Drumbeat: February 18, 2012

British Gas owner stokes profit anger

The backlash against the “big six” energy providers will intensify this week when British Gas-owner Centrica announces a profit leap in the face of growing fuel poverty and high utility bills.

Centrica is expected to unveil a group operating profit of about £2.5bn for 2011 on Thursday, up four per cent on 2010, according to consensus analyst estimates.

It comes against a backdrop of growing fuel poverty, with more than 5.5 million UK households spending at least a tenth of their disposable income on gas and electricity.

British Gas shivers as profits fall by quarter after year of warmer weather

British Gas, the country’s biggest energy supplier, will this week unveil a shock 25 per cent drop in profits for 2011.

In what will be its worst results for three years, British Gas profits will slump to £550million – equivalent to about £50 per household – reflecting unusually warm weather last year.

SSE inks ten-year gas supply deal with Shell

LONDON (Reuters) - SSE, one of Britain's six big energy suppliers, said it signed a ten-year gas supply deal with Royal Dutch Shell Plc, linked to prevailing prices in the natural gas market.

SSE said on Friday that the supply deal with Shell Energy Europe -- at 790 million cubic metres per year -- represents about 5 percent of its forecast typical annual gas needs.

A "Crystal Ball View Of Europe In 2022"

We are even happier to see that Tsvetkov has released a new one: a Crystal Ball view of Europe in 2022 which is his cartographic exercise in forecasting the political layout of Europe. While it is mostly an exercise in irony, we have to admit that the probability of him being spot on is high to quite high. We would however point out that by 2022 the "Europe Union" will be a satellite region of Russia, or as it will be better known then, Gazpromia.

BP idles large Washington state refinery after fire

HOUSTON/SEATTLE (Reuters) - BP Plc idled production at its Cherry Point refinery in Washington state on Saturday, a day after a large fire broke out near the core crude oil unit of the third-largest plant on the West Coast.

The sole crude distillation unit, or CDU, at the 225,000 barrel-per-day refinery was shut following the one-hour blaze on Friday, said BP spokesman Scott Dean. All other units have been idled in warm standby mode ready for a quick restart.

Oil Independence, America: One Last Chance

Americans need to now now, before the election, what is at stake with energy prices.

We all need to do a little research to find out about fact and myth: the Myth of Peak Oil and the Fact of Bakken and ANWR. Learn about the land [topography] of the massive Bakken Oil Fields that are turning Montana & North Dakota into America’s Energy Independence Salvation [even more prolific than ANWR] and at least 25 times bigger than originally thought. That drilling is all on private land in ND, as opposed to ANWR. So, I suggest we switch focus away from ANWR and make the Bakken the issue. Drilling is already going “gangbusters” in the Bakken. My Canadian readers already know all about the “Bakken Blessing,” which also extends significantly into Southern Saskatchewan.

What Happens After 'Peak Everything'?

Those of us investing in the resource sector are likely to be very familiar with the concept of "peak everything" -- the notion that the world is running out of critical natural resources that can be economically mined. Oil, phosphorous, copper, coal, lithium, neodymium, water, and many others have all been prophesied as being past peak production.

A key caveat to the notion of peak everything is the issue of economics. If new technology can be devised to make these resources cheaper to extract, the whole issue of peak everything could be set to rest.

Should not the world find a new source of energy?

The crude oil has reigned supreme for most of the last century. But, the grim reality is that peak oil is already here. The term “peak oil” doesn’t mean that there isn’t any more oil in the world.

It simply means that we have reached the point at which global oil production tops out, then starts to decline. And thus, the basic law of supply and demand virtually guarantees that oil prices will continue to climb higher and higher.

Sudan police raid university dorm, arrest hundreds

CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese police raided student dormitories at Khartoum's main university on Friday, beating and arresting hundreds of students in the latest crackdown on youth protesters, activists said.

State's attorney appeals Vermont Yankee nuclear plant ruling

(Reuters) - Vermont's Attorney General appealed on Saturday a federal judge's ruling that had prevented the state from shutting down its only nuclear power plant, escalating a two-year battle over state's rights and atomic energy.

Last month, U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha ruled that federal law preempted a state law that would have shut the Vermont Yankee plant in March, at the end of its original 40-year operating license.

Britain, France sign nuclear power deals at summit

David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy put recent disputes behind them Friday to unveil a nuclear power deal and renew their own sometimes shaky political alliance.

Record £2.8m fine for chemical plant emissions shames oil giant ExxonMobil

ENERGY giant ExxonMobil has been forced to pay the biggest fine for an environmental offence in British history for failing to report greenhouse gas emissions from its chemicals plant in Scotland.

Malaysian court asked to stop rare earths plant

Malaysian activists said on Friday they had filed a court challenge to block a rare earths plant being built by Australian miner Lynas, which has stoked fears over radiation pollution.

Santorum says Obama agenda not "based on Bible"

A devout Roman Catholic who has risen to the top of Republican polls in recent days, Santorum said the Obama administration had failed to prevent gas prices rising and was using "political science" in the debate about climate change.

Mom Who Made Son Walk to School Is Child Abuser -- Seriously?

Valerie Borders, an Arkansas mom, made her 10-year-old son Nequavion walk to school after being suspended (for the fifth time) from riding the school bus. Was she congratulated? Nope. As per ABC News, Mom was charged with child endangerment and faces one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

...It was also coldish, 30 degrees, though in my home state of Michigan, that's a balmy spring breeze. Kids walk daily through cold and snow in our area. Stores also sell inclement weather apparel in kids' sizes, (Nequavion was wearing such a garment). Anyway, the concern wasn't weather as much as stranger danger or injury, said officer Lyle Waterworth. He encourages other helpful citizens to call the police when they see kids walking alone.

Why $200 oil is the subprime mortgage of energy

What does an oil price shock have to do with subprime mortgages? Well, consider this: the global economy found itself on the edge of the abyss in 2008 when reality — in the form of wildly overvalued mortgage securities — landed hard on the illusion that real estate-related investments were a guaranteed, perpetual cash machine.

So what do you think might happen when a different reality — in the form of wildly undervalued eco-services and energy-related externalities — comes crashing down on the illusion that there’s no need to steer away from business as usual in an increasingly resource-strained world?

a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-17/oil-set-for-biggest-2012-weekly-gain-on-u-s-economy-greek-aid-plans.html">Crude Oil Rises to Nine-Month High Amid Optimism on U.S. Economy, Greece

“We’ve had a strong week and there’s strong upward momentum,” said Addison Armstrong, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. “The headlines are what’s driving this market and if they point to a better economy, prices will rise. It looks like a Greek deal is going to finally get done.”

Peak Oil (In Euros, That Is)

The euro’s dwindling purchasing power is both a result of the Continent’s financial woes and a factor tightening the screws. Worse, hot spots like Greece and Spain are particularly exposed due to a high dependence on oil imports. Geopolitics compounds this: Greece relies on Iranian oil for 30% of consumption, says Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Contrast that with the U.S., where net imports of oil have fallen significantly.

Has the United States beaten peak oil? Not so fast.

In the past five years, warnings about peak oil have gained a lot of traction. U.S. oil production, after all, has fallen sharply since 1970. Global oil output has plateaued of late, even as China and India are demanding ever more crude. And that’s all caused prices to soar.

Yet the recent shale-oil boom in North Dakota has some analysts brushing off this gloomy perspective. A new research note (pdf) from Citigroup argues that the recent surge in North American production has “buried” the peak-oil hypothesis. New drilling technology has allowed companies to extract oil from once-inaccessible shale rock, which has, in turn, allowed the U.S. to slash its oil imports dramatically. What’s more, there are tantalizing shale deposits all around the world — in Argentina, Australia, and even France. So does that mean that, as the Citigroup analysts say, the peak-oil hypothesis is “dead”? Well, not so fast.

Big Oil Wants to Kill the Keystone XL Pipeline

With America on the verge of achieving energy independence in the next five years by dramatically expanding domestic energy production, why should anyone be surprised that it’s Big Oil money that’s out to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline to prevent competition.

Is there really so much shale gas in the ground?

Shale gas fever has overtaken America, but we have seen this sort of mania before.

In 2003 and 2004, a "hydrogen economy" was touted as the Next Big Thing. The United States was poised to run its 240 million cars and trucks on it some day, and wean itself off of oil. California would lead the way, putting half a million hydrogen vehicles on the road and building 200 fueling stations by 2010. Today, after the expenditure of around $2 billion of public funds, the U.S. has just two-dozen fueling stations and 500 hydrogen vehicles, plus only modest progress in fuels cells. There is no longer mainstream discussion of a hydrogen economy.

Gas buoys Qatar plans

Five years ago, half a dozen cars at a traffic light in Qatar’s capital Doha would lead to mutterings about how crowded the city was becoming. Now bumper-to-bumper traffic often clogs a seafront dominated by gleaming skyscrapers. At night, tastefully lit buildings exude opulence, and wooden dhows plying the water are the only obvious sign of the past.

But this change is nothing compared with the transformation that the country’s rulers plan over the next decade. Throw in its aspirations to be a regional peacebroker, and it is no exaggeration to call Qatar the world’s most ambitious country.

Aramco, Pertamina mull refining, petrochem project

(Reuters) - Saudi Aramco Asia Co Ltd, a subsidiary of oil giant Saudi Aramco signed an initial deal with Indonesia's state energy firm, PT Pertamina to look into building a refining and petrochemicals project in Indonesia, Aramco said on Saturday.

Sudan, Saudi, and the cheering on the U.S. oil patch

Consider the latest news from the Middle East and North Africa, and one grasps why many U.S. oil and geopolitical analysts are cheering what they see as a prospect that the country will seriously trim its oil imports.

At the Financial Times, Javier Blas describes a drop in Saudi Arabia's pivotal capacity for bailing out the global oil market in a pinch, quoting a new report by the International Energy Agency; the IEA says natural oil field decline has eroded Saudi's spare production capacity. Nearby in Iran, the standoff with the West has resulted in a 15 percent risk premium on top of market oil prices, writes Bloomberg's Ayesha Daya; traders worry of a loss of much oil to the market should the tension escalate.

Barak Says Iran Sanctions Have Further to Go Before Military Strike Needed

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for “tight, ratcheted up” sanctions against Iran to force the country to abandon its nuclear ambitions and said the political process had further to go before a military strike.

“We’re still in the sanctions stage and we expect them to become even more tight,” Barak said at a press conference today in Tokyo at the end of a four-day visit. “I think there is consensus in most capitals of the world that Iran should not be allowed to turn into a nuclear military power.”

Syrian forces fire on funeral in Damascus, 1 dead

BEIRUT (AP) – Syrian security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at thousands of people marching Saturday in a funeral procession that turned into a protest in Damascus, killing at least one person, activists said. It was one of the largest demonstrations in the capital since the 11-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad began.

London-based oil executive linked to 9/11 hijackers

A Saudi Arabian accused of associating with several of the September 11 hijackers and who disappeared from his home in the United States a few weeks before the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, is in London working for his country’s state oil company.

Nathan Cullen chastised at Enbridge hearing

Two days of hearings for Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project got off to a rocky start Friday in Prince Rupert, B.C., amid more opposition by First Nations and a prominent local politician.

Moex Agrees to Pay $90 Million to Settle U.S. Gulf of Mexico Spill Claims

Mitsui & Co.’s MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC will pay $90 million to the U.S. and five states to settle pollution violations related to 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill while BP Plc (BP/) and its drilling fluid provider for the Macondo well agreed to dismiss claims against each other.

Fire at Cherry Point refinery might boost gas prices

CHERRY POINT, Whatcom County — A large fire broke out Friday at the BP refinery at Cherry Point, creating a plume of black smoke visible for miles.

Shell Clears Major Hurdle in Its Bid for New Arctic Drilling

In a crucial step toward the ultimate approval of new oil drilling off the North Slope of Alaska, the Interior Department on Friday tentatively approved Shell’s plans for responding to a potential spill in the frigid Arctic waters.

Crews continue work at Alaska well blowout site

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The state Department of Environmental Conservation says air monitors show that no natural gas has accumulated at the site of an exploratory well blowout on Alaska's North Slope.

A crew drilling on a lease held by Repsol E&P USA Inc. on Wednesday penetrated a pressurized pocket of natural gas at 2,523 feet. The resulting kickback spewed out gas and an estimated 42,000 gallons of freshwater-based drilling fluid onto three acres.

Int’l arbitration panel tells Ecuador to hold off on $18B fine against Chevron in Amazon case

QUITO, Ecuador — An international arbitration panel has provisionally ordered Ecuador not to allow Amazon rainforest residents to collect $18 billion that an Ecuadorean court ordered Chevron Corp. to pay them for contamination.

Goodnight Sunshine

Germany once prided itself on being the “photovoltaic world champion”, doling out generous subsidies—totaling more than $130 billion, according to research from Germany’s Ruhr University—to citizens to invest in solar energy. But now the German government is vowing to cut the subsidies sooner than planned and to phase out support over the next five years. What went wrong?

Subsidizing green technology is affordable only if it is done in tiny, tokenistic amounts. Using the government’s generous subsidies, Germans installed 7.5 gigawatts of photovoltaic capacity last year, more than double what the government had deemed “acceptable.” It is estimated that this increase alone will lead to a $260 hike in the average consumer’s annual power bill.

First Solar Climbs After Antelope Project Permit Issue Resolved

First Solar Inc., the biggest maker of thin-film solar panels, climbed the most in three weeks after resolving a Los Angeles County permitting issue for a $1.36 billion power project, paving the way for financing to resume.

A Different Kind of Beekeeping Takes Flight

Much of the honey eaten in the United States and Europe comes from the European honeybee. But Apis mellifera and the handful of other species in the honeybee family aren’t the only ones that make this sugary treat. A much larger and more diverse group called stingless bees also produce honey — and they’re creating a stir among beekeepers and researchers worldwide as pollinators and as a newfound source of food and medicinal products.

The Obama Administration's War On Particulate Emissions

Greg Ip has a piece in the Economist noting (surprise surprise) that the Obama administration's Office of Informational and Regulatory Affairs takes a friendlier approach to environmental regulations than did the Bush administration version of OIRA.

Heartland Institute faces fresh scrutiny over tax status

The Guardian has learned of a whistleblower complaint to the Internal Revenue Service about Heartland's 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.

There was also a call from a group of climate scientists who have personally been on the receiving end of attacks from Heartland and bloggers funded by the thinktank, and whose email was posted online after a notorious 2009 hack, for Heartland to "recognise how its attacks on science and scientists have poisoned the debate about climate change policy," in a letter made available exclusively to the Guardian.

Pro Tip: Even If Someone Has Faked A Damaging Memo About Your Organization, Don't Threaten To Sue Anyone Who 'Comments' On It

Now, I don't care what you think of Heartland, climate change or anything along those lines. Whether you think it's a wonderful organization or an evil organization... one thing I would hope we could agree on is that threatening people for "commenting" on documents with legal action, even if the documents later turn out to be fake, is not a good idea.

Carbon Trading Volume Rose to Record in EU December Permits

Carbon trading in benchmark December European Union emissions permits had the busiest ever day yesterday as prices surged.

The volume of EU December 2012 carbon futures leaped 64 percent to a record 30,928 lots, or 30.9 million metric tons, on ICE Futures Europe in London. Open interest, or the number of outstanding contracts, rose by 1.4 percent to 353.1 million tons, exchange data show. The contract’s price rose 7.7 percent yesterday, its biggest gain since Dec. 20.

A Second Front in the Climate War

Year after year, the world’s nations gather to find ways to reduce carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, with little meaningful progress. Frustrated by this slow pace, the United States and five other countries announced this week a modest but potentially game-changing initiative to cut three other pollutants that also contribute significantly to climate change.

Another update on the Hartfords:

Maine Couple's Heating Woes Generate Warmth From Strangers

Nearly two weeks after their offer to trade the title to their car for some heating oil was reported on the front page of the New York Times, Robert and Wilma Hartford of Peru have found warmth in the generosity of strangers--and in a completely retrofitted, energy efficient house. Not only have more than $200,000 worth of donations poured into the local oil company that helped them out, but several energy efficiency experts have found a way to cut the couple's heating oil bill in half.


Wojick estimates that the volunteer labor and energy efficiency improvements would have cost the Hartfords about $6,800, money that they and a lot of other Maine families don't have. But with a 50 percent reduction in the heating load he says the project would pay for itself in about four years.

And he says that's something to consider given that Maine has the oldest housing stock in the country and that 80 percent of Mainers rely on oil heat. "And rather than just throwing money hand over fist at LIHEAP subsidies, it's kind of mind-boggling that we're not doing more retro fit work when the payback is that fast," he says.

See: http://www.mpbn.net/News/MaineNewsArchive/tabid/181/ctl/ViewItem/mid/347...

Let's hope something even more wonderful will come out of this.


Thanks for the update, Paul. I have to ask though, what will the Hartfords' tax liability be for all of these gifts? Leave it to Govt. to rain on their party... so hopefully this issue has been considered.

Boy, wouldn't that be a cruel slap in the face. One hopes no faceless bureaucrat could be that mean-spirited, but I guess it's a real possibility ("now that these kind folks have fixed the holes in your ceiling we're going to have to re-assess your house taxes...").


This may also be counted as income, as almost everything is these days. Some friends gave a car (valued at about $14K by the State) to an old neighbor so he could get to his part-time job. Not only was he assessed the full value as income, it screwed up his Social Security and Medicare eligibility for the year when added to his meager part-time income. One needs to be careful when doing the right thing :-/

I don't have a problem with their property tax assessment being increased - there isn;t really an objective way to discount energy efficiency improvements.

But I'd like to think they won't get income taxed on the donated value of all this stuff.

That creates a perverse situation where the donor can claim a tax deduction for a charitable gift, and the recipient pays the tax instead!

there is something wrong with that picture...

I won a Ford Ranger(1996)in a sweepstakes drawing and had to drive 120 miles to the dealer in Los Angeles.
The invoice price was MSRP of around $13700. Tax, license and registration was another $1500. The value of the vehicle was treated as income taxed at 28%(?) so my expense came to a little over $5000.
My nephew lives a near poverty life because he would lose his life saving benefits if he had any money/assets.

A friend of mine invited me to watch his home 'till it sold. It had a Garland 6-burner restaurant-style oven/stove in the kitchen. I'm straight with my Social Security - I don't want to mess it up. So, having a roof cost $250 a month. Having a stove with two adjustable burners cost another $60. My friends kindness, which I gladly accepted and was able to be of value in the doing so, cost $310 a month. They account your life right down to "Do you own a grave stone or marker?". It is not a frivolous give away.

In the worker's paradise of Australia, all horse-racing, lottery, lotto, keno, casino, and other windfall wins are all completely tax-free income = as they should be, because all funds expended in these systems cannot be claimed as a tax deduction! If the US taxes all such lottery wins without allowing a tax deduction for all bets laid, then, really, you should go and get yourself a better system!

You can deduct your expenses. But only from your winnings, not from your other income.

The Canadian system is similar to the Australian one. They don't tax winnings, but you can't deduct gambling expenses because it is assumed you are gambling for fun.

The American system is a tax on losers (part of a general philosophy, I suppose).

Hence the reason I've never bought even a $1 lotto ticket. Gambling is for fools and for people who have too much money. Once in awhile you will read comments that we should bring a casino to our local community as a source of jobs. I just laugh and laugh.

The lottery is just a tax on the mathematically impaired.

Ron P.

And yet, someone keeps winning 350 million jackpots.

And several hundred million don't.

Jackpots won average 45% of moneys bet. But then they still must pay taxes. So the state and federal government get another 30% to 40% of what's left. That means the state and federal government get about 70 to 75% of all moneys bet.

The roulette wheel pays out about 95 cents on the dollar. The crap table pays out about 98.4% of every dollar bet. (Straight craps, hard ways pay less.) Only the mathematically impaired plays the roulette wheel. But boy you really have to be mathematically impaired to play a game that pays to the betters about 25 cents on the dollar.

People who buy lottery tickets in hope of getting rich are mostly poor and a few middle class. The rich never play. That is just another way where the top 1% rip off the other 99%.

Ron P.

The smart thing to do is play those same people at poker where you can repeatedly put yourself in a mathematically superior position and cash in. Assuming you have a sufficient bankroll to withstand extended periods of getting unlucky (as well as the rake), you can make a healthy profit from the mathematical ineptitude of others.

There's something wrong with that story: in the US, gifts of up to $13,000 are taxfree. So, a married couple can give $26k to an individual without taxes.

Some friends gave a car (valued at about $14K by the State) to an old neighbor so he could get to his part-time job. Not only was he assessed the full value as income, it screwed up his Social Security and Medicare eligibility

The IRS must be a total bunch of jerks. Being in Canada, I personally haven't had anything to do with them, but they've managed to get the Canadian Finance Minister P.O.d at them for their unscrupulous activities wrt to American citizens in Canada, and he has actually sent them a nasty diplomatic letter to that effect. It takes some doing to get the tax authorities in another country mad at your tax authorities.

Anyhow, if you want to give someone a car, to make it non-income you don't give him the car, you sell it to him for $1000. Then you slip him the $1000 under the table in cash, and he writes you a cheque for the full amount.

If necessary you could give your mechanic a generously large bottle of fine scotch for Christmas, and he could write you an estimate that it will cost $13,000 for the complete engine rebuild and extensive body work required to fix the car to your exacting standards. Then you can tell the IRS you sold the car for cheap because it would cost too much to fix it. Any judge will believe this, but I doubt it would get that far.

Full disclosure: I've never actually done this but I've heard from a friend of a friend that he knows somebody that did this. Not than any of us would do it.

The IRS must be a total bunch of jerks.

They would be, if the story were true. Probably an urban legend.

Long arm of IRS reaching into Canada

An Aug. 31 deadline is looming for thousands — maybe hundreds of thousands — of Americans living in Canada. Many don’t know that they’re required to file U.S. tax forms every year and disclose their bank accounts — even if they have no U.S. tax liability.

Some Americans born to American citizens in Canada don’t even know they’re American citizens. But the IRS may inform them soon. And the penalties for not filing U.S. tax returns, even innocently, could be huge.

The IRS is pushing ahead with a big anti-fraud campaign to collect unpaid taxes. That’s fine; they’ll catch a few deserving tax criminals. But they could also catch thousands of unwitting American citizens who live abroad — many of them in Canada.

That's not related to taxation of gift, which is the urban myth I was referring to.

I'm not really sure what prompted that filing requirement - wealthy expats evading taxes?

About 15 years ago, in Canada, my neighbor was woken up by a IRS taxman nocking on her door asking for USD 70,000. It turns out her American-Canadian husband hadn't properly filed a tax return some 15 years before that, and every year a penalty was charged, and interest on the penalty was accumulated.

Your neighbor, in Canada, was woken up by an American IRS agent who wanted $70,000 in American back taxes because her husband hadn't filed a tax return in the US for 15 years despite the fact he didn't live in the US and had no US income?

I suppose if she produced a flintlock musket and explained how her United Empire Loyalist ancestors had used it to shoot American invaders of Canada in the War of 1812, he would have viewed it as some kind of threat and called (American) homeland security?

Or if she offered him some Laura Secord Chocolates and explained how Laura Secord ran 20 miles through the woods to a Canadian Indian encampment, after which the Indians captured 462 American soldiers, and therefore Laura is now considered to be a Canadian icon, he might also view it as some kind of foreign threat?

Personally, I would just produce a hockey stick and explain what the penalties for "High Sticking" are in Canada (four minutes in the penalty box if it causes injury).

She was on her doorstep in pijamas. The husband was away on a trip. From what I remember she spent the day wondering what sort of secret life he might be leading because the agent was quite selective in what information he gave out.

I always wonder at the frequent 1812 references around here. Sure, 200 years ago the British army (Canada was a colony) was able to burn down the White House. But York (Toronto) got burnt down too, and according to Wikipedia both sides felt victorious for repelling the invaders. Oh and the natives got screwed along the way...

Well, this is after all the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, so the topic is something likely to receive an unusual amount of media coverage, not to mention public ceremonies, until the year is over.

The War of 1812 was a defining event in Canadian history. Less so in US history.

It is the last war fought between Canada and the US and marks the start of nearly 200 years of peaceful coexistence between the two countries, which is rather unusual between two adjacent countries in global history.

No one likes paying taxes, and no one like the tax man.

It seems to be a no-win damned if you do, damned if you don't deal:

If you tighten up on tax collection, you seem overbearing...but is it overbearing to make folks follow the law and pair their due?

If the administration didn't tighten up on tax collection, or instructed its IRS enforces to lighten up somewhat, it would be assailed for being sloppy and incompetent.

From what I have heard lately, there seems to be pretty good agreement from folks in the U.S. from the left, right, and middle that one of Greece's problems is the rampant non-payment of taxes owed.

So...IMO, good on the administration for trying hard to collect the taxes legally owed.

If folks don't like taxes, hire politicians who will cut them...otherwise, don't break the law and pay up.

I have also heard folks complain that they 'don't own their house' after paying the mortgage since they must pay county/etc property taxes. Is this new? No. Once again, if everyone wants to close the police and fire departments, have the streets revert to gravel/dirt, have the public schools and libraries close, then fine, everyone agree to get rid of property taxes.

Don't like income taxes, don't like property taxes, always looking for 'that fella behind the tree' to pay for things...

Now, I understand that taxes can't keep going up...but look at California...they passed 'Prop 13' and made it very hard to raise their state taxes...they have had some budget problems since, but the state hasn't imploded to Mad Max-land either.

We have has tax cuts. on and off, since Reagan...we have had the GW Bush tax cuts, extended by Obama. We have had cap gains taxes rolled back. There are many exemptions and credits to be had, both for income and corporate taxes...we now have the goofy 'Payroll Tax Holiday' cutting a couple of percent from the Social Security paygo fund...what more do people want?

Again, back to the 'Do as I say, not as I do' hypocrisy theme...if the majority of folks wanted very few taxes and very little government...truly wanted that...they would have already elected someone like Ron Paul.

Death and taxes...give Caesar his due, no free lunch, and all that.

An old friend of mine lives and works in New York - will be there about eight years (until his kids enter high school). He has two houses in Sydney, and would like to sell one and pay off the debt still owing on both of them, and on his return, move to an area near the preferred high school.

However, if he sells either of them, the capital gain created is treated as income by the IRS and the State of New York, and he would be in the hole for about $200,000 more than if he were living in Australia. The US tax laws do not take account of different exchange rates that applied when the properties were bought (low) and those applying currently (high), among other complicated things.

So he cannot financially justify selling either property until he returns to Australia. And his profession? He is an international taxation expert ... which is sort of ironic.

Anyhow, if you want to give someone a car, to make it non-income you don't give him the car, you sell it to him for $1000. Then you slip him the $1000 under the table in cash, and he writes you a cheque for the full amount.

Here in Oklahoma we sell the vehicle for $1 plus "other considerations." It's been working for us. 8^)

In some States the sale price has little to do with their tax assessment. Washington was tough when I was out there, and in North Carolina they have a schedule they go by. If you buy a car for $1.00 they'll still nail you on the taxes according to what they think it's worth; pay up or no registration. States are also beginning to report the difference to their revenue depts. as income.

I was going to mention the "other considerations" clause in the sale/purchase agreement but thought that was getting out of the range of Taxation 101.

("Oh, yeah, he said he would cut my lawn and wash my windows for the next 20 years. But that was just a part of it. That's got to be worth at least $20,000.")

The "other considerations" clause is big in the oil industry, which is probably why it is popular in Oklahoma. In non-producing states the governments probably think it's illegal. An oil company's lawyers would prove otherwise.

In the US, gifts of up to $13,000 are taxfree. So, a married couple can receive $26k from an individual without taxes.

What are the restrictions on this gifting? I had been under the impression is was for gifting within the family, usually from parents to grown children. I think there is also a lifetime limit.

I think that gifting is most common within families, especially as a way for parents to reduce their estate, and avoid estate taxes. AFAIK there is a lifetime limit to how much it can reduce an estate.

Still, gifts can be from anyone, to anyone.

From the link:

With the help of volunteers and some other weatherization specialists, Wojick insulated the Hartford's attic, replaced some rotten timbers in the roof and applied spray foam to winterize the drafty basement. After just two days of working on the retrofit, energy auditor Dewitt Kimball runs a test to see how much air they've stopped from leaking out of the small, two-bedroom house.

So they NEVER took a true baseline ?

If not, their '50 percent savings' is meaningless in the technical sense.

However, fortunately, it's meaningful for the Hartford's.

"Why not use LIHEAP to cover the loan payments on a project like this?" Wojick asks.

What's in the way of such an implementation ?

I'm pretty sure they did do an air leakage test and it was some ridiculous amount (there were large chunks of the ceiling that were missing). I'll see if I can track down the source and get back to you on this.

OK, found it:

Air leakage is more than half the heat loss homeowners experience, he said.

The Hartfords' house is one of the worst cases Kimball said he has seen, with a loss of three and half of the home's air volume per hour.

"Normal and healthy air loss in a home should only be one third of its air volume per hour," he said. "I've done hundreds of these and this one is way above the normal."

Source: http://www.sunjournal.com/news/river-valley/2012/02/07/dixfield-fuel-com...


That's like having a nail hole in the fuel tank...

while it is unfortunate that that this low income couple are struggling, I do think that people have top take some responsibility for their houses. Having LIHEAP money go up in the air because they buy more subsidised oil instead of fixing obvious things like this is, at best, a misallocation of money.

