Saturday, January 23, 2016

Staying Warm This Winter

The storm is rolling in so....

With weekend storm looming, snow anxiety hits

There is a time for fear, and then there is a time not to fear


Weekend storm threatens at least 50m people in Eastern US 

I heard 88m on weather channel. 

Even the weather is a "threat."

"The mid-Atlantic is notorious for struggling to cope with winter weather, and a light dusting on Wednesday night served as an ominous prelude. Less than an inch of snow led to a quick freezing of highways around Washington, causing more than 700 accidents in northern Virginia alone and leaving drivers gridlocked for hours. President Obama wasn’t spared; his motorcade slowly weaved along icy streets to the White House. Mayor Muriel Bowser apologized to the city, saying more trucks should have been sent out to lay salt ahead of the snow — a mistake she said wouldn’t be repeated. On Thursday, icy conditions caused accidents that killed two drivers in North Carolina and one in Tennessee. A plow killed a pedestrian in Maryland. States of emergency were declared in Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and parts of other states. Blizzard warnings or watches were in effect along the storm’s path, from Arkansas through Tennessee and Kentucky to the mid-Atlantic states and as far north as New York."

Don't worry, help is on the way and I'm sure there is some sort of divine irony there.

"Storm slams into eastern US with wet snow, strong gales" by Jessica Gresko and Seth Borenstein Associated Press  January 22, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — Conditions quickly became treacherous all along the path of the storm. Arkansas and Tennessee got 8 inches; Kentucky got more than a foot, and states across the Deep South grappled with icy, snow-covered roads and power outages. Two tornadoes arrived along with the snow in Mississippi.

This right here is heartbreaking to me because the southern neighbors that I love are not used to this stuff. Up here, we have Yankee arrogance but we know this junk. All huh life. Last year was rough, but there was some satisfaction at surviving the more-than-waist-high mounds on the sides of shoveled pathways. Record-setting winter, and we beat it!

As food and supplies vanished from store shelves Friday, states of emergency were declared, lawmakers went home, and schools, government offices and transit systems closed early around the region. Thousands of flights were canceled, sporting events were called off, bands postponed concerts and NASCAR delayed its Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Isn't NASCAR a global-warming waste?

Broadway’s shows were still going on in New York, but as snow fell in Atlanta, people there were urged to stay home all weekend, rather than risk a repeat of the city’s 2014 ‘‘icepocalypse.’’

Travel was already impossible across a wide swath of the Ohio River valley. Nashville, Tennessee, was gridlocked by accidents. Several drivers died on icy roads in North Carolina. In Washington, Baltimore, and Delaware, archdioceses pre-emptively excused Catholics from showing up for Sunday Mass.

Thanks for that last one, but my main concern is what you see highlighted above. People died.

New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie canceled presidential campaign events in New Hampshire. In Washington, the federal government closed its offices at noon, and all mass transit was shutting down through Sunday. President Barack Obama, hunkering down at the White House, was one of many who stayed home. Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina addressed anti-abortion activists at the annual March for Life as the storm closed in.

There is a ray of sunlight in every storm.

About 7,600 flights were canceled....


RelatedBlizzard warning issued for Martha’s Vineyard as major storm targets East Coast

Looks like I might be avoiding any snowfall at all, and you can draw your own conclusions about divinity there. When I really get hot I sometimes think I speak for not only mankind but for God himself. 

Then I cool down and laugh at myself. 

Meaning I have to then turn up the heat:

"Cheaper oil good for consumers, but producers, workers suffer" by David Koenig Associated Press  December 08, 2015

Not anymore.

DALLAS — Oil prices have been lower for longer than expected. Now, with OPEC’s decision to keep pumping at current levels, analysts expect oil to remain relatively cheap well into 2016 and maybe longer.

That, of course, is good news for consumers and fuel-guzzling industries like airlines, but oil producers are being squeezed and thousands of workers in the oil patch have been laid off.

I'm glad they finally admitted what I've been saying all the months, and unfortunately it flies in the face of all the government and media propaganda regarding the U.S. economy.

The price of a barrel of oil fell Monday to $37.65, a nearly seven-year low. Energy stocks, from giants Exxon and Chevron down to independent producers, took a beating.

What’s causing the upheaval? Simply put, supply and demand are out of synch, and that’s causing ripples across economies, creating winners and losers.

The very foundations of our free enterpri$e $y$tem called into question?

US oil production rose from 5 million barrels a day in 2008 to an estimated 9.3 million barrels a day in 2015. That unexpected surge, coupled with OPEC’s unwillingness to cut production, left the world awash in oil and sank prices. Supply is outpacing demand by about 1.4 million barrels a day, according to Judith Dwarkin, chief economist at ITG Investment Research. 

Because economic activity is way down!

Meanwhile, economic growth has been slower than expected, undercutting demand for energy. China’s economy has slowed, Japan is in recession, and Europe continues to struggle. The US economy is growing, but more-efficient cars have blunted the need for more fuel.

So even when you "do good" it's bad.

The US government predicts US production will drop 6 percent next year as oil companies curtail unprofitable projects. Globally, ‘‘it could take well into 2017 to work off the surplus inventory,’’ Dwarkin said.

Motorists see the effect of cheaper crude every time they fill up. According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline on Monday was $2.03 and should soon drop below $2 for the first time since 2009.

Gas is already below $2 at nearly two-thirds of the nation’s 130,000 gas stations, according to the price-watching site A gallon of diesel is more than $1 cheaper than at this time last year, benefiting shippers.

Not passing it on.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service, says the nationwide average could drop as low as $1.75, before turning around in the spring, possibly going as high as $2.75 in time for the driving season.

All that pocket change and low interest rates are leading many consumers to splurge on new cars, particularly bigger ones. SUV sales have jumped 45 percent since November 2012, when gas was around $3.63 a gallon. But car-buying in key oil states has tailed off, according to IHS Automotive.

Yes, wheels are hot and so much for worrying about climate change, etc.

Saving on gasoline could improve shoppers’ holiday spirit. Cheaper gas ‘‘frees up money that could be spent elsewhere, so that’s a plus for holiday shopping,’’ said Scott Hoyt, senior director of consumer economics at Moody’s Analytics.

Didn't happen.

Cheap oil also translates to lower heating bills. The average household using heating oil will spend $1,360 this year, $493 less than last winter, according to the EIA.

Big airlines such as American, United, and Delta burn billions of gallons of jet fuel every year, and savings from cheaper fuel are helping them post record profits. Thanks to cheaper fuel, travelers are seeing a slight drop in average airfares after five straight years of fares rising faster than inflation.


