Posted October 23, 2014
On Jan. 1, California is scheduled to include gasoline, diesel and propane in its three-year-old, first-in-the-nation program that requires companies to buy carbon permits to cover their emissions of greenhouse gases. Yet a new report warns that design flaws in the cap-and-trade program could negatively impact markets that serve consumers.
Authored by Jean-Philippe Brisson, a carbon markets expert with the Latham and Watkins law firm in New York, the report commissioned by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) cautions that design flaws “can result – and have resulted – in catastrophic implications for environmental markets around the globe.”
Posted October 8, 2014
Others are picking up on how late EPA is in setting this year’s ethanol use requirements – as well as how political calculations appear to be affecting the administration’s management of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Politico (subscription required) has this:
The Obama administration is nearly a year late in setting its 2014 biofuels mandate, but both ethanol supporters and critics say with politics at play, the White House may delay its decision until after the midterm elections.
Several sources following the issue closely say that the White House hoped that boosting the overall volumes would be enough to act as a boon to (Democrat Bruce Braley in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race). But renewable fuels advocates in the state aren’t happy with that compromise, so anything short of a clear victory for ethanol makers could hurt Braley’s campaign. … “If they increase the number, but it’s still tied to the (ethanol) blend wall, in our view, they will have killed the program, and that will be seen as a huge loss for Braley, and they’ll wait until after the election,” said one person in the biofuels industry. “If it’s good for Braley, it’ll be before the election. If it’s bad for Braley, it’ll be a punt. And people will see the punt.”
Indeed they will. They can’t help but see energy policy being contorted to serve political ends. It’s no way to conduct energy policy, and it’s no way to treat Americans who ultimately could be impacted by decisions (or the lack thereof) under the RFS.
Posted October 7, 2014
New York Times columnist Joe Nocera has a new piece that calls for federal regulation of methane emissions from oil and natural gas production and distribution. Reducing methane emissions is a good idea – and industry has been doing it for years – which makes talk of new regulatory regimes seem odd.
Voluntarily, industry efforts have reduced methane emissions from fracked natural gas wells 73 percent since 2011, according to recent EPA data. That’s actually a fantastic number – one that parallels EPA’s greenhouse gases inventory showing a nearly 40 percent decrease in overall methane emissions from 2006 to 2012 – while natural gas production grew 37 percent.
Posted August 27, 2014
There was an interesting article last year from Ian Boyd, a chief scientific adviser in the government of the United Kingdom. In it Boyd looks at the role that science plays in public policy, including this clarification and warning:
Strictly speaking, the role of science should be to provide information to those having to make decisions, including the public, and to ensure that the uncertainties around that information are made clear. When scientists start to stray into providing views about whether decisions based upon the evidence are right or wrong they risk being politicised.
This comes to mind with a recent Huffington Post article lauding a proposal that would require Chicago service stations to offer E15 fuel, authored by Michael Wang and Jennifer Dunn, scientists with the Argonne National Laboratory.
Wang and Dunn write that mandating E15 – containing 50 percent more ethanol than the E10 gasoline that’s the staple of the U.S. fuel supply – is a “step in the right direction,” because of its environmental benefits. Actually, the Chicago ethanol mandate would be a giant leap backward for consumers, small business owners and, yes, the environment.
Posted August 25, 2014
Worth reading: this presentation on the facts about offshore seismic surveying from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in its August “Science Notes” newsletter. It’s prefaced by William Y. Brown, chief environmental officer for BOEM, who focuses on the public discussion that has followed the agency’s July announcement that it would allow safe seismic testing off portions of the Atlantic coast:
I wanted to take some time to clear up a few misperceptions about the bureau's decision and what it means. As a scientist who has spent a good part of my career working in non-governmental environmental organizations and in industry, I understand and appreciate advocacy. At the same time, I believe that everyone benefits by getting the facts right.
Posted August 20, 2014
North Carolina is about to join America’s energy revolution. This week the state’s Mining and Energy Commissions (MEC) conducted the first of four scheduled public hearings on proposed hydraulic fracturing regulations, the final adoption of which could allow fracking as early as next spring.
The MEC hearings mark the close of a two-year process to lift a 2012 moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina. The presence of vast shale reserves and the marriage of safe, responsible hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling launched the U.S. energy revolution – with stunning results. The U.S. is now the world’s leading natural gas producer and could become No. 1 in oil output next year, according to the International Energy Agency – generating thousands of new jobs and boosting the national economy.
While North Carolina doesn’t have energy-bearing shale deposits as large as those in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and other states, it has enough to create jobs and help its economy.
Posted August 14, 2014
Earlier this month the National Association of Manufacturers issued a report measuring the potential impacts of a new, stricter ground-level ozone air quality standard that’s being proposed by EPA. The estimated national results are economically devastating: reduction of U.S. GDP by $270 billion per year, 2.9 million fewer job equivalents per year on average through 2040 and potentially increased natural gas and electricity costs for manufacturers and households.
The picture is the same on a state-by-state basis. Over the next few days we’ll highlight some of the individual state impacts from the report, starting with North Carolina.
Posted July 16, 2014
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has newly revised resource estimates for the Atlantic outer continental shelf (OCS). Are you sitting down?
BOEM now believes areas within the 200 nautical mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone off the Atlantic Coast, from Maine to Florida, could hold 4.72 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and 37.51 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas. Those numbers are 43 percent and 20 percent higher, respectively, than the last government estimate of the Atlantic OCS done in 2011.
Posted July 15, 2014
Three keys to a true, all-of-the-above energy policy: increasing access to U.S. energy reserves, implementing sound regulatory policies and creating an environment that fosters investment in energy innovation and development.
Government has an important role to play in all three. While it can’t create an energy revolution like the one occurring in the United States today, it can help sustain and grow it. Unfortunately, government also can hinder it – with limited vision, misplaced priorities and poor policy choices.
Thus, “architecture of energy abundance” remarks by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton at this week’s U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) energy conference are particularly timely.
Posted June 26, 2014
It’s good to see the U.S. House of Representatives advancing a true all-of-the-above energy strategy with legislation that would help increase access to domestic reserves, promote common-sense regulation and reasonable permitting policies, foster development of key energy infrastructure and capitalize on America’s energy superpower status.
All are elements in a working, all-of-the-above approach to energy. Combined with energy from coal, nuclear and renewables, increased development of American oil and natural gas and associated infrastructure will keep our economy and country running – today and tomorrow.