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August 23 2012

10:00

US Chamber Rejoices As Courts Rule For Polluters

Earlier this week, an appellate court in Washington, D.C. ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had overstepped their authority with their Transport Rule that was put in place to reduce the amount of air pollution being spewed from coal burning plants. The rule would have put stringent limits on the amount of pollution that was being emitted and carried across state lines by weather.

The Courier-Journal has more:

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found in a 2-1 ruling that the EPA, in its so-called “Transport Rule,” had required too much pollution cutting when regulating power plants in 27 upwind states.

In looking at the rule’s “good neighbor” provisions under the Clean Air Act, the court found the EPA did not allow states time to reduce pollution on their own before taking its own action.

The EPA’s own estimates show that the rule could have prevented as many as 15,000 heart attacks a year, 19,000 emergency room visits, and would have reduced sulfur dioxide emissions by 73% and nitrogen oxide emissions by 54%. Both of those are known lung irritants.

Wasting no time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent their astroturf division out to tout the court’s ruling as a victory for businesses, and for America. The Institute for 21st Century Energy, the Chamber’s energy front group, released the following statement from their president, Karen Harbert:

“Today’s decision is good news for consumers and for the reliability of our electricity grid. It is notable that for the second time in two weeks, federal circuit courts have affirmed the primary responsibility of states—not the EPA—in determining how to meet air quality standards under the Clean Air Act.”

“It has always been the contention of the Chamber that EPA regulations should be supported by sound science and accurate analysis. The EPA has habitually inflated the benefits and underestimated the costs of its regulations.”
 

The EPA was granted the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions by the U.S. Supreme Court back in 2007, but the recently struck down rule did not apply to carbon dioxide, only sulfur and nitrogen. However, if the case makes its way up to the Supreme Court, it is likely that the 2007 ruling could be broadened to include emissions in addition to carbon dioxide.

And while the Chamber was quick to jump on the side of industry claiming that the costs of the regulations were too lofty, they completely ignored all of the available evidence that these new air pollution standards would have actually saved our economy trillions of dollars.

An analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency [PDF] shows that the cost of fully implementing the Clean Air Act – which included the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide regulations of the Transport Rule – would have cost $65 billion. However, they would have saved a grand total of $2 trillion for the economy as a whole, which includes the healthcare burdens shifted to American taxpayers for pollution-related illnesses, giving us a net gain of $1.935 trillion.

So now, we have an industry and their corporate lackeys at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who aren’t just putting their profits above the health of American citizens, but they are putting those profits ahead of the health of the already-fragile U.S. economy. The American taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for those who get sick from the pollution the dirty energy industry continues to pump into our atmosphere.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a long history of being on the wrong side of environmental issues. A few years ago, they were the target of enormous corporate backlash when they continued to ignore climate change, leading numerous high-profile companies like Nike and Apple to leave the group because of their backwards-thinking, science-denying operations.

The U.S. Chamber and their “Institute for 21st Century Energy” have also been strong proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, as Ben Jervey pointed out for DeSmogBlog last year.

But the U.S. Chamber isn’t the only villain – state and local chapters of the Chamber of Commerce have been on the forefront of climate change denial and polluter defense for years. Think Progress reported that the state branches of the Chamber of Commerce in Kansas, Michigan, West Virginia, and Indiana have done their best to either completely deny climate change, host speakers that deny climate change, or to confuse the public about this issue. In the state of Michigan, the Chamber is actually lobbying against efforts to invest in renewable energy, which would create much-needed jobs.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is consistently referred to as the country’s most powerful business group and lobbying organization, and they have worked hard to earn that title. So far in 2012, the group has already spent close to $60 million on lobbying and political spending, which already matches the entire amount that the group spent during the 2007 – 2008 presidential election cycle in the U.S.

One of the main reasons the U.S. Chamber has been so successful with their lobbying efforts is that they have a very broad focus. While most companies or interest groups focus solely on elected representatives, the U.S. Chamber has spent an enormous amount of time, money, and energy lobbying the Judicial Branch. And as this week’s ruling shows, that has been a wildly successful venture for the group.

