Friday, November 30, 2012

MIT Blockbuster Study Finds Shale Gas Methane Emissions Greatly Exaggerated: Shale Gas Is Cleaner Than Even EPA Number

Yesterday researchers from MIT published a peer reviewed, blockbuster study that finds that Prof. Howarth of Cornell University greatly exaggerated the methane emissions coming from shale gas wells. Indeed, the MIT data indicate that Howarth's now infamous study overstated methane emissions to the atmosphere by a range of 7 to 30 times the actual release from the nearly 4,000 shale gas wells that the MIT study analyzed. And this is the MIT study:

The MIT paper notes that Prof. Howarth looked at a handful of shale gas wells; then overstated the potential release of gas from that handful of wells; and further totally falsely assumed that all shale gas wells vented 100% of the full gas potential release.  In other words, Howarth miscalculated how much each gas well could release, even if all gas was vented during the flowback period.  And then Howarth falsely assumed that no shale gas well is green completed or flared but all gas is vented.

The MIT researchers politely said of Howarth's assumption that it is "unreasonable."  Of course, the venting assumption was far from the only "unreasonable" assumption in the Howarth paper.

By contrast, MIT looked at 4,000 shale gas wells, and not just a handful, to get a more accurate estimate of what each gas well could potentially release to the atmosphere, were it vented. MIT then looked at actual industry practices for venting, flaring, and green completions at shale wells.  Francis O'Sullivan and Sergey Paltsev, the two MIT researchers conducting the study, calculated that 70% of shale gas wells are green completed; 15% are flared; and 15% are vented.

The bottom line of the MIT researchers paper is that the "carbon footprint" of a shale gas well has been greatly exaggerated and is even lower than the EPA 2011 estimate.

The MIT study also looks at the cost of green completing a Barnett shale gas well and compares those costs to the revenues gained by paying for a green completion.  The paper finds that 95% of the time the green completions paid for themselves and would still pay for themselves 83% of the time if the costs of completion were doubled.  This cost data indicates that companies in most cases would be losing money by not green completing a shale gas well.

Climate change is an enormous challenge that demands honest, disciplined science. Even the passions stirred by the fracking debates should not allow the real science and facts of methane emissions from shale gas wells to be manipulated and demagogued. The facts are and science shows that shale gas has reduced substantially US carbon emissions and could be doing the same globally because it is cleaner than coal or oil.  Telling good people the opposite is irresponsible!

Ford's Largest Sale of Plug In Hybrids: GE Buys 2000 Ford C-Max Energi

Early adopters give life and opportunity to any new technology.  These are the folks that are willing to overcome inertia and obstacles to change how lives are led and business is done.  And major purchases of any new technology are particularly important to its ultimate success.

GE's purchase of 2,000 Ford C-Max Energi, a plug-in hybrid vehicle, is Ford's largest sale of plug-in hybrids to date.  What is good for Ford is also good for GE that gets 2,000 great vehicles and helps to build a market for its alternative fueling technology.

Accelerating the deployment of alternative fueling technology and the greater utilization of electric, natural gas, and biofuel vehicles remains vital to America's economic and national security.  Congratulations to both GE and Ford for putting substantial private investment into advancing these vital national goals.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stunning Fact: IEA Forecasts USA Oil Consumption To Fall 33% in Next 23 Years

Far too little attention is paid to the demand side of all energy markets.  For sure, production has sizzle, but consumption is king.  No demand means no production.

And so I was delighted to read Floyd Norris' must read piece in the NYT that does a great job of collecting in one piece many of the most important facts about the demand side of the global oil market.

I will pull out from Norris' piece just one fact, among many important ones, to highlight here.

The IEA in its 2012 World Energy Outlook projects that US oil consumption will decline by one-third by 2035.  Or to put it another way, US oil consumption will decline on average by about 1% per year for the next 23 years. That is an astonishing fact.

Reducing US oil consumption and surging domestic oil consumption are putting the US on a path toward becoming oil independent and even a net exporter. Indeed, falling consumption and rising production are both equally strong factors in ending the decades of the US importing foreign oil.

But the only way for the USA to free itself from the global pricing of oil and oil price shocks to our economy is to use less oil.  And so the reduction in US oil consumption is especially important and great news indeed!

Ernst Young Rank CA, Colorado & TX Top 3 For Renewable Energy Investment: PA Falls Out Of Top 10

Renewable energy continues to boom around the USA and the world.  Competition for billions of private investment to produce renewable energy is fierce.  And so the Ernst Young ranking of states for their attractiveness for renewable energy brought good news to California, Colorado and Texas$FILE/United_States_renewable_energy_attractiveness_indices.pdf.

The EY rankings put California, Colorado, and Texas in the top 3 spots.  They remain hotspots for investment, projects, jobs.

By contrast, Pennsylvania has now fallen out of the top 10, falling from 7 to 12.  And unfortunately the Commonwealth is likely to fall further, as renewable energy investors steer clear.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Today I Announce My Candidacy For Governor of Pennsylvania

I announce today my candidacy for Governor of Pennsylvania and will be doing press conferences in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.  Tomorrow, I will be in Pittsburgh for a press conference there.

Pennsylvania is an energy powerhouse and soon will produce the third most energy among the states.  Pennsylvania will trail only Texas and Wyoming--two states with no state income tax--in total energy production.

Despite the Marcellus gas boom and falling national unemployment, Pennsylvania's economy is struggling.  For the first time in years, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate was higher than the national unemployment rate in both September and October. Pennsylvania's rate of job creation that was among the highest in the nation in 2010 has fallen to among the lowest.

Our struggles are rooted in a mismanagement of Pennsylvania's tremendous energy resources, failed economic development policies that rely almost exclusively on the natural gas industry, and disastrous education policies.  Pennsylvania's  schools since 2011 have lost 19,000 jobs, and school taxes have increased in many communities, after a $1 billion cut in state funding in the 2011-2012 budget.

Those budget cuts to public schools, universities, and colleges were choices made and not unavoidable. For example, the 2011-12 state budget included hundreds of millions of dollars for the Rainy Day Fund, hundreds of millions of dollars for corporate tax cuts, and about $250 million to 14 cyber charter schools, even though 13 have reading and math scores below the average of a traditional public school.

Not surprisingly, with fewer teachers, higher class sizes, lost tutoring programs and courses, Pennsylvania's school test scores declined.  Those Pennsylvanians who are also paying higher school taxes, as a result of the 2011-12 budget cuts, are paying more for education and getting less value.

