NewEnergyNews: MR. OBAMA TAKES NEW ENERGY, EFFICIENCY TO WASHINGTON

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

  • THE STUDY: THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 29: WIND MAY TIP KANSAS ELECTION; YOUNG VOTERS BRING NEW ENERGY; GREEN BUILDINGS BOOMING
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 28: WIND BOOMS AS ‘MOST AFFORDABLE ENERGY OPTION’; OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIG SOLAR; GEOTHERMAL COMING BACK
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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 HEALTH IN EMISSIONS CUTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 27: NEW ENERGY OVER 40% OF U.S. NEW BUILD IN 2014; EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NOW INCLUDE SOLAR; WIND BRINGS JOBS TO MICHIGAN
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Talking With The Redwoods
  • Weekend Video: Evangelicals Confront Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Living The Platinum Rule: Making The Best Invention Of All Time Better
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- EU UPS THE WORLD’S BAR ON EMISSIONS CUT TARGETS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-FIRST BIG MOROCCO SOLAR NEAR POWERING UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NORTH SEA WIND-HYDRO INTERLINK TO GROW
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-TURKISH GEOTHERMAL GETS INTELLIGENT
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 23:

  • TTTA Thursday-EVANGELICALS IN ‘CREATION CARE’ CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-ADVANCED WIND-MAKERS MAKANI, SHEERWIND READY DEMOS
  • TTTA Thursday-TEA PARTY BACKS SOLAR, ATTACKS UTILITY MONOPOLIES
  • TTTA Thursday-WHAT DRIVERS DON’T KNOW HOLDS BACK THE FUTURE
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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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  • ---------------
  • Friday, January 09, 2009

    MR. OBAMA TAKES NEW ENERGY, EFFICIENCY TO WASHINGTON

    Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1st inaugural address, 1933: "…Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and the moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men..."

    Nancy Killefer has her work cut out for her. The President-elect tapped her for the newly created job of Chief Performance Officer. She is to oversee administration spending and eliminate waste.

    Mr. Obama is going to have hundreds of billions, maybe a trillion dollars, to allocate. How he spends it will determine what kind of presidency he has and what kind of country the U.S. will be. Few details are available yet but the President-elect wants action.

    Mr. Obama: “I don’t believe it’s too late to change course, but it will be if we don’t take dramatic action as soon as possible…If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits.”

    He has described what he wants to spend on as “…long term economic growth, things we need to be doing anyway…"

    The President-elect was more specific about his
    American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan in his January 8 speech about the economy: "To finally spark the creation of a clean energy economy, we will double the production of alternative energy in the next three years. We will modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of 2 million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills. In the process, we will put Americans to work in new jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced, jobs building solar panels and wind turbines, constructing fuel-efficient cars and buildings, and developing the new energy technologies that will lead to even more jobs, more savings, and a cleaner, safer planet in the bargain…”

    From ChangeDotGov via YouTube.

    One of the items on the agenda is making homes and federal buildings energy efficient.

    It’s a popular aim. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) jointly called on the Obama transition team to include Energy Efficiency in the stimulus package, suggesting spending in particular on home efficiency improvements for senior citizens and low-income families.

    Feinstein proposed the spending be done by way of big tax breaks for cutting home heating/cooling costs and for commercial building efficiency improvements.

    Retrofitting for efficiencies would put back to work the very people, thought to be hundreds of thousands, who the housing downturn has put out of work.

    In preparation for turning such proposals into realities, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and newly elected Chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee Congressman Henry Waxman (D-California) have moved Congressman Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) into the crucial Chairmanship of the newly created House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment.

    Markey will also retain his Chairmanship of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (created by Ms. Pelosi in her first year as Speaker). This gives Congressman Markey, in conjunction with Pelosi and Waxman, enormous influence in the areas where the President-elect wants action.

    Congressman Markey: "This is the next technological revolution in America…The stars are aligned for great change."

    These moves signal a complete shift away from old policies maintained by Congressman John Dingell (D-Michigan), the man Waxman replaced and an advocate for the auto industry, and Congressman Rick Boucher (D-Virginia), the man Markey replaces and an advocate for the coal industry.

