Friday, June 30, 2006

House Passes Bill To Lift Ban On Offshore Oil Drilling

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation (H.R. 4761) on June 29, 2006 sponsored by Congressman Bobby Jindal that lifts a 25-year ban on oil and natural gas drilling off most of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico. The legislation passed by a vote of 232-187 and offers states billions of dollars in federal revenues if they allow drilling off their coasts.

President Bush opposes the legislation because he believes it would increase the national debt by diverting $70 billion from the federal treasury over the next 15 years. Although the White House supports the overall goal of the legislation, it opposes the revenue sharing outlined in the bill, which would apply to both new and existing leases.

The legislation specifically removes all leasing bans beyond 100 miles and permits leasing 50 to 100 miles offshore unless states protest. Each state would have the opportunity to opt out of drilling off their respective coasts. It bans all oil and gas drilling within 50 miles of state coasts unless states chose otherwise. Most states currently have jurisdiction that extends only about three miles from their coasts - Texas and the Gulf coast of Florida control more than nine miles.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Who Killed the Electric Car?

With little publicity and less fanfare, the documentary movie Who Killed the Electric Car opened on the same day as Superman. The Michael Moore-type of conspiracy doc blames big car and oil companies for sabotaging the marketing of EVs in America. They must have colluded with the Japanese too in preventing Americans from buying these cars. At least Environmental Defense, in their new report, lays some ot the blame on the purchasing practices of Americans. The average American likes everything BIG, from French fries and burgers to SUVs, homes and money. That's why we are FIRST world and a SUPERPOWER. Too bad it appears the electric vehicle could not keep up.

Environmental Defense Issues Carbon Dioxide Report

Our friends at Environmental Defense have issued a new report entitled, "Global Warming On The Road," that says:

1) Americans are 5 % of the world's pop but emits 45 % of its carbon dioxide
2) GM produced as much CO2 as AEP
3) Smaller cars produce more CO2 than SUVs because there are more of them
4) U.S. drivers average 11,000 miles per year, 29 % above the global average
5) U.S. cars emit 15 % more carbon dioxide per mile than the global average
6) In 2004 U.S. cars & light trucks emitted 314 metric tons of carbon dioxide

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

HBO's Real Sports Examines Air Pollution & Asthma


Although we are glad that Time Warner-owned HBO spent considerable air time on air pollution and asthma on Bryant Gumbel's Real Sports program, it appeared to be out to paint the Bush Administration as intentionally causing asthma in children. We do not think this characterization is fair. The show did a very good job of describing the EPA New Source Review (NSR) program. They even enlisted former EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman to state that weakening NSR was one of the reasons she left the agency. However, NSR was never effective and in its original form would never lead to anything but litigation. For that reason it is useless in reducing air pollution.

Unfortunately, the show did not delve too deeply into the cap and trade programs favored by the administration, which everyone agrees worked in the EPA Acid Rain Program to reduce sulfur dioxide from power plants. The program failed to mention that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is the best piece of clean air legislation enacted since the original Clean Air Act because it aggressively promotes emission free nuclear power, wind and hybrid vehicles. It did not mention the administration's aggressive support for hydrogen production for fuel cells. So although the show was quite informative, it was somewhat biased. Of course, Dan Rather and Bryant Gumbel are cut from the same political cloth.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bill & Melinda Gates and Nuclear Power

It is being proclaimed from AAEA, The New York Times, the New York Post, Nuclear Energy Institute, other environmentalists and the black community that nuclear power is about to take off (again). The Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided every protection needed to build the first six reactors. Multiple utilities have plans to submit applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). But no utility has submitted an application to the NRC because of concerns about the reaction of Wall Street. There is a cautioned reluctance about submitting that first application (second, third & 4th ones too) because Wall Street remembers the financial consequences of the delays that developed during the first phase of nuclear power plant construction and operation.

Kevin Book, VP with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co (FBR) recently gave a sobering statement in Senate testimony about the requirements of Wall Street to invest in nuclear power. He basically stated that nuclear is in competition with any of a number of other portfolio categories that investors might consider, depending strictly on the return. He made it clear that even under the best of circumstances, nuclear power will be a risky investment because of the new reactor technology being used and the possibility of delays (for whatever reason).

