Just subbed the Houston Chronicle, so as to have a better window on the collapse of the Oil industry.  Turns out it’s a great paper with a wealth of stories.

Houston Chronicle:

President Donald Trump called a potential coastal spine system to protect Houston and its shipping channels a “crazy thing” and scoffed at the price tag on Thursday.

During his campaign rally at the American Airline Center in Dallas, Trump said he gave billions and billions of dollars already to the state for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

“You made a fortune on the hurricane,” Trump said of Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston and much of Southeast Texas in 2017, killing more than 100 people and destroying or damaging more than 100,000 homes.

But Trump — speaking with a smile as the crowd laughed — said all that money that wasn’t enough for U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and state officials such as Gov. Greg Abbott, whom he said came to him asking for more.

“‘Sir, we want one more small request,’” Trump said recalling the conversations. “‘It’s not much and we appreciate you listening to us. We want to build a dam in the ocean.’”

Trump said he asked them how much it would cost.

“They say it’s only $10 billion, I’m supposed to be happy,” Trump said. “Oh, let’s see can we give Texas an extra $10 billion for some crazy thing that may work or it may not?”

Since Hurricane Ike hit Texas in 2008, state and federal officials have been studying the idea of a 70-mile coastal barrier aimed at protecting Houston’s shipping channel from hurricanes. Often called the Ike Dike, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated it could cost up to $31 billion to build.


The “dam” Mr Trump is talking about is a massive barrier designed to protect the Houston/Galveston area from increasing storm damage as sea level rises.

Video below describes what is at risk as Hurricane surges rise. Specs on the Coastal Barrier start at about 7:08. Read the rest of this entry »


Below, Beyond Meat is the year’s best performing stock.

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Jeff Masters in Scientific American:

Category 5 Atlantic hurricanes are rare. Only 7% of the 243 hurricanes observed since accurate satellite measurements began in 1983 have reached that catastrophic intensity. And it is truly exceptional to see a category 5 hurricane as strong as Hurricane Dorian, which powered ashore on Great Abaco Island in The Bahamas on September 1, 2019, with sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph. Winds of this strength would make Dorian worthy of a category 6 rating, if it existed. (For those of you unfamiliar with me, know that there is already a Category 6—it’s the name of a blog I co-author with Bob Henson over at Weather Underground, specializing in daily updates of global tropical cyclone activity).

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which is used to rank hurricane winds on a scale of one to five, stops at category 5: sustained 1-minute average wind speeds of at least 157 mph (70 m/s). If we were to add a category 6 to the scale, we must consider that the scale is not quite linear. Winds for a category 2 hurricane span a range of just 15 mph, for example, but winds for a category 4 storm span a range of 27 mph. Regardless of this non-linearity, a one-category increase in intensity on the scale results in approximately four times more wind damage, according to the National Hurricane Center.

If we graph the scale (Figure 1 below), it is apparent that a category 6 should probably start at winds of 180 – 185 mph. A category 7 hurricane would have winds of at least 210 – 215 mph. By this logic, Hurricane Dorian would rate as a category 6 hurricane. Only one hurricane in world history would rank as a category 7: Hurricane Patricia of 2015, which peaked with 215-mph sustained winds off the Pacific coast of Mexico.


Figure 1. A hypothetical extended Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which includes a category 6 and category 7. Credit: Jeff Masters, with inspiration from Stefan Rahmstorf

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Utility Dive:

Ask people how they segment the energy storage industry, and you’ll often hear them divide it between customer-sited or behind-the-meter storage and “utility-“or “grid-scale storage.” But if you then ask them what they mean by “utility-scale,” you can’t get a clear answer. Is it 5 MW, 10 MW, more than 20 MW? Do they mean “front-of-meter”? Or connected to the bulk transmission system?

And whatever “scale” threshold they use rarely relates to the “utility” part of “utility-scale.” What about the size of the storage installation makes it relevant to a utility or the grid?

The reality is that energy storage of all sizes can provide useful services to utilities or grid operators. And it is past time for regulators and market operators to update their policies and programs to realize the full potential grid value from storage that hasn’t been considered “utility-scale” before.

No, we’re not calling for the end of the large-scale storage industry. We’re saying that distributed, smaller-scale storage can provide all the same value to the grid that large-scale storage can and should be explicitly encouraged to compete on playing fields that policymakers have leveled everywhere.

From non-wires solutions in New York (Brooklyn Queens Demand Management or BQDM) and local capacity in Los Angeles (Southern California Edison Local Capacity contracts), to resource adequacy (RA) and Reliability Must Run (RMR) replacement at the California ISO and forward capacity in ISO New England (SunRun’s 20 MW residential aggregation contract), distributed storage developers and operators are proving that the technology works and can be cost competitive. Where markets have been opened to allow distributed energy storage to compete, ratepayers benefit with lower energy costs.

