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A Romney administration would create 3 million new energy jobs — but then, so would yours

Mitt Romney wants you to know that he will create 12 million new jobs if he's elected president.

His argument starts with this:

First, my energy independence policy means more than 3 million new jobs, many of them in manufacturing.

(In case you missed it, here's Romney's "energy independence" policy, which doesn't actually claim American energy independence.)

So what about that claim of 3 million new jobs in energy? He'd approve the Keystone pipeline, which would be about 6,000 jobs. So where do those other 2,994,000 jobs come from?

Here's the Washington Post:

As we have noted before, the 12 million figure is not a bad bet by Romney. Moody’s Analytics, in an August forecast, predicts 12 million jobs will be created by 2016, no matter who is president. And Macroeconomic Advisors in April also predicted a gain of 12.3 million jobs. …

The rest of the numbers are even more squishy.

For instance, the 3-million-job claim for Romney’s energy policies appears largely based on a Citigroup Global Markets study [PDF] that did not even evaluate Romney’s policies. Instead, the report predicted 2.7 million to 3.6 million jobs would be created over the next eight years, largely because of trends and policies already adopted -- including tougher fuel efficiency standards that Romney has criticized and suggested he would reverse.


Wall Street Journal hypes ‘little-known’ decision limiting oil drilling that it reported in August

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial today blasting the Obama administration for banning drilling in just shy of half of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. From the editorial:

President Obama is campaigning as a champion of the oil and gas boom he's had nothing to do with, and even as his regulators try to stifle it. The latest example is the Interior Department's little-noticed August decision to close off from drilling nearly half of the 23.5 million acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. …

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says his plan "will help the industry bring energy safely to market from this remote location, while also protecting wildlife and subsistence rights of Alaska Natives." He added that the proposal will expand "safe and responsible oil and gas development, and builds on our efforts to help companies develop the infrastructure that's needed to bring supplies online."

The problem is almost no one in the energy industry and few in Alaska agree with him.

That's the problem. That the energy industry doesn't agree with him.

Why, if the announcement was made in August, is this coming up now? Certainly not because of the proximity of the presidential election, no way, it isn't that, bite your tongue, how'd you get so cynical anyway. It is because Salazar did this sneakily. It was a "little-noticed" decision, mind you, one that the Journal thinks has gone unnoticed for too long. It is the Journal, fellow Americans, that will let you know about these secret government machinations.

Just like it did on Aug. 13, when it ran "Plan Opens Over Half of Alaska Reserve to Drilling" on page A2.


Don’t expect any new coal-ash regulations within the next 23 days

Coal ash is exactly what it sounds like: the residue of burned coal. It might sound innocuous, like what you might find in a used fireplace.

It isn't. In its a proposed regulation for coal ash released in 2010, the EPA outlined its concerns:

The constituents of concern associated with [coal ash] include antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver, and thallium. … [T]he Agency believes that the metals identified are sufficiently toxic that they are capable of posing a substantial present or potential hazard to human health and the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported disposed of, or otherwise managed.

That 2010 proposed regulation has not been implemented. And, unsurprisingly, there's no chance that it will be implemented within the next few weeks. After all, we're on the cusp of Election Day.

Appalachian Voices
Ongoing cleanup from the Tennessee Valley Authority's 2008 coal-ash spill.


Last month was the [FIRST] hottest [SEPTEMBER] in recorded history

Last month, SEPTEMBER, was the TIED FOR FIRST hottest SEPTEMBER in world history. Combining land and sea temperatures, the month was 0.67 degrees C above the 20th century average.

A map illustrating the above point. Click to embiggen.

The most-recent January-to-SEPTEMBER period was the EIGHTH warmest on record.

Things that happened during the month in question. Click to embiggen.
Read more: Climate & Energy


Koch Industries offers its employees a handy voter guide

In other fossil-fuel-company-is-desperate-to-keep-the-good-times-going-despite-the-international-shift-away-from-fossil-fuels-(which-is-occurring-however-slowly)-and-therefore-is-insistent-on-its-employees-voting-a-hard-right-ticket-in-the-hopes-that-it-might-somehow-postpone-the-inevitable-degradation-of-the-planet-long-enough-to-wring-a-few-more-bucks-out-of-its-industry news, Koch Industries sent out a letter suggesting cool people for its employees to vote for.

From In These Times:

In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president. The guide was similar to one the company distributed before the 2010 midterm elections, which Mark Ames and [Mike Elk] reported on in The Nation last year.