So maybe the Gates Foundation, in partnership with the utilities, should build the first six reactors or the second six. The long term return on investment is assured and the immediate nervousness about short term return on investment is solved. Climate change, smog, hydrogen production and electricity needs justify an accelerated schedule of building new nuclear power plants in the U.S. and around the world.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Mittal Steel Merges With Arcelor To Become Giant

India-born steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, right, has negotiated a merger between his company, Mittal Steel and Arecelor for $34 billion. The megamergers within utilities, oil and gas firms and the steel industry appear to be getting more painful to conclude. Arcelor fought the merger ruthlessly before relenting and now a son of India is running a steel giant from Luxembourg. The new company will be named Arcelor-Mittal. The new company will also have 320,000 employees, $70 billion in revenue and 100 million tons of annual capacity. Lakshmi Mittal is third richest man in the world behind Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and is the richest man residing in Britain.

Mittal Steel Company is the largest steel producer in the world and in the U.S. since it purchased Ohio-based International Steel Group (ISG) in mid-April. In addition to Mittal, foreigners now control 40 percent of U.S. Steel production. Mittal Steel is based in London with corporate headquarters in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Lakshmi Mittal and his son, Aditya, president of the company, have publicly announced plans to eliminate 45,000 steel jobs worldwide over the next five years in order to integrate ISG into their holdings.

Mittal Steel USA has steel producing sites in East Chicago and Burns Harbor, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; Weirton, West Virginia; Sparrows Point, Maryland; Steelton, Pennsylvania; Georgetown, South Carolina; and Riverdale, Illinois. The company also has finishing facilities in Hennepin, Illinois, Lackawanna, New York, Newton, North Carolina, and Columbus, Ohio.

Black-Owned Energy Company Drills For Oil & Gas

Black Enterprise magazine has named CAMAC, a multinational oil and gas exploration company led by CEO Kase Lawal, left, as its 2006 Company of the Year. This is the first black-owned company to significantly participate in the energy sector. CAMAC is the number two company on the BE 100 list with $1.5 billion in sales. CAMAC partners with Conoco and Chevron for big offshore projects. In 2005, CAMAC acquired a controlling interest in Unity National Bank, the only black-owned federally chartered bank in Texas.

Mr. Lawal is Nigerian born and raised. He received a B.A. in chemical engineering from Texas Southern University and an M.B.A. in finance and marketing from Prairie View A&M. He worked at Shell, Halliburton, Suncrest Investment Corp and Baker Investments before forming his own company. In June 1999, he was appointed by the city of Houston to serve as a commissioner on the Port of Houston Authority Board. He also serves on the board of directors of the Houston Airport System Development Corporation.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

NRC Approves New Uranium Enrichment Facility

The European consortium parent Urenco receieved a license on June 23, 2006 to build a $1.5 billion uranium enrichment plant near Eunice, New Mexico. The new plant will use centrifuge technology and is expected to begin operating in 2008. Urenco is owned by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd, the Dutch government, several German utilities and Louisiana Energy Services is the American subsidiary.

U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC) is the only other company in the U.S. enriching uranium. It has a gas diffusion plant in Paducah, Kentucky and is planning a new centrifuge facility in Portsmouth, Ohio. AAEA supported the New Mexico project and supports USEC's plans to build a new facility.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Jesse Jackson Leads Protest Against British Petroleum

Reverend Jesse Jackson, Rev Al Sharpton and other ministers have initiated a nationwide protest against British Petroleum (BP). In addition to objecting to the high prices charged for gasoline, Jackson et al., also cite discriminatory practices by the company: BP has 800 distributorships in the U.S., but not a single African American distributor. Fewer than 20 of its 13,000 retail stations in the United States are owned by blacks. Two members of the company's board of directors are black.