Seems to me, as suggested above, that the energy audits and retrofits should be mandatory for houses on LHEAP, and use the LIHEAP money for such. if it is a good investment for homeowners (but who can't afford it) then it is also a good investment for LIHEAP, instead of just paying them to use more oil each year.

And I gather this is under calm conditions, so at 50 Pascals it would closer to, what, seventy air changes per hour? [I believe the factor is twenty.]

Some nail hole !


Thanks for the extra effort Paul.

This sort of hard data is absolutely essential to changing peoples mindset on the topic of existing structures consumption patterns.

Re the LIHEAP question. It's been a few years since I was involved in a LIHEAP state budget, but not much has changed. The following is not an opinion about whether the laws make sense, only that there are some reasons why things are done the way they are.

LIHEAP is a block grant, not an entitlement. The federal dollars come with some conditions. A state may use up to 10% of its grant on efficiency rather than fuel, but no more. LIHEAP is a Health and Human Services program; the Department of Energy has its own, much smaller, efficiency-only program, which I'll ignore. Because of the size of the grant, in a typical year only about 10% of the people who meet the federal eligibility requirements can receive meaningful assistance. In the face of that, most states prioritize in various ways.

In choosing which households receive assistance, most states favor criteria like households with small infants or elderly with respiratory problems (from the pictures, I would guess that the couple in question probably didn't get assistance, even if they applied). Which households receive assistance is decided independently each year; just because a household got help this year doesn't mean they'll get help next year. If I recall the statistics correctly, there's not all that much overlap from one year to the next. The main reasons for that is changes in the household's situation: someone got a job, the infant is a year older, the old person with asthma died, the people living in the house moved. States are extremely reluctant to pay now for future benefits that may be delivered to non-qualifying people.

The people who receive the benefit almost never actually touch the money. The state passes the information about who is receiving assistance, and how much, to the local utility or oil dealer. Those companies make the adjustments to the bills and are (eventually) reimbursed by the state. Efficiency improvements are handled in much the same way. Remarkably (or perhaps not) few contractors are willing to do business on the state's terms. Among other reasons is that they typically don't get to do just the things that they might want to do; they have to do the things that the state wants done, they have to agree to a fixed price up front, they have to warranty the work, etc. In many/most cases, the state insists that the contractor take on the risk for unanticipated problems.

In terms of efficiency improvements, much of the work gets done before the heating season starts. States are not only reluctant to spend money on a situation where next year's benefits from efficiency may go to someone who doesn't qualify, but are also reluctant to spend the money at a time when they know they've already missed part of the immediate heating season. Many states hold back a small part of the grant for emergencies that arise part-way through a season; that reserve is almost always spent on fuel for people who have an unanticipated disaster. People who are "OMG, it's the end of January and we're out of oil" are, with very few exceptions, too late to the dance.

I once did an exercise looking at the break-even point overall for spending on efficiency vs spending on fuel. The available data is not good, so one has to make various assumptions -- eg, modeling the distribution of efficiency gains across the population of eligible households. When in doubt, I probably made things look better for efficiency, since there are indirect benefits like reduced emissions of carbon dioxide. Where I ended up -- and I felt at least a bit silly calculating "net present BTUs" -- was that spending on efficiency bought more BTU benefits than spending on fuel if you could anticipate retail fuel prices at or above $15 per million BTUs (2005 dollars and prices) for the next several years.

Want to cut the price of oil?? Reduce demand. Hoooooooooow????

Restart the nuclear reactors in Japan and Germany. They've done the due diligence. The Japanese regulators have just made their mea culpas. So just as the American economy rebounded once the illegal six month drilling moratorium (intended to pass Cap & Trade) was lifted, our economy rebounded, so too will those of Germany and Japan, two of the world's biggest economies after the USA.

See how simple that is kids? If you have a "Black Swan" event, do a temporary stand down and then go back to work while the "Feynmanns" figure out how to advance the state-of-the-art. Who agrees with that, how about Co-Chairmen Riley and Graham http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/final-report ?

Or would that upset the greedy speculators trying to profit off the misery of others???

Remind me again, what does the G in G Soros stand for?

Bruce (and all),

Is it not true that nuclear reactors provide their energy to society almost exclusively as electricity, and also that in most societies that oil is largely used (in the various final liquid fuel forms) to power transportation, and further that rather little oil is used to generate electricity? Also, isn't NG and coal-fired electricity generation, along with (currently) more minor amounts of solar and wind-generated electricity, the go-to sources to replace the voluntary loss of production of nuclear-generated electricity? Perhaps Japan is something of an anomaly since it shut down numerous nuke plants, perhaps it is using oil-fired plants...but is that enogh to cause the current price rise in World oil prices?

If these assertions are true, then I do not connect the dots (as you do) that the shuttering of nuclear generation causes oil prices to rise, and vice-verse.

Moving on to the U.S., you seem to assert that the deep-water new drilling moratorium after the Macondo even was primarily responsible for prolonging/deepening the U.S. economic downturn, and that as a corollary, the lifting of this minor drilling moratorium was the sole or majority driver for the (purported) improvement in the U.S. Economy.

I disagree with your premise.

[Edit] How was the deep-water drilling moratorium illegal? Was this not in effect in Federal waters? Do you assert that the Executive branch/applicable government departments did not have the legal authority to impose that moratorium? Do you assert that the power to enact such a moratorium belonged to Congress?

Also, with the moratorium in deep-water U.S. drilling lifted, and increasing production in the Baaken, etc, why are oil prices rising. Perhaps you lay this at the doorstep of Japan and Germany shutting don nuclear reactors (how many has Germany shut down?), but is it not actually a function of flat supply and growing demand by countries other than the U.S. and European countries, such as (but not only) China and India?

It is true that since Japan shut its reactors, it has been forced to replace the electricity they generated with that from oil fired power plants. So Japan's imports of oil have risen while a huge capital production capacity sits idle? For what, they expect another massive tsunami? The NISA reports indicate that they were unprepared for the loss of standby generating power and hence cooling water. So buy some portable generators and pumps and let 'er rip! Why support the Iranians when Japan can become somewhat more energy independent and cut costs to their own consumers?

The moratorium was illegal because that was a finding of fact in a federal court. Do you believe in The Rule of LAW? Specifically, Constitutional law about "illegal takings", from not the Congress, but rather the public whom both the Executive and legislative branches are duty bound to SERVE? Oil prices are rising because of oil EXPORTS to meet demand from overseas, specifically Germany and Japan.

DUH! I disagree with your faulty logic. Our problem is public servants who have forgotten who is the MASTER and who is the servant in the relationship.

"Our problem is public servants who have forgotten who is the MASTER and who is the servant in the relationship..."

Gosh, Bruce, we're so far beyond that ideal, it boggles the mind. The "public servants" know who is 'MASTER', and it ain't the rule of law or the voter.

It is time to put "is' into the past tense, "was". "Change" is coming and the Democrats are left without any "Hope". They blew all they had in the bank.

Oh,, it's those Democrats, is it?

Bruce, you still don't get it, do you? Most people here have equally little faith in Democrats or Republicans! Why, you may ask? Because the entire political process is just a dog and pony show to keep the masses entertained! But you are right about one thing, "Change" is most certainly coming but it may not look anything like what you seem to be expecting.

...yeah,, no clue where we're headed...

Soon the Gypsy Queen in a glaze of Vaseline
Will perform on guillotine
What a scene! What a scene!
Next upon the stand will you please extend a hand
to Alexander's Ragtime Band
Roll up! Roll up! Roll up!
See the show!

Performing on a stool we've a sight to make you drool
Seven virgins and a mule
Keep it cool. Keep it cool.
We would like it to be known the exhibits that were shown
were exclusively our own,
All our own. All our own.

But ELP were English... >;^)

So were Pink Floyd and Super Tramp, and U2-Irish, Rush-Canadian; all had some pretty poignant commentary regarding the US.

She is liberty
And she comes to rescue me
Hope, faith, her vanity
The greatest gift is gold

Sleep comes like a drug
In God's country
Sad eyes, crooked crosses
In God's country, yeah..


It is true that since Japan shut its reactors, it has been forced to replace the electricity they generated with that from oil fired power plants.

Got proof to back up this claim?

while a huge capital production capacity sits idle?

And this matters how?

And I do have another question for you Bruce.

If Fission power is to 'save us all' from oil - Do explain how Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Saudi Arabia are to obtain reactors and run them.

If Fission power is to 'save us all' from oil - Do explain how Iran, North Korea, Zimbabwe, and Saudi Arabia are to obtain reactors and run them.

Iran has got Russian help, obviously, and could probably buy from China as well. Saudi Arabia could buy from anyone. Zimbabwe and North Korea together stands for 0,03% of world oil consumption, so they can be ignored. (They can get some nuclear plants when they have appreciable energy consumption, which they won't get under current regimes.)

Iran has got Russian help, obviously, and could probably buy from China as well

What happens if their fission reactor is bombed?

Saudi Arabia could buy from anyone

What happens if the regime changes in the Arab Spring, becomes Democratic, and elects a pro-word-of-Islam-is-law government?

Iran used to be on track to get reactors back in 1976. Then they weren't.

Zimbabwe and North Korea together stands for 0,03% of world oil consumption, so they can be ignored.

So for all the happy talk about how reactors are going to be needed - now they can be ignored? Interesting.

Saudi Arabia ..Arab Spring, becomes Democratic, and elects a pro-word-of-Islam-is-law government?

Doesn't SA already have a staunch Islamic government.

What happens if their fission reactor is bombed?

Bombed reactors likely lead to Chernobyl-like events, whether they are in Iran, Israel, China or wherever.

What happens if the regime changes in the Arab Spring, becomes Democratic, and elects a pro-word-of-Islam-is-law government?

SA already have such a government. If it becomes democratic, it'll likely soften up over time.

So for all the happy talk about how reactors are going to be needed - now they can be ignored? Interesting.

So, you don't agree that we can worry about the last 0.03% of World energy consumption later?

Sure I subscribe to the rule of law Bruce,...and I also disagree with various court rulings, such as 'Citizen's United', and with the ruling to instruct the federal government to lift the deep water drilling moratorium issued by Judge Feldman.

We live within the rule of law, but that doesn't equate to all rulings being just. It used to be legal to own other people in the U.S. under the rule of law.

The Feds managed to do what they thought was necessary anyway:

Despite the ruling of the three-judge panel, a de facto moratorium arguably remains in place because the government has told oil companies that they must seek revised permits and the approval of a government agency to continue deepwater drilling. One of the requirements is that a CEO of a company seeking to drill must personally sign a statement certifying that all safety equipment works properly and all well designs are safe, and acknowledge personal criminal liability for any false statements.


I read that the Feds relaxed this construct on or about October 10, 2010, and also that stricter drilling regulations were enacted as well.


I still am waiting for your data (referenced please) demonstrating that all, or most, (or some defined portion, or whatever you think you want to claim) of the purported improvement in the U.S. economy is directly attributable to the end of the de-facto GOM deep-water drilling moratorium.

Also, please provided referenced data detailing how much additional oil is being used by Japan, and Germany,( these need to be listed separately please)due to their idling of certain nuclear reactors, and provide a those raw numbers expressed as a percentage of World oil usage, and I would like to see that along with a time series graph of World oil usage (I will visually look for the spikes supposedly attributable to the phenomenon you suggest).

Be all that as it may, no matter how much extra oil Japan and Germany may be using in lieu of idling a certain number of their nuclear plants, that is their business. Feel free to write/email/phone their governments to lobby for a change in circumstance. Perhaps you can offer your services as a consultant to TEPCO or the Japanese government to lead them out of the morass.

As for 'supporting the Iranians',...they will gladly sell as much oil as China, India etc. that they want to buy no matter if the U.S. and Europe turn their noses up to importing Iranian oil.

As for the Master/servant government thread, I would offer the conjecture that certain number of large trans-national corporations wield about as much power over our lives as governments behind the scenes. My opinion.

Perhaps you might consider running for office to put your knowledge and passion for civics to use hewing to the Constitution and representing your constituents?

"The NISA reports indicate that they were unprepared for the loss of standby generating power and hence cooling water. So buy some portable generators and pumps and let 'er rip!"

Got Water? Nuclear Power Plant Cooling Water Needs
14 page PDF

"Nuclear power plants use two to four circulating water pumps for each
reactor unit. Each circulating water pump with its electric motor stands nearly 40 feet tall and supplies
over 100,000 gallons of water (per minute).

"For example, the typical 1,000 Mwe nuclear power reactor with a 30ºF ΔT needs approximately 476,500
gallons per minute."

"Actual circulating water system flow rates in once-through cooling systems are 504,000 gpm at Millstone
Unit 2 (CT); 918,000 gpm at Millstone Unit 3 (CT); 460,000 gpm at Oyster Creek (NJ); 311,000 at
Pilgrim (MA); and 1,100,000 gpm at each of the twp Salem reactors (NJ)."

So, you want a 500,000 Gallon Per Minute portable pump. Gonna wanna hose with that... maybe a place to hook it up...

Here's a nice little portable pump. It comes on an I-beam skid and does 13,500gpm. You're going to need 50 of them, delivered on-site. They connect with 18" plumbing. You will need manifolds to gather and distribute in and out of the pumps. There is nowhere to connect these manifolds to the reactor: It will have to be made. By the way, the reactors melted down within the first 48 hours. You've got 24. 1, 2, 3... go!

That is what I love about the Limbaugh Nation: That kind of understanding and Can-Do!

That is what I love about the Limbaugh Nation: That kind of understanding and Can-Do!

That's right, we're talking American spirit here! After all, are you an American or an American't?

Everything you said is true, but misleading. Those flow rates are for full power.

After the scram, you need 6% of those flow rates. So three of those pumps would do.. Of course if they are under tsunami water they won't work so you can't be complacent. And you need to fuel them for the duration, although you should be able to turn one off after three days or so.

Given that things take a while to heat up, and the thermal output postscram is dropping pretty quickly, I wonder what pumping rate would be just sufficient to avoid disaster (maybe 4-5% I'd reccon).

Flow rates are not just for full power, but reflect normal operating limits on coolant temperature rise which are much lower than levels with actual consequences.

That, too: The flow rates are for a 30 degree F temperature rise in the single-pass cooling water. Boiling a bunch of fish is better than blowing the containment, so a 100 degree F rise would be O.K. if the mechanical plant components, such as seals, or limits, such as expansion, are good for it.

Between estimating the flow rate downward as allowed by assumed conditions within the core and estimating the flow rate downward because of assumed resultant and allowable temperature rise, there is a bit of "dancing along the edge" in ordering-up far fewer pumps.

But, if there were three of these pumps to be had (one for each reactor), on site, swiftly... along with rapid, honest, and brave (relative to culture, position, and blame) assessment of the situation, despite instrumentation failures, leading to sure action... one would certainly want to try gain access to the mechanical plant at the key points and custom-fabricate those pumps into the system. The first reactor melts-down within 24 hours, as I recall. That's a lot of ducks to get in a row.

"Everything you said is true, but misleading. Those flow rates are for full power."

It is playing loose and fast with the numbers... But, then again, there are three reactors to cool... figure a quarter of the pumps don't work or soon fail... 15 pumps? "Did the reactors fully scram?" might not be known at the time because the instrumentation was compromised.

The time-line, destroyed infrastructure, rural location, drowned, scrambled, and debris covered mechanical plant components, the need for custom fabrication, and the swiftly mounting danger are the real show-stoppers.

Our problem is public servants who have forgotten who is the MASTER and who is the servant in the relationship.


Captured regulator best describes the relationship.


Regulatory capture

And here in Canada... National Energy Board: Captured Regulator?

Is it not true that nuclear reactors provide their energy to society almost exclusively as electricity

I'd say such is not a truth as some of the benefit of fission reactors and the energy released does come from medical radioisotopes.

Trivial tangential issue to the topic: We were talking about electricity generation and powering transportation...specifically regarding the effects of Japan and Germany taking some nuclear reactors offline and to what extent those decisions may be affecting the price of oil.

I was trying to find reasons for fission beyond making bombs. And medical isotopes is one of the few I can think of once you get rid of bomb and electrical.

Those who need them do not consider them trivial.

As for the 'price signal' - how could one sort that out between market manipulations, collapsing demand/collapsing economy et la? At this stage, the user who made the post doesn't seem to be responding to questions anymore - so is there a discussion?

The statement about oil as represented isn't true anyway:
Note the mention of the typical peaking gas-fired generators.

The needed volume of medical isotopes is pretty small. I think a few small sized research reactors are sufficient. That Iranian reactor we are so upset about, is one such reactor, given to them as a US gift in 1967! I don't think a large N power industry is needed for this application.

The other (IMO) very important need for fission products is for space exploration via unmanned probes. The primary, and really only fuel up to that task, is Plutonium 238.

Plutonium 238 is an alpha-emitter, which means it's not dangerous, unless you ingest it. But it is important for space probes because it is a long lasting, compact bundle of heat which powers the electronics on-board the probes via thermoelectric generators. This is the only viable method of powering small, lightweight, unmanned space probes. If you have ever been grateful for being able to see those fantastic close-ups of Saturn's rings, Uranus, or Jupiter, then you are implicitly grateful for the USA's production and access to Plutonium 238.

then you are implicitly grateful for the USA's production and access to Plutonium 238.

As your Wikipedia link correctly points out "Since 1993, all of the plutonium-238 the U.S. has used in space probes has been purchased from Russia. In total, 16.5 kilograms have been purchased." The USA currently has no acknowledged Pu-238 production.

Plutonium-238 is also capable of sustaining a nuclear chain reaction and has a bare sphere critical mass of about 10kg (same as weapons grade Pu-239 and you need only a fraction of the bare sphere mass for a bomb) - an inconvenient fact often brushed under the carpet but probably the major reason it is now hard to obtain.

The "Godiva Device" used a bare spherical mass.
Here is the Wikipedia page:
Image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Godiva_device.jpg
After Accident image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Godiva-after-scrammed.jpg
"Safety Control Rod Ax Man" SCRAM... really?
Image: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lQaInMRwnTk/TtSd32lCyPI/AAAAAAAAArs/2kKPu9lWA9...
-or- http://coopinsieme.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/nucleare.png
A better Russian page:
In English:

One day in 1954, Otto Frisch leaned too close over the partially assembled, or separated, pieces of the quiescent and quiet device. They had been ticking-over, idling, with neutrons streaming away relatively harmlessly. But, when he drew too close, the water of his body reflected enough of those neutrons back into the device, each liberating more neutrons from the materials, to start a chain reaction. The neutron flux density shot up in strength.

Want to cut the price of oil?? Reduce demand. Hoooooooooow????

Ohhhh, do go on.

Restart the nuclear reactors in Japan and Germany

You do understand that a Watt of electricity is not 1:1 swappable with a Watt of oil heat?

And you do understand that there is no direct fission -> oil as feedstock for chemical processes?

Do you have figures for the amount of EXTRA oil that was consumed handing the 6 failures of fission reactors? I'm rather sure extra oil has been consumed to deal with the 1 in 75 failure rate for fission power.

Or would that upset the greedy speculators trying to profit off the misery of others???

Now these greedy speculators - you are speaking of the electric power firms like TEPCO?

Either Iran as we know it is finished or they will have to lash out soon in desperation:

The West really knows how to destroy a nation completely without dropping a single bomb. If this is what they can do to Iran, a nation with oil & natural gas to export, I shudder to think what they can do to countries that rely on importing energy.

Some countries in the past, when faced with such economic strangulation, have struck out:

"...President Roosevelt chose to freeze all Japanese assets in the U.S. The intended consequence of this was the halt of oil shipments from the U.S. to Japan, which had supplied 80 percent of Japanese oil imports. The Netherlands and UK followed suit. With oil reserves that would last only a year and a half during peace time (much less during wartime), Japan had two choices: comply with the U.S.-led demand to pull out of China, or seize the oilfields in the East Indies from the Netherlands. The Japan government deemed it unacceptable to retreat from China.

Hoping to knock out the United States for long enough to be able to achieve and consolidate their war-aims, the Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. They mistakenly believed they would have a two-year window to consolidate their conquests before the United States could effectively respond..."


Very different situation, of course, in many ways. But shutting off the means whereby a country can participate in global trade could be seen as the equivalent of shutting off an industrial economy's sources of oil.

[edit: And to the point, see Seraph's article below: "Iran warships enter Mediterranean via Suez Canal"; and whatever happened to the report from a couple days ago that Iran was sending troops to Syria? Did that happen? Was it an error?]

One of the reasons the United States started the War of 1812 was because of Britain's "trade sanctions" against the US.


I believe Ron Paul has the strongest position on Iran: "Sanctions are an act of war"..."WE DON'T NEED ANOTHER WAR!"


The mistake the Japanese made was they didn't bomb the oil tank farm in Hawaii. After the war they were asked why and the Japanese said the US had plenty of oil but if they would have taken out the oil tanks the next closest gas station was San Francisco.

Rubbish. China and Iran just concluded an agreement to more than double China's imports to 500kbpd. And with so many vital nations continuing to import Iranian crude, the attempt to ban Iran from the international clearinghouse will backfire as another institution will be formed to conduct business. The global South will be more than happy to leave West-backed institutions for new ones constructed by their peers. The cry by the Propaganda System that Iran's "isolated" is myth/lie.

I don't know how much oil they will manage to sell. But it causing real pain in Iran. Regime change is basically what we are after. It has nothing to do with their legal under the NPT nuclear program (except as a way to get the proles onboard the program).

I'd have to disagree here. Lots of people around the world need Iranian gas and oil, they'll just set up another financial network.

There are lots and lots of options around dollar hegemony. China and Russia and many others know this. But nobody has the guts to do it right away. Everybody remains in awe of America, the only country that has actually dropped nuclear bombs on human beings.

US officials believe Iran sanctions will fail, making military action likely

Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its nuclear programme, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.

Russian military drafts options for responding to attack on Iran

Officials said the Kremlin has ordered the military to draft options for a Russian response to any foreign attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. They said the Defense Ministry has established a facility to monitor Teheran, an ally and trading partner of Moscow.

Russian Chief of Staff Gen. Nikolai Makarov said Iran has become the leading focus of the Kremlin. He said the Defense Ministry has established a center to closely monitor Iran and the rest of the Middle East

Iran risks nuclear Cold War

Iran's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is threatening to trigger a “new Cold War” that poses an even greater threat of nuclear conflict than the stand-off between the USSR and the West, William Hague warns

Hague fears Iran could start 'new Cold War'

... [UK foreign secretary] Hague told the newspaper there was a "crisis coming down the tracks". "If [the Iranians] obtain nuclear weapons capability, then I think other nations across the Middle East will want to develop nuclear weapons.

"And so, the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented would have begun with all the destabilising effects in the Middle East."

"All options must remain on the table" but a military attack would have "enormous downsides", he said.

Iran warships enter Mediterranean via Suez Canal

Iranian warships have entered the Mediterranean Sea for only the second time since the 1979 revolution.

BBC Threads

No More Normal - Australia's Big Wet and Long Term Dry

Today the Bureau of Meteorology issued a Special Climate Statement: Australia's wettest two year period on record; 2010-2011.

The statement speaks for itself. There are towns this year, as there were last year, having record floods.

Following the 'Big Dry' it would seem that Australia is no longer having extremes interspersed with 'normal' periods, but is swinging from one extreme to another - with a long term underlying drying trend across much of the country. There is no 'normal' any more.

I'm noticing a similarity between the weather and simple digital filters and oscillators.

If you take an integrator and feed it into another integrator... then feed the second integrator back to the first through an inversion, the set-up generates sine and cosine waves. You set it up right, with valid sine and cosine as starting points and with valid sine and cosine values for the integration and scaling constants and then let it run. This all sounds really complicated, but I could just be talking about two addition operations and a multiply: the canonic form.

Here is a drawing:

Image: http://skywired.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/humbled-1.png

from the article
"Humbled by a sine wave oscillator"

The reason the fellow is humbled is because, if you don't get it right, if the variables get out of their proper groove, it explodes into violent noise with excursions from minimum to maximum.

The drawing shows the following procedure:
For every new point on the sine wave that is to be generated:
Take the old value that came out of the first adder (called "Z-1") and add it to the value coming back around from the second adder. Also, take the old value that came out of the first adder and add it to the old value that came out of the second adder. This new number is multiplied by a negative number and sent back around to the first adder. Lastly, transfer the new values into the holding places for "old" values.

The actual structure takes four adders and two multiplies to do right. This canonic structure shown is really twitchy.

But, the point is, if the values of a stably oscillating system are tweaked, it is apt to explode into rail-to-rail, min to max, excursions... Kind of like the weather these past two years.

Helping Wind Turbines Withstand Hurricanes

... Rose and colleagues developed a simple method to calculate the hurricane risk to an offshore wind farm based on historical hurricane data. They only considered buckling to wind turbine towers, as blades are more easily replaceable.

The technique showed that, in the most vulnerable areas, nearly half the turbines in a wind farm were likely to be destroyed over a twenty-year period. Of the four test sites, Galveston County, Texas, was found to be the riskiest place to build a wind farm, with Dare County, North Carolina in second place. Atlantic County, New Jersey and Dukes County, Massachusetts were significantly less risky.

Hurricane Risk Map

A Category 3 hurricane (wind speed 50 m/s or higher) will buckle up to 46% of the towers.

Stresses can be reduced by increasing the base of turbines, thus eliminating the buckling problem as long as the base securement is sufficient. An increase in column diameter of 50% would give nearly 3 times the strength, as buckling stresses are a cubic function of diameter while wind load is a linear function of diameter. The extra cost of the steel and cement would be a small price to pay for being able to withstand a cat 4 hurrcane instead of cat 3.

Columns are currently at the largest size that can be transported economically. Adding 50% would create many new challenges and raise costs substantially. It gets hard to transport items that will not fit under existing bridges, power lines, signal lights, etc.

Columns are currently at the largest size that can be transported economically.

Perhaps the whole concept of columns needs to be rethought.


Thats why marine WTs can be considerably larger than land based WTs. There are few transport size limitaions at sea.
Obviously any storm that is reasonably likely during the twent or thirty year lifetime should be engineered for.

The technique showed that, in the most vulnerable areas, nearly half the turbines in a wind farm were likely to be destroyed over a twenty-year period.

Modeling how often they get destroyed is good. Will help for accurate insurance.

As long as the companies deploying turbines can make a profit with those 20yr cycles, no design changes required.

I see a parallel with people building homes in areas of risk of tornadoes: Have yet to see the average person living in bunkers in those areas, but hopefully they insured the homes to be rebuilt, if they accept the risk/reward to living in those locations.

Some areas require new construction to have a tornado safe room, where the occupants can shelter, and survive, even if the building itself is a total loss. I doubt its cost effective to make houses F5 tornado proof.

I doubt its cost effective to make houses F5 tornado proof.

I agree. That is my point on turbines or their supports: may not be cost effective to 'harden' them.

They still need to be considered as part of a (probablistic) cost benefit analysis. Also what is the societal impact if they are all taken out at the same time?

I doubt its cost effective to make houses F5 tornado proof.

It has always surprised me that underground homes are so rare in Tornado Alley.


Here's a 12 page powerpoint presentation of the study methods and results.

The reported results are with an assumption of no backup power for the yawing system. That single simple and inexpensive change nearly eliminates risk for three of the sites, and reduces Galveston risk dramatically. See slide 8.

The specific backup power system suggested (lead-acid batteries) is probably not the lowest cost, least maintenance, least weight option, but even so is quite cheap. Note that Vestas markets a Yaw Backup Power scheme using backup diesel.

The second, costly, suggestion of the paper is to make towers and blades stronger. I actually wonder if it would be worthwhile to explore dropping blades to preserve towers if hit by hurricane winds. I wonder what the respective wind loading of parked blades versus nacelle is?

You would need to repair 100% of the windmills in the field. Without dropping you might need to repair 10%. Where does the tradeoff make sense 5%, 10%, 20%, 30% more? Also at what point do you say drop? Too soon and you have higher losses.


It'd be site/design specific of course, but I'm thinking 120-130knots sustained would be in the ballpark. Hi-speed yaw control with backup power plus reducing the wind profile of parked blades/nacelle ought to be able to get the zero loss level up pretty high, plus you would want to set the blade drop level above the zero loss level (biggest factor would probably be the blade replacement cost ratio to total install loss for tower buckling).

Site/design specific, agreed. Set your drop point a little too high or a little too low and you could be out big money. I'd hate to be the one deciding that drop point.


Do it right in collaboration with FM & IR or equivalent and losses will be covered while premiums go down.

I wonder if you could usefully stiffen the towers against buckling by increasing the internal air pressure temporarily?

I live near the National Wind Technology Center, which sits on a mesa between Boulder and Golden, Colorado. http://www.nrel.gov/wind/

The NWTC bills itself as a test center for commercial-scale turbines. The area is subject to hurricane force winds several times a year as the "Chinooks" sweep down from the Continental Divide. During these periods the large wind turbines at NWTC are locked down to simulate hurricane situations.

I believe the biggest turbine there now has three blades, each 130 feet long. I wonder what is the furthest one has flown from a tower during a failure? What is the setback requirement for a turbine?

The hurricane force winds at NWTC always come from the W/NW, and it is several miles to the E/SE to the nearest building.

Explosive bolt time.


When I posted about the NWTC, I realized it had been awhile since we had big winds around here.

