Rebecca Kleefisch: states using clean energy have “competitive advantage” over states like Wisconsin

During a recent appearance on right-wing talk radio with Charlie Sykes, Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch talked about the “competitive advantage” states focusing on clean energy have over states like Wisconsin, which still relies heavily on fossil fuels for our energy production.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) second-in-command made a surprising concession on Friday: states that emphasize green energy have a “competitive advantage” over states, like Wisconsin, that don’t.
During an interview with radio host Charlie Sykes, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) railed against a new regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency intended to curb the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from power plants. Kleefisch said the rule would hurt her state because Wisconsin has been slow to move away from carbon-intensive energies like coal, from which the state still derives “about 60 percent” of its electricity.

As a result of its heel-dragging, Wisconsin lags behind its neighbors in terms of clean energy, something Kleefisch said will hurt her state’s competitiveness.

“When I’m talking to my colleagues in the National Lieutenant Governors Association and they have already gotten online to different standards than what is traditional in our state, all of a sudden they have a competitive advantage,” Kleefisch conceded.

What’s really awkward about Rebecca Kleefisch’s remarks is that Wisconsin’s competitive disadvantage is due wholly to the anti-clean energy policies of Gov. Walker and his rubber-stamp Republican legislature. After all, Gov. Walker’s current budget proposal would eliminate funding for a UW-Madison renewable energy research center while at the same time providing $250,000 in funding for a a study on the potential health impacts of wind turbines (which is as ludicrous as it sounds). What’s more, back in 2011 Gov. Walker (at the behest of the Wisconsin Realtors Association) introduced legislation to restrict where wind turbines could built.

If anyone’s to blame for Wisconsin being at a competitive disadvantage to states who have focused on renewable energy sources, it’s Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican rubber-stamp Legislature, not President Barack Obama and/or the EPA.

Some More Highlights From The Keystone XL Discussion

This morning I posted a bit on the ruling from the Nebraska Supreme Court that gives the Canadian oil company the right to seize American assets to complete the Keystone XL pipeline. But there are a few other nuggets to be mined from the original article as well. Let’s see what we find!

First, this isn’t necessarily an American idea. And this may seem obvious but it bears remembering later in the discussion:

The international (emphasis mine) pipeline is a cornerstone of the new GOP agenda in Congress.

But this oil of course will lower gas prices in America, right?

The $8 billion project, one of the largest infrastructure projects proposed for the United States, would carry oil from the tar sands of Canada through the nation’s heartland and eventually to the Gulf Coast. Much of the oil would be exported (emphasis mine).

Yes, it will in fact help the American market and help us reduce dependence on foreign oil. Just look:

But supporters argue that development of the pipeline will wean the country from foreign oil suppliers and create needed domestic jobs.

Wait wait wait…I just remembered…these are CANADIAN tar sands oil…and so far Canada, no matter how friendly they are with the US, is a FOREIGN country. So we are weaning ourselves from one foreign oil to another…assuming of course that the oil were actually staying in the USA! But I quibble…what about those jobs?

Well this article says that 42,000 construction jobs will result in completing the pipeline. That seems like an incredible amount…and other articles in the past have questioned that number as well…but it will certainly produce substantial long term jobs, yes?

While the State Department estimates that about 42,000 jobs would be created during the construction of the pipeline, permanent jobs would be fewer than 50. The 800,000 daily gallons of oil expected to be pumped are a blip on the climate change radar.

Fewer that FIFTY jobs? Really? From the ruckus in Washington you’d think this was the next major industrialization of the gulf coast…I mean really…it’s less that fifty jobs?

And I kinda glossed over that last part a little bit. Does that say 800,000 GALLONS of oil? I thought we were talking hundreds of thousands of barrels…but it’s 800,000 gallons.

So let me summarize what I understand from all of this: some foreign oil company gets to seize American property to pump 800,000 gallons of pretty mucky oil across thousands of miles of the United States…to the gulf coast so a handful of Americans can refine it and load it on tankers to send overseas?

Court Affirms Foreign Corporation’s Right Of Eminent Domain in US

In the continuing saga of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that Canadian oil company TransCanada could essentially use eminent domain to seize right of ways on American owned property to complete the Keystone XL pipeline. Continued proof that money knows no borders:

Removing a major roadblock, Nebraska’s Supreme Court threw out a challenge to a proposed route for the pipeline, even though four judges on the seven-member court agreed that the landowners who sued should have won their case.

