Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

[ Climate Change ] EPA Sets CO2 Standards

December 23rd, 2010 3 comments

[ EPA ] Sets CO2 Standards for Power Plants and Oil Refineries

Power plants account for more than 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year, more than any other industry.  Oil refineries clock in as the second largest source, with emissions equivalent to more than 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (mainly a mixture of carbon dioxide and methane).

via NRDC Switchboard [ David Doniger’s Blog ]

List of Coal Plants in the US via [ Wikipedia ]

Rank State # of Plants Total
2005 Power
1 Texas 20 21,238 148,759
2 Ohio 35 23,823 137,457
3 Indiana 31 21,551 123,985
4 Pennsylvania 40 20,475 122,093
5 Illinois 32 17,565 92,772
6 Kentucky 21 16,510 92,613
7 West Virginia 19 15,372 91,601
8 Georgia 16 14,594 87,624
9 North Carolina 25 13,279 78,854
10 Missouri 24 11,810 77,714
11 Michigan 33 12,891 71,871
12 Alabama 11 12,684 70,144
13 Florida 15 11,382 66,378
14 Tennessee 13 10,290 59,264
15 Wyoming 10 6,168 43,421
16 Wisconsin 28 7,116 41,675
17 Arizona 7 5,861 40,730
18 South Carolina 16 6,469 40,545
19 Oklahoma 7 5,720 36,446
20 Utah 8 5,080 36,008
21 Colorado 15 5,309 35,671
22 Virginia 22 6,208 35,099
23 Iowa 28 6,506 34,729
24 Kansas 8 5,472 34,595
25 Minnesota 21 5,670 34,336
26 New Mexico 4 4,382 29,990
27 North Dakota 10 4,246 29,813
28 Maryland 9 5,236 29,782
29 Arkansas 3 3,958 23,356
30 Louisiana 4 3,764 23,190
31 New York 18 4,273 22,018
32 Nebraska 8 3,194 20,175
33 Nevada 3 2,769 18,412
34 Montana 4 2,536 17,844
35 Mississippi 5 2,696 16,661
36 Massachusetts 6 1,776 12,095
37 New Jersey 7 2,237 12,090
38 Washington 1 1,460 10,483
39 Delaware 4 1,082 5,185
40 New Hampshire 2 609 4,097
41 Connecticut 2 614 3,995
42 Oregon 1 601 3,588
43 California 8 439 3,024
44 South Dakota 2 481 2,999
45 Hawaii 1 203 1,548
46 Maine 1 103 754
47 Alaska 5 118 650
48 Idaho 2 19 51
49 Rhode Island 0 0 0
50 Vermont 0 0 0

List of Oil refineries in the US via [ Wikipedia ]









Read more…

The Oil Drum | 195 Californias or 74 Texases to Replace Offshore Oil

July 3rd, 2010 1 comment

As the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster continues to unfold, the peak oil community has a “teachable moment” in which it can illuminate the reality of our energy plight. The public has had a crash course in the challenges of offshore oil, and learned a whole new vocabulary. They are more aware than ever that the days of cheap and easy oil are gone.

What they do not yet grasp are the challenges in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables.

The Oil Drum | 195 Californias or 74 Texases to Replace Offshore Oil.

Categories: Energy

{ TAR SANDS } The Other End of the Pipeline

June 25th, 2010 No comments

The Other end of BP’s pipeline – From the Alberta TAR SANDS to BP’s Whiting Refinery.

via [ Democracy Now ] Indigenous Groups Lead Struggle Against Canada’s Tar Sands

{ BP } How Will BP’s Earth Day Disaster Impact Expansion Plans Here?

May 21st, 2010 No comments

via [ WBEZ – Chicago Public Radio ] Worldview Segment “Will the Gulf Spill Affect BP Investment in Chicago Area? By Michael Puente.

Officials with the oil giant BP say it’s recovering about 3-thousand barrels of oil a day from that huge leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The company is spending millions to stop the leak and may have to shell out billions more in cleanup costs and economic losses to the region.

Closer to home, in Northwest Indiana, there’s concern that all this expense may affect BP’s multi-billion-dollar investment in its Whiting, Indiana refinery, just a few short miles from Chicago’s city limits.

The Gulf catastrophe also has emboldened BP’s local critics about the company’s environmental record here.

