Daily Archives: May 9, 2020

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash on Why Hed Run for President as a Libertarian and the Culture of the GOP – TIME

Posted: May 9, 2020 at 12:46 pm

Rep. Justin Amash announced April 28 that he was launching an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian Partys presidential nomination.

There had long been buzz about a potential presidential run around Amash, who last year left the Republican party and became an Independent member of Congress (a spokesperson for Amash says he is now officially a Libertarian member of Congress). Though hes been critical of Trump and the Republican party, Amash says his main argument is broader: He believes the country is locked in what hes repeatedly called a partisan death spiral in which representative government is broken.

Amash, who says he will not seek reelection to his current House seat, spoke with TIME via Skype from his home in Michigan on May 3, where he discussed the state of the current Republican party, how he believes campaigning virtually levels the playing field, and why he thinks he has a pathway to the nomination.

Below is a lightly edited, condensed transcript of the interview.

As a presidential candidate, what would the core idea of your campaign be?

The core idea is liberty and representative government. And what we have right now in Washington is a very broken system. What happens right now too often is a few leaders in Congress negotiate with the White House, and they decide everything for everyone. And this leads to a lot of frustration and a lot of partisanship because when Congress cant deliberate actual policies, when you have most members of Congress left out of the process, then they start to debate personalities.

Why are you dipping your toes into this with an exploratory committee instead of just outright running?

Im new to the Libertarian Party, and Im seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party. I want to be respectful of all the delegates, I want to be respectful of the people who have been a part of that party for a long time. And Im starting it as an exploratory committee so that I can try to earn the nomination, and if Im able to get further along and obtain the nomination, then we can talk about changing it to a full committee.

Do you have a deadline then when it comes to deciding whether you will actually run versus exploratory?

I dont have a specific deadline in mind. I think as this goes on, well have a better idea of where we stand with the delegates. And there may come a point where I feel more comfortable moving forward concretely and saying, yes, Im in 100%, Im going all the way. But right now I want to make sure Im being respectful of the delegates and working to earn their trust. And Im going to continue to work to do that over the next few weeks.

Why now, when its so late in the election cycle, and in the middle of a pandemic?

Well for one thing, I think its important to think about the fact that the election cycles have been getting longer. Theyre starting early in the year before the election, and we dont need that much campaigning going on for a presidency, otherwise these things are just nonstop, around-the-clock, and people get really tired of it. But actually, at the beginning of this year, in February, I started to look at it very carefully, and wanted to consider whether I would be a candidate, and I would have made a decision earlier, but then we had the coronavirus pandemic come up, and I had to make the decision, the right decision, I believe, to delay the final judgement of whether Im going to jump in or not, because I want to be able to represent my constituents during this time, I wanted to make sure Im in top of what was going on in Congress, and I wanted to reassess how a pandemic situation where were all stuck at home would affect the campaign.

Is it still possible to advance the things you want to talk about as a third-party candidate?

It is possible to do that, and the way Im going to do that is by getting my message out there. And if I do that, I feel confident that people will see that among the three candidates, the one running as a Libertarian Party nominee right now, or seeking the Libertarian Party nomination, is the one who will be the most compelling and qualified candidate of the three.

Do you think your presence in the race will help or hurt either candidate?

I think it hurts both candidates. The goal is to win, so you obviously want to take votes from both candidates. Theres a huge pool of voters who arent represented by either of the parties, and a lot of times, they just stay home or they settle for one of the two parties, but they would be happy to vote for someone else if they felt there was another candidate that was compelling.

Have you thought about whether youd vote for Biden or Trump?

I would not vote for Biden or Trump. Getting rid of Donald Trump does not fix the problems because Donald Trump is just a symptom of the problems. The problems will still exist with Joe Biden in the White House.

Is there anything that your friends in the Republican Party could do to redeem themselves now in your eyes?

I dont think that theres any way to pull them back from where they are. The culture of Donald Trump that has become dominant in the Republican Party is not going away anytime soon. Its probably here for at least a decade. Its a very different tone; its a very different style. Theres not much focus on principles anymore, its a focus on personality.

What makes you think that theres a viable path for you?

When you think about whether Republicans are firmly behind Trump, yes, theyre firmly behind Trump because they dont see an alternative. And they view the alternative right now as Joe Biden, and thats not a viable alternative for most Republicans. So there is a path for a third candidate to receive votes from Republicans.

Michigan has been in the news recently for the protests against the governors coronavirus policies. Can I ask what you made of them?

I support people protesting. I support their right to protest. I think people are very upset in Michigan about much of the overreach. I do condemn and denounce things like using Nazi flags or Nazi symbols at protests. Or coming into the state capitol holding weapons in a way that might be intimidating to many people.

