Articals of interest to the coal industry.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Nuke's! ! Greenpeace dont want no stinking Nuke's

Greenpeace calls for abandoning plans for more N-plants

Tuesday, May 29, 2007-->Web posted at: 5/26/2007 8:11:13Source ::: Reuters
london • Britain could slash its carbon emissions and secure its future energy supplies quickly and cheaply by abandoning plans to build more nuclear power plants, according to Greenpeace.
By betting on nuclear, Britain is also setting a bad example to the rest of the world, senior Greenpeace UK energy and climate change adviser, Robin Oakley, said.
In less time and with less money than it takes to build new nuclear reactors, or try out ways of burying emissions from dirty power plants, the government could hit its energy goals by using proven technology available now.
“We are much better off focusing on the things that we know will work and deliver results fast,” Oakley said.
“The key ones are efficiency, going after decentralised energy to make the system more efficient, and bringing on renewables as quickly as possible,” he said in an interview. Government ministers previously opposed to atomic energy, including Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling, have warmed to it as the threat of climate change has grown, arguing that it offers clean power and cuts reliance on imported gas.
Apart from safety and waste disposal concerns, Greenpeace argues that nuclear is expensive, impractical and slow to offer a solution to either problem.
“It’s a technology that only generates electricity at a time when we need to be reducing emissions and dealing with energy questions right across the board including heat and transport,” Oakley said.
Instead, Britain should be cutting energy use while building lots of small combined heat and power (CHP) plants that are more energy efficient because they pipe the heat given off from electricity production to homes and businesses.
“You get a more secure electricity supply if you have got a more diverse range of sources, as you woulds have under a decentralised energy system,” Oakley said.
CHPs can burn various fuels from organic matter to coal or gas. And as they can be up to 95 per cent efficient, whatever they burn means less emissions per unit of energy produced.
“They deliver immediate results, they are cheaper to deploy and they give you a much bigger impact on reducing gas use and reducing emissions than nuclear power, which can’t be delivered within the next decade,” Oakley said.
Oakley cited government figures showing the UK could build enough CHP plants to produce about twice the electricity that the nuclear industry does today, about 20 percent, in less time than it would take to replace its existing nuclear plants. Backed up by wind, wave and tidal power, CHPs and energy efficiency can make nuclear power irrelevant, he added.