WBEZ’s Michael Puente brings us this report from our Northwest Indiana bureau in Chesterton

Michael’s Interview with me comes toward the end at the 6:10 minute point

{ BP } Live / Work Conditions

May 20th, 2010 2 comments

25-years-ago BP abandoned its professional training facilities in Robertsdale, donating the facilities to Calumet College, and moved to a 200-acre LEED certified campus in Naperville. They did so because they could no longer attract professionals to this location due to Quality of Life issues. Quality of Life issues they had a major hand in creating.

Today BP’s professional staff enjoy the healthy work environment of a green campus with ample buffering between office buildings and roadways, while residents adjacent to the BP’s refinery are not so fortunate. Today BP is constructing a whole new facility at their East Chicago / Whiting Refinery to refine the “No Good, Very Bad, Dirty” heavy sour crude from the Alberta Tars Sands and to do so they are constructing 6 cokers directly across the street from the Marktown Historic District where more than 120 children under the age of 18 live, play and sleep.

BP likes to refer to the project as a modernization or retooling project. This is an important distinction to them because to call it what is, a “new facility” or “new construction,” would trigger all sorts of regulatory reviews and permitting, including a new-source review requiring an environmental and health risk assessment. I am not certain if there has ever been a risk assessment done on the impacts the BP refinery has the neighboring communities. I don’t know if that is because they have been grandfathered in or what. I just know that new construction ought to trigger a new source review and that is not happening.

For labor purposes BP calls the project a “maintenance project.” Thus they bypass all sorts of labor rules in terms of pay, scheduling, and work conditions as would be the case for new construction. Let’s make this simple, if I tore down my house to construct a brand new home, I could not go to City Hall seeking a maintenance permit for the new construction. I would be required to seek the proper permits and follow requirements for new construction. This is just one way in which BP has been cutting corners here to save themselves costs. I can’t say what other cost cutting measures BP is making, but I do know they did not do this without the aid of regional leadership. I wonder what our regional leadership is thinking now as we learn more about the costs of BP practices to the gulf region.

This is a good environmental justice example of how benefits-without-risks are created and separated from risks-without-benefits in a free-market economy. Free-market corporations and present day land use policies have a very intentional consequent of accumulating wealth and benefits in one location while clustering risks and blight in another. All too often the geography of separation is as clear as the “Northshore” and “Southshore” designations.

It makes me wonder if anyone working in office complexes similar to the BP complex in Naperville feel any sense of culpability for the lives negatively impacted on the other side of their company’s production line. What about Kraft Foods? what about Grainger? what about Cargill? and U.S. Steel? and ArcelorMittal? Boeing? GATX? or Ryerson?

[ Wikipedia list of Corp HQ in the Chicago Met area ]

Compounding problems, BP extracted an additional $165 million in tax abatements from the mostly poor people of Marktown and East Chicago. They did this behind closed doors, and without a single public hearing, all while lecturing the region on “Good Government.” Despite efforts, residents, who pay the highest property taxes in the state at 7.4%, still do not know that they gave up $165 million to BP. BP accomplished this feat by spreading the wealth to voting districts outside the plume of negative externalities while taking advantage of their partnerships with corrupt local political enterprises under the plume. BP is well known for this form of philanthropic activity and I could go on about “to whom” and “how much” was given, but that will have to be for another post. Let these two examples suffice for now.

Three years ago a $25-million donation from BP capped Phase 1 of a three-part expansion and renovation campaign. Since 2002, BP had agreed to more than $125 million in state and regional legal settlements over pollution problems.

Art museums are often the beneficiaries of largess from corporations wishing to polish their sometimes less-than-gleaming image. (Cigarette, anyone?) Oops.

via [ LA Times ] BP Grand Entrance at LACMA looking not-quite-so-grand

In 2009 BP gave to Napperville for $1 an extremely expensive Hydrogen fueling station with multipliers of positive effects.

EROWI – Energy Return of Water Invested

November 24th, 2009 No comments

via [ The Oil Drum ]

The data in the table originate from “Energy demands on water resources”, report to the congress, 2006 [ link ]

For the past century, America has invested significant research, development, and construction funding to develop both fresh surface- water and groundwater resources. The result is a water infrastructure that allows us to harness the vast resources of the country’s rivers and watersheds, control floods, and store water during droughts to provide reliable supplies of freshwater for agricultural, industrial, domestic, and energy uses. During this same period, the U.S. developed extensive natural resources such as coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium and created an infrastructure to process and transport these resources in an efficient and cost-effective manner to consumers. These two achievements have helped stimulate unprecedented economic growth and development.

