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On GAO to Congress: Climate Change a Top Risk

Apologies that I don't have the time to track down material but ...

1. Hawaii, for example, could likely meet its electricity needs w/solar on roofs and offshore wind/wave power.

2. There is a lot of rooftop in the developed world and there are concepts for 'covering' roads with solar -- combine that built environment and one has lots of solar potential.

3.  Offshore wind has minimal 'footprint' implications after some siting issues (such as shipping lanes and aviation safety) are dealt with.

4.  Intermittency is dealt with by balancing, storage, connecting large-scale grid (see Desertec for one concept for balancing).

There is plenty of credible work showing can do significant portions of the task at scale.

February 16, 2013    View Comment    

On Why Keystone XL is Not in the U.S. National Interest

Robert,

Do you believe that 'all lights are green' on that westward rail line because, well, there are some who certainly don't think so.

February 16, 2013    View Comment    

On GAO to Congress: Climate Change a Top Risk

Dennis

The rapid dismissal of alternative electricity sources of "solar uses food land" and "wind intermittent" seems extreme. Look at ther German Energiewende -- the solar isn't using up food land and they are figuring out how to manage their grid to deal with increasing amounts of intermittent power (which includes the solar).

Rather than 'defending' renewables, my biggest issue here is that I'm an advocate of "Silver BBs" rather a proponent of single-solution Silver Bullets.  I will look at your material and try to learn from it but I'm far from ready to dismiss any conservation / efficiency / clean energy piece (see power of 'and')as irrelevant because there is a Silver Bullet concept will save the day.

February 16, 2013    View Comment    

On Why Keystone XL is Not in the U.S. National Interest

Absolutely, the tar sands is getting to market.  The issue, in part, is expansion -- and resisting creating infrastructure that becomes sunk cost in considering infrastructure / energy / investment choices tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

The rail expansion for export has been impressive to watch. Even so, as you are well aware, that rail expansion is inadequate to support the desired export requirements. Also, in part due to enriching Buffett (further), the additional cost of that rail movement is a drag on expansion plans.

How much of the rail expansion, however, is Bakken oil vs Tar Sands?

 

It is a serious point that that the EROEI and pollution load worsens due to rail transit. And, as per rail safety issues, there are risks created via increased rail traffic vs pipeline.  Although, have there been rail car spills of Dilbit along the lines of what happened in the Enbridge pipeline on the Kalmazoo?

Finally, absolutely a focus 'solely' on supply is, at best, reckless and, at worst, inane.  National investments in Steel Interstate, ever-increasing CAFE standards, better land use planning ('smart growth' as misnomer), and other targeted paths to drive down oil demand -- across the planet -- as a path to deal with peak oil and climate change are more critical than efforts focused on the supply side.  

 

February 16, 2013    View Comment    

On Why Keystone XL is Not in the U.S. National Interest

Thus, Keystone should go forward because no single action, no single project is enough to cause so much damage that the environment would crash because of it?  

In terms of your second paragraph, clearly a line was drawn in the sand -- for mobilization reasons and otherwise.  Paths toward improving profitability and easing expansion of Tar Sands production will foster greater use and, therefore, greater carbon loads.  Keystone XL does this.  Thus, beyond just symbolic into substantive issues.  And, this is something that galvanizes a range of people -- from those losing land to eminent domain to build the pipeline, to ranchers concerned about potential Dilbit spills, to indigenous people in the United States and Canada concerned about their lands, to scientists concerned about climate change, to ... Sigh, those scientists are, however, simply "zealots".

 

February 16, 2013    View Comment    

On Why Keystone XL is Not in the U.S. National Interest

Let's see ...

Seems to be that the item is we can't do anything to change because we have the infrastructure we have and thus we can't change the infrastructure we have and thus should continue to feed the beast/add to the beast that we have.

This piece was not about offering up alternative paths forward -- but perhaps it would have made sense to link to myriads of pieces offering up "infrastructure to deliver society's needs" w/burning less fossil fuel.

Let's take a small example, why not steel interstates with electrified rail?  Within a decade, at a net benefit to the economy -- without considering the pollution / climate benefits -- this could help reduce US demand, with intermodal transfer improvements, in the range of 2.5 mbd.  And, compared to trucking, this would enable moving California tomatoes to the East Coast roughly in 30 hours with far fewer energy calories per calorie of food moved.  That is a "new distribution infrastructure" that "is being aka proposed" ...

Reality is that there are quite serious paths to shift the infrastructure to reduce fossil fuel demands -- even in the agricultural secor -- that have been put on the table and, in many cases, that are actually being worked on.  That this one piece, which focuses on reasons why the Keystone XL pipeline does not meet the standard required in the review process, does not provide a detailed examination of such opportunities and path forward is a rather high standard to hold any single blog post.

 

 

February 16, 2013    View Comment    

On Why Keystone XL is Not in the U.S. National Interest

Sigh ...

1.  "Miniscule ..." Who cares about someone pissing in the community pool because it is so big, only one kid.  Looking at in isolation is absurd. This:

The Keystone XL Pipeline, considered in isolation, is not a game changing or planet-threatening project. According to some estimates, obtaining and using oil from tar sands produces 14 to 20 percent greater greenhouse gas emissions than the average oil now used in the U.S. for transportation. In a report to Congress, the estimated effect of the pipeline on the U.S. greenhouse gas footprint would be an increase of 3 million to 21 million metric tons of GHG emissions annually – less than one percent of U.S. emissions. The tar sands in Canada are an environmental disaster in other ways, but the incremental emissions of greenhouse gases are small compared to the far greater threat of massive coal expansion in China, or potential fugitive emission of methane from fracking, or massive deforestation in Indonesia and Latin America, or any number of other major sources of greenhouse gases. In that sense, arguments that the Keystone pipeline is just a “distraction” or “red herring” have some merit.

