August 28th, 2012
It’s hard to be a dog. Summer’s having a rough time, not emissions compliant, and most days, she can’t walk after sunset, some days, it’s earlier. Yesterday we took her to the chiropractor again, Moe Body Works on Lyndale, Dr. Moses Smith. I HIGHLY recommend her. The problem is that Summer is getting older and losing it, she’s 13.5 and that’s an OLD shep. Hundreds of years old. She was adjusted head to tail, and I heard some loud cracks. She did trot out, which is good, but she’s just not doing well, and her body is not working and there’s just not much to do for her — she’s on pee pills, getting adjusted, her tumor is gone thanks to Summer herself, but her belly is rounded with fluid, her legs are working less and less, she’s pretty much deaf, and her eyes are going. She still gets really worked up about her food and water, and yes, she is smiling almost all the time — that is a major criteria of dog happiness. Lately she’s spending most nights in her jail, which she doesn’t like, but she can’t do stairs late in the day. We’d gotten out the sling and are using that now and then, she needed it yesterday to get out and pee. This morning she was able to get herself up, with some trouble and some help, and she got out the door, but left a trail of poops. Today the baby gate gets installed at the bottom of the stairs so she stays downstairs, which she isn’t going to like because she spends her day at my feet under the desk. And it’s worse for me than it is for her, it’s hard to see her decline.
And then Kady, the cruise control middle dog, had a mishap and yanked her toenail out, most but not all the way, and it hurt like hell, she was hopping around in the grass, anywhere where the toenail would touch (hard floors, cement, that was OK, just limping), and bleeding all over, little toe prints:
So after the chiro in Minneapolis, then we headed down to Kenyon Vet Clinic, where she got the Michael Jackson propofol treatment and got her toenail yanked. She was out for a while, and had that cross-eyed smiley utterly wasted look for a while. Kady Kate’s not moonwalking today, back to normal.
Dogs took all day yesterday!
And our Little Sadie is just fine, whew!
August 23rd, 2012
FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m a bumper-sticker carrying member of Dogs Against Romney.
A link to Romney’s Energy Plan, “The Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class: ENERGY INDEPENDENCE,” showed up in the inbox today, so I printed it out, got out the highlighter… but I was SO disappointed, there’s hardly anything in it, about half of it is quotes and links from news articles. For the most part, this is about oil. OIL, not ENERGY. Oil is only one piece of our energy use and needs. That’s not a plan. It looks like something written by a campaign intern not yet graduated. The structure is a heading, a few bullet points, and a narrative paragraph, followed by the news articles. But the good news for me this morning is it left much less to read, highlight and critique!
T. Boone Pickens apparently doesn’t like it:
Pickens got an early look at the outline for the 21-page Romney plan, which will be introduced during a speech in Hobbs, N.M. Thursday.
“I was disappointed that he didn’t mention natural gas,” Pickens said, referring to the Romney plan. “The United States has more natural gas than any other country in the world…I cannot believe an energy plan that I saw, and I know I saw the outline, but there was no mention of natural gas.”
But TBP, it DOES mention natural gas, often, do a search (but there’s not much of substance about it, or anything else).
Let’s take a look. The first sentence is where I start having problems with it:
A crucial component of Mitt Romney’s Plan for a Stronger Middle Class is to dramatically increase domestic energy production and partner closely with Canada and Mexico to achieve North American energy independence by 2020.
So he’s talking “North America” and more importantly, INCREASE energy production. I would guess that “partner closely with Canada and Mexico” means to take their oil. There’s also a focus on “lower energy prices” which is not going to do anything but create more energy dependence through increased use and reliance on a cheap, illusory “plentiful” supply.
The focus on this “plan” is oil, and increasing domestic production. There is not a word about decreasing non-domestic imports.
Back to the “plan” area by area, all 9 sections, 31 bullet points and 16 paragraphs (not much of substance):
- An Achievable Goal: Energy Independence by 2020. (there’s ONE paragraph) It’s not US Energy Independence, it’s using Canadian and Mexican oil. And it’s about open access — I don’t see anything about the impacts of the ND oil rush, the gas rush in PA, NY and subsequent waste injections in Ohio and elsewhere, destruction of the aquifers and exploding wells and flammeable tap water nothing.
- The Result: The Emergence of an Energy Superpower. (here we get TWO paragraphs) This section makes claims of over 3 million jobs, $500 billion addition to GDP, reduced trade deficit, $1 trillion in revenue for federal state, and local governments, lower energy prices for “job creators and middle-class families,” and national security because we’re not beholden to unstable but oil-rich regions. What I want to see are the assumptions, how much of what has to be extracted to achieve this, show me the numbers. I also want to see numbers on use of federal lands, OUR lands, not oil company lands.
