Last week US Secretary of State John Kerry went to Indonesia and called Climate Change “perhaps the worlds most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” I’m happy that someone in his position has said such a thing, especially following President Obama’s declaration in January that Climate Change is not debatable, it’s a fact. I think the weather which is occurring demonstrates Climate Change is a real effect on the world, and the devastating consequences that are beginning to happen.
However, Kerry’s own State Department is taking actions that will worsen Climate Change.
The response to his speech drew criticism – such as Newt Gingrich calling on Kerry to resign. Perhaps the most damning is criticism from within the environmental community, such as this from the Earth Island Journal: Kerry’s Inconsistent and Incomplete Stance on Climate Change. That piece focuses solely on what the State Department is doing regarding the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would bring oil from the Tar Sands formations in Alberta Canada down to the Gulf Coast for refining and possible sales to foreign countries.
The problems with the State Department pushing for real action on Climate Change go much deeper than this, as I’ve been reporting on lately.
The State Department has a program, set up under the Obama Administration, the Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program (UGTEP), whose purpose is to promote fracking in countries around the world. “Unconventional Gas” comes from certain kinds of shale deposits, and requires Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) to unlock the gas from the rock.
As a result of that activity, Western Oil Companies like Shell and Chevron are entering many countries to do exploratory work in preparation of Fracking, or are already doing Fracking. The goal is to develop shale deposits around the world to extract natural gas from shale.
I’ve been focusing on fracking and shale gas in Romania and Ukraine, but this (as seen below) are spread all over the world. The powers-that-be have a map of all the shale deposits around the world, and are targeting each for fracking to release the natural gas so we all can continue the fossil fuel path.
Yesterday I found a document that’s part of the US State Department budget justifications for the 2014 Fiscal Year. It goes over all the Foreign Operations taken by the State Department, giving rationalizations meant to tell Congress why each of those operations deserve to exist. Specifically the document covers USAID, the arm of the State Department that channels American Aid to other countries.
In the Introduction, John Kerry (the same person who’s declared Climate Change a weapon of mass destruction) quotes VP Joe Biden saying “Don’t tell me what you value – show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.” In other words, the 2014 State Department budget for USAID demonstrates a value set that includes pushing to expand the exploitation of fossil fuel resources, specifically through fracking. Yes, USAID is funding lots of work on climate change and other environmental efforts, but USAID is also funding work on fracking.
I’m not going to make a complete analysis of this budget because the document is a couple hundred pages long. Instead let’s focus on a couple specific things ….
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) is supporting “improved energy sector governance and transparency, technical engagement to build awareness of the challenges involved in developing unconventional resources, and power sector reform and development to support the expansion of access to electricity” in countries around the world.
This is where the UGTEP gets its funding.
The office covers programs that are promoting fossil fuel exploration and exploitation around the world. This prioritization of fossil fuels directly contradicts the message Kerry spoke equating Climate Change with weapons of mass destruction.
The US Government is prioritizing fossil fuels over other possible energy sources.
Couldn’t the US Government be encouraging these countries to develop renewable energy resources? If Climate Change is a weapon of mass destruction, then isn’t the US Government throwing mass destruction at the countries listed below to whom this aid is being given?
In truth, the word “Climate” appears frequently in the 2014 USAID budget document, and demonstrates the State Department is funding many efforts related to Climate Change. Some of which is trying to accelerate adoption of renewable and clean energy technology.
For example, the Global Climate Initiative covers a lot of work focused on three pillars: Adaptation, Clean Energy, and Sustainable Landscapes. All of that is very good and necessary. But, the whole thing is undermined by this other effort to push fracking on fossil fuels on countries around the world.
Here’s the relevant section from the budget document.
Energy Governance and Capacity Initiative: EGCI is a Department of State-led interagency effort to provide a wide range of technical and capacity-building assistance that is requested by the host governments of countries with emerging or significantly expanding oil and gas sectors. EGCI’s core objective is to help these countries establish the capacity to manage their oil and gas sector resources responsibly. Although EGCI’s goals are country-specific in nature, the program tries broadly to ensure sound and transparent energy sector governance for the benefit of national economic and democratic development. The EGCI program supports a broad range of U.S. foreign policy objectives and is tightly coordinated with overall U.S. energy policy dialogues. EGCI assistance will complement other reform efforts (e.g., the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) and aims to coordinate with other donor programs to every extent possible. EGCI typically works in four areas of capacity-building: 1) technical – understanding the resource through the most appropriate technologies; 2) financial – responsibly managing revenues from the sector; 3) legal – embedding international best practices into laws and regulations; and 4) environmental – protecting people and the environment from sector impacts.
EGCI’s activities will engage Burma, Guyana, Liberia, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Suriname, Tanzania, and Uganda. EGCI may also potentially engage Kenya, as well as through regional workshops, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
U.S. assistance will provide legal and technical guidance to support the implementation of reforms and policies that will create sustainability in the energy sector as well as a commercial environment conducive to attracting responsible investment.
