Lead Stories

The battle for European carbon begins
Business Spectator
The European Union plan to adjust automatically the supply of carbon permits will start to be discussed by the region’s parliament in September, according to the assembly’s environment committee chair, Matthias Groote.
The 28-nation bloc’s parliament will begin work on the draft law, which aims to introduce supply curbs or injections to avoid imbalances, only after elections in May and a summer recess in August, Groote said on March 5 in an interview in Brussels.

Poland Urges EU to Buy Russian Gas as Single Bloc
Patryk Wasilewski – The Wall Street Journal
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk Wednesday urged the European Union to consider joint natural gas purchases for the entire bloc in order to strengthen its purchasing power with Russia amid rising tensions in Ukraine.

Natural gas futures slump to 2-week low as spring looms
Natural gas futures fell to a two-week low on Wednesday, amid concerns that the arrival of spring will bring warmer temperatures throughout the U.S. and cut into demand for heating.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in April fell to a session low of $4.448 per million British thermal units, the weakest since February 27.

Call to boost coal efficiency
Sarah-Jane Tasker – The Australian
 AUSTRALIA should use the G20 to propose a global program to make coal-fired plants more efficient to help tackle climate change, while also making a contribution to the eradication of poverty, according to the world’s leading coal producers.

Solar recruits anti-carbon tax marketer
Tristan Edis – Business Spectator
Back in April 2012, I wrote two articles warning that the clean energy sector was highly vulnerable to a lobbying attack that would pull the regulatory rug out from underneath it. It desperately needed to initiate a marketing campaign direct to householders to increase its political pull.


“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


EIB raises 132.9 mln euros from EU carbon permit sales in February
The European Investment Bank sold 20.3 million EU carbon permits in February, the bank said on Wednesday, raising 132.9 million euros ($184.3 million) to fund renewable energy and carbon capture and storage projects in Europe.
The Luxembourg-based bank sold the allowances via futures for December 2014 delivery, securing an average price of 6.55 euros each.

Poor Nations Need Financing to Cut Carbon Emissions, China Says
Mathew Carr and Stefan Nicola – Bloomberg
Developing nations that have been submitting plans to the United Nations to reduce emissions for two years have been unable to implement them because wealthier countries haven’t provided finance, according to Gambia and China.

World’s forests could hold 20 pct more carbon than previously thought – study
Marcelo Teixeira – Reuters
The world’s forests could hold 20 percent more carbon than previously thought, according to a study released on Tuesday.
If correct, that extra 125 billion tonnes of carbon could lead to an increase in the number of forest-based carbon credits set to be offered in carbon markets around the world.

China carbon tax in doubt as air pollution takes centre stage
The Business Times
China is reconsidering plans for a carbon tax as local air pollution trumps concerns over climate change and some rich nations back away from imposing a tax on greenhouse gas emissions, a top official said.
**JB: One way or another China desperately needs to get their air pollution problem under control.

What Has BC’s Carbon Tax Shift Done?
Alan Durning and Yoram Bauman – TheTyee.ca
When British Columbia enacted a carbon tax shift in 2008, many thought other jurisdictions would follow with their own ways of cashing in their carbon. Seven states and four provinces were working out the details of a huge carbon cap-and-trade market called the Western Climate Initiative. Stéphane Dion was about to start promoting his Green Shift. U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain were campaigning with promises of clean energy on the double quick; Obama even pitched carbon pricing in his stump speech. Ottawa was murmuring about following the lead of Washington, D.C. with a carbon cap of its own.

Calif.’s pioneering low-carbon fuels rule could see multiple changes
Anne C. Mulkern – E&E News
California’s landmark law requiring lower-carbon fuels is poised for a rewrite.
Advisers to the state’s Air Resources Board yesterday detailed proposed revisions to the low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS), a first-in-the-nation regulation. Potential changes include allowing oil companies to earn program credits for making refinery upgrades that shrink greenhouse gas pollution.

Gas prices may jump from California emissions law
Jason Dearen and Don Thompson – The Associated Press
California’s greenhouse gas reduction law already has shaken up the state’s industrial sector, costing it more than $1.5 billion in pollution permit fees.
It’s now poised to hit the pocketbooks of everyday Californians.

Can Kemper become the first US power plant to use ‘clean coal’?
Suzanne Goldenberg – The Guardian
A $5bn facility to capture carbon and pump it underground could provide a lifeline for the dirtiest of fossil fuels, but many remain unconvinced.

