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June 5th, 2017 Archives

5Jun/17Off

As Trump dumps climate pact, Brown’s China trip has new urgency

JUNE 01, 2017 12:48 PM

BY STUART LEAVENWORTH

sleavenworth@mcclatchydc.com

Stuart Leavenworth, a national correspondent in McClatchy’s DC Bureau, previously worked as the company’s Beijing Bureau Chief, and prior to that, served as The Bee’s editorial page editor.

The ghost of Jules Verne appears to be alive and well amid China’s environmental catastrophe. To clear out the smog that regularly chokes Beijing and other cities, inventors have proposed giant shower heads on skyscrapers. Others have suggested installing soot-sucking vacuum cleaners in parks or sending drones aloft to freeze toxic particles in the air and drop to them to earth.

In an earlier era, such ideas might have captivated Jerry Brown. Yet as he prepares to tour China in his second trip as governor, Brown is unlikely to engage his Chinese counterparts in whiz-bang environmental fixes. As California has shown, cleaning the air is a tedious, unsexy and often controversial process, involving expansive regulatory targeting, from cargo ships to backyard barbecues.

Brown has long sought to engage China as a partner and potential client in reducing smog and greenhouse gases. With Trump withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate change agreement, Brown’s mission takes on added urgency. More than ever, the Chinese Communist Party wants to be seen as a world leader and, more than ever, it is seeking outside expertise to reduce pollution that threatens its hold on power.

WITH TRUMP WITHDRAWING THE UNITED STATES FROM THE PARIS CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT, JERRY BROWN’S MISSION TAKES ON ADDED URGENCY.

I lived in Beijing the last three years and regularly inhaled the coal soot that is a defining taste of the city. Routines that my wife and I once took for granted – such as shopping for vegetables or brushing our teeth with tap water – posed daily challenges, given what we knew about China’s tainted soil and polluted aquifers.

Beijing’s pollution also dominated daily conversations, including those with our Chinese friends. Talk tended to revolve around the latest air filtration machines and what to do with the kids when smog alerts forced the schools to close.

Polls suggest that, compared to residents of other leading countries, the Chinese public is far more concerned about smog at home than international impacts of climate change. In a survey last year, the Pew Research Center found that half of those polled believe their leaders should reduce air pollution, even if it means slower economic growth.

While interpreting Beijing’s motives is often tricky, Chinese President Xi Jinping clearly sees multiple advantages in sticking with the Paris Agreement and partnering with states such as California:

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/article153842724.html

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Exxon Emissions Costs Accounting ‘May Be a Sham,’ New York State Says


By DIANE CARDWELL and JOHN SCHWARTZJUNE 2, 2017

For years, Exxon Mobil has insisted that its investment decisions take into account what carbon pollution will eventually cost the company.

But according to court filings by the New York State attorney general’s office, there is new evidence that the company has not actually followed that course, potentially overstating the value of its assets and defrauding its shareholders.

According to the filings, made by the state on Friday, “evidence suggests not only that Exxon’s public statements about its risk management practices were false and misleading, but also that Exxon may still be in the midst of perpetrating an ongoing fraudulent scheme on investors and the public.”

The filings come in a long investigation by the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, into whether Exxon lied to investors and consumers about the risks of climate change and how those risks might hurt its business. The investigation has its roots in a report the company released in 2014 in response to shareholder pressure to disclose how vulnerable its assets could be to future climate regulations.

The issue resurfaced this week when a majority of shareholders approved a measure asking for a more open and detailed accounting.

The central question is how Exxon values the fossil fuels it owns but has yet to extract. Climate scientists have suggested that if the world were to burn even just a portion of the oil in the ground that the industry declares on its books, the planet would heat up to catastrophic levels — an argument that has been boiled down to the slogan “keep it in the ground.”

By that logic, if policies aimed at slowing global warming mean that Exxon has to leave those reserves in the ground, their declared value could be far too high.

