Fannie Mae owns patent on residential ‘cap and trade’ exchange

By: Barbara Hollingsworth
Local Opinion Editor
April 20, 2010

When he wasn’t busy helping create a $127 billion mess for taxpayers to clean up, former Fannie Mae Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines, two of his top underlings and select individuals in the “green” movement were inventing a patented system to trade residential carbon credits.

Patent No. 6904336 was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office on Nov. 7, 2006 — the day after Democrats took control of Congress. Former Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., criticized the award at the time, pointing out that it had “nothing to do with Fannie Mae’s charter, nothing to do with making mortgages more affordable.”

It wasn’t about mortgages. It was about greenbacks. The patent, which Fannie Mae confirmed it still owns with Cantor Fitzgerald subsidiary CO2e.com, gives the mortgage giant a lock on the fledgling carbon trading market, thus also giving it a major financial stake in the success of cap-and-trade legislation.

Besides Raines, the other “inventors” are:

* Former Fannie Vice President and Deputy General Counsel G. Scott Lesmes, who provided legal advice on Fannie Mae’s debt and equity offerings;

* Former Fannie Vice President Robert Sahadi, who now runs GreenSpace Investment Financial Services out of his 5,002-square-foot Clarksburg home;

* 2008 Barack Obama fundraiser Kenneth Berlin, an environmental law partner at Skadden Arps;

* Michelle Desiderio, director of the National Green Building Certification program, which trains “green” monitors;

* Former Cantor Fitzgerald employee Elizabeth Arner Cavey, wife of Democratic donor Brian Cavey of the Stanton Park Group, which received $200,000 last year to lobby on climate change legislation; and

* Jane Bartels, widow of former CO2e.com CEO Carlton Bartels. Three weeks before Carlton Bartels was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, he filed for another patent on the software used in 2003 to set up the Chicago Climate Exchange.

The patent, which covers both the “cap” and “trade” parts of Obama’s top domestic energy initiation, gives Fannie Mae proprietary control over an automated trading system that pools and sells credits for hard-to-quantify residential carbon reduction efforts (such as solar panels and high-efficiency appliances) to companies and utilities that don’t meet emission reduction targets. Depending on where the Environmental Protection Agency sets arbitrary CO2 standards, that could be every company in America.

The patent summary describes how carbon “and other pollutants yet to be determined” would be “combined into a single emissions pool” and traded — just as Fannie’s toxic portfolio of subprime mortgages were.

“Fannie Mae earns no money on this patent,” communications director Amy Bonitatibus told the Washington Examiner. “We can’t conjecture as to the cap-and-trade legislation.”

But passage of the legislation would create an artificial, government-mandated, trillion-dollar carbon trading market that would drive up the price of energy, indirectly making housing more expensive.

If the proprietary emissions trading system functions like other exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange, which makes most of its revenue on listing and trading fees, its owners could see extremely generous profits, especially with a patent that keeps out competition for two decades.

So Fannie Mae, a quasi-governmental entity whose congressionally mandated mission is to make housing more affordable, has been a behind-the-scenes participant in a carbon trading scheme that would do just the opposite.

In January, Europol announced that up to 90 percent of the volume in the European Union’s own carbon-trading market was fraudulent, costing EU members $5 billion during the previous 18 months. That would be just the tip of the iceberg if the Congress were to make a similar mistake.

But if it does, thanks to Raines and his fellow “inventors,” Fannie Mae will be laughing all the way to the (bailed-out) bank. 

Barbara F. Hollingsworth is the Examiner’s local opinion editor. See post here.

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Fact Check: Debunking the Energy and Commerce Committee Briefing Memo

Washington, DC – Leading up to today’s (April 28, 2010) House Energy and Environment subcommittee hearing entitled “Clean Energy Polices That Reduce Our Dependence on Oil,” the panel’s staff issued a memorandum outlining the subject matter to be covered at the hearing. The non-partisan Institute for Energy Research (IER) issued the following “fact check” on this briefing memo. 

E&C Claim: The U.S. contains only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves.

FACT: The U.S. contains far more than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Today, the U.S. has 2 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves. However, the U.S. has far more than only 2 percent of the world’s oil. This factually inaccurate talking point is often used by opponents of domestic energy production. While the proved conventional oil reserves of the U.S. in 2009 were 19.1 billion barrels, this number is misleading on several fronts. In short, “proved reserves” are indeed proven, we know they are there, and that they are economically recoverable.

For the better part of three decades, misguided U.S. government policies have kept hydrocarbons on 97 percent of offshore water and 94 percent of taxpayer-owned lands unleased. What is exactly beneath these taxpayer-owned waters and lands remains anyone’s guess. But to use the “2 percent” talking point to further an anti-oil agenda is simply disingenuous. For example, ANWR’s 10.4 billion barrels of estimated economically recoverable oil would raise U.S. reserves by over 50 percent.  And according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), “undiscovered technically recoverable oil in the United States is 145.5 billion barrels” (CRS report number R40872, page 2). The U.S. Energy Department also estimates that the U.S. has 1.38 trillion barrels of potentially recoverable shale oil (CRS report number R40872, page 10).

E&C Claim: The U.S. has increasingly relied on imports, which supplied 57 percent of U.S. oil demand in 2008.

FACT: It is true, that since 1994 the U.S. has imported more crude oil than it has produced. But this dependence is in large part due to policy decisions made over the course of nearly four decades – by both Republican and Democratic administrations and Congresses. While the U.S. is oil dependent, it should be noted that our two largest suppliers of crude oil, after the U.S., are also our closest North American neighbors: Canada and Mexico. In fact, in 2008 these strategic trading partners supplied the U.S. with 716 million and 434 million barrels of North American oil, respectively.

E&C Claim: Global oil demand is projected to grow 23 percent to 24 percent by 2030. To meet these projections, two-thirds of the world’s oil production in 2030 will have to come from fields that have not yet been developed or found – roughly the equivalent of locating and developing six new Saudi Arabia.

