Other stories below: As climate changes, Louisiana seeks to lift a highway; With gas prices rising, smog rules may stall
Not since the allies leveled Germany in World War II has Europe’s biggest economy undertaken a reconstruction of its energy market on this scale.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to build offshore wind farms that will cover an area six times the size of New York City and erect power lines that could stretch from London to Baghdad. The program will cost 200 billion euros ($263 billion), about 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product in 2011, according to the DIW economic institute in Berlin.
Germany aims to replace 17 nuclear reactors supplying a fifth of its electricity with renewables such as solar and wind. Merkel to succeed must experiment with untested systems and policies and overcome technical hurdles threatening the project, said Stephan Reimelt, chief executive officer of General Electric Co. (GE)’s energy unit in the country.
Here on the side of Louisiana’s Highway 1, next to Raymond’s Bait Shop, a spindly pole with Global Positioning System equipment and a cellphone stuck on top charts the water’s gradual encroachment on dry land.
In 1991 this stretch of road through the marshlands of southern Louisiana was 3.9 feet above sea level, but the instrument — which measures the ground’s position in relation to sea level — shows the land has lost more than a foot against the sea. It sank two inches in the past 16 months alone.
That’s a problem because Highway 1, unprotected by levees, connects critical oil and gas resources in booming Port Fourchon to the rest of the nation.
Ten miles of the highway is now standing 22 feet above sea level on cement piles. But another seven miles is not, and if less than half a mile of this highway succumbs to the 14-foot storm surges expected in the future, the highway will need to be shut down, cutting off the port.
The Obama administration, facing political heat over high gasoline prices, may delay new rules that would cut pollution from cars but also could bring higher prices at the pump, environmental and industry leaders said.
The rules would require refiners to make cleaner-burning gasoline and auto makers to build cars that emit fewer smog-forming pollutants. The Environmental Protection Agency was scheduled to roll out the rules before April, but it hasn’t yet submitted them for White House review.
“We expect that timing will begin to slip, perhaps for political considerations” said American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard.
Ten years ago, a very senior federal deputy minister told me that implementing Canada’s Kyoto Protocol target to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels by 2012 would force an adjustment on the Canadian economy greater than that of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. (The FTA, which was ultimately of great economic benefit to Canada, had a significantly disruptive effect on the Canadian economy, especially the manufacturing sector, in the short term.)
This bureaucrat’s comment on Kyoto, made five years after Canada signed the Protocol and the year it was ratified by Parliament, reflected the dominant view within the government at that time. Even with the relatively strong Canadian economy that then prevailed, and with a decade in which to implement Kyoto, conventional wisdom in Ottawa held that Canada’s target was a bridge too far. And this was the opinion within the Chrétien government, which signed Kyoto and remained rhetorically committed to it. As a result, nothing meaningful was done to reduce Canada’s GhG emissions at the federal level during the Chrétien years.
The proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil extracted from Alberta, Canada’s tar sands through six states: Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Although many proponents of the pipeline make a big deal about the jobs it would create, the six states would only gain about 20 permanent pipeline operation jobs, according to a report by Cornell University’s Global Labor Institute. Meanwhile, the agricultural and tourism sectors that are already major employers in those states would be affected greatly by a major spill.
The Keystone XL pipeline would go right through “America’s breadbasket.” Agricultural and rangeland make up 79 percent of the land that would be affected by the pipeline. The agricultural sector is a major source of employment in the six states. About 571,000 workers are directly employed in the agricultural sector in the six states. The total agricultural output for the six states is $76.3 billion.
If you could get $3 back for every dollar you invested, would you throw the opportunity away? How about if the deal included added benefits like creating high-tech jobs, new start-up companies, technological breakthroughs, education for tomorrow’s scientists and leaders, and improved energy security in your home state? And if it meant that Minnesota could be a producer of new renewable energy technologies, rather than a consumer of technologies developed in China or Europe?
The answer seems obvious to us. That’s why we at the IREE are opposing the current version of legislative proposal SF2181, which is poised to strip our state of a premier and highly successful program that brings innovative renewable energy technologies to life and provides tremendous returns on investment for both economic and intellectual capital.
The Department of Agriculture is considering requiring an extensive environmental review before issuing mortgages to people who have leased their land for oil and gas drilling.
Last year more than 140,000 families, many of them with low incomes and living in rural areas, received roughly $18 billion in loans or loan guarantees from the department under the Rural Housing Service program. Much of the money went to residents in states that have seen the biggest growth in drilling in recent years, including Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisiana.
The program is popular because it generally requires no down payment. As its financing has grown and credit markets have tightened in recent years, the program’s loans have roughly quadrupled since 2004.
Kolkata: The state will send its final draft on the action plan on climate change to the Centre in a few days. The plan includes the government’s strategy to address the problems of rising levels of sea water to melting Himalayan glaciers.
State environment secretary RPS Kahlon said the final draft plan had almost been prepared and was now to be submitted. “After the submission of the final draft plan, the Centre will decide which funding agency, be it the World Bank or Asian Development Bank (ADB), to approach for executing the projects,” Kahlon said.
The environment department has been working on preparing the final draft of the state action plan on climate change for quite some time. All other states, too, are preparing similar drafts for submission to the Centre. All the drafts will then be compared and contrasted to form an integrated plan for the country.
A Brazilian court has ordered 17 employees from two U.S. companies, oil giant Chevron and rig operator Transocean, to surrender their passports, barring them from leaving Brazil as authorities prepare to file criminal charges in coming days in connection with an offshore oil spill involving the companies.
The ruling by Judge Vlamir Costa Magalhaes, issued late Friday night, adds to Chevron’s woes in Brazil, which began in November when oil was found to be leaking from an offshore field controlled by Chevron. Prosecutors have already filed a civil lawsuit seeking damages of 20 billion reals, or about $11.2 billion, from the company.
Brazil’s navy and Chevron said Friday that they had detected a new sheen of oil from the same field where the earlier spill occurred.