Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

June 4, 2015

Top Stories

Fracking.  The Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft report today concluding that hydraulic fracturing has not caused any major harm to drinking water supplies.  The report — which EPA claims to be the “most complete compilation of scientific data to date” — is a big win for the oil and gas industry, which has faced many allegations that fracking pollutes groundwater, drinking water, and air.  Bloomberg, Report

Energy Outlook.  Asian consumption of gasoline and other fuels has been unusually strong in recent months, largely stemming from structural changes in the economies of China and India.  While many Asian counties are experiencing their slowest economic growth in years, growth in certain regions — such as the interior provinces of China — has continued to boom as many residents buy their first car or upgrade to larger models.  Reuters

Solar.  At a major OPEC conference in Vienna this week, oil ministers of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait spoke at length regarding their efforts to expand solar power.  Both nations have recently undertaken large solar power projects to advance their goals of becoming “solar exporting powerhouses” while fueling their own rapidly growing domestic demand for energy; energy analysts speculate that this heightened attention to alternative energy sources will spur similar investments among other government ministries in the region. Reuters

Biofuel.  Robert Bryce of Bloomberg View writes that corn ethanol should be viewed as “worse than Keystone” for environmentalists, particularly in light of recent findings that the product produces more carbon dioxide per year than the proposed pipeline would.  In conclusion, Bryce notes that the “ethanol industry’s interests continue to trump other interests”,  especially in light of Iowa’s economic dependence on corn ethanol production and the importance of Iowa for presidential contenders.  Bloomberg View

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

June 3, 2015

Top Stories

Energy Policy. The EPA is expected to report as early as Friday that greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes endanger human health and significantly contribute to global warming.  The White House is set to announce new rules to cut emissions from airplanes soon after, adding to the administration’s recent string of significant regulations governing the environmental impact of cars, trucks, and power plants.  NY Times

Oil. OPEC oil ministers announced in Vienna this morning that they remain optimistic about their strategy to fight for market share by maintaining their production levels — even representatives from the organization’s most vulnerable nations appeared to have come to terms with prices well below $100/barrel.  Some analysts speculate that the cartel may even increase its production quota on Friday, but others dismiss the idea, noting that it could lead to a fear of oversupply and cause market prices to plunge again.  WSJ

Climate Change.  Nicholas Stern, a British economist known for his work in climate diplomacy, noted in a debate last month that the international effort to achieve a worldwide climate agreement has already fallen short of its goal of preventing the Earth’s temperature from rising beyond the critical tipping point.  Professor Stern argues that countries must rely on more than just diplomacy moving forward, and suggests that advanced nations look toward incorporating compliance mechanisms into any international climate agreement.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

June 2, 2015

Top Stories

Energy Policy.  In prepared remarks at a hearing today, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House of Representatives’ energy panel, endorsed lifting the 40-year-old ban on U.S. oil exports.  Representative Upton’s backing will likely boost support for legislation to overturn the restriction, which currently has 40 co-sponsors in the House.  Reuters

Oil Outlook.  The Wall Street Journal reports that access to “easy money” has allowed U.S. oil companies to avoid liquidity problems and has kept U.S. crude production from falling sharply in recent months.  Investment analysts report that this oil-price downturn is inherently different from the episode of the 1980s due primarily to historically low interest rates, which have made drilling activity attractive to investors despite low prices.  WSJ

Climate Change.  In a united stand against coal use, Europe’s largest oil companies announced to industry officials that their increased production of natural gas could help to reduce carbon emissions and lessen the world’s reliance on coal for heating homes and creating electricity. In response, officials from the coal industry defended the resource’s role in the global energy mix, highlighting the potential of advanced technologies and the importance of the fossil fuel for developing countries.  WSJ

Climate Change. According to a recent study from the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development, the Everest region of Nepal could lose most of its glaciers as the planet continues to warm.   Using a climate model, the study’s authors find that moderate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could result in a 70 percent loss of glaciers around Mount Everest; however, if emission levels remain at current levels, glaciers in the region could virtually disappear

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

June 1, 2015

Top Stories

Climate Change.  Executives from six of Europe’s largest oil and gas companies have jointly called for a carbon pricing agreement at the United Nations-led summit on climate change this December.  In letters to the Financial Times and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the CEOs contend that a global carbon pricing system will discourage the use of carbon-based energy and “help stimulate investments in the right low carbon technologies and the right resources at the right pace.”    FT

Oil.  The Wall Street Journal reports that OPEC’s vow to maintain current production levels is a clear indicator that its pricing power has significantly diminished in recent months.  Amid excess global supply and faltering global demand, industry observers note that geopolitics between OPEC countries and heightened competition from non-OPEC rivals have reduced the group’s ability and desire to cooperate.  WSJ

EPA.  The EPA is expected to propose new regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks later this week, requiring that the trucks increase their fuel economy by up to 40% by 2027 relative to 2010 levels.  While new rules are expected to add up to $12,000 to $14,000 to the manufacturing cost of new tractor-trailers, EPA expects the added cost to be recouped in fuel savings within the first two years.  NY Times

Oil.  As global oil prices begin to slowly tick upward, nearly 100 U.S. shale oil producers are weighing the decision to resume new drilling activity to capture revenues lost during the recent price decline. Producers are hesitant to ramp up production and contribute to another slump in the fragile global market; nonetheless, industry analysts predict that the rig count will begin picking up again in the third quarter and gain momentum in the fourth quarter, with a full recovery as early as 2016.  Reuters

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

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