In the coming campaign, I look forward to listening to Pennsylvanians and proposing solutions to our problems.  I also invite you to visit and to support my campaign.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Green Completions Cut Gas Drilling Pollution, Produce Revenue, And Are Becoming Common: EQT Leading The Way

Like all major energy sources, natural gas production is industrial activity that cannot be done with no impact on the environment.  But again like all energy sources, natural gas's impacts vary depending on the practices and technology used to produce it.

A big step in reducing the impact of gas production and making gas cleaner are green completions.  Indeed, progress in green completions is among the most important advances within the gas industry, and so it was good to see EQT and its embrace of green completions featured in the linked to story by Andy Maykuth.

Green completions matter, because they reduce air pollutants, including methane leaking into the atmosphere.  Indeed, green completions cut substantially the amount of methane that leaks throughout the full gas production cycle, thereby increasing the climate advantages of gas, when compared to coal and oil.

Green completions also increase gas volumes and revenues for gas companies and so come close to paying for themselves.  They are another example of good business and good environmental practice being the same.

Probably more than half of all gas wells in the USA are already green completed but that number will jump higher by 2015, when an EPA rule requiring broad use of the technology is scheduled to take effect.  The EPA rule, however, is being challenged in court by industry that thinks the rule goes too far and environmentalists that think the rule does not go far enough.

Given the reality of those legal challenges to the EPA air rule and the uncertainty that they create, steps taken today by EQT and others to use more green completions are especially important.

Stunning Fact: Drought Lowers US 2012 GDP By Up To 1% As It Ravages 60% Of America

The worst drought since at least 1952 is ravaging 60% of America.  The drought first is an environmental disaster but it is also hammering our national economy.  America's 2012 GDP will be cut by up to 1% as a result of drought costs of $75 billion to $150 billion.  Amazing numbers!

Indeed, though already high, the economic cost of the drought is mounting higher.  For example, the drought has caused barge traffic on the Mississippi river to lighten loads substantially and may even close a 200 mile section of the Mississippi River in the coming months.

Drought costs could well be more than three times the huge $50 billion hit caused by Sandy.  Sandy and the epic drought are quite a one-two punch to economic growth.

None of this damaging, expensive weather surprises the climate models  Those models years ago predicted rising sea levels, super storms as well as droughts in much of the area where the current drought is severest.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Debunking Latest Attacks On Shale Gas As Bubble/Ponzi Scheme & Systemic Threat To Economy

Shale gas production for nearly a dozen years. A massive shale gas boom for now 5 years or since 2008. Record US natural gas production that crashed prices to below $2 for a thousand cubic feet.

Nothing stops the vampire like quality of attacks portraying the shale gas resource as soon to run out, as a bubble ready to pop, or a ponzi scheme.  Here is the link to one of the latest:  Indeed, Bill Powers is promoting a book to be published in May, 2013 theorizing that the shale gas resource will last just 5 to 7 years more.  Mind you such forecasts of impending shale gas supply doom are already about 3 years old, and soon US shale gas production will enter its 13th year.

Powers and Art Berman, who has done more than anyone to assert that the shale gas resource will soon collapse, also state that the economy faces cataclysm, like the financial catastrophe of 2008, when the shale gas resource is soon exhausted.  This comparison of the shale gas industry to the US financial system is, however, absurd.

The industry has no too big to fail problem.  Indeed, with about 60 different companies holding drilling permits in just Pennsylvania, the gas industry features a lack of concentration and has traits opposite of too big to fail.

Moreover, the gas industry is not the equivalent of a basic, economic infrastructure, unlike the banking system that is.  Economic life goes on through gas booms and busts, while a financial collapse brings all commerce crashing down.

By pointing to the 2008 financial collapse and suggesting that shale gas is another round of such disaster, Berman and Powers engage in fear mongering and attention seeking behavior.

Tellingly, the recent pull back in dry gas production in the US, of course, results from the opposite of an emerging gas supply shortage.  Instead, a very real gas supply glut crashed the price and caused rigs to redeploy to oil and wet gas.

But as some rigs went to more profitable opportunities, the gas in the ground stayed put, where it will be, when the gas rigs return.  And return they will, once gas prices move to $4 to $6 per thousand cubic feet range.   And there is conservatively 20 years of shale gas to be produced within that price range.

Moreover, were the US price to go above $6--hardly a high price, when today Europe and Asia pay $10 to $16 for natural gas-- the available shale gas supply certainly totals many decades more.

Continuing Vote Count in 37 States Reveals Major Romney Strategic Blunder--Foregoing Full Campaign In Pennsylvania

Amazingly, 20 days after the election, 37 states are still counting votes, according to Nate Silver.  And as the votes get counted, President Obama's lead grows, reaching now 3.3%, while Governor Romney's share falls to about 47.5%.  Silver writes that currently 127 million votes have been counted in 2012 or 4 million less than the 131 million final vote tally in 2012.

As the votes come in, Pennsylvania is what Silver calls the "tipping point state," the state that supplied the President with the 270th electoral vote, when states are ranked from most Democratic to least Democratic.
Indeed, the President's margin in Colorado, that was the tipping point state at one point in the vote count, has now reached 5.5% or higher than his margin in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is accustomed to being near the center of the political universe, a state that attracts an all out effort by both major political parties to carry it in the Presidential race.  But that was not the case in 2012.  Romney made a last gasp grab for Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, but the Romney campaign and his allied Super Pacs gave up on the state for most of the fall campaign, to the frustration of state Republican leaders.

Yet, Silver's analysis and the current vote count confirm Pennsylvania's GOP leaders really did know better. The Romney decision to forego a full campaign in Pennsylvania, and instead pour resources into the supposedly greener and more important political pastures of Colorado, Iowa, and Wisconsin, was a major strategic blunder.

To be clear, the mistake did not cost Governor Romney the election, and he may not have won Pennsylvania had he focused on it.  Yet, Romney needed Pennsylvania more than any other state--that is what tipping point status means--and not to compete fully here was a blunder indeed.

Finally, for Pennsylvania's Democrats, Romney's blunder was most welcome, for it probably did decisively benefit Democratic candidates in some statewide, state senate, and state house races throughout the Commonwealth.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Critical Facts: Support For Gas Drilling Highest Where It Takes Place and Pittsburgh Region Supports Gas Drilling Nearly 2-1

A critical fact that has been lost in the sea of ink used to report on gas development is that gas drilling enjoys its strongest support, where it is taking place, and engenders the most opposition where it is not being done.
That fact is confirmed again by The Pittsburgh Regional Quality of Life Survey with a large sample.