    Congressman Markey: "It's time to create the clean-energy age…My goal is now to create an energy policy that creates millions of new jobs in the United States…"


    Congressman Markey, on the November 18 Obama speech committing his administration to the climate change fight. From RepMarkey via YouTube.

    A third of the $17 billion/year federal operating budget goes to heat, cool and light thousands of government buildings. In 2006, $6.2 billion went for the facilities of just 21 agencies. Half that went to the Defense Department.

    Previous efforts to streamline that energy consumption have failed (despite presidential orders and Congressional legislation) because just keeping things going costs so much, there has been nothing left over to make improvements.

    Though progress has been made, the goals of 30% improvement on 2003 energy consumption levels by 2015 and getting 7.5% of power from New Energy sources by 2013 will require spending an estimated $1-to-$1.5 billion/year above and beyond the operating expenses. Only $640 million was spent for such efficiency upgrades in 2007.

    Perhaps this time will be different because money from the stimulus package could be put to work. Ms. Killefer’s abilities will be tested. But her's is not the only oversight that will be needed. National security exempts some buildings: How can they retrofit a top-secret facility yet make the spending transparent?

    Footnote: Reuters reported that Obama’s Secretary of Energy-designate Steven Chu met with members of the Illinois Congressional delegation to discuss “clean” coal technology and the ambitious $1.8 billion FutureGen “clean” coal experimental plant, planned for Central Illinois until its estimated cost ballooned to an estimated $2.4 billion and it was cancelled by the Bush administration. Illinois Senators and Congressmen advocate FutureGen as a contribution to the fight against global climate change and a source of jobs.

    Perhaps Dr. Chu can explain to them that there is no such thing as clean coal.


    click to enlarge

    Obama wants to cut energy use in federal buildings
    H. Josef Hebert, January 7, 2009 (AP)
    and
    Obama says stimulus to include energy savings
    Tom Doggett and Ayesha Rascoe (w/David Gregorio), January 7, 2009 (Reuters via UK Guardian)
    and
    Markey to lead powerful energy subcommittee; Post seen as central to the Obama agenda
    Susan Milligan, January 8, 2009 (Boston Globe)
    and
    Obama Presses for Action on Economy
    Brian Knowlton, January 8, 2009 (NY Times)

    WHO
    President-elect Barack Obama; Performance Officer-designate Nancy Killefer; Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine); Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-California), Congressman Henry Waxman (D-California), newly elected Chair of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and Congressman Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and newly appointed Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment

    WHAT
    While President-elect Obama slowly introduces his New Energy agenda, the Senate and the House are preparing to enact it, positioning power brokers and proposals strategically, though streamlining federal building energy consumption will be expensive and challenging.

    It's time for the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Energy Star and other efficiency plans to get involved in politics. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - Congressional legislation in the 2005 and 2007 energy bills mandated efficiencies that did not get fully met.
    - Feinstein and Snow would increase the tax credit for home efficiencies and tax deductions for commercial building improvements through 2011.
    - A Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing January 8 covered efficiency plans and other energy matters.

    WHERE
    - The plan calls for the retrofitting of 75% of the federal governement’s 21 agencies and thousands of buildings.
    - Senators Feinstein and Snow proposed federal underwriting for retrofitting the homes of the low income and seniors.

    click to enlarge

    WHY
    - Few details of the overall stimulus plan have yet to emerge. Spending on energy, health care and education is frequently mentioned.
    - The Obama-Biden New Energy for America campaign promise was for $150 billion in spending over 10 years to create 5 million jobs and weatherize 1 million homes a year.
    - The Feinstein/Snow proposal would weatherize the homes of seniors and low income families with insulation, energy-saving windows and efficient water heaters. They would up the $2,000 the tax credit for new homes that reduce heating and cooling costs by 50% to $5,000 and raise the commercial building tax deduction for energy efficiencies from $1.80 per square foot to $3.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Senator Barbara Boxer (D- California): "In these challenging times, green jobs represent the kind of win-win solution we need…They put people to work here in America. You can't outsource installation of a solar roof on your house to another country."
    - President-elect Obama, January 8: "To build an economy that can lead this future, we will begin to rebuild America…That means updating the way we get our electricity, by starting to build a new smart grid that will save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation…”

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