The BP Gulf spill trial opened in New Orleans with federal prosecutors charging that the company’s “greed devastated the Gulf.” That should play well before a local jury. Meanwhile rumors continue to swirl that the company and the government will reach a settlement.
Finland and the Czech Republic have dealt a devastating blow to France’s nuclear ambitions by refusing to allow Areva, the nearly government owned nuclear company, to bid on new reactors. Areva’s reputation has been nearly ruined by the seemingly endless delays in completing the Olkiluoto reactor, now more than four years behind schedule. But is it entirely Areva’s fault? The Fins have done their part by often taking a month to issue reviews that were supposed to be completed in a week. In any case, the move leaves only Toshiba Westinghouse and Russia’s AtomstroyExport as the major contenders for new reactors in Europe. Here come the Russians!
The Business Roundtable has entered the energy fray, issuing a “Vision for the Future” that is harsh on President Obama’s policies and long on increasing supplies. The CEOs called for more drilling, less regulation, building the Keystone Pipeline and generally getting the government out of the way of energy production. But then what did you expect? The report is likely to be eviscerated in the press but the Las Vegas Review-Journal asks if President Obama doesn’t really want higher gas prices? Isn’t that the same newspaper that led the campaign to close down Yucca Mountain?
Thousands of energy geeks will descend on Washington this week for the 4th Annual ARPA-E Festival. Departing Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Tesla Founder Elon Musk are scheduled to engage in a “fireside chat” for attendees. Wonder if that will be New York Times reporter David Broder roasting on the fire? Bloomberg BusinessWeek notes cynically that even Republican lawmakers have started to like ARPA-E as the research money flows into their districts. But GOP leaders say they like the smaller ARPA-E grants rather than the giant Solyndra boondoggles.
Finally, geothermal energy is starting to show progress, even though the US only added only 147 megawatts last year. Methanol manufactured by Icelandic volcanoes will soon be powering European vehicles (take note of that, Fuel Freedom) and Japan is exploring tapping hot rocks in its national parks. Forbes’ Mackinnon Lawrence notes that the sleeping giant is awakening. But somehow these “green” projects always have a way of stirring opposition once they become realities. Already environmental groups are pressing the Hawaiian Legislature to give the individual island governments approval power over projects so that they won’t ruin the environment.