Last week's This Week in Petroleum notes that while every state has experienced a price drop in gas prices, Minnesota has been the greatest. Curious why?
[S]tates in the Midwest region (PADD II) are supplied from refineries within the region as well as by pipelines delivering products refined on the Gulf Coast. It appears that access to such extra supply may be why these states have seen larger price declines recently.
Of course, this assumes the prices are not being actually manipulated by the White House to benefit Republican candidates.
In an op-ed today, William Sweet, the editor of IEEE's Spectrum magazine, asks whether California might be taking too big a risk in tackling climate change on its own. The recently signed climate bill authorizes California's Air Resources Board to take measures to reduce California's greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
Sweet's point is that California has already done a lot to reduce its emissions- the state has no coal-fired power plants, and through efficiency measures has kept per capita electricity consumption flat since the 1970s. The risk is that if California fails, then critics will hold California up as an example of the futility of addressing climate change.
Well, people are already doing that. Climate skeptics love to bring up how countries are failing to meet their committments under the Kyoto Protocol. (Another example of how it pays to talk to these people.)
Hopefully, California's move along with international pressure will speed up progress towards national standards. Large companies prefer dealing with national standards over piecemeal state standards.
Yesterday, a group of scientists got together to form an organization to lobby on behalf of science.
Today a group of scientists and concerned citizens launch a new organization, Scientists and Engineers for America, dedicated to electing public officials who respect evidence and understand the importance of using scientific and engineering advice in making public policy.
They mention particular concern about political pressure to rewrite reports on global warming, vetoing stem cell research, promoting intelligent design in science classes, and government disseminatoin of inaccurate scientific information.
The organization's website is http://www.sefora.org/. They were hoping to get 1000 people to sign on to their group by Friday. Keep in mind they launched on Wednesday. And they made that goal within 28 hours. The new goal is 5000 by Monday.
I'm sad that it's necessary, but glad it exists.
The Minnesota Renewable Energy Society is hosting a Solar Energy tour on Oct 7. Check out their website for further details:
I was writing up a nice piece about the ins and outs of Proposition 87 (pdf) in California which will tax oil production in the state and use the money to fund alternative fuels and reduce demand. But then I lost my work because I am an idiot.
Here is an insightful comment from the news article:
The cost of the tax would be relatively minor for many oil companies; Chevron, San Ramon, Calif., for example, which is leading the opposition, reported $4.35 billion in profit in the second quarter. But oil companies fear Prop 87's success could invite more government meddling that takes additional bites out of the bottom line.
Here is me getting back to work, a wee bit more frustrated.
Here is an interesting speech by Senator James Inhofe Chairman, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, delivered on the Senate floor on the 25th. This is a great opportunity for all of us to study the arguments of those who say climate change ('climate alarmism' as the Senator says) is a bunch of baloney. There are a fair amount of facts and figures he uses to paint climate change as a media created non-issue. It's pretty well done with some pretty good arguments. This is the kind of argument that we rarely get to have because we normally hang out with people who share our viewpoints. I think we are crippled somewhat for that reason, because the people we reallly need to be convincing are the ones who aren't convinced already.
Here's a lovely little tidbit.
Expanding basic necessities like running water and electricity in the developing world are seen by many in the green movement as a threat to the planet’s health that must be avoided. Energy poverty equals a life of back-breaking poverty and premature death.
The National Resources Defense Council is raising money to air an ad (which you can watch via the link) to oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Apparently, $300,000 will get this ad on the air.
It is a simple ad that makes the point that this oil will do little to get us cheaper gas while putting a protected area at risk from oil spills and pollution.
I'm impressed that we held off drilling up there for this long - though I expect the pressure to drill will not abate anytime soon.
Hey, it's my first post!
I don't know if this prospective battery is any more believable, but since it came in my nanotechnology newsletter I figured I would post it up. Basically, this is a lithium ion battery that not only lasts and lasts, but also retains its charging capacity even as the battery gets old. It also charges to 80% capacity in about 1 minute. The secret is, of course, nanotechnology. Read it here:
The ending paragraph, about the company's financial state, is very interesting.
Yet another hard-to-believe claim that borders on the perpetual machine nonsense. New capacitor cars will revolutionize auto transport says CNN in "Gentlemen, stop your engines." Great title.
EEStor's device is not technically a battery because no chemicals are involved. In fact, it contains no hazardous materials whatsoever. Yet it acts like a battery in that it stores electricity. If it works as it's supposed to, it will charge up in five minutes and provide enough energy to drive 500 miles on about $9 worth of electricity. At today's gas prices, covering that distance can cost $60 or more; the EEStor device would power a car for the equivalent of about 45 cents a gallon.
Go back and read that again. Did you see it? "If it works as it's supposed to"
"A four-passenger sedan will drive like a Ferrari," Clifford predicts. In contrast, his first electric car, the Zenn, which debuted in August and is powered by a more conventional battery, can't go much faster than a moped and takes hours to charge.
So this seems to be more in the realm of fantasy than anything else at this point. Nonetheless, I have been following this technology where possible and this is the second company to make similar claims with capacitor technology. I guess this is the age of nanotech.
Science Friday focused on solar power and its falling costs. Download the audio on the right side of that page. You do not need an iPod - you can listen to it on your computer.
There is nothing really new here - PV is getting cheaper, they hope to integrate it into things like shingles so it will be unobtrusive.
