Monday, September 29, 2008

And this is the good news....

November crude traded at $95.39 per barrel on Globex Monday evening, down 98 cents from the New York Mercantile Exchange's closing level of $96.37. On Nymex, the contract's price had already dropped $10.52, or 9.8%, for the session. The market remained concerned about global oil demand as the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 700 points

September 29, 2008 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0) the close of business, the Dow had dropped over 700 points...

Don't look at your stock portfolios or your retirement accounts.  It'll just make you crazy.  TIAA-CREF has all the money I have in the's hoping they make it.  The funny thing is that today we have the same people, equipment, plant, and natural resources that we had yesterday.  What we don't have is the prospect that lots of people can make lots of money by being the grease of the economy.  Maybe there were too many people making money being grease.

U.S. stocks dived on Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit with its worst point loss ever, after the House of Representatives rejected the government's $700 billion rescue plan for the financial sector. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 738 points about 6.6%

Dow Jones Industrial Average
News,           chart,           profile,           more
 Last: 10,365.45-777.68-6.98%
4:14pm 09/29/2008
Delayed quote data
$INDU 10,365.45,       -777.68,       -7.0%)     fell 738.42 points, or 6.6%, to end at 10,404.71. The S&P 500 ($SPX:
S&P 500 Index
News,           chart,           profile,           more
 Last: 1,106.42-106.85-8.81%
4:24pm 09/29/2008

 Last: 1,983.73-199.61-9.14%
4:24pm 09/29/2008

September 29, 2008 in Economics | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Be Careful What You Ask For

The Democrats were too soft on the bailout....but apparently its going down....along with the stock market.  Here's what the plan involved according to the Washington Post.  Wash Post story on bailout details and here's the bill itself. Emergency_stabilitzation act.pdf Bigchart

September 29, 2008 in Economics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bad News for Deregulation and Voluntary Compliance

On Friday, Christopher Cox, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) abruptly shut down a voluntary supervision program for Wall Street’s largest investment banks, acknowledging that the program had contributed to the global financial crisis: 

“The last six months have made it abundantly clear that voluntary regulation does not work...[the program] was fundamentally flawed from the beginning, because investment banks could opt in or out of supervision voluntarily. The fact that investment bank holding companies could withdraw from this voluntary supervision at their discretion diminished the [program's] perceived mandate and weakened its effectiveness.”

SEC chair Cox, Federal Reserve Bank chair Bernanke, and Treasury secretary Paulson have all admitted to general regulatory failures over the past year, but Cox now has specifically blamed this voluntary compliance program for the financial crisis.  Cox's termination of the voluntary supervision program will have no practical significance because the five largest Wall Street investment banks subject to the program have failed.  Bear Sterns was forced into a merger with JPMorgan Chase in March 2008.  During the last month, in rapid succession, the remaining four investment firms (Lehmann Bros., Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs) have gone into bankruptcy, been acquired by regulated banks, or transformed into bank holding companies that are regulated by the Federal Reserve Bank.

In 1999, Congress adopted the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, eliminating Depression-era restrictions on the relationhships between investment banks and commercial banks. In a compromise, the law gave the SEC authority to regulate the securities and brokerage operations of investment banks, but not their holding companies.  In 2002, the European Union was prepared to impose its own rules on the foreign subsidiaries of US investment banks, unless the US investment firms were subject to the same kind of oversight as their European counterparts.  So in 2004, after intense lobbying by all five large investment banks, including Goldman Sachs headed then by now Treasury Secretary Paulson, the commission adopted a voluntary program.  In exchange for relaxing capital requirements, the investment firms submitted to SEC supervision of their holding companies even though technically the agency only held regulatory authority over the firms’ brokerage components.

HT:  Huffington Post

There is a larger lesson in this saga for voluntary compliance programs of all stripes, including environmental voluntary compliance programs.  So long as maximizing short-term profits and larger salaries, bonuses and stock options remain the goals of US corporations and their executives, they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves.

