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THIS JOURNAL WILL "TELL IT LIKE IT IS" REGARDING DIFFERENT FORMS OF ENERGY AND THEIR GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS/PROBLEMS

US-EPA PROPOSES STEPS TO CURB PETROCHEMICAL REFINERIES TOXIC AIR OUTPUT

16 May 2014

WASHINGTON – On 15 May 2014, The USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to update the toxic air pollution standards for petroleum refineries to protect neighborhoods located near refineries. After receiving input from stakeholders including community groups, industry and the States. EPA’s common-sense proposal aims to (further) reduce toxic pollution from “flaring” and other processes, and includes new monitoring requirements. PROBLEM IS, AND HAS BEEN that exposure to toxic air pollutants, such as benzene, can cause respiratory problems and other serious health issues, and can increase the risk of developing cancer at/near the approximately 150 petroleum refineries around the USA.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: “This proposal will help us accomplish our goal of making a visible difference in the health and the environment of communities across the country”. The common-sense steps we are proposing will protect the health of families who live near refineries and will provide them with important information about the quality of the air they breathe”

EPA’S PROPOSAL WOULD (FOR THE FIRST TIME) REQUIRE: (1) monitoring of air concentrations of benzene around the fence-line perimeter of refineries (YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT NEIGHBORHOODS LOCATED NEAR REFINERIES.) to ensure that emissions are controlled, and that these results would be available to the public. (2) upgraded emission controls for storage tanks including controls for smaller tanks; (3) performance requirements for flares (continued burning of waste gases) to ensure that waste gases are properly destroyed; and (4) emissions standards for delayed coking units (fractional distillation units for crude oil that are currently a significant unregulated source of toxic air emissions at refineries).

EPA ESTIMATED TOXIC AIR EMISSIONS REDUCTIONS If/when these proposed updates are fully implemented, including benzene, toluene, and xylene, would be reduced by 5,600 tons per year. Volatile organic compound emissions would be cut by approximately 52,000 tons per year. EPA says “no noticeable impact on cost of petroleum products” These cost-effective steps will have no noticeable impact on the cost of petroleum products at the approximately 150 petroleum refineries around the country. (oh yea! – wait till we hear the petrochemical industry tell it).

EPA IS ISSUING THIS PROPOSAL AS PART OF A PROCESS OUTLINED IN THE CLEAN AIR ACT that requires the agency to evaluate the emissions standards currently in place to determine (1) whether there is any remaining risk to public health or the environment and (2) whether there have been any new developments in practices, processes and control technologies. In a series of recent enforcement cases, EPA has compelled the use of innovative pollution control practices such as flare gas recovery and flare efficiency that are reducing toxic air pollution in communities. These efforts demonstrate that the proposed standards are practical and achievable today. More information about these cases: http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/national-enforcement-initiative-cutting-hazardous-air-pollutants  QUESTION: IF EPA IS ALREADY “COMPELLING” SOME REFINERIES, WHY DO THEY NEED ONE MORE YEAR OF FOOT-DRAGGING TO ENFORCE THE “CLEAN AIR ACT” ON THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY NOW.

EPA will take comment on the proposal for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The agency plans to hold two (2) public hearings, near Houston and Los Angeles (dates still in consideration) and will finalize the standards in April 2015 (that is nearly a year from now).

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS:

EPA cannot reasonably expect that the petrochemical industry will look kindly at any change that adds cost to their production. When the EPA says: “steps will have no noticeable impact on the cost of petroleum products” they must mean to the consumer, but that is questionable. Surely it will add many costs to the petrochemical industry.  It should also be considered that the air toxicity in crude oil processing refineries such as those existing/proposed for Port Arthur/Houston area are normally the “killing kind” (or at least life altering); Unfortunately, more so to those producing it. Refineries have never shown any concern for the long term health of their employees, let alone the residents of nearby neighborhoods these industrialists are exceptionally greedy, slow to change, and indifferent to the airborne, and other pollution they create. Pray say: what would they do with even more truly nasty pollutants removed from the Keystone heavy crude? Probably what they do now – As little as possible. Regrettably the Texas coast from Corpus Christi north to Beaumont is already heavily polluted by Industrial or petrochemical pollution, or both.

TEXAS IS THE USA’s LARGEST GREEN HOUSE GAS PRODUCER. The dirty-air fact is that Texas was the only state in 2010 that refused to meet New US-EPA greenhouse gas emission rules, placing some of the nation’s largest refineries in operational limbo. The US-EPA, in an effort to ensure those facilities could continue to operate, had been issuing permits piece-meal since 2011.

Regrettably, EPA has already granted the State of Texas authority to regulate its own green house gasses (GHGs) in 2014 when they conceded authority to the “Texas Commission on Environmental Quality  (TCEQ)”. In 2013 Texas state legislature approved a law giving the TCEQ the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking for the EPA, on 4 Feb 2014 Mr.Curry said: “US-EPA and the TCEQ began working to develop a program that would meet federal requirements. Initially, Texas had wanted to have a six-month turn-around on all permits, but the US-EPA refused to put a cap on how long it would take to issue a permit; Curry added: “The state also wanted to include a hearing process in its program, but the federal agency declined; In addition, Texas had to establish appropriate emission thresholds. Once those and several other issues were resolved we were able to shift authority to Texas, though the US-EPA will periodically review this program It’s a program that the state(Texas) will have forever as long as it operates correctly” As long as it operates correctly?-  Say what?; Who will determine that?- Oil/other Industrialists, of course!

TCEQ RUBBED IT IN: “We do not agree with the US-EPA’s move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, but will follow the direction of the (Texas) Legislature so that permits can be issued in a timely manner, and to continue the successes of the strong Texas economy”. Naturally, they do not want anyone looking over their shoulder as they connive with their mentors.

SO WHY IS EPA GOING THROUGH THESE MOTIONS? We suppose they are just following a preconceived plan even when they know what to expect. Still, we hope a sufficient number of citizens impacted will attend the forthcoming hearings. Frankly it seems to us EPA is foot-dragging on this very important health issue to give the Big-Oil/Industrialists a break for as long as possible, with no real regard for the immediacy of the toxic air pollution to our people; specially in California, and Texas. It will be interesting to see the differences expressed between California (a leader in pollution controls), and its antithesis: Texas.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

e-mail> gonzedo@yahoo.com

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

 


May 16, 2014 at 4:22 AM Comments (0)

US-DOE ANNOUNCES OFF-SHORE WIND AND HYDRO-POWER ENERGY PROJECTS

9 May 2014 

PIONEERING OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY PROTOTYPE DEMONSTRATIONS

Washington, On 7 May 2014 the US Department of Energy (US-DOE) announced the selection of three (3) pioneering offshore wind demonstrations to receive up to $47 million each over the next four (4) years to deploy innovative, grid-connected systems in federal and state waters by 2017. These projects – located off the coast of New Jersey, Oregon, and Virginia will help speed the deployment of more efficient offshore wind power technologies. In USA waters by 2017. The projects selected are:

“FISHERMEN’S ENERGY” will install five ea. 5- megawatt (Mw) direct-drive wind turbines approximately three (3) miles off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey. This project will utilize an innovative, USA-developed “twisted-jacket foundation” that is simpler and less expensive to manufacture and install than traditional offshore wind foundations.

PRINCIPLE POWERwill install five (5) ea. 6-Mw direct-drive wind turbines approximately 18 miles off the coast of Coos Bay Oregon. The USA-developed WindFloat semi-submersible floating foundation will be installed in water more than 1,000 feet deep, demonstrating an innovative approach to “deep water wind turbine” projects and lowering costs by simplifying installation and eliminating the need for highly specialized ships.

“DOMINION VIRGINIA POWER”will install two (2) 6-Mw direct-drive wind turbines 26 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach(an independent city located in the U.S. State of Virginia – population about 500,000, and located on the Atlantic coast ) utilizing a USA-designed twisted jacket foundation. Dominion’s project will demonstrate installation, operation and maintenance methods for wind turbines located far from shore. Additionally, the Dominion project will install and test a hurricane-resilient design.

DOE’s efforts to incentivize innovative “offshore wind technologies” support the Obama Administration’s comprehensive National Offshore Wind Strategy to develop a sustainable, world-class offshore wind industry. As part of that strategy, the DOE continues to work with partners within the government, including the Department of the Interior (DOI), to conduct further resource assessments, streamline the issuance of permits, and overcome technical and market challenges to installation, operations, and grid connection.

US-DOE REPORT FINDS POTENTIAL TO DOUBLE USA HYDROPOWER GENERATION

DOE at its Oak Ridge National Laboratory on April 29, 2014 released aNew Stream-reach Development Assessmentrenewable energy resource (green energy) assessment detailing the potential to develop new electric power generation in waterways across the United States. The report estimates that over 65,000 Mw of potential new hydropower development opportunities exist. (Just think of it! That amount of power is the equivalent output to about 55 Nuclear Power Plants ,or a heap of Coal-fired generators) more USA rivers and streams (nearly equivalent to the current USA hydropower capacity). Hydropower currently makes up 7% of total USA electricity generation, and continues to be the USA’s largest source of renewable electricity. The New Stream-reach Development Assessment” capitalizes on recent advancements in geospatial mapping (datasets), and represents the most detailed evaluation of USA hydropower potential of underutilized streams and rivers to date.

ADVANTAGE OF HYDRO-POWER is that it provides reliable “baseload” power (day and night) providing greater flexibility and diversity to the electric grid and allowing utilities to integrate other renewable sources such as wind and solar power; as such, greatly complements other green energy sources.

GREATEST POTENTIAL FOR HYDROPOWER IN USA was found in western states, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming led the rest of the country in new stream-reach hydropower potential.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

FOLKS, WE HAVE MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT THIS APPARENTLY GREAT INITIATIVE based on past experience with government “stimulated” projects. The worst case scenario was the great “Solyndra Fiasco”, where the then new Obama administration forked out about $535 Mil on a huge solar power-plant initiative that went “belly-up” without showing any appreciable results. The G.W. Bush Administration’s intentions were great, but I fear that the contractual language left a great deal to be desired. The Contractor just kept-on milking the project, even when they had nothing to show for their efforts.

WHEN DEALING WITH CONTRACTORS, Government Contract Administrators /Agents must be made accountable for their decisions /results; That is not so hard to do if they require timelines, milestones charts, and include added incentives for timely/expedited performance, and penalty in payment for delay/failure to show results. The contractor’s song and dance is usually: Well…we are treading new grounds/waters, and prototype development is uncertain at best”, then they will seek “time and materials” (that is the pits) such terms usually produces nothing but studies and expenses by the Contractor, and his friends who get invited to the “money trough” and is an assurance of failure, remember Solyndra ? These days of financial austerity we cannot afford such  fiascos. I only wish we were party to the contract language. Then our public would know if these noble intentions are in earnest. Truth be told, our country, and the world is in great need of such green energy developments. The contractual die is already cast, I only hope it is a good one.

