The greenhouse gas limits, which would be the same as the federal government has proposed for vehicles nationally, should cut those auto emissions by a third more in 2025 than required under current standards. To meet the new limits, the board staff anticipates the auto industry will make greater use of advanced hybrid technology, stronger and lighter materials and improved emission control equipment.
If oil companies don't reach an agreement with the state to voluntarily install alternative fueling stations, such as for hydrogen fuel cells, the new rules will also require them to do so when a certain number of cars using that fuel is reached. The outlets could be placed at an existing gasoline station or a free-standing site.
The California clean car rules also address emission standards for gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles by extending limits on greenhouse gas emissions and smog forming pollutants. Again, by 2025 all new vehicles must emit 34% fewer global warming gases and 75% fewer smog forming emissions. California has over 26 million cars and the top five smoggiest metropolitan areas in the country.
The California Air Resources board estimates that the initial increase in cost will be offset by an average of $6,000 worth of fuel savings over a vehicle’s lifetime. (Think Progress, 1/30/2012, LA Times, 1/28/2012)
|Norris McDonald Testifying at BRC Hearing in Washington, DC|
Establishing a new facility siting process – The NWPA, as amended in 1987, now provides only for the evaluation and licensing of a single repository site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The Act should be amended to authorize a new consent-based process to be used for selecting and evaluating sites and licensing consolidated storage and disposal facilities in the future, similar to the process established in the expired Nuclear Waste Negotiator provisions of the Act (but under new organizational leadership, as described below).
Authorizing consolidated interim storage facilities – The NWPA allows the government to construct one consolidated storage facility with limited capacity, but only after construction of a nuclear waste repository has been licensed. One or more consolidated storage facilities should be established, independent of the schedule for opening a repository.
The Act should be modified to allow for a consent-based process to site, license, and construct multiple storage facilities with adequate capacity when needed and to clarify that nuclear waste fee payments can be used for this purpose. Broadening support to jurisdictions affected by transportation – The NWPA provides funding and technical assistance for training public safety officials to states and tribes whose jurisdictions would be traversed by shipments of spent fuel to a storage or disposal facility.
The Act should be amended to give the waste management organization the broader authorities given to DOE in the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act that supported the successful large-scale transport of transuranic waste to WIPP (including a public information program, support for the acquisition of equipment to respond to transportation incidents, and broad assistance for other waste-related transportation safety programs).
Establishing a new waste management organization – Responsibility for implementing the nation’s program for managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes is currently assigned to the U.S. Department of Energy. Legislation will be needed to (1) move this responsibility to a new, independent, government-chartered corporation focused solely on carrying out that program and (2) establish the appropriate oversight mechanisms. [This is a Center recommendation]
Ensuring access to dedicated funding – Current federal budget rules and laws make it impossible for the nuclear waste program to have assured access to the fees being collected from nuclear utilities and ratepayers to finance the commercial share of the waste program’s expenses.
They have recommended a partial remedy that should be implemented promptly by the Administration, working with the relevant congressional committees and the Congressional Budget Office. A long-term remedy requires legislation to provide access to the Nuclear Waste Fund and fees independent of the annual appropriations process but subject to rigorous independent financial and managerial oversight.
Promoting international engagement to support safe and secure waste management – Congress may need to provide policy direction and new legislation to implement some measures aimed at helping other countries manage radioactive wastes in a safe, secure, and proliferationresistant manner, similar to the expired NWPA provisions for technical assistance to non-nuclear weapons states in the area of spent nuclear fuel storage and disposal. (BRC)
In 2009, coal accounted for 28% of global energy use and generated 42% of the world’s electricity. Japan is the world’s largest coal importer (182 million tons in 2009), South Korea imported 110 million tons and Taiwan imported 65 million tons. Asia’s thermal coal demand is forecast (Wood Mackenzie) to increase by 560Mtpa over the next 10 years. The US can only participate in this phenomenal growth if new port capacity comes on stream. (Ambre Energy)
Environmental opponents are working to kill several proposed terminals that would facilitate the shipment of coal mined in the Rocky Mountains to countries such as China. Environmentalists who scuttled development of a coal-export terminal in Washington last year are back at it in Oregon, trying to keep two ports from becoming transit points for coal shipped to the Far East. But while many local residents share the activists' concerns about pollution, the projects' promise of jobs also resonates widely in a region suffering from declines in fishing, timber and other resource-related industries.
