Happy birthday Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; 53 years

December 6, 2013

Icy day here in Dallas, we missed a lot of dates that should have been commemorated.

Let’s catch this one:  The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was created 53 years ago today in the administration of Dwight Eisenhower, by Interior Secretary Fred A. Seaton.

Happy 53rd birthday to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge! @USFWSHQ @USFWSRefuges #Alaska pic.twitter.com/2popb7EAvz

Photo probably not taken this week:  From the US Department of Interior: Happy 53rd birthday to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge! @USFWSHQ @USFWSRefuges #Alaska pic.twitter.com/2popb7EAvz

ANWR finds itself the center of controversy, now, because of the possibility of oil underneath it, and the difficulty of getting that oil without destroying wildlife habitat, or the possibility of destructive oil spills.  For an understanding of the issues, visit ANWR’s website and the non-partisan discussion there.

Odd that land so severely beautiful, so far out of the way and so difficult to master, has its fate decided in marble halls in Washington, D.C., 3,172 miles distant. The United States is a big, sprawling nation.

Information on the ANWR:

History and Culture

Refuge Establishment: Legislation and Purposes

The Arctic Refuge was established in 1960 and expanded in 1980.


Refuge History

The Arctic Refuge has been providing for the physical and emotional well-being of humans for many thousands of years. It remains an important resource to help sustain local Eskimo and Indian cultures. The Refuge continues to be valued, even by those who never travel within it’s borders, as a symbol of America’s vast and remote wilderness – a place of inspiration and beauty – a promise for the future for all Americans.

Local Cultures

The lands of the Arctic Refuge continue to support the Inupiat Eskimo and Gwich’in Indian peoples who have lived here for centuries.

More:  

3,172 miles between the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Washington, D.C.

3,172 miles between the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Washington, D.C.

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Robert Redford, for NRDC, on the Keystone Pipeline fight

February 24, 2012

My old sometime nemesis and rescuer Robert Redford keeps chugging along — getting sharper, politically, as he ages, I think.

Here’s his succinct summary of the Keystone Pipeline issue so far — with a plea for funds for the NRDC tacked on.  Any factual errors?

189,888

U.S. exporting energy? Then conservation is a boost to economy, too

September 4, 2011

 

Do Americans have great business sense?

Then it is unlikely that we’ll pass up the opportunity to export energy for profit — and consequently, we’ll boost our wind generating capacities, geothermal power generation, and step in to retake the lead in solar cell development and production, won’t we?

Here is a story I’ll bet you missed last spring — I missed it, too; from the Daily Ticker:

Just as the average price for gas is set to hit $4 a gallon this week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports February was the third month out of four that the U.S. — the world’s most energy-hungry nation — actually exported more oil that it imported.

Despite the notion that the U.S. is currently hugely reliant on foreign oil, the country sold 34,000 more barrels of petroleum products a day than it imported in November 2010. And, in both December and February, the U.S. sold 54,000 more barrels a day. Net imports have not been negative for nearly two decades.

Part of this has to do with weak U.S. demand in recent years due to the recession. The other part rests on the growing demand in our own backyard for not only crude oil, but refined oil as well.

Mexico, Latin America and even OPEC member Ecuador are some of the U.S.’s top customers for fuel products, namely refined oil. Rising demand in these countries far outpaces their capacity to refine crude oil into petroleum products like gasoline or diesel fuel.

But, as Dan points out in the accompanying clip, this is not the only news item that hints at this country’s ability to export energy to the rest of the world.

Yesterday, Arch Coal announced a $3.4 billion all-cash deal to buy its competitor International Coal Group. The transaction would make the newly formed company the second-largest U.S. supplier of metallurgical coal, which is the coal used to make steel.

And because of growing demand in places like India and China, where coal is used for electricity, the U.S. has started to export more at higher prices than in previous years.

Then there’s natural gas. U.S. reserves of natural gas have also grown considerably in the last decade to record levels. A new report by the Potential Gas Committee suggests that in the last two years, potential U.S. natural gas supplies have increased by 3 percent. Two years ago, however, the group reported that supplies jumped 36 percent.

The U.S. does not currently export liquefied natural gas, but that time may soon be on the horizon.

Watch a video discussion of the news:
Vodpod videos no longer available.
What Energy Problem? U.S. Oil Exports Are on th…, posted with vodpod

Of course the U.S. is not about to join OPEC.  But this news, quietly sneaking up on us as it did, should change the nature of the discussions about our energy future, and the direction, too.

In the first place, energy substitution — wind and geothermal for coal and oil, for example — becomes an issue of generating revenue, rather than just saving imports.  If we can get power from the wind for free and sell coal to others for profit as a result, we get wins for U.S. citizenry and big wins for U.S. industry.

