Featured photo from our gallery:
The president infuriates greens, baffles industry.
By DARREN GOODE 1/29/15 5:32 AM EST
When it comes to oil, President Barack Obama wants to have it both ways.
He’s enjoying the political benefits of $2 a gallon gas, yet he’s pushing an executive action to seal off 1.2 million acres of Arctic land from drilling. He’s in a showdown with Republicans over the Keystone XL pipeline, yet just this week he proposed opening a huge swath of the Atlantic coast to oil exploration.
A record boom in U.S. oil production is happening under his watch, yet he’s negotiating major climate treaties that could cement his reputation as the most pro-environmental president in history.
Obama’s approach has infuriated greens, baffled the oil industry, and confused Republicans who find themselves praising him and condemning him on energy policy — sometimes within the same week. Critics on the right say Obama shouldn’t get credit for the oil gusher, and critics on the left say his environmental record is still incomplete.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/obama-oil-politics-114703.htmlShare This Post
By Kate Sheppard on 28 Jan 2015
Cross-posted from Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — A group of Senate Democrats from the Northeast is pushing back on the Obama administration’s proposal to open new areas of the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas drilling.
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker called the move “absolutely unacceptable” in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Joining in the press conference were fellow Democrats Ed Markey (Mass.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), and Ben Cardin (Md.).
“If drilling is allowed off the East Coast of the United States, it puts our beaches, our fisherman, and our environment in the crosshairs for an oil spill that could devastate our shores,” said Markey. “We’re going to make it clear we’re very unhappy with this plan. … You’re looking at the beginning of an alliance to put pressure on this administration to withdraw this proposal.”Share This Post
Christopher Helman Forbes Staff
I'm based in Houston, Texas. Energy capital of the world.
ENERGY 1/27/2015 @ 2:23PM
Mr. President, Alaska is big enough for caribou, polar bears and oil rigs. Really.
How big is Alaska? So big that you could fit more than two Texases in it. You could fit New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia and Ohio in it and still have some room. If you measure the state from the tip of the Aleutians over to its easternmost reach Alaska is as wide as the Lower 48.
About 750,000 people live in Alaska. This is by far the lowest population density in the nation. If you’ve flown across the Lower 48 and marveled at just how vast and empty of people this country is, Alaska is almost infinitely more empty, vast, wild. Alaska has about 57 million acres of designated wilderness, including the 18 million acre Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. That’s more than half of all the wilderness in the United States of America (California is a distant second with 15 million wilderness acres).
To read the entire article go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2015/01/27/president-obama-does-alaska-really-need-more-wilderness/?ss=energyShare This Post
By Tim Murphy on 28 Jan 2015
Cross-posted from Mother Jones
Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré first noticed something was deeply wrong in his home state of Louisiana in September 2005, a few weeks after Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast. Honoré, commander of the military’s disaster response operation, was choppering back to his floating headquarters aboard the USS Bataan when he saw a ribbon of rainbow on the water beneath him. “What in the heck is that?” he recalls asking the pilot. “He said, ‘Those are old oil wells, general — you see the derricks knocked down.'” Honoré was staring down at one of the storm’s little-noticed consequences — millions of gallons of oil spilled into the state’s fragile coastal wetlands. “And my heart almost stopped.”
As he recounts the story one Saturday morning outside a coffee shop near his home in Baton Rouge, Honoré’s eyes widen incredulously. “Come to find out later, many of those oil wells were actually abandoned,” he explains. “And even today — listen to me — the derricks are still on the ground. They’ve never been picked up.”
In the past couple of years, the 67-year-old Army lifer has undergone an almost religious awakening, throwing himself into one of the largest environmental combat zones in the United States. Louisiana has given oil and gas companies carte blanche to carve up its southern coast. Things aren’t much better on dry land, where some of the state’s poorest residents live in the shadow of some of the country’s largest polluters. In response, Honoré has formed the Green Army, an organization that’s advocated for some of the state’s most threatened communities while clashing with the petrochemical lobby and its champion in Baton Rouge, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. Now he might be aiming for something even bigger — the governor’s mansion.Share This Post
Posted: 01/28/2015 5:28 pm EST Updated: 01/28/2015 7:59 pm EST
Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future; Host/Managing Editor, The Zero Hour
The fact that this even needs to be said demonstrates that there's been a breakdown in the democratic process, but we'll say it anyway: Our number-one priority should be protecting the planet for future generations. That said, green energy makes sense even if we base our thinking on economic considerations alone.
Energy policies can roughly be divided into two kinds: those which benefit society as a whole, and those which only benefit the very few -- the Koch brothers and their ilk.
Guess which kind the GOP supports? Republicans are blocking pro-growth, job-creating green energy investments while pushing a pipeline that would enrich the few at the expense of the many -- with potentially disastrous environmental consequences.
If you want to know why, follow the money.
