Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 22, 2014

Top Stories

Energy Outlook. Disputes between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas have raised concerns in Europe that Russian oil piped through Ukraine will be interrupted in the coming winter. The disputes center around how much Ukraine owes for gas it has already consumed and how quickly the country needs to repay Russia, as well as the terms of future deliveries. NY Times

Energy Policy. Leaders of the European Union will meet tomorrow to “reassert their global leadership in climate protection”, but are divided about how to generate needed energy given tight budgets for green-energy projects and their diverse views on the role of natural gas and nuclear power. The leaders will be primarily discussing the 2030 climate and energy package, the goal of which is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. NY Times

OP-ED of the Day

Energy Outlook. David Russell, contributor to The Hill, notes that declining oil prices are the norm for the foreseeable future and will serve as a direct stimulus to the United States economy. He argues that gasoline prices are likely to drop by over $1 per gallon in the coming year, which equates to $130 billion of money “in the hands of ordinary folk to spend on other things”. This “extra money” amounts to more than $320 billion if the ripple effects of extra buying power are accounted for. The Hill

Report of the Week

Energy Outlook. A new report from the American Action Forum, a research group aligned with Republicans, found that energy-producing states were able bounce back more quickly and successfully from the 2009 recession than states who imported most of their energy. The report argues that additional policies to encourage energy development would insulate the economy from future international disruptions. The Hill

 

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 21, 2014

Top Stories

Nuclear.  The owners of seven old nuclear plants are preparing to ask for permission to extend the life of existing nuclear reactors.  Proponents argue that extending the lifetimes of plants is more economical than building new plants and a better way to maintain carbon dioxide emissions; others warn that running reactors beyond their economic lifetime and into “embrittlement” is not wise.   NY Times

Climate Change.  According to researchers from the Global Carbon project, carbon dioxide emissions across the world were higher last year than ever before.  The three highest emitters of carbon dioxide were China, the United States, and India, with carbon dioxide growths rates of 5.1%, 4.2%, and 2.9% from 2013, respectively.  The Hill

Energy Policy.  Following the release of a 15-page report detailing government subsidies for wind power in Texas, tax credits for the broader energy industry have come under scrutiny.  In response to recent criticisms and calls for reform, Texas lawmakers have commissioned a new report on the impact of incentives for natural gas operators, which is scheduled to be released in coming weeks.  NY Times

OP-ED of the Day

Climate Change. Chris Mooney discusses implications of frequent new “record” global temperature averages, particularly in light of the past 355 consecutive months in which the planet has been warmer than the 20th century average. Mooney points out that many individuals do not actually feel the steady above-average temperatures — noting the “polar vortex” of last winter — but that nonetheless, 2014 is on track to set the new all-time high global temperature record.  WP

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

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