Drumbeat: May 4, 2012

Brazil Sending More Troops to Guard Amazon Borders

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil is deploying more than 8,500 troops to the far reaches of the Amazon rain forest this month in an operation aimed at cracking down on drug smuggling, gold mining and illegal deforestation, officials said.

The troop mobilization sends a clear message ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which is scheduled to take place here in June, that Brazil is taking steps to assert greater control over its porous frontiers in the Amazon. Soldiers are being sent to border areas near Venezuela, Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana.

“The Amazon is Brazil’s No. 1 priority from a strategic viewpoint, given its importance to humanity as a source of water, biodiversity and food production,” Gen. Eduardo Dias da Costa Villas Boas, chief of the Amazon Military Command, said in a telephone interview.

Oil falls to three-month lows under $115

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil fell to three-month lows of under $115 per barrel on Friday ahead of a U.S. payrolls report and was set for its steepest weekly fall since December due to concerns over the health of the global economy and easing fears over supply disruption.

The jobs data will help investors gauge the outlook for demand growth in the world's biggest oil consumer amid renewed worries its recovery may be faltering. Businesses outside the farm sector are expected to have added 170,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey.

OPEC says supply ample, speculation driving price

PARIS (Reuters) - Oil supply will be more than sufficient to meet demand this year and beyond, OPEC's Secretary General said on Thursday, but added the price of fuel is being driven higher by speculation.

"There has been no shortage of oil in the market. Producers have been able to meet consumer needs," Abdullah al-Badri told an energy conference. "We also see this as being the case for the rest of 2012 and the foreseeable future."

British spot gas firms on supply shortages

LONDON (Reuters) - British gas prices firmed on Friday as the pipe linking Britain and Belgium flipped to import mode to cover domestic supply shortages, and planned maintenance in Norway next week raised the likelihood of further cutbacks.

North Sea gas output turned lower compared with Thursday's average and imports from the Netherlands also fell, somewhat counter-balanced by another rise in Norwegian deliveries.

Russian govt approves gradual rise in gas taxes

(Reuters) - Russian government approved an increase in mineral extraction tax (MET) for Gazprom to 582 roubles ($19.82) per 1,000 cubic metres of gas starting from Jan. 1, 2013, a Finance Ministry official said on Wednesday.

India proposes setting up sovereign fund to buy coal assets abroad -min

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's coal ministry has proposed setting up a sovereign wealth fund to buy coal assets abroad, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said on Friday.

Coal accounts for more than half of India's power generation and will be required for 85 percent of the 76,000 megawatts additional capacity targeted in the next five years.

India’s Quest for Coal Stalls as Red Tape Kills Mining Takeovers

India’s quest for natural resources to power its growing economy and compete with China has met the enemy: Its own red tape.

Thwarted by lengthy bureaucratic delays for approvals, Indian state companies have lost out on or walked away from at least seven purchases of overseas coal and mining assets in the last two years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. They have completed just a single overseas deal between them in that time.

India's Reliance hit with US$1.25b fine

MUMBAI: India's government has asked energy giant Reliance Industries to pay a US$1.25 billion penalty for a fall in gas production from its main oil fields, a company executive said on Friday.

The government and investors have been concerned for months over Reliance's declining gas output from its main D6 fields in the Krishna-Godavari basin off the coast of eastern India.

Exclusive - Shell, PetroChina JV Australia LNG faces big cost overrun - source

(Reuters) - The cost of Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) and PetroChina's 0857.K Australian joint venture LNG may rise as much as 50 percent from initial estimates, which could force the companies to delay development, a source close to the project said on Friday.

Russia's Gazprom mulls gas pipeline, LNG supply boost to Japan

Moscow (Platts) - Russia's Gazprom Thursday said it is considering the construction of a gas pipeline to Japan as well as higher LNG supplies to its Asian neighbor.

Representatives of Gazprom and the Japanese parliament discussed gas cooperation at a meeting held Thursday, a Gazprom statement said.

Turkmens plan trans-Afghan gas sale deal in May

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) - Senior officials in Turkmenistan say the energy-rich Central Asian nation plans to sign a natural gas sales agreement with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India this month.

The deal would mark a decisive move toward construction of a pipeline crossing the four nations that backers hope will meet energy demands across the region.

First floating LNG terminal to start delivering gas

Indonesia’s first floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) is expected to commence gas delivery to state electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara’s (PLN) Muara Karang power plant on May 15.

Revolution in Yemen: 'We are not finished yet

SANAA, Yemen – Salman Abdul Salam has lived on University Square in Sanaa for more than a year in protest. He hasn't had a job since graduating from college two years ago. His clothes are worn, and he says he's too poor to marry his girlfriend.

But the departure of longtime dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh has him feeling determined.

"We are not finished yet," said Salam, 25. "This revolution will continue until Saleh is tried and Yemen is passed over to civilian hands."

Iran dismisses Western demand to close nuclear bunker

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran said on Friday it will never suspend its uranium enrichment programme and sees no reason to close the Fordow underground site, making clear Tehran's red lines in nuclear talks with world powers later this month.

Last month a senior U.S. official said the United States and its allies would demand that Iran halt higher-grade enrichment and immediately close the Fordow facility at talks over Tehran's nuclear standoff with the West.

India to cut back on Iran oil purchases: report

India's two biggest importers of crude oil from Iran will cut shipments from the Islamic republic by at least 15 percent this financial year due to US pressure, a report has said.

Washington has been seeking to shut down Iran's oil trade to put pressure on the Persian Gulf nation to abandon its disputed nuclear programme.

Zhuhai Zhenrong Books May Fuel-Oil Shipment From Iran

Zhuhai Zhenrong Co., the Chinese company censured by the U.S. in January for trading with Iran, provisionally hired an oil tanker to carry fuel oil from the Persian Gulf nation, shipping data showed.

Iran Embargo Impossible to Meet as Ships Need Its Oil

Europe’s oil embargo on Iran is having unforeseen consequences in the shipping market, making it almost impossible to determine if vessels are using fuel that violates the sanctions.

Supplies from Iran are a “vital blending component” to make ship fuel, known as bunkers, according to Barclays Capital. The nation accounted for about 8 percent of bunkers exported last year to Asia, the largest market, and about a third of the supply at Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East’s biggest refueling port, Barclays estimates.

Pirates free gasoline tanker off West Africa

LONDON (Reuters) - West African pirates have freed a gasoline tanker that was hijacked at the end of April and contact was reestablished with the crew early this morning, the ship's owner told Reuters on Friday.

The vessel is believed to have been hijacked for its cargo of gasoline, worth millions of dollars.

"We believe that was the purpose. Some of the cargo has been stolen," said Nick Fell, a spokesman for BW Maritime.

Kurt Cobb: The Oil Industry's Deceitful Promise of American Energy Independence

Faced with increasing political obstacles to oil and natural gas exploration in many countries around the world, the oil industry is focusing again on the United States. The industry is using the deceitful promise of energy independence to cajole Americans and their policymakers into relaxing environmental regulations and opening protected public lands and restricted offshore areas to drilling.

Oil Supply and 'Peak Oil' Price Drivers

Peak Oil can be defined at least four ways, but one way is simple: Peak Oil is when supplies and stocks are tight enough, relative to demand, to make price slides short and price hikes long. This will continue until and unless the economy tilts into recession through market forces, or by policy decision in response to either external or internal shocks.

Charlie Hales' Bookshelf Gloomier Than He Lets On

"I'm not a doomer, but I do think the issue of Peak Oil is real," Hales went on. "You need good ideas from smart people. Kunstler is controversial and sometimes bombastic, but he has some good ideas. He's not right on everything. But he's got some good ideas."

Enbridge asks court to overturn N.B. gas regulations

Enbridge Gas New Brunswick is asking the courts to overturn new regulations under the provincial Gas Distribution Act.

Otherwise, the company could lose more than $9.7 million a year and be forced to cuts its staff in half and reduce services in the province, it claims in documents file with the Court of Queen’s Bench.

Will you heat your home from methane hydrates? Maybe.

WASHINGTON - Will the world be tapping methane hydrates deep in the permafrost and off the edges of continents decades from now? Part of the answer will rest with research in Alaska.

A day after the Department of Energy announced the results of a test at Prudhoe Bay that resulted in a steady flow of natural gas, researchers stressed that this was among many tests to come. The test was the first use of carbon dioxide to extract natural gas. It also was the longest test of methane hydrate extraction: 30 days.

TransCanada Applies for U.S. Permit on Portion of Keystone XL

TransCanada Corp. has applied for a U.S. presidential permit for a portion of its Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian border to Steele City, Nebraska.

Chesapeake Alone Forecasts Gas Rally for Recovery

Chesapeake Energy Corp. Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon is banking his turnaround of the industry’s biggest debtor on a rebound in natural-gas prices that no Wall Street analysts tracked by Bloomberg expect will happen.

A day after directors said they’ll strip him of the chairman’s role as they investigate potential conflicts of interest in his personal finances, McClendon laid out a plan to shrink a $12.6 billion debt pile, cut costs and remake the second-biggest U.S. gas producer into an oil company. At the core of his plan is a rebound in gas by 2014 to $5 per thousand cubic feet, more than double today’s level.

Fracked: Why Chesapeake Energy’s Aubrey McClendon is in Hot Water

In two decades, Chesapeake — which describes itself as “America’s Champion of Natural Gas” — has grown from a handful of employees into the nation’s second largest natural gas producer (after Exxon Mobil), with 10,000 workers drilling vast tracts of land, and over $11 billion in revenue last year. But the company has been buffeted lately due to the dramatic decline in natural gas prices thanks to the discovery of huge fields of shale gas, which have flooded the market with supply. Natural gas prices have dropped 50% in the last year, recently hitting their lowest point since 2001, though they’ve edged up lately. Chesapeake Energy shares have fallen by 36% over the past year. In February, the company said that its revenues would fall over $2 billion short of expenses this year.

But while other producers have started to curtail production to ease the glut of gas on the market, Chesapeake increased production 18% in the first quarter even as the price as plummeted, according to The Wall Street Journal. That’s consistent with a massive bet that McClendon has engineered for Chesapeake that natural gas prices will go up, as Christopher Helman described in a Forbes profile of the CEO from last October.

Inside Chesapeake, CEO ran private hedge fund

As chairman and CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp, Aubrey McClendon has been a powerhouse in the vast U.S. natural gas market, directing the company's multibillion dollar energy-trading operation and setting output targets for America's second-largest producer.

Behind the scenes, a Reuters investigation has found, McClendon also ran a lucrative business on the side: a $200 million hedge fund that traded in the same commodities Chesapeake produces.

Gulf spill: Ex-BP engineer indicted on obstruction charges

NEW ORLEANS – A former BP drilling engineer was indicted Wednesday on charges he deleted text messages that indicated the company's blown-out Gulf of Mexico well was spewing far more crude than BP was telling the public.

Wastewater Becomes Issue in Debate on Gas Drilling

Vexed by declining revenue, officials of the Niagara Falls water utility seized on a new moneymaking idea last year: treat toxic waste from natural-gas drilling at its sewage-treatment plant once hydrofracking gets under way in New York State.

Accepting the waste would both offset the drop in revenue and help keep water rates down for customers in the economically strapped region, they reasoned.

But the thought of having fracking fluids trucked into the city, treated and discharged into the Niagara River frightened local residents, many of whom still recall the Love Canal environmental crisis of the 1970s. In a unanimous vote, the Niagara Falls City Council blocked the plan this spring by banning the treatment, transport, storage and disposal of drilling fluids within city limits.

