shaleplays

What the Oil industry has in mind for America, is that the entire country become something of a resource colony, with boom and bust cycles disrupting and ultimately impoverishing communities all across the continent.  If you look at the map of shale resources above, you can see that North Dakota is not the only target by a long shot.
For now, the Oil price roller coaster is disrupting that plan.

Washington Post:

They threw a fracking party in Illinois, and hardly anyone showed up.

More precisely, two months after the state completed a long regulatory process and opened the door to hydraulic fracturing, only one company applied. The state hired 36 employees and five lawyers to handle the expected rush of applicants, reported the Chicago Tribune, “for work that doesn’t exist.”

This after a land rush by energy companies in Southern Illinois that saw them buy tens of thousands of acres anticipating a North Dakota-style energy boom that would create 10,000 jobs.

The disinterest is attributed to the sharp decline in oil and gas prices globally, which makes fracking unprofitable — at best a break-even proposition, at worst a big money-loser.

“Smart people don’t invest in things that break-even,” said energy expert Arthur Berman in Oilprice.com. “I mean, why should I take a risk to make no money on an energy company when I can invest in a variable annuity or a REIT that has almost no risk that will pay me a reasonable margin? Oil prices need to be around $90 to attract investment capital. So, are companies OK at current oil prices? Hell no! They are dying at these prices.

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NASA Maps Greenland in 3-D

January 29, 2015

Mindblowing. This is why we love science.

Above, aspiring Republican Senate candidate. Could he be headed for disappointment?

Last week’s Senate’s sideshow vote on “whether Climate Change was real” seemed a bit lame to me, and the results useless. But with tentative, but continued trial balloons on the issue from several Presidential aspirants, I think it does fit  that there is a sense of unease in the GOP,  heading into the ’16 election, that the party is poorly positioned – in an area that is clearly coming into its own, and will only fester.
Indeed, years of hostility and neglect may already have left the party permanently damaged in the estimation of future historians, if there are any.

E &E News:

“We had a chance to vote, and people cast the votes they believed in,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who voted for the amendments offered by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.). “That’s all it amounted to.”

But others noted that Republican Senate leaders evidently saw an upside in giving GOP members the chance to go on the record now, after many have used the “I’m not a scientist” line to studiously avoid doing so for years. Now their votes declared that climate change is real and industrial greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to it.

Those who follow Republican climate messaging say that at least some of the amendment supporters were motivated by political considerations. Seven of the 15 Republicans who voted for one or both of the amendments — and Hoeven himself, who voted against his own amendment for strategic reasons — are up for re-election next year. Several are running in blue and purple states where President Obama won handily in 2012. And Hoeven’s own office has acknowledged that his amendment — which held that man-made emissions are driving climate change without qualifying that impact as “significant” — was intended to give cover to some of his GOP colleagues.

Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), two of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election next year, voted for both the Hoeven and the Schatz amendments — the latter of which stated that human emissions were a “significant” climate driver. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who are also running in swing states, backed the Hoeven language.

David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, said that the pivot appeared to be calculated.

“It seems like there is sort of this recognition that the Republican message on climate needs to change,” he said.

Jenkins saw last week’s votes as part of a continuing evolution in the Republican message on warming — which started with denial that warming of any kind is occurring, moved through noncommittal statements about the role human emissions play, and has now arrived, for some, with an acknowledgement that man-made climate change is real.

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The thing people do not get about electric cars? They have crazy acceleration.
And note the lack of vibration, roar or smoke.

More below – Brewster MacCracken of Austin, Texas’ Pecan Street Project talks about EV early adopter’s discovering the difference:

Read the rest of this entry »

scicheck

FactCheck.org has a brand new “SciCheck” project, fact-checking science-themed claims by politicians and/or partisans.
Here is a sample of their inaugural post, surveying recent statements by high profile Science Challenged politicians.
These look comprehensive and well researched – I hope to see more.

Factcheck.org:

Santorum, a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania who ran for president in 2012 and is preparing to run again in 2016, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Jan. 25. Michael Smerconish, the show’s host, asked Santorum how he would have voted on a “sense of the Senate” amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act that declared “climate change is real and not a hoax.” The measure overwhelmingly passed, with only Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican from Mississippi, voting against it.

Smerconish, Jan. 25: The Senate voted this week 98 to 1 that climate change is not a hoax. If Rick Santorum were still in the Senate, would you have supported that?

Santorum: Is the climate warming? Clearly over the past, you know, 15 or 20 years the question is yes. The question is, is man having a significant impact on that, number one.