"A sharp drop in the price of oil on Monday rattled investors and helped push stocks lower. Investors sold from the start of trading following last week’s decision by OPEC not to cut production. ‘‘There was a big hope that OPEC would announce a production cut, but it just didn’t happen,’’ said Mizuho Securities chief economist Steven Ricchiuto. Airlines stocks were among the winners as investors anticipated bigger profits thanks to falling fuel costs."

Don't sell 'em short like Krongard on 9/11.

Oil companies, their employees, and subcontractors are feeling the pinch from lower prices. Profits are down at the majors such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., but independents are suffering more.

According to government figures released Friday, the energy and mining sector — that’s mostly oil and gas exploration and production — has lost 122,300 jobs in the last year. Paychecks for those still employed are smaller: Average wages in the energy industry have fallen 1.5 percent at a time when other workers are earning slightly more than they did a year ago.

On Monday, the NYSE ARCA Oil and Gas index dropped nearly 4 percent. Exxon and Chevron fell more than 2 percent, while smaller oil companies suffered steeper losses.

Overseas, collapsing oil prices have undercut exports and the economy in Venezuela, leading to shortages of goods and contributing to the ruling socialist party’s defeat in legislative elections Sunday.

One of the targets of the policy, along with Iran and Russia.


"OPEC ponders strategy, but lacks options to raise oil price" by Grant Smith, Angelina Rascouet and Wael Mahdi Bloomberg News  December 04, 2015

LONDON — OPEC signaled no respite from the global oil glut that has driven prices to a six-year low.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will keep pumping about 31.5 million barrels a day, the group’s president, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, said Friday after a meeting of ministers in Vienna. Members set aside their previous daily output target of 30 million barrels, a ceiling breached for 18 months. OPEC will wait until June to decide on a new limit, Secretary General Abdalla El-Badri said.

“Why should OPEC alone sacrifice its part in the market,” Iraq’s oil minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, said after the meeting. “Americans don’t have any ceiling, Russians don’t have any ceiling, why should OPEC have a ceiling?”

OPEC has increased output in an oversupplied market in a bid to force higher-cost producers to scale back their operations. A proposal from Venezuela for a 5 percent cut in production went nowhere.

Crude slumped about 38 percent in the last year. Brent fell 1.9 percent to $43 a barrel Friday, while West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 2.7 percent to $39.97.

Failure to reduce the global oversupply could push oil prices $20 lower next year, Venezuelan Oil Minister Eulogio Del Pino warned before the OPEC meeting.

Oh, yeah, about Venezuela:

"After government opponents surged to a rare victory in Venezuela’s legislative elections, opposition leaders said Monday that they had secured a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, which could lead to a major rollback of the country’s socialist policies. With a two-thirds majority, the Democratic Unity parties could call an assembly to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution and could fire Supreme Court judges. With a smaller three-fifths majority, the opposition could begin to dismantle the socialist party’s hold over other state institutions, by censuring and removing ministers and vice presidents. The victory, which was framed by the country’s deep economic crisis, was a huge setback to the heirs of former president Hugo Chávez and his socialist-inspired movement. It augurs a power struggle between the long marginalized opposition and the government of President Nicolás Maduro, the successor and disciple of Chávez. “We are entering a period of transition,” said Henry Ramos, an opposition leader. “The government is very weak.” He predicted Maduro would not reach the end of his term in 2019 and that he would be removed by “constitutional means,” such as a recall referendum, a change to the constitution, or by being forced to resign. Maduro, who has vowed to continue the socialist-inspired policies of his mentor, Chávez, has struggled to address triple-digit inflation, a two-year recession, and other economic challenges. Venezuela depends heavily on income from oil production, and the sharp drop in petroleum prices has starved the government of money."

The oil ISIS™ is stealing oil Syria and selling to the Turkey and Israel (with the protection of the U.S. and NATO) hasn't helped, either (just after the Iran deal removed sanctions and allowed them to sell oil). 

What a joke, huh?


"Venezuela’s opposition wants to free political prisoners" by Nathan Crooks and Noris Soto Bloomberg News  December 17, 2015

CARACAS — After 16 years of rubber-stamp impotence, Venezuela’s opposition plans to use its overwhelming electoral victory to free political prisoners — including its most charismatic leader — and offer President Nicolas Maduro six months to take painful economic steps or face removal.

Looks like a rig job down there? Whose machines did they use?

Moving to take advantage of the two-thirds supermajority they won in congressional elections this month, opposition leaders say a top goal when they take office in January is removing fear from millions who depend on the socialist government for work or housing.

‘‘We’re going to legislate so that state policies stop being a mechanism of extortion and blackmail,’’ Jesus ‘‘Chuo’’ Torrealba, leader of the opposition alliance, said in an interview. ‘‘We don’t want beneficiaries of social missions to be able to be blackmailed by any government.’’

In a separate interview, Freddy Guevara, head of one of the key opposition parties, said the first step will be the release of political prisoners, including Leopoldo Lopez, the Harvard- educated former mayor of the Chacao district of Caracas.

Lopez was sentenced in September to almost 14 years in a military jail for inciting violence during a wave of anti- government protests that left 43 people dead and hundreds injured last year. Lopez says he was falsely accused, and his case has become a cause celebre for human-rights groups demanding his release. If he emerges from prison, he is widely seen as a presidential contender.

I hate to say it, but it stinks of the same agenda-pushing destabilizations we have seen time and again and the guy is likely a CIA asset.

Despite all the opposition plans, this is uncharted territory. Since Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, was elected in 1998, and their socialist party has held the presidency, there has been no opposition to speak of. So although the constitution gives a supermajority in Congress enormous power, wielding that power may be difficult, since Maduro controls ministries and security services.

So far, Maduro hasn’t sounded very cooperative. He has told voters on television, “Go suck on your change,” threatened to hold back housing assistance, and said he would never surrender the revolution Chavez began.

Maneuvering to undermine the emboldened opposition, outgoing Congress president Diosdado Cabello has pledged to designate 12 new Supreme Court justices before the new lawmakers are sworn in. Torrealba and Guevara said it will take four to six months to implement broad economic measures. Among their priorities are relieving shortages of goods, reducing crime, and decentralizing municipalities.

In a way, the opposition’s dilemma is its dizzying array of options. It can use its supermajority to change the constitution, impeach ministers, and push for a referendum on removing the president. If Maduro’s government cooperates, it could work with Congress to make economic changes that could bring down inflation, narrow the deficit, and restore growth.