The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month. The cover letter, by Koch Industries President and Chief Operating Officer Dave Robertson, read: …

"If we elect candidates who want to spend hundreds of billions in borrowed money on costly new subsidies for a few favored cronies, put unprecedented regulatory burdens on businesses, prevent or delay important new construction projects, and excessively hinder free trade, then many of our more than 50,000 U.S. employees and contractors may suffer the consequences, including higher gasoline prices, runaway inflation, and other ills."

Enclosed with the letter was a flyer [PDF] listing Koch-endorsed candidates, beginning with Romney. Robertson’s letter explained: “At the request of many employees, we have also provided a list of candidates in your state that have been supported by Koch companies or by KOCHPAC, our employee political action committee.”


Murray Energy coal miners make another appearance in an anti-Obama ad

Coal miners who work for Murray Energy have one request for President Obama: stop lying.

Obama has been running an ad claiming that their employer, Murray Energy, forced them to attend a Mitt Romney rally without pay. If this issue sounds familiar, it's because we've mentioned it before.

On Friday, the miners held a press conference asking the president to pull the ad. Here's the press conference:

It quickly became a 30-second attack ad, by a group called "Checks And Balances For Economic Growth."

Checks And Balances For Economic Growth is registered at the Washington, D.C., address of the law firm Webster, Chamberlain & Bean -- an address shared by a number of conservative organizations, including, at one time, Tom DeLay's former political action committee. Thanks to the murky world of PAC contributions, it's not clear if Checks And Balances For Economic Growth is linked to Murray Energy PAC, the PAC run by mine owner Robert Murray to which, it seems, employees are forcefully encouraged to contribute.

There's little doubt that the miners in the video are concerned about their jobs. There's good reason to be. And it seems likely that the miners at the press conference appeared there willingly, though, as mentioned above, the company is apparently not averse to encouraging political action by its employees.


Global food prices to spike, reserves to plummet in 2013

Not so fast, kid.

If you're eating something right now, you're going to want to stop. Not because this post is gross. Because you might want to save that to eat when the world runs out of food in a few months.

From The Guardian:

Food and Agriculture Organization
Both production and stocks of cereals are down.

Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN. ...

With food consumption exceeding the amount grown for six of the past 11 years, countries have run down reserves from an average of 107 days of consumption 10 years ago to under 74 days recently.

Prices of main food crops such as wheat and maize are now close to those that sparked riots in 25 countries in 2008. [The UN Food and Agriculture Organization] figures released this week suggest that 870 million people are malnourished and the food crisis is growing in the Middle East and Africa. Wheat production this year is expected to be 5.2% below 2011, with yields of most other crops, except rice, also falling, says the UN.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food


Is ExxonMobil trying to pipe tar-sands oil through New England?

Here's a scary map (which you can click to enlarge):

map of possible pipeline route

The Bangor Daily News has the story:

A group of environmental advocates believe they have evidence that oil giant ExxonMobil — and perhaps even [Maine] Gov. Paul LePage [R] — are backing a plan to push controversial tar sands oil through an aging pipeline across Maine. ...

Representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment Maine, the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Council of Maine, among others, told reporters Wednesday morning during a news conference in Portland that research into the corporate parentage of the Portland Pipe Line Corp. shows a direct line to ExxonMobil, a company the environmentalists described as a major player in the field of Canadian tar sands oil extraction.


Obama admin lays out welcome mat for big solar projects in the West

Expect to be seeing more of this.

Six Western states could soon see big, new solar-power projects on public land, thanks to a plan finalized Friday by the Interior Department. The Hill reports:

The Interior Department set aside about 285,000 acres for commercial-scale solar in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. The federal government will offer incentives for development, help facilitate access to existing or planned electric infrastructure and ease the permitting process in the 17 zones. ...

If fully utilized, Interior predicts the zones could produce 23,700 megawatts of solar energy, enough to power 7 million homes.

Interior tried to be sensitive to conservation issues in developing the plan, as AP explains:

[T]he chosen sites have fewer of the environmental concerns — such as endangered desert tortoise habitat — that have plagued other projects.


Norway to double carbon tax on oil industry, use money to help world

Tax that rig.

Here's something that could only happen in Scandinavia. The Guardian reports:

Norway is to double carbon tax on its North Sea oil industry and set up a £1bn [$1.6 billion] fund to help combat the damaging impacts of climate change in the developing world. ... one of the most radical climate programmes yet by an oil-producing nation ...

Norway will also plough an extra £1bn into its funds for climate change mitigation, renewable energy, food security in developing countries and conversion to low-carbon energy sources, Environmental Finance reported.

It will step up spending on new projects to combat deforestation in developing countries ...