B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Archive for the ‘energy’ tag

Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Republican Attorneys General

without comments

The Dark Doesn't Hide It
The Dark Doesn’t Hide It.

Here are real world consequences of removing all vestiges of restraint of corporate purchase of elected officials, only partially hidden corruption. We are getting the best politicians money can buy, in other words, with the obvious point being it isn’t our money, but corporate dollars that have all the buying power.

The letter to the Environmental Protection Agency from Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma carried a blunt accusation: Federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.

But Mr. Pruitt left out one critical point. The three-page letter was written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying.

The email exchange from October 2011, obtained through an open-records request, offers a hint of the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year.

(click here to continue reading Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General – NYTimes.com.)

Cheap for corporations, $16,000,000 isn’t very much when gutting environmental law is the end result. Remember your high school history books and how indignant the outrage was when discussing the Teapot Dome Scandal? Well, this is a gazillion or two times worse…

Unconventional Solutions
Unconventional Solutions…

Here’s a brief refresher of the Teapot Dome Scandal via Wikipedia:

In the early 20th century, the U.S. Navy largely converted from coal to oil fuel. To ensure the Navy would always have enough fuel available, several oil-producing areas were designated as Naval Oil Reserves by President Taft. In 1921, President Harding issued an executive order that transferred control of Teapot Dome Oil Field in Natrona County, Wyoming, and the Elk Hills and Buena Vista Oil Fields in Kern County, California from the Navy Department to the Department of the Interior. This was not implemented until 1922, when Interior Secretary Fall persuaded Navy Secretary Edwin C. Denby to transfer control.

Later in 1922, Albert Fall leased the oil production rights at Teapot Dome to Harry F. Sinclair of Mammoth Oil, a subsidiary of Sinclair Oil Corporation. He also leased the Elk Hills reserve to Edward L. Doheny of Pan American Petroleum and Transport Company. Both leases were issued without competitive bidding. This manner of leasing was legal under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920.

The lease terms were very favorable to the oil companies, which secretly made Fall a rich man. Fall had received a no-interest loan from Doheny of $100,000 (about $1.32 million today) in November 1921. He received other gifts from Doheny and Sinclair totaling about $404,000 (about $5.34 million today). It was this money changing hands that was illegal, not the leases. Fall attempted to keep his actions secret, but the sudden improvement in his standard of living prompted speculation.

(click here to continue reading Teapot Dome scandal – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Discarded Cautions
Discarded Cautions.

Sound familiar? Except in this case, the public isn’t outraged, or even well informed that elected officials are getting paid off in such a brazen manner. 

Out of public view, corporate representatives and attorneys general are coordinating legal strategy and other efforts to fight federal regulations, according to a review of thousands of emails and court documents and dozens of interviews.

“When you use a public office, pretty shamelessly, to vouch for a private party with substantial financial interest without the disclosure of the true authorship, that is a dangerous practice,” said David B. Frohnmayer, a Republican who served a decade as attorney general in Oregon. “The puppeteer behind the stage is pulling strings, and you can’t see. I don’t like that. And when it is exposed, it makes you feel used.”

For Mr. Pruitt, the benefits have been clear. Lobbyists and company officials have been notably solicitous, helping him raise his profile as president for two years of the Republican Attorneys General Association, a post he used to help start what he and allies called the Rule of Law campaign, which was intended to push back against Washington.

(click here to continue reading Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 7th, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Launch of Green Tea Coalition Drives a Wedge Through Georgia’s Tea Party

without comments

Morning profits
Morning profits

Merits further attention, especially if replicated in other states besides Georgia…

“The Tea Party has formed an unholy alliance with the left,” Debbie Dooley recalls a panicked member of Georgia’s big energy lobby lamenting. Dooley, a co-founder of the Atlanta Tea Party Patriots, doesn’t deny the charges. In fact, she is set this Tuesday to celebrate the official launch of the Green Tea Coalition – the same “unholy alliance” of right and left grassroots that has big oil interests reeling.

“It’s an unholy alliance because they see it as a threat to them,” Dooley said, speaking ahead of the launch. “In the past, the elites on both the right and the left got away with it. On the right, they’d say, ‘This person’s on the left. Stay away from them,’ On the left, they’d say, ‘They’re radical, they’re the Tea Party. Stay away from them.’ “But we got through all that bull, got to know each other, and started working together,” she said.

(click here to continue reading Launch of Green Tea Coalition Drives a Wedge Through Georgia’s Tea Party.)

Confessions I See Through To the End
Confessions I See Through To the End

especially because the core truth is that groups like the Koch Brothers do not have the country’s best interest at heart, only in protecting their own financial positions. If they could manipulate working and middle class people into supporting laws that only benefit the 1%, then that is money well spent, for the 1%.

