2011 Green Year in Review

As we bring 2011 to a close, we look back on a year filled with green technology. Primarily brought on by President Barack Obama, the US has seen a rise in the amount of green technology and green investments. 2011 was wrought with the United States trying to compete with overseas agencies who manufacture green technology such as solar panels, alternative fuels and other products. 2011 was also the year of the Solyndra scandal. Solyndra was backed by the United States to the tune of 500 million dollars which later turned out to be a complete waste.

Mayor Emanuel won a substantial grant from the federal government to implement green efforts in the Chicago area. Chicago has seen a number of green grants. Some organizations that also received green grants were GreenFestivals.org, Ford and the Chicago Transit Authority. One of the biggest stories in the green movement was the how the Navy is testing alliterative fuels for their Mean Green Killing Machine, an eco-friendly ship that has the ability to transport up to 24 troops. The ship is 49 feet long and burns a 50-50 blend of diesel and algae based fuel. The Navy also has an eco-friendly fighter jet, the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

But the Navy wasn’t the only organization that was releasing their own eco-friendly vehicles. 2011 was also a big year for car manufacturers. The Chevy Volt, Toyota’s Prius and the Volkswagon Bulli were the talk of the town in green technology. 2011 was also a year of great home technology. The home solar kit was offered for the first time through Costco. This kit has the ability to store solar energy in a generator to power an entire home.

When the recession hit, many people in America’s heartland were affected. The loss of jobs was devastating to families. However, a lot of jobs were created in 2011 to help install and maintain wind energy through turbines. Michigan was another region that was hit hard when car manufactures closed up shop. But thank to OnSite Energy, there is hope that jobs will become affluent in the new year. OnSite Energy is trying to turn urban lots into centers for manufacturing biofuels.

U.S. Gets a B For The Development of Green Technology

According to the Bloomberg news report, John Doerr, a billionaire venture capitalist at world’s leading venture capital firm, has awarded a “C” grade for United States for alternative energy development. Doerr said United States should practice more on green energy instead of spending much on Saratoga chips. Even though still United States deserves the B grade in the development of biotechnology, they are really coming behind other nations in development of medical-testing and drugs, he added.

He told that without the loan assurances of 20 billion USD for green energy plans granted under United States President Obama’s stimulus project, my rating would have been the “D grade” or even an “F grade”.

According to the Time magazine report, before becoming the President of the United States, Barack Obama was the severe supporter of dirty power plants and coal concerns. But, as United States President, he supported among the biggest growths in national support of clean technology in the history of United States.

“Barack Obama’s stimulus project is and was supposed to be fly-by-night and seasonable, and we should modernize in United States the marketplaces for the financial capability and sustainable green energy to make them to develop,” Doerr said in the interview to Bloomberg. However he added that the market is dull and uninterested to grow due to the failure of privately funded development and research, and lack of financial marketplaces to back up this area. But, certain positive impacts comprised the concord with auto manufacturers to improve the vehicle’s fuel economy they trade in United States.

John Doerr has gained his place on the Forbes magazine’s list of yearly wealthiest people in the planet. But, in past few years, he has redirected his skills from choosing prosperous start-up firms to lobbying the administration of Barack Obama successfully into the supporting “clean” technology initiatives.

As a head of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers (KPCB), Doerr is responsible for the company’s flourishing investments in many giant corporations. Google and KPCB have both invested big amount of money in alternative energy. He handles approximately five hundred million USD in investments of alternative energy, and Doerr’s portfolio comprises solar battery MiaSole start-up, and Bloom Energy fuel cell manufacturer. In 2008, He told that the clean technology can be “biggest economical opportunity of twenty-first century.”

Obama Backs Away From Federal Wilderness Protection

Under much duress from Congress, the Obama administration is backing away from a plan to turn millions of acres of undeveloped land in the West into the federal wilderness protection.

Ken Salazar, interior secretary said in a memo last Wednesday his agency won’t designate any of those public lands as “wild lands“. Instead, Salazar said that officials will be working in concert with members of Congress to develop recommendations for managing millions of acres of undeveloped land in the West.

A budget deal approved by Congress prevented the Interior Department from spending money to implement the wilderness policy. GOP lawmakers complained that the plan would circumvent Congress’ authority and easily be used for declaring a vast swath of public land off-limits to oil-and-gas drilling.

Republican governors in Alaska, Utah and Wyoming, filed suit to block the move, claiming that it would injure their state’s economies by taking federal lands off the table for mineral production and the like.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah said:

“Since the majority of land in Utah is owned by the federal government, it is critically important to strike a balance between the needs of our local communities and the protection of public lands that truly do have wilderness characteristics rather than pandering to environmental extremists…Today’s announcement is a positive step toward restoring that balance…Without strong and decisive action from the Department of Interior, wilderness will not be given the protection it is due, putting millions of acres of public lands at risk…”

What’s the Drill? Obama Tells All!