September 27, 2008 in Governance/Management | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 26, 2008


Try the link to visualizing economics (Link to Visualizing Economics) to see lots of cool charts, including their chart on Average US Income from 1900-2006 (Visualizing Economics Average Income Chart ), which shows average US income over the last century along with depicting recessions and the events associated with them.  This is another example of the relationship between energy and recessions during the last 50 years.  Fashion4_3

September 26, 2008 in Economics, Energy, Governance/Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

States Conduct First-in-the-Nation CO2 Allowance Auction

From the RGGI press release:

(New York, NY)—At a bell-ringing ceremony held today at the New York Mercantile Exchange in lower Manhattan, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) marked the opening of the first-in-the-nation auction for carbon dioxide emission allowances.  The ceremony, which was attended by Governor David A. Paterson of New York and Governor Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey, Ian A. Bowles, Secretary for Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Laurie Burt, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Robert Calendar, Vice President of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Phil Guidice, Commissioner of Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources, Lisa Jackson, Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and Shari Wilson, Secretary, Maryland Department of Environmental Protection, served to mark the most serious effort yet in the United States to address climate change.

RGGI will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through a mandatory, market-based cap-and-trade program. Under RGGI, the ten participating states will stabilize power sector carbon emissions at their capped level, and then reduce the cap by 10 percent at a rate of 2.5 percent each year between 2015 and 2018.  As promised in the 2005 RGGI Memorandum of Understanding, all participating states plan to have implementing regulations in place by January 1, 2009.

“Today marks the culmination of more than five years of research, design and development of the nation’s first carbon market,” said Jonathan Schrag, Executive Director of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc.  “It is fitting that our event took place on the shores of the river that Henry Hudson explored nearly 400 years ago.  As with Hudson’s exploration then, these pioneering states are leading the way forward on the new, clean-energy economy that others will surely follow.”

CO2 allowances under RGGI will be distributed primarily via auctions rather than the free allocation methodology used in other emissions markets. By using an auction, participating states are able to provide benefits to consumers.

Revenues from the carbon allowance auctions will be invested by the participating states in energy efficiency programs, renewable energy stimulus efforts and other programs to benefit consumers.  As a result, RGGI will deliver economic and environmental benefits and improve energy security through reduced use of fossil fuels.

The RGGI auction held today offered 12,565,387 allowances, including CO2 allowances issued by Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.  The CO2 allowances purchased at this auction can be used by a regulated facility for compliance in any of the RGGI states, even if that state did not offer allowances in this auction.

Other RGGI participating states will offer allowances for sale in future auctions as they complete their necessary rulemaking proceedings. A second auction is scheduled for December 2008, with all RGGI participating states expected to offer allowances for sale in the first 2009 auction. Future sales of CO2 allowances are planned through a steady offering of allowances in quarterly auctions. States have committed to offer for sale before the end of 2011 all of the allowances they are putting into the auctions for the first three-year compliance period.  Regulated power companies must hold enough allowances to match their CO2 emissions for the first compliance period by March 1, 2012.

Auctions are proven market tools, and the RGGI auction design is based on a rigorous design study and stakeholder input.  RGGI’s open auctions will establish a transparent cost for allowances and incorporate an accounting of CO2 emissions into the electricity markets in the region. Since electric generators factor the cost of allowances into power prices whether the allowances are distributed free or for a charge, the ratepayer benefits when allowances are auctioned and the revenue invested on their behalf to reduce energy demand. By distributing allowances through auction, RGGI improves upon the established European Union carbon market, which faced problems with the free allocation of carbon allowances.

RGGI has spurred action elsewhere. Seven western U.S. states and several Canadian provinces have embarked on the Western Climate Initiative, a cap-and-trade system to be implemented by 2012.  Florida is also studying a cap-and-trade system, as are several Midwest states. The European Union has recently indicated it wants member nations to shift the European carbon cap-and-trade program to an auction-based format.