The danger was that conservatives – whose politics have traditionally aligned with the interests of corporate America – would take some of the ideas brewing in the teapot too far. Conservative Americans had begun to wholly embrace the idea that there was such a thing as “crony capitalism,” that certain powerful industries didn’t need to be subsidized for under-performing, or bailed out for failing, and that local and individual autonomy was more important than maintaining the profit structures of big industries.

Those ideas, taken to their logical conclusions, might have led to a conservative revolution that would have severely crippled the power of industries like Koch and Southern Company. The Koch plan, then, was to jump into the fray: a corporate entity hidden among the throngs of one of the largest political movements in decades. On the fertile ground of an emergent movement, Koch would sow their genetically modified seeds of ideology. The idea was to tweak the message of the Tea Party just enough to reroute the movement’s trajectory in such a way that, far from being the bad guys, industrialists could cast themselves as the victims and even allies of average Americans.

“We don’t need taxpayer funded government subsidies and renewable energy mandates,” AFP Georgia wrote in a statement on the Georgia solar plan. “The government has spent $14 billion since 2009 propping up renewable energy projects. They wouldn’t have to do that if the technology was more market ready.”

See? AFP is on the side of the people, standing up against big government subsidies for technology that may not even be ready for prime time. The fact that solar even requires government subsidies proves it isn’t ready, so they claim.

But just don’t expect AFP to apply the same standard to Koch-style industries. Between 1994 and 2009, U.S. oil and gas industries amassed nearly $450 billion in subsidies, compared to a relatively paltry $6 billion for renewable energy over the same period.

And don’t expect AFP to rail against Southern Company’s $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee for its new nuclear projects, either – despite its being the same type of loan granted to solar power company Solyndra, which AFP spent over $8 million to defame between 2011 to 2012.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 13th, 2013 at 9:36 am

Long Awaited Closing of State Line Power Station

without comments

Midwest Generation Fisk Station
Midwest Generation Fisk Station

Hmm, 100 jobs versus the air quality for over 9,000,000 other people (and maybe more – I’m just counting the Chicagoland area). How is that even a debate? And land-use? Again, not really a debate except by debating societies…

While many environmentalists are cheering the closing, it raises new environmental and land-use challenges. It will also be an economic blow to Hammond, and to about 100 employees…Similar situations are playing out nationwide as aging coal plants close, including a Dominion plant in Salem, Mass.; six Midwestern and Eastern coal plants owned by FirstEnergy Corp.; and, potentially, the Fisk and Crawford plants in Chicago in coming years.

Lower natural gas prices from the increase in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale gas deposits have made it much less profitable to produce electricity from coal. This is especially true for facilities like State Line and the Chicago coal plants, which sell electricity on a highly competitive short-term wholesale market rather than through long-term contracts.

“These companies bought coal plants based on certain assumptions about the price of natural gas,” said William Boyd, a professor of energy law at the University of Colorado. “Shale gas turned their world upside down, and retrofitting old coal plants to meet new environmental regulations doesn’t make sense anymore.”

Some coal plants elsewhere in the country have been retrofitted to burn natural gas. But Dominion and Midwest Generation, which owns the Chicago plants, said converting would be too expensive.

Doug McFarlan, a spokesman for Midwest Generation, said, “We will continue to evaluate numerous factors — including the capital expenditures required to comply with environmental regulations and market conditions that impact our ability to recover costs — in making decisions about future investments in any of our power generating units.”

Dominion had planned to close State Line in 2014, but last summer the company said the plant would be shut down by March.

Environmental advocates have long said the sooner the better, since medical studies link emissions from coal plants to higher rates of asthma attacks, cardiac disease and premature death among surrounding residents.

(click here to continue reading Closing of State Line Power Station, on Illinois-Indiana Border, Is Expected to Leave Problems Behind – NYTimes.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

February 15th, 2012 at 7:58 am

Media Matters Goes Light Bulb Shopping

without comments

Vintage Light Bulb
Vintage Light Bulb

I still do not understand how or why the GOP mouth-breathers have decided that incremental improvements in light bulb efficiency is a threat to civilized society. Such an odd thing to freak out about.

Few things exemplify the ongoing right-wing, media-fueled campaign against reality as well as the hysteria surrounding implementation of light bulb efficiency standards, which gather the low-hanging fruit of energy conservation by inciting manufacturers to improve their technology. Following in a long line of federal efficiency standards created by Republican presidents, the light bulb requirements were signed into law in 2007 by President George W. Bush with bipartisan support.

Reporting on what it called “a case study of the way government mandates can spur innovation,” the New York Times noted back in 2009 that Philips Lighting had already developed a more efficient incandescent light bulb using halogen gas to comply with the new requirements. Philips executive Randall Moorhead has said that “the new incandescent lights were not being made because there was not an economic incentive to make them.” The other major lighting companies have followed suit, and today halogen incandescent bulbs are widely available for purchase at hardware stores, department stores and online. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that “more efficient incandescent lights” will continue to make up a large portion of general service light bulb purchases for decades to come.

