Tag Archives: fossil fuels

Ex-military infiltrators of pipeline opposition

Be sure that if you are at all successful in opposing a pipeline you will get infiltrators, whether FBI or private security. Be prepared to deal with it, whether by checking backgrounds, or comparing lists, or by some other methods.

One of the most effective methods appears to be exposing what the pipeline company and their hired hands are up to, as The Intercept_ did about infiltrators at Standing Rock, using leaks from private security firm TigerSwan, which was hired by pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) to “protect” its Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). THE INFILTRATOR: How an Undercover Oil Industry Mercenary Tricked Pipeline Opponents Into Believing He Was One of Them, Alleen Brown, The Intercept_, 30 December 2018,

An infiltrator
Joel McCollough, far right, at a climate march launch event in Chicago hosted by Food and Water Watch in April 2017. Photo: Courtesy of Gloria Araya, in The Intercept_.

What he’s certain of is that the glimmer of opportunity he saw at the beginning of the pipeline fight was extinguished when The Intercept published more than 100 TigerSwan situation reports leaked by a former operative, revealing the security firm’s extensive surveillance efforts, coordination with law enforcement, and comparisons of water protectors to jihadi fighters. …

He remembers thinking at one time, “If they watch their p’s and q’s, they will be the standard. They’ll be the company that everybody’s gonna use.” The former contractor laughed. “That didn’t happen.”

DAPL is a petroleum products pipeline, but we heard some of the same Continue reading

A complete lack of concern with our request –S.A.V.E. to VSU President McKinney

S.A.V.E. never gives up, and the VSU Foundation provided fuel for the fight. -jsq

November 13, 2013

Dr. William J. McKinney
Valdosta State University

Dear President McKinney,

Thank you very much for agreeing to be a part of our ceremony for the new solar canopy this Friday. We are excited for it, and we are glad that you will be able to come. We definitely appreciate your support, and we hope to have a nice turnout!

As happy as we are about VSU’s continuing efforts to “go green,” I am writing to you in regard to S.A.V.E.’s ongoing fossil fuel divestment campaign and the recent response we received from the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the VSU Foundation. If you have not yet read the letter, I have attached a copy for your convenience.

We were clearly disappointed to hear that our request had been denied, but what troubled us the most was the condescending tone used by Mr. Edwards in the last part of his letter. To end his letter on University (not Foundation) letterhead with sarcasm and cavalier dismissal of our concerns is unacceptable, especially as we have acted in a respectful manner throughout this process. Within his response, Mr. Edwards downplays the importance of practicing social responsibility and belittles the validity of past divestment campaigns that have been used to counteract injustices such as South Africa’s Apartheid regime, which represented an inhumane and repressive system that needed to be challenged.

We also find Continue reading

Fossil fuels get five times the subsidies of renewable solar and wind

Fossil fuels get more than $70 billion dollars a year in U.S. government subsidies (tax breaks and direct spending), while solar and wind get only about $12 billion, so fossil fuels got more than five times as much, while nuclear got ten times as much (especially in Georgia). Even corn ethanol, that sounded-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time boondoggle, gets more subsidies than solar and wind put together.

That’s without even going into the externalities such as healthcare costs due to polution, environmental destruction through mountaintop removal for coal, tar sands oil drilling, and fracking for natural gas, and wars for oil and uranium.

Continue reading

Renewable Portfolio Standards: GA, NC, and ALEC

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS) are being proposed in Georgia and ALEC is trying to do away with them in North Carolina. If ALEC doesn’t like them, there must be something good about RPS. Let’s get on with real renewable energy in Georgia.

In Georgia, HB 503, sponsored by Karla Drenner, Carol Fullerton, Debbie Buckner, Scott Holcomb, Spencer Frye, and Earnest Smith, would create a Renewable Energy Credits Trading program as part of renewable portfolio standards, as Kyle wrote for Spencer Frye’s blog 10 March 2013, Let the Sunshine In. Unfortunately, HB 503 includes biomass as a renewable energy source. Maybe they just mean landfill gas, which I consider a special case since it’s being produced anyway, and since methane is worse as a greenhouse gas than CO2, burning landfill gas makes some sense. Nope, in the actual bill, 46-3-71 (1):

‘Biomass material’ means organic matter, excluding fossil fuels and black liquor, including agricultural crops, plants, trees, wood, wood wastes and residues, sawmill waste, sawdust, wood chips, bark chips, and forest thinning, harvesting, or clearing residues; wood waste from pallets or other wood demolition debris; peanut shells; cotton plants; corn stalks; and plant matter, including aquatic plants, grasses, stalks, vegetation, and residues, including hulls, shells, or cellulose containing fibers

The barn door in there is “harvesting”, which can mean whole trees, but the rest isn’t much better. We don’t need to be burning things that increase atmospheric CO2 and end up stripping our forests. In North Carolina they staretd with just tops and limbs and then tried to escalate to whole trees. We already fought off the biomass boondoggle here in south Georgia; let’s not have it encouraged statewide. Especially when we have better solutions: solar and wind power. HB 503 isn’t going to get passed this year, since it didn’t make crossover day, so maybe its sponsors can clean up that biomass mess before they submit it again.

Speaking of North Carolina, Continue reading

Solar is coming —Michael Noll

Received yesterday on Solar tipping point within a few years. -jsq
In line with comments made by Steven Chu:

Solar cheaper than fossil fuels in a decade, says Steven Chu, by Christopher Mims, 3 November 2011.

