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31Oct/14Off

Is the US oil boom in trouble?


    Oil prices continue to drop, energy companies are taking on large amounts of debt, and some call into question rosy projections about a long-term US shale boom. Should we be concerned about the future of American oil and gas?

    By Jared Gilmour, Staff writer OCTOBER 30, 2014

      WASHINGTON — A dramatic rise in US oil and natural gas production has altered the global energy landscape, buoyed an economic recovery, and pushed down oil prices worldwide.

      The question is: How long can the so-called shale boom last?

      No one can be 100 percent sure, but most projections see the US remaining an energy powerhouse for decades to come. New techniques and technologies will continue to unlock oil and gas from increasingly stubborn rocks, according to various government, industry, and independent analyses.

      But some critics say these forecasts are overly optimistic and fail to take into account just how much energy, money, and ingenuity it takes to maintain unconventional oil and gas production, let alone expand it. And a recent drop in the price of oil calls into question not just how much oil and gas is left, but how much of it can still be profitably extracted.

      Today, US oil production is at its highest level in three decades, and the country imports dramatically less. Natural gas production is so high that terminals are being built to ship it abroad, and booming oil production has spurred talk of lifting the decades-long crude export ban. Innovations like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have unleashed a glut of oil and gas in shale formations from North Dakota’s Bakken to Texas’s Eagle Ford.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2014/1030/Is-the-US-oil-boom-in-trouble

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      31Oct/14Off

      A County Resents Oil Drilling, Despite the Money It Brings In

      By AMAN BATHEJAOCT. 30, 2014

      pastedGraphic.pdfGARDEN CITY, Tex. — Dennis Seidenberger has farmed cotton for 49 years in this close-knit community 40 miles southeast of Midland. Farming is a way of life that he passed on to his son, and one that he hopes will stay in the family for generations.

      But his outlook has changed over the past three years as a surge in oil drilling has transformed Glasscock County, where he lives.

      “They’ve totally ruined our way of life here,” Mr. Seidenberger said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever get over it.”

      His sentiments sum up how many residents throughout the county view the drilling boom, despite the boost it has given to both the local economy and the county’s coffers.

      “If something happened and oil went to $50 a barrel and everything moved out of here tomorrow, I don’t think it would hurt anybody’s feelings in Glasscock County,” said the county judge, Kim Halfmann.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/us/a-county-resents-oil-drilling-despite-the-money-it-brings-in.html?ref=energy-environment

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      31Oct/14Off

      With Big Oil on the horizon, this walnut farmer has bigger problems than squirrels

      By Tara Lohan

      31 Oct 2014 6:05 AM

      This story is a part of Faces of Fracking: Stories From the Front Lines of Fracking in California. Click here for the full series.

      Faces of Fracking – Paul Hain

      Original source: http://grist.org/climate-energy/with-big-oil-on-the-horizon-this-walnut-farmer-has-bigger-problems-than-squirrels/

      Of all the things that could threaten Paul Hain’s livelihood, squirrels are near the top of the list. And then there are the oil companies.

      Last year, squirrels gorged themselves on 14 of Hain’s 20 acres of walnut trees. And oil companies have been eyeing his bucolic corner of California recently with a project in the works that may result in hundreds of new wells that use energy- and water-intensive production methods to coax viscous petroleum to the surface.

      I visited Hain’s farm, Hain Ranch Organics, in the small hamlet of Tres Pinos five miles south of Hollister in San Benito County on a September morning during the walnut harvest. A worker drove a sweeper (which looks a lot like a riding mower) through the lines of trees to wind row the nuts so they’re easier to harvest.

      Over the hum of the machine, Hain told me that much of this orchard was here when he was born 60 years ago. At the time the place belonged to his grandparents. It was first built around 1905 by his great-grandfather Schuyler Hain, his first relative to arrive in the area in the late 1800s.

      Over the course of his life Hain has seen San Benito grow and change … in some ways. He remembers the first stoplight in Hollister arriving around the late 1960s as the population began to rise, but the view from his family home is not wildly different than it was when he was a kid. San Benito is a mostly rural county of 55,000 people who live among rolling hills nestled in California’s central coast region — 100 miles south of San Francisco and 25 miles inland from the Pacific.