“Today’s auction is a testament to the hard work of the states,” continued Schrag.  “They made a commitment in 2005 to have a program up and running by 2009 and with this first auction and the additional pre-compliance auction in December they have greatly exceeded expectations.”

The RGGI states have retained a professional independent market monitor, Potomac Economics, to oversee auctions and subsequent market activity. The monitor will observe the conduct of the auction qualification process as well as the auction itself, and will report on whether the auction was conducted in accordance with the participating states’ regulations and the noticed auction procedures and whether the auction results represented a competitive outcome.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a cooperative effort by participating states to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that causes global warming.

RGGI, Inc. is a non-profit corporation created to provide technical and administrative services to the CO2 Budget Trading Programs of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.  For more information about RGGI and the individual CO2 Budget Trading Programs, please visit .

September 25, 2008 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Crude skyrockets to $ 130+...the insanity continues

Crude futures leaped as much as $25 per barrel, or 24.3%, shortly before the New York close Monday, to tap a high of $130 per barrel. They're poised to score their biggest daily gain since 1984 -- when crude began trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.MarketWatch link 

OK -- let's breathe a bit.  An unprecedented bailout of the US financial sector is being considered -- I hope with regulatory conditions that will create longer-term stability and provide some relief to homeowners, victims of the credit card industry, and taxpayers.   $ 150 billion of extra money has been pumped in through central banks.  Piecemeal bailouts have cost taxpayers nearly $ 500 billion already.  Stocks are down.  Oil is way up.  Maybe the speculators who can't sell the financial sector short are pouring money into oil.  At any rate, the insanity continues.

September 22, 2008 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Crude oil moves to $ 116

Crude rallied today above $116/barrel, the highest price in three weeks, based on the prospect that the Bush bailout will prompt economic growth.  I'm not sure about growth, but $ 1 trillion + is bound to create a bit of inflation.MarketWatch link

September 22, 2008 in Economics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Hurricane Season Continues...and so Does Global Warming

During the 2008 hurricane season, 10 tropical storms and hurricanes have ravaged Haiti, Cuba and the US Gulf coast.  Six Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes hit the US from late July to mid-September, causing billions of dollars in damage. Four devastated Haiti, killing hundreds of people and wiping out any progress during the last few years in building infrastructure, planting trees, and other economic development efforts. Cuba was hit hard by Gustav and Ike.  Oil and gas production in the Gulf took a severe hit also.

For obvious reasons, many hurricane researchers blame the increased strenth of tropical storms and hurricanes on global warming.  This might be just another story of the impacts of global warming....another of the 100+ stories I covered over the last three years.  But this one is personal.  My congregation has been investing in improving health conditions in Haiti and we expected to fund several water projects in Haiti during the next year.  But....what is left of our previous efforts...and what will happen to our future efforts to help alleviate the extreme poverty and suffering of the Haitian people?  Nothing is the answer, so long as the world is allowing global warming to increase.

And the end is not yet in sight.  Though the statistical peak of the season has past, severe hurricane conditions are expected to continue through at least October 15th. The extreme weather is no surprise: hurricane forecasters had predicted up to 18 cyclones.  Even now, warm sea temperatures, low wind shear, a neutral El Nino, and other factors that contribute to the formation of hurricanes are still in place. In particular, water in the Caribbean and Atlantic is 0.9 to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual and warm water is the basic feedstock of hurricanes. 

Although the 2008 season has been tamer thus far than the record-breaking 2005 season, which brought 28 storms forcing forecasters to use the Greek alphabet to name them, 2008 has set a record of its own: six storms in a row hit the United States.  This is the largest number of times the US has been hit by tropical cyclones since 1851.


September 22, 2008 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Findlaw's Environmental Law Case Summaries




• Fund For Animals v. Kempthorne
• US v. Capital Tax Corp.
• Missouri Coalition for the Env't Found. v. US Army Corps of Eng'rs
• NRDC v. Winter
• National Resources Defense Council v. US Envtl. Prot. Agency
• Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides v. US Envtl. Prot. Agency
• Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. FPL Group, Inc.

