Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 29, 2016

Top Stories

Oil Outlook.  The Baker Hughes U.S. oil rig count declined by 11 to 332 last week, furthering a trend of declines that began shortly after oil prices began to plunge.  Since peaking at 1,609 rigs in October of 2014, the rig count has declined by 73%.  WSJ

Climate Policy.  The benchmark European Union carbon allowance price jumped 22% in April, marking its biggest jump in more than two years.  The surge — which follows a 40% decline earlier this year —  is attributable to a rise in energy prices and uncertainty over new rules that aim to curb an oversupply of allowances in the market.   Bloomberg

Oil.  The United States’ largest two oil companies have taken a considerable hit due to record-low oil and natural prices and weakening refining profit margins, with one company posting its smallest profit for any quarter since 1999 and another reporting first-quarter losses of $725 million.  While neither company is at risk of going out of business, the results underscore the difficulties faced by the entire industry, which has seen 62 bankruptcies over the past year and layoffs for nearly 120,000 American workers.  NY Times

Energy Outlook.  Eric Roston of Bloomberg writes that the pace of technological change in the electric car industry is accelerating, but that the climate impact of the new vehicles will be limited by the progress of climate-friendly improvements to the power grid.  Roston explains that because electric cars currently get their power from electricity that is generated primarily from fossil fuels, the deployment of clean electricity will be critical to curbing climate pollution moving forward.  Bloomberg

Energy & Environment News

Energy & Environment News

April 28, 2016

Top Stories

Climate Change.  The European Union’s top court has directed regulators to correct mistakes in the way they previously calculated the allocation of free carbon allowances to companies, casting doubt and uncertainty about the way that the European Commission will determine free allocation in 2017.  In the same ruling, the court also struck down a challenge by three large industry stakeholders regarding the EU’s decision to cut the number of free emission permits that they receive under the trading system.  Bloomberg

Oil Outlook.  Analysts remain skeptical of a sustained oil price rally, barely altering their price forecasts amid a widespread view that the market will continue to be oversupplied as stockpiles remain high around the world and new supply from Iran remains a possibility.  Speculators, by contrast, have been far more bullish, betting on price increases as data continues to show declines in U.S. production and while political events cause supply disruptions elsewhere. WSJ

Oil.  Russia’s largest commodity exchange is trying to bring international oil traders into its emerging futures market in an attempt to disconnect the nation’s Urals crude from the world’s Brent oil benchmark, increase revenue, and move away from quoting Russian petroleum in U.S. dollars.  The change would help domestic companies generate extra revenue from trading, though Russia’s Kremlin must convince traders that the move is not simply aiming to bolster prices if the plan is to be successful.  Bloomberg

Climate Change.  In an anonymous Op-ed in the Financial Times, the author asserts that governments should not use the law to persecute opponents of action on climate change, as Attorney Generals have done in the ongoing disputes with Exxon and affiliated firms.  More broadly, the author argues that all stakeholders should be able to participate in policy conversations without fear that their opponents will go on “fishing expeditions through their private communications” to strike down their arguments, and asserts that such tactics degrade the quality of the important issues at stake in the debate on climate change policies.  FT

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 27, 2016

Top Stories

Oil Outlook.  Oil prices set a new 2016 high today, even as new data revealed that U.S. inventories rose by nearly 2 million barrels.  Since reaching a 13-year low in February, U.S. crude prices have rallied by 70% on the view that overproduction is beginning to abate and supply-and-demand conditions are coming into balance; while recent inventory readings fail to confirm these predictions, rising gasoline demand and falling production suggest that a correction is still under way.   WSJ

Energy Policy.  Adele Morris of the Brookings Institute asserts that a carbon tax could provide much needed help to workers that are displaced by the decline of the coal industry.  Morris notes that while the EPA’s Clean Power Plan offers no way to alleviate the burdens endured by coal communities, a well-designed carbon tax could raise enough revenue to fund a generous transitional assistance package for coal workers, proving a “win-win for coal communities and the environment.” Brookings

Climate Change.  New research shows that environmentalists  tend to engage in “systems thinking”, embracing longer chains of causality and recognizing the unpredictability of complex systems (such as nature and climate change) more easily than others.   Accordingly, the research suggests that policymakers and environmental advocates should use language that prompts systems thinking when describing environmental issues, which will encourage people to think more systemically about the human-environment relationship.  WP

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 22, 2016

Top Stories

Wind.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that U.S. wind generation is slowing on a year-on-year basis, as weather patterns in the western United States lower wind speeds and dampen generation.  Specifically, wind generation grew by just 5.1% in 2015 — the smallest annual increase since 1999 — despite a 12.9% increase in wind capacity. EIA

Oil Outlook.  Neil Collins writes in the Financial Times that there’s “life in big oil yet,” despite financial turmoil among oil companies around the world and popular forecasts of the “end of the oil age.” Collins argues that the oil industry is much like the tobacco industry, growing resilient to increasing regulation and tax hikes while demand remains robust.  WSJ

Climate Change.  Michael Bloomberg asserts in Bloomberg View that the U.S. will meet and probably exceed its Paris climate goals regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Clean Power Plan.  Bloomberg explains that the goal remains well within reach for several key reasons:  (1) it was a modest goal to begin with, (2) the court’s ruling will have a limited effect given other stipulations under the Clean Air Act, (3) the public favors action, and (4) the market is “moving” away from dirty sources of energy due to a combination of economic and social forces.  Bloomberg View

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 21, 2016

Top Stories

LNG.   A tanker stocked with U.S. natural gas is set to sail from Louisiana to Portugal today, marking the first LNG shipment in a new trade relationship between Europe and the United States.  Industry analysts predict that the introduction of American gas into the European market could trigger a price war, adding supply to an overcrowded market that has historically been dominated by Russia.  WSJ

Energy Policy.  The New York Housing Authority has announced plans to install commercial-scale solar energy panels on its housing projects beginning in 2017, with the goal of supplying 25 megawatts of power by 2025.  The plan — which will be funded by a FEMA grant and private investments known as energy performance contracts — would produce enough energy to power 6,600 apartments.  WSJ

Climate Change.  Eric Roston of Bloomberg differentiates between a global warming target of 2 degrees Celsius and 1.5 degrees Celsius, noting that the half-degree difference would have a significant impact on both climate and living conditions in the future.  For example, Roston points out that the rate of sea-level rise would be a third faster in a world warmer by 2 degrees Celsius compared with just 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Bloomberg

Solar.  Renewable energy developer SunEdison filed for bankruptcy today, marking the biggest bankruptcy that the renewable energy industry has ever witnessed.  Ed Crooks of the Financial Times explains that the bankruptcy is largely due to the company’s uniquely complex financial structure and is thus unlikely to cause broader systemic problems in the industry.  FT

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