ANTICIPATED TECHNICAL CHALLENGES

Aside from the yet unproven turbine anchoring technical challenges, other concerns such as how do we connect wind energy to land? It will take (in the Coos Bay Oregon an 18 mile underwater cable of sufficient amperage to conduct the energy generated. Then there is the task of integrating that energy to the grid. Problem is the grid is not always accessible where needed. That challenge has stymied land-based wind turbines that are almost always far from the grids. A very similar problem can be anticipated by Hydropower developers – where to hook up to the grid. Hydropower development is simply a must because it provides power 24 hours a day (“baseline” power generation). Hydropower was our first form of power generation, and a proven winner; however, there is the “Grid”problem…

WHO SHOULD PAY FOR THE GRID? Problem is: no one sees it as their responsibility to enhance the grid for the benefit of others. Like India, we are hurt by regionalization of dissimilar interests. That challenge is why the German government found it necessary years ago to centrally require grid improvements which are already beginning to bear fruit. Of course, Germany’s land mass is a lot smaller than that of India or the USA; Even so, The USA must act now. “Green energy” brings with it the need for our party government to work together. That is not going to happen quite simply because our Republican led Congress is more interested in the tragic events of Bengazi more than 2 years ago. I find it a testament to Republican party lack of personal integrity in government. House majority Leader John Boehner will be judged very harshly by history for his obstructionism. We should start a move to erect a statue to Boehner and TX Gov Rick Perry here in Texas, where the pigeons are certain to sh-t on their head. I nominate San Antonio, TX, and promise to feed the pigeons.

Even so, we commend the Obama administration for attempting to circumvent our Washington government gridlock (pun-intended). We need this, let’s make it work. The eyes of Texas, and the world are upon us, we cannot fail! for the sake of doing all we can, both large and small, to combat global warming and air pollution. It is killing us slowly.

Your Friend in Texas,

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. – I worked for the USA Gov. as an AF contract administrator for many years.


May 9, 2014 at 12:01 AM Comments (2)

USA SUPREME COURT FINDS AGAINST 27 COAL BURNING STATES’ POLLUTION

30 April 2014

WASHINGTON In a major victory for the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the USA Supreme Court on 29 April 2014 upheld the authority of the EPA to regulate the smog from coal-fired utilities that drifts across state lines from 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast. The Supreme Court 6 to 2 (one abstaining) ruling bolsters the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda: A series of new regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants (utilities and similar).

SUPREME JUSTICE GINBURG WROTE THE DECISION “In reining-in interstate pollution, regulators must account for the vagaries of the wind…Some pollutants stay within upwind states’ borders, the wind carries others to downwind states, and some subset of that group drifts to states without air quality problem” She quoted the Christian Book of John: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.” The Supreme Court decision is only the latest blow to the coal Industry, and to coal users. Also on 29 April 2014, a Federal District Court ordered the EPA to propose by 1 Dec 2014 a new nationwide regulation to rein in smog pollution from coal-fired power plants and other major polluters. This rule would come on top of the regulation covering cross-state air pollution. Two weeks ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld another major EPA Clean Air Act rule that would reduce coal-plant pollution from mercury.

ACADEMIA AND LEGAL EAGLES SATISFIED Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard U said “It’s a big win for the E.P.A., and not just because it has to do with this rule, It’s the fact that it’s setting the stage and creating momentum for what’s to come If the Supreme Court had decided against the Obama administration in Tuesday’s decision, Ms. Freeman said it would have been a shot across the bow to the EPA as it takes the next steps  Legal experts said the decision signals that the Obama administration’s efforts to use the Clean Air Act to fight global warming could withstand legal challenges. In June 2014 the EPA is expected to propose a sweeping new Clean Air Act regulation to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping greenhouse gas that scientists say is the chief cause of climate change. Coal plants are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

EPA Administrator Gina Mc Carthy said:“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a resounding victory for public health and a key component of E.P.A.’s efforts to make sure all Americans have clean air to breathe…the court’s finding also underscores the importance of basing the agency’s efforts on strong legal foundations and sound science.”

EPA ARGUMENTS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT: Stated the rules were necessary to protect the health and the environment of downwind states. East Coast states in particular are vulnerable to pollution blown by the prevailing west-to-east winds of the United States. The soot and smog produced by coal plants are linked to asthma, lung disease and premature death.

DISSENTING JUSTICES, ANTONIN SCALIA AND CLARENCE THOMAS AGREED when Justice Scalia said:”the regulation is unwieldy and suggested it was Marxist…As written, the regulation will require upwind polluting states to cut pollution in relation to the amounts of pollution each state produces, but also as a proportion of how affordably a state can make the cuts. In other words, states that are able to more cost-effectively reduce pollution will be required to cut more of it…I fully acknowledge that the proportional-reduction approach will demand some complicated computations where one upwind state is linked to multiple downwind states and vice versa…I am confident, however, that E.P.A.’s skilled number-crunchers can adhere to the statute’s quantitative (rather than efficiency) mandate by crafting quantitative solutions. Indeed, those calculations can be performed at the desk, whereas the ‘from each according to its ability ( paraphrasing Communist Karl Marx) approach requires the unwieldy field examination of many pollution-producing sources with many sorts of equipment” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. recused (abstained) himself from the case.

REPUBLICANS AND THE COAL INDUSTRY have often blasted the proposed regulations, which use the “Clean Air Act” as their legal authority, as a “war on coal”. The coal industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules. The interstate air pollution regulation, also known as the “good neighbor rule” has pitted Rust Belt and Appalachian states like Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky against East Coast states like New York and Connecticut. The utilities and 15 states opposed to the regulations argue that the rules, as written by the Obama administration, gave the EPA excessive authority, and placed an unfair economic burden on the polluting states; the decision will force coal-fired utility owners to install costly “scrubber” technology to curb smokestack pollution of smog-forming chemicals.

NATURALLY, COAL-FIRED UTILITY OWNERS ARE OPPOSED. Stating the regulation would be so expensive to implement, that many expected to shut down their oldest and dirtiest coal plants. Rep Fred Upton(R-Mi), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep Edward Whitfield, (R-Kt) said in a joint statement. “This is just the latest blow to jobs and affordable energy…The administration’s overreaching regulation will drive up energy costs and threaten jobs and electric reliability. We cannot allow E.P.A.’s aggressive regulatory expansion to go unchecked. We will continue our oversight of the agency and our efforts to protect American families and workers from E.P.A.’s onslaught of costly rules.” Both Reps. Upton and Whitfield represent states that rely heavily on cheap coal-fired utilities.

EARLIER EFFORTS TO IMPLEMENT THE CLEAN AIR ACT FAILED: In 2011, the Obama administration issued the “good neighbor rule”, which was to apply to 27 states east of Nebraska (half of the country); but the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck it down, ruling that the EPA had not followed the Clean Air Act when it calculated how to assign responsibility for “cross-state air pollution”. The Supreme Court’s ruling overturned that decision.

EAST COAST STATES HAVE TOUGHER AIR POLLUTION STANDARDS Governors from East Coast states have for more than 15 years been subject to tougher air pollution requirements than other parts of the country, and have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal plants, factories and tailpipes so that their state economies to profit from cheap energy while their smog and soot have been carried eastward by prevailing winds.

Thanks to The New York Times for their 29 April 2014 story, here redacted in the interest of brevity.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

FINALLY! THE EPA HAS THE LAW BEHIND ITS “CLEAN AIR ACT” ENFORCEMENT – None too soon the coal fired industry can see that Americans, and our laws, are fully supportive of any , and all efforts needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our our coal burners. Even so it will take time for the USS COALBURNER to change its act, and change its course. Shareholders even mention the necessity to clean up their dirtiest utilities, or shut them down! It is about time. They know there are many technologies they could use to reduce emissions, and yet they have not done anything simply for greater profits. The best of all would be to transition to Nat Gas use where it is available. Fortunately, in America Nat Gas is available to many now, as a result of Fracking. Coal burning is not the only way to generate high temperature steam. Yes, changes cost money to implement, but they will also save potentially millions of lives from the pain and suffering inflicted by smog, and mercurial pollution now rampant. One would think these Shareholders live elsewhere, but we are all on Planet Earth. Yes, their children too!

Another very interesting development in American politics last week was the announcement by Pres. Obama that he would withhold his decision regarding the Keystone (CANAM heavy Oleoduct) to Texas, until after the upcoming congressional elections in the fall. Pres. Obama knows full well that most Republicans, and a few sellout Democrats would prefer not to be accountable to their electorate before the election about such vital issues as energy, its development, and its use. Such vital issues need to get injected into our electoral process. We must demand that our political candidates make their position known on such vital issues as energy, and water during their campaign. The world’s largest democracy, India, is teaching us all a lesson about the politics of the future >energymaters.com/?p=1484. They must include all vital concerns such as clean air, clean water, and sufficient energy. Yes we can do these things, but we must start now!-Every country in their own way, but always looking for our vital needs first.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

e-mail:  gonzedo@yahoo.com

 


April 30, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comment (1)

INDIA -WORLDS LARGEST DEMOCRACY SEEKS GREEN ENERGY CONGRESS REPS

12 April 2014

On 7 Apr 2014 India kicked off, its electoral process for its lower chamber. Over 800 million people are eligible to vote to elect their representatives to the lower house of the Indian parliament (equivalent to the USA Congress). Appropriately, the major political parties, and an attractive newcomer, sought to address the critical issue of renewable (green) energy in their Manifestos (Party Platforms). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have been closely scrutinized by political pundits and the general public; While neither of the present any specific actions regarding expansion and promotion of renewable energy, it is heartening to see that the issue has found a place in their respective party manifestos.

BJP THE FRONT RUNNER IN THIS ELECTION has stated that it would promote development of hydro power infrastructure without disturbing the local population and environment. BJP (party) has also stated that it would expand an ambitious National Solar Mission even more aggressively than it is being currently implemented. Their promise has some weight too. Their Prime Ministerial candidate Mr Narendra Modi launched the most aggressive state solar policy in the country a year before the central government (led by the INC) announced the national solar mission. Five years on, among all states in India.

INC PARTY SUPPORTS MORE SOLAR AND WIND POWER The “Indian National Congress” party boasted that it has aggressively implemented the National Solar Mission, and would continue to do so with a the target of 22,000 MW capacity by 2022. INC also promises to promote/implement a National Wind Energy Mission which has been in the works for few months now, and also to promote the expansion of wind energy infrastructure in the country. The INC claims that it led the implementation of the National Solar Mission. Riding on the success of this mission, the party promised even more progress; however, its impetus has slowed down over the last few months.