FindLaw's case summaries are copyrighted material and are not intended for republication without prior approval. You may, however, freely redistribute this e-mail in its entirety.
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U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, September 18, 2008
Fund For Animals v. Kempthorne, No. 052603
In a claim challenging defendants' Public Resource Depredation Order on the ground that it violated treaty obligations of the United States and federal statutes by allowing employees to kill unlimited number of federally protected double-crested cormorants in New York and other states, summary judgment for defendant-government is affirmed where: 1) the Depredation Order is a reasonable method of effectuating the goals of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA); 2) the Depredation Order does not conflict with treaties to which the United States is a party; 3) the Depredation Order represents one rational response to the problem of cormorant depredation based on evidence to the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS); 4) FWS complied with the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in adopting the Depredation Order; and 5) the FWS did not violate National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in adopting the Depredation Order. Read more...

U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 19, 2008
US v. Capital Tax Corp., No. 07-3744
In a suit by the government under CERCLA to recover costs incurred in cleaning up hazardous waste, summary judgment for plaintiff is vacated and remanded where: 1) there was insufficient evidence in the record to determine whether the defendant had entered into a valid contract with a third party for the sale of the land, and thus whether the doctrine of equitable conversion would remove the burden of ownership under CERCLA from the defendant; and 2) the harm was not divisible among parcels since the parcels were contiguous and hazardous materials moved between them. Read more...

U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 16, 2008
Missouri Coalition for the Env't Found. v. US Army Corps of Eng'rs, No. 07-2218
In an action brought by an environmental group seeking disclosure of a number of documents from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), summary judgment for defendant-Corps is remanded for further proceedings where: 1) a Vaughn index was not inadequate on its face; 2) the Vaughn index was sufficient to establish that some of the information requested was, in fact, exempted by the deliberative process privilege; but 3) because the district court failed to analyze the segregability of the documents, it was not possible to conclude that the privilege applied to all 83 responsive documents in their entirety. Read more...

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 16, 2008
NRDC v. Winter, No. 07-55294
The award of enhanced attorney's fees from an environmental case against the Navy is vacated and remanded for recalculation where: 1) co-counsel senior law firm partners and junior NRDC counsel did possess specialized experience needed in the litigation; but 2) co-counsel junior law firm associates did not qualify for enhanced fees due to lack of specialized experience; and 3) plaintiff had not shown that appropriate counsel could not be found at the statutory rate. Read more...

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 18, 2008
National Resources Defense Council v. US Envtl. Prot. Agency, No. 07-55183, 07-55261
In a Clean Water Act (CWA) case seeking to force the EPA to promulgate guidelines relating to storm water pollution discharges caused by construction and development, summary judgment for plaintiffs is affirmed where: 1) plaintiffs challenged the EPA's failure to promulgate industry wide rules under section 505(a)(2) of the Clean Water Act, not the substance of existing regulation; 2) plaintiff has standing because organization members' use of particular waterways is diminished due to concern from construction sites, the injury is traceable and is redressable by the effluent limitation guidelines (ELGs) and new source performance standards (NSPSs) sought by plaintiff; and 3) the EPA listed construction sites as a point source category under CWA section 304(m), for which it must promulgate ELGs and NSPSs. Read more...

U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, September 19, 2008
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides v. US Envtl. Prot. Agency, No. 05-75255, 05-76807
In a case challenging pesticide tolerance levels set by the EPA, petition for review is granted in part and reversed in part and the case remanded to the EPA, where: 1) the Food Quality Protection Act requires the EPA to set pesticide tolerance levels at a ten times reduction (10x reduction) absent reliable data that a higher tolerance will be safe for infants and children; 2) the EPA data presented, including computer modeling, was reliable data for avoiding the 10x reduction on four of seven challenged pesticide tolerances; but 3) the EPA did not explained its data rationale for avoiding the 10x reduction for tolerances of three pesticides. Read more...

