Rural Chinese uprooted by speculation

SUBHEAD: In case you thought communist China was free of crony-capitalist hyper-bubble land speculation. By Melissa Pozsgay on 23 October 2011 for Bloomberg News - ( Image above: A stadium and swimming complex project rises behind the Li family's housing in Loudi, Hunan Province. From original article.

Bulldozers razed Li Liguang’s farmhouse four years ago after officials in the Chinese city of Loudi told him the land was needed for a 30,000-seat stadium.

What Li, 28, says they didn’t tell him is that he would be paid a fraction of what his plot was worth and get stuck living in a cinder-block home, looking on as officials do what he never could: Grow rich off his family’s land.

It’s a reversal of one of the core principles of the Communist Revolution. Mao Zedong won the hearts of the masses by redistributing land from rich landlords to penniless peasants. Now, powerful local officials are snatching it back, sometimes violently, to make way for luxury apartment blocks, malls and sports complexes in a debt-fueled building binge.

City governments rely on land sales for much of their revenue because they have few sources of income such as property taxes. They’re increasingly seeking to cash in on real estate prices that have risen 140 percent since 1998 by appropriating land and flipping it to developers for huge profits.

“The high price of land leads to local governments being predatory,” said Andy Xie, an independent economist based in Shanghai who was formerly Morgan Stanley’s chief Asia economist. “China’s land policy is really screwed up.”

The evictions are alarming the nation’s leaders, who have taken steps to tackle the problem and are concerned about social stability. Land disputes are the leading cause of surging unrest across China, according to an official study published in June. The number of so-called mass incidents -- protests, riots, strikes and other disturbances -- doubled in five years to almost 500 a day in 2010, according to Sun Liping, a sociology professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.

Final Insult

There’s more to come. Some 60 million farmers will be uprooted over the next two decades as the urbanization that propelled China to the world’s second-largest economy gathers pace, according to an estimate by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. In many cases, officials take land they don’t use, an August report from the academy said.

That was the final insult for Li. The rice and bean plot his family farmed for generations still lies empty, weeds sprouting from the red earth. Villagers are convinced that the city has sold it to developers, even though they can’t point to any documentation to prove it.

“They flattened the land and still haven’t used it,” says Li, a wiry man with short-cropped hair, sitting inside the hut he built in a garbage-strewn alleyway across a main road from the stadium. “They sold it for I don’t know how many millions of yuan.”

Officials in Loudi, located in central China in Mao’s home province of Hunan, wouldn’t answer questions about whether plots in Li’s village were sold or what they will be used for.

50 Million Evicted

Li is among 50 million farmers who’ve lost their homes over the past three decades since Deng Xiaoping began breaking up Mao’s collectivized farms to make way for factories, roads and airports, according to numbers from the academy. Turning people like him into more economically active citizens is part of an urbanization policy that has swelled city dwellers to about 50 percent of the population, from 21 percent in 1982, according to official census data.

Termed “chaiqian” in Chinese, the demolition and relocation of communities has become increasingly controversial. Cities have been grabbing land to finance operations and pay back or restructure mushrooming debt that reached at least 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.68 trillion) by the end of 2010. Almost a quarter of that is backed by land, according to China’s National Audit Office.

The money paid for the building spree that was designed to maintain China’s economic growth in the wake of the global recession. Loans were obtained through more than 10,000 financing vehicles cities created to get around laws prohibiting them from borrowing, according to a central bank count.

Low Compensation

Cities may have to accelerate land sales as they struggle to repay the debt, said Victor Shih, a professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who studies China’s local- government finances. There’s also an incentive for officials to keep payments to farmers as low as possible, he said.

“Without suppressing land compensation, local governments can’t make the margins to pay back the banks,” Shih said. “In essence, they are the engines of inequality in China. Land development is the redistribution of income from average households to rich households.”

Loudi is one of 186 local authorities from Guangxi on the Vietnamese frontier in the south to Heilongjiang on the Russian border in the north that issued bonds or short-term notes through financing vehicles in the first nine months of this year. Some 105 of them said they engage in “chaiqian,” according to their prospectuses.

Rights Violated

The seizures frequently lead to local officials violating farmers’ rights that the national government has sought to improve since 1998 when it gave them 30-year tenure over their land, said Gao Yu, China director for Landesa, a Seattle-based group formerly known as the Rural Development Institute that studies global land issues.

Rules that prohibit authorities leaving land like Li’s idle for more than two years are also often broken, Gao said. Across China, compensation given to farmers is at least 15 times lower than prices for land sold to development, according to Landesa.

“The local governments earn a lot of money from the price difference between what they compensate farmers and villagers for their land and what they sell to developers,” said Wang Erping, a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing who studies social unrest. “This is really objectionable, but these governments don’t have any alternative to raise money.”

Collision Course

Land sales make up 30 percent of total local government revenue and in some cities account for more than half, according to Wang Tao, a Hong Kong-based economist for UBS AG.

That’s putting city bosses on a collision course with national leaders who were already struggling to contain lending to local governments and reverse rising property prices. A central government circular in April said some local governments took excessive land for property development, resulting in the forced eviction of farmers. Such evictions are considered a “gross violation of human rights” by the United Nations.

President Hu Jintao said in August that developers should stop using arable land for building new projects, while Premier Wen Jiabao in September criticized the role local officials are playing in land grabs, according to state media.

Premier’s Criticism

“Right now, some areas just brutally destroy farmers’ homes without paying attention to their rights, and put the farmers in apartment blocks,” Wen, 69, said at a symposium in Beijing to discuss the safeguarding of China’s cultural traditions, according to the account in the state media. In March, Wen called for urbanization to be accelerated.

A crackdown has led to 57 officials being punished for 11 demolitions that resulted in deaths of residents so far this year, the government said on Sept. 25.

Videos of people being forced out of their homes, sometimes by gangs wielding sticks, have caused public outrage when posted online on websites.

One farmer from the city of Fuzhou in Jiangxi province, first took his anger out on weibo, China’s version of Twitter. Qian Mingqi wrote that he had lost 2 million yuan because of inadequate compensation after he said officials illegally demolished his home to make way for a highway.

Then, on May 26, he detonated three bombs by government buildings killing himself and two others, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Fuzhou’s investment vehicle went to the country’s bond market this year for the first time, raising 800 million yuan to build sewage treatment works and flood control works. In its prospectus, the company said its main business included construction, land development and “resettlement.”

Avalanche of Demolitions

“Forced evictions are one of the biggest sources of public unrest and public dissatisfaction with the government because they are unstoppable,” said Phelim Kine, a senior Asia researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch. “We’ve seen an avalanche of forced evictions and illegal demolitions.”

The trend is also exacerbating rural-urban wealth disparity that Landesa’s Gao says is the greatest challenge confronting China’s leaders today. Incomes in cities are now more than three times those in rural areas, wider than at any time since Deng started economic reforms.

The government is working on ways to increase farmers’ income, Zhou Qiang, the Communist Party secretary in Hunan Province where Loudi is located, said in an interview in Beijing on Oct. 19. That includes providing skills training to make them employable in cities and ensuring farmers are adequately covered by social security, he said.

Land acquisition and relocation must be done according to law and there are “clear policy and legal provisions” to protect farmers’ interests, he said.

Artificially High prices

One problem is that the value of urban land is artificially inflated because it’s kept scarce by China’s quota of maintaining 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of arable land, says analyst Xie.

Officials in Loudi have run up more than 4 billion yuan in debt, expanding a provincial town into a city of 4 million people with a new railway station, six-lane expressway and a white colonnaded government building.

Where Li and about 70 other villagers for generations tended plots in Dawu village, now sits the freshly built stadium, a bulb-shaped gymnasium and a wavy-glass-covered aquatic center where kids line up to swim.

Family of Nine

Li’s family of nine -- including his wife, first child, parents and brother’s family -- had lived in a 400-square-meter two-story farmhouse on almost a half-acre of land. He said he didn’t worry about feeding them, and he was able to pay for extras by selling his vegetables a couple times a month in the city and doing odd jobs.

“It was a reliable income,” said Li. “Before we had food to eat. Now if I don’t work as a laborer, we don’t have anything.”

Then came the evictions. The sports bureau took about 47 acres of land in Dawu and another village, issuing notices -- and verbal threats -- in 2006 saying it was needed for the stadium.

“They told us that if we didn’t move, they would send a lot of people to destroy our house,” Li said. “If you didn’t agree they would detain you.”

Villagers were initially relocated to the alleyway where they built shanties with tarp and corrugated-tin roofs. The only bright notes are the red scrolls bearing the Chinese characters for good fortune that adorn some front doors.

From the lane, Li can see the stadium gleaming at one end and new luxury high-rise buildings to the other.

Temporary Home

Li’s shelter was supposed to be a temporary home while he builds a house on the 70-square-meter (754 sq. ft) plot the city gave him about 100 meters further south. He said his family of nine received 280,000 yuan in compensation, not enough to finish construction of their new home. Unable to get bank loans, he borrowed 100,000 yuan from family and friends.

That still wasn’t enough, putting Li in a Catch 22: without a loan he can’t finish his house, and without a house he has no collateral for a loan.

Most of Li’s income is spent on groceries, he said. Food inflation in China was running at 13.4 percent in September.

“The renminbi is appreciating everywhere in the world, but in China it’s depreciating,” Li said one late August evening, smoking a White Sand cigarette and sipping bootleg liquor in a restaurant overlooking paddy fields.

Putrid Stream

The only beans the family grows now are cultivated by Li’s mother on a four-square meter plot behind the temporary home, where the stench of a putrid bright green stream hangs in the air. Stooped, with gray hair, she recalls the well water they had access to before that was so clean she could wash with it.

Officials say the development is benefitting Loudi residents as it seeks to cash in on its location on a major high-speed rail route linking Shanghai in the east to Kunming in the west. The stadium was partly funded by a 1.2 billion yuan bond issue in March by the city’s financing vehicle -- Loudi City Construction Investment Group Co. -- that pledged to repay with proceeds from selling land.