FACT: With much of the developing world entering the energy business, global energy consumption will undoubtedly increase. However, these numbers need to be examined in the appropriate context. In 1940, according to the Energy Department, the U.S. had proven oil reserves of 19 billion barrels. In 2008, our proven reserves stood at 19.1 billion barrels. So, did the U.S. only use 100 million barrels of domestic oil in nearly seventy years? Of course not. Through the never-ending advancement in technologies, we discovered more oil, and continue to do so today. Since 1971, global oil reserves have grown by more than a factor of 2.5, while global oil demand has grown by a factor of 1.7. Factor in oil shale, and the overall dynamics shift considerably. In fact, according to the Energy Department’s Office of Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale, approximately 1.38 trillion barrels of shale oil are potentially recoverable in the U.S. (CRS report number R40872, page 10). Which, by the way, is 5.2 times the amount of Saudi Arabia’s proven reserves.

E&C Claim: On March 27, 2007, an unfounded rumor of an attack on a U.S. warship by Iran sent oil prices climbing $5 (to 68.91/barrel) in about 7 minutes.

FACT: According to the Wall Street Journal, on March 26, 2007, crude oil traded on the NYMEX at $68.22 per barrel. However, on March 27, oil increased to $68.70 a barrel and then fell to $68.50 on March 28. There is no doubt intraday trading can be volatile, including short-term price shocks due to erroneous reports. But as the data shows, these short-term intraday shocks are quickly corrected by market forces. On the other hand, government policy can have an immediate impact on the price of crude oil. We witnessed this on July 14, 2008 and September 23, 2008, when President Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore exploration, and the Democratic-controlled Congress allowed its ban to expire. Prices dropped on the mere anticipation that additional oil reserves could come on-line at some point in the future.

E&C Claim: Greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles endanger human health and welfare.

FACT: This is a claim often made by EPA officials and proponents of increasing the cost of transportation fuels. That said, according to the EPA’s own analysis, the new fuel economy mandate will cause global mean temperature to “be reduced by 0.006 to 0.015 °C by 2100” and “sea-level rise is projected to be reduced by approximately 0.06-0.14cm by 2100” (EPA’s final rule, page 355). To put that reduction in sea level rise in context, 0.14 cm is less than the width of 4 coarse human hairs. If carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles were as harmful as EPA claims, it stands to reason that their regulations would result in a detectable impact rather than something undetectable in the real world like 0.015 °C over the next 90 years.

Institute for Energy Research | 1100 H Street, NW | Suite 400 | Washington, DC 20005

US research paper questions viability of carbon capture and storage

A proposed carbon capture and storage cluster at Kingsnorth in Kent. Photograph: EON

By Terry Macallister

A new research paper from American academics is threatening to blow a hole in growing political support for carbon capture and storage as a weapon in the fight against global warming.

The document from Houston University claims that governments wanting to use CCS have overestimated its value and says it would take a reservoir the size of a small US state to hold the CO2 produced by one power station.

Previous modelling has hugely underestimated the space needed to store CO2 because it was based on the “totally erroneous” premise that the pressure feeding the carbon into the rock structures would be constant, argues Michael Economides, professor of chemical engineering at Houston, and his co-author Christene Ehlig-Economides, professor of energy engineering at Texas A&M University

“It is like putting a bicycle pump up against a wall. It would be hard to inject CO2 into a closed system without eventually producing so much pressure that it fractured the rock and allowed the carbon to migrate to other zones and possibly escape to the surface,” Economides said.

The paper concludes that CCS “is not a practical means to provide any substantive reduction in CO2 emissions, although it has been repeatedly presented as such by others.”

The report has come at a critical time when British and other governments worldwide have started to fast-track a series of CCS prototype schemes as a way of removing carbon from the atmosphere and helping with climate change.

On 8 April, Royal assent was given on to what is now the Energy Act 2010, which made law plans to raise a levy on power users to establish four CCS projects in Britain. Ministers see this as a potentially planet-friendly way of building new coal fired power stations, such as the one E.ON wants to construct at Kingsnorth, in Kent.

The Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), which lobbies on behalf of the sector, says Britain is now at the forefront of new technology with a legislative framework in place that offers the opportunity for long-term investment.

Projects are proceeding in the US, such as the experimental coal-fired Mountaineer plant in New Haven, West Virginia, which began small-scale carbon capture last year, as well as in Canada, China and other countries.

Jeff Chapman, chief executive of the CCSA, believes Economides has made inappropriate assumptions about the science and geology. He believes the conclusions in the paper are wrong and says his views are backed up by rebuttals from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National laboratory and the American Petroleum Institute.

The British Geological Survey confirmed it was looking at the Economides findings and was hoping to shortly produce a peer-reviewed analysis.

Economides, who has a PHD from Stanford University, said he had seen the arguments against his paper from the API and dismissed them as “nonsense” saying vested interests are protecting a new concept foisted on the world by geologists without proper thought.

“I was a [practising] petroleum engineer for many years and soon realised that geologists did not understand flow and the laws of physics, against which you can’t argue.”

Chapman pointed out that Statoil, a Norwegian oil company, had been injecting CO2 into an old reservoir on the North Sea Sleipner field for some time as a successful experiment in carbon storage. But Economides says the Sleipner scheme involved a million tonnes over three years, while one 500mW commercial station would need to absorb and store 3m tonnes annually for 25 years.Economides, who admits he veers towards being something of a climate change sceptic, says the oil and coal industries see these schemes as potential solutions so they can keep on doing what they have been doing in the past, but “CCS is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” he said.

PUC chairman took equity stake in wind company

By Naomi Schalit, senior reporter, ©Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting | Apr 21, 2010 

Augusta — While he was Maine’s chief utilities regulator, Kurt Adams accepted an ownership interest in a leading wind-energy company. One month later, in May 2008, he went to work for that company, First Wind, as a senior vice president.
 
A “summary compensation table” in a recent SEC filing shows that Adams’ 2009 compensation of $1.3 million included $315,000 in salary, $658,000 in stock awards, $29,000 of “other” compensation and $315,000 in “non-equity incentives.”
 