- The Result: Resurgence in American Manufacturing. (here we’re back to ONE paragraph). Stresses that manufacturers will benefit by lower energy and feedstock prices. ??? Most manufacturers use electricity, not oil, to power their operations. What are these assumptions based on? One article cited is about a steel plant opening up in Youngstown, Ohio, with 350 jobs making seamless pipes for fracking, the same fracking that has been pumping in fracking waste near Youngstown and causing earthquakes in the area. Is this a reasonable tradeoff? Steel plant and 350 jobs for waste and earthquakes? Has anyone checked the aquifer lately?
- The Romney Agenda: Federal Lands. (WOO-HOO, TWO paragraphs here). Yes, let’s talk about federal lands. State jurisdiction over federal lands within a state? State regulatory process “deemed to satisfy all requirements of federal law” ???? It pushes “STRONGER” and “IOGCC” and if you google “STRONGER” nada, have to get to “State Review of Natural Gas Environmental Regulation” to have it come up. Look at the formation of “STRONGER.” And IOGCC — I come up with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission in Oklahoma, and a big focus of theirs is CO2 Capture and Storage and we know what a scam that is. The narrative brags that “The state of North Dakota can permit a project in 10 days, Colorado does it in twenty-seven.” The articles cited notes that “In Ohio, it takes 14 days.” In talking about ramping up use of federal lands, there is no recognition in his “We Built It” mindset that this is about exploitation of FEDERAL lands, OUR land, blatant corporate welfare. Corporate welfare? Well, what else would you call it where Peabody buys for $0.25/ton and sells for $80-100/ton export? No, Peabody, you’re not building it, you’re stealing it from us.
- The Romney Agenda: Offshore Areas. (here we get TWO paragraphs again). There is no mention of the BP spill and its impact on feasibility and reasonableness of offshore drilling. Oh, and COST, because the cost of spills needs to be in that cost/benefit analysis. And again, whose land is this, who owns the oceans? Not the oil companies. Romney is all for “opening greater access and streamlining permitting…” and we know what that means.
- The Romney Agenda: North America. (here we get another TWO paragraphs) This is about Canada and Mexico, the XL pipeline, objecting to Canada exporting it, without mention of intent of exporting much of that oil from U.S. if it got down to the Gulf in the pipeline. Romney says it outright, at the top, “Approve the Keystone XL pipeline.” It also bullet-points “Institute fast track regulatory approval processes for cross-border pipelines and other infrastructure.” Pipelines and transmission, probably under the Dept. of State as with XL pipeline. The “plan” claims that Canada and Mexico are wanting partnership and collaboration, and that if we do that, “…America can guarantee itself a reliable and affordable supply of energy while also opening up new opportunities for American businesses and workers in the region.” Region — opening up new opportunities for American busniesses and workers in Mexico and Canada. Oh… right..
- The Romney Agenda: Resource Evaluations. (here we get another TWO paragraphs) This section is about assessment and inventory. Offshore resource exploration it seems would be encouraged and maybe performed by the feds and extraction of Canada and Mexico’s resource information as well. Note the references to “seismic” on this page. Messing with the earth creates seismic impacts, as evidenced in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Ohio related to fracking and waste injection. (Oh, and I’ve not seen waste mentioned anywhere here, BIG issue.)