And this week wasn’t a fluke, either. According to reports, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce emerged as the clear victor in this year’s Supreme Court session, allegedly remaining “undefeated” in the issues that they became involved in.

The court that issued this week’s ruling, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has a very conservative majority sitting on the bench. Only three of the appellate judges in the Circuit were appointed by a Democratic president, and those were from Bill Clinton. The Court currently has three vacant seats, which leaves President Obama as little as 4 months to fill those vacancies, if Mitt Romney wins this year’s elections.

Americans tend to forget about our Judicial Branch of government, and of the three branches, the Judiciary gets away with a lot more than our Executive or Legislative branches. It is also a branch that is dangerously susceptible to dirty money, and the lack of public attention allows activist, anti-environmental judges to receive powerful, often lifetime appointments that are nearly impossible to undo. The recent anti-environmental court rulings should serve as a wakeup call to American citizens.

February 09 2012

23:38

Living Off The Grid With Solar Power Can Be Simple, Fun, and Challenging


The author and his wife in front of their solar-powered home.Guest Post by Kriss Bergethon

My wife and I were desperate to get out of the city.  It was 2007, we were having an extremely stressful year with work.  I owned a small construction company that was just about to give me a heart attack.  She had a job she hated so much she would cry on the way to work sometimes.  On top of all that, we lived in a duplex with noisy neighbors.  And don’t even get me started on the constant, traffic, sirens, and aircraft noise of living in the city.

That’s when we decided: LETS GET OUT OF HERE – FOR GOOD!  So we started looking for homes in the mountains.  And, as luck would have it, we found our dream home after just one day of looking.  Incredible views, astoundingly quiet, on a beautiful lake and surrounded by Aspen-draped mountains, we thought we had died and gone to heaven.  There was just one thing: there was no grid power in this part of the world.

The home was powered with a solar power system and a backup generator.  Heat would have to come from a wood-burning stove.  It wasn’t exactly roughing it, but it was a drastic lifestyle change.  And so, in the dead of winter, we moved our lives to the peace and quiet of Colorado Rockies.  No more walking to sushi on Friday night.  No more rowdy concerts and raucous cab rides on Saturday night.  We still do those things every once in a while but we don’t miss them as much as we thought we would.  And we also don’t have to deal with car break-ins, dirty air, bad water, rude drivers, and traffic jams.

Living off the grid meant we had to make other adjustments too.  The only lights on in the house at night are ones we are actively using.  We started listening to our iPods with headphones instead of throwing on the stereo and cranking the music.  Laundry waits until a sunny day.  Everything is on a power strip and gets turned off at the end of the evening.  We don’t own a toaster, microwave, clothes iron, or hair dryer.

We’ve become acutely aware of the patterns of the sun and weather.  We open the blinds wide to let the sun pour in and heat the house in the winter.  In the warm summer evenings we close them and crack windows strategically to allow the mountains breezes to cool the house.  We’ve installed a wind generator and tuned into the patterns of our breezes too.  Winter mornings might mean shoveling both the driveway and solar panels clear of snow.

Don’t misunderstand, we don’t live like hermits.  We have a large flat screen TV, three computers, plenty of lighting, and tons of entertainment devices.  We just use them strategically to conserve power, always keeping in mind that the sun is our friend.  Up here we find that we need those things less anyway, with all the hiking, skiing, biking, and boating there is to do here.

We’ve learned a lot about solar, living away from civilization, but mostly about ourselves here.  And I can honestly say this is happiest I’ve ever been.

——————-

Kriss Bergethon is a writer and solar expert from Colorado.  You can visit his site at Solar Power for more information.

 

January 18 2012

18:33

Energy Subsidies: Oil versus Renewables


The lopsided story of energy subsidies in the United StatesIn a world that must reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, replacing oil subsidies with renewable energy subsidies makes sense. Although this is undeniably difficult, it would produce both environmental and economic benefits. Putting an end to oil subsidies would free public money that could be used to promote clean energy and make renewables more competitive.

