How can we not allow undeveloped nations to catch the first world with fossil fuel energy? Katharine Hayhoe explains at Global Weirding.
How can we not allow undeveloped nations to catch the first world with fossil fuel energy? Katharine Hayhoe explains at Global Weirding.
Icy day here in Dallas, we missed a lot of dates that should have been commemorated.
Let’s catch this one: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was created 53 years ago today in the administration of Dwight Eisenhower, by Interior Secretary Fred A. Seaton.
ANWR finds itself the center of controversy, now, because of the possibility of oil underneath it, and the difficulty of getting that oil without destroying wildlife habitat, or the possibility of destructive oil spills. For an understanding of the issues, visit ANWR’s website and the non-partisan discussion there.
Odd that land so severely beautiful, so far out of the way and so difficult to master, has its fate decided in marble halls in Washington, D.C., 3,172 miles distant. The United States is a big, sprawling nation.
Information on the ANWR:
History and Culture
Refuge Establishment: Legislation and Purposes
The Arctic Refuge was established in 1960 and expanded in 1980.
- Brief description of Refuge purposes
- Public Land Order 2214 creating the Range in 1960
- Excerpts from the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act expanding the Refuge and its purposes in 1980
The Arctic Refuge has been providing for the physical and emotional well-being of humans for many thousands of years. It remains an important resource to help sustain local Eskimo and Indian cultures. The Refuge continues to be valued, even by those who never travel within it’s borders, as a symbol of America’s vast and remote wilderness – a place of inspiration and beauty – a promise for the future for all Americans.
- Caribou Fences: People of the Caribou
- Time Line – Establishment and management of the Refuge
- Legacy of Conservation
- Discover what three official names the Refuge has had.
- Partial listing of historic writings related to the Refuge
The lands of the Arctic Refuge continue to support the Inupiat Eskimo and Gwich’in Indian peoples who have lived here for centuries.
Contrary to the claims of President Obama’s critics, his administration is proceeding to develop energy resources in new areas.
Just a couple of weeks ago experimental wind energy sites off the coast of Virginia were auctioned off.
Can these tracts be developed responsibly? I have not followed the issue, and I have not read the Environmental Impact Statement on this sale (surely there was one, since this is a “significant federal act” with great impact on these waters and the coast of Virginia). Surely this is safer and cleaner than oil leases; enough cleaner? Far enough away to avoid destructive effects on wildlife and other resources?
What do you think?
Here’s the press release from the Department of Interior:
Interior Holds Second Competitive Lease Sale for Renewable Energy in Federal Waters
Historic Sale for Wind Energy Development Offshore Virginia Advances President’s Climate Action Plan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop domestic clean energy sources and cut carbon pollution, the Interior Department today completed the nation’s second competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters, garnering $1,600,000 in high bids for 112,799 acres on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore Virginia.
Virginia Electric and Power Company is the provisional winner of the sale, which auctioned a Wind Energy Area approximately 23.5 nautical miles off Virginia Beach that has the potential to support 2,000 megawatts of wind generation – enough energy to power more than 700,000 homes.
The sale follows a July 31 auction of 164,750 acres offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts for wind energy development that was provisionally won by Deepwater Wind New England, LLC, generating $3.8 million in high bids.
“This year’s second offshore wind lease sale is another major milestone in the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy and demonstrates continued momentum behind a robust renewable energy portfolio that will help to keep our nation competitive and expand domestic energy production while cutting carbon pollution,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “Today’s sale is the result of a great deal of collaboration and planning with the Commonwealth of Virginia, which has been a leader in advancing offshore renewable energy for the Atlantic coast and an enthusiastic partner in this effort.”
“Today’s renewable energy lease sale offshore Virginia is another significant step forward in the President’s call for action to address climate change and the Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy Beaudreau. “I congratulate Virginia Electric and Power Company and we look forward to overseeing their development of the Virginia wind energy area, which will create jobs, increase our energy security and provide abundant sources of clean renewable power.”
Efforts to spur responsible development of offshore wind energy are part of a series of Obama Administration actions to increase renewable energy both offshore and onshore by improving coordination with state, local and federal partners. The Virginia Renewable Energy Task Force has been a leading agent in intergovernmental collaboration for wind energy development offshore Virginia.
Since 2009, Interior has approved 47 wind, solar and geothermal utility-scale projects on public lands, including associated transmission corridors and infrastructure to connect to established power grids. When built, these projects could provide more than 13,300 megawatts – enough energy to power more than 4.6 million homes and support more than 19,000 construction and operations jobs.
