Friday, June 14, 2013

Corporate Abuse of Human Rights?

Keystone XL Activists Labeled Possible Eco-Terrorists

in Internal TransCanada Documents

Demonstrators in DC via

Documents recently obtained by Bold Nebraska show that TransCanada - owner of the hotly-contested Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline - has colluded with an FBI/DHS Fusion Center in Nebraska, labeling non-violent activists as possible candidates for "terrorism" charges and other serious criminal charges.

Further, the language in some of the documents is so vague that it could also ensnare journalists, researchers and academics, as well.

TransCanada also built a roster of names and photos of specific individuals involved in organizing against the pipeline, including's Rae Breaux, Rainforest Action Network's Scott Parkin and Tar Sands Blockade's Ron Seifert. Further, every activist ever arrested protesting the pipeline's southern half is listed by name with their respective photo shown, along with the date of arrest.

It's PSYOPs-gate and "fracktivists" as "an insurgency" all over again, but this time it's another central battleground that's in play: the northern half of KXL, a proposed border-crossing pipeline whose final fate lies in the hands of President Barack Obama.

The southern half of the pipeline was approved by the Obama Admin. via a March 2013 Executive Order. Together, the two pipeline halves would pump diluted bitumen ("dilbit") south from the Alberta tar sands toward Port Arthur, TX, where it will be refined and shipped to the global export market.

Activists across North America have put up a formidable fight against both halves of the pipeline, ranging from the summer 2011 Tar Sands Action to the ongoing Tar Sands Blockade. Apparently, TransCanada has followed the action closely, given the level of detail in the documents.

Another Piece of the Puzzle

"The Hot Springs School District practiced a lockdown procedure after pretending to receive a letter from a group that wrote 'things dear to everyone will be destroyed unless continuation of the Keystone pipeline and uranium mining is stopped immediately," explained the Rapid City Journal. "As part of the drill, the district's 800 students locked classroom doors, pulled down window shades and remained quiet."

This latest revelation, then, is a continuation of the troubling trend profiled in investigative journalist Will Potter's book "Green Is the New Red." That is, eco-activists are increasingly being treated as domestic eco-terrorists both by corporations and by law enforcement.

TransCanada Docs: "Attacking Critical Infrastructure" = "Terrorism"

The documents demonstrate a clear fishing expedition by TransCanada. For example, TransCanada's PowerPoint presentation from Dec. 2012 on corporate security allege that Bold Nebraska had "suspicious vehicles/photography" outside of its Omaha office.

That same presentation also says TransCanada has received "aggressive/abusive email and voicemail," vaguely citing an incident in which someone said the words "blow up," with no additional context offered. It also states the Tar Sands Blockade is "well-funded," an ironic statement about a shoe-string operation coming from one of the richest and most powerful industries in human history.

Another portion of TransCanada's PowerPoint presentation discusses the various criminal and anti-terrorism statutes that could be deployed to deter grassroots efforts to stop KXL. The charge options TransCanada presented included criminal trespass, criminal conspiracy, and most prominently and alarmingly: federal and state anti-terrorism statutes.

Journalism Could be Terrorism/Criminal According to FBI/DHS Fusion Center Presentation

An - a Crime Analyst at the Nebraska Information Analysis Center (NIAC), the name of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funded Nebraska-based Fusion Center - details all of the various "suspicious activities" that could allegedly prove a "domestic terrorism" plot in-the-make.

NAIC says its mission is to "[c]ollect, evaluate, analyze, and disseminate information and intelligence data regarding criminal and terrorist activity to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies, other Fusion Centers and to the public and private entities as appropriate."

Among the "observed behaviors and incidents reasonably indicative of preoperations planning related to terrorism or other criminal activity" is "photography, observation, or surveillance of facilities, buildings, or critical infrastructure and key resources." A slippery slope, to say the least, which could ensnare journalists and photo-journalists out in the field doing their First Amendment-protected work.

Another so-called "suspicious activity" that could easily ensnare journalists, researchers and academics: "Eliciting information beyond curiosity about a facility's or building's purpose, operations, or security."