The '99-Percent Plan'
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/anti-koch-the-fight-for-g_b_6566380.htmlShare This Post
By CLIFFORD KRAUSSJAN. 28, 2015
Oil Prices’ ‘Spectrum of Pain’
The project, which had not yet been approved by the company, was to create at least 1,200 permanent jobs and 7,000 construction jobs, and begin production in 2018. But with the price of oil down by more than 50 percent since June, the highly speculative, and expensive, project was economically impractical. The announcement was the most extreme example of how oil companies are delaying, or canceling outright, some of their more ambitious projects as the price of oil plunges.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/29/business/oil-company-delays-huge-louisiana-project-as-prices-slide.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0Share This Post
BY TIFFANY HSU
January 28, 2015, 5:41 p.m.
Many Californians cheer the rapid fall of gasoline prices.
They’re taking extra vacations or padding their savings accounts. Businesses are cutting transportation and production costs, pocketing more profit in the process.
But for those who rely on the oil industry for a paycheck, the last few months have been nerve-wracking.
Oil companies have already cut nearly 22,000 jobs nationwide since the summer, when oil prices began plunging, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. And if past price dives are any indication, more layoffs are coming.
“We’re kind of just holding our breath -- there’s going to be a major correction,” said Mark Evans, chair of the economics department at Cal State Bakersfield.
California produced 17.3 million barrels of crude oil last year -- the third-most in the nation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Petroleum powerhouse Bakersfield and the rest of Kern County dominate production in the state, followed by Los Angeles County.
To read the entire article go to: http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-82662796/Share This Post
January 28, 2015 Updated: January 28, 2015 9:45pm
State investigators seized computers and other items from the homes of former California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey and an ousted Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executive at the heart of the judge-shopping controversy that has embroiled the regulatory agency for months, The Chronicle has learned.
Investigators with the attorney general’s office executed a search warrant Tuesday at the home Peevey and his wife, Democratic state Sen. Carol Liu, share in La Cañada Flintridge (Los Angeles County), court documents show. The agents seized computers, smartphones and a thumb drive, a small data-storage device, according to the records.
State investigators also seized a computer and other items Tuesday from the Orinda home of former PG&E Vice President Brian Cherry, court documents show. He and two other PG&E executives were fired in September when the utility released e-mails showing that Cherry had negotiated with utilities commission officials, including Peevey’s chief of staff, to name a judge the utility preferred to oversee a $1.3 billion rate-setting case.
State Attorney General Kamala Harris and the U.S. attorney’s office opened separate investigations into the judge-shopping case to determine whether any laws were broken. The investigations are also looking into e-mails that PG&E later released in which Cherry said Peevey had solicited contributions from the company for a political cause in 2010 and hinted that, in return, the utilities commission would rule in PG&E’s favor in a separate rate case.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Agents-search-Michael-Peevey-s-home-in-PG-E-6047151.php?t=5c58880b81Share This Post
BY DAN CHRISTENSEN
07/21/2014 1:36 PM 07/21/2014 8:16 PM
Upon his election in 2010, Gov. Rick Scott’s transition team included a Florida Power & Light executive who pitched his company’s plan to build a major natural gas pipeline in North Florida to fuel a new generation of gas-fired power plants in places like Port Everglades.
“The proposed project will need state regulatory and governmental agencies to understand and support this project,” said the proposal submitted by FPL vice president Sam Forrest.
Scott understood. In May and June 2013, he signed into law two bills designed to speed up permitting for what came to be known as the Sabal Trail Transmission — a controversial, 474-mile natural gas pipeline that’s to run from Alabama and Georgia to a hub in Central Florida, south of Orlando.
Five months later, the Florida Public Service Commission, whose five members were appointed by Scott, unanimously approved construction of Sabal Trail as the state’s third major natural gas pipeline. More approvals are needed from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which the governor oversees.
What wasn’t publicly known in 2013, however, was that the governor owned a stake in Spectra Energy, the Houston company chosen by Florida Power & Light that July to build and operate the $3 billion pipeline. Sabal Trail Transmission LLC is a joint venture of Spectra Energy and FPL’s parent, NextEra Energy.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/article1976380.htmlShare This Post
Peter Kelly-Detwiler Contributor
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
ENERGY 1/29/2015 @ 8:39AM
As the electric power grid continues to evolve and more distributed renewables come on line, the need for electricity storage will rapidly continue to grow. There are various types of energy storage, and each can contribute to the grid in numerous and different ways. These vary from fast-response grid stabilization applications (such as frequency regulation), to longer-term demand response (DR). Storage can be used to support localized grid requirements and to stabilize voltage. Located on a customer’s site, it can also help to minimize utility customer demand charges (these are typically based on the customer’s highest hourly reading during the meter read period).