      San Benito County has a lot of organic agriculture, ranches, and wineries. The county’s most famous attraction is Pinnacles, which got a promotion from a National Monument to a National Park in 2012. It’s a playground of caves and towering rock formations sculpted from a long-deceased volcano. The park’s also home to falcons and condors, and has a rich cultural history, with both the Chalon and Mutsun tribes calling it home.

      Quiet San Benito is not the place you’d expect to be the center of a big political fight, but this election season that’s how things are shaping up. On Nov. 4, voters here will get a chance to weigh in on whether or not the county should pass Measure J — a ballot initiative that would ban hydraulic fracturing (fracking), cyclic steam injection, and acidizing in the county. These are three ways oil companies try to access harder to reach oil deposits now that the easy stuff is gone. They’re often referred to as “high-intensity petroleum operations.”

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      31Oct/14Off

      Fracking advocates urged to win ugly by discrediting foes

      Posted on October 30, 2014 at 6:32 pm by Bloomberg in Hydraulic fracturing, Politics/Policy

      By Mark Drajem

      As he took the floor at the tony Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs, the veteran Washington public relations guru had an uncompromising message for oil and gas drillers facing an anti-fracking backlash.

      “You can either win ugly or lose pretty. You figure out where you want to be,” Rick Berman told the Western Energy Alliance, according to a recording. “Hardball is something that I’m a big fan of, applied appropriately.”

      Berman has gained prominence, including a “60 Minutes” profile, for playing hardball with animal activists, labor unions and even Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In Colorado, he was offering to take on environmentalists pushing restrictions on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

      The fight over fracking in the state has been viewed as a bellwether for similar debates brewing from New York to Sacramento. Energy companies are lobbying against a slew of regulations, including ones setting safety rules for fracking on public lands and another capping carbon emissions from power plants.

      To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/10/30/fracking-advocates-urged-to-win-ugly-by-discrediting-foes/

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      31Oct/14Off

      U.S. Solar Panel Maker to Add 200 Jobs and Expand Its Plant

      By DIANE CARDWELLOCT. 30, 2014

      SolarWorld Americas, the Oregon-based module manufacturer whose bitter trade dispute with China led to steep tariffs on imports from that country, announced a $10 million expansion of its plant on Thursday because of increased demand.

      The company, once battered by stiff competition from Chinese manufacturers that drove many American solar module makers out of business, plans to hire about 200 more workers next year and increase its module production capacity by almost 40 percent.

      “Many people did not think SolarWorld and U.S. manufacturing would survive — after all, solar manufacturing hasn’t exactly been a growth industry lately in the United States,” said Mukesh Dulani, the company’s president. “We have always said that we could compete with any company, domestic or foreign, on a level playing field.”

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/business/solarworld-plans-to-add-200-jobs-and-increase-production.html?ref=energy-environment&_r=0

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      31Oct/14Off

      US Trade Policy in Action: SolarWorld Now Adding Jobs and Solar Module Capacity

      Is tariff-based trade action effective?

      Eric Wesoff
      October 30, 2014

      SolarWorld just announced an expansion of its solar module factory capacity during a bit of celebration in Oregon this morning.

      In June, German-owned and Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas won its trade case when the Department of Commerce found in favor of the company's claim against Chinese solar module makers. The preliminary decision imposed significant tariffs on Chinese solar modules in the anti-dumping portion of this case. The decision also closed what SolarWorld called a "loophole" which allowed Chinese module manufacturers to use Taiwanese cells in their modules, thereby circumventing U.S. trade duties. SolarWorld has prevailed at pretty much every step of this case, despite ineffective opposition from the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy featuring Jigar Shah, and other trade organizations like SEIA.

      Most of the Chinese firms are now paying combined duties of about 47 percent.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/US-Trade-Policy-in-Action-SolarWorld-Now-Growing-Jobs-and-Solar-Module-Cap

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      31Oct/14Off

      Startup Borrows Financing Model From Solar, Efficiency Sectors to Launch EVs in Fleets

      Inspired by PPAs and ESCOs Vision Fleet deploys 400 EVs in Indianapolis

      Julia Pyper
      October 31, 2014

      California-based startup Vision Fleet took a couple of pages out of the clean energy sector’s play book to make low-carbon, alternative fuel vehicle fleets cheap and easy to operate.

      Vision Fleet unveiled an innovative new contract model this week, what it calls the Clean Mile Solution. The model was inspired by business practices that transformed the solar and energy efficiency industries — power purchase agreements (PPAs) and energy service companies (ESCOs).