California Appellate Districts, September 18, 2008
Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. FPL Group, Inc., No. A116362
In action alleging that defendant owners and operators of wind turbine electric generators were, by the operation of their wind turbines, responsible for killing and injuring raptors and other birds in violation of the public trust doctrine, dismissal of the action is affirmed where: 1) the proper method of challenging the issuance of conditional use permits was by writ of administrative mandate, the time for filing which long passed; 2) it was too late for an action against the county to set aside the conditional use permits that had already been issued; and 3) dismissal was also justified by the absence of a necessary and indispensable party. Read more...


September 20, 2008 in Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

McCain's Freeze on Discretionary Spending Includes all Energy and other R&D

Jeffrey Mervis of ScienceNOW Daily News [link] reported yesterday that next year's federal budget will not contain even one penny more for scientific research, technology development, and science education if McCain is elected, assuming Congress cannot muster enough votes to override a veto.  McCain intends to freeze all discretionary spending for a year to evaluate all programs.  Democratic Senator Barack Obama (IL), on the other hand, proposes doubling the budgets of many U.S. science agencies over the course of the next decade.

McCain had promised support for R & D in August, but his science aide Brannon said yesterday that there's been no talk within the campaign of allowing any flexibility in the proposed freeze. It would be part of McCain's 2010 budget submission next spring to Congress for the fiscal year that begins in October 2009, should he defeat Obama in November. "Senator McCain realizes that it's difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of basic research," Brannon told Science. "But the freeze applies to the entire budget, most of which doesn't relate to science."

September 20, 2008 in Air Quality, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Legislation, Physical Science, Social Science, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Awesome Chart of Financial Crisis

The NY Times  has a great chart illustrating what has happened to the stock of financial companies in the last year.  You can click on the image to get a sharper copy.

The Bush Administration wants another $ 700 billion to bail out companies that have made megabucks by sucking the American public in with worthless bundles of bad loans, luring them to overutilize easy credit, raising interest rates and foreclosing mortgages that force people out of their homes.  I realize that drastic action is necessary to deal with this debacle.  I just hope that ordinary people will receive as much of a financial bailout as the financial companies.

Here's a modest suggestion.  Let's condition the bailout on companies recouping all salaries and stock option values in excess of $ 250,000 from every officer, director, manager or salaried employee of these companies during the last three years -- reducing maximum credit card interest rates to 18% or less -- and matching mortgage payments of families who are struggling to make their payments (assuming their homes are no more than 75% of average value and their incomes are no more than 150% of average income or some similar limit).

I know that this is a fantasy.  The rich get bailed out and the poor get evicted.  But one can dream of the federal government using our taxpayer dollars to benefit the people generally rather than the banking tycoons.


September 20, 2008 in Economics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Iraq and Oil

It Was Oil, All Along
By Bill Moyers & Michael Winship

PBS transcript link

Oh, no, they told us, Iraq isn't a war about oil. That's cynical and simplistic, they said. It's about terror and al Qaeda and toppling a dictator and spreading democracy and protecting ourselves from weapons of mass destruction. But one by one, these concocted rationales went up in smoke, fire, and ashes. And now the bottom turns out to be....the bottom line. It is about oil.


Alan Greenspan said so last fall. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, safely out of office, confessed in his memoir, “…Everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” He elaborated in an interview with the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, "If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands, our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first gulf war."

Remember, also, that soon after the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, told the press that war was our only strategic choice. “…We had virtually no economic options with Iraq,” he explained, “because the country floats on a sea of oil.”

Shades of Daniel Plainview, the monstrous petroleum tycoon in the movie THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Half-mad, he exclaims, "There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet!" then adds, "No one can get at it except for me!"
No wonder American troops only guarded the Ministries of Oil and the Interior in Baghdad, even as looters pillaged museums of their priceless antiquities. They were making sure no one could get at the oil except... guess who?

Here’s a recent headline in the NEW YORK TIMES: "Deals with Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back." Read on: "Four western companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power."