Melissa Troutman and Joshua Pribanic - producers of the documentary film "Triple Divide" and co-editors of the investigative journalism website Public Herald - are an important case in point. While in the Tioga State Forest (public land) filming a Seneca Resources fracking site in Troy, Pennsylvania, they were detained by a Seneca contractor and later labeled possible "eco-terrorists."

"In discussions between the Seneca Resources and Chief Caldwell, we were made out to be considered 'eco-terrorists' who attempted to trespass and potentially vandalize Seneca’s drill sites, even though the audio recording of this incident is clear that we identified ourselves as investigative journalists in conversation with the second truck driver," they explained in a post about the encounter, which can also be heard in their film.

"We were exercising a constitutional right as members of the free press to document and record events of interest to the public on public property when stripped of that right by contractors of Seneca."

Activists protesting against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) during its April 2013 meeting in Arizona were also labeled as possible "domestic terrorists" by the Arizona FBI/DHS Fusion Center, as detailed in a recent investigation by the Center for Media and Democracy. More

Monday, June 10, 2013

Four energy policies can keep the 2 °C climate goal alive

Warning that the world is not on track to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, the International Energy Agency (IEA) today urged governments to swiftly enact four energy policies that would keep climate goals alive without harming economic growth.

“Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities. But the problem is not going away – quite the opposite,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in London at the launch of a World Energy OutlookSpecial Report, Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map, which highlights the need for intensive action before 2020.

Noting that the energy sector accounts for around two-thirds of global greenhouse-gas emissions, she added: “This report shows that the path we are currently on is more likely to result in a temperature increase of between 3.6 °C and 5.3 °C but also finds that much more can be done to tackle energy-sector emissions without jeopardising economic growth, an important concern for many governments.”

New estimates for global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2012 reveal a 1.4% increase, reaching a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes (Gt), but also mask significant regional differences. In the United States, a switch from coal to gas in power generation helped reduce emissions by 200 million tonnes (Mt), bringing them back to the level of the mid‑1990s. China experienced the largest growth in CO2 emissions (300 Mt), but the increase was one of the lowest it has seen in a decade, driven by the deployment of renewables and improvements in energy intensity. Despite increased coal use in some countries, emissions in Europe declined by 50 Mt. Emissions in Japan increased by 70 Mt.

The new IEA report presents the results of a 4-for-2 °C Scenario, in which four energy policies are selected that can deliver significant emissions reductions by 2020, rely only on existing technologies and have already been adopted successfully in several countries.

“We identify a set of proven measures that could stop the growth in global energy-related emissions by the end of this decade at no net economic cost,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, the report’s lead author. “Rapid and widespread adoption could act as a bridge to further action, buying precious time while international climate negotiations continue.”

In the 4-for-2°C Scenario, global energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions are 8% (3.1 Gt CO2‑equivalent) lower in 2020 than the level otherwise expected.

  • Targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport account for nearly half the emissions reduction in 2020, with the additional investment required being more than offset by reduced spending on fuel bills.
  • Limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants delivers more than 20% of the emissions reduction and helps curb local air pollution. The share of power generation from renewables increases (from around 20% today to 27% in 2020), as does that from natural gas.
  • Actions to halve expected methane (a potent greenhouse gas) releases into the atmosphere from the upstream oil and gas industry in 2020 provide 18% of the savings.
  • Implementing a partial phase-out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies accounts for 12% of the reduction in emissions and supports efficiency efforts.

The report also finds that the energy sector is not immune from the physical impacts of climate change and must adapt. In mapping energy-system vulnerabilities, it identifies several sudden and destructive impacts, caused by extreme weather events, and other more gradual impacts, caused by changes to average temperature, sea level rise and shifting weather patterns. To improve the climate resilience of the energy system, it highlights governments’ role in encouraging prudent adaptation (alongside mitigation) and the need for industry to assess the risks and impacts as part of its investment decisions.