Jackson also notes in the Rainbow/Push press release that the oil industry made nearly $100 billion in profits in 2005. BP made windfall profits of $5.3 billion in the first quarter of this year. It does $16 billion in procurement but less than one-third of one percent with African American businesses. It has few African American senior executives. BP is being targeted, according to Jackson, because it has the largest share of the African American market, yet its pattern of discrimination amounts to a virtual lock out of African American businesses.

U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Initiative

Congress should approve the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Initiative (CNCI) before the 109th Congress adjourns. Vice President Dick Cheney is pushing for passage right now and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified in the House and Senate in support of this important program in April. AAEA supports the initiative and believes it complements the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).

The CNCI legislation amends the Atomic Energy Act of 1978 (AEA) to lift the U.S. prohibition against sharing civilian nuclear technology with nations that have nuclear weapons programs and are not subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. India tested its first nuclear bomb in 1974 and is still not a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The conditions that India would have to meet to get an AEA exemption include:
  1. A plan to segregate its civilian and military nuclear facilities
  2. Negotiatie a treaty limiting the production of fissile material
  3. Adopt IAEA safeguards
  4. Work to prevent proliferation
The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) would have to reach consensus to endorse the deal.

National Academy of Sciences Confirms Global Warming

According to a new National Academy of Sciences National Research Council report, "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years," there is sufficient evidence from tree rings, retreating glaciers, and other "proxies" to say with confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years. The 155-page report notes that average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th Century. The report was requested by Congress (House Science Committee) and was authored by climate scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Department of Interior Oil Shale Study

The Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has selected 6 applicants to participate in an oil shale research development and demonstration project (RD&D):
  1. Chevron Shale Oil Co
  2. EGL Resources, INc
  3. ExxonMobil Corp
  4. Oil-Tech, Inc
  5. Oil Shale Exploration LLC
  6. Shell Frontier Oil & Gas
The leases for the RD&D project are for 160 acres per project on public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. There are additional contiguous area options of 4,960 acres to be reserved for a preferential right to convert to a commercial lease after additional BLM review. All conversion processes involve heating the rock to produce oil. A regular environmental impact statement (EIS) is being prepared for the RD&D program and a programmatic EIS is being prepared to support development of commercial oil shale and tar sands leasing on public lands.

The U.S. holds an estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale deposited over an area of 16,000 square miles. This is enough oil to meet U.S. demand for 110 years at current our current level of use (20 million barrels every day). More than 70% of American oil shale is on federal land. The BLM manages more land than any other federal agency - - 261 million surface acres and 700 million sub-surface acres of mineral estate. Source: DOI/BLM

Senate Hearing On Current & New Nuclear Power Plants

The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety held an oversight hearing today to examine the regulatory processes for new and existing nuclear plants. The full NRC Commission presented testimony before the subcommittee. Subcommittee Chairman Voinovich and the other senators on the committee praised NRC Chairman Nils Diaz, left, on his 10 years of service on the commission and his three years as chairman. Chairman Diaz is retiring to Tampa, Florida. Senators expressed the hope that Mr. Diaz would continue to serve in some capacity, possibly as a consultant, because of his vast experience and knowledge. After all of the compliments and farewells the commission members were aggressively questioned about the status of the nuclear industry. Senators expressed concern about maintaining the safe operation of the current nuclear reactor fleet while the industry is pursuing renewed building. There was also much concern about NRC's in-house capability to manage up to 18 applications for new reactors.

It was a lively hearing, particularly when Senator Hillary Clinton questioned the commission on the status of dirty bomb materials monitoring. The commission has proposed transferring oversight to the states instead of establishing monitoring at the NRC. Senator Clinton was very concerned about this recommendation. Kevin Book, VP with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co (FBR) gave a sobering statement about the requirements of Wall Street to invest in nuclear power. He basically stated that nuclear is in competition with any of a number of other portfolio categories that investors might invest in, depending strictly on the return. He made it clear that even under the best of circumstances, nuclear power will be a risky investment because of the new reactor technology being used and the possibility of delays (for whatever reason).