A Cheaper Route to Making Chemicals from CO2
Martin LaMonica – Technology Review
A startup called Liquid Light has developed an electrochemical process to use waste carbon dioxide as a starting ingredient for chemicals. The company says its method is significantly cheaper than conventional methods for converting CO2 into chemicals.

Natural Gas/Coal

Why winter’s end is beginning to affect natural gas prices
Ingrid Pan – Market Realist
The front month contract for natural gas closed at $4.62 per MMBtu (millions of British thermal units) on March 7, nearly unchanged from the prior week’s close of $4.61 per MMBtu. Over the past few weeks, prices had been highly volatile, as severe winter weather caused surges in natural gas demand.

Senate GOP pushes bill curbing natural gas flaring
Laura Barron-Lopez – The Hill
Three Republican senators are pushing legislation that fast-tracks permits for natural gas pipelines in an effort to curb gas flaring.
Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Hoeven (N.D.), and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) introduced the bill on Wednesday, which requires the Interior and Agriculture Departments to issues permits for the majority of gas pipelines within 60 days.
***JB: I wonder if they will increase funding to these departments so they can do their job in the narrowed time frame? (Who am I kidding…of course they won’t.)

SunCoke Energy plans to sell coal mining business
SunCoke Energy Inc, which produces coke used in steelmaking, said it plans to sell its coal mines and transfer its domestic coke business to its master limited partnership.
SunCoke said it would initially transfer a 33 percent interest in its Haverhill and Middletown cokemaking facilities in Ohio to SunCoke Energy Partners LP.

Europe can wean itself off Russian gas
Julian Popov – The Independent
In 1973 more than 90 per cent of Denmark’s energy supply was imported oil. Then came the Arab oil embargo. Fast forward to 2014 and Denmark is the only EU country with negative energy dependency. In other words, it exports more energy than it imports.

18 coal permits lapsed at Ohio EPA
Julie Carr Smyth – The Associated press (via The Columbus Dispatch)
Eighteen coal facilities in Ohio are operating with expired pollution-discharge permits under an agency where allegations of coal-industry influence arose during a personnel flap last year, an Associated Press review has found.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency records show 13 of the 18 have expired since Republican Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011, or about a quarter of the 49 issued to coal facilities.

Ky. coal firm to pay $660,000 for illegal dumping
Dylan Lovan – Associated Press
A Kentucky coal company will pay $660,000 in fines for illegally dumping mining debris into Appalachian streams under a proposed order in federal court.
Prosecutors with the U.S. Justice Department said Nally & Hamilton Enterprises violated the U.S. Clean Water Act by dumping dirt and rock from mining at company sites in Harlan and Knott counties.

Drummond to resume coal exports from Colombia on March 24
Cecilia Jamasmie – Mining.com
Colombia’s government will let US-based Drummond Co, the country’s second largest coal producer to resume exports on March 24 as the company is set to finish a $350 million upgrade to its Cienaga port, on the Caribbean Sea, to meet new environmental legislation.


Oxford Study: Big Dams Aren’t Worth It
Joshua Keating – Slate
A new Oxford study looking at 245 dams in 65 countries finds that large dam projects run an average of 96 percent over budget and take an average of 2.3 years longer to complete than originally planned.

Chaori Solar Says Bonds May Be Delisted as Baoding Slumps
Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co., the first company to default in China’s onshore bond market, said its notes may be delisted as a second solar-equipment maker had its securities halted.

Wind Power Tax Break Dead in Congress in 2014, Boustany Says
Alex Nussbaum – BloombergBusinessweek
A federal tax credit that benefits wind power projects is dead in Congress this year as Republicans seek a broader tax overhaul, Representative Charles Boustany said.
“Maybe there will be some in the Senate who will try to revive it but I really do think it’s dead in the House,” Boustany, a Louisiana Republican and member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in an interview today in New York. While the credit might be revived as part of lame-duck legislation after the November elections, that seems unlikely, he said.
***JB: I’m willing to bet he thinks oil subsidies are just swell though.

UK nuclear power plant builders want higher carbon tax
Giles Parkinson – REnewEconomy
Australian government members harbouring a not-so-secret fantasy to see nuclear generation in Australia can add another major offence to its principals that such projects would require.
The Telegraph in the UK is reporting that EdF, the mostly French government owned nuclear giant that is proposing to build the $26 billion Hinkley Point C, is now pushing the UK government to increase its carbon tax so the financials for the first nuclear plant in the UK for nearly three decades adds up.