I haven’t seen much discussion of the topic.  Stephen Leahy wrote an opinion piece for Common Dreams suggesting that oil companies have a political stake in keeping this news quiet, in order to get greater advantage for themselves, especially in electoral politics.

The only reason U.S. citizens may be forced to endure a risky, Canadian-owned oil pipeline called Keystone XL is so oil companies with billion-dollar profits can get the dirty oil from Canada’s tar sands down to the Gulf of Mexico to export to Europe, Latin America or Asia, according to a new report by Oil Change International released Wednesday.

“Keystone XL will not lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but rather transport Canadian oil to American refineries for export to overseas markets,” concludes the report, titled “Exporting Energy Security”.

Little of the 700,000 to 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil pumped through the 2,400-kilometre, seven-billion-dollar Keystone XL will end up in U.S. gas tanks because the refineries on the Gulf Coast are all about expanding export markets. One huge refinery operator called Valero has been touting the potential export revenues of tar sands oil to investors, the report found.

In 1941, the U.S. was the largest oil-producing and oil-exporting nation in the world.  When we cut off oil to Japan, Japan determined to attack the U.S. to try to get energy superiority in the Pacific, and our nation was pulled into World War II.

Is it possible we can avoid future energy wars, and change the game with our energy exporting capabilities over the next decade?  What do you think?  Does this change any game, and how does it change things?

Watch those exports.

 


Easy energy

July 21, 2011

You can’t buy the poster from Max Temkin anymore — it’s sold out — but the idea remains:

Max Temkin's poster print "Plastic Spoon" - copyright 2011 Max Temkin

Max Temkin's poster print "Plastic Spoon"

Just wash your spoon, eh?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Grist. For the search engines, full text of the poster below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


Canada? It’s in North America? What?

March 27, 2011

And in other news that didn’t make most U.S. local newspapers today, the government of Canada fell yesterday.

Canada government falls, Politically-Illustrated

"The Conservative government in Canada was toppled on Friday after a vote of no-confidence passed in the parliament by 156 to 145." Cartoon at Politically Illustrated by Cam Cardow

You know:  Canada.  That nation north of North Dakota, the one that keeps Alaska stuck to the North American Continent.  Remember?   It’s got about 20% of the world’s fresh water.  Those guys who helped us whip Hitler on D-Day.

Oh, c’mon.  Google the place, will you?  It’s the nation where, when you go there, ‘those bastards with the drug problem south of the border’ is the United States.

No, no, it’s probably not important.  We buy a lot of our oil from Canada.  Canada is our biggest trading partner.  They buy a lot of the goods that we still produce here.

And the conservative government there, under a parliamentary system that kids in the U.S. are never tested on in Texas, lost a vote of confidence Friday, in Ottawa.

Ottawa?  It’s the capital of Canada.  No, Montreal isn’t even the capital of Quebec.

Oh, come on! Quebec.  Quebec! It’s the province of Canada with all the French speakers. Yeah, Quebec City is the capital of Quebec.

Ottawa’s in Ontario.  No, Ottawa is the capital of the whole nation, Canada.  Ontario’s capital is Toronto.

Lone Ranger?  No, Toronto has nothing to do with the Lone Ranger.  It’s the biggest city in Canada.

Anyway, to get back to the topic, Canada’s government failed.  Conservatives lost a vote because of ethics issues.

Ethics issues, conservatives.  No news there.  No wonder it wasn’t covered better.

Elections in May. You’d know this, if you read the blogs of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

As if anyone cared.

Hey, get this:  Ontario alone has more than 250,000 lakes, natural lakes.  In a good, very wet year, Texas has two, maybe three natural lakes.

You could look it up.

No, NATO won’t intervene.  Canada is part of NATO.

More seriously:

Energy- and environment-interested people should take note. Canada is our largest source of imported oil at about 2 million barrels a day — more than Mexico and Saudi Arabia imports combined — and we share two ocean coasts with the nation.  See what Susan Casey-Lefkowitz said at her blog:

Hopefully, whoever takes over next in Canada will be a bigger proponent of clean energy and fighting climate change than the Harper government has been. The Harper government has been a vocal proponent of tar sands oil expansion – pushing this dirty fuel in the United States and in Europe. In fact, the Harper government has been instrumental in undermining clean energy efforts at home and abroad all to promote the tar sands oil industry. A fresh approach in Canada gives the country a chance to get back to its green roots and to listen to its provincial governments such as Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and British Columbia who have been developing innovative ways to promote clean energy and fight climate change. A fresh approach also provides an opportunity to lessen Canada’s dependence on the oil and gas sector and its heavy control over the Canadian dollar leading many to fear “Dutch disease.”

Clean energy and fighting climate change are critical issues now and in the coming decades. Hopefully, Canada can step forward as a leader on both in the future.

We can overlook the abuse of the word “hopefully” to extract important information, I think.  Did your local paper cover this story today?

More, resources:

 

 


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