There was a similar hearing on the House side earlier this week (See NEI Nuclear Notes)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Supreme Court Reasonable On Wetlands Decision

Although mainstream environmental groups will bemoan any hint of a retreat on wetlands protection, the Supreme Court put reasonableness back into the wetlands title of the Clean Water Act. It had gotten to the point where any temporary puddle was being used to stop environmentally benign development projects. Wetlands are a pollution sponge protecting out rivers, creeks and streams. We treasure wetlands and work as hard as any group to protect water quality. However, extremism hurts the legitimate protections provided by Section 404 of the 1972 Clean Water Act. We also treasure appropriate development and refuse to allow the wetlands statute to be misused to promote a BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) agenda. AAEA presented testimony before the Maryland Department of the Environment that illustrated such potential abuse of intermittent nontidal streams and intermittent nontidal wetlands provisions for the $2 billion National Harbor Project in Maryland.


In a 5-4 split decision, the Supreme Court ruled on June 19, 2006 that federal protection under a proper interpretation of the Clean Water Act requires that a wetland needs to have a "significant nexus" to a body of water that is actually navigable. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, noted that "any specific case was largely a technical and scientific judgment on which courts should defer to the federal regulators." Justice Scalia, writing for the minority partially concurred, stating that the Army Corps of Engineers "stretched its authority under the Clean Water Act "beyond parody" by regulating land that contained nothing but storm sewers, drainage ditches and dryarroyos in the middle of the desert...the agency had trampled on state authority by exercising a scope of discretion that would befit a local zoning board. The only wetlands properly subject to federal jurisdiction are those with a continuous surface connection to actual waterways, so that there is no clear demarcation between 'waters' and wetlands...those that are relatively permanent, standing or flowing." The decision also sends the cases back to an appeals court.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

New York Post Endorses Nuclear Power

The New York Post announced its support for nuclear power in an editorial today. Incredible. First The New York Times and now the New York Post. And the NYP even went further than the NYT by also endorsing Indian Point nuclear power plant. Now in New York that is showing guts. Awesome. When will The Washington Post see the light and get on board? The train is leaving the station and the main newspaper for the nation's capital does not have a ticket. Maybe The Washington Afro American newspaper will show them the way.


AAEA President Norris McDonald at Indian Point Unit 2.

MD Gov Ehrlich Holds Rate Hearing: AAEA Testifies

AAEA President Norris McDonald asked Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, right, to veto the Maryland Assembly-passed rate bill (SB 1). Governor Ehrlich chaired the hearing to hear from stakeholders concerned about the assembly's plan to address a 72% rate increase proposed by Constellation subsidiary Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E). The AAEA Statement included numerous reasons to veto the bill, including: Firing the PSC was a regulatory coup d'etat, SB1 could hurt air pollution control investment decisions, does not address stimulating real competition for electricity services, and it could hurt investment decisions related to new emission free electricity generating plants, among others.

Governor Ehrlich interrupted McDonald at the beginning of his statement to inform him that he read the AAEA statement on the AES LNG proposal for Dundalk. McDonald concluded by telling the governor that he was engaged in political poker and that the governor knew when to hold them and when to fold them. He asked the governor to fold SB 1 and veto the flawed plan.

AAEA Quote in Baltimore Sun

Anti Nukes Release Book On Nuke Power

The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) released a book at a press conference today at the National Press Club entitled: "Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change." The book was written by Brice Smith, Project Scientist at IEER. He and long-time nuclear power opponent and IEER President Arjun Makhijani, left, held the press conference to refute nuclear power as a solution to climate change. AAEA disagrees with their position and questioned Makhijani and Smith during the Q&A. Makhijani even called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) program an "apartheid nuclear arrangement."

Mr. Smith provided us with a complimentary copy of the book and we will review it soon. Their reliance on wind energy as a replacement for nuclear power is the weakest of their arguments. One reporter questioned how many windmills it would take to back out their estimate of 2,500 nuclear plants needed by 2050 and the number was astronomical. It is also unacceptable to single out nuclear power for opposition while accepting all other forms of electricty generation. The world needs a mix of energy sources, particularly nuclear power, to meet current and future electricity needs.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Juneteenth: African American Emancipation Day

TODAY IS JUNETEENTH. President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 was the the greatest event of the nineteenth century. The joyous news of freedom did not reach Galveston, Texas, until two and a half years after emancipation when Major General Gordon Granger arrived and announced that the Civil War was over and all slaves were free. Ever since, Americans have marked June 19th with special celebrations and traditions commemorating this historic moment.