Australian bet on clean coal

Australian bet on clean coal risks climate change

Monday, 28 May 2007, 1:39 pm
Article: Michael Peck
Australia’s energy security policy undermines its climate change targets
Australian bet on clean coal risks climate changeby Michael Peck
The Australian Labor Party (ALP) is counting on clean coal technology (CCT) to achieve long term energy security by exploiting Australia’s huge coal reserves. This is a high risk policy given the enormous challenge of CCT which captures carbon dioxide and buries it in exhausted oil or gas fields. It suggests that the ALP, like the current Howard Government, is in thrall to the fossil fuel lobby.
A major theme of Labor leader Kevin Rudd’s April 27 speech to the 2007 annual ALP Conference was that Australia ‘desperately needs a government engaged in the business of long term solutions.’ Rudd identified ‘long term energy security’ and ‘climate change’ as two major challenges facing the nation over the next decades.[1] Ten days before Rudd’s speech, Senator Chris Evans, Shadow Minister for National Development, Resources and Energy, outlined the direction of ALP’s energy policy in his speech ‘Where Does Energy Policy Have To Go’ to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Conference.
Noting Australia’s oil production was in decline with limited future prospects, Evans stated that Australia is ‘facing a profound shift in the source of our liquid fuels, which has major implications for our energy security in the future.’ Australia ‘faces a trade deficit in oil and condensate of up to $27 billion in 2015 … compared to a deficit of just under $4 billion in 2005.’ According to Evans the key issue is Australia’s reliance ‘on overseas sources, including the Middle East, for up to 80 per cent of its oil’ leaving the country exposed to potential disruptions to supply and price shocks. [2] He defined Australia’s energy security challenge as developing ‘a secure supply of alternative liquid fuels over the medium to long term.’ This would be achieved by diversifying sources of liquid transport fuels through ‘development of gas-to-liquids, coal-to-liquids and biofuels.’
Evans also touted the ALP’s $500 million National Clean Coal Initiative, noting that Australia’s ‘immense reserves and the importance of our coal exports mean that the development of CCT must be a strategic energy priority.’ Under Labor then, Australia will be doing the same as it is now under the Liberal-National Coalition: pinning its hopes on CCT. Australia generates 79% of its electricity from coal[3]. Using coal to generate electricity and converting coal (or gas) to liquid fuel are high CO2 emission processes. CCT can be applied to all of them, however, CCT reduces power plant efficiency and requires, according to a recent MIT study, 27% to 37% more coal for the same energy output.[4]
The problem with CCT is the huge scale on which it must be applied. Canadian energy researcher Vaclav Smil calculates that if just 10% of global CO2 emissions were to be sequestered, this would mean burying annually about 6,000 million cubic metres of compressed CO2 gas. This is larger than the annual volume of oil extracted globally – a bit less than 5,000 million cubic metres in 2005. This means creating an industry that would, every year, force underground a volume of compressed gas larger than the volume of crude oil extracted globally by the petroleum industry. Noting that the oil industry’s infrastructure and capacity has been put in place over a century, Smil concludes that ‘such a technical feat could not be accomplished within a single generation.’ [5]
Smil also notes that the same 10% reduction in CO2 emissions could be achieved by improving energy efficiency. Reducing the average annual US per capita energy consumption – roughly twice the affluent EU level – by about 40% would cut global carbon emissions by at least 2,500 million tonnes. This is nearly 10% of the 28,000 million tonnes emitted globally in 2005.
Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, and the Howard government has repeatedly stated that it will not ratify the Kyoto protocol because of the importance of protecting Australia’s energy exports. In his recent book ‘Scorcher: The dirty politics of climate change’, Clive Hamilton, Executive Director of the Australia Institute, argues that the Howard government believes Australia’s future prosperity and strength as nation depend on one factor above all others: Australia’s ability to increase energy exports to Asia. This belief explains its refusal to ratify Kyoto. In July 2006 John Howard even stated that he wanted Australia to become an ‘energy superpower.’ Hamilton also exposes the powerful influence of the ‘greenhouse mafia’ – a group of extremely well-connected lobbyists mainly from the Coal and Aluminium industries – on Australia’s environmental and energy policies[6].
In pursuit of its vision, which is no higher than remaining Asia’s coal mine, the Howard Government’s low ambition has been to undermine international cooperation to address climate change. In stark contrast, Rudd wants to take action on climate change by setting an ambitious CO2 emission reduction target of 60 per cent by 2050. Polls indicate this would have popular support. Rudd has also outlined a new vision for Australia that looks beyond the resource boom to new prosperity based on education and technology. He’s stated: ‘I don’t want to be a prime minister of a country that doesn’t make things any more.’
The ALP’s long term energy policy is high risk because it is reliant on technology barely out of the laboratory, which may not work on a large scale, and even if it does, may take a century to become established. It therefore collides squarely with the ALP’s ambitious 2050 CO2 emission reduction target. The ALP’s long term energy policy is high on hope and, if it fails, will have delayed any action to reduce Australia’s high coal consumption and CO2 emissions. The ‘greenhouse mafia’ would approve.
[1] SMH (2007) ‘I’m Kevin. I’m here to help’, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 2007, [Online], Available: [27 April 2007].
[2] EVANS (2007) ‘Where Does Energy Policy Have to Go’, Speech to the 2007 Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Conference, Labour eHerald, 17 April 2007, [Online], Available: [27 April 2007].
[3] IEA (2004) ‘Electricity/Heat in Australia in 2004’, International Energy Agency, [Online], Available:, [12 May 2007].
[4] MIT (2007) The Future of Coal: Options for a carbon-constrained world - An Interdisciplinary MIT Study, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, [Online], Available: [18 March 2007].
[5] SMIL, V. (2006) Energy at the Crossroads: Background notes for a presentation at the Global Science Forum Conference on Scientific Challenges for Energy Research, OECD Conference on Scientific Challenges for Energy Research, Paris, 2006, [Online], Available: [11 December 2006].
[6] HAMILTON, C. (2007) Scorcher: the dirty politics of climate change, Melbourne, Black Inc. Agenda.