AAP PROMOTES DECENTRALIZATION OF GREEN ENERGY. The “Aam Aadmi Party” has promised policies to promote decentralized renewable energy infrastructure. The policy proposed by the AAP mirrors its underlying principle, decentralization of governance. The party promises to work towards promoting off-grid and decentralized renewable energy systems which would prove to be a boon for the rural as well as the urban population. Apart from party-specific reasons behind including these promises, there are other national realities that these parties had to address not only of renewable energy but electricity as a whole. The AAP, for instance raises the issue of increasing electricity rates; that, of course, is an election issue at the assembly elections in national capital Delhi. This newly formed party forced its competitors to state policies directed at lowering electricity tariffs for the household consumers. These policies included implementation of net metering and rooftop solar power systems.

WHY ARE PARTIES NOW ADVOCATING GREEN ENERGY? There are many probable reasons: For instance: India endured the largest blackouts in global history in July 2012. The blackouts affected a population of more than 620 million. That event was ostensibly caused by several transmission lines being down for maintenance, and a rather common occurrence of state governments not heeding the directions of the central regulators. Be that as it may, the blackouts were a real eye opener, because they highlighted the collapse of not only the energy infrastructure in the country, but also the failure of governance, across party/state lines.

CONTENTIOUS ISSUES REMAIN rising electricity tariffs will remain for the foreseeable future as the state utilities are now required to file for tariff revisions every year. Renewable energy, especially solar energy, gains significance in this aspect because solar energy tariffs have been rapidly declining over the last few years while electricity based on coal and natural gas have been increasing.

TO EACH HIS OWN Naturally, the political parties mentioned above have advocated those campaign promises that suit them best, and project them in favorable light to their constituents (voters). Even so, it is heartening to see a new awareness among Indian congressional politicians of the need to promote green energy because it directly/indirectly impacts other critical issues of energy independence, energy equality, and economic growth.

Thanks to cleantechnica.com

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

We have condensed the story above for clarity, and for brevity.

India, has come a long way in a relatively short time with regard to energy generation. Just about 5years ago, during the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plants massive civil protests, the Government in power virtually controlled all media, and made it “unpleasant” to discuss the subject publicly. Not now-Not any more!. The subject of green energy is now a “platform” of most of their political parties’ “manifesto”; THAT, IS PROGRESS INDEED! For any democracy.

The AA Party recognizes/advocates that because of their lack of electrical power distribution infrastructure (grid); their constituents would be better served by many Solar cell parks throughout its huge sun-drenched land mass. We could not agree more. Even with day only energy solar energy, many steps may be taken to extend power usage hours. BRAVO FOR INDIA! WISH MORE COUNTRIES WOULD RECOGNIZE THEIR OWN REALITIES!, and expect their governance to accede to their needs/desires. INDIA, YOU HAVE COME A LONG WAY BABY !(an old American saying).

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

e-mail> gonzedo@yahoo.com

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

 


April 12, 2014 at 11:37 PM Comments (0)

ENGLAND SEVERE AIR POLLUTION SPECIAL DANGER TO CHILDREN AND OTHERS

3 Mar 2014

Prof Frank Kelly, Chair of the Department of Health’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, and a member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Air Quality Expert Group said: “Schools in areas affected by severe air pollution should keep pupils indoors at lunchtime to avoid them having asthma attacks and potentially lifelong lung damage…(they) should be stopped from using the playground during school hours to reduce their exposure to the smog that is affecting south-east England and is expected to spread to the Midlands and East Anglia”. Prof. Kelly’s advice comes after some schools in the capital decided to keep their pupils indoors on 2 Apr 2014 as a precaution. Asked to elaborate, Prof Kelly said: “As a general response this is a good approach as children tend to run around outside and therefore breathe deeper. Thus on days like this they will be inspiring(breathing-in) a lot more pollution if outdoors than when they are breathing normally (hopefully) inside…The policy should apply to morning and afternoon breaks, as well as lunchtime…Advice would be the same for recesses if pollution levels were increased at the school location…pupils with asthma may need to use their inhalers, while those with other breathing conditions could suffer serious harm if exposed to the high level of pollution being seen in London”. NOTICE THAT PROF. KELLY USED THE WORD “SMOG”.

LONG TERM DAMAGE OF AIR POLUTION IN THE YOUNG Prof. Kelly added: “Besides those children whose asthma may be exacerbated by pollution and who would then need to increase their medication, the main issue is related to pollution exposure on a chronic basis as current evidence indicates that lung growth is restricted. If there is no subsequent catch-up lung growth then this respiratory deficit is carried forward through life”. BAD NEWS! IN NORTH LONDON – Tom Sheldon, chair of governors at Bowes and Chesterfield primary said: “When schools are faced with conditions like these, we have to decide what is best for children. In the absence of any formal advice from government we decided to keep children inside today (2 Apr 2014) as a precaution…But we can’t do this forever, and in London we face the much wider problem of poor air quality every day. The Saharan dust will pass, but London will continue to fail its citizens on air quality. Children’s developing lungs are at particular risk, both long- and short-term”. His last sentence echoed Prof. Kelly’s warning.

ONE CITIZEN’S COMPLAINT/WORRY Leanne Stewart said: ”We urgently need an intensive program of pollution reduction in the capital (London)”. Accompanying my son to school is usually quite an easy half-mile walk, but yesterday, I could feel my chest getting tighter and tighter, I went light-headed and had to get a bus back. …I’ve never had that problem before” Leanne’s son, George (age 8) had an asthma attack, and had to stop and use his inhaler. He felt like the air wasn’t getting into his lungs during his half-mile walk to school in Eltham, S.E. London.

ADULTS TOO MUST OBSERVE BREATHING PRECAUTIONS “The British Lung Foundation” urged people in affected areas who cycle, walk, or run to work to avoid doing so at rush hour, and to use backstreets if possible. People with lung conditions such as asthma, should avoid doing strenuous exercise outdoors. Dr Keith Prowse, the charity’s honorary medical adviser said: “Heavy air pollution, of the kind we’re seeing in several places across GB at the moment, can have a significant impact on people with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma, worsening symptoms such as coughing and breathlessness…When levels of air pollution are high, people with these conditions, or anyone else who finds themselves coughing or wheezing in times of high pollution, should avoid strenuous exercise outdoors, particularly around pollution hotspots such as busy roads. If the option is available, exercising in an air-conditioned gym or sports hall is preferable…If they cycle, run or walk to work, commuting at times other than rush hour or along back streets is also advisable. People with lung conditions who use a reliever inhaler should make sure that they carry it with them. If they feel their condition is worsening at all, they should contact their Physician”. Enough said for the wise!

Thanks to “The Guardian”-(GB) for sharing this story. We have condensed it, but commend it to you for its accompanying photos, and illustrations.> http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/02/pupils-indoors-lunch-smog-uk-government-adviser

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

Alas! De je vu all over again! While this story is centered on the nefarious effects of Smog in children; unfortunately, it applies to all air breathing creatures (including adult humans). Smog is not new to London, home of the Industrial revolution (c. 1830). Fortunately, or unfortunately, Brits have always excelled in the design of engines of all kinds, and have produced some of the world’s finest machinery of all sorts. What may well have kick-started the industrial revolution was the invention of the Watt stationary steam engine, and subsequent derivative external combustion engines used in factories, locomotives, ships, etc. Unfortunately, all such engines were most easily fueled by coal, thus contributing to improved coal mining, improved production and leading to GB dominance in the world markets for finished goods during the Victorian era. All this required ever greater amounts of coal being burned as the best available source of energy. London had always relied in coal for home heating, only then, it was a much smaller city.

THE USA TOOK A SIMILAR ROUTE TO PROGRESS The same process took place in USA a few years later. Bottom line is the birth of KING COAL there here and everywhere. As we have learned since, not all coal is of the same quality, but its combustion is a huge contributor to air pollution; furthermore autos/trucks also make significant contribution to air pollution; notably in cities. Today air pollution (smog) is characterized as “Particulate matter (dust)”, noxious gasses: Sulfurous oxides, nitrogenous oxides, industrial by-products. Stationary sources” such as: Coal-fired Utilities, Petro-chemical refineries, other heavy industrial s such as steel, metals, and even corn/foods processing plants. PROBLEM IS: These greedy folks won’t do a dammed thing to clean-up their act.

ENTER: REV. ROBERT MALTHUS A sad chapter in GB, and world history, was the credence given by Industrialists of the Industrial revolution to the socio-economic theories of Rev. Robert Malthus.(1766- 1834). He was the 7th son of a well-to-do family who became a cleric, and was reputed to be a great orator despite a hereditary harelip condition. Said Malthus: “Yet, in all societies, even those that are most vicious, the tendency to a virtuous attachment is so strong that there is a constant effort towards an increase of population. This constant effort as constantly tends to subject the lower classes of the society to distress and to prevent any great permanent amelioration of their condition”. Malthus argued in his Essay (1798) that population growth generally expanded in times and in regions of plenty, until the size of the population relative to the primary resources caused distress, often interpreted as: “Give the lower classes enough to eat, and they will reproduce until they outstrip the land’s resources; so it is best they be kept too tired and hungry to be amorous”. Apparently, Industrialists everywhere agreed with Malthus that it was beneficial for the working class to be kept over-worked, and underfed – “for their own good”. Malthus’ thinking lost credence among his peers long before his death (one supposes it was not longer “politically correct”); Even so, American Industrialists J.D. Rockefeller, and others in America, evidently adopted Malthus’ thinking, and mistreated/ overworked their workers – But not for long! It should be noted that such a philosophy toward workers has been was independently pursued by many others, including Mao Tse Tung, and that Malthusian thinking still echoes in the ranks of Conservative politicians in the USA today. IT IS CLEAR TO ME THEY SEE THE CURRENT WAGE DISPARITY AS NECESSARY TO THEIR DOMINANCE AND PERSONAL PROFIT. Thinking prevails, and not for naught, that power and privilege still abounds in America.

GETTING BACK TO “KILLER POLLUTION” It may be argued that London saw worse coal air pollution during the Industrial revolution, but that in no way benefits now highly industrialized London. In truth, today’s killer pollution is in many ways more toxic than any seen in GB before. It is dogmatic, that while all air pollution blows somewhere, it almost always affects most direly those who produce it. That takes us back to the citizens of London current preoccupation; specially, regarding their children and those with respiratory impairments. The comments by leading British authorities regarding steps to take to mitigate the smog damage to human health should resonate among those cities afflicted by similar smog conditions. Oh yes! There are too many to count. Let us all take counsel, and look for ways to cease/desist coal burning and limit petrol burning as well. It is killing us. There are technical advances looming that could eliminate fossil fuel burning in the future. We must steel ourselves, and our children, to survive until that brave new world arrives. Let’s hang in there! That is what we do in Texas too.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. We are happy to announce that our readership doubled in Mar 2014 over the previous month. Welcome to our new readers! Perhaps some of you are passing out the word about us. We will continue to strive to provide you with a fresh viewpoint you are not likely to find elsewhere. As always, we do not solicit or accept funding for this publication as a social service.

e-mail: gonzedo@yahoo.com


April 3, 2014 at 9:35 PM Comments (2)

CHINA PURSUING THORIUM MOLTEN SALTS MODERATED NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS

15 Mar 2014

20 Dec 2013 (Reuters) – Scientists in Shanghai, China are attempting a breakthrough in nuclear energy: reactors powered by thorium (an alternative to uranium) and cooled by molten salts Project is run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a government body with close military ties that coordinates China’s Science-and-Technology strategy. The academy has designated thorium as a priority for China’s top laboratories and has a budget of $350 million budget. Surprisingly, it is pursuing this aspect of its technology game plan with the blessing/help of the USA.