As part of the President’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan, he has challenged Interior to re-double efforts on its renewable energy program by approving an additional 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy production on public lands and waters by 2020.
At the same time, under the Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, domestic oil and gas production has grown each year President Obama has been in office, with domestic oil production currently higher than at any time in two decades; natural gas production at its highest level ever; and renewable electricity generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources having doubled. Combined with recent declines in oil consumption, net oil imports in 2012 fell to the lowest level in 20 years.”
BOEM auctioned the Wind Energy Area offshore Virginia as a single lease, containing 19 whole Outer Continental Shelf blocks and 13 sub-blocks. For a map of the Wind Energy Area, click here.
The auction lasted 1 day, consisting of 6 rounds before determining the provisional winner. In addition to Virginia Electric and Power Company the following company participated in the auction: Apex Virginia Offshore Wind, LLC. Following the auction, the Attorney General, in consultation with the Federal Trade Commission, will have 30 days in which to complete an antitrust review of the auction.
The lease will have a preliminary term of six months in which to submit a Site Assessment Plan to BOEM for approval. A Site Assessment Plan describes the activities (e.g., installation of meteorological towers and buoys) the lessee plans to perform for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease.
After a Site Assessment Plan is approved, the lessee will have up to four and a half years in which to submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for approval, which provides a detailed outline for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease. If the COP is approved, the lessee will have an operations term of 33 years.
BOEM is expected to announce additional auctions for Wind Energy Areas offshore Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts later this year and in 2014.
For more information on what’s going on offshore Virginia, visit BOEM’s website.
23 miles puts it far enough out that it’s generally out of sight from shore. Out of sight, out of mind? Out of danger? Out of disaster potential?
Does a coal-power company’s winning these leases suggest a scheme to keep wind power from being developed, to improve the case for coal?
Spectacular photo of Glen Canyon Dam, in the early morning, with a thunderstorm to the north. This photo was taken close to the spot where Norman Rockwell painted the dam about 40 years ago.
My old sometime nemesis and rescuer Robert Redford keeps chugging along — getting sharper, politically, as he ages, I think.
Here’s his succinct summary of the Keystone Pipeline issue so far — with a plea for funds for the NRDC tacked on. Any factual errors?
Dr. Douglas Brinkley writes history, and teaches. In the last decade he’s been one of our premiere historians of conservation and wilderness preservation, especially as started by Theodore Roosevelt.
The issue at the hearing was the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
One may get a whiff of “skeptic” desperation at the hearing — Brinkley’s written a book on wilderness protection. That’s why he was called to testify.
Tip of the old scrub brush to Eli Rabett. He’s right — it’s tough to improve on the straight dope, the unexpurgated version. So most of this post is borrowed from the Bunny’s Spartan, laconic post of this same material.
And the Big Bunny is correct that MSNBC’s interview of Brinkley following the hearing is good to see and hear.
Anyone who votes Democrat regularly gets the “told you so” e-mails from Republicans making claims about how bad things are under President Obama.
One favorite, hoax meme is the claim that Obama hurt energy exploration in the U.S. One friend e-mails me at least once a month with a claim that Obama has done something to frustrate drilling for oil in the U.S., usually accompanied with a political pitch that all we need to do is drill the hell out of Alaska, kill the caribou, and allow pollution of the Gulf of Mexico, and we’ll be independent of Middle Eastern oil forever.
Here’s the ugly secret they don’t want to tell you — heck, they probably don’t know: Total oil rig count is way up under Obama from when he took office, increasing at a rate about double that of the previous Bush administration.
Under President Obama, oil and gas exploration in the U.S. is greatly increased.
North American Rotary Rig Counts
The U.S. rotary rig count was down 15 rigs at 2,001 for the week of November 18, 2011. It is 324 rigs (19.6%) higher than last year.
The number of rotary rigs drilling for oil decreased 8 to 1,125. There are 394 more rigs targeting oil than last year. Rigs drilling for oil represent 56.2% percent of all drilling activity.
Rigs directed toward natural gas were down 6 at 871. The number of rigs currently drilling for gas is 65 lower than last year’s level of 936.
Year-over-year oil exploration in the U.S. is up 53.9 percent. Gas exploration is down 6.9 percent. The weekly average of crude oil spot prices is 20.8 percent higher than last year and natural gas spot prices are 16.8 percent lower.
