Lead Stories

A Carbon Tax to Rule Them All
Brendon Steele – TriplePundit
Here’s the beginning of a joke: Citizens Climate Lobby, ExxonMobil, climate scientist James Hansen, and a conservative Heartland Institute spin-off walk into a bar. No, a bar fight doesn’t erupt. Instead, what do they agree on when they walk out?
Not many realize, but they already agree on a carbon tax shift.
Put simply, a tax shift means to cut one tax and replace it with another—such as to cut income and/or payroll taxes, and put a carbon price in their place. This is called a “tax swap” or “revenue neutrality.”

‘Faster reform’ could see EU carbon soar
Reuters (via Climate Spectator)
Reforming the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS) before 2021 could add almost 40 per cent to average European carbon prices, Thomson Reuters Point Carbon analysts said on Friday.
Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks wants the so-called market stability reserve reform to start as soon as 2016, five years earlier than the European Commission has proposed, a spokesman for her ministry confirmed on Friday.

Gas sector battles coal power over carbon price floor
Will Nichols – BusinessGreen
Three of the largest independent gas power suppliers have warned the UK could face blackouts if the Chancellor freezes the government’s main carbon tax in next week’s Budget.
InterGen, Vitol and Macquarie have written to George Osborne asking him to reconsider the move, which has been strongly hinted at by ministers who believe that cancelling planned increases to the levy will help curb energy costs for households and energy intensive industries.

Germany’s aggressive push for a clean-energy future
David J. Unger – The Christian Science Monitor
Germany has a bold plan for a clean-energy future. A majority of the public is on board even though they’re paying a steep price – but industry is balking. 

100% Renewable Energy Is Feasible and Affordable, According to Stanford Proposal
Cameron Scott – SingularityHUB
Stanford University researchers led by civil engineer Mark Jacobson have developed detailed plans for each state in the union that to move to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050 using only technology that’s already available. The plan, presented recently at the AAAS conference in Chicago, also forms the basis for The Solutions Project nonprofit.
“The conclusion is that it’s technically and economically feasible,” Jacobson told Singularity Hub.

Chaori to Sell Solar Farms to Repay Bondholders After Default
Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co., the first Chinese company to default on corporate bonds onshore, plans to sell assets outside the country to raise cash and repay noteholders.

Cheap batteries will revolutionise the renewable energy market
Chris Huhne – The Guardian
News this week, from opposite ends of the planet, that points to the convulsion of change about to hit the global economy. The first report came from Palo Alto, California, headquarters of the Tesla electric car company. Tesla’s car produces no carbon emissions (so long as the electricity that charges its batteries is also low carbon). Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, announced it would invest in a $4bn-$5bn “gigafactory” doubling the world’s production of lithium-ion batteries. These power your mobile phone, but also Tesla’s high-end luxury electric cars. The objective is to cut battery prices by 30% in three years, and to halve them by 2020.

28 Senators Will Stay Up All Night Monday To Talk About Climate Change
Kate Sheppard – Huffington Post
A group of 28 senators will take over the Senate floor on Monday evening for an all-night talk-a-thon on climate change.
The senators plan to start their climate-fest on Monday, March 10, after the last votes, and continue until around 9 a.m. on Tuesday. The senators are part of the Climate Action Task Force, which was launched in January.
**JB: Political theater at its most boring mainly because it will not serve any useful purpose except to grab headlines for those senators.


“Estimating the Costs and Benefits of Regulations: Lessons Learned”
Richard D. Morgenstern, Ph.D. Resources for the Future (RFF)
March 14, 2014
12:00 Noon, PDT (WEBCAST) Byron Sher Auditorium, 2nd Floor, Cal/EPA Building 1001 I Street, Sacramento, California

Navigating the American Carbon World (NACW) 2014
March 26-28, 2014
San Francisco, California

GLOBE 2014
13th Biennial Conference and Trade Fair on Business and Sustainability
March 26-28, 2014
Vancouver, British Columbia


Why It Makes Sense For Norway To Sell Its Fossil Fuel Shares
Mike Scott – Forbes
The Norwegian government’s sovereign wealth fund, which owns part of almost every listed company in the world, is considering selling out of its investments in carbon-intensive firms.
Given that the $840 billion fund, the world’s largest, invests the proceeds from the country’s oil and gas industry, this would be a stunning move. But the Norwegian Government Pension Fund does not have to look far for sound business reasons to take this step.

US cap-and-trade system back on track to cut carbon emissions
Jeff Spross – REnewEconomy
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative had its first auction this week since lowering its cap — and the results suggest the system is once again effectively reducing carbon emissions.
Encompassing nine states in the northeast, RGGI is a cap-and-trade system that started operating in 2008. It sets an overall cap on the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted by the participating states. Then it breaks that amount into permits — each allowing for one ton of emissions in a given year — and auctions them off to the firms subject to the system.

Swiss Seek Precision as Nations Shape Carbon Market
Mathew Carr – Bloomberg
Nations setting up carbon markets must standardize their emission-reduction benchmarks to ensure international efforts to limit global warming stay on track, according to Switzerland’s climate envoy.

