May 24, 2013 at 3:41 pm by Jeannie Kever
The Texas Railroad Commission adopted long-awaited changes to its rules for the construction of oil and gas wells Friday, saying its actions showed the value of allowing the state to regulate the industry.
The changes clarify standards for drilling, casing and cementing of wells and require that the commission be notified of any failed pressure test. The new rules take effect Jan. 1.
The unanimous vote came as legislators consider whether the agency, which regulates oil and gas drilling and production in Texas, should be disbanded after efforts to institute recommendations made by the Sunset Advisory Commission failed to win approval in the House of Representatives.
The proposals approved Friday, amendments to a section of the state’s regulations known as Rule 13, had been under discussion for months.
Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman suggested the effort “illustrates the importance of allowing state regulators, not the federal government, to regulate our booming oil and gas industry.”
The new rules were praised by the Texas Oil & Gas Association, which represents the industry.
“As technology used in oil and natural gas production evolves and improves, the Texas Railroad Commission is wise to examine rules related to well integrity,” Deb Hastings, executive vice president of the association said in a statement. “Through the Railroad Commission’s leadership, Texas is once again setting the national standard in crafting energy policy for the 21st century.”
Unlikely alliance: Political foes plea for more time on federal fracturing rule
Environmentalists have been watching, too.
“I think generally, we’re pleased,” Cyrus Reed, conservation director for the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club, said after the approval.
He said he was disappointed that some technical specifications had been changed from the commission’s original
Moniz: ‘This is the crucial decade’ to develop renewable energy VIDEO
Posted on May 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm by Simone Sebastian
Newly appointed Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz credits natural gas for helping the United States lower carbon dioxide emissions in recent years, characterizing the energy revolution as a gift to the country.
“This natural gas boom,” he said, ” is a boon. “
Moniz delivered his thoughts during a town hall meeting with Energy Department employees this week. He was sworn in as energy secretary on Tuesday.
Calling the nation’s natural gas revolution “remarkable,” Moniz warned that it shouldn’t’ be taken for granted. Though it produces lower carbon emissions than other fossil fuels, it should be viewed as a bridge to a more renewable energy-driven economy, Moniz said.
“ Buying time is not very useful if you don’t use the time,” he said, noting that the nation should focus on developing and lowering the cost renewable energy technologies.
“What does using the time mean? It means pushing hard on the renewable technologies,” Moniz added. “This is the time to get those ready for the market place on a big scale. This is the decade, the crucial decade, for us to accomplish that.”
Despite its recent struggles, solar energy has a bright future, Moniz said. It emerged as the fastest-growing renewable energy in Texas last year.
“I’m very bullish,” he siad. “It’s going to be a lot bigger than most people think, sooner than they think.”
He also expressed optimism about about the potential of offshore wind, geothermal and hydropower.
UMaine's offshore wind buoy is ready for real test - in the ocean
The system will be used to track wind speeds at the height of offshore wind turbines to determine the suitability of sites for wind farms.
Posted: 2:45 PM
Updated: 6:35 PM
The Associated Press
ORONO — A data-collection buoy that can be plopped in the ocean and used to determine the suitability of remote locations for offshore wind farms is ready for real-world testing, the University of Maine announced Friday.
The university's advanced composites center worked with private industry partners to create a buoy-based system that utilizes a laser system to track wind speeds 400 to 500 feet overhead, the height of offshore wind turbines. The data is relayed to scientists on shore via wireless technology.
The university said the devices would allow wind power companies to assess potential offshore wind sites for which data is not currently available.
The futuristic-looking buoy will be deployed initially alongside a one-eighth scale offshore wind turbine prototype that will be deployed in about a week off the coast of Castine.
It utilizes a light detection and ranging system, known as LIDAR, which collects wind speed data by sending a laser beam into the sky. Reflected light in the atmosphere is used to determine wind conditions.