Last year, a coalition blocked development of a $100 million coal-export terminal at the Columbia River port of Longview, Washington by challenging the permitting process that had allowed construction to begin. This month, those same activists filed a petition to stop work on the harbor at Coos Bay on Oregon's coast, then mobilized opposition to two coal projects proposed for the Port of St. Helens, 48 miles downstream of Portland.
At a public hearing Wednesday in Clatskanie, Oregon, five port commissioners voted to greenlight the coal terminal projects at Port of St. Helens, across the Columbia from Longview. It is the first step ahead of what will be a lengthy permitting process. Both terminals would require the approval of several state and federal agencies.
One is backed by Ambre Energy Ltd. of Australia, the coal producer turned back at Longview in 2011. Longview, sited on the Columbia River where Washington and Oregon states meet, was the first coal port proposal on the table. An Ambre subsidiary, Pacific Transloading LLC, wants to lease public property to build a terminal so it can load as much as 3.5 million metric tons of coal annually onto ships that would transport it to Asia. This site has obtained shore permits from the state of Washington, but is already facing legal challenges. Arch recently bought a significant share in Ambre Energy, the Australian company developing this port project.
The project would provide dozens of high-wage jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue, according to Pacific Transloading. On top of the tax revenue, the company promised to donate 10 cents per metric ton of coal to the school districts of Columbia and Morrow counties—$300,000 to $350,000 to each annually. The coal terminal would be in Columbia County, and trains that would transport coal to St. Helens would go through Morrow County.
A second company, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP of Houston, wants to build its own terminal at the Port of St. Helens, also on public property, to handle some 15 million metric tons of coal annually. Port officials projected the two projects would require hiring more than 100 people.
With unemployment topping 12% in Columbia County, both coal terminals would be welcome, providing "living-wage jobs." Environmentalists' concerns range from coal dust polluting the air to barges spoiling local fishing and tourism to cross-ocean fallout from burning the fuel in dirty Asian furnaces. "
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists coal-fired plans in China and elsewhere in Asia as a leading cause of mercury emissions world-wide, a contributor to contamination in seafood. Coal exporters counter that it would be better for the environment if China were to burn U.S. coal, which has a lower sulfur content than the coal it could get from Asia and Russia.
Local "greens" are equally adamant that only strict regulation can protect jobs in new industries linked to tourism and retiree havens along Oregon's seaside, as well as traditional industries such as fishing.
The Ambre project emphasized the use of covered barges to minimize land-dwellers' exposure to coal dust for moving coal down to St. Helens each year. On an annual basis, any projects of this size could contribute over $1 million to the county in property taxes.
This month the Sierra Club joined a coalition of Native American tribes, the Seattle-based Earthjustice and Oregon's local Greenpeace office to appeal Oregon's Department of State Lands' permission to allow "dredging" at Coos Bay, which the port requested. The environmental groups said that permit, to benefit a liquefied natural gas operation, may also benefit a secretly planned future coal export terminal.
The Jordan Cove Energy group, a unit of Canada's Veresen Inc, is building an LNG terminal at Coos Bay. The entire project—a $5 billion investment including a terminal and a 230-mile pipeline—won't be operational before 2017. Opposition to the harbor work is "nowhere near critical" to the company's timetable. (WSJ, 1/28/2012, photo courtesy WSJ)
By Norris McDonald
President Obama covers all bases when it comes to energy policy. He is pro coal and pro nuclear, while being on the cutting edge in promoting a 'green energy economy.' We support President Obama's 'all of the above' energy strategy because that is what it will take to meet America's voracious energy appetite. The president stated in his 2012 State of the Union, "This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs." President Obama also called for a 'Clean Energy Standard:'
"The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted. Well tonight, I will. I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year."In his 2011 State of the Union, President Obama proposed a Clean Energy Standard (CES) to require that 80 percent of the nation’s electricity come from clean energy technologies by 2035. That is a bold goal, particularly considering that the percentage he cites for clean energy is now held by fossil energy. According to the “Annual Energy Outlook 2012” from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2010, fossil fuel represented 83 percent of U.S. energy consumption. Although total energy use grows only 10 percent between 2010 and 2035, the fossil fuel share stays high at 77 percent in 2035. The electricity sector reflects similar percentages to the total energy sector.