Wastewater Jitters in New York

New York already deals with waste from about 6,800 active vertical and horizontal gas wells upstate. Although these wells require just a fraction of the water that would be needed for fracking in the Marcellus, they still produce waste that needs to go somewhere.

Officials with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation say that in 2010, New York’s gas wells produced more than 23 million gallons of waste, 17 million of which stayed in New York. Most of it went to sewage treatment plants or was used for de-icing roads.

Romania gov't: moratorium on shale gas exploration

Romania's new left-leaning government has pledged a moratorium on shale gas exploration and will review a controversial Canadian plan to build Europe's largest open-cast gold mine.

Shale Gas Hydraulic Fracking: Poisoned Water. Inducing Earthquakes

Fracking techniques have been around since the end of World War II. Why then suddenly is the world going gaga over shale gas hydraulic fracking? One answer is that the record high oil and gas prices of the recent few years have made inefficient processes such as extracting oil from Canada’s tar sands or the costly fracking profitable. The second reason is the advance of various horizontal underground drilling techniques that allow companies like Schlumberger to enter a large shale rock formation and inject substances to “free” the trapped gas.

But the real reason for the recent explosion of fracking in the country where it has most been applied, the United States, is the passage of legislation in 2005 by the US Congress that exempts the oil industry’s hydraulic fracking activity from regulatory supervision by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The oil and gas industry is the only industry in America that is allowed by EPA to inject known hazardous materials -- unchecked -- directly into or adjacent to underground drinking water supplies.6

Majority of Canadians support increased oil production: poll

According to an Ipsos Reid survey, two-thirds of Canadians believe the country can increase its oil and gas production without seriously harming the environment.

The poll, conducted on behalf of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and released Thursday, also shows that Canadians living in different regions are split on Canada’s rise as a major energy producer.

BP Wins Delay of Gulf Oil Spill Trial

A trial to assign blame and damages that could total tens of billions of dollars for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been put off until January, in a setback for the U.S. government, which wanted to try its case this summer.

How The Valdez Oil Spill Shaped ExxonMobil

Steve Inskeep talks to Steve Coll about his new book, Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. In it, Coll delves into the business model of one of the country's largest and most profitable corporations. He explores how the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 shaped the culture at the company for years to come.

Japan’s Leaders Fret as Nuclear Shutdown Nears

OSAKA, Japan — Barring an unexpected turnaround, Japan on Saturday will become a nuclear-free nation for the first time in more than four decades, at least temporarily.

Japan’s leaders have made increasingly desperate attempts in recent months to avoid just such a scenario, trying to restart plants shut for routine maintenance and kept that way while they tried to convince a skittish public that the reactors were safe in the wake of last year’s nuclear catastrophe. But the government has run up against a crippling public distrust that recently found a powerful voice in local leaders who are orchestrating a rare challenge to Tokyo’s centralized power.

As Japan swings away from nuclear power, higher oil dependency erases greenhouse-gas gains

TOKYO — The Fukushima crisis is eroding years of Japanese efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming, as power plants running on oil and natural gas fill the electricity gap left by now-shuttered nuclear reactors.

Court Urged to Order Decision on Nuclear Waste Site

WASHINGTON — Two states with large amounts of military and civilian nuclear waste told a federal court panel on Wednesday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was flouting the law by declining to decide whether the Nevada desert is a suitable burial spot — even if the Obama administration says the storage plan is dead.

Is Yucca Mountain Still Dead?

Yucca Mountain was chosen by Congress as the repository site in 1987. Its chief backers were senators from other states that were also under consideration as waste sites, including Texas and Washington. Nevada, lacking allies, could not stop it.

The initial choice had a thin veneer of science to it – Yucca was one of several sites under consideration mostly because it was remote and the government already owned it. Further scientific and engineering work, though, exposed substantial problems with the site.

When Flying 720 Miles Takes 12 Hours

The major airlines have been paring service for much of the last decade. But their cutbacks accelerated three years ago as carriers merged, fuel prices spiked and the recession reduced demand for seats. Even after the economy started to recover and passengers came back, the big airlines did not restore many of their flights, particularly on routes to small airports, as they sought to bolster their profits.

The strategy has squeezed the regional airlines, whose purpose is to ferry passengers on behalf of the major airlines and provide the backbone of air service to the nation’s small airports. Three regional carriers have filed for bankruptcy protection since 2010, including Pinnacle Airlines in April.

So while airports in large metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago and Atlanta have emerged relatively unscathed from these changes, the smaller cities have borne the brunt.

Air France-KLM posts $483 million loss for Q1

PARIS — Air France-KLM posted a net loss of €368 million ($483 million) in the first quarter of the year, saying Friday that high fuel costs and a continued drop in cargo cut into its profits.

U.S. buyers turn away from high-mileage cars

With fuel prices now showing signs of hitting their peak are U.S. car buyers shifting focus from the high-mileage models that were quickly gaining ground earlier this year?

That’s one possible conclusion based on data collected by the University of Michigan showing that the fuel economy of the average new vehicle purchased in the U.S. last month dipped slightly from March, when fuel prices seemed to be rising that just about every other day.

Ferrari, Rolls Royce among exotic cars selling fast in China

Following years of torrid growth, the Chinese auto market suffered a rare, but very slight, downturn earlier this year. But, according to analysts at J.D. Power and Associates, that swoon did not affect the luxury car market, where sales plowed ahead.

Around the World on Solar Power

On Friday, if all goes well, a sleek spaceship-like catamaran will glide into Hercule Harbor in Monaco after a remarkable 19-month journey around the globe.

Since it set sail from Monaco in September 2010, the Turanor PlanetSolar, the world’s largest solar-powered boat has crossed the Atlantic and the Pacific, passed through the Panama and Suez canals and stopped in Miami; Cancún, Mexico; Brisbane, Australia; Singapore; Abu Dhabi and many places in between.

First Solar racks up huge losses

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- First Solar, a maker of photovoltaic panels that announced a massive restructuring last month, reported a quarterly loss of $5.20 on Thursday.

Uncertainty still clouds future of EU biodiesel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Senior European Union officials failed on Wednesday to agree on how to measure the full climate impact of biofuels, prolonging uncertainty in a debate that threatens to wipe out large parts of Europe's biodiesel industry.

The talks followed warnings from scientists that using biodiesel made from European rapeseed and imported palm oil and soybeans does nothing to prevent climate change and could actually accelerate it.

Corn Ethanol: Growing Food, Feed, Fiber ... and Fuel?

Most analysts agree that we are rapidly approaching “peak oil,” the point when the volume of global oil production begins to decline. In response, Farm Bill programs have promoted a shift to liquid “biofuels” and “biomass” energy derived from farms. The Renewable Fuels Standard of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, for instance, boosted the country’s ethanol production by mandating that up to 36 billion gallons be blended into gasoline by 2022. But taxpayers have been investing in this industry for decades via corn subsidies, import tariffs, tax credits for every gallon of ethanol blended with gasoline, loan guarantees, construction cost-shares, and gas pump upgrades. For politicians and lobbyists, ethanol became a sacred cow, untouchable, because of the belief that these public investments would 1) support farmers, 2) reduce dependence on foreign oil (currently about 60 percent of U.S. oil consumption), 3) cut greenhouse gas emissions, and 4) strengthen national defense.

Commercial food waste to be banned

Officials said the proposed rules, designed to save space in landfills and reduce emissions of gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, will make Massachusetts the first state with such a comprehensive prohibition on commercial food waste.

Their immediate goal is to divert a third of the nearly 1.4 million tons of organic waste produced every year in Massachusetts from landfills by the end of the decade. Instead, it would go to composting sites and a new generation of specially designed plants that convert waste into energy, heat, and fertilizer.

Infographic: What's Wrong with Our Food System?

Around the world every night, one in seven people go to bed hungry—that's almost one billion people. People are hungry not because there isn't enough food produced but because our food system is broken. In fact, 80% of the world's hungry are directly involved in food production.

Third-deadliest U.S. food outbreak was preventable, experts say

The auditor was James DiIorio, and he gave Jensen Farms a 96% score, and a "superior" grade. On the front page of his audit at the farm, DiIorio wrote a note saying "no anti-microbial solution" was being used to clean the melons.

Dr. Trevor Suslow, one of the nation's top experts on growing and harvesting melons safely, was shocked to see that on the audit at Jensen Farms.

"Having antimicrobials in any wash water, particular the primary or the very first step, is absolutely essential, and therefore as soon as one hears that that's not present, that's an instant red flag," Suslow said. The removal of an antimicrobial would be cause for an auditor or inspector to shut down an entire operation, he said.

"What I would expect from an auditor," Suslow said, "is that they would walk into the facility, look at the wash and dry lines, know that they weren't using an antimicrobial, and just say: 'The audit's done. You have to stop your operation. We can't continue.'"

A Former Chicago Meatpacking Plant Becomes a Self-Sustaining Vertical Farm

Had Willy Wonka had been fascinated by industrial ecology instead of cocoa beans, his factory may have looked something like The Plant, Chicago’s first entirely self-sustaining "vertical farm."

The Plant occupies a former meatpacking plant and slaughterhouse in the Union Stock Yards, transforming a huge brick building that once specialized in bringing red meat to the masses into a green space all about urban farming without waste. The interior looks like something straight out of a scientific-environmental fantasy.

Rolls-Royce Joins Jupiter in U.K. Green Jobs Trade Plan in U.S.

Britain’s Energy Minister Greg Barker is leading a delegation of companies ranging from Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc to Jupiter Asset Management Ltd. to the U.S. to identify business opportunities relating to low-carbon energy.

Bangkok swelters, sparks debate on city planning in Asia

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Five months after the worst floods in half a century, the Thai capital is facing a heat wave with temperatures at three-decade highs, stoking debate over chaotic urban planning that blights many of Southeast Asia's overcrowded capitals.

The daily average high in Bangkok in April was 40.1 Celsius (104.2 Fahrenheit), the Meteorological Department says, prompting warnings from authorities for residents to be alert for heat-related ailments.

Critics say the heat has been exacerbated by poor urban planning in the fast-growing city of 12 million people - from a thinning of trees by city workers, often to accommodate electrical power lines, to heat-trapping building designs and a small number of parks.

U.S. Corporations Sponsor Carbon Scam in Europe

BRUSSELS (IPS) - Major publicly traded U.S. corporations, including Dow Chemical, ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Cabot Corporation, have secured multi-million-dollar dubious carbon credits to compensate for their greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, as revealed in this investigative report.Dow scored the largest purchase volumes. The Michigan-headquartered giant owns dozens of CO2-venting plants producing plastics and chemicals in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Poland. Altogether, those plants ranked 21st among the top 100 European buyers of certified emissions reduction certificates (CERs) that originated from questionable projects.

Report Points to Decline in Ability to Monitor the Earth

Earth-observing systems operated by the United States have entered a steep decline, imperiling the nation’s monitoring of weather, natural disasters and climate change, a report from the National Research Council warned Wednesday. Long-running and new missions are frequently delayed, lost or canceled because of budget cuts, launching failures, disorganization and changes in mission design and scope, the report said.