"Floating LIDAR technology, once fully validated, will provide us with a cost-effective method to assess the wind resource in areas traditionally off-limits to offshore wind developers," said Habib Dagher, director of UMaine's composites center.
The device, formally unveiled on Friday, was created by a partnership that included NRG Systems Inc., AWS Truepower LLC and Leosphere SAS, along with the university's composites center and its Physical Oceanography Group, which develops and operates real-time ocean observing systems.
By Bobby Likis
May 24, 2013
On May 13 your editorial called for Gov. Rick Scott to sign HB4001, removing ethanol from the Renewable Fuel Standards. Many of the points on which you based your opinion are wrong. The governor should veto this jobs and investment-killing bill. For 42 years, I've operated Car Clinic Service. Mine was the first Bosch Authorized Service Center in Florida. We take engine care very seriously.
The governor has said that Florida must be "Open for business." The stability of public policy is essential for investors. And, locally produced ethanol, in Florida, has nothing to do with corn, as your editorial suggested.
Your editorial suggested that ethanol damages engines, but here are the facts: of the 175,000 cars and small trucks that we have serviced in 42 years, not one engine has been damaged by ethanol. When it comes to the fuel line and primer, ethanol is no worse than gasoline when proper storage guidelines are followed.
Your editorial said that ethanol harms boat engines, but industry leader Mercury Marine says that ethanol may help maintain drier fuel tanks. The fact is that heat and oil contamination do more damage to injector seals.
For the last 35 years, carmakers have designed their fuel systems to use E10. It makes no sense that after all this time ethanol is now a problem. Dr. Andrew Randall, engine technical director with Earnhardt Childress Racing, leads a team of 130 engine builders, who make 650 NASCAR engines annually. He says E30 can be used in today's engines.
We know the oil companies are not about to give up their monopoly. Today people can buy pure gas in nearly every community. They pay more. Removing ethanol from the RFS does nothing. Except that ethanol, unlike gasoline, provides high octane in a clean-air form.
The issues linked to ethanol-laced fuel are that ethanol is used to replace the MTBE octane additive that was found to
Holly Jessen | May 23, 2013
A new proposed rulemaking from the U.S. EPA includes several possible modifications to the renewable fuel standard program, including categorizing as advanced biofuels ethanol produced from corn fiber and butanol that meets the 50 percent greenhouse gas emission reduction.
Bob Perciasepe, EPA acting administrator, signed the notice of proposed rulemaking on May 20 and it has been submitted for publication in the U.S. Federal Register. The comment period is for 30 days following publication in the Federal Register. Although the EPA said it isn’t expecting a request for a public hearing, if one is requested the agency will announce the time and place for a hearing as well as a new deadline for public comments.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization said in a press release that it appreciated the EPA moving forward as rapidly as possible as companies continue to invest in and build an advanced biofuel industry. “Finalization of new pathways will clear the way for companies to bring innovative technologies to the marketplace,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s industrial and environmental section. “Delays can determine whether these companies succeed or fail and whether investors remain confident.”
One element of the proposed rule is that corn kernel fiber would be categorized as a crop residue, meaning it would qualify as a cellulosic ethanol feedstock. That’s news researchers at the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center have been hoping for in the more than four years the topic has been studied there. NCERC first announced it had successfully produced cellulosic ethanol from corn bran or fiber in May 2012. “We’ve got a lot of momentum in this work, and it’s momentum that we want to continue forward,” said John Caupert, NCERC’s director.
NCERC has long held that cellulosic ethanol from corn fiber is a
Ryan Koronowski on May 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm
The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University released their most recent survey this week:
The Yale survey, “Public Support for Climate and Energy Policies in April 2013,” dates back to 2008 and is an important barometer for public opinion on clean energy and climate issues.
In general, the year’s survey finds that support for prioritizing clean energy remains high, albeit with a recent dip, due in part to the increasing polarization of the American electorate.
