Weak Federal Powers Could Limit Trump’s Climate-Policy Rollback

Jan 2, 2017

By Justin Gillis

With Donald J. Trump about to take control of the White House, it would seem a dark time for the renewable energy industry. After all, Mr. Trump has mocked the science of global warming as a Chinese hoax, threatened to kill a global deal on climate change and promised to restore the coal industry to its former glory.

So consider what happened in the middle of December, after investors had had a month to absorb the implications of Mr. Trump’s victory. The federal government opened bidding on a tract of the ocean floor off New York State as a potential site for a huge wind farm.

Up, up and away soared the offers — interest from the bidders was so fevered that the auction went through 33 rounds and spilled over to a second day. In the end, the winning bidder offered the federal Treasury $42 million, more than twice what the government got in August for oil leases — oil leases — in the Gulf of Mexico.


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9 comments on “Weak Federal Powers Could Limit Trump’s Climate-Policy Rollback

  • @OP – So consider what happened in the middle of December, after investors had had a month to absorb the implications of Mr. Trump’s victory. The federal government opened bidding on a tract of the ocean floor off New York State as a potential site for a huge wind farm.

    Up, up and away soared the offers — interest from the bidders was so fevered that the auction went through 33 rounds and spilled over to a second day. In the end, the winning bidder offered the federal Treasury $42 million, more than twice what the government got in August for oil leases — oil leases — in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Considering Trump’s mad blitherings about wind-farms in Scotland which I commented on and linked earlier, that could be very interesting

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/12/climate-change-skeptic-to-head-epa-mcmorris-rodgers-as-interior-secretary/#li-comment-216230

    The letters [from Trump] formed part of an intense lobbying campaign against plans for an offshore wind project near Mr Trump’s Aberdeenshire golf resort.

    In one, Mr Trump said he was attempting to “save Scotland”.

    In another, he claimed Mr Salmond would be known as “Mad Alex” if the plan went ahead.

    And the US president elect predicted the “insanity” of the project would bankrupt Scotland, and destroy Mr Salmond’s hopes for Scottish independence.

    Of course Scotland is actually doing very well with its wind-farms. – Better than most other countries in fact!



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  • Meanwhile as Trump’s backwards clowns make pseudo-science blitherings and climate-change denials, innovative developments in India show some promise!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38391034

    Two world-leading clean energy projects have opened in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

    A £3m industrial plant is capturing the CO2 emissions from a coal boiler and using the CO2 to make valuable chemicals. It is a world first.

    And just 100km away is the world’s biggest solar farm, making power for 150,000 homes on a 10 sq km site.

    The industrial plant appears especially significant as it offers a breakthrough by capturing CO2 without subsidy.

    Built at a chemical plant in the port city of Tuticorin, it is projected to save 60,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year by incorporating them into the recipes for baking soda and other chemicals.

    Here’s how it works:

    The plant operates a coal-fired boiler to make steam for its chemical operations.
    CO2 emissions from the boiler’s chimney are stripped out by a fine mist of a new patented chemical.
    A stream of CO2 is fed into the chemicals plant as an ingredient for baking soda and other compounds with many uses, including the manufacturing of glass, detergents and sweeteners.

    The owner of the chemicals plant, Ramachadran Gopalan, told a BBC Radio 4 documentary: “I am a businessman. I never thought about saving the planet. I needed a reliable stream of CO2, and this was the best way of getting it.”

    He says his operation has now almost zero emissions. He hopes soon to install a second coal boiler to make more CO2 to synthesise fertiliser.

    The chemical used in stripping the CO2 from the flue gas was invented by two young Indian chemists. They failed to raise Indian finance to develop it, but their firm, Carbonclean Solutions, working with the Institute of Chemical Technology at Mumbai and Imperial College in London, got backing from the UK’s entrepreneur support scheme.

    Their technique uses a form of salt to bond with CO2 molecules in the boiler chimney. The firm says it is more efficient than typical amine compounds used for the purpose.

    They say it also needs less energy, produces less alkaline waste and allows the use of a cheaper form of steel – all radically reducing the cost of the whole operation.

    The firm admits its technology of Carbon Capture and Utilisation won’t cure climate change, but says it may provide a useful contribution by gobbling up perhaps 5-10% of the world’s emissions from coal.

    Lord Oxburgh, former chairman of Shell, and now director and head of the UK government’s carbon capture advisory group, told the BBC: “We have to do everything we can to reduce the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels and it is great news that more ways are being found of turning at least some of the CO2 into useful products.”



