Archive for Energy

Image public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Oil rigs in the “Graveyard of the Atlantic“? Someone tell the president April 1st isn’t for two months yet:

(Bloomberg) — The Obama administration proposed opening to offshore drilling an area from Virginia to Georgia in a policy shift sought by energy companies but opposed by environmentalists worried about resorts such as the Outer Banks or Myrtle Beach.

The offshore plan for 2017-2022 marks the second time President Barack Obama has recommended unlocking areas in the U.S. Atlantic for oil drilling, and it drew a swift retort from allies who say the payoff doesn’t justify the risk of a spill along the populated coast. The agency said Atlantic leases won’t be auctioned for at least six years and drilling wouldn’t start for several more years.

Well, that’s a relief. Plus, you know, with the Gulf Stream and all, a massive oil spill 50 miles offshore of the Outer Banks might never reach Cape Hatteras.

“Offshore oil spills don’t respect state boundaries,” said Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts. “A spill in North Carolina could affect Massachusetts.”

Heads up, Nantucket.

The proposal is still preliminary, officials suggested:

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters the proposal was a “balanced” approach, but she stressed that it was only a draft.

“It is not final, we’re in the early stages of what is a multi-year process,” Jewell said, cautioning that some regions listed in it “may be narrowed or taken out entirely.”

That caveat and the timing make the announcement a mite suspect. Days ago, the Obama administration had Alaska livid over its request “to designate parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area” off-limits to oil drilling. The request left Sen. Lisa Murkowski fuming. Something about decisions on federal land made Outside being a violation of state sovereignty. Other Alaska legislators were similarly put out:

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker was “outraged” at the timing of the announcement, which comes amid low oil prices and declining production “despite having more than 40 billion barrels of untapped resources, mostly in federal areas where oil and gas activity is blocked or restricted,” the joint statement said.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, called the plan “callously planned and politically motivated” in the same statement.

On the heels of the Alaska announcement, the Atlantic drilling proposal is generating predictable howls from East Coast environmentalists:

“This proposal sells out the southeast fisheries, tourism, and coastal way of life,” says Sierra Weaver, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This is an area that has never been drilled for oil production. These are places and communities that rely on natural resources like clean air and clean water for the quality of life and the lifestyle that they know.”

The White House surely knew its twin decisions would raise firestorms from both the left and right.

A head fake in advance of a Keystone pipeline veto? Or a sop?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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A Big Fracking Deal

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As if the legislature hand not pissed off enough citizens in North Carolina, this item has been flying largely under the radar. Hold onto your groundwater, people, these frackers mean business and they mean to force you into theirs:

Known as compulsory pooling, or forced pooling, the policy allows drillers to tap local natural gas, even if property owners don’t want drillers probing under their homes and farms. Critics compare it to a government’s right to seize private property for the public good, except in this case the parties claiming rights to the land would be for-profit businesses.

“That’s just unfair,” said Therese Vick, a community organizer for the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. “They’re taking control of your property – your neighbors, the government and a commercial interest – and making you sell your resource.”

The idea is not a new one and has been on the books since 1945, just rarely used writes the News & Observer. Now energy companies want to. The delicately named Compulsory Pooling Study Group will be holding a public meeting Wednesday in Raleigh and forwarding recommendations to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. It may be the last public meeting before the issue moves to the legislature.

Wonder ow all those “No Zoning” folks out in our bright, red counties will respond once they find out control of their their property has been sold to the highest donors?

Don’t forget, those frackers will need water to frack with. Lots of it.


Beyond Coal

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Screenshot 2013-08-22 at 11.07.13 PM

This Saturday, you have the chance to stand together with people who are ready for our clean energy future. Gordon Smith for City Council campaign volunteers will be canvassing Saturday at 10am (details here – FB event page), so consider making a day of it! From the Beyond Coal: A Rally for our Future Facebook event page:

Let’s move Asheville beyond coal! Come take action and call on Duke Energy to retire the Asheville power plant and lead our state in renewable energy. Come out on August 24th from 2-4pm Pack Square and take action! There will be music, kids activities, and speakers, and much more! #ActOnClimate, #FearlessSummer

Currently our electric energy comes the Asheville coal-fired power plant, which is the largest single source of CO2 in Western North Carolina; amounting to over 500,000 extra cars on the road. It is polluting our air, our water and our communities. Not only that, but the coal that we are burning comes from mountaintop removal, which is destroying mountains, sickening communities, and harming the air and water of communities in Appalachia.

With music, kids games, speakers, and much much more!

