Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

June 8, 2015

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Climate Change.  Leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) industrial powers set a new and ambitious target to phase out fossil fuel emissions within the twenty-first century, beginning with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 – 70 percent of 2010 levels by 2050.  Although it remains unclear how the G7 leaders will meet these emission reduction goals, this target is the most precise and long-term pledge that has been made to date.  FT

Oil.  Heinz-Peter Bader of Reuters argues that OPEC’s decision not to cut production on Friday was “entirely predictable and the only practical option open to its members”.  Bader asserts that because both the shale revolution and permanent loss of global demand act as lasting supply-side shocks to the market, OPEC’s only sustainable approach moving forward is to continue pumping oil and allow the market to adjust on its own.  Reuters

Energy Policy.  In a testimony before Congress on the regional implications of a nuclear deal with Iran, Brookings Executive Vice President Martin Indyk asserts that possible negative repercussions are not sufficient to justify opposing the deal altogether. Specifically, Indyk argues that the deal is not likely to trigger a nuclear arms race, but will rather remove a primary source of tension in the region and give the United States a ten-to-fifteen year window to develop a more robust strategy to promote regional security.  Brookings

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

June 5, 2015

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Climate Change.  New research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates that what appeared to be a slowdown in global warming in the early 2000’s was actually based on incorrect data.  Specifically, NOAA found that when adjustments are made to the way global temperatures are measured, the slowdown largely disappears — and suggests that 2015 will likely be another record-setting temperature year.  NY Times

Energy Policy.  In an analysis of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Information Administration finds that the proposed regulation would accelerate additions of renewable electric capacity and speed up coal plant retirements.  While additions to wind capacity would be greatest over the next decade, solar capacity is projected to take off through 2040 as it becomes more cost competitive.  EIA

Oil Outlook.  OPEC announced at its meeting in Vienna today that it will keep its collective output level unchanged at 30 million barrels per day — a level that is now viewed as more of an “indicator” than a “ceiling,” as members consistently produce above the official level.  Looking ahead,  it is unclear how the addition of Iranian oil will weigh on the market in the event that a nuclear deal comes to fruition with the U.S., Europe, Russia, and China.  WSJ

Energy Policy.  Harvard economics professor James Stock discusses the EPA’s recent Renewable Fuel Standard requirements, applauding the Administration’s move to partner ethanol expansion with a USDA program to help the industry install new “blender” pumps at service stations.  Professor Stock asserts that while this program acts as a subsidy for the ethanol industry, it will support “the most promising short-term path toward reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector and matches money from states and the private sector”.  Reuters

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

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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