Although renewable energy is destined to increase it will not grow fast enough to stabilize GHG concentrations below 450ppm which will result in a temperature increase of more than 2°C. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global demand for renewables currently account for approximately 4 percent of total energy. Demand for renewables is expected to rise to 14 percent by 2035, while fossil fuels, which now have 75 percent of global energy demand, will decline to 62 percent over the same period.

The case against fossil fuel subsidies

The case against the fossil-fuel subsidies is overwhelming. They encourage inefficient energy use and they represent a huge amount of lost revenue. Sheltering consumers from oil’s price volatility also shields them from incentives to pursue renewables.

Fossil fuel subsidies are “creating market distortions that encourage wasteful consumption,” the IEA said. “The costs of subsidies to fossil fuels generally outweigh the benefits.”

Oil subsidies are actually increasing the consumption of fossil fuels. Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the IEA, points out that 95 percent of current growth in oil demand is coming from countries where the oil price is subject to subsidies. The IEA estimates that removing fossil-fuel consumption subsidies would reduce global carbon-dioxide emissions by 1.5 to 2 billion tons by 2020.

The IEA’s World Energy Outlook report indicates that eliminating subsidies by 2020 would cut global energy demand by 3.9 percent or the equivalent of 600 million tons of oil. The abolition of these subsidies would reduce demand by almost 5 percent by 2035.

Although many have agreed on the need to eliminate oil subsidies in principle, nothing has actually been done. The Obama Administration has proposed ending fossil fuel subsidies, as did U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Sir Nicholas Stern, Al Gore, and Sir John Browne (the former Chief Executive of BP). In September 2009, G20 Leaders also committed to “rationalize and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption.”

An analysis made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the IEA illustrates that removing fossil fuel subsidies in a number of non-OECD countries could reduce world Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 10 percent in 2050. Removing these subsidies would amount to roughly a seventh of the effort needed to keep temperature increases below 2°C.

In the U.S., the fossil fuel industry and their allies claim eliminating oil subsidies would cause domestic production to fall, the loss of jobs, and a rise in gas prices. But the advocacy group Oil Change International says removing fossil fuel subsidies will have “little to no impact on domestic production, jobs, or prices at the pump.”

Calculating Fossil Fuel Subsidies 

Fossil fuel subsidies are difficult to estimate because they are complex and take many forms. In its simplest essence, these subsidies refer to any government action that lowers the cost of fossil fuels. This includes everything from tax breaks, to preferred rate loans, price controls and purchase requirements.

A report from the OECD estimates that between $45 billion and $75 billion in budgetary support and tax expenditures have been provided to the coal, oil and gas industries by the 24 richest OECD countries.  According to the IEA, consumption subsidies in 37 developing countries were worth $557 billion annually.

The IEA data indicates the worldwide cost of fuel subsidies for oil amounted to about $190 billion in 2010, up from around $120 billion in 2009. According to the agency, expenditure on all fossil fuel (oil, coal and gas) subsidies could rise to $660 billion in 2020, up from $409 billion in 2010.

U.S. federal subsidies to the domestic oil and gas industry, excluding coal, may be as high as $41 billion annually. When all forms of subsidies are tallied, including production subsidies and consumption subsidies, that total may be closer to $600 billion annually.

Comparing Renewable Energy Subsidies

A November 11, 2011 Bloomberg article reports that while governments are increasingly subsidizing oil and gas they are not making similar investments in renewable energy. According to the chief adviser to oil-importing, fossil-fuel consumers worldwide received about six times more government subsidies than were given to the renewable-energy industry.

In its World Energy Outlook, the IEA said State spending to cut retail prices of gasoline, coal and natural gas rose 36 percent to $409 billion as global energy costs increased, while aid for biofuels, wind power and solar energy, rose only 10 percent to $66 billion.

At the current rate, the IEA predicted that onshore wind generators will not be be competitive until 2020 in Europe and 2030 in China. In the U.S., wind turbines will not be competitive until at least 2035.