“People’s lives have improved,” Yang Haibo, an official at the city’s financing vehicle, said during an interview at his office in June. Yang wouldn’t talk in follow-up calls and the company didn’t respond to faxed requests for comment. The city government also didn’t respond to calls and faxes.

Hoarding Land

Some Dawu villagers say their lives have gotten worse, not better.

Wu Zifei, 27 and a father of two, takes out a compact disc with pictures of his old house one July afternoon in his family’s store in the new Dawu village. Li likes to play cards there with friends on days when they can’t find work.

“The older place was much better,” said Wu, a thin man who waves his arms as he talks. Wu continued to use the old family plot -- which like Li’s has been left unused behind a mound of earth at the edge of the stadium construction site -- until June, when a mudslide killed his crop of corn.

“They are hoarding land, waiting for the prices to rise,” he said. “I really can’t stand the way authorities do things.”

Other Dawu residents say they were left homeless because they weren’t allocated any city land. Zou Fuqiu’s home was demolished in 2010, following an eviction order in August 2009.

“It breaks my heart that they demolished my home,” said Zou, 59, a stout man who rolls his white shirt up above his stomach to cool himself from Hunan’s mid-summer heat. “It was the best house in the village, but they didn’t compensate us accordingly.”

Wife Cried

He went to see the village cadre at his office to plead for land, where he says his wife sat crying beside him for three hours. It was no use. Instead, Zou built a shack on unoccupied wasteland where he hangs two old black and white photos of his parents in revolutionary jackets and a portrait of Mao, near a small Buddhist shrine.

“They tore my house down with no regard for where I would live, but they themselves live in high-class homes,” said Zou of the officials. Behind him in the dusk, a chandelier turns on inside one of the stadium buildings.

Loudi city officials work in a building with five white domes and an archway entrance, nicknamed “the White House” by locals. There have been two separate purges for corruption in the past five years, including the removal of 16 officials in August, according to the official Hunan Daily newspaper.

Hundreds of meters from the main entrance to the building, a small door has a gold plaque that says petitioners can be received there. Petitioning is the practice dating from imperial times by which people take their complaints either to local officials or directly to the capital.

Low Compensation

The compensation that Dawu villagers say they received works out at about 6 percent of what the city was selling land for in 2008, a year after they were evicted. Dawu natives said they received 38,000 yuan per mu, a Chinese measure of land that is about one-sixth of an acre. That’s less than half the average of 85,420 yuan the Loudi city government says it paid, according to a notice on the website of its land resources bureau.

The land is worth many times even the higher figure. Loudi city in 2008 sold its land to developers for 600,000 yuan per mu, according to the bond prospectus. A similar plot to Li’s near the stadium sold in March for 1.2 million yuan per mu, according to the website of the city’s State Land Resources Bureau.

It would take Li 92 years to earn enough to buy back his still-vacant plot at that price based on his present wage rate as a day laborer.

Daily Struggle

Li’s focus is on the daily struggle to feed his family and finish his new home. He wishes officials would start building on his land, giving him the chance to pick up some work. Ultimately, he hopes to use the home as collateral to borrow money to buy a digger so he can earn more money at construction sites.

In his hut, where the only decoration is a vase of yellow plastic flowers and a 2009 calendar celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Communist state, he laments the loss of his old, simpler way of life.

“Our house was not like this before,” he said. “Five years ago I had my own house, and everything surrounding it was mine.”


Eco-Politics on the Ranch

SUBHEAD: In Nebraska, the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline is not about left versus right. By Madeline Ostrander on 30 September 2011 for Yes! - ( Image above: Conservative rancher marches with progressive activists in Washington DC protesting Keystone XL Pipeline. From (

It’s been a surprise story for the national media. During hearings held by the State Department this week, some of the loudest opposition to the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, which will move tar-sands oil from Alberta to Texas refineries, is coming from Nebraska, a deep-red state whose citizens are often isolated from and a bit suspicious of federal politics.

We’ve become used to a political narrative that says conservatives aren’t interested in environmental issues—and certainly aren’t likely to join hands with greenies or raise Cain to fight the oil industry. But sometimes there’s a realpolitik in Nebraska that transcends conventional political ideologies—it’s about land and the practicalities of living on it.

Like most of the Plains, Nebraska has a lot of farmland and pasture—more than 90 percent of its land base is agricultural. State law banned corporations from owning farms from 1982 to 2006, when a federal court struck down the ban. But the vast majority of Nebraska’s farmland is still family-owned, and the pipeline crosses land that has belonged to some ranch families for several generations. The planned pipeline route also transects the Sandhills, an iconic 12-million-acre landscape of fragile sandy soil, rolling dunes, prairie grasses, yucca, and migrating waterbirds. “The Sandhills are Nebraska’s wild land. It’s this place where we still have our cattle ranching traditions. It's still a lot like it was 100 years ago,” says Ben Gotschall, a fourth-generation Nebraska rancher and one of lead campaigners against the Keystone XL pipeline.

The aquifer that runs through the Sandhills is so shallow that in some places locals say you can touch water just by digging your arm elbow-deep into the dirt. And it’s not just any groundwater, but the giant Ogallala Aquifer, which underlies eight states and supplies 65 percent of the nation’s irrigation water. After this summer’s highly publicized spill in Yellowstone River and several spills along TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline, which runs from Canada to Illinois, locals are deeply concerned about what could happen to ranching communities when an oil leak hits the Sandhills’ shallow water table.

For many, the TransCanada route through the Sandhills feels like both an assault on the agricultural economy and on Nebraska’s very identity. “Our family has been in this ranching business and on this ranch for over a hundred years … and we were not going to stand by and in one fell swoop let TransCanada destroy it,” says Teri Taylor, one of many Nebraska landowners who testified this week against the pipeline at State Department hearings.

In total, more than 2,000 people turned out for the two Nebraska hearings. Roughly as many people showed up in the rural town of Atkinson, population 1,200, as in Lincoln, the capital city. At both hearings there was a crowd of pipeline supporters—many of whom were union workers hoping that TransCanada would offer construction jobs. According to InsideClimate News, the American Petroleum Institute offered many pipeline supporters bus transportation to the hearings. Union representatives also traveled to the hearings from out of state.

The hearings, though generally civil, sometimes had the feel of a football game. Pipeline opponents cheered enthusiastically for anti-Keystone testimony. Some claims about the pipeline’s safety standards got snickers. A union worker from Oklahoma won applause for an appeal about jobs that seemed to strike a chord. A soft-spoken rancher received a roar of approval from the crowd as he haltingly read testimony about his fears for the water supply. Multiple speakers voiced their anger over corporate influence in state and federal politics. “Why should we in Nebraska take all the risk for none of the benefits while a powerful corporation makes even more obscene profits?” said Jean Lewis, a Nebraska photographer.

Locals say it’s unusual for Nebraskans to react this strongly to anything—they say people here tend to be diffident, private, and uncomfortable when others meddle in their business. That may be one reason the project has roused such heated controversy. TransCanada’s public relations strategies have generally failed to comprehend Nebraskan sensibilities. The company stirred outrage when it sent threats of eminent domain to landowners along the pipeline. It aired ads about the pipeline on video screens earlier this month at Husker football games, a mainstay of Nebraska cultural life: Inside the 85,000-person stadium, the crowd booed when the ad appeared. Days after the second round of ads aired, the university canceled its contract with TransCanada because of fierce opposition from football fans.

Randy Thompson, who has fought to deny TransCanada rights to build the pipeline through his farm, was appalled when company representatives recently sent flowers to his mother’s funeral: “I said, ‘I want these in the dumpster right now.’ … That's the last thing I wanted to see at that time.”

For ranchers like Thompson, the pipeline fight has been eye-opening. It’s made political opponents into allies, uniting progressives concerned about climate change with conservative ranchers wanting to protect the integrity of their farmland and their water supplies.

The opposition has succeeded in getting the public’s attention in Nebraska. Three years ago, ranchers and environmentalists working against the pipeline believed it was a “done deal.” Now 64 percent of Nebraska voters support a regulatory proposal that could shift the pipeline route, and 47 percent oppose Keystone XL outright, according to a poll commissioned by Bold Nebraska. Public outcry has moved Governor Dave Heinemann, who was previously tepid on the subject, to ask Obama to deny approval to Keystone XL.

But what’s happening in Nebraska suggests something larger—that it could be possible to have environmental politics driven by common values rather than hot-button issues and divisive ideology. It’s not a partisan issue to protect drinking water. It’s common sense to find alternatives to importing expensive oil from Canada. And if farmers in the country’s breadbasket want to survive the decades to come, it will be necessary to stop climate change.

Politics in Nebraska will never look like California, but the pipeline has opened a back-to-basics dialogue in the center of the country about what people value and what they want for their children—such as a decent, unpolluted, stable place to live in.

See also: Ea O Ka Aina: US backed Keystone XL EIS conflicts 10/7/11


The 3D Drawing Machine

SUBHEAD: An low-tech invention that could have existed a thousand tears ago... had anybody thought of it.  

By Chistopher 11 September 2011 for This is Colossal - 

 Image above: Perspective created of Cloudgate sculpture in Millennium Park, Chicago, with Vision 3D drawing machine. From original (
Vision is a rather unique 3D drawing device created by twins Ryan & Trevor Oakes, allowing almost anyone to draw images in perfect perspective using nothing but your eyes and a pen. The device MESSES WITH YOUR BRAIN by using a technique that splits the ocular system, creating two images of the subject, allowing the artist to literally trace one directly onto paper. You really need to watch the video to get a clear idea of how it works, and there’s also some rather touching remarks about the nature of the twins relationship.

This made the rounds back in 2009, but that was pre-Colossal, and before the recent creation of the video above, so I feel at least somewhat justified covering it here. Plus, it’s just freaking awesome, and gave me an excuse to finally create the drawing machines tag. (via polkadot).

Video above: Demonstration of Vision 3D Drawing Machine by the Oakes brothers. From (

Fracking waste over Niagara Falls?

