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Posts Tagged ‘Energy; Environment’

Settlement stipulates that Delaware’s renewable energy program must even the playing field for out-of-state companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2015

 MEDIA CONTACT: Geoff Holtzman | geoff.holtzman@causeofaction.org | 703-405-3511

WASHINGTON – Today, Cause of Action is pleased to announce that a federal court in Delaware has approved a settlement agreement between our client, FuelCell Energy, Inc., and Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Delaware state utility officials regarding the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act (REPSA).

Under the terms of the settlement, Delaware’s Public Service Commission (DPSC) must now allow competition across state lines with respect to fuel cell manufacturers, in compliance with the commerce clause of the United States Constitution.

Cause of Action Executive Director Daniel Epstein issued the following statement:

“Today is a great day, not only for clean energy manufacturers, but for innovators and entrepreneurs everywhere who wish to compete on an even playing field. This settlement should send a message to government officials that fair interstate competition is a cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution. Cause of Action is proud to have played a role in reaching this agreement, and we will continue to fight hard in the name of economic fairness.”

BACKGROUND:

In a 2012 complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy alleged that it was disadvantaged by the DPSC‘s special tariff awarded under REPSA to an in-state energy manufacturer and the associated State financial support for establishing in-state manufacturing that was offered to only one select company by the Governor of Delaware, without any prior public notice or bidding process.

FuelCell Energy, a global fuel cell company that designs, manufactures, installs, operates and services efficient and affordable stationary fuel cell power plants, argued that Delaware’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Act, which was amended in 2011, violated the commerce clause of the United States Constitution, which prohibits state laws that discriminate against out-of-state competition.

Under REPSA, the State of Delaware only allowed bids on a State fuel cell project from a fuel cell company that agreed to establish manufacturing in the State, and the State provided financial incentives to support construction of the manufacturing facility, resulting in a sole-source contract rather than a competitively bid contract.

In April 2014, the District Court permitted FuelCell Energy to proceed with its constitutional claim.

The settlement agreement that we are announcing today will level the playing field for all out-of-state fuel cell manufacturers wishing to compete for business in the state of Delaware. Prior to this settlement, out-of-state fuel cell power plant manufacturers were prohibited from bidding on REPSA-funded incentives for fuel cell power generation projects, a violation of constitutional prohibitions on state-legislated discrimination against out-of-state businesses.

Cause of Action is a non-profit, nonpartisan strategic oversight organization committed to ensuring that government decision-making is open, honest, and fair.

CRI’s views: Although CRI was not involved in this lawsuit, we were very much supportive of it. Bloom Energy is a perfect example of crony capitalism, where over half a billion taxpayer dollars were promised to a company whose technology was not only unproven to work, but actually was proven to be even more polluting than the alternative solution, which was to build more natural gas pipelines and transmission stations in Delaware. Bloom did not even have to go through a competitive process to obtain the grant; it was awarded to them.

We hope this lawsuit will serve as a notice to Delaware’s state government that crony capitalism is not the answer to providing clean, affordable energy to Delawareans. We should support proven, reliable methods such as natural gas and nuclear power to reduce our carbon emissions and keep electric rates affordable. For more information on our energy plan, visit caesarrodney.org and click on the Center for Energy Competitiveness tab under “issues”.