China has enlisted a valuable American partner for its thorium push: Oak Ridge National Laboratory; That is where the USA government produced the plutonium used for the USA’s first A-Bombs, and laid important groundwork for the commercial and military use of nuclear power; As it happens, The Oakridge Tennessee lab helped pioneer thorium reactors. The Pentagon, and the energy industry later sidelined this technology in favor of uranium for political reasons (explained later on).Thorium’s chief allure is that it is a potentially far safer nuclear fuel for civilian power plants than uranium. The element also has military applications as an energy source in naval vessels. The technology’s immediate appeal is that both Chinese and American scientists agree that thorium reactors have the potential to be much more efficient, safer and cleaner than the Uranium fueled NPPs in service today.

A USA congressman unsuccessfully sought to push the Pentagon to embrace Thorium technology in 2009, In a further twist, despite the mounting industrial/strategic rivalry with China, there has been little or no protest in the United States over Oak Ridge’s nuclear-energy cooperation with China. Robert Hargraves physicist and thorium advocate. Says:“The U.S. government seems to welcome Chinese scientists into Department of Energy labs with open arms,” He and other experts note that most of the U.S. intellectual property related to thorium, is already in the public domain. At a time when the U.S. government is spending very little on advanced reactor research, they believe China’s experiments may yield a breakthrough that provides an alternative to the massive worldwide consumption of fossil fuels.

MOLTEN SALTS REACTOR (MSR)TECHNOLOGY EXPLAINED The Chinese plan to cool/moderate their experimental thorium reactors with molten salts. This is sharply different from the Pressurized light Water-cooling systems used in most uranium-fueled nuclear plants. Fang Jinqing, a retired nuclear researcher at the China Institute of of Atomic Energy.said: “If a thorium, molten-salt reactor can be successfully developed, it will remove all fears about nuclear energy…The technology works in theory, and it may have the potential to reshape the nuclear power landscape, but there are a lot of technical challenges.” Jiang did not respond to requests for comment. In a statement posted on the Chinese Academy of Sciences website, he said China and the United States “should boost mutual trust and carry out complementary and mutually beneficial cooperation in the study of thorium-based salt reactors, hybrid energy systems and other cutting edge science and technology.” At last year’s Shanghai thorium conference, Jiang described how clean nuclear power would allow China to make a “revolutionary move towards a greener economy.The bet on unconventional nukes, he said, explains why China is the first one to eat a crab” – citing an old Chinese proverb about the individual who dares to make a discovery important to civilization.

CHINA TRYING TO GO “BACK TO THE FUTURE” to the mid-1960s, when Oak Ridge successfully operated a reactor with fuel derived from thorium and cooled with molten salts. The lab also produced detailed plans for a commercial-scale power plant. Despite considerable promise, the thorium test reactor was shut down in 1969 after about five years of operation.

THE DIE WAS CAST AGAINST THORIUM MUCH EARLIER In the early 1950s, an influential U.S. Navy officer, Hyman Rickover, decided a water-cooled, uranium-fueled reactor would power the world’s first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus. Rickover was instrumental in the 1957 commissioning of a similar reactor at Shippingport, Pennsylvania – the world’s first nuclear-power station. At the time Admiral Rickover was a towering figure in atomic energy, and became known as the father of the “U.S. nuclear navy”. With the launch of the Nautilus in 1955, a course was set that is still followed today, with most of the world’s nuclear power generated from this type of reactor. Rickover had clear reasons for his choice, engineers say. The Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) was the most advanced, compact and technically sound at the time. More importantly, these reactors also supplied plutonium as a by-product – then in strong demand as fuel for America’s rapidly growing arsenal of nuclear warheads.  

THORIUM IN USA POLITICS Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), introduced legislation in 2010 calling on the U.S. government to share its thorium expertise. The unsuccessful bill said it was in the USAs “national security and foreign policy interest to provide other countries with thorium fuel-cycle technology, because doing so would produce less long-lasting waste and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation”. Even though Oak Ridge has been free to proceed, Thorium research was effectively shelved when the Nixon Administration decided in the 1970s that the USA nuclear industry would concentrate on a new generation of uranium-fueled, fast-breeder reactors. for a range of technical and political reasons, not least the public’s fear of nuclear plants, these new uranium reactors had yet to come into widespread commercial use. More recently, Joe Sestak, a former USA congressman and retired two-star admiral, failed in an effort to get the Pentagon to reconsider thorium in 2009. “It is very hard to effect a change in something that has been established for a long time,” he added that he was unaware of the extent of cooperation between the USA and China on thorium technology.

WHAT DOOMED THORIUM RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT? Kirk Sorensen, president of “Flibe Energy”, a privately held thorium-technology start-up based in Huntsville, Alabama said: “The short answer is that uranium was good for bombs and thorium wasn’t,“. Sorensen, a former NASA engineer, has plans to build thorium-fueled reactors for commercial use in the USA. Sorensen has been instrumental in reviving global interest in the groundbreaking work of the late nuclear physicist Alvin Weinberg.

URANIUM CARTEL: KILL THE MESSENGER! American nuclear physicist Alvin Weinberg, led research into thorium and MSRs when he ran Oak Ridge from 1955 to 1973; Unfortunately, he was eventually fired for his persistent thorium advocacy, but he had some powerful supporters. In his last scientific paper (published shortly after his death in 2003). Nuclear-weapons pioneer Edward Teller called for the construction and testing of a small, thorium-fueled reactor. Oak Ridge remains the ancestral home of this technology. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) lab still has a small research project under way on the use of molten-salt coolants for uranium-fueled reactors. DOE is also funding related research at the Universities of California, Berkeley, the University of Wisconsin and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

GREAT BRITAIN NOW WANTS THORIUM POWER FOR ITS NAVY During 2012, top British naval engineers proposed a design for a thorium reactor to power warships. Compact thorium power plants could also be used to supply reliable power to military bases and expeditionary forces.

USA MILITARY HAS WEAK REASONS TO STICK WITH URANIUM NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS (NPPs) Although Thorium also has military potential for the USA, the world’s most powerful military is reluctant to pursue alternatives to its uranium-fueled reactors, simply because it has operated them successfully for almost six decades.

USA/CHINA LIASSON Jiang Mianheng,( son of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin), and an Electrical Engineer trained at Drexel University in Philadelphia, visited Oak Ridge in 2010 and brokered a cooperation agreement with the lab. The deal gave the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which has a staff of 50,000, the plans for a thorium reactor. In January 2011 Jiang signed a protocol with the USA DOE outlining the terms of joint energy research with the academy. Jiang told a conference on thorium in Shanghai last year that the China’s thorium project “is 100 % financed by the (China) central government…The protocol stipulates that intellectual property arising from the joint research will be shared with the global scientific community. It excludes sharing commercially confidential information and any other material that the parties agree to withhold. The pact also specifically rules out any military or weapons-related research…All activities conducted under this protocol shall be exclusively for peaceful purposes”. Jess Gehin, a nuclear-reactor physicist at Oak Ridge, says the pact allows the two sides to share information about their research added:“The Chinese are very aggressive, and very determined to move forward with this technology…Right now we agree that we should meet routinely, maybe a couple of times a year.”

CHINA’s THORIUM PROJECT IN A NUT-SHELL Project is very ambitious, and well underway Beijing’s long-term goal is to commercialize the technology by 2040, after building a series of increasingly bigger reactors. The Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics is now recruiting nuclear physicists, engineers, project managers and support staff, according to a regular stream of job advertisements it publishes online. Its team is expected to expand to 750 by 2015 and eventually include 1,000 researchers. A director at the Shanghai Institute, Li Qingnuan, and other senior researchers are wooing top young talent across China to join the project. After lecturing on molten-salt reactor technology at Sichuan University in April, Li invited students from the audience to apply for positions at the institute, according to a report on the university’s website. China’s sprawling network of nuclear-research and industrial companies, are gearing up to attend in early June 2014.

THORIUM AND SALTS CONTRACT ISSUED The China National Nuclear Corporation The body overseeing all Chinese civilian and military nuclear programs, has announced that state-owned China North Nuclear Fuel Company had signed an agreement with the Shanghai Institute to research and supply Thorium and molten salts for the experimental reactors. The push into thorium is part of a broader national energy strategy. The government wants to reduce its dependence on coal-fired power plants, which account for about 80% of the nation’s electricity but have darkened/polluted its skies. Nuclear energy is a big part of the plan: China’s goal is to generate 58 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2020, an almost five-fold increase from 12.57 gigawatts today.

CHINA SEES THORIUM POWER AS A HEDGE against the fact that it has 15 conventional nuclear reactors online, and 30 more under construction. Even so, energy authorities are also investing in a range of different technologies for the future, including advanced PWRs fast-breeder reactors, and pebble-bed reactors. China has little uranium but massive reserves of thorium, and are attracted to Thorium as a source of cheaper/safer nuclear power. The fuel could be used to power Chinese navy surface warships, including a planned fleet of aircraft carriers. China’s nuclear submarine fleet has struggled with reactor reliability and safety, according to Chinese naval commentators, and thorium could eventually become an alternative.

Thanks to Reuters 20 Dec 2013 story >

http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/12/20/us-breakout-thorium-special-report-idINBRE9BJ0RH20131220

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

THIS IS A VERY GOOD STORY Mainly because it refreshes our memory of where the USA thorium program had its genesis, met its demise, and the people/politics at large that led to our 100+ Merchant Nuclear fleet of uranium fueled mainly LW-PBWRs From Admiral Rickover (1950s), to Oakridge Labs/1955-1973 (Physicist Alvin Weinberg), to 1970  Pres. Nixon, decision to choose Uranium NPPs as a rich source of plutonium for the cold war, to 2010, and the failed Hatch/Reid which was DOA. in the Senate. It has been a long time, and many fallacious reasons, used to derail a good project which might have already saved many lives worldwide. We should welcome China’s initiative to return to thorium, for NPPs, and wish them well for the sake of all humanity. On the other hand, we worry that their $350,000 budget is way too low for such an ambitious project. By comparison, in today’s economy, it takes about $10 bn. and 10 years to usher a Uranium LW-PBWR (the most common kind). Cost and time (cost of capital) are the main reasons these “transnuclear Spent- Fuel generators” are not being built as before. Speaking as an American, I feel envious the USA is not doing as much nuclear research as China. Sharing past thorium technology may count in important ways, but only if the brokered deal to share in developments prevails.