For example, support for gas drilling is stronger in Pennsylvania than in New York, where a moratorium continues, and where most polling shows support for drilling exceeds opposition by about 5 points.
In turn, support for gas drilling within Pennsylvania is stronger in those counties, where it is taking place, than  where it is not.  The fact that support for gas drilling is highest in places where gas development is located is important but rarely makes it into the discussion about gas development.

After 4 years of extensive gas development, gas drilling was supported 45-25 in the Pittsburgh region that was defined as 32 counties in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. And gas drilling was most strongly supported in counties around the City of Pittsburgh where it is concentrated, while support was weakest in the City, where no gas drilling is taking place.

No matter what polling says about public opinion, a major challenge remains maximizing the benefits and minimizing the costs of gas production for Pennsylvania and the country. More can and must be done to do both. And doing so will increase public acceptance of gas drilling across the Commonwealth and the nation.

Federalism Is Proving Renewable Energy's Greatest Strength

While Congressional gridlock in Washington DC prevents a timely extension of the federal wind production tax credit and causes substantial wind industry layoffs, federalism by empowering states powers forward renewable energy.  California passed proposition 39 on November 6th, providing another $2.9 billion of funding for clean energy projects and businesses.

Proposition  39 comes on top of initiatives like the $2.2 billion, 10-year California Solar Initiative that has helped to install already more than 1,000 megawatts of solar power across the Golden state.  Indeed, incentives offered by states like California, Massachusetts, and Illinois are a major reason why non-hydro renewable energy and energy conservation have boomed over the last 5 years.  And the resulting scaling up in the US and around the world of wind, solar and other clean tech industries drives down costs, makes renewable energy more competitive, and attracts more capital.

In the renewable energy boom, states and their policies are crucial to clean energy growth, so much so that federalism is proving to be renewable energy and energy conservation's greatest strength in the USA.  The framers of our Constitution are smiling.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

GE Installs 20,000 Wind Turbine After 10 Years In Wind Business

After Enron vaporized, Enron was revealed to be mostly smoke and mirrors, talented employees, and little else of real value.  Indeed, other than an Oregon utility, Enron's most valuable asset was its wind turbine manufacturing business that was located in California.

Enron made good wind turbines. In fact, some original Enron built wind turbines from the California factory were installed in Somerset county, Pennsylvania in the Commonwealth's earliest wind farms.

The implosion of Enron birthed new commercial life, as GE bought in 2002 Enron's wind manufacturing business.  Now ten years later, GE is celebrating the installation of its 20,000 turbine.

And the rate of growth for GE has been extraordinary.  The 10,000th GE turbine was installed in 2008; the 15,000th in 2011; and the 20,000th already in 2012.

Or it took GE 6 years to sell and install its first 10,000 turbines and 4 years to sell its next 10,000 turbines. And it has installed 5,000 turbines in about the last 2 years. Wow!

IEA World Energy Outlook Projects Stunning US & Global Solar Numbers

How fast is the sun rising? And is shale gas damaging the solar boom in the US and around the world?  The IEA 2012 World Energy Outlook has data that help to answer these questions.

In 2008, the US had about 500 megawatts of solar operating.  Today, by the end of 2012, it will have 7,000 megawatts.

And by 2035, the IEA 2012 World Energy Outlook projects that the US will have 68,000 megawatts of solar running and increase 10 times in the next 23 years. And the global numbers are even more amazing.

The IEA projects that global solar will increase from 1,000 megawatts in 2000 to 67,000 megawatts in 2011 and then to an astonishing 600,000 megawatts by 2035.  The US portion of global solar capacity is about 10% now and IEA projects that it will remain near the 10% mark through 2035.

As big as the IEA solar numbers are for both the US and the world, if they are off the mark, I suspect that they are too low.  Actual solar and renewable growth has consistently many forecasts and may exceed this one too.

Also, these solar numbers from the IEA are one more piece of data that shale gas is far from killing solar or renewable energy in the USA or the world. Today and tomorrow!

Monday, November 19, 2012

IEA Shockingly Projects Renewable Energy May Edge Out Coal As World's Biggest Electricity Source In 2035

The IEA 2012 World Energy Outlook forecasts underline the rapid, substantial energy shifts sweeping the globe.  A lot of front page ink flowed to tell readers that the US will produce more oil than the Saudis by 2020, according to the IEA forecast.

But much less attention has been paid to the IEA forecast that renewable energy may edge out coal as the world's largest source of electricity.

The IEA states that renewable energy will become the second biggest source of electricity by 2015 and possibly the world's biggest source by 2035. At that point, coal and renewable energy, including hydro, will each generate about 33% of all of the electricity consumed globally.

Heads are exploding in disbelief in certain quarters, but here is the link to IEA World Energy Outlook 2012:  Renewable energy generation indeed already is a very big business and getting quickly still bigger.

As PTC Extension Is Debated, Wind Layoffs Hit Pennsylvania & Other States

The failure to timely extend the wind production tax credit could cause 37,000 layoffs in the US wind business. Some of that pain has hit Pennsylvania, where Gamesa first laid off some workers during the summer.  Last week, Gamesa announced another round of layoffs at its Ebensburg, Cambria County factory where 92 of 154 employees have been laid off or given notice of layoff.

The linked to article also reports 600 wind layoffs by Siemens and 179 by Clipper.  The toll is mounting.

Unfortunately, Governor Corbett refused to defend Pennsylvania's wind jobs, when he pointedly refused to sign a bi-partisan letter supporting the extension of the wind production tax credit.  His refusal sent the message that he will defend some energy jobs but not those held by wind and renewable energy workers.

Despite Corbett's inaction to extend the wind tax cut, the odds, however, are improving that the wind production tax credit will be renewed soon.  Yet, at this point, at least temporary damage has been done to good, hard working people in Pennsylvania and around the country.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sandy Math: Undergrounding All Power Lines Would Double Electricity Bills

The increasing number of devastating storms, like Sandy, is causing a reassessment of the costs and benefits of putting all power lines underground.  The ballpark figure is that residential electricity bills would have to double in order to pay for all power lines to be placed underground. &

Time and money, and a lot of both, would be necessary for any state to put all their power lines underground.  Studies concluded that it would cost Virginia $80 billion and North Carolina $41 billion to do so and would take about 25 years.

Yet, as 100-year floods and storms happen every 10 years, more people ask, would the large costs of putting power lines underground create enough benefits to make them good investments?  State utility regulatory agencies should investigate and provide good answers to the question and to the problem posed by more frequent, large outages caused by storms.  While it probably does not make sense to put underground all power lines, putting more underground and otherwise hardening the grid may well be prudent.