Activities will provide technical training in oil and gas resource identification, resource assessment methodology, and best practices related to geological/geophysical data analysis and management; financial management issues associated with energy development, including revenue forecasting and collection issues and budgeting processes; and best practices in environmental management, land use planning, and leasing.
U.S. assistance will support visits to oil and gas development sites to familiarize key officials with implementation of laws and regulations, and observation of licensing rounds and other transparent international best practices.
The United States will facilitate regional dialogues on trans-boundary energy issues, including effectively managing cross-border resources to avoid conflict and maximize benefit.
Unconventional Gas Technical Engagement Program: UGTEP is a U.S. Department of State-led interagency assistance program that seeks to engage with and inform participant countries of the myriad of environmental, regulatory, legal, and commercial challenges that need to be addressed in the pursuit of responsible and environmentally sustainable unconventional gas development. Due to what has been termed the “shale gas revolution” in the United States, the Department of State has encountered tremendous interest in and demand for best practices gleaned from “lessons learned” in the U.S. experience of unconventional gas exploration and production. Given the potential negative environmental, social, and economic consequences of mismanaging unconventional gas development, the Administration has made sharing said best practices an energy policy priority. UGTEP participant countries have expressed an interest in developing their unconventional gas resources, have the known presence of natural gas-bearing shale within their borders, and have identified market potential, appropriate business climates, and geopolitical synergies. The core objective of UGTEP is to increase global energy security and meet environmental objectives through responsible and safe unconventional natural gas development.
UGTEP’s activities and engagement currently focus on: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, and Ukraine. In FY 2014, OES expects the following additional countries to be engaged bilaterally or by regional workshops (potentially hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or South African Development Community, for example): Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burma, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Laos, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, and Vietnam. UGTEP engages with some of these countries at an exclusively diplomatic level (e.g., information sharing and other collaborative activities).
- U.S. assistance will support regional government-to-government workshops that seek to share U.S. and international best practices regarding unconventional resource development.
- Activities will include technical visits, briefings, and workshops by U.S. experts to work with officials from relevant ministries in partner countries on regulatory, legal, and environmental issues.
- FY 2014 funds will provide visitor programs to the United States by participant country government officials to observe first-hand the development of unconventional resources and community impacts.
- Programs will include workshops or seminars in cooperation with other countries that possess advanced experience in unconventional gas development (such as Australia, Canada, and Poland)
Power Sector Program (PSP): The FY2014 request also includes $7.0 million for the PSP through which ENR will be able to match diplomatic engagement in supporting broad sustained efforts to alleviate energy poverty, bring solvency to power sectors in key developing country partners through targeted reforms, ensure strong sector governance, promote energy security, and help to achieve climate change mitigation objectives. Efforts will include stimulating the flow of private capital into emerging power sector markets by strengthening regulatory and economic frameworks and supporting power links between countries.
The PSP will support the Connecting the Americas 2022 (Connect 2022) initiative, which commits the United States, Colombia, and other Western Hemisphere countries to expand electrical interconnections in order to increase access to reliable, clean, and affordable electricity for the region’s 31 million citizens without it. Launched by President Obama and Secretary Clinton at the April 2012 Summit of the Americas, Connect 2022 supports the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas.
Assistance in the hemisphere will target geothermal development and interconnection in St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, and Grenada; strengthen the regional energy market in Central America, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama; and promote renewable development and trade in Chile and Peru. ENR also is considering options to engage in conducting baseline power sector legal and regulatory work to alleviate energy access challenges in South and Southeast Asia and Africa. Work in South and Southeast Asia may include Burma, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. In Africa PSP will bolster the stability of the South African Power Pool (SAPP), which will contribute to the basis of a trans-continental electricity grid. The SAPP countries include operating members (Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia) and non-operating members (Angola, Malawi, and Tanzania).
- U.S.-funded programs will provide technical assistance and advisor support to develop innovative financial mechanisms and remove barriers to private sector investment in developing and deploying clean and alternative energy generation sources, improving energy efficiency, and deploying advanced transmission and distribution technologies.
- U.S. assistance will support technical visits workshops, and peer reviews by U.S. experts, including state public utility commissioners, to work with relevant foreign regulators, ministers, and system operators on revising regulatory, legal, and planning structures to further reforms and stimulate investment in the power sector.
- U.S.-funded legal, regulatory, and economic guidance will support the development of tender and bidding processes for power projects, including procedures and mechanisms that will attract the most optimal investment for the region while protecting the government’s resources and financial investment.
- Technical assistance and training by power sector experts will strengthen regulatory and planning organizations responsible for power sector management. Experts will discuss strategies and impart best practices for efficient management of national resources, the revenue that flows from those resources, and the potential investment in developing future resources.
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