What Kenya and Peru Can Teach the United States About Fighting Climate Change

The plans that these countries are putting into place aren’t perfect, of course, and they’ll require work and oversight to become reality. But unlike the U.S. Congress, the governments of these countries are making progress, and overcoming similar obstacles to the ones America faces. Countries like Mexico and South Korea produce huge amounts of greenhouse gas, just like the United States, and it’s difficult for business to see a different way. In South Korea, industries that will have to change their ways under a cap-and-trade system fought against the proposal, just as they did here.

Sea-level rises 'may not be as high as worst-case scenarios have predicted'

Sea-level rises are unlikely to be as high as worst-case scenarios have forecasted, suggests new research which shows that Greenland's glaciers are slipping into the sea more slowly than was previously thought. But the scientists warned that ice loss still sped up by 30% and is driving rises in sea levels that endanger low-lying coasts around the world.

European climate change to hit Scandinavia and south hardest

Global warming in Europe this century will mostly affect Scandinavia and the Mediterranean basin, the European Environment Agency warned on Thursday.

"The highest warming is projected over the eastern Scandinavia, and southern and south-eastern Europe," experts at the agency said in comment accompanying a series of maps posted on the agency's website.

Peak oil move over - now solve CO2: Gerard Wynn

The world may have found a sticking plaster, at least, to peak oil with rising production of offshore crude, onshore tight oil, shale gas and tar sands, but increased output of such fossil fuels conflicts with the goal of limiting climate change.

Renewable energy grew faster in percent consumption than any other energy source in 2010, but only from a lower base: in absolute terms, growth was dwarfed ten-fold each by coal and natural gas, and five-fold by oil, show data from the energy firm BP.

From link above: U.S. buyers turn away from high-mileage cars

American's appear to be increadibly short-sighted when it comes to purchasing vehicles. Just a whiff of lower gas prices is enough to get them flocking back to gas guzzlers. Don't they realize that unaffordable gas prices are the way of the future? It appears not.

Maybe it means those buying cars now are wealthy enough that gas prices aren't an issue.

The today's jobs report was not good.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Hiring slowed in April and workers dropped out of the labor force in droves -- not a good sign for the job market going forward.

The economy added just 115,000 jobs in the month, the Labor Department reported Friday, down from March when employers created 154,000 jobs.

The prediction was for 170,000 new jobs.

I suspect that one major reason higher mileage vehicle sales spike during these increases in gas prices is the media hype surrounding the initial increase. As soon as the media loses interest, which has happened over the past month, people just go back to buying whatever. And for people buying cars now, $3.80 gas really isn't that expensive in the scheme of things.

Leanan is correct, I think.

The car industry is very difficult to pin down, but the most profitable companies either

a) sell to the top 5% and adjust accordingly


b) sell their union-busing crap to the rest of us at high volume

Every now and then a good, inexpensive model comes along, but it will soon be engineered into crap since the margins almost require mass-market autos to be crap.

The prediction was for 170,000 new jobs.

You would think that after hundreds (maybe thousands) of overly optimistic predictions of increased hiring by the "official" economists that the media would get the idea that they are clueless.

But then the media are part of the same Ministry of Propaganda.

A lot of the formerly employed are now self-employed.
For Craftsmen Craigslist is a Slender Lifeline
With so many blue-collar men hungry and under-employed, there is a premium attached to being versatile, able to take on a variety of different jobs.
A man with tools, experience and a pick-up can bid on a lot more jobs than a man with tools, experience and a Prius.

But the man with the Prius can under bid the man with the pickup on some jobs.

And the fellow with this Pickup could bid on towing the other guy's pickup, AND finishing the handy-jobs he started.


Not really. The guy in the Prius has to pay delivery costs while the truck owner can just eat a slight increase in fuel costs incurred picking up materials on the way to a job.

Been there, done that. For an hourly worker it's a commute cost, for an operator it's another tool.

That's assuming a certain type of job, requiring a certain level of materials. I do odd jobs out of my Prius. Can carry ten foot 2x4's or 10' pipe for plumbing job inside the Prius with windows and hatch closed. And have done. Could carry longer stuff with window and/or hatch open. Can also carry a few bags of mortar mix or soil or whatever for masonry or garden jobs. And get there on less gas than the guy in the PU. Sure, he can do bigger jobs, but there's really only a small window of size where the PU lets him carry everything before a big delivery truck would be needed anyway. And there are lots of smallish jobs out there that DON'T require a PU to git 'er done...

addendum - when we bought our Hearthstone Heritage woodstove a few years back, crated as it was, I picked it up in the Prius. Stoveshop staff was kind of surprised when I pulled up out back, but it fit... More room in them than one thinks.

I actually admire your approach to tasking your Prius in unconventional ways, still I think you understate the utility of the pick-up.
For example, don't your jobs ever require demo work first? Nasty old insulation and sheetrock in the back of your car? OK. Not saying it can't be done, but...
Then there is the size of the tools that a lot of general handymen use these days, the obligatory compressor with 30 feet of air hose, a cut-off saw or table saw, again not saying it can't be hauled in a Prius, but how many trips?
Also, many mid-size jobs become available if you have the capacity to tow. A small trailer, a cement mixer, a chipper, a skid-steer loader, small tractor or mini-excavator, the list goes on and on...

Light stuff, how about a roof rack. Good for ladders and timber. Light weight trailer for compressors, mixers and 8x4s.


Whats's the weight carrying capacity of a Prius? Repeatedly exceeding a vehicle's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is one of the quickest ways to ruin it. The saying "right tool for the job" certainly comes to mind in this thread. If some guy I hired shows up in a Prius full of 2x4s I would start worrying from the get go. What's next,,, a Ginsu knife for a framing saw?

Still, I think 'Prius' was really being used as a shorthand for the idea that there will be ways of looking ahead and being ready to be resilient, even if you're not using the 'Right' tools from today's common perception.

If I were able to make the jump towards an EV, it would very likely be to convert a Pickup or a Minivan, exactly so that it would be a flexible local work vehicle.. but considering the ways I've used my Subaru, I'm a good contender for the type who is less concerned with having the right tools, since so many of the solutions I work towards really haven't even had tools made for them yet, so I've Always had to improvise.

Regarding 'improvise, you know your preaching to the choir. As for hauling loads, a trailer comes to mind. I often use mine to avoid overloading my pickup. A trim carpenter I know pulls his 'shop' behind a Corolla; it's a small box trailer with a lumber rack on top. Things get really bad he could convert it to a donkey cart ;-) [...and a Ginsu knife actually makes a pretty good camp saw.]

We've certainly done some some amazing things with our 'Roo', though I'm always conscious of weight; brakes and drive axels get expensive.

Ghung - I am right with you on the 'right tool'. The point I am making is that a) the Prius has a greater capacity than most think. Another example is when step-daughter went to camp out in your neck near Brevard. We took her friend as well. Two adults, two teens, all their gear for two weeks of camp - duffles, backpacks, & other bags, and enough stuff for the two of us to spend the weekend camping whilst out there. And b) that there are plenty of situations where a p/u winds up carrying much less than its capacity - half a dozen 2x4s, a cabinet, some trim - for some small job that is easily handled from a vehicle with better mpg. Then there are jobs where you need the p/u. There's a range, is all I'm saying.

A Prius does hold a surprising amount of cargo. That's one reason I was kind of tempted to get one, even though the extra cost wasn't justified given the small amount of driving I do.

And there's a guy who posts here sometimes, from Chicago. He uses bikes to do everything. He renovated his bathroom, using a bicycle with a trailer to haul sheetrock, pipes, etc. from Home Depot. He has a bunch of different bikes for different situations. He has some electric assist bikes, but says he doesn't need it to haul lumber and such, as long as the grade he's traveling is not too steep.


Go to this article on the same topic of unemployment and look at the chart on the left side, which shows Jan. of this year was the high water mark for hiring, then it starts to descend.

QE's according to this article:


Stopped in close to June of 2011. I wondered if after they stopped and there was no more stimulus, how long before the economy started to dip because of high oil prices. Well, Jan. of 2012 may be our answer as the high water mark for hiring and for the economy.

If so, then if oil prices remain relatively high (compared to time periods when lower prices helped initiate growth) then will Helicopter Ben (so nick-named for his whirling printing presses of money) go back to doing QE's? Obviously Obama will not get Congress to agree to more stimulus, so what other choice is there?

And if the trend of lower numbers of people being hired takes place, does that insure Romney gets the nod in November? That is, even though it most likely does not matter who is in the White House, the economy cannot muster high growth with high oil prices.

Most of us are in uncharted waters.

Except for the elderly, the vast majority of people in the developed world, not to mention many in the developing world, have grown up in a time of limitless expansion of fossil fuels, and the economic growth and comfort they provide. This, combined with the powerful effect of media and it's cultural transmission through tv, movies, magazines, etc., provides a narrative that is too entrenched to be overcome at this point by events now unfolding.

It is, in fact, the normal state of affairs on this planet for human life to be brutal, tribal, and short. The post WW2 20th century is a deviation from routine. No utopia is possible on this sphere orbiting the sun.

We lie at the end of the global capitalist industrial project itself, but this end is not the "end of history" but the return to history. And, as history comes back, the living will be swept aside by events.

If we're lucky, we will return relatively bloodless to a sort of libertarianism first envisioned at the dawn of the enlightenment and memorably codified in the American constitution. Such a political philosophy is beyond the capability of current politicians of either the right or left to conceive of. The "growth" mindlessly hawked by the right will never materalize, nor the high incomes and benefits promised by the left.

Without endless expansion of the industrial economy and the rapid burning of the earth's natural endowment, most of the 7 billion people currently above ground will be economically worthless in roles other than chattel.

I'm not proud of this realization, but I have to speak the truth as I see it.

I'm not sure how stealing their liberty gives people greater economic worth. Greater economic value to the thief, no doubt, but greater economic value in some absolute way, no. Free farmers can weed a field as well as slaves. Perhaps you've seen otherwise.

But as I'm sure you would agree there are many, many non-economic values to freedom that far outweigh any possible economic value to depriving it (which, as I've said, I'm not convinced of).

Well think of it as you're "free to become a slave."

I mean, there just isn't going to be the social safety net, the massive corporations or bureaucracies. There's not going to be a "paycheck" or a food stamp.

It's quite literally shack up with somebody who owns property and clean their toilets, or take your chances out there and possibly starve.

Now, like I said we might avoid this fate, but I doubt it. It's just too late at this point, we went too far. The age of the yeoman farmer or independent merchant died in the early 20th century.

The world can be a big place and lots of arrangements are quite likely to co-exist. But the idea that under duress most societies will slide into new arrangements of slaveholding is not too convincing. If crushing circumstances come to pass, land reform and other forms of redistribution will happen in one way or another. The pressure for this would be irresistible.

In many ways the consolidation of ownership of agricultural land that is becoming the norm in many parts of the world would make land reform much easier. Individual landowners who actively work the land are increasingly becoming a novelty in wealthier nations especially. Just as bank towers could be repurposed to house car-free suburbanites, 20,000 acre farms would be repopulated, most likely with legal backing.

I think a large amount of angry people, both young and old, who have suddenly seen their dreams and promises pulled away, will have to say something about that first.

Riots. I guess it would be quite dangerous if happened to a country like US, there is a lot firearms available.

Leanan makes a point that should be highlighted a little more. There is a real grwoing seperation between the upper middle class and the rest. For doctors, lawyers, corporate suits, etc. things are still very good- $5 gas doesn't make these people blink. I watch people drive and they are still speeding, doing jack rabbit stops, etc. Many have simply dropped buying other things as much to stay with a big car. Some are borrowing more. But the poor are desperate- they are often doubling up in housing, not driving much at all. American car sales really need to be broken out more in news stories by income level etc. I don't know if this data is available but America is slowly morphing into drivers and the new non-drivers.

