Tag: Energy

OK, This Promise was Kept

Joe Biden has shutdown the Keystone XL pipeline:

One of President Biden’s first acts upon taking office was to cancel the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, the long-debated project to transport crude from Canada’s oil sands to the United States.

But Canadian officials, notably in Alberta, the province where the pipeline originates, are not giving up so fast.

The nearly 1,200-mile Keystone XL was intended to carry crude oil from Canada to Nebraska, where it would connect with an existing network to deliver the crude to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

In canceling the pipeline, Mr. Biden took some of his first steps toward reversing the legacy of the Trump administration, which revived the project after it was rejected by President Barack Obama in 2015.


Elections have consequences.

Can We Please Give Texas Back to Mexico?

In the episode of the continuing series, Of Course They Did, It’s Texas, a bill has been submitted in the state house that would tax solar and wind power, but not fossil fuels, because ……… I don’t know, maybe owning the libs?

There are fools, there are damn fools, and then there is the Texas legislature:

Power bills likely would rise next year for Texas consumers who get their electricity from wind, solar, coal and nuclear generation if the Legislature approves a bill filed this week.

The bill from state Rep. Ken King would add 1 cent to every kilowatt hour of energy generated. The tax likely would be passed on to consumers, adding about $12 a month to bills for households that use 1,200 kilowatt hours of renewable power sources each month. Power generated from natural gas would be exempt from the tax.

Wind produced about 20 percent of electricity last year in Texas, which is the nation’s leader in wind power generation, and 47 percent came from natural gas, according to the state’s grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

Luke Metzger, executive director of the Austin-based clean energy advocacy group Environment Texas, said the bill makes no sense.

It flies against the rhetoric of Texas’ market-based system of electricity, putting the thumb on the scale for natural gas and raising taxes on Texans by $2.3 billion every year,” he said in a prepared statement. “It would also discourage wind and solar power, which are reducing pollution, helping us tread more lightly on the planet, and boosting rural economies.

Seriously, this guy should have been drowned at birth.

Him I Want to Die in Poverty and Struggling to Breath

He’s killed dozens, if not hundreds of minors with out a second thought, so I’m hoping that he gets turned down:

Robert E. Murray, the former CEO and president of the now-bankrupt Murray Energy, has filed an application with the U.S. Department of Labor for black lung benefits. For years, Murray and his company fought against federal mine safety regulations aimed at reducing the debilitating disease.

“I founded the company and created 8,000 jobs there until the move to end coal use. I am still chairman of the board,” he wrote on a Labor Department form that initiated his claim obtained by the Ohio Valley ReSource. “We’re in bankruptcy, and due to my health could not handle the president and CEO job any longer.”

According to sources, Murray’s claim is still in the initial stages and is being evaluated to determine the party potentially responsible for paying out the associated benefits. The Labor Department is required to determine a liable party before an initial ruling can be made on entitlement to benefits. If Murray’s claim were to go before an administrative law judge, some aspects of the claim would become a matter of public record.


Reached by phone, Murray declined an on-the-record interview for this story. Murray said he has black lung from working in underground mines and is entitled to benefits. Additionally, he disputed that he ever fought against regulations to quell the disease or fought miners from receiving benefits.

Murray also threatened to file a lawsuit if a story was published that indicated he had fought federal regulations and benefits.

Of course he threatened a lawsuit.  It’s what the Dr. Evil wannabee does, and it’s what led John Oliver to go after him hammer and tongs.

But Murray told NPR in October 2019 that he had a lung disease that was not caused by working underground in mines.

“It’s idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. IPF, and it is not related to my work in the industry. They’ve checked for that,” Murray told NPR. “And it’s not — has anything to do with working in the coal mines, which I did for 17 years underground every day. And until I was 76, I went underground twice a week.”

I’m thinking of starting a Gofundme to pay for a guy in a squirrel suit to follow Bob Murray around telling him to eat sh%$.

The Rugged Individualist

I am referring, of course, to Elon Musk, whose empire has been subsidized to the tune of almost $5 billion.

The actual number is likely far higher, given the indirect subsidies received, such as allowing PayPal, where he made original fortune, function like a bank without having to follow banking regulations, “Because ……… Internet.”

All of these fortunes have resulted from government subsidies, whether it’s Amazon’s early ability to evade sales taxes, Google’s military funding, etc.

