NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: WHAT EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT CAN DO

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: ADDING UP THE CLIMATE CHANGE NUMBERS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 29: PRES SAYS YES TO CLIMATE ACTION, SENATE STUCK; FLAWED NEW PLAN FOR NEW ENERGY IN CALIF; SOLAR PANELS GET BETTER
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Obama On Climate Change At The UN
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart Heats Up Over Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Colbert Asks If “This Changes Everything”
  • -------------------

    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

    -------------------

    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HIGH WATER RISING – EVERYWHERE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-MOROCCO WIND BOOM COMING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA BOOSTS ITS SOLAR BUILD
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-ABU DHABI BUYS A PIECE OF NORWAY’S STAKE IN UK OFFSHORE WIND
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 25:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PRIVATE SECTOR FACES CLIMATE CHANGE
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR WILL POWER SCHOOLS, EARN MONEY FOR TEACHERS
  • TTTA Thursday-A RIDE IN TOMORROW’S CAR
  • TTTA Thursday-A LOOK AT SEE-THROUGH SOLAR
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: FREEING THE NATIONAL TREASURE IN U.S. NATIONAL LABS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 24: ROCKEFELLERS DIVEST OIL FOR NEW ENERGY; BOLD $8BIL WIND BUILD-TRANSMIT-STORE PROJECT; CALIF TARGETS 1.5MIL 0-EMISSIONS CARS BY 2024
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: WHERE OFFSHORE WIND IS IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 23: THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION; THE MATTER OF WIND IN KANSAS; MICROGRID TECHNOLOGY MARKET TO QUADRUPLE
  • -

    --------------------------

    --------------------------

    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.

    - -------------------

    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

    -------------------

    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

    -------------------

    Your intrepid reporter

    -------------------

      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

    -------------------

    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: WHAT EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT CAN DO

    Renewable Energy; Federal Agencies Implement Hundreds of Initiatives
    February 27, 2012 (Government Accounting Office)

    What GAO Found

    Governmentwide, 23 agencies and their 130 subagencies GAO reviewed implemented nearly 700 renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010. The Departments of Defense (DOD), Agriculture (USDA), Energy (DOE), and the Interior were collectively responsible for almost 60 percent of all initiatives.

    The initiatives supported a range of renewable energy sources, and the most commonly supported sources were bioenergy, solar, and wind. Also, the initiatives supported a range of public and private sector recipients, but the large majority provided support to the private sector. Many initiatives supported multiple renewable energy sources and types of recipients, while many others targeted support to one source or recipient. Agencies’ renewable energy efforts increased in recent years as a result of the provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and other factors, but the level of future efforts is less certain with the expiration of these provisions and budget constraints.

    Across agencies, more than 80 percent of initiatives span four key federal roles—supporting research and development; using renewable energy in vehicle fleets and facilities; providing incentives for commercialization and deployment; and regulation, permitting, and ensuring compliance. Certain agencies led efforts in each federal role: DOE, DOD, and USDA for research and development; DOD, the General Services Administration, and DOE for fleets and facilities; Treasury and USDA for commercialization and deployment; and Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency for regulation, permitting, and compliance.

    click to enlarge

    Why GAO Did This Study

    The nation’s reliance on imported oil, rising energy costs, and fossil fuels’ potential contribution to climate change have renewed the federal focus on renewable energy. Many federal agencies support renewable energy activities, raising congressional concerns about the number and roles of agencies implementing such efforts. Currently, there is no comprehensive inventory of federal renewable energy initiatives, making it difficult to identify potential fragmentation or duplication.

    GAO was asked to (1) identify agencies’ renewable energy-related initiatives and (2) examine the federal roles agencies’ initiatives supported. GAO collected data from agencies’ budget documents, strategic plans, websites, and through agency data requests and interviews with officials from most of the 24 federal agencies subject to the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990. These 24 agencies accounted for roughly 98 percent of all federal outlays in 2009. GAO developed an inventory of agencies’ renewable energy initiatives, including initiatives for which renewable energy was the focus, as well as initiatives for which it was part of a broader effort. GAO focused on developing this inventory, and as such, did not evaluate initiatives based on financial support or other factors.

    This report contains no recommendations. In response to the draft report, Commerce agreed with the overall findings as they relate to the Department, while Homeland Security neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO’s findings. The other agencies provided technical or clarifying comments, which GAO incorporated as appropriate, or had no comments.

    click to enlarge

    The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman Chairman
    The Honorable Susan M. Collins Ranking Member
    Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    United States Senate

    Americans’ daily lives, as well as the economic productivity of the United States, depend on the availability of energy, particularly from fossil fuels. However, concerns over the nation’s reliance on imported oil, rising energy costs, and fossil fuels’ potential contribution to global climate change have renewed the focus on developing renewable energy resources and technologies to meet future energy needs.1 According to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Information Administration, domestic renewable energy use grew by 21 percent from 2006 to 2010 and accounted for about 8 percent of U.S. energy consumption in 2010.2During the same period, nuclear energy use increased by about 3 percent, and the use of fossil fuels decreased by about 4 percent largely as a result of the recent economic downturn. Over the coming decades, the Energy Information Administration projects that the strongest growth in the domestic energy sector will be in the use of renewable energy to generate electricity and produce liquid fuels for transportation.

