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The High Cost of Clean Energy Standards without Efficiency

Author(s): Marilyn Brown
Professor of Public Policy
Georgia Institute of Technology
Date: January 17, 2012 at 8:22 AM

In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a Clean Energy Standard (CES) requiring that 80 percent of the nation’s electricity come from clean energy resources by 2035. Over the past decade, Congress has debated renewable electricity standards, typically allowing energy efficiency to meet a portion of the target. For example, in 2009, an RES was included in the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, requiring 15% renewables by 2021, and 27% of this target could be met by energy efficiency. What happened to energy efficiency in the President’s proposal? A well-designed CES policy would enable… [more]

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Trouble for the Renewable Fuels Standard?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 13, 2012 at 8:15 AM

The Energy Independence and Security  Act of 2007 includes a renewable fuels standard requiring fuel refiners to blend an increasing amount of advanced biofuels into their gasoline and diesel fuel stocks. In 2011, the Act mandated the blending of 6.6 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels. However, sufficient cellulosic fuels were not available to refiners for purchase and use. Refiners are now being fined for failing to meet the quota. [New York Times] The Times characterized this situation as an example of “what happens when the federal government really, really wants something that technology is not ready to provide.” Through loan… [more]

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What’s Next? Choosing Wisely at the End of the Oil Age

Author(s): Dr. Bruce Dale
University Distinguished Professor
Michigan State University, Dept. of Chemical Engineering
Date: January 12, 2012 at 8:31 AM

The past century can rightly be called the Age of Oil.  World oil consumption grew from about 20 million metric tons/year in 1900 to nearly 4000 million tons/year in 2005—a 200 fold increase.  The economic activity enabled by oil consumption also greatly increased both human wealth and the human population size over the last century. But it is also clear that the Age of Oil is winding down.  It is obvious, but often forgotten, that we must discover oil before we can produce, refine and use it.  Worldwide, the rate of discovery of new oil reserves peaked in the 1960s.… [more]

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Where Are We Heading on Climate Science?

Author(s): Michael S. Lubell
Professor of Physics
City College of the City University of New York
Date: January 11, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Despite aggressive requests from the Obama Administration and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the House in the most recent appropriations debate made significant efforts to reduce funding for climate-related science. The Senate prevailed in the subsequent negotiations, and nearly all Office of Science programs received modest funding increases. Although it lost its appropriations battle, the House’s efforts to trim the Office of Science’s funding demonstrate its strong skepticism about climate science. Further reflecting its attitudes, the House defunded enforcement of standards for more efficient light bulbs, publicly challenged the validity of climate science, relentlessly pushed the Keystone XL … [more]

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H.R. 7, the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 10, 2012 at 8:32 AM

Yesterday House Speaker John Boehner announced that H.R. 7, The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, will be put to a vote in “the coming weeks and months”. H.R. 7 would use revenue from expanded domestic oil drilling to fund infrastructure projects. According to the Speaker the bill “will link expanded American energy production to high-priority infrastructure projects like roads and bridges in order to create more jobs.” According to a summary of H.R. 7 on the Speaker’s website, the bill would: “Fund High-Priority Projects.  The bill would remove federal requirements that currently force states to spend highway money on… [more]

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Energy Storage and the Future of Energy

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 9, 2012 at 8:15 AM

The New York Times recently published an article outlining the role of energy storage in facilitating increased adoption of renewable energy. The article highlights two companies – SolarReserve and BrightSource – that will open and operate solar thermal storage plants over the next several years. These plants will use the daytime sun to heat water and salt. The latent heat will then be used to power traditional electric turbines after the sun has set. The Energy Storage Council lists the following among the uses of energy storage: Enabling “renewables, solar or wind, to store energy generated during off-peak hours for… [more]

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Natural Gas and Hydrofracking

Author(s): David J. Manning
Director, Stakeholder Relations/External Affairs
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Date: January 6, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Hydrofracking for natural gas in shale formations has generated a heated national debate, complicating and in some cases preventing efforts to extract the resource. Critics of hydrofracking cite the process’ uncertain environmental and geologic risks. Meanwhile, natural gas developers and policymakers have been working to identify and implement technical standards and best practices to overcome or reduce these risks to negligible levels. In my home state of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said of hydrofracking: “Let’s get the facts. Let the science and the facts make the determination, not emotion and not politics.” I agree. State of the art… [more]

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Big Changes to the Ethanol Landscape?

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 5, 2012 at 8:21 AM

On December 31, 2011 Congress allowed a decades-old corn ethanol subsidy to sunset. It also sunsetted an import tariff on foreign cellulosic ethanol. The dissolution of these policies has prompted some concern about impacts on gasoline prices and the future of the U.S. ethanol industry. Nearly all gasoline blended and sold in the U.S. contains at least 10% corn ethanol. USA Today is reporting that the end of the subsidy could raise gasoline prices by as much as $0.045/gallon as early as next week. In an interview on NPR, Bruce Babcock, a professor of energy economics at Iowa State University,… [more]

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California LCFS Ruled Unconstitutional

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 4, 2012 at 8:17 AM

A federal judge has ruled to block California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, arguing that it “unconstitutionally discriminates against out-of-state producers and tries to regulate activities that take place entirely outside state boundaries.” The standard “impermissibly treads into the province and powers of our federal government, reaches beyond its boundaries to regulate activity wholly outside of its borders,” the judge said. [The New York Times] The standard would function by using life-cycle analysis to identify the CO2 intensity of fuels. Fuel-makers whose products have lower CO2 intensity would be rewarded with tradable credits. Those selling higher CO2 fuels would have to… [more]

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Looking Forward to 2012

Author(s): OurEnergyPolicy.org
Administrator
OurEnergyPolicy.org
Date: January 3, 2012 at 8:24 AM

Between the Solyndra scandal, the disaster at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the deliberation over the Keystone XL pipeline, President Obama’s aggressive new CAFE Standards, protests over lighting standards, EPA’s MACT rules, and more, 2011 proved to be a controversial year for energy and energy policy, even without major energy legislation.

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