Keystone XL pipeline protestors tied themselves to a White House fence Thursday, calling on President Obama to block the construction of a pipeline extension that would carry oil product from Canada to refineries in Texas.
The demonstration marked the Sierra Club's first act of civil disobedience in the environmental advocacy organization's 120-year history.
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It is also the first salvo in an escalating public battle between pipeline supporters and opponents. On Sunday, Keystone XL opponents are scheduled to hold a climate change protest on the National Mall in Washington. Organizers say they expect tens of thousands of people to attend. And they're billing it as the largest climate rally in US history. Can it work? ( Continue… )
President Obama devoted a significant portion of Tuesday's State of the Union address to America's energy future, culminating in a proposal to direct federal revenue from fossil-fuel production towards clean-energy investment.
"[M]uch of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together," Mr. Obama said. "So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an energy security trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good."
Obama's proposal is sure to please environmentalists and clean-energy advocates.
“The oil boom has created a unique opportunity to have our cake and eat it too." Robbie Diamond, president and CEO of Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) said in a statement responding to the speech. "We can use part of the revenue generated from expanded oil production to fund the research and development of the alternative fuels and vehicles required to end America’s oil dependence." ( Continue… )
State of the Union address: Why no mention of coal? (Sponsor content)
Yesterday we wondered if President Obama would take the advice of then candidate Obama regarding 21st Century coal-based electricity. President Obama made no mention of coal during the State of the Union address last night, which in turn has caused one collective bipartisan question. Why not?
Here’s a look at what some members of Congress are saying about the President’s omission of coal-based electricity from last night’s speech:
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): “I was, however, disappointed that he refused to mention coal when he discussed controlling our energy future. I’ve consistently pushed for an all-of-the-above energy policy and this President must do the same. Any discussion of our nation’s energy future must include coal.”
Rep Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV): “He expressly said that he would pick winners and losers in the energy economy, and we all know coal will be in the losing column. The Administration’s rules and regulations have already contributed to 2,000 layoffs throughout Appalachia, and one recent report found that West Virginia lost 1,200 mining jobs in the last quarter of 2012 alone. … I am disappointed that the President is choosing to pursue his broken economic and energy agendas with even more fervor.”
Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH): “Finally, the President renewed his call for a so called ‘all of the above’ energy policy while simultaneously attacking America’s cheapest and most reliable source of energy – coal. His anti-energy policies continue to ignore America’s vast natural resources like natural gas and coal, and the millions of jobs that go with harvesting them. His war on coal, and his rejection of a job-creating energy project like the Keystone XL Pipeline are perfect examples of his failed policies.”
Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV): “But, on the energy front, he is absolutely wrong in his misguided efforts to circumvent the Congress with unilateral regulatory actions that will result in job loss, especially when it comes to the EPA’s unfair and inequitable treatment of coal mining in Appalachia, which the Congress and the courts are rightly resisting. I intend to keep on doing all that I can to promote coal and keep our miners on the job producing affordable energy for the Nation.”
Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA): “President Obama pledged in 2011 to review all federal regulations and remove burdensome ones that inhibit job creation and economic growth. Instead, our nation’s job creators have been handed a ‘regulation wave’ from federal agencies, most notably the Environmental Protection Agency. In Georgia alone, the EPA’s war on coal has already forced plant closures around the state, resulting in the loss of 500 jobs.”
State of the Union address: Will Obama back coal? (Sponsor content)
“This is America – we figured out how to put a man on the moon in 10 years. You tell me we can’t find a way to burn coal that we mine right here in the United States of America and make it work.”
A recent story coming from Ohio State University shows that, as it turns out, candidate Obama was on the right track. The Columbus Dispatch reports, “Ohio State University researchers say they have developed a way to create energy using coal while capturing 99 percent of carbon dioxide. The trick, they say, is not burning the fossil fuel, but using a chemical reaction to draw its energy.”
“This, they say, is a huge step toward the promise of “clean coal,” something President Barack Obama has touted as the future of energy production in the United States.”
While commitment to fully implementing 21st Century coal-based electricity seems to have wavered from the current administration, it’s clear that American ingenuity and know-how will continue to produce major developments in clean coal technologies for years to come.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waded cautiously into the debate surrounding the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline during last week's meetings with his Canadian counterpart. Supporters describe the project as a panacea for a U.S. economy moving further away from overseas oil markets. Opponents, however, view the project as representative of the problems associated with a carbon-heavy economy. Kerry, seen as a supporter of pro-green regulations, said he wasn't getting into the merits of the project, but would make an announcement soon. Provincial leaders in Canada, however, may have already started preparing for a no vote.
Kerry last week welcomed Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird to Washington as the first foreign leader to visit the State Department since Hillary Clinton stepped down early this year. Secretary Kerry lauded the importance of energy ties between the two North American energy leaders.
"Canada is the largest foreign energy supplier for the United States of America, and many people in America are not aware of that," he said. "They always think of the Mideast or some other part of the world. But Canada is our largest energy supplier." (Related Articles: Canada Sends Billion-Dollar Message to Oil Industry) ( Continue… )
Apple has just had a new patent approved for what could become the next major advancement in mobile phone technology in the form of an integrated touch and solar sensor panel; in layman’s terms a solar powered iPhone.
