Capital Energy: Oil train secrecy; Carbon prices

June 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

By Scott Waldman and David Giambusso

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OIL TRAIN SECRECY: CSX has asked the state not to disclose to the public the routes of oil trains now moving through the state even though an emergency federal order requires them to do so. Railroad companies across the country are under an emergency federal order to inform local responders where they are transporting crude oil. CSX and other railroad companies are now asking states not to reveal oil train volumes and routing information to the general public. Washington state officials have refused a nondisclosure request from rail companies and Oregon officials have not decided whether or not they will comply. New York is “reviewing” the request for secrecy, said Peter Cutler, deputy commissioner of public affairs for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

– The Times Union weighs in on a plan to require oil transportation companies to have adequate insurance: “In the same way General Electric is being held responsible to clean up PCBs from the Hudson River, the railroads and terminal operators profiting from crude oil transport should be required to invest in upgrades to safeguard against accidents, as well as surety for when an accident happens. This is a cost of doing dangerous business.”


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RECORD CARBON PRICES: There were record high prices in the first auction of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative since tough new federal emissions standards on power plants were rolled out earlier this week. The clearing price for the June 4 RGGI auction was $5.02 per short-ton of carbon, up 25 percent from the last auction in March. The March clearing price of $4 was the previous high. The auction came just two days after the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced that states would have to cut emissions from existing power plants. So far, the RGGI has engendered support from the industry as well as environmental groups. RGGI states are on pace to reduce 2020 carbon emissions from power producers to levels about half that of 2005, said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Commissioner of the Maryland Public Service Commission and Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors.

RAIL DEATHS INCREASED: The U.S. State Department on Friday corrected several errors it made in a key study evaluating the impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, including an understatement of how many people could be killed on railroad tracks if the project were rejected and oil traffic by rail increased. The department said, however, these corrections had “no impact” on the integrity of the conclusions of the January report, which played down potential environmental consequences of TransCanada Corp’s Canada-to-Texas project. The Obama administration has not yet decided whether to approve the project. The January report determined that blocking the controversial pipeline could increase oil train traffic and lead to an additional 49 injuries and six deaths per year, mostly by using historical injury and fatality statistics for railways.


POST HITS CUOMO ON NUCLEAR, GAS: The New York Post editorial board looks at fault lines between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Obama’s carbon emissions:

“Any realistic substitute for nuclear energy would likely mean more air pollution.

Then there’s fracking, which is celebrated by the Obama administration as a safe, green source of energy that is helping America become more energy-independent. But not for Cuomo.”

OBAMA ON COAL: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman interviewed Obama about his new energy policy and found that burning through all of our fossil fuels is not the answer to fighting climate change. Friedman approaches the new carbon emission rules with skepticism and appreciation. However, he cautions, “one new ruling will not change the world — and we have to be careful that this one doesn’t replace our addiction to coal with an addiction to natural gas alone.”


NEW YORK ON TOP: No state has made more progress toward the newly announced Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon emissions goal, The Washington Post reports. The proposed EPA rules would require states to cut emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. As of 2011, the last year for which data from the Energy Information Administration are available, New York’s carbon emissions were 23.5 percent below its 2005 levels. (The EPA rules would require New York to reduce carbon levels by a total of 44 percent by 2030.)

Talk to us. If you have a story in the world of New York energy, we want to hear it. Email tips, scoops, ideas and complaints to swaldman@capitalnewyork.comand Follow us on Twitter at @Giambusso and @scottpwaldman.

KY ALREADY LOOKING POST-COAL: Beyond the campaign rhetoric, even here in Kentucky, which ranks No. 1 in the nation in carbon emissions per unit of electricity produced from all sources, others more quietly are saying that doom may not be at hand, Trip Gabriel reports for the New York Times. In drafting its regulation, the Environmental Protection Agency listened to energy-rich states like Kentucky and offered wide flexibility to meet its requirement, the most aggressive federal effort yet to address climate change. Despite cries of a “war on coal” that echo through mining country in eastern Kentucky, the region is already taking hardheaded steps toward a post-coal economy.

RIP SOLAR GENIUS: Peter Glaser, who in the late 1960s envisioned a way to harness limitless solar power in space and transmit it for use on Earth via invisible microwaves, died on May 29 at his home in Lexington, Mass., William Yardley writes in the New York Times. Solar was a notion so intriguing that the government spent $20 million studying it, only to conclude that it was too complex and expensive.

TIMES REVIEWS BRYCE BOOK: Fred Andrews reviews Robert Bryce’s book, “Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper,” in which the senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute argues that coal and oil will be around for a long time.

“Mr. Bryce’s policy prescriptions will be more welcome in Houston than in the White House. He contends that the pantheon of environmentalists like (Al) Gore, Bill McKibben, Amory Lovins and Greenpeace — he calls them ‘the catastrophists’ — are wildly optimistic, if not daft, in their extravagant hopes for wind power, solar cells and biofuels. He insists that his differences with them are not ideological but purely physics and economics: that their alternative possibilities are inherently too weak as fuels to scale them up to meet the world’s unceasing demand for more electricity.”

REID SHAPES FERC: The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder looks at Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s moves to shape the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “His efforts will be tested as soon as this week when the Senate’s energy committee votes on whether to confirm Norman Bay as FERC chairman and Cheryl LaFleur as a commissioner. Mr. Bay is a Reid-backed candidate. The senator blocked Ms. LaFleur from getting the top job, and he is blunt about his interest in shaping FERC.”

CRAIN’S CLEVELAND APPLAUDS EPA RULES: A week after Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a law halting a host of state energy mandates, Crain’s Cleveland writes that the new federal E.P.A. carbon reduction mandates will be a better replacement for the state programs.

“Having federal EPA regulations is better than Ohio having its own rules. Without such federal regulations, states are forced into a race to see who can cut their energy standards the most. With federal rules, Ohio won’t have to go it alone while other states use their own lack of regulations to compete with us.”

RENEWABLE SAVING MONEY: Federal researchers examined the 29 states where renewable portfolio standards have been in place for more than five years, Grist reports. They concluded that these standards, which require utilities to generate a certain percentage of power from clean sources, led to the development of 46,000 megawatts of renewable capacity up until 2012 — and that they raised electricity rates by an average of less than 2 percent.

OPEC TO ASK FOR RECORD AMOUNT OF SAUDI OIL: Diminished oil production in Iraq, Libya and Iran is putting pressure on Saudi Arabia to pump record amounts of oil to feed OPEC nations. Bloomberg’s Grant Smith reports. “Saudi Arabia may need to pump a record 11 million barrels a day by December to cover the other member nations, says Energy Aspects Ltd., a consulting firm. ‘Now it’s not whether the Saudis will make room, but whether they’ll keep it going and maintain enough spare capacity,’ said Jamie Webster, a Washington-based analyst at IHS Inc., an industry researcher. ‘OPEC is increasingly having a hard time just doing its job of bringing all the barrels needed.’”

– Today at 10:15 a.m. AARP holds press conference pushing a bill to create an independent utility consumer advocate, across from Syracuse State Office Building, 333 East Washington Street, Syracuse.

– Tonight at 6:30, the Urban Green Council awards their annual EBie awards to projects that have significantly improved energy efficiency in buildings. The award ceremony will be held at theThe Hard Rock Cafe LIVE Theatre 1501 Broadway at 43rd Street, NYC.



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