The financial implications of climate policies that would put the world on a 2 °C trajectory are not uniform across the energy sector. Net revenues for existing renewables-based and nuclear power plants increase by $1.8 trillion (in year-2011 dollars) collectively through to 2035, offsetting a similar decline from coal plants. No oil or gas field currently in production would need to shut down prematurely. Some fields yet to start production are not developed before 2035, meaning that around 5% to 6% of proven oil and gas reserves do not start to recover their exploration costs. Delaying the move to a 2 °C trajectory until 2020 would result in substantial additional costs to the energy sector and increase the risk of assets needing to be retired early, idled or retrofitted. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) can act as an asset protection strategy, reducing the risk of stranded assets and enabling more fossil fuel to be commercialised.

To download the WEO special report Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map, click here.

To read Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven's comments at the report's launch, please click here.

To see the presentation that accompanied the report's launch, please click here.

Accredited journalists who would like more information should contact

About the IEA

The International Energy Agency is an autonomous organisation which works to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy for its 28 member countries and beyond. Founded in response to the 1973/4 oil crisis, the IEA’s initial role was to help countries co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in oil supply through the release of emergency oil stocks to the markets. While this continues to be a key aspect of its work, the IEA has evolved and expanded. It is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing reliable and unbiased research, statistics, analysis and recommendations.


Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map


Sunday, June 9, 2013

New Date For Jamaica's 115MW Renewable Energy Plant! - Aug 2016

The country will have to wait more than three years before the proposed 115 megawatts (MW) of energy from renewable sources is added to the national grid.

The introduction of the renewable energy should cut Jamaica's oil bill substantially (US$55 million at current prices) but the three-year wait will mean a painful delay for Jamaicans desperate for lower electricity bills.

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) last week accepted 28 proposals for the development of projects aimed at generating the renewable energy.

The submissions, from 20 local and overseas companies, were revealed during a public opening of bid documents last Monday.

The proposals included two for wind projects, one for biomass, and 25 for solar energy.

Eight of the proposals were received from local companies.

The bidders include the local entities Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ); Wigton Windfarm Limited; Blue Mountain Renewables, and BNRG Renewables Jamaica.

In its proposal, the PCJ submitted a 20.98-megawatt photovoltaic solar-generating project at a cost of approximately US$63.16 million.

Wigton Windfarm submitted a proposal for a 24-megawatt wind energy power generation project, at a cost of US$45 million.

Blue Mountain Renewables submitted a 34-megawatt wind power generation project for approximately US$77 million.

The overseas investors include Wirsol AG and Roc Energy, which have tendered a proposal for a 78-megawatt solar park power generation project at a cost of some US$140 million; and New York-based entity, Roraima Consulting Incorporated, which submitted a bid for a 24-megawatt solar power generating project, at a cost of approximately US$59 million.

Project manager at the OUR, Peter Johnson, said the high level of interest in supply renewable energy was very encouraging.

"We are hoping that these proposals will actually bear fruit and that we will get some good solutions out of (them)," stated Johnson.

"This is the first tranche of that and we're very excited with what we have seen."

According to Johnson, with the bids in hands, the OUR will now move towards the evaluation processes, which should be completed by August 5.


"The evaluation will look at the best proposals in terms of the best reliability, the best price (and) will also look to see if one proposal or a combination of proposals will best fit the needs of the country."

The highest-ranked applications will be notified on September 11, with the OUR looking to complete the negotiation of project agreements by June 18, 2014.

The selected applicants are expected to post their performance security deposit by June 28, 2014, and begin construction in August 2014.

The proposed commissioning date of the new renewable energy plant is August 2016.

A request for proposals was issued by the OUR in November 2012, when it invited interested entities to submit bids for the supply of up to 115MW of renewable energy electricity generation to the national grid on a 'Build, Own and Operate' basis.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Energy Risk Management in 2013 Hurricane Season

According to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), the 2013 Hurricane Season is predicted to be more active than normal. In its forecast released on May 23rd, NOAA anticipates 13-20 named storms, with 7-11 of those becoming hurricanes and 3 to 6 of those being Category 3 or higher hurricanes. The averages call for only 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and only 3 of those becoming major storms. Given this outlook, the question becomes how will this impact natural gas prices?