It is hellishly windy near Boulder today. The turbines were locked down when I went by them this morning. We had a gust of 85mph about 10 minutes ago, and the very large office building I work in shook and moaned and the metal roof of the wing of the building I can see out the window has been rippling all afternoon. The foot or so of snow we had left is rapidly disappearing. These winds are called "Chinooks": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinook_wind


How do we ditch fossil fuels?

..."We have lots of industry and vested interest thinking about the current system and seeing no benefit, but lots of risks, in making the transition. And we need to bring those risks down through financing mechanisms, through popular community voter support," he says.

Primary objection that most industries (except fossil fuel industries) have is higher cost of alternatives to replace fossil fuels. But as oil, coal and natural gas prices rise, these objections will diminish, IMO. Secondary objection is simply fear of change, resistance anything other than BAU.

If you have a professional job, and have developed expertise based on FFs, fear of having to start over is very rational.

If you have a non-professional job, fear of being unemployed is even more rational.

That's not a reason for the overall society to not pursue needed change, but those who fear change deserve compassion.

Mostly. I have a harder time worrying about the "1%" of wealthy investors fighting change...

Nuclear Problems

The European Pressurised-water Reactor (EPR) being built at Olkiluoto in Finland is now unlikely to be completed until 2014- five years late- and $3bn or more over-budget. Similar problems face the EPR being built at Flammanville in France. And similar problems have emerged at the two 1.7GW EPRs being built at Taishan in China, 140km west of Hong Kong: variable concrete quality, unqualified or inexperienced subcontractors, poor documentation, language issues. Unit 1 is meant to be ready in 2013, Unit 2 in 2014, followed by two more.

China has also had some problems with rapidly deploying its re-engineered version of the Westinghouse AP1000, but there are reports that it may be interested in a revised version of the EPR. Indeed some reports say that EDF may ditch the current EPR design for future EU plants and go for a cheaper, smaller, simpler franco-chinese design. All this has not helped the industries finances: French nuclear company Areva has operating losses of between €1.4bn and €1.6bn, the first loss for the 10-year-old group. ...

Preventing bushfire deaths: urgent adaptation needed

... O’Neill and Handmer were asked by the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission to examine the effectiveness of the state’s 'Stay or Go' policy and how this policy actually played out on the day.

“We found that despite the best efforts of fire agencies and others, there is a wide gap between householder intentions and actions,” O’Neill told environmentalresearchweb. “We found much evidence for fire plans not accounting for everyday weekend activities (a birthday party), ill formed intentions in fire plans (no definite shelter destination, or trigger to leave) and exceptional circumstances preventing evacuation (a frail elderly relative ill on the day and unable to move). Peoples’ daily lives are complex and these situations – far from being exceptions – reflect the everyday lived experiences of people living in fire-prone areas likely to experience several severe bushfire alerts each year. We think that recognition of this – and research and policy action into addressing it – will help better manage fire risk.”

University of East Anglia research reveals why fishermen keep fishing despite dwindling catches

Half of fishermen would not give up their livelihood in the face of drastically declining catches according to research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

... “Surprisingly, fishermen in the more vibrant and developed economies were less likely to give up their trade – despite having more economically fruitful opportunities open to them,” ... “This is the reverse of the common belief that poor communities are less likely to adapt than wealthy ones. We suspect that this may be in part due to the perverse impacts of subsidies in more developed countries encouraging people to stay in the fishery which would otherwise not be profitable.”

Why a Doomer (realist); or about not lying to one's self:

Like many here I try to look for positive signs that we are making, or even can make, real progress in solving, mitigating, or minimizing the many obvious challenges that societies face, in real time and in the near future. Prerequisite to useful progress are a couple of things I consider:

1. Societies realizing, acknowledging, that the problems actually exist; ie: peak oil and other finite resources; climate change; corruption at virtually all levels of government and the private sector that have the ability to respond at scale (the scale of the response must match the scale of the problem); mathematically unpayable debt, nationally and globally, inevitably leading to a currency crisis (inflation/deflation-take your pick)....

2. The ability to coordinate a response; socially, politically, economically, philosphically, again at scale (getting pretty much everyone on the same page).

3. The immediate elimination of obstructions to required progress, and, indeed, to awareness. Damage control is paramount.

Regarding corruption of the financial and political system: I'll point readers to We're Still Sinking With the Titanic, Ashvin Pandurangi's fairly short and, IMO, concise assessment of how the banking and political sectors are systematically and quite blatantly sucking up the wealth of entire nations for themselves, obliviating any possibility of meaningful economic recovery for the masses. The economic end-game is well underway.

Regarding climate change and the environment, see: Heartland Institute faces fresh scrutiny over tax status, linked above. Follow the links to Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax, especially the pdf link at the bottom, exposing the coordinated and massively well financed industry of misinformation and obfuscation marshalled against situational clarity and meaningful response (goes to #3, above).

Regarding The ability to coordinate a response (#2): Why $200 oil is the subprime mortgage of energy is a glaring example of the continuing bargaining going on at many levels that some semblance of our current system can continue, this being proposed by "Generation Investment Management, the sustainable investment partnership founded in 2004 by former Vice President Al Gore and David Blood" (the Blood and Gore initiative?!)...

Even this proposal admits that: "Incremental change will prove insufficient to mainstream Sustainable Capitalism by 2020. So, like an artist at the easel, our goal is not to make superficial touch-ups that conceal deep structural flaws beneath. We are calling for a fresh canvas on which, together, we can paint a new picture of our future.”

In light of the above, good luck with that.

Best hopes for more people getting past the bargaining stage. The only available lifeboats will be the ones you build yourselves.

"The Bargaining Stage" = TheOilDrum

This is not an insult.

I encourage anyone in The Bargaining Stage to visit this site. I think here at TOD (and energybulletin, etc) we have been exhausting all of the various options to maintain BAU.

We have been mostly "rational" about this - we are skeptical, but we are willing entertain every option.

As for "more people getting past the bargaining stage" - that will likely take a major crisis.

Until then, we have to grin and bear it.

"The Bargaining Stage" = TheOilDrum

Well, that's a relief. I thought TOD = "The Depression Stage"

I mean how can a thinking person look around at what's going on in the world and not be depressed. I consider it a normal response, to a point.

Someone was dissing TOD over on the Archdruid Report, basically saying that we were all talk and no action. We've been debating for years and we still haven't come up with any solutions! Considering how smart this group is, I think that speaks volumes about the predicament we are in.

Personally, I'm grateful for The Oil Drum. When everyone in the world seems barking mad, at least there are some that seem to be talking sense here. I hope it's not self-selection/confirmation-bias, but at least I feel like I'm not alone.

Oh, and Snarlin', I've been waiting years to have a reason to respond to one of your posts and tell you I just love that screen name!

TOD members have pointed at small things that can be done for part of a solution. But to come up with THE solution requires alot of effort and force to make change - force that seems to be beyond government power.

Or even "free market" power if ya want.

We've been debating for years and we still haven't come up with any solutions!

Wind, solar and nuclear.

EREVs, trains, and heat pumps.

Plus energy descent, insulation, bicycles.....
Some combination of tech plus lowered expectations.
But, if your society goes nonlinear, and starts to resemble Syria, all bets are off.

All of those have two common problems.

1. Incredibly large upfront costs compared to fossil fuels.

2. Incredibly big caveats compared to fossil fuels.

Yes it works but you have to pay all the money up front and it isn't quite as easy to use as the fossil fuels you're trying to replace or mitigate. The big bad conspiracy is that the alternatives simply aren't as good as what they are trying to be used to replace. People still need energy even if the sun ain't shining and the wind ain't blowing. It'd be hard enough to tell industry to shut down because there isn't enough power but home users will have an absolute fit if their smart grid connected heat pump turns down to 10-12C output because there is a power shortage. People care about climate change but nowhere near close to the point where they have to freeze in their homes in order to stave off the warming of the climate, convincing them of that fact is about as easy as selling ice to Inuit.

1. Incredibly large upfront costs compared to fossil fuels.

Nah. The Prius C costs 1/3 less than the average US car (starts at 19k, vs 30k), the Nissan Leaf costs 10% less, and the plug-in Prius costs about the same.

Freight trains are cheap. Heat pumps are very affordable.

Wind, solar and nuclear are front loaded. OTOH, we don't have a shortage of electricity any time soon.

it isn't quite as easy to use as the fossil fuels you're trying to replace or mitigate.

Actually, they're much easier. Sure, wind and solar can have intermittency, but have you noticed how unreliable oil supplies have gotten since 1973??

EVs have much better performance than ICEs. Heat pumps provide much more comfortable heating. Wind and solar are more reliable than oil.

I know that last point takes a bit of thinking about, but it's true...

Nah. The Prius C costs 1/3 less than the average US car (starts at 19k, vs 30k),

Does that include SUV's and light trucks? Are subsidies allowed for?

Yes, that's all light vehicles.

The Leaf is net of subsidies.

Why did you include SUV's and light trucks in your "average price". Of course there are a lot of expensive SUV's on the road, including BMW, Suburban, Porsche, Mercedes, Land Cruiser, Range Rover, Humvee and so on....they wouldn't help raise the price of the "average vehicle" would they?

The average might be a touch higher than the median, but I suspect that the above $30k numbers are dominated by "near-luxury" vehicles below $45k, so the average probably isn't distorted that much (vs the median).

Yes, there are a lot of expensive SUVs - why does that change the discussion vs expensive cars?

The point is that roughly half of all light vehicles are more expensive than $30k - when hybrids and EVs are less expensive than $30k, how can we consider them unaffordable?

He includes Pickups and SUVs because they are a large part of the mix of vehicles which Americans buy.

To exclude them would be shady accounting...the goal is to document the mean vehicle proce of vehilces people buy.

Nick's figures are correct.

I did some light Google research back in November and posted some more detailed figures for U.S. auto sales and vehicle prices for 2011 (as of November):


It is simply a myth that high-efficiency, very functional vehicles cannot be purchased in the U.S. unless one pays an exorbitant price.

My post (linked a few lines above) lists more than a few high-mpg viable choices which cost at or under the median price for new vehicles in the U.S. Nome of these in my list rely on risky, exotic, unproven technology...the Prius has been road tested for about a decade now with a significant sample size.

As to four other straw men:

1. High MPG vehicles don't cut the mustard meeting user requirements for users living in the remote mountains or on large farms/ranches with dirt/gravel roads. OK, stipulated. And, we need to realize that these users represent a very minority report in the overall fleet of cars and user pool.

2. Hybrids such as the Pris etc. have issues in very cold places such as North Dakota, The Upper Peninsula, etc. Stipulated. To the extend that these issues exists, people will buy non-hybrid vehicles in those situations. There are non-hybrid high-mileage vehicles on my list. My son drives a Hyundai Elantra...it is a fine vehicle. Buy a block heater, like for any other car in the far cold North.

3. Small, high-mileage cars don't cut it in heavy snow/ice on infrequently cleared rural/private roads. Stipulated. Minority Report, Buy what you need and can afford.

4. Geez, not everyone can afford new cars, don't you know we are in a bad economy? Stipulated. However, we are still buying over 12M new vehicles in the U.S. every years, and the number one seller has remained the Ford F-150 with its attendant lousy mileage, and I estimate that maybe 20% of those F-150 buyers 'need' a large cargo-hauling truck...from what I witness daily, most drive them to and from work and the grocery store, beds are largely empty, but well cleaned and waxed.

There is am old saying that excuses are like a certain p[art of the human anatomy...everyone has one, and most of them stink!

Thanks for the 4+ points. It is a shame that such progress has become mired in political identity.

"Political identity" now I'm laughing. His point 4 illustrates perfectly, why the comparison with the "average car" is a sham. We all know full well there is no way out (political or otherwise) of the predicament we're in, especially with the "just buy a Prius" meme. It's one of our own making over the last one hundred years and exacerbated by the ideals of engineering our way out, a BAU idea championed by political and business leaders.

The very dangerous people are the those that keep telling us we can continue to burn and engineer our way to different eased down lifestyle. Do get that we are burning at peak now. Fracking everything in site, deepwater drilling, arctic exploration, tar sands, shale oil, heavy contaminated oil, ethanol...we are doing it all to foster BAU. Stupid electric cars are exactly what business and the oil companies need, they must have a way to keep the system moving along to support the high prices and FF production activities. You will never hear them say power down get off fossil fuels now.

You want to see reality! Stand on a freeway overpass, take note of the variety and speed of vehicles and trucks passing. Service vehicles, vans, commuter vehicles, buses, cranes, emergency vehicles, ............They all contain people using FF's at work, to go to work or shop. The economy depends on them. They are not going to be driving electric vehicles anytime soon.

Stupid electric cars are exactly what business and the oil companies need

No, they're really not. Oil companies will promote higher efficiency ICEs, because that's perfectly compatible with their business model. EVs are a serious threat, and they fight them anyway they can. Haven't you noticed how Fox News is attacking EVs?

Oil companies and their owners are fighting the transition away from oil in any way they can:

"Poor Exxon. They used to be the oil company that everybody loved to hate. This spawn of the Standard Oil breakup had it all: Obscene profits, the Exxon Valdez, a mean CEO who sneered at clean energy, blatant funding for climate deniers.

But now, the new ExxonMobil is just not that special anymore.

It turns out that all the big oil companies are buying elections, paying front-groups to spread lies about climate change and dumping their tiny investments in clean energy while continuing to put out soft-focus ads touting how green and socially responsible they are. And they just don’t seem to care that much about preventing oil spills either.

In these days of peak greed, you have to drill pretty deep in the oil patch to find the worst of the worst.

A real gusher

Well, after coming up with a bunch of dry holes, the environmental and government-reform movements seem to have found the activist equivalent of Old Spindletop: Charles and David Koch."

See http://transitionvoice.com/2011/02/more-reasons-to-hate-the-koch-brothers/

The mistake you make, Nick, is to assume that the world operates according to how you want it to. It doesn't.

Go ahead and try. Write letters to your congressman, talk to your neighbors, spread the word to your family and friends. See where it gets you.

I'm not being fatalistic, I'm being realistic. We are headed for a big, big crash in finance and population before anything you mention is even possible.

And that's a good thing! We need a correction. This world is overcrowded and tired and old. The money needs to lose its value and the geezers need to die off.

The stuff you mention would just enable the Ponzi to go on a bit more. Peak oil is corrective. The faster we all realize this the better off we'll be.

We are headed for a big, big crash in finance and population before anything you mention is even possible.

Wow. The doomer stuff seems so overblown at times. We are headed for a population crash before things we already can do are possible? I just don't get that. People just won't go quietly into the night. They'll adapt & adjust and keep on living.

People just won't go quietly into the night. They'll adapt & adjust and keep on living.

The laws of thermodynamics say the odds are against that scenario...


How do the laws of thermodynamics say that? Perhaps you really mean the dynamics of climate?

If that's what you mean, I would agree that humans are unlikely to stop their highly risky climate experiment.

How that will end up we really don't know. It's not an experiment that I would personally choose, but I don't think it's realistic to say that it will end in certain doom.

How do the laws of thermodynamics say that?

Less Energy Available = Fewer People... Can't adapt to that!

That has nothing to do with the laws of thermodynamics, and....is untrue.

Wind, solar and nuclear can provide all the power we need.

Nick you don't seem to have much of a grasp of biochemistry and the life sciences, do you? More specifically the relationships between essential biological energy pathways and nutrients. Less energy = Less Food = less Life. And yes it has everything to do with the laws of thermodynamics. Wind, solar and nuclear can not provide the same level of sustenance that is necessary to support the 7 billion plus humans now dependent on a fossil fuel based economy and our current agroindustrial systems...

The field of biological thermodynamics is focused on principles of chemical thermodynamics in biology and biochemistry. Principles covered include the first law of thermodynamics, the second law of thermodynamics, Gibbs free energy, statistical thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, and on hypotheses of the origin of life. Presently, biological thermodynamics concerns itself with the study of internal biochemical dynamics as: ATP hydrolysis, protein stability, DNA binding, membrane diffusion, enzyme kinetics,[4] and other such essential energy controlled pathways. Thermodynamically, the amount of energy capable of doing work during a chemical reaction is measured quantitatively by the change in the Gibbs free energy. The physical biologist Alfred Lotka attempted to unify the change in the Gibbs free energy with evolutionary theory.
Source Wikipedia

Less energy = Less Food = less Life.

It's not that much of human energy production that is devoted to food.

Wind, solar and nuclear can not provide the same level of sustenance that is necessary to support the 7 billion plus humans now dependent on a fossil fuel based economy and our current agroindustrial systems...

Of course they can. Fuels can be synthesized using electrolysed hydrogen and carbon either from scrubbed air/exhausts or from biomass feedstock.

It's not that much of human energy production that is devoted to food.

You're right jeppen! I'm sure we can easily feed at least an extra 10 billion or so more people on this planet if we put our minds to it!
Here's the optimists' take on the matter, which I don't quite buy, due to the multiple feedback loops in myriad supply chains etc...


Transitioning to an energy-smart agricultural sector will be a "huge undertaking" that will require long-term thinking, and needs to start now, FAO says.

Of course they can. Fuels can be synthesized using electrolysed hydrogen and carbon either from scrubbed air/exhausts or from biomass feedstock.

HaHahahahahahahahaha!!! I really needed a good laugh today, TKS! BTW, that's what I call reeeeally loooong term thinking.

reeeeally loooong term thinking.

That's true. Worrying about fuel for farmers isn't something we have to worry about for a long time - farmers are energy exporters, and will be able to out-bid other consumers for fuel for many decades into the future.

Nick, try looking at the world through the lens of a systems thinker. The world we live in is not a linear system, it has lots of complex chaotic, systems interacting on multiple levels with many different kinds of feedback loops, tipping points, etc, which once passed, can lead to completely new points of stability which may or may not necessarily be what we would consider optimal.

farmers are energy exporters, and will be able to out-bid other consumers for fuel for many decades into the future.

Not quite sure how you figure farmers being energy exporters... as for being able to out-bid other consumers for fuel... Perhaps, but I wouldn't necessarily bet on it!

try looking at the world through the lens of a systems thinker.

I do. Trust me, that's a big part of what I do every day.

Don't make assumptions about what other people know or don't know, and remember - you might learn something from them...

Not quite sure how you figure farmers being energy exporters

First, food is energy. 2nd, biofuels are farm exports. Demand for ethanol is what has raised farm revenues dramatically in the last few years.

You've heard a lot about food consumers having to pay painfully high food prices - those payments are going, in part, to the farmers.

First, food is energy. 2nd, biofuels are farm exports. Demand for ethanol is what has raised farm revenues dramatically in the last few years.

If I learned anything from that statement it's that you either assume that I'm a complete simpleton and am unable to parse an in depth systems analysis of this issue or you have put absolutely zero thought into this!

OK! So how many farmers, or more importantly, kinds of farmers are involved in ethanol production?! Where are their farms located? What are they making ethanol from? What is their EROEI? Is part of their supposedly dramatically high revenue due to subsidies and because they are discounting the cost of environmental services provided by ecosystems that are being destroyed? My list of questions could go on for quite some time but perhaps you are staring to get my drift.

Here is a link to a study done by Dr. Feni Agostinho from http://www.unicamp.br/fea/ortega/curso/curso2011.html on possible alternatives to current ways of producing ethanol in the Mogi Mirim and Prado Basin in Sao Paulo State.

That is the kind of thinking and analysis that I expect from someone who claims to be a systems thinker.

how many farmers, or more importantly, kinds of farmers are involved in ethanol production?!

The important question is ethanol production for the industry - demand for it raises prices for ag output overall. Do you have any question that's happened?

What are they making ethanol from?

Mostly corn. Some sugar cane.

What is their EROEI?

For sugar cane, about 8. For corn, about 1.3 (I suppose that could be raised by burning the stover and returning the ash). Of course, Liquid-Fuel return on Liquid Fuel invested is more important.

Is part of their supposedly dramatically high revenue due to subsidies

No, the subsidies have dropped dramatically because farm prices have risen so much.

they are discounting the cost of environmental services provided by ecosystems that are being destroyed?

Good question. I'm not sure those costs rise with the price of farm products, though.

Nick, this cartoon is embedded in the last slide of the Power Point Presentation I linked to.


Your entire premise seems to be based on the notion that it is somehow possible to maintain the paradigm on the left. I refute that possibility completely! I do not see any chance that anything that we come up with be it bio fuels, EVs or whatever, will allow us to sustain that lifestyle. It is physically impossible and insane to keep trying. We either change course or we are going to be in for a very very difficult time.

premise seems to be based on the notion that it is somehow possible to maintain the paradigm on the left.

Sure. I see no reason why EVs, or EREVs with a little bit of biofuel or synthetic fuel, can't work just fine. The materials for the vehicles can be 100% recycled in electrically powered factories, and we can have plenty of zero-CO2 wind and solar electricity.

Why not?

Why not?

I'm afraid that if you are seriously asking that question, then there is probably nothing that I can say that will convince you otherwise...

Perhaps you should watch this cartoon again:

Then read parkslopegigilo comment.


there is probably nothing that I can say that will convince

Yes, I've been working on this stuff for 30+ years...

OTOH, one of us might learn something - it might even be you....

First, I think you're going to be surprised how motor transport will increase even further. Second, you seem to present a false top-down choice. This matter is going to be decided by everyday consumer choices and reactions to fuel prices. Their price-guided choices (among technologically feasible options) will rule the day.

Nick, try looking at the world through the lens of a systems thinker. The world we live in is not a linear system, [...]

And so on... Extreme hand-waving. You laugh like a mad-man and you hand-wave about systems. Do you have any meaningful input to this discussion?

as for being able to out-bid other consumers for fuel... Perhaps, but I wouldn't necessarily bet on it!

Do you think consumers will down-prioritize having food on the table? If not, I think you SHOULD bet on farmers being able to outbid other uses of fuel.

And so on... Extreme hand-waving. You laugh like a mad-man and you hand-wave about systems. Do you have any meaningful input to this discussion?

I do, but you seem to be completely unwilling to even look at anything I post. Case in point I placed a link upthread.
If you took the time to look at it you would see a systems analysis comparison of BAU and nonBAU thinking about one specific scenario. I suggested that this was the kind of thinking needed, to be able to understand and compare the implications of different ways of doing things. BTW in case you missed the conclusion of that analysis, the cartoon depicting the two paradigms was trying to underscore the point that the ONLY way to make the system work was to let go of the fossil fuel based paradigm and especially the ICE means of personal transport but even more importantly to get rid of the idea of the private car! I post the link again:


Here is a link to a study done by Dr. Feni Agostinho from http://www.unicamp.br/fea/ortega/curso/curso2011.html on possible alternatives to current ways of producing ethanol in the Mogi Mirim and Prado Basin in Sao Paulo State.

And now back to my previously scheduled mad laughing...

But why this assumption that private cars have to be ICE??

They obviously don't. It isn't just about the ICE! It's about the paradigm where 7 billion plus humans aspire to have private automobiles...

the ONLY way to make the system work was to let go of the fossil fuel based paradigm and especially the ICE means of personal transport but even more importantly to get rid of the idea of the private car!

But why is that paradigm a problem, if we use EVs?

Just congestion?

Just congestion?

No, Nick it isn't just the congestion. And this is where I do get a bit frustrated! If you go back to my link and take a very careful look at the data you should clearly be able to see the trade offs between the two competing paradigms even in this study. The first paradigm is completely untenable! See slides 5,7,11 and 12 and you should get the drift of my point.

To be clear my point has very little to do with ethanol production in Sao Paulo state regardless of the method.

My point is that if you start looking at the data for all kinds of systems be they agroindustry, distribution of global industrial processes, heavy manufacturing, mining, shipping, airline industry, production of consumer electronics, etc... etc... on an individual basis it becomes clear that non of these endeavors even come close to being sustainable right now.

Add to that all the problems of future human population growth, climate change, resource depletion, ecosystem damage, species extinction, fisheries depletion, you name it, the list is quite extensive, and you start examining how all these systems interact, you might start to understand why it is that I occasionally let my frustration show.

As much as I like EVs, In my paradigm, I don't see but a very small minority having their own.

The powerpoint you linked to is an analysis of ethanol. How does that help us in considering electric vehicles??

Look carefully at the complex diagrams you referred to: there's nothing there that suggests that EVs aren't sustainable.

EVs could be made to have absolutely zero-impact on climate, resource depletion, ecosystems, species and fisheries: recycle all of the the materials, and power the factories and vehicles with wind or solar produced electricity.


Could, would, should, makes no difference if we won't, don't, etc... There's nothing that suggests that we'll actually do these things in a sustainable fashion. There's lots of stuff we could have, should have done in the past. There's even less chance we'll do it now than there was in the past when we didn't!

I understand Fred's frustration with this repetition.

There's nothing that suggests that we'll actually do these things in a sustainable fashion.

Perhaps. Still, the question here isn't whether we're powerless over public policy, it's what public policy should be.

FMagyar seems to feel that it's worth discussing what public policy should be, so I'm willing to discuss it with him.

He's suggested that we ought to dump the whole concept of private vehicles, so we're discussing that.

The powerpoint you linked to is an analysis of ethanol. How does that help us in considering electric vehicles??

As`I said: "To be clear my point has very little to do with ethanol production in Sao Paulo state regardless of the method."

It helps in that it shows the data for a comparison of two different and opposing paradigms, one the current status quo or BAU if you will, for ethanol production in Sao Paulo state, it gives a whole cost accounting and clearly shows that it is unsustainable, see slide 5 again for the percentage of global gasoline production they are attempting to substitute by 2050...5%
in a country that currently produces 33% of global ethanol. Then see slide 11, where they show that it would take 4.5 times the area of the entire state of Sao Paulo to accomplish this at huge environmental cost and no other useful crops or environmental services rendered!

Look carefully at the complex diagrams you referred to: there's nothing there that suggests that EVs aren't sustainable.

While that is a factually correct statement again it misses my fundamental point. The linked study is just an example of the kind of study that if done for the entire supply chain for a BAU based societal investment in making EVs would show that producing them for the population at large is also not a sustainable enterprise. Never mind that 7 billion humans is already a pretty big white elephant sitting in the middle of the room.

EVs could be made to have absolutely zero-impact on climate, resource depletion, ecosystems, species and fisheries: recycle all of the the materials, and power the factories and vehicles with wind or solar produced electricity.


Show me the systems analysis and the numbers that you are right and I might change my view. I need to see the math for the whole cost accounting and all the interconnections and feedback loops.

Like you I have been looking at this for a long time and the more I look at it from different angles and through the lenses of multiple disciplines the more I'm convinced that if personal EVs are to be part of the future they may look a lot more more like electric assist velomobiles rather that Volts or Nissan Leafs...

Do feel free to provide an in depth analysis to the contrary.

The linked study is just an example of the kind of study that if done for the entire supply chain for a BAU based societal investment in making EVs would show that producing them for the population at large is also not a sustainable enterprise.

I don't think that's true. Ethanol production is very, very different from vehicle manufacturing. It's obvious that ethanol will require a lot of agricultural production, and will have a lot of land/ecological impacts. Manufacturing is different - it can be powered by zero-CO2 electricity, and can involve a closed cycle of materials.

Show me the systems analysis and the numbers that you are right and I might change my view. I need to see the math for the whole cost accounting and all the interconnections and feedback loops.

That would be nice. Still, why should the burden of proof be on me?

More importantly, let's discuss it, starting with recycling: don't you agree that steel, for instance, can be 100% recycled, eliminating mining? Are you aware that 99% of steel from scrapped vehicles is in fact recycled right now?

You're right jeppen! I'm sure we can easily feed at least an extra 10 billion or so more people on this planet if we put our minds to it!

It's nice that we're in agreement about this.

HaHahahahahahahahaha!!! I really needed a good laugh today, TKS! BTW, that's what I call reeeeally loooong term thinking.

It can be done very swiftly, if need be. It won't be done swiftly, because it isn't (perceived as) needed.


Your "scrubbed Air/exhausts" link didn't work.

The other looks interesting - I agree - it looks like they're mostly finding a way to use biomass as a carbon feedstock.

I think you've seen it before - just google "green freedom los alamos".

Yes, biomass as a carbon feedstock. Biomass is generally low in hydrogen so if you don't supplement with more hydrogen, any attempts to convert the biomass to liquid hydrocarbons will have a so-and-so (20% perhaps) utilization.

Nick you don't seem to have much of a grasp of biochemistry and the life sciences, do you?

Well, that's pretty angry.

I realize you're getting frustrated that I don't agree with you. I urge you to have patience, and consider that you might have something either to learn or to teach. Neither will happen if you just vent at people's comments.

Wind, solar and nuclear can not provide the same level of sustenance

Which law of thermo does that relate to??

And how do the 100,000 terawatts of solar energy not provide enough for humans to live on??

We are headed for a big, big crash in finance and population before anything you mention is even possible.

Oddly enough, not only are they possible, but they're here. Like it or not.

the geezers need to die off.

You first.

... the average U.S. car...

That should be NEW car. The average new car costs more than the average American worker makes in a year. The average used car costs about $8K. The average American drives a 3rd-owner car.

50% of vehicle miles traveled comes from vehicles less than 6-7 years old.

So, yes, it takes 6-7 years for new cars to become the average car.

OTOH, 7 year old hybrids only cost about $1,500 (IIRC) more than the average used vehicle, so I don't see a problem here.

The median mile is not driven by the median car (older) or the median American. Even so, in 2005 hybrids represented just 1.2% of light vehicles sold. Driving a used hybrid doesn't scale. It isn't an option for the masses, who don't get to pick the mix of what is handed down. New cars are purchased by the well-to-do and price-insensitive, which means the vehicle pool is skewed.

