Tag Archives: energy

Why Donald Trump Will Fail to Make Good on One of His Biggest Campaign Promises

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

President Trump loves to boast that he’s going to bring back coal—he said as much again on Monday when he signed his Clean Power Plan executive order. But the economics just don’t work in his favor. King Coal has tumbled from its traditional throne as renewable energy prices have plunged and cheap, cleaner natural gas has flooded the markets. From 2000 to 2016, meanwhile, wind-power generation has increased 37-fold (to more than 2,100 trillion Btus). Solar, which accounts for a smaller part of the pie (335 trillion Btus) grew even faster: by a factor of 67! And that doesn’t even account for the growth in rooftop solar.

if(“undefined”==typeof window.datawrapper)window.datawrapper={};window.datawrapper”Hjf9m”={},window.datawrapper”Hjf9m”.embedDeltas=”100″:685,”200″:545,”300″:531,”400″:504,”500″:490,”600″:490,”700″:490,”800″:490,”900″:490,”1000″:490,window.datawrapper”Hjf9m”.iframe=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-Hjf9m”),window.datawrapper”Hjf9m”.iframe.style.height=window.datawrapper”Hjf9m”.embedDeltas[Math.min(1e3,Math.max(100*Math.floor(window.datawrapper”Hjf9m”.iframe.offsetWidth/100),100))]+”px”,window.addEventListener(“message”,function(a)if(“undefined”!=typeof a.data”datawrapper-height”)for(var b in a.data”datawrapper-height”)if(“Hjf9m”==b)window.datawrapper”Hjf9m”.iframe.style.height=a.data”datawrapper-height”b+”px”);

In 2016, the American solar industry provided more jobs than its coal industry did, according to a recent report from the Department of Energy. And despite Trump’s coal talk, the Solar Foundation projects another 10 percent increase in solar employment this year.

if(“undefined”==typeof window.datawrapper)window.datawrapper={};window.datawrapper”RHE3C”={},window.datawrapper”RHE3C”.embedDeltas=”100″:487,”200″:377,”300″:363,”400″:336,”500″:336,”600″:322,”700″:322,”800″:322,”900″:322,”1000″:322,window.datawrapper”RHE3C”.iframe=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-RHE3C”),window.datawrapper”RHE3C”.iframe.style.height=window.datawrapper”RHE3C”.embedDeltas[Math.min(1e3,Math.max(100*Math.floor(window.datawrapper”RHE3C”.iframe.offsetWidth/100),100))]+”px”,window.addEventListener(“message”,function(a)if(“undefined”!=typeof a.data”datawrapper-height”)for(var b in a.data”datawrapper-height”)if(“RHE3C”==b)window.datawrapper”RHE3C”.iframe.style.height=a.data”datawrapper-height”b+”px”);

So will Trump keep his promise to put the miners back to work? Can he? Even Robert E. Murray, the chief executive of one of the nation’s largest coal mining companies doubts it. “I really don’t know how far the coal industry can be brought back,” he conceded recently. Indeed, here are just a week’s worth of news highlights demonstrating why coal might have a tough time overcoming the nation’s momentum toward cleaner energy.

March 22: Abita Springs became the first city in Louisiana—one of the nation’s most energy intensive states—to pledge to using only renewable power sources by 2030. This “is a practical decision we’re making for our environment, our economy and for what our constituents want,” Mayor Greg Lemons noted back in January. (Abita Springs is part of St. Tammany Parish, 75 percent of whose voters backed Trump during the election.) Madison, Wisconsin announced its own 100 percent commitment the same day, bringing the total of cities making this pledge to 25. Prominent state policymakers, including the Republican governors of Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan, have also vowed to boost the percentage of renewables in their energy portfolios.

March 23: The share of electricity coming from renewable sources hit an all-time peak in California in late-morning, when renewables successfully met 57 percent of total demand—solar and wind accounted for 49 percent. The state is also ahead in meeting its 2030 goal of having renewables serve half of all energy consumption. A bill introduced by Democratic state Sen. Kevin de Leon last month would reset that deadline to 2025. Under De Leon’s bill, California would also follow Hawaii‘s lead and establish a target of 100 percent renewables by 2045. You want jobs? The Golden State’s solar industry employed more than 100,000 people last year, a 32 percent increase from 2015—and the rapid employment growth is projected to continue.