And yet the efficiency standards — the first phase of which took effect on January 1 despite legislation blocking funding for enforcement — have been met with outrage from conservative media who spent the last year claiming that they infringe on consumer “freedom of choice.” Led by Fox News, right-wing media outlets have repeatedly told consumers that the standards would “ban” incandescent bulbs and force us all to purchase “mercury-laden, ugly and smelly compact fluorescent light bulbs,” to the chagrin of electrical manufacturers. Fox has even gone so far as to encourage consumers to “hoard” the old, inefficient bulbs.

(click here to continue reading Media Matters Goes Light Bulb Shopping | Media Matters for America.)

Banality
Banality

The lighbulb manufacturers must regret being Republican sponsors…

The NYT reported last May:

Late in his second term, George W. Bush signed into law the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which requires light bulb makers to improve the efficiency of incandescent bulbs by 25 percent. The details of the law dictated a phase-out of the manufacture of certain bulbs in their current incarnation, starting with 100-watt bulbs next January.

The law does not ban the use or manufacture of all incandescent bulbs, nor does it mandate the use of compact fluorescent ones. It simply requires that companies make some of their incandescent bulbs work a bit better, meeting a series of rolling deadlines between 2012 and 2014.

Furthermore, all sorts of exemptions are written into the law, which means that all sorts of bulbs are getting a free pass and can keep their energy-guzzling ways indefinitely, including “specialty bulbs” like the Edison bulbs favored by Mr. Henault, as well as three-way bulbs, silver-bottomed bulbs, chandelier bulbs, refrigerator bulbs, plant lights and many, many others.

Nonetheless, as the deadline for the first phase of the legislation looms, light bulb confusion — even profound light bulb anxiety — is roiling the minds of many. The other day, Ken Henderlong, a sales associate at Oriental Lamp Shade Company on Lexington Avenue, said that his customers “say they want to stockpile incandescent bulbs, but they are not sure when to start. No one knows when the rules go into effect or what the rules are.”

Probably this is because articles about light bulb legislation are incredibly boring, and articles about the end of the light bulb as we know it are less so. Certainly they stick in the mind longer.

For years, Glenn Beck, among other conservative pundits and personalities, has proclaimed the death of the incandescent light bulb as a casualty of the “nanny state” (never mind that the light bulb legislation is a Bush-era act), and he has been exhorting his listeners to hoard 100-watt light bulbs (along with gold and canned food). This year, conservative politicians took a leaf from his playbook, introducing bills like the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, courtesy of Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman, that would repeal the 2007 legislation.

The hubbub has been deeply irritating to light bulb manufacturers and retailers, which have been explaining the law, over and over again, to whomever will listen. At a Congressional hearing in March, Kyle Pitsor, a representative from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, a trade group that represents makers of light bulbs, among others, patiently but clearly disputed claims that the law banned incandescent bulbs. He restated the law’s points and averred light bulb makers’ support for the law. As usual, it seemed as if no one was paying attention.

(click here to continue reading Fearing the Phase-Out of Incandescent Bulbs – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

January 23rd, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Fracking is fracked

without comments

Hidden Meanings

Paul Krugman on the faux free marketers of fracking…

Speaking of propaganda: Before I get to solar, let’s talk briefly about hydraulic fracturing, a k a fracking.

Fracking — injecting high-pressure fluid into rocks deep underground, inducing the release of fossil fuels — is an impressive technology. But it’s also a technology that imposes large costs on the public. We know that it produces toxic (and radioactive) wastewater that contaminates drinking water; there is reason to suspect, despite industry denials, that it also contaminates groundwater; and the heavy trucking required for fracking inflicts major damage on roads.

Economics 101 tells us that an industry imposing large costs on third parties should be required to “internalize” those costs — that is, to pay for the damage it inflicts, treating that damage as a cost of production. Fracking might still be worth doing given those costs. But no industry should be held harmless from its impacts on the environment and the nation’s infrastructure.

Yet what the industry and its defenders demand is, of course, precisely that it be let off the hook for the damage it causes. Why? Because we need that energy! For example, the industry-backed organization energyfromshale.org declares that “there are only two sides in the debate: those who want our oil and natural resources developed in a safe and responsible way; and those who don’t want our oil and natural gas resources developed at all.”

So it’s worth pointing out that special treatment for fracking makes a mockery of free-market principles. Pro-fracking politicians claim to be against subsidies, yet letting an industry impose costs without paying compensation is in effect a huge subsidy. They say they oppose having the government “pick winners,” yet they demand special treatment for this industry precisely because they claim it will be a winner.

…Let’s face it: a large part of our political class, including essentially the entire G.O.P., is deeply invested in an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels, and actively hostile to alternatives. This political class will do everything it can to ensure subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels, directly with taxpayers’ money and indirectly by letting the industry off the hook for environmental costs, while ridiculing technologies like solar.

(click here to continue reading Here Comes Solar Energy – NYTimes.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 7th, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Posted in environment

Tagged with

Investing In Solar Power

with one comment

Solar Panels - Chicago Center for Green Technology
Solar Panels – Chicago Center for Green Technology

Jobs, green energy jobs could be a solution to our anemic economy; if we had a functional political class. Instead we have one party1 willing, and able, to sacrifice national prosperity on the alter of upcoming elections, and another party2 too mealy-mouthed to do much about it. Meanwhile, China and the rest of the industrialized world is lapping us in investing in future technologies.

The New York Times reported that “much of China’s clean energy success lies in aggressive government policies that help this crucial export industry in ways most other governments do not,” including “heavily subsidized land and loans.” Those subsidies are part of a comprehensive policy agenda set by the Chinese government, which “sends clear signals to investors,” according to a Brookings Institution report:

Critical to China’s success is its articulation of a comprehensive and long-term state clean energy build out policy that sends clear signals to investors. Through its 12th Five Year Plan, China has identified “new energy” as one among seven “strategic emerging industries” and will invest $760 billion over the next 10 years in this sector alone. A range of complementary policies will guide these investment decisions, including the Renewable Energy Law, national demand-side management regulations, and pilot carbon taxes, among others. China has swiftly made itself a clean energy power, in large part by ensuring the availability of copious, affordable capital at a time it has been short in the United States. And the Deutche Bank Climate Change Advisors said in a recent report that there’s a lot more the U.S. could do to create a policy framework that encourages clean energy investment:

Countries with more ‘TLC’ – transparency, longevity and certainty – in their climate policy frameworks will attract more investment and will build new, clean industries, technologies and jobs faster than their policy lagging counterparts. This is particularly evident in countries such as Germany and China, who have emerged as global leaders in low carbon technologies and investment in recent years.  In stark contrast, a politically divided US Congress and vast budget deficit has resulted in very little significant regulation at the Federal level, with substantial implications for emerging clean technology industries in the US. This climate policy inertia has existed for some time in the US now, with activity on this front largely taking place at the state level. We have long argued that the states must continue to press ahead with climate legislation, but a negative effect of this trend is a patchwork of inconsistent state policies.  The net effect is that while Congress stumbles, the US stands to fall behind.

(click here to continue reading Conservative Media Declare That Solar Power “Doesn’t Work” | Media Matters for America.)

 

Footnotes:
  1. the GOP []
  2. the Democrats []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 5th, 2011 at 8:17 am

Posted in environment,government

Tagged with , ,

Republicans Loves Em Some Oil Subsidies

without comments

Energy is the Lifeblood of Civilization

Not surprising: oil corporations love Republicans as much as Republicans love oil corporations.

Despite statements in the past week from Speaker John Boehner and tax-and-program slasher Paul Ryan that oil company subsidies should be included in items getting the ax, House Republicans today voted in unison for a procedural motion that kicked the legs out from under a proposal which would have chopped one of those key subsidies. Every single Republican voted for the motion, along with seven Democrats who jumped ship. Democrats wanted to defeat the motion so that they could bring up a bill penned by Rep. Tim Bishop (NY-01) to repeal the Section 199 domestic manufacturing tax credit for the five largest oil companies. The provision, part of a 2004 law meant to promote domestic production, allows corporations to reduce their taxable income by 9 percent under prescribed circumstances.

Although Democrats knew from the outset that there was no chance they would win on the procedural motion, they had hoped to get Republicans on the record at a time when American consumers are unhappy over rising gas prices and rising oil-company profits. By that measure, they succeeded.

(click here to continue reading Daily Kos: Number of Republicans who voted to allow vote to cut oil subsidy: Zero.)

But hey, tax breaks for oil corporations just means there is less revenue in the US Treasury, and thus less teachers and police, and so forth. Win, win, right? Unless of course you like living in an educated country, or like law and order, yadda yadda. Ya damn Socialist, you.

In fact, no company on this list of most profitable should get any tax relief, at all, imo.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 5th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

links for 2011-04-28

without comments

  • Absurd NYT blog post on WikiLeaks more interested in “leaing and spinning” which somehow “are not about uncovering the truth.”   Writer ignores evidence to contrary in his own story.
    1111.jpg
  • Baldwin began the conversation by asking Liman, the director of “Fair Game” and “The Bourne Identity” and the producer of “The O.C.” and “Covert Affairs,” how he got started in film. An innocent story about being handed a camera and projector as a child somehow transitioned into Liman admitting he’s known for “stealing takes.” Asked to elaborate, the director said when he was filming “The Bourne Identity” with Matt Damon in Paris, he would shoot scenes without the required permits, necessitating scampering in the dark to avoid getting caught. The dashing-around accounted for the unsteady cinematography, he joked. “So your art is more about theft is what you’re saying,” Baldwin deadpanned.

