Doing Advance Work

News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Definitely no drought in the Bronx, tarp on the field, Rangers at Yankees

7/23/14, "And the field is getting soaked as grounds crew having trouble with the tarp," Erik Boland twitter. Rangers at Yankees, 2-1 Yankees in the 5th.

7/23/14, Struggles with tarp at Yankee Stadium, photo Jim McIsaac Newsday via Erik Boland twitter 

7/23/14, "Field still not covered and I'm guessing the rain might stop before crew is able to move water soaked tarp," Erik Boland twitter. Rangers at Yankees, 2-1 Yankees in the 5th.

130 UN-backed environmental groups call for end of capitalism to save the planet but demand that capitalist economies send them cash-RTCC, Daily Caller

7/23/14, "130 Environmental Groups Call For An End To Capitalism," Daily Caller, Michael Bastasch

"Environmentalists have declared that global warming can’t be stopped without ending the “hegemonic capitalist system,” saying that cap-and-trade systems and conservation efforts are “false solutions.”

The structural causes of climate change are linked to the current capitalist hegemonic system,” [point 46] reads the final draft of the Margarita Declaration, [English translation] presented at a conference including about 130 environmental groups.

“To combat climate change it is necessary to change the system,” the declaration adds.

Environmental activists met in the oil producing, socialist country of Venezuela as part of a United Nations-backed event to increase civil engagement in the lead up to a major climate conference.

But environmentalists surprised U.N. officials by offering up a declaration that not only seeks to end capitalism, but one that also opposes U.N.-backed efforts to fight global warming — namely, cap-and-trade and forest conservation programs.

Climate-change news analysis site RTCC reports that it’s unclear which groups signed onto the declaration, adding that it runs in the face of the “green economy” solutions to global warming backed by rich nations
But many poor countries, like Venezuela, do not support a “green economy” solution to global warming, instead, arguing that rich countries should give poor nations cash payments and technology transfers.

Rejection of cap-and-trade and forest conservation programs also fly in the face of U.S. and European environmental groups, which back programs to limit and price carbon dioxide emissions. In the U.S., environmentalists rallied behind the Environmental Protection Agency proposals to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing power plants — a plan that would force the shutdown of coal-fired power plants.

Climate disruption is the greatest challenge facing our generation,” Michael Brune, the director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement in June. “Until now, power plants have been allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into our air, driving dangerous climate disruption, and fueling severe drought, wildfires, heat waves and superstorms.”

The EPA’s plan to cut emissions from power plants has been attacked by the coal industry and Republicans who say it will harm the U.S. economy without doing much to help the climate.

“EPA is setting up our states to fail our local economies to fail – to deliver on the president’s promise that electricity prices will skyrocketall for immeasurable so-called climate benefits,” Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter said in a Thursday hearing on the EPA’s new rule. ”This rule is all pain and no gain.”

The environmentalists who support the Margarita Declaration may have also been pleased to hear that Australia repealed its two-year-old carbon tax — though Australia is still a free-market economy.

Australia’s conservative coalition government has been bucking the so-called climate consensus since their electoral wins last fall. Not only did Australia send no high level diplomats to the last U.N. climate conference, but they also plan to cut global warming and green energy programs by 90 percent over the next four years." via Rush Limbaugh


Margarita Declaration on Climate Change in English

"Ensure funding from developed countries" that recipient
 countries may spend as they choose. (Item 54)


Among international groups in attendance:

Friends of the Earth
Climate Action Network


Climate Action Network Board of Directors includes representatives of:

Greenpeace USA
Oxfam America
Oregon Environmental Council
Creation Justice Ministries (formerly the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program

Environment Maine 
Center for Biological Diversity
Sierra Club
East Michigan Environmental Council 

World Wildlife Fund
National Wildlife Federation
Union of Concerned Scientists
Natural Resources Defense Council


7/23/14, "Venezuela Climate Summit Calls for End to "Green Economy,"" RTCC (Responding to Climate Change), Sophie Yeo

"UN-backed event ends with unusual call from civil society groups to end capitalism."

The declaration also conflicts with the UN’s own schemes to tackle climate change.
It says carbon markets are a “false solution” to the problem of climate change and brands a UN-backed forest conservation scheme “dangerous and unethical”.
The forests programme, called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD), was first introduced into UN proceedings in 2005 at the request of the governments of Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica.
- See more at:
UN-backed event ends with unusual call from civil society groups to end capitalism  - See more at:
Venezuela climate summit calls for end to “green economy” - See more at:


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

EU countries reliant on Russia for uranium, nuclear energy and natural gas aren't eager for sanctions-BBC

7/21/14, "The EU's nuclear links with Russia," BBC, Andrew Walker

"Following the loss of the Malaysian airliner last week, European leaders are once again wrestling with the question of how to respond to Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis. 

