Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (4/4/14)

April 4th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (4/4/14).

  1. Greentech Media reports: “Starting in June, California’s latest version of its sprawling Title 24 building code kicks in, requiring that a whole host of systems come with some sort of demand response capability. Specifically, they are required to be ‘capable of receiving and automatically responding to at least one standards-based messaging protocol” to receive fast signals from utilities, via broadband or wireless connections.’”
  2. According to Renewable Energy World, “Low-Income Rooftop Solar Program Helping Hundreds of California Families.”
  3. The New York Times reports, “A giant Texas oil company, Anadarko Petroleum, has agreed to pay $5.1 billion for a vast environmental cleanup, a sum the Justice Department said was the largest it had ever won in such a case.”
  4. According to Climate Progress, “TransCanada has doubled down on Nebraska landowners refusing to sign over their land to Keystone XL, warning them that if they don’t accept the current offers by May 14, future offers will be far less lucrative.”
  5. Reuters reports, “Exxon Mobil Corp, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, has agreed to disclose more information about the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing, the process known as fracking.”

U.S. Fossil Fuel Spills, Messes, Accidents, Disasters: We’re Keeping Track

April 3rd, 2014

Fossil fuel spills, messes, accidents and even disasters occur all the time, but it’s highly likely that most aren’t reported by the media. In this feature on Scaling Green, we’re going to keep an informal, running tally of notable oil, natural gas, and coal messes in the United States that were reported in the news media. And just for run, we’ll also throw in any solar spills, aka “sunny days,” that happen to come along. For instance, today (April 3, 2014) is a beautiful, sunny day in Arlington, Virginia, where Scaling Green is headquartered.

OIL
March 24, 2014: BP more than doubles estimate of oil spill in Lake Michigan (“BP, the petroleum giant, has more than doubled its estimate of how much crude oil it spilled this week into Lake Michigan, a source of drinking water for some 7 million people in Chicago and its suburbs.”)
March 22, 2014: Shipping Channel Opens Partially After Huge Oil Spill in Galveston Bay (“Almost 100 ships had been waiting to pass since 4,000 barrels of oil leaked into Galveston Bay on Saturday from a barge that collided with a ship.”)
March 21, 2014: Hiland Crude Pipeline Spills Oil Near Alexander, ND (“Cleanup workers have contained about 34,000 gallons of crude that spewed from a broken oil pipeline in northwestern North Dakota, a state health official said Friday.”)
December 30, 2013: 400,000 gallons of crude oil spilled in North Dakota train crash (“About 400,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from 18 rail cars after after a Dec. 30 derailment near Casselton, N.D…An ensuing explosion sent a massive mushroom cloud of fire above the prairie and forced the evacuation of 1,400 residents”)
March 29, 2013: 2013 Mayflower oil spill (“…an ExxonMobil pipeline carrying Canadian Wabasca heavy crude from the Athabasca oil sands ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock… A reported 5,000−7,000 barrels of crude were spilled” from Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline.)
March 9, 2013: 2013 Magnolia Refinery Oil Spill (“…the line between a vital pump and an oil storage container broke…a reported 15,000 barrels…of crude oil into the Little Corney Creek [near] the town of Magnolia, Arkansas. The resulting oil slick was approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long on the surface of the water…”)
October 29, 2012: Arthur Kill Oil Spill: Hurricane Sandy’s Surge Dumps Diesel Into New Jersey Waterway (“…almost 350,000 gallons of fuel that spilled as a result of superstorm Sandy…a tank ruptured at a storage facility owned by Motiva Enterprises LLC, a joint venture of Shell and Saudi Refining Inc. Diesel spilled into the Arthur Kill, a narrow waterway separating New Jersey and Staten Island…”)
July 1, 2011: Yellowstone River Oil Spill (“An ExxonMobil pipeline which runs from Silver Tip, to Billings, Montana ruptured about 10 miles west of Billings…The resulting spill leaked an estimated 1,500 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River…for 56 minutes before it was shut down.”)
July 26, 2010: Kalamazoo River oil spill (“…a 40-foot pipe segment in Line 6B, located approximately 0.6 of a mile downstream of the Marshall, Michigan pump station, ruptured. The rupture in the Enbridge Energy pipeline caused a 877,000 US gallons (3,320 m3) spill of diluted bitumen also called tar sands or heavy crude oil originating from Canada (Alberta and Saskatchewan) into Talmadge Creek in Calhoun County, Michigan, which flows into the Kalamazoo River”)

NATURAL GAS
October 9, 2013: Oklahoma Pipeline Explosion Sparks Large Fire, Prompting Evacuations (“An explosion on a pipeline in northwestern Oklahoma sparked a large and roaring fire…Engineers were also called in to cut off the natural gas flow to the pipeline, which is owned by Northern Natural Gas of Omaha, and brings gas from Texas to the Upper Midwest.”)
August 20, 2013: Fire put out on Oklahoma natural gas pipeline after blast (“A fire on Tuesday caused by an explosion at a natural gas pipeline owned by Enable Midstream Partners near Kiowa, Oklahoma, has been extinguished…”)