It’s not clear yet how much the ownership interest — 1.2 million units of equity — that Adams got while still at the commission is worth, since First Wind has not put a value on the equity units in its SEC filings.
 
First Wind constructs, operates and owns wind turbines in the Northeast, the West and Hawaii. The company is the largest wind power developer in Maine, with farms at Mars Hill and at Stetson Mountain. Two other in-state projects are in the works in Oakfield and Rollins.
 
Cabanne Howard, a former assistant attorney general and now a law professor at the University of Southern Maine, said, “It’s against the law to offer or accept anything of value to a public official where the person making the offer has an interest in the work of the public official.”
 
Howard added, “You have to show that the purpose of the gift was to influence the person’s performance.”
 
Adams said at the time they were awarded to him, the equity units — which he called “stock” in an interview with the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting — had “no value at all,” and therefore shouldn’t trigger any state laws that bar improper gifts to public officials.
 
“There was no property interest granted while I was at the commission that I received,” said Adams.
 
And, said Adams, he never did First Wind any favors while he was at the commission.
 
“Those stock options, the grant date is on (April) the 16th, but there’s no value at all that accrues to you until one year after you work.”
 
Likewise, First Wind’s attorney, Paul Williams, said the award to Adams “had a prospective value that was unrealizable until after it had vested, which was about a year.”  “If he had never started work,” said Williams, “he would have had something of no value, period.”
 
On page 140 of First Wind’s March 26, 2010, SEC filing, the company set Adams’ “vesting commencement date” for the equity units at April 16, 2008, the date Adams said he signed an employment contract with First Wind — and while he was still PUC chairman.
 
In the interview with the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, Adams described the equity units as part of the “overall compensation package” included in his employment contract with First Wind.
 
Adams said he signed the contract and got the equity units while he was still at the commission.
 
But in a 2008 First Wind “S-1” filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, the company twice stated that Adams signed that employment contract a month later, May 19, 2008, — after he had left the commission.
 
“I can’t tell you why it was dated then,” said Adams. “The S-1 is not something I’m in charge of at First Wind. The securities filings are the province of the legal department.”
 
Williams, head of the legal department, said the May date “is just a clerical error. It was before my time. I don’t know how it got in there.”
 
Regardless of when he signed the contract with First Wind, one government watchdog group said the equity units awarded to Adams while he worked at the commission pose a problem.
 
“This is sort of like a lawyer coming into a courtroom saying, ‘Hey, here’s a bunch of stock in my firm’ and a judge taking it,” said David Lavinthal, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C.
 
“That judge can recuse himself all he wants from the trial in which that lawyer is a party, but the question is, is that an appropriate transaction? These things that are being given, they would at some point have value; is there any question in anyone’s mind at some point they will have value?”
 
Wind power needs PUC approval
While First Wind was not a state-regulated utility, its interests came before the commission in a variety of ways.
 
Adams said, “We didn’t regulate First Wind … it’s not like First Wind was at the commission frequently.”
 
Construction of transmission lines with the capacity to connect wind energy from Maine’s rural reaches to densely populated regions to the south can only happen with PUC approval.
 
First Wind’s 2008 press release announcing Adams’ hiring read:
“We are very excited to welcome Kurt to our team, and we know that his immense experience will help advance the transmission efforts for our projects across North America,” said Paul Gaynor, president and CEO of First Wind. “Through his most recent work as chairman of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, Kurt has a great working knowledge of the issues facing the wind industry.”
 
Among the qualifications Adams brought from his work at the PUC: “He also sited and approved infrastructure, including electricity delivery and transmission.”
 
Adams, wrote First Wind, “will primarily be responsible for the oversight and implementation of transmission planning for all of First Wind’s operating and development projects.”
 
Adams was chairman of the Maine Public Utilities Commission for three years, from April 2005 to May 2008. Prior to that, he was the in-house counsel for Gov. John Baldacci, who appointed him to the commission.
 
Adams’ tenure as PUC chairman coincided with a major initiative by the state to develop alternative energy resources, especially wind.
 
In concert with other New England states, Maine set an ambitious goal for alternative energy production over the next two decades and established economic incentives for that production. That has led both to accelerated growth in Maine’s wind-energy sector, as well as bottlenecks in a transmission system designed to carry far less energy than wind-power producers hope to generate.
 
Baldacci’s wind-energy task force reported in 2008 “the ability of Maine to achieve the ambitious goals for wind power development suggested in this report and to bring the many benefits of wind energy to Maine people depends, in part, on the existence of sufficient transmission line capacity. … In order to realize the tremendous potential of wind power in Maine, the existing challenges of interconnecting wind projects with the grid must be addressed.”
 
State law regulates gifts to public servants. It’s a criminal violation if a “public servant … solicits, accepts or agrees to accept any pecuniary benefit from a person if the public servant knows or reasonably should know that the purpose of the donor in making the gift is to influence the public servant in the performance of the public servant’s official duties or vote, or is intended as a reward for action on the part of the public servant.”
 
The statute applies also to anyone who “knowingly gives, offers, or promises any pecuniary benefit” for the purposes of influencing a public official.
 
To avoid conflict of interest, Adams said, “I recused myself from anything related to First Wind from when I accepted employment to when I left. I followed the statute by the book, told my employer and my colleagues.”
 
Adams said he faced no conflicts in the period before his departure announcement, when he was negotiating his contract with First Wind. Those negotiations, he said, were conducted over a very short period of time.

In December 2007 — four months before Adams signed on for the First Wind job —  the agency intervened in a case that directly involved First Wind.

 
ISO-New England, the regional transmission organization that moves electricity from producers to consumers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, had disqualified First Wind’s Stetson Mountain project in Washington County from selling its power in an upcoming ISO-administered auction that held the promise of hefty financial returns for participating power generators.
 
ISO officials had determined the power being offered by Stetson would encounter a transmission problem in an overloaded transmission system and was therefore not a reliable source for inclusion in the auction.
 