The median mile is not driven by the median car (older) or the median American.

That's true, but we're not concerned with the median car, or the median american, we're concerned with median driving, and the median driver. For instance, most people in the lowest income quintile don't drive at all - they live in big cities and take mass transit (or don't get out at all, such as the disabled).

Driving a used hybrid doesn't scale.

Not right away, no question. Yes, there's a transitional problem for the poor. But, that's doesn't apply to most driving. Our analysis here is of the overall impact on the society, not just for the poor.

And, the poor can go to Civics etc, and carpool.

New cars are purchased by the well-to-do and price-insensitive, which means the vehicle pool is skewed.

Eventually all new cars become used, and then eventually dirt cheap.

As you note, your analysis is on the overall impact on society. If the majority of society (the median American and below) are more adversely impacted than your evaluation suggests, I think it's important to note that.

I AM concerned about the median American rather than the median driver. This 'the poor don't count' stuff irks me more than a bit. You seem to want to discard the bottom quintile in your analysis. But, that's just a matter of focus. I would like to see sustainability done in a way that doesn't injure the average American (right now, the burden of peak oil is felt far more heavily in the bottom half of the population). If that goal is left out, it makes more sense to focus on the very few people who buy new cars. Even if that goal is not left out, one realizes that if the goal is lower impact vehicles for all, then lower impact vehicles must first be purchased by those who do actually purchase new vehicles. It may help in advocating that to realize who actually does that purchasing. Also, if you advocate many more Americans not having vehicles, it has certain implications about alternative infrastructure.

You stated that most people in the lowest income quintile don't drive. That is incorrect. Only 8.7 % of households have no vehicle as of the 2009 NHTS. Not all of these are in the bottom quintile, there are quite a few well-off folks in expensive urban areas without a private vehicle, as well as elderly folks who no longer drive despite not being destitute. What is true is that those with less income drive less than average, mostly because they have less money for gasoline.

The current national coping mechanism for peak oil is largely allowing the standard of living of the poor and middle class to be eroded by squeezing them out of the motor gasoline and heating fuel markets. A lot more gasoline consumption is being foregone by reduced driving (primarily among the bottom half) than by Prius owners. Recognizing this may suggest alternative policy measures to more evenly allocate the pain. Why do we care about peak oil except in its actual impacts on the people who make up society? I appreciate efficiency for efficiency's sake, but ultimately this all matters because of people who will be hurt in the process of unwinding BAU and it's aftermath.

I do believe that the Prius C is an excellent piece of engineering, no doubt about it. The fact remains however that alternatives don't quite match up to the needs of society. You have large areas of farmland for instance only accessible by truck so without them huge tracts of land are effectively idled. You have places which have a too high population density or the wrong climate or a lack of resources. I live in a place where it is possible to replace fossil fuels with renewables but doing so will be extremely difficult and we have some of the best circumstances, the rest of the world aren't nearly as lucky as New Zealand.

large areas of farmland for instance only accessible by truck

1st, Rural farmland only accessible by truck is a very small percentage of all driving.

2nd, trucks can be electrified just fine. Long distance truck driving in rural farmland only accessible by truck is a really tiny percentage of all driving.

3rd, biofuels and synthetic fuels can serve that really tiny percentage.

places which have a too high population density

That sounds like mass transit territory.

or the wrong climate or a lack of resources.

Which is even more true of fossil fuels/oil.

For the whole world......
Or are you being selective?

For the whole world.....?

Yes, they will work for the whole world at least as well as oil ever did.


LEDs, EVs, conservation, heat pumps, natural gas, etc. At some point the general public will realize that the days of cheap oil are gone FOREVER. And they'll change their habits. They'll move to a high MPG car. Maybe even a plug-in hybrid or electric. They'll travel less on jets. They'll eat less food shipped in from thousands of miles away. The price mechanism works.

Is the transition going to be difficult? Yes. Are people gonna whine like babies? Yes. Are people going to travel less? Yes. But things should not be too bad the next 15 years or so.

"Someone was dissing TOD over on the Archdruid Report, basically saying that we were all talk and no action"

An analogy?:

Take someone to McDonalds and buy them a coke. Chat along... about peak oil if you must. The drinking of the coke makes the coke go away. Your guest may find themselves moving the straw around, getting to deeper reserves through the ice. They may try extending production, but the ice melts and soon all that's produced is water. Hopefully, more coke may actually be made from within the paper of the cup: the a-biotic coke theory.

The problem is very obvious. Doing something about it takes rational action. The world is "barking mad". Rational things DO happen... for far less than cerebral reasons. Simple necessity... >$5 a gallon gas will re-awaken the interest in doing something different last seen in 2008.

Putting the information out there and keeping it out there fresh is a grand thing to do.

There is no "drop-dead" date when the oil just stops. The price will simply rise out of sight. The real "splats" would be human turmoils. Prophesies predicting those have left the rational unimpressed.

There has been a strong undercurrent of "A Return to Simpler Times" here, but it has not been so strong recently. I was only just brought to realize that this is also a theme of fundamentalists. Perhaps that is why, true or not, it earns a dismissive response from the general public.

We have all the ideas we need. They just need to be implemented on a greater scale than the TOD readers can manage, in a world "made for" BAU.

I'd say most TOD readers have adjusted their lives and told their friends. I know I have. But it's a little hard to change anything noticeable when you are outnumbered 10,000 to 1 by BAUers naysaying your every word and sometimes actively working against you.

I'm fully accepting of the situation and probably most people on TOD are too. If i'm in the "depressive" stage on certain points, you can guarantee it's because of other people, not because of the "terrible" situation.

Take someone to McDonalds and buy them a coke.

At least where I live, most McD's stores have a "free refills" machine.

The lesson for your rational friend?

It is this KD kidder who is out of touch with "reality". Who am I going to believe, my lying eyes (which show the never ending cup refiller right there in the store) or KD's madmen rant about this so-called "Peak Oil" thing?

The choice is simple. And I, Homer SimpleSonOfSims have made mine.

Ahhhh!.... But you have to get up from the table to GET to the refill machine! "Space, the final frontier..."

Snarlin', I stand corrected and bow to your wisdom.

Re lifeboats;

What do you think would happen in the situation where the sea is cluttered with hundreds or thousands of desperate people treading water and there you are floating in the middle of them in a boat?

This is why I no longer promote the concept. It's radical change for all or bloody hell on earth.

The only reason I still promote the concept, although I wouldn't describe it as a "lifeboat", is in the (probably vain) hope that others will get the idea.

I plant a garden, my neighbor plants a garden, the block plants a garden...although I realise this is a drop in the bucket, it is better than sitting on one's hands.

"...it is better than sitting on one's hands."

Exactly. Thanks.

Given the choice, I'll take my chances in the boat every time, and bring family and friends along if they're willing to row.

Mike Ruppert of Collapse Net not only recommends that people build lifeboats but that they then join the lifeboats together to form an Ark. Another point he makes about building an ark is that not everyone has to be an expert in all things nor have every conceivable need covered.


Why don't you folks simply accept the inevitability of your own demise. It won't be so bad. Death is like going to sleep except you don't wake up. Once you are dead you don't have to deal with all the suffering.

Having personally flat-lined, I much prefer sleeping. There is quite a bit of difference between the two.

The reboot is a b#*ch by the way.

I didn't quite flat line, but my pulse sank to three or four per minute for a while as the result of an allergic reaction, and my family was brought in just in case it was my last moments on the planet. Not as earth shattering as one might expect--I've always tried to keep in the forefront of my mind that my demise could happen at any time. But I notice I don't worry quite as much about things like jobs and everyday irritants, though I do try to connect even more with my immediate family.

For my part, I'm glad you made it through, Seraph, to share all your excellent links and perspectives with us.

(Did you have a vision of yourself, when you flat-lined, as a bright archangel, hence your handle here? Or was that from some other inspiration?)

No bright lights, maybe next time.

Seraph handle from the Matrix. It used to be vox_mundi but I forgot my password.

The one thing about NDE is that it puts things into perspective. Don't sweat the small stuff ... and most of it is small stuff.

Thanks, nicely put. Best luck on the increasingly uncertain future.

Hope that doesn't happen again. You'd be missed.

Leanan gets the day started and you help bring it to it's close.

Okay, but you go first.

SD said

Why don't you folks simply accept the inevitability of your own demise. It won't be so bad.

Great idea! As long as were at why not give up all the trappings of civilization and live as the naked apes we are. No heat. No medicine. No nothing. But it would be good for the planet.


What do you think would happen in the situation where the sea is cluttered with hundreds or thousands of desperate people treading water and there you are floating in the middle of them in a boat?

Well, as someone who scuba dives from a kayak, I can tell you that it is pretty hard to climb onto a boat unless whoever is in it, wants you to climb in, is sound asleep, or doesn't have a paddle with which to whack you on the head >;^)

BTW most people can't even tread water for very long so the advantage is to whoever is already sitting in the boat... that applies both metaphorically and literally.

Depending on the boat it can be relatively easy to tip it over...the guy in the boat ends up grabbing the overturned hull along with everyone else, if he didn't knock his head on something falling out.

Would you rather be in a warm dry lifeboat with the chance of being boarded... then having to worry about drowning?? Or in the cold water with the chance of drowning right away?

And remember, you won't just be fighting to get into a lifeboat, you will also be fighting the people around you so your head doesn't get used as a step up for someone elses attempt on the lifeboat.

Which is realistically the better situation to be in statistically?

There are folks who repeatedly tell us that we need to stop heating our homes with oil and convert to natural gas. (And I'd like to fit into my size 29 pants but that sure as hell ain't gonna happen.)

Convert me if you can: Few homes left for nat gas switch

NEW YORK - Half of Tiverton, a small town on Rhode Island's broken coastline, is enjoying the benefits of an American natural gas boom by heating living rooms, water and stoves with the cheap fuel.

The other half isn't.


But with few plans to extend the grid, the U.S. residential market is nearing saturation. Most of those who have the option of using gas have already made the switch, even in Tiverton.


Switching homes requires plugging in a gas line, getting rid of the old oil burner, and inserting a new heating system. It also includes some expensive extras such as lining chimneys. The cost for a residence is anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000, according to experts, a price range at which many homeowners balk.

See: http://www.cnbc.com/id/46433056

The reality, as this article affirms, is that the majority of home owners who remain on oil will never see gas service come even remotely close to their property or, if they do, they'll have to cough-up five or ten grand to replace their current heating system, in which case they may be just as wise to spend these same dollars on improving the thermal efficiency of their home and/or investing in a supplementary heat source.


That article also shows just how much work there is still to do;

The number of U.S. households running on heating oil has already fallen by 20 percent since 2005 to about 7 million, according to the EIA, as gas from prolific shale deposits swamps the market and offers hope for decades' worth of cheap supply.

Distillate fuels, which in 1975 heated more than 22 percent of U.S. homes, now account for about 7 percent. Northeast consumption of high-sulphur heating fuel, used predominately in households, fell to about 500,000 bpd last winter, nearly half what it was a decade earlier, EIA data shows.

Seven million houses still on heating oil? That is a LOT.
And 500,000bpd(in winter) is the entire oil production from the Bakken.

Seems to me like they need to get going with the ductless mini split heat pumps, and maybe some demand limiting equipment to go with them.
How many of those people are unaware that they have access to cheap, off peak electricity? How much of a reduction in their oil use would happen from having even just one 18,000btu heat pump running 12hrs each night? (about 350gal/yr).
Combine that with efficiency improvements as done in the Maine house up top, and you probably have a 3/4 reduction in oil usage.

For the houses that are nowhere near natural gas, it is time to get innovative. Surely there is no better target for a "stimulus project"?

I don't ever expect to see natural gas service on our street, and although I would have gladly switched to gas five or ten years ago and had made provisions for this (e.g., all our propane lines are oversized for natural gas and our oil-fired boiler is certified for both fuels) there's absolutely no reason to do so. We're already two-thirds the way through this heating season and our total space heating costs thus far come to $343.37 (2,593.7 kWh at a blended cost of 13.24-cents). The Heritage Gas fixed monthly charge is $21.87, so I would end up paying $262.44 a year just to be connected to their network. That, in and of itself, would cover more than half of what I'll pay to heat our home with our two ductless heat pumps (and our HSPF is 9.3 versus a Fujitsu 12RLS at 12.0, so our costs could have been even that much lower).


So you're a model example of how to do it with heat pumps.

I don't understand why the NE electric utils aren;t all over this. If it is done so that people primarily run the things in off peak hours, its a win for all (except the oil suppliers).

Did you need to upgrade your electrical service for the two heat pumps?

With regards to off-peak heating, on Monday when temperatures dipped to -18°C both units were pulling over 1,400-watts and struggling to keep up. I couldn't really shut them down during peak times because the house would cool off fairly rapidly and there wouldn't be enough capacity to off-set the accumulated deficit during the off-peak hours. You could conceivably restrict their operation during the swing seasons (with some loss in personal comfort) but in the dead of winter they need to be up and running 24-hours a day. Alternatively, you could continue to burn oil during the peak times and switch over to the heat pumps during the mid and off-peaks, much like Hydro-Québec's Dual Energy (Tarif domestique la biénergie) rate.

When we purchased this home it had a 100-amp service and a fuse panel (and a lot of 20 and 25 amp fuses controlling 15-amp circuits). That was quickly replaced by a 32-breaker panel but our electrician talked us out of upgrading to 200-amps and like the idiot that I am I accepted his advice. Not surprisingly, as we started to re-wire the house and add in-floor electric heat we quickly ran out of space on the panel. One of the reasons why I selected the Sanyo 12KHS71 is that it's one of the few inverter systems that operates at 115-volts; if we had gone with Fujitsu, we would have required four break slots in all as opposed to two... that, and the fact that I can track their energy use with an inexpensive 115-volt power monitor.

So, yes, although our electricity rates are among the highest in Canada and our local climate is considerably colder than your own, they're a great way to go provided your home's heat loss is not overly excessive; if, however, you require a 30 or 40 kW boiler to keep the chills at bay, then a wood or pellet stove would be a better alternative.


My point isn't that the heat pump can take the entire load all or even most of the time. It is that it can run every night, and displace a lot of heating oil, without needing to junk the oil furnace or upgrade the electrical.

If those houses are big/bad enough that they need a 30kW boiler then there is a different problem to be addressed, I;d say.

We spent the evening with friends who live in an old Victorian and I'm pretty sure that their boiler is at least 40 kW (this is a large home with high ceilings and a lot of glass). In any event, a couple ductless heat pumps would take a big chunk out of their heating costs and we're going to get together next week to work through the numbers in more detail. I've made this recommendation several times before, but it never generated anything more than a few polite nods and some feigned smiles; this time around, the interest seems genuine.


How much insulation and window replacement have you been able to do? At what outside temperature do you need to turn on the heat?

We gutted the entire home to the studs, then sealed and re-insulated (the attic is R60 and the walls R22). The windows and doors are Pella Architectural series, low-e/argon and our demand point is approximately 13°C.


I think your weak point is your windows.

We have Pella thermopane windows - we added a layer of laminated glass.

That dropped our demand point to -1°C.

Actually, I'm thinking our uninsulated basement floor is the single largest source of heat loss, especially at the north end which is a fully exposed slab-on-grade. The heat pump that serves this lower level uses 20 per cent more electricity than the identical one that supplies our main and top floors, both of which are fully above grade (October 1st to today: 1,439 kWh versus 1191). When we repave the driveway at some future date I'll insulate this exposed edge, but for now I'm prepared to accept things as they are.

As of our last statement, our rolling 12-month usage for everything -- heat, DHW, major appliances, plug loads, etc. -- stands at 10,351 kWh and my hope is that by our next bill we will have breached the 10,000 kWh mark (having replaced the older of our two heat pumps, our daily average for the period spanning November 24th through January 25th fell from 49.5 kWh to 39.4, a reduction of some 10.1 kWh per day). As odd as it may sound coming from someone like me, if I can get and remain below 10,000, my work on this house is done.


FYI, Fujitsu's 12RLS2 should be available within a few weeks - better cold weather performance as well as some other improvements.

I recently received the following e-mail from a friend of mine who installed a Fujitsu 15RLS in his home two years ago:

Check out the attached pdf.

1. The U.S. Department of Energy, through their Building America Program, published this report on the Fujitsu 12RLS and Mitsubishi FE12NA mini-split heat pumps. (Original source: www.nrel.gov/docs/fy11osti/52175.pdf)

Seeing the actual laboratory figures, I’m even more impressed than I was before. I encourage you to check out the report. In particular, the measurements show that the Fujitsu 12RLS is capable of putting out its rated 12,000 BTU/h all the way down to zero degrees F! From there, it gets better. At 30F, it puts out about 18,000 BTU/h.

You might be wondering, “what about the efficiency?” When the system is cranking away at full blast at zero degrees F, it has a COP of 2.0. This is pretty respectable because that’s still twice as much heat for your dollar as a conventional space heater. This increases to a COP of around 3 for most temperatures from around 15F to 30F. But, get this, when the system is purring away at mild temperatures from 35F up to 55F, the COP ranges from 5 to 6 (when running at low fan speed). This is absolutely phenomenal!

After reading this report, I’m much more optimistic about the unit in colder climates. If you can count on this type of performance down to zero degrees F, there’s little reason not to use the Fujitsu in most moderately cold climates.

2. Check out these three new units for 2012...........performance as low as -21C. And HSPF of 12.5

[Image Link: http://www.fujitsugeneral.com/wallmountedRLS2.htm]

[... remainder snipped ...]

This gentleman hails from Summerside, PEI and has been instrumental in his city's efforts to displace oil-heat with wind powered electricity.


I have a Mitsubishi PUZ-A24-NHA3 outdoor unit. On the coldest day of the winter (5 F) it was pulling 6 amps (at 240 V) according to the onboard power meter. This winter the baseboard heaters in half the house were unused. The electrical bill was down a third from last year, and the house was warmer especially the kitchen, as it has no heat at all. Now the heat pump blows warm air into it from the dining room.

All in all I'm very pleased. And now I have air conditioning for those three hot days in summer as well.

I'm pleased to hear that your system has worked out well for you. I know my friend in Summerside couldn't be happier with his, and ditto another friend in Flat River, PEI who pegs his net savings over oil at more than $3,000.00 per year (and PEI's electricity rates are, or were, the highest in Canada).

Before replacing an existing heating system folks would be wise to consider some of these other options. I'd bet my bottom dollar that the boiler and piping system in our friend's Victorian is encased in asbestos insulation. I don't have a clue how much it would cost to address something like that but I can only imagine it won't be cheap. Unless there's a really compelling reason to do so, I would not touch any of this hardware, ever.


I'd be borderline around these parts (southwest WI). Areas near Lake Michigan would be a perfect spot, with low temps rarely dropping below 0F. I do like that they also act as AC units, something we do need (some of us) during the summer.

My standard advice: The objective is not to offset all of your space heating requirements, only the portion that is cost-effective. If a heat pump were to satisfy 80 or 90 per cent of your seasonal needs at a lower cost would the investment be worthwhile? How about 50 or 60 per cent? It's impossible to say unless you carefully review the numbers.


What is the standard advice up in the cold parts of the world in relation to supply resiliency? Gas mains can rupture or gas itself can be scarce, electricity can be cut off at the worst of times and roads can become impassable. In this kind of scenario insulation and having some kind of local heat source seems paramount whether it is a portable gas heather or wood fire or oil furnace. How do you factor in the cost/benefit of the BTUs which you'd pay for if no external supply of energy is available?

Well, of course, those are the key issues.

One of the best advantages to these Heat Pumps is that you can source Electricity in a great variety of ways, and Paul has mentioned one of my neighbors a few miles down the Coast who uses PV Solar to power his heating loads.

No doubt, you can (and should) mix and match. I wouldn't dream of having a home in a colder climate without knowing a few options are available to me.. and principally, that the structure is, or is on its way to being properly insulated, on top of all else.

While I'm currently stuck with Oil as my primary heat source, I also have active backups of Wood and Electric heat that are immediately available, as I set up a handful of solar tools, improve all my insulation, and shop for Heat Pumps.. probably.

But.. 'standard advice'? It's all over the park. Most folks know they SHOULD be packing in thicker walls, foundations and attics.. while the term Passivhaus would come across as either Pretentious or Unrealistic to most folks.. or at the least, Wishful Thinking. What I hear a lot of people go for is either switching to Gas or Wood Furnaces, Pellets, etc.. I think there isn't much serious concern about a supply crunch for Gas in peoples' minds, even though we've had some close calls in recent years. The message that it's potentially unreliable isn't one that gets a lot of play.. at least for Maine, for now, people feel they can always fall back on wood. We know where that could quickly lead, but again don't think that folks wouldn't be able to figure that out as it started happening.

I think Climate-induced disease is actually going to hurt our forests far more than indiscriminate Firewood Harvesting.

If you're concerned about losing natural gas or electrical service, then you may wish to consider some other fuel such as wood. Our backup plan is pretty simple. We'll continue to use electricity whenever it is available, but in the event of a service cut we'll run our oil-fired boiler off the generator (actually, we have two generators, a Yamaha and a Honda). We have enough fuel oil on hand to get us through an entire season (600 to 900 litres) and 40 litres of stabilized gasoline for the gen sets plus another 60 to 120 litres that we could conceivably pull from the two Chryslers. Running the generator one or two hours a day would supply us with enough heat and domestic hot water to maintain a reasonable degree of comfort and prevent the pipes from freezing. If the boiler or generators should fail or we run out of either fuel, at that point we switch-over to propane -- we have four propane fireplaces that operate without electricity and a propane cook-top for meal preparation and hot drinks. That's it in a nutshell. I'm not planning for Armageddon, mass riots or the end of world as we know it, just the basic prudence stuff.


So have we lost the technology to build natural gas pipelines?

There are already pipelines in place moving natural gas across Nova Scotia from the huge offshore gas fields ( Sable Island) they have to the big consumer centers of New York and New England.

My question has always been, "Why doesn't NS acquire more of this readily-available gas itself and build a province-wide distribution system for it?"

Mind you, I'm looking at this from the perspective of Alberta, and Alberta has the largest rural gas distribution system in the world. Just about everybody is connected to the NG distribution system.

In Alberta, many of the local distribution systems were built by consumer-owned gas cooperatives when the big corporations wouldn't step up to the plate. Typically a group of rural residents would get together, form a co-op, trench in the service pipelines themselves, and go out for bids on supply to the oil and gas companies.

It's something of a different attitude than you find in Eastern Canada. During the depression, when the economy collapsed and the telephone and electric companies were virtually bankrupt, Alberta farmers got together and formed telephone and electricity co-operatives. The companies just provided minimum trunk service at wholesale prices, and the farmers did all the installation and maintenance work themselves using their own tools and equipment. Having done that, adding NG service didn't seem a big stretch.

I think most of the Alberta telephone co-ops and electricity co-ops have been absorbed by the big commercial corporations, but a lot of the rural gas co-ops are still out there.

Yeah, I just don't understand how some of those NorthEast cities & towns can develop their natural gas infrastructure more. There is a huge difference in heating costs between gas and oil. The price of heating with oil is getting so high that it is destroying property values. I realize it may be hard to run pipes out to distant rural farms but there are plenty of reasonably dense suburban style areas that have to be able to make the numbers work on building out more natural gas pipelines.

UNITIL is repiping to a larger diameter throughout Portland, so I hear, and when our street gets the treatment, we will have a chance to jump back onto the gas wagon for a reasonable amount. With a bit of luck, cash and timing, I'll have a set of Mini-splits and some Evacuated tubes up top before the gas option shows up.

One of the partners of the couple we had dinner with last night is a real estate agent and part of the conversation evolved around heating systems (quelle surprise !). He tells me that homes with electric heat are the hardest to sell, even though electric resistance and fuel oil are now pretty much on par, i.e., one million BTU of electric heat at 13.336-cents per kWh costs $39.09 whereas the same amount of oil heat will set you back $36.49 ($1.092 per litre at 82% AFUE). A lot of folks are leery of electric heat, and oil and electricity are basically the only game in town given that Heritage Gas is not interested in serving residential customers... they're targeting higher volume commercial, institutional and industrial sales because the residential side is unprofitable.


...oil and electricity are basically the only game in town given that Heritage Gas is not interested in serving residential customers... they're targeting higher volume commercial, institutional and industrial sales because the residential side is unprofitable.

Of course, looking at this from the perspective of Alberta, my reaction is, "If Heritage Gas is not interested in serving residential customer, why doesn't the NS government find someone who is?"

In Alberta, the government has been rather proactive in insuring that its residents got utility services, and if the private sector wasn't interested in supplying them, it often set up its own companies to do it. In the long term, of course, these become rather profitable because they got into the market early when it was cheap to do so, and the government sold them off into the private sector because they've served their purpose.

Since Alberta has always been relentlessly free-enterprise oriented, this can't be construed as Socialism, but as Capitalism practiced by business oriented politicians who have an agenda and know how to achieve it.

Gas Alberta Inc.

What is the history of Gas Alberta Inc.?

In 1973, the government of Alberta passed legislation to extend gas service to towns, villages and farming communities, and to set up rural utilities as member-owned cooperatives. This legislation also established Gas Alberta, a division of Alberta Transportation and Utilities, to purchase and manage gas supplies on behalf of the rural utilities.

Gas Alberta provided the expertise to contract with the various gas suppliers, and the ability to negotiate competitive rates based on the higher consolidated gas volumes. Gas suppliers negotiated with a single entity instead of many individual utilities, which simplified administrative activities for all parties.

In order to operate independently from the government, Gas Alberta Inc. was incorporated as a private company, and commenced operations on July 1, 1998. The Company remains the exclusive natural gas supplier to its 75 shareholders, comprised of gas co-ops, towns, villages, municipalities and First Nation gas utilities.

Since Alberta has always been relentlessly free-enterprise oriented, this can't be construed as Socialism

Hmmmm...you're being ironic, right? A government program isn't a government program, because it's being done by pragmatic people??

And raccoons are just very big, very clean squirrels...

No, I'm not being ironic. These were efforts by the Alberta government to kick-start the industrial development process when the private sector showed a lack of initiative. The government had no intention of running the companies over the long term, just to start them up, get them rolling, and then turn them loose.

See, that's rational, but acknowledges a useful economic role for government, which is Socialist in the view of most of the U.S. right wing.

The attitude in Canada is somewhat different than that in the US. The Conservatives have probably started more government enterprises (called Crown corporations) than the Liberals or socialist NDP.

The mistake governments usually make is keeping them under government ownership. At some point they should cut them loose to sink or swim on their own. Inevitably, some of them will sink, but that is a good thing rather than a bad thing. It gets failed enterprises out of the way rather than using up taxpayers dollars.

When they swim, though, they can do rather well. An example is the formerly government-owned CN Rail, which is now the most efficient railroad in North America, and the only one with tracks running all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico. Much of that was achieved by buying up smaller railroads for their track, and putting their executive talent in charge of running CN.

The mistake governments usually make is keeping them under government ownership. At some point they should cut them loose to sink or swim on their own.

There are risks and dangers in all this though.

In general, only the commercially successful ones will be attractive to the private sector at the "cutting loose" step, and the lemons will remain in government ownership (assuming the purpose for which they were set up is considered a social policy good, even if they don't turn a profit). Therefore, over time, governments cop a lot of flak, and wind up funding all the commercial failures, but without making money from the privatised successes.

There is also a lot of experience of controversy regarding the proper pricing of these entities ... cases of LOTS of taxpayer funding during the intensive capital expenditure years, and then they get sold at very discounted rates (and in classic crony capitalism style, often to mates and supporters of the government doing the selling).

And further, a lot of these privatised entities are in fields that require strong regulation (airports, transport, media, utilities, etc), and the regulatory oversight becomes complicated and often fractious - because of the constant tension between the regulators representing the public interest, and the financial demands of the shareholders.

There is always the constant threat of corruption, of course.

These things can end badly, even in the People's Democratic Republic of Alberta.

Alberta has already put most of its companies into the private sector, and the process has not been problematic - it just sells shares in them to the public. Since they are expected to act the same as privately-owned companies, and make a profit wherever possible, it is not a difficult transition for them.

The only major company still owned by the provincial government is its bank, ATB Financial, previously known as Alberta Treasury Branches. For some reason the Alberta government still wants to own a bank. However, it has spun its pipeline company, oil and gas company, telephone company, airline, liquor stores, and other enterprises off into the private sector. I don't think it lost money on any of them, but since they had recovered their startup costs, and were solidly established, it decided to sell them.

Some of the cities still own their own utility systems, but they are operated as profit-making enterprises, and don't limit themselves to their local area. For instance, EPCOR, formerly Edmonton Power Corporation, is owned by the City of Edmonton, but operates power and water facilities throughout North America. I think Edmonton likes the idea of collecting profits from other people rather than taxing its own.

Alberta has already put most of its companies into the private sector, and the process has not been problematic - it just sells shares in them to the public.

Yeah well ... perhaps it was all good, but I still think the devil is always in the detail. How were the IPO/public share offerings organised, and did the good ole boys and insiders in Edmonton and Calgary do well out of it? I suspect they might have.

And I don't think the state needs to own a financial institution (unless you hold a view - like I do - that the state should be the PRIMARY provider of credit, but that's another story), but activities that are natural monopolies (water, energy, highways, fuel, hospitals, etc) - I think all of those should be owned and managed by the people. But I'm just an old Commie.