Natural Gas Prices

Several years ago, the call for an active hurricane season would have sent natural gas futures skyrocketing as concerns about potentially lost production due to shut-ins or damages to wells in the Gulf of Mexico would have created supply fears, especially if coupled with the expectations of high heat and increased air conditioning load. However, with fracking producing at least 30% of total natural gas production in the U.S. according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), concerns about lost production due to shut-ins caused by hurricanes have dwindled. Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production accounts for 23% of total U.S. crude oil production and federal offshore natural gas production in the Gulf accounts for 7% of total U.S. dry production.

While there are reduced supply side concerns from an active hurricane season, it is important to note that tropical weather can still have an impact on forward natural gas prices. The main reason for this is the concentration of natural gas based transportation and processing facilities located along the Gulf Coast as seen in the following map, which also shows the location of power plants and transmission lines.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rising energy prices will challenge western way of life – MoD report

A little-known Ministry of Defence (MoD) report published earlier this year warns that converging global trends will dramatically affect UK economic prosperity through to 2040.

The report says that depletion of cheap conventional "easy oil", along with shortages of food and water due to climate change and population growth, will sustain rocketing energy prices. Long-term price spikes are likely to lead to a long recession in Western economies, fuelling internal unrest and the rise of nationalist movements.

The report departs significantly from the conservative and relatively optimistic scenarios officially adopted by the British government, as exemplified in the coalition's new Energy Security Strategy published in November last year by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc).

Peak "easy oil"

The report predicts that "the imminent passing of the point of peak 'easy oil' will mean that hydrocarbon-based energy prices will rise significantly out to 2040." Other factors affecting energy prices include "increasing demand for fossil fuels" due to South Asia's "industrial rise" and greater "volatility in supply" in the Middle East.

Contradicting the British government's official position on peak oil - which accepts the International Energy Agency's (IEA) latest estimate that oil prices will reach "$125/barrel in real terms (over $215/barrel in nominal terms)" - the MoD report projects an exponential escalation in prices, such that "the increasing price of oil... is likely to reach $500 a barrel by 2040" - almost double conventional projections.

This price rise will, however, "drive the development of alternative fuel sources" including tar sands, shale gas, coal, nuclear and renewables.

Rising demand for "resources and energy" from China and India will spur a "'scramble' for commodities and resources" as less developed countries' "resource requirements may go unfulfilled." There will also be a greater chance of clashes over access to "Middle East resources", the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.

Climate crisis

Climates change will significantly compound these challenges, including a wide range of impacts such as "rising sea levels... increased incidents of seasonal floods, heat-waves, storms, and unpredictable farm yields."

If sea levels rise quicker than anticipated, "millions of people across South Asia (principally in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives) will be displaced, with no opportunity to return to their homes."

Irregularities in the pattern of monsoon rains are likely to undermine South Asia's "agricultural and domestic water needs", while higher temperatures will "increase the range of vector-borne diseases such as malaria", such that it becomes "prevalent all-year-round."

Water stress

Water may become a "destabilising factor", with water stress and scarcity affecting some "2.5 billion people", and acting as a limiter to economic growth in some South Asian economies, including China by 2030.

Water will be a "defence and security issue" through to 2040, and increasing water demand is also likely to "heighten tensions over shared resources such as the Brahma-Putra Himalayan region and the River Indus", between China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Food shortages

The sustainability of food production in such conditions "will also be a key issue for the region, with much of the population dependent on rice crops as a staple." The report warns that a "rapid loss of some arable land is likely to promote local, then national migration", which may contribute to unrest.

As agriculture is the single largest contributor to GDP and employment in the region, the report observes that the decline in agricultural output driven by higher temperatures, erratic weather, lower yields, soil erosion and increased pests and weeds, will primarily affect nearly all those who are "close to, or below, the poverty line."

Demographic time bomb?

Although China and India will incorporate "some measures of sustainable development", those measures will be limited by the fact that "economic growth will remain the imperative throughout the period."

