2010: A Precedent-Setting Year In the Fight Against Coal

From Raw Story: http://www.alternet.org/story/149339/2010%3A_a_precedent-setting_year_in_the_fight_against_coal_

By Joshua Frank

December 28, 2010

Who said environmentalism is dead? When it comes to coal, the movement is alive and well.

It was another tough year for the coal industry. In the last 25 months not one coal-fired power plant broke ground for construction in the United States. In 2010 alone a total of 38 proposed plants were erased from the drawing board, the most ever recorded in a single year. Utilities also announced 12,000 MW in coal plant retirements — or enough power to bring electricity to a whopping 12 million American households. And even Massey Energy’s infamous henchman Don Blankenship is set to retire, effective next month.

Indeed coal executives got what they deserved in their stockings this holiday season — big lumps of black coal. “I predict historians will point at 2010 as the year that coal’s influence peaked and began declining,” says Bruce Nilles, deputy conservation director of the Sierra Club, whose organization released a year-end report on coal in the U.S.

Nilles is correct; the coal boom out west looks to be over, as companies like Arch and Peabody scramble to figure out what to do with their vast reserves while U.S. markets begin to dwindle. The EPA has also not been as friendly to this portion of the energy sector as in years past, placing most coal permits for mountaintop removal on hold and even recommending a veto of the proposed Spruce Mine in West Virginia, which would be the largest of its kind in the country.

With the help of Rainforest Action Network and other grassroots activists, financing for new mining projects from the likes of PNC and UBS will prove difficult from now on. In 2010 both banks joined the growing number of lending institutions that are turning their backs on mountaintop removal ventures. During the first half of this year renewable energy projects also accounted for 93 percent of all proposed projects.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/149339/2010%3A_a_precedent-setting_year_in_the_fight_against_coal_

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Fmr. Shell president ‘predicting’ $5-a-gallon gas in 2012

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/fmr-shell-president-predicting-5agallon-gas-2012/

By David Edwards
Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 — 10:22 am

The former president of Shell Oil said he believes Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon a gas by 2012.

“I’m predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices,” John Hofmeister said in a recent interview with Platts Energy Week television.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service, agreed that Americans would see $5 a gallon gas but told CNN that he did not believe it would happen in 2012. “That wolf is out there and it’s going to be at the door…I agree with him that we’ll see those numbers at some point this decade but not yet.”

“The demand is still sluggish enough in some of the mature economies,” he said.

Hofmeister also predicted that demand would outstrip supply before the end of the decade.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/fmr-shell-president-predicting-5agallon-gas-2012/

The iron rule of being working class

True in the UK. True in the US, too. John Lennon said it all in “Working class Hero”.

There was a brief period that pretty much ended with Reagan and Thatcher when there was more social mobility, when there was a lull in the constant class war waged by the rich to keep working people in their places.

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/28/working-class-social-mobility-education

Lynsey Hanley

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Forget social mobility. Education and hard graft will only get you so far while jobs are insecure and the middle class looks after its own

On going to university in the mid-1990s I was exposed for the first time to the iron law of being middle class: once you’re in there, it’s almost impossible to fall out. Observing the people around me, and how their lives panned out, it appeared that you could do a huge amount of arsing around and still land on your feet: at school, on your gap year, at university, and for much of your 20s – until you finally decided, at the age of about 27, that it was time to shape up. You’d still be on £30,000 by the time you were 30.

Until then I’d only really known the iron law of being working class, which is that once you’re in there, it’s almost impossible to get out. You can arse around as much you like, but it’s not going to make much difference to your prospects if those are limited in the first place. You have to believe the future is worth working for, which is why, for most people, social mobility takes place in a context of relative security.

It’s virtually impossible to work your way “from the very bottom to the very top”, as David Cameron put it, in a single generation; that journey takes two or three generations, if it happens at all. One reason why the generation born around 1958 is the most socially mobile to date is that their parents had, for the first time in history, a work background of full employment, reasonable job security, and comparably high wages.


Yet those working-class 18-year-olds – and mature students in full- or part-time work – who are taking degrees are likely to be doing so at a new university or at a local college, where the connections that lead to secure middle-class jobs are fewer and more distant-seeming. What we have seen over the past 40 years is the concentration of privilege within an enlarged middle class. Most of the existing middle class had working-class grandparents; many had working- or lower-middle-class parents. You didn’t always need a degree to “get on”. A majority of those attending university now, and who are therefore more likely to get middle-class jobs, will already come from middle-class backgrounds.

Complete article at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/dec/28/working-class-social-mobility-education

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