There you have it. After a long exile, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP are back in Iraq. And on the wings of no-bid contracts – that's right, sweetheart deals like those given Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater. The kind of deals you get only if you have friends in high places. And these war profiteers have friends in very high places.

Let’s go back a few years to the 1990’s, when private citizen Dick Cheney was running Halliburton, the big energy supplier. That’s when he told the oil industry that, “By 2010 we will need on the order of an additional fifty million barrels a day. So where is the oil going to come from? While many regions of the world offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies.”

Fast forward to Cheney’s first heady days in the White House. The oil industry and other energy conglomerates have been headed backdoor keys to the White House, and their CEO’s and lobbyists were trooping in and out for meetings with their old opal, now Vice President Cheney. The meetings are secret, conducted under tight security, but as we reported five years ago, among the documents that turned up from some of those meetings were maps of oil fields in Iraq – and a list of companies who wanted access to them. The conservative group Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club filed suit to try to find out who attended the meetings and what was discussed, but the White House fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep the press and public from learning the whole truth.

Think about it. These secret meetings took place six months before 9/11, two years before Bush and Cheney invaded Iraq. We still don’t know what they were about. What we know is that this is the oil industry that’s enjoying swollen profits these days. It would be laughable if it weren’t so painful to remember that their erstwhile cheerleader for invading Iraq – the press mogul Rupert Murdoch – once said that a successful war there would bring us $20 a barrel of oil. The last time we looked, it was more than $140 a barrel. Where are you, Rupert, when the facts need checking and the predictions are revisited?

At a congressional hearing this week, James Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who exactly twenty years ago alerted Congress and the world to the dangers of global warming, compared the chief executives of Big Oil to the tobacco moguls who denied that nicotine is addictive or that there's a link between smoking and cancer. Hansen,
who the administration has tried again and again to silence, said these barons of black gold should be tried for committing crimes against humanity and nature in opposing efforts to deal with global warming.

Perhaps those sweetheart deals in Iraq should be added to his proposed indictments. They have been purchased at a very high price. Four thousand American soldiers dead, tens of thousands permanently wounded for life, hundreds of thousands of dead and crippled Iraqis plus five million displaced, and a cost that will mount into trillions of dollars. The political analyst Kevin Phillips says America has become little more than an "energy protection force," doing anything to gain access to expensive fuel without regard to the lives of others or the earth itself. One thinks again of Daniel Plainview in THERE WILL BE BLOOD. His lust for oil came at the price of his son and his soul.

September 19, 2008 in Energy | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

McCain's Green Economy: Drill, Baby, Drill

Here's one perspective on McCain's energy policy:
"When it comes to the environment, John McCain only has the interests of Big Oil at heart. That's why he has over 22 Big Oil lobbyists advising him. That's why he favored lifting the moratorium on off-shore drilling -- a move that prompted Big Oil to donate over $1 million to his campaign."

read more | digg story

September 19, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Legislative Climate Change Targets in the 110th Congress

For those of you teaching climate change, WRI has a great comparison of the emission reduction targets of various legislative proposals. WRI analysis of US climate legislation targets The World Resources Institute’s analysis of emissions targets and cumulative emissions budgets attempts to compare on a consistent basis the GHG reductions from explicit carbon caps and complementary policies contained in climate proposals.  Emissions from capped sectors are calculated based on the text of the respective legislation. For sectors that are not covered by the legislation, emissions are estimated to continue uncontrolled in line with projections published by EPA. WRI disclaims: "This analysis is not a projection of actual future emissions under the various proposals nor is it an analysis of economic impacts resulting from the enactment of these policies."

read more | digg story

September 19, 2008 in Air Quality, Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, Legislation, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Palin can't get her energy facts straight

The Washington Post Fact Checker Michael Dobbs has awarded Sarah Palin four Pinocchios (the worst lie possible) for continuing to claim that she oversees "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas" as Governor of Alaska. Fact-checker Post on Palin The real figure is 7.4%.  Besides which, the whole claim is complete campaign hyperbole because no Governor has substantial responsibility for managing production of oil and gas on federal, tribal, and private lands.  The scary thing is that Palin has been touted by John McCain as the most knowledgable person in America on energy issues.  That's a good measure of McCain's ability to assess and recruit 1st class talent if he became president.

