Incinerators
Agency allows time to seek and review additional public input on new standards
Input through the public comment process already resulted in dramatic cuts in the cost of implementation, while maintaining maximum public health benefits, under the rule announced in February. As part of the reconsideration process, EPA will issue a stay postponing the effective date of the standards for major source boilers and commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators to allow the agency to continue to seek additional public comment before an updated rule is proposed. This process of careful consideration of public comments, and close attention to both costs and benefits, is consistent with the president’s directives with respect to regulation, as set out in executive order 13563, issued on January 18.
EPA will accept additional data and information on these standards until July 15, 2011. (EPA)
The critical first US House vote on a proposed $36 billion loan guarantee package for reactor construction may come as early as June 2. According to noted antinuclear activist Harvey Wasserman:
"Some $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for new reactor construction was put in place under George W. Bush. In 2007 the nuclear lobby tried to add $50 billion. The industry has spent some $645 million---$64.5 million per year---over the last decade twisting Congressional arms."Wow.
President Obama designated $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for two reactors in Georgia. Two other reactors are scheduled for South Carolina, where ratepayers will pay the bill as construction proceeds.
But $36 billion in proposed new guarantees were stripped out of the Continuing Resolution that's funding the government for 2011. Now Obama wants them for 2012.
The anti-nukers are circling the wagons to stop the $36 billion in proposed new loan guarantees. And knowing how the environmental movement can rally around a cause, we would not be surprised if the loan guarantees are eliminated. (Common Dreams, 5/16/2011)
The bill, introduced by House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R., Wash.), follows months of complaints by oil and gas companies, particularly those operating in the Gulf of Mexico, about the length of time it takes for the Interior Department to review and issue drilling permits in the wake of last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. These companies have accused the department of imposing a de facto moratorium on drilling after lifting an actual moratorium on deep-water drilling in October 2010.
Shortly after the bill’s passage, House Democrats unveiled a new energy plan aimed at repealing billions of dollars of tax breaks for the largest oil and gas companies and imposing fines on companies that don’t produce on existing leases, among several other measures.
The House bill requires the Interior Department to issue or deny a permit application within 30 days of receiving it, although it allows the department an additional 30 days if necessary.
Under current law, the Interior Department isn’t obligated to issue or deny permits in any particular time frame.
The House bill is part of a package of legislation introduced by Republicans that seeks to expand or speed up offshore drilling. Earlier this month, the House approved the first of those bills, aimed at forcing the Obama administration to hold lease sales planned for the Gulf of Mexico and off the Virginia coast.
A third bill, which the House is expected to consider on Thursday, requires the administration’s leasing plan to include areas with the greatest known oil and gas reserves. It also directs the Interior Secretary to establish a production goal when developing those five-year leasing plans.
The Democrats’ proposal includes three measures, introduced by Reps. Timothy Bishop (D., N.Y.), Gerald Connolly (D., Va.) and David Cicilline (D., R.I.). The bills end $31 billion of tax breaks for large oil and gas companies over 10 years, impose fees on companies that hold leases but are not yet producing on them, and implement the recommendations outlined by the commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, among other things. (GCaptain, 5/14/2011)
President Obama Announces New Plans to Increase Responsible Domestic Oil Production
In his weekly address [May 14], President Obama laid out his strategy to continue to expand responsible and safe domestic oil production, leveraging existing authorities as part of his long-term plan to reduce our reliance on foreign oil:
1) He is directing the Department of the Interior to conduct annual lease sales in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve – while respecting sensitive areas, to speed up the evaluation of oil and gas resources in the mid and south Atlantic, and to create new incentives for industry to develop their unused leases both on and offshore.
2) He is extending drilling leases in areas of the Gulf of Mexico that were impacted by the temporary moratorium, as well as certain leases off the coast of Alaska.
3) He is establishing a new interagency working group to ensure that Arctic development projects meet health, safety and environmental standards.
The past few months, rising gas prices have put an added strain on American families. While there are no quick fixes to the problem, these are steps, along with eliminating taxpayer subsidies for oil companies and rooting out fraud and manipulation in the markets, that are worth taking.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Saturday, May 14, 2011
"Without a doubt, one of the biggest burdens over the last few months has been the price of gasoline. In many places, gas is now more than $4 a gallon, meaning that you could be paying more than $60 to fill up your tank.
These spikes in gas prices are often temporary, and while there are no quick fixes to the problem, there are a few steps we should take that make good sense.
