More scrapped plans, retirements for U.S. plants in 2010 – Over the course of this year, more U.S. coal-fired power plants were tapped for retirement and more proposed plants were canceled than in 2009, according to an end-of-year report by the Sierra Club, which is fighting the continued use of coal. Data collected by the advocacy group show that 38 coal plant projects were dropped or delayed in 2010, up from 26 the year before and 27 in 2008. Meanwhile, power producers announced plans to retire 48 existing plants this year, four times as many as in 2009 and 12 times as many as in the year before that. The retirements announced this year would take 12,000 megawatts of coal-fired power off the grid — roughly 4 percent of the nation’s total coal-fired capacity and enough electricity to power about 6 million American homes.
Oil tops $90 for first time in more than two years – Crude oil rose to its highest closing price in more than two years today after government reports showed that U.S. supplies dropped and the country’s economy grew more than previously estimated in the third quarter. Stockpiles fell 5.33 million barrels to 340.7 million last week, the Energy Department said. A 3.4 million-barrel decline was forecast, according to the median of 14 responses in a Bloomberg News survey. The Commerce Department said gross domestic product expanded 2.6 percent in the third quarter, up from a previous estimate of 2.5 percent.
Big Oil Money Working to Rewrite History of Gulf Oil Disaster – Big polluters have spent years funding think tanks to give a veneer of credibility to their push for profit. I mean, if the CEO of Exxon Mobil comes out and says Congress should roll back the Clean Air Act, it would just rally people behind pollution limits. So instead, Exxon Mobil has given more than $2 million to the Competitive Enterprise Institute to say it for them. Now the polluter-funded think tank-media complex has a new target – whitewashing the Gulf oil disaster. Robert Nelson has an opinion piece made up to look like a news article in the Weekly Standard claiming the Gulf oil disaster caused little damage and calling anyone who would claim otherwise “secular equivalents to the devil.” Why would a public policy professor at the University of Maryland write something not just so wrong, but with such an angry, combative tone? A look at Nelson’s extracurricular activities reveals a web of connections to big polluters like Koch Industries & Exxon Mobil:
Spain’s Cuts to Solar Aid Draw Fire – A group of international investors has called on the Spanish government to reconsider plans to cut costly subsidies for solar power, saying they would cause a wave of defaults and more bad loans for Europe’s banks. Tom Murley, head of the renewable-energy team at U.K. private-equity firm HgCapital, said the changes represented a “breach of trust” that would increase regulatory uncertainty in the Spanish renewables industry.
Inside Job’s Charles Ferguson on the Corruption of Academic Economics – (video) Readers may have seen the movie Inside Job (if you haven’t, you really need to) or a clip from the movie that got quite a bit of attention on finance blogs, that of director Charles Ferguson grilling former Federal Reserve vice chairman Frederic Mishkin on some dubious work he did touting Iceland as a well run banking center not long before its implosion. The film’s director Charles Ferguson speaks with Rob Johnson, director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and former chief economist for the Senate Banking Committee and senior economist for the Senate Budget Committee. Enjoy!