© 2007 Michael PeckMichael Peck is a post graduate student in International Studies at the University of Sydney

Plant a tree then jet to Cancun ; Leave no carbon foot print

Plant a tree, jet to Cancun? Offset schemes not that simple

Kingsport Times News
The Associated Press
ALBANY, N.Y. -- If you plant some trees, is it OK to drive an Escalade?
The question isn't as silly as it sounds. People worried about global warming increasingly are trying to "offset" the carbon dioxide -- the leading greenhouse gas -- they spew into the atmosphere when they drive, fly or flick on a light. One idea popular with the eco-conscious is to have trees planted for them. You get to keep driving and flying, but those trees are supposed to suck in your trail of carbon.
Whole forests have been funded by tree-loving celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Coldplay, and more modest packages tailored to typical consumers are proliferating.
But some researchers say planting trees -- while a good thing -- is at best a marginal solution to global warming. Still others decry tree planters who continue to jet off to Cannes, drive their SUVs or generally fail to reduce their fuel-hungry lifestyle. To those critics, plantings and other carbon offsets are like the medieval practice of selling indulgences to wash away sins: It may feel good, but it doesn't solve much.
"The sale of offset indulgences is a dead-end detour off the path of action required in the face of climate change," says a report by the Transnational Institute's Carbon Trade Watch.
Groups that offer tree offsets typically rely on Web calculators requiring users to type in how many miles they drive, how much electricity they use and how far they fly. Figure out how much CO2 someone is responsible for (output), compare it to the work average trees can do (input), and you have a formula for neutralizing a person's "carbon footprint."
While the band Coldplay famously funded 10,000 mango trees in India to soak up emissions related to the production of a CD, the average consumer can get off far easier. For $40, Trees for the Future will plant 400 trees in a developing country to handle your car emissions. In June, Delta Air Lines will allow online ticket buyers to help offset emissions of their flights through tree plantings in the U.S. and abroad: $5.50 for domestic round trips, $11 for international.
"It's easy to do and it makes a big difference," said Jena Thompson of the Conservation Fund, Delta's partner and one of many groups that will plant trees on your behalf.
The science is sound: Trees take in carbon dioxide as part of photosynthesis and store the carbon. But even conservationists caution it's not as simple as planting a sapling so you can crank up the air conditioning without guilt.
Offset groups use averages to estimate how much carbon a given tree or forested acre can capture. For instance, the nonprofit Conservation Fund figures that each tree planted captures less than 11/2 tons over 100 years.
To put that in perspective, consider that about 7.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide was produced from the burning of fossil fuels worldwide in 2003, the most recent estimate available.
And how much carbon dioxide a tree can soak up varies, said John Kadyszewski of Winrock International, a nonprofit that works on environmental projects. A huge California redwood might have 30 tons of carbon stored while a 100-year-old pine might have less than a ton.
"Trees are all different," said Kadyszewski, coordinator for ecosystem services for Winrock, "and the amount of carbon in the tree depends on how old it is and where it's growing and what kind of tree it is."
Kadyszewski notes that most of the calculators use conservative numbers, meaning they're not likely to exaggerate benefits. The Conservation Fund and both say they plant more than enough trees to deliver on promised offsets.
There are other potential problems, however. Some researchers suggest forests in the snowy North might actually increase local warming by absorbing sunlight that would otherwise be reflected into space. And dead, decaying trees release some of that captured carbon back into the atmosphere.
Maybe most importantly, some researchers say it's simply not possible to plant enough trees to have a significant effect on global warming.
Michael MacCracken, chief scientist at the nonpartisan Climate Institute in Washington, said tree-planting has value as a stopgap measure while society attempts to reduce greenhouse gases. But University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver fears tree offsets could steal the focus of a problem that requires technological advances and behavioral changes.
"The danger is that you could actually think you're solving a problem," Weaver said. "It makes you feel good. It makes you feel warm and fuzzy, like changing a couple of light bulbs. But the reality is it's not going to have a significant effect."
Eric Carlson of the tree-planting nonprofit notes that his group does not promote trees as the only solution to climate change. Participants also can purchase offsets that support projects aimed at expanding renewable energy or improving energy efficiency.
Carlso bristles when critics focus on the perceived hypocrisies of the jet-setting, tree-planting rich people.
He fears the indulgence argument shifts the focus from what normal, everyday people can do to fight global warming: Cut down on electricity and gasoline use, support renewable energy and, yes, plant trees.
"You can find pluses and minuses to all the offset options," Carlson said, "but the worst thing is to do nothing."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Conaress vs. OPEC