Since 1985, part of the Center's mission has been to promote 'practical solutions to energy and environmental problems,' and to 'promote the efficient use of natural resources.' I believe that President Obama brings a balanced approach to energy and environmental policies and it is for this reason that we support most of his proposals.
Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Lisa Murkowski WHITE PAPER ON A CLEAN ENERGY STANDARD
Obama Wants A “Clean Energy Standard.” What Does That Mean? The Washington Post, 1/25/2012
|Lithium Ion Batteries|
In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President foreshadowed the bad news by saying that he remained proud of his administration’s $80 billion commitment to clean-energy projects and companies, despite periodic failures. The Ener1 grant, among $2.4 billion in federal awards to spur the electric car industry. (Wash Post, 1/26/2012)
The gains in efficiency and the expansion of renewables are offset by increased energy demand from a larger population (390 million in 2035, up from310million in 2010) and more homes, buildings,malls and cars. In 2035, emissions of carbon dioxide—the largest greenhouse gas—are reckoned to be 3 percent higher than in 2010. This contrasts with the declines of 50 to 80 percent that some scientists say are needed by midcentury to stabilize global temperatures.
Advances in “fracking” have opened new oil and natural gas fields. From 2007 to 2010,U.S. oil production rose from 5.1 million barrels a day (mbd) to 5.5mbd. By 2020, itwill hit 6.7 mbd.
In 2010, oil imports accounted for 49 percent of U.S. consumption, down from60 percent in 2005. By 2035, imports could decline to 36 percent, projects the EIA. (Wash Post, 1/26/2012)
The two companies had reached an agreement with China's Ministry of Agriculture related to the June 2011 incidents at the oil field, known as Peng Lai 19-3. The leaks, although tiny compared with BP PLC's 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster, provoked a storm of media protests in China and harsh criticism by the authorities of the Bohai field operator, Conoco. The Chinese government in early September ordered a complete halt in production at the field, which produced an average 56,000 barrels a day in 2010. It is still offline.
Conoco said the compensation money would be used to "settle public and private claims of potentially affected fishermen in relevant Bohai Bay communities.
In December, Conoco Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Mulva said that his company expected to pay "reasonable compensation" and that a fund it had set up "can help address the challenges of those who have been affected and promote the environmental sustainability of Bohai Bay." In its Wednesday statement, Conoco said it also is allocating approximately $16 million of that fund to improve fishery resources in the area. (WSJ, 1/25/2012)
House GOP leadership is weighing attaching the bill to upcoming legislation to extend the payroll tax cut for the rest of the year in an effort to overturn Obama’s decision last week to reject the pipeline.
Opponents of the bill, particularly the State Department, believe the legislation:
Raises serious questions about existing legal authorities,President Obama rejected the pipeline under a GOP-backed provision in a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut that mandated a decision within 60 days. (Politico, 1/25/2012)
Questions the continuing force of much of the federal and all of the state and local environmental and land use management authority over the pipeline, and
Overrides foreign policy and national security considerations implicated by a cross border permit, which are properly assessed by the State Department.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Excerpts - Energy
Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right – eight years. Not only that – last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.
But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy – a strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.
We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.
The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy. And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock – reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.
What’s true for natural gas is true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.
When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it’s hiring workers like Bryan, who said, “I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future.”
Our experience with shale gas shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don’t always come right away. Some technologies don’t pan out; some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here. We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.
We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven’t acted. Well tonight, I will. I’m directing my Administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes. And I’m proud to announce that the Department of Defense, the world’s largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.
Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.
Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America’s infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges. A power grid that wastes too much energy. An incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world. (The White House)
Summit Promoting a Billion Dollar Private Endowment for Parks
Today through January 26th, an invitation-only summit in Washington, DC focuses on how to build support for the NPS agenda, called a Call to Action. While not hosted by the NPS, the summit is being staged by the National Park Foundation, the congressionally-chartered fundraising arm for NPS, and the network representing park vendors and concessionaires. “America’s Summit on National Parks” does, however, feature NPS and Interior Department officials from both the Obama and Bush administrations.