The BusinessWeek story to which I link in this post tells the story of one New Jersey Resident who has just spent more than $3,000 for a generator and $400 to run it.  There is no free lunch.

Sit in the dark and suffer. Pay thousands of dollars for generators and fuels.  Or pay more to harden the grid.

Stunning Fact: Landfill Gas Powers 1.5 Million Homes Or Generates The Equivalent of 2 Nukes!

What rots, produces gas, and powers about 1.5 million American homes?  Garbage at 540 landfill gas projects produces 15 million megawatt-hours, more than enough power for all the homes in Vermont, Rhode Island, North Dakota, or Wyoming. It would take two nukes to generate that much power.  While each project tends to be small, with the biggest being 50 megawatts and the smallest a couple hundred kilowatts, landfill gas projects add up to a total that matters.

Pennsylvania and Waste Management are national leaders in capturing methane and using it productively, either to make electricity or to provide pipeline quality natural gas.  Around the country, Waste Management operates 131 landfill gas projects and is building another 10.

Favorable economics is a key to the success of landfill gas. Costs of installation range from $1.2 million to $1.8 million per megawatt, and landfill gas systems operate at about a 90% capacity factor.  The combination of low capital costs, high capacity factors, and zero fuel cost make landfill gas one of the nation's most economic sources of electricity.

Landfill gas is good for the economy and better for the environment. Methane, if it is vented into the atmosphere, traps 23 times more heat than carbon dioxide, making it a potent global warming pollutant. But methane fortunately dissipates much more quickly in the atmosphere--typically within 15 years--than carbon dioxide that persists for 100 or more years.

Landfill gas is another example of cleaner and cheaper energy solutions.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

IEA Report Stating USA Will Be Top Oil Producer Explodes Oil Attack On President Obama

President Obama's war on oil production is going badly. Or the news that the US will become the world's leading oil producer by 2020 explodes attacks asserting President Obama wages war on domestic oil production.

Domestic oil production has soared every year the President has been in office, will do so for four more years, and even into President Hillary Clinton's first term (sort of kidding).

And the boom in US oil production is not just taking place on private lands.  Oil production from public lands is up too, since the President took office.

The President has supported the historic boom in US oil production by mainly not getting in the way.  But not getting in the way is sometimes the most important thing a President can do.

Yet, in the case of President Obama, he has done more.  He handled the historic and awful Gulf Oil disaster in a wise manner. And that is no small achievement, earned in the most challenging of circumstances.

While President Obama has overseen the incredible domestic oil production boom, he has also aggressively moved to reduce US consumption of oil by raising fuel efficiency standards as well as supporting oil substitutes like natural gas vehicles, electric vehicles, and biofuels.  As a result, US oil consumption is falling, even as oil production is booming.

To state what hopefully is the obvious, working to reduce US oil consumption is not to attack US oil production, but some think not only "drill baby drill" but also "guzzle baby guzzle."

And from booming domestic oil production and falling consumption comes the prize of declining oil imports and rising energy independence.  The US even became a net exporter of gasoline and other products in 2011 for the first time since 1949 or when EIA began tracking the data. No President has been more successful in driving down imports, increasing energy independence, and making the US an energy powerhouse than President Obama.

And to credit the President is not to ignore the truth that the risk taking, innovation, and capital investment of the oil and gas industry is the primary reason for the boom in domestic US oil and gas production. They really have and are building it.

But the election is over, and President Obama's victory probably changes not at all the fact that the President has little or no support within the oil and gas industry.  Yet, now just possibly the hyperbolic oil attacks on the President can stop, and even some credit due to him could be given.  Just a thought or two.

Stunning Fact:Sandy Knocked Out Electricity Service To About 60 Million People & Requires Grid Hardening Investigations

Brian Wolff, Senior VP for the Edison Electric Institute, estimates that as many as 60 million people plunged into darkness as a result of Sandy. That's a stunning number, appearing in Carl Bialik's piece:

If Wolff is correct, Sandy put close to 1 in 5 Americans in the dark for some time.  Wow!

For its part, the EIA reports that Sandy knocked out electric service to 8.5 million accounts.  Of course,  a single electric account can provide service to 1 person or hundreds, even thousands of persons.

These numbers underline the need for utility regulators to investigate formally how the electric system can be hardened, what the cost and benefits of specific measures would be, and how much time would be necessary to make the electric grid less vulnerable to storm damage.  The fixes will take money.  There is no free lunch, no equivalent of cut taxes to pay down the national debt or vodoo economics, no matter what may be suggested.

But the risks of and the damage done by storms in our changed climate changes the costs and benefits of hardening the grid. For example, Pennsylvania has been whacked by massive flooding in 2011 and then huge wind damage in 2012. It's past time to take a serious look at grid hardening.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Key Environmental Fact: Gas Usage Goes Down & Carbon Emissions Go Up In 2013

During 2013, the USA will burn less natural gas to make electricity.  As a result, US carbon emissions will go up 2.2%, according to the EIA.

Simply put, and though some heads may explode, when the US burns more gas, total carbon emissions go down, as they did in 2011 and 2012 by 2.1% and 2.9% respectively.  And the reverse is also true. Indeed, this year's boom in gas-fired generation is mainly responsible for driving US carbon emissions during 2012 to a 20-year low.

Make no mistake, without the shale gas revolution, and the cheap gas that it made possible, both the gas-fired generation boom in 2012 and the 20-year low in carbon emissions would not have happened.

But next year, the use of gas to make electricity is forecasted to decline significantly and carbon emissions will jump 2.2%, even though non-hydro renewables will continue to grow.  They will do so because coal will displace gas and carbon emissions from coal will rise more than 7% in 2013.

When the USA burns less gas, carbon emissions go up!  When the USA consumes more gas, carbon, mercury, soot, smog pollution all go down! Those are key environmental facts in the USA and around the world.

Of course, the reason why burning more gas means lower carbon emissions and burning less gas means higher carbon emissions is simple. Gas displaces coal and oil, both of which emit much more carbon than natural gas.

And so attacking or banning gas production means more pollution and not less.  That's also a fact that some environmentalists are now beginning to face squarely.

A Prius Lights Home Ravaged By Sandy: An Illustration Of Why EVs Will Reshape The Grid & Transportation

Electric vehicles are more than wheels.  In fact, they will be a combination power plant and transportation tool, and already were at one home in New Jersey,  following the devastation caused by Sandy.

