Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 20, 2014

Top Stories

Oil. The dramatic drop in oil prices seen in recent weeks has raised several key questions for policymakers, including whether the U.S. or other major oil-producing countries will cut back production and how much falling prices will boost the U.S. economy ahead of the midterm elections.  Additionally, while the recent price decline’s impact on the crude exports debate is uncertain, it may provide a boost to the anti-Keystone pipeline argument.  Politico

Natural Gas. Increased production, warm weather, and new pipelines have caused a rapid increase in natural gas stockpiles, pulling down prices ahead of the winter.  While the EIA predicts natural gas prices to be 6.8% higher than last winter, natural gas consumption is expected to fall this winter – largely because last winter’s extreme weather is unlikely to be repeated.  WSJ

Oil. A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that repealing the ban on crude oil exports would increase domestic oil production, reduce the U.S. trade deficit, and narrow the gap between U.S. and international crude oil prices.  Furthermore, the report finds that ending the crude export ban would also benefit U.S. consumers through lower fuel prices.  The Hill

OP-ED of the Day

Energy Security. The Washington Post editorial board argues that oil price declines are putting pressure on Iran, Russia, and Venezuela by compounding the effect of sanctions and cutting state revenues, potentially providing the U.S. with a geopolitical advantage in coming years.  WP

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 17, 2014

Top Stories

EPA.  A new analysis by NERA Economic Consulting, commissioned by several industry trade groups, estimates that compliance costs for the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan could total $366 billion and lead to higher electricity prices in most states.  Additionally, the groups said that the proposed regulation would cut atmospheric carbon dioxide by just 0.5%, a “meaningless effect on climate change”.  Politico

Energy Policy.  According to European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, the European Union is on track to reach a new policy agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions next week.  Hedegaard reported that a 40% domestic greenhouse gas target was feasible, despite concerns from some member countries about the costs and energy efficiency component of such a target.  The Hill

EPA.  The Congressional Research Service issued a report this week saying that dire warnings about compliance costs to a tighter EPA ozone standard are “premature at best”.  Potential revisions to the current standard of .75 parts per billion will be announced by the EPA in December.  Politico

 

OP-ED of the Day

Oil.  Charles Ebinger of the Brookings Institute argues that the recent oil price declines are likely to remain in “free fall” due to falling demand across Europe, Japan, India, China, Brazil, and much of the emerging world market.  Dropping demand, he argues, is due to many factors, including slowing global economic growth, rising oil production, increasing energy efficiency, increased natural gas production and consumption, and increased nuclear power by Japan, among others.  Brookings

 

Quote of the Week

“As solar power installers, manufacturers, designers, aggregators, product suppliers, and consultants, we welcome the unveiling of the Clean Power Plan … this plan is a critical step toward transforming our energy system to one that protects our health and environment, and that of our children.”

— A group of 500 industry leaders in a letter to the White House supporting the EPA’s carbon rule proposal for power plants. (10.16.14

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 16, 2014

Top Stories

Natural Gas. A new international study finds that natural gas is not a “bridge to a brighter energy future as claimed and won’t slow global warming”. This claim is based on an analysis which found that an expansion of natural gas use by 2050 would keep lower-carbon technologies — such as wind, solar, and nuclear — from being used more. Politico

EU Energy Outlook. A new Brookings report examines the European gas market amid recurring debates surrounding European energy dependence on Russia. The report finds that the European gas supply mix is unlikely to change, and that natural gas from Russia will likely remain very competitive in Europe for the foreseeable future. Brookings

Energy Security. The New York Times reports that steep declines in oil prices are placing great stress on the budgets of major petroleum-exporting countries worldwide. While a decline in oil prices is generally regarded as a positive for the US and most of the developed world, countries such as Russia, Iraq, and Venezuela are looking to cut back government spending in efforts to prevent budget deficits. NY Times

OP-ED of the Day

Oil. Nick Butler argues that Saudi Arabia’s position in the global oil market is much weaker than it once was and questions their ability to reverse the recent fall in oil prices. Butler asserts that the only potential action to break recent trends would be for Saudi Arabia to sharply cut output for a sustained period — an action that would be wildly unpopular, as it would require the Saudis to rewrite their budget, reduce domestic welfare, and cut defense spending and subsidies to regional allies. FT

 

Fact of the Week

Energy Outlook. U.S. net energy imports as a share of consumption are at their lowest level in 29 years for the first half of 2014. Total energy consumption was 3% higher than the same period in 2013, but was outpaced by increases in domestic energy production. EIA

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 15, 2014

Top Stories

Climate Change. Todd Stern, a representative from the State Department’s special climate change initiative, expressed U.S. support for a global climate agreement at next year’s climate conference in Paris that is “ambitious, inclusive, and durable.” He stressed the importance of including measures that would apply to all countries — rather than just developed countries as in the Kyoto Protocol — and requiring countries to release a schedule of emissions reductions targets as well as accounting and reporting measures. The Hill

Oil. After another decline in global oil prices earlier this week, OPEC leaders appear split about potential actions to stop downward movements in price. Industry analysts predict a price war among OPEC members over the next sixth months as they compete for market share amid increased production in the U.S., political conflict among members, and reduced demand for petroleum worldwide. NY Times

OP-ED of the Day

Oil. The Wall Street Journal reports that falling crude prices around the globe are a double-edged sword for Asia, as they reduce costs for businesses and consumers yet also signify weakening demand from the region’s greatest exporters. The Journal details numerous other pros and cons to less expensive oil, with positives including reductions in “wasteful” fuel subsidies and lower interest rates, and negatives such as reduced incentives to develop new sources of renewable energy. WSJ

Report of the Week

Climate Change. The Pentagon released a report on Monday detailing a strategic plan to address climate change as a national security issue. The report described climate change as a “threat multiplier”, particularly through its power to exacerbate existing national challenges such as terrorism. The Hill

 

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 10, 2014

Top Stories

Energy Outlook. In a strong sign of the U.S.’ growing energy independence, net energy imports to the U.S. as a share of energy consumption fell to a 29-year low low during the first half of 2014.  Net imports were down 17% from the same period last year.  The Hill

EPA. The EPA is pushing back the release of a draft final report on hydraulic fracturing from late 2014 to early 2015.  The report, which has been in the works since 2010, has come under fire from GOP lawmakers who charge that the agency is on a “witch-hunt to find a pretext to regulate” the practice of hydraulic fracturing.  Politico 

Energy Policy. The Department of Energy today announced a new regulation dictating which private-sector green building certifications can be used by federal agencies to meet existing requirements for energy efficiency.  Such certifications do not replace the federal government’s separate green building standards but rather can be used as an alternative way to ensure compliance.  The Hill

OP-ED of the Day

Energy Outlook. Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute argue that the development of increasingly energy efficient technologies increases overall energy consumption.  These low-cost efficiencies often lead to faster growth in energy consumption; the International Energy Agency and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate that about half of energy savings resulting from cheaper and more efficient technology are erased by the increased energy consumption it causes.  NY Times

Quote of the Week

“Combating climate change isn’t just a responsibility. It’s also an extraordinary opportunity.”

Source: Op-ed by US Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, in which they argue that addressing climate change will create jobs. (10-09-14)

 

 

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