One of the main financial sponsors of the summit is Coca Cola, which recently leveraged its substantial contributions channeled through the National Park Foundation to temporarily block a ban on disposable plastic water bottle sales at Grand Canyon National Park. Coca Cola is a major water bottler whose products would have been affected. Five weeks after the company’s role was exposed in November 2011, NPS backed off its veto of Grand Canyon’s plans.
“Our national parks do not need a super PAC to flourish in the 21st century,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out that a big private “slush fund” raises issues of accountability and transparency not addressed in agency plans. “Corporate money comes with strings attached, which inevitably means special treatment for special interests at the expense of our national commons.”PEER points to the $2.5 million “Proud Partner” agreement Coca Cola entered into with NPS and its Foundation as an example of “creeping corporatization” of national parks. Under the 5-year arrangement which runs through 2012, Coca Cola gets exclusive use of park logos for cause marketing campaigns (to the exclusion of all other beverage companies). In addition, the company obtains –
• “Special visitation opportunities, e.g., for executives and key customer hospitality, in the Parks”;
• “Marketing Support” including a “promotional media commitment.” The agreement specifically mentions that Coca Cola will “develop executions around the parks that are part of the African American Experience Fund under the system multicultural marketing platform”; and
• A variety of “in-park activities including tours, events and interpretation” as well as unspecified “additional mutually beneficial program enhancements.” The company will also receive discounted National Park Passes for its employees and approved “promotional purposes.”
Coca Cola’s contributions to the National Park Foundation are completely tax deductible. The only explicit limit on cross-marketing is that NPS does not explicitly endorse the company’s products.
“Taxpayers are underwriting commercial marketing campaigns courtesy of the National Park Foundation,” added Ruch, noting that NPS will need 400 agreements similar to the Coca Cola Proud Partner deal to reach its billion dollar goal. “Any summit on the centennial of our nation’s park system should ponder how to preserve the integrity of America’s best idea from the seduction of material pressures – a topic apparently not on this week’s agenda.”PEER obtained the Coca Cola agreement after filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the National Park Foundation. PEER is calling for all of these fundraising deals to be on the public record.
(Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility, 1/24/2012)
See how corporate contributions confer access and influence
Look at the Coca Cola Proud Partner agreement
Revisit Coke role in blocking plastic bottle ban
View Coke sponsorship of the summit
The measure's approval puts it among just a handful of bills related to Marcellus Shale drilling activity that have cleared the legislative process this session.
The PUC is hiring seven new inspectors, whose salaries were advertised between $51,000 and $66,000. Their placement throughout the state will be determined once officials have analyzed which areas have the most gathering lines. These gathering lines are not registered anywhere at this point in time. The state does not know with any certainty how many miles of pipeline there are.
The state will receive some federal funding for the program, estimated to cost $1.4 million in the coming year. Operators also will be charged an assessment based on their pipeline mileage. (Pittsburg Post-Gazette, 1/19/2012)
Although O’Malley’s bill would mandate that the cost be no more than $2 per month, that per household price would have to be estimated up front on a 20-year prediction of future energy prices — a term twice as long as the state’s Public Service Commission typically forecasts.
The model is one that Republican Gov. Chris Christie has backed in New Jersey, but Maryland’s version would come with an explicit requirement that the cost of the credits add no more than the $2 a month to residents’ bills. Although the arrangement is highly complicated, Maryland lawmakers are familiar and more comfortable with it. The state has a similar renewable energy credit requirement that subsidizes solar power generation, albeit at a much smaller cost to ratepayers.
Light, sweet crude oil for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange settled 1.3%, or $1.25 higher, at $99.58 a barrel. ICE North Sea Brent crude settled up 72 cents at $110.58 a barrel. Heating oil for February delivery settled up 2.14 cents, at $3.0098 a gallon, while reformulated gasoline blendstock was 0.65 lower, at $2.7779 a gallon. Conversely, gasoline futures have fallen 4.75 cents over the past three days, as demand recently hit 11-year lows.
U.S. natural-gas inventories stand at 3.29 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a record for this time of year. Last week, gas prices fell as low as $2.322 per million BTUs, the lowest settlement price in 10 years. (WSJ, 1/23/2012, WSJ, 1/23/2012))
NOAA was placed in the Commerce Department by the Nixon administration. NOAA’s $4.9 billion budget is about 60 percent of Commerce’s overall funding. NOAA has more than 12,000 employees.