The IEA data supports the idea that for renewable energy to be competitive with fossil fuels, they need more short-term subsidies.

Promising Signs for Renewable Energy

Despite disproportionate support for fossil fuels, a November 25, 2011 Bloomberg article reveals that in terms of new power-plant investments, renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time. Electricity generated by wind, sun, waves and biomass drew $187 billion last year, compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal.

Last year was also the first time expenditure in developing countries exceeded that of the industrialized world.

The growth of renewable energy prompted United Nations Environment Program Executive Secretary Achim Steiner to say:

“The progress of renewables has been nothing short of remarkable. You have record investment in the midst of an economic and financial crisis.”

We are witnessing a promising trend in wind and solar power. According to GWEC estimates, there were 36 gigawatts of installed wind capacity in 2010, 43 gigawatts of generating capacity in 2011, and 48 gigawatts are anticipated in 2012.

New Energy Finance said there were 18.2 gigawatts of solar installations in 2010, 26.4 gigawatts in 2011, and 27.8 gigawatts are forecast for 2012. They estimate that investment in renewable energy may double to $395 billion a year by 2020.

Obstacles to Growing Renewable Energy and Eliminating Oil Subsidies

Despite their growth, renewable energy companies are struggling with oversupply issues and the austerity of the current business environment. The surge in production to meet growing demand has driven down prices and created an overcapacity. This has forced renewable energy companies to cut their margins and reduce their sales forecasts in 2012.

The ongoing financial crisis has also hit renewable energy companies hard, making it even more difficult to develop new projects. Austerity measures are cutting spending on climate protection measures, including renewable energy subsidies, tax credits, and pollution abatement programs.

In the U.S., the Department of the Treasury’s Section 1603 cash grants program for clean energy projects expired in 2011, while tens of billions of dollars continues to go to the American oil industry in annual subsidies.

The sheer number of oil subsidies makes eradicating them a very complex problem. The IEA and the OECD indicate that there are at least 250 different kinds of subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

Perhaps the most difficult problem concerns the fact that ending subsidies for oil and gas is a political minefield.

Despite these difficulties, the world is moving towards renewables driven by the inescapable logic of clean energy. However, this shift could be significantly expedited if we eliminated fossil fuel subsidies and increased subsidies for renewable energy.

——————-

Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, a leading sustainable business blog and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

Image credit: CleanTechnica.com

January 09 2012

19:12

Councils fail to understand green energy, report finds

Councils and other social landlords are being 'greenwashed' into spending large sums of money on technology to cut energy bills despite having little understanding of how it works, a study has found.

October 06 2011

18:52

Eight Amazing Things About Solar Panels That Could Change the World


How Solar Panels Can Change the WorldGuest post by Kriss Bergethon

Green energy is one of the most rapidly expanding industries in the world right now due to so many people looking to do their part to help save the planet. With so much focus on solving global warming and reducing air pollution, smarter and cleaner forms of energy are being looked at very closely by scientists and consumers. There are several cool facts about solar power that can change the world.

  1. The Reduction in Prices for Solar Panels
    One of the biggest reasons people avoided solar power in the past is that it was too expensive and inefficient to be worth their time. Coal has been up to 90% less expensive to use as an energy source over the years, which made other options ineffective. Prices on solar panels have dropped up to 30% in some cases and have come down to the $4/watt range.
  2. The Development of Solar Film
    Rather than using the traditional solar panels, a few companies have started to put out solar film. Film is cheaper to make than panels because it is printed out in rolls while standard panels are manufactured like microchips. The prices on solar film seem to be coming out at roughly $2/watt, which is 50% less expensive than panels.
  3. Increase in Efficiency for Panels
    Solar panels typically ran at an efficiency level of around 15%, which is measured by the difference between how much sun hits the panel and how much energy comes out of it. Solar energy has become more efficient in recent years, and newer panels are putting out 22% more consistently.
  4. Increase in Efficiency for Films
    Thin films have greatly increased in efficiency as well. Films consistently used to have about 10% efficiency, but with improvements in technology the films have bumped up their efficiency to about 15%, which makes them more worth the money.
  5. Utility Scale Solar Power
    Solar power can now be delivered through utility companies instead of just through panels mounted on a home or building. This enables power facilities to use mirrors and advanced panels to obtain maximum energy from the sun and transmit it to homes and businesses.
  6. Increased Price for Traditional Power
    As prices for traditional power like coal and fossil fuels continue to rise, people will continue to develop alternative energy sources. Solar energy is the most abundant resource that should be tapped, and increased cost will lead to more research and development.
  7. Research for Advancements
    Research drives projects like solar power to greater heights. When research is funded, things like efficiency go up for these panels and make it more affordable for everyone. The government is funding projects like solar power to clean up the environment.
  8. Investment of Time and Money
    Silicon Valley venture capital is involved in significant investments for the solar energy field. Programs are being granted the money and opportunities needed to advance solar power to a new level. Investment increases the rate of development for solar power.