The PUC filed an after-the-deadline protest of ISO’s disqualification of Stetson. The PUC’s protest with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declared ISO’s ruling to be “inconsistent with Maine’s policy to promote renewable generation and reduce greenhouse gases. Further, the disqualification may discourage other renewable generators that may be seeking to locate in Maine.”
 
It was a strange move for the PUC, said Greg Williams, a Washington, D.C., attorney who has worked for the federal commission and currently represents the interests of utilities — including Maine power generator the Houlton Water District — before the commission.
“In a word, it is quite unusual to see the PUC step in on behalf of a single entity,” said Williams. “The PUC weighed in, filed a late intervention, pretty unusual, said it was real important that the New England ISO essentially give these guys a break and let them participate in that forward auction.”
 
The PUC’s protest filing — which was rejected by the federal agency —- was written by a staff attorney who worked under Adams.

Adams said he didn’t remember the Stetson filing. “It’s not ringing a bell,” he said.

 
New York AG questions First Wind
July 15, 2008, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced an investigation into First Wind and Connecticut-based wind energy company Noble Environmental Power, LLC.
 
Cuomo’s press release says, “Subpoenas were served on Newton, Massachusetts-based First Wind (formerly known as UPC Wind) and Essex, Connecticut-based Noble Environmental Power, LLC. They are part of an investigation into whether companies developing wind farms improperly sought or obtained land-use agreements with citizens and public officials; whether improper benefits were given to public officials to influence their actions, and whether they entered into anti-competitive agreements or practices.”
 
The investigation was a response, Cuomo said, to “numerous complaints regarding the two companies from citizens, groups and public officials in eight counties alleging improper relations between the companies and local officials and other improper practices.”
 
The investigation did not result in charges against the companies. Cuomo used it as leverage to establish a code of conduct for wind energy companies operating in New York. That code, adopted three months later and signed by the two companies, prohibits conflicts of interest between municipal officials and wind companies.
 
Adams said there were no improper relations between him and First Wind while he was head of the PUC. He said he called First Wind about going to work with them because he had a conflict as the head of the PUC.
 
The commission was set to deliberate over the massive power line expansion proposed by Central Maine Power – and that power line, said Adams, “is literally going to be built behind my house.”
 
Baldacci, in a statement released by his deputy chief of staff David Farmer, said, “The governor believes that Kurt took appropriate precautions during his final days at the PUC to make sure that no conflict developed concerning First Wind. If First Wind had had business before the PUC, the governor believes Kurt would have appropriately removed himself from the matter.”
 
John Clark, general manager of the Houlton Water Company, knows and likes Adams. “He’s the only commissioner and chairman that’s ever visited us to see what our concerns were,” said Clark.
 
But, he added, that Adams took the equity interest in First Wind while working for the commission is disturbing. “I’m not pleased,” Clark said. “If it happened, I feel badly about that. I wish he had waited, done something else. I have no idea about the legality of it, it just doesn’t look good.”

The Maine Center for Public Interest reporting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism organization based in Hallowell. The e-mail is mainecenter@gmail.com. The Web site is pinetreewatchdog.org.    See post here.

Kerry: Gas Tax? What Gas Tax?

By Kate Sheppard, Mother Jones

Here’s a fabulous sneak peek into the climate bill negotiations. Yesterday Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) attempted to squash the idea he and his colleagues have ever contemplated including a gas tax in the climate bill. “There is no gas tax, never was a gas tax, will not be a gas tax, I don’t know where that came from, but it is just wrong. Period,” he told reporters. “There is not even a linked fee, there is not a tax, there is nothing similar.”

Pretty sure the idea came from … the bill’s coauthors. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) discussed the prospect of a carbon fee on transportation fuels with reporters shortly before the April recess. “It’s on the table,” Lieberman said following a March 25 meeting with industry groups. And Graham explained that the oil industry favored a fuel fee if that would mean the industry wouldn’t be included under a hard cap on carbon.

It’s not entirely clear if what’s going on here is a rhetorical shift (nobody likes the word “tax” of course), or an actual policy change. This could be much like the whole “cap and trade is dead” dance the senators are performing, in which they declare the policy deceased while, in reality, some form of it will likely be included in their bill.

The senators are supposed to release a draft on Monday, but from everything I’m hearing on the Hill, there are still lots of loose ends to be tied up. Of course, the constant shifting has raised concerns about whether Kerry and his colleagues can deliver. As one industry source put it to Climate Wire last week:

“He’s literally trying to promise everything to everybody,” said one industry source close to the negotiations. “While his enthusiasm is appreciated, there’s grave doubts he can hold the promises he makes.”

 From Inhofe EPW Press

The following articles discuss the proposed ‘linked fee” in Kerry-Graham-Lieberman: 

LA Times:  Senators consider gasoline tax as part of climate bill  – (04/14/10) Some industry analysts and environmentalists question how much a tax would do to reduce emissions from gasoline, particularly if the extra cost to motorists is measured in cents, not dollars. Proponents call the tax approach under consideration a “linked fee,” because it links the extra cost for gasoline to the average cost of greenhouse gas emission permits created through a so-called cap-and-trade system for electric utilities. That system would set a declining limit on emissions from power plants and force utilities to buy permits, on a trading market, to emit heat-trapping gases. Under the linked-fee proposal, gasoline taxes would rise in tandem with the prices of industrial emission permits, or fall if the price of permits declines.

Inside EPA: Senators Seek Oil Industry, Chamber ‘Cease Fire’ On Climate/Energy Bill  – (04/02/10) The trio is urging API and the Chamber to mute any potential future opposition to the bill with a number of provisions meant to sweeten the pot for the groups.  In exchange for the oil industry’s neutrality on the bill, for example, sources have previously said the industry would be subject to a so-called “linked fee” for transportation fuels linked to the price of carbon allowances rather than a hard cap on the transportation sector’s emissions, sources familiar with the discussion say.  The legislation is also expected to include a title on domestic oil and gas exploration, a key priority for the oil and gas industry.