‘‘What you have to keep an eye on in the coming weeks is how the government acts, to see if they send any signals of dialogue or not,’’ Colette Capriles, a political science professor at Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, said. ‘‘So far, they’ve been acting very badly.’’


‘‘Investors have one eye on China, and all that’s going on there, and the other eye on oil,’’ said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank. ‘‘Those two things are keeping investors on pins and needles right now.’’

And gue$$ who is getting stuck.


I would think Venezuelans are hot as hell and not because of the climate.

RelatedVenezuelan opposition controls congress after 17 years

That was the last I saw in the Globe.

"Liberty Mutual suffers worst loss in a decade" by Katherine Chiglinsky and Katia Porzecanski Bloomberg News  December 09, 2015

Liberty Mutual Holding Co., the second- largest US property-casualty insurer, has posted its worst loss in at least a decade on costs tied to scaling back operations in Venezuela and the declining value of some energy-related investments.

The loss of $427 million compares with a profit of $605 million in the same period last year, Boston-based Liberty Mutual said on its website Wednesday. The insurer took a $690 million impairment charge on its Venezuelan operations and plans to classify them as discontinued and held for sale.

Losses in Venezuela have been driven by the nation’s soaring inflation and devaluation of the currency, company management said in an August earnings call. Liberty Mutual’s chairman and chief executive, David H. Long, said he estimated annual inflation of 140 percent in June. Venezuela hasn’t published inflation statistics in a year.

It's Soft Coup 101.

The bolivar has tumbled 80 percent on the black market this year and is valued at about 16 cents.

The outlook for local units of international companies in Venezuela has dimmed amid plunging prices for crude oil. Energy assets accounted for about 4.1 percent of Liberty Mutual’s portfolio as of Sept. 30, including bond and natural-resources partnerships. The insurer also has direct investments in oil and gas wells.

Oil resumed its slide on Wednesday....


What I'm wondering is WTF is Liberty Mutual doing investing in the Venezuelan energy markets?

Btw, do you know what happened the last time oil plunged below $38.

"Crude oil rebounds from lowest price in 6-plus years" by Mark Shenk Bloomberg News  December 15, 2015

NEW YORK — Oil rebounded after prices slipped below $35 a barrel in New York for the first time since 2009, prompting traders to buy back some of their record bearish bets.

Oil stocks did well on Monday after the price of crude shook off a long string of losses and turned higher. Chevron rose 3 percent and Exxon Mobil gained 2 percent, the most in the Dow Jones industrial average.

Natural gas prices sank to their lowest level since September 2001. Traders blame unusually warm winter weather in the United States. Natural gas is commonly used to heat homes.

They blame the cold when it is cold! This is getting old!

US Senate negotiators are nearing a deal to allow unfettered crude oil exports for the first time in 40 years, though differences remain on renewable-energy tax credits that Democrats are demanding in return, according to people close to the discussions.

What, no miracle?

Prices fell earlier on remarks from an Iranian oil official who said there’s “absolutely no chance” his country will delay its plan to boost shipments, even as prices slip.

Oil slumped last week to levels last seen during the global financial crisis, while speculators increased bets on falling US crude prices to an all-time high after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries effectively abandoned production limits.

The supply glut will persist at least until late 2016 as demand growth slows and OPEC shows “renewed determination” to maximize output, according to the International Energy Agency.

Meaning there is no economic activity, folks. 

Otherwise, they would be soaking this up. 

I mean, the wars are still roaring so it's not cutbacks in consumption there.

OPEC, which set aside its output quota at a Dec. 4 meeting, is displaying hardened resolve to maintain sales, the IEA said in its monthly report Friday. While the group’s strategy has affected other producers, triggering the steepest fall in non-OPEC supply since 1992, world oil inventories will probably swell further once Iran restores exports, predicted the Paris-based energy adviser to developed economies.

US natural gas for January delivery tumbled to the lowest level since January 2002 amid forecasts that mild weather will persist through the end of the month. Futures fell as much as 6.4 percent to $1.862 per million British thermal units on the Nymex.


"Oil prices below those in ‘08 crisis; Market-share fight may worsen the glut" by Mark Shenk Bloomberg News  December 22, 2015

NEW YORK — Brent crude oil prices slumped to the lowest since mid-2004 amid speculation suppliers from the Middle East to the United States will exacerbate a glut as they fight for market share.

Producers are focusing on reducing costs amid the price decline, Qatar’s energy minister, Mohammed Al Sada, said Sunday at a gathering of Arab oil-exporting nations in Cairo.

US drillers put the most rigs back to work since July, adding 17.

Oil prices have collapsed below levels last seen during the 2008 global financial crisis on signs the market’s oversupply will worsen.

“The market is continuing to grind lower as we search for a bottom,” said Gene McGillian, a senior analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn. “The weak fundamental picture is the focus of the market, and it will remain so until there is a reining in of supply.”

Or increase in demand, but there is “no need to be pessimistic about excess supply as US crude stockpiles expand.” 


RelatedOil slump lowers Texas, North Dakota housing prices

"The latest downturn in crude oil prices put investors in a selling mood Wednesday, pulling US stocks lower for the second time this week. The decline wiped out some of the gains from a rally the day before."

"Newly available US crude exports help keep oil prices low" by Matthew Daly Associated Press  January 06, 2016

WASHINGTON — Oil prices have remained low despite heightened tensions between two of the world’s big oil-producing countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and a new law allowing US crude exports helps explain why, the oil industry’s top lobbyist said Tuesday.

Jack Gerard, chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, said the 3-week-old law lifting a 40-year ban on crude exports has already changed the dynamics of the global oil industry.

The potential for US exports, combined with the ongoing US oil boom, means ‘‘the United States has come in as a major player’’ in the global oil market, reducing the influence of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, Gerard said.

‘‘The geopolitics of energy will never be the same,’’ Gerard said in a speech outlining the industry’s priorities for the year.

Warms you right up, doesn't it?

The price of oil fell 30 percent last year, following a 50 percent plunge in 2014. At below $36 a barrel on Tuesday, the price is down more than 2 percent so far this year. Even heightened tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have failed to halt the slide amid a persistent glut of oil. 

I'm getting stuck in oil articles here.

Oil prices are likely to remain about where they are until either production drops or the world economy perks up and drives demand higher. The API and other industry groups pushed hard for the measure lifting the export ban, which they called a relic of the 1970s, when an OPEC oil embargo led to fuel rationing, high prices, and iconic images of long lines of cars waiting to fuel up.

