Showing posts with label Gas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gas. Show all posts

March 22, 2014

Gas Lobby Using the Crimea to Push Bad Policy and Up Gas Prices

                                                                       
A small group of pundits and politicians with close ties to the fossil fuel industry are using the crisis in Crimea to demand that the United States promote natural gas exports as a quick fix for the volatile situation. But such a solution, experts say, would cost billions of dollars, require years of development, and would not significantly impact the international price of gas or Russia’s role as a major supplier for the region. Rather, the move would simplyincrease gas prices for American consumers while enriching companies involved in the liquified natural gas (LNG) trade.
On Capitol Hill, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) was among the first to use the crisis in Ukraine to demand that the Department of Energy speed up the approval process for new LNG terminals. “Now is the time to send the signal to our global allies that US natural gas will be an available and viable alternative to their energy needs,” said Upton in a statement. As we’ve reported, Upton’s committee is managed in part by Tom Hassenboehler, a former lobbyist who joined Upton’s staff last year after working for America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the primary trade group pushing to expand natural gas development and LNG exports.
Paul Bledsoe, in an opinion column for Reuters, wrote that the United States should expedite natural gas exports to “bolster transatlantic solidarity and help to form a united US-EU response to Russian intervention in Crimea.” He was identified in the piece as a member of the “White House Climate Change Task Force under President Clinton.” What wasn’t disclosed, however, is that Bledsoe is an official with a pro–fossil fuels think tank called the Bipartisan Policy Center, which is funded by the American Gas Association and energy companies with a financial stake in promoting the natural gas industry. (Although he’s not listed on the website, a representative with BPC told Republic Report that Bledsoe continues to work there.)
Groups created and funded by Charles Koch, chief executive of Koch Industries, have also demanded that America should respond to the crisis in Crimea with LNG exports. “A serious President would also fast-forward permits on new liquefied natural gas terminals that could ship to Europe,” claims a column posted by Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-run advocacy group. A similar argument is advanced by the Koch-founded Cato Institute.
What’s left undisclosed, however, is the huge financial stake in the debate for Koch Industries. A brochure for the company shows that Koch has deeply expanded its footprint into the natural gas market, and is now actively engaged in shipping, sourcing and marketing LNG, in addition to becoming a leader in developing financial instruments related to natural gas. “To complement existing North American activities from Houston and to optimize their global portfolio, KS&T companies are expanding a Europe-wide natural gas business from Geneva and an LNG trading business from offices in Houston and London,” reads thedocument. Further, Koch federal lobbying disclosures show that the firm has pushed a bill to expedite LNG exports from America to NATO countries. 
In perhaps the most ironic twist of this public debate around how to respond to Russia’s incursion into Crimea, American lobbyists with ties to Russia are calling for a solution that would not only shield Russian gas oligarchs, but enrich them. The National Association of Manufacturers has opposed tough sanctions on Russia. Instead, NAM has used the crisis in Ukraine to “urge speedier approval of liquified natural gas exports, arguing that the move would weaken Vladimir Putin’s control over Europe’s energy supply.” NAM’s chief lobbyist Jay Timmons told Politico that an LNG-export response would “send a strong signal to the Russian Federation, our NATO allies, our trading partners and the rest of the world that energy exports matter and are a critical tool of American foreign policy.”
What Timmons did not mention is that ExxonMobil is a leading member of his trade association, and that ExxonMobil has extensive ties to Russian gas giants, including partnerships to develop natural gas in the United States and around the world. (For more on the business ties, see Kert Davies and Steve Horn’s recent reporting on the Putin-sanctioned alliance between ExxonMobil and Russian state–owned oil and gas giant Rosneft.) In short, Timmons’s strong signal to Russia would help Russian gas businesses.
This post was originally published at RepublicReport.org
Lee Fang

Lee Fang


October 27, 2013

Barharain Says “We Use Gas on Protesters Appropriately”

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  • AFP - Getty Images
  • A Bahraini Shiite Muslim throws a teargas canister that had been fired by riot police during clashes following a demonstration in April in his file photo.

  • DUBAI - Bahrain has defended its use of tear gas after rights groups criticized the Gulf kingdom's reported plans to buy 1.6 million canisters of the material.
  • Local and international rights groups have accused the authorities of using tear gas excessively and of firing canisters directly at protesters or into cars and houses where they can cause serious injuries.
  • "Tear gas is non-lethal and it is used appropriately by the police, in compliance with the law and in full adherence with the internationally accepted standards contained in the Bahrain police code of conduct," the government spokesman's office said in an email to Reuters.
  • The tiny island state has been in political upheaval since February 2011, when mass protests led by the mostly Shi'ite Muslim opposition were crushed by the Sunni monarchy.

  •  
  • The government statement was made in response to a Reuters query about a leaked document published by Bahrain Watch, an advocacy group, which appeared to be a tender to supply the Interior Ministry with tear gas canisters and stun grenades.
  • The U.S. government has banned the export of tear gas to Bahrain.
  • "Bahrain's police forces are using less force than is legally permitted," the statement said.
  • It did not specifically address the issue of the reported tear gas tender, but did say that protesters' practices of setting fire to car tires and throwing petrol bombs were more dangerous than the authorities' use of teargas.
  • It said more than 2,300 police personnel had been injured and nine killed since the protests began 2-1/2 years ago.
  • An international inquiry in November 2011 found that 35 people had died during Bahrain's uprising, most of whom were protesters but also including five security personnel. The opposition puts the death toll at more than 80.
  • The U.S.-based Human Rights First (HRF) advocacy group earlier this month urged Washington to speak out against the planned tear gas shipment.
  • According to Bahrain Watch, the leaked document came in the form of a tender issued by the Interior Ministry's Purchasing Directorate. It invited arms manufacturers to supply the ministry with "tear gas cartridges and sound grenades."
  • In March 2012, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the use of tear gas had led to a number of deaths of protesters and bystanders in Bahrain.
  • Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), a U.S.-based group that campaigns for medical staff working in crisis zones, said in August 2012 that the Bahraini government uses tear gas indiscriminately, causing severe injuries to some civilians.

  • By Mahmoud Habboush, Reuters

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