Tuesday a week ago I joined the high school economics teachers dining at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, the annual “Night at the Fed” event. The bank brought in Keith Phillips, a Senior Economist and Advisor from the San Antonio Branch to talk about “Where Will Your Students Find Jobs?”
One of his charts showed drill rig counts since 2000, on a slide, “Drilling Rig Count has Surged to High Levels.” Among other things, that partly explains why Texas was not so severely hit with the recession as the rest of the nation (though jobless counts in the past couple of months suggest Texas may catch up).
Sitting at the front table I could not help but be impressed with the rig count line. In 2000, when Bush came to office, there were about 300 active drilling rigs in the country, in oil and gas. Over seven years that count rose to about 1,000, then plunged in Bush’s last year in the economic downturn.
Obama came into office with a drill rig count just slightly higher than Bush had two terms previously. In three years, drill rig counts have climbed to near the height of the Bush administration’s best year, just under 1,000 (if I’m reading the chart correctly — and the piece above suggests I am).
Here’s the chart from Baker-Hughes — showing about the same rig count Dr. Phillips showed:
Here’s a more colorful, more clear version from EnergyDigger.com:
In other words, drill rigs have increased in the three years of the Obama administration at about double the rate of increase of the Bush administration.
When does Obama get credit for the increase in oil and gas exploration in the U.S. in his administration?
From the Climate Denial Crock of the Week:
Of course this flies right in the face of most conservative, and denialist, claims about fighting global warming.
Do Americans have great business sense?
Then it is unlikely that we’ll pass up the opportunity to export energy for profit — and consequently, we’ll boost our wind generating capacities, geothermal power generation, and step in to retake the lead in solar cell development and production, won’t we?
Here is a story I’ll bet you missed last spring — I missed it, too; from the Daily Ticker:
Just as the average price for gas is set to hit $4 a gallon this week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports February was the third month out of four that the U.S. — the world’s most energy-hungry nation — actually exported more oil that it imported.
Despite the notion that the U.S. is currently hugely reliant on foreign oil, the country sold 34,000 more barrels of petroleum products a day than it imported in November 2010. And, in both December and February, the U.S. sold 54,000 more barrels a day. Net imports have not been negative for nearly two decades.
Part of this has to do with weak U.S. demand in recent years due to the recession. The other part rests on the growing demand in our own backyard for not only crude oil, but refined oil as well.
Mexico, Latin America and even OPEC member Ecuador are some of the U.S.’s top customers for fuel products, namely refined oil. Rising demand in these countries far outpaces their capacity to refine crude oil into petroleum products like gasoline or diesel fuel.
But, as Dan points out in the accompanying clip, this is not the only news item that hints at this country’s ability to export energy to the rest of the world.
Yesterday, Arch Coal announced a $3.4 billion all-cash deal to buy its competitor International Coal Group. The transaction would make the newly formed company the second-largest U.S. supplier of metallurgical coal, which is the coal used to make steel.
And because of growing demand in places like India and China, where coal is used for electricity, the U.S. has started to export more at higher prices than in previous years.
Then there’s natural gas. U.S. reserves of natural gas have also grown considerably in the last decade to record levels. A new report by the Potential Gas Committee suggests that in the last two years, potential U.S. natural gas supplies have increased by 3 percent. Two years ago, however, the group reported that supplies jumped 36 percent.
The U.S. does not currently export liquefied natural gas, but that time may soon be on the horizon.
Of course the U.S. is not about to join OPEC. But this news, quietly sneaking up on us as it did, should change the nature of the discussions about our energy future, and the direction, too.
In the first place, energy substitution — wind and geothermal for coal and oil, for example — becomes an issue of generating revenue, rather than just saving imports. If we can get power from the wind for free and sell coal to others for profit as a result, we get wins for U.S. citizenry and big wins for U.S. industry.
I haven’t seen much discussion of the topic. Stephen Leahy wrote an opinion piece for Common Dreams suggesting that oil companies have a political stake in keeping this news quiet, in order to get greater advantage for themselves, especially in electoral politics.
The only reason U.S. citizens may be forced to endure a risky, Canadian-owned oil pipeline called Keystone XL is so oil companies with billion-dollar profits can get the dirty oil from Canada’s tar sands down to the Gulf of Mexico to export to Europe, Latin America or Asia, according to a new report by Oil Change International released Wednesday.