    1212.jpg

  • Because of these changes, the USPS does not accept bulk mail that has address labels that contain POSTNET bar codes that are generated by Word. These bulk mailings no longer qualify for a bulk mailing discount.

    Even though I don’t bulk mail, found the bar code useful

     

  • Exxon Mobil Corp. will lead a strong first-quarter earnings season for energy companies this week, with the largest U.S.-based oil and gas producer’s balance sheet fueled by $100-a-barrel oil.
    content-1.cartoonbox.slate.com.jpg
  • Whoa, what’s happening?Sorry if we’ve caught you by surprise. Delicious has been acquired by the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen and will become part of their new Internet company, AVOS. Here are a few links to catch you up to date on the latest news regarding Delicious

Written by swanksalot

April 28th, 2011 at 7:02 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with ,

Dems seek to change conversation on gas prices

with one comment

Four Forty Nine

Oh, sure, this will be effective…

Although there is no single, easy answer for addressing increased gas prices in the short term, there are things we can do to guarantee that Americans aren’t victims of escalating gas prices in the long term.

* One thing we can do is eliminate unnecessary tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and instead invest that money into clean energy, so that we can cut our dependence on foreign oil.

* America’s outmoded tax laws offer the oil and gas industry more than $4 billion in annual taxpayer subsidies, even though that industry is expected to report extra-large profits this quarter. Even as those companies are reaping near record profits, Americans are shelling out for near record gas prices. That doesn’t make sense and it has to end.

* CEO’s of leading oil companies have made it clear that such high oil prices alone offer enough of a profit motive to push them to invest in domestic oil exploration and production — even without special tax breaks.

* Speaker Boehner has said he’s open to eliminating wasteful subsidies for the oil and gas industry. For too long, our political system has avoided doing so. Now, hopefully, our leaders can come together in a bipartisan way to make it happen.

(click here to continue reading Dems seek to change conversation on gas prices – The Plum Line – The Washington Post.)

Any proposal that will help the US and involves Boehner will not happen. That dude, and the GOP in general, basically is hoping for end-of-times.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 27th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , ,

Coal Subsidies and Congressional Liars

without comments

Withered and Died

Speaking of hidden costs and corporations getting a free ride, compare and contrast the coal-owned Congressman from West Virginia on the one hand…

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the newest member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, claimed today that the coal industry doesn’t receive any government subsidies, unlike every other form of energy. The former governor of coal-state West Virginia, who famously fired a rifle at clean energy legislation in a campaign ad, argued that the Obama administration has “villainized” coal. In a hearing on energy markets, Manchin went on to criticize the Environmental Protection Agency — which has issued regulations to limit the catastrophic impact of mountaintop removal mining and the existential threat of global warming pollution — for putting up “roadblocks” on the “greatest source” of energy in the nation:

What I don’t understand is the subsidies. The subsidies of energy, whether it be to oil, gas, wind, solar, biofuels, ethanol. The only energy source — which is the greatest source that we have so far as we’re dependent on — is coal. It doesn’t get a penny of subsidies. But it’s been villainized by this administration and so many people and it’s the one we depend on the most. It gives back more than it takes. I can’t figure it out.

We’re trying to use it in so many different forms, in super-critical heating, and things of this sort. We’re running into roadblocks with the EPA from every turn that we go. We’re trying to use it in conjunction with our natural gas productions, and trying to look at the changing the fleet to compressed natural gas, I think that’s very doable. Do you all have a comment on why that one source of energy which is the most dependent upon in this nation has no types of subsidies but the others demand so many subsidies?

(click here to continue reading Wonk Room » Manchin Claims Coal ‘Doesn’t Get A Penny Of Subsidies’.)

Satanic Gift

and on the other hand, facts:

In reality, the coal industry is heavily subsidized by the federal and state governments, enjoying explicit subsidies of billions of dollars a year, plus the indirect subsidy of free pollution that costs the United States 10,000 lives a year, destroys the land and water of mining communities, and destabilizes our climate. In September 2009, the Environmental Law Institute identified coal industry “subsidies of around $17 billion between 2002 and 2008″:

Credit for Production of Nonconventional Fuels ($14,097,000,000)– IRC Section 45K. This provision provides a tax credit for the production of certain fuels. Qualifying fuels include: oil from shale, tar sands; gas from geopressurized brine, Devonian shale, coal seams, tight formations, biomass, and coal-based synthetic fuels. This credit has historically primarily benefited coal producers.