Its functions include:
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
Operates satellites that gather information on weather and topography and other environmental and climatological data.
Full Time Employees: 831
Budget: $1.4 billion
National Weather Service
Monitors, analyzes and forecasts weather and issues alerts for imminent storms, floods and other emergencies.
Full Time Employees: 4,644
Budget: $1 billion
National Marine Fisheries Service
Assesses and protects fisheries, including the Chesapeake Bay and finds ways to restore overfished species and their habitats.
Full Time Employees: 2,823
Budget: $1 billion
OCEANS AND COASTS
National Ocean Service
Monitors coastal areas for ecological threats, creates nautical charts and leads restoration efforts after disasters such as oil spills.
Full Time Employees: 1,246
Budget: $578 million
Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
Conducts research investigating deep sea vents and analyzing changes in the ozone layer.
Full Time Employees: 744
Budget: $449 million
(Wash Post, 1/23/2012, NOAA)
|William K. Reilly|
Op Ed: San Francisco Chronicle, 1/23/2012)
These days, people seem surprised when government works the way it was intended. This week, in San Francisco and in Los Angeles, we have the satisfaction of witnessing firsthand government working exactly as it is supposed to. A state agency is working in concert with not one, but two federal agencies, supported by many local ones. Businesses are pleased with the outcome of a government regulation, consumers will save money, and they will be healthier as a result. I was fortunate to have been there when the achievements we will observe this week were but a vision.William K. Reilly is a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator and is currently a San Francisco-based adviser to TPG Capital.
A cross-country series of hearings focusing on the next round of national standards for cleaner, more fuel-efficient cars will wrap up in San Francisco this week. That's appropriate. California has long played a leading role in ensuring cleaner, more efficient cars for all Americans - not just Californians.
The hearings, hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will gather public comments on a proposal to require automakers to hit a fleet average of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025. It is an ambitious goal, yet a doable one - and it is the right step for consumers, for automakers, for the environment, and for our economy overall.
Raising the bar for autos helps to protect the health - and the wallets - of America's families. It also drives innovation and investment, as automakers look for ways to make vehicles that run more cleanly and more efficiently. The drive toward innovation will help create jobs and an American automobile industry that is more competitive in the international marketplace.
A goal of 54.5 mpg would have seemed all but impossible when I was EPA administrator for President George H. W. Bush. Back then, average mileage hovered around 20 mpg. For years afterward, the United States made little progress on gas mileage, as the rest of the world passed us by.
After decades of stagnation, President George W. Bush got the ball rolling again, ratcheting mileage standards upward. When President Obama announced the 54.5-mpg goal last year, executives at the major automakers stood by his side in a show of support.
Make no mistake: We would not be where we are today if California had not kept up the pressure for cleaner cars.
Later this week, the California Air Resources Board will hold a hearing on the state's Advanced Clean Car Program. Had California never introduced its groundbreaking clean-cars standards in 2002, we would not be where we are today as a nation - cruising toward 54.5 mpg and growing healthy markets for hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids, clean diesels, electrics and other innovative technologies.
California's tailpipe emissions standard for carbon is set at the same level as the federal standard. Automakers will have a single, clear target that they have said publicly they can meet. Meanwhile, the air board will continue to press for improvements in California.
This is the kind of leadership California must continue to demonstrate if we, as a nation, hope to create a vehicle fleet that is cleaner, more efficient, safe and innovative to compete in the 21st century global vehicle market.
The ship also was stocked with foodstuffs, paints, metals and solvents. The shipwreck is the equivalent to dumping a self-contained "city" into Giglio's crystalline waters. The state of emergency declared Friday is intended to ease operations around an accident area by allowing state funds to be disbursed more easily to local authorities.
Workers from Smit Salvage signed a contract with Concordia's operator Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corporation, to pump fuel from the ship's 17 tanks. In addition to the heavy fuel, some 200 tons of lighter diesel will also have to be removed. Pumping is expected to take around four weeks.
Giglio, the island, is a popular holiday spot for Italians and foreigners. Most of its 500-odd residents make their living from tourism. (WSJ, 1/21/2012)
Say a French company just started a social networking site in which users can upload videos of themselves singing. Now let’s say some kids upload a video of themselves singing their favorite Britney Spears song, not even playing back the original recording but simply singing along innocently to a song they like.