Regarding Japan’s Leaders Fret as Nuclear Shutdown Nears, (above) the quote: "Japan on Saturday will become a nuclear-free nation for the first time in more than four decades" is remarkable in that Japan will be lugging around it's nuclear ball and chain for decades, centuries perhaps, even if their reactors never produce another KwH. Decommisioning costs, waste disposal and ongoing contamination at Fukushima will be with them for generations. The Faustian bargain of nuclear power isn't as easily dissolved as flipping a switch. There will be no "nuclear free" for the currently living or their get in the foreseeable future.

About 12 thousand tons/year, and nowhere to put it...

Perhaps the Japanese should keep these reactors operating until their current fuel is expended, and use every penny of profit to help pay for cleaning up this mess.

I think they will restart most of the reactors in due time as Fukushima fears fade. It is difficult to justify idling so many expensive plants. Perhaps they will not build new plants though and move toward other generations systems such as geothermal, wind, etc.

With this story and a thread from yesterday about the situation in Japan as summer approaches, it got me wondering what exactly is it that is going to account for increased demand in Japan during the summer. It cant be lighting since the days are longer in the summer and AFAIK the nights are not any darker. I doubt it's industry since modern industry doesn't take a break for winter and winters aren't that severe in japan anyway. So the culprit must be air conditioning. Which begs the question as to why on earth none of the Japanese industrial giants have developed a solar powered air conditioner. It seems obvious to me that solar power and air conditioning are a good fit since the power is most needed when it's most available, on long, hot, sunny days.

Now before anybody gets on about how expensive a solution that would be, let me give an example of why I think it could still make sense. I've been given four Oil Palm seedlings by a merchant who has 10 acres of Oil Palm about 20 miles outside of the city I live in. I had been asking about the existence of any Oil Palm plants on the island and been given his number so, I made contact with him at the shoe store he operates a few minutes away from where I live and we get into talking about energy etc. I mention to him that I have found a solar powered air conditioner and he gets very interested. Turns out his electricity bill is about US$3,000 a month!

The lions hare of that is for air conditioning the store which opens at 10:00am and closes at 6:00pm, since his lighting is all fluorescent tubes. and he has no lights on at night. If you assign two thirds of his electricity cost to air conditioning, his air conditioning is costing him US$24,000 per annum. The systems I found were about $7,000 a piece so, for the price of fourteen months of electricity for his air conditioners, he could replace all four of them!

Question is why I haven't moved ahead with this project if the numbers look so good. The unit I found is from an unknown manufacturer. I saw the same unit on two web sites and the outfit in Virginia that responded to my inquiries said they were out of stock. All references to the unit have since disappeared from their web site. Not very reassuring! If any of the big manufacturers of split systems came out with a solar powered system, they would not be able to fulfill demand from all the hot sunny countries that have very expensive electricity. Even Saudi Arabia might get interested as a way to increasing the amount of oil they have to export.

Alan from the islands

Looking at the website where the specs for the unit are given, I notice that they expect the user to have a battery system as well as solar panels. That would add to the up front cost of the system, which may make things too expensive in the US market. I suspect that they call for batteries in order to provide cooling on days with clouds but high humidity. If the user has grid power, it is likely to be less expensive to use a grid tied solar inverter, then tap into grid power for a conventional high efficiency split system. That works only so long as the grid has the surplus capacity to power the unit on cloudy days...

E. Swanson

The batteries also act as a capacitor at startup and a stabilizer to limit voltage fluctuations. Most compressors won't last long if they start and stop every time a cloud covers the sun. DC compressors on PV powered freezers are variable speed (and small). After there is a power interuption most AC compressors take quite a surge on startup and have timers to delay restart until the refrigerant loop bleeds off pressure. Power variability isn't a friend of air conditioning compressors. Small compressors (ie: automotive) handle fluctuations better and have clutches.

Ghung. I always like your comments. You sound like a guy with your feet on the ground.

I am sure you will agree that the best AC is insulation, as I harp a bit on below. I have a pretty well insulated house in a normal american muggy summer climate. People who visit during the mug days always assume I have AC. I don't and never have. I use the water in a cold cistern right close to my house as a dehumidifier, and I blow out the house if and when the night temps get low enough.

Since my hobby and profession is thermal machines, I naturally have spent time thinking about solar AC. I always come up with the obvious-solar AC OK as far as it goes, but by far the best first step is insulation, then all the rest of the heat and cool is easy.

Thanks, wimbi. Most of this stuff is common sense, and adaptation. I insulated the crap out of our house and drew some criticism, even from the inspector, for "overdoing" it a bit. I even insulated some of the interior walls so we can close off parts of the house when appropriate. The guest wing is rarely heated in winter (unless we have guests), and stays cool throughout the summer. Passive cooling does most of the work in summer, though we have a small window unit in our bedroom for the most swealtering summer nights (wife gets night sweats).

Most of the summer our bedroom opens up like a sleeping porch with fans. We also have an advantage in that we both grew up in Atlanta, pre-airconditioning; bodies adjust to seasons. We also plant for summer shade, and I'm installing screens this week that are removed in winter for passive solar gain; one of my spring/fall chores.

I suppose leaving windows open in some locations is a security issue, but we don't even lock our doors. Evildoers have to get past the dogs first; not likely, at least not before I've locked and loaded ;-/

Can you say a little more about the cistern de-humidifier? Do you duct air past it, or what? I'm intrigued. Thanks.

Clifman, way late, and probably uselessly so, but here's my cistern game. I have a very small circulating pump that takes water from the bottom of the cistern and pushes it thru a normal water heat exchanger (like a car radiator) and then back down to the top of the cistern. Wet air from the living room is blown over that cool heat exchanger and drips out its wet, which is dumped outside. The now drier air then mixes with the room air, and we feel quite a bit more comfortable in the less humid air.

We try to get this cistern as cold as possible during our increasingly mild winters.

Small compressors (ie: automotive) handle fluctuations better and have clutches.

Actually the automotive compressor is in a class by itself. They are driven by the internal combustion engine and don't need to be on all the time the ICE is running, hence the need for the clutch. The system is sized to try and minimize the effect of the a/c compressor on the performance of the vehicle Even if the compressor is engaged against the full working pressure of the refrigerant loop, the most you would get is a slight blip in the power delivery from the ICE. The more powerful the ICE, the less noticeable the effect of the added load of the a/c compressor is.

Compressors driven by electric motors are usually the only load on the motor and hence, the motor is usually no bigger than it needs to be to start with no pressure in the refrigerant loop and run with the loop fully pressurized. If power is interrupted for any reason and then the electric motor is called upon to start against any significant amount of pressure, it will stall and burn it's windings, if not protected. Big difference.

Alan from the islands

Thanks for the clarification. Perhaps PV powered air conditioning units would be a good application of flywheel technology; keep that sucker spinning and put a clutch on the compressor like on a car :-0

edit: Maybe I should delete this post and apply for a patent ;-)

As mentioned by Ghung, one of the functions of the batteries is to provide a store of power for interruptions in sunlight like clouds passing overhead for example. The size of the battery pack will be determined by how long an interruption you want to run the a/c through.

If I were in a sane country, I would agree with you suggestion for the grid tied inverter but, the local utility has come up with a "Standard Offer Contract" for grid interconnection called net billing. The result is that PV system owners will be paid the wholesale rate, 10 cents per kWh for all the electricity produced by their systems and still have to pay retail, 41c/kWh for all the electricity they use.

It totally screws up the economics of using grid tied inverters so the solutions I am looking at, until the PTB come to their senses, is to use off grid type systems with small battery packs and use the grid as back up. In my environment this has the added advantage of preparing people to go "off grid" if things get as bad as India and Pakistan.

Alan from the islands

I wonder if you could use the units that are fitted to coaches and RVs?


How about just using splits run from inverters?

I've had this on my mind for a while. The new, energy efficient, "inverter" a/c units actually rectify the incoming ac power and use electronic variable frequency drives to match the speed of the compressor and fan to the required cooling load. The units I linked to just skip the rectifier part and run the VFD from a 48V battery. This gets rid of two pieces, the inverter and the rectifier.

The rub is that, while you'd expect the unit without the rectifier would cost less, it cost almost 5 times as much! ($7000 vs $1200-1300) I suspect that the regular units use higher voltages and thus can use cheaper, lower current motors and drive electronics. That being the case, I figure five and a half grand should be able to buy a decent DC to DC converter to step the 48V up to whatever the normal units use. Cheaper still, configure the batteries and panels to give the higher voltage, except that once you go over a certain voltage DC, it's more dangerous than the same voltage AC, so you get into a new set of electrical code and permitting issues.

Life's a b!+@# sometimes!

Alan from the islands

Sounds like running off an inverter is the straight forward answer. Maybe use 1 inverter, rated for the start up surge, for each unit. Mini-splits can run a couple of coolers from each compressor so that may help. Also see HiH's posts for improving the lighting efficiency and reducing the lighting load hence the need for A/C. You could save the guy a bundle.


I was thinking of two loads that follow the solar output, scheduling by PLC (human or electronic).

Three of the Fujitsu 26 SEER 9,000 BTU heat pumps and some LED lights.

The lights are paired with grid lights (turn one off, the other on) and a grid a/c to "make up any difference".

The idea is to load follow the solar PV output and minimize battery drain.

Sunrise, turn on 1st lights ten minutes later. Add 2nd & 3rd. Turn off grid lights at the same time.

When Solar PV is >85% of power needed for one a/c, turn off lights and start a/c #1.

Repeat as sun rises.

Turn off a/c when power drops below 85% for 15 minutes (cloud, thunderstorm, evening).

Stage demand to match solar PV production, with battery use only short term.

Best Hopes,


Another technique would be to bias the PV collectors depending on business hours. If morning is important the bias the panels to the east rather than due south, eg south of south east or even south east, vv for late afternoon business. Maybe even modify business hours to make the most of the sun. Don't forget, too, that the PV must allow for recharging of the batteries to allow for supply/load levelling.


Sunday would be a good day to recharge the batteries for businesses.


Might need a lot more battery and what if they are open 7 days a week.


Hey Alan,

I'm not too sure about the system you link to being practical for anything more than cooling a small room, an RV or a boat cabin.

However a hybrid system which includes evacuated vacuum glass tubes for high temperature heat collection may be scalable to larger spaces:




I hope we won't be heating our homes with methane hydrates, per the story above. There was some discussion here a week or so ago regarding methane release from the Arctic Ocean. Seems ominous. I recently listened to Robert Howarth of Cornell talk at last year's ASPO on the total greenhouse footprint of shale gas. He makes the case that taking the entire process into account, shale gas has as much as twice the greenhouse footprint of coal.

Here's a link to his paper.

Mining methane hydrates seems likely to have similar (if not worse) releases throughout the process. This shale gas climate forcing, on top of everything else we're doing to alter the climate, seems bad enough.

Put together permafrost thawing, sea bed methane releases, and this shale gas data, and we seem headed for rapid warming - and all its accompaniments - over the next couple of decades. What do others think...?

I find Radio Ecoshock to cover many topics of interest.

Fortunately, Howarth is way off-base. Run "howarth natural gas" through the search engine at the EPA site and poke around.

