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Coal Is Just Too Damn Expensive

President Trump is ready to start signing executive orders that roll back Obama-era regulations on climate and water pollution: While both directives will take time to implement, they will send an unmistakable signal that the new administration is determined to promote fossil-fuel production....One executive order — which the Trump administration will couch as reducing U.S. dependence on other countries for energy — will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse-gas emissions from existing electric utilities. It also instructs the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing. ....Trump, who signed legislation last week that nullified a recent regulation prohibiting surface-mining operations from dumping waste in nearby waterways, said he was eager to support coal miners who had backed his presidential bid. “The miners are a big deal,” he ...

The US is transitioning into a natural gas exporter thumbnail

The US is transitioning into a natural gas exporter

The United States is on track to become a net exporter of gas next year, driven largely by the growth of liquefied natural gas exports, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The U.S. started exporting LNG last year, courtesy of Houston-based Cheniere Energy, and the country is increasingly piping more natural gas to Mexico while, simultaneously, importing less gas via pipeline from Canada. The U.S. was still an overall net importer last year. The nation is projected to become a net exporter of total energy products shortly after 2020, the Energy Department said, which was a virtually unheard of proposition just a decade ago. Cheniere’s first LNG export facility at Louisiana’s Sabine Pass near the Texas border came online a year ago. Houston-based Freeport LNG Development’s export terminal is slated to start shipping LNG in 2018. Three other LNG export projects will be ...


Oil To $70? Or Down To $30?

Will oil prices rise to $70 per barrel this year or fall to $30? Depends on who you ask. Oil price forecasts are always all over the map, but the exceptional disparity between some projections for 2017 is pretty stunning. On the one hand, you have Citibank, which sees oil shooting up to $70 this year as supply continues to tighten even as demand rises. Citi acknowledges the headwinds in the near-term. "Oil prices are not likely to stray far from their current $53-58 per barrel range in the near term as record investor net length and bearish inventory data will likely cap prices until more tangible evidence of a tighter market emerges," Citi analysts wrote in a recent research note. However, they see oil prices posting much stronger gains in the second half of the year. But the bearish threats to oil prices ...

Will the US fight for oil in the South China Sea? thumbnail

Will the US fight for oil in the South China Sea?

US Secretary of State Tillerson's former role as ExxonMobil CEO has fueled speculation that US assertiveness in the South China Sea is connected with oil interests - but experts remain skeptical of these claims. During his confirmation hearings in the US Senate, Tillerson made statements indicating the new administration in Washington would prevent China from accessing its artificially-built island outposts in the South China Sea (SCS). The remarks, coupled with ExxonMobil's longstanding energy interests in the region, have raised questions about Tillerson's ability to ensure US foreign policy interests without being clouded by his former oil-driven global outlook. Concern over conflicts of interest has become a major point of criticism facing President Donald Trump's administration. Many in the US Senate were opposed to Tillerson's appointment, resulting in his confirmation in January by a thin 56-43 margin. One of the most vocal critics opposing his nomination ...

Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia, And The Petrodollar thumbnail

Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia, And The Petrodollar

Obama pulled out his veto pen 12 times during his presidency. Congress only overrode him once… In late 2016, Obama vetoed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). The bill would allow 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in US courts. With only months left in office, Obama wasn’t worried about the political price of opposing the bill. It was worth protecting Saudi Arabia and the petrodollar system, which underpins the US dollar’s role as the world’s premier currency. Congress didn’t see it that way though. Those up for reelection couldn’t afford to side with Saudi Arabia over US victims. So Congress voted to override Obama’s veto, and JASTA became the law of the land. The Saudis, quite correctly, see this as a huge threat. If they can be sued in US courts, their vast holdings of US assets are at risk of being ...

General Ideas

A Muddle of Mind and Matter

The philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, which we’ve been discussing for the last two weeks, has a feature that reliably irritates most people when they encounter it for the first time: it doesn’t divide up the world the way people in modern western societies habitually do. To say, as Schopenhauer does, that the world we experience is a world of subjective representations, and that we encounter the reality behind those representations in will, is to map out the world in a way so unfamiliar that it grates on the nerves. Thus it came as no surprise that last week’s post fielded a flurry of responses trying to push the discussion back onto the more familiar ground of mind and matter.   That was inevitable. Every society has what I suppose could be called its folk metaphysics, a set of beliefs about the basic ...


How the “Peak Oil” Story Crashed with its Price

In mid-2000, the world feared it was running out of oil. Speculators, in turn, became feverishly bullish on oil's price. A 78% crash soon followed. Today, almost no one talks about "Peak Oil."

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Public Policy

Energy and Environmental Regulation in the Age of Trump

Scott Pruitt has now been sworn in as the new Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Agency. It is likely the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), and ultimately much of the Agency itself, will begin in short order. Pruitt’s public record suggests he is the embodiment of President Trump and coal-state Republicans and Democrats ideal of what an EPA Administrator should be. His prosecutorial record is replete with challenges to the regulatory authority of the Agency he now leads; authority granted by Congress and confirmed by the courts. The air and water acts he has sought to limit are not the products of President Obama. They are long-standing laws of the land, dating back to the early 1970s. The years Richard Milhous was in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Notwithstanding the dirty tricks Nixon will be most remembered for, credit him for creation ...

Peak Oil? A Chaotic Transition is in Process thumbnail

Peak Oil? A Chaotic Transition is in Process

As the graphic shows, US gasoline inventories are at a 27-year record high. And yet, gas prices and oil prices continue to rise - having increased by about 30-40% (depending on the grade and source) in 2016. And as the second graphic shows, US gasoline consumption in the first part of 2017 is down 8% from the same period in 2016. Strange things are happening - The glut of gasoline has led to tankers being turned away at New York Harbor in recent weeks, diverted to ports in the Caribbean. However, even that did not resolve the glut on the U.S. east coast. “Record-high inventories in the region are now pushing prices low enough to turn the typical trade flow on its head,” Bloomberg reports. The east coast typically imports a lot of crude oil and refined products. But refined products ...

Public Policy

Is It Oil? The Issue Revisited

Around the time that the United States invaded Iraq, 14 years ago, I was in an auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Boston to hear then-Senator John Kerry try to justify the action. As he got into his speech, a loud, slow, calm voice came from the back of the room: “O – I – L.” Kerry tried to ignore the comment. But, again and again, “O – I – L.” Kerry simply went on with his prepared speech. The speaker from the back of the room did not continue long, but he had succeeded in determining the tenor of the day. Looking back on U.S. involvement in the Iraq, it appears to have been largely a failure. Iraq, it turned out, had no “weapons of mass destruction,” but this original rationalization for invasion offered by the U.S. government was soon ...

Alternative Energy The Whole System Costs of Renewables
Dramatic cost reductions mean wind and solar can now compete on price with conventional ...
Production Saudi Arabian Production Was Supposed to Peak in 2006
The world was running out of oil and the global economy was about to ...
UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World thumbnail UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way to Feed the World
Even as the United States government continues to push for the use of more ...
The Age of the Giant Battery Is Almost Upon Us thumbnail The Age of the Giant Battery Is Almost Upon Us
Bloomberg has an article on the great strides being made by the missing link ...

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