Despite their confidence in being able to meet these emerging climate and energy challenges, the sheer scale of the latter - "especially with regard to food and water availability and the sensitivity of the monsoon cycle, may challenge such confidence."

Under present trends, South Asia will contain "nearly 40% of the world's population" within the next 30 years. China and India will therefore face "increasing demands" from their "burgeoning populations" requiring "strong levels of sustained economic growth over the period to maintain internal stability."

Inadequate "social and educational policies" and persistent "inequality and corruption" could turn this demographic dividend into "a 'demographic time bomb.'"

In fact, the report predicts that due to "rising inequality", ethnic tensions, strict controls on freedom of speech, and increased access to global communications, "China is likely to experience increased incidents internal of unrest."

End of growth due to resource price spikes?

But the West faces other parallel challenges:

"The growth of South Asian economies will impact on most western nations, where the way of life for the majority of the populaces may be challenged by rising energy and resource prices, coupled with a relative decline in the value of their national economies...

The economic and industrial rise of China and India will increase the cost and reduce the availability of UK energy supplies. As a resource-importing nation, and with relatively modest fossil fuel reserves, the UK will be affected by increased resource and commodity costs. The UK will increasingly need to compete with China and India in order to secure enduring access to energy."

Consequently, the report argues that the "western 'way of life'" - associated with "a wide variety of consumer choice and relatively cheap energy" - will be "increasingly challenged as lifestyles follow GDP levels and 'normalise' across the globe."

Within the US and UK, the bulk of the populations will be affected by:

"... rising energy and resource prices, and the declining availability of finance to sustain discretionary spending. In such a context, this could lead to periods of sustained recession in the West, causing increasingly protectionist policies to be adopted."

"Internal unrest"

This could occur even as growth continues in South Asia, with global GDP per capita overall levelling off to "equilibrate", culminating in "the stalling and subsequent decline of many western economies." This will result in:

"long periods of recession and rising disaffection within the UK population... This could subsequently lead to increased incidents of internal unrest, a rise of nationalistic groups and a demand for protectionist economic and defence policies."

Corporate stakeholders

This could occur even as growth continues in South Asia, with global GDP per capita overall levelling off to "equilibrate", culminating in "the stalling and subsequent decline of many western economies." This will result in:

"long periods of recession and rising disaffection within the UK population... This could subsequently lead to increased incidents of internal unrest, a rise of nationalistic groups and a demand for protectionist economic and defence policies."

The report, titled Regional Survey: South Asia out to 2040, was published by the MoD's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) as part of its Strategic Trends Programme in January. The DCDC is an MoD think tank within the Defence Academy site at Shrivenham.

The report utilised the input of a range of government agencies and departments, including the MoD's Strategy Unit, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the Cabinet Office, and the Foreign Office - as well as two private institutions, Standard Chartered Bank and Now & Next. Decc is notably missing from the list of contributors.

Standard Chartered has a chequered history replete with scandals and "ethical lapses". Two years ago, an Ecologist investigation alleged that a coal power plant project in India financed by Standard Chartered among others, had "displaced poor communities and will lead to the destruction of forests."

The project was slated to receive carbon credits under the UN's controversial Clean Development Mechanism. Standard Chartered is now heavily invested in South Asia.

Now and Next is the website of a future trend analysis publication, What's Next, which includes among its clients General Electric, KPMG, McDonalds, and Shell.

Privatisation of power

Although the document sets out reasons to believe the UK is well-positioned to "adapt" to these converging trends, and perhaps even benefit from them, the overall vision heralds the recognition that of a rapidly shifting global landscape.

The report concedes that the "'relative' decline of the West is likely to lead to a new power framework where alliances are constantly reassessed and negotiated." This will also see "the declining influence of existing international institutions such as NATO and the UN Security Council."