Upon doing so, I find that the main paper refuting Howarth's numbers is from IHS-CERA. The lead researchers are all CERA Directors. CERA is an industry mouthpiece. No idependence, no credibility. Howarth says in his talk that EPA itself is using outdated numbers from old studies. I'm no expert, but I trust first an independent scientist vs. an industry funded 'think tank'. Anyone know more about this?

I just read the paper. It makes some good points. The assumptions for coal were in a separate paper that I couldn't access. I suspect the carbon footprint of coal would be relatively larger if evaluated in the same amount of detail, especially for power generation where combined cycle gas plants are nearly twice as efficient as coal. The secondary GHG factors for coal were barely mentioned. The main conclusion I came away with is that improved best practices for shale gas development could greatly reduce methane losses, which would be a very good thing.

Thx for those points. If the footprint of coal would be larger evaluated to the same level of detail, and secondary GHG factors for coal are generally not accounted for, what that seems to say to me is that total FF emissions (from coal and natural gas, at least) are overall worse than we've been accounting to date. In any event, I cringe whenever I hear natural gas called 'clean', as even if it is only half as bad as coal (the above research seems to indicate otherwise) it is still very, very bad for the climate. I'm watching for the latest (April) methane data as posted and discussed by dohboi, Undertow et. al. here

The day of month that Dr. Leonid Yurganov uploads images ranges from the 3rd to the 18th.


Good points. It's a real dilemma. At the very least, I think we need to take the cost of GHGs into business decisions through a carbon (and equivalents) tax and dividend system like what James Hansen has proposed.

I hope we do heat our homes with hydrates. The seabed areas where these formations are found are heating up, irreversibly. So the methane is going to be released, and it will oxidize into CO2. So capturing even some of that methane and making it do useful work seems like the least worst option, so to speak.

By far the least worse option is in fact the flat out best option- insulate the hell out of the house and forget about methane, hydrate or not, or oil --or whatever.

I have scarfed up a big pile of discarded packing material slated for the dump, and am gonna run it thru a chipper and smash it into blocks to insulate the bits of my house that need it still. Makes the house thicker? Sure, so what. When the house is insulated, it stays that way, come high methane or low methane, or high or low anything.

And don't bore me with the obvious caveats - air change, moisture barrier, radon, termites and so on and so on. We know how to get around all that.

WTI currently below $100 ($99.46). Demand destruction working it's magic...

Here's my recurring question to the "Speculators are to blame for high oil prices" crowd:

For the sake of argument, let's stipulate that the speculators drove the average annual price of Brent up from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011.

Clearly we have seen a demand response to high oil prices, especially in the US and other developed oil importing countries.

Why have we seen no material increase in global crude oil production as annual Brent prices doubled from $55 in 2005 to $111 in 2011? And why have we seen a measurable decline in Global Net Exports of oil?

- OPEC says supply ample, speculation driving price -


- Oil fell to three-month lows of under $115 per barrel on Friday ahead of a U.S. payrolls report and was set for its steepest weekly fall since December due to concerns over the health of the global economy and easing fears over supply disruption. -

Yep, driving it down it seems.. hehe $112.03 and dropping.

Funny how high oil prices are caused by speculators but lower prices are caused by slackening demand.


How do we know it's not the opposite, since we know fuel is worth far more than we pay for it. The speculators could be all that's saving us against demand based price rises. Their constant daily battle to stop the price from rising any further has kept fuel at a mere $120ish for ages.

Praise the speculators!!1!

(shrug) well it's just as likely as the scenario the economists are painting :)

Goods points. For me it brings to mind the huge crude oil price rises of 2008. In Congressional hearings, the serious-minded people (Yergin of CERA et al) testified that 1) high prices were a function of simple supply and demand; 2) that supply shortfalls were because of underinvestment; 3) these stratospheric prices would have to bring forth new supplies i.e., a 'world awash in oil'.

When instead recession and demand destruction-driven price declines resulted, and the serious-minded folks had to confront the possibility of chronic supply constraints (read: Peak Oil), suddenly speculators were to blame.

Unfortunately it is a plausible story. Traders in a tight market who are familiar with the dynamics can game their way to supernormal returns. Enron traders did it in California's electricity markets, to cite an extreme example. But to blame speculators for taking advantage of a fundamental condition of market tightness is really just changing the subject and avoiding the hard truths.

Even with "dropping" sure hasn't dropped much to the consumer.

Gasoline prices for 91octane unleaded circa 1993, US$1/gallon

Seems 2012 91octane prices still over US$4/gallon in San Gabriel, so not much of a drop!

What I do not understand, and may be off-topic, is how Europeans, with fuel prices around double that in the US, seem to be doing okay, as I do not hear much in the news (BBC and such) that people are unable to keep driving with prices where they are.

Like in Greece? Spain? It won't happen all at once.

The Europeans who can afford to drive at $8.00 per gallon can still afford to drive at $9.00 per gallon. The ones who can't afford it are already taking the tram or the train. They do have that option in Europe, you know.

I already pay over $9.00 I can afford it, especially at 70mpg (imperial). However, I commute by bicycle because it is quicker (and healthier).

We just don't use as much fuel as we don't drive as much or as far. The cars have better mileage and everything is closer with more bus/train options.

WTI now below $99 ($98.48). Just in time for the summer driving season! Could Peak Demand be our new normal? Can demand destruction outpace declines in production? The market seems to think so.

I don't think so...
Seems with warmer weather in the Northeast people are driving as much as ever unfortunately so little demand destruction in the US, the biggest oil hog on the planet Earth. I believe a reference was made on TOD that Europe has cut oil usage 22%. Since Europe does have a Green Transit option they could probably due that in response to $9 per gallon gas price and Austerity squeeze from the banksters. But I doubt that will make up for Chindia expansion...

Obama administration tightens fracking rules

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The Obama administration tightened rules on hydraulic fracturing Friday, requiring the discloser of chemicals used in the process when done on federal and American Indian lands.

Of course, if it is not on federal or Indian lands, the state governments already know, or should know what is in the frac fluids. In oil-experienced states like Texas the companies have to report it to the state, but the state doesn't have to release the information to the public.

Do the people who make the decisions to spread the wastewater on the roads for de-icing know what it is they are releasing into the area's soil, vegetation, etc?

Of course they do.

The people who are spreading the brine from oil production on the roads have a pretty good idea of what they are doing. The state government who permit it are somewhat less clear on the subject, because states with a lot of experience in oil and gas production don't allow it for very good reason.

Heartland Institute billboards compare belief in global warming to mass murder

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute point out that some of the world's most notorious criminals say they "still believe in global warming" – and ask viewers if they do, too. … The billboard series features Ted Kaczynski, the infamous Unabomber; Charles Manson, a mass murderer; and Fidel Castro, a tyrant. Other global warming alarmists who may appear on future billboards include Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).

And you know, they're right! Don't forget what Manson said:

Human-produced global warming has been caused by the rapidly increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere over the last 200 years. Oh, and I've never killed anyone. I don't need to kill anyone. I think it. I have it here. [points to head]

Thanks for helping me wake up this morning, Heartlanders!

I got two calls this morning; 'surveys' from the Family Research Council. PhoneBot handled them.

This election cycle should be nauseating interesting.

edit: Funny! They just called back again. Picked up this time: "Are you registered to vote?" Me: "Yes"... FRC's phonebot: "This is a public survey. We will call you back latter".

Jeez... they didn't even ask if it's ok. I think they are targeting independents; in our state, "no party affiliation". I'm absolutely sure they don't want to hear what I have to say (they just don't know it yet :-)

When you said they didn't ask if it's OK, I thought you meant they were about to ask you.. 'Is it safe? Is it Safe?'


But as awful as they're becoming, it's ever clearer that it's because they're getting frantic. Still won't be a pretty sight.. but I think they're seeing that we're seeing the writing on the wall..

The people of the Hearthland Institute don't believe in global warming, therefore global warming is true. :P

Perfect. This is going to blow up in their faces.

Well, yesterday we had 86 degree temperatures with high humidity, more typical of July than May, followed by heavy thunderstorms - an inch or more of rainfall and quarter-sized hail.

I did a garden tour this morning - fortunately, the fruit trees survived, although the apricots are somewhat thinned out. My lettuces are pretty much shredded though. I've been letting the broccoli that overwintered go to flower, for seed, but they were pretty beaten down too.

I don't know who is actually reading those billboards...EDIT : Oh, wait, I get it - CPAC is in Chicago June 8. This is a fundraiser.

Note to self : I should have picked up those tarps I saw last week...

Adoph Hitler & Joseph Stalin both ate food. Do you admit, that like them, you also eat food? I rest my case.

Furthermore, every single person on the planet that ever got cancer also drank water. Case closed.

But this is what passes for logic in the right-wing.

And Heartland backs down:

Heartland Institute launches campaign linking terrorism, murder, and global warming belief

4 p.m. update: Heartland Institute President and CEO Joe Bast has issued the following statement:

"We will stop running [the billboard] at 4:00 p.m. CST today. (It’s a digital billboard, so a simple phone call is all it takes.)

"The Heartland Institute knew this was a risk when deciding to test it, but decided it was a necessary price to make an emotional appeal to people who otherwise aren’t following the climate change debate."

Global Change Puts Plankton under Threat

Changes in the ocean’s chemistry, as a result of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, threaten marine plankton to a greater extent than previously thought, according to new research.

Scientists found the changes in the pH levels, along with global warming, could lead to poor growth if not death of marine plankton.


Plankton aren't "commercially important" so what's there to worry about?

sarc. off

You're still P.O.d about the Canadian government restricting the Fisheries Act to "commercial fisheries", aren't you?

The non-commercial fisheries are still under the jurisdiction of the provincial governments, so if you have any complaints, take them to your provincial legislator. That's what I would do. I've shared a pint or two with my local MLA on occasion, and I'm sure that if I had something to complain about he would jump right on it. I helped him get elected, after all, and he owes me one.

Former Mayor of Calgary and former Premier of Alberta Ralph Klein was an avid fly fisherman, and unsurprisingly the Bow River downstream from the Calgary sewer outlets remains one of the best fly-fishing rivers in North America. Calgary's main sewage treatment plant has appeared on US television shows, but playing the role of a nuclear power plant, it's control system was so high tech.

If you want to protect the environment, you need to find out who to get to and what to tell them to do. So, find out who they are, and find out what they need to do, and take it from there.

A Power Hungry Generation

Few generations have been as dependent on electricity as Gen Y [13-30yr olds], however new research has found the energy conservation message might not be getting through.

“The results of the research confirmed the heavy reliance Gen Y’s have on electricity and highlighted the role that social media plays in creating this reliance.

“Feedback from participants also indicated that Gen Y’s are dismissive of the impact they can and do have on the environment and that, when electricity is restricted, it is not uncommon for Gen Ys to experience a degree of stress.”

The findings also confirmed the “effort” Gen Y’s associate with being environmentally friendly, and highlighted the role that parents play in curbing their electricity usage.

Oh the horror of not being able to log on to facebook :)
Being a GenY myself I think this dependence is way over-rated, yes the kids are neck deep in social networking and smart phone and gizmos but they can adapt very quickly. And besides that Internet is a very resilient creature, it will live on with even just a few computers and servers on. Maybe no more youtube but P2P networks will still work.

It's the middle-aged people 35-60 who will find the going tough in a brave new world.

