Doha was a Dud!

The Doha climate change conference concluded this week with what has become a familiar ring.  Nothing much of import happened and increasingly fewer people noticed.  Oh, the issues at the surface are still the same as they have been since they first flamed out in 2009 at Copenhagen.  These events have become a global debate over wealth redistribution with the poorer countries trying to guilt the richer ones into paying them not to pollute their own backyards----and if that is not silly enough …Continue Reading »

Common Sense Kiss of Death for Climate Change Lawsuits

The decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Native Village of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp., No. 09-17490, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 19870 (9th Cir. Sept. 21, 2012) if left standing has the practical effect of ending the way environmental law claims are decided.  In a unanimous decision, the Appeals Court dismissed the case against XOM and other oil, energy and utilities companies alleging that their greenhouse gas emissions threaten the defendants’ property and …Continue Reading »

The Dirty Little Secret of Economic Impacts of Federal Rules

“We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (collectively referred to as the ‘‘Services’’ or ‘‘we’’), propose to revise our regulations pertaining to impact analyses conducted for designations of critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (the Act). These changes are being proposed as directed by the President’s February 28, 2012, memorandum, which directed us to take prompt steps to revise our …Continue Reading »

The Revenge of Competitive Markets and the Big Shift in Energy Economics

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The economy, jobs and the debate over the direction of the country dominate 2012 political campaigns.  Nowhere is the political rhetoric fiercer than on energy issues. Today there is wave after wave of new Federal regulation designed to favor clean energy strategies at the expense of fossil fuels that still provide most of our energy resources.  There is broad public support for environmental quality but we see Federal energy industrial policy as hugely expensive, highly disruptive with …Continue Reading »

Too Much of Two Good Things

The Pacific Northwest is experiencing too much of two good things.  The region is blessed with high quality, low cost hydropower generation which serves as the backbone of the power generation system.  Over the past decade, the Colombia River corridor has sprouted a sizable fleet of wind generation. So what’s the problem, you ask? The forces of nature do not always choreograph their energy dance.   Power generation happens in a run of the river system when the winter snow pack begins to …Continue Reading »

Natural Gas is Cleaner, Cheaper, Easier and Riskier

There is much to like in the growth of natural gas as the marginal fuel of choice for power generation.  Clean, cheap, easier to site, quicker to build, fewer regulatory or environmental hassles----and it cuts emissions 40% compared to coal. A new study by Professor Lawrence M. Cathles, Cornell University, recently published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics and Geosystems calls natural gas a transition step to a low-carbon energy future of wind, solar and nuclear energy.  He says …Continue Reading »

Preparing for the Next Boom

It does not feel like recovery.  Recovery is a time for rationalizing the old and positioning for what is to come.  I know it seems like the economy is still in the ditch.  But now is the time to get to work preparing for the competitive, smart-grid enabled, distributed, global energy future. But first we still have some clean-up work to do.  Over the last two energy business cycles we saw high inflation crater nuclear power generation, the rise of exempt wholesale power generators, …Continue Reading »

Regulatory Cynicism at Work

The US Environmental Protection Agency is expected to publish new proposed rules setting air quality standards for soot this week under terms of a tentative settlement agreement reached with eleven states that sued EPA for NOT acting to promulgate rules for fine particulate matter under the Clean Air Act. If you are curious about the air quality where you live you can visit the EPA Air Now website and check out the daily readings being reported.  For most of us the map looks green (green is …Continue Reading »

Regulatory Flexibility

I know, that sounds like oxymoron, but this is an election year and not even the US EPA wants to have too many targets on its back.  So US EPA spews out new rules at a feverish pace fearing that time is running out to do so even while it issues press releases professing new found flexibility to balance legitimate economic, business and environmental concerns. BALANCE!  What a concept! Quit laughing and listen up!  US EPA proposed amendments to the national emission standards for hazardous …Continue Reading »