According to the filings, starting in 2010, Exxon told its investors that it used one set of estimates known as proxy costs while a set of lower costs was used internally in business planning.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/business/energy-environment/exxon-mobil-climate-change-lawsuit.html?ref=energy-environment

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Grand Canyon at risk as Arizona officials ask Trump to end uranium mining ban

Exclusive: Powerful regional officials to ask administration to end 20-year ban, saying it is unlawful and inhibits economic opportunity

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A coalition of influential officials in Arizona and Utah is urging the Trump administration to consider rolling back Obama-era environmental protections that ban new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon.

They argue that the 20-year ban that came into effect in 2012 is unlawful and stifles economic opportunity in the mining industry. But supporters of the ban say new mining activity could increase the risk of uranium-contaminated water flowing into the canyon. Past mining in the region has left hundreds of polluted sites among Arizona’s Navajo population, leading to serious health consequences, including cancer and kidney failure.

The new appeal to the Trump administration appears in the draft of a letter expected to be sent on Monday to the US interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, by the Mohave County board of supervisors, whose region borders the north side of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Similar letters are being drawn up by other regional leaders in neighboring county governments in southern Utah, to be sent to Washington by the end of the week, according to officials.

The Mohave County leaders also plan to dispatch a second letter on Monday asking the federal government to scrap national monument protections for lands of natural wonder “throughout Arizona”, claiming their designation is unconstitutional and prevents economic development of coal, oil and gas deposits. Utah leaders will follow with letters requesting the government shrink national monuments in southern Utah, such as Bears Ears and Grand Escalante, in order to open up a greater area for mineral exploitation, the Guardian has learned.

The battle to restore mining activity near the Grand Canyon is part of broader push by conservatives to roll back protections on America’s 640m acres of public land. Earlier this year, Congress reversed the Bureau of Land Management’s “Planning 2.0” rule, an Obama-era initiative that gave the public greater input on how land should be used. At the same time, Zinke has ended the moratorium on federal coal leases while pledging to open up public lands to greater oil and gas extraction. Trump has also ordered Zinke to review 27 national monument designations and report as to whether some parks might be reversed or reduced in size.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/05/public-lands-uranium-mining-arizona-grand-canyon

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Xcel Energy will ask for $139 million more to improve gas grid in Colorado

Proposal would increase monthly utility bills by $6.67 over three years

By ALDO SVALDI | asvaldi@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

June 2, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility, will ask state utility regulators to approve $900 million in capital investments over the next three years to upgrade and expand its natural gas distribution system.

The request, if approved, would add $139 million more into the base rates that Xcel Energy can charge its natural gas customers through 2020. It comes about six weeks after a severed gas production line caused a deadly explosion in northern Colorado.

For the typical household, the proposed increase works out to $2.73 more per month in 2018, $2.19 per month in 2019 and $1.75 per month in 2020. For the typical small-business customer, the hike would add $10.91 to the base rate per month in 2018, $6.97 in 2019 and $6.95 in 2020, the company estimates.

“We understand that our customers do not want to see their energy bills increase. The multiyear plan, however, offers pricing stability and predictability, while making the necessary investments in our natural gas infrastructure to ensure safety and reliability,” David Eves, president of Xcel Energy Colorado, said in a statement.

The company maintains 24,000 miles of natural gas pipelines serving 1.4 million natural gas customers. Xcel said it has removed all of its known cast-iron pipes and replaced 350 miles of vintage plastic and steel pipes in Colorado.

The company has spent about $300 million a year from 2015 through 2017 to improve its gas distribution system, but wants to speed up the pace of upgrades.

A home explosion in Firestone that killed two men replacing a hot water tank in April, however, has added to the urgency in the company’s push to replace aging pipes, improve leak detection and shorten response times to customer calls.

Investigators linked the gas that caused the blast to a severed flowline still connected to a nearby well owned by Anadarko, and not the local utility. The state ordered thousands of wells and their flowlines within 1,000 feet of a structure inspected.

