Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (8/1/14)

August 1st, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (8/1/14).

  1. According to Greentech Media, “Aside from hosting a majority of the nation’s wind farms, the Midwestern U.S. is not known for aggressively pushing the agenda on clean energy issues. But that may be changing as Minnesota joins other leading states in the effort to remake the electricity sector.”
  2. Inside Climate News reports on “Why First Nations Are Stopping Enbridge’s Tar Sands Pipeline.”
  3. Energy Live News quotes IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde discussing coal prices: ““This is about the dirtiest of all fuels, yet almost no country imposes meaningful taxes on its use…Our work suggests that, to reflect the carbon damages alone, a reasonably-scaled charge would amount, on average, to around two-thirds of the current world price of coal.”
  4. Slate reports, “We’re not just reducing demand for electricity—we’re destroying it.”
  5. According to Gigaom: “In advance of Tesla’s earnings this afternoon, the electric car maker announced this morning that its deal with Japanese battery giant Panasonic is officially a go. Panasonic will invest in the battery-making equipment and occupy about half of the space, while Tesla will fund and manage the land, building and utilities and, along with other vendors, will occupy the other half of the building.”

New Report Finds Yet Another Egregious Example of Taxpayer-Funded Corporate Welfare to the Dirty Fossil Fuel Industry

July 31st, 2014

Add this report, on “Federal Coal Leasing in the Powder River Basin,” to the long list of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare going to fossil fuel companies. As David Roberts of Grist wrote in 2011, “fossil fuels have gotten the bulk of government help — 70 percent to renewables’ 10 percent, for a total of $594 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies over the last 60 years.” But that only counts direct subsidies, not “externalities” or other indirect subsidies that are difficult, if not impossible, to measure. For instance, as this new report explains, coal leasing in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin is a really “bad deal for taxpayers.” Here’s an excerpt:

While it is evident that Powder River Basin coal is a major contributor to U.S. climate change and carbon pollution, what is less apparent are the real economic and social costs of burning this coal—and the true cost borne by U.S. taxpayers, which has long been overlooked by policymakers.


All in all, depressed market valuations, an anti-competitive leasing program, low royalty rates that have not changed in decades, and unaccounted for social and environmental costs all mean that U.S. taxpayers are paying heavily to sell, mine, and burn Powder River Basin coal. When the social cost of carbon for burning this coal at $62 per short ton is taken into account, the federal government is not only foregoing billions of dollars in lost revenue but is also selling publicly owned coal at a net social loss of at least $49 per short ton

Even using BLM’s lower estimate of 388 million tons of federal coal sold from the Powder River Basin in 2012, the total net social loss that year was more than $19 billion dollars. These losses will continue to reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars if Powder River Basin coal remains so highly undervalued and production continues at similar levels to today.

The bottom line is that the government is selling federal coal at a huge loss, subsidizing an industry to produce carbon pollution, and seemingly has no meaningful plan to change course. In its current form, the federal coal-leasing program in the Powder River Basin is—from top to bottom—a bad deal for U.S. taxpayers.

By the way, the next time anyone from the fossil fuel industry, or one of their paid flacks, tries to tell you that renewable energy can only survive if it is heavily subsidized, you might want to point them to this new study on taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to Power River Basin coal, and to numerous other studies telling the same basic story for other fossil fuel industries – coal mined in the rest of the country, “fracked” natural gas, oil, etc. Our guess is that they won’t have a response to this information, at least a response that makes the least bit of sense.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (7/31/14)

July 31st, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (7/31/14).

  1. Renew Economy reports, “Recurrent Energy, a leading US developer of solar power plants, is closing its Australian office because of the uncertainty over the renewable energy target.”
  2. According to Eco Watch, “ALEC Continues Attack on Renewable Energy Policies to Keep America Addicted to Fossil Fuels.”
  3. Renewable Energy World reports, “France’s planned energy law will mobilize about €10 billion (US $13.4 billion) in investment through tax credits and low-interest loans to spur efficiency and renewable power, Environment Minister Segolene Royal said.”
  4. Greentech Media asks, “What’s at Stake for Renewable Energy as Congress Fights Over the Export-Import Bank?”
  5. An op-ed in The Hill argues: “Wind power isn’t red or blue, it’s red, white and blue. With many members of Congress returning to their local districts during August recess, it’s critical that the Republicans, Independents, and Democrats who make up the majority of Americans who support wind power use the power of their voices to tell Congress to extend the renewable energy Production Tax Credit immediately.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (7/30/14)

July 30th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (7/30/14).

  1. Climate Progress reports, “Scientists at Penn State University have discovered two new coral reefs near the site of BP’s historic 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the impacts to those reefs from the spill have been greater than expected, according to research released Monday.”
  2. According to Greentech Media, “The Reformation Begins: New York Utility Proposes Community Solar, Microgrids-as-a-Service.”
  3. The U.S. Department of Energy details “a series of actions, partnerships, and stakeholder commitments to help modernize the nation’s natural gas transmission and distribution systems and reduce methane emissions.”
  4. Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza writes at Renewable Energy World: “The good news: Facebook can still be a powerful tool to share information and build your brand and referrals. The bad news: Facebook solar marketing is no longer free.”
  5. The Center for American Progress finds, “While it is evident that Powder River Basin coal is a major contributor to U.S. climate change and carbon pollution, what is less apparent are the real economic and social costs of burning this coal—and the true cost borne by U.S. taxpayers, which has long been overlooked by policymakers.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (7/29/14)

July 29th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (7/29/14).

  1. The New York Times reports, “China’s Commerce Ministry castigated the United States on Monday for setting new import duties on Chinese solar products, saying Washington’s actions risked damaging the industry in both countries.”
  2. According to Greentech Media, “Ontario to Become Energy Lab with 34MW of ‘All-of-the-Above’ Energy Storage.”
  3. Greentech Media reports, “SolarCity Quietly Moving to Loans and Customer-Owned Solar.”
  4. Mother Jones takes us “Inside the Huge Solar Farm That Powers Apple’s iCloud.”
  5. The Hill reports, “As the Environmental Protection Agency launches the second-phase of its extensive outreach on Obama’s signature climate rule Tuesday, the White House will unveil new partnerships with companies like Microsoft and IBM, which have committed to help build tools for agricultural communities to respond to climate changes, according to White House adviser John Podesta.”