Bob Sakala of Paramus New Jersey did not buy his Prius in June to power his home but just wanted to cut his gasoline bill. Indeed, for many people, a Prius cuts by half their gasoline expense, turning $3.50 gasoline into $1.75 fuel.

But Sakala's life was turned upside down, making expensive gas a minor problem, when Sandy hit, knocking out lights to his home, his community, and large chunks of New Jersey and the region.

Using a 300 watt inverter, heavy extension cords, and his Priuus, Sakala got power back to his home.  What a great story!

Sakala is an example of America's greatest strength--its educated people who are entrepreneurial and free to fix problems and make life better.  And Sakala's use of the Prius shows why electric vehicles are going to capture big chunks of market share.

Electric vehicles will consume and generate electric power.  They will both cut gasoline costs and generate revenues by producing power and selling to the grid.

And that package is going to insure their success as well as boost further distributed generation and decentralization of the grid.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Most Important Car Since The Model T: Tesla Model S Wins MotorTrend Car Of The Year

This is almost piling on Rush, when he is down.  After all, even leading Republican voices have been pounding Rush in the wake of the President's election triumph, calling his regular diatribes against women and minorities a reason why the Republican party is getting crushed among the young, women, and minorities.

Another target for Rush's acid tongue are electric vehicles.  Indeed, Rush and other conservative figures have targeted electric vehicles for ridicule, ever since the Prius came on the scene.

Despite the right wing pounding, the electric vehicle rush is gaining momentum, with more and more EV models coming to market.  The Tesla Model S is one of the latest, and it just won MotorTrend's Car of the Year.  The Tesla Model S is, in fact, piling up the awards.

Indeed, car experts are calling the Tesla Model S the most important car since the Model T.  Why? The Tesla Model S combines extraordinary performance with a 300 mile driving range. That's a very big deal, as Vice President Biden might say.

Electric vehicles, biofuels, CNG vehicles, and much more fuel efficient gasoline and diesel vehicles are why America's oil consumption peaked in 2007 and will likely never again match that peak year.

Gas Generation Market Share Forecasted To Fall 10% As Coal Rebounds

Natural gas prices bouncing back above $3.50 mean a sharp decline in natural gas fired generation next year, according to EIA.  The portion of America's electricity coming from natural gas is forecasted to decline from 30.6% to 27.2% or by more than 10% in 2013.

Natural gas will lose 3.4 percentage points but coal will gain 2.9 points of market share, rising from 37.2% to 40.1%.  The fierce competition between coal and gas continues. And as coal displaces gas next year, America's carbon emissions will rise.

Coal Electricity Generation Market Share Bouncing Back To 40.2% As Coal Displaces Gas In 2013

President Obama's re-election has been described by some as bad news for coal.  So it may surprise those who see fuel markets through primarily a political prism that the EIA is forecasting that next year will be a better year for coal than 2012.

Certainly the power generation story of 2012 has been the fierce price competition between gas and coal.  Cheap gas drove coal's market share fell well below 40% and is likely to be 37.2% for the whole year, an historically low number.

But, in 2013, the power generation story may well be coal displacing gas generation, as higher gas prices allow coal to recapture some of its lost market share.  Indeed, the EIA projects coal's generation market share will rise to 40.2%.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thank You Veterans & Please Remember Our Nation Remains At War

Thank you, thank you, thank you to our veterans and the members of our armed forces.  But saying thank you is not enough.

This nation must provide jobs, medical care, and lifetime support where necessary to our veterans.  I, for one, am pleased to pay taxes to keep our commitments to our veterans and military!

And our commitments to veterans and the military are substantial for this nation remains at war.  In the past 7 days, 4 more Americans gave their lives for us in Afghanistan.

None of us must forget the huge sacrifices that have been made and are being made this day by the members of our armed forces, veterans, and their families.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Despite Gas Boom, Pennsylvania's Unemployment Rate Increases Sharply From May 2011 To September 2012

The data is astonishing.  But it is official United States Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers in the state and regional unemployment section. In terms of unemployment rate trends, Pennsylvania is among the three worst performing states in the nation since May 2011.

Unemployment has jumped in the Commonwealth from 7.4% to 8.2% from May 2011 to September 2012 (the October data will be available in about 2 weeks). During that period, only New York and New Hampshire saw their unemployment rates go up more, and New Hampshire's 5.7% unemployment rate is still below the national unemployment rate.

Pennsylvania is fast becoming a lesson in how state policymakers can fail to maximize the advantages offered by a globally significant energy bonanza and make other policy and budget mistakes that more than offset the twin advantages of the gas boom and declining national unemployment. 

While Pennsylvania's unemployment rate jumps up from 7.4% to 8.2%, the national unemployment rate fell from 9.0% in May 2011 to 7.8% in September, 2012. 

While Pennsylvania's unemployment rate jumps up from May 2011 to September 2012, the unemployment rate falls in 43 other states.

Here's the rest of the ugly economic story.

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate fell from 8.9% in October 2009, when the national unemployment rate hit its double-digit peak, to 7.4% in May 2011.  All through that period, Pennsylvania's unemployment rate was well below the national unemployment rate. But no more.

Pennsylvania's economy is big and needs about 6.5 million jobs for full employment.  And certainly gas is a significant boost and has cut the unemployment rate greatly in some counties.

But given the size of our economy and our 12 million population, gas alone will never make all Pennsylvanians or the whole of Pennsylvania prosperous, even if policymakers maximize its benefits and avoid mistakes that more than offset the benefit of gas.

Most unfortunately, policymakers have made a series of mistakes--massive education cuts being Exhibit A--that have more than offset the benefits of gas that include thousands of jobs and consumer savings of as much as $1,500 per year.  And so, the ugly fact is that unemployment in Pennsylvania since May 2011 has increased substantially, making the Commonwealth the third worst performing state in the nation.

The ugly fact is that Pennsylvania's unemployment during September was higher than the national rate for the first time in a decade and is up from 7.4% to 8.2%, despite the falling national unemployment rate and the gas boom.

Gas Usage For Electricity Sets All-Time Record In July

The historic shift to gas to generate electricity plus summer heat and air conditioning demand combined to set an all-time record for the use of gas to make power in July 2012.  An incredible 35.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas fueled power plants around the nation during July or about 50% of all gas consumed, according to EIA.

If you cranked the air conditioning this summer, you were using gas and were part of its record use for the purpose of power generation.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

GE Announces Carbon Capture Breakthrough & Claims No Subsidies Needed: Real Or Too Good To Be True?

