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)

 

 

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 9, 2014

Top Stories

Energy Policy. A new poll found that Canadian support for a joint energy policy with the United States has fallen from 78% to 75% from last year, due in large part to the delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline.  Support in the U.S. for an integrated energy policy has remained unchanged at 84%.  Bloomberg

EPA.  Yesterday, the EPA sent potential changes to the current standard for ground-level ozone to the White House Office of Management and Budget, although the agency has not yet indicated whether it will try to lower the current maximum limit of 75 parts per billion.   The White House — which was responsible for stopping the EPA’s attempt to set the level at 70 parts per billion three years ago — has 60 days to review the proposed regulations; the EPA is under court order to propose new regulation by December.  The Hill

OP-ED of the Day

Energy Outlook.  Michael Silver argues that environmental advocates frequently overlook the fundamental role mining plays in developing innovative green-energy technologies. Silver asserts that without mining more “exotic” elements, new technologies will continue to rely on fossil fuels that contribute to global warming and land and water pollution.  He also argues that bans on new mining in the U.S. will compromise our energy security through continued reliance on foreign powers for these critical materials.  WSJ

Fact of the Week

EIA.  Propane demand is expected to be an average of 100,000 barrels per day lower in 2014 than in 2013.  This is largely due to reduced demand from petrochemical plants in response to the higher propane prices accompanying last year’s harsh winter.  EIA

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 8, 2014

Top Stories

Oil.  An outbound oil tanker was launched yesterday from a Texas port to South Korea, marking the first unrestricted export of American oil outside of North America in nearly four decades.  In light of this event — which many  industry experts view as a sign of the U.S.’ “inevitable emergence as an oil exporter” — the New York Times reviews the history of the U.S. ban on oil exports and key stakeholder arguments surrounding the ban’s removal.  NY Times

LNG.  A proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Texas was given a favorable environmental review today by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  The review will be factored into FERC’s final permit approval decision in coming months.  The Hill

Natural Gas.  While oil imports across the U.S. as a whole declined over the past decade amid the shale energy boom, California oil refiners have had to increasingly import expensive crude oil due to insufficient terminals to unload domestic oil from rail tank cars.  This obstacle is likely to wane in coming years, however, due to two key developments — permits were recently issued for the construction of the state’s largest oil-train terminal, and a state judge dismissed an environmental lawsuit challenging oil-train permits.  WSJ 

OP-ED of the Day

Climate Change.  Simon Zadek discusses the notion that there would be “no losers” in a unilateral fight against climate change and its consequences.  Zadek notes that while nearly all long-term self-interests are better off if action against climate change is taken, financing will remain inadequate for renewable energy development so long as financial actors profit from carbon-intensive industries in the short term.  Project Syndicate 

Report of the Week

Climate Change.  A new report from the Center for American Progress found that methane releases from energy production on federal lands have increased dramatically in recent years.  Methane emissions most commonly stem from inefficient venting and flaring throughout the natural gas production and refining process — and are known to be 20 times more potent with respect to global warming than carbon dioxide emissions.  The Hill

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