Why Shell Oil Supports California’s Climate Change Legislation

Shell CEO is pro-AB 32, but stands by taking legal action against environmentalists in Alaska

Shell has partnered with MIT to explore carbon sequestration.

Royal Dutch Shell CEO, Peter Voser affirmed his company’s commitment to AB 32, California’s climate change legislation, and also explained why a carbon trading system is crucial to the development of alternative energy sources.

“We are clearly in favor of cap and trade systems,” he said to an audience of Silicon Valley business people and climate experts Wednesday in Burlingame. “We’d like to have it globally, to level the playing field.”

This statement from Shell, the global oil and gas company headquartered in the Netherlands and one of the world’s largest companies, is notable when you consider the strong opposition to AB 32 from the oil industry at large. In 2010, Proposition 23 attempted to derail the imposition of AB 32 provisions and was largely bankrolled by Tesoro and Valero, two Texas oil companies.

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Yergin: Tar Sands Opposition is Misguided

The energy guru weighs in on dirty oil, fracking and California’s energy leadership

One of America’s foremost energy experts says Canada’s controversial oil tar sands are getting a bum rap.

Daniel Yergin, who became a go-to guy for energy wisdom after winning a Pulitzer Prize for his 1990 oil tome, The Prize, appeared on KQED’s Forum program today to promote his latest book, The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World.

When host Michael Krasny asked Yergin about the Canadian tar sands boom and a plan to construct a pipeline to bring it into the US for refining, Yergin said the project “has become a huge symbolic target.” Indeed the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal has been a lightning rod for demonstrations at the White House and a target of ongoing protests across the country. But Yergin said he thinks the risks of importing tar sands oil from Alberta have been overblown. Continue reading

Bill McKibben: On the Front Lines of the Climate Fight

Author and climate activist Bill McKibben says that if we want to put the brakes on global warming, it’s time to put our bodies on the line.

(Photo: Nancie Battaglia)

Today McKibben dropped by KQED for a discussion on Forum with entrepreneur and fellow environmentalist Paul Hawken about the fight for a coherent national climate policy.  McKibben is the founder of the environmental group 350.org and was among the hundreds of people arrested near the White House last week during a protest over a controversial oil pipeline that has been proposed to run from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

Afterward, I sat down with McKibben and asked him about the role of civil disobedience in the fight against climate change. Continue reading

Poll Shows Support for Climate Law

An expansive new poll on environmental attitudes suggests that despite the recession, Californians are holding fast to their environmental priorities.

Among the findings in the report released this week by the non-partisan Public Policy Institute of California is that support for the state’s climate change strategy remains strong, even in the face of a well-financed campaign against the law known as AB 32. Two-thirds (67%) of the respondents support the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in California–about the same level as when PPIC polled the question last year. Continue reading

Oh, No–Another “Superhighway”

Just when we could exhale, assured that the term “Information Superhighway” had faded mercifully into the rear-view mirror–at the signpost up ahead: Your next stop: the “Electron Superhighway.”

That’s the term that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is using to describe the transmission web that will facilitate the nation’s transformation to clean energy. Some random notes from his (and others’) appearance today before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee:


– 6,000 miles initially identified on BLM lands for new transmission lines on the “Electron Superhighway,” 1,000 on US Forest Service lands.

Access to land for transmission will be the “Achilles heel” of the plans for a new  clean-power grid.

– Oil & gas need to be part of a “comprehensive energy plan,” along with renewables. The US now imports 70% of its oil.

– Seven major onshore leases already approved, auctioning off another 34 million acres along the Gulf Coast this week.

Ron Wyden (D-OR):

– Let’s use the “backlog of deadly fuels” on the floor of federal forests to generate bio-fuels and reduce fire danger at the same time (Energy Act of 2000 apparently excluded forest slash from its definition of “biomass.”)

Hydrokinetic (wave & tidal) power should be higher on the priority list for energy development.

John McCain (R-AZ):

– The Obama administration “has effectively killed nuclear power in the foreseeable future, for this country” (by its actions regarding Yucca Mountain and reprocessing of fuel).

Phil Moeller, FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission):

– Wave & tidal power could potentially fill 10% of the nation’s energy portfolio.

Joanna Prukop, NM Secretary of Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources:

– Wind energy is now price-competitive with natural gas (about 5 cents/KW-Hour currently) and could thrive without federal subsidy. Solar, not so much.

Dan Arvizu, Director, Nat’l Renewable Energy Lab:

– Used the term “smart grid” one hour and 38 minutes into the hearing, the first and only time it was mentioned.

You can view the entire webcast at the DOI archive.

By the way,  Salazar will hold a public hearing on energy policy in San Francisco on April 16th. It’ll start at 9 a.m. at UCSF’s Mission Bay Conference Center.