Yeah? Well what about restitution for hundreds of years of free labor? The African American community is now as American as apple pie, but we are centuries behind in terms of wealth and land distribution. The federal government gave away millions of acres of land to individuals and companies and money for the development of this nation. Blacks were excluded from this largesse. And now we are expected to compete on an equal basis? WHAT? Forty acres and a mule (preferably on oil, gas, coal or uranium lands) will do just fine. We just want what was freely given to others.

Friday, June 16, 2006

President Bush Creates Largest Conservation Area

President Bush signed a proclamation on June 15, 2006 to designate waters in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument. The Northwestern Islands Marine National Monument is now the largest single conservation area in the history of our country, the largest protected marine area in the world and will receive America’s highest form of marine environmental protection.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are 10 beautiful islands and atolls that stretch over 1,400 miles - - the distance from Chicago to Miami. In the tropical waters surrounding the archipelago, there are more than 4,500 square miles of coral reef habitat thriving under the surface. These undersea forests and mountain ranges comprise the largest remote reef system in the world. And this region holds the largest and healthiest untouched coral reef system in the United States. The total national monument covers nearly 140,000 square miles. This national monument is more than 100 times larger than Yosemite National Park, larger than 46 of our 50 states, and more than seven times larger than all our national marine sanctuaries combined

These reefs burst with life: Great predators, like the white tip reef shark and the spinner dolphins and the Trevally jacks. The archipelago is home to more than 7,000 marine species. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are also the primary home for nearly 1,400 surviving Hawaiian Monk Seals. They are the breeding grounds for approximately 90 percent of the threatened Hawaiian Island Green Sea Turtle population.

The action preserves access for native Hawaiian cultural activities, prohibits unauthorized passage of ships; prohibits unauthorized recreational or commercial activity; prohibits any resource extraction or dumping of waste, and over a five-year period, phases out commercial fishing. (Source: President Bush speech)

FERC Approves New Liquefied Natural Gas Import Facilities

FERC approved 3 new LNG facilites:

  1. Creole Trail LNG & Creole Trail pipeline, Cameron Parish, Louisiana. The terminal would include four LNG storage tanks that would have the capability to store up to 640,000 cubic meters (or 13 bcf) of natural gas and have a send-out capability of an average of 3.3 bcf per day. The Commission authorized Cheniere’s Creole Trail Pipeline to construct and operate 116.8 miles of dual 42-inch diameter pipeline from the outlet of Creole
  2. Port Arthur LNG and Port Arthur pipeline – construct and operate a new terminal and related facilities near Port Arthur, Texas The facilities include six LNG storage tanks with a capacity of 160,000 cubic meters each and a new 70-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline from the LNG terminal to an interstate interconnection with Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Company in Beauregard Parish, LA.
  3. Crown Landing LNG project – Crown Landing LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of BP America Production Company, will construct and operate a new onshore LNG import terminal in Logan Township, New Jersey. The proposed terminal would store up to 450,000 cubic meters of LNG equivalent to 9.2 bcf of gas.
FERC also authorized expansions at two previously authorized LNG facilities:

  1. Sabine Pass LNG – Cameron Parish, Louisiana - includes three additional 160,000 cubic meter storage tanks and related facilities that would provide an average send-out capacity ranging from 2.6 bcf/d to 4 bcf/d.
  2. Dominion Cove Point LNG – increase import capacity at its Cove Point facility in Lusby, Maryland in Calvert County on the Chesapeake Bay, south of Baltimore, from 1 million dekatherms per day from 1.8 MMDT/day. Dominion will build two 160,000 cubic meter storage tanks, increasing storage capacity at the terminal from 7.8 billion cubic feet to approximately 14.6 bcf. A 36-inch diameter, 47.8-mile pipeline in Maryland will deliver the additional natural gas to interstate pipeline connections in Virginia. Dominion has signed an agreement with a subsidiary of Statoil ASA, a global gas and oil company, for 100 percent of the new station capacity for the next 20 years. Qatar is providing gas to the Cove Point facility.

