Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 3, 2014

Top Stories

EPA. The EPA has proposed new regulations for steel manufacturers which would impose stricter emissions limits for the production of steel. According to the EPA, the proposed regulations reflect the latest advancements in science and will result in significant environmental improvements. The Hill

Natural Gas. The New York Times reports that Qatar Petroleum has requested permission to export American gas by converting an import terminal in Sabine Pass, Texas to an export terminal. The project would enable Qatar — which has abundant political and pricing power in the Middle East and Africa — to capitalize on the U.S. energy revolution and remain a dominant player in the growing global natural gas market.  NY Times

Oil. A group of oil refiners recently commissioned a study which found that they could in fact handle the additional volume of crude oil produced in the United States due to the recent oil boom. The finding contradicts a key argument made by domestic oil producers, who have been pushing for Congress to lift the four-decade-old ban on crude oil exports in part because domestic refineries “couldn’t accommodate” the increased oil output. The Hill

OP-ED of the Day

Climate Change. Jeffrey Ball of the Wall Street Journal argues that the “end goal question” is missing from the climate debate. Ball asserts that end goals could range from spurring domestic economic benefits through clean-energy production to “winning a clean-technology race” against other countries, or simply curbing carbon emissions by a specific amount within a specific time — but that each of these goals will create winners and losers differently, and result in different environmental outlooks. WSJ

Quote of the Week

“When it comes to climate change, certainty isn’t required to justify action. The risk is such that sane societies should, in effect, insure themselves against it. A moderate, gradually increasing tax on carbon is not a case of going to extraordinary lengths. It’s a prudent, low-risk, low-cost option.”

Source: The Editors at Bloomberg in an opinion piece about the need for a tax on greenhouse gases. (10.02.14)

 

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 2, 2014

 

Top Stories

Oil and Natural Gas. The Export-Import Bank authorized $1 billion in loan guarantees to sell oil and gas field goods and services to Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil and gas company. The Export-Import bank estimated that these transactions will support as many as 6,700 U.S. jobs at both large and small companies. The Hill

Oil. The Department of Transportation issued new regulations requiring all tank cars used to transport highly volatile crude oil be retrofitted or phased out within two years.  Trade groups are calling for up to seven years to retrofit existing tank cars and 10 years to retire older cars, arguing that the phase-out program “did not account for factors such as manufacturing capacity, the demand for new tank cars, shop capacity for any retrofits, and the number of DOT-11 cars that need to be phased out of flammable liquid service”. NY TimesThe Hill

OP-ED of the Day

Climate Change. The editorial board of the journal, Nature, argues that a meaningful international climate agreement is within reach so long as the world’s largest emitters —China, the United States, and the European Union — pull together and develop a “bottom-up” approach. The editors assert that countless steps are needed across all aspects of economic and social life in order for any such agreement to be successful. NaturePolitico

Fact of the Week

Oil. U.S. oil exports are likely to surpass a record held since 1957 as traders find ways around the current ban on exporting oil — mostly through shipments to Canada and shipments of processed condensate overseas. Bloomberg

 

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

September 23, 2014

Top Stories

Climate Change.  President Obama spoke at the United Nations Climate Summit today announcing major new commitments to battle climate change.  The President vowed to increase assistance to vulnerable developing countries to help them enhance their resilience to devastating weather conditions, and issued an executive order directing all federal agencies to consider climate resilience to drought, wildfires, floods, and other weather extremes when designing and investing in international programs.  The Hill

Oil.  Controversies surrounding the classification of condensate, a very light type of oil separated at field facilities from natural gas, are escalating as production skyrockets and the ban on crude oil exports holds.  After the U.S. Commerce Department ruled in several private cases that lightly refined condensate can be exported, capacity thresholds at many refineries became threatened.  Fuel Fix

OP-ED of the Day

Climate Change.  Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, argues that climate change merits a global response because no region of the world is immune, and the costs of adapting to climate change are high for all.  He asserts that the UN meeting in New York this week needs to produce four outcomes: (1) a global _commitment to cut greenhouse-gas emissions through fiscal and economic policies and regulation; (2) a global agreement on a mechanism to raise and channel financial support for technology transfers to developing countries; (3) a vow to remove obstacles to a legally binding universal agreement at next year’s global climate conference in Paris; and (4) a specific commitment from African leaders to establish an environment that attracts private-sector support for environmentally clean development.  Project Syndicate

 

U.S. Economic News

U.S. Economic News

September 4, 2014

U.S. Economic Indicators

The ADP National Employment report shows that nonfarm private-sector employment increased 204,000 in August, the fifth month of job growth over 200,000.  July’s increase in jobs was revised downward 6,000 to 212,000.  ADP report

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed slightly in July to its lowest level in six months, as exports rose 0.9% and imports increased 0.7% from the previous month.  Although $40.5 billion gap came in slightly below consensus expectations, its steady decline points to solid third quarter economic growth.  BEA reportReuters

Initial claims for unemployment insurance ticked up 4,000 to 302,000, pointing to a healthy but not accelerating jobs market.  The four-week moving average edged up slightly to 302,750, while continuing claims fell to their lowest level since June 2007.  DOL reportReuters

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at an annual rate of 2.3% during Q2 2014, up from a revised -4.5% drop. Labor costs fell 0.1% and output jumped 5.0% in Q2. BLS report

ISM’s non-manufacturing index showed stronger-than-expected growth in August, with the composite index edging up 0.9 percentage points from July to 59.6, the highest reading since the index’s inception in January 2008.  Business activity jumped 2.6 percentage points and employment increased 1.1 percentage points, while new orders decelerated 1.1 percentage points.  Report

U.S. News

Yesterday’s Beige Book survey indicates widespread economic improvement, as all of the Fed’s district banks indicated modest or moderate economic growth for the third consecutive report.  Improvements in consumer spending, tourism, and even housing buoyed the report, while skilled worker shortages remained a concern for businesses.  WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

August 1, 2014

Top Stories

Coal. Hydropower production facilities in China have displaced much of the nation’s demand for coal imports, as evidenced by record-low coal shipping rates. Three hydroelectric plants started this year generated enough energy to replace 26 million tons of coal, or approximately 370 cargo loads. Bloomberg

Energy Outlook.
A report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration finds that energy companies are continuing to take out new lines of credit in efforts to finance projects amid flat cash flows and oil prices. The report says that this increase in debt is not inherently bad, so long as low interest rates and expanding production generate the revenue needed for the debt repayments. Fuel Fix

OP-ED of the Day

Energy Policy. Bob Sussman argues that the state-specific carbon reduction goals proposed in the EPA’s Clean Power Plan are fair due to the analytical, data-driven approach employed by the EPA.  He addresses several of the goals’ key criticisms with state-specific examples, pointing out that the uniform application of the EPA’s methodology produced equitable and achievable targets. Brookings

Quote of the Week

“The reason is simple: A degraded environment leads to a degraded economy.”

Source: Christine Lagarde, director of the IMF, in a statement yesterday calling nations to implement higher energy taxes that reflect the harmful impacts of fossil fuel use on both the environment and public health. (7.31.14)

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