NYT/Greenwire: Senate Climate Bill’s Allocation Fight Expected to Go Down to the Wire – (03/26/10) The senators said that each industrial sector — electric utilities, petroleum refiners, manufacturers — will face different emission limits and startup dates. As such, the allocation plan for each also will be different. For transportation fuels, the senators said an idea being offered up by BP America, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil Co. involves a “linked fee” that would be tied to the carbon market price for the other industrial sectors. “The money we generate comes from the companies. It’s an assessment on what they do in the carbon world,” Graham said. “They’re creating a carbon product, they’re going to pay a fee. Some of it will be passed on. Some of it will be absorbed. But the money we collect from them gets passed back to the consumer, which holds them harmless. Bill Gates may not get it, but most people in my state will. And any money not going back to the consumer from this linked fee has to go to do something the country needs, like retire the debt, or I won’t support it.”

The Hill: Graham: Carbon fees on gasoline won’t hurt consumers (03/26/10) “Some of it will be passed on, some of it will be absorbed, but the money we collect from them gets passed back to the consumer, which holds them harmless,” Graham said. “Bill Gates may not get it, but most people in my state will, and any money not going back to the consumer from this linked fee has to go to something that the country needs, like retiring the debt, or I won’t support it.” “If you don’t get it, it is going to help your kids,” he added. Their proposal is called a “linked fee.” That’s because the amount would be tied to the price of emissions allowances in the carbon trading market the bill would establish for utilities and eventually other industrial plants.

Politico: Senators pump gas fee into bill  – (03/17/10)  They are floating the idea of levying a carbon tax on each gallon of gasoline, which would be passed along to consumers at the pump. The fee would be linked to the market price of carbon emissions bought and traded by utilities and other industries. “A linked fee to me makes sense,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who’s working with Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to craft a climate bill.  Graham stressed that he wasn’t sure “how far the idea would go” but that it is already picking up support from oil-state members. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a vocal opponent of earlier climate bills, has said she’s “open” to the new proposal.  The three senators plan to release the first draft of their revamped climate bill before lawmakers leave for the congressional recess scheduled for the end of the month.

CQ: Outline of Senate Climate Change Bill Includes Sector-Tailored Regulations  – (03/17/09) Details of Outline  According to people attending Wednesday’s meeting, the outline circulated by Kerry, Graham and Lieberman to the industry leaders included:  • An economywide cap on carbon emissions that would begin in 2012, with a target of reducing carbon pollution 17 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050; • A straight fee or tax, paid by consumers at the pump, on transportation fuels. The levy would be linked to the carbon content of the fuel and the price of carbon in the other markets; • A combination for the regulated sectors of a cap-and-trade model, under which polluters could trade pollution permits on an open market, and a “cap and dividend” model, which would return revenue from the sale of permits directly to consumers

Ice Cores Vindicate Carbon Dioxide

By Meteorologist Art Horn

People elected the current president because enough of them wanted “change”. They got it. Recently Americans have witnessed the passing of a so called “health care” bill that will continue the current revolution to remake America into Canada or worse Europe. Emboldened by their “success” the current administration now has its guns pointed towards remaking America’s energy industry.

The motivation to change this aspect of American culture is undoubtedly rooted in the administrations socialist ideology. The threat of man made global warming will be used to cram this giant regulatory ball and chain down the throats of America’s energy makers.

Americans need to know that the data being used to prove that increased carbon dioxide levels causes global warming actually proves that is does not, here is why.

Those who kneel at the altar of Al Gore preach that increased levels of man made carbon dioxide are changing the climate. They point to the rise in temperature over the last 160 years. They say concurrent increases in CO2 are proof of man made global warming. What they ignore is the fact that half the warming of the last 160 years was from 1910 to 1945, before any credible man made influence from carbon dioxide was possible. In reality 80% of all human emissions of CO2 have been after 1940. This cuts the amount of theoretical man made global warming by half over the last 160 years. That is just the beginning.

What is more remarkable is what the carbon dioxide data from ice cores say. Carbon dioxide in the air has not in the past and will not in the future be responsible for global warming.

In Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, Mr. Gore showed a graph of temperature vs. carbon dioxide over the last 425,000 years. He stated that the graph showed that as levels of carbon dioxide increased the earth’s temperature did the same. We now know that this is not true. In fact the reality of this falsehood was revealed before the movie was released. Either Gore did not know it or chose to ignore it. Detailed study of ice core data shows that the temperature was the lead player, not carbon dioxide. Analysis of the data shows that temperature went up by an average of 800 years before carbon dioxide responded to the increase. Anyone who has opened a carbonated beverage knows that if the soda is warm the carbon will come out much faster, but only after the soda has warmed up. Keep the soda cold and the carbon stays in the bottle. The ice core data shows us that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the air is the result of warmer temperature, not the cause of it. As the temperature warmed so did the oceans and in doing so released more carbon into the air. Proponents of man made global warming do not want to talk about this “inconvenient truth”.

The list of organizations and government agencies that insist that carbon dioxide rules the climate is long. Here is a partial list in no particular order…The current United States Government, The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on climate Change, The World Wildlife Fund, The National Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists, Defenders of Wildlife, Worldwatch Institute, Environmental Defense Fund, United States Climate Action Partnership, The Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, The Scripps Institution of  Oceanography and many, many others. All of these companies feed at the nipple of  government and private foundation money. In 2008 the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation of California made a one time donation of $500,000,000.00 to ClimateWorks. This company is working to keep the level of carbon dioxide in the air under 450 parts per million.

In his farewell speech to the nation on January 17th 1961 President Dwight Eiesenhower warned of this.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research.

Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

I was as if he could see the future. Unfortunately his warning has not been heeded.

Hundreds of academic institutions and environmental groups, dozens of research organizations in the United States and around the world claim carbon dioxide rules the climate. They point to ice core data that says carbon dioxide levels are higher than anytime in the last 800,000 years. They say that this increase has caused the global temperature to increase one degree Fahrenheit over the last 160 years. They say that continued injection of carbon dioxide into the air by human activity will cause catastrophic global warming. What is their reasoning behind this?