SUBHEAD: New York state is considering dumping toxic fracking waste water upstream from Niagara Falls. [Editor's note: The international boundary between US and Canada runs through the Niagara River, so that this toxic pollution could raise issues on cross border pollution agreements.] By Beth Buczynski on 19 October 2011 for Care2 - ( Image above: Panoramic view of American (left) and Canadian (fight) side of Niagara Falls. From (

Local residents are alarmed by a deal between natural gas companies and the Niagara Falls Water Board that could mean toxic hydraulic fracturing waste will be released into the water supply just a few miles upstream from the massive Niagara Falls international waterfall.

When large industrial firms fled the recession-stricken area, the Niagara Falls Water Treatment Plant was left operating far below capacity. Loss of revenue led the town to become the first in New York State to agree to process fracking waste.

Fracking fluid consists primarily of water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals that includes many toxins and known carcinogens: methanol, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, napthalene, benzene, toluene and xylene. The fracking process has also been known to release radioactive elements such as radon and uranium into the waste.

Niagara Falls residents and environmental groups crammed into the September meeting of the Niagara Falls Water Board to voice their concerns about the town’s motivation for pursuing such deal.

Water from the treatment plant would be released into the Niagara River, which flows into Niagara Falls, Lake Ontario, and other Great Lakes communities. Critics say there is no evidence that the Niagara Falls Water Treatment Plant could filter out the radiation or the chemicals found in the wastewater.

New York Department of Conservation Commissioner Martens has directly stated that no wastewater treatment plants in the state are equipped to treat or permitted to accept wastewater with the range of contaminants expected to be in the fluids produced from high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Costly upgrades for the plant, as well as increased costs for infrastructure repairs from excess truck traffic, are immediate concerns for an already struggling local economy.

“If this fracking waste is not treated correctly, it could contaminate our water. With the Niagara River already on the 303(d) Clean Water Act list of impaired waterways, we should take a serious look at the risks before looking at the dollar signs,” said Rita Yelda of Food & Water Watch. “We don’t want this to be another ‘Love Canal’. This region is known for its tourism and beautiful natural landmarks. Why would we risk that?”

Last year, New York declared a year-long ban on fracking operations so officials could study its potential impacts on human and environmental health. In July 2011, the state Department of Environmental Protection recommended lifting the ban and regulating drilling despite lingering questions about public safety.


Chinese undermine Great Wall

SUBHEAD: The Great Wall of China is crumbling due to numerous nearby hazardous coal mining operations. By Jennifer Hattman on 22 October 2011 for TreeHugger - ( Image above: Coal dust haze in Zhenchuanbu, a small coal mining town near the Great Wall. From (

China's rapid push to develop the country's resources is now threatening its most iconic landmark. According to recent reports, both legal and illegal mining near the Great Wall are causing parts of the ancient, 4,000-mile-long structure to crumble away.

"The Great Wall of China may have survived the Huns and Mongol hordes, but widespread neglect, underfunding, and mining means that it is now falling down," The Telegraph reported earlier this month, citing photographs that show "huge holes...punched through the wall in some areas" and entire sections up to 100 miles long in ruins.

Mining Operations Largely Unregulated "We have no idea how many enterprises are engaged in mining along the Great Wall," the British newspaper quoted Guo Jianyong, an engineer from the provincial architecture protection agency, as telling the People's Daily.

The stability of the centuries-old wall is threatened by prospecting for copper, iron, molybdenum, and nickel, with some mining operations coming within 100 meters of the famous structure, Reuters reported. It said the country's Land Resources Bureau is not required to consult with the Department of Cultural Heritage before issuing mining permits.

Maintenance Neglected Villagers in Hebei Province told the Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency that "about 700 meters of the wall, which was built during the reign of Emperor Wanli during the Ming Dynasty (1573-1620), had already collapsed, and more walls and even towers are likely to collapse if the mining continues unchecked."

According to both The Telegraph and Reuters, maintenance of the wall has focused on the most-visited segments near Beijing, with other parts neglected and left to fall into disrepair. Xinhua quoted an engineer as saying that resources are so limited, many segments of the wall are only inspected once a year.

"There was a regulation to protect the wall in 2006, but the wall is so long it is hard to enforce... And the general awareness of the wall's problems is low," Dong Waohui, the vice-chairman of the Great Wall Association, told The Telegraph. "People just think of the famous sections and assume that the rest of the wall is in the same condition."


Bleak Outlook for Europe

SUBHEAD: The sovereign debt crisis In Europe puts the whole global economy In danger. By Peter S. Goodman on 21 October 2011 for Huntington Post - ( Image above: Greek street protests escalate. From (

At this point, anyone not officially frightened by the bleak situation in Europe simply hasn't been paying attention.

Even before the latest dispiriting piece of news -- that a planned weekend summit of European leaders in Brussels has zero chance of producing a credibly large bailout fund -- there was ample reason for concern that the continent is plunging toward another recession, potentially taking the rest of the world along for the ride.

From France to Belgium to Germany, major banks that never built up adequate stocks of capital following the synchronized shocks of 2008 appear increasingly vulnerable to running out of money. Their resulting tightness with the cash they have has been depriving economies of growth. Widespread assumptions that Greece will default on its debts has ratcheted up borrowing costs for other fiscally troubled nations, not least Italy, adding to the slowdown. Lean growth is depriving national governments of the largess needed to prop up ailing lenders, especially the ones that got themselves into budget troubles in the first place by previously bailing out banks.

Across the continent, as in the United States, political leaders who are intent on pandering to know-nothings or who are under the influence of deficient economic beliefs have embraced austerity as the cure for the advancing diseases, much like prescribing a starvation diet for a patient wasting away from malnutrition.

As if all of this were not enough, another disaster is now unfolding, one that only amplifies the others: Markets are justifiably losing confidence that Europe has the structure or the political will to address the storm threatening to tear it apart.

You may be forgiven for dismissing concerns that come attached to appeals to bolster confidence, a word with a troubling track record. The Bush administration, led by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, frequently cited the need to shore up confidence as it justified dispensing with deliberations about taxpayer justice to swiftly pledge (almost unconditionally) hundreds of billions of dollars in rescue funds for the very financial institutions that caused the crisis of 2008.

From Ireland to Greece, European leaders have prescribed a regimen of government spending cuts in the name of restoring confidence to markets -- only to see a resulting (and entirely predictable) slowdown in economic growth, which has itself scared markets, jacking up the costs of borrowing and further tightening fiscal constraints.

Time and again, appeals to confidence have shown themselves to be the modern equivalent of throwing virgins into the mouths of angry volcanoes while hoping for the best.

But the confidence crisis emerging from Europe has become very real. The longer that problems there build without an effective fix, the clearer it becomes that Europe has a monetary union (a shared currency, the Euro) without the political union necessary to deliver aid when one of its members is in trouble.

The European Central Bank lacks the authority to issue bonds backed by the credit of countries that share the Euro as currency, depriving it of this potentially significant means of delivering relief. The continent may well be impotent in the face of the markets' legitimate calculations that some of those members are in danger of running out of the cash needed to service their soaring debts. Should that come to pass in Greece, it would be enough to stick French banks with substantial losses that would surely spread to multiple shores. Should that happen in Italy, we may look back at the financial crisis of 2008 and see it as a mere dress rehearsal for the big one that came later.

As the crisis has built in recent months, some prominent figures, including investor George Soros and British Finance Minister George Osborne, have suggested that Europe must consider collectivizing a portion of the debts of its member states by authorizing the central bank to issue bonds backed by their credit. But France and Germany have both ruled out such a step, for fear of putting their citizens on the hook for financial troubles of weaker member states.

Germany has been particularly reluctant to put its savings on the line as guarantee against troubles in other countries, owing to a deep-seated fear of inflation. Nationalist sentiments in many European countries have traditionally limited collective action, with voters repulsed by the thought of handing more power to European bureaucrats in Brussels. Speaking in 2007, Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, famously put it this way: "We all know what to do but we don't know how to get reelected once we have done it."

Last year, amid the rising threat of a Greek default, Europe did cobble together a roughly $600 billion emergency fund that can be tapped to bail out struggling sovereigns and lenders. But as worries spread, so does the need for a bigger fund, with near-consensus that two or three times as much now needs to be raised to instill confidence in the markets.

For months, European leaders have failed to come up with a mechanism to make that happen, floating one contrivance after another designed to leverage what is already in the till into much more. The continent-wide bickering this has fostered has effectively added to the list of things the markets ought to worry about.

"Something will happen," former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Wednesday, as he sat down with Huffington Post editors and reporters in New York, premising this belief on the inarguable fact that something indeed better happen. "You're sitting here in a world economy that's in danger of stalling." But the following day, word leaked that this weekend's previously all-important summit in Brussels is now just a hollow exercise. Nothing will happen. Another summit has been scheduled for next Wednesday -- the soonest any agreement can be forged, and don't count on it. That old phrase "all politics is local" provides no comfort here.

German officials shot down a proposal urged by France to turn the emergency bailout fund into a bank that could tap central bank coffers to expand. "The path is closed for using the ECB to ease liquidity problems," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her conservative parliamentary caucus in Berlin, according to a Reuters report that cited people who attended the closed-door meeting. At a meeting in Brussels, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble reportedly declared: "The central bank is not available for state financing."

You need not be fluent in French, German or high finance to decipher the meaning here. Europe is rife with concerns, borne out by arithmetic, that some of its members will slide into delinquency. The more the process of debating a solution goes on, the more it becomes evident that Europe is just an idea without a workable governing architecture. (California, if you will, with worse weather and better croissants.)

Three years ago, when Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson began making the argument for the first of a series of taxpayer-financed bailouts for troubled financial institutions, he asked Congress to give him as much authority as possible, arguing that if he was able to wield a big enough bazooka, the odds of him having to use it would decline. The markets would take note of the bailout chest at his disposal and lose its fear of bank failures, enabling money to keep flowing, and averting the crisis.