——————-
Kriss Bergethon is a solar expert and writer from Colorado.  Visit his site at Solar Panels for more information.

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July 12 2011

16:03

Solar Power: The Path to Parity


The Path to Parity

Solar panel technology has changed little since it’s inception in 1894. Certain refinements have increased output and produced higher efficiencies, while the technology surrounding battery technology has improved our ability to store the energy collected. What has really changed is the cost per watt in comparison to the cost of competitive renewable and non-renewable energies.

And now, with so many solar companies offering lease programs, the cost of installing solar on your home or business has dropped so significantly, it can often be purchased with no money down and might even drop your monthly electric bill.

Path to Parity: infographic on history of solar technology

Infographic by SunRun – Home Solar Leasing Made Easy

Related articles
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July 07 2011

22:56

Power Generation from Renewables Surpasses Nuclear


Renewable electrical generation surpasses nuclear power generationThe latest issue of theMonthly Energy Review published by the US Energy Information Administration, electric power generation from renewable sources has surpassed production from nuclear sources, and is now “closing in on oil,” says Ken Bossong Executive Director of the Sun Day Campaign

In the first quarter of 2011 renewable energy sources accounted for 11.73 percent of US domestic energy production. Renewable sources include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro, biomass/biofuel. As of the first quarter of 2011, energy production from these sources was 5.65 percent more than production from nuclear.

As Bossing further explains from the report, renewable sources are closing the gap with generation from oil-fired sources, with renewable source equal to 77.15 percent of total oil based generation.

For all sectors, including transportation, thermal, and electrical generation, renewable energy production grew just over 15 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010, and fully 25 percent over first quarter 2009. In a break-down of renewable sources, biomass/biofuel accounted for a bit more than 48 percent, hydro for 35.41 percent, wind for nearly 13 percent, geothermal 2.45 percent, and solar at 1.16 percent.

Looking at just the electrical generation sector, renewable sources, including hydro, accounted for nearly 13 percent of net US electrical generation in the first quarter of 2011, up from 10.31 percent for the same quarter last year. Non-hydro renewable sources accounted for 4.74 percent of net US production.

Electrical power generation from renewable grew by almost 26 percent in the first quarter of 2011 over the same quarter in 2010. Solar power generation was up 104.8 percent, wind generation increased 40.3 percent, and hydro expanded by 28.7 percent. Electricity generated from biomass decreased by 4.8 percent. By comparison, natural gas generation increased by 1.8 percent, nuclear by 0.4 percent, and coal-fired electrical generation declined by 5.7 percent.

“Notwithstanding the recent nuclear accident in Japan, among many others, and the rapid growth in energy and electricity from renewable sources, congressional Republicans continue to press for more nuclear energy funding while seeking deep cuts in renewable energy investments,” said Bossong. “One has to wonder ‘what are these people thinking?’”

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July 05 2011

00:58

G.E. Bursts into the Solar Panel Field Equipped to Succeed


GE enters the thin-film solar panel market in a big wayGuest Post by Kriss Bergethon

General Electric is planning the largest solar panel factory in the United States, looking to get into the growing “green” industry in a big way, and on an accelerated timeline.

