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California votes down offshore project

The California state assembly killed a chance for the state’s first new offshore oil drilling lease since 1969, after the idea narrowly passed the senate earlier.

The measure was defeated by a 43-30 vote in the assembly and was taken out of the approved budget bill that seeks to close a $26 billion budget deficit.

US explorer Plains Exploration & Production had wanted to drill off an existing platform in federal waters into state waters.

The project off Santa Barbara was to raise about $100 million annually for 15 years in oil royalty payments to the state. ..
(28 July 2009)

How Can Obama Pay for Healthcare Reform? How about Linking it to a ‘Manhattan Project for Energy Efficiency’?

Bill Paul,

It’s clear that the White House hasn’t closed the deal with the American public on how it’s going to be able to pay for healthcare reform without significantly raising people’s taxes and/or the national debt.

Here’s one out-of-the-box idea: link healthcare and energy.

Specifically, show how the spectacular financial benefits of energy efficiency – both the direct benefit of money saved and the indirect benefit of healthier Americans through cleaner air as the need lessens for fossil-fuel power plants — might logically be applied to healthcare reform, thereby reducing or, just maybe, eliminating the need to raise people’s taxes or the national debt.

The White House is already moving to improve the nation’s energy efficiency, but not nearly fast enough. What’s needed is a “Manhattan Project for Energy Efficiency.” Obama should start by calling the Air Force, which according to Stars & Stripes has a plan for reducing energy use by 20% over the next 5-6 years. For every dollar the Air Force expects to spend, it anticipates a short-term return (2015) of $1.50 and a long-term return (2020) of $2. That’s a 50% to 100% return on every taxpayer dollar spent – simple-to-understand math that could get the American public excited.

The next calls Obama should make are to his energy secretary and to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which just reported that strong new standards for 26 common household and business products could save U.S. consumers and businesses $123 billion by 2030. “Time’s a wasting!” Obama should shout into the phone.

…One possible way all this might work might be for Uncle Sam to give every private and commercial real estate owner a tax writeoff covering 100% of the cost of making efficiency improvements. Then Uncle Sam could collect the multi-year 150% to 200% return on his investment. Key, of course, would be an ironclad promise from Congress not to divert the funds into any of its pet projects. (Having a healthier nation would be free.)

The takeaway here for investors is that, whether the White House wakes up to the best deal going, sooner or later the extraordinary financial, environmental and, yes, healthcare benefits of energy efficiency are going to take center stage in the political debate over how to revitalize America. (Are you listening, Republicans?)

(27 July 2009)
Sent in by EB contributor ‘thing’, who says:

Energy Efficiency is an untapped resource more cost effective than any renewable energy source!

Lessons learned from General Motors’ collapse

Bok Deuk-Kyu, JoongAngDaily
On June 1, 2009, General Motors (GM), the automaker that has been a symbol of the United States manufacturing industry for over 100 years since its establishment in 1908, filed for bankruptcy protection.

GM had introduced the “mass consumption” system following Ford’s adoption of the “mass production” system. The company’s collapse – at least from a financial perspective – signifies the end of the 20th century’s “mass production/mass consumption” manufacturing corporations.

GM’s bankruptcy was directly caused by two factors: a high cost structure and chronic liquidity shortage resulting from declining sales revenue because of a product portfolio vulnerable to the economic crisis.

However, that is only the tip of the iceberg. The true fundamental causes lie hidden below the surface.

When the economic crisis hit, GM products mainly consisted of high-priced, fuel-inefficient minivans, sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks.

As a result, the crisis hit GM harder than other automakers.

The first reason behind this is that GM’s product portfolio was too exposed to light trucks, based on a “Galapagos Islands” strategy focused on the U.S. market. In other words, the company’s market developed into one that was entirely unique and completely isolated from the global market ? much in the same way that the Galapagos Islands have developed. Due to relatively high per capita income, low fuel costs, broad roads, long-distance driving and inadequate public transportation, the U.S. auto market mainly consisted of medium and large-sized vehicles. Hence, GM concentrated on larger-sized products that were popular more or less only in the U.S. market.

…A second root cause of the company’s financial problems was GM’s failure to innovate when it came to production methods. As a result, GM lagged behind its Japanese rivals in terms of productivity, product quality and price competitiveness. GM attempted to adopt a Japanese-style production method by establishing a joint venture called New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. with Toyota in the mid-1980s. But the initiative failed. Eventually, GM products came to be viewed as expensive and of low quality compared to those of its Japanese rivals.

A third cause was the U.S. government’s policies that protected light trucks from fuel-efficiency regulations and tariffs, thus encouraging GM to focus on these vehicles.
(27 July 2009)
Submitted by EB contributor esteban.

Climate Change and the Future of Southern California : Peak Oil and Climate Change Scenarios
Bryn Davidson / Southern California Association of Governments
“Climate Change and the Future of Southern California” is an essay publication which introduces readers to the scenarios, impacts and potential responses with respect to climate change…Mr. Bryn Davidson’s essay “Peak Oil and Climate Change: Scenarios and Implications” focuses on the nexus of climate change, peak oil and planning. Though climate change and peak oil have uncertainties, both were founded on a largely undeniable central message: the future may be very different from the past. Mr. Davidson explores how these two powerful forces might combine to change the way we build our cities and regions.

For this essay’s publication, the focus is on the scenarios and impacts of climate change in Southern California and potential responses in the region to contribute to the climate change solutions. Because there are many uncertainties involved in so many different aspects of the climate change problem, identifying with confidence a single outcome or pathway is not possible.

Thus, it is important to consider a set of possible scenarios.

Pertinent scenarios involve not only the range of possible climate changes and their impacts, but also combined impacts with other looming stresses, such as the limit that will be imposed by peak oil that will develop along with an increasingly changing climate.

Topics of response strategies covered include integrating land use/transportation planning, green buildings, education and workforce development for a green economy, governance and financing policies, and integration with larger sustainability goals. Most of the response strategies are applicable for local government in the region.”

About SCAG (excerpt from the preface):

“The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is the largest regional planning organization in the nation. The SCAG region, also referred to as Southern California in this report, includes six counties (Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura) and 189 cities. Currently, with almost 19 million residents, it is also one of the top global gateway regions and would rank 15th among all national economies in the world.”
(July 2009)

Is the ocean Florida’s untapped energy source?

Azadeh Ansari, CNN
The answer to easing the energy crunch in one of the nation’s most populous states could lie underwater.

Sea turbines make electricity which moves via cable, left, to shore. A hydrogen by-product is collected on a ship.

Imagine if your utility company could harness the ocean’s current to power your house, cool your office, even charge your car.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University are in the early stages of turning that idea into reality in the powerful Gulf Stream off the state’s eastern shore…
(27 July 2009)