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Prospecting for gas and oil in Lake Geneva

Simon Bradley, SwissInfo
Lake Geneva and the Jura mountains may soon be reverberating with sounds of drills and pumps as small prospectors try to take advantage of spiralling energy prices.

This year Swiss firm Petrosvibri hopes to start drilling for gas deep beneath the lake’s crystal-clear waters opposite Montreux’s Chillon Castle. And French specialist oil companies are eager to begin looking for oil close to Geneva.

With fossil fuel prices shooting through the roof – oil and gas have more than doubled since 2002 and 1999, respectively – specialist niche outfits are now taking another look at investments in regions such as Lake Geneva, Jura, Lake Biel and Zurich.

“There’s a lot of activity at the moment. At current prices, even more complicated [extraction] techniques are profitable. Everyone wants to get involved,” geologist Werner Leu told swissinfo.

…Despite corporate enthusiasm, there is still concern about the impact on Lake Geneva’s pristine alpine setting. But Petitpierre downplays this.

“The drilling will take place from the lakeshore – close to the mouth of the Rhône, but far from the protected areas. Tubes, drills and other telescopic devices will reach the layers without damaging the lake fauna or flora. It will all take place some two to four kilometres deep. Invisible and discrete – like gas,” he explained to Le Temps.

He added that while the future may lie with renewable energy, gas would provide an interim supply when oil begins to dry up.

But Greenpeace Switzerland dismissed the quest for gas as “nonsensical” and “an energy of the past”.

“Rather than investing huge amounts in fossil fuels with a short-term vision of making money it is much better to consider renewable energies,” said Nicolas de Roten, spokesman of the environmental organisation.
(20 January 2008)

4th Annual State of the Energy Industry
US Energy Association, Energy Policy TV
Industry leaders across the energy industry discuss top issues facing the energy industry. Those include what went right and wrong with the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007, energy efficiency issues and work in Congress to regulate carbon emissions to control climate change.

Speakers include
Barry Worthington, Executive Director, United States Energy Association (USEA);
David Manning, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Environmental Officer, National Grid;
Tom Kuhn, President and CEO, Edison Electric Institute (EEI);
Red Cavaney, President and CEO, American Petroleum Institute (API);
David Parker, President and CEO, American Gas Association (AGA)

Related content found at: State of the Energy Industry draft agenda (PDF)
(16 January 2008)

Oilsands Producers Get Failing Grade on Environment

CBC News
A new report card has given a failing grade to nine of 10 Alberta oilsands producers on their environmental performance.

The study by the Pembina Institute and the World Wildlife Fund ranked 10 operating and proposed oilsands mines on 20 different environmental indicators, including environmental management, land impacts, air pollution, water use and management of greenhouse gases.

The report said seven of the 10 producers participated in the study and only one was given a passing grade.

While Albian’s Muskeg mine ranked highest with a 56 per cent grade, Syncrude and Syneco ranked last, with only 18 per cent. The average score among all oilsands projects surveyed was only 33 per cent.

“We found that oilsands companies are making weak efforts to manage their environmental impacts,” Dan Woynillowicz of the Pembina Institute said in a statement.
(10 January 2008)
Also at Common Dreams.

Coal Industry Plugs Into the Campaign

Steven Mufson, Washington Post
A group backed by the coal industry and its utility allies is waging a $35 million campaign in primary and caucus states to rally public support for coal-fired electricity and to fuel opposition to legislation that Congress is crafting to slow climate change.

The group, called Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, has spent $1.3 million on billboard, newspaper, television and radio ads in Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.

One of its television ads shows a power cord being plugged into a lump of coal, which it calls “an American resource that will help us with vital energy security” and “the fuel that powers our way of life.” The ads note that half of U.S. electricity comes from coal-fired plants.
(18 January 2008)
From David Robertson at Gristmill: Coal agit-prop heats up.

The Coal Truth on Candidates

Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post
Let’s face it: Every single presidential candidate with a veritable chance at victory, Democrat and Republican, is in the hip pocket of King Coal.

The Republicans,f course, make no bones about their unfettered support for strip-mining and lax mining safety. Despite the undeniable fact that coal-fired plants in our country account for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, drastic strip-mining techniques have laid waste to 450 mountains and adjacent communities in Appalachia-an area the size of some primaries states-and mining safety laws continue to operate on poorly enforced crisis management policies, Republicans proudly tout the Orwellian vision of Clean Coal, or more recently, Patriot Coal.

The main three Democratic contenders, alas, cushion their support for King Coal in the guise of Cap and Trade charades, “low carbon” coal technologies, and the chimerical dream of coal-to-liquid fuel, an outrageously expensive technology championed by Nazi Germany and South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Bottom line: Despite their inspiring speeches on global warming and environmental protection and workplace safety, the Democrats have bought into the same sham of coal’s reemergence as a “clean” source of energy for the future.

Worse yet, they’ve allowed one of the most ominous publicity campaigns to join their own primary bandwagons with its wicked backdrop of misinformation.

As Robert Kennedy, Jr. pointed out on Huffington Post last fall, a fierce alliance of King Coal barons and energy companies have re-invented themselves as “America’s Power” and quietly cosponsored presidential debates, aired an unprecedented number of ads in key primary states, and has now let loose the hounds of “volunteers” at presidential primary events across the country in the get-up of a “Power Van.”
(19 January 2008)
Also at Common Dreams.