Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted August 28, 2017
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the primary focus along the Texas Gulf Coast is on search and rescue efforts and – with expectations that more flooding is ahead – providing shelter and other basic needs for those displaced by the storm and its effects. Energy companies, which themselves have thousands of employees living in the area, are helping support organizations such as the Red Cross, the United Way of Houston and others that provide emergency services. Meanwhile, the storm’s impacts on one of the country’s key energy centers are being reckoned.
Posted January 24, 2017
Posted September 1, 2016
California is the country’s third-largest oil producer, delivering more than 201 million barrels of oil in 2015, behind only Texas and North Dakota. At the same time, the state ranks third in oil refining capacity from its 18 operating refineries. Bottom line: California plays a major role in meeting its own energy and fuel needs, as well as those of the West Coast and beyond.
Posted August 8, 2016
The United States is the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas – a fact that reflects energy production in so many of the individual states. At the same time, as an energy nation every single state is involved in the broad, economically beneficial energy supply chain. Over the next few weeks we’ll take a look at the 50 states of energy, including their energy use profiles and specific energy issues in each state. Today we start with – New Jersey.
Posted November 2, 2015
When the Energy Policy and Conservation Act was signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1975, Ford said it would put the United States “solidly on the road to energy independence.” The legislation included a ban on most exports of domestically produced crude oil. For many, shutting in domestic oil production – effectively self-sanctioning a vital U.S. industrial sector from the global marketplace – seemed like a good idea. At the time.
The country had been roiled by an oil embargo imposed by exporting states in response to U.S. support for Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Americans learned the meaning of oil shock – long lines for gasoline, odd/even day rationing schedules, shortages and rising prices. The Federal Reserve’s Michael Corbett writes that the embargo nearly quadrupled the price of a barrel of oil to $11.65 – quaintly low in 2015 dollars, but economically crippling four decades ago.
Posted January 10, 2015
Throughout the Keystone XL pipeline’s long wait for federal approval, President Obama has used one excuse after another to deflect responsibility for blocking a project that polls in the 70s with the American people, one that would support thousands of U.S. jobs and help move the country closer to North American energy security. All along the way the president could have exercised his authority to say yes to all of the above but deferred instead.
The president said environmental questions needed answers, and they were provided by his own State Department, which cleared Keystone XL in five separate environmental reviews.
The president said the cross-border approval process – required because Keystone XL would cross the U.S.-Canadian border – needed to run its course. It did and then some, stretching now to more than six years when historically, cross-border approvals are granted in 18 to 24 months.
The president said Nebraska needed to work out the pipeline’s route through that state, which it did. Then the president said the state’s Supreme Court would have to settle a legal challenge over the re-routing process.
On Friday, Nebraska’s high court rejected that challenge, confirming the assessment of the state Department of Environmental Quality and the governor’s recommendation to the State Department – leaving the project with only one remaining obstacle: President Obama.
Posted October 20, 2014
The Obama administration is trying to balance its support for renewable fuels with awareness of infrastructure constraints at gas stations as it finalizes targets for 2014 biofuel use, agency officials said on Tuesday. But with only 11 weeks left in the year, the administration also needs to weigh oil refiners' ability to comply with the long-delayed requirements, one official told the Reuters Global Climate Change Summit.
The article goes on to quote Janet McCabe, who leads EPA’s division overseeing the biofuels program:
(McCabe) acknowledged that delays in setting the targets, formally called the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), should be taken into account. "We need to be mindful of where we are in the year," McCabe said …
Reuters reports that EPA had proposed lowering ethanol mandates for 2014 because the U.S. was on a collision course with the 10 percent blend wall – the point where RFS mandates will require ethanol to be blended into gasoline at levels higher than the 10 percent fuel (E10) for which most of today’s vehicles were designed.
Posted October 8, 2014
Others are picking up on how late EPA is in setting this year’s ethanol use requirements – as well as how political calculations appear to be affecting the administration’s management of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Politico (subscription required) has this:
The Obama administration is nearly a year late in setting its 2014 biofuels mandate, but both ethanol supporters and critics say with politics at play, the White House may delay its decision until after the midterm elections.
Several sources following the issue closely say that the White House hoped that boosting the overall volumes would be enough to act as a boon to (Democrat Bruce Braley in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race). But renewable fuels advocates in the state aren’t happy with that compromise, so anything short of a clear victory for ethanol makers could hurt Braley’s campaign. … “If they increase the number, but it’s still tied to the (ethanol) blend wall, in our view, they will have killed the program, and that will be seen as a huge loss for Braley, and they’ll wait until after the election,” said one person in the biofuels industry. “If it’s good for Braley, it’ll be before the election. If it’s bad for Braley, it’ll be a punt. And people will see the punt.”
Indeed they will. They can’t help but see energy policy being contorted to serve political ends. It’s no way to conduct energy policy, and it’s no way to treat Americans who ultimately could be impacted by decisions (or the lack thereof) under the RFS.
Posted October 2, 2014
The absurdity surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) continues:
Those Late 2014 Ethanol Requirements – EPA now is 10 months late with setting this year’s requirements for ethanol use. Under the RFS, the agency is required to tell obligated parties, like refiners, how much ethanol they’re required to use in a calendar year by November of the previous year. Thus, requirements for 2014 ethanol use were due in November, 2013.
As it is we’re getting closer to the point where the absurd becomes the ridiculous, with the growing possibility EPA could end up setting 2014’s requirements in 2015. It would be like something from one of the late, great Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent” sketches: “Oh Unfortunate Ones, here’s how much ethanol you should have used …”
Posted September 9, 2014
If you’re keeping track at home – and we sure are – EPA is now nine months late in issuing ethanol-use requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2014. That’s no typo. EPA is nine months late with its ethanol rule for this year.
By law EPA was required to set 2014 ethanol-use levels last November, 2013. You know, so that folks obligated under the RFS to blend ethanol into the nation’s fuel supply could actually plan to comply with the law