IN THE TANK – CLIMATE “CONTRARIANS” BLACKLISTED?
4 hours ago
“We’re confident that there are around 50 years of oil left,” Karen Ward, the [HSBC] bank’s senior global economist, said in an interview on CNBC.
The bank, the world’s second largest in assets, further cautioned that growth trends in developing countries like China could put as many as one billion more cars on the road by midcentury. “That’s tremendous pressure on oil to power all those resources,” Ms. Ward said.
Substitutes, such as biofuels and synthetic oil from coal, could fill the gap if conventional supplies fall short, but only if average oil prices exceed $150 per barrel, the report notes. Increasingly tight global supplies, meanwhile, are likely to cause “persistent and painful” price shocks, it says.
Some oil industry observers take a more optimistic view of future supplies, arguing that further development of Canadian tar sands, offshore discoveries in the Arctic and an expected surge in supply from Iraq will keep oil markets well-supplied for decades. Shale drilling has also managed to boost domestic oil production in the United States after years of decline.
If those job losses were the necessary cost of doing something serious about the deficit, perhaps Republicans could justify them. But that’s not the case. The GOP’s
spending cuts come from the 12 percent of the budget known as “nondefense discretionary spending.” That’s not Medicare, Medicaid, big tax breaks like the mortgage-interest deduction, military spending, or Social Security—not, in other words, any of the major contributors to the deficit. Rather, it’s a hodgepodge of programs for education, retraining workers, housing the homeless, investing in infrastructure, and so forth. This part of the budget tends to be lean, as politicians continually return to it to make cuts. Why? Because its beneficiaries tend to be politically weak—kids rather than seniors, or unemployed workers rather than corporate titans.
Senate Democrats, frustrated by the depth of the cuts Republicans have proposed, have tried to negotiate. “Tax cuts and expanded mandatory programs are a large part of what got us here,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, “and they are going to have to be part of the solution.” Republicans were not interested. “Right now we need to crawl before we can walk, and that means finishing last year’s business and complet[ing] a spending bill,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. “[The Democrats’] answer is to raise taxes, not to cut spending, and that’s not something anyone else is talking about,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Five years ago, many oil experts saw trouble looming. In 10 years or so, they said, oil producers outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would likely be unable to pump oil any faster and OPEC would gain an even stronger hand among the world's oil producers. Five years on, it appears those experts may have been unduly optimistic—non-OPEC oil production may have been peaking as they spoke. Despite a near tripling of world oil prices, non-OPEC production, which accounts for 60% of world output, hasn't increased significantly since 2004. And many of those same experts, as well as some major oil companies, don't see it increasing again—ever. Optimists remain. Some experts still see production from new frontiers, such as Kazakhstan, the deep waters off Brazil, and the oil sands of Canada, pushing production above the current plateau in the next few years. But time's running out to prove that newly discovered fields and new technology can more than compensate for flagging production from the rapidly aging fields beyond OPEC.(And the media is saying that the Japanese nuclear accident might be the end, or the beginning of a long slowdown, for nuclear power. To which I say, what else is going to power human civilization?)
"All this leaves one fuel as the prime alternative -- natural gas, its proponents say, is cheap, readily available and significantly cleaner than oil or coal.If it wasn't for that pesky climate change thing...
Some of the downsides of gas in the past -- price volatility and tight supplies -- have been overcome for now.
Reserves have increased by nearly 70 percent over the past two decades because of new finds, the shale gas revolution in the United States, the advent of LNG and Europe's own potential shale gas reserves, which are being explored at the moment.
A host of new pipelines is being planned or built from Russia and Central Asia to customers in Western Europe, opening new import routes the companies involves want to be filled.
Because of the oversupply, prices have been lower than they were for years, meaning that natural gas is also a commercially attractive option."
Italy will declare a one-year moratorium on the country's nuclear programme at a cabinet meeting Wednesday, Economic Development Minister Paolo Romani told a parliamentary committee.
"At the cabinet meeting tomorrow we will call a one-year moratorium on decisions or the search for nuclear sites," Romani said Tuesday.
Rome had planned to start building nuclear power stations from 2014 and hoped to produce a quarter of its electricity with atomic energy by 2030.
The elephant in the living room, of course, is the threat of a government shutdown. Republicans seem terrified that they will get blamed if there is a stalemate and this leads to a shutdown of the non-essential parts of the government. And they are terrified of this outcome even if they have approved a budget and the stalemate exists solely because Harry Reid has blocked their budget in the Senate and/or Barack Obama has vetoed their budget.
"A new Pew Research Center poll shows that about half of Americans think the debate over spending and deficits has been "generally rude and disrespectful."
There's even bipartisan agreement — 48 percent of Republicans and Democrats have that view, as well as 57 percent of independents. President Barack Obama signed legislation Friday to provide funding to keep the government open until April 8, the sixth such temporary extension in the 6-month-old fiscal year.
Pew surveyed 1,525 adults from March 8-14. The poll's findings suggest the political losers so far have been Republicans, who rode a wave of voter irritation to win control of the House of Representatives last fall.
After the election, 35 percent said Republicans had a better approach to the deficit, expected to reach a record $1.65 trillion this year. This month, that number has plunged to 21 percent."
"[Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P.] Jackson said the House Republicans' plan to cut more than $3 billion from the EPA would have a major impact. "Big polluters would flout legal restrictions on dumping contaminants into the air, into rivers, and onto the ground," she said. "There would be no EPA grant money to fix or replace broken water treatment systems. And the standards that EPA is set to establish for harmful air pollutants from smokestacks and tailpipes would remain missing."