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  • Unfortunately the backward coal miners, are also involved here!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38391034

    The world’s largest solar farm at Kamuthi in southern India

    Meanwhile, the nearby giant Kamuthi solar plant offers a marker for India’s ambition for a rapid expansion in renewables.

    It is truly enormous; from the tall observation tower, the ranks of black panels stretch almost to the horizon.

    Prime Minister Modi is offering subsidies for a plan to power 60 million homes with solar by 2022 and aims for 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.

    For large-scale projects, the cost of new solar power in India is now cheaper than coal. But solar doesn’t generate 24/7 on an industrial scale, so India has adopted a “more of everything” approach to energy.

    The firm behind the solar plant, Adani, is also looking to create Australia’s biggest coal mine, which it says will provide power for up to 100 million people in India. Renewables, it says, can’t answer India’s vast appetite for power to lift people out of poverty.

    And questions have been raised recently as to whether India will stick to its renewables promises now President-elect Donald Trump may be about to scrap climate targets for the US.

    At the recent Marrakech climate conference, China, the EU and many developing countries pledged to forge ahead with emissions-cutting plans regardless of US involvement. But India offered no such guarantee.

    Some environmentalists are not too worried: they think economics may drive India’s clean energy revolution.

    Hopefully new efficient cheap energy storage systems will make this stupid plan for a coal mine an uneconomic and obsolete stranded asset!



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  • Most of the smart money moved out of fossil fuel based investments a few years ago.
    Dinosaur Trump is trying to return to the fossil era. I suspect it’s partly because he’s still upset they built a wind farm right next to his golf course in Scotland.
    Looks like he’s out of touch, out of date and is just trying to regress into history. So long as he doesn’t take the rest of the USA or the world with him, that’s fine by me.



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  • The fossil fuel era is far from over. Trump has every intention of maximizing the use of fossil fuels and ending environmental regulations. India and Pakistan (both nuclear) might go to war over water, and conditions will worsen as Trump continues on this destructive path. Of course it will affect the world, and the rest of the USA. How could it not?

    This is the most dangerous time in human history. Never before have we been this close to a major, if not final, catastrophe – environmental and nuclear.—The two converge, as Chomsky said.

    “Just keeping to South Asia, temperatures which are already intolerable for the poor are going to continue to rise as the Himalayan glaciers melt, also destroying the water supply for South Asia. In India already, 300 million people are reported to lack water to drink. And it will continue both for India and Pakistan. And at this point, the two major threats to survival begin to converge. One is environmental catastrophe. The other is nuclear war, another threat that is increasing right before our eyes. India and Pakistan are nuclear states, nuclear—states with nuclear weapons. They were already almost at war. Any kind of real war would immediately turn into a nuclear war. That might happen very easily over water—over struggles over diminishing water supplies. A nuclear war would not only devastate the region, but might actually be terminal for the species, if indeed it leads to nuclear winter and global famine, as many scientists predict.” —Chomsky



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  • Tim Smith #4
    Jan 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Most of the smart money moved out of fossil fuel based investments a few years ago.

    Indeed – the ethical and the smart money are moving out of coal!

    @#3 – For large-scale projects, the cost of new solar power in India is now cheaper than coal. But solar doesn’t generate 24/7 on an industrial scale, so India has adopted a “more of everything” approach to energy.

    The firm behind the solar plant, Adani, is also looking to create Australia’s biggest coal mine, which it says will provide power for up to 100 million people in India.

    Adani is obviously trying to create a market for their coal products under the guise of needing to “back-up” the massive photovoltaic farm.

    @#3 – Renewables, it says, can’t answer India’s vast appetite for power to lift people out of poverty.

    This claim is of course propagandist rubbish!
    Coal powered steam turbines are NOT necessary to provide overnight cover, when photo voltaic solar power is off line, – IF molten salt solar thermal heat-storage systems are used to power the steam turbines a night!
    Solar thermal powered steam turbines, not only do not pollute the atmosphere, but they do not require massive earth-moving excavations in mines or bulk transport of coal across land and thousands of miles of ocean!

    http://www.esolar.com/applications/ms-power/
    Molten salt thermal energy storage is the most economical method to store solar energy and results in the lowest cost of electricity from a renewable energy source that is firm and dispatchable.
    Molten salt is a mixture of readily available and naturally occurring salts used in the agricultural business as fertilizer and thus inexpensive. When compared to a similar solar PV system with the same amount of storage and annual production, molten salt power towers are an order of magnitude less expensive.

