In the Pipeline: 3/4/11

Don’t worry, there’s always oil in the reserve and also onshore, offshore, and the 97 percent of federal lands we can’t explore Fuel Fix (3/3/11) reports: U.S. oil prices closed above $100 a barrel Wednesday for the first time in more than two years, and might be higher still if the giant storage tanks in this small prairie town northeast of Oklahoma City weren’t so full…Here, at the nation’s main hub for oil storage and distribution, bulging stockpiles of crude are acting as a partial buffer to Middle East turmoil that’s driven international oil prices much higher…At the moment, about 11 percent of the nation’s oil inventory is parked in Cushing, nearly double where it stood a few years ago…However, all that oil hasn’t shielded Americans from paying higher gasoline prices, for several reasons. While the price of the benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude at Cushing hasn’t soared as high as comparable oil elsewhere, it’s still well above its price just a few weeks ago, and the price of crude is the main component of prices at the pump…Whatever its price, the oil at Cushing represents just a small fraction of the nation’s total demand, and crude stored in the town doesn’t have an easy path to all the refineries that might otherwise welcome its lower cost.

Is there room for one more on those coattails? Republicans grab hold of rising gas prices to attack the Obama Administration Los Angeles Times (3/3/11) reports: As Republicans continue to cast about for ways to weaken President Obama in advance of next year’s elections, it appears they believe they have found one solid line of attack: rising gas prices…The average cost of a gallon of gas has been rising over the $3 mark all year, hitting $3.39 this week. On Wednesday, the price for a gallon of crude oil surpassed $100 a barrel on the world markets. Unrest in the Middle East, particularly in the oil-rich state of Libya, as well as rising international demand, has many analysts believing gas in the U.S. could hit $4 a gallon by summer…If that occurs, it may prove to be another test for Obama’s presidency. Earlier this week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying before Congress, called rising prices “a threat” to the economy’s recovery, although he suggested that the result would be a modest increase in consumer prices, not rampant inflation…But President George W. Bush faced a similar spike in 2008, part of an economic downturn that helped erode whatever remaining popular support he enjoyed as his second term wound down. And, of course, an energy crisis, along with long lines at gas pumps, became synonymous with the final years of Jimmy Carter’s presidency.

I suppose lawyers are green jobs — they are making a lot of money off of CA cap and tax program Wall Street Journal (3/2/11) reports: California’s cap-and-trade program is being threatened by groups of local residents, even after the ambitious climate plan survived an electoral challenge in November…Communities For A Better Environment, California Communities Against Toxics, Society For Positive Action and other groups and individuals have sued state regulators, claiming the climate plan won’t reduce pollution. The plaintiffs argue that industrial facilities should cut their actual emissions, rather than trade rights to pollute…”All the evidence showed that cap-and-trade programs have failed environmental justice communities,” said Alegria de la Cruz, an attorney with the Center on Race, Poverty & The Environment, who is representing the plaintiffs. Ms. De la Cruz said the Air Resources Board must “do some deep thinking on alternatives to the cap-and-trade system.”…The status of the cap-and-trade program, which is part of a plan to lower greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels within a decade, was thrown into doubt after Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith agreed with the plaintiffs in a Jan. 27 ruling. He said the Air Resources Board, which is tasked with lowering air pollution, hadn’t conducted an adequate environmental review before it approved the plan…Judge Goldsmith is scheduled to issue a final ruling in the next few weeks.

He shot the cap and tax bill, maybe he will shoot Employment Prevention Agency regulation on GHG’s The Hill (3/3/11) reports: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a vocal critic of the Environmental Protection Agency, has signed on as a co-sponsor of Republican legislation to permanently block the agency’s climate rules…The addition of Manchin, who is up for reelection in 2012, as a co-sponsor means that the authors of the bill have been able to get at least some Democratic support in both the House and the Senate. Forty-three Senate Republicans sponsored the bill..The Hill reported earlier Thursday that three House Democrats signed on to the legislation. Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking member on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have are both original co-sponsors. Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) also signed on to the legislation…House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the panel’s energy subcommittee, authored the House version of the bill, while Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced the Senate version of the legislation…The bill has a good chance of passing the House, but will face major hurdles in the Senate.

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