energy

Thu, 2011-06-16 14:15Laurel Whitney
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Stories From the March on Blair Mountain - Part 1 The March

I arrived a few days early to headquarters in Marmet, WV with an overly large pack that threatened to topple me over with one slightly unbalanced step. A sleeping bag, multiple changes of clothes, a bottle of Listerine, and ample bug spray would have to last me through the long and arduous journey of marching 50 miles along highways careening through the West Virginian Appalachians.

Over the next week, hundreds walked along the path of the original 1921 miners who rose up against the tyrannous coal companies in an attempt to unionize. In the 2011 March on Blair Mountain, community leaders, union members, and conservationists rallied to save the historical labor icon of Blair Mountain, sentenced for destruction via mountaintop removal mining (MTR).  We marched to protest against MTR and to advocate for safer working conditions and sustainable jobs for West Virginians, whose economy and proud natural landscape have been eroded by greedy coal barons.

Fri, 2011-06-10 12:56Farron Cousins
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Massey Energy Is Not The Only Mountaintop Removal Mining Villain

This week, hundreds of protesters are marching to Blair Mountain in West Virginia to call for an end to mountaintop removal coal mining. The march commemorates the Battle of Blair Mountain – one of the most significant labor battles in American history, and one of the few times in history when a sitting U.S. president threatened to use air strikes against American citizens. The group Appalachia Rising organized the march to draw attention to the practice of mountaintop mining, which is destroying large swaths of the Appalachian Mountains. Blair Mountain was added to a list of historic U.S. sites back in 2008, but due to pressure from the coal industry, the mountain was removed from the protected list and could now be subjected to mountaintop removal mining.

Mountaintop removal mining (MTR) entails blowing the tops off of entire mountains in order to extract the coal seems within. The method became popular when coal companies realized that they could produce two and a half times as much coal per worker hour by removing the tops of mountains, rather than traditional coal mining methods. As a result, some states have reduced the number of coal workers by as much as 60%, while output and profits have remained steady.

Tue, 2011-05-31 05:15Farron Cousins
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House Republicans Distort Reality To Blame Obama For High Gas Prices

Never ones to let facts get in the way of a good political smear, House Republicans released a report blaming President Obama and the Democrats for high gas prices in America. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, led by Republican Representative Darrell Issa, claims that the president has launched a concerted effort within the government to keep energy prices high in order to force “green technology” on the public.

The new report says that onerous environmental policies put in place by the administration and enforced by the EPA are causing domestic energy prices to rise dramatically, effectively killing jobs and hurting every American who drives a car. They also say that Obama is limiting oil companies’ ability to drill for “American” oil in places like the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and that the President is not allowing them to exploit the natural resources of our country by imposing limits on hydraulic fracturing.

Fri, 2011-05-20 10:16Farron Cousins
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On Oil Drilling, Which Obama Do We Trust?

Mainstream media has been covering oil in some form or fashion nonstop for weeks. Stories abound over high gasoline prices, oil industry subsidies, and oil drilling. And in spite of all of this coverage and numerous speeches, it is unclear where the Obama Administration stands on the issues.

While on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama told us that he would continue the ban that was in place on new offshore drilling projects in American waters. A year after taking office, he reversed this position and opened up 500,000 square miles of water for oil drilling. Less than a month after opening up these waters, disaster struck as BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank, causing millions of gallons of oil to leak into the Gulf of Mexico. After this tragedy, the Obama Administration put a moratorium in place to stop new leases on offshore drilling, going back to his original campaign promise.

Unfortunately, just a year later, the administration has apparently forgotten the lessons we learned after BP’s blowout, as this week they announced that they are not only in favor of opening up more waters for drilling, but are also planning on opening up areas of Alaska for the oil companies to plunder.

So I ask – which Obama do we trust? Campaign Obama? Post-election Obama? Post-BP Obama? Or present-day Obama?

Tue, 2011-05-17 10:52Farron Cousins
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GOP House Energy Action Team Is Dirty Energy Dream Team

Earlier this month, House Republicans formed the House Energy Action Team, or “HEAT.” 26 GOP members of Congress joined the group, whose stated mission to is to reduce American dependence on foreign oil and reduce gasoline prices for American consumers.

On the surface, the group’s intentions seem reasonable, but a comprehensive analysis by DeSmogBlog shows that the members of HEAT are using their positions to promote the use of oil and other dirty fossil fuels, rather than promoting the development and use of clean renewable fuel sources.

Among the initiatives that the group took up first are three bills that would expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico – an area that will be dealing with the effects of the BP oil disaster for years to come. This combination of bills would end the Obama Administration’s moratorium on new drilling in the Gulf, as well as expedite the leasing process for new drilling permits.