Solar power will be cheaper than fossil fuels at some point between the end of this decade and 2026*, said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu

as well as a recent Op-Ed piece by Paul Krugman:

Here Comes Solar by Paul Krugman, 6 November 2011.

…progress in solar panels has been so dramatic and sustained that, as a blog post at Scientific American put it, “there’s now frequent talk of a ‘Moore’s law’ in solar energy,” with prices adjusted for inflation falling around 7 percent a year.

This has already led to rapid growth in solar installations, but even more change may be just around the corner. If the downward trend continues — and if anything it seems to be accelerating — we’re just a few years from the point at which electricity from solar panels becomes cheaper than electricity generated by burning coal.

And if we priced coal-fired power right, taking into account the huge health and other costs it imposes, it’s likely that we would already have passed that tipping point.

-Michael Noll

I added the blockquotes and the Moore’s Law link. Seems to me physicist Sec. Chu must be looking only at the sticker price, while economist Krugman is also looking at other costs and at externalities not currently included in the sticker price, yet still costing us in other ways. Add in the costs of wars for oil and I wonder how long ago solar already became cheaper than oil….


Solar tipping point within a few years

Why is anyone still building fossil fuel (or nuclear for that matter) power plants when solar is within a few years of being cheaper? In other words, by the time those other plants can be built, solar is very likely to be more cost-effective?

Marcia Goodrich wrote for physorg yesterday, Affordable solar: It’s closer than you think,

It’s a matter of economics. A new analysis by [Michigan Technical University Associate Professor Joshua] Pearce and his colleagues at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, shows that solar photovoltaic systems are very close to achieving the tipping point: they can make electricity that’s as cheap—sometimes cheaper—as what consumers pay their utilities.

Here’s why. First, the price of solar panels has plummeted. “Since 2009, the cost has dropped 70 percent,” says Pearce. But more than that, the assumptions used in previous studies have not given solar an even break.

“Historically, when comparing the economics of solar and conventional energy, people have been very conservative,” says Pearce.

It’s not just that the cost of equipment keeps dropping; older panels remain more efficient than most previous estimates:
For example, most analyses assume that the productivity of solar panels will drop at an annual rate of 1 percent or more, a huge overestimation, according to Pearce. “If you buy a top-of-the-line solar panel, it’s much less, between 0.1 and 0.2 percent.”
There’s more in the news article, and in the journal article it references, A review of solar photovoltaic levelized cost of electricity, K. Brankera, M.J.M. Pathaka, J.M. Pearce, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 15, Issue 9, pages 4470-4482. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2011.07.104


Google says delaying solar will cost U.S. millions of jobs

If it’s true for the country, it’s true for south Georgia. So moving ahead with solar will gain jobs.

David Worthington wrote for smartplanet 28 June 2011, Google: delay on renewables will cost U.S. trillions, over million jobs:

Google has published an analysis of the economic benefits of renewable energy innovation. It has concluded that even a five year lapse without a national clean energy policy would cost the United States an aggregate US$2.3-3.2 trillion in unrealized GDP gains and 1.2-1.4 million net jobs.
The study was about renewable energy in general, but: Continue reading

Sunshot: solar cheaper than coal in six years

Solar is expensive at the moment, but that could change rapidly. David Biello writes in Scientific American yesterday:
The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) aims to change that by bringing down the cost of solar electricity via a new program dubbed “SunShot,” an homage to President John Kennedy’s “moon shot” pledge in 1961.

“If you can get solar electricity down at [$1 per watt], and it scales without subsidies, gosh, I think that’s pretty good for the climate,” notes Arun Majumdar, director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA–e), the DoE’s high-risk research effort. “With SunShot, the goal is to reduce the cost of solar to [$1 per watt] in the next six years.”

Hm, so maybe Ray Kurzweil is right.

DoE Secretary Chu even thinks we could win something else:

“Just because we lost the lead doesn’t mean we can’t get it back,” Chu said. “We still have the opportunity to lead the world in clean energy…but time is running out.”
Meanwhile, we could shift fossil fuel subsidies over to solar and get on with it.


12 times more subsidies: fossil fuels vs. clean energy

Money & Company reports on 30 Nov 2010 that Clean energy gets fewer subsidies, less investment than fossil fuels, report says:
Energy from fossil fuel gets 12 times more in subsidies worldwide than sustainable energy, says a new report from the USC Marshall School of Business.
Corporate welfare for polluters.
“Inertia in the form of myopia, misperception, and dulled motivation, at the economy, firm, and consumer levels creates resistance to change and constrains solution-seeking to incremental improvements of known technologies rather than disruptive breakthrough innovations needed,” they wrote in their executive summary.
Hm, that sounds familiar.


WSJ on Economic Problems of Biomass Plants

Jim Carlton points out in the Wall Street Journal some of the problems of biomass plants.
With all the plants and trees in the world, biomass energy would appear to have boundless potential.
Or as Georgia politicians are fond of saying, “Georgia is the Saudi Arabia of forest energy.”
Yet in the U.S., biomass power—generated mainly by burning wood and other plant debris—has run into roadblocks that have stymied its growth.

Here at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, officials in 2007 built a $7.7 million biomass plant to meet all the power needs of the medium-security prison. But last month, two years after the plant opened, prison officials closed it, citing excessive costs.

“This was a project that was well intentioned, but not well implemented,” says Jeff Mohlenkamp, deputy director of support services for the Nevada Department of Corrections.

Even with a captive market (pun intended), biomass was not economically feasible.

Maybe it was an isolated case? Continue reading