Senate to grapple with OPEC in wake of House bill passage
By Elana Schor
( May 24, 2007
Several senators are eyeing next month’s energy bill as a vehicle to confront the powerful Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) over high gas prices, setting the stage for another veto battle with the White House.The House approved its version of the so-called “NOPEC” bill, which empowers the Department of Justice to bring antitrust lawsuits against the OPEC alliance in U.S. court, by a lopsided and veto-proof margin on Tuesday. For the dozen backers of the Senate’s bipartisan NOPEC bill, a summer of pressure at the pump may provide the perfect opening.

“We should send a resounding message,” Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said yesterday. “Time is precious on the floor in terms of the schedule, so [the question is] if we can simplify the process and streamline it, and not lose our ability to capitalize on the momentum created by the House action.”After a prolonged war-funding debate that saw Republicans pledging to sustain any White House veto, the NOPEC bill — and a gasoline price-gouging measure the House passed yesterday — offers Democrats a greater chance of snaring enough GOP votes to override President Bush.The White House has issued veto threats on the NOPEC bill, warning that the potential to sue oil-producing nations such as Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia could spark diplomatic and economic retaliation. Yet Republicans are likely to stray from Bush, attracted to the political hay that can be made from blasting OPEC members that many lawmakers consider enemies of the U.S. “Republican support of OPEC legislation would dovetail very well with their desire to take the heat off domestic oil companies,” one Senate Democratic aide said.Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), unveiling the energy legislation with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and several senior Democrats, said she would gauge support for the NOPEC bill and coordinate with leaders before determining her floor strategy.Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who this week became the third Judiciary Committee chairman in five years to sign off on the NOPEC bill, had stronger words in his floor statement: “It is long past time for this bill to become law.” Antitrust laws cover foreign businesses engaged in alleged price-fixing behavior while exempting foreign governments, he noted.Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), the bill’s lead author, said in a statement after the House vote that he would push to attach NOPEC to the next appropriate legislation the Senate takes up.Any congressional embrace of OPEC lawsuits would have ripple effects for U.S.-Russia relations as well. The roiled Russian foreign ministry this week accused the House bill of violating international law, and Russian energy minister Viktor Khristenko dubbed the NOPEC bill “a violation of states’ sovereign rights” and “a public PR stunt,” according to Russia & CIS, a daily business journal.“That speaks for itself,” another Senate Democratic aide said of the Russian response, adding that Moscow’s aggravation is unlikely to make bill supporters reverse their positions. The bill’s most influential opponent may be the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where Vice President Bruce Josten wrote to House members this week predicting a “domino effect” if the NOPEC bill becomes law over Bush’s objections.“Under such a legal regime, the United States and all its agents throughout the world could be tried before a foreign court for any activity that the foreign state wishes to make an offense,” Josten wrote. Anticipating next month’s energy debate, Senate Democrats launched a new website at to educate members and constituents about the package. Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) previewed several changes he hopes to make on the floor, including greater environmental protections for renewable fuels and an energy tax package that Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is pushing to complete in time to pass.