They are reluctant to get tough, much more so than the United States. 

The EU could easily end up doing itself a lot of economic harm, most obviously if Russia were to respond by turning down the gas. Russia is a very important oil exporter too, though that is a more liquid market - to coin a phrase - where it is not so hard to find alternatives if you fall out with one major supplier. 

But there is also a significant role in Europe's energy sector for Russian nuclear supplies and the potential for significant disruption in the EU. 

Nuclear energy is an important source of electricity in the EU. 

Some countries are planning to phase it out, notably Germany. But even so, projections last year from the European Union see more than a fifth of EU electricity coming from nuclear power plants up to the middle of the century. 

About half of EU states have some nuclear power - though there is a marked variation between countries.

In France, which is the world's biggest producer and user of nuclear power, 75% of total electricity generation is nuclear. In the UK, the figure is 18%, while Italy is the largest EU economy to have none. 
Russia comes into this picture at several points. First, it is an important supplier of the raw material for nuclear fuel, uranium.

There is an international market for uranium, so there are alternative sources, but Russia accounts for 18% of EU supplies (behind Kazakhstan and Canada), so switching is not that simple. 

Second, there is the business of enrichment to make the uranium suitable for power generation - and 30% of this work is done by Russian companies.
There is another potential source of vulnerability, too. The EU has a significant number of older, Russian-designed nuclear reactors - 18 in all. 

This is a reflection of past political relations with the Soviet Union. 

Finland, which was never formally part of the Soviet bloc but did have a close relationship, has two - and all the reactors in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are Russian-designed. Hungary also has an agreement for two more to be built. 
These reactors account for a significant part of many of these countries' electricity needs - more than 50% for Slovakia and over 45% for Hungary. The fuel for a reactor also has to be supplied in a form - called a fuel assembly - that meets the specifications of the particular reactor, and for Russian-designed reactors the fuel comes from a Russian company, TVEL

So anything that disrupted the supply of the fuel assemblies needed for these countries' reactors would be a serious problem for them.
A recent document produced by the European Commission put it like this: "There is no diversification, nor back-up in case of supply problems (whether for technical or political reasons)."

The Commission went on to argue: "Ideally, diversification of fuel assembly manufacturing should also take place, but this would require some technological efforts because of the different reactor designs."

Other EU countries, including the UK, are not exposed to this specific risk.

There are some technical features of nuclear power that do ease any supply worries. A nuclear plant is only re-fuelled occasionally - typically every 12 to 24 months for modern designs. And if a scheduled re-fuelling is missed, the plant can continue to operate with declining output.

Compared with coal or gas it is also easier to store large amounts of fuel needs, as the volume of material is much smaller. 

There are plenty of reasons for EU countries to be wary about tighter sanctions against Russia. The need for nuclear supplies is only one of them.

The British group Open Europe has done some analysis of official statements about the issue, attempting to rank countries according to how hawkish or dovish they are on sanctions

Although it certainly does not prove anything about the respective governments' motives, it is striking that none of those with Russian-designed reactors are strongly hawkish

Apart from the Czech Republic, they are all at least slightly to the dovish end of the scale and one of them, Bulgaria, is the most dovish of all, according to Open Europe's measure. 

It is worth repeating one point. Gas is the big issue for commercial relations between Russia and the EU-but nuclear matters too."


Sunday, July 20, 2014

No drought in Atlanta, tarp on the field Phillies at Braves

7/20/14, "Atlanta Braves grounds crew members work to cover the infield at Turner Field during a rain shower in the sixth inning of a baseball game against Philadelphia Phillies in Atlanta, Sunday, July 20, 2014," ap. Final 8-2 Braves, after rain delay of one hr. and 39 min.

7/20/14, "Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (38) leaves the field as play is stopped for rain during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta, Sunday, July 20, 2014, ap. Final 8-2 Braves after one hr. and 39 min. rain delay. "Kendrick struggles again in Phillies' loss," AP via, George Henry


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Australia still has carbon dioxide taxation, Prime Min. Abbott merely doing a 'repeal and replace' with even more expensive programs for imaginary CO2 terror, which even if it existed could only be cured by China. Abbott wants 'green army' and global climate treaty. Yet another politician who's either a con artist, criminally insane, or both

7/19/14, "Australia Still has Carbon Taxation," American Thinker, by Sierra Rayne

"As some conservatives celebrate the repeal of Australia's carbon tax, a dose of caution is warranted: Australia still has carbon taxation on its agenda. This repealed legislation is apparently going to be replaced by the multi-billion dollar "Direct Action" climate change policy that Prime Minister Tony Abbott has long been promoting. Thus, one form of carbon pricing gets replaced by another form of carbon pricing, neither of which is acceptable.

