January 12 News: Republicans Turn Up Political Heat on Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

Other stories below: Super fracking goes deeper to pump up natural gas production; Rick Santorum’s Big Coal buddies

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Business groups, Republicans launch onslaught on president over Keystone

The nation’s most powerful business groups are dialing up the political pressure on the White House to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

December’s payroll-tax-cut deal gives the administration 60 days to approve or reject TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline to bring oil from Alberta’s tar sands projects to Gulf Coast refineries.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue plans to highlight the pipeline in his closely watched annual speech Thursday on the state of American business.

“Keystone — and energy as a whole — will be a major element of Tom’s speech tomorrow,” a spokesman for the business group said Wednesday.

Super Fracking Goes Deeper to Pump Up Natural Gas Production

As regulators and environmentalists study whether hydraulic fracturing can damage the environment, industry scientists are studying ways to create longer, deeper cracks in the earth to release more oil and natural gas.

Energy companies are focused on boosting production and lowering costs associated with so-called fracking, a technique that uses high-pressure injections of water, sand and chemicals to break apart petroleum-saturated rock. The more thoroughly the rock is cracked, the more oil and gas will flow from each well.

The world’s largest oilfield service providers are leading the search for new technologies, with some companies focused on splintering the rock into a web of tiny fissures, and others seeking to create larger crevices in the richest zones.

“I want to crack the rock across as much of the reservoir as I can,” said David Pursell, a former fracking engineer who’s now an analyst at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. in Houston. “That’s the Holy Grail.”

Researchers propose putting a price on whales

Hoping to defuse a three-decade-long feud over whale hunting, three academics are making an audacious proposal: the world should put a price on killing whales, and allow conservationists and whalers alike to bid on the right to take them.

Calling it “a market that would be economically, ecologically and socially viable for whalers and whales alike,” an economist and two marine scientists suggested in a commentary published by the journal Nature on Wednesday that the International Whaling Commission (IWC) could allocate catch quotas between whaling and anti-whaling nations while holding some back for an open auction.

The idea of a market-based trading system for commercial whaling is not unprecedented — a Canadian natural resources professor mentioned it in 1982, and a Virginia economist offered a more detailed scenario a decade ago. But the new proposal is attracting interest from Obama administration officials as well as some environmentalists, who have become frustrated by the ongoing impasse over how to enforce a global whaling moratorium rejected by Japan, Iceland and Norway.

China’s renewables surge outweighed by growth in coal consumption

China tripled its solar energy generating capacity last year and notched up major increases in wind and hydropower, government figures showed this week, but officials are still struggling to cap the growth in coal burning, which is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the world.The latest evidence of China’s promotion of renewable energy has been welcomed by climate activists, but they warn that the benefits are being wiped out by the surge in coal consumption.

After burning an extra 95m tonnes last year, China will soon account for half the coal burned on the planet.

This has alarmed state planners concerned about the impact of air pollution and climate change, but their efforts to cap the nation’s energy consumption are said to have run into resistance from local governments who fear restrictions on economic growth.

At a key policymaking meeting in Beijing this week, Liu Tienan – the director of the National Energy Administration – called for energy use to be kept below 4.1bn tonnes of coal equivalent per year by 2015.

Rick Santorum’s Big Coal Buddies

Rick Santorum likes to brag about how he helped a poor local company fight big, bad government regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. “My grandfather was a coal miner,” Santorum said at a debate in New Hampshire this week. “So I contacted a local coal company from my area. I said, look, I want to join you in that fight. I want to work together with you.”

But Consol Energy, the company for which Santorum was a “consultant,” wasn’t some bare-bones local outfit—it’s one of the largest coal mining companies in the United States, and its largest shareholder is the German utility RWE. And Santorum wasn’t doing volunteer work: He was paid quite handsomely for his services, to the tune of $142,500 from 2010 to August 2011. He only ended his role with Consol when he launched his presidential bid last spring.

20 Responses to January 12 News: Republicans Turn Up Political Heat on Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

  1. Colorado Bob says:

    Derocher said 30 years ago the ice on Hudson Bay stayed until early August and the water was iced over again by Remembrance Day.

    But Derocher said scientists have followed the polar bears this year using radio transmitters on their collars and found some of them were having to come off the ice in June and they weren’t able to get back on the ice until the first week of December.

    “It used to be three months on land and now it is longer,” he said. “This affects the pregnant female bears the most. They have already gone eight months without food and now it would be nine months. The longer the total ice-free goes the higher the mortality rates will be.

    “If it is ice-free for 160 days or longer the mortality rates will go up dramatically.”

  2. Paul Magnus says:

    Dung said response to climate change and sea level rise was a matter of life or death to the nation’s sustainable development, and that Viet Nam had to start taking drastic measures right away or it would be too late.

    Vietnam knuckles down on climate change

  3. another joe says:

    Meanwhile, up in Canada: the Harper Goverment has started calling anyone opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline (carrying tar sands bitumen from Alberta to the central coast of B.C., and then on by tanker to Asia) a “radical” and a “hijacker”:

    Joint review panel hearings have just started, but this already sounds like a done deal to me. The Harper Government is just going through the motions.

    So much for “Ethical Oil”, eh?