AAEA LNG Page

FERC Rejects Washington Gas Complaint Against Dominion

In addition to approving Dominion's expansion FERC also addressed gas quality and interchangeability issues involving Cove Point LNG and Washington Gas Light Company (WGL). Washington Gas accused Dominion's imported gas of being the culprit responsible for significant gas leaks in Prince George's County. The leaks led to a house explosion in District Heights, MD in 2005. Washington Gas claimed the chemical makeup of the imported gas caused the rubber seals in underground pipe fittings to shrink and leak. FERC rejected that contention.

FERC found that WGL used hot tar on pipeline couplings, resulting in corrosion and gas leaks. FERC believes WGL’s use of hot tar as a method of corrosion protection was a significant contributing factor that resulted in an increase in leak rates through Prince George’s County, MD. The FERC ruling stated: “We find the application of hot tar and the increase in operating pressures on WGL’s distribution system were the principal causative factors of the leaks experienced in Prince George’s County, MD since the reactivation of the Cove Point LNG Terminal.”

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Supreme Court To Address Utility Pollution & Climate Change

The climate change case involves forcing EPA to regulate carbon dioxide when they do not want to promulgate such regulations on cars and trucks. It is a backdoor Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard because there is no device, like the catalytic converter for other gases, that you can use to scrub carbon dioxide. When you burn anything you get carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Humans emit it as part of the respiration process. And CAFE is regulated by the Department of Transportation, not EPA (which sets mpg ratings). In short, the only way to reduce carbon doxide is to make the cars run more efficiently. Congress refuses to raise CAFE beyond the current 27.5 mpg standard.

Even if the court takes the case and rules that EPA will have to regulate greenhouse gases, it would not include power plants, homes and factories. Of course, mainstream environmental groups will take an ineffective backdoor partial vehicle standard over nothing at all. However, a real solution will come from legislation such as McCain/Lieberman, aggressive support for new nuclear power plants and plug-in fuel cell-pwered hybrid electric vehicles. President Bush has taken care of the nuclear side of that equation. We will have to wait and see if Wall Street will support his program. We will probably need a Rupert Murdoch or a Bill Gates type to revolutionize our vehicle products. Regardless, if China and India do not play ball, there will not be a ball game. (Wash Post Editorial)

The utility case involves a lawsuit by Environmental Defense, DC, Maryland and 13 states against Duke Energy on the antiquated and ineffective New Source Review (NSR) program. NSR will not reduce air pollution because utilties will not conform to this 'command & control' burden. It is an excellent vehicle for endless litigation though. (Wash Post article)

Rudy Giuliani Gives Major Energy Speech In New York

We like former Mayor Rudy Giuliani at AAEA because he gets the energy issue and promotes practical solutions for solving our energy problems in New York and America. His speech at the Manhattan Institute this week was phenomenal. He talked about our need to use nuclear power and liquefied natural gas in addition to promoting conservation and efficiency. We also appreciate that Mr. Giuliani has reached out to AAEA and our president shared his opinion with the former mayor after the speech.

He is also big on hybrid cars. Of course some New York press reporters tried to ridicule Mr. Giuliani for having an SUV waiting for him outside after the speech. What they did not report is that he walked to his next destination instead of taking the SUV. Regardless, he has an entourage with gear and ridesharing with staff in a larger vehicle is more practical in such situations. And we didn't notice whether it was a hybrid SUV. (NY Times article)

DC Metro vs New York Subway: Energy Perspective

New York subway cars look and sound much heavier than DC subway cars. The DC cars use lightweight plastics and aluminum, whereas the New York cars appear to use little plastic and heavy aluminum. The wheels and wheel supports in the NY subway cars are heavy duty steel, whereas the same structures are lightweight in the DC cars.