Many critical thinkers about climate science got excited over Abbott's public statement that the "science behind climate change was 'crap'"? A little -- more accurately, a lot -- premature that enthusiasm was. Here is what Abbott's government said during the past couple days about climate change policies after the Senate finally voted to repeal the carbon tax:

"The government said it would now achieve the 5% target through its as-yet-unlegislated Direct Action competitive grants policy, which the environment minister, Greg Hunt, insisted was a 'policy for the long term.' While the prime minister hailed the demise of the 'useless, destructive [carbon] tax' and promised that the Coalition would 'never do anything that damages the economy,' he repeatedly refused to rule out ever introducing a carbon price in the future."

So Abbott repeatedly refuses to rule out carbon pricing in the future, and in the meantime his government will saddle taxpayers with government funding for emissions reduction efforts. In other words, the hated price on carbon still exists.

In April of this year, Abbott's government released its white paper on a climate change plan for Australia:

"Environment Minister Greg Hunt has unveiled the white paper on the central component of Direct Action, the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Mr Hunt also revealed an extra $1 billion will be allocated to the fund in the May budget, in keeping with the initial policy costing released in the 2010 election campaign. 

He says the ERF will buy the lowest-cost carbon abatement schemes to reduce emissions through reverse auctions, and encourage 'practical ways of reducing emissions where every dollar is spent on actually purchasing real means of decreasing Australia's overall emissions.' 

'I want to re-affirm today the Government's clear, strong support for the science underpinning climate change, recognition of the need for both domestic and global action, and our commitment to the 5 per cent target as we go forward,' Mr Hunt said."

To be clear, Abbott's government does not in any way dispute the need for emissions reductions, and it is willing to spend massive quantities of tax dollars to do so. This is still a price on carbon, and potentially a more expensive, less efficient, and more economically damaging approach than the alternative market-based mechanism Abbott's government seems to loath.

Abbott's Environment Minister "says the ERF [which replaces the carbon tax] will focus on 'practical actions such as cleaning up waste coal mine gas, cleaning up wasteland fill gas, cleaning up methane, energy efficiency on a significant scale, whether it's industrial, commercial or residential'. But he said the price per tonne of abatement was market sensitive and would depend on the auction process." Wait a minute, "the price per tonne of abatement was market sensitive"? That sounds just like carbon pricing, and since the taxpayers are paying for the costs, it's still a carbon tax.

The details in the Abbott government's ERF white paper raise a number of red flags. The ERF says it is committed to "ensuring there is no net increase in the administrative burden on industry." Note that it is not committed to a reduction in "the administrative burden on industry," just no net increase. According to the white paper, the ERF "is a practical policy that will reduce Australia's emissions at low cost, without adding to household and business energy costs." A key point here. The new policy may not add to energy costs, but it is silent on the fact it will unavoidably add to other costs.

The ERF white paper also claims it "will help reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions while delivering valuable co-benefits to Australian businesses, households and the environment. For example, households and businesses will save money by improving their energy efficiency." Energy efficiency only saves money if the money spent on the energy saving device/strategy costs less than the energy saved. In general, if the energy-saving devices provided a favorable return on investment, why would households and businesses need any government financing to make the transition?

Governments get involved in these energy efficiency programs primarily because the options are not otherwise financially favorable. Thus, when we consider the total costs of these programs -- where the increased tax bill is also factored in -- they often do not save money. Instead, they cost money. If the initiative was already an off-the-shelf money winner, the private sector would be doing it. Once the argument gets trotted out that the government must be involved, you can be sure the program isn't a net money winner.

Further proof that Abbott's government still has a price on carbon comes from the following white paper admission: "The overriding objective of the Emissions Reduction Fund will be to reduce emissions at lowest cost... the Emissions Reduction Fund will identify and purchase emissions reductions at the lowest cost." Reduce emissions at lowest cost? By definition, that is carbon pricing. And the ERF will purchase reductions? That sounds like crony capitalism. A government program cannot identify the best value emissions reduction purchases better than the free market. How can Australian taxpayers be assured the ERF won't be purchasing emissions reductions from politically well-connected individuals at artificially high prices?