There is also some discussion of the role of government programs to encourage solar. This discussion is rather basic - talking about current programs but suggesting the key is bringing the cost per kilowatt hour down.
The October Issue of Consumer Reports contains an article titled "The Ethanol Myth. Consumer Reports' E85 Tests Show That You'll Get Cleaner Emissions but Poorer Fuel Economy... If You Can Find It."
In the "CR Quick Take," the article states: "Despite avid support of the Bush administration and major American car companies, E85 is unlikely to fill more than a small percentage of U.S. energy needs." Since when has the Bush administration "avidly" supported anything but war and oil?
The article got off on the wrong foot with me, highlighting several negative "factoids" that CR came up with from the "battery of tests" that they put the 2007 Chevy Tahoe through. Example: "E85 emits less smog-causing pollutants than gasoline, but provides fewer miles per gallon, costs more, and is hard to find outside the Midwest." If a reader were to read just the title and the "CR Quick Take" for the article, they would get the impression that ethanol is at best useless and at worst causing more harm than good.
A few pages further on, however, the article redeems itself a bit with some good critiques about how CAFE standards are calculated for E85 vehicles and the importance of more fuel-efficient vehicles in general, and ends with a more positive outlook on the potentials of cellulosic ethanol. Pretty heady stuff for Consumer Reports.
The Star Tribune featured ethanol in an above-the-fold front page story with a two-page spread inside in today's Sunday paper. The story, titled The Great Corn Rush, details the economic benefits that towns recieve from the construction of new ethanol plants. It is sort of a classic story of a small town benefiting from a big new industry until they realize that it's just like any other business and a lot of profits are leaving the town limits.
There is also an adjacent story talking about how tax payers have to "pick up the tab" for every new ethanol plant that gets built because of the "millions of dollars of state subsidies" ethanol recieves. Where is the story about how many subsidies fossil fuels recieve?
Also: Where's the above-the-fold story on the economic benefits of wind??
WCCO looks at whether cheaper gas prices are a result of election season (video). I've often heard people claim that Bush controls the gas prices and lowers them to benefit Republicans around election time.
WCCO interviews a bunch of people who find the current cheaper prices to suspicious but an expert points out that the gas prices come from the world market and says that United States companies only control 15% of the oil on the market.
He goes on to say that if anyone could suddenly play with the market, it would be Saudi Arabia but they haven't changed their output. The low prices are a result of fewer hurricanes and no sanctions on Iran.
If Bush wanted to suddenly drop prices, he would have to open the strategic reserve, and I'm guessing that we would notice. Additionally, if he had done it and no one knew, he would not have done it so far in advance of elections I'm thinking because there is a limited amount of oil in the reserve - it would be a gamble to draw it down so low in the middle of hurricane season.
Bush is going to stop climate change! I don't know that he has yet admitted that humans are responsible for the massive atmospheric carbon increases which drives the greenhouse effect, but he has a plan to solve our problems.
Don't laugh yet, there will be plenty of time shortly.
Green Clipping's covers the story briefly with links to related press releases and a Congressional Budget Office report entitled "Evaluating the Role of Prices and R&D in Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions." (pdf, 31 pages)
The U.S. Department of Energy's "Climate Change Technology Program Strategic Plan" includes $3 billion for research into new technologies and recommends voluntary goals for reducing emissions and capturing carbon dioxide.
The CBO report apparently says that this plan is not the most effective way to accomplish the stated goals. I have only glanced at the summary - which ends with this:
The causes and consequences of climate change are global, and reductions in U.S. emissions alone would be unlikely to have a significant impact. Cost-effective mitigation policies would require coordinated international efforts and would involve overcoming institutional barriers to the diffusion of new technologies in developing countries, such as India and China. If a domestic carbonpricing program significantly increased the prices of U.S.-produced goods—and was not matched by efforts to reduce emissions in other countries—it could cause carbon-intensive industries to relocate to countries without similar restrictions, diminishing the environmental benefits of a domestic program.
Clearly, a policy solely involving voluntary emissions reductions and appropriating some R&D money (something he has promised in the past and then forgotten) is totally insufficient. We need good policy to go with R&D investment. In fact, at this point, we need policy more than we need R&D.
I recently posted a story about royalties in the Gulf that will not be assessed due to error. Now it turns out that Bush's Interior Department is not even collecting royalties it is entitled to.
The NY Times has a long article detailing this somber story. A number of auditors were ordered to stop trying to collect royalites owed by oil companies.
In two of the lawsuits, two senior auditors with the Minerals Management Service in Oklahoma City said they were ordered to drop their claim that Shell Oil had fraudulently shortchanged taxpayers out of $18 million.
In many areas of policy, the Bush Administration has claimed that it is more effective to work with businesses rather than fight them in courts. This is supposedly the idea behind its initiatives on air pollution and forest management. It sounds good and probably could be an effective strategy if done carefully.
The numbers suggest the Bush Administration is more interested in removing government oversite rather than creating effective government oversight. In the case of collecting royalties, Bush seems to think oil companies have better things to do that pay the amount they agreed to when they got the right to extract the oil wealth from our land.
Interior officials did not say how much money they had recovered from companies named by the auditors. But the agency’s own statistics indicate that revenue from auditing and enforcement plunged after President Bush took office.
From 1989 through 2001, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office, auditing and other enforcement efforts generated an average of $176 million a year. But from 2002 through 2005, according to numbers that the department provided lawmakers last May, those collections averaged only $46 million.