The reporters at the LA Times have almost certainly missed some of the subsidies, because many, if not most, of them are indirect:

Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space.

And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies.

Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The Times. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.


Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space.

And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies.

Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The Times. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.

These are not long-shot startups.  These are meticulously constructed to extract maximum subsidies.

Also, SolarCity was not a long-shot, it was a corrupt bailout of his cousins who had run the company into the ground.

But public subsidies for Musk’s companies stand out both for the amount, relative to the size of the companies, and for their dependence on them.

“Government support is a theme of all three of these companies, and without it none of them would be around,” said Mark Spiegel, a hedge fund manager for Stanphyl Capital Partners who is shorting Tesla’s stock, a bet that pays off if Tesla shares fall.

Yes, they are short sellers, but that should not mask Musk’s hypocrisy in preaching rugged individualism while meticulously constructing his companies to maximize taxpayer subsidies.

I Am Legitimately Pleased by This News

I had figured that the rat-bastards had won, but a Federal Judge has just shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline.

I did not see this coming.

The regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration are subsidies, and it’s good that the courts are pushing back:

A number of recent legal defeats and business decisions have stymied three multibillion-dollar pipeline projects around the country, setting back President Trump’s 3½-year effort to expand oil and gas development in the United States.


In a surprise decision Monday, a federal judge ruled that the Dakota Access pipeline — which Trump approved within a month of taking office — must be shut down by Aug. 5, saying federal officials failed to carry out a complete analysis of its environmental impacts. The day before, two energy companies behind the controversial, 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline abandoned their six-year bid to build it, saying the $8 billion project has become too expensive and faces an uncertain regulatory environment. And an April decision by a federal judge in Montana dealt a blow to the Keystone XL pipeline and raised questions about whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have to conduct more extensive environmental reviews for other projects.


American Petroleum Institute President Mike Sommers said in a statement Monday that his trade group was “deeply troubled by these setbacks for U.S. energy leadership.”

Their tears are sauce for my lamb chops.


In several instances, long-standing statutes such as the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to assess and disclose how their decisions might harm the environment, have tripped up the administration. In his ruling regarding the Dakota Access pipeline, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg wrote that the federal government had not met all the requirements of the 50-year-old-law, which the administration is seeking to rewrite.


Several tribes, including the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux, first challenged the pipeline in 2016. While the Obama administration slowed the pipeline’s development as it consulted with the tribes, Trump expedited its construction immediately after taking office.

“Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” said the tribe’s chairman, Mike Faith, in a statement. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.”

I am happy.

I Think That the Fracking Bubble Has Officially Burst

I have been observing for some time now that the fracking bubble is unsustainable.

Even ignoring the anthropogenic climate change issues,* fracked oil and gas is expensive, and the drop-off on wells is 10 to 20 times that of conventional wells.

Simply put, it’s been a game of musical chairs, with investors and executives fobbing debt off on idiots, and they have run out of idiots

Basically, this was looting disguised as the energy industry, as evidenced by spending that would make Dennis Koslowski blush.

The biggest player in the field, Chesapeake Energy, has filed for bankruptcy, and the looting is on full display:

The fracking giant’s bankruptcy filing comes following a financial mess at the company that included no budgets, a massive wine collection and a nine-figure bill for parking garages, sources told CNBC’s David Faber.

CEO Robert D. “Doug” Lawler found in examining the company’s books a $110 million bill for two parking garages, Faber reported Monday. Other revelations include a wine collection in a cave hidden behind a broom closet in the Chesapeake office. Extravagances further included a season ticket package to the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder that was the biggest in the league and a lavish campus that was modeled after Duke University, complete with bee keepers, botox treatments and chaplains for employees.

Another big player in fracking, Lilis Energy has filed for bankruptcy as well.

Don’t worry about the senior executives who drove the companies into the ground though, they get their multi-million dollar retention bonuses anyway.

We really need to fix our corporate bankruptcy laws.

*Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?
Dennis Kozlowski, the former head of Tyco international, who had the company buy him things like art and $6,000 shower curtains.

So Sentence Them to Prison

I think that the judge should sentence the company to a few years in prison.

If a flesh and blood person pled guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter, they would spend a significant amount of time in prison.