Alaska PipelineAmidst public chagrin about gas prices, President Barack Obama is increasing U.S. oil production by augmenting existing leases in the Gulf of Mexico as well as off Alaska’s coast and holding more lease sales in a federal petroleum reserve in Alaska more often.

Obama said the measures “make good sense” and will help reduce national consumption of imported oil in the long term. Though he acknowledged this won’t help to bring down gasoline prices.

Analyst for Raymond James, Pavel Molchanov said:

“There is practically nothing that Washington can do that would materially change the price of fuel in this country…Given that imbalance, there is simply no policy shift that could plausibly come from the federal government that can significantly change that dynamic.”

Obama’s announcement came after House passage of three bills, including two this week which would speed and expand offshore gas and oil drilling. Those on the right of the aisle say the bills are aimed at easing gasoline costs, however, they too admit there will be latency to the arrival of the benefits.

Molchanov said:

“Even if all that works out, it still would not materially change global oil supply, and therefore would not materially change fuel prices in this country or any other…In the grand scheme of things, none of this changes the reality of $4 gasoline at the pump.”

America to Reduce Oil Imports

Under the weight of pressure to curb mounting gasoline prices, President Barack Obama is calling for the U.S. to reduce oil imports by one third before 2025.

Obama’s modus operandi is a slow boosting of domestic energy production, increasing the use of natural gas and bio-fuels; making cars and trucks more fuel-efficient.

In a speech in New York City last Tuesday, Obama said:

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do on energy…The last time gas prices were this high was 2008 when I was running. The other side kept talking about `drill, baby, drill.’ That was the slogan…What we were talking about was breaking the pattern of being shocked by high prices…”

Even if oil consumption drops, it will not have much impact on gasoline prices, since oil is priced globally and increased demand from China continues to put a spike in prices.

The Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Wednesday:

“The problem isn’t that we need to look elsewhere for our energy. The problem is that Democrats don’t want us to use the energy we have. It’s enough to make you wonder whether anybody in the White House has driven by a gas station lately.”

To meet the goal of cutting oil imports by one third, Obama will be calling for new incentives for companies to speed up gas and oil production on current and future leases. An Interior Department report said on Tuesday more than two-thirds of offshore leases in the Gulf of Mexico are idle, neither producing gas and oil nor being explored by the companies who hold the leases. These leases could potentially hold more than 11 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Where is Obama’s Energy?

Five guesses who proposed this inspiring question:

“Will America watch as the clean-energy jobs and industries of the future flourish in countries like Spain, Japan, or Germany? Or will we create them here, in the greatest country on earth, with the most talented, productive workers in the world?”

Was it:

a) Thomas Freidman
b) Arianna Huffington
c) Al Gore
d) Bill Gates
e) None of the above

If you chose option (e) you are correct. The correct answer would have been president of the United States of America, Barack Obama. He spoke these words when still just a candidate, back in August, 2008, in Lansing, Michigan. That day he gave a speech, avowing that his administration would fashion new clean-energy industries, wean the nation from its foreign oil addiction, and create five million green jobs. How many? Five million!

Two years later, “Obama’s environmental agenda is in tatters…” wrote Michael Shellenberger in the New Republic:

“His green jobs plan has done little to make a dent in unemployment, which persists at close to 10 percent. Obama’s signature environmental initiative, cap-and-trade, died in the Senate in July. And, during the first year of Obama’s tenure, China massively outspent the United States on clean-energy technology.”

Even with a climate-change-denying Republican House, the facts are, had Obama stricken while the iron was hot, we would be in better shape today.

Shellenberger wrote:

“Cap-and-trade would not have birthed a domestic clean-energy economy—indeed, it wasn’t designed to. Meanwhile, the administration’s green stimulus spending was split between short-term, if worthy, investments in green technology, to which far too little money was allocated, and overhyped public-works projects that would never have delivered the new industrial economy Obama promised as a candidate.”

A Green Machine

August was a brow-lifting month for American green energy enthusiasts and so will be October. So will be every month until we see some actual change!

The congressional Democrat resolution to not even bring to the senate floor a major energy bill invites the question: “how serious is President Obama about the environment?”

BarackObama.com reads:

The country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. For too long, politicians in Washington have been beholden to special interests, but no longer. Our new, responsible energy policy recognizes the relationship between energy, the environment, and our economy and leverages American ingenuity to put people back to work, fight global warming, increase our energy independence and keep us safe.
But Obama-reality has failed Thomas Friedman’s “moon-shot” at best:

Barack Obama

After temporary off-shore drilling expeditions and foreign oil purchases, Obama’s dedication to green energy jobs in his weekly address last Saturday sounds like nothing more than a repetition of his original platform shpeel.