Among the world's greatest technology needs are real breakthroughs in carbon capture technology.  Nothing drives home this point more than the fact that coal energy's share of total global energy continues to rise and reached in 2011 its highest levels in more than 40 years.  The result is that global carbon emissions, driven by enormous Chinese increases, hit record levels in 2011.

Increasing carbon concentrations in the atmosphere, rising, warming oceans, and then Sandy may mark a tipping point in US public opinion about climate change and also a shift in the market for carbon capture technology that had thought to be nearly dead. Timing of products and services is often the key to commercial success, and so GE's advances in carbon capture are especially noteworthy.

GE announced this summer a major alliance with Sargas to deploy carbon capture storage technology at a new natural gas fired power plant.  The carbon dioxide captured will be used in enhanced oil recovery activity.

GE claims that its Sargas carbon capture technology reaches new levels of efficiency, cuts significantly the parasitic load loss from running the carbon capture equipment, and is commercially viable without any subsidies. No subsidies needed is the claim, a big one indeed.

GE asserts that its technology will capture carbon dioxide at a cost less than the market price of carbon dioxide used in oil production. If GE can stand behind that claim, its technology could signal that the cost of not only capturing, but also transporting and then storing carbon could be driven down considerably.

The GE-Sargas project is especially hopeful, because it is a commercial project and not simply an announcement about a laboratory or research advance.  The energy world desperately needs commercial breakthroughs that can make carbon capture technology economically viable.  Perhaps, GE has brought to market just that! This technology warrants close watching.

Stunning Fact: New Jersey Is First State To Get More Than 1% Of Its Electricity From Solar

The wind boom is so big that at least 7 states get 10% or more of their power from wind and 2 generate more than 20% of their power by wind turbines. Though solar is far behind wind in its delivery of large amounts of power, New Jersey is the first state to generate more than 1% of its power from solar and even higher percentages during peak hours.

New Jersey has installed 900 megawatts of nation's soon to be 7,000 megawatts of solar.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The President's Re-Election Brings More Good News Than Bad For Natural Gas

The President got little support in the natural gas industry and even less in the oil and coal industries.  Yet, for the natural gas industry, the re-election of the President brings more good news than bad.  Here are 5 reasons why.

First, the President has overseen booms in gas and oil production in the United States.  That has meant that he has not gotten in the way more than anything else.  The heated attacks on him and his Administration by some associated with the gas industry were never rooted in a reality.  The President's re-election means the continuation of the extraordinary booms in domestic oil and gas production for the next 4 years and beyond.

Second, the Natural Gas Act or the Pickens plan lives.  Governor Romney opposed it, but the President supports it.  This nation should commit to a massive effort to boost alternative transportation fuels to oil. That includes biofuels and electric vehicles but natural gas too.  If that is to happen nationally, the Natural Gas Act must pass. And let's be clear. The opposition is rooted in Republican ranks.

Third, the EPA Air Toxic Rule will not be derailed by a Romney administration or Congressional action.  If the rule survives judicial challenge, much more gas--approximately 1 trillion cubic feet per year--will be used to make electricity.

Fourth, the CAFE standards will be implemented and those standards include important incentives for natural gas vehicles. Romney pledged their repeal and that repeal would have harmed natural gas usage in transportation.

Fifth, the combination of Sandy and the President's re-election means that climate change will be addressed in some manner and that could benefit natural gas.  Greater use of natural gas to displace coal and oil is the main reason why US carbon emissions have dropped to 1992 levels.

Put simply, the President's re-election is good for natural gas demand, and much better than Governor Romney would have been for boosting natural gas consumption.  And right now the most pressing need for the gas industry is to sell more product.

The President's re-election also means that renewable energy, and especially wind, will continue to boom.  While that will avoid some natural gas demand, renewables need natural gas to firm supply and so there are operating synergies for gas and renewable energy.

Indeed, the American wind industry won big last night.  This President knows that the wind industry and public support for it were important to his crucial victories in Iowa and Colorado.  The wind production tax credit will be renewed as a result of last night.

The President's re-election is not all good news for the gas industry.  The EPA is not going away and gas industry attacks on it were ill-advised before last night.  This morning they would be just plain dumb.

An area where the gas industry will be in a fight with the President is tax policy.  Tax breaks for the oil and gas industry will be under siege, pressured by a President who ran against them and by the fiscal condition of the nation.

Stunning Fact: Every 8 Years The Electorate Changes Approximately 30% Or By 48 Million People

Every 4 years about 3 million people age into the voting group and 3 million Americans pass away.  In the space of just 4 years, the voting age population changes by 24 million and by an incredible 48 million or about 30% in 8 years.

Demographic changes in the American family are not the only thing that matters in elections by any means.  But they are the single, biggest force in American politics.

Pennsylvania Democrats Sweep Statewide Offices--Major Change Comes To The Attorney General Office

Kathleen Kane led a statewide office sweep for the Democratic Party. Kane got a higher percentage of the vote than President Obama, Senator Casey, Treasurer McCord, and Eugene Depasquale who becomes the newly elected Auditor General.

Kane becomes the first woman elected Attorney General and the first Democrat since the office became elective.  She is pledged to launch an investigation of the sickening Sandusky case and why Sandusky remained on the streets for more than 2 years, without any supervision, after the case was referred to the Attorney General's office in 2009.

In addition to its statewide office sweep, the Democratic Party picked up 3 state senate seats, narrowing the Republican majority to 27-23.

President Obama & The Democratic Party Win Major Victories Fueled By Major Demographic Change

Every year 3 million Americans become old enough to vote, and 3 million Americans die.  Over the course of 4 years, the electorate changes by about 24 million people or by about 15% in just 4 years and 30% in 8 years.

Riding the rapidly changing demographics of America, President Obama won an impressive electoral college victory, where he lost just 2 states--North Carolina and Indiana--that he won in 2008.  The Obama margins are tight in Ohio, Virginia, Florida but not in Pennsylvania and other states Republicans targeted.

In addition, though the Democrats had to defend 23 US senate seats, the Democratic Party is adding to its majority in the US Senate.  That result is shocking, when judged from what was determined to be an almost certain Republican takeover of the Senate just 6 months ago.

The special sauce of an emerging national electoral majority for Democrats begins with an Obama 64% to 36% victory among the 19% of the electorate that is below 30.  Romney won those who are over 65 by 10 points, and the senior vote accounted for 17% of the total vote.  Yet, the future belongs to the young and so looks good for the Democratic party. 