I know that there are no corporation jails out there, but that’s not the judge’s job, he just needs to direct the Department of Corrections to take them into custody.

Let them hash it out while PG&E chills its heels in its cell:

California utility firm Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges that it was responsible for the deaths of more than 80 people in a massive 2018 wildfire caused by its equipment.

The fire, known as the Camp Fire, began in November 2018 when two PG&E power lines came into contact with nearby dry brush, sparking flames. Eighty-five people died in the fire, which also destroyed 18,800 structures.


PG&E “had a legal duty to the public to avoid wildfires and failed to perform that legal duty by recklessly failing to maintain and operate its electrical lines and equipment in a manner that would minimize the risk of catastrophic wildfires posed by those electrical lines and equipment, resulting in the Camp Fire,” each of the 84 manslaughter counts reads.

Company president and CEO Bill Johnson entered the guilty plea in court yesterday on behalf of the company. “Our equipment started the fire that destroyed the towns of Paradise and Concow and severely burned Magalia and other parts of Butte County,” Johnson said. “On behalf of PG&E, I apologize for the pain we have caused.”

As part of its plea agreement, the company agreed to pay a $3.5 million dollar fine and an additional $500,000 to cover the costs of the investigation.

The deal has been cut with the prosecutor, and while the judge is expected to approve the deal, the judge can sentence the utility to prison.

Please send them to prison.

Yet More Evidence that Natural Gas is Worse than Coal

It’s not the carbon per unit of energy, where natural gas excels, but in the leaks from wells and pipes, where the methane has 84 times the anthropogenic climate change impact of CO2 in the decades following release.

The leaks are so bad in some places that it is killing trees in cities:

Natural gas leaks from underground pipelines are killing trees in densely populated urban environments, a new study suggests, adding to concerns over such leaks fueling climate change and explosion hazards.

The study, which took place in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a low-income immigrant community near Boston, also highlights the many interrelated environmental challenges in a city that faces high levels of air pollution, soaring summer temperatures and is now beset by one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the nation.

Dead or dying trees were 30 times more likely to have been exposed to methane in the soil surrounding their roots than healthy trees, according to the study published last month in the journal Environmental Pollution.

“I was pretty blown away by that result,” said Madeleine Scammell, an environmental health professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health who co-authored the study. “If these trees were humans, we would be talking about what to do to stop this immediately.”

The study measured soil concentrations of methane and oxygen at four points around the trunks of 84 dead or dying trees and 97 healthy trees. For trees that had elevated levels of methane in the surrounding soil, the highest concentrations were found in the dirt between the tree and the street, suggesting that the gas had leaked from natural gas pipelines, which are typically buried beneath roadways.


Stephen Leahy of the Northeast Gas Association, a natural gas utility group, said he had not reviewed the current study in detail but noted that “there are multiple factors that could be involved in tree damage, from disease to age to road traffic to methane.”

Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is approximately 84 times more potent in warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period, making plugging even small gas leaks important when trying to tackle climate change.

A recent study found so much methane escaping or intentionally vented from wells in the Permian basin of Texas and New Mexico that the climate impact associated with burning natural gas from the region was likely greater, over a 20-year period, than burning coal.

Gas, and particularly fracked gas replacing coal is not a bridge fuel, it’s toxic waste.

Holy Sh%$

Look Out Below

Oil prices, specifically the price of WTI crude, just fell to almost NEGATIVE $40 a barrel today.

Part of this was an artifact of the calendar, futures contracts were coming due, so stockbrokers were facing the possibilities of thousands of gallons of crude oil being pumped into their swimming pools, but this is f%$#ed-up and sh%$.

When you consider the fact that fracking is a particularly expensive way to extract oil, and that the best evidence is that it has never been profitable, there are going to be a whole bunch of eager investors left holding the bag:

Of all the wild, unprecedented swings in financial markets since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, none has been more jaw-dropping than Monday’s collapse in a key segment of U.S. oil trading.

The price on the futures contract for West Texas crude that is due to expire Tuesday fell into negative territory — minus $37.63 a barrel. The reason: with the pandemic bringing the economy to a standstill, there is so much unused oil sloshing around that American energy companies have run out of room to store it. And if there’s no place to put the oil, no one wants a crude contract that is about to come due.