Their lawsuit challenged a 2012 state law that allowed the governor to empower Canada-based TransCanada to force them to sell their property for the project.

But because the lawsuit raised a constitutional question, a supermajority of five judges was needed to rule on the law, meaning “the legislation must stand by default,” the court said in its opinion.

hmmmm…four out of seven justices agreed with the landowners yet ruled the other way.

Energy Independence? Bull*lone*y!

One of my post election predictions is that President Obama will approve the Keystone XL pipeline on or after November 5, 2104.

It just seems to fit with the current oil trends in the US:

U.S. Crude Oil Exports Hit a 15-Year Monthly High:

The United States exported 268,000 barrels of crude oil a day in April, the highest in 15 years, with almost all of it delivered to Canada, the Energy Information Administration said…

Narrow Shift by Washington on Oil Exports:

As the oil industry pushes the Obama administration to lift a longstanding ban on the export of crude oil, the Commerce Department has granted two Texas companies permits to export a light, processed form of oil, according to people familiar with the matter.

Over the last year, pressure has increased on the Obama administration to end the ban on crude oil exports, which has been in place since the 1970s Arab embargo magnified concerns about the oil supply. There has been a recent boom in domestic oil production thanks to breakthroughs in production techniques, like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The Commerce Department, which can issue permits to companies to export crude oil, has not done so. There is no ban on exporting processed petroleum products like gasoline or jet fuel.

Energy Secretary Calls Oil Export Ban Dated:

Signaling a possible break with 40 years of energy policy, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has suggested that it may be time for the Obama administration to reconsider the nation’s ban on exporting domestically produced crude oil.

Congress made most oil exports without a license illegal in the 1970s to conserve supplies at a time when OPEC oil embargoes produced long lines at gas stations and threatened the American economy. But over the last five years a frenzy of oil drilling in shale rock formations in Texas and North Dakota have produced a glut of crude in the Midwest and Gulf of Mexico states.

U.S. Moves Toward Atlantic Oil Exploration, Stirring Debate Over Sea Life:

The Interior Department opened the door on Thursday to the first searches in decades for oil and gas off the Atlantic coast, recommending that undersea seismic surveys proceed, though with a host of safeguards to shield marine life from much of their impact.

The recommendation is likely to be adopted after a period of public comment and over objections by environmental activists who say it will be ruinous for the climate and sea life alike

White House Opens Door to Exploring Atlantic for Oil:

The Obama administration approved guidelines on Friday for seismic searches for oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean, handing the petroleum industry a significant victory in a bitter dispute with environmental groups over the searches’ impact on marine life.

The decision opens the way for companies to seek permits to look for oil in a stretch of the Atlantic from Delaware to Florida, using compressed-air guns that blast the ocean bottom with thousands of sound pulses as loud as a howitzer. The pulses bounce off geologic formations deep in the earth, giving geologists hints of where oil and gas deposits may lie.

The new rules do not permit actual drilling for oil, and the only previous exploration in the area produced 51 dry holes before ending in the 1980s. But experts have said that a decision to allow exploration sends a clear signal that allowing offshore drilling rigs would be approved as well.

If the Republicans want an impeachable offense…putting US energy security at risk for profit could just be the real thing…oh wait a minute…never mind!

Changing The Conversation On Climate Change Part II

Published today by the Associated Press, a little article about Democratic Mayors fighting climate change at the local level in spite of Republican governors remaining skeptics. So yes, as I stated earlier, things can be done without convincing everyone that they need to believe that climate change exists:

For coastal cities such as Galveston, Houston and New York City, as well as more arid regions of the country, such as Phoenix and Sacramento, California, there is no time for debate — climate change’s effects are real.

Galveston’s seawall didn’t stand up to Hurricane Ike in 2008, partly because of the sea level rise that allowed the storm’s surge to reach inner areas. Officials began to rethink protections, leading Galveston and nearby coastal communities to collaborate with The Nature Conservancy to restore oyster reefs and wetland habitats that could better help protect communities.

New York learned similar lessons after Superstorm Sandy. Quickly after, it became clear some man-made solutions — such as seawalls or underwater fencing — are expensive and not always effective. The city also asked the Nature Conservancy to study how built defenses could be combined with “natural infrastructure” to buffer a city that’s becoming more vulnerable.