The New York trains probably use significantly more electricity per car than the DC trains. Although both cities are in precarious electricity generation situations, New York's is a bit more problematic - - NY does not have a powerplant licensing law because it expired and the state legislature has been unable to draft and approve a new law. DC subway cars actually have carpet. Of course, DC also shuts down at midnight and people are kicked out of the subway at that early hour. New York never sleeps and the subway is almost always available.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

DC Rock Creek Park vs New York Central Park

Rock Creek Park has a Rock Creek. Central Park has The Lake. Rock Creek Park is densely forested. Central Park is lightly forested. Central Park has ice skating. Rock Creek Park has a golf course. Central Park is near Harlem. Rock Creek Park is near the Gold Coast. Rock Creek Park has a tennis stadium. Central Park has a fuel cell electricity generator at its police station. Rock Creek Park has a horse center and a boat center. Central Park has ponds. Rock Creek Park has the Carter Barron Amphitheater. Central Park has Fifth Avenue.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ehrlich Right O'Malley Wrong On Electricity Rates

Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich had the best plan for the unavoidable BG&E rate hike: spread the pain out over time. Baltimore Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Martin O'Malley sued and a judge has sent all parties back to the negotiating table. Now Governor Ehrlich has called a special session of the Maryland Legislature to give it another try. We can't remember the last time there was such a special session. They will ultimately come up with the same plan Governor Ehrlich already devised but it is an election year, so grandstanding will be plentiful.

Energy price increases are like kryptonite to policians and renders them vulnerable to being blamed by the voters for the hikes. Of course, ratepayers have to pay their electricity bills so why not blame some politicians. Politicians put BG&E in this predicament a decade ago by designing a flawed deregulation plan that included a provision to freeze the rates for about a decade. THAT ISN'T DEREGULATION. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. And BG&E's parent, Constellation, is having trouble with its proposed merger with Florida Power and Light because of the confusion over the rate increase. Some legislators even wanted to hold the merger hostage to the rate increase issue. Maryland ratepayers are left to pay a 72% increase now or agree to three smaller payment increases over about two years. This was Governor Ehrlich's plan and he got it right. But his success could not be allowed to stand during an election year.

New York Subterranean Subway Fauna

While waiting for the # 2 train recently we observed a rat scurrying along the train well looking for food. It was raining that day so there was plenty of water in the well. Although the scene was very peaceful, with a Chinese man playing an erhu (right) in the background, the question we are faced with is: Are rats good or bad in the New York subway system (Washington, DC Metro does not have this problem)?

Clearly they eliminate the food thrown away by daily riders. This probably keeps the airborne bacteria levels in check. Humans are not in direct contact with the rodents in the well, except for maintenance workers, but unlike DC's subway, the Big Apple operates around the clock. So are rats a nuisance and a threat or a backup clean up crew assisting with daily disposal? You decide. Regardless, there was something mystical about the rat and the erhu at this moment in time on this particular evening.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Liquefied Natural Gas: Sparrows Point and Chillum

AAEA recently presented testimony to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) at a hearing in Dundalk, Maryland on an AES Corporation plan to build a huge liquefied natural gas (LNG) import facility at the old Bethlehem Steel site (now Mittal Steel) on the Patapsco River. Approximately 300 people turned out for the hearing and Governor Robert Ehrlich surprised the crowd with a statement on the project. Virtually all of the politicians, communities, activists and environmenalists oppose the proposed facility.

We pointed out at the hearing that blacks do not own the oil, gas, coal, electricity, gas pipelines, electricity transmission lines, refineries, tankers, oil fields, outer continental shelf drilling platforms, power plants, or oil, gas and utility companies that distribute energy in the United States. Blacks do not even own one tanker. AAEA does not currently have a position but noted at the hearing that these facilities tend to be built regardless of the wall of opposition. We suggested that FERC, AES and the community analyze the effects of minority ownership of the proposed 87-mile pipeline (part of the AES plan) and other concessions.