- The Romney Agenda: Regulatory Reform. (here we get yet another TWO paragraphs). This is more of the strengthen environmental protection through gutting regulation, the angle I find SO offensive. Gutting regulation guts jobs, and regulation creates jobs both for industry and regulators! And the projects typically get permitted and get built. What are they complaining about? The MPCA doesn’t even look at expired permits, only new ones, because they don’t have the staff or budget, and because they haven’t been directed to by their boss, the Governor. But more importantly, without environmental review and regulation, we’d have more really stupid projects than we’d otherwise have. In Minnesota, MPCA is responsible for federal review delegated to the state, yet how often do they deny a permit? The PUC is responsible for need determinations and routing/siting permits, and the only projects they’ve denied have been vaporware projects that don’t have a PPA or a project to speak of. Without Minnesota environmental review and regulation, we’d have vaporware Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project on the Range, we’d have Kenyon and Goodhue wind projects here in Goodhue County, and we’d have the utterly unnecessary Big Stone II coal plant up and running. From what I can see, the PUC has never met a transmission line it didn’t like. Romney has accused Obama of bankrupting the coal industry, but Obama has been a friend of coal, promoter of IGCC, he’s from a coal state and is in the pockets of coal lobbyists. EH? The “plan” goes on: “But statutes and regulations that were designed to protect public health and the environment have instead been seized on by environmentalists as tools to stop development altogether.” OK, tell me what projects were stopped by “environmentalists” and tell me what projects were stopped because by regulatory agencies because they’d violate regulatory provisions? I’ve been looking at this in association with Dayton’s “review of environmental review” and note that the MPCA only rarely denies a permit, but permits expire and the plants spewing pollution are allowed to continue operating without a renewal application or any review! There is no pattern of delay in issuing permits. Romney, show me the data! He wants disclosure of “federal funds spent reimbursing groups for lawsuits against the government.” DUH, where anyone sues the government for flagrant violations of federal law, and where fees and costs are paid as part of the win, that is public information, just look at the settlements! How else would federal law be enforced? They’ve gutted the agency budgets and they’re not doing review, so it’s up to the citizens. Romney says that “laws should be carefully crafted to support rather than impede development.” It is not an agency’s job to SUPPORT development, it is their job to impartially review permits, conduct analysis. What Romney is promoting is the MN Dept. of Commerce style of regulation, where according to PUC Commissioners, it looks like Commerce is representing the project applicant. “Repetitive reviews and strategic lawsuits should not be allowed to endlessly delay progress or force government into imposing rules behind closed doors that it would not approve in public.” Examples please, because I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about! An article cited states that “individuals have accounted for just 7% of Plaintiff cases filed under the EAJA while Environmental Groups have accounted for 30%. First, what’s the other 63%? Second, is it the Romney position that Environmental Groups are suing too often? That individuals should sue the government more? How would we do that? Please let me know, I’d be happy to comply!
- The Romney Agenda: Innovation. (and we get another two paragraphs). “The federal government has a role to play in facilitating innovation in the energy industry.” Please explain. Isn’t it the Romney position that government should not insert itself into business? “Instead of distorting the playing field, the government should be ensuring that it remains level.” Level? When has it been level? “… success should be defined as eliminating any abrriers that might prevent the best technologies from succeeding on their own.” This is straight out of the Wind on the Wires playbook, always looking to eliminate barriers, particularly to transmission (she says, admittedly a barrier to transmission herself!). Are they looking at cutting 1703(d) coal perks anytime soon? See the “End Polluter Welfare Act of 2012” for specific examples of coal perks (GO Bernie!). And last but not least, last but everlasting, Romney is promoting nuclear power, to “revitalize nuclear power by equipping the NRC to approve new designs and to license approve reactor designs on approved sites within two years.” Even Xcel admits it has no desire to build a nuclear power plant. And new plants are not needed, there is a glut of electricity that is leading utilities to close down their smaller dirty coal plants and recently, even some larger ones. So why would he promote nuclear after Fukushima Dai-ichi? Our Monticello plant is the same design. Earth to Mars…
August 20th, 2012
John Hoff, a/k/a Johnny Northside, just won in a big way, and it’s a case that gives me hope.
It’s about freedom of speech, it’s about defamation, and it’s about tortious interference with a contract. Johnny Northside is loved and hated, worshipped and vilified by many people I know. It seems he’s one of those people who are a royal pain in the ass but are usually right, and in this case, he had the facts right, and he can’t and shouldn’t be held liable, so the Appellate Court said. $50 this goes to the Supremes, of Minnesota, that is.
Hoff’s blog post is the kind of speech that the First Amendment is designed to protect. He was publishing information about a public figure that he believed was true (and that the jury determined was not false) and that involved an issue of public concern. See Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc., 472 U.S. 749, 759, 105 S. Ct. 2939, 2945 (1985) (noting that “speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values” (quotation omitted)). Attaching liability to this speech would infringe on Hoff’s First Amendment rights.
First the Syllabus and then the bottom line:
2. When speech protected by the First Amendment is intertwined with allegedly tortious conduct, courts must carefully and explicitly delineate the tortious conduct on which liability is based so as not to infringe on a defendant’s constitutional rights. When there is no practical way to separate the tortious conduct from the protected speech, there is no liability as a matter of law.
Because a tortious-interference claim cannot be based upon true information and because the record does not contain sufficient evidence of conduct separate and distinct from Hoff’s constitutionally protected speech to sustain the verdict, we conclude that the district court erred by denying Hoff’s motion for JMOL. We therefore reverse and remand for the district court to enter judgment for Hoff.