Howard Beach, a low-lying, flat area of Queens, was pounded by Sandy. The Nature Conservancy’s report concluded that significant, cost-efficient defenses could be achieved by re-vegetating shorelines and restoring mussel beds and wetlands in combination with more traditional solutions, such as sea walls.

Heat and debilitating drought is worsening in some parts of Arizona and California. Sacramento is using trees for part of the solution, and the city has outlined a detailed “climate plan” for the coming decades.

Bill Finch, the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and co-chair of the conference’s climate task force, said some mayors in mid- and large-sized cities have had a climate plan for about seven years. Party politics are irrelevant, he said, pointing out that his co-chair on the committee is Carmel, Indiana, Republican James Brainard.

Carmel put roundabouts at 84 intersections. Studies have shown such traffic patterns can cut down on emissions. Now, Finch plans to implement a similar plan in his community.

“Mayors have to go to the grocery store and listen to families complain about kids with asthma … that their flooding is getting worse,” Finch said, pointing out that the steps in the resolution would also give cities more parks and green space.

“This is not a cause for mayors. This is a pragmatic problem that requires pragmatic solutions,” Finch said.

Although it sounds like Democratic mayors are leading the charge, Republican mayors are also supportive as long as any changes aren’t mandated…simply suggested. Go figure:

Attendees of the U.S. Conference of Mayors will vote Monday on a resolution that encourages cities to use natural solutions to “protect freshwater supplies, defend the nation’s coastlines, maintain a healthy tree cover and protect air quality,” sometimes by partnering with nonprofit organizations.

It’s being backed by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton — all Democrats.

Since the conference is almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, and the resolution only “encourages” steps rather than mandating action, Leffingwell believes it will easily be approved Monday since it quickly passed through the committee on Friday.

“The best strategy is not to get involved in partisan politics,” said Leffingwell, who noted that Texas Gov. Rick Perry may be a climate-change skeptic, but he still supported the state’s move to invest $2 billion in water infrastructure after a debilitating drought in 2011.

“He doesn’t have to acknowledge climate change to know that the facts are there. … We want to take the steps that would advance the things that we all believe in without getting into some ideological argument,” Leffingwell added.

Sounds like a plan…good work!

Changing The Conversation On Climate Change

There are two types of climate change deniers. The first ones deny that climate change even exists, and the second group accept climate change but deny man’s contribution to the problem.

The first group should be totally ignored. They will not be swayed and won’t accept climate change as reality until they are treading water. Just forget about them.

The second group can be allies. Even if they aren’t convinced of man’s influence on climatic changes, there are a lot of things that still need to be accomplished that they would probably be amenable to work on. For instance, rebuilding the various coastlines to accommodate higher sea levels, higher tides and more severe hurricanes. There will certainly be opportunities to work on ways to remediate continued and more severe inland droughts and the desertification of larger parts of currently arable land. The Sahara just keeps creeping south for instance. There will need to be a solid consensus to make those type of projects viable.

And at some point they may even accept that reducing man’s carbon footprint may help, even if they don’t believe mankind is the cause.

Just a little thinking out loud on a Saturday night…

A Quick Hit On The Propane Shortage!

There has been a fair amount of press on the shortage of propane in the state as temperatures continue to seek the bottom of the thermometer. Steve Carlson touched on it briefly here on Blogging Blue.

But today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussed Governor Walker’s about face on providing financial assistance in securing sufficient propane to heat homes here in Wisconsin and how WEDC will help suppliers with financial support to deal with rising prices. And they deftly breezed over a few of the issues that are causing the shortage of the heating fuel and the record prices per gallon in one succinct paragraph (emphasis mine):

The shortage, attributed to a colder-than-normal winter, the shutdown of a key supply pipeline earlier in the season, strong exports of the fuel and heavy use of propane by farmers to dry grain last fall have sent prices for many customers well above $5 a gallon.

Strong exports of the fuel? We are fighting tooth and nail and putting our natural resources at risk to become energy independent and we are exporting the very thing we need? Well apparently there’s better money in exporting propane than protecting the lives and well being of Americans and particularly Wisconsinites in this case. I don’t know…shouldn’t energy independence actually be an issue of national security? Somebody should be rung up for treason…that sarcasm.

