Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted August 5, 2015
New government stats on falling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electrical power generation point to a good-news story on energy and climate, one that should grab the attention of policymakers nationally and in the states. This is seen in data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Plotting CO2 emissions from the electric power sector from 1988 to this April, EIA reports emissions hit their lowest point for any month in 27 years. This is largely because of increased use of natural gas in power generation – a market choice that’s based on the availability and affordability of natural gas, as well as the fact it is clean-burning.
Posted July 30, 2015
We’ve stressed the economic benefits of lifting the ban on U.S. crude oil exports – GDP growth, job creation and consumer savings – because they’re considerable and would affect virtually every American in a positive way. No less important are the benefits for American security and foreign policy from letting U.S. crude trade freely in the global marketplace. API President and CEO Jack Gerard:
“Experts across the academic and political spectrum agree that American exports would spur greater U.S. oil production, put more oil on the world market, and reduce the power that foreign suppliers have over our allies. Our ability to strengthen the global energy market against future disruptions will shape events around the globe, adding a key tool to America’s diplomatic arsenal.”
Posted July 29, 2015
The current crude oil export debate basically is about global competition – and whether the United States will stop sanctioning itself and let an American commodity trade freely on the global market.
An irony – we’ll call it the “Iran Irony” – underscores the anti-competitive nature of our outdated ban on oil exports and the strategic shortsightedness of maintaining it.
The “Iran Irony” is this: While the U.S. advances a nuclear deal that would let Iran reemerge as a major oil supplier on the global market – to Iran’s economic and competitive gain – the United States denies itself similar benefits by banning its own crude exports. This is hurting America’s global competitiveness, diminishing the potential positive impacts of America’s rise as an energy superpower.
Posted July 27, 2015
More tools in the debate over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Fill Up On Facts.com has posted four short videos highlighting some of the disconnects between the original reasoning behind the RFS and the world we live in today – which is why the program should be fundamentally revamped, if not repealed.
Video No. 1 discusses the potential risks to vehicles from using E15 fuel – seen by some as a way to absorb all of the ethanol mandated by the RFS above what can safely be blended as standard E10 gasoline – the ethanol “blend wall.”
Other videos show that the founding assumptions behind the RFS are disconnected from today’s reality.
Posted July 24, 2015
Some thoughts on EPA’s proposed program to encourage voluntary methane emissions reductions from existing sources. The Methane Challenge Program would expand on the Natural Gas STAR program by recognizing companies that make specific emissions reduction commitments and agree to submit annual data on the progress they’re making.
First, industry supports voluntary. The program could be supportive of what industry already is doing to reduce methane emissions – an effort that is working. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report issued this spring showed methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells are down 79 percent since 2005 – a period in which natural gas production has soared.
Posted July 16, 2015
Motorcycles aren’t designed to use higher ethanol-blend fuels like E15, and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) warns that using E15 in a motorcycle can void its warranty. There’s serious concern about inadvertent misfueling, as well as the possibility that the push for more E15 in the fuel supply could out E0 (gasoline containing zero ethanol).
Posted July 15, 2015
While the potential negative impacts of E15 fuel on machines that weren’t designed to use it – from vehicles to outboard marine engines and weed-eaters – isn’t funny, some humor can help illustrate important points in that key public policy debate.
API has three new cartoons that take a light-hearted look at the potential harm from using E15 – containing up to 50 percent more ethanol than E10 gasoline that’s standard across the country – in outdoor equipment, boat motors and motorcycles. Today, outdoor power equipment.
Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), has warned against using E15 in lawnmowers and other outdoor gear because they can cause permanent damage.
Posted July 13, 2015
Another data point in the continuing public discussion of EPA’s plan to make the nation’s standards for ozone more restrictive, even as the existing standards have ozone levels falling 18 percent from 2000 to 2013 – and giving every indication levels will continue to fall. A new study by the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS) details how more restrictive ozone standards would impact where a lot of people live: Chicago and the state of Illinois.
According to the study, 21 counties in Illinois would be out of compliance or in “non-attainment” if EPA tightens ground-level standards from the existing 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 65 ppb, as it may do. (The fact is EPA is considering a national level as low as 60 ppb.)
Those 21 counties represent nearly 80 percent of Illinois’ gross domestic product, or $613.4 billion. The CRS study says Cook County and five other counties that surround Chicago would be “ground zero” for the most dramatic ozone reductions, potentially affecting 65 percent of the state’s population, nearly 70 percent of its employment and 73 percent of its GDP.
Posted July 10, 2015
The compelling case for lifting America’s decades-old ban on exporting domestic crude oil is multi-faceted.
There's the economic case, with NERA Economic Consulting estimated that lifting the ban could add $200 billion to $1.8 trillion to the U.S. economy between now and 2039. There's the case for consumers, with a variety of studies indicating that lifting the ban could lower prices at the fuel pump from 1.7 cents per gallon to up to 12 cents per gallon. There's the foreign policy case and the way home-grown crude oil could affect global relationships, helping allies and potentially neutralizing the ability of adversaries to use energy as a diplomatic weapon. Then there's the energy case. Domestic production, spurred by greater access to global crude markets, could grow by 2.1 million barrels per day to 4.3 million barrels per day over levels under the status quo, according to NERA.
Certainly, each of these was argued again at a pair of Capitol Hill hearings, one by the House Agriculture Committee (video) and another by the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy and Power Subcommittee (video).
Posted July 8, 2015
Before getting into the latest in a series of research studies on energy-related methane emissions, it’s important to stay focused on the big picture.
Data from EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report published this spring shows that net methane emissions from natural gas production fell 38 percent from 2005 to 2013 – even as natural gas production rose dramatically. Also: Methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells declined 79 percent from 2005 to 2013, EPA found.
That’s the appropriate context for 11 new studies just published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology, reporting research in the Barnett Shale play in North Texas. The studies follow others coordinated by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). One released in 2013 found that methane emissions from natural gas drilling were a fraction of previous estimates. Another released earlier this year found that that vast majority of natural gas facilities – from the production phase to distribution via inter- and intra-state pipeline networks – recorded methane loss rates of below 1 percent.