Drilling into deep ice in places such as Antarctica and Greenland we have been able to extract isotopes of elements such as oxygen that have allowed us to recreate the temperature of the past. These ice cores show us that during the last 10,000 year period, called the Holocene the earth has been in a warmer period between the ice ages. This ice core data has also allowed us to recreate the levels of carbon dioxide over the last 10,000 years. The data from the ice cores has shown us that the level of carbon dioxide during the Holocene has been around 270 parts per million or about 116 parts per million lower than today.

Those that say carbon dioxide is the major influence of long term climate change point out that this 116 parts per million increase make today’s level of atmospheric carbon dioxide historically high for the Holocene. By their reasoning that should make the current temperature of the earth historically high compared to the last 10,000 years. But is it? Figure one (Fig 1) is a recreation of temperature from the Dhal-Jensen, D. et al.1998 study: Past temperature directly from Greenland ice sheet, Science pages 282, 268-271.

Figure one shows that today’s temperature is not remarkable compared to the last 10,000 years. In fact the temperature is considerably lower than most of the Holocene. The data show that the temperature has varied by 4 degrees Celsius over the last 10,000 years. What is remarkable is that all this temperature variation took place while carbon dioxide levels remained at around 270 parts per million (Fig 2).

 If carbon dioxide levels are ruling the climate why did the temperature of the last 10,000 years change so much when CO2 hardly changed at all? The answer is that something else was changing the temperature. The answer is that the variation of the sun’s energy output and the cyclic ocean temperature changes rule the climate.

Carbon dioxide is a very minor greenhouse gas. It has almost no effect on global temperature. The data prove that. If you believe something else it must be faith or environmental fervor, the lure of a government contract or politics, not science. The true answer for the climate change over the last 10,000 years must be something other than carbon dioxide since it changes so little while the temperature changed so much. The temperature of the earth is not remarkable compared to the last 10,000 years. The ice core data tell us the carbon dioxide levels are higher than anytime in the Holocene but the temperature is not. This fact rules out carbon dioxide as an important greenhouse gas. The very evidence that global warming proponents use to vilify carbon dioxide and our way of life verify that it is not the cause of temperature change.

 

Obama’s Offshore Drilling Plan; the Other Side of the Story

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce made a list of all of the energy projects canceled or delayed by the federal government through 2009.  Americans have been calling for energy independence and a reduction in importation of foreign oil and natural gas.

Earlier this month we heard the White House announcement about the President’s new plan for offshore drilling.  The plan proposes to open offshore drilling along the Southern Atlantic coast, a small part of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and a portion of the coast of Alaska.  The American Energy Freedom Center took a closer look at those plans and discovered:

:: No new lands were opened for drilling.  All of the areas were opened when President Bush lifted the ban in 2008 and Congress followed with legislation passed in October 2008.

:: The new plan blocks 360 million acres from energy production…that’s 60 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf in the Lower 48 States.

 :: The new plan blocks 13.14 billion barrels of oil and 41.49 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  The whole Pacific coast is off limits-another estimated 10.5 billion barrels of oil and approximately 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

 :: The new plan cancels five Alaskan lease sales that were ready to go and delays 2 lease sales-Virginia and Cook Inlet for at least one year.

 :: The whole Pacific coast is off limits-blocking an estimated 10.5 billion barrels of oil, and 18 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.  AEFC Chairman George Allen published an oped on the President’s plan for offshore drilling.  See it here.

Is the U.S. Killing ‘Green’ Jobs?

By Rebekah Rast
Video by Andrius Vaitekunas and Rebekah Rast

Solar-cell manufacturing in Frederick, Maryland, dates back to the mid-1970s. BP Solar, one such company, was so profitable it was in the middle of building a $97 million expansion to create more jobs in the solar panel industry. Now the BP Solar building is being demolished and 320 people in Maryland are unemployed.

What happened?

The answer is, the federal government got involved and destroyed the free market generated profitability of the making of solar panels. Here’s how: the Obama Administration has spent billions of dollars to create “green jobs.” Through his tax incentives and credits for those businesses that manufacture renewable energy products, he created a glut in the marketplace. With so many businesses now producing solar panels (most of them overseas in anticipation of a booming U.S. market), the cost of panels has been nearly cut in half, making it impossible for businesses like BP Solar to stay in business in the U.S. In an effort to create green jobs, hundreds of green jobs that had been around for 30-plus years were lost. Ironic isn’t it?

Because companies like BP Solar can’t survive in the U.S. anymore, due to the market being over-inflated with far too many subsidized companies creating a surplus of solar panels, they move to where business is more cost effective. Places like China, India, Mexico and Poland, where less overhead, lower labor costs and fewer taxes make for a friendlier business environment. Businesses in the U.S. pay huge corporate and property taxes, as well as absorb skyrocketing energy costs. Even if the government subsidized BP Solar, like it has done with so many other green industries, it would not have been enough.

Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government flatly states, “The market is no longer sustainable because of the glut caused by the overproduction of solar panels. This is a problem unless the government plans to subsidize these companies forever.”

Not only is the U.S. hard on businesses to begin with, but by meddling in the free market, the federal government has made conditions far worse — for everyone.

“320 jobs. That is absolutely absurd,” says Audrey Scott, former Secretary of Planning for the Ehrlich Administration, about the number of jobs lost at BP Solar. “In the Western part of the state jobs are a very critical issue. It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.”

You can lay some of the blame of the closing of BP Solar on the State of Maryland’s laws and regulations. Other businesses have left the state and moved to Pennsylvania or elsewhere to more business-friendly environments.

“Maryland is very anti-business and that is one of our issues,” Scott says. “What our government is doing here in Maryland at the present time is getting in the way of the job creation. The regulations and the horrendous atmosphere and environment for jobs and for business here in Maryland are just unacceptable.”

Sound familiar? While Maryland’s drop in 2007 to 47th worse business tax climate, according to a nonprofit Tax Foundation report played a big role in BP Solar’s decision to close, the overall business climate in the U.S. contributed to the shutdown as well. It’s not only solar panels that are being manufactured overseas, it’s other renewable energies as well — even by those companies that received “help” from the federal government.