Recognizing this, FERC first issued Order 841, requiring the wholesale markets to open up to individual storage installations as small as 100 KW, regardless of interconnection point (transmission, distribution or behind-the-meter). This immediately nullified anyone’s previous threshold for “grid-scale” storage, making the term itself meaningless. The next step for FERC will be an Order on DER aggregation, which presumably will require the ISO/RTOs to allow distributed storage aggregations to compete head-to-head with larger scale, single-site storage installations and all other wholesale market resources.

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I know I am.

Houston Chronicle:

WASHINGTON – A decade after environmentalists championed natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to get the United States off fossil fuels and combat climate change, cities across the country are beginning to question whether gas’s time has come.

Earlier this summer the California cities of Berkeley and San Jose adopted bans preventing new buildings from hooking into their natural gas distribution systems. And now communities across the country, including Seattle, Minneapolis and Cambridge, Mass., are considering similar bans.

Carolyn Berndt, program director for sustainability at the National League of Cities, which represents 19,000 cities and towns across the country, said worsening storms and flooding across many regions of the country are driving cities to promote the use of electric powered-appliances such as furnaces and stoves over gas models.

“More and more cities are committing to renewable energy goals and targets,” she said. “All-electric buildings are proving to be safer, healthier, and more affordable.”

The rising call for gas bans adds to an already difficult political climate for the natural gas industry, a mainstay of the Texas economy. Gas utilities in the New York City suburbs have put a moratorium on new gas hookups after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to block the construction of pipelines has left them struggling to meet existing demand.

The push back comes amid a surge in U.S. gas production, driving billions of dollars in investment into new pipelines, power plants and other infrastructure designed to be in operation for decades to come. Along with a surge in wind and solar energy, the natural gas boom has pushed many coal power plants out of business, helping to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade.

But as scientists warn that if the world is to avoid the worst consequences of climate change greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced to net-zero by 2050, the future of even lower-carbon natural gas is falling into question.

Pacific Gas and Electric, the Northern California utility, came out in support of Berkley’s gas ban as in line with the state’s climate goals.

“These are huge headwinds for this industry,” said Karen Harbert, president of the American Gas Association, a trade group representing gas utilities. “The industry needs to take all this seriously and figure out what it means. We need to help people understand the costs and trade offs if we go down the route of electrify everything.”


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I’m damn proud my 2014 video includes the clip from Dr. Jim White, who reveals that Florida state employees were not allowed to use the words “climate change” – about 4 months before the mainstream press looked into it.

With their heads so far into the Fox News universe, Republicans have been incapable of  acknowledging the rising seas, even as they lap around their ankles.  Agonizingly slowly, that’s changing.

Cowardly, ignorant bastards.

Miami Herald:

For the first time in a decade, a Florida Senate committee scheduled a meeting Monday to discuss the impact of climate change on the peninsula state.

What did senators learn?

“We lost a decade,’’ said Sen. Tom Lee, the Thonotosassa Republican who chairs the Committee on Infrastructure and Security.

He began the 90-minute hearing with three words that have not come from the lips of a Republican state senator in years: “Sea level rise.”

“There hasn’t been a lot of conversation about this. I understand that, and I understand why,’’ he continued, leaving unsaid that the words “climate change” were banned from the lexicon for much of the eight-year tenure of former Gov. Rick Scott, and the state’s response to it was not considered a priority.

But Lee, who served in the Senate for the last six years of Scott’s term, said he believes there has been “a paradigm shift” with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — who followed the lead of local governments in Florida and appointed a “chief resilience officer” to start talking about the effects of global warming on the state.

The new landscape comes with new political realities, Lee said. “There’s a younger generation of conservatives in this state that aren’t as much in denial.”

“The world is changing and so is the leadership in state government,’’ he said. But he stopped short of saying the Republican governor and the GOP leadership of the House and Senate, as well as the development, utility and insurance industries that finance them, will support the “paradigm shift.”

Just as Scott set the tone for little climate talk in Florida, President Donald Trump has derided climate change, avoids uttering the phrase, and has directed his top officials to reject the science. Will the Florida Legislature be willing to talk about climate change, let alone address the issue with legislation?

“It’s a little too early to predict this,’’ Lee said. “I think reality is going to set in and, if it doesn’t, it’s going to hit us right in the face.”

According to a Pew Research Center analysis, nearly 60% of Republicans between the ages of 23 and 38 say that climate change is having an effect on the United States, and 36% believe humans are the cause. Republicans over age 52 agree with those statements at half the rate.

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