Underscoring just how acute the concern is over the lack of immediate storage space, the price on the futures contract due a month later settled at $20.43 per barrel. That gap between the two contracts is by far the biggest ever.

“The May crude oil contract is going out not with a whimper, but a primal scream,” said Daniel Yergin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning oil historian and vice chairman of IHS Markit Ltd.

There is a whole bunch of money from a whole the “smartest people in the world” that just got lit on fire.

It’s a Busy Day at the Dog Track

The issue here is not risk, that is possibility quantifiable possibility of something bad happening, but uncertainty, where your numbers go ¯_(ツ)_/¯ :

U.S. stocks careened lower Monday, with major indexes swinging perilously close to the first bear market in more than a decade as a price war for oil and fallout from the coronavirus frightened investors.

The selling was heavy across markets and geographies, with investors seeking shelter in government bonds, sending Treasury yields to new lows. U.S. stocks fell hard enough at the open to trigger a circuit breaker for the first time in 23 years that kept trading frozen for 15 minutes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its worst decline since 2008 and at one point came within 65 points of touching a bear market.

For the day, the Dow sank 2,013.76 points, or 7.8%, to 23851.02. It was the first time the Dow lost more than 2,000 points in a session. The S&P 500 fell 225.81 points, or 7.6%, to 2746.56, also its worst day since 2008. And the Nasdaq Composite slid 624.94 points, or 7.3%, to 7950.68.

All 11 sectors in the S&P 500 were down, led by energy, which slid 20%. Financials were down 11%. Industrials and materials both fell 9.2%.

By day’s end, the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq were all down roughly 19% from record highs set earlier this year. A drop of 20% from those highs would halt a bull-market run that began after the financial crisis. Stocks bottomed out 11 years ago, on March 9, 2009.

As an aside, this is the time when I DON’T look at how my IRA or 401(k) is doing, 

Seriously, just don’t.

Grind Them into the Dirt, and Then Salt the Earth

I am, of course, referring to Pacific Gas & Electric, which is now facing $2.1 billion fine for its negligence causing multiple wildfires:

California regulators increased penalties against PG&E Corp. to $2.1 billion for violations tied to the catastrophic wildfires ignited by the company’s power lines in 2017 and 2018.

The penalty would be the largest ever imposed by the California Public Utilities Commission, the agency said in a statement Thursday.

The decision, which becomes final if PG&E agrees to the terms within 20 days, increases a prior penalty settlement by about $462 million. It also would require that any tax savings associated with the payments be applied to the benefit of PG&E customers. Those savings may exceed $500 million.


The state’s revised penalty would bar PG&E from recovering about $1.8 billion in wildfire-related costs from ratepayers, require the company to spend $114 million on system enhancements and corrective actions and pay a $200 million fine to the state’s general fund. 

PG&E needs to be shut down, and its assets seized by the government.

To quote Corporal Hicks, “Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

Your Mouth to God’s Ear

California Governor Gavin Newsom has once again sent signals that he is seriously considering using his authority to end Pacific Gas & Electric as a going concern in the state of California if the embattled utility does not get its sh%$ together.
Because the California Public Utilities Commission has the authority to reject any payout from the state wildfire insurance fund, which would likely force PG&E into liquidation.
When that infrastructure is sold off, the buyers would be assured of EXTREMELY diligent oversight, so the market value will be relatively low, at which point takeover of those assets by state and local government becomes pretty viable.
Please, Governor, pull the trigger.
PGE has been a cancer on corporate governance for over 100 years.

Exactly one year after PG&E Corp. filed for bankruptcy, Gov. Gavin Newsom said PG&E “no longer exists” and doubled down on a state takeover if the utility doesn’t shape up by June 30.

“There’s going to be a new company or the state of California will take it over,” Newsom said at an event with the Public Policy Institute of California in Sacramento about the future of the state’s energy Wednesday.

“Because if PG&E can’t do it, we’ll do it for them. Period, full stop. We’re sick of excuses and delays,” he said.


“Bankruptcy turned out to be an extraordinary opportunity for the state,” Newsom said Wednesday. “I never would have imagined that a year ago today. I thought it was a huge burden, one I didn’t anticipate spending as much time and energy on.”

What it gave state regulators is the chance to transform the 115-year-old company into a 21st-century utility, he said.