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Rational thought underlies conservative Christian views on climate change and the environment
by Dr. David R. Legates
Although he has rarely been willing to discuss or debate energy or environmental issues with those who do not share his views, environmentalist David Suzuki frequently challenges them on other grounds. In his recent article, “Religious Right is wrong about climate change,” Suzuki claims that some US and Canadian scientists hold religious views that are “anti-science”.
Suzuki asserts that some climate scientists – including me, by name – put “misguided beliefs above rational thought.” His implicit assumption is that conservative Christian views are irrational and incompatible with science, and that I have replaced Almighty God with the “almighty dollar,” believing the economy matters more than the environment.
As a co-author of the Cornwall Alliance’s Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science and Economics of Global Warming, which forms the basis for the Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming that Suzuki criticizes, I know the Cornwall Alliance fully and carefully integrates scientific, economic, ethical and theological reasoning to support its conclusions. There’s nothing at all irrational about it – unless you consider religion irrational per se.
However, Suzuki is correct regarding one aspect of my belief: the economy does matter as much as the environment. Good environmental stewardship requires sound financial footing – and improving and safeguarding human health and welfare requires maintaining a strong, vibrant, innovative economy that can sustain continued environmental progress.
When a country is in dire need of food, clothing, shelter and other necessities for life, it cannot possibly be concerned with environmental issues. The poor people of India pour untreated sewage into the Ganges River – and then draw their drinking and “cleaning” water from it. So poor that they’re desperate simply for survival, they cannot possibly concern themselves with environmental stewardship. Only when economic improvements allow technological advancements to increase the quality of life, provide ample food and clothing, house citizens, provide clean drinking water, and treat and eradicate diseases can a thus wealthier society turn its attention to caring for the environment.
That is precisely what has happened in more developed nations. As the United States and Canada advanced economically, we developed technologies and policies that increased our quality and length of life. In turn, this has led us to be more proactive with our environmental stewardship.
We emit far less pollution and waste today, both per person and per unit of production, than we did fifty years ago. We feed more people with every parcel of land, we get more energy from every drop of oil, we are more efficient at everything we do, and we are much better stewards of our environment. But none of that could have occurred without a strong and developing economy.
Unfortunately, some so-called environmentalists wish to keep Africa and other developing nations in perpetual underdevelopment. They pay them off to be “environmentally conscious,” by giving them handouts – food and monetary aid – to keep them alive and perhaps have little solar panels on their huts. But they also ensure that those poor families never prosper or become middle class – so as to perpetuate environmentalist notions of “noble natives,” supposedly “at one” with their environment and living a “sustainable” existence.
Equally harmful, much of that money is lost to corruption, while the people are forced to continue living in a state of poverty, disease, malnutrition and deprivation, as technologies that could enhance their length and quality of life are denied to them. Among the technologies denied are modern seeds, fertilizers, and high-tech, high-yield farming methods to increase food supplies; natural gas and electricity to heat homes and cook food, instead of cutting down forests and burning wood, thereby degrading indoor air quality and causing lethal lung infections; refrigeration so that people do not have to choose between eating spoiled food and going hungry; and the use of insecticides, including the powerful insect repellant DDT, to spare them from the agonizing illness and death brought on by malaria.
Each of these enhancements requires plentiful, dependable, affordable energy. Yet in the name of “saving the planet” or “preventing cataclysmic climate change,” environmentalists like Suzuki deny developing countries the modern technologies and energy they need to improve their lives and environment – thereby perpetuating high infant mortality, significantly shortened life spans, and greatly decreased quality of life.
Climate alarmism is the rationale for these deadly policies – and that is where political ideology mixes with the new religion of environmentalism. Overstated or non-existent threats to the environment, along with impractical or imaginary ways to prevent the purported threats, are the new scripture on which the adherents develop their theologies and policies for directing and micromanaging the course of human events. Unfortunately, these eco-religionists never encounter (or intentionally avert their eyes from) the misery and devastation that their policies dramatically inflict on the world’s poorest people. That is because they are too concerned with “saving the planet.”
Back in North America, some wish to have energy rationed or be made increasingly expensive, creating artificial fuel poverty for millions. Such policies will make food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and medical care – in short, everything – more expensive and scarce, create more unemployed workers, push many people back into conditions of poverty and deprivation, and gravely impair human health and welfare. This strategy will not save the planet, as they hope, because one of its first casualties will be environmental stewardship. History and human nature both testify that, forced by economic limits to choose between a cleaner environment and food on the table, people always choose food.
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus told of a master who gave one of his servants a single talent, and then condemned him for hiding it in the earth and not putting it to use. Often we think of the talent only as money or ability, but it really stands for every resource – including natural resources. How will the Master of all creation judge us if we hide our resources in the earth, and then on Judgment Day say, “Behold, you have what is yours”?
If we do not use the resources God has set before us in the earth to care for those in need, our Creator will likely condemn us, saying: “You kept buried what I gave you, instead of using and investing it. You failed to employ my gifts to care for the poor, the hungry, the sick, and those who were dying from disease. You have been worthless, irresponsible stewards of my creation.” We would deserve the same fate as the servant the master called “wicked and lazy.”
I fail to understand how anyone thinking rationally can argue that poverty and economic hardship will enhance environmental stewardship, or that the planet is more important than the people who live on it.
_________
David R. Legates is a Professor of Climatology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, USA. He is a Christian and a senior fellow of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He is a member of CRI’s Advisory Council.