Oil and gas regulators describe the blast as highly unusual. But developers, builders and homeowners in Colorado disrupt or sever an average of nearly four gas lines a day.

Xcel Energy, as the owner of the state’s largest gas distribution network, wants to invest more money into public outreach to reduce the number of incidents and in equipment to better detect leaks.

Given that natural gas prices remain at historically low levels, the company argues its customers are in a better position to absorb the added costs.

Residential gas, which used to cost $1 per therm in 2008, is running closer to 75 cents. Forecasts are calling for only modest increases in commodity prices in coming years.

http://www.denverpost.com/2017/06/02/xcel-asks-for-money-to-improve-gas-grid/

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One of 2 gas leaks discovered at Aliso Canyon still leaking more than a week later


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Porter Ranch Estates sit at the foothills near the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. SoCalGas is reporting that it found two new gas leaks at the facility on lines operated by Crimson Resource Management and has plugged one of them. (AP file photo by Michael Owen Baker)

By Antonie Boessenkool, Los Angeles Daily News

POSTED: 06/02/17, 1:00 PM PDT | UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO

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Two new natural gas leaks have been reported at the Aliso Canyon field near Porter Ranch, one of which is still leaking more than a week after first being discovered. But this time it’s not the Southern California Gas Co. storage facility that’s the source, according to the company.

Instead, SoCalGas workers found two separate leaks in equipment they say is operated by Denver-based energy company Crimson Resource Management.

SoCalGas sent a notification to residents in the Aliso Canyon area saying that on May 24, a SoCalGas field employee discovered a “minor” gas leak from a threaded fitting on a 3-inch line operated by Crimson Resource Management.

RELATED STORY: State regulators probing latest oil and gas leak at Aliso Canyon storage facility

In a Hazardous Materials Spill Report filed with the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, SoCalGas said it told Crimson about the leak, which Crimson said it would fix by May 30.

However, SoCalGas said in the report that its personnel saw on June 1 that Crimson hadn’t fixed the leak. On that same day, SoCalGas said, its personnel found an open valve on a Crimson oil production line that also was releasing gas into the atmosphere.

SoCalGas closed and plugged that valve, stopping the gas release, the company said.

The first gas leak from the 3-inch line has not yet been repaired, state regulators said Friday.

The state Department of Conservation said Friday that Crimson is working to determine whether the “minor leak,” near Crimson’s oil production operations, is part of the Crimson system.

“The minor leak at the Aliso Canyon field has been traced to a pipeline that is not associated with the natural gas storage facility,” said Don Drysdale of the state Department of Conservation Public Affairs Office.

“Crimson is shutting in three wells to determine if the line is part of their system,” Drysdale said. “Regardless, the elbow joint (identified as the location of the leak) will be welded tomorrow (Saturday) to remediate the minor leak. The Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources will conduct a complete environmental inspection of Crimson’s operation at Aliso Canyon after the immediate leak has stopped to identify any possible compliance issues.”

A representative at Crimson Resource Management said the company would have more information later Friday. However, multiple calls to Crimson Friday afternoon and evening, both to its Bakersfield office and Denver headquarters, were not returned as of press time.

The Aliso Canyon field was the site of a massive gas leak starting in October 2015 that spewed more than 100,000 metric tons of methane into the air, sickening area residents and prompting the temporary relocation of 8,300 households and two schools.

RELATED STORY: 100,000-ton Porter Ranch gas leak is largest in U.S. history, scientists say

Resident Issam Najm, who is also president of the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council, said Friday that the most recent leak, reported to residents at midnight by SoCalGas, shows how “callous” the oil producers at the Aliso Canyon field are.

“They say, ‘Yeah, we’ll fix it by the 30th,’” almost a week after SoCalGas said they discovered the Crimson leak, he said. “They’re OK with it leaking. ... They just don’t care.”

