September 13 News: The Coal Industry Backs Boehner with $1.5 Million in Donations — “We Think He Is Good for Business”

A round-up of climate and energy news. Please post other stories below.

Coal Industry Backs Boehner

U.S. coal companies have pumped $1.5 million into House Speaker John Boehner’s political operation this year, a sign of the industry’s beefed-up efforts to fight new and proposed regulations from the Obama administration.

The coal industry now ranks as one of the top sources of cash for the Ohio Republican, rivaling such perennial GOP donors as Wall Street and the real-estate industry. A large part of the coal industry’s donations came in a single week at the end of June.


Donations from coal-industry interests account for more than 10% of the $12.5 million Mr. Boehner collected from Jan. 1 to June 30 for fund-raising accounts he directly controls. Mr. Boehner’s personal campaign account collected less than $200,000 from the coal industry during the entire 2009–10 election cycle.

The cash flowing to Mr. Boehner’s coffers stems partly from the GOP’s efforts to roll back the Obama administration’s environmental and energy policies since taking control of the House in 2010, and replace them with fewer regulations in order to boost domestic energy production. Republicans say proposals to curb pollution from coal-fired power plants and limit mining threaten to raise energy costs and stifle job-creation. The speaker has long been a backer of the coal industry, and many coal interests are based in his home state of Ohio.

In April, the House voted to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources. In July, the House approved legislation that would limit the EPA’s authority to veto water permits previously issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. Other measures benefiting the coal industry are still moving through the House, though they have gone nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate…..

One top donor to Mr. Boehner this year has been William Koch, president of Oxbow Corp., which owns a coal-mining operation. Mr. Koch and his wife contributed a total of $70,000 to Mr. Boehner, according to fund-raising records. Two of Mr. Koch’s brothers are well-known Republican contributors.

“We are a big supporter of John Boehner. We think he is good for business,” said Brad Goldstein, a spokesman for Oxbow, based in West Palm Beach, Fla. “He looks out for business interests, and he wants to create more jobs for America, while this administration has been rather harsh on the industry.”

Chu: Obama jobs plan supports green energy

President Obama isn’t trying to sell his “American Jobs Act” as a clean-energy bill — the word energy didn’t even make it into his big speech to Congress last week, or his Rose Garden sales pitch Monday.

Indeed his pitch to Congress for the $447 billion measure comes as Republicans have pounced on past administration financial support for Solyndra, the California solar company that imploded late last month, taking over 1,000 jobs with it.

But Energy Secretary Steven Chu is emphasizing that the jobs proposal has a green tint. In a blog post, Chu is touting the green energy potential of the National Infrastructure Bank in Obama’s jobs plan.

EU Carbon Price Should Be 3 Times Higher, BNEF Says

Carbon permits in Europe’s cap-and- trade program are “underpriced” and should be more than three times higher to achieve the region’s post-2020 emissions- reduction goals, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

“Looking at how the scheme will evolve up to 2020 and beyond, the price today should be 40 to 60 euros ($54.50 to $81.70) a metric ton of carbon dioxide, compared to the current price of around 12 to 13 euros,” New Energy said today in an e- mailed statement about a Sept. 6 report. “By 2020, prices will need to rise to 60 to 90 euros.”

European Union carbon allowances for delivery in December have lost almost 16 percent this year because of an oversupply amid recession, concerns about economic growth and a sovereign- debt crisis in the region. The contract rose 3 cents to 11.94 euros a ton on the ICE Futures Europe exchange at 10.26 a.m. in London. One allowance carries the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide.

A Huge Oil Palm Plantation Puts African Rainforest at Risk

As global agricultural companies turn to Africa, a U.S. firm is planning a massive oil palm plantation in Cameroon that it says will benefit local villagers. But critics argue that the project would destroy some of the key remaining forests in the West African nation and threaten species-rich reserves.

Industrial palm oil production is coming to Africa, its ancestral home. The world’s most productive oil seed has been a boon to Asian economies, but the looming arrival of large-scale plantations in Africa is raising fears that some of the same issues plaguing Malaysia, Indonesia, and other leading producers — deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, conflicts with local people, and poor working conditions — could befall one of the world’s most destitute regions.

How Dead is Yucca Mountain?

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has voted to kill Yucca Mountain again, sort of.

The project has become more complex than nuclear physics. Yucca Mountain, a volcanic structure 100 miles from Las Vegas, was the government’s lead candidate for a nuclear waste repository, but President Obama, making good on a campaign pledge, cut funding for an Energy Department plan to build there, meaning that the country would have to restart the search for a burial spot.

The vote on Friday grew out of that policy but did not simplify matters. The complexity starts with a plan that Congress established in the 1980s for creating the waste repository. It was supposed to be built by the Energy Department, but only after the department had obtained a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. When President Obama pulled the plug on Yucca, the Energy Department withdrew its license application for building Yucca, which at the time was being considered by a panel of three administrative law judges of the regulatory commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board.