What about the protests where folks havent been adhering to socialdistancing practices?

It shouldnt happen where people dont keep away from each other by at least 6 ft. I mean, were hearing from doctors and epidemiologists and others. We should adhere to those guidelines.

What was the decision not to run for reelection like?

It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I think its important to focus on one race at a time, and this is the race Im focused on. Ultimately I decided that even though I can win reelection as an independent, I wasnt sure it would make the same kind of difference to our system as running a presidential campaign and winning that campaign. If you win as an independent, some people might just write it off to some oddity of the third district of Michigan, saying, well in that district, an independent can win, but it wont work anywhere else. If you win the presidency as a Libertarian, you have a chance to really upset the system in a way that can restore our constitutional process and our representative government, and to me that is the more important thing.

Whats it like being home and deciding whether you want to run for President under these circumstances?

Its a different kind of campaign, but its one that actually may work to my benefit. If we were running a normal campaign, I obviously dont have the name ID yet to go out and hold massive rallies or any of those kinds of things, like the President might, or maybe Joe Biden might. So were at a point where we can compete with the other candidates through video and through technology, and I have an advantage in that, maybe, as a younger candidate, going out there and getting my message out on social media and elsewhere.

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Write to Lissandra Villa at lissandra.villa@time.com.

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Governments Have Screwed Up Mask Purchase and Distribution. Maybe Everyone Should Be a Libertarian in a Pandemic. – Reason

Posted: at 12:46 pm

The government has not been an efficient or competent dispenser of the masks so vital to protecting health care workers and patients from COVID-19.

As of mid-April, The Wall Street Journal reports, the federal government had for whatever reason dedicated millions in contracts, involving at least 80 percent of the 20 million N95 masks it was trying to procure, from "suppliers that either had never done business with the federal government or had only taken on small prior contracts that didn't include medical supplies." Predictably, some of those vendors"missed delivery deadlines or have backed out because of supply problems. The parent company of one supplier is in bankruptcy and its owners have been accused of fraud in lawsuits by multiple business partners."

One contractor, who usually works in hospital renovation for the government, told the Journal he just figured he'd be able to find the masks somehow through suppliers he typically worked with. After he agreed to a $5.5 million contract, the paper says, he was "stymied by sellers that don't really have high-quality masks or who jack up the price."

At least one would-be contractor has now been nabbed for fraud on such a mask deal.

ProPublicatagged along with what theJournalcalled the "largest N95 mask contract given out by the VA [Veterans Administration], for an initial $35.4 million." The company, Federal Government Experts, "agreed to provide the VA six million masks for $5.90 apiece by April 25, with potential for another five million masks at the same price at a later date, for a total of $64.9 million, according to federal contracting data."

It didn't work out. As Robert Stewartthe boss at Federal Government Expertswondered to the ProPublica reporter himself, "Awarding a $34.5 million contract to a small company without any supply chain experience.Why would you do that?"

Stewart let that reporter tag along on fruitless (and expensive) private jet rides (including picking up what Stewart hoped would be his proud parents) on his way to cities where he didn't know he'd find any masks, and in general to witness him get jerked around by other unreliable potential sources for the masks he promised to deliver.

The fiasco ended with no masks deliveredbut at least, according to the VA, no money paid either. (This contract paid only on delivery.) Despite months of scrambling, the Veterans Administration was not prepared to keep its hospitals equipped with masks. As of now over 2,000 V.A. employees have tested positive.

Stewart's absurd deal is only the tip of the iceberg in questionable procurement practices. ProPublica notes that the administration "has handed out at least $5.1 billion in no-bid contracts to address the pandemic."

The feds aren't the only ones making bad mask decisions. California is currently trying to get a refund on a $456.9 million wire transfer it sent as a down payment on a $600 million contract for 110 million N95 masks. It paid the money to a firm called Blue Flame Medical, which, The Wall Street Journalinforms us, was "founded days earlier by former Republican fundraiser Mike Gula.Blue Flame struck a flurry of deals with states looking for medical supplies in late March and the first weeks of April, most of which have unraveled." Maryland and Alabama are also cancelling orders with the company, having decided that they are unlikely to be fulfilled.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Timesreports that Gov. Gavin Newsom of California is refusing "to reveal the contents of a $990-million contract for purchasing protective masks from a Chinese electric car manufacturer." All the state would cough up was that they committed to buying 200 million masks a month for two months, of which 150 million were N95, but "all other details, including the price paid per mask, have been kept confidential." Even the state's legislators are being blocked from learning details of the deal. Such secrecy is not comforting when such enormous amounts of public funds are being spent.