Najm said he and other residents have been advocating for the closure of the field altogether.

http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20170602/one-of-2-gas-leaks-discovered-at-aliso-canyon-still-leaking-more-than-a-week-later

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Nevada Legislature Passes Bill to Restore Net Metering for Rooftop Solar


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The legislation is now on track to become law, which solar advocates say will reboot the state’s rooftop solar market.

by Julia Pyper

June 05, 2017

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The Nevada State Legislature has passed a bill that's expected to revive the state's ailing rooftop solar market. The Assembly voted to approve a Senate version of the bill late Sunday night, with just a day remaining in the legislative session.

The bill (AB 405) would reinstate net energy metering for residential solar projects, but at a discounted compensation rate.

AB 405 would immediately allow rooftop solar customers to be reimbursed for excess generation from a solar system at 95 percent of the retail electricity rate. Over time, though, customer compensation would decline. The amended bill would create tiers, where credit rates decrease in increments for every 80 megawatts of rooftop solar generation deployed -- to a floor of 75 percent of the retail rate. A previous version of the bill lowered compensation in increments based on peak load.

If signed into law, AB 405 would also allow net-metered customers to lock in their rate for at least 20 years, eliminating the risk that rates could change retroactively.

Rooftop solar advocates, including the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), say the bill will reboot Nevada's rooftop solar market, which has been effectively stalled since a 2015 policy change.

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/nevada-bill-to-restore-net-metering-for-rooftop-solar-passes-in-the-senate

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The Biggest, Strangest ‘Batteries’

By DIANE CARDWELL and ANDREW ROBERTSJUNE 3, 2017

What if you need a battery? A really big one — big enough to run a city?

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It’s a question that inventors have been tackling for decades. No one wants the fridge, or the hospital, going on the blink when demand surges or the power plant needs repairs.

It turns out to be a surprisingly tricky question to answer. Today, with the rise of green energy sources like solar and wind, the need for industrial-scale energy storage is becoming ever more vital to make sure there’s power even after the sun sets or the breeze dies down.

It’s usually (but not always) still too impractical to string together enough traditional batteries — those powered by chemical reactions, like the ones in smoke alarms and Teslas — to do the job. Instead, with remarkable ingenuity, technicians have relied on a host of physical forces and states such as temperature, friction, gravity and inertia to keep energy locked up for later release.

That’s why in Wales a power company engineered a special lake on a mountaintop. And in Germany a utility pumps underground caverns full of compressed air. Here’s how those and other systems — all in use today — work.

Compressed Air in a Cavern

Back in the 1970s, a German utility wanted to build a flexible storage plant that could respond to sudden peaks in electricity demand, since its conventional plants — mainly coal — weren’t designed to dial up or down quickly.

It didn’t have the hilly terrain needed for a hydroelectric plant, which can start operating much more quickly when demand surges. But here’s what it did have: ancient, underground salt deposits.

Borrowing a technique commonly used to store natural gas and oil deep underground, it piped water into the salt beds to dissolve the salt and create two caverns roughly a half-mile below the grassy fields in Huntorf. The plant, which opened in 1978, uses electricity from the grid, when it’s cheap because demand is low, to compress and store air in the salt caves.

Then, when electricity demand surges, a motor pushes the air to the surface and into a combustion system, where it burns natural gas that spins a turbine to produce electricity. Compressing the air allows it to deliver more oxygen to the turbines, making them more efficient.

A similar plant opened in 1991 in McIntosh, Ala. Several energy companies, mainly in the United States and Europe, are exploring mining their salt deposits for storage as well.

Molten Salt to Stockpile the Sun’s Rays

Out in the desert of Tonopah, Nev., about 200 miles northwest of Las Vegas, an enormous spiral of mirrors surrounds a concrete tower roughly 55 stories tall. Topped with a 100-foot heat exchanger formed of tubes, it’s not a relic of some mystical pagan rite, but the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Facility.