But if the governor doesn’t like PG&E’s new plan, he made clear on Wednesday what the next step was.

“If they can’t do it, we have no choice but to do it for them, because the economic and human cost, not just the environmental degradation, is so great that we will be in peril if we just sit back and let the markets do it for us,” he said.

Seriously, if there is a company that merits the corporate death penalty, it is PG&E.

Have the states and localities reorganize the assets as either a government utility or a cooperative.

Not Only Choking the World, Making the World Glow in the Dark.

I am referring, of course, to the the oil and gas industry, which has taken to spreading highly radioactive well waste water on roads, and selling it as a deicer.

Seriously, energy companies exceed my imagination for rat-f%$#ery:


One day in 2017, Peter pulled up to an injection well in Cambridge, Ohio. A worker walked around his truck with a hand-held radiation detector, he says, and told him he was carrying one of the “hottest loads” he’d ever seen. It was the first time Peter had heard any mention of the brine being radioactive.

The Earth’s crust is in fact peppered with radioactive elements that concentrate deep underground in oil-and-gas-bearing layers. This radioactivity is often pulled to the surface when oil and gas is extracted — carried largely in the brine.………

Through a grassroots network of Ohio activists, Peter was able to transfer 11 samples of brine to the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University, which had them tested in a lab at the University of Pittsburgh. The results were striking.

Radium, typically the most abundant radionuclide in brine, is often measured in picocuries per liter of substance and is so dangerous it’s subject to tight restrictions even at hazardous-waste sites. The most common isotopes are radium-226 and radium-228, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires industrial discharges to remain below 60 for each. Four of Peter’s samples registered combined radium levels above 3,500, and one was more than 8,500.


Peter’s samples are just a drop in the bucket. Oil fields across the country — from the Bakken in North Dakota to the Permian in Texas — have been found to produce brine that is highly radioactive. “All oil-field workers,” says Fairlie, “are radiation workers.” But they don’t necessarily know it.


Tanks, filters, pumps, pipes, hoses, and trucks that brine touches can all become contaminated, with the radium building up into hardened “scale,” concentrating to as high as 400,000 picocuries per gram. With fracking — which involves sending pressurized fluid deep underground to break up layers of shale — there is dirt and shattered rock, called drill cuttings, that can also be radioactive. But brine can be radioactive whether it comes from a fracked or conventional well; the levels vary depending on the geological formation, not drilling method. Colorado and Wyoming seem to have lower radioactive signatures, while the Marcellus shale, underlying Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, has tested the highest. Radium in its brine can average around 9,300 picocuries per liter, but has been recorded as high as 28,500. “If I had a beaker of that on my desk and accidentally dropped it on the floor, they would shut the place down,” says Yuri Gorby, a microbiologist who spent 15 years studying radioactivity with the Department of Energy. “And if I dumped it down the sink, I could go to jail.”


In an investigation involving hundreds of interviews with scientists, environmentalists, regulators, and workers, Rolling Stone found a sweeping arc of contamination — oil-and-gas waste spilled, spread, and dumped across America, posing under-studied risks to the environment, the public, and especially the industry’s own employees. There is little public awareness of this enormous waste stream, the disposal of which could present dangers at every step — from being transported along America’s highways in unmarked trucks; handled by workers who are often misinformed and underprotected; leaked into waterways; and stored in dumps that are not equipped to contain the toxicity. Brine has even been used in commercial products sold at hardware stores and is spread on local roads as a de-icer.


he levels of radium in Louisiana oil pipes had registered as much as 20,000 times the limits set by the EPA for topsoil at uranium-mill waste sites. Templet found that workers who were cleaning oil-field piping were being coated in radioactive dust and breathing it in. One man they tested had radioactivity all over his clothes, his car, his front steps, and even on his newborn baby. The industry was also spewing waste into coastal waterways, and radioactivity was shown to accumulate in oysters. Pipes still laden with radioactivity were donated by the industry and reused to build community playgrounds. Templet sent inspectors with Geiger counters across southern Louisiana. One witnessed a kid sitting on a fence made from piping so radioactive they were set to receive a full year’s radiation dose in an hour. “People thought getting these pipes for free from the oil industry was such a great deal,” says Templet, “but essentially the oil companies were just getting rid of their waste.”

Oh, yeah, the oil companies are literally disposing of radioactive waste on playgrounds.