According to Victor Abate, vice president for G.E.’s renewable energy business, the news follows G.E.’s ongoing investments in solar panels, and takes their efforts to a much larger scale than ever before.

G.E. is leveraging their presence in Colorado, setting up the factory there, and bringing direct and indirect employment to about 1,000 people. The new factory will provide employment for 400 workers and create 600 jobs in related business nearby.

Having acquired Arvada-based PrimeStar Solar Inc., G.E. is off to a running start with a factory that is already tooled for highly economical thin-film solar panels. The panels are certified by the National Renewable Energy Lab as the most efficient of their kind. The factory will manufacture thin-film photovoltaic panels, made of cadmium telluride, by 2013.

Cadmium telluride panels are less efficient than ordinary ones, but can be produced at a lower cost. G.E. will manufacture the most efficient cadmium telluride panels currently possible, and because of the relatively low expense, expects to produce a high volume annually. There is a healthy market for cadmium telluride panels among utility providers and other large-scale operators.

With this announcement, G.E. is signaling again that it is serious about increasing its energy business. G.E. already holds large stakes in nuclear power and natural gas. Recent expansion in these energy sources has been largely through acquisitions.

According to Abate, G.E. will be a cost leader and a technology leader. “We’re excited about our position in a 75 gigawatt solar market over the next five years,” he added.

G.E. is not alone in pursing the solar panel business, which is very competitive. One major player is Arizona-based First Solar, the market leader in thin-film panel manufacturing. Abound Solar, another competitor, is rapidly adding manufacturing capacity for its cadmium telluride panels. The company recently took out a $400 million federal loan guarantee to fund their expansion.

G.E. won’t be applying for federal loan guarantees like Abound Solar has. Instead, they plan to explore state and federal manufacturing tax credits to expand as needed.

G.E.’s manufacturing roll-out will be small compared to First Solar’s level of production. G.E.’s Abate said his company’s solar efforts can grow swiftly, as happened with their wind energy business. Abate told the New York Times, “It’s a $6 billion platform and it was a couple of hundred million dollars in ’02,” regarding G.E.’s wind division. “G.E. is very good at scale. In ’05, we were building 10 turbines a week. By ’08, we were doing 13 a day.”

G.E. faces competition from low-cost, government-subsidized Chinese manufacturers. Without similar cash subsidies available to them in the U.S., G.E. will deal with low cost international competitors as it does already in the wind business.

——————

Kriss Bergethon is a writer and solar expert from Colorado, visit his site at Solar Panels

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Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

April 26 2011

23:27

Wind Energy Production Hits New Record in California Last Week


Wind energy hits record peak in CaliforniaThe California Independent System Operator (Cal-ISO), the state’s grid operator, announced last Friday (Earth Day) that the state hit a record level of peak wind energy output last week of 2,432 megawatts, outpacing last year’s record of 1,915 MW. Peak refers to the amount of energy generation is available while demand is highest. Last week’s record peak comprised 5 percent of total demand.

The announcement came as part of Cal-ISO’s 2011 summer assignment. Due to what the report refers to as a “modest economic recovery,” summer peak demand is expected to increase 1.5 percent from last year’s 47,127 MW to 47,814MW.

The report credits the growth in wind energy generation to California’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard that mandates 33% total energy generation from renewables by 2020.

The state has approximately 7,300 MW of renewable energy currently online. After wind energy, geothermal is the primary source of renewable energy in California, followed by small hydro, biomass, solar, and biogas.

Most non-renewable energy generation (68 percent) comes from natural gas in California, with large hydro contributing 16 percent of total generation, and nuclear at 9 percent.

Sources and further reading:

Cal-ISO Assessment Report (pdf)
ClimateWire (subscription required)

 

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March 09 2011

19:05

Congress Seeks to End Billions in Subsidies for Oil Companies

As both oil industry profits and gas prices continue to rise, Congressman Bruce Braley (D – IA) believes that it is time to end the billions of dollars worth of subsidies that the United States hands out to oil companies on an annual basis. In his proposed Clean Energy Jobs bill, Braley would end the tax breaks and other subsidies that flow to the oil industry, and use that money instead to create clean energy jobs, invest in biofuel production, and pay down the national debt.