It is natural for all ambitious nuclear project managers to feel their approach to thorium NPPs is the best. It may be, but we won’t know that until other thorium technologies are tried and compared for their salient characteristics./relative economies. I believe the Chinese Government know that, and is leaving the door open to world and Intra-China competition.  They know that there are already working models of the Liquid Fluoride Thorium reactor (LFTR), in some variants.  India too has a dire need for more energy, and is a burgeoning technical talent/industrial capacity in bloom. Let us hope, that at least in this enterprise, our world needs and climate warming, will override the greed and corruption present in all societies. SUCH FOLKS SHOULD REMEMBER WE ALL LIVE IN THE SAME PLANET, AND IT IS THEIR DUTY TO HELP SAVE IT, OR GAIN ALL AND WIN NOTHING! THORIUM POWER COULD BE OUR SALVATION, BUT ONLY IF WE COLLABORATE TO ACHIEVE IT.

BREAKING RELATED NEWS 19 MAR 2014

The Chinese central government is accelerating completion of a Thorium cycle reactor to 2024 because of dire need. Smog is killing them. They have the advantage of free access to experimental results of the USAs Oakridge experiments (and an actual working reactor for five years) in the 1960s when Dr. Alvin Weinberg, was chief of Oakridge Labs. As the Chinese are finding out :These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers. Nor are different Thorium fuel cycles alone in China’s quest, they are also investigating some “futuristic” (never have been tried) steam generators. We commend this article to your reading because it illustrates colorfully the many benefits of thorium fuel over the U-235 reactors now on line everywhere. > http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1452011/chinese-scientists-urged-develop-new-thorium-nuclear-reactors-2024. (This is “must read” if you are interested in energy matters.).

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)


March 15, 2014 at 9:11 PM Comments (0)

EPA SETS NEW STDS FOR GASOLINE AND VEHICULAR ANTI-POLLUTION EQUIPMENT

5 Mar 2014
WASHINGTON, 03/03/2014: THE “TIER 3 EMISSION STANDARDS” WERE RELEASED TODAY for gasoline fueled vehicles. The Standard will also seek the production of cleaner gasoline that will significantly reduce harmful pollution, and prevent thousands of premature deaths and illnesses, while also enabling energy efficiency improvements in cars and trucks The cleaner gasoline, and vehicle standards are an important component of the administration’s national program for cleaner combusting  cars and trucks, Existing fuel efficiency standards currently in place are already saving new vehicle owners at the gas pump. The new Standards are based on extensive input from the public and a broad range of stakeholders, including public health groups, auto manufacturers, refiners, and states. Diesel fueled vehicles will be covered by a different new standard.

THE “TIER 3 STANDARDS” seek to reduce vehicular tailpipe emission pollution (smog)where people live and breathe, by reducing known harmful emissions along streets and roadways  A target reduction of 70 % in particulate matter (soot) and virtually eliminating fuel vapor emissions. Additionally, the standards will also seek to reduce vehicle emissions of toxic air pollutants, such as Sulfurous and Nitrous Oxides (NOx) emissions, and benzene by up to 30 %. The program will also reduce exposure to pollution near high traffic roads where more than 50 million people live, and work, or go to school EPAs ADMISSION OF EXISTING “RIVERS OF SMOG” ON/ NEAR HIGHWAYS AND BY-WAYS IS AN AUSPICIOUS BEGINNING.

WIN, WIN, WIN:  EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.said:“These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment, and a win for our pocketbooks…By working with the auto industry, health groups, and other stakeholders, we’re continuing to build on the Obama Administration’s broader clean fuels and vehicles efforts that cut carbon pollution, clean the air we breathe, and save families money at the pump.”

ESTIMATED QUANTIFICATION OF EMISSIONS The final fuel standards should reduce gasoline sulfur levels by more than 60 % – down from 30 to 10 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. Reducing sulfur in gasoline enables vehicle emission control technologies to perform more efficiently. New low-sulfur gasoline will provide significant and immediate health benefits because every gasoline-powered vehicle on the road built prior to these standards will run cleaner, thus reducing smog-forming Sulfurous and Nitrous Oxides (NOx) emissions, and sundry other pollutants. by 260,000 tons in 2018. We noted no mention was made about Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions.  When we start by burning petroleum (Hydrocarbon) products we are on the wrong track – let us hope not for long.

EPA ESTIMATED HEALTH BENEFITS: In 16 years, (by 2030), up to 2,000 premature deaths, 50,000 cases of respiratory ailments in children,(HOW ABOUT ADULTS ?) 2,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits, and 1.4 million lost school days, work days, and days when activities would be restricted due to air pollution on high-traffic roadways. It is estimated the average American spends more than one hour daily traveling on such roads.(THESE PROGNOSTICATIONS SEEM HIGHLY UNDERSTATED)

ESTIMATED FINANCIAL BENEFITS The final standards are expected to provide up to $13 in health benefits for every dollar spent to meet the standards, more than was estimated for the proposal. The sulfur standards will cost less than a penny per gallon of gasoline (on average) once the standards are fully in place. The vehicle standards will have an average cost of about $72 per vehicle in 2025. The Tier 3 Standards support efforts by states to reduce harmful levels of smog and soot; and aids their ability to attain and maintain science-based national ambient air quality standards to protect public health, while also providing assistance / flexibilities for small refineries, including hardship provisions and additional lead time for compliance. The final standards will quickly (?) and effectively cut harmful soot, smog and toxic emissions from (gasoline fueled) cars and trucks. The Obama Administration’s actions to improve fuel economy and reduce Green House Gases(GHG) from these same vehicles will also result in average life-time fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 The fuel economy and GHG standards covering model year vehicles from 2012-2025 are projected to save American families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs. Total financial health-related benefits in 2030 are expected to be between $6.7 and $19 billion annually.(PRETTY BROAD RANGE -FUZZY CRYSTAL BALL ?).

CALIFORNIA, A TREND SETTER The final standards will work together with California’s clean cars and fuels program to create a “uniform nationwide vehicle emissions program” that enables automakers to sell the same vehicles in all 50 states. The standards are designed to be implemented over the same timeframe as the next phase of EPA’s national program to reduceGHG emissions from cars and light trucks beginning in model year 2017. Together, the federal and California standards will maximize reductions in GHGs, air pollutants and air toxins from cars and light trucks while providing automakers regulatory certainty, streamlining compliance, and reducing costs to consumers.

EPA EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT “SMALL REFINERIES” To meet the Tier 3 cleaner gasoline standards necessary to reduce tailpipe emissions and protect public health, the agency has built in flexibility and adequate time-lines for refineries to comply. For those refineries that may need it, the program would provide nearly six (6) years to meet the standards; To provide a smooth transition for refineries to produce cleaner gasoline, the program is structured to allow the industry time to plan for additional investments; Additionally, EPA will consider providing special considerations to small refineries by offering compliance assistance in cases of extreme hardship, or unforeseen circumstances.

BROAD INDUSTRY SUPPORT EXPECTED EPA conducted extensive outreach with key stakeholders throughout the development of the rule, held two public hearings in Philadelphia and Chicago, and received more than 200,000 public comments. The final standards are based on input from a broad range of groups, including state and local governments, auto manufacturers, emissions control suppliers, refiners, fuel distributors and others in the petroleum industry, renewable fuels providers, health and environmental organizations, consumer groups, labor groups and private citizens. For the official EPA release see> http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/ce8984957ffefa6a85257c90004fe802!OpenDocument

NOTE: Above document was redacted from the original, in the interest of enhancing clarity and as necessary (in our opinion) to elucidate Tier 3 New Standards.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

The USA-EPA is saying to gasoline refineries, and new vehicle makers: You all come -,now hear! (in Texas talk) Or.What ? That is the question. We all know that to be persuasive it is sometimes necessary to “accentuate the positive” In this case, EPA has tried to quantify the benefits, and the necessity to human health for this changes to our gasoline refinery, as well as vehicular equipment but…OH WHERE, OH WHERE, DID EPA GET THEIR CRISTAL BALL ? In any event, some of the required changes can be regarded as lofty goals, others too slow in coming. It is clear that EPA is willing to “cut-slack” to some refiners (penultimate par.). but, who is a “small refinery”, or business enterprise, and who will decide if it applies? We all already know, don’t we? In all fairness, most world auto makers have contributed significantly, (under the circumstances), and are probably ready to improve their vehicular pollution controls ever more in the interest of competitiveness.

PETROLEUM REFINERIES WILL BE THE MAIN DETERRENT TO THESE NEW STANDARDS. When EPA speaks about their need for new “capital improvements” they read: “Spend more money” and folks these industrialists are exceptionally greedy, slow to change, and indifferent to the airborne , and other pollution they create. Pray say: what will they do with even more pollutants removed from the crude? What do they do now ?- As little as possible

Hell! remember the “Keystone Pipeline”travesty they are trying to impose on the USA mainland? It is no longer needed (we now have sufficient USA produced crude), and the heavy crude they offer is more like tar, more explosive, more toxic and much harder to refine. Add to this, the airborne pollution exacerbation to our Texas coast (Corpus Christi north to Beaumont TX). It is already intolerable, and adding the Keystone Tar-sands crude would produce toxins the likes of which Texas has never known. This is no exaggeration!. I resent having the USA become Canada’s (or anyone’s) gassy asshole. I trust Pres Obama will veto approval of the Keystone Pipeline. Mr. President:“The eyes of Texas are upon you” –literally. The USA EPA Admin Ms. Mc Carthy can be relied upon to do NOTHING! > http://energymaters.com/?p=1438

WE LIKE THE NEW STANDARD Tier 3 standards are a step in the right direction for the petroleum, and Automotive Industry, and should pay for their cost many fold. We certainly cannot argue with that, or the necessity for change; We further believe they will bring about many national health improvements, reduce health maintenance costs, improve national productivity, and set the USA as an example to the world of what must be done (among other energy considerations) to make a. significant contribution toward GHG reduction and our President’s Climate Action Plan.

Many emerging and heavily industrialized nations such as China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico all have experienced fist hand the noxious effects upon their population(specially in large cities) of unbridled air pollution. It is a people killer. We all need to do something – FAST

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)


March 5, 2014 at 1:49 AM Comments (0)

KEYSTONE PIPELINE A “WIN-WIN”-SAYS WHO? T.BOONE PICKENS AND KEN SALAZAR

18 Feb 2014

WHO IS T. BOONE PICKENS?  T.Boone Pickens is a long time Nat Gas /water tycoon, whose company operates from Dallas TX. He is currently the chairman and CEO of “BP Capital”, which operates energy-focused commodity and Equity funds. He is also the largest shareholder in “Clean Energy”, the largest provider of vehicular natural gas (CNG and LNG) in North America, with a broad customer base in the refuse, transit, shuttle, taxi, police, intrastate and interstate trucking, airport and municipal fleet markets. Pickens is also a man with a half-million followers in “LinkedIn”. A valued opinion to be sure; however, regarding oil,–Not so, and not about the Keystone Pipeline either.