This is a complete mind f%$#.

Radioactive oil-and-gas waste is purposely spread on roadways around the country. The industry pawns off brine — offering it for free — on rural townships that use the salty solution as a winter de-icer and, in the summertime, as a dust tamper on unpaved roads.


“There is nothing to remediate it with,” says Avner Vengosh, a Duke University geochemist. “The high radioactivity in the soil at some of these sites will stay forever.” Radium-226 has a half-life of 1,600 years. The level of uptake into agricultural crops grown in contaminated soil is unknown because it hasn’t been adequately studied.


But the new buzzword in the oil-and-gas industry is “beneficial use” — transforming oil-and-gas waste into commercial products, like pool salts and home de-icers. In June 2017, an official with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources entered a Lowe’s Home Center in Akron and purchased a turquoise jug of a liquid de-icer called AquaSalina, which is made with brine from conventional wells. Used for home patios, sidewalks, and driveways — “Safe for Environment & Pets,” the label touts — AquaSalina was found by a state lab to contain radium at levels as high as 2,491 picocuries per liter. Stolz, the Duquesne scientist, also had the product tested and found radium levels registered about 1,140 picocuries per liter.


Mansbery said that he tested for heavy metals and saw “no red flags.” Asked if he tested for radioactive elements, he stated, “We test as required by the state law and regulatory agencies.”

Mr. Mansbery needs to be in jail, so do a lot of other people who are a part of this atrocity.

Sh%$ Just Got Real for PG&E

PG&E’s bankruptcy proposal has been rejected by the Governor of California, which will result in a significant changes to the bankruptcy proposal, and could theoretically result in a massive restructuring of the utility, with a either a proposed takeover by bondholders, or a transition to a customer owned utility.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said on Friday that Pacific Gas & Electric’s restructuring plan did not comply with a state law, throwing up a new hurdle to the company’s effort to resolve its bankruptcy.

The move was not surprising given that Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, has criticized PG&E for starting devastating wildfires, not moving fast enough to resolve the claims of fire victims and not moving fast enough to improve its safety practices.

A law the California Legislature passed this year gave Mr. Newsom the authority to approve any restructuring plan PG&E submits to the United States Bankruptcy Court. Mr. Newsom’s letter indicates that the company will have to engage in further negotiations with the governor before it can end its bankruptcy and participate in a state wildfire fund.

“In my judgment, the Amended Plan and the restructuring transactions do not result in a reorganized company positioned to provide safe, reliable, and affordable service to its customers,” Mr. Newsom told PG&E in the letter.


PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January after amassing tens of billions of dollars in liability because of fires caused by its equipment. The fires included the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise.

To prevent more devastating wildfires, the utility intentionally cut power to millions of customers this fall. The move angered Californians and had prompted Mr. Newsom to demand that the company make far-reaching changes.


“PG&E’s board of directors and management have a responsibility to immediately develop a feasible plan,” Mr. Newsom said. “Anything else is irresponsible, a breach of fiduciary duties, and a clear violation of the public trust.”

My take is that anything that has current management tossed out on their ass without severance, bankruptcy invalidates their employment contracts, is a good thing, and if it ends up with some sort of publicly owned utility, it’s even better.

There Is Bad, and There Is Stupid, and Then There Is Pacific Gas & Electric

Even by the standards of for profit utilities, PG&E has an egregiously horrible safety and maintenance record.

Maybe it’s time to consider nationalizing the grid, because PG&E clearly has no interest in doing anything with an even remotely related to maintaining their infrastructure:

PG&E Corp. failed to adequately inspect and maintain its transmission lines for years before a faulty line started the deadliest fire in California history, a state investigation has found.

In a 700-page report detailing the problems that led the Caribou-Palermo transmission line to malfunction on Nov. 8, 2018, sparking the Camp Fire, investigators with the California Public Utilities Commission said they found systemic problems with how the company oversaw the safety of its oldest lines.

State fire investigators had previously determined that PG&E equipment started the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people, and the company hasn’t disputed the findings. But the new report goes well beyond earlier findings, alleging numerous serious violations of state rules for maintaining electric lines and specific problems with upkeep of the transmission line that started the fire.