When it does have the masks, the government hasn't been a great or intelligent caretaker or distributor of them. The Transportation Security Agency decided to hoard more than 1.3 million N95 respirator masks (which it received from Customs and Border Protection) rather than distribute them to hospitals or agencies or people who might lack themeven, as ProPublica reported, "as the number of people coming through U.S. airports dropped by 95% and the TSA instructed many employees to stay home to avoid being infected."

Other wasteful, clumsy, or even macabre stories have arisen from government attempts to help with or procure medical equipment. In Seattle, the county Public Health Department sent a Native American community health board body bags instead of requested medical supplies.

Before COVID-19 hit, certain pundits were promoting "state capacity libertarianism"the idea that it is silly to focus on how much government spends or taxes, or the ways it dictates how people live, buy, sell, or behave, or the breadth and width of tasks it takes upon itself: What's important, this argument holds, is how effective and smart government is at doing what it tries to do.

The idea was, at best, an attempt to turn libertarian energies toward making government better at what it does. But these not-at-all-shocking snafus show no obvious way the concept could help, other than hand-waving calls to have better people making better decisions.

Mask procurement is not going awry because government lacks the capacity to do anything. They have plenty of money, essentially as much as they want to have, and they have plenty of staff. It's not because they don't have professional experts and bureaucrats trying to manage things, and it's not because Republicans hate government and want it to fail.

Even in a relatively free market, fraud and incompetence exist. The government in its mask decisions have shown a keen ability to find market actors who are very bad (deliberately or not) at what they do and offer them ungodly amounts of money. But government's unique combination of endless money and impunity for messing things up mean that the state is going to get things more wrong, more often. And that's true even, or perhaps especially, when it's urgent that the state get things right. The evidence is in the news every day, even if ideological blinders prevent non-libertarians from acknowledging it.

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We Need Economists, Civil Libertarians, and Epidemiologists in the COVID-19 Discussion – Reason

Posted: at 12:46 pm

At the supermarket last week, amidst too many empty shelves, the manager looked at me through a plexiglass sneeze barrier and groused, "they need to open things up. I'd rather get the sniffles than face an angry mob."

COVID-19 is more than the "sniffles"so far, over a quarter-million people have died globally during the pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. But it's also not the only risk human beings face, even if many policymakers seem consumed with it to the exclusion of all else. There are also the economic repercussions of harsh enforcement of lockdown measures to consider. And we should also include in there the danger to life and liberty inherent in mandated shutdown orders that are enforced by police and jails.

To focus on the virus alone to the exclusion of other threats is to court disaster. Well, not just to court itdisaster is here.

For the week ending May 2, another 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims, bringing the total number to over 33 million for the seven weeks since pandemic-related lockdowns began. On a similar note, the European Union predicts its economy will contract by 7.5 percent in 2020 because of the pandemic and related lockdown measures. And "the global economy likely shrank an annualized 12.6 percent in first quarter 2020 relative to fourth quarter 2019 and will weaken a further 8.6 percent in the second quarter," according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

If numbers bore you, we can just go with the International Monetary Fund's pithy description: "worst economic downturn since the Great Depression" because of the pandemic and related lockdowns. Or there's the United Nations' equally catchy forecast of "multiple famines of biblical proportions"not entirely due to the pandemic, but certainly made much worse by the disruptions it has created.

Enforcing lockdowns inflicts a cost on our freedom, too.

"As countries around the world institute extraordinary measures to fight the pandemic, both dictatorships and democracies are curtailing civil liberties on a massive scale," Florian Bieber of Austria's University of Graz observed in Foreign Policy.

That has meant opportunistic muzzling of dissent and arrests of critics, as documented by monitors including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. But it has also meant moronic enforcement of stay-at-home orders, such as protecting people from infection by beating them (the predictable go-to for many law-enforcers around the world). Less brutal but just as stupid are arrests for playing with family members in public parks, and jailings for hanging out with friends and opening businesses without government permissionheavy-handed moves that increase the danger of transmitting disease through contact with cops and incarceration in crowded cells.

Which is to say, focusing narrowly on the danger of the virus has made billions of human beings poorer than they were before, and less free than they have every right to be. And, as the phrase "multiple famines of biblical proportions" implies, there are add-on costs in terms of human life and welfare to being impoverished and under the boot.

"In some cases, people are dying because of the inappropriate application of measures that have been supposedly put in place to save them," United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet concedes.

That's probably a little more analysis than the local supermarket manager had in mind when he talked about balancing fear of "sniffles" against that of an "angry mob," but he did a fair job of recognizing that there are tradeoffs in dealing with the pandemic. He knows that his customers are hurting because of the measures taken to battle the virus, that their paychecks are drying up, and that it's difficult to fully stock shelves because some items are in short supply.