Paulson's reasoning made some sense, even as he abused his authority in delivering backdoor bailouts to many of his old Wall Street cronies. Europe needs the bazooka these days, but it can't even build it, let alone point it at the threat menacing its members. As long-term Italian interest rates climb -- evidence that markets want greater return for the risks of sending money to Rome -- investors are in essence looking at their would-be European protectors and seeing a room full of people hollering at one another in different languages as they flip confusedly through the assembly manual that came with their bazooka kit.

It's simply hard to absorb this exercise in confidence building without losing confidence.


Why the Metamovement will fail

SUBHEAD: When there are no cohesive goals, demands, or measures of success, how can the Metamovement succeed? By David Pollard on 11 October 2011 for the Energy Bulletin - ( Image above: Front page of The Occupied Wall Street Journal paper published by OWS. From original article. There have been, belatedly, attempts to connect the “We Are the 99%” Occupy Wall Street protests with the protests in the Mideast against anti-democratic regimes and in Europe against unemployment, austerity and government inaction. What is unique about the newest US protests (at least since the ill-fated anti-globalization protests of a decade ago), and perhaps the reason why it took so long for them to get media and public traction, is that they are anti-corporate more than anti-government.

Umair Haque, an economics writer (best known for his explanation of the phenomenon of Peer Production) I have written about on this blog over the years, and now a writer for HBR, has recently labelled these protests with the collective term the Metamovement. In his essay he says:

The common thread behind each and every movement in the Metamovement… [is] a sense of grievous injustice, not merely at rich getting richer, but at the loss of human agency and sovereignty over their own fates that is the deeper human price. In other words, it’s not just about inequality–but the deeper failure of institutions…

The deeper thread that runs through [these protests is] one not merely of loss of financial prosperity, but of the paring back of dignity, of the evisceration of agency, of the disappearance of that which might be said to be essential to the experience of being human…

Not every revolt ends in revolution–but every revolution begins in revolt. And make no mistake–this is revolt; insurrection against a monstrous, barbaric status quo that’s failed too many, too deserving, for too long–while serving too few, too undeserving, far too well. It is not in the nature of man or beast to stay yoked to the gleaming machines of their own economic, social, and moral annihilation.

The Metamovement is in essence a revolt against disempowerment, and, while government is the favourite whipping-boy, there is a growing awareness that globalization has led to corpocracy — concentration of power in the hands of the wealthy multinational business owners, who buy and sell politicians at will and hence control the laws, the regulations, law enforcement and other political decisions including when and with whom we go to war. Loathing government has always been popular and acceptable in North America (which is why most elections are about which party is hated more). Loathing big corrupt anti-democratic corporations is new, and unsettling to the corporatists and the mainstream media they own. It’s OK to howl at the puppets, but not at the puppet-masters.

As Jeff Wells explains, there is an overwhelming and global sense that the rest of us don’t matter any more in our globalized industrialized society, except as passive consumers of products. We are not needed or wanted any more for our ideas, for our viewpoints, for our knowledge and skills, for our approval at the voting booth, or even for our physical labor; the corpocracy would prefer that we just borrow more and spend more, endlessly, quietly, and uncritically, until we die.

The metamovement is short on coherence of demands (and hence was and still is dismissed as aimless and anarchic by media and politicians alike) because there is a growing sense that what is needed is not for those in power to do something different, but for those in power to cede that power back to individuals and community, and leave it up to those individuals and communities to decide on what, in their particular situations, should be done with that power.

And, as consultant-philosopher Charles Handy has pointed out in a warning to political, economic and social idealists, nobody gives up power voluntarily. This is the greatest challenge to the Metamovement, as the people of Syria, Libya and Yemen know all too well.

What makes the situation even more complex is that there is no coherent consensus among the various facets of the Metamovement on who should be ceding power, or how. In the Mideast the target is corrupt totalitarian governments, but who their power should pass to is far from unanimous, and that makes a lot of people nervous, especially those who’ve seen who has risen to fill the power vacuum in other countries.

Neither the target nor the goal of the Metamovement is clear in North America or much of Europe. To some extent the protesters are not for anything — their solidarity is in opposition, not in intention. The left-libertarians of Occupy Wall Street are opposed to global corporatism, and want it dismantled to re-empower individuals and communities (as one writer put it “We don’t want to overthrow the government, we just want it back.”).

The right-libertarians of the Tea Party are opposed to government and government regulations (including regulation of corporatists), and want government dismantled through deregulation in order to — you guessed it — re-empower individuals and communities. Both believe the other is fraudulent, misguided and dangerous, but both are expressing, from their worldview and with the knowledge available to them, anger and outrage over our growing loss of dignity, disempowerment and even irrelevance to the global monoculture corporatist society in which we all live.

Meanwhile a large part of the populace, especially many young people, have pretty well given up on the possibility of any power shift occurring. Some of them think the Metamovement is ridiculous; most of them, I suspect, don’t know and/or don’t care about it. The billions around the world who have opted out of all active engagement with the political and economic system (other than continuing to support it with their purchases, their passivity and their resignation), are the real 99%.

So where is this Metamovement going? When there are no cohesive goals, demands, or measures of success, can the Metamovement ‘succeed’?

The real purpose of the Metamovement, at least in North America and perhaps Europe, is not to get the corrupt political and economic corporatist 1% to cede power, or to reform itself, or to compel political leaders to dismantle it or tax it fairly or reform it on threat of replacing them with leaders who will. Only the hapless Tea Party faction of the Metamovement is naive enough to believe that can or will happen.

The real purpose of the Metamovement, I would argue, is to re-engage the 99%, from the bottom up, community by community around the world, first to learn how things really work and what is really going on, and then to decide what actions need to be taken in response. In every nation and community the situation is different and the response that is needed will inevitably be different.

The purpose of the Metamovement is education and then organization. That means countering the official propaganda and refusing to support, with complacency, with tax dollars, with consumer dollars, with obedient wage-slave labour, or with the acceptance of crushing debt, the existing political and economic systems that are currently run for the benefit of the corporatists. It means curing the epidemic of anomie that has infected so many of us, everywhere. It’s a hugely ambitious goal.

In much of the Mideast that means for the moment deposing despots, and then struggling to avoid allowing either other ideologues or global corporatists to fill the power void. In North America and Europe that probably means both starving the system (by refusing to support it politically or economically), and smartly and strategically sabotaging it (where it is weakest) — blocking it, breaking it, or taking it at every turn, without causing suffering and without getting caught (at least until we are far enough along as a popular movement that the enforcement authorities will refuse to arrest us, and will instead join us).

This is and always has been the dream of revolutionaries. It has succeeded, sometimes, in the past, and it may succeed again, in some places and situations at least, for a while.

But look at where we stand now, the larger picture. Real democracy is, for all our efforts, rare in the world, and power inequality is staggering, growing by leaps and bounds, and almost unprecedented in human history. And we are headed towards a series of catastrophic and cascading energy, ecological and economic crises and no one is in control — no one, not the 99%, not the 1%, has the power to avert them. We have unleashed the sixth great extinction of life on Earth and it’s been accelerating unimpeded for thirty thousand years. We have created a political and economic industrial growth civilization monoculture that is unsustainable, out of control and unstoppable.

This is part of the learning that the Metamovement will have to internalize, relate to the local situation in every community, and decide how to act upon. So, of course we need a Metamovement to work to restore the balance of power in our political and economic systems, and to restore dignity and purpose to our lives. But such a movement will take a long time, will be fiercely opposed by powerful interests, will entail huge risks, and will have to play out across a backdrop of growing crises, the imminent train wreck of our global industrial growth civilization, for which we must all share the blame.

My sense is that, in the short run, the situation is simply not bad enough in most of the affluent nations of the world to engage sufficiently large numbers of people to learn and commit to what is needed and stick with it long enough to achieve the power change the Metamovement will discover is required to achieve their ends.

And every failure, like the recent failure of the anti-pipeline demonstrations in Washington DC (despite evidence of unethical and possibly illegal activities by both US and Canadian governments and regulators working with Big Oil), will only serve to demoralize the Metamovement and sap its energy.

And in the longer run, I believe that the massive and chronic crises we will all be facing will consume so much of our time and attention that the Metamovement will fall by the wayside.

In the meantime, I applaud the Metamovement and its hard-working members, especially those who are informed and not naive about what is really going on. I hope they succeed. I fear they cannot.


The Ongoing Stumble

SUBHEAD: A post-boom community can return to how they lived before a boom, but only if they remember how. By Brian Kaller on 11 October 2011 for the Energy Bulletin - ( Image above: Tinted early 20th century postcard of modest 19th century homes in Castlebar, Ireland. From ( When I moved here several years ago, Ireland seemed a charming mash-up of a landscape: medieval towers, straw roofs and horse-carts alongside modern suburbs, shopping malls and traffic jams. It had also just won a survey of best places to live in the world, an island boom town.

My wife, however, was returning to a home she did not recognise. The Ireland she grew up in, in the 1970s and 80s, had been one of the poorest countries in Europe, with a lower per-capita GDP than some African nations. Not all her neighbours had electricity or indoor plumbing, and many had a self-sufficiency that Americans associate with their 19th-century frontier.

Fifteen years ago, however, an influx of computer companies made this island nation -- with half the population of the Chicago metro area -- the planet’s top exporter of software, and it jumped from being one of the poorest nations in Europe to one of the richest. Everyone sunk their money into houses, and villages dating from medieval times suddenly acquired vast tumours of modern development. Immigrants flooded into the country following the jobs – mostly former Soviets – until one out of every ten people in Ireland were foreigners.

Three years ago, the global economy “crashed,” although that sounded too absolute and final for me, like a doomer fantasy; I preferred “stumbled,” implying that after the stumble, might stabilise for a while, but we could still fall further.

Fifteen months ago I wrote an article for Big Questions Online, describing why my neighbours here in Ireland might be better prepared for recession than many other Westerners. I mentioned that people had strong ties of family and community, that public transportation was widespread, that some homes and even schools and hospitals had kitchen gardens. Few here imagined that the boom would last forever, or felt devastated when it ended. Most importantly –unlike in my native USA -- two generations still alive remember how to live comfortably in Third World poverty.