March 27: To the surprise of environmentalists, EPA boss Scott Pruitt signed off on a renewal of the Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Program, which requires coal-fired plants near national parks and wilderness areas to install stringent pollution controls. The costs of complying with the ruling likely doomed one Arizona power plant, says Earthjustice attorney Michael Hiatt. By 2025, the plant must either transition to natural gas or be shut down entirely. “This is a powerful illustration of, try as the Trump administration might to keep burning coal, a lot of times it just doesn’t make any economic sense,” Hiatt says. “Because of this rule, the days for burning coal are numbered.” Since 2010, according to the Sierra Club, 175 US coal plants have ceased operation, and 73 are scheduled to retire by 2030.

March 28: Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch joined the ranks of nearly 100 other big businesses by committing to source all of its purchased electricity from renewables by 2025. “Climate change has profound implications for our company and for the communities where we live and work,” CEO Carlos Brito said in a statement. “Cutting back on fossil fuels is good for the environment and good for business.” Other companies committing to RE100—a global business initiative to increase the use of renewables—include Google, H&M, Walmart, and Goldman Sachs. Microsoft says it got to 100 percent renewable energy in 2014.

March 29: As Trump makes moves to sabotage the Paris accord, China is stepping in to take the lead as both the largest emitter of carbon and the largest investor in solar and wind power. “As a responsible developing country, China’s plan, determination and policy to tackle climate change is resolute,” foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said after Trump signed his order to roll back Obama-era climate rules. China isn’t the only country making strides: The UK set a new record for solar-electricity generation this past week, beating out coal-fired generation by six-fold. Australia, which relies on coal for two-thirds of its energy, is preparing for a major solar push as better technology drives down costs—seven large-scale projects were completed last year and more than a dozen are now under construction. Costa Rica is on track to be carbon-neutral by 2021. Last year, it met more than 98 percent of its energy demands with renewables. It seems the elusive Quetzal knows something that Donald Trump does not.

View article:

Why Donald Trump Will Fail to Make Good on One of His Biggest Campaign Promises

Posted in alternative energy, FF, GE, LG, ONA, PUR, Radius, solar, solar panels, Uncategorized, Venta, wind power | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oil Will Start Flowing Through the Dakota Pipeline Any Moment Now

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

As of this week, Bakken oil is expected to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This development comes as court proceedings continue over the high-profile battle over the pipeline that drew thousands of protestors to North Dakota last year. As law enforcement officers and Indigenous activists faced off near the construction site, the conflict played out in real time on social media, capturing international attention.

A District of Columbia court has yet to rule on the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes’ claims that the Army Corps of Engineers violated environmental, historic-preservation and religious-freedom laws in its approval of the pipeline. A ruling is likely still several weeks away. The tribes have tried for temporary restraining orders to stop the flow of oil until the case is decided, but judges have rejected those as well. Dakota Access, LLC, is required to update the court weekly on whether the pipeline operations have begun; on March 20, the company said they expected oil to flow this week.

The fact that the pipeline’s backers, Energy Transfer Partners, appears to be prevailing is not surprising. Although the Obama administration had put DAPL on hold in December and called for further environmental review, then-President-elect Donald Trump vowed to push the project through once he took office. But national attention the protests brought to the flaws of the current consultation process—the federal government’s responsibilities to consult with tribes before approving major infrastructure projects that affect tribal lands—may still bear fruit on future disputes. And recent legal proceedings remind us how difficult it is for tribes to argue for religious freedom in court.

Following Trump’s late-January executive order to allow the pipeline to be finished, the Cheyenne River Sioux, located just south of the Standing Rock Reservation, filed a motion for a restraining order against the pipeline. Unlike the Standing Rock Sioux complaint based more around environmental and historic preservation violations, Cheyenne River’s argument claims the government violated the Religious Freedom Reformation Act (RFRA). “The Lakota people believe that the mere existence of a crude oil pipeline under the waters of Lake Oahe will desecrate those waters and render them unsuitable for use in their religious sacraments,” court documents say.

RFRA has an unreliable track record for tribes in court. Congress created the law in 1993 in part as a response to two cases in which courts sided with the government. In 1988 Lyng vs. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association allowed the Forest Service to construct a logging road in California that would have disrupted an area sacred to several tribes. In 1990 Employment Division vs. Smith allowed two Native Americans in Oregon to be fired for failing a drug test because they had used peyote as an element of religious ceremony. But experts say RFRA’s original intention, to protect tribes from similar infringements, isn’t really bearing out in court. The most recent major failure was the case of the Snowbowl ski resort in Arizona in which reclaimed wastewater was being used to make snow on mountains sacred to several tribes. The tribes argued a violation of RFRA and ultimately lost.