    click to enlarge

    Congress and some federal agencies have emphasized the importance of renewable energy as a means to address issues of national concern and have committed substantial federal resources to initiatives in this area. 3 For instance, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) received about $630 million in its fiscal year 2010 appropriation for research related to bioenergy, geothermal, solar, water, and wind energy—an increase of about 43 percent from the fiscal year 2008 level of about $440 million.4 EERE received an additional $1.4 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) for renewable energy-related efforts.5 The federal government also creates incentives for investment in certain types of renewable energy-related projects and for the production and consumption of renewable energy by, for example, providing favorable tax treatment, such as tax credits, to businesses and individuals. These tax preferences—which are referred to as tax expenditures and are administered by the Department of the Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—result in forgone revenue for the federal government.6 Revenue losses associated with renewable energy-related tax expenditures were estimated to be almost $8.9 billion for fiscal year 2010, according to estimates from the President’s 2012 budget.7 The Recovery Act and other recent legislation established, extended, or changed the scope of a number of these tax expenditures.

    click to enlarge

    The federal government is also uniquely positioned to affect the development of renewable energy resources through its land management and regulatory activities and as a consumer of energy. For example, the Department of the Interior (Interior) manages approximately 500 million acres, or one-fifth, of the nation’s land and 1.7 billion acres off its shores. Interior has recently emphasized development of renewable resources in these areas by, for example, implementing measures to streamline the regulatory processes associated with constructing solar energy projects on some of these lands. The federal government is also the single largest user of energy in the United States, and a number of recent federal laws and executive orders have established requirements and direction for federal agencies to (1) reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy use at their facilities, and (2) to reduce petroleum consumption and increase the use of alternative fuels in their vehicle fleets.8

    The wide range of federal activities related to renewable energy and the recent increase in these efforts have raised congressional concerns about the number of agencies implementing such activities, as well as the roles of agencies responsible for regulating and providing funding to various segments of the renewable energy industry. However, there is currently no comprehensive inventory of which federal agencies are implementing renewable energy-related initiatives and the types of initiatives they are implementing. In light of efforts to balance the federal budget and target spending on activities that will most effectively meet national needs, the lack of available information on agencies’ renewable energy initiatives has further raised congressional concerns about the ability to identify whether efforts are fragmented, duplicative, or operating at cross-purposes.

    click to enlarge

    Due to these concerns, you asked us to provide information on federal renewable energy initiatives. Our objectives for this report are to (1) identify federal agencies’ renewable energy-related initiatives governmentwide, and (2) examine the federal roles these agencies’ initiatives support. Appendix II and GAO-12-259SP provide more detailed information on individual agencies’ initiatives.9In addition, we provide information on the extent to which the Recovery Act established, expanded, or modified agencies’ renewable energy-related initiatives, and identify those initiatives, such as certain tax expenditures that supported ethanol or other biofuels, for which authority has recently or will soon expire without congressional action. This information is provided in appendixes III and IV, respectively.

    click to enlarge

    To identify federal agencies’ renewable energy-related initiatives, we collected information on initiatives that were funded, planned, implemented, or authorized in fiscal year 2010 by reviewing agencies’ budget documents and other key information sources, such as strategic plans and websites. From this effort, we developed data on agencies’ initiatives that were related to renewable energy through a specific emphasis or focus, even if renewable energy was part of a broader effort. 10 We defined an initiative as a program or group of activities serving a similar purpose or function, and the initiatives we identified included agency spending programs as well as tax expenditures. In some instances, these initiatives corresponded to distinct agency programs or initiatives. In other cases, we identified and grouped similar activities into initiatives based on our own judgment when there did not already appear to be a formal name for the initiative, or disaggregated higher-level activities that included multiple initiatives.11 We focused on agencies subject to the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 (CFO Act) with renewable energy-related activities that went beyond standard governmentwide efforts to incorporate renewable energy into their vehicle fleets and facilities in response to requirements and direction established by federal laws and executive orders.12 These agencies were: the departments of Agriculture (USDA), Commerce, Defense (DOD), Energy, Homeland Security (DHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation (DOT), and the Treasury; as well as the following independent agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), General Services Administration (GSA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Small Business Administration (SBA), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Of these 18 CFO Act agencies, we collected data on DOD activities separately for the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and other DOD components that report to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In addition, we collected data for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) separately from DOE.13

    click to enlarge

    We submitted a structured data request to agencies to provide information on each of their renewable energy initiatives, including the responsible agency component(s); a description of its purpose, how it is implemented, and how it relates to renewable energy; the applicable renewable energy sources; the recipients of funding, services, or other types of support; the extent to which it was established, expanded, or modified by the Recovery Act; and whether the legislative authority for the initiative has expired or may expire. We then conducted interviews with agency officials responsible for providing the data to collect additional information and assess the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the data provided. We determined the data to be sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. We then analyzed the data we collected to develop descriptive information across the agencies’ renewable energy-related initiatives. We recognize that measures other than the number of initiatives implemented, such as the level of financial support provided, are also important to understanding renewable energy efforts governmentwide. An agency may have many initiatives, but the total financial support provided for these initiatives could be substantially less than the financial support provided by an agency with fewer initiatives. We did not review agencies’ renewable energy-related initiatives on the basis of the level of financial support agencies provide for their renewable energy efforts because, for example, officials stated that financial support for renewable energy is often not tracked separately from other activities. Therefore, we could not collect reliable renewable energy-specific funding data or revenue loss estimates across the full inventory of initiatives we identified.

    To examine the federal roles agencies’ renewable energy initiatives support, we analyzed the initiative data we collected to identify the federal roles of the initiatives each agency implemented. Specifically, we categorized agencies’ initiatives on the basis of four key federal roles, including (1) research and development; (2) commercialization and deployment; (3) regulation, permitting, and compliance; and (4) fleets and facilities.14 In some instances, we found that agencies’ initiatives did not fit into any of these four roles, and in such instances, we included these initiatives in an “other” category…

    0 Comments:

    Post a Comment

    << Home

    *