That's not to say he and I would necessarily agree on the proper balance between the competing dangers. Like I said, I think there's more to COVID-19 than "sniffles." But if one of us enforces his judgment on the other with a nightstick, that disagreement becomes a lot more costly than if we're free to make our own assessments about the proper balance of risksespecially since we don't know each other's risk tolerances and abilities to weather one danger relative to another.

Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard, frames the ability to conceive of tradeoffs in handling the pandemic in terms of the different ways epidemiologists and economists think.

"Unlike epidemiologists, who identify a biological enemy and try to defeat it without thinking much about the costs, economists live on trade-offs," he wrote for Bloomberg. "It's an article of faith for economists that there is no such thing as an absolute valuenot even the value of human life. Instead, most economists embrace the hardheaded reality that helping one person often leaves another less well-off."

If you add a civil libertarian (or perhaps just a jaded defense attorney, who knows that "law enforcement" is synonymous with busted heads) to that mix, you might get an even better-balanced discussion of the tradeoffs in various approaches to dealing with the pandemic. That would make for a much more serious discussion about the danger of a new, deadly, and highly contagious virus, balanced with the risk of poverty and despair from shutting down societies in order to battle that virus, and considering the peril inherent in turning the world into a vast prison in order to enforce a shutdown.

Maybe that's a discussion we could have soon. Because the tradeoffs among considerations of health, prosperity, and liberty are catching up with us even if we don't want to acknowledge them.

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Is the Chinese Communist Party Really Trying To Take Over the World? – The National Interest

Posted: at 12:46 pm

In ablog post entitled It Is Time For aLibertarian Case Against China, Tanner Greer responds to apiece in Reason magazine by Dan Drezner, in which Dan argued that There is No China Crisis. Greer says that libertarians need to take the [China] problem with the seriousness it deserves.

Not that it matters much, but if he wants to make a libertarian case against China, is Greer even alibertarian? Kind of, sort of, maybe, but not really. He says:

I like libertarians and libertarianism. Icant bring myself to identify as one, but someone recently described me as libertarian adjacent, and Iwill not dispute the label.

But regardless of whether Greer identifies as alibertarian, the issue of how to deal with arising power that is authoritarian and looking to expand its influence in world affairs is certainly one of the biggest foreign policy challenges the U.S. government faces. We do need to take it seriously. (And if you read Dans piece, Ithink its clear that he does take it seriously, in the sense of offering thoughtful and nuanced analysis). How people in the United States (including, but not limited to, libertarians) think about this issue is extremely important. Having gotten so many of our foreign policy challenges wrong in recent decades, it would be nice to get this one right.

But in order to think about it clearly and rationally, we need to understand exactly what Chinas goals are, in particular in the global arena. This post wont answer that question fully, because it would take much longer than ablog post to do so. But we do want to push back on some of Greers characterizations, which reflect the overheated rhetoric of many China hawks. Greer says this about President Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party:

What [Liza]Tobin describes as a new path to peace, prosperity, and modernity Xi has variously described as Chinese wisdom and aChinese answer to solving the problems of the mankind, a new [achievement] in the history of the development of human society, a new and greater contribution to mankind, and new advance in political civilization.[8] Notice the scope of what the Party hopes to reshape. They hope not to remake China, nor even Asia, but human society, civilization, and mankind. As Politburo member Yang Jiechi exhorted in 2018, the time has come for the Party to energetically control the new direction of the common progress of China and the world. [9]

Clearly, then, based on this language, China is out to dominate the world, right? Not so fast. First of all, relying too much on official government statements (of any government!) may be amistake, in part because governments have many audiences in mindwhen they speak (importantly, their own citizens).But if you are going to use them, you need the full context. In the first sentence that Greer quotes, Xi does, in fact, use the quoted words. But when you read them in context, you dont get the impression that the Communist Party hopes to remake, as Greer puts it,human society, civilization, and mankind. For example, the speech by Xi says this: The Communist Party of China strives for both the wellbeing of the Chinese people and human progress. To make new and greater contributions for mankind is our Partys abiding mission. That sounds like the usual generalities of agovernments public relations campaign rather than an objective of remaking the world.

And with regard to the phraseenergetically control the new direction of the common progress of China and the world, translations are difficult, and word choices between languages are not always clear, but we offer this translation of the broader passage at issue:

We (China) should have aprofound insight into the new developments in China and the world, fully understand the new connotations of Chinas relations with the world, accurately grasp the new law of interaction between China and the world, and proactively drive the new direction that China and the world are heading together.

Again, this seems like somewhat normal and expected governmentspeak.