Still, strong majorities support renewable energy and regulation carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
Here is more from what’s in the report, by the numbers:
•87 percent say President Obama and Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a priority.
•While there are some programs at the federal level that have aided the development of clean energy and transportation, such overwhelming support shows that the government could and should do more. After all, fossil fuel extractors make bad neighbors. Some states are getting the message and clean energy development creates jobs. Colorado recently moved to strengthen its Clean Energy Standard. Other states’ clean energy sectors face threats. North Carolina has been fighting off efforts to repeal its clean energy standard this year (that fortunately failed).
•70 percent say global warming should be a priority for the President and Congress.
•There are billions of reasons to make it one. President Obama has more than three years left to make it a big one.
•59 percent think the U.S. should cut greenhouse gas emissions on its own — even if other countries do not.
•33 countries and 18 sub-national jurisdictions will price carbon in 2013. This comprises 850 million people and nearly a third of the global economy. China has
05/24/2013 by Dan Haugen
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday signed into law an energy bill that’s projected to give the state a more than thirtyfold increase in solar generation by the end of the decade.
The Solar Energy Jobs Act was rolled into a larger, omnibus economic development bill and approved by the state’s legislature last week.
The section that’s drawn the most attention is a 1.5 percent by 2020 solar electricity standard for large utilities that is on top of the state’s existing 25 percent by 2025 renewable mandate.
But the bill has several other components that could rival the solar standard’s impact, from expanded incentives and net-metering reforms to the creation of shared, community “solar gardens.”
Clean energy supporters in Minnesota had high hopes going into this year’s legislative session, the first since an electoral sweep in November flipped control of both chambers back to Democrats.
A coalition of environmental groups announced in January that its top energy priority was a proposal to make utilities generate a tenth of their electricity from solar by 2030.
The coalition included members of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News. Fresh Energy, the organization where Midwest Energy News is based, had a role in developing the policy.
The bill was ultimately diluted to a 1.5 percent solar standard by 2020, with a non-mandatory goal of hitting 10 percent by 2030. It also exempts municipal utilities, rural electric co-ops and large industrial customers.
“It’s important for people to understand that while 1.5 percent seems like a low number, it’s in a relatively short timeframe and it’s actually a fairly significant amount of solar deployment,” said Lynn Hinkle, policy director for the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association.
Over the next seven years, investor-owned utilities in the state will need
May 24, 2013 Silvio Marcacci
Seems like someone forgot to tell California that cap and trade was dying an untimely death.
The state’s third carbon allowance auction was held last week, and businesses snapped up all available 2013 permits, setting a record price level in the process. In addition to the 2013 permits, over three-quarters of advance allowances for 2016 were sold to businesses.
With just over six months left until California links up to Quebec’s cap and trade market through the Western Climate Initiative, the system’s growing strength is apparent and stands as yet another example of how the EU Emissions Trading System’s collapse isn’t the end of cap and trade.
Permits Selling Out, For Record Prices
The May 16 auction was California’s third, and sold more than 14.5 million allowances for $14 per ton. Permit prices have continued their brisk rise, increasing from $10.09 in the first auction held November 2012 to $13.62 in the second auction held in February 2013. Every auction held to date has sold out of all current allowances offered.
While the price for advance allocations covering emissions in 2016 held steady at the market floor price of $10.71 per ton compared to those sold in February, the volume dramatically increased compared to previous auctions. The system has never sold more than half of its advance allocations.
Following the auction, California allowances were trading up at $14.50 on the IntercontinentalExchange secondary market.
Roughly 50 million allowances have now been sold through the auctions, raising $256 million for clean energy investments in California, and $556 million for the state’s largest utilities to protect ratepayers from energy bill price hikes.