Speaker Program includes:
Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Campaign director
Terry M. Bellamy, Mayor of Asheville
Ian Somerhalder, actor (Lost & Vampire Diaries)
Hartwell Carson, French Board Riverkeeper
Drew Jones, Climate Interactive
Dr. Richard Fireman, retired MD
Nick Mullins, coalfield resident
August 24th
Pack Square

North Carolina has been taking a pounding lately at the hands of Gov. Pat McCrory’s ALEC-fueled legislature. Fracking, Voter ID, and Florida-style drug tests for recipients of public benefits like food stamps and job training are on the to-do list. With more to come. Remarkably, on Wednesday the good guys won one.

North Carolina’s renewable energy industry is safe from legislative threats, for now. Republicans and Democrats in the sponsor’s own committee voted down his bill that would have repealed the state’s clean energy standard. This bill mimicked “model legislation” from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

North Carolina is a test case. The Raleigh News and Observer reports that a bevy of conservative organizations converged on Raleigh hoping to move their agenda ahead by killing the renewable energy program:
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“Breathtaking in its scope”

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Senate Republican leaders are moving quickly on a proposal to fire all current members of key oversight and advisory boards.

Introduced in Senate Rules Committee Tuesday morning, Senate Bill 10 would effectively fire all members of the Utilities Commission, Environmental Management Commission, Coastal Resources Commission, Lottery Commission and Wildlife Resources Commission.

Gov. Pat McCrory and Republican lawmakers would then be able to reappoint board members who agree with their philosophy, essentially clearing out Democrats and other dissenters whose terms haven’t yet expired.
After just 15 minutes of discussion, the bill passed easily along party lines.

After the meeting, Stein called the proposal a “power grab” that’s “breathtaking in its scope,” noting that many of the boards in the bill’s cross-hairs were created to protect consumers, injured workers and the environment.

“They’re going after everything so they can put their stamp on it,” Stein said. “Commissions are supposed to be independent; they’re not supposed to be ideological. And I fear they’re trying to politicize state government in a way that will hurt North Carolinians.”

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Injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground beneath the water table to fracture shale and free trapped oil and natural gas? What could possibly go wrong? Mtn. X:

A contentious bill to allow hydrolic fracturing – or “fracking” – for oil and gas exploration in the state passed the N.C. Senate on Wednesday by a 29-19 majority, and is expected to be voted on today in the House.
The bill is expected to pass in the House, and then will face Gov. Bev Perdue and the possibility of a veto. The governor, who quashed an earlier bill calling for test drilling, has subsequently announced that she believes drilling can be done safely in the state.

It’s about more than just fracking. It’s also about further limiting local governments’ ability to determine their own fates:

“Any local ordinances that would have the effect of banning the wells would be repealed by the legislation, and a newly established state Oil and Gas Board would be given the power to preempt any new ordinances that have the effect of banning the wells within a local government’s jurisdiction

I imagine most of you Hooligans plan to help Jane Whilden regain a seat in the NC Legislature and help Susan Wilson defeat Republican Nathan Ramsey. You’re likely already aware that Pat McCrory doesn’t need to win the Gubernatorial race. If the rash of prior NCGOP legislative dictates weren’t enough, maybe this will get you involved – AC-T:

F to a wrinkle in proposed “fracking” legislation in N.C. spotted by, among others, Capitol Press columnist Scott Mooneyham. Regarding rules being considered in the state Senate, Mooneyham writes, “Any local ordinances that would have the effect of banning the wells would be repealed by the legislation, and a newly established state Oil and Gas Board would be given the power to preempt any new ordinances that have the effect of banning the wells within a local government’s jurisdiction… Lawyers who work for the N.C. League of Municipalities aren’t sure what the language means or what the effect would be. They see the power given to this new nine-member board, whose membership may well tilt toward the drilling industry, as almost absolute in determining what local ordinances will and won’t be allowed. In other words, sounds to us like the fix is in. Mooneyham notes the irony in play here, “What’s so troubling about this provision is how little regard it shows for private property rights, something allegedly dear to the hearts of the conservative Republican majority in the legislature.”

We’ve seen the NCGOP ignore the will of local governments in so many ways since 2010. This is the latest in a long line of efforts that seek to centralize more power in Raleigh and take it away from you. This time it also involves a process that may cause earthquakes and make your drinking water flammable. If Republicans take the Governor’s seat and maintain their legislative majorities, then you can count on more control from Raleigh and more laws passed in favor of industry over individuals.


Energy Independence – Brownie’s #1 Priority

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From a Brownie Newman newsletter:

Asheville and Buncombe County have a history of leadership when it comes to clean energy.

