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“Disaster on the Horizon” – new book on the Gulf oil spill

Bob Cavnar, Chelsea Green
High Stakes, High Risks, and the Story Behind the Deepwater Well Blowout

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What Really Happened Out in the Gulf?

The Deepwater Horizon blowout dominated the world’s attention for months, yet Americans still lack an understanding of the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Disaster on the Horizon is the first comprehensive book on the causes of the disaster by expert Bob Cavnar. He delivers a hard-hitting portrait of industry and government woefully unprepared to respond.

From inside the oil business – field hand to CEO – Cavnar witnessed the carelessness of the industry first hand when he was burned by a gas well fire in 1981.

Disaster on the Horizon reveals explosive details:

  • Collusion between BP and the government to hide the severity of the spill.
  • The blowout preventer technology details – why it failed.
  • The behind-the-scenes story of the Obama administration’s $20 billion deal with BP.
  • How BP blamed others for their mistakes.
  • BP’s corner cutting on safety.
  • The risky top kill procedure.
  • Obama’s failure to take advice from industry experts.

Disaster on the Horizon provides a roadmap for ensuring this never happens again. Cavnar calls out his own industry for ignoring safety improvements and lobbying to end the moratorium on off-shore drilling as quickly as possible. Cavnar’s takeaways:

  • Technology must be vastly improved before deepwater drilling resumes. The industry had a chance to get started on this during the moratorium, but delayed and lobbied instead.
  • Tougher regulations on deepwater drilling should be enacted–in technology, disaster preparedness, and response operations.
  • A comprehensive energy policy that creates a favorable environment for full-scale alternative energy development and conservation.

Bob Cavnar is a 30-year veteran of the oil and gas industry with deep experience in operations, start-ups, turn-arounds, and management of both public and private companies. …

(Book release date: 15 October 2010)

Build ‘Em And They Will Come

Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times
Kishore Mahbubani, the dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, is over for tea and I am telling him about what I consider to be the most exciting, moon-shot-quality, high-aspiration initiative proposed by President Obama that no one has heard of. It’s a plan to set up eight innovation hubs to solve the eight biggest energy problems in the world. But I explain that the program has not been fully funded yet because Congress, concerned about every dime we spend these days, is reluctant to appropriate the full $25 million for each center, let alone for all eight at once, so only three are moving ahead. But Kishore interrupts me midsentence.

“You mean billion,” he asks? “No,” I say. “We’re talking about $25 million.” “Billion,” he repeats. “No. Million,” I insist.

The Singaporean is aghast. He simply can’t believe that at a time when his little city-state has invested more than a billion dollars to make Singapore a biomedical science hub and attract the world’s best talent, America is debating about spending mere millions on game-changing energy research.

Welcome to Tea Party America. Think small and carry a big ego.

This may seem like a little issue, but it is not. Nations thrive or languish usually not because of one big bad decision, but because of thousands of small bad ones — decisions where priorities get lost and resources misallocated so that the nation’s full potential can’t be nurtured and it ends up being less than the sum of its parts. That is my worry for America.

But none of this is inevitable. So let’s start with the good news: a shout-out for Obama’s energy, science and technology team for thinking big. Soon after taking office, they proposed what Energy Secretary Steven Chu calls “a series of mini-Manhattan projects.” In the fiscal year 2010 budget, the Department of Energy requested financing for “Energy Innovation Hubs” in eight areas: smart grid, solar electricity, carbon capture and storage, extreme materials, batteries and energy storage, energy efficient buildings, nuclear energy, and fuels from sunlight.
(14 October 2010)

Pentagon going green, because it has to

Olivia Hampton Olivia Hampton, AFP
The US military’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels is a dangerous vulnerability, officials said Wednesday as they made a fresh push to develop renewable energy solutions for the battlefield.

In the wake of a spate of deadly attacks on tankers carrying fuel to foreign troops in Afghanistan, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke of a “strategic imperative” for the US military to become more efficient and find new sources of energy.

The Department of Defense is burning through 300,000 barrels of oil a day, using more energy per soldier every year and its top import to Afghanistan is fossil fuels, the highest ranking US military officer said as he kicked off a Pentagon discussion on energy security.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has set a goal of having renewable energy account for 50 percent of power for the Navy and Marines by 2020.
(13 October 2010)

US to Probe China’s Green-Tech Trade Policies

Agence France Presse
US authorities on Friday announced a probe into allegations that China is handing out hundreds of billions of dollars in illegal subsidies in a bid to dominate the green-energy sector.

“This administration is committed to ensuring a level playing field for American workers, businesses and green technology entrepreneurs,” US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement announcing the investigation.

The probe comes after the United Steelworkers union petitioned the trade officials to investigate practices it claims contravene World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and cost American jobs.

The union — one of the nation’s largest — accused China of blocking access to materials used in green technologies, illegally linking subsidies to export sales, curbing imports and demanding foreign investors hand over technology secrets.
(15 October 2010)