The white paper further reiterates what Abbott and Hunt have been publicly saying about their position on anthropogenic climate change, and it isn't skeptical in the least:
"The Government accepts the science of climate change. The world's leading scientific organisations, including Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Australian Academy of Science, have found that the Earth's climate is changing as a result of human activities and that further change is projected.
Climate change can only be effectively mitigated if all major economies take coordinated action to restrain emissions.
Australia will work towards a new international agreement to be agreed in late 2015 that will establish for the first time, from 2020, a common platform for all countries to take serious, coordinated global climate action that is economically and fiscally responsible. The agreement must be one where all major economies, including Australia's key trading partners and competitors, play a real part in controlling their emissions through comparable global action."
This logic from Abbott's white paper is absolute nonsense:
"While there is a menu of approaches, their impact on societies and economies can be vastly different.
For example, carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes operate by increasing costs associated with the emission of greenhouse gases. Typically these costs are reflected in prices and flow through to higher prices for households and businesses. In Australia, the Government believes that there is a better way to reduce emissions than by imposing taxes or emissions trading systems that increases energy costs for businesses and households.
For Australia, an incentive-based approach that directly purchases emissions reductions and rewards practical and positive action is a better way to achieve the 2020 emissions reduction target than an approach that raises prices for all Australians. That is why the Government is repealing the carbon tax and replacing it with the Emissions Reduction Fund. Rather than increasing prices and eroding Australia's competitive advantage, the incentive-based approach adopted through the Emissions Reduction Fund will invest in Australian businesses, reducing their energy costs and increasing our productivity as a nation."
A market mechanism for carbon pricing is bad because it increases costs for individuals and businesses, but a system whereby the government buys emissions reductions using tax dollars isn't carbon pricing and won't increase costs for individuals and businesses? Nonsense. By definition, if the government is paying for it, it uses tax dollars and will necessarily increase the costs of living and doing business
The ERF claims that "importantly, businesses will no longer have the burden of paying and complying with the carbon tax." No, instead they will have the burden of paying taxes to the government so the government can pay for carbon emissions reductions. Wait a minute, isn't this carbon taxation via carbon pricing? Sure is, as shown by the fact that "the Clean Energy Regulator will apply a benchmark price -- which is the maximum amount it will pay for emissions reductions."

The ERF "will also provide a guarantee to businesses about the quantity and price of Australian Carbon Credit Units that can be sold to the Government." A price guarantee for carbon credit units sold to the government of Australia? That sure sounds like a price on carbon, and since the government is buying the credits with tax dollars, we have more carbon taxation.

How about this provision from Abbott's plan?

"In order to enable an appropriate return within 5 years, it is possible larger projects with greater abatement potential will require a higher cost per ton abatement...The Government recognises that some projects may deliver large volumes of emissions reductions and the Emissions Reduction Fund should provide incentives for such projects. The Government will retain discretion to enter out-of-auction contracts for major projects which can deliver emissions reductions above 250 000 tonnes of CO2-e per year, on average, or 1.25 MtCO2-e or more over the contract period. To enable this, the Clean Energy Regulator will be given the flexibility to use different types of procurement and tendering processes."

In other words, we will bypass any semblance of a free-market approach and just use tax dollars to buy emissions reductions with government "discretion." Sounds like a recipe for potential financial disaster and corruption.

Abbott also wants to create a taxpayer-funded "green army" of 15,000 people. This will also use tax dollars, and further add to the carbon tax burden in Australia.

Overall, Tony Abbott's plan is as follows: create and maintain a government bureaucracy to use Australian tax dollars for greenhouse gas emission reductions. That is carbon pricing

That is carbon taxation. Both live on down under."


Comment: Abbott could've stood with the people, could've realized great financial rewards after leaving office, but he dropped the people like a hot potato. There was nothing forcing him to sell out, but that's what he did.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

US utilities scrambling for coal, imports on pace to increase 26% in 2014, New Hampshire just bought huge coal shipment from Russia-Bloomberg

7/16/14, "Hungry U.S. Power Plant Turns to Russia for Coal Shipment," Bloomberg, Mario Parker

"When New Hampshire's largest utility needed to rebuild coal supplies after the past frigid winter, it turned to Russia rather than Appalachia in the U.S. Northeast or Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. 

The Doric Victory, a bulk carrier the length of two football fields, transported the fuel almost 4,000 miles (6,436 kilometers) from Riga, Latvia, last month to Public Service of New Hampshire’s Schiller power plant in Portsmouth, a 150-megawatt facility that’s produced electricity since 1952.