In the eyes of Spears’s record label or any number of parties associated with her continued cash flow, that might very well look like an instance of piracy — and indeed, major labels have had content pulled off YouTube for similar “violations.” All the label has to do is send a letter to someone such as your ISP and request that the service stop routing traffic to the offending site, and, boom, no more French-sharing site for U.S. Internet users. And what’s really scary is that U.S. Internet service providers have immunity when it comes to what they can pull from their networks, so that French site might not even have a clear path to resolving the issue.
Now take that concept and begin to apply it across all the places you could potentially find “infringing” material. Sites about art, sites about movies, sites that let users generate content of all types — some of that content containing pieces of other work that should be considered fair use by any modern standard. Suddenly, a lot of destinations on the Internet will begin to look like island vacation spots — that is, they’re really hard to get to. And the impact won’t just be cultural or legal; the technical workings of the Internet itself will be dramatically affected.The SOPA and PIPA bills are being driven through our government by lobbyists who have been given a mandate to protect private companies and their profits by any means necessary. The laws are too far-reaching and too simplistic to accurately police real piracy online, and they have been created by people who either don’t fully understand the Internet or can’t appreciate its value. (Wash Post, 1/18/2012, Joshua Topolsky is the founding editor in chief of the Verge, a technology news Web site.)
By Norris McDonald
The Center was the first environmental organization in the United States to support nuclear power in 2000. The Center remains the only environmental organization in the United States that supports nuclear power. We support nuclear power because it creates no greenhouse gases, produces no smog forming gases, spent fuel can be recycled and nuclear warheads can be converted to be used as fuel to produce emission free electricity in nuclear power plants. In short, there is no contest when it comes to producing environmentally friendly baseload electrical power for millions of homes and businesses.
It is for these reasons that the Center is seeking an ownership stake in a nuclear power plant. We are seeking this ownership in the form of a donation of 1% of the value of a power plant. Any nuclear company or utility can step forward and make this donation. We believe the Center has earned this distinction and we look forward to becoming a partial owner of one of the 104 reactors currently operating in the USA.
The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), however, did speak out against the idea of setting requirements for vehicles made more than a decade from now until more is known about the strength of consumer demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. They are worried that vehicles would become too expensive for some consumers to afford. “
Additional hearings on the standards will take place Thursday in Philadelphia and Jan. 24 in San Francisco. The Obama administration this month extended the public comment period for the proposal by two weeks, to Feb. 13, and expects to finalize the regulations this summer.
The administration says the higher standards will cause vehicle prices to increase about $2,000 but that owners will save an average of $6,600 over the life of the vehicle by using less fuel. The rules also will create 484,000 jobs and cut oil consumption in the United States by 1.5 million barrels a day by 2030, according to the Go60mpg coalition, an association of environmental advocacy groups that support the proposal.
NADA believes the government’s analysis greatly underestimates how much the rules will cause vehicle prices to rise. He said the actual increase could be up to $5,000, causing an average buyer’s monthly payments to go up by $60 or $70 and potentially locking out shoppers who would not be able to obtain financing for the higher price, regardless of their fuel savings later on.
G.M., the Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, and other automakers agreed last summer to support the framework of the higher standards.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group, said all of its members supported the standards through 2016, when they would be required to achieve 36 miles per gallon. The German carmakers Volkswagen and Daimler have not endorsed the requirements past that point.