      Much like solar and energy efficiency projects a decade ago, one of the main factors inhibiting the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs) today is their high up front cost, even though they pay for themselves over time through operational savings. Last year, just three of every 1000 vehicles purchased in the fleet market was electric.

      PPAs and ESCOs take away the upfront cost issue and reduce the customer risk associated with new technologies by financing clean energy projects over time. Since the contract models were introduced, the adoption of solar and efficiency products has gone up dramatically.

      So why not do the same thing for EVs?

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Startup-Borrows-Financing-Model-From-Solar-Efficiency-Sectors-to-Launch-EV

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      31Oct/14Off

      State breaks yet another key bullet-train promise

      By U-T San Diego Editorial Board5 P.M.OCT. 30, 2014

      In 2008, in order to get California voters to approve Proposition 1A — a bond providing $9.95 billion in seed money for a state network of bullet trains — advocates made specific promises about the cost of the project, the cities it would serve, the number of jobs it would create and the price of tickets. None of the claims have come close to being true.

      Now Gov. Jerry Brown and the California High-Speed Rail Authority are formally seeking to break another promise made to voters — that the project would comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). It’s a promise that rail authority officials have been making for years, starting in 2007 in meetings with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and others over possible bullet-train routes between San Francisco and the Central Valley.

      But Brown and the rail authority now pretend these promises were never made. State lawyers are arguing that the project should only have to comply with federal environmental guidelines — a hurdle they say has been cleared because of regulatory approvals for a 114-mile high-speed rail route from Fresno to Bakersfield from the federal Surface Transportation Board, which oversees the nation’s railroads. They’ve asked the federal agency to effectively invalidate seven lawsuits in state courts alleging CEQA violations in authority construction plans.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/30/state-breaks-yet-another-key-bullet-train-promise/

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      31Oct/14Off

      State rail agency seeks to avoid bullet-train injunction battles

      The California High-Speed Rail Authority is facing seven lawsuits over its approval of the Fresno-Bakersfield segment of its statewide bullet-train line. Now the agency is asking the federal Surface Transportation Board — which oversees rail lines in the U.S. and gave a green light to the project over the summer — to declare that those lawsuits should not be able to seek a California judge’s order to block construction.

      The authority’s petition to the federal board, filed earlier this month, is the second time that the rail agency has taken a “head-’em-off-at-the-pass” tactic to argue that federal jurisdiction over the project essentially overrides portions of the California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuits challenging the state’s approval of the Fresno-Bakersfield segment allege that the state’s environmental analysis of the route was inadequate and does not provide enough measures to make up for anticipated harm to residents, farmers, businesses and communities along the route.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/10/29/4205579_state-rail-agency-seeks-to-avoid.html?rh=1

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      31Oct/14Off

      Methanol — the Fuel in Waiting

      By William Tucker - October 30, 2014

      William Tucker is the author of “Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution” and “End America's Energy Odyssey” and news editor for RealClearEnergy.

      The fourth in a series of articles this week on energy innovation and the American economy.

      Methanol is a bit of a mystery. It is the simplest form of hydrocarbon, one oxygen atom attached to a simple methane molecule. Therefore it burns. It is manufactured in small quantities, but production could be ramped up at any time.

      It’s the fuel that would make the best and most convenient substitute for gasoline in automobiles and small trucks. It has about two-thirds the energy value of gasoline, but its high octane rating pushes this up above 70 percent. It is a liquid at room temperature and therefore would fit into our current gasoline infrastructure – as opposed to compressed natural gas or electric vehicles, which require a whole new delivery system.

      It is also much less cumbersome than corn ethanol, which now requires nearly half the annual corn crop produced in the U.S. to provide only 3 percent of our energy needs. Methanol made from natural gas would now sell for about $1 less per gallon than gasoline. Methanol can also be made from food waste, municipal garbage and just about any other organic source.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2014/10/30/methanol__the_fuel_in_waiting_124487.html?google_editors_picks=true

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      31Oct/14Off

      Ukraine and Russia Reach Accord on Natural Gas Deliveries

      By JAMES KANTEROCT. 30, 2014

      BRUSSELS — Russian and Ukrainian officials reached an agreement on Thursday night to resume Russian deliveries of natural gas to prevent shortages over the winter.