Utilities in the U.S. are scrambling for coal, on pace to increase imports 26 percent this year, as railroad bottlenecks slow deliveries and electricity demand climbs with an improving economy. Russia, the world’s third-largest exporter of the fuel, will boost shipments 3.9 percent to 106 million metric tons this year, IHS Energy forecasts, part of President Vladimir Putin’s plan to expand Russia’s role in the global coal market. 

“Everyone’s aware that a number of plants have low stockpiles, so you hear Russian coal and they say, ‘Oh wow, people must really be desperate,’” James Stevenson, Houston-based director of North American coal at IHS, said in a July 8 telephone interview.

The New Hampshire utility declined to disclose the amount of coal that it purchased from Russia. U.S. bill of lading data show that 38,500 metric tons of steam coal were delivered. 

Russian Coal

A shipment of coal was contracted from Russia that met our operational and economic needs,” was all the utility was willing to say in an e-mail. 

U.S.-Russia relations are at a post-Cold War low after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea. The U.S. and European Union have imposed sanctions on companies and individuals tied to Putin’s inner circle and are considering further penalties. 

The Russian fuel appeals to power producers because it emits less sulfur than other coals, making it easier to comply with environmental rules, and has a high heat content, meaning it can produce more power per measure of fuel, Stevenson said. 

In 2012, Putin pledged to spend $120 billion in public and private funds to expand Russia’s coal mining capacity and boost exports through 2030. The country has the second-largest reserves behind the U.S., government data show. 

Russia's abundant supply of natural gas, also used to generate electricity, gives it the ability to flood the seaborne coal market, the U.S. Energy Department says. Exports from Russia have swelled 94 percent from January 2010 through May, data compiled by Bloomberg show. 

Coal Burning

U.S. utilities burned 30 million tons of coal inventories in the first quarter, EIA data show. March was the coldest for the month since 2002 in the contiguous 48 U.S. states, according to the National Climatic Data center, boosting power demand. In spring, an increase in oil and ethanol transport clogged the railways and slowed efforts by power generators to rebuild supply. 

Some utilities have as little as 20 days of reserves, Bill Davison, vice president of thermal coal sales at Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR), said last month at a conference in New York

Tennessee Valley Authority temporarily idled the Bull Run plant in May to rebuild supply, Vince Stroud, the company’s director of coal origination, said last month in an interview at the IHS McCloskey Coal USA conference in New York. 

Rail Service

Power producers have placed an emphasis on reliability of supply, whether it’s domestic or imported, as they try to increase inventories and navigate spotty rail service, said Frank Kolojeski, director of marketing at Exporting Commodities International Inc., a brokerage in Marlton, New Jersey

“A lot of companies were reluctant to go out and buy spot coal because they weren’t sure it would get delivered,” he said in a July 2 telephone interview. 

The U.S. imported 34 million tons of coal in 2008, a year in which the fuel accounted for 48 percent of electricity generation, government data show. Foreign purchases tumbled to 8.9 million tons by last year as coal’s share of electricity consumption dropped to 39 percent while gas use gained.

Coal buyers, producers and shippers responded to shrinking imports by idling or reallocating equipment, Kolojeski said. 

“Everybody had been used to five years of dormancy,” he said. All of a sudden there was a surge in demand. It caught everybody off guard.” 

In December days of coal supply fell below 60 days for the first time since summer 2011, according to the Energy Department’s statistical arm. 

Rising Imports

In the first quarter, the most recent period for which data is available, U.S. imports ballooned 71 percent to 2.4 million tons, EIA data show.

Companies in the U.S. are finding bargains because the world is currently oversupplied, Stevenson said. “In some ways the Russian coal was a bird in the hand,” he said. 

Thermal coal is used to generate electricity, while the metallurgical variety is needed to forge steel. 

Coal at the Australian port of Newcastle, Asia’s benchmark price, is down about 17 percent this year at $69.65 a metric ton. Coal for delivery next year to Northwest Europe is down 11 percent at $77.50. 

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, prices have increased 5.3 percent to $60.50. 

The global seaborne coal market may rise 4.6 percent this year to 997 million metric tons and could reach a record 1 billion tons, the Englewood, Colorado-based information company, estimates. Indonesia is the biggest seller of coal, followed by Australia, according to IHS. 

Colombia accounted for 67 percent and Indonesian coal made up 23 percent of U.S. imports in the first quarter, according to EIA. In the lower 48 states, the most foreign shipments have flowed in through Tampa, Florida, followed by Boston, the EIA data show. 

“If you are on the Atlantic Coast, you have a chance to buy imported coal,” Stevenson said. “If you’re a utility you have to act now and throughout the second half of the year in case there’s a colder winter than last year.”"



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