PICKENS IS A PROMOTER OF USA ENERGY INDEPENDENCE. In July 2008, Pickens launched a self-funded, $100 million, grass-roots campaign aimed at reducing this country’s then crippling dependence on imported oil. He has advertised in television ads, on his “Pickens Plan” website, and in personal appearances, he spelled out how our dependence on OPEC oil is an addiction that threatens the U.S. economy, environment and national security, and ties its hands as a nation. He has spent the time since 2008 spelling out how this country can drag itself out of this quagmire, if it acts quickly and reasonably, but his plan was made 6 years ago, and a great deal has changed in the petroleum dependence of the USA.

RECENTLY PICKENS SPOKE GLOWINGLY ABOUT KEN SALAZAR: “Last week, Ken Salazar made one of the smartest statements I’ve heard come out of Washington in years”. Speaking at an energy conference, Ken Salazar (the Obama Administration’s first Secretary of the Interior), said: “building the Keystone XL oil pipeline is a “win-win” project. ..It would be in the national interest to build the pipeline for our energy security, and enhance that national interest with the preservation of the Dakota Grasslands Conservation Area and the Prairie Potholes Region. In so doing, the carbon sequestration functions of these conservation areas will be preserved, wildlife and ranching heritage is supported, and energy security is enhanced….At the end of the day, we are going to be consuming that oil, so is it better for us to get the oil from our good neighbor from the north, or to be bringing it from some place in the Middle East?”

MR. PICKENS COMMENTED:Thank you, Secretary Salazar. There aren’t many people who can combine two topics that close to my heart – energy security and conservation – but you just did. Hear the man out: I couldn’t have said it better myself. The truth is I’ve made that exact point over and over again. The Canadians are good and patient people. They’ve waited on us long enough. They want to give us a gift, and we should have enough sense to take it. …Mr. President (Obama), we’ve had enough studies and enough different departments weigh in on this decision. Approve the Keystone pipeline NOW. Recall House speaker Bohner also echoed those sentiments:”let’s get that Blackstone Pipeline approved!”

PICKENS IS HAPPY It is clear Mr. Pickens is very happy to see former DOI Secretary Ken Salazar echo his energy views. We have often shared Mr. Pickens’ views regarding the need to enhance the use of our Nat gas resources; However, Oil exploration /exploitation technology in the USA have overcome his concern. “FRACKING”, a word not yet in his lexicon, has surprisingly/ rapidly changed the energy posture of the USA, which is now (if not very soon) the world’s biggest producer of Nat Gas and petroleum. The “Eagle-Ford” Oil Fields (Play) just south of San Antonio, TX alone, may do just that, and there exist other like plays in their beginning stages throughout the USA. Pickens might be shocked to realize that such “Energy self-sufficiency” for the USA has taken place since 2008, when he began his advocacy, and that such a bonanza renders both his, and Ken Salazar’s  TransCanada Keystone Pipeline advocacy rationale moot.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

KEYSTONE PIPELINE (From Wikipedia) >http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystone_Pipeline We thought it convenient to abbreviate the Wikipedia information below for your elucidation.

The Keystone Pipeline System is a crude oil pipeline (36 inches in dia.) and 2151 miles long, owned and operated by the TransCanada. It runs from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the United States in Steele City, Nebraska, Wood River and Patoka, Illinois, and in the Gulf  Coast of Texas. In addition to the synthetic crude oil (syncrude) and diluted bitumen(dilbit) from the oil tar sands of Canada, it also carries light crude oil  from the Williston Basin (Bakken) region in Montana and North Dakota, USA.

Three (3) phases of the project are in operation and the fourth is awaiting U.S. government approval. When/If completed, the Keystone Pipeline System would consist of the completed 2,151-mile (3,462 km) Keystone Pipeline (Phases I and II), Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion (Phase III) and the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline Project (Phase IV). Phase 1, delivering oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, Wood River, and Patoka, was completed in the summer of 2010. Phase 2, the Keystone-Cushing extension, was completed in February 2011 with the pipeline from Steele City to storage and distribution facilities at Cushing, Oklahoma. These two phases have the capacity to deliver up to 590,000 barrels per day (94,000 m3/d) of oil into the Mid-West refineries. Phase III, the Gulf Coast Extension, which was opened in January 2014, has capacity up to 700,000 barrels per day (110,000 m3/d). The proposed controversial Phase IV, the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, would begin in Hardisty, Alberta, Canada and extend to Steele City, Nebraska, USA.

The Keystone XL pipeline proposal has faced much criticism from environmentalists and some members of the United States Congress. In January 2012, President Barrack Obama rejected the application amid protests about the pipeline’s impact on Nebraska’s environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region. TransCanada Corp changed the original proposed route of Keystone XL to minimize “disturbance of land, water resources and special areas” and the new route was approved by Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman in January 2013. However, as of Feb 2014, the USA construction permit is still not issued, and has been threatened with a USA Presidential veto.

OUR COMMENTS:

ENVIRONMENTALISTS STRONGLY OPPOSE THE PIPELINE. The reasons are many, and validated by many years of bad experiences with overland pipelines in mainland USA, and in Alaska. Whenever a 36 inch diameter pipeline conducts crude oil overland, it is subject to many unpredictable vagaries, ranging from temperature extremes to mechanical failures in pumping systems, earthquakes, potential leaks causing massive contamination of streams/rivers. Add to that the now real possibility of extreme weather, and flood caused precisely by the continued use of oil/coal with clear weather changing impact Green House gasses (GHG). It should be considered that the air toxicity in oil processing refineries such as those proposed for Port Arthur/Houston area are normally the “killing kind”, or at least life altering. ALL AIR POLUTION BLOWS SOMEWWHERE, but more so to those producing it. Refineries have never shown any concern for their employees. (OSHA where art thou?).  Regrettably the Texas coast from Corpus Christi north to Beaumont is already heavily polluted by Industrial or petro-chemical pollution/or both. Another fact that most such polluters never take into consideration in their Business Strategic Planning (talk about environmental threats) is the fact that most of them lie in low-lying coastal regions which are already frequently flooded while the sea level continues to rise inexorably. So much business knowledge seeking unbridled profits with a “dare-devil attitude!”

Former DOI Secretary Ken Salazar knows from his past tenure that many of these arguments for the Keystone pipeline (and other of his unfinished projects) are now dated – Overcome by fracking and other technologies; and yet he continues to support them. We cut slack for Pickens’ attitude given his past advocacies; regrettably, we cannot do so for Ken Salazar. He knows better, and is now clearly using his past DOI Secretary prestige to work as a Lobbyist. POINT IS: Since The USAs energy self-sufficiency is no longer in doubt, Keystone Pipeline is no longer essential, or desirable to our and economy, and potentially very detrimental to our environment. It is a shame to see how a well planned, business/politically executed web has been destroyed by unpredictable events. Those who bear responsibility for this business fiasco should hire better Business Strategic Planners. – “ALONG CAME A SPIDER”…THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE SHOULD BE VETOED BY PRES. OBAMA. Neither congress nor the Senate, are inclined to do so. Note: “Keystone pipeline” is a misnomer.  The project should have been called what it is: The CANAM(Canadian-American) Crude Oleoduct.

NEWS UPDATE 1.- 19 Feb 2014 -Reuters

A Nebraska court on 19 Feb 2014 invalidated the governor’s decision to allow the Keystone XL pipeline to pass through Nebraska, casting new uncertainty over the controversial pipeline to link Alberta’s oil sands inn Canada with refineries in Texas. Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled that the recent law passed by the state’s legislature, which gave Gov. Heineman the decision on the Keystone Pipeline route instead of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, was:unconstitutional” and “void.” See>http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/20/us-usa-keystone-court-idUSBREA1I24520140220

NEWS UPDATE 2. – 20 Feb 2014 – Al Jazeera

Canadian Tar Sands Heavy Crude is bad news when shipped by rail also. More explosive, more toxic, more frequent derailments in the USA. This time in Pennsylvania.  Read all about it:  http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/13/-train-carrying-canadianoilderailsspillsinpennsylvania.html Who needs this stuff post fracking? Perhaps Canada should write-off/abandon their Tar Sands.  If you think we exaggerate, read this Aljazeera article.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

We “Tell it like it is”


February 18, 2014 at 1:53 AM Comments (0)

THE SWISS CONNECTION – KEY TO WORLD-WIDE CORRUPTION AND FRAUD

7 Feb 2014

Bloomberg reported on 6 Feb 2014, that a Swiss asset manager was charged in the U.S. with helping Americans hide millions of dollars in offshore accounts from the USA Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to the article> http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-06/swiss-asset-manager-charged-with-tax-fraud-in-u-s-.html  Asset manager Peter Amrein, 52, conspired with Americans from 1998 to 2012 to help them evade taxes, according to an indictment unsealed yesterday in federal court in New York City. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:“From his post in Switzerland, Peter Amrein aided and abetted U.S. taxpayers in their efforts to skirt the tax code and conceal their assets in offshore accounts,…” Peter Amrein, a Swiss citizen, faces as many as five (5) years in prison on the conspiracy charge. with Swiss lawyer, Edgar Paltzer, who has now been cooperating (he “ratted out” )in a U.S. crackdown on offshore tax evasion that has led to criminal charges against more than 100 people, including about 70 American taxpayers and more than 30 bankers, lawyers and advisers. Fourteen banks are under criminal investigation, including Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, U.S.A. authorities have said.  Peter Amrein has not yet been arrested, or located for comment. The case is U.S. v. Amrein, 13-cr-972, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

UNDECLARED ACCOUNTS According to the indictment, Peter Amrein “opened, maintained, and managed undeclared accounts at Swiss banks for various U.S. taxpayers holding millions of dollars in undeclared assets, often working with Edgar Paltzer…The men conspired to set up undeclared Swiss accounts at Wegelin & Co., which pleaded guilty in New York to tax charges, and four other Swiss banks”,. None of those banks are referred to by name (to protect the guilty) FOLKS, THIS IS A LONG AND CONVOLUTED STORY, AS ARE MOST STORIES OF CORRUPTION AND FRAUD. WE BELIEVE IT IS ONLY THE TIP OF THE “SWISS CONNECTION”CORRUPTION ICEBERG.

Thanks to Bloomberg for exposing the Swiss connection.