Finally, the third step we should take is to eliminate the taxpayer subsidies we give to oil and gas companies. In the last few months, the biggest oil companies made about $4 billion in profits each week. And yet, they get $4 billion in taxpayer subsidies each year. Four billion dollars at a time when Americans can barely fill up their tanks. Four billion dollars at a time when we’re trying to reduce our deficit. This isn’t fair, it makes no sense."
The new Safe Drinking Water Act information on EPA’s website provides:
- Users with information about whether their drinking water has exceeded drinking water standards.
- A serious violators report that lists all water suppliers with serious noncompliance.
- EPA’s 2009 National Public Water Systems Compliance Report, which is a national summary of compliance and enforcement at public drinking water systems.
Under the SDWA, water suppliers are required to promptly inform customers if drinking water has been contaminated by something that could cause immediate illness or impact people’s health. If such a violation occurs, the water system will announce the violation and provide information about the potential health effects, steps the system is taking to correct the violation, and the need to use alternative water supplies (such as boiled or bottled water) until the problem is corrected. Systems inform customers about violations of less immediate concern in the first water bill sent after the violation, in a Consumer Confidence Report, or by mail.
EPA’s enforcement goals for clean water include working with states and tribes to ensure clean drinking water for all communities and improving transparency by making facility compliance data available to the public. The release of drinking water violations data in ECHO advances these goals and creates additional incentives for government agencies to improve their reporting of drinking water violations and increase efforts to address those violations. (EPA)
Safe Drinking Water Act Search Page
Enforcement and Compliance History Online tool
According to coal industry analysts, this could not come at a better time for U.S. coal miners who face slow-growing domestic consumption amid tough environmental rules and competition from plentiful, cheap, cleaner natural gas surging from new shale plays.
Analysts say total U.S. coal exports could amount to around 100 million tons this year, leaving only Australia and Indonesia above it in the world export rankings, and putting it above Russia, Colombia and South Africa.
It exported 81.5 million tons in 2010. Annual U.S. coal exports have hit or exceeded 100 million tons only six times in the last 50 years.
But world prices of over $100 a ton seem here to stay due to strong demand, logistical bottlenecks and slow export growth in major producers this year.
The only problem is squeezing enough coal through over-stretched ports and railroads, but efforts are underway to open new outlets thanks to surging confidence in the sector.
Arch has agreed to buy International Coal Co and has opened a Singapore-based subsidiary to boost its export presence. According to Arch executives, while 35 gigawatts of U.S. coal-fired generating capacity, 11 percent of the total, could be shut down in the next 10 years, 249 gigawatts of new coal-fired power plants are under construction worldwide.
Total seaborne thermal and coking coal trade in 2009 was 1 billion tons a year, according to the World Coal Association.
Ports on Chesapeake Bay, at Mobile, Alabama, and the lower Mississippi River around New Orleans, are at maximum capacity. New flows are coming to Corpus Christi and Houston, Texas, on the Gulf Coast. Other U.S. coal is flowing into the Pacific Basin from Vancouver and the newer port of Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia, both in Canada. U.S. steam coal is even going to usually self-sufficient South America. (Solve Climate News, 5/15/2022)
On energy, he advocates maximizing use of America's natural resources and pursuing renewable fuel technologies.
Asked [The Hill-Ballot Box] if there's one issue he thinks makes him stand out from the rest of the potential field, Cain said it's the comprehensive energy plan he intends to champion:
"We have a path to energy independence in this country and it just baffles me as to why the leadership of either party in Congress or the White House doesn't pursue it," said Cain. "We simply need to remove the regulatory barriers and stop overreacting to the concerns of the environmentalists."According to Conservative Features.com, "Conseravtives In Their Own Words," Cain noted:
"Energy independence: Real energy independence starts with removing a lot of the regulatory constraints that is keeping us from exploring all of the natural resources that we have here. We have tons and tons and tons of resources that are just being choked off because of the “environmental wackos” quite frankly. They are not going to be happy until they totally strangle this country and there isn’t one gasoline company or oil company left in America. They’ve already driven away most of them. Their headquarters somewhere else."According to Grist and Penn Alternative Fuels and Energy, Cain is a climate change denier. Their evidence is an archived website, which included the following quote:
It is outrageous that the head of the United Nations, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration are all dismissing these revelations [the manufactured “Climategate” scandal] as they push onward with their political agenda in the face of scientifically manufactured results.
This is no longer a controversy. This is conclusive. And once again, liberals choose to ignore the facts.
It’s a scam.Herman Cain was born on December 13, 1945 and is an American newspaper columnist, businessman, politician, and radio talk-show host from Georgia. He is best known as the former chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza. Cain's newspaper column is distributed by North Star Writers Group. He currently lives in the Atlanta suburbs.