Characterizing Coal Royalty Payments as Capital Gains ($986,000,000) – IRC Section 631(c). Income from the sale of coal under royalty contract may be treated as a capital gain rather than ordinary income for qualifying individuals.

Exclusion of Benefit Payments to Disabled Miners ($438,000,000) – 30 U.S.C. 922(c). Disability payments out of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund are not treated as income to the recipients.

Other-Fuel Excess of Percentage over Cost Depletion ($323,000,000)– IRC Section 613. Taxpayers may deduct 10 percent of gross income from coal production.

Credit for Clean Coal Investment ($186,000,000)– IRC Sections 48A and 48B. Available for 20 percent of the basis of integrated gasification combined cycle property and 15 percent of the basis for other advanced coal-based generation technologies.

Special Rules for Mining Reclamation Reserves ($159,000,000) – IRC Section 468. This deduction is available for early payments into reserve trusts, with eligibility determined by the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act and the Solid Waste Management Act. The amounts attributable to mines rather than solid-waste facilities are conservatively assumed to be one-half of the total.

84-month Amortization Period for Coal Pollution Control ($102,000,000) – IRC Section 169(d)(5). Extends the amortization period used in calculating the deduction from the generally applicable 60-month period available for other types of pollution control facilities.

Expensing Advanced Mine Safety Equipment ($32,000,000) – IRC Section 179E. The costs of qualifying mine safety equipment may be expensed rather than recovered through depreciation.

Black Lung Disability Trust Fund ($1,035,000,000)– As industry excise tax payments did not sufficiently cover early benefits payments, the BLDTF was given “indefinite authority to borrow” from the U.S. General Fund, and bailed out for $6.498 billion, 13 percent of which is relevant to the 2002-2008 period.

In addition, Synapse Energy Economics found that the government subsidizes the coal industry through several other avenues:

Financial support for the World Bank and other international financial institutions that finance fossil fuel use and extraction. Since 1994, these institutions have provided $137 billion in direct and indirect financial support for new coal-fired power plants.

U.S. Treasury Department’s backing of tax-exempt bonds and federally subsidized taxable Build America Bonds for use in the electric sector. $81 billion in tax-exempt debt was issued between 2002 and 2006 for electric power, most for coal plants.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service provision of loans, loan guarantees, and lien accommodations to public power companies that are investing in new or existing coal plants.

Tax credits, loans, and loan guarantees through the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2009, DOE issued $5.9 billion in loan guarantees for advanced coal projects.

Furthermore, cash-strapped state governments give millions of dollars in subsidies to coal, including $115 million from Kentucky, and $26 million from Virginia. In 2008, then-Gov. Manchin himself offered Appalachian Fuel $200 million in subsidies for a liquid coal plant.

So I guess you can do your own math and decide if these constitute pennies worth of government subsidies, or just pixie dust.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 3rd, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Posted in environment,politics

Tagged with ,

Chicago coal plants blamed for cancer, premature deaths

without comments

Everything If You Want Things

I wouldn’t want to live near this plant, despite what apologists like to claim. Being able to see the plume is bad enough.

The Clean Air Task Force, a national nonprofit atmospheric pollution task force, estimated that 27 people died prematurely in 2010 because of emissions from Crawford. The task force said the annual mortality rate attributed to Crawford ranges from 25 to 75 persons.

Nearby Fisk plant in Little Village saw 15 premature deaths in 2010, the task force estimated. In Cook County there were 150 premature deaths and nearly 3,000 heart attacks attributable to existing power plants, the group said.

Both the Crawford and Fisk plants are owned by Chicago-based Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of Edison International.

“We do not believe our plants have any health effects,” said Susan Olavarria, director of governmental affairs and communications at Edison International. “We look at every complaint and we take them very seriously.”

(click to continue reading South Side coal plants blamed for cancer, premature deaths | News | Chicago Journal.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

January 21st, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Posted in environment

Tagged with , ,

China’s Push Into Wind Worries U.S. Industry

without comments

Talk to the Wind

Well, on the one hand, the Chinese government fully supports and subsidizes its green power industries, and on the other hand, the U.S. government, and especially the Tea Baggers and Oil Slurper Republicans are dismissive of any energy policy that doesn’t focus solely on highways, natural gas, coal and oil. So, do the math: Chinese companies are going to be lapping the innovations of American companies until something changes. And it probably won’t.

Goldwind and other Chinese-owned companies plan a big push into the American wind power market in coming months.

While proponents say the Chinese manufacturers should be welcomed as an engine for creating more green jobs and speeding the adoption of renewable energy in this country, others see a threat to workers and profits in the still-embryonic American wind industry.