EPA GRANTS TEXAS PERMITS TO POLLUTE OUR AIR (EVEN MORE!) HOUSTON, TX, USA 4 Feb 2014 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) gave The State of Texas authority over greenhouse gas permitting today, ending a long, often bitter battle between the US-EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Ron Curry, US-EPA’s Regional administrator in Dallas, said he signed the permits on 4 Feb 2014, delegating authority over the program to the TCEQ. The transfer of responsibility comes after months of negotiations concerning what the program would look like. There will be a 30-day public comment period on the program’s outline (FOR ALL THE GOOD IT WILL DO!-THE DIE IS CAST).

US-EPA’s RON CURRY SPEAKS TO ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP. Curry, speaking a luncheon sponsored by “Air Alliance Houston” (an environmental group).said the US-EPA and the TCEQ’ have had an often contentious relationship, and still have many unresolved issues between the two; including a backlog of 80 greenhouse gas permits currently in the process of being approved. Curry added: “that is big news!” when announcing the program had been approved. (HE IS NOT WOOFING! – BIG MONIES BENEFITED; PUBLIC’S HEALTH AND WELL-BEING WILL SUFFER).

TEXAS IS THE USA’s LARGEST GREENHOUSE PRODUCER Unsaid at the Air Alliance Houston luncheon, is the dirty-air fact that Texas was the only state in 2010 that refused to meet New US-EPA greenhouse gas emission rules, placing some of the nation’s largest refineries in operational limbo. The US-EPA, in an effort to ensure those facilities could continue to operate, has been directly issuing permits since 2011, and assuming a role that has historically belonged to States.

TEXAS STATE LEGISLATURE APPROVES  During 2013, the Texas State Legislature passed a law giving the TECQ the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Curry said: “That is when the US-EPA and the TECQ began working to develop a program that would meet federal requirements. Initially, Texas had wanted to have a six-month turn-around on all permits, but the US-EPA refused to put a cap on how long it would take to issue a permit; Curry added: “The state also wanted to include a hearing process in its program, but the federal agency declined; In addition, Texas had to establish appropriate emission thresholds. Once those and several other issues were resolved we were able to shift authority to Texas, though the US-EPA will periodically review this program It’s a program that the state(Texas) will have forever as long as it operates correctly” As long as it operates correctly?-Say what?;Who will determine that? Your guess is as good as mine, but we suspect we know who.

TECQ STILL DISSATISFIED The TECQ said in a statement: “We do not agree with the US-EPA’s move to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, but will follow the direction of the (Texas) Legislature so that permits can be issued in a timely manner, and to continue the successes of the strong Texas economy”. (NATURALLY, THEY DO NOT WANT ANYONE LOOKING OVER THEIR SHOULDERS).

AIR ALLIANCE HOUSTON DISSATISFIED While some are pleased to see the US-EPA and Texas begin to resolve issues that have sparked lengthy legal battles, Air Alliance Houston, Executive Director Adrian Shelley said:”I fear the state’s primary goal will be to issue permits quickly to ensure smooth sailing for their industry customers. My hope is that US-EPA will balance TCEQ’s goals with environmental protection,” HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL!

Thanks to AP for their story 4 Feb 2014.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

GINA MC CARTHY TO DAVOS  US-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy went to Davos Switzerland on 22 to 25 Jan 2014.  > http://energymaters.com/?p=1414 ostensibly to address the World Economic Forum” regarding World Economy (really?)- They just needed to make her a guest- any topic. Remember that last 16 Jan 2014; following her Statement to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the President’s Climate Action Plan, Committee Chairperson, Sen. Ms Boxer tasked Gina to provide written reports to all unanswered questions, and to re-appear before the committee in 15 days.  Well… If that happened it was never publicized by US-EPA , or in the mainstream media. Fact is, Gina has been extremely busy dispensing her wisdom on sundry (even unrelated) topics and making financial grants to programs of her choice. Now, remember the Swiss Connection in our first article? But what does that have to do with the US-EPA (Yes, That’s Gina) granted the State of Texas authority over greenhouse gas permitting to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Now Texas will be able to say: What about that there Keystone Pipeline bearing Canadian tar-sand dirty oil for processing in the Houston area?.Bring it on! Even House speaker Bohner says:”let’s get that Keystone Pipeline approved!” albeit in a tongue-in cheek manner, because he knows where Big money is headed, and is trying to steer it there. If president Obama does not veto the Keystone Pipeline,we are all screwed, and Pres. Obama will be on a slippery slope that will threaten to ruin his legacy. Events are getting very critical this close to Congressional election campaigning, and control of the House of Representatives.

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH…Texas Gov. Rick Perry quietly made a trip to Davos (AH! There is that Swiss connection again) Perry went there soon after Gina Mc Carthy ostensibly to speak about Marihuana – Yes, marihuana. Our press did not remark on his comments about Marihuana, or question his real need to go to Davos.  But…We know don’t we? The press did not indicate who flew him there either, but then, he has a lot of friends with private transoceanic aircraft. We bet he too returned with a big smile. We need to remember that Perry no doubt had a great deal to do with the Texas’Legislature approval of the empowerment of the TECQ, over the US-EPA.

MORE ON THE SWISS CONNECTION (see par 1.) Note that it is the USA Internal Revenue System (IRS) that is taking the crooked Swiss bankers with USA connections to task. It reminds one of the Alphonse Capone days (c. 1930) in the USA. Capone was a well known criminal figure who had so many “buffers” that the government could not pin a specific crime on him (at least that’s what was said); so in the end, he went to Jail because of you guessed it !-Income Tax Evasion.  Powerful crime that one! Following the money seems to succeed in ferreting criminals where other laws cannot. Just imagine the magnitude of Swiss Bank involvement in crime and corruption. THE WORLD NEEDS TO RECOGNIZE SWITZERLAND AS A LAND OF CROOKS – EVEN WHEN IT IS TOUTED AS THE”WORLD’S BEST PLACE TO LIVE” An old saying says: “Grass always grows greener over the septic tank” It took me many years to comprehend its real meaning. The grass may look greener, but it stinks to high heaven.

MEXICAN PRESIDENT, ENRIQUE PENA NIETO ALSO WENT TO DAVOS RECENTLY Handsome man/wife, and who sounds so honest, that his visit there was hard for me to understand. However, he is instrumental on the granting of permits to foreign oil interest, notably in the deep-ocean exploration/development. Well…He too went to Davos, and appears quite haggard lately. It is notable that Mexico has not granted such exploration/exploitation permit since 1936. That is a long time ago in the energy world.  Has anyone you know been to Davos? Hmm!-food for thought!

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

We connect the points, even when they lead to ugly places/conclusions.

UPDATE ON THIS STORY 19 May 2014

SWISS BANKING GIANT CREDIT SUISSE PLEADED GUILTY to a criminal charge that it helped wealthy Americans dodge income taxes. A milestone following years of criticism that regulators have failed to crack down on huge financial institutions. The USA Department of Justice (DoJ)filed a criminal charge against the company in federal court on 19 May 2014 signaling that a plea arrangement has been reached. Credit Suisse pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to aid tax evasion and to pay a fine of more than $2.6 billion.

Credit Suisse executives have previously admitted that their bank helped Americans shield as much as $12 billion from taxes, and acknowledged the practice was a “mistake” and “unacceptable.” However, they argued that Swiss bank-secrecy laws prohibiting them from revealing the names of tax-dodging U.S. citizens to American regulators.

Critics say the unwillingness to bring the hammer down on major banks and their top executives effectively fans wrongdoing on Wall Street. Even so, the criminal charge against Credit Suisse will apparently only go so far. Its chief executive, Brady Dougan, is not expected to lose his job, according to report

Thanks to the LA Times 19 May 2014

COMMENT

So, Credit Suisse got caught with its hand in the cookie jar, and Brady Dougan (an American).will get a slap on the wrist, while the USA tax evaders avoided $9.4 billion in income tax payments. How sweet it must be! One has to wonder if the higher-ups in the USA-DoJ who accepted the plea-bargaining will receive compensation for their “pragmatism”. Just to think there are other institutions like Credit Suisse in the USA, and the world. This case is “prima facie” wrongdoing, illegal, and corrupt. Corruption is like a societal cancer that invites lesser wrongdoers to do likewise.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)


February 7, 2014 at 9:30 PM Comments (0)

GINA McCARTHY-EPA ADMIN WAS GRILLED BY SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT

16 Jan 2014

                                                                                            US-EPA WANTS US TO KNOW

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Statement to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on the President’s Climate Action Plan

WASHINGTON – Remarks of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy as prepared for delivery on 16 Jan 2014:

1. Chairman Boxer, Ranking Member Vitter, members of the Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

2. In June of last year (2013), the President reaffirmed his commitment to reducing carbon pollution when he directed many federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, to take meaningful steps to mitigate the current and future damage caused by carbon dioxide emissions and to prepare for the anticipated climate changes that have already been set in motion.

3. Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Based on the evidence, more than 97% of climate scientists are convinced that human-caused climate change is occurring. If our changing climate goes unchecked, it will have devastating impacts on the United States and the planet. Reducing carbon pollution is critically important to the protection of Americans’ health and the environment upon which our economy depends.

4. Responding to climate change is an urgent public health, safety, national security, and environmental imperative that presents an economic challenge and an economic opportunity. As the President has stated, both the economy and the environment must provide for current and future generations, and we can and must embrace cutting carbon pollution as a spark for business innovation, job creation, clean energy and broad economic growth. The United States’ success over the past 40 years makes clear that environmental protection and economic growth go hand in hand.

5. The President’s Climate Action Plan directs federal agencies to address climate change using existing executive authorities. The Plan has three key pillars: cutting carbon pollution in America; preparing the country for the impacts of climate change; and leading international efforts to combat global climate change.

6. Cutting Carbon Pollution EPA plays a critical role in implementing the Plan’s first pillar, cutting carbon pollution. Over the past four years, EPA has begun to address this task under the Clean Air Act.

7. Our first steps addressed motor vehicles, which annually emit nearly a third of U.S. carbon pollution. EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, along with the auto industry and other stakeholders, worked together to set greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for Model Year 2012 to 2025 light-duty vehicles. Over the life of these vehicles, the standards will save an estimated $1.7 trillion for consumers and businesses and cut America’s oil consumption by 12 billion barrels, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion metric tons.

8. EPA’s and NHTSA’s standards for model year 2014 through 2018 heavy-duty trucks and buses present a similar success story. Under the President’s Plan, we will be developing a second phase of heavy-duty vehicle standards for post 2018 model years. Building on this success, the President asked EPA to work with states, utilities and other key stakeholders to develop plans to reduce carbon pollution from future and existing power plants.

9. Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. In March 2012, the EPA first proposed carbon pollution standards for future power plants. After receiving over 2.5 million comments, we determined to issue a new proposed rule based on this input and updated information.