The ban was lifted as a part of a massive, year-end budget deal approved by Congress and signed by President Obama last month.

It is a miracle!

Despite that victory — and a surge in oil and natural gas production in the past seven years — Gerard criticized the Obama administration for imposing what he called unnecessary regulations on oil and gas drilling, especially on federal lands. Most of the increased drilling has occurred on state and private lands.

Gerard also criticized Obama’s plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants and took aim at the president’s rejection of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, saying it was based on ‘‘political ideology’’ rather than sound policy.

In other words, it stunk!

‘‘The stated reason for denying the pipeline — environmental protection — was contradicted’’ by Obama’s own State Department, Gerard said, noting the department issued five reports that determined the pipeline would not significantly affect carbon pollution levels.

Rejection of the pipeline actually could increase carbon emissions by 42 percent due to an increase in truck, rail, and barge traffic needed to transport oil from Canada’s western tar sands to refineries along the US Gulf Coast, Gerard said.

Related: Oregon fuel-truck driver is killed in fiery crash into parked railroad cars

Thus we need more pipelines (more on those later).

Gerard also renewed his call for the administration to scrap a Renewable Fuel Standard that promotes corn-based ethanol and other alternative fuels, labeling the mandate another relic of the past.

I'm in agreement there. Burning food was never a good idea, but then again, we do have all that GMO corn no one wants to eat.

Tom Buis, co-chair of Growth Energy, an ethanol industry group, called the ethanol mandate ‘‘a resounding success’’ that is doing exactly what Congress intended when it approved the law in 2005. ‘‘Not only is it creating jobs, it is revitalizing rural economies, reducing harmful emissions, improving our environment, and reducing our dangerous de-pendence on foreign oil and fossil fuel,’’ Buis said.

Bill Snape, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, said low oil prices make this year ‘‘an especially good time to articulate a workable ‘keep it in the ground’ strategy’’ to address global warming.

‘‘We can all do the math’’ on climate change, Snape said. ‘‘Most of this stuff needs to stay put. Exports that benefit the industry only’’ move the United States in the wrong direction, he said....

That will make $ome hearts warm.


"Crude oil keeps hitting recent lows, drops to $30 per barrel" by Dan Murtaugh and Robert Tuttle Bloomberg News  January 13, 2016

The world mostly ignored Ed Morse 11 months ago when the head of commodities research at Citigroup said the price of oil could drop as low as $20 per barrel.

It’s paying attention now that crude has tipped to about $30.

BP Plc slashed 4,000 jobs, Petroleo Brasileiro SA slashed its spending plan, and Petroliam Nasional Bhd. warned that it faces several tough years before crude futures in the United States sank into the $20s for the first time in 12 years.

See: BP to eliminate 4,000 more jobs

Just in case you missed it.

Morse, who wrote in a Feb. 9 research note that oil could fall “perhaps as low as the $20 range for a while,” said Tuesday in Calgary that the world is now “confronting $20 oil.”

“The $20 number is something you have to talk about,” Morse said. “When you’ve seen a $10 price slide and WTI is trading just slightly above $30, the likelihood is fairly great. Clearly oil markets cannot maintain a price at below the $30 level for very long. The question is how much longer.”

West Texas Intermediate fell as low as $29.93 a barrel before settling at $30.44 Tuesday, the lowest level since December 2003.

Low oil prices could cause problems for US oil companies with debt covenants that specify certain debt-to-earnings ratios or interest coverage, and will make it even harder for those companies to obtain financing to continue to operate, said Mark Sadeghian, a senior director for the energy and commodities group at Fitch Ratings Ltd.


The Bloomberg Commodities Index fell to the lowest level since at least 1991 as demand from slowing emerging-market economies fails to keep pace with a flood of supply from investments made during the price boom of a half-decade ago.

Malaysia stands to lose 300 million ringgit ($68 million) for every $1-a-barrel decline in crude, according to government estimates. ConocoPhillips is losing $1.79 billion in net income each quarter for every $10 drop in prices, according to analysts at Barclays Plc.

Petrobras, as Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer is familiarly known, cut its five-year business plan to $98.4 billion, the latest adjustment to the original $130 billion announced last year.

The US Energy Information Administration reduced its forecast for WTI prices for 2016 by 24 percent to $38.54 a barrel. In its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook, the agency said the oil market would come back into balance in 2017.

The call for oil in the $20s grew louder in recent months, with Goldman Sachs pinning a 50 percent chance of oil falling to $20 in September and Morgan Stanley saying Monday that a strong dollar could drop oil below $30. Morse was first with the $20s call, although he said last February that it could happen in the first half of last year followed by the market balancing.

“Right now the real driving factor is access to capital markets,” Sadeghian said by phone from Chicago. “$20 oil just digs an even deeper hole from where you need to be before the markets open up again.”

First rule: stop digging.


Turnaround coming soon!

"Turnaround specialists get busier as oil market gloom deepens" by David Wethe Bloomberg News  January 16, 2016

HOUSTON — Never has corporate turnaround expert Jeff Huddleston, a managing director at restructuring consultants Conway MacKenzie Inc. in Houston, been more needed or more dreaded.

Huddleston says he’s gotten used to being “the most hated guy” in the room over the past year as oil industry job losses topped 250,000 and companies sought ways to curb spending.


"The energy industry is grappling with a prolonged slump in the price of oil. BP said Tuesday it would eliminate 4,000 jobs in crude production. The oil industry has lost about 250,000 jobs in the last 18 months."

That's double what the government said! WTF?

Turnaround specialists like him are about to get even busier in 2016, advising companies how to keep the lights on through the ugliest oil-market downturn in decades.

The energy industry had 26 bankruptcies last year, a larger number than in the five previous years combined and more than any other sector of the US economy, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. With no market rebound on the horizon, many more producers are running out of options.

And that was in a healthy economy undergoing strong recovery!!

A restructuring adviser’s tool box includes layoffs, canceled contracts, drilling cutbacks, asset sales, and bankruptcy. How successful they are in helping companies survive for the long run depends a lot on whether management views them as saviors or undertakers.

Huddleston likes to think of himself as a battlefield surgeon.

Winning the confidence of management can be the hardest part of the job when restructuring is forced on a company by bankers or unhappy investors, said Seth Bullock, a managing director at Alvarez & Marsal Inc. in Houston, a turnaround firm.

Turnaround specialists “tend to have a reputation for sharp elbows,” Bullock said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. The best restructuring professionals have phenomenal people skills.” A good bedside manner is vital to gaining trust and retaining top talent through a crisis, he said.