The specific storage medium chosen depends on the task at hand, but one fact is clear: the storage companies that are tapping into higher value – or multiple – revenue streams are most likely to come out on top.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdetwiler/2015/01/29/stem-well-positioned-in-on-site-energy-storage-market/?ss=energyShare This Post
What rooftop PV on one of every nine homes means for island grids—and what to do about it
Jeff St. John
January 28, 2015
Hawaii is officially a solar hot spot of national significance -- and that makes it a fitting test bed for Department of Energy research meant to stretch the limits of rooftop PV penetration on island grids.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report on Hawaii’s solar status this week that lays out the state’s situation in graphic detail. Over the past five years, net-metered solar capacity has skyrocketed on the island of Oahu, and has grown significantly on the smaller, more constrained grids of Maui and the island of Hawaii (the “Big Island”).
Big wind farms and thousands of solar rooftops are changing the shape of Oahu’s energy supply-demand curve, in ways that threaten grid stability as well as the economics of generating most of its power with imported oil. DOE labs have been working with Hawaiian Electric, the company that runs utilities on Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Hawaii, to track these system effects, with results like these showing the telltale duck shape -- or, as HECO has dubbed it, the “Nessie curve” -- caused when midday solar exceeds demand, then drops off to leave the utility with steep ramps in demand to match with limited resources.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Charting-Hawaiis-Spectacular-Solar-GrowthShare This Post
Royal Dutch Shell Plc will cut $15 billion of investment over the next three years as the crash in oil prices saw fourth-quarter profit miss forecasts.
Shell, the first of the world’s largest oil companies to report earnings following the slump in crude to a five-year low, will review spending on about 40 projects worldwide, Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said today in an interview.
“We see pressure on our investment program,” van Beurden said on Bloomberg TV. “It’s a game of being prudent but at the same time not overreacting.”
To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/01/29/shell-cuts-15-billion-of-spending-as-profit-misses-expectations/Share This Post
By JUSTIN GILLISJAN. 28, 2015
Western governments have made a wrong turn in energy policy by supporting the large-scale conversion of plants into fuel and should reconsider that strategy, according to a new report from a prominent environmental think tank.
Turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand, the report found. It added that continuing to pursue this strategy — which has already led to billions of dollars of investment — is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world’s growing population.Share This Post
Hanergy chief exec: “No one else can do what we do with solar power embedded in glass windows.”
January 28, 2015
Li Hejun, the rags-to-riches billionaire CEO of China's Hanergy, has suggested that his firm will be a global leader in solar technology. But reports on the company in a recent Financial Times article indicate some extremely enthusiastic accounting practices -- and some signs of desperation.
In 2012, Hanergy, the owner of gigawatts' worth of hydropower, wind and solar assets, acquired MiaSolé, a technologically accomplished CIGS thin-film solar firm, for a fraction of that company's original VC investment. In 2013, Hanergy acquired gallium-arsenide solar developer Alta Devices for an undisclosed amount. Alta and MiaSolé joined CIGS firms Solibro and Global Solar Energy under the Hanergy roof. With little synergy amongst the acquired firm's technologies, Hanergy's solar shopping spree appeared less than focused.
Today, Hanergy is the world’s largest solar company by market cap, and Li Hejun, the founder of Hanergy Group, is China’s fifth-richest man. The Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of Hanergy, Hanergy Thin Film Power Group, has a market cap of $14 billion, more than triple the market cap of First Solar, a solar firm that actually builds solar products and power plants.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Unconventional-Accounting-from-Chinas-Hanergy-Solar-Owner-of-MiaSole-AShare This Post
Loren Steffy Contributor
I write about the crossroads of energy and money.
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
ENERGY 1/27/2015 @ 4:38PM
A few years ago, President Obama outlined an “all-the-above” energy strategy. These days, his strategy seems to be “do no harm.” The plan outlined today, which would open parts of the eastern seaboard to offshore drilling while pulling back on new drilling in Alaska, seems more geared toward avoiding difficult political choices than laying down a coherent energy strategy for the nation’s future.
A key part of the president’s plan would allow offshore drilling from Virginia to Georgia and in some Arctic waters beginning in 2017 and running through 2022. That part isn’t popular with environmentalists, but it won’t be an issue until Obama is out of office. It’s also worth noting that the program protects the northern Atlantic and Pacific coasts from new drilling. In other words, the two regions of the country that engage in the heaviest and most concentrated use of fossil fuels are not forced to share in the sacrifice of producing it.
The Atlantic drilling plan is essentially the same one that was set to go into effect before the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico caused the administration to put it on hold. Ideally, the plan would include significant changes in the monitoring of offshore operations and include new provisions that would help prevent accidents. So far, though, the administration has not made these sort of sweeping changes in offshore regulations in the Gulf, and it’s unlikely it will require them on the East Coast, either.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lorensteffy/2015/01/27/why-obamas-drilling-plan-ignores-americas-changing-energy-role/?ss=energyShare This Post