Gas prices are the lowest they've been yet in 2013.
The combination of dwindling gas demand and ample stocks have pushed average gas prices to the lowest level since Dec. 27, 2012, according to AAA, the national motor club based in Heathrow, Fla. Prices are expected to continue to fall this year, approaching the $3 mark. In many places across the US, drivers are already paying less than $3 a gallon to fill up their gas tank.
“There are fewer frowns on drivers’ faces as they leave gas stations given recent price declines,” AAA spokesperson Avery Ash said in a statement. “Abundant supplies, declining demand, falling oil costs and the switch to winter-blend gasoline have helped push gas prices down in every single state.”
US gas prices averaged $3.28 Friday, according to AAA, down four cents from a week ago. October was a good month for drivers, with prices sliding 12 cents per gallon or 3.5 percent.
Missouri drivers should be particularly happy. The state is the only one where gas prices average under $3, according to AAA, but a growing number of motorists across the country are also finding gas in the 2-dollar range. Average gas prices in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas are just above $3, and more than 1 in 10 gas stations across the US are charging less $3 per gallon. ( Continue… )
Two and a half years after a tsunami devastated Tokyo Electric Power Company’s six reactor Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan’s political establishment is divided over the country’s nuclear future. Prior to the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe Japan was the world’s third largest producer of nuclear power after the U.S. and France. Japan is now the world's largest importer of LNG, second largest importer of coal and the third largest net importer of oil.
An opinion poll conducted by NHK earlier this month found that nearly half of those responding were against the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s plan to allow the restart of closed NPPs after safety checks. Only 19 percent of those polls approved of the plan, 32 percent were undecided, and 45 percent were against it. When a second question asked if those polled approved or disapproved of TEPCO’s handling of Fukushima Daiichi of leaks of radioactive wastewater from the crippled nuclear complex, 68 percent of responders said they disapproved, only 27 percent approved.
If there is good news for TEPCO, the figures are better than those from a September 2011 poll by the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, which found that as many as 70 percent of respondents to an opinion poll called for a quick or gradual decrease in the number of NPPs. (Related article: Nuclear Power Gets Hope from New Radiation Data) ( Continue… )
Critics are always talking about subsidies to Big Oil, but how much US tax money actually goes to the oil and gas industry? You may find out soon enough.
The US will start publishing annual reports tallying up the money it spends to support the extraction of fossil fuels, according to a White House report on open government released Thursday. It's in line with a broader effort to implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international standard that promotes transparency and accountability in mining and extraction.
President Obama has pushed for an end for fossil-fuel subsidies, which he says gives established industries an unfair competitive advantage over emerging renewable companies.
But the oil and gas industry has long fought this line of thinking, saying that what critics call subsidies are actually tax provisions that are standard business deductions not unique to their industry. Removing such provisions would raise energy prices, critics say, and move investment elsewhere.
Thursday's announcement isn't a call to end taxpayer support for oil and gas, but it does take a step toward defining and documenting the relationship between government and industry. ( Continue… )
The nation's largest consumer of energy is trying to rid itself of that title.
The US Department of Defense aims to trim the roughly $17 billion it spent on fuel in 2011 by, among other things, buying electric cars. To be specific, it plans on buying 92,000 hybrid and electric vehicles over the next seven years, according to a report released Thursday by Navigant Research, a Colorado-based consulting firm.
That's a boost to the electrified transportation industry, and would represent on an annual basis nearly 3 percent of the hybrid and electric vehicles sold in the United States last year. It's also a huge savings for the military, because its costs of fuel can easily balloon.
“In remote theaters of operations, the cost of moving fuels to forward military locations can be a multiple of the cost of the fuel itself,” Scott Shepard, research analyst with Navigant. ( Continue… )
North Dakota's governor said he was frustrated with the way in which federal regulators were monitoring pipeline safety. An oil spill in the west of the state went unnoticed until a farmer discovered it in his field last month. Regulators, the governor said, don't monitor rural areas the same way they do elsewhere. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, supporters of a controversial pipeline bill say more infrastructure is needed and fast in order to keep up with the oil boom under way in the central United States. That measure, however, does little to allay the safety concerns about the spider web of oil and natural gas pipelines already in place across the country.
"[The federal] Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration requires the use of enhanced pipeline monitoring and control technology in locations considered 'high consequence areas' such as cities and near drinking water supplies," North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. "Rural areas don’t necessarily get the same level of oversight from PHMSA and that is concerning."
Tesoro Logistics reported a 20,000 barrel release from an oil pipeline in a rural field northeast of Tioga, North Dakota, on Oct. 10. The spill, however, likely occurred a few weeks earlier but it went unreported until landowner Steve Jensen noticed it on his farm. The government in North Dakota said the section of the Tesoro pipeline wasn't required to have a leak monitoring or pressure sensor system in place. ( Continue… )
Forget candles, these Halloween pumpkins are all about wind and solar – or oil and gas.
