Today chief executives for the major oil companies answered questions to Congress about their own ability to respond to a tragedy caused by their own practices such as the one that occurred in the Gulf. They argued that continued offshore drilling was essential to American oil and gas supplies and to their own industry. They hung BP out to dry implying that the British oil company did not follow proper safety procedures while their companies do. While they called this disaster an "Aberration", it was pretty clear by the end of the hearing that their own companies were no more prepared than BP for such a disaster.
August 18, 1990 Members of Congress and the President of the United States of America rolled over for big oil when they limited big oil's liable to $75 million per spill. Big oil got every vote. Not one member of Congress voted against this bill, not one. Now we know where to go if we run short of money to deal with this ecological disaster.
Baton Rouge (FNS)-Facing both a massive oil slick from a sunken offshore drilling platform and a second year of declining tourism revenues along the Louisiana Gulf Coast caused by high gas prices, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal today introduced a new tourism promotion that he reports is going to "...make lemons into lemonade".
Jindal, flanked by British Petroleum's Director of Marketing Dick Timoneous and the Executive Director of the Louisiana State Tourism Board, Jenna Talia, announced that the "All The Oil You Can Carry Festival" would officially commence today just east of New Orleans, and last at least through the month of May.
Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence
Doctor Dan Mongiardo, Kentucky's Lieutenant Governor, has announced that he is running for the Democratic nomination for the Kentucky Senate race, to take on whoever wins the Republican nomination to challenge for the seat that Senator Bunning (R-Big$$$) has announced he is giving up.
Lots of politics to unwrap in that paragraph, which I'll leave to the political wise-guys. The Sunday Train today is about Dr. Dan's Rail Plan.
As far as I can tell, Dr. Dan's Rail Plan has four main parts, and regular readers of the Sunday Train will recognize much from each of the four parts:
Support for expanding Kentucky's existing and potential Amtrak routes into 110mph Emerging Higher Speed Rail corridors
Support for regional rail services to complete the above state rail map
"Hybrid Light Rail" to provide cross-metropolitan local rail services, principally to Louisville
Heavy investment in complementary local transit, including bus rapid transit and a high frequency driverless monotrain system for Kentucky.
Last year, I told VP Joe Biden about the Sustainable Electric High(er) Speed Rail I wanted for Christmas (cf. links below). It involved electrifying the 30,000+ miles of STRACNET, and establishing 100mph Rapid Freight Rail paths, including support for running 110mph or 125mph long haul electric passenger services on the Rapid Freight paths.
I didn't get it for Christmas last year - but then, I guess he was only VP-elect last 25DEC08. The post today is to look at the progress toward the goal. The answer, surprisingly, is that we have made substantial progress. Certainly we are not halfway there, yet, but we are much further along than I expected to see.
We’re diving deep into “geek world” today with a story that combines economic hardball, the periodic table of the elements, and a barely noticed provision of the Defense Authorization Act that seeks to break a monopoly which today gives China near-absolute control over the materials that make cell phones, electric cars, wind turbines, and pretty much every other tool of modern life possible.
If we successfully break the monopoly, we’ll be able to create millions of new manufacturing jobs in this country—and if we don’t, somebody else owns the 21st Century.
Ironically, the global warming we’re trying to fight with new green technologies might be an ally in our efforts to make those very same green technologies happen.
There’s a revolution in industrial processing going on, rare earths are at the center of it all...and in today’s story, the revolution will be televised.
Despite considerable tension and even aversion in green communities to the subject, we cannot talk about "going green" without making it a discussion about growth through various hierarchies of human development. Really, the subject of growth should come as second nature to "green" thinkers and communities-after all, a blade of grass must grow to two inches before it can grow to six; a tree must grow from acorn to sapling before it can someday become a mighty oak. In much the same way, our consciousness, our values, and our cultures must also move through several distinct stages of growth before we can even begin to even see the problem, let alone care enough to do anything about it.
In other words, "going green" really means "growing green," and represents the crux of almost all the global issues we presently face: it's not a problem of human imagination, technological innovation, or even political will-it's a problem of human growth
I was reading Paul Krugman's column the other day and was dismayed by his argument. According to the Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, a half-ass, half-hearted measure on curbing carbon emissions is better than doing nothing, but I'm unconvinced. As written in The Washington Post:
On paper, the Waxman-Markey bill puts a cost on carbon dioxide by imposing a ceiling, or cap, on greenhouse gas emissions and then setting up a market for regulated industries -- such as the electric power sector -- to buy and sell allowances to pollute under that cap. As the cap is reduced each year, market participants will exchange allowances in a complex auction market.
If you liked what credit default swaps did to our economy, you're going to love cap-and-trade. Just read Title VIII of the bill, which lets investment banks, hedge funds and other speculators participate in the cap-and-trade market. They don't have emissions to cut; they have commissions to make.
The real hidden catch of the cap-and-trade system, though, is that it will require consumers to pay twice: first for emission allowances and then for the construction of new low- and zero-carbon power plants.
That doesn't sound very good, and the bad news gets progressively worse.
Contrary to assurances from the bill's sponsors that utility customers wouldn't have to pay these costs for the first decade, some coal-dependent utilities would be forced to purchase more than half of their allowances when the program is scheduled to begin in 2012. Would these allowances reduce our greenhouse gas emissions? No; that would come when consumers footed a second bill - for the cost of their utilities either to retrofit coal and gas plants to capture carbon - something that cannot be done today on a commercial scale - or to shut them down and build non-carbon-producing nuclear plants and wind farms instead.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached a record high, according to the latest figures released by an internationally regarded measuring station in the Arctic.
The measurements suggest that the main greenhouse gas is continuing to increase in the atmosphere at an alarming rate despite the downturn in dip in the rate of increase of the global economy.
Levels of the gas at the Zeppelin research station on Svalbard, northern Norway, last week peaked at over 397 parts per million (ppm), an increase of more than 2.5ppm on 2008. They have since begun to reduce and today stand at 393.7ppm. Prior to the industrial revolution, CO2 levels were around 280ppm.
And the second:
The thickness of sea ice in the Arctic dramatically declined last winter for the first time since records began in the early 1990s. The research by British scientists shows a significant loss in the thickness of the northern ice cap after the record loss of ice in the summer of 2007, although the weather was not abnormally warm.
The findings, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, raise the possibility that the loss of the Arctic sea ice could accelerate, because as the ice recedes the water temperature rises. This summer the sea ice recorded its second-lowest extent after the record low of 2007, again despite relatively cool air temperatures.
The cap and trade issue is heating up and many rural Kentuckians are cursing and spitting in Obama's direction. But most don't realize that Obama has yet to officially endorse the legislation proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).
The turd in the punch bowl is the fact that cap and trade will raise your juice (rural slang for electricity) bill. How much? Some say 40% and some say higher. Talk is cheap and so is our electricity, especially in Kentucky.