Oil and gas producers that have been able to hold on so far might now be ready to throw in the towel with no market rebound on the horizon, said Spencer Cutter, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. 

I have.

The US corporate default rate has reached its highest level in four years, with energy companies the biggest driver of the increase. Bankruptcies have ranged from Hercules Offshore Inc., owner of the largest fleet of shallow-water rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, to offshore contractor Cal Dive International Inc. Crude has lost more than 70 percent of its value in the past 18 months, sinking below $30 a barrel last week. Many analysts predict the market will move even lower in the first half of 2016.

At today’s price levels of below $30 a barrel, more than a third of the 54 exploration and production companies examined by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. are potentially at risk of bankruptcy, Bob Brackett, an analyst at the research firm, wrote Friday in a note to investors....


Things not looking good for the oil and gas companies. 

Speaking of the Gulf:

"Manslaughter charges dropped in BP explosion that killed 11 rig workers" Associated Press  December 03, 2015

NEW ORLEANS — For the Justice Department, the development appears to close its sweeping and costly criminal investigation after the rig blast in the Gulf of Mexico killed the workers and caused the nation’s worst offshore oil disaster.

Obama's environmental legacy even after the pffft from Paris.

For roughly two years, a task force of FBI agents and prosecutors occupied an entire floor of a high-rise building across from the federal courthouse in New Orleans.

The government did secure a landmark criminal settlement and record civil penalties against the energy giant, which BP said would cost the corporation billions of dollars.

But in terms of individual criminal responsibility, only four mostly lower-ranking employees faced charges, and even those cases unraveled before skeptical jurors and judges.

The decision makes it increasingly likely that nobody will serve a day in prison for the disaster.

‘‘This is a devastating loss for the government and is a reflection that, despite all good intentions the government may have, sometimes tragedies are just tragedies,’’ said Michael Magner, a former federal prosecutor in New Orleans who represented the only BP executive who was charged, winning his acquittal this year on a count of making false statements to investigators.

Relatives of the victims were less charitable.

‘‘As a result of this court proceeding today, no man will ever spend a moment behind bars for killing 11 men for reasons based entirely on greed,’’ said Keith Jones, whose son Gordon died in the explosion....

That's AmeriKa.


Also see:

"The United States [will] have the world’s largest output decline this year as capital spending continues to fall, reducing the number of rigs drilling wells. Overall production will fall this year because of the resurgence of US oil production, the end of sanctions on Iranian oil, and the determination of OPEC nations to maintain production levels have flooded international markets with oil when demand is weakening along with growth in China, Europe, and other parts of the world. The decline in gas prices follows the plunge in crude prices, with gasoline falling to its lowest price in nearly seven years, AAA Northeast said Monday."

"US stocks made their biggest gain in more than a month on Friday as oil prices surged. Oil prices jumped the last two days. Much of the volatility has been driven by wild swings in the price of crude oil, which many investors see as a barometer for how well the global economy is doing. Many expect the damage to continue as global production of oil far outstrips demand. As for market turbulence, many expect more of that, too."

That's the bottom of the Globe well, and why I've stopped following the swings of the rigged markets..

Time to burn some coal:

"Former Massey Energy CEO guilty in deadly coal mine blast; Twenty-nine workers were killed at the Upper Big Branch mine in 2010" by Alan Blinder New York Times  December 04, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Donald L. Blankenship, a titan of the nation’s coal industry whose approach to business was scrutinized and scorned after 29 workers were killed at the Upper Big Branch mine in 2010 — the deadliest US mining accident in decades — was convicted Thursday of a federal charge of conspiring to violate mine safety standards.

The verdict reached by a federal jury here made Blankenship, 65, the most prominent American coal executive ever to be convicted of a charge connected to the deaths of miners. He had been accused of conspiring to violate mine safety regulations, as well as of deceiving investors and regulators; prosecutors secured a conviction on only one of the three charges. Blankenship was acquitted of making false statements and securities fraud. He faces a maximum of one year in prison on the misdemeanor conspiracy charge.

But the verdict was, by most measures, a defeat for the Justice Department, which had pursued a prosecution that could have led to a 30-year prison term. The trial began with jury selection on Oct. 1 and jurors started deliberations Nov. 17 after the defense rested its case without presenting any witnesses. The lead lawyer for Blankenship, a former chief executive of Massey Energy Co., said he intended to appeal the verdict.

“We are disappointed, but not as disappointed as we could have been,” said the lawyer, William W. Taylor III, the leader of Blankenship’s defense team. “I’m confident that we’ll prevail on appeal.”

Before Judge Irene C. Berger read the verdict aloud in a crowded courtroom, relatives of the dead miners sat in the front row, their arms sometimes trembling as they bowed their heads in silent prayer.

Berger allowed Blankenship to remain free on bond until his sentencing, expected next spring. A prosecutor, Steven R. Ruby, had asked that Blankenship be jailed or confined to his home until sentencing.

He just seeped out, so to speak.

The jury was not asked to decide directly whether Blankenship was guilty in the deaths of the 29 miners. Investigators said the deaths occurred after flammable gases that had been allowed to accumulate in the mine exploded.

Instead, prosecutors constructed a case that accused Blankenship of putting his pursuit of profit, for himself and his company, ahead of the safety of the miners who worked for him.

Jurors heard descriptions of Blankenship’s fortune — he was paid nearly $18 million in 2009, the last full year before the explosion at the West Virginia mine — and they saw documents that portrayed him as a manager with intricate knowledge of the operations of his multibillion-dollar company. They learned about his demands for production reports from Upper Big Branch every 30 minutes, even on weekends, and they heard him, on audio recordings, chastising and lecturing subordinates.

Perhaps most importantly, they heard dueling interpretations of an array of memos and programs about safety at Massey, a company that had thousands of safety citations. The government insisted that Blankenship and Massey had embarked on little more than a safety charade.

What we have seen, and what you come to realize, is that both are guilty. 

Government regulators often come from industry, or are bought off with parties and other lobbying favors.

But Blankenship’s lawyers said that he had urged lower-ranking executives to reduce violations and that he had approved investments and purchases that improved safety in a dangerous industry. Moreover, they said that Massey’s safety record was not nearly as grave as prosecutors made it seem.

“The citations you’re hearing about are not crimes,” Taylor said on Nov. 17. “You can take all of this paper and look at it as long as you want and you will not find the word ‘willful’ in any of the citations.”

The government, Taylor said, had prosecuted a case that relied on misinformed assessments of documents, faulty testimony, and a heavy dose of personal animus toward a man who was powerful but hardly revered.