      The deal caps months of laborious talks under the aegis of European Union authorities on how much, and how soon, Ukraine needed to pay Russia for gas it has already consumed, and on the terms for future deliveries.

      The standoff between Moscow and Kiev also prompted concerns in Europe that Russian gas piped across Ukraine, a former Soviet state, could be interrupted.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/business/international/ukraine-and-russia-reach-deal-on-natural-gas-supplies.html?ref=energy-environment

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      31Oct/14Off

      Why Are Solar’s Largest Players Entering the Latin American Market?

      In a presentation at Solar Power International, GTM Research Analyst Adam James offered up three strategic reasons.

      Mike Munsell
      October 30, 2014

      Latin America accounts for less than 5 percent of global solar demand, yet GTM Research analyst Adam James dedicates the majority of his time to keeping tabs on this nascent market. More strikingly, some of the largest international EPCs, developers, module suppliers, and debt financiers are setting up shop there. What do they know that others don't?

      In a live presentation at Solar Power International's Industry Trends booth, Adam James drew on his research from the Latin America PV Playbook to provide a high-level overview of the burgeoning market and some granular detail on policies and trends shaping the most attractive Latin American markets.

      While still not much more than a blip on the radar of the global PV market, the Latin American market has grown faster than any other region before it in its first seven years of existence.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Why-are-Solars-Largest-Players-Entering-the-Latin-American-Solar-Market

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      31Oct/14Off

      Building Sustainable Energy Access, from the Outside In

      By ANDREW C. REVKIN OCTOBER 29, 2014 6:14 PM

      October 29, 2014 6:14 pm

      pastedGraphic.pdf

      A solar engineer cleans a solar array in a rural village of Puttur in Karnataka state in India. The solar array powers a school that now has extra classes for students at night thanks to the additional power.

      Credit    Harish Hande, SELCO

      David Roberts, thankfully back on task after a year away from the environment blog Grist, always provides thoughtful input on energy and climate policy.

      He’s tended to write on American policies and politics, but this week has refreshingly focused a two-part post package on developing countries, where energy needs, and growth, are greatest.

      In the first post — “How can we get power to the poor without frying the planet?” — he explores the challenges faced in trying to boost energy access without greenhouse-gas overload. He lays out the arguments of a range of analysts including the Breakthrough Institute, Roger Pielke, Jr., and Morgan Bazilian and Dan Kammen and the Sierra Club. He appropriately frames the piece around the mythological challenge of navigating between Scylla and Charybdis — finding ways to boost energy access while limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

      To read the entire article go to: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/29/building-sustainable-energy-access-from-the-outside-in/?ref=energy-environment&_r=0

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      30Oct/14Off

      Experts: Reducing Carbon Emissions And Increasing Grid Reliability Are Doable

      10/29/2014 @ 9:48AM

      Ken Silverstein Contributor

      I write about the global energy business.

      Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

      With the Clean Power Plan out for comment, a lot of utilities are scurrying to figure out their game plan — or just how they would work with their state utility regulators to reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, from a 2005 baseline. The general feeling is that the goal is doable but it may take a little more time.

      Understandably, the utilities and the state regulators want to find better and cheaper ways of doing business. Their level of enthusiasm, though, differs based on which part of the country they live and which fuels they burn to make electricity. The Northeast and California are leading the charge, having created free market exchanges to buy and sell credits to reduce carbon levels — mechanisms that each say is helping to broaden their generation mixes and to boost their economies.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2014/10/29/experts-reducing-carbon-emissions-and-increasing-grid-reliability-are-doable/?ss=energy

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      30Oct/14Off

      Court rejects county climate plan


      By Mark Walker6:50 P.M.OCT. 29, 2014

      An appellate court has ruled San Diego County’s climate action plan intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is insufficient.

      The decision by a panel of California’s 4th District Court of Appeal upholds a San Diego County judge’s decision in a suit brought by the Sierra Club, which argues the plan lacks the necessary specifics and enforcement mechanism to achieve the goals.

      The county adopted the climate action plan as part of its 2011 General Plan update that guides land use throughout the unincorporated area.

      Attorney Cory Briggs represented the Sierra Club at the trial court level and said the ruling issued Wednesday affirms the plan’s failure to achieve specific greenhouse gas reductions by 2020.

      To read the entire article go to: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/29/court-rejects-county-climate-plan/

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