These oil industry subsidies are nothing to scoff at. In 2005, then-President George W. Bush authorized a total of $32.9 billion worth of new subsidies for the industry over five years, bringing the annual total of their subsidies to a staggering $39 billion. The new subsidies were put in place at a time when Americans were paying the highest price for gasoline at the pump in history, which coincided with the largest oil company profits to date.
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To put the oil industries’ subsidies in perspective, T.J. Scolnick wrote in a DeSmogBlog piece last month in response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address:

The President proposed $302 million for solar energy research and development (up 22 percent); $123 million for wind energy (a 53 percent increase); and $55 million for geothermal energy (up 25 percent). But fossil fuels subsidies are holding back growth in burgeoning clean energy industries, which face a momumental challenge to compete with entrenched industries that receive far greater government subsidies.

Oil industry subsidies were established to help the industry meet the energy demands of the nation, and are meant to be used to increase production, exploration, and innovation. However, as fossil fuels are becoming more and more expensive to produce and causing increasing damage to the environment, the subsidies no longer provide a tangible benefit to the American people. The price of gasoline and consumer products continues to soar, putting a heavy burden on American families, and the only apparent benefits are going to the oil industry's bottom line, as evidenced in their record profits even in a tough economy.

Investing these billions of dollars of subsidies into clean, renewable sources of energy would not only create new industries offering much-needed jobs, but would also help reduce the pollution associated with dirty fossil fuels that threatens public health and the global climate.

Congressman Braley’s Clean Energy Jobs bill is in the early stages of the legislative process, and faces tough political hurdles with a Republican-controlled Congress.  While the wisdom of Braley's vision for clean energy and job creation is clear, the chances of the bill being brought to a full House vote remain slim. Once again, politics stands in the way of real progress.

December 27 2010

19:52

Latest EIA Report Shows Renewable Energy Production Continues Growth in 2010, Equals Nuclear Energy Output


Wind energy saw the largest growth in 2010The latest Monthly Energy Review released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) last week shows both nuclear and renewable energy sources provided roughly 11 percent each of primary energy production for the first nine months of 2010 – the latest period for which data is available.

The EIA report states that renewable energy sources, including biomass/biofuels, solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal contributed 10.9 percent of domestic energy production through the end of September, up 5.7 percent over the same period in 2009. Nuclear energy accounted for 11.4 percent of domestic production – down 0.5 percent from the same period last year.

Renewable energy statistics breakdown

Of the various sources of renewable energy, each contributed the following to the overall renewable portfolio:

  • Biomass/biofuel: 51.95 percent
  • Hydropower: 31.50 percent
  • Wind: 10.52 percent
  • Geothermal: 4.65 percent
  • Solar: 1.38 percent

Wind, biofuels shows biggest growth

Comparing those statistics with the same period of 2009 shows solar energy production expanding 2.4 percent and hydro declining by 5.2 percent. The big winners were biomass and biofuels, which grew by 10 percent in the first three quarters of 2010, and wind energy, which grew a full 26.7 percent. Combined non-hydro renewable sources grew 11.5 percent.

Overall, U.S. primary energy production rose 2 percent in the first nine months of 2010 over the same period last year. Fossil fuels accounted for 78 percent of primary energy production.

“Members of the incoming Congress are proposing to slash cost-effective funding for rapidly expanding renewable energy technologies while foolishly plowing ever-more federal dollars into the nuclear power black hole,” said Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “The numbers clearly show this would be betting on the obvious loser while ignoring the clearly emerging winner in the energy race.”

October 29 2010

18:57

March 04 2010

19:18

$100 Million in Stimulus Funds for Green Tech

The Department of Energy has announced a new round of grants to help accelerate innovation in energy efficiency, storage and transmission.
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