Energy Roundup: Interior to announce 'major' offshore wind plan

On Tap Tuesday: Salazar to announce “major” Atlantic Coast offshore wind plan

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other senior departmental officials are promising to “announce a major new initiative to accelerate the responsible siting and development of wind energy projects along the Atlantic coast.”

An Interior spokeswoman was mum on the details Monday. Salazar — as well as Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes; Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael Bromwich; Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.); Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley; and Jim Lanard, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition — will join the 2 p.m. announcement at the Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore.

Carper in August sent Salazar a letter noting that developers can shorten leasing and permitting times by using a single environmental impact analysis on executing the lease and approving construction and operation plans. Carper also suggested that BOEMRE reduce the time required for companies to be competitively awarded a permit, given that companies already go through that at the state level.

It typically takes more than seven years for an offshore wind project to receive approval to begin construction, according to BOEMRE. “The current structure of the offshore wind permitting process closely resembles the process for the oil and gas extractive industries,” Carper noted. “We believe that a tailored permitting process would serve the offshore wind industry better.”

Last month, Google announced it was investing in an underwater “superhighway for clean energy” that would funnel offshore wind power. The Atlantic Wind Connection would create a 350-mile network of underwater cables stretching from northern New Jersey to Virginia.

Cape Wind power contract approved

“Cape Wind may become the first U.S. offshore wind farm after Massachusetts regulators approved a contract permitting it to sell electricity, overcoming critics including the Kennedy family and Wal-Mart Stores Inc,” Bloomberg reported on Monday. “The contract with utility National Grid Plc is the first power purchase agreement approved for an offshore wind project in the U.S.”

Spill Commission: Big Oil, Uncle Sam skimped on cleanup R&D

On Monday, E2 looked at the presidential oil spill commission’s draft conclusion that botched estimates of the oil flow from BP’s blown-out well hindered efforts to block the gusher.

But wait, there’s more: A separate commission staff paper explores the industry’s financing over the years for improved spill clean-up technologies.

“The facts show that industry and government underfunded response R&D, and, as a result, clean-up technology used during the Deepwater Horizon spill was dated and inadequate,” states a “staff working paper” released Monday by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

It finds that the industry has “committed little to no funding to in-house response R&D” and that industry-backed Oil Spill Response Organizations are “underfunded, and dedicate few if any resources to response R&D.”

Dated technology hindered spill response

“The impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill would have been mitigated by better clean-up technology. Government and industry must take the steps necessary to increase research funding and incentivize development so the Exxon Valdez-era skimmers and boom used in the Deepwater Horizon spill are replaced by more effective technology in the response to any subsequent Spill of National Significance,” the paper adds.

The staff paper suggests a suite of ideas to the commission for improving clean-up tech, such as revisions to offshore drilling liability and insurance rules, and “funding an incubator venture capital fund to invest in clean-up technology; and/or a spill technology R&D tax credit,” and several others.

Shelby wants BP to give Alabama equal share of Gulf spill payouts

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on Monday demanded equal treatment from BP in terms of what the company is doling out to Louisiana as a result of this summer’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

“I read with interest that BP has finalized an agreement with the State of Louisiana to provide $18 million in seafood safety and monitoring, $30 million in seafood marketing, and $30 million in tourism marketing to the State,” Shelby wrote BP CEO Bob Dudley. “I can only assume that with the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem inextricably intertwined and damage not confined by States’ boundaries, a similar payment will be made to the State of Alabama.”

“The economic impact is severe and extensive, across the Gulf Coast, not simply limited to any one state," he wrote. “BP needs to commit to Alabama’s recovery by funding efforts to revitalize our State’s tourism and fisheries industries.”

A BP spokeswoman told E2 they have received the letter and will respond directly to Shelby.

Faith groups urge Senate to save EPA climate regulations

More than 50 faith-based groups are sending a letter on Tuesday to press the Senate not to stall Environmental Protection Agency climate regulations. Several representatives will hold a 1:30 p.m. conference call to talk about it. This includes Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran and Jewish leaders.

Coalition pushes solutions to oil dependence

A broad coalition of security, economic, environmental, public transportation and other experts are releasing a report on Tuesday on reducing oil demand in the transportation sector. Their report outlines 10 recommendations aimed at cutting domestic oil demand by as much as 779 million barrels a year by 2030.

“Taxpayers have made their anger over wasteful government spending clear, and we have identified ways to re-introduce accountability to how the federal government spends tax dollars, specifically as it relates [to] transportation,” said Anne Korin of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, who co-authored the report. Korin is among five coalition members who will be on a 2 p.m. conference to talk about the new report.

The Mobility Choice Coalition has 19 members, including former CIA Director James Woolsey, former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane and representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council and American Bus Association.

Murkowski, Miller battle it out in state court

The fight between Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and her Republican opponent Joe Miller has now gone to the state courts. Miller on Monday filed a 21-page legal lawsuit in Alaska court, charging that the state illegally counted about 8,000 write-in votes for Murkowski. She is currently leading Miller by more than 10,000 votes in her reelection effort. Murkowski announced Monday she is intervening on behalf of the state. A federal judge on Friday granted Joe Miller a temporary injunction to halt official vote certification and deferred the matter to the state court.

China presses climate deal at Cancun

“Participants in next week's U.N. climate conference in Mexico need to agree on financing and technology transfer arrangements to help developing nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, China's climate envoy said Tuesday,” the Associated Press reported. “Xie Zhenhua said a deal would be key to winning the support of developing nations for a binding agreement on carbon emission reductions to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol due to expire in 2012.”

Climate scientist refutes charges of plagiarism

“The author of a report critical of climate scientists defended himself against plagiarism charges Tuesday, and denied he was pressured by Republicans to tilt the report,” USA Today reports.

“Offered the chance to further respond to plagiarism allegations, reported Monday in USA TODAY, George Mason University statistician Edward Wegman said in an e-mail that ‘these attacks are unprecedented in my 42 years as an academic and scholar.’ ”

Massey Energy inches towards sale

Coal giant Massey Energy Co.’s board “on Monday took another step toward a potential sale of the company, setting up a committee to explore offers,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Its board asked the company to review ‘strategic alternatives’ to raise shareholder value,” the Associated Press reported. “The coal company didn't define what strategic alternatives it may be considering, but they often include the sale of a company.”

Going to California…

There may soon be no need to take a chance on a big jet-plane to travel long distances. The Nissan Leaf car will get the equivalent to 99 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving based on government testing, according to the Associated Press. Nissan on Monday said EPA will estimate the electric car achieves the equivalent of 106 miles per gallon in city driving and 92 mpg on the highway. “EPA's tests estimate the Leaf can travel 73 miles on a fully charged battery and will cost $561 a year in electricity,” according to AP. “Nissan has said the Leaf can travel 100 miles on a full charge, based on tests used by California regulators.” Nissan and General Motors are both releasing electric cars within weeks.

In case you missed E2 yesterday

Our posts Monday included:

Rep. Inglis: Voters saw me on 'Satan's side' of climate change debate

Vitter, drillers disappointed in lack of update at Interior sit-down

Landrieu threatens other stalling tactics if Interior disregards drilling pledges

GOP fight for energy gavel mars otherwise seamless transition

Tips, comments or complaints? Please send them to ben.geman@thehill.com and dgoode@thehill.com.



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