Check out his blog here:
August 18th, 2012
There are days when life in the U.S.A. really pisses me off, and yesterday was one of them. We are, what, the ONLY developed country without available, accessible health care ready and waiting for its population? My dogs get better health care than I do, and I will be damned if I will give some HEALTH INSURANCE company my hard-earned money when what I need is HEALTH CARE. And I can’t call the vet for me. Thanks to Dog for the Red Wing Care Clinic, which I give a chunk to each time I go. Even without considering my parent’s veterans benefits (both were in WWII), they were covered well by Medicare and $102/month for Part B coverage. I’m counting the days until I’m 65, and can get Medicare and reasonably priced supplemental care coverage.
When these idiots are talking about dismantling Medicare, THAT gets my blood pressure up, HOW DARE THEY. “PRIVATIZE!” Privatize Medicare, privatize Social Security — privatize my fat my ass… The point is clear, they’re aiming to eliminate the surplus population with their draconian policies. Over my dead body! Oh, right, that’s exactly it…
Anyway, joys of self-employment and our damned “insurance” system… I had a cracked tooth, it started ages ago, and what little was left of it started screaming and I just couldn’t take it any longer:
OMD, what a relief… much better… much much better!!!
August 14th, 2012
Xcel Energy’s 2Q report came out almost two weeks ago (where DOES the time go?!?!), and one part stuck out:
I think the strongest sales that we are seeing are at SPS, based upon the energy related businesses they had down there. We are also seeing on the C&I sides, some pretty good pick up in Wisconsin. Again, that’s energy-related, but in this case, it’s more sand mining, which has really become quite the business in that part of Wisconsin.
This came from their transcript, on Seeking Alpha, linked above. So who is looking at the impacts of frac sand mining on energy use, sales and peak demand?
The earnings call and other info is available on Xcel’s Investor site at www.xcelenergy.com. CLICK HERE FOR THEIR INVESTOR RELATIONS PAGE (may need to agree to their “Safe Harbor Statement” to get here) Xcel’s demand isn’t anything to write home about, this from their 8/2/2012 Xcel Energy Second Quarter 2012 Earnings Report:
And from the SEC:
And in this filing, an amazing tidbit that I’d not noticed before — Firm Transmission Rights are regarded as COMMODITY DERIVATIVES:
Commodity derivatives — The methods used to measure the fair value of commodity derivative forwards and options utilize forward prices and volatilities, as well as pricing adjustments for specific delivery locations, and are generally assigned a Level 2. When contractual settlements extend to periods beyond those readily observable on active exchanges or quoted by brokers, the significance of the use of less observable forecasts of long-term forward prices and volatilities on a valuation is evaluated, and may result in Level 3 classification.
Electric commodity derivatives held by NSP-Minnesota include financial transmission rights (FTRs) purchased from Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (MISO). FTRs purchased from MISO are financial instruments that entitle the holder to one year of monthly revenues or charges based on transmission congestion across a given transmission path. The value of an FTR is derived from, and designed to offset, the cost of that energy congestion, which is caused by overall transmission load and other transmission constraints. Congestion is also influenced by the operating schedules of power plants and the consumption of electricity pertinent to a given transmission path. Unplanned plant outages, scheduled plant maintenance, changes in the relative costs of fuels used in generation, weather and overall changes in demand for electricity can each impact the operating schedules of the power plants on the transmission grid and the value of an FTR. NSP-Minnesota’s valuation process for FTRs utilizes complex iterative modeling to predict the impacts of forecasted changes in these drivers of transmission system congestion on the historical pricing of FTR purchases.
If forecasted costs of electric transmission congestion increase or decrease for a given FTR path, the value of that particular FTR instrument will likewise increase or decrease. Given the limited observability of management’s forecasts for several of the inputs to this complex valuation model – including expected plant operating schedules and retail and wholesale demand, fair value measurements for FTRs have been assigned a Level 3. Monthly FTR settlements are included in the fuel clause adjustment, and therefore changes in the fair value of the yet to be settled portions of FTRs are deferred as a regulatory asset or liability. Given this regulatory treatment and the limited magnitude of NSP-Minnesota’s FTRs relative to its electric utility operations, the numerous unobservable quantitative inputs to the complex model used for valuation of FTRs are insignificant to the consolidated financial statements of Xcel Energy.
“Financial Transmission Rights” which “entitle the holder to one year of monthly revenues or charges based on transmission congestion across a given transmission path.” SAY WHAT?!?!?!
Now please, correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t “derivatives” in a tanking market what got Xcel’s NRG into bankruptcy?