“We cannot sit idly by while China races to the forefront of clean energy production at the expense of U.S. manufacturing,” Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said during a debate this year over federal subsidies for wind energy.

(click to continue reading China’s Push Into Wind Worries U.S. Industry – NYTimes.com.)

and World Trade Organization threats notwithstanding, China is serious:

American wind output still meets only a small portion of the nation’s overall demand for electricity — about 2 percent — compared with countries like Spain, which gets about 14 percent of its electrical power from the wind.

And the tepid United States economy, rock-bottom natural gas prices and lingering questions about federal wind energy policy have stalled the American wind industry, which currently represents only about 85,000 jobs. Even the American market leader, General Electric, reported a sharp drop in third-quarter turbine sales, compared with the same period last year.

All of which might indicate that dim market prospects await the wave of wind-turbine makers from China. But the Chinese companies can play a patient game because they have big backing from China’s government in the form of low-interest loans and other blandishments — too much help, in the critics’ view.

In the case of China, the Obama administration is investigating whether the Chinese may have violated World Trade Organization rules in subsidizing its clean-energy industry.

Mr. Rowland’s company, Goldwind, is the fledgling American arm of a state-owned Chinese company that has emerged as the world’s fifth-largest turbine maker: the Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology Company.

To help finance its overseas efforts, Xinjiang Goldwind raised nearly $1 billion in an initial public stock offering in Hong Kong in October — on top of a $6 billion low-interest loan agreement in May from the government-owned China Development Bank.

Goldwind, which set up a sales office in Chicago, has hired about a dozen executives, engineers and other employees so far. Most, like Mr. Rowland, are Americans already experienced in the wind energy field.

Not sure where exactly the Goldwind U.S. HQ will be located, but somewhere near me presumedly. Google Maps says on W. Washington, which is probably correct, but Goldwind’s site doesn’t yet reflect this.

Another major international player in the wind energy business will soon be calling Chicago home, as Chinese manufacturer Goldwind has announced plans to locate its North American headquarters in the city.

Goldwind’s move to the Windy City is the latest in a string of major wind firms that have looked to Chicago as the most logical business center for their US operations, attracted by the city’s central location, international airports, strong legal and financial expertise, and an experienced, educated workforce.

The firm also announced it has hired a talented pair of new executives to head the company, including Tim Rosenzweig as CEO and Matthew Olive as Director of Sales, both well-seasoned wind industry officials.

(click to continue reading Goldwind to Locate US Headquarters in Chicago, Hires Executive Staff – News – The Illinois Wind Energy Association.)

However, honestly, as a consumer, I’d happily purchase a home windmill from any manufacturer, regardless of geopolitical concerns. Jingoism doesn’t really factor in. And I’d be happy if my cousin got a job with Goldwind, or some other foreign green energy company. If the US is too short-sighted to encourage alternative energy companies, well, c’est la vie.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 16th, 2010 at 9:46 am

Delusions Abound on Energy Savings

without comments

Americans deluded about energy and energy savings? Who would have thought? We’re so well informed about other topics…

That Peculiar Glance

When it comes to saving energy, many Americans seem to get it — and at the same time they don’t get it at all.

That’s the takeaway from a new study by researchers from Columbia University, Ohio State University and Carnegie Mellon University who found that people are far more likely to focus on switching off lights or unplugging appliances than on buying new bulbs or more efficient refrigerators. But people’s perceptions of the relative savings of various actions are significantly at variance with reality.

“Participants estimated that line-drying clothes saves more energy than changing the washer’s settings (the reverse is true) and estimated that a central air-conditioner uses only 1.3 times the energy of a room air conditioner (in fact, it uses 3.5 times as much),” the researchers wrote.

Perhaps more to the point, people seem conditioned to think of energy savings as they would of saving money: that they can save by simply reducing use, the study found. But the biggest energy savings are tied to replacing things that use a lot of energy with things that use far less.

Habits like turning out the lights when leaving a room may be virtuous but don’t move the needle much on energy savings. Yet that action was cited by more of those surveyed (19.6 percent) than any other method of saving energy. By contrast, just 3.2 percent cited buying more energy-efficient appliances.

The top five behaviors listed by respondents as having a direct impact on energy savings (turning off the lights, riding a bike or public transportation, changing the thermostat, “changing my lifestyle/not having children” and unplugging appliances or using them less) yield savings that are far outweighed by actions cited far less, like driving a more fuel-efficient car.

(click to continue reading Delusions Abound on Energy Savings – Green Blog – NYTimes.com.)

