Do Nothing-Congress did all it could to protect Big Oil

A new report by Oil Change International…demonstrates the huge and growing amount of subsidies going to the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. every year. In 2013, the U.S. federal and state governments gave away $21.6 billion in subsidies for oil, gas, and coal exploration and production.

The value of fossil fuel exploration and production subsidies from the federal government have increased by 45 percent since President Obama took office in 2009 – from $12.7 billion to a current total of $18.5 billion – a side effect of his Administration’s “All of the Above” energy policy that promotes the U.S. oil and gas boom and amounts to nothing less than climate denial.

President Obama has repeatedly tried to repeal some of the most egregious of these subsidies, but these attempts have been blocked by a U.S. Congress that has been bought out by campaign finance and lobbying expenditures from the fossil fuel industry.

In addition to exploration and production subsidies to oil, gas, and coal companies, the U.S. government also provides billions of dollars of additional support to the fossil fuel industry to lower the cost of fossil fuels to consumers, finance fossil fuel projects overseas, and to protect U.S. oil interests abroad with the military.

Finally, while the fossil fuel industry enjoys record profits, U.S, taxpayers will pay the bill for external health and environmental costs from local pollution and climate change impacts.

Big Oil is an equal-opportunity purchaser of political loyalty. It doesn’t matter which of the two TweedleDee or TweedleDumber parties you belong to. Show the least inclination to favor fossil fuel anything and you will be awash in campaign contributions, “independent” supporters and PACs.

It’s the American Way.

Thanks, Mike

What’s in Amazon’s giant mystery box?


Amazon’s Giant Mystery Box Is Back

Nerds went into a tizzy earlier this year when a giant Amazon box was spotted on the back of a flatbed truck. Turned out the box held a Nissan car that was being delivered as part of an advertising deal the car maker did with Amazon.

Guess what? The big box is back. This morning, a Re/code editor spotted the box shown in the photo above on the back of a truck in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco. On first look, it didn’t appear big enough to fit a car. I contacted Amazon to get some more information.

An Amazon rep said it is not part of an advertising campaign like last time, but it is part of a “new program” that the company will unveil next week. Fifteen of these boxes are scattered around the U.S., he said.

“We’re excited to be making 15 special deliveries next week as part of the holiday season,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Stay tuned.”

Geeks especially enjoy whimsy in place of advertising dollar$ spent on traditional agitprop.

This can’t be about their new diapers – they debuted yesterday. The same day this article was posted over at Re/Code. So, I’ll be one of the geeks patrolling the Web and watching for news about the Big Box.

I have a thing about Amazon boxes, anyway. I haven’t succeeded, yet – haven’t gotten past the mystery of customer service representatives whose English is a second language. But, since I’m prepaying for a truly cheapo cremation when I shuffle off this mortal coil – I want the absolute minimum which includes my body traveling into the fires of redemption in a cardboard box instead of something really expensive – I’m trying to get a properly sized Amazon Prime box. Appropriately labeled as such.

As a geek who’s been online since 1983 and a devotee of online commerce, I think it would be the best way for me to prep for redistribution of my elemental molecules.

Green jobs employ more Canadians than oil sands jobs

Canada’s green energy sector has grown so quickly and has become such an important part of the economy that it now employs more people than the oil sands.

About $25-billion has been invested in Canada’s clean-energy sector in the past five years, and employment is up 37 per cent, according to a new report from climate think tank Clean Energy Canada to be released Tuesday. That means the 23,700 people who work in green energy organizations outnumber the 22,340 whose work relates to the oil sands, the report says.

“Clean energy has moved from being a small niche or boutique industry to really big business in Canada,” said Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada. The investment it has gleaned since 2009 is roughly the same as has been pumped into agriculture, fishing and forestry combined, she said. The industry will continue to show huge growth potential, beyond most other business sectors, she added.

While investment has boomed, the energy-generating capacity of wind, solar, run-of-river hydro and biomass plants has expanded by 93 per cent since 2009, the report says…

Not a priority, however, for the Conservatives running the Federal government. Big Oil still rules.

Not only does the oil industry still get more substantial subsidies, she said, it also eats up a good deal of the country’s diplomatic relations efforts – through the lobbying for the Keystone XL pipeline, for example…

As for the provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan in particular should follow Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia in getting into the renewable-energy game, Ms. Smith said. Still, the necessity for this shift is beginning to gain some traction, she said, noting that Alberta Finance Minister Robin Campbell said last week that the province has to “get off the oil train…”

The Clean Energy Canada report notes that much of the investment for Canada’s clean-tech expansion currently comes outside the country. Of the five largest investors since 2009, just one, Manulife Financial Corp., is Canadian. Two Japanese companies are in that top-five list, along with two German banking groups.

“The fact that foreign investors are coming to Canada to invest in our clean energy, tells us that we have a fantastic resource,” Ms. Smith said. “We need Bay Street to wake up and recognize this is where the puck is going.”

Gotta love Canadian sports metaphors. In a nation where hockey rules, the puck stops here is a legit phrase.