NewEnergyNews: ENERGY BILL: AT LONG LAST – WHAT?

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CLIMATE CHANGE – IT GETS WORSE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WHERE AND HOW WIND IS GROWING IN THE WORLD
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINA TO LEAD SOLAR MARKET GROWTH DESPITE OBSTACLES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE ENORMOUS POTENTIAL OF WORLD GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 28:

  • TTTA Thursday-PRESIDENT TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE
  • TTTA Thursday-BIRDS AND ENERGY, THE BIGGER STORY
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW CA LAW STREAMLINES SOLAR PERMITTING
  • TTTA Thursday-DATA CENTER EFFICIENCIES CAN SAVE U.S. $3.8BIL/YR
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE RISKIEST ENERGY IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 27: VERIZON’S $40MIL SOLAR BUY; WIND PRICES HIT RECORD LOWS; NUKE INSPECTOR SAYS DIABLO CYN IS UNSAFE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: U.S. WIND RIGHT NOW
  • QUICK NEWS, August 26: CLIMATE MODELS PROVE RIGHT AGAIN; ABOUT INVESTING IN SOLAR; GM VS TESLA IN THE 200 MILE RACE

    AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW CALMER WINDS AHEAD FOR EUROPE
  • QUICK NEWS, August 25: JULY’S U.S. ENERGY BUILD WAS ALL NEW ENERGY; CLIMATE CHANGE FOR ENERGY INVESTORS; WIND CAN GROW FASTER THAN NUCLEAR
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: New Thoughts About New Energy For A New Climate
  • Weekend Video: Carbon
  • Weekend Video: Why Utilities Struggle With New Energy
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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  • ---------------
  • Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    ENERGY BILL: AT LONG LAST – WHAT?

    Ted Glick, coordinator, US Climate Emergency Council: "It's not that surprising that there's this resistance and we're not getting fully what we need…But the winds are shifting. This kind of energy bill makes it clear that they're shifting in the right direction."

    It is not, however, clear how strong those shifting winds are. Speaker Pelosi seems to be stalwartly championing the national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring utilities to obtain 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. But Senate Republicans, buoyed despite their minority numbers by the filibuster rule necessitating 60 votes to get floor debate and a vote on any issue, seem staunchly determined to stand up for the Mega-Utilities (instead of ratepayers) and Big Oil, Big Coal and Nuclear (instead of New Energy).

    Given Pelosi’s determination, it is very possible the RES could get through the House.


    Back Pelosi: POWER OF WIND

    In the Senate, compromises could be in the offing. Pro-nuclear Senators might come over to the New Energy side if a deal on emission-free energy were hammered out - but Senate Majority Leader Reid is opposed to the Yucca Mountain storage idea and probably is reluctant to go very far on nuclear.

    Concessions allowing 4% of the RES-required 15% renewables to come from efficiency measures may appease some Senators who side with the utilities because they sincerely believe the utilities' claptrap about it not being possible to get the required New Energy. Concessions promising not to remove oil and gas industry tax protections might bring other Senators around. Mandates for larger ethanol and biofuels subsidies could bring over a few more.


    There is no section of the US that is not rich in some form of New Energy. And the talent to develop it. (click to enlarge)

    Senator Dick Durbin (D-ILL): "We're going to have to deal with the harsh reality of needing to find 60 votes in the Senate and producing a bill that the president will sign, so it's a balancing act…"

    Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska: "I don't think we can require utilities to do the impossible…I think too many people are tinkering with this bill. We had a good bill."

    Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn): "I do not want to see a renewable electricity standard…That is a terrible idea. I am very disappointed with what I am hearing from the House."

    Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass), chairman of the Select Committee On Energy Independence and Global Warming: "[We are] in for a very tough, strong battle, but we're going to do our best to win it…similar renewable electricity standards have twice before passed in the Senate…and we think the standard is something that should be embraceable by 60 votes in the Senate."

    Say that by some miraculous, Lyndon Johnson-style wheeling and dealing these measures do get through the Senate. For President Bush not to veto, the bill would have to have so much protection for the fossil fuels industries’ tax breaks and so much money for ethanol and biofuels incentives that there wouldn’t be much left to fund New Energy incentives like the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

    Which Pelosi would not allow. So it is likely to be a bill Bush will veto. Which may be the point. 2008 is an election year. If Pelosi gets her RES: Win. If she doesn’t because Bush vetoes, rejecting the New Energy that an overwhelming majority of Democratic and Republican Americans want: Win.


    (see POLL: 62% WANT NEW ENERGY )

    The winds are shifting.

    US House Dems Unveil Energy Bill With $21 Billion In Taxes
    Siobhan Hughes and Ian Talley, December 4, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires via CNNMoney)
    and
    New US energy bill meets green lobby approval
    Elana Schor, December 4, 2007 (UK Guardian Unlimited)

    WHO
    Congressional Democrats, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Environmentalists interviewed

    WHAT
    House Democrats, having agreed last week on improved Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFÉ) standards requiring US auto fleets to get 35 mpg by 2020, are now in the process of resolving remaining contentious issues with Republicans in pending energy legislation. 3 chief areas of conflict remain: (1) the national RES; (2) the allocation of budgetary funds between incentives for the fossil fuels industries, the nuclear energy industry and New Energy industries; (3) a mandate for biofuels.

    President Bush backs ethanol subsidies but the markets are proving it drives food prices up. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    The bill is expected to come to up for debate today (Wednesday, December 5).

    WHERE
    The House is expected to deal with the bill first. The Senate, where passage is complicated by the filibuster rule, will take up what the House passes.

    WHY
    - Pelosi has expressed strong intentions concerning the RES. Domenici seems equally adamant in opposition. Therefore, the House may pass it, as it did in July, only to have it fail in the Senate for lack of 60 votes to beat the filibuster, just as it did in June.
    - There has been talk that Domenici could be won over by concessions regarding nuclear energy, for which he is a strong advocate. Should that happen, however, President Bush is expected to veto.
    - There has been talk that President Bush might be swayed by concessions on biofuels and protections for incentives to the fossil fuel industries.
    Pelosi is presently looking at shifting as much as $13 billion in fossil fuels industries tax benefits to New Energy incentives.

    A national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) would likely create enormous savings for ratepayers everywhere. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Domenici: "The Speaker expects the Senate to discard a negotiated, bipartisan agreement in favour of her bill without amendment…That is no way to pass legislation and is another in a long list of reasons why Congress has lost the faith and trust of the American people."
    - Brent Blackwelder, president, Friends of the Earth: “[This energy bill] could mark a major step forward…The political reality is, these bills are about as good as we can get now…"
    - Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman: "…in our view, a good energy bill would not establish a narrow, one-size-fits-all renewable portfolio standard, would not increase taxes, would not harm domestic oil and gas production - it should expand it."

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