When the Province of Nova Scotia refused to tow the line Sempra simply packed their bags, handed back their distribution franchise and told one and all to go kiss their hairy white ---. I guess we could always follow New Brunswick's example and see if the results prove any more satisfactory the second around.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2011/12/09/nb-leonard-enbridge-gas...

With a fixed charge of $21.87 per month and with gas priced at $12.442 per GJ, I say: thanks, but no thanks. Switching to natural gas, if it were available, would only increase my heating costs so what's the point?


I'm just pointing out what could be done to supply NG in the area, versus what has been done.

Given the large natural gas resources offshore of Nova Scotia, and the large reserves and low prices of NG in North America as a whole, not to mention a large LNG terminal in nearby New Brunswick, it seems to be an opportunity forgone.

Fuel oil is a truly dreadful alternative given what is clearly going to happen to prices in the foreseeable future (and is happening already), and the future electricity supply is rather questionable in the Maritime region. NG would seem to be the preferable option for people in the medium to long term - but they don't really have the option.

Both Enbridge in New Brunswick and Heritage Gas/AltaGas in Nova Scotia have demonstrated that residential loads cannot be served at a competitive cost, and if these two seasoned players can't do the job I'm hard pressed to imagine who else could. Sorry, but this turkey ain't gonna fly.

The Lower Churchill Falls and other renewable energies such as wind are what's going to displace oil, not natural gas.


NG heaters are cheap, and plumbing a condensing unit is pretty straight-forward without a lot of chimney work. We replaced our less-efficient unit when our AC went out, and $6K covered both units installed, and a pretty big system at that. The contractor ran a new (plastic) flue for the exhaust, and it was quick and fairly painless.

Of course here NG is really cheap and ubiquitous, and I don't discount the overall point about the value of high-eff heat pumps. If I were to build new I'd be sorely temped to go ductless, though adding solar heat does favor a central ducting system to some degree.

Pragmatically, I'd say each locale should choose fuel which is efficient and relatively inexpensive, and favor designs that can readily support other fuel types if the pricing shifts over time.

These new ultra-high efficiency NG furnaces are quite neat. You can hang them from a closet ceiling because they are so small, and vent them out a side wall using PVC pipe because the exhaust temperature is so low.

If you have existing hot-air ducting, it's pretty easy to retrofit them into it. If you don't, it's more complicated, but if necessary you can put in the duct-work yourself if you learn how to do a little tin-bashing.

I'm kind of blase about this kind of thing because my father used to sell NG furnaces and I used to help him install them when I was a kid (other kids went to summer camp, I installed furnaces, among other things like digging graves). However, I think it can be done cheaper than most people think.

Given the current low price of NG, I think it is the way to go at this point in time. Mind you, I can also heat my house with electricity and/or wood depending on whichever is cheaper, because you never know what is going to happen.

However, heating with fuel oil is a definite losing proposition under any realistic future scenario.

"..other kids went to summer camp, I installed furnaces, among other things like digging graves.."

I can relate. Dad had all of his kids drilling and tapping and terminating control panels from age 6 (I learned more working for him than in my BSEE). I paid my own way from age 11, I got room and board and catastrophic health insurance for a lot of free labor, and paid the rest of my expenses out of wages on projects with certified payrolls where I had to get Davis-Bacon (some of that money actually got kicked back at my own insistence in things like appliances, groceries, and fueling my Mom's car). A high fraction of Arizona attic work and other small space work went to whoever had the smallest frame (I spent a whole summer inside 18" storm drains installing stormwater sampling equipment), and whoever was junior in knowledge and experience typically got the biggest share of shovel and PVC work, too. One of my buddies won the HVAC competition for VocEd students in AZ in high school (he'd been working for his Dad since he could be useful). My ex was running a masonry crew for her Dad at 12. My dairy buddies were running loaders and welding at 8 or so. It's a far cry from child endangerment charges for telling your kid he had to walk 4.5miles to school after getting kicked off the school bus, as in article above.

Yes, it was an entirely different world than the coddled lives most kids lead now. My wife started working in her fathers photo lab when she was 12, so she had a similar kind of childhood. Other kids went to summer camp, she processed their pictures.

As for my siblings, there were four of us, so our father felt he had his own construction team and used to get us organized and turn us loose on doing things like painting and reroofing the house. My youngest sister re-roofed the garage by herself one summer. My brother was more independent and started disappearing off to nearby farms when he was 10. The farmers, knowing free labor when they saw it, put him to work driving 10-ton grain trucks and D-8 cats since there were no minimum age standards on farms. The day he got his drivers licence, my father put him behind the wheel of a tanker truck and had him delivering gasoline and diesel fuel to the farms.

It teaches you a lot of basic industrial survival skills that you aren't apt to learn in school.

This area is entirely serviced by natural gas, yet I still see an oil truck filling up people's tanks from time to time. I have no idea what these folks are thinking (my guess is that they are elderly considering this area has a lot of older individuals). Per btu, the cost of oil is so much higher then gas that the payback would be very short if you switched out for a new high efficiency natural gas furnace. Throw in some cellulose in the attic and the walls and payback would come even sooner.

Although there is truth to what you say, as of 2009, there were still 12.2 million households (10.7%) in the U.S. which had natural gas in the house but did not use it for heat. There are even more with gas at the street.

In the NorthEast this was 2.7million (13%), in New England it was 600K (10.9%). Households using propane, fuel oil, or kerosene for heat was at least 400K greater than the number of households without gas in the house in the NorthEast in 2009. Over 30% of households in the NorthEast and New England had main heating equipment more than 20 years old.

Do you happen to have a link we can point to in the future?

2009 RECS on the EIA site.

I find this really funny. Back when TOD first started, everyone was worried about the "natural gas cliff" looming in North America. It was considered an even more intractable problem than peak oil, because it's less fungible. Natural gas prices had tripled virtually overnight; roughly half of commercial users (factories, etc.) either shut down or converted to oil. Many believed that LNG was our last hope.

And that's why I don't drink this particular flavour of Kool-Aid. Back in 2006, natural gas was selling for over $20.00 per GJ. Heritage Gas customers were spitting mad because only a year or two before they were promised enormous savings over oil and, then, having spent many thousands of dollars changing out their heating systems they were being bludgeoned by these outrageously high prices. No one likes being played the fool.


There was a spike in the price of natural gas around 2006 and prices were abnormally high - particularly where you are, adjacent to the major market areas of the US Northeast. The recent shale gas surplus in the US has definitely changed the picture.

Natural gas at $20/GJ was equivalent to fuel oil at about $0.75/L on an energy equivalent basis, so NS gas was only marginally more expensive than fuel oil at that point in time. Now if your gas price is currently $12.442/GJ, that is equivalent to fuel oil at about $0.47/L, so NS gas is considerably cheaper than current fuel oil prices.

Here in sunny Alberta, I'm currently paying $3.895/GJ for NG, which works out to fuel oil at about $0.15/L ($0.57/gal for Americans), and the furnace is a 97% efficient unit, so for me, it's a no-brainer to use natural gas.

The only thing is, the fixed costs, administrative charges, and taxes exceed the energy costs and more than double my bill, which seems somehow unfair.

Looking at the five months spanning October 1st through to today, the average cost is $12.93 per GJ.

Source: http://www.heritagegas.com/historical-rates.html

And if we assume the home is equipped with a high efficiency gas furnace with an AFUE of 92 per cent, then the delivered cost of this heat is $14.05 per GJ.

With a Fujitsu 12RLS2 ductless heat pump and electricity priced at 13.336-cents per kWh, my delivered cost is $10.11 per GJ; alternatively, for a home with a forced air heating system, a Carrier GreenSpeed heat pump would get me down to as little as $9.72 per GJ. So even with the highest electricity rates in Canada, a high efficiency heat pump beats gas by a considerable margin, plus there's the added bonus of air conditioning and dehumidification, the latter being especially helpful given our Maritime climate.

Two final points: As noted above, just the $21.87 I'd have to pay each month in administrative fees would cover over half of my annual heating costs. Secondly, 100 per cent of the electricity that we consume is wind and low-impact hydro supplied by Bullfrog Power, which makes our heating choice essentially emissions-free.


The shale gas boom has definitely been a game-changer for natural gas in North America. However, it's worthwhile to realize that it is really driven by high oil prices. The gas has always been there, it has just been uneconomic because oil was cheaper.

Now that oil is much more expensive, there is lots of (relatively) cheap gas available.

Probe continues into the hundreds of dead dolphins washed up on Peruvian beaches

At least 264 dead bottlenose dolphins have washed ashore over a stretch of Peru’s northern coast, officials said ... adding that vast quantities of dead anchovies had also been found in the region. The dolphins may have been killed by the impact of off-shore oil exploration and drilling in the region

Weary crew fights to save stranded Mass. dolphins

... In the last month, 178 short-beaked common dolphins have stranded on Cape Cod, and 125 have died. The total is nearly five times the average of 37 common dolphins that have stranded each of the past 12 years.

Why are dolphins beaching themselves? 4 theories

Scientists still baffled by Arctic ringed seal deaths, illnesses

Radiation does not appear to be causing the mysterious affliction that has sickened and killed scores of Arctic ringed seals.

Preliminary tests of a few tissue samples of healthy and sick seals show no evidence of radiation exposure, said the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in a press release issued Friday.

Walrus, some of which have been spotted with the unusual lesions on their skin, are also being tested.

90 whales stranded on New Zealand beach

WELLINGTON, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- A pod of about 90 pilot whales have grounded themselves on a beach at the top of New Zealand's South Island in the latest in a series of whale strandings around the country this month, according to reports Monday.

The whales were in the same area where 25 were stranded earlier this month, 18 of which were refloated.

One lot of scientist trying to discover what another lot of scientists in the employ of progress have done. Ah well! At least this extinction event will be well documented.

Mission Impossible: Oil Spill Clean-up in Arctic Waters

The oil spill response plan approved by the Obama administration today fails to address barriers to cleaning up an oil spill in the icy, unpredictable and inhospitable Arctic waters and poses unacceptably high risks to marine life, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says.

A recent study on the oil spill response gap in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea, adjacent to the Chukchi Sea, shows that no oil spill response would be possible for the seven to eight months of winter. The study’s conclusions are based on primary data on wind, visibility and other climate parameters.

During the remaining four to five months of the year when a response to an oil spill is plausible, high winds, waves, unstable ice and poor visibility would limit the ability to identify, approach, contain and clean-up any spills.

WWF analysis shows that even during the most favorable weather conditions of July and August, a response to an oil spill would only be possible in the Beaufort Sea between 44 and 46 percent of the time.

For anyone that's against Shell drilling in Alaska's Arctic waters (BTW I'm not)why don't you ask the question that many including Shell are over looking? Shell has spend billions for the right to drill in this area and they are using a 1976 POS rig that wasn't even designed to be a drillship for this work. Shell is one of those companies that claims to spare no expense when it comes to safety and then they go cheap on the rig that will be drilling this project. A project that the world will be watching! Come on!

How can they be trusted to drill in this area when they are show poor judgement by using a cheap 1976 junker that wasn't even designed for drilling originally? Are there not better rigs on contract to Shell that could perform this work? I think the lack of judgment in this case should be an issue for Shell's shareholders, it's certainly not an issue for the Obama administration.

Can you provide links & details for this?
I'm not doubting you (which says something about my faith in the O&G industry), but we would all need verification in order to pursue things.
If your info is correct, this is an outrage and ought to be pursued.


The link will lead you to the rig data on the rig the Shell has been planning on using for a while now. "Noble Discoverer"

I'm pro drilling I think Shell can get this done with no problem, but why this rig? It's old, it's had major reliability problems in the past(reliable hear say), and it simply doesn't look like good PR!

"Noble Discoverer is one of the oldest drillships in the world. Build in 1966 and originally a bulk carrier called the Matsuhiro Maru, in 1976 it was converted for the energy exploration operations and renamed Frontier Discoverer."


I know some of the rigs that Shell could have used and they are so much better than this.

I also hear industry RUMORS that many of the crew on this rig have never drilled a well or have drilled very few wells with this rig. Not good!

Why would you take a rig set up for the tropics and drill with it in the Artic? Just the effort that will be needed in heat tracing and insulation, let aloan heating for human comfort and survival.

This is the old Discoverer 511 that Frontier Drilling bought from Transocean back around 2001-2, it had the reputation of an old wreak then. It does not sound like an ideal assignment to me.

I don't believe this rig would have been built as zero discharge, and they would have had to spend a heap to bring it up to zero discharge standard.

I agree there would be a lot more suitable rigs available on the market.

I used to work for a company (Amoco Canada) that had an Arctic marine drilling subsidiary (Canadian Marine Drilling, or CANMAR), which it acquired when it took over Dome Petroleum, which was virtually bankrupt by then. I seem to recall it had 26 ships of varying descriptions, including a large icebreaker.

When it was operating, CANMAR drilled 75% of all off-shore wells in the Canadian and U.S. Beaufort Seas, and the Chukchi Sea. It was a pretty ambitious effort which, unfortunately, didn't find any commercially viable quantities of oil in its 20 years of operation in the Arctic.

In 1997, Amoco shut down CANMAR and sold the fleet to some companies based in Cyprus for equipment value. The remaining ships are now distributed around the world in various occupations.

I don't think Shell is confident enough of success to build its own Arctic drilling fleet, so it will probably make do with older ships designed for other areas and other purposes.

Thanks very much for the links, Wild

Two days ago Shell received approval for their Arctic spill response plan:

Similar to BP's Gulf preparedness, I hope they have a plan to save the Arctic armadillo in case of a spill.

US House OKs Opening Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Oil Drilling

The U.S. House once again passed a bill to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, voting 237-187 Thursday on a measure expected to die in the Senate.

The House bill, H.R. 3408, passed with 21 Democrats supporting it and 21 Republicans opposed. Republicans touted it as a way to use lease revenues to pay for the expensive transportation bill expected to come to the floor of the House next week.

In addition to ANWR drilling, the bill would also open offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Pacific and force the approval of TransCanada's controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas.

There's No Tomorrow

Here is an excellent new animated short that ties resource depletion, environmental destruction and the end of growth into a single tidy package.

For those of you already versed in this subject matter, this might still be good review; for those of you who don't, PLEASE DON'T PANIC!...


That is on the cover of the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy. Good advice (and don't forget to bring your own towel).

Excellent video. Covers all the bases without getting bogged down in the details.

I thought so too.

I really liked the comment left by parkslopegigilo (5th comment from the top).

... My point was that the more we learned about the world, the worse it was going to be for us because we would never be able to escape that knowledge.

Look at a shiny new gift and you see the starving kids who made it in Taiwan. Thrill at the latest action adventure flick and you come away with a sour aftertaste of militarism, sexism, and racism. Buy a bag of cookies and you buy a bag of pesticides, GMOS, and corn syrup. Nothing can escape your critical eye, including yourself.

The constant whittling away of all illusions, or at least the attempt to do so, changes a person incrementally, so slowly you don't notice but suddenly you are outside of it all. Your critical eye has reached critical mass: now you see all things inside out and upside down that are supposedly right side right.

"Through the veil!" as one old history professor used to say. You no longer get elated at the latest iPhone commercials with your friends or marvel at the magic that is Disney or worship the Kennedy brothers in a secret crypt under the stairs. People begin to suspect something is wrong with you, you openly mock the SuperDuperBowl, you make cracks about Baby Jesus helping you to find your car keys, you refuse to Buy Now!at your local Toyota Deal-Athon dealer. Curmudgeon, Crackpot, Grumpy, the accolades pile up at your feet....

Yes! I was also moved by that comment. I was tempted to duplicate it here like you did, but It was kind of long, and I didn't want to edit it down. There was a comment further down the page that captured my sentiments:

Jeff Snyder said...
Thanks for that comment, it is always good to know there is some small community of people out there who see and feel as you do. You really captured the feeling of Being Among, But Not Of Them, and the pain of looking through the veil.

I almost did not post it because I did not want to edit it at all either...

He said it so well, I think I will use it in my "departure note" (with the proper h/t to the original author).

Or you could say it musically:

"I cannot share your laughter, ship of fools"


While we are talking Ships of Fools, check this one out.


'High Gas Prices Give G.O.P. Issue to Attack Obama'

White House officials are preparing for Republicans to use consumer angst about the cost of oil and gas to condemn his energy programs and buttress their argument that his economic policies are not working.

“This debate is a debate we want to have,” Mr. Boehner told his conference on Wednesday, according to a Republican aide who was present. “It was reported this week that we’ll soon see $4-a-gallon gas prices. Maybe higher. Certainly, this summer will see the highest gas prices in years. Your constituents saw those reports, and they’ll be talking about it.”

Like I've posted recently, IMHO the GOP will collude with US oil execs to raise fuel prices in excess of oil price increases to push the electorate to the GOP prez candidate. This isn't just a topic Boehner wants, its one they will encourage by way of higher prices even if it causes recession. Both big oil and the GOP have a common cause here to oust a leader that stopped the oil pipeline coming from Canada and shut down the Gulf for a period of his first term.

I'm predicting fuel prices this year before the election in Nov. will exceed those records set in 08.

PE - Not that I’m disagreeing with all your points. But: “Both big oil and the GOP have a common cause here to oust a leader that stopped the oil pipeline…”. As I just pointed out above the vast majority of oil producers in the US fully supports the president’s decision to delay…not that many would say so aloud. It would be very beneficial to most of us if the p/l is never built. I just completed a well in the Gulf Coast for 500 bopd. Needless to say I will be happier getting $110/bbl than seeing less income if that Canadian oil makes it down here.

Between the DW drilling moratorium, the Keystone p/l delay and a lack of an energy policy to deal with PO, this president has done more to help the cause of me and many of my cohort then Bush ever did. Now if he would just pass a federal ban on frac’ng I would replace my picture of Ronnie with his.

It really is a strange world today, ain’t it? LOL.

Yeah, Rock now that I have landmen wanting to lease my Tuscaloosa marine Shale land I'm now against the pipeline too. I recently decided to wait for a bigger offer and I don't need any pesky Canadian oil getting in my way. I also work in the Deepwater GOM, so that pipeline as well as oil sands in general could hurt my bargaining power for future salary increases.

I think getting oil from tar sands should be illegal, because it's not drilling. There's no sport to it, it lacks skill and class. It's not even real mining it's like moving dirt around. Nope, I don't like it!

Maybe Obama should put sanctions on Canada!

Rockman, just in at the end of the thread w/out enough time to have read your earlier post, but in any case good point about the pipeline. Alright, substitute subsidies for pipeline, which of course we know the GOP will never end, but the Dems might. I stand by this notion that fuel prices at pump will break 08 record highs, based on motivation of oil companies to oust Obama, with GOP encouraging high prices in spite of potential damage to so called recovery.

PE - I know it might be difficult to believe but I never hear my cohorts complain about the president's energy policies. OTOH lots of criticism about his social/tax policies. I'm not saying he's been bought off by the oil patch but both sides have something to gain by Joe6Pack not getting PO.

The only time he gets us nervous is when he talks about eliminating our depletion allowance. But that's a problem for my accountant...not me. The BS spin from sources about fed regs holding us back is just that...BS. In 36 years and hundreds of wells not once has a fed reg stopped me from drilling. Granted, I don't work DW anymore, but as I said earlier, anything preventing more fed NG making it to the bank benefits me and a lot of others.

Honestly as part of the oil patch, I don't much against President Obama's energy policies. As a citizen with an 11 yo daughter I can't say the same.

Yes, Rockman, it really is a strange world today.

Just so the rest of you don't miss the full import of what Rockman said, let me repeat that it is the interest of US Big US Oil interests to kill the Keystone XL pipeline to the US Gulf Coast. See the article Big Oil Wants to Kill the Keystone XL Pipeline above.

Big US Oil is actually in direct competition with Big Canadian Oil, and Big Canadian Oil has a lot more oil under the ground. Rockman just completed a well on the Gulf Coast for 500 bopd, but Canadian oil companies can bang out oil sands SAGD wells that will produce 800 bopd, well after well after well as fast as they can drill them.

They are working with a much larger resource base and there is no doubt the oil is there. Rockman is paid the big bucks for knowing where to find the oil, but for the Canadian companies finding it is not an issue. They already know where it is. It's all over the place in an area the size of Florida. They just need to produce it at a sufficiently low cost.

Rockman would like to get $110/bbl for his oil, and more power to him because what he is doing is difficult and expensive. What the Canadian producers are doing is difficult and expensive, too, and they are only getting $74/bbl at this point in time. They, too, would like to get $110/bbl.

Now, for Rockman and the Canadian oil producers, there is an easy solution to this problem. Rockman sells his oil to the Gulf Coast refiners for $110/bbl, the Canadian producers sell their oil to China for $110/bbl, and everybody is happy. Rockman is happy, the Gulf Coast refiners are happy, the Canadian producers are happy, the Chinese refiners are happy, the Chinese consumers are happy, and even I am happy because I have some money in the game, too. However the American consumers may not be that happy because they will be paying very high prices for fuel.

As Rockman says, the current US president is his best friend. In the final analysis, he's US Big Oil's best friend, and even the Chinese consumer's best friend. The US consumer, though, ultimately may find the whole experience considerably less friendly.

Nice information, Rocky, thanks!

The strange thing is, I am not upset at this.

The high prices of oil in the U.S. will slowly encourage greater oil-use efficiency and doing less with less oil in the U.S. and provide that oil price floor that Rockman spoke of (IIRC) in the past here on TOD, which will provide stability for the domestic oil industry (mitigate the historical boom/bust cycle) and provide good-paying jobs to American workers, which will have a domestic economy multiplier effect.


Now maybe we can build some more NG power plants to replace the oldest/most polluting coal plants, and maybe retire a handful of high-risk (siting/earthquake/proximity to high population) nuke plants such as Indian Point?

this president has done more to help the cause of me and many of my cohort then Bush ever did.

Nonsense. Bush killed the US hybrid program (PNGV), replaced it with the hydrogen red herring, and delayed CAFE increases. This president increased the CAFE dramatically, and very strongly encouraged EVs.

"Nonsense": Oil prices are much higher under President Obama than President Bush. IOW me and the rest of the oil patch are making a lot more money under the current administration. Current average mpg of US autos has not changed significantly under the current administration. EV's are currently an insignificant factor. Both those situations may or may not change in the future. That will be in the hands of others long after President Obama leaves office. Many other alt producing companies are currently scaling back or shutting down completely under the currrent administration...more good news for the oil patch. The current administration has done nothing to increase the future import of oil to the US while the Chinese govt has secured billions of future oil for their citizens. Less imports to the US allows the domestic oil patch to charge more for our domestic production...this future looks very rosey right now.

In addition to the oil patch doing well under President Obama, so are the coal companies, especially those in the president's home state of Illinois. Earlier this year the current administration awarded a Clean Air permit to begin construction of a coal-fired e- plant (White Stallion) in Texas. Warren Buffet is also pleased since his trains willl be hauing that coal to Texas.

Argue and explain it away however you want. But today the oil patch is making 100's of $bilions more under President Obama than President Bush. The numbers are the numbers...they can't be wished away. Name one current administration policy that will decrease the price of energy in the next few years. I honestly can't think of one.

Rocky, you're joking, right?

How would any admin reduce oil prices?? Getting access to more imports wouldn't change the world price, which everything is pegged to. Chinese access to oil doesn't reduce their paying market prices, it just guarantees access.

In fact, why would we want this admin to reduce oil prices? Rather, it would be better for the country for prices to be even higher via domestic taxes, to encourage a switch away from oil.

"Rather, it would be better for the country for prices to be even higher via domestic taxes, to encourage a switch away from oil."

If the goal is to encourage people to switch away from oil, then Obama should just keep doing what he's doing without adding taxes. Do you realize how bad it would be politically for democrats if they vote and pass more taxes on fuel? The next election would be a blood bath for progressives.

If higher gas prices are good in the eyes of liberals, becauses it slows fuel use why do they oppose oil companies being the beneficiary of those higher prices? The outcome is the same!

Do you realize how bad it would be politically for democrats if they vote and pass more taxes on fuel?

Of course - that was a comment on ideal public policy, not what's viable in the current environment (in which people like the Koch brothers can prevent change).

If higher gas prices are good in the eyes of liberals, becauses it slows fuel use why do they oppose oil companies being the beneficiary of those higher prices?

I'm not quite sure what you mean, but there's a big difference between oil revenue leaving the country to go to oil exporters, or leaving one's household or community and going to oil companies, versus raising taxes and capturing more of the revenue for taxpayers (perhaps by rebating them to taxpayers).

"I'm not quite sure what you mean, but there's a big difference between oil revenue leaving the country to go to oil exporters, or leaving one's household or community and going to oil companies, versus raising taxes and capturing more of the revenue for taxpayers (perhaps by rebating them to taxpayers)."

What I mean is, if the single goal is higher prices causing the population to use less fuel, then why bother raising taxes which would be politically problematic. Obama can just keep the status quo without giving the republican's ammunition, because the status quo and his current policies are already giving us higher gas prices.

Now does it make sense to capture revenue (raise taxes) in order to change peoples energy use and then turn around and give them money back in rebates, because then they will be able to increase energy use? That's pointless!

Peak oil will cause a cultural change via the free market people will change habits and attitudes when supply and demand insist they change. Environmentalist should embrace this eventual outcome but they are pulled at both sides by this duality, because many of them are on the left. Peak Oil Libertarians that are also environmentalist or conservationist believe that free market economics will eventually force us in the right direction without coercion.

"...and his current policies are already giving us higher gas prices."

In what way? We've pretty much established here that global oil prices, markets, etc. are affecting prices. What policies, specifically, and to what effects?

"We've pretty much established here that global oil prices, markets, etc. are affecting prices."

What about inflation, what about the fiscal and monetary policies that cause inflation? I'm not so certain that market forces alone are the main cause of higher prices at this time. The dollar's shaky connection as the worlds reserve currency isn't helping oil prices in America. Obama's deficit spending and increasing debt is making the American currency not look quite so good. High demand and shortages are certainly not the cause of high prices due to the depressions ongoing in the west, so at this point it's currency. Now if a war breaks out in Iran and/or Syria all bets are off.

It's called peak oil, supply and demand, ELM, increasing demand in China and India, closing refineries.... again, I could go on, but blaming Obama for the US having some of the lowest fuel costs in the developed world during a period of historically high global crude prices makes about as much sense as Fox+News.

As for deficit spending, it's been following the same basic exponential curve it's been on for 30+ years. Listen to the first few chapters of Crash Course and get back to me. First line: "Its very important to distinguish between facts, opinions, and beliefs..." Our fractional reserve, debt-based system is functioning exactly as expected. He didn't create this system, and he can't fix it. Blaming whichever President certainly won't fix it, but that's what ignorant folks do. These problems predicaments are complex, systemic, and essentially unsolvable.

We have the lowest fuel prices in the developed world until the world gets off the dollar as a reserve currency. You sound as if you don'think Obama can or will even try to fix our "predicaments" because they are "complex, systemic, and essentially unsolvable". I agree he won't, but at least people like Ron Paul would try.

I'm getting ready either way! It's going to be ugly and the urban poor and middle class are going to get hurt bad!

R.P. would institute austerity. Then jobs disappear, and the deficit still remains the same. It seems no matter how much data accumulates showing that way doesn't work will convince anyone.
The NAIRU folks believe that even during good times, as long as we are below full employment, that governments should run deficits. But, that requires wrapping your head around money as a mere facilitator of economic activity, not some moral value good. I ain't no economist, but I do believe that only by modeling a system and doing mathematical modeling can one determine what is (likely) to work. Of course models need to be tested/corrected when real data accumulates. But most humans would rather assert some moralist principle, than cede political/ideological prejudgement.

Thanks, for the link to Crash Course it was very informative and connects many of the things I've been reading and listening to for a few years now. Do you suscribe to the direction of the Mr. Martenson because his economic leanings don't seem to be one that would give President Obama or anyone else in office a pass?

I have my differences with Chris Martenson, but the Crash Course is a good primer for some of the fundamentals and explains how we didn't get here overnight. The exponential function thing is basic to understanding most of our conundrums related to growth, and there's some useful stuff on his site.

As for giving a President a pass, I suggest that your expectations are a little longer than mine.

Now does it make sense to capture revenue (raise taxes) in order to change peoples energy use and then turn around and give them money back in rebates, because then they will be able to increase energy use? That's pointless!

Not at all. People who use more energy will pay more. They won't get a bigger rebate, so they'll have a nice price signal to conserve and be more efficient.

Are you familiar with Pigovian taxes? Do you agree that oil has large hidden costs, like pollution, recession risks, and military costs?

I see where you going now, but I have never heard of Pigovian taxes.

I do understand that oil has brought added or hidden cost, but I could make the similar assumptions about any commodity. I once watched a news report with my wife about the horrors associated with the diamond trade. I've milked that for years as the reason I won't buy my wife a new ring.

I would love Obama and the democrats to propose a huge tax increase on gasoline. Boy that would be a real winner!

A Pigovian tax (also spelled Pigouvian tax) is a tax levied on a market activity that generates negative externalities. The tax is intended to correct the market outcome. In the presence of negative externalities, the social cost of a market activity is not covered by the private cost of the activity. In such a case, the market outcome is not efficient and may lead to over-consumption of the product. A Pigovian tax equal to the negative externality is thought to correct the market outcome back to efficiency.


