Energy & Environment

How States Can Fight Climate Change Without Washington

The Boston Globe: “Massachusetts was already planning for a Trump presidency way back in 2008. It just didn’t know it yet.”

“That year, the Commonwealth and neighboring states began readying a new plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, which form a growing share of the state’s overall contribution to global climate change.”

“Now it’s time to dust off that study. The ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency probably spells an end to all federal leadership on climate change for the next four years. States have to pick up the slack, and reviving the program — known by the jargony term ‘low-carbon fuel standard’ — would be a good way to start.”

Here Comes the Next Wave of the U.S. Oil Boom

“U.S. oil companies didn’t merely survive OPEC’s attempt to drown them in low prices. The energy industry is emerging from this dark period of bankruptcies and job cuts much leaner and ready to thrive, even at prices that were once too low,” Matt Egan writes for CNN Money.

OPEC’s decision in November to abandon its strategy of flooding the world with excess supply allowed oil prices to stabilize above $50 a barrel. That bottom in prices has allowed the U.S. shale oil producers that have driven the boom in American oil production over the past decade to once again start pumping more oil. And many have even started to rehire some of the thousands of workers laid off during the downturn.

Offshore Wind Moves Into Energy’s Mainstream 

New York Times: “…offshore wind, once a fringe investment, with limited scope and reliant on government subsidies, is moving into the mainstream.”

“Offshore wind has several advantages over land-based renewable energy, whether wind or solar. Turbines can be deployed at sea with fewer complaints than on land, where they are often condemned as eyesores. But the technology had been expensive and heavily dependent on government subsidies, leaving investors wary. That is now changing. Turbines today are bigger, produce much more electricity and are deployed on much larger sites than in the past. The result is more clean power and extra revenue.”

“The industry is not without challenges. Governments have been cutting financial support for clean power in a bid to balance their budgets, while President Trump’s administration seems likely, based on his promises during his election campaign, to forcefully support fossil fuels.”

U.S. May Export More Oil in 2017 Than Four OPEC Nations Produce

Bloomberg: “U.S. crude exports are poised to surpass production in four OPEC nations in 2017 and may grow even more if President Donald Trump honors pledges to ease drilling restrictions and maximize output.”

“The world’s largest oil-consuming country could sell as much as 800,000 barrels a day of crude overseas this year, according to four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That’s more than OPEC producers Libya, Qatar, Ecuador and Gabon each pumped in December. The U.S. exported 527,000 barrels a day in the first 11 months of 2016, Energy Information Administration data show.”

Solar Employs More People In U.S. Electricity Generation Than Oil, Coal And Gas Combined

Forbes: “In the United States, more people were employed in solar power last year than in generating electricity through coal, gas and oil energy combined. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employed 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent.”

“Just under 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report, while coal, gas and oil power generation combined had a workforce of slightly more than 187,000. The boom in the country’s solar workforce can be attributed to construction work associated with expanding generation capacity.”

Keystone XL Pipeline: A ‘Canada First’ Energy Plan?

Reuters: “U.S. President Donald Trump’s move this week to revive the Keystone XL oil pipeline marked a major step under his ‘America First’ energy plan to boost U.S. drillers and create new U.S. jobs. But the project’s biggest winners may be Canadian.”

“If built, TransCanada’s Keystone XL from Alberta to Nebraska would yield about $2.4 billion (C$3.2 billion) a year for Canada, split between government revenues, shareholder profits and re-investment into the still-recovering Canadian oil patch, according to a Conference Board of Canada research note prepared for Reuters on Thursday.”

Where Could Trump Find an Example of a GOP-Led Clean Energy Plan? Texas

“Even without a carbon tax, Trump could implement a successful, Republican-led clean energy transition. And there’s one place he can turn for an example: Texas,” Marilu Hastings writes for Dallas News.

“Texas’s main power grid operator is expected to cut carbon dioxide emissions 28 percent below 2005 emission levels by 2035, or 61 million tons per year, as new, efficient plants and renewables replace older, dirtier coal-fired power plants. This will easily surpass any carbon-dioxide reductions called for in the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.”

“Clean energy has created jobs in Texas. In 2014, the governor’s office reported that 1,300 Texas companies employ more than 100,000 people in the renewable energy sector. According to Carlton Schwab, chief executive of the Texas Economic Development Council, these new jobs pay average annual salaries of more than $78,000.”

All the Risks of Climate Change in a Single Graph

Vox: “Since the atmosphere affects everything, everything will be affected by its warming — there’s no single risk, but a wide and varied array of risks, of different severities and scales, affecting different systems, unfolding on different timelines. It’s difficult to convey to a layperson, at least without droning on and on.”

“One of the better-known and more controversial attempts to address this problem is a graphic from the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The so-called ‘burning embers’ graph attempts to render the various risks of climate change — ‘reasons for concern,’ or RFCs — in an easy-to-grasp visual form.”

Want to Improve Wind and Solar Power? Bring Them Together.

Ensia: “A handful of enterprising renewable energy developers are now exploring how solar and wind might better work together, developing hybrid solar–wind projects to take advantage of the power-generating strengths of each — with the two technologies in tandem serving as a better replacement for climate-warming fossil fuels than either could be alone.”

“On the rolling plains just west of Australia’s Great Dividing Range, construction is expected to begin on a 10-megawatt solar farm adjacent to 73 wind turbines that are already online. According to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency — ARENA, a governmental agency tasked with increasing deployment of renewable energy — which has invested A$9.9 million in the project a couple hours’ drive southwest of Sydney, the co-location of solar and wind provides more continuous energy generation than having either technology working alone.”

“But that’s not the only benefit. Co-locating wind and solar plants can save money on grid connections, site development and approvals, says ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht. By building the Gullen Solar Farm adjacent to the existing wind project, Frischknecht estimates savings as high as A$6 million — reducing the cost of the project by a full 20 percent.”

Why U.S. Coal Industry and Its Jobs Are Not Coming Back

James Van Nostrand: “As a candidate, and now as the incoming President of the United States, Trump has embraced the ‘war on coal’ narrative that has been a staple of political discourse in coal-dependent regions of the country for the past several years… It would seem to necessarily follow, then, that ending this ‘war on coal’ by electing a new president would result in a stirring revival of the nation’s coal industry.”

“Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen, and the reasons are straightforward: The economic, political, and geological forces aligned against coal — chief among them the increasing abundance of cheaper, cleaner, U.S.-produced natural gas — dwarf the impact that the federal government’s regulations have had on the coal industry.”

Will Donald Trump Help or Hurt Big Oil?

CNN Money: “Donald Trump has promised to be a loyal friend of Big Oil. Not only does the president-elect want to remove the shackles on oil by rolling back regulations, but he wants to unleash America’s natural resources by expanding drilling on federal land.”

“Problem is, the world is inundated with oil, currently. So, the actual impact of Trump’s energy agenda is less clear cut. In many ways, Trump presents a double-edged sword for oil: His policies may seek to help the oil industry itself. But tapping oil is not the problem that oil companies face. It’s low prices.”

“In fact, Trump’s efforts to boost production may hurt oil companies by exacerbating the epic supply glut that caused prices to crash in the first place.”