Archive for July, 2009

Snow-more fun: Obama to cut snowmobile use in park

July 27, 2009

The Obama administration has proposed to cut snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park by more than half (318 vs. 720 per day).

Carbon piracy: Will regulators allow Goldman Sachs to pillage the carbon market?

July 27, 2009

Does last week’s revelation that regulators granted Goldman Sachs special trading advantages over the public in the stock market indicate that Goldman will also get to freeboot in any carbon market created by cap-and trade?

An inquiring mind put that question to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Click here for the media release.

Antonia Senior: Better dead than green

July 27, 2009

From The Times (July 24):

… Our intransigent refusal to choose green will be met by a new militancy from those who believe we must be saved from ourselves. Ultra-green states cannot arise without some form of forced switch to autocracy; the dictatorship of the environmentalists.

The old two-cow analogy is a useful one. You have two cows. The communist steals both your cows, and may give you some milk, if you’re not bourgeois scum. The fascist lets you keep the cows but seizes the milk and sells it back to you. Today’s Green says you can keep the cows, but should choose to give them up as their methane-rich farts will unleash hell at some unspecified point in the future. You say, sod it, I’ll keep my cows thanks. Tomorrow’s green, the Bolshevik green, shoots the cows and makes you forage for nuts.

If the choice is between ecological meltdown, or a more immediate curtailment of our freedom, where do those of us who are neither red nor green, but a recalcitrant grey, turn? Back to those small desires, and a blinkered hope that the choice never becomes so stark. If it does, I’ll take my chances with Armageddon.

Electricity projected to skyrocket in Georgia under carbon law

July 27, 2009

“Unless [the Waxman-Markey] legislation is modified and revised, Georgians could see their electric utility bills go up by as much as $66/month by 2020,” Georgia Public Service Commission Chairman Doug Everett told Restructuring Today.

This would amount to about a 70% increase in average monthly residential electricity bills for Georgia Power customers, based on data from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority.

India rejects global warming junk science

July 24, 2009

From the Financial Times:

A split between rich and poor nations in the run-up to climate-change talks widened on Thursday.

India rejected key scientific findings on global warming, while the European Union called for more action by developing states on greenhouse gas emissions.

Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, accused the developed world of needlessly raising alarm over melting Himalayan glaciers.

He dismissed scientists’ predictions that Himalayan glaciers might disappear within 40 years as a result of global warming.

“We have to get out of the preconceived notion, which is based on western media, and invest our scientific research and other capacities to study Himalayan atmosphere,” he said.

I guess Hillary Clinton’s “Ugly American” routine set them off…

Carbon trading omen: Goldman Sachs’ legalized cheating

July 24, 2009

If Congress enacts carbon trading through a cap-and-trade scheme, look for Goldman Sachs to figure out how to game the market at our expense.

Today’s New York Times features a front-page, above-the-fold article about how Goldman Sachs and other trading firms are allowed a 30-millisecond peek at incoming stock market orders before the rest of the the public, allowing Goldman to buy or sell ahead of the incoming trades.

When I was an SEC lawyer, we called this “trading ahead” or “frontrunning” and it was illegal. But apparently, Goldman Sachs and some other traders with powerful computers have obtained special permission to engage in so-called “high-frequency trading” — which can only be considered a euphemism for frontrunning.

This is outrageous in so far as it gives Goldman and the other frontrunners an unfair advantage in the market — no wonder Goldman Sachs is set to have record profits this year.

So what’s this got to do with carbon trading?

Energy and Environment Daily reported today:

Diverging views about how to regulate trillion-dollar carbon trading markets that would grow under a cap-and-trade law have emerged as a major hurdle for Democrats trying to pass a climate bill this year.

Some prominent senators on energy issues say the House-passed climate bill would not prevent a repeat of alleged speculation or manipulation in oil markets in recent years…

The discussions about how to regulate carbon allowance and derivative markets are unfolding at a time when lawmakers want to show they are not enabling Wall Street banks to launch another complex financial trading system that could spin out of control.

“The last kind of headline that members of Congress will want is billions in bonuses for Wall Street because of the way they have manipulated the cap-and-trade market,” said Norm Ornstein, a congressional expert with the American Enterprise Institute. “That is not something they can tolerate.”

Add all this to the recent report by Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi that Goldman secretly received permission from the Commodity Future Trading Commission to take greater positions in the futures market than other traders — thereby helping to cause last year’s oil bubble and $4-gasoline — and you’ve got a recipe for ill-gotten profits from carbon trading for Goldman and disaster for the rest of us.

U.S. investors not sweating global warming

July 24, 2009

From Bloomberg:

…almost two-thirds of U.S. investors say climate change is a minor danger or “no real threat,” according to the first Quarterly Bloomberg Global Poll.

But European and Asian investors hold the opposite view:

In Europe and Asia, Bloomberg users are “more concerned about their governments taking too little action,” [pollster Ann Selzer] said. “In the U.S., the common response is fear government will take too much action.”

It just goes to show that Europeans and Asians learned nothing from the 20th century.

All hail Belchatow…

July 24, 2009

Below is a photo of Poland’s Belchatow power plant, the largest single carbon dioxide emitter in Europe — about 31 million metric tons annually.

Belchatow is driving European greens nuts as it plans to increase its generating capacity by 20% next year — even though this means buying more emission allowances. Belchatow also signals the failure of the European emissions trading scheme, the British green group Sandbag told ClimateWire.

So for being the largest emitter of life-giving CO2 in Europe and simultaneously helping to sabotage the Kyoto Protocol, let’s take a moment to venerate the aptly named Belchatow.

Poland's Belchatow power plant: Drives greens nuts

Poland's Belchatow power plant: Drives greens nuts

Tar sands emissions on par with U.S. crude oil

July 24, 2009

“Two independent studies have found direct emissions from producing, transporting and refining oil sands crude are in the same range as those of the other crudes refined in the United States,” reports the Alberta Energy Research Institute.

These are important studies as the greens are moving to block the import of oil produced from Canadian tar sands. The 2007 energy bill, for example, prohibited the U.S. government from purchasing oil from sources (read “Canadian tar sands”) where the greenhouse gas emissions are greater on a lifecycle basis.

Carbon capture legal/regulatory morass

July 24, 2009

Check out these new policy briefs from Carnegie-Mellon University that discuss the legal and regulatory hurdles ahead for carbon capture and storage.