President Obama won the Latino vote 3 to 1, and Latinos constituted 10% of the total vote, up from 8% in 2008.  African-Americans turned out strongly and accounted for 13% of the vote and likely increased their total votes from 2008.  White voters registered 72% of the electorate, a decline from 74% in 2008.  Governor Romney won nearly 60% of white voters, the highest percentage since George H. W. Bush won more than 400 electoral votes against Governor Dukakis.

These demographic changes are substantial and portend an enduring edge for the Democratic Party nationally, unless the Republican Party alters policies on voting rights, civil rights, immigration, reproductive health, health care, gay rights, and soon marijuana control that are driving away large numbers of young and minority voters.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Report Finds Solar Could Reduce PA & NJ Power Market Prices By $55/Mwh

Low natural gas prices is the main reason why wholesale power prices are much lower today than in 2008.  But still another reason is substantial increased wind and solar generation.  More supply equals lower prices.  But how much lower?

A new study modeled what would happen to wholesale power prices in 6 locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey if new solar capacity were installed equal to 15% of peak demand.  No surprise, the power prices go down for the whole market.

The study finds solar at 15% of peak demand would lower power prices by $55/Mwh or 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.  The price suppression effect of solar or wind is substantial, because they are both complete price takers and not price setters.  Their zero fuel costs and exceptionally low operating costs mean that they can and do bid zero into wholesale markets and take the market clearing price.

Key Numbers For This Exciting Election Day

Election day in the United States is awesome and it has dawned. Today the people decide the government of the greatest nation  in the world.  And this great nation is closely divided politically.  The course of the election has underlined that the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates started the election with 47%, while the third party candidates attract 1.5% to 2%.  Less than 5% of the electorate has been truly undecided and floating.

Indeed, the voting today will be close, and third party votes could be the difference in Virginia, Florida, Colorado and possibly other states.  The structure of the electorate and all the polls point to this race not being decided until the early morning hours of tomorrow.  And possibly even later.

Yet, could the polls all be wrong? And could the President or Governor Romney win comfortably?

In fact, all the public polls were wrong in the Nevada Senate race in 2010.  They all predicted that Senator Reid would lose to Sharon Angle in 2010 and by an average of nearly 3 points.  Harry Reid pulled an electoral surprise, winning by more than 5 points, and proving the public polls were off by an average of 8 points. So perhaps yesterday's polls were wrong and Governor Romney or President Obama is on the way to a 5 point win today.

In the case of the Reid race, his internal pollster--Mark Mellman--had the result nailed. Alone among pollsters, Mellman correctly assessed the turnout of Latinos that rushed to the polls for Senator Reid and to defeat Sharon Angle. Mellman's accuracy rested on his use alone of bilingual interviewers to conduct his polls and so got an accurate survey response, by including those who speak Spanish as a first language.

Polls are science and art or judgment.  Turnout of particular demographic groups makes all the difference. What portion of the electorate will be Republican, Democratic, and Independent?  What portion of the electorate will be minority or white?  What portion of the electorate will be below 30 and above 65?  What portion of registered voters will actually vote?  The accuracy of every poll rests on getting right answers to those questions.

But nobody knows the precise answers to those questions, even at this moment.  And we only have imperfect exit poll data to answer them after the election.

Exit poll data, for example, tells us that 87% of the electorate was white in 1992, 77% in 2004, and 74% in 2008.  Today 70.9% of the eligible electorate is white so the electorate will be 70.9% white, if there is equal turnout across racial groups. Since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, no Democratic candidate for President has won a majority of those who are white, but Democratic support among African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans has been soaring.

There is also a sharp partisan difference in the voting preferences of women and men as well as those below 30 and above 65.  Who votes and in what numbers makes all the difference in American elections, because the nation as a whole is closely divided politically.

Though the polls could be wrong, they are all we have prior to the final vote count.  As of yesterday, two national polls had Governor Romney up 1 point, while three had President Obama up 3 and another had him up 2.  The trend over the last 10 days has been toward the President, with most polls moving 2 to 6 points in his direction. Yet, all polls are within the margin of error.

State polling paints an equally close race, with Romney narrowly favored in North Carolina and possibly Florida. Virginia is close to a pure toss up, with perhaps the slightest edge to the President.

The President has had narrow but consistent leads in credible polls in Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Those states are probable for the President but not guaranteed.
Despite some fervent hoping from the Romney camp, Minnesota and Michigan are almost locks for the President.

So where do things stand? Perhaps there is no better answer than provided by yesterday's betting line offered by the bookies in the UK.  There the President is a strong favorite. Last evening, you had to bet $5 dollars on the President to win $1.

As we go to the polls, pause and reflect that the power we have in our hands is the liberty paid with blood by our founding revolutionaries, our troops time and again and to this moment, abolitionists, suffragettes, and voting rights activists who died and bled less than 50 years ago so that all could vote.  Every citizen should honor that sacrifice and vote today!

$700 Million Spent On Replenishing Jersey Shore Beaches But Much Bigger Bill Is Coming Due

Holland is protected by a sophisticated system of sea walls.  London is too.  And now New Orleans benefits from billions invested in modern, well-engineered levees. By contrast, New York City has nothing standing between it, rising seas, and storm surges.

As for New Jersey, its storm defense consists of sand. Literally sand dunes and beaches serve the twin purpose of tourist attraction and storm defense.

With sea levels projected to rise at least 3 feet in this century, holding back rising, warming seas is going to take more than sand. And its going to get more and more expensive in the coming decades to just replenish beaches and rebuild sand dunes.

Though the major costs of storms is the damage done to property, and Sandy's total cost could be approximately $60 billion, the bill for just rebuilding beaches was into 9 figures each year, even before Sandy.

Each year the federal government spends about $100 million rebuilding beaches across America and about a quarter of that is spent in New Jersey. The Philly Inquirer reports "$700 million has gone into pumping, dumping, and otherwise replacing sand on nearly 54 developed miles of the Jersey Shore since 1986."

The Philadelphia Inquirer also states that $100 billion of development is on the Jersey coast alone, and a major protection of that investment is substantial dunes and beaches that buffer property from the ocean. Protecting that investment from rising, warming seas will take more than sand and will cost ten figures--billions--annually.

A much bigger bill is coming due.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stunning Fact: Solar Jobs Jump 13% & Total 119,016

Huge numbers of people believe the solar industry is imploding in the USA.  I myself have talked to a fair number with that misimpression that comes from headlines about bankruptcies of solar panel manufacturers and partisan political attacks.  But the reality of the US solar industry is far removed from the implosion picture painted by some.