I think it depends on what kind of future you're expecting. If you're talking about sudden catastrophe - something like a Donner Party situation - the very young and very old will likely be most affected. In a less steep "stair step down" - like the collapse of the Soviet Union - age doesn't play that large a role.

Curiously, with both sudden catastrophes like the Donner Party and more gradual declines like the Soviet collapse, gender is a more important predictor of survival than age. Males tend to die before females. In the former Soviet union, many of the "extra" deaths were alcohol-related, in particular, young men involved in alcohol-related accidents.

I am not talking about deaths or sudden catastrophe. People in the 35-60 bracket tend to be settled with mortgages, young kids and other liabilities. In 2008 I saw plenty of layoffs. The hardest hit were people in the aforementioned age bracket. My peers were laid off too but they had no skin in the game so they just locked their rooms and went back home, came back after 1 year and got another job. Seniors on the other hand fretted so much about paying school fees and EMI's that I decided never to get into debt

So what you're saying is...middle-aged people will have a hard time because they're supporting their kids as well as their parents? There's an obvious solution to that. ;-)

One thing that came out of the Donner Party analysis...having a family helped a lot with survival. (So did being extremely selfish, but that's another story.) Still, I wonder if a lot of those middle-aged people will be forced to cut back on their support for their kids and parents.

Part of the confusion is that we no longer distinguish between liabilities and assets. Why? Because we are modern, politically correct.

Debt is a liability, as is somebody who needs constant care and attention and can't contribute anything to a basic economy, even if it's a household one.

Healthy people with functioning minds and bodies are assets, as are land and hard goods owned outright.

A healthy 80 year old and a bright, energetic 5 year old are not liabilities, they are assets, especially if they can help each other as the household economy returns and people relearn the vital lessons of inheritance and skills.

what is donner party?

You are going to be sorry you asked. It is gruesome tale of pioneers getting stuck without food and having to resort to eating each other.
Here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donner_Party

Perhaps the origin of the Doner kebab??

A family that tried to cross the Rocky Mountains back in the 19th Century that got trapped by heavy snows partway across. The survivors had to resort to cannibalism.

A cautionary tale and source of grisly humor to this very day.

Actually the Sierra Nevada, not the Rockies.

Thanks for the correction, I'd forgotten to separate them on my internal map.

Here's an article Jared Diamond wrote about the Donner party.

Living Through the Donner Party

The nineteenth-century survivors of the infamous Donner Party told cautionary tales of starvation and cannibalism, greed and self-sacrifice. But not until now are we learning why the survivors survived.

The Donner Party is one of the most interesting stories of American history and one that acts as a metaphor for what we are going through today. These people died not because of an unlikely environmental catastrophe (the snow wasn't that early) but hubris, bickering, bad judgement, assuptions, etc. I often find the Peak Oil discussion to be filled with engineering speak- decline rates, reserve estimates, etc. What I wonder is if we are often overlooking the factor of simple bad judgement. What if we go to renewables and have a war and destroy so many solar panels that we don't have the energy to rebuild them? What if we try some grand method to engineer global cooling and end everything for good?

In many ways, we are on the Donner Party trek- all of us. How many of us will stay quiet and let the dominant male leaders make all the bad decisions because we "know our place"? I suspect that many of the women on that trip sensed trouble but were ignored. Three times they delayed when they should have kept moving. They were so close to success but missed it. Social psychology will determine our future as much as physics. There were many disputes between rival leaders in the Donner party. Will the US and China engage in a war that could go nuclear with all those awful consequences? Just because we have PO and Global Warming doesn't mean nuclear winter is still not possible. When I think of the situation we are all in I very much wonder if we will ignore the warnings and become another tragedy resulting from simple bad judgement.

Panetta: Environment Emerges as National Security Concern

... “Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Panetta said.

The secretary also said he has great concern about energy-related threats to homeland security that are not driven by climate change.

“I have a deep interest in working to try to ensure from a security perspective that we take measures that will help facilitate and maintain power in the event of an interruption of the commercial grid that could be caused, for example, by a cyber attack which is a reality that we have to confront,” he said.

Environmental Toxicants Causing Ovarian Disease Across Generations

... WSU reproductive biologist Michael Skinner and his laboratory colleagues, including Eric Nilsson and Carlos Guerrero-Bosagna, looked at how fungicide, pesticide, plastic, dioxin and hydrocarbon mixtures affected a gestating rat's progeny for multiple generations. They saw subsequent generations inherit ovarian disease by "epigenetic transgenerational inheritance."

"What your great grandmother was exposed to when she was pregnant may promote ovarian disease in you, and you're going to pass it on to your grandchildren," he said. "Ovarian disease has been increasing over the past few decades to affect more than 10 percent of the human female population, and environmental epigenetics may provide a reason for this increase."

Energy conference protesters accuse police of heavy-handed tactics

Climate change activists have accused the police of using "wildly disproportionate" tactics to control a protest against an energy industry conference in the City of London.

Police said five people had been arrested for a breach of the peace and a sixth on suspicion of assaulting a police officer during the Big Six Energy Bash direct action. The protest, which aimed to draw attention to fuel poverty and "corporate control" of energy resources, took place on Thursday outside a hotel near St Paul's Cathedral in which the UK Energy Summit 2012 was taking place.

TransCanada reapplies for Keystone

TransCanada Corp. reapplied for a permit Friday to carry oil sands crude across the U.S. border as part of the Keystone XL pipeline project.

TransCanada said Friday it will provide the State Department, which is charged with reviewing the permit because the project crosses an international border, with an alternate route through Nebraska once it is approved by state officials. The application applies to the portion of the pipeline that stretches from Canada to Steele City, Neb.

Nebraska officials had previously raised concerns that the original pipeline route would threaten the state’s Sandhills, an environmentally sensitive region, and the Ogallala Aquifer.

A few interesting stories:

The heart of Chesapeake's projection to return to financial health is the expectation on NG prices to double in the next year and a half or so. Someone needs to explain the "logic" of the following: "But while other producers have started to curtail production to ease the glut of gas on the market, Chesapeake increased production 18% in the first quarter even as the price as plummeted. That’s consistent with a massive bet that McClendon has engineered for Chesapeake that natural gas prices will go up".

So instead of cutting their wells back, as we've just done to preserve our NG reserve base, and waiting for prices to rise CHK is increasing their NG deliveries to the market. Given the 50% to 90% decline rate their wells suffer, a well drilled during 1Q 2012 will significantly decline by 2014 when NG prices will double according to McClendon's expectation. I wonder if those folks really hear themselves when they make such statements.

I've been doing this for 37 years now and have seen CHK's actions repeated by a great many companies during low price periods. My company is fortunate that we don't need cash flow to remain functional. But we are we exception. Typically not only will many operators not reduce flow rates during low price periods but will do whatever they can to increase rates. It's all about cash flow. I've seen many companies sell their reserves for less than it cost them to develop that production. IOW it may have cost a company $3/mcf to develop a field but they'll sell their NG production for $2/mcf as fast as possible. CHK has additional pressure as a public company: increasing y-o-y reserves to keep Wall Street happy. Right now CHK is drilling/producing wells and selling NG for the lowest price in a decade. But the company will rebound in the next two years when it can sell that NG for twice what it's going for now? Except those wells it's drilling/producing now will be significantly depleted during the next two years. Wouldn't it be logical to reduce you producing wells to minimal rates and not spend 100's of $millions drilling new wells today when the bulk of their production will be sold at current low prices? If they can double their profit from new drilling by waiting two years then why aren't they waiting?

About the environment: "In written comments on New York’s proposed fracking rules, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has said that the state should ban the use of fracking brine on roads because pollutants could make their way into aquifers and waterways through infiltration and storm runoff." And from Shale Gas Hydraulic Fracking: Poisoned Water. Inducing Earthquakes : "The oil and gas industry is the only industry in America that is allowed by EPA to inject known hazardous materials -- unchecked -- directly into or adjacent to underground drinking water supplies". Dumping oil field salt water the roads??? Do I have to remind everyone that I can't pump RAIN WATER of my drillsites in La. wetlands areas? Imagine what the state would do to me if I were caught dumping salt water on the ground.

Well the EPA may allow it but Texas and La. regulators don't. I can understand the oil companies putting out their BS because proper disposal of nasty fluids is expensive...I've spent $millions doing it in Texas. But it seems like the local Yankee govts and feds don't have much of a problem with it either. As I've said many times it's an easy problem to solve: just make the companies inject the nasties into properly designed deep disposal wells. That expense hasn't stop companies from drilling more wells in Texas and La. than most of the other state combined. And I'll take the opportunity to again suggest to my PA cousins to stop whining about how much drilling activity is messing up your roads and increasing your regulatory costs. Charge the oil companies a severance tax just like Texas has for decades. If PA had charged the same tax as Texas it would have collected almost $400 million last year alone. If your politicians don't immediately impose a production tax then run them out of office and elect some new ones.And if you don't do it you deserve all the crap you end up with IMHO.

And speaking of helping the environment my 12 yo daughter got a trophy last night at an awards banquet for her project. The contest was run by the Lower Navidad River Authority and it was called "Soil to Spoon"...about soil & water conservation. Just because her dad is part of the process that enables our citizens to be wasteful doesn't mean he hasn't taught her about being nice to Mother Earth.

And I'll take the opportunity to again suggest to my PA cousins to stop whining about how much drilling activity is messing up your roads and increasing your regulatory costs. Charge the oil companies a severance tax just like Texas has for decades. If PA had charged the same tax as Texas it would have collected almost $400 million last year alone. If your politicians don't immediately impose a production tax then run them out of office and elect some new ones.And if you don't do it you deserve all the crap you end up with IMHO.

Yeah, 'cause we all know how responsive our political system is to the wants of our very well informed citizenry. Just like how those West Virginians got the coal companies to stop blowing off the tops of mountains.......

That's not how it works. If the energy companies are going to be shaken down for a piece of the spoils, it's not going to be because of some Norman Rockwell-esque lofty citizen's movement, not in this environment. It'll be because some other group with enough power to make it happen got into the action. That should be the state political class, but where they tie their wagon depends on who they think will provide them the most benefits.

Even if something like this can be pulled off, by the time that happens the whole fracking NG bubble will have collapsed.

West Virginians and Environmentalists are fighting back on coal from
mountain tops being burned to exacerbate Climate Change:

Never give up fighting for a Better World with cynical defeatism or you are
guaranteed to never get one.
One optimistic champion of the fight for a Better World through the Great Depression Union battles to the McCarthy witchhunts to Civil Rights to Peace movements, to major successful efforts to cleanup the Hudson and US waterways is Pete Seeger, who celebrated his birthday yesterday.
Happy Birthday Pete!

I was not arguing for a defeatist stance, rather against the idea that the people should be blamed because their representation is ineffective. Especially when they are faced with a new environmental threat they are not prepared for. That in no way excuses those who are causing the damage.

Twilight - It works that way in Texas and La. Given the tens of $billions the oil patch has pumped into the economies of both states and who knows how many tens of $millions the companies have contributed to political campaigns most would think we would have the weakest regulatory laws. Obviously far from it. I can't explain why the northern politicians are letting the companies off the hook re: regs and taxes. Maybe someone in PA can explain it. Despite how important the oil patch is to Texas our farmers and ranchers still carry the biggest stick around. Just ask any FORMER Texas politician that didn't look after their interests.