It was just over ten years ago that Senator Steve Metcalf and Senator Martin Nesbitt, who was a member of the state House at the time, sponsored a bill called the NC Clean Smokestacks Act. This bill required the utility companies in North Carolina to install modern pollution controls on their coal-fired power plants which generate most of the state’s electricity and also generated a majority of the emissions that create haze, smog and ground level ozone pollution.

When local environmental groups put forward the concept of the Clean Smokestacks Act, most people didn’t give it much of a chance and few politicians were willing to consider it. Fortunately, two of Buncombe County’s state legislators championed the effort. It took more than three years to get it done, but thanks to hard work from hundreds of citizens from western North Carolina and across the state, the bill was passed, and North Carolina’s air is a lot cleaner today as a result.

I was the Director of the Western North Carolina Alliance at the time the Clean Smokestacks Act campaign was carried out, and was able to see first-hand how people working together around a common purpose could make a real and positive change.

As a member of the Asheville City Council over the past eight years, I am proud how our community has continued to be a leader for clean energy. In 2007, Asheville adopted a policy committing the City to reduce its use of fossil fuels and carbon pollution levels by 80%, which is the level that the scientific community believes is necessary to avoid the most severe and irreversible impacts of global warming on our children’s generation.

Asheville has aggressively followed through on this commitment:

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Obama Features Walnut Street

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In addition to this being a hard hitting ad from the Obama campaign, it features Asheville’s Walnut Street. Thanks to Jon Ostendorff’s Politics Now blog for pointing it out!

Categories : Energy, Local, Obama
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Look what landed in my inbox this morning! Brownie’s skills, talents, leadership, and effectiveness are going to move Buncombe County in the right direction.

Brownie Newman today announced his plans to run for Buncombe County Commission. Newman has served two terms as a member of Asheville City Council and has served as Mayor Pro Tem since 2009. Newman did not run for re-election to City Council in 2011. His last official day as a member of City Council is Dec. 6.

“As a member of Asheville City Council, I tried to set ambitious, achievable goals for our community. I am proud that we have established Asheville as a leader for energy independence and green jobs, promoted the growth of locally owned businesses and made it clear that we are an inclusive community that supports equal rights for all our citizens,” said Newman.

Newman cited these as some of the key accomplishments on City Council:

Established Asheville as a leader for clean, renewable energy:

– Asheville City Council committed the city to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% and to require all new municipal building to LEED Gold standards.

– Asheville replaced its old, polluting diesel buses with a new fleet including clean, quiet hybrid buses and is replacing its city street lights with LED bulbs, which will save taxpayers $650,000 a year in lower utility bills.

– Newman helped secure funding for Asheville Green Opportunities, to provide job training and mentoring for young people from low income neighborhoods so they can develop work experience in the new clean energy economy.

Supported job creation, locally owned businesses and working families:

– Asheville worked with Mountain BizWorks to create a revolving loan fund to provide capital to local citizens to start their own business.

– Asheville partnered with Buncombe County to bring Linamar to Asheville, who will create at least 400 or more good paying manufacturing jobs and put the property formerly occupied by Volvo back into productive uses.

– Asheville held the line on property tax rate while investing more than $35 million to fix our long neglected water infrastructure.

Along with other members of Council, Newman supported a domestic partnership policy to extend equal workplace rights to municipal employees. The policy assures city workers will receive the same compensation for doing their job, regardless of sexual orientation.

“During a time when state legislators are trying to change North Carolina’s Constitution to discriminate against our citizens, I am proud that our community is standing up for equality,” said Newman.

In addition to his work on City Council, Newman is also one of the partners at FLS Energy, a local solar utility company. Since Newman joined FLS Energy in 2008, the company has grown from eight employees to more than eighty. Newman serves as Vice-President and Project Finance Director. He is one of the four members on the FLS board of directors.

Newman will be running in a new two-member County Commission district that includes most of Asheville and the central part of Buncombe County. Long-time County Commissioner Bill Stanley has announced he will not seek re-election.

Holly Jones is currently a commissioner from this district who plans to run for re-election. Newman and Jones previously served together on Asheville City Council and the two plan to support one another for County Commission.

“Holly has done a great job as County Commissioner. I am proud to lend my full support to her re-election campaign and am honored to have her support.” said Newman. Holly Jones added, “I am excited that Brownie is running for County Commission. He has contributed a lot to the City Council over the past eight years and he will be an effective member of the Commission.”

The Newman campaign will hold its kick-off event in January. Details to follow.

To learn more about Newman for County Commission, go to