Eleven months ago Ireland’s government effectively went bust, and asked the European Union and International Monetary Fund to bail them out. During those tense weeks everyone went about their regular routine as usual, but everyone checked the new updates and talked about whether they would have a job, a bank or even a government the following week. For better or worse, however, the country received its bailout, the banks were saved, the mass protests in Dublin remained peaceful and the basic infrastructure – hospitals, police, buses, electricity -- continued running. Local stores ran out of milk and other staples as everyone stocked up, but there was no crime wave and no panic.

Ten months ago an angry populace punished Ireland’s main political party – in power for most of the history of the country, including the boom and bust – by turning it into a third party overnight. What had been the country’s second-and-third-largest parties took power in a coalition, and previously fringe groups like the IRA-linked Sinn Fein surged in votes and power.

The new leaders have been able to do little, however, except greet US President Obama and Britain’s Queen during their historic visits; the country remains locked into its bailout agreements, and continues to muddle along in a recessional limbo. Watching this drama, close-up but with foreign eyes, brings home several lessons, which might be useful for other Westerners facing their own crash.

First of all, almost all change looks slow when it’s happening. Ireland’s boom seemed sudden to my wife, who was living abroad, but for my neighbours every day was normal, and only looking back did the changes hit them. Younger generations, meanwhile, find it difficult to believe that middle-aged Irish walked miles to school barefoot in all weather, or wove their chicken coops out of straw.

The same principle works all the way down, which will be a threat and a mercy for all of us going that direction. The world around us seems as constant as the faces of your loved ones, until an old photograph brings home how much has changed. Middle-aged people might recall flying thousands of miles on holiday or going to the doctor for every minor illness, but children will not feel the loss of things they never had. Such is mercy.

This also carries danger, when young people forget, or refuse to accept, that people once lived happily with little money, or that neighbors in the USA and UK once kept pigs in their common yard, or greeted each other with ritual politeness on the road. If young people forget those things, they might forget many more things in a continued crash; that women once had the rights of men, or that humans stepped on the moon, or that violent death was once shocking.

Secondly, all crashes are relative. My acquaintances back in the USA tell me that they struggle every day in this economy of high unemployment and fuel prices; I believe them, but I also mention that our unemployment is 50 per cent higher, and we pay the litre-and-euro equivalent of $8.00 a gallon. Today’s Irish, meanwhile, remain wealthy compared to the Irish of 20 years ago, who might, in turn, have been in the wealthiest half of the world. To use another comparison, the average American still makes twice the annual salary today as in the 1930s, even adjusting for inflation, and unemployment was three to four times higher then. Many Americans suffer, but their suffering comes not just from a lack of money, but from a lack of experience. Thirdly, a post-boom community can return to how they lived before a boom, but only if they remember how and set themselves to the task. Many local towns here had rows of small stores and pubs, driven out by the high prices and more fashionable stores of the boom. Now that the boom has gone bust those neighborhood businesses don’t magically re-appear; rather, some spaces remain empty and vandalized, like a ten-metre slice of East St. Louis or Detroit were dropped into a bucolic village. Those storefronts could be restored, but only if neighbors organize and resolve to restore them; if owners or zoning boards waste years waiting for the next boom, for example, people might get used to having a graffiti-covered space and lose the will to change it.

In the USA, I lived in Missouri and Kansas towns that were healthy in the 1950s; today the townspeople drive a day’s horse ride to Wal-Mart, and forgot the days when men walked the streets in suits and ties. When such megastores shut down locals could turn it into a cattle barn or stud stables, but how many people would think of doing so, and how many officials would accept such a use?

Finally, the more traditional your family, the less you stumble when the world does. More than one of my neighbors here said they knew the boom and bust mainly through the news; they continued harvesting turf, planting crops and raising chickens, as always. We Americans think such people would be survivalist loners, hoarding well-stocked shelters, but I find the opposite is true; the ones I have met tend to have extended families and few possessions, but were skilled at using whatever was around. Their lack of unneeded possessions means they never have far to fall, and the presence of loved ones cushions the weight of the world.


Peak Oil Crisis - Contagion

SUBHEAD: We are about to go through "interesting times" after which the global landscapes will be quite different. By Tom Whipple on 12 October 2011 for the Energy Bulletin - ( Image above: Scene from the movie "Contagion", 2011. From (

With every passing day it is becoming more apparent that the crisis of the depletion of cheap oil has become deeply enmeshed in the European debt crises.

The sequence of events is well known. Greece's economy is imploding; the government can no longer pay its bills without continuing bailouts from the EU; at some point Greece will have to default on at least part of the $430 billion it owes to mostly European banks. Such a default would in turn do severe damage to the viability of many major European Banks which are already suffering a liquidity shortage from the slowing global economy. It is widely believed that these problems quickly would spread to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and now Belgium which are too large to ever be bailed out by France and Germany. Credit Default Swaps would kick in and, taken to the extreme, the world could conceivably not have much of a banking system left.

What is most disconcerting is that many believe that unless all this is settled in the next few weeks, the deluge will begin. Obviously the Europeans do not want to see their financial system collapse and are scrambling to find a solution. EU leaders have given themselves a deadline of October 23rd to come up with a plan to settle the Greek debt question and then recapitalize the European banks that will have to take heavy losses on Greek and possibly other nations' sovereign debts. One of the many issues involved in this crisis, of course, is how much of these heavy losses will be absorbed by the banks making the loans, and how much will be absorbed by the taxpayers of the better-off Eurozone states. London and Washington are putting heavy pressure on the EU to settle this issue, realizing the havoc that would ensue should there be even a partial meltdown of the EU banking system.

There is a big systemic problem going on here. So long as 17 sovereign states and their parliaments have to approve major actions the likelihood that there will be quick and decisive solution to all this seems remote. As we have seen with the Greek situation over the last two years, there is very little the Eurozone as a collective can do to enforce new and highly unpopular economic and social policies on the members, short of kicking them out of the Eurozone and suffering the consequences of a hard default. Despite all the optimism in the financial press and rising equity prices, it seem that in reality there is very little the EU can do to effect a long-term solution.

For now it seems that the best the EU’s leaders will be able to do is the kick the can down the road.

At this stage, writing off Greece is a rather minor problem, as it only contributes 3 percent to the EUs GDP, as compared to major disruptions to the EU's and by extension the world's banking system. For now it seems that the best the EU's leaders will be able to do is the kick the can down the road a ways and hope for the best.

Our concern here remains how all this will affect oil prices and the availability of oil. Concern over the course of the Greek debt crisis has been roiling the foreign exchange and equity markets of late taking oil prices along for a rather wild ride. Last week we had London oil below $100 a barrel, but renewed optimism, or as it is now known, "risk appetite," soon sent London oil back up over $111 where it continues to methodically eat the heart out of the OECD economies. London oil has now been above $100 a barrel for the last nine months and so far shows no signs of collapsing to the fabled $60 a barrel level as it did three years ago.

The world has changed significantly since 2008. The Arab Awakening and the need for more oil revenue have put many OPEC producers, especially the Saudis, in a position where slipping oil revenues could threaten their hold on power. Last week when oil slipped briefly below $100, the rhetoric coming out of OPEC about production cuts to maintain "proper" oil prices increased significantly. Over the weekend we learned that the Saudis who had unilaterally increased their oil production by over 1 million barrels a day (b/d) in order to make up for lost Libyan production had cut their production by 400,000 b/d in September as they saw prices slipping. The message here is that the European economy and economies of the rest of the OECD are likely to contract under the weight of unaffordable energy for the foreseeable future. This will only add to the problems of those planning for bailouts and recapitalizations in Europe as they are chasing moving targets.

The other side of the coin in which the EU authorities are unable to contain the Greek debt crisis which then spreads across first the European and then the global financial system would likely lead to consequences too serious to meaningfully predict. The demand for oil would likely drop but by how much and where is impossible to say. Unless the EU's crisis spreads into a mega catastrophe with the OECD economies slumping into a deep depression and all those trillions of dollars in Credit Default Swaps are "made whole," parts of the world - Asia, Russia, Brazil, and OPEC exporters - seem likely to weather the storm and continue to demand increasing amounts of oil although perhaps at a slower rate.

We are about to live through some very "interesting times" after which the global economic, political, and social landscapes are likely to be quite different. .

Chinese closes down OWS coverage

SUBHEAD: Chinese officials are worried and cracking down on Occupy Wall Street media coverage. By Zaid Jilani on 21 October 2011 for Think Progress - ( Image above: A sanctioned OWS demonstration in China in early October (note policeman). Note "Tax the Rich" sign and "" signage. From article below. When the Occupy Wall Street protests started last month, Chinese state media blasted the U.S. media for its poor coverage of the events. Yet as the Financial Times reports, now that the protests are spreading and igniting global unrest, Chinese censors are cracking down on coverage. “A magazine to which I am a contributor has received a notice from regulators saying that it must not carry any content regarding Occupy Wall Street,” said journalism professor Hu Jong. A handful of occupation-style protests have popped up in China, and it’s possible that Chinese government officials fear that their own citizens will soon begin protests like those in Zuccotti Park.
OWS Protests in China By Staff on 6 October 2011 for China Study Group - ( A group of several hundred individuals in Zhengzhou protested earlier today in support of Occupy Wall Street, I believe earning them the distinction of being the first public action in China related to the occupation. As far as I can tell, the event was related to a Maoist grouping, going by the signs and the rhetoric from the posting at Utopia. Can anyone else recall an international solidarity action in China in recent memory? I can’t. Well, maybe the aborted anti-war marches of 2003, but there was a great deal of expat involvement in those. Indeed, it’s so jarring that Western journalists have been forced to face up to their utter confusion about Chinese popular nationalism and left-wing groups and rhetoric. Quite rich to claim that if the people you report on on fail to fit into your narrative, it’s because they’re confused and muddled. There was also an action in Hong Kong on October 5th led by the group Socialist Action, a Trotskyist organisation. Several dozen Hong Kong youth protested outside the stock exchange and US consulate. China Worker has an in-depth article on the event in English.