My Yankee cousins have the rigth to be unhappy with the way the oil patch is operating up there. OTOH we are following the rules established by the state. We tend to be pretty good at following the rules. But we're also pretty good at not spending one penny more than we have to. Justlike every other industryin the country. Some day I may give a more detailed picture of the regs we have to follow in Texas and La. I imagine many folks will be shocked just how tightly we're regulated. The EPA is a huge joke as far as onshore oil patch regs go IMHO. In 37 years I've never even thought about the EPA in either state let alone dealt with them. The only feds with any impact down here is the Corps of Engineers. They carry a very big stick especially in La.

I can't explain why the northern politicians are letting the companies off the hook re: regs and taxes...Despite how important the oil patch is to Texas our farmers and ranchers still carry the biggest stick around.

(emphasis mine)

I think you answered your own question. Good government is often not about selfless public service to the common good. More often, it's about powerful people with contradictory interests.

In TX & LA, the powerful land owners and the powerful extraction companies cancel each other out. In PA & NY, there is no competing power to the extraction companies. Extraction is done in areas of grinding rural poverty. Central PA and Upstate NY are a step above Appalachia, but only one step. They just don't have the power to pull their legislatures. On top of that, any sort of well-paying work is desperately needed and warmly welcomed.

JP - Sounds reasonable. BTW the rich Texas landowners and oil companies didn't really cancel each other out IMHO. The large landowners became very wealthy as a direct result of the oil/NG extraction biz. And the rest of the Texans didn't do too badly either. At one time the Texas university system was funded almost entirely by the state's oil/NG revenue. My tuition at grad school was less than $100 per semester. Of course, peak oil for the US also meant peak tuition support.

Maybe more by luck than anything else the farmers/ranchers and the oil companies developed a mutually supportive relationship. Had some rough edges in the early days but eventually developed into a well oiled machine. LOL. I've mentioned before I'm beginning what I hope will turn into a major redevelopment of some old worn out oil fields. The mineral owners will have to offer fair lease terms or the project won't fly. I'll have to operate environmentally sound or they and the Rail Road Commission will shut me down in a heartbeat. So I get access to their land and maybe produce another $billion of oil or more and the state/landowners get 100's of millions. And the cattle and crops will do just fine and no one's water well gets turned into an undrinkable nightmare. If we can do why can't the other states?

But to be clear the landowners and the oil companies don't really like each other all that much. They are still the "damn lease owners" to us and we are still the "damn oil companies" to them. But we don't let that get in the way of making money while protecting the land.

As I've said many times it's an easy problem to solve: just make the companies inject the nasties into properly designed deep disposal wells.

Notes from someone in my company who works with fracking fluids in the Marcellus with regards to treatment/disposal:

Currently state and local regulators are operating a bit behind the curve in the face of a new, growing and markedly different waste stream (Marcellus shale wastewater being 2-3 times brinier than produced and flowback waters associated with other shale plays) and significantly limited disposal options. Our area has very limited deep well injection sites and deep well injection has been the go to disposal "technology" elsewhere in the US.

So discharge to deep wells and local wastewater treatment plants is somewhat more problematic in the Marcellus.

drwater - "So discharge to deep wells and local wastewater treatment plants is somewhat more problematic in the Marcellus." I wouldn't describe them as problematic...them are g-damn expensive. LOL. Which is why I have paid $millions to disposal companies to get rid of my nasties for the last 37 years. Above I just described my new EOR project in Texas. If my model works I'll produce several hundred million bbls of salt water. Between the cost of drilling my own SWD wells and injecting the nasties I'll spend the better part of $100 million to do it. But that's just the cost of doing business. But if my model is correct we'll gross over $1 billion so the disposal cost won't bother me one bit.

Rockman - "But that's just the cost of doing business." Yep. You don't want to see money wasted by regulations that go way beyond reasonable protection, but you want to make sure regulations are tough enough to insure that our water resources are protected.

drwater - Exactly. It may sound harsh but the oil patch won't spend one penny more to protect the environment then the regs require. But neither will other industries. OTOH most of us are very good at following the rules because typically it costs a lot more getting caught breaking the rules than it cost to follow them. But in the end it's up to the rule makers and the folks who elect them to set the playing field. Folks in PA and NY don't want those nasty frac fluids dumped into the environment there's a very easy solution: make it illegal and then fine the hell out of violaters. Most of the problems would then disappear.

Thanks for post this. Interesting point, and it makes sense that one size might not fit all.

I suspect there would be rather more deep injection wells in the area if it were made illegal to dump the nasties on roads and into WWTP influent. Deep wells are expensive. Why drill them if nobody's going to use them?

Yes, deep injection wells are expensive, and you wouldn't drill them unless you had to.

OTOH, if you are an oil company, and the only way you can dispose of waste is by injecting it into deep wells, that is what you do. It's just a cost of doing business.

Right-Wing Multi-Billionaire Is Out to Frack Your World

He is a billionaire several times over, a supporter of conservative causes, candidates, and organizations, including campaigns of the anti-immigrant former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and the Intelligent Design-peddling Discovery Institute, and he has been a backer of anti-gay rights initiatives. He owns The Weekly Standard, a highly partisan conservative magazine, and recently sold the conservative Examiner newspapers. He rarely speaks to the press.

He is a native Kansan, and although he's not related to the multi-billionaire Kansas Koch Brothers, he certainly shares many of their interests.

Taking the Handle Off the Fracking Pump: Human Rights and the Role of Public Health Inquiry in an Age of Extreme Fossil Fuel Extraction (pdf)

... plenary presentation “Epidemiologic and Public Health Considerations of Shale Gas Production: The Missing Link” conference sponsored by Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy and Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment

Too Hot Not to Notice? A Planet Connected by Wild Weather

New data released last month by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities show that a lot of Americans are growing far more concerned about climate change, precisely because they’re drawing the links between freaky weather, a climate kicked off-kilter by a fossil-fuel guzzling civilization, and their own lives. After a year with a record number of multi-billion dollar weather disasters, seven in ten Americans now believe that “global warming is affecting the weather.” No less striking, 35% of the respondents reported that extreme weather had affected them personally in 2011. As Yale’s Anthony Laiserowitz told the New York Times, “People are starting to connect the dots.”

also Connecting the dots of this climate change crisis

McKibben makes boilerplate observations like this, but (perhaps due to his Rockefeller funding and elite perks) has less than no idea how to build a movement against the underlying problems. Keystone XL is utterly irrelevant to changing the demand for oil. Meanwhile, sending packs of a 8-20 people out to pose for photo ops once a year is even more pathetic than that mis-spent effort. I consider McKibben part of the problem, rather than the solution. Whether he knows it or not, he is a master mis-director, a major squanderer of money, attention, and time.

8-20 people at a photo-op...

A few more pictures of 8-20 people at a 'photo-op' courtesy of Google images.

Thank you for proving my thesis, which is that McKibben is in the misdirection trade, and that his well-financed efforts are an important part of the reason there is no serious ecological movement in this society.

Your pictures of XL rallies show that, as I said, precious attention and energy is being squandered on that side-issue. Protesting pipelines is to energy politics what picketing the makers of lunch-counter stools would have been to SNCC in 1960.

Meanwhile, as to the pathetic photo ops I was talking about, go look at 350.org's home page this very morning. ROFL.


Call me when McKibben starts talking about the real issue, which is the infrastructure that burns oil, and how we ought to be replacing it.

Also fascinating and telling that those protest signs incorporate the Brand Obama logo. The message there is quite obvious. This is a form of astroturf.


"McKibben makes boilerplate observations like this," ...

And Dawson makes knee-jerk responses like this.

Interesting Freduian slip here, sgage: "knee-jerk"

Let's examine that, shall we?

My argument is that the problem in the United States is our profoundly wasteful and unsustainable energy use. The #1 problem within that reality is our dependence on the private automobile and our continuing neglect of public transportation, railroads, and walkable/cycle-friendly urban reconstruction. Unless we address those things, we will continue to burn oil and other forms of energy at the rate we don now, with all the known consequences.

McKibben's argument is "Look! There's a pipeline being proposed. It will have oil in it. Let's stop it." How will stopping it make any difference in the eventual consumption of the oil in question? No answer. Will stopping it actually spark a wider social movement, as implied, or will it simply continue to fuel Bill McKibben and mainstream green foundations? No answer. Isn't it pretty clear it won't actually be stopped by Obama? Again, no answer. What will we do after we win or lose? No answer.

So, I leave to to you: Which is the knee-jerk position?

Call me when McKibben wants people to get arrested for modernizing Amtrak or seriously funding the nation's transit agencies.

I agree.

My POV is that interdicting supply to addicts does not work. See certain street corners.

And with oil addicts, they control the government, the media, and are a majority of the population.

The only viable solution is to reduce the addiction.

If you can't quit smoking, cut back to half a pack/day ...

Best Hopes for Oil Free Transportation,


Alan - A good short explanation of the situation IMHO. But as far as "interdicting supply" that really isn't the situation as I understand it. All the oil that the Keystone PL will carry initially is already being shipped into the US...and has been for a while. Just ask the storage folks at Cushing. As far as the future pipeline capacity goes the section being delayed by Washington will still carry the same volume as is being imported today...until the Cushing/Gulf Coast transport capacity is increased. And that's underway today because it requires no fed approval. Just Texas and OK…and they are pushing it thru as fast as possible. So as far as US consumption of tar sand oil goes it doesn't matter at all if Keystone is built or not. Once the Cushing/Gulf Coast expansion is complete the oil will be shipped. And if the volume is increased? The only question is whether it makes it to Cushing through the existing old p/l's or the new Keystone built to current improved standards. In that sense you might think environmentalists would be demanding a new safer p/l like Keystone to replace the old worn out p/l's...like the one that spilled oil into the Yellowstone River.

It's easy to sneer about PR, but actually, Press is what this issue needs, and you can see groups taking up the call all over the world.


Still, it's fun to laugh at the wierdos if you're not willing to be laughed at yourself.. as the old saying goes, 'if you can't make a fool out of yourself, you probably can't make anything of yourself.'

I'm not sneering about PR. I'm sneering about off-topic PR, which embarrasses the idea of a serious green movement.

I've been on as many picket lines and protests as you, jokuhl, I assure you.

That's part of why I care about the McKibben disaster. There are only so many chances to get people thinking. Not all protests are worthy.

Welcome to the 2012 Hunger Games: Sending Debt Peonage, Poverty, and Freaky Weather Into the Arena

We now live in a world that is wilder than a lot of science fiction from my youth.

Russia threatens Nato with military strikes over missile defence system

Russia has threatened NATO with military strikes against in Poland and Romania if a missile defence radar and interceptors are deployed in Eastern Europe.

Russia's threat to militarise the dispute came as a special American and Nato team began Moscow talks ahead of next month's official deployment of the first elements of the new missile shield

"The developments are not positive," said a Western dioplomat.
. . . . .

I just love the subtlety of diplomats. Their comments are so endearing....

Russia Today gives a different version of the statement of Russia’s Chief of General Staff, Nikolay Makarov, in Russia 'retains right' to pre-emptive strike on missile shield, May 3, 2012:

"Considering the destabilizing nature of the [American] ABM system, namely the creation of an illusion of inflicting a disarming [nuclear] strike with impunity, a decision on pre-emptive deployment of assault weapons could be taken when the situation gets harder," Makarov said.

Russia Today is saying that Russia retains the option of attacking Poland and Romania to destroy the missile defense systems, not that they will definitely attack. Journalistic disinformation strikes again.