So what are the actual goals of the Chinese government in world affairs? Thats an area where we need more analysis from unbiased experts. For security hawks, its very convenient to have found anew existential threat that can justify aconfrontational foreign policy and more military spending. But in order to craft the appropriate policy here, we need to get past the selfserving assumptions of certain members of the foreign policy establishment, and sort out exactly what we are dealing with in terms of the Chinese governments global ambitions.The case against China needs examining, but an overexcited rush in one direction could be very damaging (and has been before).

This article by Simon Lester and Huan Zhu first appeared in CATO on May 7, 2020.

Image: Reuters.

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600K primary election ballots are in the mail to Montana voters – Missoula Current

Posted: at 12:46 pm

On Friday, election offices around Montana began sending out ballots for the June primary election, as they do every two years. However, there was a big difference this year: Mail ballots werent going just to those who asked for them, but to all active registered voters.

In March, Gov. Steve Bullock directed that counties could decide to hold the primary election by mail, to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. All 56 counties took that option. That means traditional local polling places will not be open, though people will be able to vote in person at county election offices.

Election officials estimate about 600,000 ballots were mailed out across the state on Friday. About 94,000 more registered voters are considered inactive, and will need to contact officials in order to receive a ballot.

In Lewis and Clark County, about 40,500 active voters are having ballots mailed to them. Audrey McCue, the countys elections supervisor, said they have usually had 50% to 60% of their voters request absentee ballots, so it was not as big of a change as it might have been.

That number has gone up, but its not a drastic increase for us, she said.

For the vast majority of voters, the mail packet they receive will include three individual party ballots Democratic, Republican and Green. Some voters, including in Missoula Countys Montana Senate District 45, will also get a Libertarian ballot.

Voters can choose one, and only one, ballot to vote. Once theyre done, they put that ballot back in the secrecy and return envelopes, sign the envelope and mail it back. The other two ballots can be discarded.

If a voter sends in two ballots that have been voted, neither one will be counted.

McCue said, in previous elections, mail ballot packets also included a separate envelope that people could use to send back their unvoted ballots.

You didnt have to send them back, but it gave you somewhere to put them and to send them back, she said. That law was changed last year, so now were not sending out that envelope, and voters arent required or instructed to return them.

Bullocks directive also said that any county that switched to mail ballots needed to ensure voters would not have to add postage to send their ballot in. Each county has chosen its own way to provide postage. In Lewis and Clark County, officials simply put stamps on each return envelope.

In other counties, you might see business reply mail on the envelopes, or you might see metered postage in the top right corner, but statewide postage is covered on those return envelopes, and voters dont need stamps, McCue said.

The governors order also extended the regular voter registration deadline, from 30 days before the election to 10 days before the election. That means there is still time to register by mail. You can contact your county elections office to get more information on how to register.

Business for us is as usual; were still here, said McCue. If you dont get a ballot, call us or come in person; well be here.

In a release, the Montana Association of Clerks and Recorders said voters should contact their local election administrator if they dont receive their mail ballots by May 13.

Residents can use the Montana Secretary of StatesMy Voter pageto check whether they are registered to vote, determine whether they are considered inactive, and track whether their ballot has been received. They can find contact information for elections officialson the Secretary of States website.

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Dream Big: 508 Gigawatts Of Offshore Wind Potential For COVID-19 Recovery – CleanTechnica

Posted: at 12:45 pm

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May 9th, 2020 by Tina Casey

If youre wondering why the US is not ready to pepper the Gulf of Mexico with offshore wind turbines, thats a good question. Hurricanes would be one answer. Nevertheless, the US is eyeballing the waters of the Gulf for a tidal wave of new offshore wind farms that would compete on cost with electricity markets in the region. Thats a rich plum indeed, when you consider the popularity of air conditioning in the coastal states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas and the prospects for job creation as the US economy digs itself out from under the COVID-19 crisis.

Two new NREL/BOEM studies show potential for offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico (screenshot via BOEM).

For those of you new to the offshore topic, in past years the US pursued offshore wind with all the swiftness of a turtle with a bum leg and one hand tied behind its back climbing a greased flag pole. While other nations have eagerly cast wind turbines into their coastal waters, the US has been painfully inching along. It currently has a grand total of just five wind turbines spinning off the shores of Rhode Island.

The relatively shallow waters of the Atlantic coast are easy pickings for offshore wind technology, but an organized wind initiative during the Obama administration ran headlong into the usual suspects, and was stymied by state-level politics.

Somewhat ironically, the wind logjam finally broke wide open during the Trump* administration with the full support of the Energy Department and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. A wind power free-for-all is currently under way all along the Atlantic coast.

