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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 18, 2008 1:35 PM. The previous post in this blog was Still working the e-mail. The next post in this blog is Gonna dress you up in my love. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The next eco-battlefield

Light bulbs.

Already I can't get the regular kind at Costco.

Comments (27)

While Bush & McCain advocate repeal of the off-shore drilling moratorium and the Nucuular power plant moratorium, we learn that the panacea we thought was a no brainer is not without limitation. Ingenuity must tackle the mercury problem with these bulbs and Barrack must lead industry to develop a real panacea to replace Chinese technology. Can we do it??

This is wandering off topic a bit, but I'm beginning to think that the current run-up in gas and oil costs is the result of an elaborate ploy wherein the Cheney Administration and its oil industry cronies are forcing up prices now in the hopes of convincing Congress that we need to allow drilling in the North Slope and offshore. The oil folks know that they won't be able to weaken drilling restrictions if Barack Obama is elected president.

At my local store they're giving away a free Haz-Mat suit with a purchase of four light bulbs.

Musician:

Bush & Cheney don't determine the price of oil, it's agreed upon between buyers and sellers.

The producer's cartel (aka OPEC) has a great deal more influence over oil production than Bush & Cheney: if you want to accuse anybody of manipulating the price, blame OPEC.

buyers and sellers

Oh my, indeed. We know who the buyers are: they is us. As for the sellers, they'd be the Bush/Cheney cronies you conveniently omitted from your lecture to Musician. Yes, indeed, as buyers we have the choice of agreeing to the price set by the cronies, or not. It's just that simple.

At 0:50 he asks where in the Constitution is the authority to regulate light bulbs? Easy! Next to the Article that gives the OK to ban top loading clothes washers, 5 gal per flush potties, and to set standards for shop towels. Sheesh.

Small potatoesw, read this from CUB:
"Energy Market Sees High Prices Across the Board

It's summer (almost) and the natural gas furnaces around Oregon have been idling (almost) as temperatures reach (almost) 70 degrees on a regular basis. Normally, Oregon's largest natural gas provider, NW Natural, would be purchasing gas to store for the winter. As stated by Bloomberg.com, "Utilities and large industrial consumers typically stockpile gas during the U.S. summer for use during the peak winter demand period." But across the nation, gas utilities are buying and storing less gas than normal, because the cost of natural gas is not at a normal level.

Everyone knows that the price of oil (recently at nearly $140/barrel) and the price of gasoline ($4 and up) have been rising quickly. But a look at the wholesale natural gas market shows how much the price of natural gas has also increased. One year ago, in June 2007, the price for natural gas was $7.30/mmBtu; today the price for that same volume of natural gas is $12.86. For historical perspective, here's a look at those and other recent years:

2008 (June) $12.86
2007 (June) $7.30
2006 (June) $5.79
2002 (June) $3.05
2001 (January) $9.61
2000 (June) $3.89
1999 (June) $2.13
As you can see, the upward pressure on natural gas prices over the last decade has been a clear pattern, increasing 600% since 1999, with an 80% leap just in the past 12 months. Unusual events provide bumps in the pattern; for example, in January 2001, the West Coast was reeling under the effects of the Western Power Crisis. That we are seeing natural gas prices significantly higher than those we saw at the height of the Power Crisis, that they are instead comparable to the prices we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina ($11.95 in October 2005), is something to sit up and take notice of.

We see two real issues which make us sit up and take notice: the lack of natural gas storage (down 15% percent from this time last year); and the concurrent rise in wholesale prices. The prices of the wholesale market have not yet made it into retail rates, but customers of NW Natural, Avista, Cascade, and other gas utilities will begin to see those higher fuel costs on their own bills this fall and winter.

Of course, natural gas is also a source for some electricity (four gas combustion plants operate in Oregon), and therefore also effects prices in the electricity wholesale market. So how's electricity doing now? Well, looking at the wholesale "day ahead" market, we see prices quite a bit higher than what we would expect for this time of year. Wholesale West Coast on-peak price is currently about $135.00/MWh. That is significantly more than we are seeing in our wholesale rates here in the Pacific Northwest, where spring runoff in combination with the hydropower system has kept the price per MWh down to $67.00, but even that is higher than normal for the NW in spring. Our prices will edge upward in July and August as the runoff ends. Again, for a historical comparison, this time with electricity prices (from the Mid-C trading hub):

2008 (June) $67.00
2007 (June) $55.98
2006 (June) $32.30
2001 (June) $87.00
2001 (May) $450.00
As you can see from the large fluctuations in 2001, the Western Power Crisis caused huge increases and volatility in the electricity wholesale market. For customers in California, who were sold a bill of goods called "deregulation," this meant terrible times in paying those electricity bills. CUB led the fight to keep Enron from deregulating the Oregon market, so we are not in danger of volatility quite that massive.