RFRA has, however, worked for corporations such as Hobby Lobby. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled family-owned corporations should not be required to cover employees’ contraception because doing so may infringe on a company’s religious beliefs. Part of the challenge for tribes, says University of Colorado law professor Charles Wilkinson, is one of translation. “Most Americans are not used to the nature of tribal religions, of having ceremonies on particular land areas as being significant to their religion,” Wilkinson says. Court documents show Cheyenne River’s attorneys explaining how the tribe views the pipeline:

“Although there can be no way of knowing when this prophesy emerged into the Lakota worldview, Lakota religious adherents now in their 50s and 60s were warned of the Black Snake by their elders as children. The Black Snake prophecy is a source of terror and existential threat in the Lakota worldview…. Lakota adherents believe that the Black Snake poses an existential threat because it will cause critical imbalance in an essential resource of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe: the natural, ritually pure waters of Lake Oahe.”

“You can kind of get that sense, there’s some question raised in opposing parties arguments of ‘Do they really believe this,'” says Monte Mills, a University of Montana law professor. In court in February, Judge James Boasberg reportedly questioned how a pipeline would desecrate the Missouri River if the oil itself never touched the water.

The most lasting impact of the Dakota Access battle might be greater federal attention to the process through which the U.S. government is supposed to consult tribal governments about proposed infrastructure projects that might impact those nations, says Wilkinson. “(Tribes) see consultation as almost a four-letter word,” Wilkinson says. “It’s so often just checking a box.” A 38-page memo from former Obama administration Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins in December described in detail the ways in which the government failed to consult tribes that may be affected by the pipeline. At one point, Tompkins notes that a draft Environmental Assessment for DAPL “failed to even identify the reservation on its maps and incorrectly said the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had no issue with the project.” (The Trump administration suspended the memo and removed it from the Interior website in February.)

Similarly, a 73-page report released in January by the Corps of Engineers, the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior about consultation—not limited to DAPL—highlighted flaws in the process, after seeking comment from 59 tribes across the country. The report includes problems with the way the federal government “tends to look at (infrastructure) projects in a segmented way…For example, in the Dakota Access Pipeline review, four different states, three separate districts of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Fish and Wildlife Service each looked at different parts of the project, but did not coordinate the impacts to Tribes.” That report requested further action from several federal agencies by April 2017, in establishing better consultation processes.

“Many federal statutes require consultations with states, counties and tribes,” Wilkinson says. “Maybe one way or another Standing Rock could be valuable as raising that issue.”

View article – 

Oil Will Start Flowing Through the Dakota Pipeline Any Moment Now

Posted in FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, PUR, Radius, Ultima, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Oil Will Start Flowing Through the Dakota Pipeline Any Moment Now

A Recently Bankrupt Coal Company Is Being Honored at Mar-a Lago

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort will host the opening reception Wednesday evening for a conference where a recently bankrupt coal company will be a guest of honor. The annual Distressed Investing Summit will bestow one of its “Restructuring Deal of the Year” awards to Arch Coal for clearing $5 billion in debt after it filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

“They emerged from bankruptcy in 2016 after shedding huge amount of debt, obligations to workers, and environmental cleanup,” Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal director Mary Anne Hitt says. “When a company is in bankruptcy, you don’t have a lot of leverage in there with all the lawyers and stakeholders. To have them feted at Mar-a-Lago as a turnaround is salt in the wound for workers and people representing the public interest.”

The summit, hosted by financial company The M&A Advisor, has held its opening cocktail reception at Mar-a-Lago for the past two years, ever since Trump emerged as a serious contender for president. In its invitation email, M&A Advisor names Arch Coal as one of its winners alongside a number of other firms, including energy companies Alpha Natural Resources, Midstates Petroleum Company, and Venoco, an oil and gas development company.

Here’s how the invitation describes Mar-a-Lago, “the new Winter White House”:

The agenda for roundtables that are held at a nearby hotel reads like a laundry list of Trump’s campaign themes: “Making America Great Again,” “Informing and Silencing The Media,” and the “Art of Dealmaking: Getting Deals Done In The New Economic Order.”

