Category: Government


The UK government has made more than €1bn ($1.35bn) selling carbon permits to polluting businesses, and could make billions more each year for the next decade, research published Thursday shows. But despite pressure from the European Union, none of the revenue raised is being directed towards green projects.

On Thursday, the UK made about 63 million Euros off a new batch of permits, the first since trading was halted for two weeks after hackers stole around 40 million Euros worth of the permits. The government plans to hold five more auctions this year, selling 17.5m permits, which could represent a gain to the Treasury of more than €260m at current carbon prices. From 2013, the government stands to make as much as €8bn a year, according to estimates from the UK’s Carbon Trust.

Permit auctions started in 2008, when changes to the EU’s rules on emissions trading meant member state governments were allowed to sell off up to 10% of their allocation of permits, which had previously been given out for free. The UK decided to auction 7%, covering the emissions of the power sector.

From 2013, about half of the total number of permits available are expected to be sold. The only companies expected to receive their permits free of charge are those in industries particularly vulnerable to competition from overseas businesses that are not subject to the same strict environmental regulations.

The enlarged number of permits available for auctioning will greatly boost the government’s revenues from the scheme, according to the Carbon Trust, while simultaneously helping the environment by forcing companies to reduce carbon emissions or buy permits off other companies (who would thus have to have fewer emissions).

All in all, a good day for the environment and the UK government.

Knee-deep water inundated communities in south-east Australia today, splitting one town in two, as swollen rivers carried flood fears downstream and officials urged residents to evacuate.

The state of Victoria is the latest area of Australia afflicted to be hit in the weeks-long flooding crisis that has left 30 people dead, caused once a century floods in many areas and could become the country’s costliest natural disaster.

Horsham, in Victoria state, resembled a lake after the Wimmera river overflowed its banks and bisected the community before starting to recede several hours later. About 500 homes in the city, which has a population of 14,000, were surrounded by water.

Across north-central Victoria state, more than 3,500 people have left their homes, with 51 towns and 1,500 properties affected by the rising waters.

In north-west Victoria, floodwater has left 1,000 households without power, and thousands more homes face the threat of cuts as substations and low-lying power lines are submerged.

The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, announced the formation of a business task force to assist with rebuilding devastated infrastructure in Queensland.

A day earlier, she said the floods that ravaged Queensland could be the country’s most expensive natural disaster.

Most of the 30 people who died in Queensland were killed a flash flood that hit towns west of the state capital, Brisbane. The state’s flooding affected 30,000 homes and businesses, and left 12 people missing.

The price tag from the floods was approximately 5 billion dollars before waters swamped Brisbane last week.

As Republicans take the reins of the 2011 Legislature next month, high on their agenda is revising the countries’ energy and environmental laws, to boost natural-resource development and jobs.

“If we are going to have jobs, it will be in natural resources,” says Sen. Debby Barrett, R-Dillon, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee. “I think our committee will be very busy.”

Montana is one state in which the agenda of politicians is very environmentally related.

Republican lawmakers, who will have strong majorities in both chambers of the 2011 Legislature, already have requested scores of bills in this arena, targeting everything from the Montana Environmental Policy Act to renewable-energy mandates, which they see as unnecessary.

Many Democrats as well as the state’s environmental community are bracing for a fight, saying the state’s environmental-protection laws will come under “constant and very serious attack.”

In addition to the proposed changes to MEPA and renewable-power incentives, environmentalists say they’re also expecting attempts to alter or roll back the state’s ban on cyanide heap-leach gold mines, weaken the state Superfund hazardous-waste cleanup law, enact private-property laws that could stymie environmental regulations and perhaps even encourage nuclear-power development in Montana.

Republicans, however, say their convincing victory in legislative races in November is a message that Montanans want more development of all resources, including oil, gas, coal, timber and more.

Sorry for not having any posts in the last 3 weeks, but I’ve been very busy. At least someone in the US Government fakes caring about the environment!

I’ve already brought this up before, talking about my opinion and those of others. However, I feel I need to bring it up once more as the Guardian had another article on it. I am of course talking about the BP oil disaster.

The presidential commission investigating the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster ran into controversy today by saying it had found no evidence that BP and other oil companies put profits ahead of safety on the Deepwater Horizon rig.

In a preliminary finding by what is the first independent panel, the commission’s chief investigator found a series of missed warning signs before the April 20 explosion on the rig.

Fred Bartlit, appointed by President Obama to investigate into the spill, complained repeatedly during his presentation that he did not have subpoena powers and had to rely on the goodwill of oil firm.”I wish I had that power because I think it’s damned important — but that’s the way it goes,” he said. The Senate refused to grant such powers.

In a long and detailed re-enactment of events leading up to the explosion, Bartlit and his team outlined a clear trail where disaster could have been averted. The team also questioned executives from BP, Transocean and Halliburton. The investigation produced 13 findings on the path to the disaster.

Eleven men died when the rig exploded, releasing nearly 5m barrels of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico. The Macondo well was from the start a challenging one. BP had intended to drill even deeper but stopped at 18,36 ft because of the difficulties of preventing oil seeping into the surrounding rock.

The failure is even more striking given BP and Halliburton knew by 20 April that the cement seal on the well was defective.”People knew there was one barrier. The well was under-balanced and that called for heightened high vigilance,” Grimsley said. “People knew you had to be really careful.”

The findings included:

• The cement seal at the bottom of the well failed to hold back oil and gas in the reservoir, and should have been redesigned.

• BP and Transocean interpreted the failed negative pressure test as a success.

• BP introduced additional safety risks in its plan to shut down the drilling rig.

• Crews on the rig and in offshore offices should have picked up warnings on monitors that gas was rising from the well.

• Rapid response at that time could have prevented a blowout.

Many conclusions mirror those of BP’s internal investigation, and Bartlit said he agreed with 90% of it. The most significant conclusions for BP could be the finding that the leak rose through the drill pipe rather than the space between the casing and the rock formation. That supports BP’s contention that its well design was not a contributing factor in the explosion.

Wow. Talk about NEGLIGENCE.

‘At least 18 people were killed in Guatemala on Saturday, including a dozen on a bus that was buried in a landslide, as heavy rains lashed the Central American nation and southern Mexico. A dozen people died when the bus they were traveling on was suddenly engulfed by mud around 8 a.m. on the Inter-American highway 50 miles outside of the Guatemalan capital, emergency workers said. Another six people were killed in separate incidents, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom told reporters.’ -Reuters

These deadly floods look to continue to rage through Guatemala and may head further into Mexico, according to local weather stations.

So many deaths are disappointing to see as we continue to see death around Central America, especially from flooding and earthquakes, etc. The country’s emergency services are going to need to kick in soon and start working quick. We, like the author of the original article, need to be anthropocentric as well as technocentric, using technology to solve our problems while still caring for the environment AND people.

UPDATE: We now have sources claiming the death toll may be up to 36. I literally just refreshed the page and now they’re saying it’s 37. Government rescue services are going to have to act quickly as the death toll increases and as many as 100 lives are claimed.