Cain holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Morehouse College, and a master's degree in computer science from Purdue University. (Wiki, World Net Daily)
A New Report By the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences
The Center agrees with the findings of the report.
Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by human activities, and poses significant risks to humans and the environment. These risks indicate a pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare for adapting to its impacts.
Decisions about the exact magnitude and speed of response efforts will depend on how much risk society deems acceptable. But in the Committee's judgment there are numerous motivations for action, including for instance:
The faster that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, the lower the risks; and the less pressure there is to make steeper and potentially more expensive reductions later.
- Investments currently being made in energy-related infrastructure and equipment will lock in emissions commitments for decades to come. Enacting relevant policies now will provide crucial guidance for those investment decisions.
- The risks of continuing "business as usual" are greater than the risks associated with strong efforts to limit and adapt to climate change. Policy changes can potentially be reversed or scaled back if needed, whereas many adverse changes in the climate system would be difficult or impossible to "undo".
Uncertainties in projecting future greenhouse gas emissions and in estimating the sensitivity of the climate system to greenhouse gases make it difficult to project the exact severity, location and timing of climate change impacts. Uncertainty is not a reason for inaction, however; it is, in fact, a compelling reason for action, especially given the possibilities of abrupt, unanticipated, and severe impacts.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would reduce the need for adaptation but not eliminate it. There is a need to begin mobilizing now to reduce vulnerability to climate change impacts.
Emissions reductions and adaptation efforts should be guided by an iterative risk management approach, which emphasizes taking action to reduce risks while continuously incorporating new information and adjusting efforts accordingly.
Response efforts currently being advanced by state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector are significant, but not likely to yield progress comparable to what could be achieved with strong national policies and leadership.
A comprehensive U.S. response to climate change includes efforts to:
- Substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions (ideally, through a national carbon pricing system and strategic complementary policies)
- Begin mobilizing for adaptation at all levels
- Invest in research and development, both to advance basic understanding and to improve/expand response options
- Develop effective systems to inform and evaluate climate choices
- Link scientific analysis with public deliberation
- Actively engage in international response efforts
- Coordinate the many related components of the nation's response efforts
From Gary Johnson’s Our America Initiative [not found] website:
"One important question for our era is: How do we create clean, affordable, renewable energy?"On The Issues"
Directives from a climate conference in Copenhagen may have an only marginal impact on global CO2 emissions (especially if some developing countries don’t comply), but they would have a tremendous impact on the daily lives of people like you and me. By raising the costs of energy as much as 25% cap and trade schemes would cripple the American economy and break the budgets of families that are already struggling to make ends meet.
The best thing the government can do to ensure this happens, is to not stand in its way."
- Voluntary partnerships reduce greenhouse gases economically. (Aug 2000)
- Kyoto Treaty must include reductions by all countries. (Aug 2000)
- Federal tax incentives for energy, with state decisions. (Aug 2001)
- More state autonomy on brownfields & Superfund cleanups. (Aug 2001)
- Support State Revolving Loan Fund for flexible Clean Water. (Aug 2001)
- Focus on prevention and states for Endangered Species. (Aug 2001)
- Collaborative, incentive driven, locally-based solutions. (Aug 2001)
- Apply "Good Samaritan" rules to abandoned mine cleanup. (Aug 2001)
- State primacy over water quantity & quality issues. (Aug 2001)
Rick Santorum in a speech before the Iowa ethanol industry:
“My pledge to you is to work with this industry to create a bigger and bigger place in the market for domestically produced ethanol and biodiesel.” (The Energy Collective, 2/1/2011)"On The Issues"
Voted NO on disallowing an oil leasing program in Alaska's ANWR. (Nov 2005)
Voted YES on $3.1B for emergency oil assistance for hurricane-hit areas. (Oct 2005)
Voted NO on reducing oil usage by 40% by 2025 (instead of 5%). (Jun 2005)
Voted NO on banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Mar 2005)
Voted YES on Bush Administration Energy Policy. (Jul 2003)
Voted YES on targeting 100,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2010. (Jun 2003)
Voted NO on removing consideration of drilling ANWR from budget bill. (Mar 2003)
Voted YES on drilling ANWR on national security grounds. (Apr 2002)
Voted YES on terminating CAFE standards within 15 months. (Mar 2002)
Voted YES on preserving budget for ANWR oil drilling. (Apr 2000)
Voted NO on ending discussion of CAFE fuel efficiency standards. (Sep 1999)
Voted YES on defunding renewable and solar energy. (Jun 1999)
Voted YES on approving a nuclear waste repository. (Apr 1997)
Voted NO on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations. (Sep 2005)
Voted YES on confirming Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior. (Jan 2001)
Voted YES on more funding for forest roads and fish habitat. (Sep 1999)
Voted NO on transportation demo projects. (Mar 1998)
Voted NO on reducing funds for road-building in National Forests. (Sep 1997)
Rated 0% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes. (Dec 2003)
The Center will be covering the environmental and energy positions of all of the presidential candidates. The Center stands ready to provide information on energy and environmental issues to the candidates and the general public. Feel free to contact us for our opinions on the positions of the candidates. The Center is nonpartisan and does not engage in direct political action.