  4. prokaryotes says:

    Weather officials confirm tornado hit western NC
    “It’s extremely odd, extremely rare,” Steen said. “I don’t ever remember a tornado in North Carolina in January.”

  5. prokaryotes says:

    25-foot sea ice ridge confronts Alaska fuel convoy

    Why not put up some wind and solar panels???

  6. prokaryotes says:

    “New hot paper”: International news agency

    The leading international news agency Thomson Reuters ranked a study by scientists of the Potsdam Institue for Climate Impact Research as a top “New Hot Paper” this month. “The Economics of Low Stabilization: Model Comparison of Mitigation Strategies and Costs” by Ottmar Edenhofer, Brigitte Knopf and others has been identified as one of the most-cited papers published during the past two years in the field of economics and business.

    The paper shows different transformation pathways of the global energy system to achieve climate change mitigation. It provides a comprehensive synthesis of a model-based approach to assess the costs, and the technologies, for achieving the target of limiting global warming to two degrees above preindustrial level. One outcome is that bioenergy use in combination with carbon capture and storage is quite relevant for ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    Scientists, Policymakers, and a Climate of Uncertainty

  8. prokaryotes says:

    Test of 400 options shows we can save money while limiting climate change

    If a group of scientists announced that reducing emissions of some pollutants would prevent global warming, it wouldn’t make headlines—we’ve been hearing that for years when the pollutant is carbon dioxide. However, if they added that those reduced emissions would also prevent millions of premature deaths per year and increase annual crop yields by tens to hundreds of millions of tons, you would probably take notice. But the part that will really blow your mind—and what might make some people reconsider their stance—is that all of this could be done at a profit.

  9. prokaryotes says:

    Climate change not just about CO2; study says cut methane, soot to slow warming, save lives

    WASHINGTON — An international team of scientists says it’s figured out how to slow global warming in the short run and prevent millions of deaths from dirty air: Stop focusing so much on carbon dioxide.

    They say the key is to reduce emissions of two powerful and fast-acting causes of global warming — methane and soot.

    Carbon dioxide is the chief greenhouse gas and the one world leaders have spent the most time talking about controlling. Scientists say carbon dioxide from fossil fuels like coal and oil is a bigger overall cause of global warming, but reducing methane and soot offers quicker fixes.

    Soot also is a big health problem, so dramatically cutting it with existing technology would save between 700,000 and 4.7 million lives each year, according to the team’s research published online Thursday in the journal Science. Since soot causes rainfall patterns to shift, reducing it would cut down on droughts in southern Europe and parts of Africa and ease monsoon problems in Asia, the study says.

  10. prokaryotes says:

    The outcome of the climate change document battle between Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and a former University of Virginia researcher is now up to the Virginia Supreme Court. Justices heard arguments for the case Thursday. Cuccinelli wants emails and other documents as part of his investigation into whether Michael Mann, who now works at Penn State, defrauded taxpayers by using manipulated data to obtain government grants. Cuccinelli is appealing a recent ruling that he failed to adequately state what he thinks Mann did wrong. The ruling also found that he does not have the authority to investigate federal grants.

  11. prokaryotes says:

    Major Investors Show the Way on Climate Change

    Anyone who thinks the business world doesn’t believe in acting on climate change should check out what’s happening at the United Nations today. Some 450 global investors who control tens of trillion in assets are gathering for the Investor Summit on Climate Risk and Energy Solutions.

    These major financial players see opportunity in clean energy and efficiency. Take it from Alan Salzman, CEO of Silicon Valley-based VantagePoint Capital Partners.

    Worldwide, clean energy investment has hit $1 trillion since 2004, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The U.S. solar industry grew more in the third quarter of 2011 than in all of 2009. And top investors are finding ways to price the risks of climate change, while developing financial mechanisms that encourage efficiency.

    Investors have helped convince the Securities and Exchange Commission that corporations should disclose material climate-related risks. Last year, they introduced more than 125 shareholder resolutions pushing companies to improve their climate change strategies. And the 2011 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change was signed by the largest group ever to stress the urgent need for governments to scale up low-carbon investment and incentives.

  12. prokaryotes says:

    The ruling also found that he does not have the authority to investigate

  13. prokaryotes says:

    The Politics of Climate Change

    Anthony Giddens introduces a range of new concepts and proposals designed to address the most formidable challenge humanity faces this century.

  14. prokaryotes says:

    Gingrich’s Laughable Climate Change Denial

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The definition of environmentalism as a form of ‘terrorism’ has always been a certain development, just a matter of when. It looks increasingly that the new generation of far, far Right ideologues, worse in every way than any who came before, have decided that ‘soon’ is the answer. Look out for acts of ‘environmental terrorism’ tied to patsies-it’s always worked in the past.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Putting a price on whales and auctioning them off to the highest bidder is market capitalism at its hideous extremity. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing, yet consider that a sign of distinction and intellectual superiority.
    I often fantasise that the cetaceans have been beaming out messages in their songs, so thoughtfully recorded by us and broadcast electro-magnetically to the cosmos. A plea on behalf of the other life-forms on earth, that some sapient species somewhere might come to the planet’s rescue before the uptight, upstart, upright ape destroys everything.