Siemens to drop regional structure
James Quilter – WindPower
In 2011, Siemens Wind Power announced it was setting up three regional divisions. These were EMEA, Asia-Pacific and the Americas and were headed up respectively by regional CEOs Jan Kjaergaard, Kay Weber and Mark Albenze.

Google looks to grow European wind portfolio
James Quilter – WindPower
Speaking to Windpower Monthly, Google director of infrastructure Francois Sterin said the company was looking at power purchase agreements and project ownership in Europe.
In recent years, Google has ploughed close to $1 billion in to wind and renewables projects. However the vast majority of these have been in the US.

Minnesota regulators set to decide on ‘value of solar’ today
Jeffrey Tomich – E&E Publishing (via Midwest Energy News)
The value of rooftop solar energy systems goes on trial in Minnesota today in a case drawing attention across the country as regulators, utilities and clean energy advocates grapple with how to integrate customer-generated energy into the century-old utility business model.

House panel subpoenas Obama administration over wind farm eagle deaths
FOX News
House Republicans are seeking to compel the Obama administration to turn over uncensored, internal documents related to its enforcement of environmental laws at wind farms where eagles and other protected birds have been killed.

Solar on sale, almost anywhere
Morgan Lee – U~T SanDiego
You can buy it from your financial planner, at home improvement stores, shopping-mall kiosks, while buying a house or a car, online or by phone. Rooftop solar is for sale seemingly everywhere, as no-money-down lease agreements allow more and more homeowner to undercut utility electricity prices.

California Set Back-To-Back Solar Records Last Week
Kate Valentine – ThinkProgress
Last week was a good week for solar energy in California, with the state setting back-to-back solar power records in two days.
Solar facilities produced 4,093 megawatts of power in California on Saturday March 8, a spike from the previous day’s record of 3,926 megawatts, according to the California Independent System Operator. That’s enough energy, ISO says, to power about 3 million homes.

These Mad Scientists Want to Replace Solar Panels With Potted Plants
Joseph Flaherty – Wired
Designer Fabienne Felder wants to reupholster jumbo jets with moss. In her vision, passengers will sit on verdant tufts while the bryophytes purify the air and use electrons captured during photosynthesis to power the Direct TV panels on the seat backs. Many would think Felder was crazy, but biochemist Dr. Paolo Bombelli and plant scientist Ross Dennis from the University of Cambridge were impressed with her brio and offered her the opportunity to collaborate with their lab.


Farmers Fear Proposed Water Rules Will Require Costly Permits
Ron Nixon – The New York Times
Water rarely flows in one of the streambeds — it really seems to be little more than a small ditch — that Dean Lemeke points out to a visitor on his 800-acre farm in Dows, Iowa.
“I wouldn’t even call it a stream,” he said. “There is only water flow in it when it rains.”
Mr. Lemeke is a former Iowa state government official who supervised water quality programs. He is also a fifth-generation farmer who grows corn and soybeans on his acreage, about 75 miles north of Des Moines, and he has never worried that the government would be concerned about that small ditch.
But that may soon change.

Turning Coffee Into Water to Expand Business Model
Stephanie Strom – The New York Times
What do shoes and coffee have in common?
Not much, it would seem — except in the hands of Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms, the shoes found on feet around the world.
Mr. Mycoskie built his shoe empire selling one pair of inexpensive shoes and giving another pair away to a needy person, a model he also uses to sell eyeglasses.

San Francisco moves to ban plastic water bottles, scoffs at every other sad city
Eve Andrews – Two big pieces of news out of San Francisco this week: Barry Bonds started a brief stint coaching for the Giants, and the city made significant progress toward outlawing plastic water bottles. As a result, the average level of self-satisfaction exhibited by San Franciscans increased by a factor of three.

Rough diamond hints at vast quantities of water inside Earth
Ian Sample – The Guardian
A small, battered diamond found in the gravel strewn along a shallow riverbed in Brazil has provided evidence of a vast “wet zone” deep inside the Earth that could hold as much water as all the world’s oceans put together.
The water is not sloshing around inside the planet, but is held fast within minerals in what is known as the Earth’s transition zone, which stretches from 410 to 660km (250-400 miles) beneath the surface.

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