Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

May 29, 2015

Top Stories

EPA.  The Environmental Protection Agency released a long-awaited proposal today regarding the amount of biofuel that must be blended into conventional vehicle fuel, recommending that the total volume of renewable fuel required by the Renewable Fuel Standard increase by 1.5 billion gallons, or 9%,  by the end of 2016.  While the EPA views the proposal as a positive step forward in improving the standard, opponents in Congress are less optimistic and suggest that the mandate be overhauled completely.  NY Times

Oil.   Struggling to offload cargoes amid persistent global surplus,  sellers of North Sea and West African “Dated Brent” are now offering the biggest discount on this grade since December 2008.   Because Dated Brent is used to price two-thirds of the world’s physical oil supplies, many traders and analysts are concerned about another large drop in oil futures prices. FT

Climate Change.  A group of Brookings scholars highlights the progress of Latin American countries leading up to the global conference on climate change in Paris this December.  The authors assert that while the region has achieved high levels of human development while emitting relatively small amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, policies that promote renewable energy and sustainable management of natural resources remain key to these nations’ paths forward.  Brookings

Oil.  Yesterday, the Obama administration issued a limit on petroleum drilling and other activities on land in the American West that is inhabited by grouse.  This move — which includes a collection of 14 land-management plans spanning 10 states — represents an effort to prevent the bird from becoming an endangered species, following warnings in 2010 from the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

May 28, 2015

Top Stories

Energy Outlook.  According to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Mexico’s recent energy overhaul may prove to be  a bigger boon to the integration of U.S. and Mexican power utility systems than the opening of the country’s oil industry. Moniz reports that the recent overhaul will better link cross-border utilities and natural gas pipelines, with additional opportunities for clean energy sources such as nuclear power.  Bloomberg

Climate Change.  The Financial Times reports that a growing number of companies and senior executives are “leading the fight against climate change” in the lead-up to the international climate conference in Paris this December. The Financial Times reports that while some companies have adopted internal carbon prices, others have increased efforts to incorporate risks associated with climate change into their decision-making and have made pledges to increase investments in “green” technologies.  FT

Oil.  In a draft report of OPEC’s long-term strategy, the producer group reports that the North American oil boom has proven “resilient” despite low oil prices, and suggests that the global oil glut could persist for another two years.  Furthermore, the long-term report identifies North American shale plays — which have demonstrated high short-term price elasticity and short lead-times in ramping up production —  as the potential new “swing producer” of the global market.  Reuters

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

May 27, 2015

Top Stories

Environmental Policy.  The Obama administration announced a new major clean water regulation today that will restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution across the country.  The rule — which was issued under the Clean Water Act of 1972 — clarifies the government’s command over about 60 percent of the nation’s waters including smaller bodies of water such as streams, headwaters, and wetlands.  NY Times

Energy Policy.  In a recently released analysis of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan rule, the EIA finds that the regulation would result in major changes in the fuel mix used to produce electricity in the United States.  Specifically, the analysis finds that the Clean Power Plan would increase natural gas-fired generation to displace and ultimately surpass coal-fired generation, and that wind, solar, and other renewable generation would also eventually surpass coal-fired generation.  EIA

Energy Outlook.  According to a report released today by GTM Research and Energy Storage Association, the U.S. installed 5.8 megawatts of energy storage systems during the first quarter of this year — up 16% from the same period a year ago.  Most of these systems were installed by businesses looking to evade the hefty “demand charge” levied by utilities companies to ensure that they have enough power generation capacity on hand to meet demand — which can amount to as much as 50% of a business’s monthly bill.  Forbes

Energy Policy.  In a review of state environmental agencies’ comments on the Clean Power Plan, Brookings scholars Philip Wallach and Curtlyn Kramer find that substantive concerns remain across party lines regarding the rule’s overall fairness, grid reliability, and feasibility.  Wallach and Kramer explain that these environmental agencies are critical to the rule’s ultimate success, and that their concerns “signal” important legal and political difficulties ahead of the finalized regulation.  Brookings

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

May 26, 2015

Top Stories

Oil.  Oil prices fell today amid a strengthening U.S. dollar, leading market participants to question the sustainability of the recent price rally.   Prices have increased from lows in recent weeks on expectations that the oversupplied market will come into balance later this year;  however, analysts question the strength of the rally as production continues to exceed global consumption.  WSJ

Energy Policy.  Nearly 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, experts are still debating over which groups should be held responsible for the fatal engineering flaws that led to the catastrophic flooding of New Orleans.  Additionally, there has been a separate but no less persistent debate regarding the legal liability for the damages; after a decade of recent setbacks, a federal judge ruled just this month that the federal government owed compensation to the owners of certain flooded properties in and near the city.  NY Times

Oil.  Data collected from sources across the oil industry indicate that despite a decrease in rig count and the number of monthly permits, the volume of leases has remained on par with year-ago levels.  According to data company Drillinginfo, this indicates that companies are looking to gain leaseholds while the market is still sluggish —  which suggests that the market will have rebounded by the time these new leases mature to producing wells.  Forbes

Energy Outlook. Reuters reports that traffic volume is increasing across the nation as gasoline prices remain moderate and significantly lower than prior-year levels.  Traffic volume is growing fastest on rural interstates and arterial roads, suggesting a large increase in leisure-related driving rather than commuting.  Reuters

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

May 21, 2015

Top Stories

Climate Change.  Climate forecasters from the U.K. Met Office and Reading University warned yesterday of the development of a “moderate to strong” El Niño event this year, echoing reports published last week by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.  The report warns that the El Niño event — the first in six years — may exacerbate water shortages in Latin America, southeast Asia, and the Sahel, while bringing more rainfall to parts of North America; overall, the event is expected to boost global temperatures in 2015 and 2016 to record highs.  FT

Energy Policy.  James Conca writes in Forbes that U.S. policymakers should address the country’s myriad energy challenges by focusing on priorities outlined in the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), such as tackling climate change, adopting an appropriate national energy mix, addressing cyber-threats, and improving oil and gas infrastructure.  Conca notes that America’s aging energy infrastructure presents a particularly serious problem; according to the Department of Energy, more than 90% of U.S. gas transmission and gathering pipelines were built prior to 2000.  Forbes

Energy Policy.  The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to move a $35.5 billion funding bill for energy and water programs to the floor for a vote.  If passed, the bill may face a serious hurdle during the reconciliation process, since the White House has announced that it would veto the House version of the bill.  The Hill

Natural Gas.  The benchmark natural gas price jumped 3.3% today — the biggest intraday change in more than a week — following the announcement of a smaller-than-expected increase in underground stocks in the U.S.  High inventory has tempered gains in the Nymex benchmark price, but growing demand from the electric power sector — which is capitalizing on low natural gas prices to switch from costlier coal — may prop up prices in the near-term. FT

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