The United Automobile Workers supports increasing the fuel economy of vehicles because it would create jobs and better protect the jobs of current workers by helping the industry thrive. (New York Times, 1/17/2012)
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote an all-staff note regarding Oster's departure, writing that “Seth has transformed the way EPA talks about our work protecting the environment and people’s health and I am deeply grateful for his service to the agency.” (Politico, 12/14/2011)
"Investing In America: Building An Economy That Lasts"
Last week the White House issued its latest report on jobs and it includes a section on "America's Natural Resource Boom," which states that a few years ago there were widespread "fears of a looming natural gas shortage," but that:
"the discovery of new natural gas reserves, such as the Marcellus Shale, and the development of hydraulic fracturing techniques to extract natural gas from these reserves has led to rapidly growing domestic production and relatively low domestic prices for households and downstream industrial users."This is probably the first time the White House has favorably mentioned the Marcellus Shale, the natural gas reservoir below Pennsylvania, West Virginia and other Northeastern states. The administration appears to be taking credit for this soaring production. As the White House report puts it:
The report does add the obligatory disclaimer about hydraulic fracturing that:
"appropriate care must to be taken to ensure that America's natural resources are extracted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner" with safeguards "to protect public health and safety."The endorsement appears to run against energy policies pursued by the Obama Administration for three years. The Institute for Energy Research reports that royalties from oil and gas drilling have fallen more than 90% since 2008 because of Interior Department permitting delays and rejections. The EPA recently issued a report on groundwater contamination that could shut down the fracking process the President is now touting as a jobs producer. EPA's political goal is to grab power to supercede state drilling regulation. The industry regards new EPA authority as a real threat to its future. The Securities and Exchange Commission has imposed extensive new reporting requirements on oil and gas fracking companies.
Smart politics or a one-year wonder? And if he wins President Obama might revert to form in 2013.(WSJ, 1/17/2012)
Center Hydraulic Fracturing Evaluation Criteria
Norris McDonald Statement
The New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Energy and Standing Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions held a hearing on the Potential Closure of Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) on January 12, 2012 in New York City. The hearing examined alternatives to IPEC, including new generation facilities and upgrades to the state's electric transmission system that would prevent power supply disruptions and adequately address the electricity needs of New Yorkers.
|Norris McDonald Interviewed by Channel 1|
Indian Point Energy Center, located in Buchanan, Westchester County, New York, has two active nuclear reactors with a combined rated capacity of 2,000 megawatts. In 2012 and 2015 respectively, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) operational licenses for both reactors will expire. Entergy Corporation, which operates both reactors, has petitioned the NRC to operate the reactors for an additional 20 years.
The hearing was held in New York City in the Assembly Hearing Room at 250 Broadway on the 19th floor in room 1923.
Center President Norris McDonald was interviewed Channel 1, The New York Times (see article at link) and quoted in Your News Now.
Small Business Administration,
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative,
Overseas Private Investment Corp. and the
Trade and Development Agency.
The Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics would also be included to focus on government statistical data. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — now the largest part of Commerce’s budget — would be moved to the Interior Department.
The new department would be led by a Cabinet secretary; the U.S. trade representative would remain a member of the Cabinet.
Congress would be able to vote on each specific proposed merger. (Wash Post, 1/13/2012)
Barack Obama is defending the work of the Environmental Protection Agency, saying it performs a vital role protecting the environment and moving the country toward energy independence. Obama spoke Tuesday during his visit to the EPA, seeking to boost morale at an agency that has been a target for Republicans. Several GOP presidential candidates have questioned the science of global warming and said they'd overturn EPA regulations that harm the economy.
The president said that improving the environment and improving the economy shouldn't be contradictory goals, and he questioned those who say regulations are not needed. He said environmental regulations are responsible for cleaning up badly polluted sites, and he said the EPA should be commended for making vehicles more fuel efficient and promoting clean air and water. (Associated Press, 1/10/2012)
The Court of Appeals has changed its mind about getting involved in a dispute over a fly-ash storage facility in southern Maryland. The top court, which heard argument on Friday, decided Monday that it should never have agreed to review the matter. The one-page per curiam order says simply that the petition for a writ of certiorari is “dismissed with costs, the petition having been improvidently granted.”
The case began in 2008, when the Environmental Integrity Project, Potomac Riverkeeper and five individuals who live along the Potomac or Wicomico rivers notified the state that they intended to file suit in federal court over the operation of the Faulkner Fly Ash Storage Facility.
The Maryland Department of the Environment filed its own action against the facility’s operators, Mirant Maryland Ash Management LLC and Mirant Mid-Atlantic LLC, in Charles County Circuit Court. MDE sought injunctive relief and penalties under state law.
The environmental groups and the individuals, who lived within 15 miles of the facility, filed a motion to intervene. The circuit court found they lacked standing, and the Court of Special Appeals affirmed in December 2010.
Monday’s action leaves that decision in place.