However, as population has increased, demand for energy and water has grown. Competing demands for water supply are affecting the value and availability of the resource. Operation of some energy facilities has been curtailed due to water concerns, and siting and operation of new energy facilities must take into account the value of water resources. U.S. efforts to replace imported energy supplies with nonconventional domestic energy sources have the potential to further increase demand for water.


Water is an integral element of energy resource development and utilization. It is used in energy-resource extraction, refining and processing, and transportation. Water is also an integral part of electric-power generation. It is used directly in hydroelectric generation and is also used extensively for cooling and emissions scrubbing in thermoelectric generation. For example, in calendar year 2000, thermoelectric power generation accounted for 39 percent of all freshwater withdrawals in the U.S., roughly equivalent to water withdrawals for irrigated agriculture (withdrawals are water diverted or withdrawn from a surface-water or groundwater source) (Hutson et al., 2004).

Categories: Energy, The Water I Drink

Energy: Throwing Clean Energy After Dirty

August 5th, 2009 No comments

In business there is a saying “throwing good money after bad.”  The idea is that it is better to cut your losses and go with something else than to continue a losing strategy that drains your resources. for the energy sector it follows that it would be better to cut losses with oil and go with some other alternative, but like our banking sector, the U.S. government seems to have the same boneheaded belief that our commitment to oil is too large to give up on. But unlike the banking system, oil is a limited resource. At some point in the near future America has to move forward with an alternative resource. The question today is at what cost to the environment are we going to continue our relationship with oil?

I found this article this morning about throwing good energy after bad, or clean after dirty. I suppose adding Palin’s name to the title is suppose to appeal to some obvious instinct.

via [ ]

Palin’s Pipeline: Clean Energy for the Lower 48 or Power for the Tar Sands?

by Abby Schultz – Jun 29th, 2009

Environmentalists fear at least half of the relatively clean-burning Alaskan North Slope gas will end up fueling tar sands operations in Alberta, where the pipeline will end, instead of coming to the lower 48 states to replace carbon-intensive coal in power plants. The tar sands operations already consume about 20 percent of Canada’s natural gas, and they are expected to need as much as twice that by 2035.

Alberta Tar Sands

June 6th, 2009 4 comments

In the span of Human history, the Alberta Tar Sands project is the largest industrial project initiated by Humans, larger than China’s 3 Gorges Dam. This project is the driving force behind the BP expansion here in East Chicago, and the air I will be expected to breath.

Andrew Nikiforuk’s video is about the best overview of the project I have found.

Some from the energy sector argue that if Americans continue to consume energy at present rate of increase then this is not a project of choice but of necessity. Unfortunately that discussion has not been held in public. What this project does tells us is that the present condition of our energy sector is struggling severely to keep up with the energy demands of the American life style in an environment of diminishing efficient resources. Seven years ago the American energy sector shifted its reliance from the Sweet Crude of Saudi Arabia to the Sour Dirty Crude of the Tar Sands. Since then we have attempted to rely on far inferior energy resources to support our high energy consumptive life style.

With the Tar Sands the energy return on energy investment (EROEI) falls


  • 1-barrel investment to produce 100-barrels of product (for sweet crude)


  • 1-barrel investment to produce 5-barrels of product (for dirty sour crude from the Tar Sands)

The fact that we are shifting our dependence on a resource with such diminished efficiencies reveals some of the true costs of the last sixty years. Other costs include:

  • Deforestation: The tar sands ranks second to the Amazon Rainforest Basin in its rate of deforestation on the planet, and wiping out the ancient Boreal Forest in Canada.
  • Increased CO2 Emissions: The tar sands mining procedure releases at least three times the CO2 emissions as regular oil production.

What I can gather from my minor position is that our obvious neglect of exponential growth and demand has reframed the discussion and limited the realm of possible solutions for our energy needs. A generation of ineffective confrontation with clear evidence puts us at this disadvantage. I realize I need to come to grips with the fact that we live in an era where positive action is a lagging indicator.

