Tag Archives: greenstuff

UMWA says talks with Patriot Coal buyer ‘the most unproductive’ negotiations the union has ever seen

130416 Patriot STL DHK 107

Here’s the latest word on the Patriot Coal bankruptcy hearing, via The Wall Street Journal’s Jacqueline Palank:

A bankruptcy judge on Tuesday “strongly” recommended that Patriot Coal Corp.’s would-be buyer and the union representing its miners head back to the bargaining table one last time to try to reach a deal on the miners’ future employment.

After presiding over a four-hour trial, Judge Keith Phillips of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Va., declined to rule on Patriot’s request to reject the collective bargaining agreements with the United Mine Workers of America union.

Patriot has warned that its pending sale to Blackhawk Mining LLC—and the ultimate survival of its business—depends on its ability to shed the agreements, though the union says Patriot hasn’t made a good-faith effort to negotiate new deals.

“Based on what I’ve heard today, I think there [are] arguments to be made from both sides,” the judge said.

Instead, Judge Phillips urged Blackhawk and the union to try to reach a deal, pointing to what appears to have been some progress before talks apparently broke down.

“I’m going to suggest strongly that Blackhawk get engaged and that Blackhawk and the United Mine Workers association sit down across the table from each other…and try to come to some kind of accommodation,” the judge said.

The story continues:

After exchanging six proposals for a new labor agreement between Blackhawk and the union, Mr. Lucha said he believed talks were at an impasse. The company then asked the bankruptcy court for permission to reject the agreements.

Bankruptcy laws allow such rejections, but a company has to prove it engaged in good-faith negotiations, among other things. UMWA attorney Sharon Levine said that wasn’t the case.

“This has been the most unproductive, least effective negotiation that the UMW has ever seen,” she said.

Report: Federal Weatherization Assistance Program Provides Benefits Four Times Its Costs

Peter Miller, Senior Scientist, San Francisco

The federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) provides low-income households with more than $13,000 in energy, health, and safety benefits – four times the cost – according to recently released data that contrasts sharply with a controversial working paper that drew overly broad conclusions about the effectiveness of all residential energy efficiency programs.

Retrofit Baltimore.jpgThe Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) this month released a summary of a set of forthcoming evaluations of the 40-year-old program, which has provided energy services in 7 million low-income homes, including efficiency measures and critical health and safety improvements. The multi-year, comprehensive, peer-reviewed evaluations looked at the impacts of the WAP program on 30,000 homes and found total benefits over four times greater than the costs of the program.

The ORNL evaluations – which the Department of Energy says are nearing completion — stand in contrast to a recent non-peer reviewed working paper by a group of researchers from the E2e project. As reported by my colleagues (here, here, here, and here), that paper about a WAP program in Michigan had a number of flaws and broadly cast doubt on the cost-effectiveness of all residential energy efficiency, even though one of the study authors and the study itself cautioned that it shouldn’t be generalized beyond the Michigan program..

WAP provides more than energy savings

A major flaw of the E2e paper is that it counted the costs but not the benefits of non-energy WAP investments like asbestos removal and mold abatement that improve the health and safety of residents, but don’t save energy. In contrast, the ORNL evaluations summary shows that the WAP program provides energy savings that exceed costs by a factor of 1.4. And the overall benefit to cost ratio rises to 4.1 when health and safety benefits are also included.

A careful comparison shows a number of consistencies between the working paper and the peer-reviewed evaluations and identifies the reasons for the differing conclusions. In particular, the E2e paper covered homes that use less energy than those typically served by WAP and focused solely on the period covered by the Recovery Act, which was also not representative of the program over the long term. Adjusting for these factors, as well as the treatment of the health and safety investments mentioned earlier, shows fairly consistent results. Both studies found that weatherization provides about 10 to 20 percent energy savings and the cost estimates that differed by only 3 percent.

Overall, the ORNL summary once again demonstrates the fact that energy efficiency remains the easiest, cheapest, cleanest, and fastest option to reduce pollution by reducing the need to burn fossil fuels to create energy. It also saves money, improves public health, provides affordable and reliable energy services and creates good, middle-class jobs that benefit the economy.

Photo courtesy Retrofit Baltimore
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Oil Closes Another California Beach

Officials in Santa Barbara County, California, had to close another beach because of oil washing ashore from an as-yet unidentified source.  Summerland beach is located along the coast between the site of the Refugio State Beach pipeline oil spill back in late May, and the beaches of Ventura County that were also closed when tarballs began coming ashore a week after that.  Is the Summerland oil coming from some of the natural oil seeps in and around the Santa Barbara Channel?  Or is it coming from one of the offshore oil platforms in the vicinity?  

A beautifully clear Landsat-8 satellite image was taken on August 14.  Summerland is at top center on this sequence of images.  A faint slick several miles long dominates the center of the scene:

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Detail from Landsat-8 satellite image showing California coast around Summerland.
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Seven oil platforms and three passing vessels are noted. Platform A was the site of the infamous Santa Barbara Oil Spill of 1969.  The slick in this image appears to emanate from the same location as Platform A. 
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Locations of known natural seeps, and sample collection sites for oil slicks and tarballs, are shown.  Data from USGS / PCMSC. The USGS data show a “seep” or small cluster of seeps at the Platform A site.

It’s not clear to us if the “seeps” indicated by USGS on the data shown above are natural seeps that predate the installation of Platform A and the catastrophic subsea blowout and spill of 1969; or if “seep” in this case refers to the ongoing slow leakage of oil resulting from that blowout.  If you know, please write a comment below.  

This Sentinel radar satellite image taken yesterday (August 23, 2015) clearly shows the big metal oil platforms as rows of brilliant spots. The large dark patches are slicks — flat patches of water — but it’s not clear on this image if they are caused by seeps, variable wind, floating kelp, or (most likely) all of the above in this very dynamic place:

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Sentinel-1A radar satellite image, same area as above, taken on August 23, 2015. Oil platforms are bright spots; slicks (oil and otherwise) are dark patches. Image courtesy Copernicus / ESA.
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Radar image shwoing locations of oil platforms, as well as known oil seeps and sample locations from USGS / PCMSC. Image courtesy Copernicus / ESA.
Bottom line: We don’t see a clear culprit for the Summerland spill, but it might be worth flying over Platform A to see if the seepage there has recently increased for some reason. 

Ned’s Green Stuff via Google Reader

Just thought I’d share this way of “sharing” via Google’s Reader. I have “folder” of reader links to good sites for “green” news. I made it public – so anyone who wants to check these links rather than search out their own, can bookmark it or subscribe to it via a reader (rss).

Amplify’d from www.google.com

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