Carbon tax cuts Australian corporate emissions as climate debate rages
Will Nichols – BusinessGreen
Emissions from the largest Australian companies fell seven per cent on average in the first year of the country’s controversial carbon tax, according to the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC).
The group, which represents Australian and New Zealand investors with over $1tr in funds under management, said the dip followed the introduction of a A$23 (£12.50) charge per tonne of CO2 for the country’s 350 largest emitters at the beginning of July 2012.

Chinese carbon firms ahead of emissions deadline
Reuters (via Climate Spectator)
China’s carbon prices surged this week as demand firmed ahead of an upcoming deadline to report 2013 emissions data, indicating the markets may be less over-allocated than feared.
Spot permits in four of China’s regional pilot emissions trading schemes rose between 5 and 12 per cent this week, although market participants cautioned against reading too much into the numbers as liquidity remained low.

Advantages Of A Global Strategy For Carbon Emissions Reduction
Eric Austermann – Clean Technica
Carbon emissions reduction is among the top objectives for corporate environmental management programs. Not only is the environmental impact of greenhouse gases familiar and visible to the public, it carries a high potential for future regulation. In addition, lowering carbon emissions often goes hand-in-hand with energy cost-cutting, which can provide a critical business advantage.

A partnership for cutting carbon – and saving fuel
Sean Kilcarr – FleetOwner
Many folks in the industry might consider any talk of “cutting carbon emissions” to be “dirty words,” especially when mentioned in conjunction with trucking operations.
However, Mike Roeth (seen below at right) – executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) – is trying to change that perspective, in no small measure because his group’s new partnership with the “Carbon War Room” (CWR), a global nonprofit organization established by Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virginia Atlantic Records and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Natural Gas/Coal

First Charges Filed in $30 Billion Coal Scandal
Nida Najar – The New York Times
India’s central investigating agency on Monday filed its first formal charges in a $30 billion coal mining scandal in which the government allotted the rights to develop coal blocks to private companies at negotiated prices rather than in an auction.

Natural Gas Stocks Are Poised to Explode
Ciaran Thornton – The Street
Natural gas prices were already on a steady upward move before the latest price catalyst appeared in the form of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia’s threats regarding curtailing natural gas flow to Europe put an even bigger emphasis on U.S. production. The U.S. doesn’t export its natural gas but starting in 2015 permits issued by the Dept. of Energy will allow American companies to begin to exporting the valuable commodity.

Polar Vortex Emboldens Industry to Push Old Coal Plants
Mark Chediak and Harry R. Weber – Bloomberg
The polar vortex may give new life to aging coal and nuclear power plants in the U.S.
Masses of arctic air rolling down from the North Pole have driven electricity prices to more than 10 times last year’s average in many parts of the country and have threatened some cities with winter blackouts. They’ve also emboldened energy companies to call for extending the lives of older and dirtier coal plants, as well as aging nuclear reactors.
***JB: All the more reason to invest in new sources of power as well as newer, cleaner power plants.

Goldman Analysts Cut Coal-Price Outlook
Shares of Alpha Natural Resources Inc., the largest U.S. producer of coal used to make steel, slumped the most in more than two years on Friday after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its rating to sell and lowered price estimates for the commodity.

Record fine proposed for coal mining operations
The Obama administration is proposing a record fine for thousands of water pollution violations by coal mine operators in five Appalachian states.
Alpha Natural Resources Inc., the nation’s third-largest coal supplier, with mines in Wyoming, will pay a $27.5 million fine and spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges from 79 mines and 25 coal processing facilities in West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky.

Long Term, Is Natural Gas Better Than Oil?
Robert Zimmerman – The Motley Fool
The chart below from the Energy Information Administration shows current projections for U.S. energy production. Notice that crude oil production is slated to peak by around 2020 and then slowly decline. In contrast, natural gas is expected to keep climbing through 2040.
JB: How many times have people claimed peak oil is just around the corner?

China to change coal tax to price basis this year: Tax chief
The Economic Times
China will push forward this year with a plan to change the assessment of its resource tax on coal to a price basis instead of by volume, the country’s tax bureau chief said on Monday.
Reform of the resource tax has long been on the agenda and is aimed at encouraging more efficient use of coal, which has been blamed for the country’s air pollution problems.

CIL officers’ strike may impact production by 4 mn tonne
Business Standard
 The proposed three-day strike by Coal India’s executives from March 13 is expected to impact production and dispatches by 4 million tonnes of coal at a time when the miner is facing a shortfall in excess of 17 million tonne from its target for 2013-14.

Grainspotting: Farmers get desperate as coal and oil take over the rails
Eve Andrews – Grist
The U.S. agriculture and energy sectors might be facing a Jets and Sharks situation: Our railroad system just ain’t big enough for the two of them! Unfortunately, this scenario is unlikely to involve a highly choreographed mambo dance-off, not that we wouldn’t love to see Rex Tillerson’s moves. He’d make a great Bernardo.


The Red Faces of the Solar Skeptics
Nancy Folbre – The New York Times
If the faces of renewable energy critics are not red yet, they soon will be. For years, these critics — of solar photovoltaics in particular — have called renewable energy a boutique fantasy. A recent Wall Street Journal blog post continues the trend, asserting that solar subsidies take money from the poor to benefit the rich.
But solar-generated electricity is turning into a powerful environmental and economic success story.