Even the most conservative, libertarian economists agree that external costs are real, and that gasoline should cost $.50-1 more for efficient economic allocation of resources.

And, of course, everyone knows that conservatives have demonized gas taxes to the point that it's a political landmine. Of course, conservatives have been manipulated by people like the Koch brothers:

"Poor Exxon. They used to be the oil company that everybody loved to hate. This spawn of the Standard Oil breakup had it all: Obscene profits, the Exxon Valdez, a mean CEO who sneered at clean energy, blatant funding for climate deniers.

But now, the new ExxonMobil is just not that special anymore.

It turns out that all the big oil companies are buying elections, paying front-groups to spread lies about climate change and dumping their tiny investments in clean energy while continuing to put out soft-focus ads touting how green and socially responsible they are. And they just don’t seem to care that much about preventing oil spills either.

In these days of peak greed, you have to drill pretty deep in the oil patch to find the worst of the worst.

A real gusher

Well, after coming up with a bunch of dry holes, the environmental and government-reform movements seem to have found the activist equivalent of Old Spindletop: Charles and David Koch."

See http://transitionvoice.com/2011/02/more-reasons-to-hate-the-koch-brothers/

It depends upon changing incentives. Add a $1 a gallon tax to gasoline, my neighbors pays much more than I do, because I own a Prius and he owns an SUV. Next time he's in the showroom, he might start thinking about fuel economy. And the end result is actually that foreign exporters of oil actually sussidize our tax collection (because with less imports, we send less money to them). Should be a braindead win-win policy, but our pixiedust mentality means we won't touch it.

Nick - A bit of tongue in cheek for sure. I agree about the need for the govt to have discouraged wasteful energy consumption decades ago. All the politicans have the same motive: convince foks that only the ones that can continue BAU...maybe even expand it a bit. IMHO it doesn't matter which party controls the White House or Congress. Their world, just like most of our corporations, are focused on the short term even if that means worse long term pain for the rest of society.

Band Fracking? God forbid that, it is a cash cow for us Service Companies.

And the Dems will counter that high gas prices are caused by:

1. Greedy Oil Cos. and their Republican buddies.

2. OPEC and other terrorist supporting regimes.

3. Congress failing to continue tax credits that promote electric/alternative energy cars.

I believe gas prices will be more likely dependent on events not controlled by the Oil Cos. like demand in Chindia, Iranian nuclear ambitions/world sanctions, and the world monetary situation/currency valuation.

mb - I agree with you. Not sure if everyone caught the sarcasm in my statement above. Trust me: if the oil patch could manipulate prices to the degree some folks think we would. I wish like heck we could use our evil powers to get NG prices up right now but I suppose we're tapped out keeping oil prices artificlally high at the moment. LOL

That's right, you use your evil psychic powers to force up the price of natural gas, and nothing happens. All you get is a headache.

Fortunately, I've got a lot of really good but expensive medications for the headaches, but it's not helping at all with the NG prices.

That's what you get for using emotions instead of brain power. All you need to do is take a look at the techniques of the climate denialist camp. They tell us that CO2 isn't a pollutant and is good for plants, etc. So, what if you start spreading the claim that burning NG causes impotence or birth defects? Call for the government to regulate those nasty emissions and limit new drilling that might release more, aka fracking. Maybe fracking is so nasty as to cause abortions and male sterility, thus both the right-to-lifers and the eco-weenies could be encouraged to join your campaign. Not to mention that burning NG cuts CO2 emissions and our farmers' hungry plants need more CO2 to grow enough food to feed all those non-aborted sheeple.

See what I mean? Go for it, use that Constitutional right of Free Speech to spread all sorts of half truths thru your political action committee. You fossil fuel guys would get rich, unless it was your fracking operations which were curtailed. But, that's the capitalist way, let the companies which haven't paid their dues to the appropriate politicians go bankrupt, so the big guys can get richer...

E. Swanson

"That's what you get for using emotions instead of brain power."

Sounds like a quote from Rush Limbaugh and that's not meant as a slight, but anything can be demagogued. Being from the Gulf Coast I've seen how factory style agribusness in the mid west causes dead zones in the Gulf and I'm sure I can find data that shows larger GOM dead zones tied to increased ethanol subsidies and production. So we have left leaning pro ethanol enviromentalist, all farm state politicians and huge agribusness groups doing more damage to the gulf every year than the Macondo ever did. I bet someone could scream that loud enough to make more than a blip on the political radar. Is it true? Does it matter?

How about just have the market decide? Employ common sense regulation that protects my rights and let the market deal with everything else. If fracking a well near my land ruins my ground water, then that is where the government should protect my property rights. If fertilizer run off from farms surrounding Mississippi river watershed causes environmental problems the government should protect us from that too.

"If fracking a well near my land ruins my ground water, then that is where the government should protect my property rights. If fertilizer run off from farms surrounding Mississippi river watershed causes environmental problems the government should protect us from that too."

Better to beg pay for forgiveness, huh? That's what we're seeing with the banks; enforcement/penalties after the fact (which in no way match the scale of the crime or restores the economy). It's the same as after someone's delta and fishing grounds have been ruined, after someone's watershed or aquifer has been polluted, or the same as after someone's planet has been heated up; the damage is done and can't be rectified for generations if ever.

"Bad boy! You've burned the house down. We need to have a rule about playing with matches, and BTW, YOU'RE GROUNDED!"

My main issue was that anyone can legitimately make a counter point that goes against today's group think and even demogogue that issue into oblivion.

To your point I think that we should attempt to find the problems prior to causing them when possible. Sometimes it's as easy as looking at recent history.

For instance libertarians like myself can point to Europe's problems today to predict our future in America tomorrow. Math, Science, and Sociology are all pointing towards human failure and the unsustainability of the welfare state, but we refuse to give up until we are in collapse.

"...human failure and the unsustainability of the welfare state, but we refuse to give up until we are in collapse."

Well that's the nature of a predicament, isn't it? Depression/collapse now or later? Cut millions of Americans off from the "welfare state" when they need it most? Eliminate entitlements that millions of working Americans have payed a sizable chunk of their income into for decades? Let's ignore that virtually all of these entitlement dollars get spent locally (excepting trade imbalances). These monies go to pay rents, mortgages, utilities,, and for food, transportation, clothing, etc.. So what libertarians are talking about is removing trillions of dollars of money velocity from an economy locked into this level of spending. Of course, the alternative is to keep kicking the can until it can't be kicked. Either way, it ain't gonna be pretty. This is what hard limits look like. Discussions about restoring growth are moot. Discussions about managing collapse may prove to be useful...

If you aren't in the one percent, you and your's had better learn to produce/provide non-discretionary goods or services, locally, tout de suite.

"Eliminate entitlements that millions of working Americans have payed a sizable chunk of their income into for decades?"

Maybe not eliminate, but what about the millions of people who have generationally been on assistance and never paid a dime? Do we keep paying them to continue doing what they have been doing since the 1960's? Is that sustainable or reasonable? No one even talks about the adjustments that can be made.

See I think that people overlook another option. We don't have to go the way of Greece, where people demand something that's unsutainable and illogical.

"..., but what about the millions of people who have generationally been on assistance and never paid a dime?"

Well they certainly don't suddenly go poof! and disappear. Nor do they suddenly get "right with the system" and find jobs that offset the subsidies that they were using to subsist on, especially considering that millions of previously employed folks are in line ahead of them, you know, the 40+ million or so U3-U6 folks who have educations, experience and work histories. All of this during a time of economic stagnation/contraction, peak oil, already massive debt (both private and public), declining pensions and benefit plans of those who thought they'd planned well, increasing food, health care and energy costs...

I could go on, but it's clear many Ron Paul fans haven't thought this through really well. I'm not disagreeing with you entirely, but returning a massively indebted nation of 320 million people to a pay-as-you-go system will neither be voluntary, peaceful, nor "humane", IMO. I studied for a time in the USSR in the mid '70s pre-Orlovian period, saw the food lines, black markets, poor health care, police state,,, even then. IMO, no matter how we slice and dice it, what the US is facing will make that period look rather mild.

You can't just sweep 30% of a population under the rug, expect another 50% to drastically reduce their standards of living, maintain infrastructure and a massive MIC/political/financial class (who will protect their status),, and expect things to go well. Not at all. Americans simply aren't prepared for it in any sense that matters.

I agree that you see and know the problem. I don't think you could possibly know whether or not the Ron paul crowd thought about these issues thoroughly. Sound bites can give proof of that either way.

A few months ago I brought up possible small changes to the welfare system and I was demagogued to death. I'm just trying to come up with an answer to a problem. Why not have "means testing" tied to Social Security? If your a multi millionare you shouldn't need social security. How about making foodstamps, public housing, and welfare more uncomfortable for able bodied people? I'm not talking about starving people, quite the opposite, I'm talking about making entitlements efficient, available, but uncomfortable. How about getting rid of subsidies, such as the subsidy that Sugar cane farmers in my state recieve. Now that sugar prices are high we could do that, right? We have welfare for the rich and the poor, it should all be on the table at this point.

There's a better way, there has to be.

How about making foodstamps, public housing, and welfare more uncomfortable for able bodied people?

First let's clear the air by admitting that there are individuals who game the system, always have been always will be.

However, you must live in a completely different country than I do!

What exactly do you propose to do with the millions of currently unemployed and able bodied Americans who would be more than happy to earn an honest living by working for it but can't find a job because jobs that pay a living wage simply aren't available?! For the record I'm in South Florida and I placed a help wanted ad to fill an office manager's position a while back... it was a very eye opening experience!

The 80% of Americans who are still employed and part of the system have very little concept as to what the other 20% of the previously gainfully employed Americans are experiencing nowadays. Especially if you are over fifty and have been unemployed for over a year or more, you are pretty much dead meat! Doesn't matter what skills or degrees you may have!

Subsidies to those that don't need them are another issue entirely.

FMagyar, your first mistake is that assume from your post that you think more compassionate toward people in need then me. I know it's hard to read emotion in the written word, but the emotion based question shouldn't be""""What exactly do you propose to do with the millions of currently unemployed and able bodied Americans who would be more than happy to earn an honest living by working for it but can't find a job because jobs that pay a living wage simply aren't available?!""""

The question should be what happens to these people when the funds to support them either run out or the dollar becomes worthless? What do we do to have a sustainable safety net that doesn't allow people to get stuck in the welfare system? How come we didn't learn from disasters of the past, such as the welfare state being the root cause of the horrible Hurricane Katrina outcome?

I'm never said kick everyone out on the streets and let them starve but somehow you read that which wasn't written. Maybe you think our system is fine and sustainable. Maybe they thought the same in Greece.

WB, I'm curious-- do you actually know anyone on GR? The vast majority of people I work with who are on GR are either seriously disabled and incapable of work or are desperate to find jobs. I have run across a few who were obviously gaming the system, but (somewhat to my surprise) the idea that there are legions of lazy people who are happy to do nothing really seems to be a fantasy.

It's so much easier to blame our current problems on greed and laziness, either by the poor or the rich. I feel that the larger problem is that our entire economy is based on free market principles that do not work, and never did, except maybe for a heartbeat at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Compensation does not drive innovation. Maybe that works with rats in cages, but once you've got a cerebral cortex, it just isn't that simple anymore. And the market does not magically respond to human needs-- if it did, drug companies would be working on making new antibiotics to combat MRSA instead of copycat SSRIs, boner pills and heart medications.

Being bright and implementing intelligent ideas that improve the human condition has very little to do with commerce. Albert Schweitzer, Sigmumd Freud, and Albert Einstein didn't work 16 hour days because they wanted to be millionaires.

"the idea that there are legions of lazy people who are happy to do nothing really seems to be a fantasy."

I've never mentioned "lazy people" or people gaming the system. I don't care why they are dependent at this point. I'm saying that anyone that's dependent on the American government for food and medical care is going to be hungry and sick if our debt and economy keeps going the direction we're going today.

Ghung posted the link for Crash Course maybe you should watch it. Keeping people dependent on a system that's poised for failure is NOT compassionate.

I sure wish it could all be on the table, and that we could sort things out rationally. there is more corporate welfare, then for people/families. Much may have made sense at one point in time, but has become selfsustaining because those with money (and money to lose), buy the lobbying. The problem largely stems from our slavish worship of free markets. We let them run communications (media), and politics. So we've ended up with a "free" market in ideas and politics which is dominated by those with the resources to spend gaming the system. Libertarianism, would only IMO exacerbate that problem.

"Libertarianism, would only IMO exacerbate that problem."

I don't see how free people exchanging real non-fiat money for good and services with no governemnt coercion and the bare minimum of regulation could exacerbate our problems. What's the big issue with Liberty?

This is the problem with libertarianism.

Do you argue that prominent libertarian economists and scholars doesn't acknowledge the practical existence of market failures? Come on!

Monbiot and Bruenig, in that article, demonstrate that they would fail the ideological turing test.

I think they already make people plenty uncomfortable. Just the paperwork required to get and keep eligibility is a pain. Public housing is often a nightmare. Welfare has a cap - you can't stay on it forever. Never the mind the embarrassment of needing it. I'm not sure what else could be done.

As for rich people getting social security - that's been brought up from time to time, but it's probably not worth it. Most people who get social security are not rich, so it would save a small amount of money. But it would create another layer of bureaucracy, to monitor people's eligibility.

The easiest thing to do is what they already do: tax social security benefits for those above a certain income.

I very much agree, in fact the systems are painful aenough that a large fraction of those eligible for food stamps, Medicaid, disability, and unemployment are not receiving benefits and many people who the uninformed would expect to be eligible are not eligible.

The Social Security system itself has what are called "bend points." This means that the higher the level of your average income during your working career, the lower the replacement level of your Social Security check. In 2012 the bend points are at $767/mo of average indexed monthly earnings in 2012 dollars (below which PIA is calculated at 90 percent replacement), and $4624 (below which PIA is calculated at 32%, and above which it is calculated at 15%). Earnings above the FICA cap are not counted in calculating AIME, so effectively the formula bends down to zero at that level.

Less than 0.3% of retired workers on SS are receiving more than $2500/mo, and less than 5% are receiving more than $2000/mo. More than half receive less than $1200/mo.

I hear today that the strategy is to add ever-increasing difficulty at the state level - hoops to jump through - for any aspect of the safety net. Drug testing is the one in the news.

I could go on, but it's clear many Ron Paul fans haven't thought this through really well. ... You can't just sweep 30% of a population under the rug, expect another 50% to drastically reduce their standards of living

Don't forget - the one thing a Ron Paul could do as Commander in Chief is be commander and if he did cut back the military it would not only have an effect on employment (all the un-employed soldiers and weapons makers/support people) but also on the ability for the US Dollar to be the international exchange currency.

Look at what happened to England when the Pound Stirling stopped being a Pound the world Round.

The cadilac welfare mom was really a PR creation of starve -the government people. Our actual welfare expenditures are quite small -although the costs of providing medical services are not. We as a society have to decide what to do about the less fortunate among us. Mostly they are people who made poor choices early on in life, and are stuck with the consequences. Or, have physical or mental issues that make surviving on their wits a no go. Either we go the full darwinian selection route, or we deterimine some quaranteed level of support. As a father, I can't quarantee that one of my kids, might not end up there, I'd prefer to have some sort of safety net, even if that means I gotta a bit higher taxes.

Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people — one in three Americans — either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.


55 year old Homeless Man carries 2 Masters Degrees

Better to beg pay for forgiveness, huh?

The paying isn't enough. Once you take from the CEO and each person who made the bad decision or executed the bad decision you'll have people after a sort period of time taking actual accountability and such will make a difference.

"That's what we're seeing with the banks; enforcement/penalties after the fact (which in no way match the scale of the crime or restores the economy"

Isn't that something, though? Gave the banks trillions, took back 26 billion. That's like "Here ya go, have thousands of dollars... but you've been bad (in burning down the neighborhood) so were gonna take back twenty-six."

The actual "out of pocket", distributed among the giant-est of giant banks, is 1.5 billion. The rest they can take out in trade, like promising to relieve those heading towards foreclosure... Maybe $1000 per defined victim. That's my understanding.

I think you entirely missed RockyMtnGuy's comment. And, I would have thought that a sarcanol tag wasn't needed for mine either. Did you read past the first line before you decided to mention Ol' Lush Rumbrain? BTW, "the market" has already decided that the price of NG should be below $3 these days, that is, until "the market" bankrupts those players that bet on higher gas prices. And, "the market" accepts the tragedy of the commons too...

E. Swanson

I got the sarcasm, but like most humor there has to be truth to it in order to make it funny. I took what you said and pointed out the truth, because you were right. I have used the true GOM dead zone arguement against pro-ethanol environmentalist and they had nothing, because I spoke like a selfrighteous environmentalist demogogue myself. It was so easy that I didn't find it fun to debate in that manner and I rarely do it anymore.

Pointing out the Limbaugh line was because it's true. During the 1990's Limbaugh often pointed out that people using emotions rather than logic often bring about very bad irrational policy. I totally agree with your statement that I pasted, if your offended to have shared that with Limabaugh that's not my problem.

As you imply, its not easy to get people to see things from your perspective. Its much easier (and fits out nature), to attack there personhood/sincerity, then their defenses are revved up, and the two parties simply shout beyond each other.

The problem is profession pols, and spinsters (especiall guys like Rush), are adept at pushing people emotional buttons, as a means of supporting their own (political) tribes agendas. This destroys the ability to reason rationally, and from data rather than ideology.

As Darwinian would tell you, humans developed via natural (and social) selection in a quite different world than we live in today. It should not be a surprise, that our cognitive systems do not naturally deal well with the modern world. Humans, especially, philosophers and scientists (including psychologists) have developed methodologies to minimize our errors in judgement. But few people have the inclination to learn or practice them. And the media has learned that stoking our emotional sides is easier, and very profitable. As have organized pressure groups who put advancing their agendas above the quality of public thought.

As Darwinian would tell you, humans developed via natural (and social) selection in a quite different world than we live in today.

Very true, we live one year at a time, making plans to get through the winter and we will worry about the next year... next year.

Enemy, social selection, like sexual selection, is natural selection.

Ron P.

Fostering ties, Iran offers to fund pipeline in Pakistan

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has quietly offered to finance the Pakistani portion of a multinational gas pipeline project opposed by the United States, in a strong signal of Tehran's intent to build closer ties with its neighbor.

"The IP [Iran-Pakistan] gas pipeline is very close to our heart. President Ahmedinejad indicated Iran's intent to finance the project on the Pakistani side if Pakistan has difficulty with finding the money".

Though an exact cost is not known yet, the Iranian official said that "Iran was ready to start from financing $1.5 billion for the project and build it up further if needed."

On the last of leanan's links, "A Second Front in the Climate War" http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/opinion/a-second-front-in-the-climate-... :

I find this an interesting (potentially both promising and troubling) development.

To the extent that it becomes an effective way to rapidly draw down these minor but still significant contributors to GW, I'm all for it. Really, this probably should have been the first strategy of the movement to spot GW--go after the relatively minor players (primarily NOx and CH4) that can more easily be brought under control before going for the big boys. If everyone else had already done everything they could about the situation, the pressure would be greater on the remaining industries to do the right thing.

On the other hand, if this becomes an excuse to do nothing to bring down CO2 emissions, it could be counter-productive.

Someone compared climate scientists asking ff companies to voluntarily stop extracting sequestered carbon from the earth was like the school nerd going up to the school bully and telling him to stop being what he is. The nerd ends up with a wedgy (at best) and the bully keeps doing what he wants.

But if the nerd convinces everyone else in the playground to give up their bullying ways first, the last remaining bully may finally feel like such a social outcast that he may just change his ways, especially with the whole rest of the kids giving him threatening looks.

But really, it was probably always something of a hopeless dream to move the global economy off of ff.

After all, most of the major conflicts of the last century involved or revolved around access to ff, as Michael Klare and others have pointed out.

If countries have repeatedly been willing to go to war to protect their access to these super-concentrated sources of energy (and so of their power), how could we have expected countries and companies to voluntarily walk away from them, even for the good of humanity and of life on earth. Still worth trying, perhaps, but it's not very surprising that it has been an uphill climb, to say the least.

But really, it was probably always something of a hopeless dream to move the global economy off of ff.

The global economy IS moving off fossil fuels sooner or later whether it wants to or not and this is NOT a dream it is hard reality!

The hopeless dream is trying to keep it on fossil fuels or some substitute that allows it to keep growing as it has up till now...

Dream on!

Japan's megaquake disturbed creatures beneath the sea

When the earthquake struck the Pacific coast of Tohoku on 11 March 2011 it shifted the seafloor 7 metres vertically and 50 metres horizontally. Thirty six days after the quake, Shinsuke Kawagucci and colleagues at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology took water samples from depths of up to 5.7 kilometres at four spots along the Japanese trench, near the earthquake's epicentre.

They detected a large plume of cloudy sea water – some 500 km long, 400 km wide and 1.5 km tall – as measured from the lowest point of the trench. It was still there 98 days later, when Kawagucci returned to sample the water again.

The cloud was packed with methane at concentrations 20 times higher than before the quake. A particular carbon isotope found within the plume's methane matched isotopes uncovered deep within the ocean floor during a previous ocean-drilling expedition of the Japanese trench. "The methane came from the deep sub-seafloor," says Kawagucci.

Loooook! It's Godzilla!

History shows again and again
How Nature points up the folly of men

- Godzilla, Blue Oyster Cult

"Has the United States beaten peak oil? Not so fast"

Peak oil notions stem from how much is in the ground here, excluding how much is in the ground of nations we invade in order to bring them democracy, "accidentally stumbling into their oil fields in the process."

We now talk a lot about oil as if it had exclusively economic origins. The future of oil history has been written in script form for generations now, according to a 1944 book.

Mitsubishi Buys 40% Stake In Encana Shale Gas Assets

The shopping spree for shale gas assets continues.

On Friday, the Encana Corporation, a Canadian natural gas producer, announced a partnership with Mitsubishi. As part of the deal, the Japanese conglomerate will invest 2.9 billion Canadian dollars, or $2.9 billion, in exchange for a 40 percent stake in Encana’s Cutbank Ridge holdings in British Columbia, where the Canadian company owns about 409,000 net acres.

Selling their birthright??

well, there is a lot of gas in NE BC, and, thanks to lots of hydro power and not much industry here, we don't actually use much of the stuff, so what else to do with it?

This sale has happened because of the recent announcements to build three LNG export terminals in BC;


This terminal is being built at Kitimat - the same place as the proposed terminus for the oil pipeline. Unlike the pipeline though, the LNG projects have (relatively) broad support.

With Japan losing a bunch of nukes, they'll be on LNG for some time to come...

With Japan losing a bunch of nukes, they'll be on LNG for some time to come...

The Japanese LNG facilities certainly went through the last earthquake with flying colors, at least compared to the nuclear facilities. They stood up very well to earthquake damage, impressively so.

If Japan is going to permanently shut down its nuclear power plants, they need alternative energy sources, and at this point in time LNG appears very attractive. BC has lots of surplus NG that it doesn't particularly need, and is straight across the Pacific Ocean from Japan. Connect the dots.

Win-win, Japan and Canada...good on you!

Coal Turns Ugly as Tumbling Gas Cuts Demand to 20-Year Low: Energy Markets

Coal demand in the U.S. is collapsing as power companies switch away from the fossil fuel to take advantage of the cheapest natural gas in 10 years.

Use of coal to generate electricity will drop 2 percent this year to the lowest since 1992, while gas-fired consumption rises 5.6 percent, according to the Energy Department. Gas prices have tumbled to the weakest levels since February 2002 this year amid a boom in output and milder-than-normal weather.

Appalachian coal, the U.S. benchmark grade, sank 15 percent in January and is down 26 percent from a 2011 high

S - Apparently Illinois coal isn't ugly. Just got the update: they'll be breaking ground next month on that new coal-fired plant in Texas that I've mentioned before. And the irony again: they are building it literally on top of a NG field I'm currently developing. The main road into the plant will pass within 50' of one of my new wells. And I'm currently selling that NG for almost half of what it was when I started drilling...and that was cheap at the time.

Can't wait to see those tens of thouands of rail cars hauling those black chunks half way across the country. Must be some very pretty stuff.

Rock: Why aren't they building a gas fired power station right on top of the gas resource you're developing? Why not build the coal plant in Illinois and a gas plant in Texas? They're probably doing some sort of paper swap for the gas you produce for gas in Illinois to power the coal production in order to ship it down to Texas to fuel that power plant because that's how things work. Mutually assured dumb use of resources, MADUR.

S - MADUR: most excellent amigo!!!

Rock, I take it that the applicable local/regional private utility company gets to make decisions on building/decommissioning electricity-generating plants, transmission lines, and so forth, and Texas's utility firms are not run by the Federal government?

If so, then why did the utility pass up cheaper NG for more expensive coal? Is the capex for a coal-fired plant that much less expensive? I kind-of thought it was the other way 'round.

Did the utility have little confidence in the enduring available of this local NG vice coal?

Does the state of TX have a state utility regulatory body with any powers/influence in the matter?

IIRC, before you cited this coal-fired plant as being in lieu of a nuclear plant which was denied a permit or whatnot, which you favored over the coal plant. Now nuke plants I could see being controversial due to their perceived risks and the high capex....but I though NG plants were pretty well-received.

I have not heard this particular issue surface within the realm of Fox News, right-wing talk radio, John Boehner/Mitch McConnell/Eric Cantor, or from the lips of any presidential candidate. Perhaps I missed it, but this tells me that these folks are OK with the coal plant...how could they possibly deny a 'clean American coal' plant that Texas utilities and Texans obviously need and want? Surely none of these cats is going to ask the EPA for an appeal? :)

H – The White Stallion coal-fired e- plant is not a utility per se. it’s a privately owned company that will generate power and sell it to local utilities. Not my area but I think you’re correct: capex for a NG plant cheaper than coal. As I understand the financing of all such projects essentially require long term (15 to 20 years) supply contracts for the energy source. Which made for better economics with WS? I don’t know. But I do know the coal-fired plant will produce a lot of very toxic ash that must be dealt with

Some clarification: as far as nukes go the WS plant was planned with full knowledge that the S. Texas Nuclear plant (the largest single supplier of e- in Texas and only 15 miles from the WS plant) was scheduled for a 50% expansion. But the incident in Japan put that plan on hold. Even more curious that they had planned for WS knowing the extra e- as coming on line, eh? After the expansion was cancelled the WS hands couldn't keep from grinning ear to ear.

As far as all Texans being OK with the WS plant: hundreds of big yellow “Stop White Stallion” signs across Matagorda County. But it’s a privately owned enterprise being built on private land and has gotten approval from the county, the state and last, but not least, the federal govt. And ask the EPA for an appeal? The EPA has already signed off on the construction.

So why have all TPTB approved the construction of a coal-fired e- plant in Texas at the same time the feds are fighting with Texas about pollution from the state spreading to other states? Maybe it’s just the suspicious cynic in me but I suspect the $billions going to the owners of that Illinois coal may be a factor. I can promise you that everyone in the oil patch in Texas lobbied to fuel the plant with our NG. So much for the oil patch controlling Texas politicians. But maybe burning cleaner NG wouldn’t have gotten the plant final approval of the current “green” administration.

All I have is questions and suspicions. But no logical answers.

R - I have three basic guesses why coal and not Rockman gas.

1. The coal lobby wants a way to 'prove' the idea of clean coal. They have some quite strong lobbyists as well and it could have been more important for them that a coal plant is built using coal than for oil and gas companies to supply yet another gas fired power plant. Given the proximity to various abandoned and operating wells it may be possible for them to inject the waste stream underground. The current trend from what I have seen is for coal fired plants to be shut down or curtailed, I don't think export is a good option either for much of the coal so they'd be worried about the long term demand trends in the industry, more so than gas prices for you IMO.

2. The state government wants diversity, I.E. they don't want to completely rely on the current natural gas trends as they likely understand better than most about the boom/bust nature of oil and gas drilling. Also they may have done the numbers about future demand/supply and figured coal is a more stable choice even if it makes less sense in the short term, I.E. a rare example of forward thinking from the gubermint.

3. They already had pre-existing approval to build the plant from a while ago and it was a case of use it or lose it, I.E. they knew that they could either build it or never get permission again.

Edit: I have another couple as well: Mutually Assured Depletion of Exploitable Resources (MADER) and Mutually Assured Denial of Individual Responsibility or MADIR.

So that means we have: MADOR, MADER, MADIR and MADUR.

Mutually Assured Distribution Of Resources.
Mutually Assured Depletion of Exploitable Resources.
Mutually Assured Denial of Individual Responsibility.
Mutually Assured Dumb Use of Resources.

So whats MADAR?

S - All good points. My WAG is that the banking interests may have been a big factor also. I know projects like this (like LNG trains, etc) can't be financed unless there is a secured long term supply at known COST. Calculating the economic viability demands a reliable expectation of coal price more than having a lower price. This aspect is one of the most unreliable for the oil patch. Companies invested $billion in dry NG shale acreage several years ago with the expectation NG would be selling for a much higher price than today.

And then there's the chicken and egg effect. Perhaps Illinois coal companies needed capex to expand. But the banks wouldn't want to loan much to them unless they were sure of a buyer at a predictable price. For all I know the financing for the e- plant and any coal mining expansion may be coming from the same source. Heck, maye even the train company that will haul the coal is tied up I the deal: they'll need a lot more rolling stock to keep a steady supply coming.

As far as final fed permission to build the coal-fired plant, that came within the last year or so. Perhaps they were waiting a govt a bit less green than we had under President Bush. LOL.