But. But. But. Here’s my problem: when do we finally just say “no more?”  When are we and our elected officials going to look at the complete picture created by our individual choices and decisions?

 

2.  Try actually looking at the impact of Tar Sands exploitation.  "Most Destructive Project" -- start here.

 

3.  Keystone puts oil on world market and removes it from the upper Midwest market.  Right now, Dilbit is selling at a significant discount in the upper Midwest: "One of the most important facts that is missing in the national debate surrounding the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is this – Keystone XL will not bring any more oil into the United State for decades to come.  Canada doesn’t have nearly enough oil to fill existing pipelines going to the United States. However, existing Canadian oil pipelines all go to the Midwest, where the only buyer for their crude is the United States. Keystone XL would divert Canadian oil from refineries in the Midwest to the Gulf Coast where it can be refined and exported. Many of these refineries are in Foriegn Trade Zones where oil may be exported to international buyers without paying U.S. taxes. And that is exactly what Valero, one of the largest potential buyers of Keystone XL's oil, has told its investors it will do. The idea that Keystone XL will improve U.S. oil supply is a documented scam being played on the American people by Big Oil and its friends in Washington DC. " 

Heartland gas prices will go up: Keystone will remove oil from the upper Midwest to put it on the world market.

February 11, 2013    View Comment    

On “I Vote for Energy …”

Since I don't control what material moves from my site to Energy Collective, perhaps it makes sense to look at something posted there ... see the last link in the above. 

Not sure how, in a follow-up to something that I had done earlier in the day, posting a satiric video represents "hit piece".

 

January 5, 2012    View Comment    

On “We can’t wait” … The President Stands Up to Fossil Interests

I like Bloomberg's way of putting it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-bloomberg/epa-mercury-coal-emissions_b_1148099.html?ref=politics

 

The EPA has proposed rules that would reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by 90%, preventing 12,200 emergency room visits and saving $80 billion a year in health care costs. The rules -- now sitting on the president's desk -- are two decades overdue.

In 1990, when the Clean Air Act was last revised, Congress directed the EPA to establish limits on mercury and other emissions of coal-fired power plants. In March, after 20 years of delay, the EPA has finally issued a set of draft rules. By Monday, the president will decide whether to adopt the draft rules, weaken them, or withdraw them entirely. It will be one of the defining tests of the administration's commitment to public health and environmental protection.

December 15, 2011    View Comment    

On “We can’t wait” … The President Stands Up to Fossil Interests

Re Keystone jobs.

1.  For amusement, start with the Post's "Fact Checker' item: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/keystone-pipeline-jobs-claims-a-bipartisan-fumble/2011/12/13/gIQAwxFisO_blog.html 

2.  Cornell study with analysis that pipeline might lead to net negative job creation (e.g., job losses):  http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/globallaborinstitute/research/Keystonexl.html 

3.  Re standards ... how about, for example, the proposals from EPA going back 8 years:  http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/boiler/boilerpg.html  The Boiler MACT wasn't some sudden surprise that emerged on 16 March 2011.

December 15, 2011    View Comment    

On “We can’t wait” … The President Stands Up to Fossil Interests

Hmmm ...

1.  These are rules that have been on delay for 20 years. How much longer should those rule delays continue? 

2.  As you note, these are old facilities -- grandfathered in under CAA -- should pollution controls and resulting health benefits ever be part of the program?

3.  The capacity discussions are far more robust and complex than you suggest -- and not severely .  Why not look to, for example, EEI: 

  • There will be far fewer shutdowns than industry shills are predicting -- around 321 plants, or 48,000 megwatts' worth (roughly 14 percent of current coal capacity, or 5 percent of total generation capacity).

  • The shutdowns will take place over a much longer period of time than public industry reporting is predicting -- over a decade rather than in the next two or three years.

  • Most of the closures are happening for other reasons, unrelated to EPA rules -- the plants are old, they're uneconomic to run, they're getting beat by cheap gas.

See the discussion here: http://www.grist.org/coal/2011-12-01-evidence-shutting-down-coal-plants-will-not-threaten-reliability

4. RE Keystone XL:  "The unions" are actually split over Keystone and, well, the only independent analysis to date has shown that this has a good shot of being a net negative on the jobs front. Re the consumers, the refined oil product will likely be exported and developing the pipeline will lead to increased gas costs in the Midwest (and, even more so, reduced refinery profits in the Midwest). 

December 15, 2011    View Comment    

On Durban: Putting the Dust into the Dustbin of History?

Yes,

July 2012 will, on average, be hotter than December 2012 in North America.  No, nothing factual there since this is soley a "projection of potential future occurrences" based on billions of years of geologic record, thousands of years of human experience, hundreds of years of science, and decades of personal experience

A rock dropped from an airplane will fall toward the earth.  Nothing factual there since this is based solely on millenia of human experience, hundreds of years of science, personal experience, and not factual because 'gravity' is solely a Scientific Theory.

We are already seeing increased 'extreme weather events', with global rainfall coming increasing in severe rainfall events, exactly as Global Warming Theory and climate change modeling predicted. That that same body of work projects increasingly severe weather events is to be ignored since "no projection of potential future occurrences is "factual"." 

December 14, 2011    View Comment