The case is Environmental Integrity Project et al. v. Mirant Ash Management LLC et al., Court of Appeals No. 70, Sept. Term 2011. (Daily Record, 1/9/2012)
U.S. refiners produced historically high volumes of distillate fuels (a category that includes both diesel fuel and heating oil) and motor gasoline in 2011. By fine-tuning their production mix, refineries consistently set record levels of distillate production, most recently topping 5 million barrels per day (bbl/d) for the weeks ending December 2 and December 16, 2011.
In 2011, weekly distillate production was above the five-year historical range 25 times, and ranked second highest an additional 19 times. Finished motor gasoline production was robust over the same period, but was slightly more in line with production volumes at comparable times of year since 2006.
Because of its chemical composition, crude oil run through a refinery typically yields roughly twice as much motor gasoline as distillate fuels. Therefore, regardless of economic or other incentives, refiners cannot completely stop making some finished petroleum products in favor of others. However, by adjusting downstream processes and the types of crude oil used, refineries can optimize production to fine-tune the balance of their finished products output. For much of 2011, refiners saw favorable margins and robust global demand for distillate fuels. In order to benefit from these trends, refineries:
• Increased crude runs to maximize overall output. This explains why both motor gasoline and distillate fuels production levels are high relative to the five-year historical ranges.
• Shifted production mix. This explains why the distillate fuels production levels exceeded historical ranges in more weeks than motor gasoline production did.
Since early October, the spot price for ultra-low-sulfur distillate fuel oil rose, while the spot price for motor gasoline (as measured by New York RBOB spot prices in the chart below) declined, widening the spread between these two petroleum product prices. On November 14, 2011, the spot price for ultra-low-sulfur distillate was nearly 65 cents per gallon higher than the spot price for RBOB. The spread between these product prices had not been more than 60 cents per gallon since November 2008.
Along with high domestic prices, strong international markets for distillate fuel oils have spurred increased production. In the United States, refineries have typically optimized production for finished motor gasoline to meet high U.S. demand. European refineries, on the other hand, tend to produce higher percentages of distillate fuel oils, as diesel is used more broadly there for transportation. Robust global distillate demand has led to a significant inventory draw, despite heightened U.S. production. From the end of September to the end of December, U.S. distillate inventories fell by more than 13 million barrels. (DOE-EIA)
Triad Mining Resolves Clean Water Act Violations To Restore Affected Waterways in Indiana
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Triad Mining Inc., the owner and operator of 31 surface mines in Appalachia and Indiana, has agreed to pay a penalty and restore affected waterways for failing to obtain the required Clean Water Act (CWA) permit for stream impacts caused by its surface mining operation in Indiana. Since 2002, Triad's mining operation has resulted in the unpermitted excavation and filling of more than 53,000 feet of streams that flow into the White River.
With this settlement, Triad will achieve compliance with the nation’s Clean Water Act and be held accountable for its unpermitted discharges into streams of the White River watershed. Triad must also undertake restoration efforts and mitigate impacts from its mining activities by enhancing stream beds and creating buffer areas that will benefit aquatic life and recreational resources for the people of Indiana.
On March 24, 2008, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a cease and desist order requiring Triad to stop its unauthorized stream-filling activities. Triad continued its mining practices until the Army Corps of Engineers sent a second order on June 24, 2009, which Triad complied with. Since the second order was issued, Triad has continued mining, but has avoided additional impacts to streams.
Under the settlement, Triad must restore 34,906 linear feet of streams and enhance 4,330 linear feet of stream bed to address and mitigate impacts to stream beds caused by its mining activities. Triad will also create and maintain 66 acres of forested buffer areas and nine acres of forested wetland to protect the restored streams. Triad will also pay a $810,171 civil penalty.
The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. (EPA)
More information on the settlement
The Center supports the ban because of the threat to the Colorado River. The Colorado River, which runs through the Grand Canyon, is the source of drinking water for 26 million Americans.
The mining industry and some Republican members of Congress called the ban detrimental to Arizona’s economy and the nation’s energy independence. Rep. Jeff Flake (RAriz.) and other GOP lawmakers are backing legislation to prevent Salazar from moving forward with the 20-year ban.
The ban would not affect more than 3,000 mining claims already staked in the area near the Grand Canyon. The Bush administration had opened up the land to new mining claims. Salazar reversed the Bush policy in 2009 and called for a two-year moratorium on new mining claims around the canyon. He followed up with a six-month extension last year. (AP, Wash Post, 1/9/2012)