The full study (PDF) is here, if you are curious about methodology and so on.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 18th, 2010 at 7:19 am

Posted in environment,News-esque

Tagged with

We are Not Ready on Nuclear Power

without comments

Bob Herbert is absolutely right: a catastrophic nuclear accident in a populated area like Ohio or Illinois would instantly trivialize the BP Gulf disaster. Nuclear power has some positive aspects, but the negative consequences are horrific. 385 parts per million - Polapan Blue

[this is actually a coal plant, I think, in northern Indiana]

Americans are not particularly good at learning even the most painful lessons. Denial is our default mode. But at the very least this tragedy in the gulf should push us to look much harder at the systems we need to prevent a catastrophic accident at a nuclear power plant, and for responding to such an event if it occurred.

Right now, we’re not ready.

Nuclear plants are the new hot energy item. The Obama administration is offering federal loan guarantees to encourage the construction of a handful of new plants in the U.S., the first in decades. Not to be outdone, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a certifiable nuke zealot, would like to see 100 new plants built over the next 20 years.

There is no way to overstate how cautiously we need to proceed along this treacherous road. Building nuclear power plants is mind-bogglingly expensive, which is why you need taxpayer money to kick-start the process. But the overriding issues we need to be concerned about, especially in light of our horrendous experience with the oil gushing in the gulf for so long, are safety and security.

We have to be concerned about the very real possibility of a worst-case scenario erupting at one of the many aging nuclear plants already operating (in some cases with safety records that would make your hair stand on end), and at any of the new ones that so many people are calling for.

(click to continue reading Bob Herbert- We’re Not Ready on Nuclear Power – NYTimes.com.)

Nuclear waste, possibility of a meltdown, and the energy corporations that build and maintain nuclear plants are not trustworthy – i.e., are more concerned about quarterly profits, and getting corporate welfare – I’m certain there are other objections, but aren’t these enough?

Written by Seth Anderson

July 20th, 2010 at 7:58 am

Posted in environment,News-esque

Tagged with ,

Evanston Wind Farms

without comments

Are wind turbines ugly? I think they are kind of cool looking, actually, sleek, modern, and of course they are a tangible symbol of alternative energy. I’d like to see a few spinning out in Lake Michigan.

No Lifeguard On Duty

EVANSTON, Ill.—Residents here are used to seeing nothing but water, sky and sailboats as they survey the horizon on Lake Michigan.

Now, many are wondering whether wind turbines would add to or detract from that view, as the city explores the possibility of harvesting the wind that barrels down Lake Michigan at an average speed of 18 miles an hour.

“We’re determined to find a way to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Elizabeth Tisdahl, mayor of Evanston, where the city council last week approved a plan to seek information from developers interested in building a wind farm about seven miles offshore.

The proposed wind farm, which is expected to be privately financed, is projected to cost $400 million, take about seven years to complete and include 40 large wind turbines capable of producing power for 40,000 homes. It is unclear how this would affect utility rates in the college town, which has about 30,000 homes.

[Click to continue reading Wind Farms Catch a Gust on Great Lakes – WSJ.com]

Postpone Your Obedience

All of those factors come into play with the biggest proposed development in the lakes so far, a $4 billion wind farm off Western Michigan proposed by Scandia Wind Offshore, a Norwegian-American concern. The project would supply enough power for 300,000 homes and have easy access to the Chicago and Detroit markets.

“This is the best spot in the U.S. for industrial wind power, without a doubt,” said Harald Dirdal, development director of Havgul Clean Energy, a Norwegian firm that is majority owner of Scandia Wind.

Scandia’s plans, unveiled late last year, have drawn heavy opposition from the tiny resort and retirement community of Pentwater, Mich., where residents fear the project four miles offshore would hurt property values while providing little benefit locally. Jobs would largely flow elsewhere, and the electricity would be fed into the regional grid.

“We won’t benefit from jobs, and we won’t benefit from reduced electricity [rates]. And we certainly won’t benefit from the windmills being in front of our sunset,” said Juanita Pierman, village president.

Scandia has since split the planned development in two, moving half slightly north of Pentwater and the other half offshore of Muskegon, where Scandia hopes a windmill manufacturer might locate a factory to take advantage of the large-scale development.

Shanghaid

Any new project will have some Not In My Back Yard response, such as:

In Evanston, a community group called Citizens for a Greener Evanston spent about two years studying alternative energy sources, said Nate Kipnis, an architect who co-chaired the group’s renewable-energy task force. The group recommended the wind farm to the city council because it best captured the city’s most unique resource and could even become a draw for visitors, he said.

Others are skeptical. City Councilwoman Judy Fiske supported the vote to gather more information, but first read from three pages of questions she wants answered.

A picture provided by the backers meant to show how small the windmills would look from shore worried her. “It does give you a very strong sense that there is some development on the lake,” she said. “Suddenly you’ve lost that quality of serenity that comes from living on a large body of water.”

Written by Seth Anderson

April 20th, 2010 at 7:24 am

Posted in Business

Tagged with , , ,