Maybe their crystal ball says natural gas prices are going up and coal is going down?

Spot prices for Powder River Basin coal are also off sharply, although the PRB futures prices beyond a year suggest a "this too shall pass" attitude towards the NG glut. Western coal producers are also looking to export more of their low-sulfur low-mercury coal. The Denver Post ran a piece this morning about expanded production from Colorado mines, and environmentalists' opposition to further mine expansion. Much of the expanded production appears to be bound for Europe.

A more interesting question regarding eastern vs western coal is the new EPA rules about mercury emissions. Due to chemistry differences, the tech for removing mercury from the flue gases (as I understand it) is different for eastern and western coals. A utility that is adding such removal tech may have to make a long-term decision about the source of supply -- their mercury removal gear may limit them to eastern or western, but not allow them to switch between.

2 barges collide on Miss. River, spilling oil; Coast Guard says leak has been contained

An oil tanker barge collided with another barge Friday on the Mississippi, spilling oil and leading officials to close a five-mile stretch of the river, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The collision tore a 10-foot by 5-foot gash above the waterline of the double-hulled tanker barge and oil spewed into the river, the Coast Guard said

Uganda ready for oil riches amid corruptions fears

Uganda's government has signed long-delayed licenses that would make it Africa's newest oil-producing nation — defying court cases, legislators and growing concerns that the new riches will bring more corruption and pollution.

The deal with Anglo-Irish company Tullow Oil lacks transparency, contend critics who do not want to see Uganda go the way of other African countries like Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Angola, where a small elite became fabulously wealthy off petroleum while most citizens remained deeply impoverished

probably just a coincidence U.S. special forces arrive to hunt African rebel

On the edge of this quiet town of Obo in the isolated forests of central Africa sits one of America's newest military outposts, a base made of grass surrounded by razor wire.

The American deployment forms the core of a new plan constructed in Washington to end the cross-border marauding of Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony and his band of 200 or so fighters known as the Lord's Resistance Army.

Most of the U.S. troops are based near the Ugandan capital, Kampala. But this outpost in Obo – a town of 15,000 in the far-eastern obscurity of the Central African Republic – is the true heart of the effort.

Key political risks to watch in Uganda

Manufacturing Instability? Extractive Industries, the State and the Resource Curse in West Africa

The speaker, who has covered Africa for the Financial Times for six years, will discuss the relationships between foreign mining and oil companies, ruling elites, and middlemen involved in the extractive industries. Drawing on his time spent as the Financial Times West Africa Correspondent based in Lagos, he will argue that these actors, along with commodities consumers are complicit in a well-organised system that creates instability and violence and worsens economic conditions for the majority of west Africans.


So Big Oil wants to see the Keystone p/l killed, eh. I was going to say it may have taken a few months for the MSM to figure out the obvious but the article isn’t MSM…in fact never heard of them. They also have a strange view of recent history IMHO: “For the last three years, the mantra of the Obama Administration, the United Nations and the Agenda 21 sustainability crowd had been the coming of Peak Oil…”. So President Obama has been pushing PO for the last 3 years? I must have missed those speeches. And the writer clearly states that Keystone would ensure our energy independence. Another minority opinion IMHO.

Back to the point: as I’ve pointed out for some time not only Big Oil but much of Medium and Little Oil both lose if the Canadian oil reaches the Gulf Coast refiners. Today I’m getting about a $15/bbl premium over WTI thanks to the bottleneck. When I saw the article title I thought the public might be on the verge of learning the reality of the situation. Unfortunately given their other positions I doubt the MSM will fall in line with this source.


I don;t see how all you oil producers really lose with Keystone, it seems to me it is the mid continent refiners that will lose, as the over supply of Cdn+Bakken crude makes it's way to the Gulf coast.

As I understand it the La Sweet price pretty much tracks Brent, so will Keystone make that much difference?

If anything, I'd expect any and all small and mid producers who are getting WTI linked prices to do much better out of it?

Paul - As simple as this: I'm barging my GC Texas oil (not great oil at that: 42 grav condensate) to La. and getting almost $110/bbl. And if a huge volume of Canadian shows up down here do you think I'll keep getting that price? IMHO La Sweet doesn't track Brent as much as both sell for a similar premium. Or, if one prefers, aren't discounted as much as WTI. Or put another way: if hundreds of millions of bbls of Canadian crude were delivered to the EU during the next year, would Brent still be selling at a price close to La Sweet? Just my guess but I would say no.

As an aside, it still puzzles me that I don’t see more about the reality of Keystone: getting more oil faster over the northern leg isn't going to be much help if it's still choked a Cushing. The critical leg IMHO, at least initially, is the expansion of p/l's from Cushing to the Gulf Coast. The folks who oppose Keystone for fear of the pollution potential don't seem to understand that the oil they fear is being shipped through the area today. And through p/l's that have been sitting in the ground slowly deteriorating for decades. Has struck me as very odd since the beginning of the debate.

I'll concede that if the RCMP shows up down there, you'll get a slightly lower price - though still much better than WTI, right?

I'm not sure if your European analogy is accurate, remember, Keystone XL is intended to take heavy, sour bitumen, not light sweet oil, to the Gulf coast. European refineries can't use that stuff, so sending it there would find few willing buyers.

My view is that it will help all the mid continent producers (at the expense of the refiners), and on the Gulf coast, will back out even more Venezuelan heavy oil imports. After all, V heavy oil is cheaper than your La sweet, and always has been, right?

I don't want to put you out of business - I enjoy your posts here - though i suspect the NG prices are doing you more harm than the pipeline would?

I do agree with you in regard to a pipeline from Cushing to the coast, and don't understand why that isn't being done. Doesn't need State dept approval, doesn;t cross sensitive ecosystems (presumably). Should be an easy deal all round. The gulf coast refiners could get together and pay for it...

Paul - Good point about the EU refineries. But essentially oil sells for what the buyer dictates. I, like all crude sellers, have a limited number of direct buyers in my market area. The buyers post their price and I take it or leave my oil in the tanks, lose the cash flow and perhaps have to cut my production off for lack of storage. IOW there is no negotiating for most of us. If the Canadian oil makes it into my market then whoever accepts the lowest price gets to sell. The refiners don't care anymore about my profit than I care about theirs. I think some folks don't realize that oil producers and oil refiners are more adversarial than cooperative.

Yep: painful NG prices. But we drill for conventional NG reservoirs with high condensate yields. Just completed one for 3 million cuft/day and 500 bcpd. Losing some of my $110/bbl would only make the NG price situation all the more painful.

I also think it's odd that a pipeline to the Gulf overland is considered to be ecologically bad, when the alternative is a pipeline to the Canadian coast to a tanker bound for China. What would a tanker full of heavy crude do the cold pristine coastline compared to a pipeline leaking in Nebraska or such?

Killing the XL pipeline may well be one of the proverbial straws to break this camel's back.

I always seem to end up defending the Nebraska postion, where the bulk of the argument about the environment appears to be centered...

Yes, oil is carried by pipeline across the state today. But not across the globally unique wetlands ecology of the Nebraska Sand Hills. TransCanada has reached an agreement with the state government in Nebraska for an alternate route that stays well clear of the Sand Hills. The state has agreed to contribute up to $2M toward the environmental impact study of the new route. The environmental issues in Nebraska appear to have been settled to the satisfaction of the elected representatives there. The national politics of the situation now appear to be President Obama playing to the environmentalists elsewhere. That's an observation, not a criticism.

It is clear that Obama won't win any electoral votes in Nebraska, but environmentalists nationally may be important in winning some other state. Wouldn't be the first time a President has used that ploy: President Clinton unilaterally created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, giving Utah about 24 hours advance notice before doing so, and made the announcement in Arizona where he was clearly playing to Arizona and national environmentalists.

Last night on the O'Reilly Factor a discussion ensued about high gas prices, world oil demand and the keystone pipeline. Hugh Dobbs was interviewed and said that due to world demand for oil US gas prices were rising, even with lower domestic consumption and greater US production. O'Reilly asked what could be done to counter the Oil Cos. sending more oil out of US and Dobbs said "nothing" with the free market system we have. O'Reilly then commented that even with approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, the oil from Canada would likely be refined in the US then shipped overseas, having no benefit for US.

Strange admission of reality for Fox sponsored program.

I do not understand the "no benefit" comment. Doesn't the US have to export something to obtain funds for imports.

If US refiners pay for imported oil, then export the refined product the only benefit is the crack spread time barrels processed. If Refinery is foreign owned, then there is almost no benefit.

Taking tar sands oil from midwest to Gulf Coast refineries give lower price gas to southeast users and higher priced gas to Midwest users. the fact that Enbridge owns the pipeline means they get some profit but consumers overall pay more.

So O'Reilly doesn't think that taking a raw product, and upgrading it to higher value products, that can then be exported, is a benefit?

Why even the need to counter oil co's exporting - what's wrong with that?
Lots of other companies export every day, why should the oil co's not be allowed to do the same.

If he really wants something to crow about, he might look at why (subsidised) ethanol is being exported, though there is no law against that either..

Operable words: "...O'Reilly doesn't think..."

Only partial reality. The illusion that we are a net exporter was untouched. Its not, we are exporting more oil, but importing less. But, popping one myth at a time is definitely progress.

I saw that segment too. Others can watch it here. It's about halfway down at the "Lou's the Boss Segment," about 6 mins.

Some highlights of hypocrisy from Papa Bear O'Reilly:

O'Reilly demonstrating the extent of his understanding of supply and demand:

"I think you understand how angry voters are that they have to bear the brunt of these price rises, when it isn't supply and demand anymore because China is eating up the oil and we're paying for that"

O'Reilly demonstrating his commitment to small government on only the important things:

"I think the government has got to do something, step in and say you have to allot a certain amount..."

Eh, good for a laugh or a scare depending on the person, just like clowns.

I am completely floored by both of those quotes. Of course I shouldn't be. O'Reilly is the guy that didn't think the military was part of the federal government.

How can someone so incredibly stupid be so popular?

How can someone so incredibly stupid be so popular?

Maybe thats the attraction. I suspect these types (especially Glenn Beck), and cleverly stupid (i.e. they have a really good sense of what sort of stupidity sells to their audience, and hence makes them lots of money). That and the sneering attitude towards anyone even vaguely liberal. I think once you've figured out that particular demographic pandering to it isn't too hard.

e.g., Rush Limbaugh isn't a committed political activist, he's a former sports announcer.

These guys just know what to make up, and how to say it - they don't care about the issues.

Rush Limbaugh is essentially the leader of a large portion of the American public. They are led by someone who says whatever is going to zing them enough that they repeat it and tune-in again next-time. Being a "Ditto-Head" is to belong to a group: a group identifier. To deny the validity of the word is to wander away, alone. Someone pays Rush, and whispers into his ear.

Like Murdoch... making money is a driving goal. Rush loves the attention, too.

But, this is no way to steer a country.

Well I think the important point being here is that, in an era where new supply can't be easily brought to market, high prices are good for producers but bad for consumers, and low prices are bad for producers and good for consumers.

So this introduces a new fault line (as if we needed another one) that transcends politics.

If you are a Republican oligarch representing Wal-Mart, high oil prices are bad for you. If you are a Repulican oligarch representing Exxon-Mobil, high oil prices are good for you.

Good luck trying to pretend your interests are the same now!

Peak oil puts a nail in the coffin of the myth that we are all in this together, based upon the fragile notion of infinite progress. We are NOT all in this together. We haven't been for at least 30 years, and perhaps longer.

If Democrats are a motley crue of various interest groups that don't have much in common with each other, Republicans are a motley crue of businesses that all can't prosper at the same time anymore.

Ummm, let me see if I have this right. Importing oil from a neighbouring country makes you energy independent? Right!


On the lighter side ...

Person Who Will One Day Become Warlord-Ruler Of What Was Once Nebraska Born In Omaha Hospital

BELLEVUE, NE—Shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday, Landon Matthew Crowley, a 7-pound, 14-ounce baby boy and the future warlord who will rule over the charred remnants of what was once the state of Nebraska, was welcomed into the world at Omaha's Methodist Hospital, sources reported.

According to the proud parents, their baby was born with a thick head of dark hair and "sure is hungry for a tiny fellow." The small child also will live to witness civil society collapse into murderous chaos over access to scarce sources of uncontaminated food and water, and will emerge from the bloody mayhem a feared and pitiless warrior-god.

"I can't believe he's finally here, my beautiful baby boy," said the boy's elated mother who, in 12 years' time, will be ruthlessly gunned down before her son's eyes by Prism Syndicate mech-infantry fighting in the gruesome Mineral Wars that will leave the former United States utterly demolished. "I'm so happy."

Little Landon..."is said to have his mother's eyes"

Thanks! My cup runneth over.

Hang on; I think this is the same announcement as the Honolulu times announcing Barak Obama's birth back in the '60's.

Michigan Utilities Making Progress on Meeting State's Renewable Energy Standard

Highlights of the February 2012 report include the following:

By the end of 2012, Michigan's renewable energy standard will have resulted in the development of 1,041 megawatts of new renewable energy projects.

Compared to building a new, conventional coal facility, renewable energy contracts are significantly lower in price - with the exception of five small contracts negotiated early on.

The two most recent contracts approved by the MPSC for new wind capacity have levelized costs of $61 to $64 per megawatt-hour (MWh).
(This is as compared to an LCOE for a new coal plant at $133 per MWH) as outlined in this report on the implentation of PA-295.


Go Blue!

Do you happen to know Hal Newnan, in the MI Sierra Club?

Power Cuts Expected Due to Fuel Shortage

ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan – The Kurdistan Region is expected to face power cuts thanks to a shortage in the supply of fuel for local turbines.

The Ministry of Electricity said the turbines need 7 million liters of gasoline daily and the local refineries can only produce around 1.4 million liters of gasoline in a day

The Economic Research Committee of the Change Opposition Movement (Gorran), assigned with conducting research in the field of economic problems, released a report last week titled “The Issue of Electricity and Solution Roadmap” which highlights errors in production and distribution of electricity.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars are wasted every year by the Kurdistan Regional Government in the process of electricity production,” read the report.

People’s demand for electricity increases every year by around 13 to 15 percent,” read the report. “But according to international standards, increase in the consumption should be around 3 to 5 percent. This abnormal increase is mainly because the KRG does not provide sufficient heating fuel for the citizens, and they resort to using more electricity.”

ELM in action

What I find more interesting about this story is where the shortage is impacting their economy. Not "produce is rotting in the fields" or some other transportation problem, but a lack of electricity and heating fuel (I'm assuming that the local heating fuels that the government is providing are fuel oil and/or kerosene). Most of the developed countries decided back in the 1970s that oil was generally too valuable to burn to make electricity. In some ways, this is also similar to the story about the people in Maine, where the life-and-death issues from high oil prices are about heating fuel, not transportation. New England is going to have to learn the 1970s-electricity lesson about oil -- it's too valuable to burn to heat a house.

I continue to maintain that there are two largely independent energy problems: liquid fuels for transportation, and electricity. And that electricity is the more important when it comes to maintaining (or achieving) a "modern" level of technology.

Yesterday (Friday) the local daily papers in Jamaica both had as the headline story:

Deadline for energy

The Jamaica Public Service Company's (JPS) plan to invest US$616 million (J$53 billion) to construct a new liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Old Harbour, St Catherine, could be abandoned if the Government fails to guarantee a steady supply of the gas.

"Quite frankly, this project will not go forward unless we are certain that natural gas is coming to Jamaica, and I mean certain," Dan Theoc, chief financial officer of the JPS, told journalists yesterday.

The story itself is just a continuation of the debate about high electricity prices and what to do about it but, what caught my eye was the following line from one of the comments:

As with crude oil, there is also "Peak Coal" (google it). This means that both LNG and Coal prices will go through the roof!!

I never thought I would see the day this particular newspaper would allow a comment about peak anything, worse peak Coal since, they seem to have been pushing a agenda to have coal become a major source fuel for generating electricity in Jamaica. Wonders never cease!

Alan from the islands

Alan - Not my area by a long shot but I know what I've read from others. Essentially no one invests $billions in a LNG compression facility without having the NG source, transport vessels and buyers locked up by long term contracts. I understand long term means 15 to 20 years. If your govt decides to spend 100's of millions to build an import facility I would hope they know to tie up those LNG supplies long term. Otherwise they'll have to buy on the spot market at whatever price and volume offered.

Tiny shrimp leave giant carbon footprint: scientist

Measured by environmental impact, a humble shrimp cocktail could be the most costly part of a typical restaurant meal, scientists said Friday.

If the seafood is produced on a typical Asian fish farm, a 100-gram (3.5 ounce) serving "has an ecosystem carbon footprint of an astounding 198 kilograms (436 pounds) of CO2," biologist J. Boone Kauffman said.

A one-pound (454-gram) bag of frozen shrimp produces one ton of carbon dioxide, said Kauffman, who is based at Oregon State University and conducts research in Indonesia.

The problem, she said, is the value of intact mangroves is hard to measure, and most of the shrimp farms are in impoverished areas that cannot easily afford conservation.

And there, in my opinion, lies the rub! They will, probably, sooner than later, discover that the price of eschewing conservation is what they ultimately will not be able to afford, for that cost will far surpass the cost of conservation... C'est la vie!

Pass the cocktail sauce, please!

Here we circle our hydrocarbon candle, the flame is warm, entrancing. It burns lower and lower, but like moths we are powerless to resist its allure. Even though we are blinded by the light, some of us can see to the bottom and know the candle is ephemeral, but we remain aloft in its glow. When it's gone we will have wasted our present and future and our technological exoskeletons will crumble to dust to be reborn no more.

In China, India, across the globe, humans struggle to get closer to the candle and it's seemingly eternal flame. The circling lepidopterans are so thick that hardly a photon escapes the procession. The light is the empire of consumption and the corporate brand that has a magnetic hold upon us. The moth, Homo dopaminicus, spins mindlessly in its orbit, locked into a flight plan millions of years in the making, carrying us to a final tragic end.

Stanford scientist discusses the challenges and opportunities of carbon sequestration

"Two major challenges stand in the way of carbon sequestration reaching its full potential," said Sally Benson, professor (research) of energy resources engineering at Stanford University. "One is the high cost of capturing CO2. The other is an overall lack of confidence in the capacity, safety and permanence of sequestration in deep geological formations."

Presentation CO2 Sequestration: Recent Advances and Remaining Challenges

2 challenges?

I'd say addressing the 70% waste would be a concern.

Meanwhile - how many of the "Carbon Concerned" are building or using Anila type stoves to make bio-char for the soil?

The 70% waste is for offset trading, not carbon sequestration.

The main problem with CCS is that it's so easy to stop doing it when the political climate changes. Game, set, and match. Any CCS started in these relatively upbeat times will quickly be shut down for cost reasons once "green" is no longer a popular descriptor and we're in a worsening fiscal depression.

Under stress, perceived monkey fairness trumps all other considerations; so if anyone on earth ISN'T sequestering their carbon, that'll be reason enough for any locality to stop doing it.

In a previous drumbeat a year or so ago I illustrated this with a photo of a dog with a dog biscuit balanced on its nose. An inherently unstable configuration.

Climate change takes back seat to decision-making in water security: researcher

... "Scientists, decision-makers and the general public have different perceptions of Phoenix's water problems," said Patricia Gober, a geographer and Senior Sustainability Scientist at ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

"Scientists see a demand problem, decision-makers see a supply problem; and residents see someone else's problem," said Gober

While I'm glad DCDC exists and is focused on AZ's potential water futures, I don't think the idea that AZ decision makers simply see a supply problem is fair (despite general cluelessness outside a small group of experts). Most consumption is still ag. AZ has significant regulation of water demand growth and significant groundwater recharge projects are operating and being added. Palo Verde has used reclaimed water for cooling since built. AZ is in better shape for water supply than SoCal, NV, NM, or TX. Reading the state water plans for AZ and TX is an interesting juxtaposition. AZ's is both more realistic and more sophisticated in my judgment. TX actually shows increasing municipal per capita water usage in major municipalities, accompanied by rapid population growth in their plan. AZ has set realistic and easily obtainable goals for water sustainability and is working towards them. At the present time, I believe those goals will be adjusted as necessary and realistic when the water plan is regularly updated.

RE: Texas water issues

Several weeks ago I attended a presentation by Allysa Burgin, the Director of the Texas Drought Project. She seems to be quite knowledgeable about water issues throughout the state of Texas. For those TOD members interested in Texas water issues here is the link to her website:


Dry Midwest winter spurs worries about agriculture

Because of a drought that's affecting nearly all of Minnesota, state officials are telling farmers it's time to consider crop insurance.

If you already know you are going to have a bad crop isn't it too late to buy insurance???

It's too late to buy insurance cheaply. I seem to recall reading once about a case where a terminal cancer patient really, really, really wanted to buy a life insurance policy. At least one company offered to sell him one -- for an up-front premium 10% higher than the value of the policy :^)

Defkalion the Greek company doing "cold fusion" or, whatever you want to call it, says they will have seven independent test groups in over the next "few weeks". They also claim an end user cost of "far less than 1 euro cent per KWH(thermal)".

Upstate New York young girls with "hysterical" symptoms

I am told that the high school they attend has a natural gas fracking rig on the school property. I am told that adults in town also have "nerve damage". This, from a friend who says they saw it on FOX News. Anyone else see this on FOX or elsewhere?

Drill, Baby, Drill!? Nah... just keep rollin down hill >;^)

I'd like a little more technical detail on this one but it might actually work in some places.


Why drill for oil when you can roll downhill?
Hugh Gene Loebner, Ph.D.

I propose to demonstrate more efficient transportation system which uses roller bearings and gravity.

Edit: And he gets rid of the private automobile to boot! LOL! I love it!
Note to TOD editors: Please invite this guy for a guest post to see if his idea can stand up to serious scrutiny.

Fred, what he is describing has already been done - it's called a roller coaster.
There have been attempts to use that principle for a transport system;


He is correct in that roller bearings are very low friction - that is why every wheeled vehicle already has them.

But he has neglected the friction of the wheel on the surface, and of the air around the body.

We already very low friction wheels on very low friction surfaces - that would be the trains on rails.

Sure his system can work, as long as we are prepared to build it an live within its limitations.

I think I'd rather ride my bike (almost as frictionless) and not have the limitations.

Thanks Paul, I think I'll probably stick with my bike as well.

I dreamed up a similar scheme a couple decades ago. I think that, like a roller coaster, most consumers would find it stomach-churning. But it is mechanically simpler than regenerative braking, which achieves a similar purpose of capturing the kinetic energy lost by braking.

I have a distant memory of a similar system. Dig a series of tunnels with a parabolic track, down and then back up to the surface some distance apart. Use maglev and evacuate the tube, such that a vehicle released at one end would travel almost to the other end without any extra energy added. The vehicles would need to be pressurized and provide for an air supply, if they carried people, but not for freight operation. Or, perhaps more realistically, use air pressure differential to push the vehicle from one end toward the other lower pressure end of the tube...

E. Swanson

The London Tube does this a little: stations are higher.

There was a report linked on TOD a year or so ago (can;t find it now) where some engineers had done a study about energy saving options for bus rapid transit systems.

They found the most cost effective solution was not hybrid buses, but was to have the bus stops elevated by about one metre above the road between them. The gentle grade up and down served the same function as regenerative braking, but with no moving parts, batteries, etc. And, the more buses you ran per day, the greater the benefit for no increase in cost.

With an electrified system, you don;t really need that. BUt, the first parts of the London underground were powered by (cough) steam trains!

A devout Roman Catholic who has risen to the top of Republican polls in recent days, Santorum said the Obama administration had failed to prevent gas prices rising and was using "political science" in the debate about climate change.

Santorum either follows that pr*ck in Rome, or he works for his own country.

Seriously how can anyone vote for a devout Catholic - whether President of Pdunk dog-catcher? There is a very serious separation of church and state, for very good reasons relating to mythical infantile oogoo boogoo not influencing the political process - has Santorum not read the fine print?

How can there be a significant separation between church and state when the official state motto is "in god we trust".

What are you saying - that the separation of church and state is not essential?

What I am saying is, the motto contradicts the statement that the US state is separate from the church.

One nation, under God.

... Indivisible

with justice for

one man and one woman in one marriage

and then more justice for the same Newt man and his second woman in his second marriage

and then ...

in other words, with justice for ya "all"

At least sometimes reason and proper interpretation of the law prevail:


State Representative Peter G. Palumbo, a Democrat from Cranston, called Jessica “an evil little thing” on a popular talk radio show. Three separate florists refused to deliver her roses sent from a national atheist group.

Many folks in the U.S. apparently want a de-facto theocracy.

Other brave folks fight to keep religion out of the military, out of government policy, and keep it as a right for folks to practice privately, meaning up to the point where it doesn't infringe on other folks' rights.

Removing 'In God we trust' from U.S. currency would be a logical action, since having it there violates the part of the First Amendment which speaks about Congress making no laws that establish a religion....

'Under God' need to be removed from The Pledge of Allegiance as well.

I've been a supporter of http://www.au.org/ for some time. Most binary thinking religiose folks in the US don't understand that the separation thing is there to protect their beliefs, only that their religion is the "one, true religion". Nothing new there. And, of course, it's impossible for anyone to have a strong sense of morality without religion.

I have heard this fellow speak on radio talk shows...perhaps on the Thom Hartmann show?

He seems like a real straight-talking, clear-thinking, logical person.

I shall coordinate with my love to make a donation!

They are as quick to respond to State infringement upon religion as they respond to the opposite. They have attorneys in every state that will respond to folks needing assistance with church/state issues, especially individuals who are up against organizations.

They sent a letter to our high school principle when I objected to their drivers education teacher preaching to my daughter in the car. I guess he assumed he had a private, captive audience. I had previously objected, in person and in writing, and was told that "they couldn't prevent their teachers from prosthelytizing". I had my daughter record one such session and sent it to au.org. After the Principle and School Board received a letter from an AU attorney, I got a call that all such "alleged prosthelytizing" would cease. My daughter received an A in drivers ed, BTW ;-)

Now,,, about that giant cross on the high school gym wall, right next to the American flag....

And, of course, it's impossible for anyone to have a strong sense of morality without religion.

I think that was said with a great deal of sarcasm. Unfortunately that belief is the justification for most religious doctrine. It's an unshakeable belief as great as the belief in a creator or god/s. It's why athiests are feared or detested more than an opposing religion.

Of course there is absolutely no basis in fact that non belief, coincides with an absense of morals, none the less it's preached long and hard in all religious institutions. I guess it's designed to frighten the kids.

The history of the supposed "national" motto, "In God We Trust."

Remember, the Christianists have ALWAYS wanted this country to be a theocracy -- the "founders" considered and argued; the consensus was that it was a VERY BAD IDEA, and they firmly rejected it.

THEN, this happened.


Also, for those not old enough to remember how all that "holiness" came to be surrounding our flag,


Sarah Palin has referred to "our sacred Constitution."

There is a very serious separation of church and state, for very good reasons relating to mythical infantile oogoo boogoo not influencing the political process - has Santorum not read the fine print?

Just politics as ususal...


Santorum says Obama agenda not "based on Bible"

BTW did you mean President of Pdunk god-catcher? >;^)


Featured today:
A Creator God who made humans from grubs.

Godchecker link... Great! Thankyou.

So, it should be: "One nation, under (all the thousands of names), indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL."

A devout anybody has a better chance of being president in the US than an atheist does.

A Gallup poll last year showed that, while 9 per cent of Americans would not vote for a Jewish presidential candidate, 22 per cent wouldn’t support a Mormon and 32 per cent would not vote for a gay or lesbian candidate, 49 per cent would refuse to back an atheist for president.

That's just the way it is here. There are actually quite a few atheists in Congress, but they are in the closet. They have to pretend to be Christian to be elected. In America, atheists are seen as being as untrustworthy as rapists. Even by people who aren't all that religious.

Atheist translates to satanist, so it is easy to see why they are not trusted. Pure evil worse than Satan himself. Godless heathens don't lead you to the Promised Land. Call it Peak Heresy.

Anyhow, the founding fathers were deists, not theists.


A devout anybody has a better chance of being president in the US than an atheist does.

This is true but there once was a time when one could get away with it, or at least being a Deist. That was by saying you were a Unitarian.

Unitarian Presidents of the United States of America and Prime Ministers

Unitarians: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Howard Taft.

There are also two honorable mentions worth bringing up. Abraham Lincoln was influenced by the popular Unitarian preacher Theodore Parker and had positive interactions with the Universalists. And Barack Obama attended Unitarian-Universalist Sunday school as a child. Neither was/is a full-fledged Unitarian, Universalist, or Unitarian-Universalist, however.

I was a member of the Unitarian Universalists church back in the mid 60s. I joined because they were the only ones demonstrating for civil rights in the Huntsville Alabama area, and I wanted to be part of that action. They were almost all a bunch of atheists like myself.

A side note: That UU church once had the local Rabbi as a guest speaker. He said "I can no longer believe in the God of my forefathers." Of course he did believe in God but just not the "God of Abraham" of his forefathers. I believe he was a what one might call a Deist, of the Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson variety.

Ron P.

Try polling for devout Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Scientologists. There are people the religious right hates even more than atheists.

No, atheists are pretty much the most hated. Yes, even disliked more than Muslims, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Scientologists.


The Quinnipiac poll shows Muslims and atheists about even in the general public 'comfortability' polling. I don't see any poll numbers for JW's or Scientologists here.