Poor guy.

“We don’t convict people in this country on the basis of maybes,” said Taylor. “We don’t convict them of crimes because they’re rich or rude or they’re tough.”

"We" do it if they are poor, polite, and weak?


You know, as long as the families of those who were killed are happy:

"US Attorney Booth Goodwin said Blankenship’s conviction ‘‘sends a powerful message to executives who would ignore the safety of their workers.’’ The dying coal industry has made jobs scarce and poverty endemic."

‘‘I guess the only thing [they] can do is to put [their] trust in God and go on.’’

Related: Arch Coal files for bankruptcy

"New York is latest state to join worldwide war on coal" by Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Jim Polson Bloomberg News  January 16, 2016

NEW YORK — Coal already has plenty of enemies, from global climate negotiators to market forces. Add New York to the list.

“Regulation is working hand-in-glove with good old Adam Smithian economics to produce the right outcomes for our country,” Larry Kellerman, managing partner at Twenty First Century Utilities, a Washington-based energy investment firm, told a National Press Club panel in the capital. “King Coal is no longer King Coal.”

The once-dominant source of US electricity is being edged out as a shale drilling boom makes domestic natural gas cheaper. It’s also more appealing to policy makers heeding calls for cleaner fuels. Last April was a turning point: For the first time, gas replaced coal as the biggest supplier of American power generators.

Environmental regulations have hastened coal’s decline. A suite of federal pollution mandates made coal facilities more costly to operate, and states must also comply with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which targets a 32 percent drop in the industry’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, from 2005 levels. That in turn is part of a bigger international commitment formalized at last month’s Paris climate talks.

On Friday, the administration announced a three-year pause in selling mining companies new rights to extract coal on federal land, now responsible for about 40 percent of US production.

Keep that in mine.

Because the pressure is coming from so many different directions, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s pledge is “a bellwether of things to come,” said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

Michael Bloomberg, the majority owner of Bloomberg LP and former New York mayor, has pledged at least $50 million to the group’s anticoal efforts.

Anticoal activists have focused on states with relatively little coal-fired power. Their next targets include Nevada and New Hampshire, which each have two coal-fired plants, and Connecticut, which has just one. In much of the eastern United States, coal isn’t cost-effective any more, Kellerman said.

Plenty of states still defend coal. Laura Sheehan, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, said, “New York has a long history of being not in favor of energy development whether it would be fracking or any type of energy development that would make it easier on its constituents.” The Sierra Club says Cuomo’s plan will actually save money for New Yorkers who are paying for bailouts of coal-fired plants.

Notice this is the first mention of water-polluting fracking?

Some analysts and regulators have warned against betting too heavily on the US gas boom, saying it hasn’t eliminated volatility. They cite a spike of more than 50 percent in natural-gas costs during a cold snap in 2014....

Didn't really happen, but whatever.


Better get back to mining.

"Mining firm Anglo American will lay off 85,000" by Danica Kirka Associated Press  December 09, 2015

LONDON — The decision by a London-based mining company to shed 85,000 jobs is the sign of a global industry in crisis, with conglomerates reassessing their huge operations to cope with a drop in demand from Chinese factories for metals and other raw materials.

Anglo American said Tuesday it will shed some 63 percent of its workforce in a radical restructuring meant to cope with tumbling commodity prices. It will streamline its global business from some 55 mines to around 20.

Chief executive Mark Cutifani said the drop in commodity prices requires ‘‘bolder action,’’ even though the company has delivered on performance and previous business restructuring objectives. He pledged to provide more details later.

The dividend was suspended for the second half of 2015 and 2016. Investors reacted with dismay.

Mining companies around the world are facing tough times as economic growth slows in China, whose manufacturers’ need for raw materials has driven a years-long boom in mining in countries like Australia and Brazil.

China accounts for as much as 40 percent to 50 percent of global commodity demand, according to consultants PwC.

‘‘Mining companies are feeling the wrath of the collapse in commodity prices,’’ said Gianna Bern, who teaches finance at the University of Notre Dame and expects others across the industry to also either cut or suspend their dividends to cope. ‘‘Companies are weathering some very tough economic times.’’

I'm starting to get hot.

The price of copper has dropped about 30 percent in the past year, gold 11 percent. Iron ore has about halved. Companies have focused on cutting costs and reducing capital spending, but market values have continued to decline among the top 40 companies, losing some $156 billion of their combined market value in 2014, PwC said.

‘‘With few exceptions, the commodity price outlook remains dim, forcing miners to keep up their guard,’’ PwC said in its report. ‘‘As the old saying goes, survival will be of the fittest, and for miners also the leanest.’’


Just as first there was a big boom in commodities, now there’s an equally big bust, said Julian Jessop, the chief global economist at Capital Economics.

‘‘I think the pendulum has swung too far to pessimism, but as long as you have pessimism, you’re going to get these big cuts.’’

Anglo American is not alone. Shares in Glencore slid about 30 percent in one day in September amid concerns over its ability to service sky-high debts at a time of low market prices.

Glencore shares have since stabilized as the company announced the sale of several mines, but they were down another 9 percent on Tuesday.

But Anglo American is different from others in that two commodities in its portfolio — diamonds and platinum — are labor intensive to extract, said Kieron Hodgson, a mining analyst at Panmure Gordon & Co.

The company said it provides some 40 percent of the world’s newly mined platinum from South Africa and Zimbabwe.

De Beers and its partners produce a third of the world’s diamonds by value, employing more than 20,000 people around the world.

As Anglo American moves to rationalize its business, it will reduce its assets by 60 percent. It will consolidate from six to three businesses. The company will also move its London office to ‘‘co-locate’’ with DeBeers, its majority-owned diamonds business, by 2017.

Some $3.7 billion of cost and productivity improvements are underway and set to be completed by 2017.

Cutifani also confirmed Anglo will sell the phosphates and niobium businesses during 2016.

Some analysts wonder if it will be enough.

‘‘It’s underwhelming as a package,’’ Hodgson said. ‘‘The business needs to reappraise itself in a manner that gives it a future.’’


Also seeMine uranium, stop climate change

Yeah, better get that pipeline built:

"Financial woes confront firm behind New England gas pipeline" by Stephen Singer Associated Press  December 14, 2015

HARTFORD — Kinder Morgan Inc., the energy giant proposing gas pipelines in the Northeast that have drawn opposition, is weathering another challenge: financial woes linked to falling energy prices and a steep drop in its stock price.