Ron Paul is running for president and seeking the Republican nomination.
During his time holding national office, Paul has a 30 lifetime score on the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard. The Scorecard rates national office holders on a scale of 0 to 100 based on their votes on environmental issues on which LCV has taken a position. He scored between 5 and 50 between 2001 and 2006. On a similar scorecard of Republican lawmakers by the Republicans for Environmental Protection, Paul scored 17 out of 100 in 2005 and 2006. (The Daily Green)
Opposes the idea that human pollution is a significant cause of global warming.
Strongly opposes international treaties to cut greenhouse gas emissions like the Kyoto Protocol.
Is neutral on investment in alternative forms of energy.
Strongly supports investment in drilling for oil domestically.
Opposes carbon taxes or credits to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Supports investments in nuclear energy.
Strongly opposes requiring American automakers to meet certain fuel efficiency standards.
Strongly opposes the protection of natural places from development.
Strong opposes initiatives to conserve and recover endangered species.
Strongly opposes greater investment in public transportation.
2007 Interview with Grist magazine for the 2008 presidential race:
"On energy, I would say that the reliance on the government to devise a policy is a fallacy. I would advocate that the free market take care of that."
"On environment, governments don't have a good reputation for doing a good job protecting the environment. If you look at the extreme of socialism or communism, they were very poor environmentalists. Private property owners have a much better record of taking care of the environment."
[On the Environmental Protection Agency] "You wouldn't need it. Environmental protection in the U.S. should function according to the same premise as "prior restraint" in a newspaper. Newspapers can't print anything that's a lie."
On global warming: "I think some of it is related to human activities, but I don't think there's a conclusion yet. There's a lot of evidence on both sides of that argument."
From : "On the Issues"
• Big Oil profits ok; Big Oil subsidies are not. (Jun 2007)
• Voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution. (Jun 2009)
• Voted NO on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets. (Sep 2008)
• Voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (May 2008)
• Voted NO on tax incentives for renewable energy. (Feb 2008)
•Voted NO on criminalizing oil cartels like OPEC. (May 2007)
• Voted NO on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies. (Jan 2007)
• Voted NO on keeping moratorium on drilling for oil offshore. (Jun 2006)
• Voted YES on scheduling permitting for new oil refinieries. (Jun 2006)
• Voted NO on passage of the Bush Administration national energy policy. (Jun 2004)
• Voted NO on implementing Bush-Cheney national energy policy. (Nov 2003)
• Voted NO on raising CAFE standards; incentives for alternative fuels. (Aug 2001)
• Voted NO on prohibiting oil drilling & development in ANWR. (Aug 2001)
• Voted NO on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol. (Jun 2000)
• Repeal the gas tax. (May 2001)
• Rated 0% by the CAF, indicating opposition to energy independence. (Dec 2006)
• Bar greenhouse gases from Clean Air Act rules. (Jan 2009)
• Signed the No Climate Tax Pledge by AFP. (Nov 2010)
• Liberty Candidate: NO tax incentives for US-based [energy] alternatives. (Sep 2010)
• Neglected property rights during the industrial revolution. (Jan 2008)
• Property rights are the foundation of all rights. (Sep 2007)
• Scored 14% on Humane Society Scorecard on animal protection. (Jan 2007)
• Voted NO on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program. (Jul 2009)
• Voted NO on protecting free-roaming horses and burros. (Jul 2009)
• Voted NO on environmental education grants for outdoor experiences. (Sep 2008)
• Voted NO on $9.7B for Amtrak improvements and operation thru 2013. (Jun 2008)
• Voted NO on increasing AMTRAK funding by adding $214M to $900M. (Jun 2006)
• Voted YES on barring website promoting Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump. (May 2006)
• Voted NO on speeding up approval of forest thinning projects. (Nov 2003)
• Rated 5% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes. (Dec 2003)
• Give tax breaks for start-up farms for 10-year commitment. (Jan 2008)
• Make tax deduction permanent for conservation easements. (Mar 2009)
(Glass Booth, The Daily Green, 10/25/2007 )Ron Paul
In January of 2011, Governor Pawlenty was interviewed by Christianity Today. When asked about cap-and-trade schemes, Governor Pawlenty stated that he had looked at the systems when Governor and determined that he would not implement them to address pollution.