However... Energy prices are going up. They are going up in a big way and pretty much across the board: crude oil, gasoline, natural gas, and electricity. Customers need to be prepared so that when those increases from the wholesale market start to show up in their retail rates this fall and winter, they are not totally taken by surprise.

One way Oregon residential customers can insulate themselves (pun intended) from the effects of these cost increases is to call the Energy Trust of Oregon and set up an energy audit for their home. Energy audit providers get super-busy when a new rate increase goes into effect, or when it gets cold and their heating bill goes up. Now would be a great time for you to call to set up your audit, and beat the rush. Find out how you could improve your own energy efficiency, and what financial assistance and tax credits might be available to help make it possible.

The real beauty of the Energy Trust energy audits is that for every home or business which is able to improve energy efficiency, the demand on the energy system as a whole goes down, which reduces the price, and the environmental consequences of our energy use, for everyone.

CUB cannot keep energy prices from increasing. We can and will work to demand that utilities be mindful of the effect that these cost increases have on customers, and that utilities keep costs as low as possible by putting off any discretionary spending (such as the 130 new employees listed in PGE's current rate case). Just because utilities are monopolies does not mean they can disregard a basic tenet of good business: that the business owner try to lower some costs when other costs go up.

CUB will minimize the increases to the extent that we can, and we are asking our members to also do what they can to reduce their own energy usage. Energy costs overall are going up regardless. We would do well to make it as easy as ourselves as possible.

Thanks for reading CUB Online. Feel free to forward this message on to your lists.

Please visit our website: www.oregoncub.org."

Oh my, I sure wish I had as much confidence as you do about the integrity and efficiency of the oil markets. But I don't. I have an MBA and am generally in favor of free markets, but I'm very suspicious this time. I don't have much confidence in the ability of our regulators to detect and defeat efforts to manipulate the commodity markets.

Time to stock up on light bulbs. Just like I did with Sudafed and spray paint.

Nobody complained about price fixing when real oil prices went DOWN for most of the 80's and 90's (excluding Operation Desert Storm).

I'm much more pissed off by our water/sewer rates than I am by energy prices.

I don't have much confidence in the ability of our regulators to detect and defeat efforts to manipulate the commodity markets.

How's this for an idea? Let's drill like crazy, but any new well is nationalized first.

Oddly, the Bush administration is pushing for relaxed restrictions on drilling at the same time they are buying up all the oil they can at the highest prices ever, on the taxpayers dime, and pumping it into the ground.

It's an odd mixed message, that we need to tap and use up our reserves as soon as possible at the same time we're filling up the strategic petroleum reserve no matter the cost.

in the hopes of convincing Congress that we need to allow drilling in the North Slope and offshore.

Why is that such a bad idea? Why shouldnt we use our own natural resources if we have them?

I think Bush & Co. are stock adding to the oil reserves in preparation for WWIII. Simply put, if Israel decides to hit Iran over their nuclear program watch out. That whole region will probably explode and draw everyone else into it.

Jack - are you sure you want the same people who mandate mercury-laden light bulbs to be in charge of oil drilling?

Drilling remains a necessary evil - let's let the experts do it for a profit, but give the EPA the muscle it needs to monitor closely every aspect of the process, armed with major penalties for any screwups.

I think the oil companies are trying to make as much money as possible before hybrid, all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles take over the market, or people stop driving, or before windfall profit taxes take a bite out of their profits, or all three. Most oil companies diversified into other areas of energy production and manufacturing years ago so they have other ways to make money. The government may be stockpiling oil but it will probably cost us less (we're paying, right?) in the next decade than the cost of replacing government vehicles which run on gasoline or other oil-based fuels with alternatives, which may be impractical or impossible. A solar-powered tank might be possible but alternative fuels or energy for jet fighters are not on the horizon.

"How's this for an idea? Let's drill like crazy, but any new well is nationalized first."