New from GAO

Factors to Consider in the Design of the Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit

The nonbusiness energy property credit is one of a number of federal initiatives that seek to address concerns about U.S. reliance on foreign energy sources and the impact of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions on the climate.

Under criteria for evaluating a tax credit design, both the performance-based and cost-based credits have advantages and disadvantages with neither design being unambiguously the better option based on current information. Both a cost-based and a performance-based credit are designed to reduce energy use and CO2 emissions by providing incentives for energy conservation investment. However, they differ in their relative effectiveness and costs.

In general, a performance-based credit is more likely to effectively reduce energy use and CO2 emissions because it rewards energy savings from the investment rather than the cost-based credit’s rewarding of spending regardless of whether this spending results in energy savings. However, the performance-based credit may have significant up-front costs for energy audits, not required by the cost-based credit, which could reduce its effectiveness by discouraging investment.

Re: A Former Chicago Meatpacking Plant Becomes a Self-Sustaining Vertical Farm

Perhaps I'm an old fart, but a system that requires at least 10,000 tons of input material from the outside world each year is not "self-sustaining" in my book. And that's the figure that's given for "waste" materials from the outside, generally food waste suitable for gasification in the digester. It seems unlikely that they're going to grow grain, at least not in the quantities that a beer brewery and set of bakeries are going to demand.

I'm not complaining about the goals (although I have to wonder whether putting that 10,000 tons of food waste into soil enrichment programs somewhere wouldn't yield comparable results with less capital investment); just the self-sustaining description.

I would also object to the "vertical" monicker.

The Plant's website doesn't say "self-sustaining", it says "net-zero energy", which is somewhat different.

Also, their usage of the term "vertical" means multiple floor-levels, some of which have plants growing vertically. See the FAQ.

In terms of its "sustainability", obviously that is only as good as the inputs, although it's hard to imagine not being able to source 10,000 tons of food waste annually. That's not a big amount for a city.

EPA shows the US generated 34 million tons of food waste in 2010.

EDIT : for anyone interested in data, the following report shows the results of an evaluation of potential waste recycling opportunities in Chicago (PDF Warning). It shows food waste from private residences alone to be around 300,000 tons annually.


...making perfect the enemy of the good, are we??

Hello everyone -

My local soccer club (which is community run) here in East Sussex, England recently offered supporters the chance to invest in a scheme to purchase solar panels to be placed on the roof of the stands. The idea being that investors pay for the installation and then the revenue generated is split: some returned as a dividend and some retained by the club.

I thought people might be interested to see the first set of numbers:



A very inventive scheme showing how small scale investments (I believe it was something like £400) can be pooled together in a civic minded way to produce real electricity and a real financial return on investment.

Good stuff. Thank you for sharing.

India's Reliance hit with US$1.25b fine

I did not read the article in whole, but from the blockquote it appears that they are being fined for their gas wells declining? What might be next, fining farmers because it doesn't rain enough for a bumper crop? Or maybe fine the fishermen because the stocks of fish are declining?
Governments never cease to amaze me.

A few years ago Reliance announced a very large gas find in the Narmada valley. There was a lot of excitement and talk about it. I suspected that it was just an attempt at boosting the stock price. Now it turns out the find was not as large as advertised and my suspicions are probably correct.

I don't think the company will pay any fines. They will just bribe the ministers and bureaucrats and the fine will be reduced or canceled. In a few weeks the matter will be forgotten.

Pirates free gasoline tanker off West Africa

They need some gasoline for their speed boats, I wonder if they're able to refuel at the local marina of it theft is the main source.

Maybe someday people will start hijacking gas tankers on the roads? Once that starts I imagine fuel shipments would stop to areas deemed too dangerous to deliver to.

Mad Max meets Waterworld.

Have you seen Waterworld? It pretty much is a Mad Max movie.

I suspoect that disaster relief, food aid and the like will come to an end soon.
Goodwill for others way across the globe isn't very interesting for people if domestic conditions are deterioriating.

Even though I've donated to the Horn of Africa drought refief I realize I'm throwing money into a bottomless pit, no different from the European bailouts of the PIGS.

Well, my inclinations to "donate" or spend money on Europeans are vastly more present than to the residents of Mogadishu or whatever.
I'd like the same be done to me, when Norway's oily reserves are irrevocably spent in 10-15 years.

India proposes setting up sovereign fund to buy coal assets abroad

It seems crazy with Australia's carbon tax starting July 1st that every encouragement is given to export coal to India. Even a steel furnace that can use bituminous coal will be re-assembled in India
India has 1.2 bn population while Australia has 0.02 bn. I recall former IPCC head Pachauri hinting that India was entitled to catch up to the West in emissions. Note another Drumbeat item questions the veracity of offsets originating in China and India, both supposedly 'developing' countries under the Kyoto protocol.

I suggest that Australia, Europe, South Korea and other countries carbon tax goods imported from India. That might work out at say $50 on a tonne of steel, not crippling but preferably avoided. Otherwise India gets a free ride on the carbon restraint of others. The taxed imports might have to include so called 'invisible' goods such as call centre services. I realise India is trying in some ways to decarbonise, for example thorium breeder blankets in uranium reactors, but for now they seem hell bent on burning as much coal as possible. OK then pay the penalty.

What is India's per capita coal consumption and green house gas emission compared to OECD countries? I bet it is very low. 40% of the population in India is not connected to the grid. The rest are subject to frequent blackouts. Does India have a right to industrialize and improve life for its citizens?

How about not setting greenhouse gas emission quota based on current greenhouse emissions but on cumulative emissions since the start of the industrial age? Wouldn't that be more fair?

I'm sure CO2 per capita is low for India. However the assumption seems to be that every country is entitled to whatever population regardless of its resource base. In simple terms if Chindia's 2.5 bn population each used 5 kw of continuous power like the West that would be 12.5 TW whereas the world is currently only using 16 TW albeit unequally distributed.

As to the cumulative emissions a counter argument is that the red meat eating, car driving, air conditioned lifestyle evolved in the West and that has only recently become the world wide ideal. China and India could choose to reject that model. We could ask why populous countries cleared their forests over that period. Imagine just say 300m apiece in those countries. I'm suggesting that carbon restraint starts now regardless of the position in the consumption hierarchy. That is nobody takes a step backwards. A carbon tariff shares the pain because while China and India export less Western consumers have to pay more.

But electricity generation doesn't have much to do with conspicuous consumption. A vast majority of Indians are very poor and even a little bit of electricity will improve their life.

It is my understanding that, the more remote the location, the more sense it makes to use solar PV. IIRC it was discussed here how the cost of the infrastructure to deliver electricity to some areas exceed the cost of providing the electricity using solar PV and batteries.

Alan from the islands

We have some communities, here, scattered around the bay that are only accessible by boat. You want to build something every brick and bag of cement comes by boat. You want to run a car then the fuel comes in by boat, oh, the car did as well. Generator, yep, you guessed it. At least, if you ship solar in, you don't have a lot more to ship in.


Was it your intention to make the argument for small island states, with lots of year round sunshine, going solar? If you didn't, that last sentence just about says it all!

Alan from the islands



PS Tried to link a SFX but didn't work :(

Have the folks in your communities considered transport by sailboat?


What is India's per capita coal consumption and green house gas emission compared to OECD countries?

Unfortunately, the science of climate change doesn't care what India or anybody else is entitled to. The science says that the remaining coal and unconventional oil has to be left in the ground if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change. That's why on May 5, 2012 some brave souls are engaging in a symbolic act of civil disobedience by trying to block BNSF's coal trains to export terminals in BC for one day.
Here's the group's letter:

Dear Mr. Buffett;

We want to inform you that on Saturday, May 5th, from midnight to midnight, we intend to prevent BNSF coal trains from passing through White Rock, British Columbia to deliver their coal to our coastal ports for export to Asia. ....


True or not true? You burn the ff, you burn the planet. End.

If it is true, and I don't have any doubt that it is, since I believe climate science instead of Limbaugh, then we don't need to waste words quibbling about who gets to burn the ff. Nobody does, or we are all cooked. After all, we are all sitting on the same planet in the middle of nowhere.

So, people, get to it. True or not true? The rest is trivial. Then having decided, quit the silliness and get down to the question- now what?

My suggestion- look around. what's worth doing and what's not? Ever so many things we are doing are not only useless, but deadly. Example, soft drinks. Just one of those damn cooler things that stand around everywhere uses about 10 times as much electricity as my whole house. And you can name lots of things equally or maybe more stupid that we do without one neuron- second of thought applied to it.

Quit it!

Unfortunately, the science of climate change doesn't care what India or anybody else is entitled to.

I agree. But shouldn't the wealthy countries take the initiative in shutting down their coal power plants before decrying coal consumption in developing countries like India? I was responding to Boof's complaint that India is getting a free ride. That is a strange accusation being leveled against a country that has to earn hard currency via exports before it can import any energy. If anything it is the US and EU that are getting a free ride; they get to print trillions of $ and Euros and the oil exporters and the rest of the world still accepts their funny money.

Suyong. I sympathize with your thought. I spent a little time in India trying to sell solar energy (a long time ago) and have some understanding of their situation. When I came back to the States I was horrified at the waste and thoughtlessness I saw everywhere. Really a shocking contrast.

But, all finger-pointing aside, the central problem remains. FF is a no-no, so what do we do?

I am thinking the entirely non-original thought that the only hope is a sort of bottom-up mass movement in which all the ones on our side (?) get to solving their LOCAL situation, an passing the word around. What else?

I think you understand why I'm not an environmentalist, and can never be one.

An environmentalist is somebody who believes "poverty for everybody else...but let me burn coal and gas powering this wonderful computer, delivered to my house using oil, to post something on an internet board."

George Carlin, the sage of our times, got it right long ago:


An environmentalist is somebody who believes "poverty for everybody else...but let me burn coal and gas powering this wonderful computer, delivered to my house using oil, to post something on an internet board."

My definition is the opposite: an environmentalist is someone who uses less coal, oil, natural gas, electricity, minerals, fresh water, etc. In other words, an environmentalist is someone who consumes much less than average. I think you're confusing environmentalists with hypocrites.

I have to agree with Frugal on this one. That statement sounds like pure projection... try 'WALKING' a mile or ten in an environmentalists shoes. Yes, most of us here still are participants and users of the fruits of industrialized western civilization. However some of us are highly conscious of our ecological footprints and are making an effort, sometimes placing our money where our mouths are and doing things like consuming less crap, and investing in things like going of grid. /rant off

So just what IS it powering your wonderful computer, etc etc..?

I don't agree with your definition of an environmentalist but I get the gist of what you are saying. Most people want other people to cut their energy consumption in order to save the planet.

By the same logic christians never sin, doctors never smoke, and merchant bankers never accept govt bailouts.

No, George Carlin is wrong, very wrong. Interfering with nature may be what got us into this mess, but the alternative would be another sort of mess. Take a look at this chart:


Another "sage" of our times, Slavoj Zizek, has a better opinion on nature:


Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media
Military's 'sock puppet' software creates fake online identities to spread pro-American propaganda


A concatenation of Shari Lewis and HAL?

Sockpuppets are not a new internet phenomenon.

It's impressive that there are one or two bona fide corporate trolls hanging around peak oil sites. Makes ya' feel special, that someone is being paid to spread FUD about your very own pet topic.

Well, we've got genuine up-front oilmen around here, so I'm not too worried about shills.

Besides, what would they say that we haven't already all heard?