    A few wind-turbines (also cheaper than coal) and some tidal turbines could also give some back-up coverage at night!

    Such a high concentration of generation capacity is only needed to power a grid for a nearby large town.
    Rural areas a much better off with locally distributed generations systems with linked energy storage.

    Hopefully some solar-thermal scheme will competitively take the business away from the polluting coal systems and bankrupt these clowns who are promoting the use of coal!



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  • “The intrinsically weak federal role was a source of frustration for Mr. Obama and his aides, but now it will work to the benefit of environmental advocates” Typical NY Times BS. Obama’s problem was that he had a Congress that obstructed everything he tried to do. Trump won’t have that problem. Even many Democrats are what are called “Blue Dogs” — very close to Republicans on many issues. The Congress makes the laws and they can pretty much grant the president any power they want. God the world is so fucked.



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  • Global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions have stabilized for the past three years. Tentative hopes are running high that these steady rates relative to growing population and economies at last signal a partial decoupling from GDP. Longitudinal decoupling, however, implies a year-on-year rate of decline measured against a base. The Kyoto Protocols set a base for global reductions to 1990 levels. Unfortunately, CO2 emissions have increased 60% since 1990. In 2014 emissions increased only .05% and “stalled” at about 1% annual increase for the 3-year period 2013 through 2015 dropping markedly from the 4% annual increases of previous years. It is unclear how much a role the growing portion of renewable energy for electricity generation worldwide is playing in this volatile brief trend relative to other structural changes in national energy economies. Among the other factors are shifts to cleaner burning cheap natural gas-fired electricity plants that cut comparable coal-fired plant emissions by 50%. China has planned and (promised) significant cutbacks on coal-fired energy becoming the paradoxical kingpin in global reductions because of its outsized annual burning of half the world’s coal.

    The Trump administration promises to revitalize the coal mining industry ostensibly to compensate for recent setbacks blamed on onerous regulations The U. S. eia projects an absolute increase for coal consumption through 2040 at slower rates of growth. The unknown variables will include how rapidly China will turn around its huge coal battleship; how rapidly India and other nations will turn to coal-fired energy to develop their economies and supply domestic demand for electricity; and/or alternatively how rapidly developing (and developed) will dismantle the global fossil fuel infrasturcture in exchange for carbon-neutral alternatives (e.g. wind and solar).

    The bottom line is that CO2 emissions will have to decline at an average compound rate of 1.5% year-on-year for the next 33 years until 2050 to descend to the base emissions level of 1990. A daunting challenge so far unacknowledged by the media and politicians and largely obfuscated by a welter of ambiguous reports.



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  • So as the rest of the world moves into renewable energy sources, and the ethical investors divest themselves of stranded assets, the carbonaceous Luddites plough on with their antiquated obsolete thinking!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38734450

    US President Donald Trump has infuriated environmentalists by signing executive orders that support two controversial oil pipelines.

    The new Republican president backed the Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects, provided American steel is used.

    The Obama administration in late 2015 halted Keystone, which would carry crude from Canada to Texas.

    The Army decided last year to explore other routes for the Dakota pipeline amid huge protests by Native Americans.

    In the White House on Tuesday morning, Mr Trump said both projects would be subject to renegotiated terms and conditions.

    As he signed the Keystone XL measure the president said it would create a “lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs, great construction jobs”.

    Over the course of the Obama presidency, the Keystone XL Pipeline became more than just another energy industry construction project. It grew into a high-profile proxy fight between environmentalists and oil-and-gas advocates; liberals and conservatives; pro-regulation activists and small-government true believers.

    On the campaign trail Donald Trump often cited the Obama administration’s reluctance to green-light the project as prima facia evidence of the Democratic Party’s anti-business attitudes. Now, with the swipe of a pen, he’s set make it much easier for the project to be completed – assuming the involved company still wants it.

    Perhaps of more immediate concern is Mr Trump’s move to fast-track approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was the focus of vigorous protests from Native American tribes in 2016. Unlike Keystone, that project has not been held in limbo for years.

    Mr Trump’s actions do not mean the end of the fight over US pipeline construction, however. Opponents will continue to argue that they jeopardise sensitive environmental areas and violate private property rights. Now, however, instead of appealing to a potentially friendly Democratic administration, they will take the battle to the courts.

    The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose land abuts the proposed route of the Dakota Access pipeline, called Mr Trump’s decision a violation of “law and tribal treaties”, and vowed to take legal action.



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