3 interesting developments in the US energy sector today

Shall I give you the good news first?

US District Court Judge Martin Feldman of New Orleans has found the Department of Interior in civil contempt for continuing the Gulf drilling moratorium against his orders.

Yes, folks. You heard that correctly. Back in June Judge Feldman had refused, at the Interior Department’s request, to delay the decision’s effects after he earlier struck down the moratorium. Now the judge has found the Interior Department in contempt for failure to adhere to his ruling. House Natural Resources Committee Chair Doc Hastings issued a press release today.

“The federal judge’s initial ruling striking the offshore moratorium and his most recent decision to hold Interior in contempt of court correctly puts the letter of the law ahead of the Obama Administration’s agenda. Hopefully this ruling takes us one step closer to ending the de facto drilling moratorium in the Gulf, which will put people back to work and allow us to start producing more of our own energy at home.”

And Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) also praised the ruling:

“Judge Feldman’s decision is a sharp rebuke of the Interior Department for continuing to place politics before all else following the BP spill. A ruling of this nature reveals that the judge believes that Interior blatantly disregarded his earlier ruling – undoubtedly because of their actions that led to the current de facto moratorium,” said Vitter. “Federal permitting has fallen off a cliff, and the resulting impact on Louisiana families, jobs and domestic energy production has caused a lot of pain in coastal Louisiana.”

Now all we have to do is to get Interior to comply…

And the head scratcher, h/t to Mike “Gamecock” Devine:

Power Plants Go Down in Texas, State Buys Electricity from Mexico

Texas? Has to BUY electricity from Mexico? Yep. They sure do right now. The state, according to the Institute for Energy Research, holds one quarter of our oil reserves and 30% of our natural gas reserves, and receives almost half of it’s electricity from natural gas and 35% from coal.

I spoke with Dan Simmons of IER to get some insight into this most unusual phenomenon. He said their organization is scratching their heads too. Fifty plants of all kinds, all over the state are down, at this point he believes because of the coldest weather Texas has had in fifteen years and the plants weren’t built to tolerate this kind of weather.

Come on. I live in northwest Ohio. We have temps well below zero, lots of snow and had a huge ice storm a couple days ago. I’ve lived here all my life. Yes, we have had the power go out in neighborhoods and grids in severe weather. But actual plants go down? I can’t remember this ever happening here.

Vladimir joked about this earlier today.

How’s all them tur-bines workin’ out for y’all?

Of course, lawmakers have vowed to hold hearings. Mexico’s Federal Electrical Commission agreed to transmit 280 megawatts of electricity to Texas, enough to power only about 56,000 homes.

Could this have anything to do with the EPA cracking down on Texas “polluters”?

Federal regulators say the move, set to take effect next year, is designed to cut toxic emissions and bring Texas in line with the Clean Air Act. And environmental groups say it will help improve the state’s ecology and the health of Texans and those living nearby.

One never knows with the EPA. After all, they did pull the permit from an already-in-use coal mine in West Virginia, the state which mines the second most amount of coal in this country.  Just saying, not drawing any conclusions at this point.

And now onto this little tidbit of news, h/t to Kenny Solomon, which I’m sure no one is surprised about:

As Egypt Burns, Obama Fiddles in PA to Announce “Clean Energy”

From Reuters:

With U.S. unemployment at 9.4 percent despite signs of economic recovery, Obama’s push for green energy jobs is an important part of his high-stakes effort to tackle joblessness — the problem most on the minds of voters, even as issues like the turmoil in Egypt dominate the headlines.

Hey Mr. Obama. Isn’t it a little ironic while visiting Pennsylvania you are standing right on top of the Marcellus Shale which contains huge amounts of our coal and natural gas? The Obama administration wouldn’t give any details, but stated all these “clean energy upgrades” for commercial buildings would be paid for by eliminating tax subsidies for oil, natural gas, coal and other fossil fuels. Surprise!

Economist Joseph Mason found that higher energy taxes on oil and gas companies in the form of repeal of Section 199 and dual capacity credits will lead to over 150,000 job losses in 2011 alone. Couple that with oil and gas companies supporting more than 9 million jobs and account for nearly 7.5% of GDP, raising taxes on them makes no sense.

When I questioned Mr. Simmons about ending the subsidies, he stated his organization supports ending all subsidies for all kinds of energy. Right now the wind industry gets a subsidy of $23-$24 per megawatt, while the oil and gas industry gets only $1-2 a megawatt. Of course it is the taxpayer who is footing the bill for that mega subsidy on wind.

Mr. Simmons ended by saying “any kind of energy which is more costly, like solar and wind, Mr. Obama is in favor of.”

Of course he is.

Crossposted at Conservative Outlooks

Crossposted at Procinct.net