The Houston-based company said last week it would cut its quarterly dividend 75 percent to 12.5 cents per share to conserve cash for financing portions of its expansion projects. In addition to a $3.3 billion pipeline through Western Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire sought by a Kinder Morgan subsidiary, it’s also proposing a Northeast pipeline network in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Cutting the dividend allows Kinder Morgan to avoid issuing stock to raise capital or incur debt that could jeopardize its credit rating, the firm said.

Richard Kinder, executive chairman, said in a conference call Wednesday its stock price has reached the point ‘‘where it is no longer an economic source of expansion capital.’’

Kinder Morgan also rejected interrupting ‘‘very important, very profitable’’ long-term projects to conserve cash, Kinder said.

Analysts said cutting the dividend will make capital available to help finance pipeline construction. Rob Desai, an analyst at Edward Jones, said it removes financing risks.

‘‘The underlying risks still remain: low commodity prices and the risks and uncertainty associated with that,’’ he said.

Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. said in a note that the dividend cut ends an ‘‘investor/management game of cat and mouse.’’

It will not end near-term trading volatility, but Kinder Morgan will keep $3.7 billion that will help finance capital spending without the sale of shares or adding debt, the analysts said.

The company’s stock price had been cut nearly in half, from a high of $32.68 on Oct. 8 to $15.72 on Dec. 8, when it cut its dividend. Falling oil prices have weighed on Kinder Morgan and the energy industry. However, investor concern over the company’s debt also was a factor.

Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary, is seeking to build the pipeline through Southern New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts. The company says it hopes to start construction in January of 2017 and put the pipeline into service in November 2018.

New England is plagued by high energy prices because of natural gas pipeline bottlenecks.

That's the standard narrative, and as I linked above, it's BS. It's to push for more pipelines.

ISO-New England, the region’s grid operator, said in its annual power system plan Nov. 5 that ‘‘significant challenges to reliability, particularly in winter, are posed by natural gas infrastructure that is inadequate’’ to meet rising demand for heating and generating power.


Opponents, including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, say New England does not need additional pipelines to maintain a reliable source of energy for the next 15 years.


Also see:

Divesting talk takes hold in Vt. city

Regulators approve $1.2b Vermont power line

John A.S. McGlennon, 80, of Gloucester; first New England EPA chief

Baker prioritizes new energy sources

Glad the Globe put some light on that.

"Massachusetts has a new incentive to help get more solar panels up on residents’ rooftops. Governor Charlie Baker’s administration on Thursday started providing $30 million to a number of local banks and credit unions for the state’s new Mass Solar Loan program. The goal: To make it easier for homeowners to obtain loans to install panels and own them afterwards, rather than lease them from a big panel installer. The goal is to ensure that homeowners enjoy more of the benefits of solar panel systems, such as federal and state tax credits, payments from renewable energy certificates, and savings on electricity bills. Some of those benefits are forfeited when homeowners lease a solar panel system from a company such as SolarCity Corp. and Vivint Solar Inc., two of the country’s largest installers."

"BlueWave Capital, an energy company with roots in Boston, is teaming up with a Utah-based company Vivint Solar, to better sell Massachusetts customers on the power of the sun. Both companies are gearing up to offer so-called “community solar” to areas in Massachusetts next year. Rather than install panels on the roofs of individual houses, community solar projects place panels on open project sites in a particular city or town. Subscribers can buy into the project and tap into the power generated for their homes. “Community solar is a great product that’s revolutionizing the energy market,” Chris Gosline, managing director at BlueWave said in a release. In July this year energy giant Sun Edison acquired Vivint Solar for $2.2 billion. BlueWave this month received a $100 million investment from Morgan Stanley, the first major financing directed at its community solar projects."

Banks just blocked out the sun!


Morgan Stanley invests $100 million in Mass. solar projects

Google helps analyze if solar panels will save you money

Does them.

SolarCity cutting most Nevada workers 

Solar customers to lose credits for selling power

Warren Buffett’s utility is basking in the glow.

"The Food and Drug Administration has proposed banning people under 18 from using tanning beds, in what medical experts say is a major step toward reducing the risk of skin cancer in the United States. The practice of indoor tanning increases the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, by 59 percent, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. About 1.6 million minors tan indoors every year, according to a federal youth health survey from 2013. The FDA proposal will be open for public comment for 90 days."

I take a vampire mentality when it comes to the sun.

Also see:

State regulators reject deductibles for winter ice-dam damage

More insurers raise homeowner rates

Suit faults Mass. record in cutting emissions

This state hypocritical (and a liar)?

Your kidding!

So what is it doing outside?

Very warm greetings for the holiday season? Check

Arctic temperatures a record high

So sayeth the government.

Late-fall snowstorm leaves 4-foot drifts, strands travelers in Colorado, Utah

Highway officials say they are prepared for winter

MBTA has mixed results during first winter test

Boston, don’t let the frost bite

‘Snow’ falls on Boston Common — sort of

How Paris changes climate politics

The Paris agreement, diplomacy, and the common good

"The Paris agreement probably occasions slight excitement among the planet’s billion people who lack electricity, and the hundreds of millions in need of potable water. [Historians] are likely to say that the Paris agreement ended climate change the way the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact ended war."

Good point.

For bears and hares, the mild weather is a mixed bag

Globe stuck it in hibernation?

‘Beastcam’ invented at UMass captures 3-D images of animals

N.H. moose to get collars that transmit data

2 deer rescued from cranberry bog in Plympton

Advocates backing animal abuse registry in Connecticut

Dog saved after falling through ice in Billerica

Snowy owl removed from Logan released at Salisbury Beach

Frigid air slows efforts to euthanize turkeys in Indiana

‘‘It is a wake-up call [and] a good opportunity.’’ 

For what?

US may ease rules on plovers

Maine firm finds use for lobster shells

Humpback whale seen splashing around in R.I.’s Narragansett Bay

Nonprofit raising money for new life-size inflatable whale

Crocodile takes morning dip in Florida Keys swimming pool

Manatee population booming in Fla.

2 dead, several injured after severe weather in Fla.

Scores of rare turtles found stranded on Cape

Sea turtles stranded on Cape shores later than ever

More stranded turtles wash up on Cape

They are telling us the heat is hiding in the oceans and that is what has made 2015 was hottest year in recorded history.

Dolphins herded to safety by boat

Christmas in the City lifts spirits of homeless families

Taste for craft beers has hop production surging

Krispy Kreme aims to focus on the coffee, too

One dead, 17 injured after Greyhound bus hits stalled vehicle on highway

Gun-friendly Texas eases into allowing open-carry pistols

"At least 11 people died and dozens were injured in the tornadoes that swept through the Dallas area on Saturday and caused substantial damage. That, plus the flooding in Missouri and Illinois, was the latest in a succession of severe weather events across the country in the last week that led to at least 43 deaths." 