“The identified shortcomings in PG&E’s inspection and maintenance of the incident tower were not isolated, but rather indicative of an overall pattern of inadequate inspection and maintenance of PG&E’s transmission facilities,” the report by the commission’s safety and enforcement division found.

Investigators also found that PG&E crews hadn’t climbed the tower that malfunctioned and sparked the Camp Fire since at least 2001, a violation of company policy requiring such inspections on towers that have recurring problems.

The whole f%$#ing company needs to be condemned as a public nuisance.

Clearly, the Solution is Not Enough Profit Motive

We now have a number to attach to the cluster-f%$# that is Pacific Gas & Electric’s malicious prioritization of profit over safety, 1,500 fires over the past 6 years.

They could have done the job right, but there are stock buybacks and dividends to be made:

Over the past week, the Kincade Fire has torn through nearly 78,000 acres of California wine country, forcing about 180,000 people to evacuate. At the same time, millions have gone without electricity, often for days at a time.

Hospitals scrambled to find refrigerators for medications, people bundled their children to keep them warm during cool nights, and seniors were left alone in the dark.

The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., is responsible for these blackouts and possibly for the fire itself.

About the same time the Kincade Fire ignited, a jumper cable broke on a PG&E transmission tower in the area, the company told state regulators on October 24. By the time PG&E personnel arrived, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, had taped the area off and identified the broken cable.

A problem with PG&E equipment was also the cause of the Camp Fire, a California state agency said, which killed at least 85 people last year and razed more than 18,800 structures. It was the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.

In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, the utility company’s equipment led to more than 1,500 fires from June 2014 to December 2017.


PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said Californians should expect these types of preemptive service interruptions for another 10 years.

“We recognize the hardship of not having electric service,” a PG&E representative told Business Insider in an email. “While we recognize that the scope of these events is unsustainable in the long term, it was the correct decision given the large-scale, historic weather events and ensuing equipment damage that unfolded across our service area.”

But many Californians say they should have never been forced into this choice: deadly fires or multiday blackouts. Instead, PG&E’s critics accuse the company of shirking safety precautions to funnel money toward investor dividends.

The Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik suggested PG&E might now be “the most detested, and detestable, corporation in California, if not in the observable solar system.”

Worse than Comcast?



After a PG&E pipeline exploded in 2010, killing eight people, state regulators started investigating the company. They found that PG&E had collected $224 million more than it was authorized to collect in oil and gas revenue in the decade before the explosion. At the same time, it spent millions less than it was supposed to on maintenance and generally fell short of industry safety standards.

“There was very much a focus on the bottom line over everything: ‘What are the earnings we can report this quarter?'” Mike Florio, who was a California utilities commissioner from 2011 to 2016, told The New York Times. “And things really got squeezed on the maintenance side.”

A 2017 report to state regulators highlighted PG&E’s lack of a comprehensive safety strategy, unclear communication about safety between management and field personnel, and tendency to take action only after a major disaster.

Anticipating the cost of billions of dollars in legal claims associated with the Camp Fire and other fires from 2017 and 2018, PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January.

PG&E is completely beyond redemption.

Regulators have the power to liquidate PG&E by refusing to sign off on their bankruptcy, which would wipe out the executives and investors who have benefited from their deliberate negligence.

Break it up, take it over, and throw the executives in jail.

Is Anyone Surprised by This?

Because I see the news that the Keystone Pipeline just had an oil spill of almost ½ million gallons to be profoundly unsurprising.

Trans Canada (or whatever the f%$# they are called these days) has a long history of spills and poor safety practices:

Approximately 383,000 gallons of crude oil have spilled into a North Dakota wetland this week in the latest leak from the Keystone Pipeline, further fueling long-standing opposition to plans for the pipeline network’s extension.

With about half an Olympic swimming pool’s worth of oil covering roughly half an acre, the leak is among the largest in the state, said Karl Rockeman, who directs the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality’s division of water quality. But the spill does not appear to pose an immediate threat to public health, he added, as people do not live nearby and the wetland is not a source of drinking water.

For environmental groups, though, the leak was further evidence that Canada-based pipeline owner TC Energy should not be allowed to build the controversial Keystone XL addition, which would stretch more than 1,000 miles from Alberta into the United States. The Trump administration approved the plan in 2017 after years of protests, but the project was blocked by a federal judge who called for further study on environmental impacts.