Not everyone agrees that Arch Coal’s 2016 bankruptcy deal warrants celebration. During the bankruptcy proceedings, environmental opposition forced the company to abandon its proposal that taxpayers should foot the entire bill to clean up its abandoned mines. The company also laid off hundreds of its miners that same year.

In the years before bankruptcy, United Mine Workers of America complained that Arch Coal moved 40 percent of its employees’ health care coverage to Patriot Coal, a volatile offshoot company. When Patriot went under, those health benefits were at risk and continue to be because of Arch Coal’s bankruptcy. Patriot and Arch Coal are only two examples of a larger problem. The union shop has been pressing Congress for a long-term solution for 22,000 miners’ benefits in jeopardy because of coal bankruptcies—an issue that won’t go away no matter what happens to federal environmental regulations.

The idea that the coal industry can recover is a cherished narrative for Trump. Earlier this week, at a campaign-style rally in Kentucky, the president claimed that he will “save our coal industry” and put miners back to work with executive orders that are expected any day. Trump likes to blame “terrible job-killing” regulations, but there are other pressures beyond federal regulation driving coal out of business, namely competitive natural gas.

Nonetheless, on Wednesday evening, a coal turnaround will be celebrated. Even though it might only be, as the Sierra Club’s Hitt notes, “one of many of the alternative facts they like to celebrate at Mar-a-Lago.”

Continued here – 

A Recently Bankrupt Coal Company Is Being Honored at Mar-a Lago

Posted in alo, ALPHA, Everyone, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Recently Bankrupt Coal Company Is Being Honored at Mar-a Lago

Trump Expected to Sign Executive Orders Hitting the EPA

Mother Jones

Scott Pruitt will almost certainly be the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Oklahoma attorney general’s nomination is expected to sail through Senate—possibly as soon as Friday—despite Democrats’ protests that he is unfit to lead an agency that he has repeatedly sued. The administration has already imposed a freeze on the EPA’s social media, halted its rulemaking, and reportedly mandated that all agency research be reviewed by a political appointee before being released to the public. But next week, once Pruitt is sworn in, the real frenzy will begin.

According to Reuters, President Donald Trump plans to sign between two and five environmental executive orders aimed at the EPA and possibly the State Department. The White House is reportedly planning to hold an event at the EPA headquarters, similar the administration’s roll-out of its widely condemn travel ban after Defense Secretary James Mattis took office. While we don’t know what, exactly, next week’s orders will say, Trump is expected to restrict the agency’s regulatory oversight. Based on one administration official’s bluster, the actions could “suck the air” out of the room.

Trump may have hinted at the forthcoming orders in his unwieldy press conference on Thursday. “Some very big things are going to be announced next week,” he said. (He didn’t make clear whether or not he was referring to the EPA.)

Former President Barack Obama’s array of climate regulations, including the Clean Power Plan limiting power plant emissions, are certainly high on conservative activists’ hit list. So too is the landmark Paris climate deal, in which Obama agreed to dramatically cut domestic carbon emissions and provide aide to other countries for clean energy projects and climate adaptation. The EPA’s rule that defines its jurisdiction over wetlands and streams is also a prime target. As attorney general, Pruitt launched lawsuits against a number of these regulations.

“What I would like to see are executive orders on implementing all of President Trump’s main campaign promises on environment and energy, including withdrawing from the Paris climate treaty,” said Myron Ebell, who headed Trump’s EPA transition and recently returned to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in an email to Mother Jones.

H. Sterling Burnett, a research fellow the Heartland Institute, which rejects the scientific consensus on climate change, says Trump could start by revisiting the Obama administration’s efforts to calculate a “social cost of carbon“—and by forbidding its use to determine costs and benefits of government regulations. He also wants to see broader restrictions on how the EPA calculates costs and benefits. In particular, Burnett hopes Trump will prohibit the agency from the considering public health co-benefits of regulations—for example, attempts by the EPA to argue that limits on CO2 emissions from power plants also reduce emissions of other dangerous pollutants.

Or Trump could take a cue from Republican Attorneys General Patrick Morrisey (W.V.) and Ken Paxton (Texas), who recommended in December that Trump issue a memorandum directing the EPA to “take no further action to enforce or implement” the Clean Power Plan. (The Supreme Court halted implementation of the rule a year ago while both sides fight it out in federal court).