"During the hearing, the EPA released a report that said that the cost-benefit of enacting the 1990 Clean Air Act under former president George H.W. Bush would reach about $2 trillion in 2020. The report also said the Act would save about 230,000 people from early death that year.
According to the report, which the EPA said received a review and input from scientists, economists and public health experts at the Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis, estimated that 160,000 cases of premature death, 130,000 heart attacks, 1.7 million asthma attacks and 13 million lost work days were prevented last year by the reduction in fine particle and ozone pollution."
The refueling craft – a flying satellite gas station – will be built by the Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) and is slated to launch in 2015. Communications satellite company Intelsat, based in Luxembourg and Washington, has signed on as its first client, agreeing to pay more than $280 million over time for its satellites to be refueled.
" ...the ability to tow or refuel dead satellites in order to steer them out of the way would have a big impact on the growing problem of dangerous space debris clogging the crowded corridors of Earth orbit.
"In the context of debris removal, this is the absolute best and absolute most fantastic new venture for the entire space community."
"Now Mr. Steyer appears to be itching to take on the Koch brothers and their supporters as Republican lawmakers seek to limit the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. “As an investor who one might say is insanely obsessed with energy and its generation and use around the world, it seems crazy to me we would roll back science-based clean air standards because there are skillful political operatives and wealthy political donors who really want to get rid of E.P.A. regulations,” he said in a speech Monday evening at the Cleantech Forum conference in San Francisco. “That seems nuts to me.”
"McConnell, the Senate's leading Republican, told Fox News Sunday that he stands behind his support for nuclear power despite the devastation in Japan.
"I don't think right after a major environmental catastrophe is a very good time to be making American domestic policy," McConnell said.
The Republican proposal, HR1, actually proposes cuts in the Head Start program that would mean:
* 218,000 children from low income families will lose Head Start/Early Head Start services;
* 16,000 Head Start/Early Head Start classrooms will close;
* 55,000 Head Start/Early Head Start teachers and staff will lose their jobs;
* 150,000 low-income families and their children will lose assistance in paying for child care.
They say they need to make these cuts because we must "tighten our belts" to cut spending because "America is broke." But at the very same time they voted to cut Head Start, the Republicans voted to continue $4 billion worth of subsidies to Big Oil. That's right, they want to continue to hand over $4 billion of the taxpayers' money to companies like Exxon-Mobil, the most profitable company in human history.
Of course that's not all. The Republicans in the House voted to cut Pell Grants, that help middle class kids go to college, by 25%.
They voted to kill a program that helps low-income families weatherize their homes and permanently reduce their energy bills. Guess we just have to tighten our belts!
They voted to cut funds for employment and training service for jobless workers -- so much for "jobs, jobs, jobs."
They voted to cut funding for clean, safe drinking water by more than half, to cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 10% and to cut funds for the Food and Drug Administration by another 10%. All the while handing out billions to the oil companies.
But the Republicans not only want to give subsidies to the oil companies, their spending plan would cut our investments in clean energy that would allow us to throw off the yoke of foreign oil. H.R. 1 slashes key Department of Energy (DOE) programs that promote clean energy by about $1.7 billion -- approximately a 23 percent decrease from current levels. What's more, they have included non-budget "riders" that gut the clean air act.
The Republicans are not only endangering our economic security. They are endangering our national security by guaranteeing we are held hostage by whoever happens to control the oil fields thousands of miles from our shores.
With U.S. President Barack Obama under pressure to rein in federal spending, the White House eliminated funding for the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) and Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice (DESDynI) missions, Steve Volz, associate director for flight programs at NASA’s Earth Science Division, said in a Feb. 24 interview.
While NASA’s Earth Science Division fared better in the president’s 2012 budget proposal than other parts of the agency, the division stands to receive some $1.7 billion less between 2010 and 2015 than forecast just last year.
That spending plan, which called for giving Earth science a growing share of a NASA budget expected to surpass $20 billion within four years, included enough funding to build and launch all four top-tier decadal survey missions by the end of 2017.
The NASA budget plan unveiled Feb. 14 puts last year’s growth plans on hold. The agency’s overall spending would be frozen at $18.7 billion, and Earth science, after receiving a $400 million boost for 2012, would remain flat at $1.8 billion through at least 2016.
Meanwhile, in a speech Wednesday at the Center for American Progress, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to call on lawmakers to merge talks over the short-term spending cuts with the Gang of Six bipartisan negotiations over the budget for next year and beyond. Doing so, he suggested in a statement, would "broaden the playing field" - now narrowly focused on the domestic programs that make up less than a fifth of overall federal spending - to include cuts to the entitlement programs that make up nearly two-thirds of federal spending, as well as higher revenue.
And if America had higher marginal tax rates and more tax brackets at the top -- for those raking in $1 million, $5 million, $15 million a year -- the budget would look even better. We wouldn't be firing teachers or slashing Medicaid or hurting the most vulnerable members of our society. We wouldn't be in a tizzy over Social Security. We'd slow the rise in health care costs but we wouldn't cut Medicare. We'd cut defense spending and lop off subsidies to giant agribusinesses but we wouldn't view the government as our national nemesis.
Nationally, you remember, Republicans demanded and received an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich. They've made it clear they're intent on extending them for the next ten years, at a cost of $900 billion. They've also led the way on cutting the estate tax, and on protecting Wall Street private equity and hedge-fund managers whose earnings are taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent. And the last thing they'd tolerate is an increase in the top marginal tax rate on the super-rich.He also said:
Meanwhile, of course, more and more of the nation's income and wealth has been concentrating at the top. In the late 1970s, the top 1 percent got 9 percent of total income. Now it gets more than 20 percent.
So the problem isn't that "we've" been spending too much. It's that most Americans have been getting a steadily smaller share of the nation's total income.