But remember why the Keystone XL has to go to the gulf?? Not for energy independence but to enable exports of the resulting fuels…as I said here and here! Bon Voyage America’s Energy Resources!!!

side note: wind energy and solar energy are taboo because…well…you can’t export them!

The Real Reason Keystone XL Needs To Run To The Gulf

All these past months I have been on a tirade against the Keystone XL pipeline partly because the dang thing would run thousands of miles across the country…risking any number of fragile local eco-systems…with the resulting fuels exported around the world from the gulf refineries…with only a small group of Americans actually benefiting…with the major profits staying with big oil. I have often suggested that if the resulting fuels were going to stay in the US as many proponents of the pipeline have continually insisted…that it would help make the US energy independent…well I just thought the pipeline should terminate at refineries in the upper Midwest where the fuels could actually be used.

But that whole argument on BOTH SIDES is simply a shell game…the reason the tar sand oils need to travel to the gulf coast is only partly on account of exporting the refined fuels…what is more important is being able to readily export the dirty waste petroleum coke that results from tar sand oil refining…a waste byproduct so vile that it can’t be burned in the US…and avoid the ‘issues’ that Koch Carbon is currently experiencing in Detroit!

The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.

The coke comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands — and producing the waste that is sold to Koch — only in November.

“What is really, really disturbing to me is how some companies treat the city of Detroit as a dumping ground,” said Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan state representative for that part of Detroit. “Nobody knew this was going to happen.” Almost 56 percent of Canada’s oil production is from the petroleum-soaked oil sands of northern Alberta, more than 2,000 miles north.

An initial refining process known as coking, which releases the oil from the tarlike bitumen in the oil sands, also leaves the petroleum coke, of which Canada has 79.8 million tons stockpiled. Some is dumped in open-pit oil sands mines and tailing ponds in Alberta. Much is just piled up there.

Detroit’s pile will not be the only one. Canada’s efforts to sell more products derived from oil sands to the United States, which include transporting it through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, have pulled more coking south to American refineries, creating more waste product here.

Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum.

While there is high demand from both those industries, the small grains and high sulfur content of this petroleum coke make it largely unusable for those purposes, said Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, a commodities analysis company based in London.

“It is worse than a byproduct,” Ms. Satterthwaite said.“It’s a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce.”

Murray Gray, the scientific director for the Center for Oil Sands Innovation at the University of Alberta, said that about two years ago, Alberta backed away from plans to use the petroleum coke as a fuel source, partly over concerns about greenhouse-gas emissions. Some of it is burned there, however, to power coking plants.

The Keystone XL pipeline will provide Gulf Coast refineries with a steady supply of diluted bitumen from the oil sands. The plants on the coast, like the coking refineries concentrated in California to deal with that state’s heavy crude oil, are positioned to ship the waste to China or Mexico, where it is burned as a fuel. California exports about 128,000 barrels of petroleum coke a day, mainly to China.

Tony McCallum, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, played down the impact of Keystone XL. “Most of the Canadian oil earmarked for the U.S. Gulf Coast is to replace declining heavy oil imports from Mexico and Venezuela that produces the same amount of petcoke, so it doesn’t create a new issue,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Much of the new coking investment has gone into refineries in the Midwest to allow them to take advantage of the oil sands. BP, the British energy company, is building what it describes as the second-largest coke refinery in Whiting, Ind. When completed, the unit will be able to process about 102,000 barrels of bitumen or other heavy oils a day.

And what about the leftover coke? The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer allow any new licenses permitting the burning of petroleum coke in the United States. But D. Mark Routt, a staff energy consultant at KBC Advanced Technologies in Houston, said that overseas companies saw it as a cheap alternative to low-grade coal. In China, it is used to generate electricity, adding to that country’s air-quality problems. There is also strong demand from India and Latin America for American petroleum coke, where it mainly fuels cement-making kilns.

“I’m not making a value statement, but it comes down to emission controls,” Mr. Routt said. “Other people don’t seem to have a problem, which is why it is going to Mexico, which is why it is going to China.”

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” he said.

One Man’s Junk Is Another Man’s Treasure…but no matter where they burn it eventually we all get to breathe it! And just one more reason to refuse to build the Keystone XL!