As Dobbs observed Palin has been having trouble getting her basic energy statistics straight.

Last week, Sarah Palin told Charlie Gibson of ABC News that her state, Alaska, produced "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." Yesterday, she told a campaign rally in Golden, Colorado, that she had been responsible for overseeing "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas." Both claims are way off.

The Facts

While Alaska is a leading producer of crude oil, it produces relatively little natural gas, hardly any coal, and no nuclear power. Its share of oil production has been declining sharply, and now ranks lower than Texas and Louisiana. As the following table shows, Alaska is the ninth largest energy supplier in the United States, accounting for a modest 3.5 percent share of the nation's total energy production.

StateTotal productionPercent of U.S. Total
Texas10,829 Trillion Btu15.6
West Virginia4,0615.8
New Mexico2,7523.9

SOURCE: Energy Information Administration

After the non-partisan pointed out Palin's error in her interview with Gibson, the Alaska governor revised her claim somewhat, limiting it to oil and gas. But data compiled by the Energy Information Administration contradict her claim that she oversees "nearly 20 percent" of oil and gas production in the country. According to authoritative EIA data, Alaska accounted for just 7.4 percent of total U.S. oil and gas production in 2005.

It is not even correct for Palin to claim that her state is responsible for "nearly 20 percent" of U.S. oil production. Oil production has fallen sharply in Alaska during her governorship. The state's share of total U.S. oil production fell from 18 percent in 2005 to 13 percent this year, according to the EIA.

September 17, 2008 in Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, North America, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Blog Action Day is October 15th: Blog on Global Poverty

Blog Action Day is October 15th.  This year the topic is global poverty.  On Blog Action Day, bloggers commit to discussing the topic from the special perspective that their blog brings to the issue.  As it happens, Blog Action Day will coincide with my presentation at the 6th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium in Mexico City on Alleviating Extreme Poverty.  I will be speaking on Chartering Sustainable Corporations as a means to address extreme poverty.

For all of you bloggers out there, be sure to register and post your thoughts on global poverty on October 15th.  For information and registration, visit Blog Action Day

September 17, 2008 in Asia, Australia, Economics, EU, Governance/Management, International, North America, South America, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

And none of us, including the market, are happy....

With bad news from Goldman Sachs, Wamu and other financial sector entities, U.S. stocks plunged yet again today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing at its lowest level since November 2005.  Despite the $ 85 billion rescue of American International Group, the Dow sank almost 450 points to 10,610, a loss of over 4% of the index's value, after a similar plunge on Monday.

Gigantic banks, brokerages, insurance companies, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac failing....the US Treasury already wading in debt, bailing them out....the trade deficit spiraling up...foreclosures continuing at a historic rate...housing prices starts at the lowest point in a generation....unemployment rising rapidly....daily announcements of job cuts by Fortune 1000 employers....

and here's what John McCain assured Americans that— the “fundamentals of our economy are strong.” [The Hill, 20 times video]

That frequent McCain refrain makes sense for someone who has followed the flimsy Republican line on the economy: kill regulations designed to protect the market and hope that corporate greed will keep itself in check.  McCain is now scrambling to become the champion of regulation, but no one is going to buy that given his long record of deregulation.  See Washington Post article on McCain's record advocating deregulation of business    

An e-mail I received this afternoon asked: "Can he be any more out of touch?...[economic indicators] show that the fundamentals are crumbling."