For example, of the $2 billion already spent on wind power alone, funding the creation of enough new wind farms to power 2.4 million homes over the past year, nearly 80 percent of that money has gone to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines. And wind energy is just another industry receiving some of money spent on this “green” initiative. There are still billions more dollars being spent by the federal government on this initiative.

Obama’s method of subsidizing these renewable energy companies and interfering in free market environments is not original. Spain is a good example of a country that has done exactly what Obama is trying to do. An Institute of Energy Research (IER)-commissioned study coming out of King Juan Carlos University in Madrid by Gabriel Calzada found that, for every green job created, 2.2 jobs in other sectors have been destroyed. Furthermore, Spain’s government spent $758,471 to create each green job and used $36 billion in taxpayer money to invest in wind, solar, and mini-hydro from 2000-2008. The country’s unemployment rate is currently at 19.4% and is nearing insolvency.

Does the U.S. really want to continue down this same path?

It is time to learn from the mistakes of others before it is too late. America is next in line to becoming insolvent, as ALG News has previously reported.

“It is lunacy to expect top-down, Soviet-style economic planning to work in America,” says Wilson. “It has failed all over the world. We need to let markets work. Before the government got involved, 320 Americans were profitably building solar panels in Maryland. Now, they are unemployed.”

When walking the streets of Frederick, Maryland, you sense sadness and frustration. Peoples’ hopes are replaced with despair. Maybe if the federal government would have left the free market system alone, BP Solar might have had a chance and continued to produce solar panels and more jobs.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to ALG News Bureau.  Andrius Vaitekunas is Video News Editor for ALG News Bureau.

“Dash to Gas” Makes Neither Economic Nor Environmental Sense

Energy Facts Weekly: By Frank Clemente, Ph.D., Penn State University

The Economy   The Environment
“The results for electricity from natural gas strengthened this conclusion: [gas] can be one of the lowest cost — or one of the highest cost — sources of electricity … over the 30-year lifespan of an NGCC plant, the price of natural gas would be likely to rise, the year-to-year variations could also be large.” National Research Council, 2009 Double Arrow
“Total greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas from hydraulic fracturing may, therefore, be equivalent to 33 g C of CO2 per million joules of energy…. total emissions from coal would be equivalent to 31.9 g C of CO2 per million joules of energy, or very slightly less than the estimate for the natural gas.” Dr. Robert Howarth, Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology, Cornell University, 2010
  • “… the President’s goal (is) to reduce emissions 83% by 2050.”   The White House
  • “Gas doesn’t get us there.”  Dave Hamilton, Director for Global Warming, Sierra Club, referring to the goal of an 80% drop in emissions on CNN News
 
In 1998, the American Gas Association predicted U. S. production would exceed 25 TCF in 2010. The DOE now estimates that this year’s production will only be 20 TCF — a difference of three Oklahomas. This supply shortfall has not only led to significantly higher natural gas prices, but also to extreme volatility of those prices. From 2000-2009, the price of natural gas to produce electricity ranged from $3.56 to $12.04 per million Btu.
 
  

More Natural Gas Generation Leads To Higher Electricity Prices
 
 
“Since 1997, there have been five natural gas price spikes…. These price spikes have significantly contributed to the U.S. manufacturing sector losing over 3.7 million jobs.”   Edward Stones, representing Dow Chemical Co. in testimony before the U.S. Senate, 2009
 
Now, as a new decade begins, the unfounded exuberance that characterized the natural gas industry a decade ago still prevails and threatens to take a heavy toll not only on our ability to revive economic growth but also to maintain reliable electric power as well.  And, this time, there will not be enough coal generation to bail us out.
 
 

 

The Mathematics of Hyperbole are Stark:
A 63% Increase in 10 Years?

What They Say The Reality What It Means For America
“So is there enough natural gas to do this? The answer is absolutely yes… U.S. natural gas producers can increase supplies by 5% per year for at least the next decade.”  Testimony of Chesapeake Energy before the U.S. House Select Committee What 5% annual growth over a decade would require:•   Twice the production of Texas
•   Four Gulfs of Mexico
•   10 Louisianas
•   Eight Alaskan pipelines   

•  A never-ending treadmill of hundreds of thousands of wells with 70% first-year decline rates.•  Environmental impacts of untold magnitude on water, air, land and society.   

Such excessively optimistic forecasts led to over 90% of the power plants built in the last 10 years to be natural gas-based. The price for those mistakes was very high. Families paid billions of dollars more to heat their homes, some companies went bankrupt and others took their jobs overseas.

In his seminal essay, Reason in Common Sense, Santayana warned: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Based on our continuing rush to once again increase dependency on natural gas generation, the ability of our educational system to convey history to the populace must be very limited indeed.

Already Out on a Natural Gas Limb

And Cavalierly Marching Forward:

  • 45,000 more megawatts of natural gas generation is planned
  • Push for coal plants to convert to natural gas
  • Wind generation must have major gas back up
  • Climate legislation means more natural gas consumption “in every case analyzed” by the EIA
  • New EPA regulations could lead to 35% increase in gas used for generation

 

” Continued high levels of dependence on natural gas for electricity generation in Florida, Texas, the Northeast, and Southern California have increased the bulk power system’s exposure to interruptions in fuel supply and delivery.”  North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), 2009
The Economy   The Environment
“… past efforts to forecast natural gas prices have been highly inaccurate compared to actual prices…. greenhouse gas policies will further complicate these efforts, likely rendering future natural gas price forecasts even less accurate and uncertain.”   California Energy Commission, 2009 Double Arrow “Benzene is a high-risk carcinogen and was found in nearly half of all flowback waters from Pennsylvania and West Virginia (14/29 samples) at concentrations ranging from 15.7 to 1950 μg/L, with an average of 479.5 μg/L… nearly 100 times the maximum contaminant level (5 μg/L) established by the EPA.” Dr. Susan Rhia, Director, New York State Water Resources Center, 2009

References
1.    http://sites.nationalacademies.org/NRC/index.htm
2.    http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/GHG%20emissions%20from%20Marcellus%20Shal  e%20–%20with%20figure%20–%203.17.2010%20draft.doc.pdf
3.    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-attend-copenhagen-climate-talks
4.   http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/29/news/economy/natural_gas/index.htm
5.    See Gas Daily, July 2, 1998 and aga.org/stats Studies, 1998
6.    http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.ByMonth
7.    Senate Testimony presented by Chesapeake Energy, July, 2008
8.    http://www.nerc.com/page.php?cid=4%7C53%7C59
9.    “Natural Gas Price Volatility,” California Energy Commission, November, 2009.
10.    Dr. Susan Rhia ,et al.; http://wri.eas.cornell.edu/
11.    Energy data and projections based on EIA, Annual Energy Outlook, 2010, and data files at http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/aeoref_tab.html

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The fight against eco-imperialism

By Andrew Chambers, The Guardian

It is not acceptable to use climate change as an excuse to limit growth in poor countries as the west’s carbon emissions rise.

Cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Beijing, China   Cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant in Beijing. South Africa has been criticised for its plans to build a similar power station. Photograph: Alexander F. Yuan/AP

Last Thursday the World Bank approved a £2.4bn loan to build a huge new coal-fired power station in South Africa. The issue has exposed the rift between two central international goals – alleviating poverty and preventing global warming. South African ministers claimed that the project was essential for their country’s development, while a concerted environmental campaign lobbied international governments to block the scheme. Amid concerns about global warming, this question of development versus environment may become one of the most contentious international issues over the next few years.

Since the 1970s the green movement has acquired ever-greater prominence in international development. In the last decade, global warming concerns have refocused the emphasis of poverty reduction strategies away from development and towards the environment. This is portrayed as a win-win situation – where the interests of the local people are perfectly aligned with the interests of environmental campaigners. Sustainable technologies like wind turbines and solar panels improve the lot of the recipients while keeping their carbon emissions to a minimum. However, this approach has been criticised as a form of eco-imperialism – because western carbon considerations remain a limiting factor on developing world progress.

The Working Group on Climate Change and Development is a network of more than 20 NGOs including WWF, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Founded in 2004, its “central message is that solving poverty and tackling climate change are intimately linked and equally vital, not either/ors”.

The group’s most recent report lists the overarching challenges as (1) how to stop and reverse further climate change, (2) how to live with the degree of climate change that cannot be stopped and (3) how to design a new model for human progress and development that is climate-friendly. The makes fascinating reading – and is illuminating as to the ideological backdrop to development policy.

These environmental groups, while spanning quite a large spectrum, tend to demonstrate an affinity with the pro-rural socialist left. The report describes climate change as not just a threat but also an “opportunity” to re-think the entire global system. It challenges western notions of development and growth and, most starkly, concludes that “mere reform within the current global economic system will be insufficient” to tackle poverty in a carbon constrained future. Indeed, members of these groups often seem to embrace rural village life as representing a pre-industrial idyll which should be preserved.

Such romantic ideology therefore seeks to largely maintain the status quo – where the African poor are kept “traditional” and “indigenous”. It’s hard to disagree with Lord May, former president of the Royal Society in his observation that “much of the green movement isn’t a green movement at all, it’s political”.

With poverty redefined in terms of the environment and infused with pro-rural socialism, large-scale projects to industrialise or modernise are not the priority – indeed, western-style development and modernisation are seen as part of the problem. Instead there is a self-limiting bottom-up approach which subsidises underdevelopment not as a transitionary phase but as an end goal.

To effectively sideline the development strategy that every western country has undertaken in raising living standards is remarkable. Indeed, while India and China have lifted at least 125m people out of slum poverty since 1990, over the same period 46 countries have actually got poorer – the large majority of them African states.

It would be too simplistic to prescribe the industrialisation and modernisation agenda pursued by India and China as a panacea for the problems of sub-Saharan Africa, and the Indian and Chinese policies have not been without adverse consequences. Nevertheless, it is a staggering achievement which demonstrates that poverty alleviation should be pursued through a developmental agenda.

The truth is that African poverty is not a result of global warming. It is likely that the poor will be disproportionately affected by global changes in temperature – but this is not a reason to limit development. It is development which will allow countries to better cope with the consequences of a changing climate. For example, the Netherlands is better prepared to build dams to protect its coastline from rising sea levels than Bangladesh. Those that will be hardest hit by global changes to temperature will be those who are most exposed to the vagaries of the environment now – the rural poor.

Environmental policies that seek to reinforce the rural status quo as a means of limiting carbon emissions may be of benefit to the developed world, but they are detrimental to the long-term ability of the poor to cope with climate change. The planned South African power plant at Limpopo exposes the collision between these different policy aims. With the country going to the World Bank for a £2.4bn loan, international governments have been forced to weigh up developmental advantage versus environmental damage.

South Africa suffers major power shortages and insists that a new plant is essential to the country’s economic progress. Environmentalists are horrified that the plant will emit 25m tonnes of carbon per annum, and point out that much of the new electricity will be used by heavy industry. Despite a concerted lobbying campaign from environmental groups, the loan was approved on Thursday – albeit with abstentions from Britain, America and the Netherlands. A US treasury spokesman explained that the abstention was due to an “incompatibility with the World Bank’s commitment to be a leader in climate change mitigation and adaption”. Considering that the World Bank’s first affirmed purpose is to alleviate poverty, we can see how pervasive the reframing of poverty in terms of environment has become.

It is up to the developed world to produce the technologies for cleaner energy and implement policies to significantly reduce carbon emissions. It is not acceptable to use global warming as a way of limiting growth in poor African countries when our own climate emissions continue to rise.

Environmental movements certainly have a role to play in highlighting ecological degradation and its impact on local people, and in some cases the interests of protecting the environment will be perfectly aligned with the needs of the local community. However, it is unacceptable for poverty reduction in the developing world to become a staging post for ideological battles lost elsewhere. We should embrace whatever methods provide the best outcome in alleviating poverty – whether that be new roads or airports, power stations or renewables. To do otherwise is to be guilty of the worst kind of eco-imperialism – where the poor are held back for the benefit of the rich.