The Pacific coast is a different kettle of fish. The Continental Shelf drops off steeply, meaning that the water is too deep for conventional fixed-platform wind turbines. Offshore wind development for Pacific coast states depends on technology and cost-cutting improvements in the floating wind turbine area.

That brings us to the Gulf of Mexico. Like the Pacific coast, the Gulf is a less than ideal environment for offshore wind farms. Aside from the hurricane thing, wind speed in the Gulf is relatively slow, and softer soils present a challenge for fixed-platform wind turbines.

Still, last week the Energy Departments National Renewable Energy Laboratory released a pair of reports, funded by BOEM, which aim at identifying pathways for tapping the renewable energy potential of the Gulf waters.

NREL lists the Gulfs shallow water, lower average wave heights, and existing oil and gas infrastructure on the positive side for developing all sorts of ocean energy, including tides and currents, thermal conversion, wave power, and hydrogen conversion in addition to wind turbines.

Wind power beat out the other resources by a wide margin with a potential for 508 gigawatts.

According to NREL, thats double the amount of energy currently consumed among the five Gulf states.

Thats a major smack at oil and gas stakeholders who are already feeling the pain of the COVID-19 economic crisis. Though Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama lag far behind other states in clean tech, they are book-ended by two renewable energy powerhouses, Texas and Florida.

Aside from technology issues, the next big question is whether or not offshore wind can compete in the regional electricity market. NREL looked at that, too, in a separate BOEM-funded study titled, Offshore Wind in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico: Regional Economic Modeling & Site-Specific Analyses.

NREL and BOEM selected two sites in Texas and one in Florida for study, based on their potential for development compared to other possible locations in the Gulf.

The results were promising, though NREL cautions that the analysis assumes that wind turbines in the Gulf would be modified to account for slower wind speeds and, of course, hurricanes.

With adaptive technology in hand, NREL forecasts that some offshore sites in the Gulf could be economically viable by 2030.

NREL also took a dive into the regional economic benefits of offshore wind development and came up with this result, based on a 600-megawatt project at Port Arthur, Texas:

a single offshore wind project could support approximately 4,470 jobs with $445 million in gross domestic product (GDP) during construction and an ongoing 150 jobs with $14 million GDP annually from operation and maintenance labor, materials, and services.

That looks pretty sweet compared to the handful of permanent jobs expected from the notorious Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

Add the new NREL/BOEM reports to a growing pile of evidence indicating that economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will depend on a healthy dose of clean power.

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*Developing story.

Image (screenshot): Via US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Tags: BOEM, COVID-19, DOE, Electricity, Energy, NREL

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tinas articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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Murphy Oil defers two exploration wells offshore Mexico to 2021 – Offshore Oil and Gas Magazine

Posted: at 12:45 pm

The company's Gulf of Mexico assets.

(Courtesy Murphy Oil Corp.)

Offshore staff

EL DORADO, Arkansas Murphy Oil Corp. has revised its 2020 budget to a midpoint of $740 million, the company revealed in its latest results statement.

The company has reduced its capital allocation to about $335 million for its offshore assets, with 94% planned for the Gulf of Mexico and the remaining 6% for offshore Canada.

Revisions from the original plan include adjusting the three-well rig program at Front Runner to two wells with the third well deferred to a later date, no longer drilling or completing certain operated wells and non-operated projects, and shifting timing of other plans. Expenditures for the St. Malo waterflood and the Khaleesi / Mormont and Samurai projects are still planned for 2020. Canada offshore spending remains budgeted for development drilling.

It has adjusted its 2020 exploration plans to a one-well non-operated program, deferring the two exploration wells offshore Mexico to 2021.

In 1Q, the A4 well in Green Canyon block 338 in the Gulf of Mexico came online. The company is evaluating near-field exploitation opportunities, as it encountered more than 250 ft (76 m) of net pay in the well. The well, the first in the Front Runner rig program, has outperformed expectations with a gross peak rate of about 7,000 boe/d.

The company also completed the subsea equipment repair at the Neidermeyer field in Mississippi Canyon block 209.

Construction of the Kings Quay FPS continues to progress, the company said. Transaction documentation with ArcLight Capital Partners, LLC and other parties is moving forward, and it expects to close the transaction in 2Q 2020.

In 2Q, EnVen Energy Ventures, LLC is expected to spud the Mt. Ouray well in Green Canyon block 767. Murphy holds 20%.

The company is also closing its corporate headquarters in El Dorado, Arkansas and office in Calgary, Alberta. It is relocating its corporate headquarters to Houston.


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Murphy Oil defers two exploration wells offshore Mexico to 2021 - Offshore Oil and Gas Magazine

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‘Late to the party’ France finally set to join offshore wind big-league: Rystad – Recharge

Posted: at 12:45 pm

Late to the party France is set to leapfrog other European offshore wind nations as it hits 7.4GW in operation by 2030, said analysts at Rystad Energy.