Sun setting on European solar
Max Hall – PV Magazine
The rapidly waning influence of European markets on the global solar industry has been illustrated by the latest figures produced by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA).
At the organization’s ninth market workshop in Brussels on Thursday, the EPIA revealed Europe’s share of the world’s newly installed solar capacity last year was just 28%, down from 59% in 2012, as the continent was overtaken by Asia as the world’s leading region for solar.

How Many Studies Will It Take Before People Believe Wind Farms Don’t Harm Property Values?
Nine major and statistically reliable studies covering roughly 270,000 property transactions by different respected and independent organizations in three different countries spread over fifteen years have found no correlation between operating wind turbines and negative property values (in fact, three found slight but statistically insignificant impacts). Another low reliability study — due to small available sample size — in Australia found no impacts as well.
**JB: For some there will never be enough.  They are opposed to wind power for a variety of reasons and will never be swayed.

NY awards $28.6 million for solar projects; includes 29 large-scale electric power projects
The Associated Press (via The Republic)
The state’s NY-Sun initiative has awarded $28.6 million to 37 projects across the state, including 29 photovoltaic projects that will add 33.6 megawatts of solar power generation capacity.

GE Introduces Smart, Powerful 2.75-120 Wind Turbine
Press Release (via The Wall Street Journal)
Today at the European Wind Energy Association’s annual conference, GE (NYSE:GE) announced its 2.75-120 wind turbine, a smarter, more powerful turbine. Part of GE’s brilliant wind platform, the 2.75-120 provides 5 percent more annual energy production than GE’s 2.5-120 model and is available with various tower technologies, ranging between 85-139 meters, and optional energy storage.

New Solar Technology Poses a Threat
Joshua Bondy – The Motley Fool
The upstart Semprius is testing innovative solar panels with module efficiencies up to 35.5%, 1.65 times SunPower’s (NASDAQ: SPWR  ) 21.5% efficient X-Series panels.

Making it easier to plan offshore wind farms
Camilla Aadland – Phys.org
When planning an offshore wind farm, it is important to consider the wind, waves and the seabed at the location where the turbines will stand. Researchers have now developed a dedicated tool that gives a combined overview of all the challenges that need to be considered by developers.

Japan to restart safe nuclear power plants: PM
TOKYO, March 10 (Xinhua) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said here Monday that the country will restart nuclear power plants whose safety are confirmed by nuclear regulators.

Activated Carbon Processing Facility & Biomass Power PlantIn Hawaii Hit The Auction Block   
Press Release (via PRNewswire)
By order of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Tiger Group’s Remarketing Services Division and Aaron Equipment Company Inc. are liquidating an activated carbon processing facility and a biomass power plant formerly owned by Big Island Carbon LLC and its affiliates. Located in Kawaihae on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii, 35 miles north of Kailua-Kona, the assets are being marketed in a sealed bid offering that closes at 5:00 p.m. (PT) on April 4. The sale is being conducted under the direction of bankruptcy trustee Charles A. Stanziale of McCarter & English, LLP.

Study Boosts Hopes for Solar Fuels
Laboratory Equipment
There’s promising news from the front on efforts to produce fuels through artificial photosynthesis. A new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) shows that nearly 90 percent of the electrons generated by a hybrid material designed to store solar energy in hydrogen are being stored in the target hydrogen molecules.


Americans have no idea how much water they’re using
Kate Shaw Yoshida – Ars Technica
How much water goes swirling down the drain when you flush a toilet? How many gallons does it take to fill a hot tub? Most of us, it turns out, have no idea. A new study in PNAS finds that Americans have some major blind spots when it comes how we use water and how we can best conserve it.
**JB: Chicago may be cold and wet and windy a lot of the time but at least water shortages are not a problem with the Great Lakes at your front door.

Water fight pits farmer against farmer
George Skelton – Los Angeles Times
Forget farmers vs. fishermen — or south state vs. north state. California’s current water war is being waged most intensely by farmers against fellow farmers.
It’s a Central Valley civil war. And within that vast food-producing region — Bakersfield to Redding — it’s the San Joaquin Valley vs. the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Contaminated water still troubles Japan nuke plant
Mari Yamaguchi – Associated Press (via SFGate)
The radioactive water that has accumulated at Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant remains the biggest problem hampering the cleanup process three years after the disaster…
Plant chief Akira Ono said Monday that improving water management is crucial not only to the plant cleanup but also decontamination of the area so evacuees can return to their homes.


Calgon Carbon Corporation Names Timothy G. Rupert Independent Lead Director Effective May 1, 2014
Press Release (via MarketWatch)
Calgon Carbon Corporation announced that the Company’s Board of Directors has named Timothy G. Rupert independent Lead Director of Calgon Carbon Corporation’s Board of Directors effective May 1, 2014. This follows last month’s announcement that Randall S. Dearth will become Chairman of the Board also effective May 1, 2014. Mr. Dearth is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of Calgon Carbon.


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