“There is perhaps no industry with more potential to create jobs now — and growth in the coming years — than clean energy…” said the Pres, but what was the point besides plugging one BrightSourceEnergy firm?

Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden called for action against climate change in what appeared to be a new audio tape from the al Qaeda chief issued last Friday.

It was the second time that the mass-murderer made climate change a prominent theme of one of his statements, confidently holding it responsible for natural disasters:

“The huge climate change is affecting our (Islamic) nation and is causing great catastrophes throughout the Islamic world…It is not sufficient anymore to maintain the same relief efforts as previously, as it has become crucial to deliver tents, food and medicine.”

Gulf Mess

Two congressmen will be holding hearings to investigate how well companies have responded to the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – still stubborn to clean-up operations.

U.S. Representatives Henry Waxman and Bart Stupak sent letters requesting the testimony of officials from BP America,Transocean and Halliburton. BP is the one who operates the rig, which is actually owned by Transocean. Halliburton was working on the rig just shortly before the explosion happened.

A date has not actually yet been set for the hearings which will look into how recovery efforts are going, and what the companies’ safety measures were before the April 20 blast which caused the spill.

The explosion that happened on the Deepwater Horizon, which is operated by BP, killed 11 people. The oil spill which resulted from the explosion is seriously threatening the Gulf Coast’s delicate ecosystem.

The historic environmental protection bill is now in danger. A new focus is being put on the perils of offshore drilling.

The bill calls for new offshore drilling – a concession by environmentalists. But with the tragedy in the Gulf growing daily, even conservationists who have waited a decade for the legislation are now saying that it is bound to fail if offshore drilling remains in the bill.

Now would be a good time for Obama to start making noise about the search for alternative energy.


The Announcement:

The Obama administration has approved the nation’s first offshore wind farm, off Cape Cod, essentially moving the U.S. closer to harvesting an untapped domestic energy source – that is the steady blowing coastal breeze.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his decision in Boston last Wednesday, clearing the way for a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind was in its ninth year of federal review when early this year Salazar stepped in to bring what he called much-needed resolution to the bitterly contested proposal.

Cape Wind says it can start generating power by 2012 and aims to eventually supply three-quarters of the power on Cape Cod, which has about 225,000 residents. Cape Wind claims that it will provide green jobs and a reliable domestic energy source. Offshore wind advocates are hoping it can jump-start the U.S. industry.

America’s onshore wind industry is actually the world’s biggest, but higher upfront costs, harder technological challenges and environmental concerns have delayed the development of offshore wind farms.

20 years ago, Denmark was the world’s first offshore wind turbine. China has now built its first commercial wind farm off Shanghai and plans several other projects.
The U.S. Department of Energy envisions offshore wind farms will account for 4% of the country’s electric generating capacity by the year 2030.

Hold on a Minute:

A coalition of groups that are opposed to the construction of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound say that they will be suing “immediately” in order to stop the project.

Ironically, opponents of Cape Wind say that the project will endanger both marine life and commerce.

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound say that they cannot stand by while public lands and “marred forever.”

Other groups are also planning to sue: The Animal Welfare Institute and the Industrial Wind Action Group, to name a few and even an outraged Wampanoag tribe.

Hey Barack – Where You Goin’ With That Drill In Your Hand?

Politifact, the fact-checking project of the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, gives Obama a “No Flip” on the Flip-O-Meter in his announcement to expand offshore drilling in previously banned places. Politifact reports that Obama is keeping a campaign promise: He did a “Half Flip” in the middle of his campaign when gas prices had skyrocketed and then agreed that more drilling off the coasts would be necessary, so “No Flip” now.

If car and truck buyers’ had a little more money and drivers were willing to give up on old technology, then the U.S. could begin the switch immediately to petrol-free and nearly-petrol-free vehicles, making new drilling unnecessary. Biofuels already have a niche vehicle energizing marketplace with more opportunities growing with cellulosic ethanol, fuels from algae and others.

Hydrogen is another possibility, but has its own set of cost issues as well as a complete set of supply and distribution challenges.

Though from a technical standpoint, electrically driven vehicles, including hybrids, are here now and here to stay. At this point automakers and suppliers seem to have more interest in electric drive than in any other alternative technology. It’s not just the simple technology they like: zero emission vehicles will go a long way in helping automakers meet the 34 mpg average vehicle fuel economy standard by 2016.

Once the battery hurdle is officially leaped – it will be only a matter of time before the entire industry quits their gas guzzling – it just makes too much sense.