Keep Directing Revenue Toward Clean Energy
However, California’s market revenue has become controversial in recent weeks, perhaps a victim of its own success. Governor Jerry
Fred Cannon - 05/24/13 12:00 PM ET
More than one-third of the world’s total energy usage relies on liquid fuels – primarily from fossil fuels. In the first quarter of 2013 consumption outpaced production, and the consumption trajectory is only expected to rise. Energy, especially liquid fuel, involves a global marketplace, and to our benefit in the U.S., Congress passed, and fomer President George W. Bush signed, legislation that not only fosters domestic energy production from more sustainable sources, but also provides a path for important green house gas emission reductions. So when frustration over that legislation – the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – is expressed, and done so overlooking the policy’s fundamentals, history and future impact, it deserves to be addressed.
It’s the Renewable Fuel Standard, not the Ethanol Fuel Standard
The RFS, originated in 2005 under the Energy Policy Act and later expanded in 2007 under the Energy Independence and Security Act, was designed to incentivize the development and growth of a more sustainable liquid fuel infrastructure – one that incorporates renewable fuels into the marketplace. Nowhere does the law say that oil refiners and marketers must meet volume requirements by purchasing and blending ethanol.
So how is it that ethanol has become the poster child for renewable fuel? Because instead of investing in innovation and fostering new technology for truly sustainable renewable fuel solutions that fit with the existing fuel infrastructure, oil companies turned to the path of least resistance – ethanol. It was already there, in abundance, and could be blended with gasoline. This would allow the oil industry to “check the box” and later pin its limitations against the entire renewable fuels industry.
Seven years later, as mandates have expanded, the oil industry would like to do away with the RFS because it
Ben Geman - 05/24/13 04:23 PM ET
A liberal watchdog group says the State Department’s inspector general (IG) is probing possible conflicts of interest in the federal environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
The Checks and Balances Project said it will unveil evidence next Wednesday of an IG inquiry into State’s use of Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the consultants behind State's March draft analysis that gave Keystone a largely clean bill of health.
In April, Checks and Balances and other green groups called for an IG probe.
Their request followed revelations in Mother Jones magazine that a senior ERM analyst had worked as a consultant for Keystone developer TransCanada Corp. on previous projects.
The Mother Jones story, based on unredacted ERM filings with State, showed that the ERM official had also worked with big oil companies, and also showed previous work with oil industry interests by two other ERM contributors to the Keystone analysis.
Doug Welty, a spokesman for State’s IG office, said Friday that it’s the IG’s policy not to comment on “any possible, pending, ongoing or future investigations.”
The April letter to the IG from the green groups urged a probe into allegedly “incomplete statements on the Organizational Conflict of Interest ... questionnaire” by ERM, and the State Department contracting officer’s determination that ERM did not have any conflicts of interest.
The letter from groups including Greenpeace, Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth and others alleged ERM has “direct business relationships” in recent years with oil companies that have a financial interest in Keystone.
The Checks and Balances Project said that next Wednesday it will disclose a voicemail from an agent heading the IG probe and email correspondence.
Environmental groups oppose Keystone, which would bring oil sands
Crude landlocked as Canadians join U.S. to halt pipelines
Posted on May 24, 2013 at 6:55 am by Bloomberg
British Columbia, the Canadian province whose official slogan to its own beauty is “Super, Natural,” is invoking another saying: “No more supertankers.”
That’s potentially big trouble in a nation where oil exports amount to $73 billion annually and the industry employs more than 550,000 workers. It’s also a bad omen for nations, notably China, that have invested billions in Canadian oil projects with expectations that they will one day be able to buy vast quantities of heavy Canadian crude.
To do that means not just pumping it from the vast tar sands — thought to hold as many as 170 billion barrels — lying mainly to the east in the neighboring province of Alberta. It also means building pipelines to carry that heavy oil, known as bitumen, west to the coast. From there, fleets of supertankers will be needed to ship it across the Pacific to Asian markets that desperately want cheap oil.