Jack, we essentially have that kind of set-up with our federal timberlands - the US owns the lands and allows the timber companies harvest the trees. What happens? The timber companies have so much clout that they have written many of the regulations that the Forest Service and other federal agencies must follow, and the timber companies manage to pay artifically low prices for the trees they harvest. The US taxpayers, who nominally "own" the federal timberlands, get ripped off.

The universal solution is vigilance - by an independent and aggressive press, by adequately funded and structured federal agencies, and by motivated citizens who take an interest in the functions and effectiveness of government. None of these qualities exists anymore.

I keep looking for signs that things will turn around, but I haven't seen any yet. Maybe Obama will be able to change us.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, BP, Chevron and others are in the process of negotiating no-bid contracts with Iraq's Oil Ministry to service Iraq's largest oil fields.

"Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back" by Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, June 19, 2008 (today).


I highly, highly doubt Obama or the dems in congress are going to try to do anything to lower gas prices. Isn't this what you guys wanted? Isn't this your catalyst for changing toward a high density, car-free, urban utopia? Go by streetcar! (sorry Jack, had to steal that :)

Nice work to Ted Poe: let's blame china for our problems, and forget our environment!

a crazy representative out here in Minnesota tried to argue that the mercury in CFLs are harmful, yet the concern about Mercury is a bit overblown:

"There is 200 times more mercury in each filling in Congresswoman Bachmann's teeth than there is in a compact fluorescent light bulb," said Julia Bovey, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Defense Council."

http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/house/17002506.html

Why shouldnt we use our own natural resources if we have them?

you see, that's the problem. we go around acting as if we "have" them--that is, the entire planet is treated as a "resource" for our consumption, waiting on the shelf to be taken down and ground into something "useful."

which is, in the end, the root cause of most of our problems.

If we cease consuming hydrocarbons, we have to reduce energy consumption by more than 90% in the U.S. and roughly 70% worldwide. That would reduce food output considerably (fewer tractors, fertilizers, processors, and exports).

Granted, our Greenhouse Gas emissions would drop almost immediately, because much of the world's poor would die of starvation, while most middle class would perish in the northern latitudes during the first few winters.

Those who survive would likely migrate to more temperate climates (like your backyard, Ecohuman), and a Darwinian race for survival of the MOST AGGRESSIVE would be in full swing before you could harvest your winter squash.

Tell me that's not the future you're preparing for...Please?

Tell me that's not the future you're preparing for...Please?

a future where we consume far less?

if we want to live, it's the only future possible. it's going to make most people painfully uncomfortable, because they want Better Living Through Slightly Different Purchasing Decisions, not consuming far less.

and by the way, Third World poor consume very modest hydrocarbons to get their food. First World corporate mega-farming does most of the damage. we don't need to grow food that way; we never have.

The Third-World poor are receiving massive donations of grains, vegetable oils, and legumes produced by the mega-corporate farms that you revile.

Africa and much of Asia is HUGELY dependent on food donations and market price imports. To suggest otherwise is onlyt reveals you've spent precious little time researching the vast economies of scale and production achieved by "mega-farming".

If you want to go revolutionary on us, then focus your attention where it can make a difference: Randy Leonard's biofuels mandate. My vehicle's efficiency dropped 15% with 10% ethanol compared to gas bought in Vancouver. Plus the impact that ethanol has on food prices and fertilizer consumption: corn and canola are food, not fuel.

The Third-World poor are receiving massive donations of grains, vegetable oils, and legumes produced by the mega-corporate farms that you revile.

which supports my point.

Africa and much of Asia is HUGELY dependent on food donations and market price imports.

wrong, for too many reasons to list.

To suggest otherwise is onlyt reveals you've spent precious little time researching the vast economies of scale and production achieved by "mega-farming".

give me one source--just one--that explains how both Asia and Africa are "HUGELY" dependent on food donations. i'll even let you define what "HUGELY" means.

If you want to go revolutionary on us, then focus your attention where it can make a difference: Randy Leonard's biofuels mandate.

oh, I have. biofuels are one of the worst mistakes we've made so far.

if *you* want to go revolutionary on us, focus your attention on those "HUGE" food donations that require corporate megafarming.

dudes get with the program...led light bulbs use a quarter of the energy of compact fluorescents.


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If You See Kay, Red 2011
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Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
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Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
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14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
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Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
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Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
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Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
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Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
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WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
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E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
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Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
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Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
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Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
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Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
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David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
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Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
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Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
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Miles run year to date: 220
At this date last year: 67
Total run in 2013: 257
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