Energy in the News: Friday, September 23
How Trump could gut Obama’s EPA rules
Bloomberg Government, feat. John DeCicco
The above chart is from new research by University of Michigan researcher John DeCicco. He writes on his blog:
Monthly data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) indicate that, averaged over the year, transportation will top power production in 2016. The adjoining chart shows the most recent trends as a 12-month running average, placing the crossover in February. The recent trends, as well as projections from EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook, show that we’ve now entered a period where the transportation will be the nation’s largest source of CO2 emissions.
Lower oil prices and the U.S. economy: Is this time different?
Brookings, feat. Lutz Killian
In “Lower oil prices and the U.S. economy: Is this time different?” Christiane Baumeister of the University of Notre Dame and Lutz Kilian of the University of Michigan write that while many observers expected the recent drop in global oil prices to boost the U.S. economy, average U.S. economic growth since June 2014 has been disappointingly low because higher consumer spending from cheaper gasoline has been offset by a dramatic drop in oil-related nonresidential investment—reducing the net stimulus for the U.S. economy effectively to zero.
The authors find that lower oil prices were passed on to the consumer and that consumers did spend their windfall income, raising real GDP by about 0.7 percent since June 2014. However, this stimulus to real GDP growth was largely offset by a simultaneous reduction in real nonresidential investment, reducing real GDP by 0.6 percent.
You’re paying less at the gas pump — and the U.S. economy is paying for it
The Washington Post, feat. Lutz Killian and Catie Hausman
This is a good news, bad news story.
The good news: Oil prices are half of what they were about two years ago, giving Americans a holiday at the gasoline pump.
The bad news: The American oil industry got whacked for its own efficiency.
The fracking era helped U.S. oil production nearly double compared with what it was just five years ago. U.S. production went from around 5 million barrels a day to nearly 10 million, almost as much as its peak around 1970.
That brought new life — profits, jobs, investment — to a declining domestic oil industry. Those oil and fracking companies spent billions of dollars to buy steel, machines, vehicles and anything else they needed to feed its growth. It also spurred more tax revenue.
The self-driving revolution will be mostly electric
Detroit Free Press
As our urban transportation landscape becomes automated over the next decade, it could spark an electric car revolution that for some has been overdue.
Spend enough time around these early self-driving vehicles and you notice that nearly all are hybrids or pure EVs — Ford's automated Fusion, the similarly equipped Fusion hybrids that Uber is deploying in Pittsburgh, the Google cars bopping around the peninsula of northern California, the Chevrolet Bolts being tested in San Francisco and suburban Phoenix.
Today, hybrids, plug-ins and pure electrics are a marginal piece of the U.S. market, accounting for a scant 2.8% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. through the first eight months of 2016, according to hybridcars.com.
No need for boost in electric cars to reduce emissions, officials say
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday that automakers don’t need to bolster their production of “strong hybrid” cars or full electric vehicles in order to meet the fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards established according to a 2007 law.
“The 2022-2025 standards can be met largely with more efficient gasoline-powered cars,” said Jane McCabe, acting assistant administrator for the EPA’s office of air and radiation, in written testimony before two subcommittees of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The standards appear achievable using more efficient internal combustion engines, without significant use of electrification or alternative fuels,” she said.
Using LED lighting tech in commercial grows
Indoor-grown marijuana is an energy-hungry leviathan. A national study released by the U.S. Department of Energy reports that a full one percent of the U.S. electric grid is now dedicated to growing cannabis. Equivalent to the energy output of 1.7 million American homes (and counting) the emerging industry is putting a significant strain on the national power grid and is the country’s most energy-intensive crop at a cost of nearly $6 billion annually.
For decades, the traditional indoor grow light of choice has been high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. The same sodium lamps that illuminate a majority of world’s city streets have for years been lighting grow rooms from San Diego to Syracuse. Meant to mimic the intense rays of the sun, flowering rooms equipped with HIDs — typically outfitted with multiple lamps burning for 12 hours at a time — require continuous air conditioning and de-humidification. And all that usage translates to excessive power waste. LED lighting, on the other hand, consumes less power and emits far less heat, which means greater return to the grower’s bottom line.
Trump, Sen. Graham offer different GOP energy options
Thursday offered conflicting views of the Republican’s party direction on energy. Republicans who support clean energy gathered in Washington, D.C., to talk about their path forward, while Donald Trump touted his support for fossil fuels at an event in Pittsburgh.
The contrast showed two options for the party. In one case, Republicans could build inroads with millennials, encourage evangelicals to be good stewards of the earth, and enable entrepreneurs to develop cleaner energy and transportation technologies.
In another, the party ramps up the production and use of fossil-fuel energy sources in an effort to create good-paying, blue-collar jobs, especially in Appalachia.
1.5 C goal can't be reached without 'negative emission' technologies
Without negative emission technologies, the planet could hit the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming threshold in as little as a decade.
MISO presses ahead with contentious capacity auction plan
The Midwest grid operator is plowing ahead with a controversial proposal to introduce a new capacity auction for parts of Illinois and Michigan to help ensure that the areas maintain adequate generating capacity as aging power plants retire.