While jobs grew in the economy 2.3% over the last 12 months, solar employment jumped 13% over the last 12 months.  Solar industry employment increased from about 105,000 to 119,000, according to the solar jobs census taken by the Solar Foundation.  The rate of job growth in the solar industry is approximately 5 times faster than economy-wide job growth.  And the economy has been adding 170,000 jobs per month over the last 3 months.

In the US, solar continues to boom, with strong job growth and installed capacity doubling this year to approximately 7,000 megawatts.  And solar's forecast for the future is sunny.  More growth in both jobs and capacity is probable for 2013.

Special Comment: PA DEP Should Release All Results For Any Substance Tested

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's water testing practices are news once more.; Hot words are flying back and forth between DEP and the gas industry on one side and drilling critics on the other.

Here is the rest of the story.

When the PA DEP takes a water sample, it conducts routinely tests on 24 substances but does not report the results of all 24 substances tested to the homeowner.  Instead, depending on the reason why the test is being done, DEP releases the results for a subset of the 24 substances that is relevant to the purpose of the investigation.

In the case of investigating claims that gas drilling caused water contamination, the DEP reports the results for 8 substances, including chloride and potassium, that are markers for drilling contamination.  The results for 16 other substances that were tested too are not reported.

Spokespeople for the DEP and the gas industry have charged that those challenging the Department's testing practices are opposed to gas drilling, voted against Act 13 and should therefore not be taken seriously. For their part, some drilling critics have charged the possible existence of a criminal conspiracy to deceive homeowners about test results. Neither verbal barrage is illuminating.

Instead of turning up the heat and engaging in another round of battle, all involved should resolve the legitimate issues raised.

At this time, releasing all results for all substances tested makes sense, whether or not a result for a particular substance is relevant to determining whether gas drilling did or did not cause contamination. I, therefore, recommend:

1. Prospectively change the policy and report, with appropriate explanation, the results for all 24 substances, no matter the reason for the sampling;
2. Retroactively release all results for past testing if the Department has that information; and
3. Do another test if the Department no longer has the information and the homeowner wants the results for all 24 substances tested.

This course is not combative or dramatic--another reason to do it.

Stunning Fact: No Natural Gas Service For 8 Months In Part Of Jersey Shore

Losing electric service in a storm is old and repeated news.  But electric service is restored within about a week, even in the most devastating disasters.

Sandy, however, not only ravaged the electric grid but also devastated the natural gas distribution system in parts of the shore. Unlike electric service that has largely been restored, Seaside Heights in New Jersey will be without natural gas service for as long as 8 months.

"The entire gas distribution system has been compromised...There is no gas; we cannot live here..I don't know where these people are going to go."  Those are some of the quotations in the compelling Philadelphia Inquirer Story to which this post links.

More than half of American homes rely on natural gas to get through winter. Losing gas service is devastating, indeed.

Friday, November 2, 2012

US Becomes Energy Export Powerhouse In 2012: Record Coal, Gasoline, and Diesel Exports

While debate about exporting more natural gas continues, the US has become an energy export powerhouse during 2012, thanks to coal, diesel, and gasoline exports.  America will set new records for exporting coal, gasoline, and diesel this year, a turn of events that would have been recently unthinkable.

Through August, 2012, the US was on its way of smashing the 1981 coal export record of 113 million tons. Exports have been roaring all year, with all time monthly marks for exports being set in April and June. Going to Asia and Europe, US coal exports will total 125 million tons when the books close on this year, according to EIA.

The energy export boom is not just coal. Exports of gasoline and diesel are rocketing up too. 

The US just last year became a net exporter of gasoline and diesel for the first time since 1949. Exports have nearly tripled so far in 2012, reaching 975,000 barrels on average per day.

What are the prospects for still more growth in US energy exports? Global demand for energy is rising, and US energy is among the cheapest in the world. And so continued growth in energy exports is likely.

Breaking The Oil Addiction: Volt Sets Sales Record In October!

Why is America's oil consumption approximately back to 1999 levels? Expensive oil is driving technological and consumer change.

For example, in the same month that the Prius became the best selling vehicle in California, the Chevy Volt set a new monthly sales record.  And the same people who predicted confidently that the Prius would flop have said the same about the Volt.

Yet, in October, 2,961 Volts sold! That's the third month in a row that Volt sales have exceed 2,800 cars or nearly triple the 1,108 that sold in October 2011.  The Volt already is on its way toward being among the better selling vehicles in the US.

Booming sales of hybrids and plug-in vehicles as well as rising use of gas and biofuels to power vehicles show that our addiction to oil can be beaten!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prius Top Selling Vehicle In California & Number 12 In Nation

One reason that US oil consumption has declined to 1999 levels is that consumers are buying more fuel efficient vehicles.

Consumer preference is a powerful force, and it has swept the Prius to a gaudy ranking.  The once-ridiculed Prius is now the top selling vehicle of all types--cars, trucks, SUVs--in California and number 12 in the nation.  Prius sales this year are up 12% in America and 26% in California. Not too shabby.

Bad Fact: US Ranks "3rd Or 4th" in Weather Forecasting

Though the computer and computer modeling were invented in the US, the Europeans knew the exact path of Hurricane Sandy days before American forecasters. Stunning!  Stunning that computer modeling has such immense power to see the future and stunning that the Europeans and others are ahead of us in this vital area.

In fact, the US ranks "3rd or 4th" in storm forecasting, according to MIT Professor Emanuel. "The overall star performer is a computer model operated by a consortium of European nations; that model accurately predicted Sandy's track and evolution well before U.S. models caught up later last week."

Why did the Europeans know more first about "our" Hurricane? They use much faster computers for weather forecasting and pay to do so.  Sometimes cheap is not good.

Stunning Facts: Fracking Bans, Expensive Gas & Carbon Emissions Up 10% in Europe

"We are in the dark ages of gas in Europe and have some kind of golden age of coal," said Ms. Corbeau, an analyst for the International Energy Agency. Cheap coal is displacing expensive gas in Europe.  Gas demand in Europe is down about 7%, but EU carbon emissions so far in 2012 are up 10%, as coal combustion and imports of US coal surge.

"If you burn gas in a power plant, you burn money; if you burn coal, you make money. Given our climate goals, that's the stupidest thing we can do, but commercial realities force companies to do that," says Walter Boltz, vice-chairman at the Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators

Fracking bans in France and Bulgaria, expensive gas across the continent, and closing nuclear units, as Germany has done, all add up to a recipe for rising carbon emissions in Europe itself.

In the US, the story is flipped.  Thanks to the shale revolution, gas is cheap and carbon emissions have been slashed to 1992 levels.

There are huge lessons for the environment and economy in the European failure on gas and the US success.