Tag Archives: Coal industry

As World Leaders Craft Climate-Change Plan, ALEC Plots Its Downfall

Repost from Public News Service – AZ
[Editor:  This is an important – and alarming – report.  Thanks to Mary Bottari, deputy director of the Center for Media and Democracy, and to Public News Service for covering this story.  – RS]

As World Leaders Craft Climate-Change Plan, ALEC Plots Its Downfall

By Mark Richardson | December 8, 2015
ALEC is funded in part by a number of large energy corporations that oppose pollution limits for the nation's power plants. (morguefile.com/Click)
ALEC is funded in part by a number of large energy corporations that oppose pollution limits for the nation’s power plants. (morguefile.com)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – At the same time world leaders gathered in Paris to find a solution for global climate change, another group has been meeting in Arizona to formulate a plan to scuttle their efforts.

Members of the American Legislative Exchange Council met behind closed doors for three days in Scottsdale, in part to develop a game plan to undermine any agreements to limit carbon pollution. According to Mary Bottari, deputy director of the Center for Media and Democracy, ALEC’s members, which include global oil and gas companies and giant utility firms, are planning a full-court press at state legislatures in 2016.

“They actually have model bills rolling back renewable energy. They have model bills rolling back wages, by pre-empting prevailing wages for construction workers, or living wages for other folks,” she said. “So, it’s a very interesting, very ‘retrograde’ agenda.”

Bottari, whose group tracks ALEC and its activities, said ALEC normally pushes its agenda by promoting model legislation to states. However, she said, the group now has moved beyond that to a direct campaign against President Obama’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which calls for a 32 percent cut in carbon emissions across the United States by 2030.

ALEC has organized the attorneys general in 24 states to sue the Environmental Protection Agency in the name of states’ rights. Bottari said they want to block the administration from implementing any plan to limit the types of pollution that most scientists say are man-made contributors to climate change. She said ALEC has some heavyweight players in its corner.

“Giants like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, and also energy traders like Koch Industries and those kinds of folks,” she said. “These people do not want to see a global climate agreement; they want to continue burning fossil fuels ’til the end of time.”

Even if ALEC can’t stop plans to halt climate change, Bottari said, it hopes to cast doubt on the validity of the science behind them, or delay action on any treaties until after the presidential election.

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    US carbon pollution from power plants hits 27-year low

    Repost from the Associated Press
    [Editor:  Significant quote: “A factor behind all these trends is that the writing is on the wall about the future of coal and thus the future of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. The regulatory noose is tightening and companies are anticipating a future with lower and lower dependence on fossil fuels and lower and lower carbon dioxide emissions.”  (Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer)  For background data, see U.S. Energy Information Administration report on April emissions.  – RS]

    US carbon pollution from power plants hits 27-year low

    By Seth Borenstein, Aug. 5, 2015 5:00 PM EDT

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Heat-trapping pollution from U.S. power plants hit a 27-year low in April, the Department of Energy announced Wednesday.

    A big factor was the long-term shift from coal to cleaner and cheaper natural gas, said Energy Department economist Allen McFarland. Outside experts also credit more renewable fuel use and energy efficiency.

    Carbon dioxide — from the burning of coal, oil and gas — is the chief greenhouse gas responsible for man-made global warming.

    “While good news for the environment, we certainly would not want to assume that this trend will continue and that we can simply relax,” said John Reilly, co-director of MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

    Electric power plants spewed 141 million tons of carbon dioxide in April, the lowest for any month since April 1988, according to Energy Department figures. The power plants are responsible for about one-third of the country’s heat-trapping emissions.

    April emissions peaked at 192 million tons in 2008 and dropped by 26 percent in seven years.

    Carbon pollution from power plants hit their peak in August 2007 with 273 million tons; summer emissions are higher because air conditioning requires more power.

    In past years, experts said the U.S. reduction in carbon dioxide pollution was more a function of a sluggish economy, but McFarland said that’s no longer the case.

    “You don’t have a 27-year low because of an economic blip,” McFarland said. “There are more things happening than that.”

