And what a momentous week it was:
- State Department issues its environmental report on the Keystone XL Pipeline.
- White House energy advisor warns of Sequester-related permitting delays.
- Trial of BP, Transocean and Halliburton begins in New Orleans.
- Shell suspends Arctic drilling plans for 2013.
- The New York Times suspends its Green Blog.
- Bobby Jindal suspends Louisiana’s Mullet Task Force.
Thoughts and comments below the fold.
Keystone XL Pipeline
The State Department’s report is nothing like a green-light to build Keystone XL; it is merely one ticket-punch in the direction of approval. (RedState’s Moe Lane has already blogged about it here.)
The report acknowledges that development of tar sands in Alberta would create greenhouse gases but makes clear that other methods to transport the oil — including rail, trucks and barges — also pose a risk to the environment. …
The draft report begins a 45-day comment period, after which the State Department will issue a final environmental report before Secretary of State John Kerry makes a recommendation about whether the pipeline is in the national interest.
Kerry has promised a "fair and transparent" review of the plan and said he hopes to decide on the project in the "near term." Most observers do not expect a decision until summer at the earliest.
As we saw with the southern section of the pipeline, this is not the final approval. Other agencies (the Army Corps of Engineers, for one) will weigh in.
One of the more foolish quotes from environmentalists comes from Jim Lyon, vice-president of the National Wildlife Federation:
"By rejecting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, President Obama can keep billions of tons of climate-disrupting carbon pollution locked safely in the ground."
Never mind that Canada is a sovereign nation and not (yet) under the hypnotic control of Barack "Not a Dictator" Obama. The Canadians have declared their intention to sell tar sands production to any willing customer.
The automatic budget cuts under the impending federal budget sequestration will adversely affect federal energy activities, warned Heather Zichal, US President Barack Obama’s chief energy and environmental policy advisor.
Oil and gas producers should expect additional delays in permit application processing and regulatory decisions, she said during a Feb. 27 seminar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Activity will slow down in every state, and the economy will suffer,” Zichal said. “It’s senseless because it can be so easily avoided. The president has prepared a balanced and sensible [federal
deficit reduction] proposal that Congress should take up and approve immediately.” (Source.)
So much for fast-tracking Keystone XL. In spite of the President’s State of the Union rhetoric, we had already begun to notice significant foot-dragging from Federal agencies over what should be routine permitting requests even before Sequestration, a/k/a Son of ManBearPig. With oil and gas permitting, we can expect to see a classic Rulebook Slowdown from just about every Federal agency involved. (See Keystone XL Pipeline, above.)
The trial of BP and its contractors Transocean and Halliburton began Monday in New Orleans. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier presides. A key issue in the proceeding is whether BP was guilty of gross negligence and willful misconduct in its actions leading up to the April 2010 Macondo well blowout and explosion which sank Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and killed 11 of its workers.
There is no debate over whether BP bears responsibility. A BP employee misinterpreted a test of the Macondo well’s integrity; a correct interpretation would have prevented the disaster. Whether the government can show that BP’s management standards (or lack thereof) rise to the rather high standard of "gross negligence and willful misconduct" is another matter. A finding to that effect by Judge Barbier will cause BP’s fine under the Clean Water Act to quadruple.
So far, Shell has spent $4.5 to $5 billion dollars on leasing and exploration in the Chukchi Sea. All they have to show for their effort is two "top holes" — the started phase of two wells drilled to 1,500 feet, far short of the depths where oil accumulation is expected. They experienced a series of rig-related mishaps (failed Coast Guard inspection for one rig and a grounding of a rig under tow) that have caused them to defer any drilling plans until 2014 at the earliest. In any event, Shell expects no production from the Chukchi Sea before late in the next decade, at the earliest.
NYT Green Blog
Please watch for environmental policy news on the Caucus blog and energy technology news on the Bits blog.
What’s left of the Green Blog staff is scattered hither and yon throughout the pages of the Times. Climate alarmism will still be present, just more dilute.
Just like the State Department’s Keystone XL news, the press release came out late Friday afternoon, the news cycle’s own dead zone.
Mullet Task Force
What’s next, the Governor’s Commission on Wal-Mart Dress Codes?
OK, I know the mullet is also a fish, but I’m a sucker for a cheap laugh.
Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing the elimination of 25 state boards, most of which are inactive or could be integrated into other state operations. …
Louisiana now has about 460 boards and commissions, Jindal spokesman Sean Lansing said. Roughly 115 have been eliminated since the governor took office because they no longer serve the purpose for which they were created or were never fully set up, he said.
Among the boards proposed for elimination:
- Bio-Fuel Panel
- Academic Advisory Council
- Uniform Grading Scale Task Force
- Postsecondary Education Information Technology Council
- Human Services Interagency Council
- Commission on Men’s Health and Wellness
- Council on Obesity Prevention and Management
- Opioid Treatment Program Needs Assessment Task Force
- Prescription Monitoring Program Advisory Council
- Environmental Education Commission
- Mullet Task Force
- Reptile and Amphibian Task Force
- Sustainable Local Food Policy Council
Legislators obviously love setting up boards to demonstrate that they’re doing something about a perceived problem. Judging from the list of 25, the fields of education, health and human services seem especially prone to do-nothing boards and commissions.
The proposed measure will automatically sunset any board which fails to file an annual report with the state legislative auditor’s office.
And that’s it for this week.
Cross-posted at stevemaley.com.
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