Here's the analysis by America's Future:

* The trade deficit has worsened. The trade deficit has thrown about 400,000 Americans out of work every year for the last few years. Today, the Commerce Department reported that the trade deficit worsened in the second quarter of 2008, increasing by 4.3 percent—despite the decline in the value of the dollar. The second-quarter trade deficit of $183.1 billion means that every day the United States must raise more than $2 billion by borrowing or selling off assets. The trade deficit with China increased by 15 percent in the first half of 2008. More about the trade deficit...

* Housing construction starts continue to decline. Sinking housing starts means fewer construction jobs and a weakened economy. The Commerce Department reported today that both housing construction starts and permits for future construction fell by more than 6 percent in August. August was the worst month for housing construction since January 1991. Housing values—which have dropped 16 percent over the past 12 months—are continuing to decline. More about housing...

* The misery index has risen. Nine million Americans are now unemployed as prices for food, clothing, medical care, and education continue to rise. Yesterday, the Labor Department reported a new inflation rate of 5.4 percent for the 12 months ending in August. The unemployment rate for August was 6.1 percent. So the misery index (unemployment plus inflation) is now 11.5 percent—worse than any month since June 1991, more than 17 years ago. June 2008 was the first time the monthly misery index hit double digits since June 1993. More about the misery index...

Progressive solutions:

Kick start the real economy, don’t just bail out the banks. We need a public investment initiative to get the economy moving, investing in renewable energy, rebuilding green, extending unemployment insurance, helping cities and states avoid deep cuts in health care, police and fire services, and more.

We need a long term agenda that will ensure that the profits and productivity of the next recovery are widely shared. Empower workers to organize. Forge a public social contract to replace the private one that corporations are shredding. Put the full force of the American government behind the goal of full employment. More about solutions...

After years of reading about billions of dollars lost to corporate fraud, incredible compensation for corporate managers of failing companies, and skyrocketing profits, I think we need a new paradigm.  I'm not sure about the specifics of these "progressive" policies, but somehow we need to fundamentally reorient the American economy....or there won't be anything left.

Continue reading

September 17, 2008 in Economics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

AIG to be acquired by Fed at a cost of $ 85 billion

The Federal Reserve is reportedly taking a nearly 80 percent stake in the world's largest insurance company, the American International Group, in exchange for an $85 billion loan.   All of AIG’s assets would be pledged to secure the loan and the Fed would receive warrants giving it an ownership stake. Stock of existing shareholders would be diluted, but not wiped out.NY Times link

September 16, 2008 in Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pope says water is a universal inalienable human right

Pope Benedict XVI supported a universal 'right to water' in a message communicated from the Vatican to an international conference on the issue of Water and Sustainable Development, in Zaragoza, Spain this summer.  Profit should not be the only reason to protect water, he declared. The 'right to water' is based on the dignity of the human person, and it is not simply an 'economic good'...Because of the ...pressure of multiple social and economic factors, we must be conscious of the fact" that today "water must be considered "a good that must be especially protected through clear national and international policies, and used according to sensible criteria of solidarity and responsibility.  But, "[t]he use of water, which is regarded as a universal and inalienable right, is related to the growing and urgent needs of people who live in destitution, taking into account the fact that limited access topotable water has repercussions on the wellbeing of an enormous number of people and is often the cause of illnesses, sufferings, conflicts, poverty and even death." 

Pope Benedict also said that water is "a right that is based on the dignity of the human person." It is "from this perspective that positions of those who consider and treat water only as an economic good must be carefully examined," Benedict XVI continued. "Its use must be rational and solidary, fruit of a balanced synergy between the public and private sector."  He stated water is not just a material good, as it also has "religious meanings that believing humanity, especially Christianity, have developed, assigning it great value as a precious immaterial good, which always enriches man's life on this earth...How can one not recall in this circumstance the thought provoking message that has come to us from sacred scriptures, treating water as a symbol of purification."

The Pope concluded: "The full recovery of this spiritual dimension is the guarantee and implication for an adequate approach to the ethical, political and economic problems that affect the complex management of water on the part of so many interested individuals, both in the national and international realm."

September 15, 2008 in Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)