It is the world’s first utility-scale concentrating solar power plant that uses extremely hot salt to extend the use of solar energy way past sundown.

Rather than using solar panels to produce electricity, the plant has more than 10,300 billboard-size mirrors that focus the sun’s heat on the heat exchanger, melting the salt into millions of gallons of 1,050-degree liquid that is stored until electricity is needed. The salt, which can stay liquid at higher temperatures than some other fluids like water, then flows through a steam-generating system that drives a turbine, producing enough electricity for 75,000 homes for as long as 10 hours past sundown — in essence, allowing the sun to shine at night.

Spinning Wheels That Power a Crane

On Kodiak Island in Alaska, the local electric cooperative got an unusual request from the shipping company that operates the port: Could it install an electric crane?

The company wanted to replace its aging diesel-powered crane with a new, and faster, electric one. It would be able to service larger ships and higher container stacks, making the shipping operations more efficient.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/03/business/energy-environment/biggest-batteries.html?src=me

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5Jun/17Off

Southern California school districts to get pollution-free, electric buses

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The Electric Lion 360 made by the Quebec, Canada-base Lion Bus, school bus is one of the models of zero emission school buses that with a $8.8 million allocation from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. (Photo courtesy of the South Coast AQMD)

By David Danelski, The Press-Enterprise

POSTED: 06/02/17, 10:08 PM PDT | UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO

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One day after President Donald Trump opted out of the Paris climate accord, Southern California air quality officials took a step in the opposite direction, approving $8.8 million for the purchase of 33 electric school buses.

The unanimous decision Friday, June 2, by the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District was hailed as the largest electric school bus buy to date, said Evan Gillespie, head of the Sierra’s Club My Generation initiative.

It followed last month’s rollout of 29 electric school buses by air quality officials in Sacramento.

These buses are important for the future because they reduce children’s exposure to harmful emissions while also combating climate change at a time when national leadership on this issue is lacking, he said. They also could be a start of a zero-emission era.

“It is a great first step,” Gillespie said.

Funding for the buses as well as bus-charging stations will go to 16 school districts and two charter schools in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Each entity will get one or two buses with ranges of at least 60 miles per charge.

During the air district board meeting in Diamond Bar, 12-year-old Michael Beaudin of Fontana told the board that he was pleased to see that two electric buses would come to his hometown.

“The air is really, really smoggy, and we really need more electric buses,” said Michael, a student at Wayne Ruble Middle School.

The air district had received requests from 51 public school districts and 2 private charter schools for a total of 295 electric school buses.

Priority was given to school service areas with higher poverty and cancer rates, and elevated levels of fine particle air pollution, said an air district report.

http://www.dailynews.com/article/20170602/NEWS/170609847

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Want jobs for the ‘forgotten man’? Finish high-speed rail.

JUNE 02, 2017 5:17 AM

BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Disparaging California’s high-speed rail project as an overpriced boondoggle is a kind of received wisdom by now.

Self-styled protectors of taxpayers carp. Powerful congressional Republicans go out of their way to undermine the $64 billion project. It’s the “crazy train,” or the “train to nowhere.” Tesla founder Elon Musk says a hyperloop would be a smarter alternative. Advocates of driverless cars say they will be the answer.

But rail is not crazy in Europe or in Asia. And Fresno, Madera, Merced and Stanislaus counties, home to nearly 2 million Californians, are not nowhere. They are, however, too often forgotten.

The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, which opposed the 2008 ballot measure that authorized high-speed rail, long since has come to see the life-changing potential of a transportation system that connects the San Joaquin Valley to Silicon Valley. It’s not too complicated to see the short and long-term reasons why.

IN TIME, $6 BILLION WILL HAVE BEEN SPENT IN AND AROUND FRESNO. ASK EXPERTS WHEN THE LAST TIME WAS THAT SUCH A SUM WAS SPENT ON A PUBLIC WORKS PROJECT IN FRESNO, AND THEY WILL LAUGH. NEVER.