New generations of smart phones have faster electronics, more powerful computer chips, and larger screens with a higher resolution, yet battery technology has changed little, and this is starting to limit further advancements. Phones are becoming thinner and thinner, but they can only be as thin as their battery allows them to be; using a solar panel would avoid that problem.
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On Tuesday the US Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple with patent number 8,368,654 for their ‘integrated touch sensor and solar assembly’. (Related article: New Super Thin Solar Cell Reduces Silicon Wastage by 95%)
The patent described the technology as “integrated touch sensor and solar panel configurations that may be used on portable devices, particularly handheld portable devices such as a media player or phone are disclosed. The integrated touch sensor array and solar cell stack-ups may include electrodes that are used both for collecting solar energy and for sensing on a touch sensor array. By integrating both the touch sensors and the solar cell layers into the same stack-up, surface area on the portable device may be conserved. In addition to being used for capacitive sensing, the integrated touch sensor and solar panel configurations may also be used for optical sensing.”
It works as a normal solar panel made up of many small solar cells. When a finger passes over the cells it blocks out the light and this is noted by the sensors. An algorithm then switches the device to a touch sensitive mode and it works as a normal touch screen.
And the question is whether President Obama will seek out a scientist in the the mold of Mr. Chu or change course and look for someone with more political experience?
Some say he may get both with Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. Mr. Moniz, who also serves as the director of MIT's Energy Initiative, has emerged as a top candidate to replace Chu, as first reported by Reuters.
No stranger to Washington, Moniz served two years as the associate director for science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President, beginning in 1995. In 1997, he was appointed under secretary of the Department of Energy, a post he held until January 2001. He is currently a member of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and of the Department of Energy's Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.
In 2011, Moniz testified before Congress on the role of natural gas in America's energy future. Calling it "one of the most cost-effective means by which to maintain energy supplies while reducing CO2 emissions," Moniz endorsed natural gas as a "bridge" fuel to a low-carbon future. ( Continue… )
Grid power reliability: Do we take it for granted? (Sponsor content)
Reliable electricity is one aspect of our daily lives that we sometimes take for granted. And, when something happens that points out just how necessary it really is, we never seem to fully appreciate the role it plays in our daily lives.
In fact, just last week Senate Energy and Natural Resource ranking member Lisa Murkowski told reporters after she spoke at the NARUC winter meeting:
“Unfortunately for us, most of us take energy for granted. It’s just always there. You’ve heard me say it before: We’ve got this immaculate conception theory of energy. It just happens, the lights turn on, it’s the temperature we want, until it’s not,” she said. “I think [the blackout] helps to perhaps kick-start the debate. You hate to think that something bad happens in order to get people’s attention, but I think people’s attention was focused last night.”
That’s why affordable, stable electricity from coal is essential to this country. We need this natural resource—there is more than two centuries of coal in the US—to keep the doors open at small businesses, power our hospitals and keep assembly lines running at manufacturing plants across the country.
Coal-based electricity is one of the least expensive, most reliable means of producing electricity, and it’s a central part of the American energy portfolio. Not only that, coal has a long history of providing energy to Americans.
America has depended on the reliable and abundant coal that comes from our land and powers our lives for more than a century. With the energy in America’s coal reserves being roughly equal to the world’s known oil reserves, it’s clear that coal should continue to be a reliable source of electricity for all of us.
“Like dreams, statistics are a form of wish fulfillment,” French philosopher Jean Baudrillard once said. Substitute “forecasts” for the word “statistics,” and you’ll have a good understanding of the public reaction to the recently released BP Energy Outlook 2030.
The psychoanalytic definition of wish fulfillment is “the satisfaction of a desire, a need, or an impulse through a dream or other exercise of the imagination.”
The oil giant’s long-term forecast—really an “exercise of the imagination”—was greeted with a sort of breathless astonishment by the media who took it for a statement of fact concerning the one thing about which we cannot know anything for certain: the future.
My first response to the coverage was: “Well, what did you expect the company to say?” This is the world’s third largest oil company. Of course, its forecast through 2030 is that the world will remain hooked on fossil fuels, particularly oil which, BP tells us, is going to be plentiful despite what those peak oil killjoys are saying. ( Continue… )
Pipelines used to be things that were just built without blinking. It is said that there are enough pipelines now in the US to encircle the Earth 25 times with enough left over to also tie a bow around it. Today, getting a pipeline built is not so easy - there are too many environmental concerns and the industry has become highly polarized. But here’s one thing that could bring everyone together: pipeline safety technology. And it’s something we all want, especially for those who live along the thousands of miles of aging pipeline routes that carry hazardous liquids.
Spawned by research that started in space, remote-sensing technology designed to detect dangerous leaks in pipelines has the potential to provide the neutral ground for decisions to be made and consensus to be formed. The clincher: This technology is not only affordable -it saves money and could eventually save the industry.
In an exclusive interview with Oilprice.com, Adrian Banica, founder and CEO of Synodon - the forerunner in leak detection systems - discusses:
• How a technology that started in space has the potential to quell intensifying protests
• Why Keystone XL will eventually be a reality - sooner rather than later
• How remote sensing technology can fingerprint pipeline leaks
• How remote sensing technology can find the little leaks before they become big leaks—at no extra cost
• Why North America’s new pipelines aren’t the problem and why the focus should be on aging pipelines that are going to experience a lot more leaks
• How this technology could bring the industry and environmentalists together
• How external leak detection can save lives in high-risk areas