The snow in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma was shoveled out.

Deadly storm system scatters damage across the South

While the weather out West is frightful, in the East, it’s so delightful

Warm December weather confuses even the flowers

"With some help from El Niño, 2015 will almost certainly finish out its run as the hottest year on record. Thirteen of the fourteen hottest years in memory have been recorded in the 21st century, a development that goes hand-in-hand with the expected effects of climate change. An overwhelming majority of scientists believe that global warming is being caused by human activities."

What do you do when you no longer believe them?

Golf on Christmas Eve? Yes.

Looking for snow? Try Caribou, Maine.

They make it sound like there is no snow anywhere!

"Across the United States, there’s more snow on the ground now than there was a year ago. In fact, the last time there was more snow across the country was in 2011, acording to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center in Chanhassen, Minn. — the arm of the National Weather Service that tracks such things. You couldn’t tell that in any of the large cities along the East Coast." 

Or rest of the reporting in the pre$$!

Tornado leaves long path of destruction in South

Temperatures to remain mild after spring-like Christmas

Coast Guard warning of cold waters despite warm temperatures

Off Cape Ann, a rescue gone wrong

Airmen honored for rescue during storm

First storm of the season will bring snow, ice, freezing rain

"Snow from New Mexico through the Midwest, floods in Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois, and a tornado in Texas added to the succession of severe weather events that in the past week have led to more than 45 deaths."

From a rare winter flood.

Wild December pushes US weather in 2015 to near records

‘‘As for the influence of climate change, it’s just the beginning.’’

Boston breaks December weather record

Which was weirder, December 2015 or February 2015?

Speaking of weird:

Andover man pulled gun on snow plow driver, police say

89-year-old killed by sidewalk plow is identified

Conditions expected to remain icy overnight

Rescue crews assist with evacuations in Midwest flooding

Flooding forcing evacuations, traffic troubles in Missouri

"On Friday, water from the Mississippi, Meremec and Missouri rivers was largely receding in the St. Louis area. The worst of the flood is over, further south things were getting worse: 22 deaths. ‘‘It’s going to get ugly.’’

As Illinois, Missouri flooding recedes, towns face massive cleanup effort

Missouri officials want FEMA buyout of flood-prone land

Spillway of swollen Mississippi River open near New Orleans

2nd photo down on left made my print that day.

2015 was an exceptionally dry year

Makes me think of California:

Weeks of storms hit drought-parched California

Strongest El Nino storm so far this winter hits California

"More than half the total was the result of massive fires about twice the size of Massachusetts in Alaska, where dryness due to historically low mountain snowpack and a freak lightning storm created dangerous conditions for fires. The record was anticipated by the US Forest Service, because of climate change and a prolonged drought in the West."

"Another powerful El Niño-driven storm came a day after the week’s strongest storm drenched the state and much of the Southwest, stopping cable cars in San Francisco, flooding roadways and stranding motorists across Los Angeles, and dumping heavy snow in northern Arizona. The region was expected to begin drying out on Friday before another round of light rain moves into California over the weekend. To the south, Flagstaff had 19 inches of snow on the ground; Grand Canyon National Park halted all shuttle bus service due to icy roads; and the Arizona desert saw its fourth straight day of rain. Despite the problems, the wet weather in California was welcome news for the state suffering from a severe drought. Officials, however, warned residents against abandoning conservation efforts and reverting to wasteful water-use habits." 

Speaking of wa$te:

"On Jan. 4, Debra Reed received the biggest stock payout she’s gotten since Sempra Energy promoted her to chief executive officer in June 2011. Two days later, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency due to a natural gas leak from a Sempra storage site near Los Angeles. Reed’s stock award, worth $13.1 million as of Jan. 4, was based on Sempra’s financial performance over the past four years. Some corporate governance experts say protecting the environment should figure more in calculating Reed’s compensation. In recent years, less than 1 percent of Reed’s pay has hinged on pipeline safety at subsidiaries including Southern California Gas Co., which operates the leaking well, filings show." 

Propaganda pre$$ has sure kept that stink under wraps.

Kind of leaves you with a sinking feeling, huh?

"Four years of drought and heavy reliance on pumping of groundwater have made the land sink faster than ever up and down the Central Valley, requiring repairs to infrastructure that experts say are costing billions of dollars. “It’s shocking how a huge area is affected, but how little you can tell with your eye,” said James Borchers, a hydrogeologist."

What is shocking is it didn't fall into the sea due to earthquake.

Ski patrol member dies in southwestern Montana avalanche

Avalanche kills 3 in French Alps

Avalanche in French Alps kills 5 soldiers during training

They were hunting for terrorists and found this:

"VanAlstyne initially told police that men had kidnapped the boy, prompting authorities to issue a statewide Amber Alert. She later admitted she covered his body with snow after tossing him into a culvert near the home, then called 911 and claimed the boy had been abducted. Police later found the boy’s body."

New York needs a better alert network.

"The general trend unfolding may give some people unpleasant flashbacks to last winter. Last winter began quietly, with virtually no snowfall, before the floodgates opened in late January and the region was walloped by an onslaught of snow unlike anything seen before. The exact timing and track of the potential storms in the next few weeks will be key, of course, in determining whether the region gets snow, rain, or no precipitation at all. But...."

Being concocted? 


Severe cold strikes Northern Plains, Great Lakes regions

"Aside from knowledge, the group took back a strong sense of friendship and a new outlook on companionship. Spending so much time in a completely isolated space, with few resources or distractions, means the group spent all their time together, talking and bonding. Now back in the United States, with easy access to television and Internet, University of Massachusetts Lowell professor Kate Swanger and postdoctoral researcher Kelsey Winsor said they feel lonelier here than in the vast emptiness of Antarctica."

Ummmm, where is the snow?

When I'm feeling lonely I simply look to the heavens:

Quadrantids meteor shower to light up night sky

Evidence found for new planet

Largest galaxy cluster of early universe found, scientists say

"Astronomers have discovered the brightest star explosion ever, a super supernova that easily outshines the entire Milky Way. An international team revealed ‘‘the most powerful supernova observed in human history’’ Thursday in the latest Science journal. The astronomers used a network of telescopes around the world to spot the record-breaking supernova last year."

A bad omen for 2016?

New York creates $5 billion clean energy fund to spur renewables