San Mateo County’s unemployment rate is 2.5 percent. In Santa Clara County, the rate is 3.1 percent. Statewide, 4.8 percent of the workforce is out of a job. In too much of the other California that straddles Highway 99, times remain tough.

Stanislaus County’s unemployment rate is 7.9 percent. Madera’s rate is 8.5 percent. Fresno County’s rate sits at 8.8 percent. Merced County’s rate is 10.2 percent.

This is both unfair and unsustainable. The Central Valley needs to become part of the rest of the state.

An efficient way to get to the Silicon Valley is one way connect it with the rest of California. There will be mutual benefit. Consider housing. In Santa Clara County, the median price of a home is north of $1 million. In Fresno, it slightly more than $200,000.

High-speed rail is at a particularly perilous point now. Its director, Jeff Morales, has stepped down, after withstanding more than his share of shots, many of them cheap. His replacement will need proven skills that include the ability to manage a huge construction project and navigate the fraught politics.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who inherited the project from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been an enthusiastic supporter, but knows his successor might not be nearly as excited, particularly if Brown fails to secure stable funding.

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article153955174.html

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India, Once a Coal Goliath, Is Fast Turning Green


By GEETA ANAND JUNE 2, 2017

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Solar panels on the roof of a shop in a settlement in Bangalore, India.

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Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times

MUMBAI, India — Just a few years ago, the world watched nervously as India went on a building spree of coal-fired power plants, more than doubling its capacity and claiming that more were needed. Coal output, officials said, would almost triple, to 1.5 billion tons, by 2020.

India’s plans were cited by American critics of the Paris climate accord as proof of the futility of advanced nations trying to limit their carbon output. But now, even as President Trump pulls the United States out of the pact, India has undergone an astonishing turnaround, driven in great part by a steep fall in the cost of solar power.

Experts now say that India not only has no need of any new coal-fired plants for at least a decade, given that existing plants are running below 60 percent of capacity, but that after that it could rely on renewable sources for all its additional power needs.

Rather than building coal-fired plants, it is now canceling many in the early planning stages. And last month, the government lowered its annual production target for coal to 600 million tons from 660 million.

The sharp reversal, welcome news to world leaders trying to avert the potentially deadly effects of global warming, is a reflection both of the changing economics of renewable energy and a growing environmental consciousness in a country with some of the worst air pollution in the world.

What India does matters, because it is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the United States. And its energy needs are staggering — nearly one-quarter of its population has no electricity and many others get it only intermittently.

With India’s power needs expected to grow substantially as its economy continues to expand, its energy use will heavily influence the world’s chances of containing the greenhouse gases that scientists believe are driving global warming.

Much attention at the time of the signing of the Paris agreement was focused on the role President Barack Obama played in pushing India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, to sign. In doing so, Mr. Modi committed India to achieving 40 percent of its electricity capacity from nonfossil-fuel sources by 2030.

Less understood was Mr. Modi’s longstanding personal commitment to taking India in a greener direction. That has been strengthened in recent years by growing evidence that a greener path makes political and economic sense as well, says Harsh Pant, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a New Delhi-based research organization.

“Modi’s constituency is the middle class, and the middle class in Indian cities is choking on pollution,” Mr. Pant said. “Modi knows climate change is good politics. Climate change makes sense to Modi because he believes it as it is good economics and politics.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/02/world/asia/india-coal-green-energy-climate.html?ref=energy-environment

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After Initial Jolt Over Qatar Tensions, Energy Markets Settle

By STANLEY REED and CLIFFORD KRAUSSJUNE 5, 2017

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A gas plant in Ras Laffan, Qatar.

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Andrew Testa for The New York Times

LONDON — As Saudi Arabia and four other Arab states cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday, the threat to the oil markets will depend on whether tensions translate into disruptions.