Most Americans have no knowledge of this colossal project. They have no knowledge of the reasons why it has been initiated nor the socio-economic and environmental impacts it may have. They just know that the cost of gas has gone up. The issues surrounding the project are only just beginning to enter the public discourse – long after our public and commercial leaders have committed us to this solution.

Recently, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu addressed the issue publicly (not behind closed doors as in Cheney’s Energy Task Force).

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told the Reuters Global Energy Summit that the balance between the environmental impact from the huge energy resource in northern Alberta and its importance to U.S. energy supply is a complicated one that will require solutions from the industry.

Environmental groups have mounted major campaigns to get the message out to Americans that the expansion of Canada’s oil sands industry threatens to intensify global warming, deforestation and damage to water resources.

“It’s a complicated issue, because certainly Canada is a close and trusted neighbor and the oil from Canada has all sorts of good things. But there is this environmental concern, so I think we’re going to have to work our way through that,” he said. “But I’m a big believer in technology.”

Canada is the largest foreign supplier of oil to the United States and its oil sands represent the biggest deposits of crude outside the Middle East.

The Canadian and Alberta governments as well as the oil industry are going to great lengths to ensure that U.S. energy and environmental policies do not put oil sands-derived crude at a disadvantage in its most important market.

The resource is mined in open pits as well as produced in wells with the aide of steam pumped into the ground. Then it must be processed by upgrading plants into light oil that can be fed into refineries.

There is concern about the large amount of energy required to produce oil sands, Chu said. He said Canadian producers point out they are making strides in extracting the crude “more cleanly.”

Cutting the energy used to extract a barrel of oil sands crude would be “economically good and it will be environmentally much better,” he said.

– via [ Business Insider ]

The Air I Breath: Community Groups Give Notice to BP

June 6th, 2009 No comments

[ NWI Times ]

CROWN POINT | The Hammond-based Calumet Project and the California-based Global Community Monitor, have notified BP Whiting Refinery of their intention to sue under citizen suit provisions of the federal Clean Air Act.

The potential lawsuit will press for penalties that could total more than $30 million.

Journalist Criticizes Bitumen Mining

April 30th, 2009 No comments

The BP project in East Chicago has many ramifications not only for the health of local residents who live under the plumb of BP, but also upstream political cultures who trade on the investment of BP. The political elite are very much aware of the increase risk factors and the data that reveals local residents losing additional personal wealth due to this project. In a era that has become ever more sensitive to increased risk factors due to environmental pollution, the thought of increasing toxic releases will suppress even further the future assessed values of properties in this very poor community, leaving East Chicagoans in even weaker position to compete in the future economy.

In addition to the loss of health and personal wealth the residents of East Chicago, who pay the highest property taxes in the state, are expected to provide $165,000,000 in charity to BP for a tax abatement. The construction phase of the project has already begun, but for some reason East Chicago and whiting businesses and restaurants are not seeing new business from construction workers. It appears BP is staging workers in Lancing Illinois and frequenting their businesses and restaurants.

I am discussed in local environmentalist who speak on behalf of such projects because of job creation. What do they know about economic development. 40% of East Chicago’s Adult population are considered functionally illiterate, with less than 2%  obtaining a collage degree required for one of the ~70 jobs at BP. I think my circle of friends skew this.

Nikiforuk called it comparable to “mountaintop” coal mining in the Appalachian region. Moreover, the industry has made ripples in America’s energy policy, he said. Canada’s tar sands have been touted as a sustainable alternative to oil fields in Saudi Arabia. Canada has become the No. 1 oil source for the U.S., a trend that likely will continue, he said.

“You’re trading bloody oil for dirty oil,” he said. “Which is like shifting your mortgage from Countrywide to Bear Stearns and hoping it’ll solve your problems.”

The expansion of refinery capacity at BP brings with it questions about future air quality and emissions, Nikiforuk said. So far, BP has not adopted the stringent standards in place at refineries in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Journalist criticizes bitumen mining.

E.C. Archives: BP & Taxes

February 15th, 2009 1 comment

Back in 2007 again, and coming at environmental advocacy from a different angle. The negative impacts are not all environmental they were also financial. In a community with the poorest census tracks in the state, yet paying the highest property taxes in the state at 8.45% this give-away to BP (without any job creation for East Chicagoans) is insane.

In fact we know that the project will lower residential property values and cap incremental increases in the future.