And number two, and this is even more important than the first, is there anything we can do about it? And the answer is, is there anything the United States can do about it? Clearly, no. Even folks who accept all of the science by the alarmists on the other side, recognize that everything that’s being considered by the United States will have almost — well, not almost, will have zero impact on it given what’s going on in the rest of the world.

Smerconish: So, is your answer do nothing?

Santorum: Again — well, the answer is do something. If it has no impact, of course do nothing. Why would you do something and with the — with people admitting that even if you do something, it won’t make a difference?

Santorum’s larger point is correct. The U.S. can’t solve the problem of global warming all by itself. President Obama himself agrees with that.

In a Jan. 27 speech in India, Obama urged collaborative action: “Even if countries like the United States curb our emissions, if countries that are growing rapidly like India — with soaring energy needs — don’t also embrace cleaner fuels, then we don’t stand a chance against climate change.”

But that doesn’t mean U.S. policies will have “zero impact” on global warming.

Emissions reductions by the U.S. could indeed play a role in slowing the rise of global temperatures. The U.S. could also have an indirect impact, because its leadership on the issue could spur a global movement to cut down on the carbon dioxide emissions that are warming the planet.

Above, new BMW ad touting the new i3 electric vehicle.
When we think of rapid technological change, the early days of the internet come immediately to mind, for anyone who was an adult at that time.   In 1993, while many of us had seen or used computers at work, the idea of owning one seemed a bit off the wall. What would you do with it?
Send an email? to Whom? Why?

We remember what happened then.
Fast forward, wrap your mind around this fact. Solar energy is now cheaper than gas, in Dubai. And Texas.

Below, watch Michael Leibrich, New Energy guru for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, discuss the transition now underway in the utillity space.  Worth a listen in the entirety, but if you’re pressed, go right to 8:30, and listen to the story about film Photography giant Kodak’s inabilty to foresee and adjust to the rapidity of the switch to digital cameras – a process Liebrich likens to a “phase change.”
Texans like my friend Michael Osborne will quibble whether Dubai or Austin has the lowest prices for Solar right now, but the message is clear.

Cleantechnica:

One of the biggest solar power stories of the past year — if not the biggest — was the record-low price of solar power that was bid in Dubai toward the end of the year. ACWA Power bid 5.98 cents per kWh, well below the cost of natural gas in the region (which is 9 cents per kWh). Michael Liebreich — Chairman of the Advisory Board of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and founder of the company under the original name of New Energy Finance — was kind enough to invite me to dinner the other night after a World Future Energy Summit panel that he moderated. On the way to dinner, our conversation was already getting so interesting that we stopped to record a bit of it.

Mr Liebrich’s remarks stand up in light of the most recent survey of utility executives by Utility Dive: Read the rest of this entry »

As much as I’ve been banging the drum about changing poll numbers on climate change – whoo boy, Republican internal numbers must be rather spectacular.  Another climate denier is asking to get off the crazy bus…

Reuters:

Rick Perry’s farewell speech to the Texas legislature listed the accomplishments expected from an outgoing Republican governor of the country’s largest oil-producing state. But his Jan. 15 speech also did something less predictable: touting his environmental record, from lowering Texas’ carbon emissions to turning the state into a global leader in wind energy production.

“We have expanded our economy while protecting our environment,” said Perry, who is openly exploring a second White House run in 2016.

It was a greener message than the one he delivered ahead of his last presidential campaign, when he called climate change a “contrived phony mess,” and it reflects an expectation among some in the party that voters in 2016 will want Republican candidates to develop a more sophisticated climate change message.

“‘I’m not a scientist’ won’t be a winner in the presidential field,” Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said of the now common response Republican lawmakers and candidates offer when asked about climate change.
crazybus

The search for a new message on climate change is driven by electoral math.

While leaders of the Republican-controlled Congress have vowed to block regulations to control carbon emissions, a poll by Yale University earlier this month found that 56 percent of Republicans support regulating climate-warming greenhouse gases.

“Red state disputation of science isn’t going to work,” said former South Carolina congressman Bob Inglis, noting that voters skew younger and more independent during presidential election cycles.

UPDATE: Video of Perry’s speech – short segment includes the boasts about renewables and a lower carbon footprint.

In the video above, Perry is still on message promoting the fossil fuel “all of the above” energy strategy, and the Keystone pipeline – but clearly there is movement dimly acknowledging reality.
In June, 2014, Perry compared limits on carbon to a nuclear attack, below. Read the rest of this entry »