“Keystone XL will not lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but rather transport Canadian oil to American refineries for export to overseas markets,” concludes the report, titled “Exporting Energy Security”.
Little of the 700,000 to 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil pumped through the 2,400-kilometre, seven-billion-dollar Keystone XL will end up in U.S. gas tanks because the refineries on the Gulf Coast are all about expanding export markets. One huge refinery operator called Valero has been touting the potential export revenues of tar sands oil to investors, the report found.
In 1941, the U.S. was the largest oil-producing and oil-exporting nation in the world. When we cut off oil to Japan, Japan determined to attack the U.S. to try to get energy superiority in the Pacific, and our nation was pulled into World War II.
Is it possible we can avoid future energy wars, and change the game with our energy exporting capabilities over the next decade? What do you think? Does this change any game, and how does it change things?
Watch those exports.
From the White House blog, something you probably didn’t see in your local newspaper and/or Tea Party organ:
Bright Ideas: Thomas Edison would be amazed. The conventional light bulb now has some serious competition. Philips Lighting North America has invented a revolutionary 10-watt light emitting diode (LED) bulb. Phillips is the first winner of the Energy Department’s Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize(L Prize). The L Prize challenged the lighting industry to develop high performance, energy-saving replacements for conventional light bulbs that will save American consumers and businesses money.
Some business gets an award for lights that conserve energy? Rats, there goes Rand Paul’s raison d’etre — all but for the lack of a toilet Paul could flush on his own.
I missed Global Wind Day on June 15 — too much static from the ironically long-winded anti-winders.
* These posts are for examples only, and should not be interpreted to mean that the blogs sampled are composed entirely of denials, or that the blog authors and editors are themselves pure denialists — certainly they will deny that. We will gladly post links to posts at those blogs that promote benefits of harnassing wind energy, if anyone can find them.
Our memorial to George Washington neared completion in the 1880s. For an obelisk more than 550 feet tall to honor the Father of Our Country, planners decided to top it with a “capstone” made of the what was, then the most precious metal known on Earth. The top is a pyramid, and the top of the pyramid is a one-pound block of this precious metal.
What was the most precious metal known to humans in 1880? Gold? Platinum? Tungsten, perhaps, not yet chosen to be filaments in the yet-to-be-perfected Edison “A” lightbulb?
Washington’s Monument is topped with aluminum.
“But,” you begin to sputter in protest, “aluminum is almost ubiquitous in soils, and it’s cheap — we use it in soda cans because it’s cheaper than steel or glass, for FSM’s sake!”
Today, yes. In 1880, no. Aluminum requires massive amounts of energy to refine the stuff from ore. Aluminum is common in soils and rocks, but it couldn’t be refined out easily for use.
That problem’s solution was electricity, generated from coal or especially falling water. For a while, our nation’s biggest aluminum refining plants resided in the state of Washington, not because they were close to aluminum ore deposits, but because there was a lot of cheap electricity available from the Grand Coulee and other dams on the mighty Columbia River. It was cheaper to transport the ore long distances for refining than to transport the electricity.
This history reveals a lot about science, history, energy use, resource conservation and economics — areas in which most climate denialists appear to me to lack knowledge and productive experience.
Peter Sinclair more often explains why climate denialists get things wrong. In this video, the first of what could be a significant series, Sinclair explains how we got to where we are today in energy use and conservation — or energy overuse and lack of conservation, if the Tea Party and Rand Paul get their way. (Notice the ingots of aluminum shown in the historic film footage.)
This is history which has been largely covered up, partly because so much critical stuff happened in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a time the internet doesn’t cover well.
Sometimes time and events just catch up to the hoaxsters.
In Nebraska, on Wednesday July 14, the Cooper nuclear generating station of the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) ended it’s “notification of unusual event” as floodwaters of the Missouri River retreated from the site.
According to the Associate Press report, the alert for the nuclear power plant at Fort Calhoun remains in effect. Fort Calhoun is upriver from Cooper, and lower in elevation in relation to the Missouri River. Fort Calhoun also was offline and in cold shutdown when the alert was posted, because it had been in a refueling operation. Fort Calhoun is operated by Omaha Public Power district (OPPD).
No damage was done to the reactor at either site. Operations continued at Cooper.
Rumors of a serious incident aroused conspiracy nuts when a hoax report out of Pakistan claimed the Russian nuclear agency had said the Fort Calhoun plant was in meltdown.
How with the hoaxsters spin it now?
Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: