Friday, December 29, 2006

Higher royalties paying for funding boosts for renewables

If the saber rattling by U.S. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi is any gauge, the debate over what constitutes fair royalties to the federal government for oil production could sap the cooperation needed for Congress to accomplish anything that can help focus investor interest in funding renewable and alternative energy technologies. Or maybe money garnered from higher royalities could pay for new programs aimed at promoting renewables, etc.

While House Democrats are talking of establishing a fund dedicated to promote renewable energy and conservation using money from oil companies, they haven't spelled out where that money will come from. Maybe royalties based on the now controversial leases let during 1998 and 1999 are the answer.

Pelosi recently told reporters, "What we'll do is roll back the subsidies to Big Oil and use the resources to invest in a reserve for reseach in alternative energy."

Do subsidies = royalties? It's not clear to what extent, if any, that they do. Either way, the stakes are high. Congressional estimates put the potential royalty loss as as much as $10 billion over the life of the 1998-99 leases. Five companies recently agreed to a compromise to pay royalties on future production but not from oil and gas already taken from federal waters involved.

President Bush has said the industry doesn't need many of the subsidies it enjoys given today's oil prices and industry profits. by economist Steve Stoft could become a useful resource in sorting out the hype which is sure to come from both sides of this debate.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friedman: keeping heat on Bush until last day of his Presidency

With a sermon-like panache, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman garnered a standing ovation from about 450 renewable energy faithful at the ACORE policy conference on Capitol Hill Thursday, Nov. 30 after laying out some cold observations about global warming as THE "political issue of our time." He said he would press President Bush on his energy policy until the last day of his term in January.

If the faithful think biofuels will play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, people should think again. Friedman claimed the green movement in the EU sees the biofuels and related industries as the next great threat to biodiversity. He predicted that a widespread boycott looms there and that it would eventually jump to the U.S.

Friedman cautioned that Chinese multinationals are not operating under any real environmental scrutiny and with each passing week they are leaving more of a damaging footprint that will a long time to deal with if more sustainable actions are not put in place very soon. He also stepped his campaign about our dependence on insecure sources of oil and natural gas saying we're funding BOTH sides of the war in Iraq: with our taxes for U.S. military expenditures and our energy purchases for the petro-authoritarians.

FYI: Friedman's newest, favorite bumper sticker: 'Green: the new Red, White & Blue', or something along those lines. It's supposed to be available at altho a quick check of that site showed no evidence of that early Dec. 1.

global warming,
Tom Friedman,
greenhouse gas emissions,