Two such projects, representing about C$11.4 billion ($11.1 billion) in investments, are on the drawing boards. British Columbia, with its mountainous forests, national parks and salmon streams standing between the crude and the sea, wants no part of those pipelines — nor does it want its scenic bays to be turned into supertanker terminals.
In Vancouver, with a metro-area population of 2.5 million, the evergreen-rimmed, blue sprawl of English Bay laps up to the city center and is already a port for supertankers taking crude from an existing pipeline known as the Trans Mountain conduit. Sean Austin offered an opinion sounded often there — that enough is enough. “English Bay shouldn’t become a parking lot for supertankers,” Austin, a 41-year-old construction worker, said in an interview as the sun set over a seawall behind him.
Chinese Caught Out?
An end to the
PG&E Operating Second Energy Storage System With NGK Batteries
23 May 2013
May 23 (Bloomberg) — PG&E Corp., the owner of California’s largest utility, activated its second energy-storage project, using batteries from Japanese manufacturer NGK Insulators Ltd. to balance power on the electric grid.
The Yerba Buena Battery Energy Storage System Pilot Project cost $18.1 million and went into operation this month in San Jose, California, PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said today by e-mail. The sodium-sulfur batteries have 4 megawatts of capacity and can store electricity for more than six hours. They’re charged when power demand is low and inject it back into the grid when demand grows.
Energy storage systems will improve the reliability of the grid and help utilities integrate intermittent renewable-energy generation, PG&E said today in a statement. The San Francisco-based company operates a similar 2-megawatt battery system near its Vaca-Dixon solar plant in Solano County, California, Moreno said.
The Yerba Buena project was funded in part by a $3.3 million grant from the California Energy Commission.
on May 23, 2013
A new solar cooker design, capable of cooking food, purifying water, and powering small electronics, has just been developed by researchers at Cranfield University and COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad.
Image Credit: Cranfield University
A large number of people living in the ‘developing world’ don’t have a reliable, or cheap enough, means to heat their food and purify their water, and as a result, many people are regularly sickened/die from it. The new solar cooker should help to remedy this, according to the researchers, improving the health of many of the people living in rural communities around the world.
The new design is based around the use of “a system of mirrored strips tilted at different angles to concentrate sunlight onto an ‘absorber’ which converts the sun’s energy into useable heat. The process is known as ‘concentrating solar power’ (CSP)” — a process very familiar to those with an interest in solar energy technology. Cranfield University is widely considered to be home to the best CSP research team in the UK.
Cranfield University’s Dr Chris Sansom, the UK’s leading expert on concentrating solar power, said this about the new design: “This is a very exciting project as there are many areas of the world where solar cookers and water purifiers could impact significantly on people’s quality of life.”
In addition to being able to cook food and purify water, the new solar cooker is capable of storing heat and could generate electricity — potentially powering mobile and small-scale electronic devices, such as periodic air conditioning.
“The solar cooker was developed by COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, with expertise from Cranfield University. It was funded by the Government of Pakistan, who recognised the need to improve the lives of those living in the remote regions of Pakistan.”
The Iowa legislature passed H.F. 640 on May 22, legislation that protects retailers from Big Oil efforts to restrict competition by guaranteeing local retailers the right to offer the ethanol and biodiesel blends of their choice...
Zack Colman - 05/23/13 02:19 PM ET
The contentious debate on whether hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, contaminates drinking water bubbled to the surface Thursday during a Senate panel discussion.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) pressed environmentalists to name a specific site where fracking had polluted groundwater at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee natural gas roundtable.
“I keep hearing from the environmental groups that there are many examples of contamination of groundwater. And I keep hearing from the industry ... that they don’t know of a single incident," Landrieu said. "Please do not give me theories — just give me one site."
Amy Mall, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), pointed to an article that indicated water pollution in Pennsylvania communities.
“There is no doubt that water has been contaminated by natural gas production,” Mall said.
But industry officials and state regulators pushed back against that claim.