COAL
February 3, 2014: Up To 82,000 Tons Of Toxic Coal Ash Spilled Into North Carolina River From ‘Antiquated’ Storage Pit (“Duke Energy, which owns the Dan River Steam Station, retired since 2012, estimates that 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash and up to 27 million gallons of water were released from the 27-acre storage pond [into the Dan River]…Coal ash is a toxic waste byproduct from burning coal, usually stored with water in large ponds.”)
January 9, 2014: 2014 Elk River chemical spill (“crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol…was released from a Freedom Industries facility into the Elk River, a tributary of the Kanawha River, in Charleston…West Virginia…up to 300,000 residents within nine counties in the Charleston, West Virginia metropolitan area were without access to potable water.”)

Tesla Files in NJ Superior Court Over State Ban on Electric Vehicle Direct Sales

April 3rd, 2014

A few weeks ago, we highlighted a blog post by Elon Musk of Tesla Motors calling out New Jersey for having “ended your right to purchase vehicles at a manufacturer store within the state.” In Musk’s open letter, he said that if you believe the auto dealer lobby’s rationale that this is about “consumer protection,” then “Gov. Christie has a bridge closure he wants to sell you!” Musk also said that “Tesla is ‘evaluating judicial remedies to correct the situation.’” Now Tesla has moved ahead on that front.

In a statement accompanying the Superior Court filing, Tesla said today the commission had bowed to intense pressure from the state’s franchise auto dealers association, the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers.

Franchise dealers have an inherent conflict of interest in selling electric vehicles,” Tesla said in the filing. “In order to do so effectively, they would need to enthusiastically tout the reasons why electric vehicles are superior to gasoline vehicles. This is not something that they are going to do since gasoline vehicles represent virtually all of their revenue.”

Tesla’s right, and we certainly hope they prevail in court.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (4/3/14)

April 3rd, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (4/3/14).

  1. Bloomberg reports, “India plans to award licenses for an additional 1,000 megawatts of solar power plants in the next year, about 30 percent more than originally targeted and equivalent to about half the capacity built so far.”
  2. The Sierra Club writes about yesterday’s Supreme Court decision on campaign finance law: “Are you wondering who exactly will benefit and who will they be donating to? Take a look at who the case is named after: Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama Republican activist who made his fortune in – what else? – the coal industry. It’s McCutcheon and other dirty fuel executives like him who wanted to pump even more money into the system – and the Supreme Court has rolled over and let them.”
  3. Gigaom reports: “The U.S. government’s stalled and controversial green car loan program is getting a makeover, which could unleash its remaining $16 billion in allocated funds. During an event Wednesday, Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz announced that the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program, which allocated loans to green automakers between 2009 and 2011, will be improved in a few key ways.”
  4. According to KPBS: “Nearly 12 million Californians will get a discount on their power bill this month, in October and twice per year next year, too. Utilities bought or were given carbon credits last year under California’s cap and trade system.”
  5. The New York Times reports: “With the wind and solar energy industries well advanced, the oceans are looking more attractive as a new source of clean energy to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. There are obvious pluses: The tides, especially along the coasts of some countries, including Britain, are powerful and more predictable than wind.”

Gallup: Americans Overwhelmingly Favor Clean Over Dirty Energy; Efficiency Over Production; Environmental Protection

April 2nd, 2014

The fossil fuel industry can (and does) spend millions of dollars trying to persuade people that their product’s great, that renewable energy isn’t, and that climate change isn’t real. Unfortunately for the fossil fuel folks, it looks like the American people are a lot smarter than ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers, etc. think they are.

Evidence? How about this newly-released polling by Gallup, which finds the following.

  • “57% of Americans say the U.S. should emphasize conservation in its approach to solve the nation’s energy problems, up from 51% in 2013 and 48% in 2011.”
  • In contrast, only “one-third in the U.S. now favor greater emphasis on energy production as the solution.”
  • “64% of Americans prefer an emphasis on the development of alternative energy production, such as wind and solar power, to an emphasis on production of traditional fossil fuels. That is up from 59% in 2013.”
  • Among younger people (ages 18-34), the preference for clean over dirty energy is overwhelming, with 80% preferring clean energy vs. 20% opting for the dirty stuff. That’s the future, and it’s not looking good for the fossil fuel folks.
  • By a nearly 2:1 margin, Americans support “setting higher emissions and pollution standards for business and industry” and “more strongly enforcing federal environmental regulation.”
  • By a 63%-35% margin, Americans favor “imposing mandatory controls on carbon dioxide emissions/other greenhouse gases.”
  • By a 58%-37% margin, Americans favor “setting stricter standards on the use of techniques to extract natural gas from the earth, including ‘fracking’.”

In sum, it appears that the fossil fuel industry is losing its battle for American public opinion. That’s the good news. The bad news, at least so far, is that the strong preference of the American people for clean energy over dirty energy has not resulted in corresponding policy action by Congress. Perhaps the fact that the fossil fuel industry spends huge amounts of money to keep Congress from acting has something to do with that?