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Proud of its historical status as the first of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution, Delaware has certainly earned the right to proudly display our first-state motto anywhere and everywhere we can fit it. Recently Delaware signed another historic pact with many of those same states – this one, aimed at implementing a Low-Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) on energy markets statewide.

Unlike the Constitution, though, this agreement isn’t about expanding the fruits of freedom and liberty to our citizens. Instead, it sets up a future in which the fuels we rely upon every day to heat our homes and drive to work are more expensive to buy, and much harder to find.

While this “market-based” proposal is being sold by proponents as a way to lower the carbon content of fuel and lower carbon emissions, in reality it couldn’t be further from the truth.

LCFS proponents maintain that it will make fuels cleaner and more efficient, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of carbon emitted from the tailpipe per mile traveled is constant – 19.4 pounds of carbon dioxide emitted for every mile travelled. No matter how you look at it, an LCFS can’t change that fact.

So what exactly is an LCFS?

Under an LCFS regime, government bureaucrats would determine the fuels will be available to Delaware according to their lifecycle carbon emissions, which is based on the amount of energy used to produce the fuel. Consequently, heavy crudes will receive a higher lifecycle carbon score under this method, since they require more energy to produce than light crudes.

However, this could be quite problematic for the U.S. since almost 20 percent of our nation’s fuel supplies are derived from Canada and Canadian crude is considered more energy intensive than others. Under an LCFS, these resources would likely be barred – leaving a significant gap in America’s fuel supplies.

How would this energy gap be filled? Not by increasing our domestic production, but by increasing energy dependence on the rest of the world. That’s because an LCFS would favor light crudes, which are found in some of the most unstable and unfriendly regions of the world – the Middle East, Nigeria and Libya.

Unfortunately, since Delaware doesn’t produce crude oil and relies on petroleum products being supplied through ports in Wilmington and along the Delaware River, an LCFS could cause the First State to become an isolated fuel island – causing significant cost increases for gasoline, diesel and home heating fuels.

Given that the state’s largest consumer of energy is the industrial sector, now would not be the time for the state to adopt energy policies that will likely increase energy costs and hurt Delaware’s manufacturing and chemical production jobs.

An LCFS would also jeopardize the home heating fuel supplies that one-fifth of Delawareans rely on as their primary heating source each year. Since Delaware required almost $19 million dollars last year in funding from the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program, restricting the availability and use of home heating fuel for the residents across Delaware just doesn’t make sense. While the First State has some onshore and potential offshore wind power resources along the coast and the Delaware Bay, you can’t use wind to heat your home. Not now, and not in the future.

Hasn’t Delaware been through enough this past year? With almost 8 percent of the state currently unemployed across the state, now is the time to make sure that energy is available, affordable and reliable. Unfortunately, if this LCFS agreement is passed, it could leave Delaware in an even worse economic state and leave its residents out in the cold.

Thomas Jefferson once said that Delaware was like a diamond – small, but of great value. The good news is that Delaware has the opportunity to show its value once again by taking the time to consider the economic and energy impacts of an LCFS and to stop this plan from harming those who depend on these fuels the most. By leading the way once again, the First State can show its leadership by standing up and saying no to LCFS.

Shaun Fink
Executive Vice President
Caesar Rodney Institute

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