“We have no reported cases” of fracking contaminating groundwater, said Barry Smitherman, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission.
Fracking is a drilling practice that injects a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into tight rock formations to tap hydrocarbons buried deep underground. The method has been credited with sparking a domestic energy boom.
The exchange between Landrieu and green groups underscored the long-simmering fight regarding fracking’s impact on the environment.
Industry contends the drilling method is safe, and wants states to continue regulating the practice. Environmentalists, however, maintain it pollutes groundwater and want the federal government to take a more active role in overseeing the practice..
Mall said that while the chemicals used in fracking have not shown up in groundwater supplies, there are many communities that have
May 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm by Bloomberg
By Mark Drajem
FracFocus, the website drillers use to disclose chemicals in hydraulic fracturing, is revamping its system next week to let regulators for the first time search and aggregate the information.
The industry-backed system, which is used by drillers such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., is resolving a criticism from environmental groups by converting the online information into a database of chemicals used in individual wells that can be analyzed, said Stan Belieu, deputy director of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, who testified on behalf of FracFocus today at a Senate forum.
“The improvements that are going to be made to FracFocus will be a substantial improvement,” Mark Brownstein, associate vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said today at the Senate forum on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. For regulators, “this helps them target resources and enforcement.”
Father of fracking: Gov. Perry honors shale pioneer George Mitchell
FracFocus is a voluntary registry of the chemicals used in fracking. Of 18 states that require companies to disclose their chemicals, 11 require or allow the reporting to be on FracFocus. The Bureau of Land Management proposed last week that it would use the system for drillers on federal lands.
The online registry, created in April 2011, has collected and published its information in online document form. To analyze that information across wells would require the user to extract and enter the data into their own database, Belieu said today.
As of June 1, all information must be submitted, and can be accessed, in a database, he said. Each state will determine how much information, and in which form, it will be available.
Regulations: Feds make concessions to oil industry in new hydraulic fracturing rule
Susanne Retka Schill | May 23, 2013
CME Group is pleased with the interest generated in its new renewable identification numbers (RINs) futures contracts. In addition to the first trades of D6 ethanol RINs reported earlier, the commodities trading exchange reported that 60 lots of D5 advanced biofuels RINs were traded earlier this week. The broker was Starsupply Commodity Brokers.
With each lot representing 50,000 RINs, the 60 D5 contracts represent 4.5 million gallons of advanced biofuels. One gallon of advanced biofuel receives 1.5 RINs credits. “The fact we’ve had 3 million D5 RINs means we’ve achieved a much higher level than we thought possible in the first two weeks,” said Dan Brusstar, senior director of energy research and product development. While new futures contracts typically start off small, he added, “so far we’ve had pretty active trading.”
The CME Group began offering three RINs contracts on May 13: D4 biodiesel, D5 advanced biofuel and D6 ethanol. Contracts are being offered monthly, and provide the flexibility for companies to do a quarterly or even annual string. “Each month we will do a final settlement based on Argus Media assessments,” Brusstar explained. The contract for 2012-vintage RINs will be open until February 2014, 2013-vintage RINs will trade up to February of 2015, and 2014-vintage RINs will be open until February 2016.
The increased value of RINs, which is currently around 85 cents for D6 ethanol RINS, 95 cents for D5 advanced biofuel RINs and 95 cents for D4 biodiesel RINs, creates a situation where blenders and obligated parties have a greater incentive to use the new futures for risk management. Most of the companies likely to be interested in using the new risk management tool for hedging RINs values are already trading gasoline or ethanol futures, Brusstar pointed out. And, many of the brokers currently facilitating trades...
18:36 UK, 22nd May 2013, by Agrimoney
A jump in ethanol production to the highest in 11 month, coupled with a rash of buying by feed users, spurred a jump in corn prices on Wednesday, which lifted prices of other crops too.