The holy grail for conservatives would be reversing the agency’s so-called “endangerment finding,” which states that greenhouse gas emissions harm public health and must therefore be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The endangerment finding is the legal underpinning for the bulk of Obama’s climate policies, including the restrictions on vehicle and power plant emissions. Undoing the finding wouldn’t be an easy feat and can’t be accomplished by executive order alone. The endangerment finding isn’t an Obama invention; in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA must regulate greenhouse gasses if it found they harmed public health. Pruitt said during his confirmation hearing that the administration wouldn’t revisit the finding, but he also launched an unsuccessful lawsuit against it in 2010. Neither Ebell nor Burnett expects to see Trump to tackle the endangerment finding just yet.

Environmentalists are already planning their response. Litigation is certainly an option, but it would of course depend on the details of Trump’s executive actions. Several groups, including EarthJustice and Natural Resources Defense Council, have already sued to block Trump’s earlier executive order requiring that every new regulation be offset by scrapping two existing regulations. Their case: The administration can’t arbitrarily ditch regulations just because the president wants fewer of them on the books.

They could be making a similar case soon enough. “A new president has to deal with the record and evidence and findings,” EarthJustice’s lead attorney, Patti Goldman, said. “If you take climate and the endangerment finding, that is a scientific finding that is upheld by the court. That finding has legal impacts. If there’s a directive along those lines, there will have to be a process.”

Of course, anti-EPA Republicans disagree about what is constitutional, which is one reason the agency is in for a tumultuous ride over the next four years. For many conservatives, no EPA at all—or at least one that has no regulatory powers—is the best option. “I read the constitution of the United States, and the word environmental protection does not appear there,” said Heartland’s Burnett. “I don’t see where it’s sanctioned. I think it should go away.” A freshman House Republican recently introduced a bill to do just that, but there’s no sign that it’s going to pass anytime soon.

And while Burnett acknowledges that the EPA probably won’t be vanishing in the near future, he’s been happy with the direction Trump has taken so far. He’s pleased with the president’s moves to restart the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, and he’s hopeful that the administration will move toward an EPA with “smaller budgets and a smaller mission, justified by the fact that you’ll have fewer regulations.”

Depending on what Trump does next week, that could be just the beginning.

More here: 

Trump Expected to Sign Executive Orders Hitting the EPA

Posted in alo, FF, GE, Landmark, LG, ONA, Radius, Sterling, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Trump Expected to Sign Executive Orders Hitting the EPA

Don’t Blame Oroville on Environmentalists

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

Victor Davis Hanson is a native Californian who hates California because it’s become too brown and too liberal. Today he takes to the LA Times to use the Oroville Dam disaster as a way of riding all his usual hobbyhorses:

The poor condition of the dam is almost too good a metaphor for the condition of the state as a whole; its possible failure is a reflection of California’s civic decline.

….The dam was part of the larger work of a brilliant earlier generation of California planners and lawmakers….The water projects created cheap and clean hydroelectric power…ensured that empty desert acreage on California’s dry west side of the Central Valley could be irrigated…spectacular growth in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin.

….Yet the California Water Project and federal Central Valley Project have been comatose for a half-century….Necessary improvements to Oroville Dam, like reinforced concrete spillways, were never finished….A new generation of Californians — without much memory of floods or what unirrigated California was like before its aqueducts — had the luxury to envision the state’s existing water projects in a radically new light: as environmental errors….Indeed, pressures mounted to tear down rather than build dams. The state — whose basket of income, sales and gas taxes is among the highest in the country — gradually shifted its priorities from the building and expansion of dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, bridges and highways to redistributionist social welfare programs, state employee pensions and an enormous penal archipelago.

LOL. The reason the Oroville Dam wasn’t upgraded ten years ago is because all those salt-of-the-earth farmers that Davis admires didn’t want to pay for the upgrades via higher water rates. Here’s the San Jose Mercury News:

Environmentalists noted Friday that they had tried in 2005 to persuade the federal government to require the state to cover the emergency spillway with concrete. But the agency that was relicensing the dam, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, declined after opposition from the state Department of Water Resources and the State Water Contractors, a group of 27 water agencies who were concerned about the cost.

Hanson should have listened to his initial instincts: the Oroville Dam is too good a metaphor for the condition of the state as a whole:

From – 

Don’t Blame Oroville on Environmentalists

Posted in FF, GE, Hipe, LG, ONA, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Don’t Blame Oroville on Environmentalists