That would make France whose plans include a major push into floating wind Europes number-four offshore wind market, Rystad said.

The Norwegian analyst group said French offshore wind is now moving ahead at full steam despite any potential cost and supply chain issues resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 7.4GW estimate would surpass the 2030 targets for other well-established European offshore wind countries such as Belgium and Denmark, which have 4GW and 5.3GW goals respectively.

It would place France behind only the UK, which is aiming to have 40GW of offshore wind capacity, Germany (15GW-20GW), and the Netherlands (11.5GW).

Rystad said France is expected to retain its position well into the 2030s with an additional 5GW of capacity lined up for planned tender rounds between 2024 to 2028.

Regulatory delays mean Frances first 1GW of fixed-bottom offshore wind farms are only now gearing up for construction, despite being awarded in tenders held as long ago as 2012.

Although France has been quite late to the party compared to several of its western European counterparties, recent developments suggest the country is now picking up the pace. Frances target for operational capacity is 2.4GW in 2023, a target expected to be reached through the completion of already awarded projects, said Alexander Fltre, Rystads vice president and product manager of offshore wind.

The first part of the plan will be kicked off this year with a tender for 1GW of bottom-fixed capacity in the French parts of the English Channel off the coast of Normandy, covering a development area called Manche Est Mer du Nord.

In 2021 to 2022 another 0.5GW to 1GW of bottom-fixed capacity will be put up for tender off southwest France, in an area named Sud-Atlantique. A part of this southern Atlantic tender may cover the already proposed 0.5GW to 1GW offshore wind project outside le dOlron, an island in the Poitou-Charentes region.

The French government also plans to organise three separate floating wind tenders in 2021-2022, each with a capacity of 250 MW. The first, in 2021, will be in the southern waters off Brittany (Bretagne Sud), while the other two in 2022 are planned for areas in the Mediterranean.

Another 1GW of bottom-fixed offshore wind will be tendered in 2023, at a location which has yet-to-be-determined.

From 2024 to 2028 the French government plans to award 1GW of capacity per year, which can be bottom-fixed, floating, or a mix of both. The amount of floating capacity to be awarded will depend on its cost competitiveness compared to the more established bottom-fixed alternative.

The French wind association FEE said last month that while the overall offshore wind target doesnt live up to Frances massive potential, that the governments plan puts the country in a global leadership position when it comes to the development of floating wind.


'Late to the party' France finally set to join offshore wind big-league: Rystad - Recharge

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Dominion Energy remains on schedule to build largest offshore wind project in United States – Transmission & Distribution World

Posted: at 12:45 pm

Form Energy, a company developing ultra-low-cost, long-duration energy storage for the grid, signed a contract with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy to jointly deploy a 1MW / 150MWh pilot project to be located in Cambridge, Minnesota. Great River Energy is Minnesota's second-largest electric utility and the fifth largest generation and transmission cooperative in the U.S.

This system will be the first commercial deployment of Form Energy's proprietary long-duration energy storage system. Form Energy's aqueous air battery system leverages some of the safest, cheapest, most abundant materials on the planet and offers a clear path to low-cost, long-duration energy storage.

The project with Great River Energy will be a 1-MW, grid-connected storage system capable of delivering its rated power continuously for 150 hours, longer than the two to four hour usage period common among lithium-ion batteries being deployed at utility-scale today. This duration allows for a fundamentally new reliability function to be provided to the grid from storage, one historically only available from thermal generation resources.

Leading up to the decision to deploy the pilot project, Form Energy conducted a portfolio optimization study of Great River Energy's system characteristics with Formware, a proprietary software analytics platform design to help energy planners model future grids. Formware was purpose-built to model high penetration renewables at the system level and determine how all types of storage enable cost-effective renewable energy integration. The tool helps planners reduce exposure to extreme weather events and minimize uncertainty around commodity prices under a variety of future grid scenarios. "To understand how best to make the energy transition, new analytical tools are needed, and Formware allowed us to work with GRE to systematically and thoroughly understand the value that our assets can bring to their system," said Marco Ferrara, SVP Analytics and Business Development for Form Energy.

"Great River Energy is excited to partner with Form Energy on this important project. The electrical grid is increasingly supplied by renewable sources of energy. Commercially viable long-duration storage could increase reliability by ensuring that the power generated by renewable energy is available at all hours to serve our membership. Such storage could be particularly important during extreme weather conditions that last several days. Long-duration storage also provides an excellent hedge against volatile energy prices," said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Power Supply Officer Jon Brekke.

