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Oil prices have declined sharply over the last six months, with the U.S. benchmark closing below $50/barrel on Jan. 6th, for the first time since 2009. A number of factors have contributed to this fall in prices, including an increase in U.S. tight oil production and decreased global demand. Beyond the immediate financial benefits of lower fuel prices for U.S. consumers, the falling price of oil raises several policy questions. Impacts on financial markets and geopolitical tensions that could be exacerbated if the low price persists are only a few of the potential issues U.S. policymakers may find themselves dealing… [more]View Discussion
Last week the EIA reported that natural gas-fired power generation will increase by as much as 17% in 2012, while coal is expected to decrease 10%. This shift away from coal and toward natural gas is largely tied to gas’ low price, as well as projections of the impacts of increasingly strict federal regulation on power plants. In March, natural gas spot prices averaged $2.18MMBtu, their lowest level since 1999. Then on April 11th, the NYMEX May gas futures contract settled at a 10-year low of $1.984/MMBtu [EIA]. Despite low gas prices, some utilities express hesitancy about over-committing to gas-generated… [more]View Discussion