Corn for July delivery hit $6.57 a bushel at one point, a rise of 2.7%, after official data showed US ethanol production soaring 18,000 barrels a day to 875,000 barrels a day last week, the highest figure since June last year.
Data on inventories showed demand for the biofuel too, with stocks falling by 247,000 barrels to 16.18m barrels, the lowest since November 2010, and in fact within 150,000 barrels of setting the lowest on record.
The extent of the rise in production was seen as down to improved production margins, given the lower corn prices that have prevailed since the US in late March revealed that its inventories of the grain were far higher than had been thought.
A strong pace of new crop plantings, in boosting production ideas, depressed corn values over the past week.
Large export deals
The ethanol data extended a rally in corn prices fuelled by the US Department of Agriculture's announcement of 540,000 tonnes of corn export sales, for the 2013-14 marketing year.
Of the total, 360,000 tonnes were bought by China, a sensitive market, given the extent of its demand, which is spurring ideas that it has turned into a growing and structural importer of the grain.
Furthermore, feed buyers were also believed to have stepped in to buy at prices among their lowest since June, and with the potential for a late harvest, after delayed sowings, elongating reliance on thin corn supplies left over from the drought-hit 2012 harvest.
"The ethanol guys, with their improved margins, have been taking corn away from the feed guys, who have had no alternative but to come back in and buy corn," Roy Huckabay, vice-president at Linn Group, the Chicago broker,
Ben Geman - 05/23/13 11:26 AM ET
Two dozen Senate Republicans are warning President Obama not to link “wholly unrelated” climate change policies to approval of the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
“You should approve the Keystone XL pipeline project on its merits alone without suddenly moving the goalposts after more than four years of review by tethering its fate to wholly unrelated and economically disastrous new regulatory policies,” states the new letter to Obama led by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).
Rumors have long swirled that if Obama approves Keystone, he might link approval to policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon standards for the nation’s existing power plants.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who opposes Keystone, told reporters in April that if Obama green-lights the pipeline, he should combine the action with other climate policy steps — comments that the Republicans flagged in their new letter.
“If they are determined to go down that path, and they can’t be dissuaded, then the important thing is to make sure that they surround that decision ... [with] a whole formidable array of environmental and anti-carbon measures that can not just offset the harm that they do by approving [Keystone] ... but actually turn the whole package into a very strong, anti-carbon pollution suite of strategies,” Whitehouse said.
The Obama administration is reviewing whether to issue a permit for TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline, which would bring oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects across the border en route to Gulf Coast refineries.
Republicans who signed the letter — a group that includes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the rest of the Senate GOP leadership team — say the Keystone decision should proceed on its own.
“We strongly urge you not to expand the scope of...
May 23, 2013 Nathan
Around 85,000 households in the Northwest could be powered every month by the energy that could be stored deep underground in the region’s porous rock, according to new research. By utilizing such an energy storage solution, the region’s substantial wind energy resources could be put to full use.
The work, done by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration, has identified two practical methods for putting this energy storage approach into practice, and also two very well-suited locations in Eastern Washington.
The compressed air energy storage solution is an extremely appealing one for the region because of the abundant wind energy potential there. This energy is often generated at night when the winds in the region are strongest. Unfortunately, energy demands are lowest at that time. So, a means of being able to produce maximum amounts of energy when the potential is highest and simply save this energy for later use is very appealing. One significant advantage of the compressed air solution is that such plants can be designed to switch between energy storage and power generation very quickly — within minutes.
“With Renewable Portfolio Standards requiring states to have as much as 20 or 30 percent of their electricity come from variable sources such as wind and the sun, compressed air energy storage plants can play a valuable role in helping manage and integrate renewable power onto the Northwest’s electric grid,” said Steve Knudsen, who managed the study for the BPA.
The press release gets into the details:
All compressed air energy storage plants work under the same basic premise. When power is abundant, it’s drawn from the electric grid and used to power a large air compressor, which pushes pressurized