This Halloween, the debate over the future of US energy has made it all the way to the jack-o'-lantern. On one side is the US Department of Energy, promoting clean energy and efficiency with a set of energy-themed stencils for pumpkin carving. Not to be outdone, the American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas lobbying firm, has released its own set of stencils to make a "high energy pumpkin" blazoned with the image of an oil barrel or a full gas tank.
So the question this Halloween isn't so much trick or treat? It's renewables or fossil fuels?
Judging by DOE's stencils, the future is in cleaner energy and less of it. The stencils depict wind turbines, solar panels, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and other emblems of alternative energy, with DOE encouraging would-be carvers to "energize your neighborhood" this "Energyween." It's a fitting end to October, which was designated National Energy Action Month by President Obama in late September. ( Continue… )
Keystone XL has emerged as a touchstone in the climate change debate since the pipeline was first proposed more than five years ago. But the topic is regularly sidelined by the news of the day – particularly in recent months as government shutdowns and debates over health care have dominated headlines.
Activists used Wednesday's forum as an opportunity to put the Canada-Texas pipeline back in the spotlight, interrupting his speech twice, but it's unclear what kind of lingering effect such a stunt might have on either the president's or the public's view on the proposed pipeline.
"Stop the Keystone pipeline," the protesters chanted from the aisles of Faneuil Hall, as the president defended the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The health-care program has come under scrutiny for technical problems relating to its website, among other issues in its bumpy rollout.
Mr. Obama smiled and paused to allow the protesters to finish. ( Continue… )
Walmart is attempting to position itself as the key mover and shaker in the renewable energy sector, and indeed, when Walmart makes a clean energy move it reverberates through the market.
Walmart’s status as a leading company in terms of renewable energy adoption was furthered on 15 October with the release of the Solar Means Business report, which noted that Walmart remains America’s commercial solar leader, followed by Costco, Kohl’s, Apple, IKEA, Macy’s, and Johnson & Johnson—all in the top 25.
Walmart currently has 89 megawatts of solar power at 215 locations. (Related article: New York Manholes for Electric Car Charging)
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"As we work toward our ambitious goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, solar energy continues to be an important part of our renewable energy portfolio," Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president for energy at Walmart, said in a statement. "With our size and scale, Walmart is in a unique position to encourage innovation and accelerate the adoption of cost-effective, clean energy alternatives, including solar power." ( Continue… )
Searching for a parking space is a routine (and often frustrating) activity for many people in cities around the world. This search burns about one million barrels of the world’s oil every day. There are also four parking spaces per vehicle in the United States, and most streets are empty most of the time, leading to urban environments that ironically do far more to accommodate vehicles than people. As the global population continues to urbanize, without a well-planned, convenience-driven retreat from the car these problems will worsen.
Smart parking is the first step in the right direction. It involves using low-cost sensors, real-time data collection, and mobile-phone-enabled automated payment systems that allow people to reserve parking in advance or very accurately predict where they will likely find a spot. When deployed as a system, smart parking thus reduces car emissions in urban centers by reducing the need for people to needlessly circle city blocks searching for parking. It also permits cities to carefully manage their parking supply.
Smart parking pilot programs are now being deployed in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Beijing, Shanghai, São Paulo, and the Netherlands. For example, in Los Angeles, low-power sensors and smart meters track the occupancy of parking spaces throughout the Hollywood district, one of its most congested areas. Users can access that occupancy data to determine the availability of spots and then pay for them with their mobile phones. In addition to lending convenience and environmental benefits, smart parking improves the utilization of existing parking, leading to greater revenue for parking owners. Los Angeles saw a return on its investment in smart parking within three months. ( Continue… )
President Obama has long made cleaner energy a priority of his domestic agenda. Increasingly, it's playing out in his foreign policy.
The US will end financial support for new coal projects overseas, except in narrowly defined circumstances, the Department of Treasury announced Tuesday. The policy is an extension of the climate plan Mr. Obama introduced in June, and builds on the Treasury Department's previous efforts to curb global investment in coal by the World Bank and other development organizations.
It's aim is to address the global threat of rising emissions with global action, recognizing that the emissions reductions made in Western economies are more than offset by huge gains in the developing world.
Widespread poverty complicates such an effort, given that more than 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity. In many parts of the world, coal offers a cheap and reliable solution, but there's hope the developing world could "leapfrog" such carbon heavy fuels with solar, wind, and other renewable fuels.
"As developing economies embark on a journey towards a clean energy future, today's announcement marks an important step in helping them reach this goal," Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard said in a statement. "By encouraging the use of clean energy in multilateral development bank projects, we are furthering U.S. efforts to address the urgent challenges of climate change." ( Continue… )