Question: During your term as governor, you supported reductions in greenhouse gases and a regional cap and trade plan. What measures should the federal government support to care for the environment?
"All of us should be in favor of reducing pollution, but we need to do that in a way that doesn't wreck the economy. I came to the conclusion after looking at it very carefully that cap and trade is the wrong approach. I think it is a ham-fisted approach that is government-centered and top down, and the burdens it would have visited on the economy were unwise and really unbearable."At the first Republican Presidential Debate, Fox (host of the debate) replayed a 2007 ad that Pawlenty recorded for the Environmental Defense Fund in which he argues for cap and trade as a solution for climate change. When asked to discuss the ad, Pawlenty abashedly replied, "Do we have to?"
After trying to explain that he didn't actually support cap and trade policy as governor—he just supported the "study" of it—Pawlenty decided to try apologizing:
"I’ve said I was wrong. It was a mistake, and I'm sorry," Mr. Pawlenty told the Fox television audience, presumably filled with potential Republican primary voters. "You’re going to have a few clunkers in your record, and we all do, and that’s one of mine. I just admit it. I don’t try to duck it, bob it, weave it, try to explain it away. I’m just telling you, I made a mistake."Pawlenty has apologized for this before. In March, he told conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham that his support for cap-and-trade was a mistake and pointed to other Republican 2012 hopefuls who made similar "mistakes."
"On The Issues"
- Increase supply; diversify sources; drill ANWR. (Jun 2008)
- The more oil supply, the better. (Jun 2008)
- Extend tax incentives for energy efficiency and energy R&D. (May 2008)
- Encourage development of locally owned wind energy sources. (Nov 2006)
- Stop harmful EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. (Mar 2010)
- Set goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025. (Jan 2007)
Tim Pawlenty's Energy Platform as published by New Hampshire Primary Blog:
Supports goal of severing us from foreign oil and maximizing American sources of energy
Let's have drilling in ANWR
Let's have drilling off our coast, particularly with state approval
Let's make sure we have clean coal and use the 250 year supply of coal we have in this country
Let's expand nuclear, make sure that it's safe
Let's use this game changing amount of natural gas that we've now find and discovered within the territorial reach of the United States - enough to power our entire base load energy needs for at least 100 years and maybe two or three hundred years
And then for the renewables, let's do those that make economic rational sense
I've been a strong proponent of renewable fuels, but we need to focus on those things that make economic sense
Ethanol, biodiesel are things that I've strongly supported
Remember when we talk about subsidies, mandates, and the like it doesn't just apply to biofuels. Oil is subsidized. Coal is subsidized. The whole nuclear energy was researched, paid for, commercialized, and to this day is subsidized by the federal government.
If we're going to talk about subsidies, don't just pick on biofuels. Let's put 'em all on the table.
Tim Pawlenty on Cap and trade [from the New Hampshire Primary Blog]:
T-Paw also disavows his past support for cap and trade in the video:
A couple years ago now I completely disavowed that position and said it was wrong and a mistake.
I wrote a letter to Congress saying don't pass cap and trade. The country doesn't support it. The Congress doesn't support it. I don't support it. It's a bad idea. It's ham-fisted.
All of the likely, or I should say leading, 2012 candidates at one point or another embraced the same thing.
I made a mistake. I've got some clunkers in my record like everybody does who's been in an executive position
I considered it, concluded it was wrong, and disavowed that position a couple years ago
Tim Pawlenty on global warming and climate change
Yeah, well, they don't call it, first of all, America warming. It's global warming to the extent that it exists.
You have China, India, and other places just saying we're not going to do it.
If you start with the proposition of climate change, the climate is always changing. There is no doubt that the climate is changing. The real question is "Why is it changing?" and how much of that - if any - is attributable to human behavior.
There is a great scientific debate whether any of it, a little, some, a lot is caused by human behavior.
The bottom line is that I think the weight of the science indicates that if there is any human behavior involved it is a modest amount.
I think climate change occurs, but I think the bulk of it is mostly natural historic trends in the climate.
And I think there is some suggestion that humans have caused some of it, but the answer isn't to then to have government come in with this top-down cap and trade scheme.
Let the markets work, let technology work, let peoples' preferences work and they'll figure out the best way to address it.
(The Political Guide, 5/11/2011, Mother Jones, 5/6/2011, New Hampshire Primary Blog, 4/3/2011)