Meanwhile October 15th has been slated as the day to ‘Occupy Asia,’ including Taipei. I didn’t see Hong Kong listed there, anyone know?


OWS & Police Militarization

SUBHEAD: How OWS has exposed the militarization of US law enforcement with its attacks on a peaceful group.  

By Rania Khalek on 20 October 2011 for -  


Image above: Dallas-Fort Worth group calls for end of their SWAT team. From (

dont-need-an-ellis-county-police-state-swat-team/). As the number of Occupy Wall Street arrests nears 1,000, instances of police brutality continue to pile up. Felix Rivera-Pitre was punched in the face in New York during a march through the city’s financial district; Ryan Hadar was dragged out of the street by his thumbs at Occupy San Francisco; and at Occupy Boston.

 As the number of Occupy Wall Street arrests nears 1,000, instances of police brutality continue to pile up. Felix Rivera-Pitre was punched in the face in New York during a march through the city’s financial district; Ryan Hadar was dragged out of the street by his thumbs at Occupy San Francisco; and at Occupy Boston, As Occupation Spreads.

So Does the Police State A clear pattern has emerged in the response to occupations throughout the country, from San Francisco to Denver, involving midnight raids by heavily armed paramilitary units of riot police deployed to enforce park curfews. Protesters at Occupy San Francisco are familiar with the routine. They have endured multiple late-night police raids on their encampment in Justin Herman Plaza, the most brutal of which took place Sunday, October 16th.

Minutes before midnight and with the approval of Mayor Ed Lee (who is currently running for reelection and claims to be supportive of the movement's overall message), 70 police officers decked out in full riot gear marched into the encampment to enforce a 10pm curfew. They dismantled tents, tarps, the medical station and the kitchen, along with some personal belongings, all of which were loaded onto Department of Public Works trucks.

Some 200 protesters resisted peacefully, locking arms to prevent the police invasion, which was met with a frighteningly violent response. According to the San Francisco Bay Guardian, one protester received a lengthy beat-down for duct-taping his body to a pole inside the camp. The police allegedly "ripped him off the pole, threw him to the ground and struck him in the head and ribs. When he left by ambulance a few hours later, he appeared to be convulsing or seizing," reported the Bay Guardian. Protesters using their bodies to block the DPW trucks from leaving were dragged out of the street, some by their fingers and thumbs. Those who locked arms to form a human chain were pulled apart and thrown onto the sidewalk. Ryan Hadar, 19, described his experience to the Guardian:
“They bent back my thumbs, trying to pry me away from the people I was locking arms with. When I asked if they were trying to break my thumbs [one officer] replied, ‘Only if I have to.’ Then they dragged me to the sidewalk by my index finger. I asked if they were trying to break my finger, and this time they replied, ‘Yes.’"
After destroying the campsite, sending one activist to the hospital and arresting at least five protesters, the police departed from the scene around 1:40am.

 [Editor's note: If you don't think has been a hot topic of debate on Kauai, remember our column in the Garden Island News was terminated after we wrote the following two articles regarding the Kauai Police Department. Our dismissal came from pressure from Tom Iannucci, then chairman of the Kauai Police Commission and the newly appointed KPD Chief Daryl Perry.]

 See also:
Island Breath: The Kauai Police Mission 5/15/08
Island Breath: KPD Policy on Patrolling 6/7/08 See also:
Island Breath: Protect and Serve - Let's Roll! 4/5/08


US oks BP's deepwater Gulf plan

SUBHEAD: BP received U.S. permission for oil exploration in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. By Katarzyna Klimasinska on 21 October 2011 for Bloomberg News - ( Image above: Robert Dudley is haloed as he stands before BP corporate logo. From original article. BP received U.S. permission for oil exploration in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the first approval since the company’s Macondo well caused the nation’s worst offshore spill last year.

The company must obtain a drilling permit before work can begin in a field about 192 miles (309 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which announced approval of the exploration plan today in an e-mailed statement.

“This is definitely progress,” said Iain Armstrong, an analyst at broker Brewin Dolphin Ltd. in London. “I don’t think the ship’s quite turned around yet, but the compass is pointing in the right direction.”

BP Chief Executive Officer Robert Dudley is seeking to revive U.S. output in the Gulf as the lack of new wells drags down production. The London-based company waited almost a year to submit drilling plans while it reviewed safety after President Barack Obama in October 2010 lifted a moratorium on deep-water work imposed after the well blowout and the spill.

BP rose as much as 3.2 percent in London trading after the announcement, and climbed 2.2 percent to 439.4 pence at the close. The stock is up 13 percent this month.

BP is planning to drill Gulf wells in water as deep as 6,034 feet (1,839 meters) in a field known as Kaskida, according to the agency statement. The Macondo well was in about 5,000 feet of water 40 miles south of Louisiana.

BP Safety Compliance

“Our review of BP’s plan included verification of BP’s compliance with the heightened standards that all deep-water activities must meet,” Tommy Beaudreau, the bureau director, said in the statement.

The U.S. decision on BP’s plan was criticized by Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.

“Comprehensive safety legislation hasn’t passed Congress, and BP hasn’t paid the fines they owe for their spill, yet BP is being given back the keys to drill in the Gulf,” Markey said. “The major investigations into the BP oil spill disaster are now complete and it is time to assess and levy the fines against BP for its damage to the environment and economy.”

Starting work in the Gulf is part of Dudley’s campaign to repair BP’s standing with investors, regulators and the U.S. public. The company wrote off $41 billion in costs related to the spill caused by a blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 people.

“This is a company that spent the weeks following the blowout concentrating on its PR strategy, making a series of optimistic claims that were invariably at odds with the unfolding reality,” Ben Stewart, a London based spokesman for environmental group Greenpeace, said in an e-mail. “Now they’ve been let back into the Gulf of Mexico to conduct the kind of drilling operation that nearly bankrupted the company.”


KIUC/FFP denied by FERC

SOURCE: Brad Parsons (
SUBHEAD: FERC says KIUC/FFP plans are type of unwarranted “claim-jumping.” The Kekaha Ditch proposals have been dismissed.  

Through Secretary Kimberly D. Bose on 20 October 2011 for FERC - (

Image above: Mashup by Juan Wilson of claim-jumper bushwhacking gold-pannner. From (
[Editor's note: This appears to be excellent news. The following is the content of the FERC PDF file of the dismissal of the KIUC/FFP Kekaha Ditch proposals. This is a long document. For a gist read just red highlighting by IslandBreath. Get if here - (].

 137 FERC 61,057 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION Before Commissioners: Jon Wellinghoff, Chairman; Philip D. Moeller, John R. Norris, and Cheryl A. LaFleur. Commissioner Spitzer is not participating. Kahawai Power 4, LLC Project No. 14105-000 Kekaha Ditch Hydro, LLC Project No. 14203-000 ORDER DISMISSING PRELIMINARY PERMIT APPLICATIONS (Issued October 20, 2011)
1. This order dismisses applications by Kahawai Power 4, LLC (Kahawai Power) and Kekaha Ditch Hydro, LLC (Kekaha Ditch Hydro) for preliminary permits to study the feasibility of a hydropower project on the Kekaha Ditch Irrigation System near the town of Waimea, Kauai County, Hawaii.

 I. Background A. Historical Background
2. The Kekaha Ditch Irrigation System is located in the Kekaha region, which is located in the western portion of the island of Kauai and consists of a broad lowland coastal plain below upland mountains.[1] Historically, the Kekaha Sugar Company leased over 12,000 acres in the region from the State of Hawaii and used the Kekaha Ditch Irrigation System to irrigate its sugar cane fields. [2] On February 28, 2001, the Kekaha Sugar Company ceased operations and the lands reverted back to the State of Hawaii. [3] On September 16, 2003, a state executive order granted management and control over the agricultural land formerly leased to the Kekaha Sugar Company to the Agribusiness Development Corporation (Development Corporation), which is administratively part of Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture. [4]

 3. On April 1, 2008, the Development Corporation and the Kekaha Agricultural Association (Agricultural Association) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement under which the Development Corporation authorized the Agricultural Association to manage, operate, maintain, and control the agricultural land. [5] Specifically, the authorization to the Agricultural Association covered (1) the drainage and ravine resources, (2) the road and roadway resources, (3) the electrical power resources, and (4) the irrigation resources, as well as all facilities and equipment accessory to those infrastructures. [6]

 4. On April 15, 2010, the Agriculture Association and Pacific Light & Power, the parent company of Kekaha Ditch Hydro, executed a Memorandum of Understanding under which the Agriculture Association granted exclusive rights to Pacific Light & Power to develop long-term renewable power generating systems on the agricultural lands. [7] Since that time, Kekaha Ditch Hydro has consulted and coordinated with the Agricultural Association in its efforts to pursue development of a 2-megawatt (MW) project (Kekaha Project 2). Specifically, in May 2010, Pacific Light & Power applied to the Development Corporation for authorization to access the property on which the Kekaha Project 2 is to be located and to use the waterways thereon. The application for access was approved at the Development Corporation’s September 15, 2010 board meeting, and the authorization was granted on April 15, 2011. [8] Subsequently, Kekaha Ditch Hydro began a feasibility study of the Kekaha Project 2 and completed a preliminary project study, including a timeline, required State and local permitting, and a financial model. [9]

 5. The commercial operation date for the Kekaha Project 2 is targeted for 2016. [10] Before commencing operation however, Kekaha Ditch Hydro will need to complete the remaining steps in Hawaii’s hydropower authorization process. This process includes the requirement to obtain permits that address natural resources, water quality, recreation, historical sites, and project safety.  