    The price of natural gas has dropped 39 percent in the past year, he said. Federal analysts predict that this year the amount of electricity from natural gas will increase 3 percent compared to last year while the power from coal will go down 10 percent.

    Those reductions were calculated before this week’s announcements of new power plant rules. The new rules aim to cut carbon pollution from electricity generators another 20 percent from current levels by 2030.

    The pollution cuts in April are because efficiency has cut electricity demand and energy from non-hydropower renewable sources has more than doubled, said Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer.

    “A factor behind all these trends is that the writing is on the wall about the future of coal and thus the future of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions,” Oppenheimer said in an email. “The regulatory noose is tightening and companies are anticipating a future with lower and lower dependence on fossil fuels and lower and lower carbon dioxide emissions.”

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      Washington Governor Inslee says state will act on oil trains

      Repost from The Olympian, Olympia Washington

      Inslee says state will act on oil trains

      By Andy Hobbs, November 21, 2014
      Representatives from Washington and Oregon gather at Olympia City Hall for the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance summit on Friday, Nov. 21, 2014. TONY OVERMAN

      The number of oil trains running across Washington is unacceptable, and the Legislature will consider bills in the upcoming session that mandate advance notification of oil shipments by rail as well as more funding for railroad crossings and emergency response training, Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday.

      King County Executive Dow Constantine added that oil companies are raking in profits while “the rest of us are picking up the costs.”

      “Those who are profiting should shoulder the financial burden,” Constantine said.

      They were speaking to the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance that met Friday at Olympia City Hall to address the surge of oil and coal trains passing through Washington.

      The alliance is a coalition of local, state and tribal leaders from the Northwest who say the trains threaten the environment, economy and public safety.

      As shipments of oil increase in the Puget Sound region, so does the likelihood for spills and accidents. The Department of Ecology reports that 19 fully loaded oil trains crisscross the state every week, with the number expected to reach 59 oil trains if current refinery proposals are approved. Each train hauls about 3 million gallons of crude oil in 100 tanker cars. Between 11 and 16 trains pass through rural and suburban areas of Thurston and Pierce counties every week, according to reports from BNSF Railway.

      Participants in Friday’s meeting included elected officials from across the state along with Oregon and Canada.

      “It is clear that we have to take significant action including being better prepared to handle an oil train explosion or large scale spill,” Inslee said.

      Although the federal government is the main regulator of the railroads, Inslee said there are some actions the state can take now, such as lowering speed limits of the trains.

      “We don’t want vehicles speeding through school zones, and we shouldn’t let oil trains speed through Washington cities,” said Inslee, noting that changes in state permits are at least a year away.

      Friday’s meeting included a detailed report on the coal industry by Tom Sanzillo, finance director of the Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis. Sanzillo encouraged states and cities to keep putting pressure on the coal industry, which has seen demand and prices decline worldwide in the past few years.

      “The U.S. coal industry is shrinking,” said Sanzillo, adding that the industry needs “robust growth” to meet its potential and compete in the global market despite record demand for coal by nations like China. “Hooking your wagon to the coal industry is not a particularly promising outlook right now.”

      At the local level, Olympia Mayor Stephen Buxbaum said the City Council will seek a resolution next week to add Olympia to the list of cities that oppose the increase in crude oil transport.

      “We are at a crossroads,” Buxbaum said Friday. “We could see up to 60 trains a day and 4,000 supertankers in our waters.”

      As for the coal issue, Buxbaum recently co-authored a guest column titled “You might be surprised by Puget Sound Energy’s coal power supply” that ran Nov. 19 in The Seattle Times. Also signing the article were Bainbridge Island Mayor Anne Blair and Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett, and all three mayors’ respective city councils endorsed it.

      The article urges Puget Sound Energy to take immediate action and plan for a “post-coal future.” About one-third of PSE’s power supply comes from coal that’s shipped from out of state, according to the article. The mayors also cite Gov. Inslee’s recent executive order to reduce pollution and transition away from coal power.

      “The bottom line is that we don’t need coal,” the article states. “The potential is there for Washington to meet its energy needs with efficiency programs, wind, solar and other technologies. We just need to rise to the occasion.”

       

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