Here are a few cases of the ACLU having to defend religion from discrimination as well. In my experience minority religious groups generally understand the need for separation, unless or until they find themselves in a dominant position. The non-religious are not an exception.

Try polling for devout Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Scientologists. There are people the religious right hates even more than atheists.

Personally I doubt that ... the thing that religious fruitcakes (of whatever fundi or evan persuasion) hate and fear the most is rational sensible people who have no need for a belief in a Deity. They would rather argue for eternity about angels on pinheads, or Sunni v Shia, or Catholic v Calathumpian - than confront the reality that atheists represent.

I am sure we are the most despised.

A lot of fundies find what they consider to be apostasy more disturbing than simple disbelief.

What I found most interesting in the Scientific American article was what they suspect as the driver of religiosity. Sure, some of it is probably genetic tendencies, but that doesn't explain why there's such a difference between the US and Europe, when we have similar genes.

Gervais and Norenzayan’s findings may shed light on an interesting puzzle: why acceptance towards atheism has grown rapidly in some countries but not others. In many Scandinavian countries, including Norway and Sweden, the number of people who report believing in God has reached an all-time low. This may have something to do with the way these countries have established governments that guarantee a high level of social security for all of their citizens. Aaron Kay and his colleagues ran a study in Canada which found that political insecurity may push us towards believing in God. They gave participants two versions of a fictitious news story: one describing Canada’s current political situation as stable, the other describing it as potentially unstable. After reading one of the two articles, people’s beliefs in God were measured. People who read the article describing the government as potentially unstable were more likely to agree that God, or some other type of nonhuman entity, is in control of the universe. A common belief in the divine may help people feel more secure. Yet when security is achieved by more secular means, it may remove some of the draw of faith.

The US may be a self-selecting gene pool.

After all, it all started with the Pilgrim Fathers...

It started with Jamestown, an entrepreneurial adventure involved with the slave trade.

I dunno, maybe the religious right. But the articles I linked were about people in general, including those who are not particularly religious.

Given all of this, you might think followers of other religions, such as Muslims and Jews, would be just as threatening. But that does not seem to be so. “People might not like the Buddhists and Mormons but at least they feel like they’re people who believe in a higher power and that confirms their beliefs,” says Johnson. “But somebody like an atheist, it just throws their beliefs into their face.”

And Muslims were included in the study I linked - the one that found atheists are as distrusted as rapists, and definitely less trusted than Muslims.

How the polls are done makes a big difference, phrasing and what's been in the news, etc. There's quite a bit of variation in the results. In the Quinnipiac survey of the general public linked above a slightly higher percentage reported being extremely uncomfortable with Muslims than with atheists. The numbers were fairly close across the various levels of comfort/discomfort. I'm having trouble finding studies with JW's, Moonies, Hare Krishnas, FLDS, or Scientologists. I have seen such studies in the past (I take an interest based on family background) and my recollection is that these groups tend to score lower than Muslims/atheists in public acceptance.

I wouldn't say he's following the pope. The pope said "don't invade Iraq", Santorum voted for it. The pope says AGW is real and a major problem, Santorun say's popycock. He cherry picks just the church positions that serve him.

As do most of the Politicians, regardless of which side of the aisle they sit on.

This may be over-simplifying, but Mr. Santorum is a politician. His job is to persuade Americans to vote for him in just a few months, and this map or something like it is what his handlers study every time they engineer a public statement for him to deliver in front of the media. His 'base' are red-state voters, and an increasing number of those are hispanic Catholics who have not enjoyed the full benefit of the American post-secondary education system. Especially important are the midwest swing-states, which as the map shows have increasing hispanic Catholic populations. He doesn't have to worry about further alienating those who won't vote for him anyway, so can make whatever anti-science statements are calculated to most appeal to his target constituency.

As a Canadian, i find it interesting to compare the ways politicians in our two Countries game their respective systems, the main difference being Canada's multi-party system. Mr. Harper recently won a 'majority' government by being so rabidly opposed to climate science and fair social programs that two thirds of voters could not decide whether they merely disliked him (liberals), or felt deep visceral hatred which could only be assuaged by ending market capitalism altogether ( new democrats). The Liberals helped by running an un-electable candidate, but it was largely the shock of the Conservative policies that drove voters away from the centrist party and split the vote.

On the bright side, once elected they all act alike anyway...

I doubt he'll do too well with Hispanic catholics, other than Rick perry, Republicans are largely of the kick them out and build an electric fence so they don't come back variety.
He strikes me as mostly the real deal, religious beliefwise. I don't know if that makes him more -or less dangerous. He says he is catholic, however he sounds more like a born-again-Puritan. Except for his choice of tribe, I think he would be perfectly at home in the Muslim Brotherhood.


Robots will steal your job, but that’s OK: how to survive the economic collapse and be happy
You are about to become obsolete. You think that you are special, unique, and that whatever it is that you are doing is impossible to replace. You are wrong.

An interesting topic.

If the welfare state is dismantled, and the robots do all of the work, how do you distribute the profits? Does all of the value go the the corporate owners? Then, how does anybody have the money to buy products? Or, are there just a few corporate owners, fleets of robots, some pretty toys, and wandering hordes of the otherwise unnecessary?

Iran stops oil sales to British, French companies


GOP sees chance to attack Obama on rising gas prices:


Newt Gingrich wrote on Twitter on Friday that “gasoline prices are unacceptable. We can do better!” He urged his supporters to sign a petition on his Web site calling for a return to $2.50-a-gallon gas. “Drill here. Drill now. Pay less,” the petition says.

Newt Skywalker apparently just received a promise of another $10M allocation from his rich benefactor Sheldon Adelson...IiRC, that guy's #1 agenda is protecting Israels or some such...so now are we going to hear the war drums amp up again from Newt and Rick and Mitt about threatening to bring Democracy to Iran? That'll get those gas priced down fer sure!

Why don't we bring in some real 50-pund head experts on the matter of foreign policy and gas prices such as Michell Bachmann and Sara Palin while we are at it?

The bottom line is that a distressingly large fraction of U.S. citizens do not want to hear about PO or any other LTG inconvenient truth, let alone AGW...they will want to invest their votes in the 'Drill, Baby, Drill' politicos and keep buying their F-150s to commute to work and run errands to the supermarket. War with Iran...sure! We have been at war since 1991 in the ME with surprisingly little dissent...time to invest in those firms importing the little yellow 'support the troops' magnets and little car-mounted American flags from China!

H - Just makes you dang proud of our citizens, eh? Over a year ago I offered the possibility of the Nov 2012 presidential election could be determined by the price of gasoline in Oct 2012. And now that's looks more likely than ever. Given all the critical issues facing the country it's such a sad commentary, eh?

Just one more brick in my doomer wall. Haven't used the line in a long time but Pogo's words still seem true: "We have met the enemy...and he is us."

Maybe if gas pumps had counters for carbon and national debt next to price and gallons, folks might connect a bit more to reality..... Nah, on second thought, someone would just put a Santorum sticker over them :-/

How about people seeing the problems in Greece like they are seeing our future in America?

Because we are not Greece. We have our own currency. Read Krugman.

Yeah! we're worse than Greece once the world no longer uses the dollar as the worlds Reserve currency! We don't have Germany to bail us out. Read Peter Schiff.

Yes, I agree.

With respect to White Stallion, I sincerely hope that the coal plant is implemented with the most modern and effective scrubbers and waste disposal practices.

You have said repeatedly that the State governing body (Environmental department? I don't know the right nomenclature) is //very//strict about enforcing disposal of fracturing fluids, even rainwater falling on a drilling pad.

Can we assume that the same body (or a a related Texas state department) is equally strict on Texas coal plant operators regarding emissions and coal ash disposal?

If not, time for the citizens to blanket the state lawmakers with snail mail letters (delivered as registered mail), emails, phone calls, office visits, letters to the editor, calls to talk radio shows, insert 'national interest' stories on CNN etc. It is a shame that Fox News likely would not be interested in carrying this story.

Also, I am sure that we New Mexicans would be glad to buy as much or more of your NG as possible. We almost lost the supply in Albuquerque last winter...in fact, Kirtland AFB was shut off for 8-12 hours, and their new base houses suffered expensive damage due to burst pipes (the fools ran the water pipes above the ceilings! They should have dug basements...but with the 7-8 million gallons of JP-4 spilled under the base, maybe that wouldn't work out so well.).

In addition to home and business/industry heating, if we ever pulled our head out of our rear rends we could implement vast amounts of solar PV and CNG electric generation...this would call for robust nighttime/cloudy day (310 days of clear sunshine a year here) backup, and NG would fit the bill. The same can be said to back up the wind generation in TX and OK and the entire Midwest up through the Dakotas, MN, WY, CO. The NG industry folks should be lobbying like gangbusters for this wind/solar backup/peaking market...but I guess that was the premise from T. Boone Pickens, eh?

H - I don't know who our watch dogs are for such matters are so I can't say how diligent they would be. I know the EPA watches the refineries pretty close down here but not sure if they'll be keeping an eye on the power plant. In addition to the potential negatives the locals might not like there is also a water issue. Though on the Colorado River the plant is too close to the Gulf and thus too salty for plant use. So the plant cut a deal with the Lower Colorado River Authority to build a reservoir up dip and pipe water down to the plant. With the recent dry spell down here you can imagine some locals aren't too pleased with that deal.

Speaking of rain: how quickly things change. In SE Texas we are way above average rain fall now...more than 20" in 4 months. The Houston reservoir is near max fill. In fact Jan/Feb were near record breakers. As others have pointed out, such wild swings may become the norm.

NG is such a tough beast to deal with re: long term plans. Drill a lot of SG wells and see prices collapse and lose money. Spend many $billions expanding the NG distribution system and see shortages years later. Pay big $'s to convert you home from e-/fuel oil and see high NG prices before you reach payout.

Loonie Newt wrote a book titled: “Drill here. Drill now. PAY LESS” (emphasis in the original) in 2008. Actually, it was co-written with Vince Haley. Who is Vince Haley? He was "on the executive team" at Newt's "think tank" American Solutions for Winning the Future and formally the research director for Newt while he was at the American Enterprise Institute, etc. So, old Newt has reverted back to using his previous incantation, now that the price of crude is above $100 a barrel. In his book, he apparently conflates "oil shale" with "shale oil", since he thinks the Green River formation represents a massive source of oil. He also doesn't want to talk about the fact that those Alberta tar sands are located in another country, whose people surely want to recover the highest price possible for their exports of oil (and NG)...

E. Swanson

Didn't Obama say, basically, go ahead and drill?
Aren't the number of rigs at a decades-long high?

Average yearly drilling rig counts
Image: http://www.window.state.tx.us/specialrpt/energy/nonrenewable/images/exhi...
Image: http://images.angelpub.com/2011/19/8510/eia-drilling-rig-count.png
... I'm sure TOD regulars have better.

The on-message meme is repeated, even when foundational information changes. The birther theme, for example.

"Newt Gingrich wrote...“Drill here. Drill now...”"
... I wouldn't mind if they drilled Newt for oil.

Iran Cuts Off Oil to Britain and France
Published: February 19, 2012 at 10:19 AM ET

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has halted oil shipments to Britain and France, the Oil Ministry said Sunday, in an apparent pre-emptive blow against the European Union after the bloc imposed sanctions on Iran's crucial fuel exports.


While this may not have great significance in the oil markets, in terms of supply and demand, it is symbolic of an attempt by Iran to strike back against increasingly restrictive sanctions.

Sanctions so far have not reduced Iranian exports much lately, they may soon start to be more effective, prodding Iran to strike back in other ways.

Sanctions so far have not reduced Iranian exports much lately, they may soon start to be more effective, prodding Iran to strike back in other ways.

1) Iran sanctions are to stop development of fission weapons
2) Iran is actually making a bomb or 2

If #2 is not a correct assumption, how can #1 be satisfied? A year from now announce "ok, we are now making a bomb that way we can cancel it to remove the sanctions"?

Interesting related article:

US officials believe Iran sanctions will fail, making military action likely

• Growing view that strike, by Israel or US, will happen
• 'Sweet spot' for Israeli action identified as September-October
• White House remains determined to give sanctions time


Won't work. Israel see's them as the onlty real threat (with or with N weapons). Its mainly about support for groups like Hezbolla, and Hamas. The threat isn't the physical destruction of Israel, but its demographic destruction, as many Israelis get tired of living in such an unfriendly neighborhood, and emigrate. Then the arabs in their mist can outbreed them, and their dream of a Jewish dominated greater Israel is toast. They convince the numerous pro Israeli groups within the US to go for sanctions which are (they hope) deep enough to destroy Iran as a credible threat. The previous target Iraq, seems to now be incapable of getting its act together and again becoming a threat.

That evolution could entrust the conscious mind with decision-making seems at odds with my own observations and others. We've often posited that humans act selfishly and then rationalize the behavior afterward, that we have no “choice” but to act selfishly and burn everything we can get our hands on (coal, oil, gas, wood) and turn it into a dopamine reward. This study and video seems to support this contention:


For instance, choosing the shortest walking distance between two points rarely involves conscious calculation. The subconscious makes the economic decision, we obey, and it gets rationalized afterward. After that inner devil “Id” makes many poor decisions, we often feel a few pangs of guilt, but that unconscious part of our minds evolved in the school of hard evolutionary knocks, and we are not completely constrained by the countervailing “Superego” which curbs our selfishness and enables our social existence. I'm not sure we will ever gain control of that subconscious desire to grow and consume, at least it doesn't look good at this point.

Saudi oil exports fall in December, which confirms the slowdown in oil exports reported by tanker tracker, 'Oil Movements':

Saudi Arabia Cut Oil Output, Exports in December, JODI Says
February 19, 2012, 9:36 AM EST

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest crude producer, reduced oil output and exports in December from November when it produced the most in more than 30 years, according to the Joint Organization Data Initiative.

The country reduced output by 237,000 barrels a day or 2.4 percent to 9.81 million barrels a day of crude compared with 10.047 million in November, statistics posted today on JODI’s website show. The kingdom’s exports were cut 7.36 million barrels a day from 7.8 million barrels, according to the figures, which include condensates and exclude natural-gas liquids.


OPEC Shipments Increase on Libyan Production, Oil Movements Says
By Grant Smith - Feb 16, 2012 11:30 AM ET

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will export 23.38 million barrels a day in the four weeks to March 3, up from the 23.21 million barrels in the period to Feb. 4, the Halifax, England-based researcher said today in an e-mailed report. The figures exclude Angola and Ecuador.


The article directly above fails to mention that Oil Movements has retroactively moved down its estimates of OPEC exports for December and January by about 300,000 bpd - which turns out to be almost exactly the drop in Saudi exports.

So in other words, whatever increase in oil exports we have seen from Libya is being offset by a drop from other OPEC countries - probably Iran. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia is not only not 'making up' for a long term term drop in Libya and Iran exports, but is also reducing its exports.

Reading the MSM, one would probably come to the opposite conclusion about the state of Saudi exports, and also, the overall level of OPEC exports. The figure reported by Oil Movements is now down almost 700,000 bpd from peak level of early February 2011.

Inauspicious signs of the Peak Oil times:

Gas Prices Are Highest Ever for This Time of Year

Prices are higher on the East and West Coasts, where gasoline has risen above $3.70 in Connecticut, New York, Washington D.C. and California

At $3.53 a gallon, prices are already up 25 cents since Jan. 1. And experts say they could reach a record $4.25 a gallon by late April.

"You're going to see a lot more staycations this year," says Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research, referring to people staying at home on their vacations. "When the price gets anywhere near $4, you really see people react."

High gas prices put a strain on many people's budgets.

Americans spent 8.4 percent of their household income on gasoline last year when gas averaged an all-time high of $3.51 a gallon. That's double the percentage a decade ago. They could pay even more this year, even though demand is the lowest in 11 years as people drive fewer miles in more efficient cars,

And, I would add that the recent fire and shutdown at BP's Cherry Point, Washington refinery is likely to cause a sharp price spike in fuel prices on the West Coast because the refinery supplies nearly 10 percent of the West Coast's gasoline and jet fuel.

"And, I would add that the recent fire and shutdown at BP's Cherry Point, Washington refinery is likely to cause a sharp price spike in fuel prices on the West Coast"

And gas was down to $3.36 last week too. It'll be straight up from here.

Even though Northeast US has seen retail gasoline prices rise rapidly since 2012 started, prices are even higher in California.

According to this article, gasoline prices may be high enough to draw extra imports from Asia. Even if so, these higher prices are detrimental to the incipient economic recovery in 2012, to say the least.

BP Washington refinery fire seen drawing cargoes, lifting prices

Feb 19 (Reuters) - A Friday fire that idled BP Plc's 225,000 barrel per day (bpd) Cherry Point, Washington, refinery was expected by market analysts on Sunday to lift gasoline prices on the U.S. West Coast in the coming weeks.

More tankers loaded with gasoline were also expected to move to the West Coast because of the idled BP plant, which is the third largest refinery in the region. Cargoes from Asian refineries are already said to be headed to the West Coast due to high fuel prices in California.


Fifteen Trillion Dollar Scam?


16 Feb 2012 : Column 1016

Lord James of Blackheath: My Lords,

...There are three possible conclusions which may come from it. First, there may have been a massive piece of money-laundering committed by a major Government who should know better. Effectively, it undermined the integrity of a British bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland, in doing so. The second possibility is that a major American department has an agency which has gone rogue on it because it has been wound up and has created a structure out of which it is seeking to get at least €50 billion as a pay-off. The third possibility is that this is an extraordinarily elaborate fraud, which has not been carried out, but which has been prepared to provide a threat to one Government or more if they do not make a pay-off. These three possibilities need an urgent review.

In April and May 2009, the situation started with the alleged transfer of $5 trillion to HSBC in the United Kingdom. Seven days later, another $5 trillion came to HSBC and three weeks later another $5 trillion. A total of $15 trillion is alleged to have been passed into the hands of HSBC for onward transit to the Royal Bank of Scotland. We need to look to where this came from and the history of this money. I have been trying to sort out the sequence by which this money has been created and where it has come from for a long time.

Youtube of speech in House of Lords at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eL5hqvTWkYg

This has not been reported on by the mainstream media. In 2010 he made the following claim (likely connected) which was reported.

Peer Claims 'Foundation X' Will Pay UK Debt

A shadowy organisation has apparently offered to lend the UK £75bn to clear the national debt and "help save the world", a peer has told Sky News.

Lord James of Blackheath said the group, which he refuses to name and refers to only as "Foundation X", is willing to hand over the cash without strings attached.

And the Conservative peer is accusing the Government of squandering the chance to rescue the UK economy and save hundreds of thousands of jobs.

He says they have dismissed him as an ageing maverick.

Lord James, who denies he is the victim of an elaborate hoax, first revealed the details to stunned peers in the House of Lords on Monday night.

"The British Government can have the entire independent management and control of it - Foundation X does not want anything to do with it," he told them.

"There will be no interest charged and... it will be prepared to put up money for funding hospitals, schools, the building of Crossrail immediately with £17bn transfer by Christmas if requested."

Followed by: In order to faciltate the transfer, please open up an account prefunded to the tune of 100M pounds with the national bank of Nigeria (or some such).

However Lord James is not an idiot and has had MI6 connections in the past.


During his time at Eagle Trust he triggered the Iraqi supergun affair. Whilst visiting Eagle-owned Walter Somers factory in Halesowen in 1990, he noticed the muzzle of what appeared to be a large gun. He informed MI6, giving them one of their first leads.

The strange case of Lord James and 'Foundation X'

Now, you might think this is all barmy. After all, mystery foundations with vast quantities of gold bullion-backed securities to invest in the British economy don't come along every day. It's tempting to think that James has been the victim of a particularly convincing Nigerian email scam.

But if it is madness, it is madness that has reached the highest levels of government.

After all, not only have members of Foundation X met with the leader of the House of Lords, the Treasury minister, Lord Sassoon, confirmed that he has been in "detailed discussions" on this subject with James, adding that the government "take seriously anyone who wants to invest in our economy".

The complete blanking of the latest speech in the media is notable - not even the "Barmy Lord makes more wild claims" style of story.


p.s. I have a bridge for sale, but you have to contact me in the next 15 minutes or it will be gone!

IDF to deploy Iron Dome in Central Israel

The IDF is planning to deploy an Iron Dome battery in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area for the first time as part of a drill simulating a missile attack, Ynet learned Sunday.

...Residents of Central Israel will be able to get a closer look at the Iron Dome battery which has been found to be effective in intercepting rockets fired at southern communities. The aim is to calibrate the system in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area after previous deployments in Haifa and southern cities. The battery will be stationed in Central Israel for several days subject to permits currently being acquired by the Air Force.

Iron Dome Coming to Gush Dan for Communications Test

The Air Force will place components of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system in the Gush Dan area, surrounding Tel Aviv, in the next few days. A battery will be put in place without missiles to check the communications system between the battery and batteries set up in the south. Other units which were set up in the south have been transported to areas between Haifa and Rechovot, among other places.

Israel has been methodically working on a mulch-layered air defense system for quite some time, with a fair measure of U.S. interaction.

Their 'Arrow' ABM strikes me as impressive:



Congress and successive Administrations have shown strong support for joint U.S.-Israeli missile defense projects. U.S.-Israeli missile defense cooperation has perennially been authorized and appropriated in the defense authorization and appropriations bills. Missile defense cooperation is generally not considered a form of direct aid, but many U.S. and Israeli observers consider it a vital component of the Israel’s strategic relationship with the United States. Israel and the United States each financially contribute to several projects and share technology from co-developed weapons systems. The U.S. and Israeli militaries also participate together in joint biannual antiaircraft
exercises (code named Juniper-Cobra). According to sources, Juniper-Cobra exercises included U.S. naval ships and ground personnel operating the Aegis, THAAD and Patriot missile shields in coordination with Israel’s Arrow II interceptor.


This testing comes on the heels of the massive Juniper Cobra joint war games exercise conducted by the U.S. and Israel in late October and November of 2009. That exercise was meant to test and improve the connectivity and interoperability of U.S. and Israeli armed forces in the event of a missile attack. Although it was said to have been in the works for some time, the political and strategic timing of the exercise considering Iran's recent saber-rattling couldn't have been better. The sea-based U.S. Aegis system that is now tasked with protecting Eastern Europe was used in that exercise, along with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), and the forward-based X-band radar that was deployed in Israel in 2008.

Between Iron Dome, David's Sling (another joint project of the U.S. and Israel tasked with the interception of cruise missiles), the Arrow-2 system that has been deployed for some time, and a longer-range Arrow-3 system, Israel is quickly becoming one of a few world-leaders in missile defense technology and deployment

The upcoming war/attack on Irans facilities is going to make the Iraq 'shock and awe' look like a house party fireworks display... The purpose will be "to force rejime change' -the revolutionary gaurd will simply not have any infrastructure left to use...

Your tax dollars at work.

Jeff Masters of the WeatherUnderground has this to add:

Heartland Institute documents reveal strategy of attacks against climate science

He points to several books on the problem...

E. Swanson

Trading open for the week. Current prices

Brent $121.03
WTI $105.34
Tapis $129.84


I use the above website for oil price and it shows slightly lower than yours, with WTI at 104.06 & Brent at 119.67. Maybe oilprice.net has an obsolete price. Can you provide a link?

I currently see for WTI

https://www.theice.com/homepage.jhtml $105.41
http://www.oil-price.net/ $105.30

Difference probably due to quote delay time.

Some sites are still showing March front month instead of the now current April.

Yahoo and oil-price.net don't track all real time overnight trading. The values shown at the ICE exchange are ten minutes delayed real-time direct from ICE and NYMEX.

The US "President's day" has messed up Yahoo's chart as displayed on TOD. The chart as currently displayed is garbage.

Steve Levine at O&G posted correspondence he received from a Bakken Oil Executive (with permission). It's a pretty frank outline of the realities of the Bakken. Nothing many of the geologists and industry folks here at TOD haven't pointed out in the past, but this is from the horses mouth (though anonymous).

While [conventional] oil fields may decline at a 5 percent to 8 percent rate, oil wells in the Bakken decline at an extremely high rate their first four years or so. The decline rate during the first 12 months can be more than 90 percent, tapering off each year, to flatten out by year seven or eight at an annual decline rate of 8 percent, by which time the well will have already produced about 60 percent of its recoverable reserves.

There are sweet spots, and there are areas that are not so good. You can produce oil just about anywhere you drill, but -- and it is a big ‘but' -- in many areas you might not recover enough oil (even with West Texas Intermediate oil at $100-plus a barrel) to pay for the well. These areas may become profitable when oil hits $150 to $200 in real terms someday.

The Bakken formation basically has very poor porosity. Multistage fracking (say 36 to 40 separate frack jobs spread over 10,000 of horizontal wellbore) cracks up this poor rock and allows a lot of the oil to escape very quickly. After that initial blast, the rock nearest the wellbore gets really fracked up, and the further away from the wellbore you go, the less fracked it is. The rate of production drops as the really close-up oil is given up very quickly and the well begins to produce more oil from the center and edges of the fracked area.

By keeping up a steady drilling pace, the oil production from the field will rise rapidly at first because the production from the new wells will exceed the loss of production for the old wells. This is what has been happening in the Bakken. However, if the rate of drilling stays constant for a long time, the growth rate of field production will decrease, then plateau, then begin to drop, slowly at first, then accelerate to a higher rate, and then later settle at about an 8 percent annual rate.

And if prices drop significantly during the time when you would normally expect to see a high drilling rate (or if drilling costs get too high), you could see a sudden decrease in the rate of drilling, and a field like the Bakken will go from high growth to high decline really quickly. A drop of oil prices to $70 per barrel (of West Texas Intermediate) could create an extreme drop in drilling and field production really quickly.

Resource plays don't work if oil or gas prices are low. A huge part of the risk is evidenced by the Barnett Shale. It worked great at $6 to $15 per thousand cubic feet, but it loses money like crazy at $2.50 per thousand cubic feet. The problem is that you really get clobbered when you drill the wells when gas or oil is high priced, and then the price drops and you have to sell your oil or gas at low prices. Billions and billions of dollars have been lost in the Barnett because of this. If oil drops to $70 (WTI), a lot of people will lose money in the Bakken.

I've noticed growing per-well production, per ND stats.

Any idea why?

Nick - Just my guess but I suspect it has to do with longer horizontal legs and more frac stages per well. Drilling one 10,000' lateral would generally be cheaper than two 5,000' wells. Such a well could produce as much as the two short wells. A more meaningful stat would be the production per foot of lateral hole. And maybe with the number of frac stages factored in. It still might show some improvement over time...or not. Hz drilling and frac tech haven't changed significantly in recent times. The increase may be due to nothing more than more feet of hz hole producing per well.

Also, another guess: as the trend becomes better understood the sweet spots are more apparent and thus get drilled more than poorer areas of the trend.


Suggested reading: "The Master Resource Report"(pdf)

From the report there is a link to an interview that's worth watching.

A video of Mark Lewis, Managing Director of Commodities Research with Deutsche Bank AG discussing his new report concerning the impact of domestic oil subsidies on global net exports.

I think it was westexas (Jeffrey Brown) who linked to "The Master's Report" last week. Thanks for the link Jeffrey. Jim Hansen's report is a nice concise read that's a good complement to TOD, Energy Bulletin, etc.

BTW, westexas, Jeffrey Brown, gets a mention in the first paragraph.

18 million new cars in China in 2011 is the scariest part of the report.

My understanding is that they have substantially higher MPG than US vehicles, and drive a much smaller annual VMT.

January 2012 Temperature Anomalies

A good visual showing one reason why there is a glut of NG in North America.

Above chart from NOAA

Coal, not oilsands, true climate change bad guy: study

One of the world's top climate scientists has calculated that emissions from Alberta's oilsands are unlikely to make a big difference to global warming and that the real threat to the planet comes from burning coal.

"I was surprised by the results of our analysis," said Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate modeller, who has been a lead author on two reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "I thought it was larger than it was."

They found that if all the hydrocarbons in the oilsands were mined and consumed, the carbon dioxide released would raise global temperatures by about 0.36°C. That's about half the total amount of warming over the last century.

When only commercially viable oilsands deposits are considered, the temperature increase is only 0.03°C.

In contrast, the paper concludes that burning all the globe's vast coal deposits would create a 15°C increase in temperature. Burning all the abundant natural gas would warm the planet by more than three degrees.

I think the real message to that study is that there is a lot of coal in the world.

There is, in fact, an awful lot of coal in the world, far more than people realize.

When we were drilling oil wells, we used to find much more coal than oil. Not that we cared about it.

I just read candidate Santorum's critique of Obama: "Obama favors the earth above man".

I JUST LOVE IT. You just have to enjoy this. There is no more pleasurable thing than reading the words of a total idiot! And then imagining all the fools who nod in agreement with him. I just love it. I can't help myself. I wish I could be more generous to my fellow man, but that's impossible, here at least. I love to hear fools babbling!

To satisfy Mr. Santorum, let's give him a ticket (one-way) to outer space, where he can live unencumbered by the earth, which is just a bauble, a rock, a little speck in the cosmos, compared to noble man.

And let's let him bring all his followers with him. If they don't think the earth is important they can go. They can get together in a vast black cold emptiness a gazillion miles from earth and talk about how important they all are. Good-bye!

Our undeclared king, Norquist, says all the president has to have is enough fingers to sign his name: "...pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become President of the United States."

A good explanation for the circus.