Friday, July 23, 2010

China Tops US in Energy Use - IEA

China became the world's largest consumer of energy, passing the US in 2009, according to calculations done by the International Energy Agency

The Chinese National Energy Administration (link) disputed the calculation, asserting the calculations are in error, and though China may become the largest producer, it is not the largest user.  The Paris-based IEA stands by its data. 

The IEA estimates that in 2009 China used 2.252 billion tons of oil equivalent, a measure of the total energy used - from oil, coal, renewables and all energy sources - while the US used 4% less.  However, on a per capita basis, the average American still uses far more energy than the average Chinese.

In response to a question asked at an energy policy seminar in Sacramento, Lynn Price, a senior researcher at the China Energy Group at Lawrence Berkeley Lab said, "It does not matter whether China passed the US this year or last year or next year but that China's energy use is growing extremely rapidly."

Indeed, in 2000 China's energy use was only half that of the US.   But in the last decade, the US energy use grew slowly, declining since 2008, while China energy use has continued to grow rapidly and now matches the US.

Even if the exact timing is not important, the significance may be a harbinger.    The US passed the UK in energy use 100 years ago and went on to become the leading economic power of the 20th century.

China's rapid increase in energy use has already had ramifications in world energy markets, diplomacy and seemingly mundane issues like the positioning of international pipelines.

Yet China may not welcome the scruntiny and possible responsiblies of being the leading energy consumer.   The IEA has often complained about the ambiguity in Chinese energy data.   China, for its part, prefers to emphasize its energy efficiency or green energy policies.  

Whatever the issue at the moment, a natural question might be,  given China's voracious and growing energy appetite, just how high can its energy use go?   

In the next 15 years, China may expand its energy production by an amount equal to half of what the US consumes today.   China may eventually have a fifth of the world's population, but consume a quarter of the world's energy

As much as China works to be green and energy-efficient, including higher auto fuel efficiency standards than in the US,  its citizens also want to have simple modern conveniences, which means more energy.

July 18, 2010

July 21, 2010 (China disputes IEA)

July 4, 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

California/EPA - "Please refrain" - California Public Records Act

CalEPA and ARB continue to avoid releasing public records related to China.   They rarely claim specific exemption, but find other ways to prevent the disclosure that we are all entitled to see.  This is my response to recent request to "refrain" and my reasons.

[Update:  Visited CalEPA/ARB, no "files available" - no Form 700s, no documents since last inspection on June 8, 2010. Full list.]

July 7, 2010

Dear Mr. Llerandi , Mr. Koyasko, Ms. Barron:

cc: Clerk of the ARB Board (to supplement June request)

Your  advice of July 6, 2010 is inappropriate:
"We advise that you please refrain from further PRA requests until the multiple requests that you have thus far submitted are answered so as to avoid future issues."

The reason is that you - Cal/EPA, ARB, C3 ( plus various entities created for China projects)  - are not complying with California Public Records Act.

Moreover, you continue to hold discussions and meetings regarding China without public participation or disclosure - for example May private discussions and meetings with iCET and a Chinese company that wants to put a 500 MW solar farm in California.

And you have shown bad faith:  Mr. Koyasako's email to Judy Stoulil, marked "Confidential" and "High" importance "I don't think I can put him off much longer."  (You took it back and I asked you not to destroy the paper.)

I do not appreciate your unilateral attempts to weaken or circumvent a very important law.

Trust, but Verify

At the last ARB Board meeting, Ms. Nichols spoke about 'trust, but verify' philosophy.   Today, I will be at CalEPA/ARB after lunch also to  'verify,' as is the public's right - even responsibility - under the CPRA.

As you know, the CPRA is based on the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was lauded in a July 4th Sacramento Bee editorial.

CPRA is but one way for the public to understand its government. As I have explained before, I know 3 ways for the public to gain an understanding of State government's multiple efforts with China, including  the California-Jiangsu MOU:

(a) open, public, transparent government with public participation
(b) have public officials keep the public readily informed
(c) the California Public Records Act

I vote for (a).  But the public was excluded from discussions with CalEPA's C3 : California-China Clean Tech Initiative, and the development of the Working Plan for the Jiangsu-California MOU, as two examples.

I also tried (b) by personally asking Susan Kennedy (Govenor's Office), Dian Grueneich (CPUC), Margret Kim (ARB) for information in early March, plus the ARB Board and Energy Commission - but got few replies.

So your agencies have left the public with (c) as the only option.   This was your choice.

Under CPRA,  like the FOIA, the burden is on you - the agency, as it is even in recent, effective laws in India, which provides stiff fines to those for failure to comply.


The CPRA calls upon you to "promptly" make public records available.  In previous emails you asserted, more than once, a right to delay.  But you gave no reply when I asked for a court case or rule.

In Mr. Koyasakao's June   23, 2010 email, which I pointed out issues and inconsistencies, especially about iCET and April California delegations to China, he neither replied nor released records.   

Bottom line: an accumulating a set of data which  illustrate you are using a variety of ways merely to delay.

More Questions

As long as you continue to operate without public participation and transparency, the public can issue CPRA requests.  As long as private groups like iCET can pay for regulators to travel to China and participate in business matters affecting California (and Linda Adams can ask regulators to travel, and the Governor's office approve such travel), the public can file CPRA requests.  And, as long as you fail to answer concerns - such as June Koyasako letter - you will only get more requests.

Of course, your agencies could  decide on option (a) and always operate transparently and thus mitigate some of the imperative for CPRA, though we always will need to verify.. 

Otherwise, I see no such restraint on the public to "refrain" under the law - especially as new developments occur, even if each request creates a 'burden' and mutliple requests create multiple 'burdens' for you. 

And yet, you do have a simple and quick remedy for your burdens:  release all the records now. Done.

If you do not agree, use the courts to show your self-imposed 'burdens' are of higher importance than the public's right to know and to know 'promptly.'  

However, even Ms. Kim  - one of the people at the center of the State's work in China - believes in open government  

"... it was not until I actually got involved in China, that I really got to realize the true value and appreciate our open government system."

I will  inspect the records after lunch today.  I reject your attempts to weaken CPRA and your efforts to create delay.

Thank you.

Jim Rothstein