The flare-up in the Middle East adds to the instability in the world’s most important energy-exporting region. Saudi Arabia is the biggest exporter of crude oil, while Qatar is home to substantial natural gas resources.

But a diplomatic dispute will not necessarily cut into supplies, provided tensions in the region do not escalate. Amid a global glut, other countries could easily step in to fill the void.

Investors seem to be calculating that. While oil prices initially spiked 1.6 percent on Monday, the markets quickly fell back to just above $50 a barrel.

“In the Middle East, there is politics and then there is business,” said Chase Untermeyer, who served as the American ambassador to Qatar in the George W. Bush administration. “And business tends to keep on going regardless of political scrapes.”

At present, the markets are digesting an oversupply of crude oil, which has kept prices low for more than two years. Saudi Arabia and other major oil-exporting nations are trying to keep supplies in check, but American shale companies continue to ramp up production.

Qatar, a member of OPEC, helped broker last year’s agreement by the cartel and by other producers, like Russia, to trim output in an effort to soak up supplies. The parties agreed last month to extend the cuts for nine months.

A small country with only 2.2 million residents — many of whom are not citizens — Qatar occupies a strategic position, jutting into the Persian Gulf from the Arabian Peninsula. Qatar has a border with Saudi Arabia and shares the world’s largest natural gas field with Iran.

Qatar is a relatively small oil producer with output of about 620,000 barrels a day in April, less than 1 percent of world supply. But the country is a world power in natural gas.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/05/business/energy-environment/qatar-energy-arab-oil.html?ref=energy-environment

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5 Arab States Break Ties With Qatar, Complicating U.S. Coalition-Building


By ANNE BARNARD and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICKJUNE 5, 2017

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Doha, Qatar. Five Arab countries have ordered their citizens to leave Qatar.

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Yoan Valat/European Pressphoto Agency

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Egypt, Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries severed all ties with Qatar early Monday, in a renewal of a four-year effort to isolate it and in a sign of a new boldness after a visit to the region by President Trump.

In an abrupt and surprising move, the five Arab states not only suspended diplomatic relations, as they have in the past, but also cut off land, air and sea travel to and from Qatar. All but Egypt, which has many thousands of people working there, ordered their citizens to leave the country.

Qatar, like other monarchies in the Persian Gulf, is a close ally of Washington, and it hosts a major American military base that commands the United States-led air campaign against the Islamic State.

As such, the feud among regional allies threatens to stress the operations of the American-led coalition and complicate efforts in the region to confront Iran — but could also be a heavy blow to Tehran’s regional ambitions, if Qatar is forced to sever ties.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson offered to broker the impasse on Monday in the hope of preserving the Trump administration’s efforts to create broad coalitions against Iran and terrorist groups in the Middle East.

“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” Mr. Tillerson said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/05/world/middleeast/qatar-saudi-arabia-egypt-bahrain-united-arab-emirates.html?ref=energy-environment

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Three new natural gas deals for BP underscore move toward low-carbon future

Posted by David Hunn

Date: June 02, 2017

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    British oil major BP continues to shift toward natural gas, on Friday announcing three different deals to boost gas production.

    The first, off the coast of Trinidad & Tobago, unlocked about 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in place. The second sanctions development of four wells and production of about 600 million cubic feet of gas per day in BP’s new Angelin project off the southeast coast of Trinidad.

    Then the company announced a deal with the Russian energy giant Rosneft to cooperate on the exploration, production, sale and purchase of gas in Europe.

    BP continues to transition to what it sees as a low carbon future. On Wednesday, the company’s number-two executive, deputy CEO Lamar McKay, extolled the importance of the shift.

    BP, McKay said, wants to see a price on carbon, the expansion of natural gas production and renewable energy, investment in low-carbon innovation and technology start-ups, and more energy-efficient industry and consumer behavior.

    http://fuelfix.com/blog/2017/06/02/three-new-natural-gas-deals-for-bp-underscore-move-toward-low-carbon-future/

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