“bill of rights,” which seeks to prevent oil refiners from directly or indirectly limiting the ability of retailers to offer ethanol and biodiesel blends such as E15, E85 and B20
... This bill tears down one part of Big Oil’s bogus blend wall in Iowa ...
...it is little wonder that Ernest Moniz has called this “the crucial decade” for getting advanced renewable energy technologies off the ground and into the mainstream marketplace, natural gas or no natural gas
May 25, 2013 Tina Casey
In a town hall meeting with staffers last week, new Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz dropped a bombshell and a hint. The bombshell, at least as far as fans of natural gas are concerned, is that Moniz sees natural gas not as a permanent fixture in the U.S. energy landscape but merely as a temporary “bridge” to a globally competitive, low carbon future that is well within our grasp.
As for the hint, Moniz mentioned that the Energy Department will ramp up its efforts to develop small hydro, engineered geothermal systems and other “forgotten renewables.” That could have a profound impact on the ability of different areas of the country to leverage local and regional energy resources for economic development.
The phrase “forgotten renewables” came up during Moniz’s confirmation hearings, in the opening statement of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).
While spending considerable time acknowledging the advantages of low cost natural gas currently, Wyden makes clear that natural gas is not the answer for sustainable, long term competitiveness in the global marketplace, given the potential for low cost renewable energy technology breakthroughs outside of the US:
“Today, low cost natural gas provides our nation’s economy with a competitive advantage.However, new technological breakthroughs could put our competitive advantage at risk in the foreseeable future…Renewables must be part of that solution. The committee this month will take up bills that will encourage hydropower and geothermal, which we would call the forgotten renewables.”
Moniz And Natural Gas
Moniz echoes this sentiment at the Energy Department town hall. Though he starts off by stating that “this natural gas boom is a boon” in terms of its relatively low carbon emissions, he uses that to make the case for a more aggressive pursuit of a long term solution in the form of
SaskPower set to start testing world’s first carbon-capture facility
CTV Regina: A glimpse at Boundary Dam’s carbon cap
CTV Regina: While it's still a year away from completion, the public got a rare glimpse into a carbon capture project under way at Boundary
Jonathan Zettel, CTVNews Staff
Friday, May 24, 2013 12:45PM EDT
The world’s first carbon capture and storage facility is set to start testing in Saskatchewan and it’s already creating international buzz.
The facility, located near Estevan, Sask.. will take harmful smoke from SaskPower’s coal-burning Boundary Dam and transform the carbon dioxide into sulfuric acid.
The excess waste from the state-of-the-art process will then be injected deep into the ground, where it will be contained.
German scientists quit oilsands project over climate concerns
2 per cent of Canadians don't believe in climate change: poll
“This may be one of the answers for the future,” SaskPower manager Mike Zeleny said.
Since 1960, the Boundary Dam has burned coal to create steam to drive turbines and generate nearly 30 per cent of Saskatchewan’s power.
“The power plant itself does produce a lot of CO2 (carbon dioxide) which is one of the key gases that can cause the greenhouse gas and global warming effect,” Zeleny said.
He added that business people from around the world are taking notice of the capture system.
“It is very exciting because there are so many CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) projects out there in the world, but this is the only one that is actually being constructed on this scale. The whole CCS industry is looking at it with very big enthusiasm,” said Ken Suzuki, a Japanese businessman who toured the operation this week.
Strict government regulations are pushing coal-burning plants to reduce their CO2 outputs.
Federal rules say once a coal-firing generator in Canada reaches 50 years of age, it is obliged to reduce its emissions...
U.S. Senators Introduce Bill for Energy-Storage Tax Incentives
24 May 2013
May 24 (Bloomberg) — Four U.S. Senators proposed legislation offering tax incentives to homeowners and companies that install energy-storage systems in an effort to boost investment in renewable power.
The bill would provide a 30 percent tax credit, capped at $1 million per project, to homeowners and businesses that use power-storage equipment, according to a statement today from Senators Ron Wyden and Jeffrey Merkley, Oregon Democrats, Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, and Angus King, an independent from Maine. Wyden is chairman of the energy and natural resources committee.
The bill also offers a 20 percent credit, capped at $40 million each, for utility-scale systems, with a total budget of $1.5 billion in incentives for these large projects.
Wind turbines and solar panels don’t always generate power when it’s most needed, and storage systems that retain the energy until demand is higher will facilitate wider use of renewable energy, the senators said.
“Building out more energy storage will increase the amount of renewable power on the grid, reduce our country’s need for new power plants and make the U.S. energy system more reliable,” Wyden said in the statement. “With all of the attention given to new sources of power, it’s only appropriate that energy storage gets its time in the sun.”
The threshold for storage systems to qualify for the incentive was lowered to 5 kilowatt hours from 20 kilowatt hours in an earlier version of the bill that wasn’t passed.
May 25 2013 Guest Contributor
The US Congressional Budget Office has completed its study of impact of carbon tax on the US economy. The CBO was given the tax to assess the impact of carbon tax on fossil fuels on the US economy and the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. In its second report on the subject, the CBO has given elaborate description of what a possible carbon tax regime could look like.
The report seems extremely balanced as it elaborates the findings one step at a time without jumping to conclusions. One of the significant findings of the report is that while the share of US’ greenhouse gas emissions in the world would reduce to 15% from the current levels of 18%, it is important that efforts are made to reduce them. It says that it is important to do so to prevent “potentially catastrophic damage.”
As mentioned in an earlier report, the CBO estimates that a $20 per tonne tax on carbon dioxide emissions would yield revenue of $1.3 trillion over a period of 10 years. The emissions would also reduce by 8% during this period.
The report states that levying a carbon tax would certainly have an impact on the consumer prices which may have a cascading effect on the overall national economic growth. However, this damage can be countered by using the carbon tax revenue to a) reduce the fiscal deficit and b) reduce income tax and other taxes to support businesses and consumers. Thus, a revenue-neutral carbon tax may prove beneficial to the environment as well as the economy.
Next, the CBO has stated the possible points of implementation of carbon tax on fossil fuels – coal, oil and natural gas. It has been suggested the miners and well operators or the electricity generators can be placed under the carbon tax regime. This procedure would be convenient as reporting and monitoring process is well established at these points.
The report itself is
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.