“With each one of these major spills that happens on the Keystone pipeline system, it becomes clearer and clearer that this is not safe,” said Doug Hayes, an attorney leading the Sierra Club’s work on Keystone XL. Critics worry about a similar mishap contaminating one of the hundreds of waterways along Keystone XL’s expected path, he said.

Gee, You Think?

It is time to begin thinking about public ownership of major utilities.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 27, 2019

After setting fire to much of the state, and now shutting down power to much of the state, in pursuit of profit numbers to justify excessive executive bonuses, Bernie Sanders is suggesting that it’s time to start to seriously consider a move to publicly owned utilities:

As two million Californians go without power in the midst of for-profit utility giant PG&E’s intentional and unprecedented blackout—which the company says is necessary to prevent more wildfires—Sen. Bernie Sanders said Sunday that “it is time to begin thinking about public ownership of major utilities” to prevent such catastrophic corporate mismanagement in the future.

Preach it, brother!

Utilities are by their nature monopolies, you cannot have transmission wires from a dozen competitors competing for pole space, and it is clear that they (particularly the execrable PG&E) have the extraction of monopoly rents to maximize executive bonuses as their core, and perhaps only, value.

That’s why they have consistently refused to engage in proper maintenance of their transmission facilities.

Bankruptcy Should Have Consequences

The Mayor of San Jose is proposing that PG&E’s bankruptcy should be resolved by turning it into a customer owned utility:

Frustrated by PG&E Corp.’s California blackouts and its existing options for exiting bankruptcy, the mayor of the state’s third-biggest city is proposing something radically different: turn the company into the nation’s largest customer-owned utility.

San Jose hopes to persuade other California cities and counties in coming weeks to line up behind the plan, which would strip PG&E of its status as an investor-owned company and turn it into a nonprofit electric-and-gas cooperative, Mayor Sam Liccardo said in an interview.

The buyout proposal by San Jose, the largest city served by PG&E with more than a million residents, amounts to a revolt by some of the utility’s roughly 16 million customers as PG&E struggles to keep the lights on and provide basic services while preventing its aging electric equipment from sparking wildfires.

Mr. Liccardo said the time has come for the people dependent on PG&E for essential services to propose a new direction. A cooperative, he said, would create a utility better able to meet customers’ needs because it would be owned by customers—and answerable to them.

“This is a crisis begging for a better solution than what PG&E customers see being considered today,” Mr. Liccardo said. He said recent power shut-offs initiated by the company were poorly handled, adding, “I’ve seen better organized riots.”


The buyout idea represents a dramatic twist in the debate over how PG&E can emerge from bankruptcy, compensate fire victims and address its many safety problems. It likely will face stiff opposition from PG&E, which in January filed for chapter 11 protection from an estimated $30 billion in wildfire-related liabilities. The company’s bondholders also will likely contest the idea after putting forward a rival reorganization plan that the bankruptcy court agreed to consider.

Instead of taking their proposal to the bankruptcy court weighing PG&E’s fate, proponents say public entities will likely take their case directly to the California Public Utilities Commission, which can veto a reorganization plan emerging from bankruptcy review if in its eyes it doesn’t serve the public interest.

PG&E has been so awful for so long, I really do not see an alternative to this.

As an aside, a bankruptcy might very well prevent them from opening their pocket book to bankroll a initiative petition campaign against any public ownership proposals.

And Yet Hickenlooper Literally Drank Fracking Fluid

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has released a long delayed study on the health impacts of fracking, and it’s pretty much as bad as anti-fracking activists have claimed:

A long-delayed public health study commissioned by Colorado regulators found that oil and gas drilling poses health risks at distances greater than current minimum “setback” distances, a development that is poised to send shockwaves through a regulatory environment already in a state of transition and uncertainty.

“Exposure to chemicals used in oil and gas development, such as benzene, may cause short-term negative health impacts…during ‘worst-case’ conditions,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a press release. “The study found that there is a possibility of negative health impacts at distances from 300 feet out to 2,000 feet.


State toxicologist Kristy Richardson said in a press conference Thursday afternoon that the results of the study are consistent with the health impacts that have been reported by Colorado residents near oil and gas sites in recent years.

I wonder how former Colorado Governor, and current Senate candidate, John Hickenlooper will justify poisoning his own constituents.