B. Applications before the Commission
6. On March 1, 2011, Kahawai Power, a private development company, filed an application with the Commission for a preliminary permit under section 4(f) of the Federal Power Act (FPA)11 to study the feasibility of the proposed 1.5-MW Kekaha Waimea Water Power Project No. 14105 (Kekaha Project 1). The proposed project would use the Kekaha Ditch and would be located at the same site and use the same water resource that Kekaha Ditch Hydro is developing. [12]

7. On March 23, 2011, the Commission issued public notice accepting the Kekaha Project 1 application for filing and soliciting comments, motions to intervene, and competing applications. [13] The County of Kauai, the Development Corporation, Pacific Light & Power, Inc., and the Agriculture Association filed timely motions to intervene. [14] The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands filed a late motion to intervene that was granted by notice issued on September 30, 2011. Comments were filed by Pacific Light & Power, Inc., the Agriculture Association, the Kingdom of Hawaii, and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

8. In its motion to intervene, the Development Corporation stated that it opposes Kahawai Power’s application because the priority status afforded to the holder of a preliminary permit could interfere with its decisions on further development and improvement. The Agriculture Association added that if the Commission issues a preliminary permit for the Kekaha Project 1, the Association, as the manager of the Ditch facilities and related lands, would have to expend time and resources addressing a project that it asserts is not compatible or integrated with its current development plans. Further, the Agriculture Association stated that such a preliminary permit would disrupt ongoing initiatives supported not only by the Agriculture Association, but also by Hawaii state government agencies, stakeholders, and local community members. The Agriculture Association cautioned that the achievement of important state policy objectives concerning diversified agriculture and renewable energy may be unnecessarily hampered or delayed by granting a preliminary permit.

 9. On May 20, 2011, Kekaha Ditch Hydro filed a competing application with the Commission for a preliminary permit to study the feasibility of the Kekaha Project 2 No. 14203, the same project that Kekaha Ditch Hydro is developing through Hawaii’s state hydropower authorization process. [15] On July 22, 2011, the Commission sent a letter to Kekaha Ditch Hydro requesting additional information. Kekaha Ditch Hydro filed the requested information on August 16, 2011. The Commission did not issue public notice accepting the application for Kekaha Project 2. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has, however, filed a motion to intervene.

 II. Discussion
10. Given that Hawaii’s electrical generation and transmission system is not connected to the interstate electric grid, Part I of the FPA applies in a different manner to State of Hawaii inland hydropower projects than to those located in the contiguous United States. Accordingly, as discussed below, many hydropower projects in Hawaii do not require a Commission license, and Hawaii has a long history of authorizing and regulating hydropower projects at the state level. [16] There are no Commission-licensed hydropower projects in Hawaii.  

A. The Commission’s Hydropower Jurisdiction
11. Under the FPA, the Commission has two types of licensing jurisdiction: mandatory and permissive. Mandatory licensing is governed by section 23(b)(1)17 of the FPA, which provides that a Commission license is required for a hydroelectric project if it: (1) is located on navigable waters of the United States;18 (2) occupies lands or reservations of the United States; (3) uses the surplus water or water power from a government dam; or (4) is located on a non-navigable commerce clause stream, affects the interests of interstate or foreign commerce (e.g., is connected to the interstate power grid), and has undergone construction or major modification after August 26, 1935.19

 12. Section 23(b)(1) of the FPA provides, in pertinent part:
It shall be unlawful for any person, State, or municipality, for the purpose of developing electric power, to construct, operate or maintain any dam, water conduit, reservoir, power house, or other works incidental thereto across, along, or in any of the navigable waters of the United States, or upon any part of the public lands or reservations of the United States . . ., or to utilize the surplus water or water power from any Government dam, except under and in accordance with . . . . a license granted pursuant to this Act. Any person . . . intending to construct a dam or other project works across, along, over, or in any stream or part thereof, other than those defined herein as navigable waters, and over which Congress has jurisdiction under its authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, shall before such construction file declaration of such intention with the Commission, whereupon the Commission shall cause immediate investigation of such proposed construction to be made, and if upon investigation it shall find that the interests of interstate or foreign commerce would be affected by such construction such person . . . shall not construct, maintain, or operate such dam or other project works until it shall have applied for and shall have received a license under the provisions of this Act. If the Commission shall not so find, and if no public lands or reservations are affected, permission is hereby granted to construct such dam or other project works in such stream upon compliance with State laws.
13. If the conditions described above are not met, FPA section 4(e) [20] nevertheless permits the Commission to license a hydroelectric project in response to a voluntary application if the project is located on a commerce clause water. [21] Permissive licensing is authorized rather than required, and is governed by section 4(e) of the FPA. Section 4(e) authorizes licensing of hydroelectric projects located on a broader class of commerce clause waters than are specified for projects that would require licensing under

14. Section 4(e) of the FPA provides, in pertinent part:
The Commission is hereby authorized and empowered-- . . . (e) To issue licenses . . . for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining dams, water conduits, reservoirs, power houses, transmission lines, or other project works necessary or convenient for . . . the development, transmission, and utilization of power across, along, from, or in any of the streams or other bodies of water over which Congress has jurisdiction under its authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, or upon any part of the public lands and reservations of the United States . . ., or for the purpose of utilizing the surplus water or water power from any Government dam. . . .
15. reservations of the United States or uses surplus water or water power from a Federal government dam, the determination of whether licensing is required will generally turn on a navigability finding. This is because, although a newly-proposed project in Hawaii will involve post-1935 construction and may be located on a commerce clause waterway, it will not be connected to the interstate transmission grid. Absent a finding that the project would affect the interests of interstate or foreign commerce in some other fashion, i.e., the presence of commercially significant anadromous or diadromous fish,24 the jurisdictional determination will hinge on a navigability finding. In making jurisdictional determinations for projects proposed in Hawaii, the Commission has found that, based on the evidence presented in those cases, there was insufficient evidence of navigability or [22] This broad class of commerce clause waters consists of those that are subject to the jurisdiction of Congress under its authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce. These include headwaters and “tributaries of river systems necessitating supervisory power to preserve or improve downstream navigability or water commerce generally.” FPC v. Union Electric Co., 381 U.S. 90, 97 (1965). They also include other bodies of water that are not conventional streams, such as groundwater. Swanton Village, 70 FERC at 61,996. Unless a proposed hydropower project in Hawaii occupies public lands or of impacts on commerce to find that proposed hydroelectric projects require a Commission license. [25]

16. While those projects did not require a Commission license, [26] they may have been subject to the Commission’s permissive licensing authority under section 4(e). Section 4(e) authorizes the Commission to license hydroelectric projects located on commerce clause waters, i.e., any bodies of water over which Congress has jurisdiction under its authority to regulate commerce. Because most, if not all, of Hawaii’s rivers ultimately flow into the ocean, they would be considered commerce clause streams, which are a subset of section 4(e) commerce clause waters. Consequently, most hydropower project developers in Hawaii could seek a voluntary Commission license pursuant to section 4(e).

17. Section 4(f) of the FPA [27] authorizes the Commission to issue preliminary permits for the purpose of enabling prospective applicants for a hydropower license to secure the data and perform the acts required by section 9 of the FPA, [28] which in turn sets forth the material that must accompany an application for license. Section 5 of the FPA [29] provides that each preliminary permit shall be issued for the sole purpose of maintaining priority of application for a license under the terms of the FPA. This means that a preliminary permit holder has first-to-file priority in the event that two or more developers file a license application with the Commission.

18. The Commission’s jurisdiction to issue a preliminary permit stems from our jurisdiction to license the proposed project; if we would have jurisdiction to issue a license, we would also have jurisdiction to issue a preliminary permit. [30] In the case at hand, neither Kekaha Project 1 nor Kekaha Project 2 is located on lands or reservations of the United States or uses surplus water or water power from a government dam. Nothing in the record indicates that either of the projects is located on navigable waters of the United States, and although the projects would be built after August 26, 1935, and located on a commerce clause stream, we cannot conclude, based on the record, that either project would affect the interests of interstate or foreign commerce. Based on the information available, licensing is not required for Kekaha Project 1 or Kekaha Project 2.

19. Although licensing would not be required for Kekaha Project 1 or Kekaha Project 2, the Commission would be permitted under section 4(e) to issue a license since the Kekaha Ditch draws water from the Waimea River (which flows into the ocean), and is therefore located on a commerce clause waterway. Consequently, the Commission is authorized to issue the preliminary permits sought in this case.

 20. Given that the Commission appears to have jurisdiction to issue a license for either of the proposed projects, it is unquestionable that it has authority to issue preliminary permits with respect to those projects. [31] However, it is within the Commission’s sole discretion to decide whether to issue a preliminary permit. [32]  

B. The Preliminary Permits at Issue
21. The Commission has historically exercised significant discretion in processing preliminary permit applications. The Commission has issued preliminary permits for terms ranging from 18 months to 3 years, and has at times decided not to issue preliminary permits for an entire class of technologies, i.e., those projects that have a generating capacity under a certain threshold. [33] More recently, the Commission has agreed, in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of the Interior, to not issue preliminary permits for hydrokinetic projects located on the Outer Continental Shelf. [34] Such decisions are within our authority, so long as we provide adequate justification for them. Examining the facts in the cases before us leads us to conclude that, while the Commission cannot envision every set of facts that may be presented to it, as a general matter we will decline to issue preliminary permits for projects in Hawaii that would be subject to permissive section 4(e) licensing, unless the facts of the particular case present extenuating circumstances that would require the Commission to consider such an application.

 22. As explained above, Kahawai Power filed the Kekaha Project 1 preliminary permit application for a site that another developer, Kekaha Ditch Hydro, was already pursuing through Hawaii’s state hydropower authorization process. Were we to issue a preliminary permit to Kahawai Power, the company would then have first-to-file priority over Kekaha Ditch Hydro, even though that entity has been working with state authorities to develop a project at the same site. This appears to us to be a type of unwarranted “claim-jumping.” Because the issuance of a preliminary permit is within our discretion, we decline to do so here. Moreover, in order to avoid similar situations in the future, we will, as a general matter, decline to issue preliminary permits for projects in Hawaii that would be subject to permissive section 4(e) licensing. This proceeding demonstrates the potential for the Commission’s preliminary permitting process to interfere with hydropower development that is proceeding in accordance with a legitimate state authorization process.