AAEA is also a Party of Record in the Washington Gas proposal that was before the Zoning Hearing Examiner in Prince George's County, Maryland to build a 12 million gallon peak shaver LNG storage facility. Just as the AES proposal is near a black community (Turner's Station), the proposed Washington Gas facility is in the middle of a black community in Chillum, Maryland. AAEA does not have a position on this project but has suggested minority ownership of the facility and other concessions if it is going to be built. The full County Council recently banned fuel storage at this location and Washington Gas will probably litigate in a futile effort to get approval for the project. All stakeholders should be satisfied with decisions on these energy infrastructure proposals.

Environmental Effects Of Slave Indoctrination Still Here

EXCERPTS OF 1772 LETTER FROM PLANTATION OWNER WILLIAM LYNCH TO COLLEAGUES: I caught the whiff of a dead slave hanging from a tree a couple of miles back. You are losing valuable stock by hangings, you are having uprisings, slaves are running away, your crops are sometimes left in the fields too long for maximum profit, you suffer occasional fires, your animals are killed. Gentleman I am here to introduce you to a method of solving them.

I guarantee everyone of you that if installed it will control the slaves for at least three hundred years. I use FEAR, DISTRUST, and ENVY for control purposes. These methods have worked on my modest plantation and it will work throughout the SOUTH. I shall assure you that DISTRUST IS STRONGER THAN TRUST, AND ENVY IS STRONGER THAN ADULATION, RESPECT OR ADMIRATION. The black slave, after receiving this indoctrination, shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands.

Don't forget you must pitch the old black VS. the young black males, and the young black male against the old black male. You must use the dark skinned slaves VS. the light skin slaves. You must use the female VS the male, and the male VS, the female. You must always have your black servants and OVERSEERS distrust all blacks, but it is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us. Gentlemen, these kits are your keys to control, use them. Never miss an opportunity. My plan is guaranteed, and the good thing about this plan is that if used intensely for one year the slave will remain perpetually distrustful.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Mirant Is On The Move

In 2003 Atlanta-based Mirant Corporation was bogged down in bankruptcy and now, after emerging from bankruptcy in January, they are making aggressive moves to steady their corporate ship. It was recently reported that Mirant made an unsolicited bid to buy Princeton NJ-based NRG Energy for $7.8 billion. NRG Energy has 19 ,000 megawatts in North America and Mirant has 14, 000 megawatts of capacity. Combined that is enough electricity for 33 million homes. It is being reported that J.P. Morgan would provide Mirant with $11.5 billion in financing for the NRG Energy purchase. Mirant still carries $2.8 billion in debt.

Today it was reported that Mirant has agreed to pay PEPCO $520 million in cash and stock to settle litigation over their power selling contract. During deregulation PEPCO sold Mirant four of its six power plants for $2.75 billion. Because rates were frozen for years under a flawed deregulation program, Mirant evidently could not make enough money to remain solvent and PEPCO refused to pay more for power. Mirant also tried to get an adjustment as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. Evidently this payment somehow rectifies the complex situation. The $520 million will go into a fund for PEPCO to buy power from another generator. It appears that maybe this agreement frees Mirant to cost-effectively sell its power to another purchaser at a higher price.

Update: Mirant has sued NRG Energy claiming they unfairly rejected the takeover bid. Mirant wants a Delaware court to order NRG to not obstruct the acquisition. NRG is claiming that Mriant's proposal undervalues NRG. Ah the joys of corporate courtships and mergers.

Update: Mirant has withdrawn its offer to buy NRG and has dropped the lawsuit.

Post Reporter D'Vera Cohn Takes Early Retirement

Hopefully The Washsington Post will replace her with a fair and balanced environmental reporter.

New Interior Secretary Starts Job

Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne, right, started working at one of the most powerful Executive Branch agencies this week. The Department of Interior has its own police and helicopter forces. We expect great accomplishments from Secretary Kempthorne. We look forward to an opportunity to share our thoughts about how certain public lands might be used to address issues from America's past

Governor Dirk Kempthorne, 54, was first elected as Idaho's 30th governor in 1998 following a successful six-year term in the U.S. Senate. He was reelected as Idaho's Governor in 2002. Governor Kempthorne and his wife Patricia are both University of Idaho graduates and have two grown children, Heather and Jeff.