Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 24, 2015

Top Stories

Oil.  Canadian energy giant TransCanada is requesting the U.S. government’s permission to construct an additional 200-mile pipeline across the U.S.-Canadian border — a clear indication that the company is not backing down on its oil-shipping plans despite the 7-year delay in approving its Keystone XL pipeline.  The proposed $600-million pipeline aims to transport up to 300,000 barrels of North Dakota crude per day and, if approved, would go into service in 2020.  WSJ

Oil.  The United States Geological Survey released a comprehensive report today that highlights a link between oil and gas operations and thousands of earthquakes across 17 U.S. regions.  One of the most notable findings indicates that earthquakes in Oklahoma are now hundreds of times more common than they were a few years ago due to hydraulic fracturing — a drilling technique that injects a high-pressure mix of water and chemicals into the ground to break rock formations and release gas.  NY Times

Energy Policy.  As the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to unveil its final set of rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions,  leading American electric power companies — the nation’s largest source of emissions — worry that they may face power failures in the process of transitioning from coal to cleaner power sources.  Consequently, because the rules will close hundreds of heavily polluting coal plants, officials believe there could be blackouts across the country if energy companies are not able to build new sources of electricity quickly enough.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 22, 2015

Top Stories

Climate Change.  President Obama delivered a speech yesterday in the Florida Everglades to commemorate the 45th Earth Day, using the region as an example of how rising sea levels and greenhouse gas emissions, among other forces, can threaten the environment and the communities that depend on it.  The President’s speech is part a larger effort to reinforce what he hopes will be a central part of his legacy — a sustained push to get the United States and the rest of the world to confront climate change.  NY Times

Oil.  Oil prices rose to their highest level of the year today amid expectations that the oversupply of crude may be shrinking and growing concerns about violence in the Middle East.  Furthermore, the Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude gasoline stockpiles fell last week — an unusual trend for this time of year, given that oil refineries typically start increasing production to prepare for the busy summer driving season.    WSJ

Oil.  Clifford Krauss asserts in the NY Times that although crude oil prices have generally swung like a pendulum in the past, the latest oil boom represents a vital shift in power, rather than simply a repeat of history.  He argues that the United States has now overtaken OPEC as the vital global swing producer that determines prices, citing a number of trends emerging since 2008 — including a massive increase in the number of American shale fields, a doubling of American petroleum output, and the introduction of innovative shale production methods that have proven highly adaptable to evolving market conditions.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 21, 2015

Top Stories

Energy Policy.  Greek officials met today with the head of Russian energy giant Gazprom to discuss the possibility of negotiating a multibillion-dollar pipeline deal between Athens and Moscow.  This discussion comes at a critical time for both parties, as Greece is currently trying to negotiate a new debt deal with its European creditors in order to avoid default, and the European Union is expected to announce antitrust charges against Gazprom tomorrow.  NY Times

Energy Policy.  Richard Nephew of Brookings asserts that while most attention has centered on U.S. concessions in the most recent settlement of the Iran nuclear issue,  Iran’s compromises were also substantial and should not be overlooked.  Specifically, Nephew argues that U.S. readiness to engage in sanctions relief should not be viewed as a “give-away”, but rather the result of a “proportional exchange of concessions” that is ultimately essential to the diplomacy process.  Brookings

Climate Change.  According to a report released today by Greenpeace East Asia, more than 90 percent of Chinese cities failed to meet national air quality standards during the first three months of this year.  The average concentration of PM 2.5 — which many consider to be the most dangerous of common air pollutants — was nearly twice the national standard and more than two and a half times the exposure limit recommended by the World Health Organization.  Report, NY Times

Energy Policy.  Amid a severe drought across the state, a California appeals court ruled against a four-tiered pricing plan proposed by regulators as a tool to force reductions in urban water use.  The court opined that the plan — which aimed to reduce water consumption by charging higher rates for high-volume consumers — violates a voter-passed amendment to the State Constitution that prohibits government agencies from charging more for services than their actual cost.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 20, 2015

Top Stories

Energy Policy.  The European Union plans to file a formal antitrust charge against Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom after a formal investigation suggested that the company abused its dominant position in eastern and southern European natural-gas supply markets.  Russian government and company officials have denounced the charges — which could result in multibillion euro fines — as politically motivated and a ploy to force the company to reduce prices.  WSJ

Climate Change.  A group of global businesses is moving towards an agreement to support a higher carbon price, more green technology in cities, and increased use of renewables.  The business leaders will convene at a “Business & Climate Summit” this May to solidify the terms of the agreement, and hope to produce a set of key policy recommendations ahead of the international climate conference in Paris this December.  FT

Energy Policy.  In an effort to increase safety standards for trains carrying crude oil, the Transportation Department issued a series of emergency orders — including a 40-mile-per-hour speed limit for oil-carrying trains in urban areas and a requirement for railroads to provide detailed shipment information within 90 minutes of a derailment. Official regulations are currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget and are expected to be made public by May 12th.  NY Times

Energy Outlook.  The EIA reports that U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased for the second year in a row in 2014.  However, the agency notes that while CO2 emissions grew at a smaller rate than overall GDP growth in 2014, economy-wide improvements in energy and carbon intensity appear to have slowed relative to trends of the last ten years.  EIA

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 17, 2015

Top Stories

Nuclear.  Operators of nuclear power plants in New York, Ohio, and Illinois are seeking utility rate increases and additional financial support to keep the plants online.  The utility companies point to the importance of the facilities to local economies and electrical bid stability in order to justify the need for additional funds — but consumer advocates counter that the deregulated markets in which these utilities reside were designed to reduce power costs by weeding out the least–competitive power plants.  WSJ

Climate Change.  Today a group of twenty-five major oil companies, oil-producing nations, and development institutions reached an agreement to end the practice of routine flaring of natural gas — a method to “burn off” natural gas that is released when producing oil —  by 2030.  The initiative was announced as a way to build support for the upcoming Paris Climate Conference and build momentum toward a global agreement to cut carbon emissions.  WSJ

Energy Outlook.  While many consider battery electric vehicles to be the long-term solution for reducing fossil fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, automakers have recently begun to reconsider hydrogen cars as well.  Specifically, hydrogen cars are becoming more attractive amid a significant decline in the cost of hydrogen fuel cells, a tiny yet budding network of public fueling stations compatible with these models, and the ability for the cars to travel roughly 300 miles on a tank of fuel.  NY Times

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