In this context, the report predicts an accelerating coalescence between nation states and global capital, noting that:

"The line between government, and private industry protection of intellectual property of key technologies for security and wealth creation, may become increasingly blurred... [as] blueprints, patents and formulas will be increasingly seen as the foundations of wealth generation." More

MOD Report


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Kosovo Is a Test for the World Bank’s Support of Clean Energy

In April, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said in a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., “I don’t think it’s fair to tell the people in Kosovo, ‘While the rich countries continue to burn coal, you’re going to have to freeze to death because it’s against our political ideology to support you.’”

Kim added, “I can’t do that."

Kim’s statement puts the World Bank somewhat at odds with itself. The World Bank has been a majorproponent of investment in renewable energy. Yet, it says it must choose between a coal-fired plant in Kosovo and people freezing to death.

But based on the solutions available today (some created by the World Bank itself under Dan Kammen), and where the world is heading on CO2 emissions, the choice between development and combating climate change is a false choice.

Here’s the false choice argument.

On the one hand, we are already deeply in the red in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, meaning that even if we could go carbon-free tomorrow, we are still going to subject ourselves to human-induced climate change beyond our goal of a maximum of 2° Celsius temperature rise. As a result, we must curtail any future emissions wherever and whenever possible.

On the other hand, what is one more coal-fired power plant in a nation such as Kosovo where energy shortages impact industry and economic development? This is a bright red line for the World Bank President. Are his previous words about the dangers of climate change sincere or hollow?

Development agencies such as the World Bank have generally argued that their poverty mission includes bringing energy access to those without energy. So despite the World Bank’s support of renewable energy in most cases, every once in a while, a coal plant needed to save those who are freezing trumps the environment.

But they have to dance around the central question: can Kosovo’s energy needs be met without coal?

This is the ultimate question facing not only the World Bank, but also India, China, South Africa, and all others that seek to provide power to the powerless.

It’s now 2013, and we are deploying advanced energy technologies at the billion-dollar scale -- $279 billion alone in 2012. Finance and business model innovation have made this choice of coal or freezing to death (in the Kosovo case) obsolete.

From no-money-down solar to the use of “big data” to reduce electricity theft, entrepreneurs have come up with clever ways to solve real-world problems while accommodating the power structures currently in place.

Those of us in the energy industry need to step in to help the World Bank -- not only with words, but also with action. We can make climate-friendly development a top priority, as it goes hand-in-hand with human needs.

In fact, World Bank President Kim commissioned a report last year that found “the Earth system's responses to climate change appear to be non-linear. […] If we venture far beyond the 2° guardrail, toward the 4° line, the risk of crossing tipping points rises sharply. The only way to avoid this is to break the business-as-usual pattern of production and consumption."

What is important -- and deserves repeating to all agencies involved in international development and the financing of health, education, infrastructure and other drivers of economic growth -- appears in the preface of the report written by Kim himself: "Most importantly, a 4°C world is so different from the current one that it comes with high uncertainty and new risks that threaten our ability to anticipate and plan for future adaptation needs."

So this is the World Bank president’s moment of truth.

Christiana Figueres, the United Nations' top climate change official, said last week the time has come for the World Bank to get out of coal.

Speaking in Washington, D.C. after attending the World Bank spring meetings, Figueres praised Kim for making global warming a top priority. Figueres said that nations, along with the World Bank, no longer need to invest in coal as an energy source.

However, in defiance of international pressure after the Tata Mundra coal project in India and Eskom’s project in South Africa, the World Bank is currently considering an investment in a 600-megawatt coal-fired power plant for Kosovo.

Yet Kosovo does not have a great experience with coal. The country suffers from regular power outages and from the worst coal-driven air pollution in Europe. Investing in coal when European nations are working to clean their energy economies and to set region-wide standards to push out coal would be handing Kosovo a discriminatory, backward-looking investment package.

Instead, this should be an easy decision for investors and the World Bank. The World Bank’s own studyfound that Kosovo has wind, biomass, solar, hydro, and energy efficiency resources available that are more than sufficient to meet the 600-megawatt supply needs. Further, European investors have already proposed over 200 megawatts of privately funded wind energy investments in Kosovo. This shows that industry is ready to move at the scale needed to put clean energy to work in Kosovo today. More