"Our vision at Form Energy is to unlock the power of renewable energy to transform the grid with our proprietary long-duration storage. This project represents a bold step toward proving that vision of an affordable, renewable future is possible without sacrificing reliability," noted Mateo Jaramillo, CEO of Form Energy.

"We are thrilled to have Great River Energy as the first strategic utility partner to deploy Form's first bi-directional power plant. Their forward-leaning and innovative approach to their grid transition makes them a perfect partner," said Ted Wiley, President of Form Energy.

Great River Energy announced plans to transition its portfolio of power supply resources in the coming years. The electric cooperative plans to phase out its remaining coal resources, add significant renewable energy, and partner with Form Energy on its grid-scale battery technology.

"Long duration energy storage solutions will play an entirely different role in a clean electricity system than the conventional battery storage systems being deployed at scale today. Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, but they run out of energy after just a few hours. A true low-cost, long-duration energy storage solution that can sustain output for days, would fill gaps in wind and solar energy production that would otherwise require firing up a fossil-fueled power plant. A technology like that could make a reliable, affordable 100% renewable electricity system a real possibility," said Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at Princeton University who studies low-carbon energy systems engineering.

Founded in 2017, Form Energy has raised over $50 million in funding. The company is backed by investors Eni Next LLC, MIT's The Engine, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group and Macquarie Capital.

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How offshore workflows have changed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 – Offshore Technology

Posted: at 12:44 pm

]]> Rigs are quieter than ever in an effort to prevent transmission. Credit: Equinor.

Across the world, offshore operators have cut workforces partly to reduce costs but also to limit the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

In the confined spaces of offshore operations, contagious diseases can spread quickly. Most, if not all, operators have reduced offshore occupancy, staggered shifts, and started screening workers for coronavirus before they fly out. Despite this, infections do happen, and in March, several rigs in the North Sea had to perform emergency medical evacuations of workers with coronavirus symptoms.

On Thursday, 11 workers were flown from the Rowan Gorilla VI mobile drilling unit after a suspected outbreak on board.

In the UK, the rollout of widespread testing is making slow progress. Initially, some operators including BP paid for coronavirus testing to be done privately before workers went offshore. However, workers criticised the company for sending them offshore before test results came back.

Testing is starting to become available through the government, and offshore workers are among those prioritised for being offered tests.

The UKs oil and gas trade body OGUK has seen a fall in the number of workers returning from offshore with symptoms. In the week beginning 3 March, the number of possible infected returning stood at 19. In the week starting 4 May, this was down to eight.

The Gulf of Mexico has also seen multiple infections. On 8 April, the US Coast Guard said more than 26 workers had tested positive for Covid-19 across seven platforms. However, the countrys National Ocean Industries Association has said being offshore could be safer than being among the public.

In the Middle East, Saudi Aramco has launched an awareness campaign for all staff. Through its healthcare joint venture, it has provided workers with access to information on how to prevent transmission and how to seek help in the relevant countries. It has also created a mental health toolkit for workers in isolation.

However, the company faced criticism during the early stages of the global spread for tasking an employee to dress up as a human hand-sanitiser dispenser. A photo of this was widely shared and condemned, and the company condemned the practice as abusive and immediately stopped it.

Aramco is screening all employees and contractors at every facility to detect the fever associated with Covid-19. At its plant in Riyadh, it has implemented safe distancing guidelines for all 4,000 truck drivers coming through the facility.

In South America, ExxonMobil recently confirmed it is making workers undergo a 14-day coronavirus observation period before travelling offshore. The company has set up a health facility in Stabroek, Guyana to monitor workers.

In Africa, some governments have tightly controlled offshore travel, requiring workers to obtain a permit before travelling.

Offshore New Zealand, OMV has asked workers to remain offshore for a month at a time. On the Maui A platform, 10 workers continue operations where 65 previously worked. The Maui B platform remains unmanned.

However, safety measures rely on enforcement and resources.

Online, rig workers share stories of the realities of working through the coronavirus pandemic. In posts to a Facebook group, rig workers have posted pictures of work flights with no distancing and shared stories of inadequate testing. One said their rotation was not fully tested, and they were sent offshore before results came back. When results showed one of the crew was infected, the infected individual was returned onshore. However, the rest of the crew were told to keep working.

Earlier, another said: Im grateful to be working in these mad times, but it is scary and astounding how these rigs in dock are still acting like nothing is happening. Feels inevitable that someone here will catch Covid-19.

Others have shared their distress with the new normal. One said they were not happy as they were no longer allowed to serve their own portions in the canteen: They dont give half of what I normally get. I hope I dont lose any weight on this trip.


How offshore workflows have changed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 - Offshore Technology

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