10. In September 2013, the EPA announced its new proposal. The proposed standards would establish the first uniform national limits on carbon pollution from future power plants. They will not apply to existing power plants. The proposal sets separate national limits for new natural gas-fired turbines and new coal-fired units. New large natural gas-fired turbines would need to emit less than 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to emit less than 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. New coal-fired units would need to emit less than 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. Operators of these units could choose to have additional flexibility by averaging their emissions over multiple years to meet a somewhat tighter limit.

11. The standards reflect the demonstrated performance of efficient, lower carbon technologies that are currently being used today. They set the stage for continued public and private investment in technologies like efficient natural gas and carbon capture and storage. The proposal was recently published in the Federal Register on January 8 2014,> http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/e405e8e3ca85093d85257c46006d9ff5!opendocument> and the formal public comment period is now open. We look forward to robust engagement on the proposal and will carefully consider the comments and input we receive as a final rule is developed.

12. As noted, the proposed rule would apply only to future power plants. For existing plants, we are engaged in outreach to a broad group of stakeholders who can inform the development of proposed guidelines, which we expect to issue in June of this year. These guidelines will provide guidance to States, which have the primary role in developing and implementing plans to address carbon pollution from the existing plants in their states. We recognize that existing power plants require a distinct approach, and this framework will allow us to capitalize on state leadership and innovation while also accounting for regional diversity and providing flexibility.

13. The EPA’s stakeholder outreach and public engagement in preparation for this rulemaking is extensive and vigorous. We held eleven public listening sessions around the country at EPA regional offices and our headquarters in Washington, DC. We have participated in numerous meetings with a broad range of stakeholders across the country. And all of this is happening well before we propose any guidelines. When we issue proposed guidelines in June, the more formal public process begins – including a public comment period and an opportunity for a public hearing – which will provide yet further opportunity for stakeholders and the general public to provide input.

14. Cutting Methane Emissions The Climate Action Plan calls for the development of a comprehensive, interagency strategy to address emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that also contributes to ozone pollution, but which has substantial economic value. EPA is working with other agencies to assess emissions data, address data gaps, and identify opportunities to reduce methane emissions through incentive-based programs and existing authorities.

15. Curbing Emissions of HFCs The Plan also calls on the US to lead through international diplomacy as well as domestic action to reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases whose emissions are otherwise expected to nearly triple by 2030. Moving forward, the EPA will use its authority under the Clean Air Act to encourage the investment, purchase, and use of climate-friendly alternatives.

16. Preparing for Impacts of Climate Change Even as we work to avoid dangerous climate change, we must strengthen America’s resilience to climate impacts we’re already experiencing and those that can no longer be avoided. The President’s Plan calls for a broad array of actions on this front. EPA is incorporating research on climate impacts into the implementation of our existing programs and developing information and tools to help decision-makers – including State, local and tribal governments – to better understand and address these impacts. Further, EPA is working closely with our federal agency counterparts on several other aspects of building our national resilience, including developing the National Drought Resilience Partnership, ensuring the security of our freshwater supplies, protecting our water utilities, and protecting and restoring our natural resources in the face of a changing climate.

17. International Efforts Our changing climate is also a global challenge, and the President’s Plan recognizes that the United States must couple action at home with leadership abroad. Working closely with the State Department, EPA continues to engage our international partners in reducing carbon pollution through an array of activities. These include public-private partnership efforts to address emissions of methane and other short-lived climate pollutants under the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the Global Methane Initiative, as well as bilateral cooperation with major economies.

18. Conclusion  The President’s Plan provides a roadmap for federal action to meet the pressing challenge of a changing climate – promoting clean energy solutions that capitalize on American innovation and drive economic growth. EPA looks forward to working with other federal agencies and all stakeholders on these critical efforts.

19. Thank you again for the opportunity to testify, and I look forward to answering your question

                                                                                        OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

Gina McCarthy’s EPA Administrators Statement to US Senate Committee on 16 Jan 2013 above was provided by their own site> http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/FE40A46647A6007F85257C6200564C15 , and is provided for your convenience.  We added Paragraph numbers 1-19 for easy referral purposes, and added emphasis where we thought it was needed.

“A SNOW JOB” IS AN APT DESCRIPTION OF THE EPA STATEMENT TO THE SENATE. Light, fluffy and non-controversial, but deeply lacking in substantive content and evidence of statement. It is a classical  “statement by committee” addenda of “meaningful steps “ (see par 2.).  The prime and immediate concern was partially addressed in par. 9. Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. That heavy issue was treated only for future power plants

Gina’s Statement, and the many senatorial questions that followed, were aired live on C-Span 2 TV, and re-run subsequently and…Folks, the questions posed were mainly: “Hardball” questions asked by now impatient Senators (on both sides of the Senate); that went largely unanswered by a Gina McCarthy, who seemed nonplused, unresponsive, and at times seemed to say: Are you talking to me?!-Senators do not take such unresponsiveness lightly.  It was quite clear that Senators in the Committee wanted knowledgeable answers, and statement of EPA policies, We feel sure many a Senator felt like knocking on Gina’s forehead and saying “anybody home ?”. THAT WAS NO WAY TO HOLD A HEARING ! In the end, Chairperson Sen. Ms. Boxer (D-CA), summed-up the Committees’ general dissatisfaction by charging Gina with another Hearing within 2 weeks (30 Jan 2014), and to provide written answers to the many unanswered questions. One Senator commented that EPA’s rulings impact public health. A pointed question by a Senator was: YOU DO REALIZE THAT EPA DIRECTIVES IMPACT BIG MONIES FROM THE UTILITIES AND INDUSTRIES?  Implicit was, Gina, you would not take money for favors granted? Would you?

WOULD GINA DO IT?. Well.  It could happen. It has happened many times in the past, involving well known, highly placed governmental figures such as then VP Cheney.  But how do these things happen ?  One well trod road to future riches is Davos, Switzerland. Point is: Gina McCarthy has planned a trip to Davos Switzerland on 22 to 25 Jan 2014.  > http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/41860523ea6f0b2985257c63004c5992!opendocument  She is ostensibly going there to address the “World Economic Forum”. question is, how can Gina know so much about World Economics, when she obviously knows little about the USA EPA Administration ? Also, why would she make such a trip when she is in hot-water with the USA Senate Committee on Environment,  and pending the grilling of her life? Oh well, traditionally all government officials who travel to Davos, leave there with a big smile.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT DAVOS SWITZERLAND? Although its population is only about 11,000 of the world’s elite, and richest people; whose only real flag is MONEY, it also has Swiss banks (As of 2008, there were 327 authorized banks and securities dealers in Switzerland), as well as the POST OFFICE which handles some financial transactions, and use an electronic payments system known as Swiss Interbank Clearing (SIC). The system is supervised by the Swiss National Bank, and is operated via a joint venture. SIC handled over 250  million transactions in 2005, with a turnover value of 41 trillion Swiss francs. Its world offices are located in New York City. All that is required to open an account at one of Davos’ Banks, is to visit one, sign on the dotted line, and obtain a unique alpha numerical code to which money may be added by another party(s) who was given the code.  Money can then be electronically transferred to another account by the the owner(s)-ALL IN SECRECY OF COURSE!  Now, does Gina’s visit to Davos make sense?  It does to me. In my opinion, Gina McCarthy has found her US-EPA position untenable, and is ready to cash-in her chips for favors granted.  We’ll see.

COMMENTS ON REFERENCED PARAGRAPHS FOLLOW:

4. The response given in the last sentence is simply a “many times told outright lie”, and that does not make it true.  The USA is  not now, and has never been, “environmentally sweaky-clean”  And yet, even now, Gina Mc Carthy  has deferred action on plans for existing fossil fueled utilities to a future date (not given).

10. (Proposed Standards): They will not apply to existing (fossil fueled) power plants”-That’s so, more foot-dragging is anticipated/expected regarding existing fossil fuel power plants..

11. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). “The standards reflect the demonstrated performance of efficient, lower carbon technologies that are currently being used today. They set the stage for continued public and private investment in technologies like efficient natural gas and carbon capture and storage. The proposal was recently published in the Federal Register on January 8 2014″.  Incredibly, EPA Released on 12/19/2013 a statement: Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule that helps create a consistent national framework to ensure the safe and effective deployment of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies. >http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/e405e8e3ca85093d85257c46006d9ff5!  Accepted view is that CCS IS NOT a “demonstrated technology”  This is an outright lie. EPA solicited public comment.  Our comment to US EPA follows.  No response to day.

 OUR COMMENTS TO US-EPA

16 Jan 2014

You can already locate/quantify the greatest existing coal-fired polluters in the country. Why don’t you take immediate action to require these Power plant owners/operators to submit a plan to reduce emissions ASAP? What are you waiting for?

Ms. McCarthy’s optimism/reliance on Carbon Sequestration Compression and Disposal is ludicrous.  It will never be technically possible and/or socio-politically acceptable,  NIMBY ! Just “Pie in the Sky”, and you know it!

Speaking of “Clean-Coal” is also ludicrous. – There is no such;  Only partially “de-sulfurized coal’, the production of which itself will produce lakes of long term-pollutants with nowhere to go, and only slightly better than Nuclear waste.

Rapid transition to Nat Gas appears for now the best thing to do to accomplish cost-effective, rapid GHG reduction; Even then, we must encourage rapid development of Green Energy.  Fortunately, our Industry/governments are swiftly going there.

I know coal-burning is not the only issue on your plate , but, given our Nat-gas abundance it may well be the most quickly remediable.

www.energymaters.com

12. EXISTING FOSSIL-FUELED POWER PLANTS: “We recognize that existing power plants require a distinct approach, and this framework will allow us to capitalize on state leadership and innovation while also accounting for regional diversity and providing flexibility”. Given that this is the prime source of noxious and other Green House Gasses (GHGs), this is a painful cop-out !

16. (last sentence): “National Drought Resilience Partnership, ensuring the security of our freshwater supplies, protecting our water utilities, and protecting and restoring our natural resources in the face of a changing climate”- Pray tell more! – What is EPA doing? Our throats are parched in TX CA, and many other places.

17. International Efforts: Ms. McCarthy failed to report the results of her recent bi-lateral conference trip to China > http://energymaters.com/?p=1343  Four days in China and no trip report ?  Not good.

18. Conclusion  EPA looks forward to working with other federal agencies and all stakeholders on these critical efforts.” We think it is not just stakeholders (financially involved) such as Power Plant Owners, shareholders, operators, but also the utility public (users), academia, and other countries who see the USA as  an example – Imagine that!.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

LATE BREAKING NEWS / COMMENT, 24 JAN 2014

Texas Governor Rick Perry too (also) is invited to Davos, Switzerland.  Another outgoing politician who gets an invite to address the WEF there. He too must have friends just waiting to show their gratitude for favors granted. What do you bet he will open a “Swiss bank account” while there ?  Just to think that he is making this Junket look as “official business”, he is very good at that.

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January 19, 2014 at 9:03 PM Comment (1)

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