Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (above) will step down in March, leaving a mixed legacy of promoting both “green” energy and fossil fuels. Salazar has opened up western land to oil and gas development but stalled offshore drilling after the 2009 Gulf spill. He has also promised to cover almost a thousand square miles of federal land with windmills and solar collectors. Former Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, a close Obama ally, is a good bet to replace him. The President has been under fire for not having enough women in his cabinet.
Mark Mills, writing in the Wall Street Journal, notes that the next oil gusher may be coming out of California. It’s just another aspect of the energy revolution that may lead to American self-sufficiency. Meg Handler, writing in US News & World Report, handles the subject. But shale gas may not be the same game-changer in the UK, according to a BP projection reported in The Telegraph. And what will happen to Venezuelan oil after Hugo Chavez? Sean Cockerham mulls that question in the Kansas City Star.
The “wind energy backbone” planned off the coast of New Jersey is drawing attention because of an article in Sustainable Business. The piece supposedly brings good news by quoting Robert Mitchell, CEO of the Atlantic Wind Connection, as saying: "The NJ Energy Link can make the grid more reliable and lower the cost of energy in New Jersey by delivering both offshore wind and conventional electricity to where it is needed and when it is needed along the coast, whether that be southern, central or northern New Jersey.” For some reason, everybody is taking this at face value. Wind making the grid more reliable? That’s a good one. New Jersey officials are wary of the project because they think it will raise the cost of electricity. Google is funding the whole thing.
A report from the EPA says air toxins have diminished over New Jersey in the past year. Presumably this has to do with shutting down coal plants, although the sluggish economy has probably helped. Overall pollution is increasing, however. The EPA is also rethinking its coal ash rules after running into huge opposition from plants around the country. Will Lisa Jackson’s departure signal a change of direction in the EPA? The Marietta Times doesn’t think so.
Finally, after hearing the news about biofuels pushing out food production in the Developing World, European environmentalists have changed their tune. Now they’re calling for reform of the program. Instead they want reductions in overall energy use. Nonetheless, Brazil is planning to go ahead with six new ethanol plants and National Public Radio talks about more refineries in the Midwest. Algae research may come to the rescue but an experiment in growing switchgrass in Tennessee has flopped because of lack of a market. Back to the drawing boards again.