Republican members of HEAT also voted in favor of H.R. 1 earlier this year, which would reduce funding for alternative energy research, as well as strip the EPA of its authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

ThinkProgress compiled a list of the campaign contributions each member of HEAT has received over the course of their careers (which total more than $4 million for all members combined.) It is important to note that all but one of these members voted against repealing the $4 billion in subsidies that the oil industry receives every year. The members are listed below with their career contributions from the oil and gas industry, as well as their positions and proposals on energy and environment throughout their careers:

Fri, 2011-05-13 10:12Laurel Whitney
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BREAKING: Peabody Energy Threatens To Sue Yes Men For Exclusivity

See updates below the fold!
Earlier this week, Peabody Energy was the target of a genius parody website, Coal Cares™, offering free novelty inhalers to families living within 200 miles of a coal plant along with coupons for $10 off asthma medication in lieu of spending money on pollution-reducing technology at their own coal plants. The spoof site was put together by a group called Coal is Killing Kids through the Yes Lab, a spin-off of the Yes Men.

But then, Peabody decided it wasn’t fair that they were getting all the spotlight, and had their lawyers whip up a quick legal threat. But it wasn’t the expected cease and desist letter to take down the website. Rather, Peabody complained that they were unfairly targeted because while they are the largest coal company, they aren’t the only coal company causing asthma attacks in children. 

Tue, 2011-05-10 14:37Farron Cousins
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Scientists Confirm Fracking Link To Flammable Drinking Water

A new peer-reviewed study from Duke University shows that drinking water in areas within a half-mile of fracking wells can become contaminated with dangerous levels of methane - enough to catch on fire if lit. The report says that the levels of methane in some areas of Pennsylvania and New York are so great that they pose a significant fire and explosion hazard.

The study was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. One of the study’s authors, Duke environmental science professor Robert Jackson, says that the threat of explosions in this drinking water are real and need to be dealt with. From a CNN report:

“The study said about half of the 68 drinking water wells tested in Pennsylvania and New York located within a half a mile from natural gas wells had high levels of methane – the prime ingredient in natural gas fuel…The gas, which is usually located thousands of feet below the water table, appears to be entering the water wells either through cracks in the bedrock or, more likely, the casing in natural gas wells… Casings are steel and concrete barriers natural gas companies use to line a well where it passes through the water table.”

Wed, 2011-04-27 11:15Mike Casey
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National Coal Expert: “Mining is a Loser” in Practically Every Way

Originally posted at The Great Energy Challenge blog

Anytime coal’s cost to America is discussed, the coal industry reflexively talks about what an economic lifeline it is for the states in which it operates. Headwaters Economics, a Bozeman-based think tank focusing on natural resource issues, has a solid new study that’s getting national attention for undercutting those claims. For instance, the Headwaters study finds that “[f]ossil fuel production has not insulated energy-producing states from fiscal crisis,” that “[f]ossil fuel extraction has a limited influence at the state level on economic indicators such as GDP by state, personal income, and employment,” and that “[t]he volatility of fossil fuel markets poses obstacles to the stability and long-term security of economic growth in energy-producing regions.”

This is a problem for the coal industry, which spends heavily to construct a fantasy world in which it’s a “clean” industry to which we should feel grateful, a vital supplier of our power, and an economic lifeline to host communities.

But in the real world, coal’s case is even weaker than the Headwaters study shows. The work of Professor Michael Hendryx of West Virginia University goes even further. His work has looked at the costs of coal mining to the Appalachian communities that host it.

Wed, 2011-03-09 11:05Farron Cousins
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Congress Seeks to End Billions in Subsidies for Oil Companies

As both oil industry profits and gas prices continue to rise, Congressman Bruce Braley (D – IA) believes that it is time to end the billions of dollars worth of subsidies that the United States hands out to oil companies on an annual basis. In his proposed Clean Energy Jobs bill, Braley would end the tax breaks and other subsidies that flow to the oil industry, and use that money instead to create clean energy jobs, invest in biofuel production, and pay down the national debt.

These oil industry subsidies are nothing to scoff at. In 2005, then-President George W. Bush authorized a total of $32.9 billion worth of new subsidies for the industry over five years, bringing the annual total of their subsidies to a staggering $39 billion. The new subsidies were put in place at a time when Americans were paying the highest price for gasoline at the pump in history, which coincided with the largest oil company profits to date.

Mon, 2011-02-21 06:13Mike Casey
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Top EIA Energy Trends Watcher Agrees: We Do Not Count Damage to Public Property in Price of Fossil Fuels

Scaling Green recently wrote about the insights shared by energy trends analyst Chris Namovicz of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), who spoke at our “Communicating Energy” lecture series recently, and his comments regarding the lack of a definitive count on fossil fuel subsidies in this country. Today, we return to Namovicz’s lecture, this time to ask him about the economics of fossil fuel companies’ exploitation of resources on public property.

Here’s our question:

Their price drops in part because we’re not charging them to ruin public property. I mean, we basically are letting them contaminate water, we don’t charge them for that, and they don’t have to pay it. Your assumptions don’t include any price we would impose on them for hurting public waterways, is that accurate?

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