 23. We note that filing a complete preliminary permit application with the Commission is significantly less demanding than the substantial efforts that appear to have taken place here under the state development process. Thus, the potential for a preliminary permit issued by the Commission to interfere with existing development activities at the state level is significant. While we cannot let a state process interfere with our exclusive mandatory jurisdiction, we do not want our preliminary permit program with respect to projects subject to permissive licensing to chill the development efforts of entities pursuing a legitimate state authorization process. 24. Nor do we want to force developers of projects not subject to mandatory licensing to engage in the federal authorization process when they have been successfully pursuing authorization from the state, simply because another entity has filed a preliminary permit application with the Commission for the same hydropower site.  

25. As discussed above, we henceforth will, as a general matter, decline to issue preliminary permits for projects in the state of Hawaii that would be subject to permissive section 4(e) licensing. To ensure that the issue of our jurisdiction is properly considered, future applicants seeking a preliminary permit for a project in Hawaii will need to make an initial showing demonstrating why licensing under FPA section 23(b) would be required for the proposed project. 26. Based on our reasoning above, the preliminary permit applications for the Kekaha Project 1 and Kekaha Project 2 are dismissed. The Commission orders: (A) The preliminary permit applications filed on March 1, 2011, and May 20, 2011, by Kahawai Power 4, LLC and Kekaha Ditch Hydro, LLC for the Kekaha Waimea Water Power Project No. 14105 and the Kekaha Ditch Hydropower Project No. 14023 are dismissed. (B) This order constitutes final agency action.

Any party to this proceeding may file a request for rehearing of this order within 30 days from the date of its issuance, as provided in section 313(a) of the Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. § 825l (2006), and section 385.713 of the Commission’s regulations, 18 C.F.R. § 385.713 (2011).  

 [1] Kekaha Agriculture Association May 20, 2011 Intervention at 3. The Kekaha Ditch Irrigation System has been in use since 1907 and was initially comprised of 16 miles of ditches, tunnels, flumes, and a siphon in Waimea Canyon and four miles of ditch in the lowland coastal plain area. The ditch was subsequently extended eight miles further in the lowland area. The Kekaha Ditch Irrigation System originates with two intakes on tributaries to the Waimea River (at the 850-foot elevation) in the Waimea Canyon and a third intake on the Waimea River (at the 550-foot elevation). At the 700- foot elevation in Waimea Canyon, the water crosses the Waimea River from west to east through a penstock. The ditch continues seaward on the eastern side of the Waimea Canyon and then again crosses the Waimea River through a 2,190-foot-long, 48-inch diameter steel siphon. Kekaha Agriculture Association Intervention at 5-6.  

[2] Agriculture Development Corporation April 9, 2011 Intervention at 3 and Pacific Light & Power May 20, 2011 Comments at 2. 

[3] Kekaha Agriculture Association Intervention at 4. 

 [4] Agriculture Development Corporation Intervention at 3 and Kekaha Agricultural Association Comments at 4. The Development Corporation is also responsible for the Kekaha Ditch Irrigation System, including water rights and the ground beneath the ditch, pursuant to a subsequent state executive order. 

 [5] Kekaha Agricultural Association Comments at 5. 

[6] Agriculture Development Corporation Intervention at 4. 

[7] Kekaha Agriculture Association Intervention at 11.

 [8] Pacific Light & Power Intervention at 5. Since that time, PLP has been a non- voting member of the Agriculture Association. 

[9] Pacific Light & Power Intervention at 6. 

[10] Pacific Light & Power Intervention at 5.

 [11] 16 U.S.C. § 797(f) (2006). [

12] The proposed Kekaha Project 1 would have the following facilities: (1) a 30-foot by 8-foot intake structure on the existing Kekaha Ditch; (2) a 2,180-foot-long, 36-inch-diamter steel penstock (sections to be buried); (3) a 40-foot-long by 55-foot-wide powerhouse containing a single 1.5-MW turbine generator with a maximum hydraulic capacity of 50 cubic feet per second, and an adjacent substation; (4) a 35-foot-long, 10-foot-wide tailrace channel that dischargers project flows to the Waimea River; (5) a new 610-foot-long, gravel road to access the powerhouse; (6) a 2-mile-long, 69-kilovolt (kV) transmission line interconnecting the project’s substation to the existing Kaumakani substation; and (7) appurtenant facilities. The estimated annual generation of the Kekaha Project 1 would be 8.7 gigawatt-hours (GWh).  

[13] Notice reproduced at 76 Fed. Reg. 17,413 (2011). 

 [14] Timely, unopposed motions to intervene are granted by operation of Rule 214 of the Commission’s rules of practice and procedure. 18 C.F.R. § 385.214 (2011). 

[15] The proposed Kekaha Project 2 would have the following facilities: (1) an intake structure on the existing Kekaha Ditch with an automated control gate to manage flows and a trash rack; (2) an approximately 900-foot-long, 42-inch-diameter high density polyethylene penstock (likely to be laid above ground); (3) a concrete powerhouse with a 15-foot floor elevation containing a single 2-MW Pelton turbine and generator and an adjacent substation; (4) an approximately 1000-foot-long, 4-inch- diameter high density polyethylene tailrace that dischargers water to the Waimea River; (5) a 2-mile-long, 12-kV transmission line, interconnecting with an existing distribution line on Kekaha Agricultural Association property; and (5) appurtenant facilities. The estimated annual generation of the Kekaha Project 2 would be 8.9 GWh. 

 [16] Thirteen hydroelectric plants in Hawaii have been identified, with 18 generating units producing a total annual average of 91.6 GWh of electricity. See Hydroelectric Power in Hawaii- A Reconnaissance Survey, (February 1981), available at The Wailuku River Hydroelectric Power Company began producing electricity at an additional site in May of 1993. Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, Use of Hydropower in Hawaii, (last visited Sep. 28, 2011). As of 2009, the average annual production of state-regulated hydropower projects had increased to 112.64 GWh. U.S. Energy Information Administration, Hawaii Electricity Profile (Data Release Date: April 2011), available at

[17] 16 U.S.C. § 817 (2006).

 [18] The definition of “navigable waterway of the United States” is found in section 3(8) of the FPA, 16 U.S.C. § 796(8) (2000). “Navigable waters” means those parts of streams or other bodies of water which are used or suitable for use for the transportation of persons or property in interstate or foreign commerce.  

[19] The post-1935 construction requirement stems from the specific language and legislative history of section 23(b)(1). See Farmington River Power Co. v. FPC, 455 F.2d 86 (1972). [20] 16 U.S.C. § 797(e) (2006). 

[21] Swanton Village, 70 FERC ¶ 61,325, at 61,992-93, 61,995-96 (1995). If the conditions described above are not met, FPA section 4(e)20 nevertheless section 23(b)(1). [22] Thus, it is possible for a voluntary applicant to obtain a license under section 4(e) of the FPA for a project that would not require a license under section 23(b)(1). [23]

 [23] See Cooley v. FERC, 843 F.2d 1464, 1471 (D.C. Cir. 1988). 

 [24] See, e.g., United States Department of Commerce v. FERC, 36 F.3d 893 (9th Cir. 1994) (finding mandatory jurisdiction can be based on project’s commerce clause impact on anadromous fish). 

 [25] See, e.g., Kauai Island Utility Coop., 117 FERC ¶ 62,073 (2006) (licensing is not required for the Upper and Lower Waiahi Hydroelectric Project because there was insufficient evidence to determine that the South Branch North Fork Wailua River, Waikoko Stream, Waiaka Stream, Iliiliua Stream, and Waiahi Stream, near Lihue, Kauai County, Hawaii, are navigable waters); Island Power Co., 47 FERC ¶ 61,355 (1989) (licensing is not required because, in light of the totality of the record evidence, the Wailua River had not been shown to be a navigable water of the United States at the site of the proposed project); Island Power Co., 42 FERC ¶ 62,129 (1988) (licensing not required because a navigation status report for the Hanalei River found that that river is not navigable at the site of the proposed project) reh’g denied, 75 FERC ¶ 61,126 (1996) (licensing is not required because even though the Commission has recognized that a project’s effect on anadromous fish could affect interstate commerce, the record here demonstrated no commercial significance of several native Hawaiian species of anadromous fish, shrimp, and snails). [26] Note, however, that offshore marine hydrokinetic projects would require licensing because they are located in navigable waters. See AquaEnergy Group, Ltd, 101 FERC ¶ 62,009 (2002).

 [27] 16 U.S.C. § 797(f) (2006). 28 16 U.S.C. § 802 (2006). 29 16 U.S.C. §798 (2006).

 [27] 16 U.S.C. § 797(f) (2006). 

[28] 16 U.S.C. § 802 (2006). 

 [29] 16 U.S.C. §798 (2006).  

[30] Hanalei Power Company, 53 FERC ¶ 61,167, at 61,619 (1990); Swanton Village, 70 FERC ¶ 61,325, at 61,992 (1995). 

 [31] The Commission may dismiss a permit application where it determines that it lacks jurisdiction over the proposed project. See, e.g., San Carlos Irrigation and Drainage District, 105 FERC ¶ 61,134 (2003) (dismissing permit application for project at federal dam site where Commission had no jurisdiction over development of private hydropower).

 [32] See Karmargo Corporation v. FERC, 825 F.2d 1392, 1398 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (stating that the Commission, “under the Federal Power Act, is not obliged to issue permits to anyone who seeks them”).

 [33] The first set of regulations promulgated under the FPA stated that preliminary permits would not be issued “for projects of a power capacity of less than 100 horsepower.” Regulation 9, FPC Order No. 9 (February 28, 1921). The capacity of the projects subject to the provision was later changed to 2000 horsepower. See FPC Rules and Regulations, Second Revised Issue (1924); FPC and Regulations, Fourth Revised Issue (1931); 18 C.F.R. § 4.80 (1979). This provision was dropped from the Commission’s regulations in 1979 following the passage of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978. [34] Memorandum of Understanding Between the U.S. Department of the Interior and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, signed April 9, 2009. .