In the Pipeline: 4/14/11

We imagine that they will bring the same diligence to this as they have to every other instance where affordable, reliable energy is involved E&E News (4/14/11) reports: The Interior Department tomorrow will launch a new evaluation of the effects of oil shale leasing across millions of acres of federal land in the West…The programmatic environmental review — to be announced in tomorrow’s Federal Register — is Interior’s first step to complying with a February settlement with environmental groups to revisit a George W. Bush administration plan to offer oil shale leases on 2 million acres…The administration will also be reviewing Bush-era royalty rates designed to attract research into developing the resource…At issue is a 2008 program that expanded the available acreage for commercial tar-sands leasing and amended eight resource management plans in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming to make roughly 1.9 million acres available for commercial oil shale development.

Britain is on track to miss renewable energy goal despite considerable subsidies Bloomberg (2/13/11) reports: The U.K. will likely miss a goal set by the European Union to derive 15 percent of its energy supply from clean sources by 2020, a research group said…A milestone, to get 10 percent of its electricity in 2010 from sources such as the wind and sun, was missed, the Renewable Energy Foundation said today in a statement. That was a target set during the former Labour party leadership…“Failure to meet the much-discussed 2010 target, in spite of very high levels of consumer subsidy, is a clear indication that the EU 2020 goals are impractical and unaffordable,” John Constable, policy and research director for REF said today by telephone. “We need an urgent rethink.”…The U.K. generated 6.5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy last year, according to the London-based group’s research, which was based on data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and energy regulator Ofgem.

For those of you who were thinking that a carbon tax would be better than cap and trade, why not have both? E&E News (4/14/11) reports: The European Union today proposed a stark restructuring of the bloc’s taxes on fuels and heating oil, including fees tied to greenhouse gas emissions. The plan, which faces multiple hurdles, likely will draw steep opposition from E.U. countries wary of rising gasoline prices…For years, Europe has pondered whether to bolster its existing cap-and-trade system — which places limits on CO2 emissions from sources such as power plants and factories — with a carbon tax on oil and fuels used in home heating, including coal. Several European nations, like Sweden and Finland, have long employed carbon taxes. But last year France, facing social unrest, abandoned similar plans…The carbon tax will be necessary for the union to meet its ambitious unilateral goal to slash its CO2 emissions 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, said E.U. taxation commissioner Algirdas Semeta. Europe’s existing energy taxes are outmoded — for example, they tax ethanol more than coal — and countries need certainty in drafting recovery plans, he said.

Sure it’s possible to get 17 percent of our gasoline imports from algae (or from Jack Daniels) but the question is, what will it cost? Department of Energy (4/13/11) reports: Every day, the United States spends about $1 billion to import foreign oil, money that we could be investing in American energy and the American economy. President Obama recently announced an ambitious but achievable goal of reducing our oil imports by a third by 2025. To meet this goal, we will need to increase our use of homegrown advanced biofuels…Today, the Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) came out with a new study that shows that 17 percent of the United States’ imported oil for transportation could be replaced with American-grown biofuels from algae…Developing the next generation of biofuels is an important step towards reducing our dependence on foreign oil and advancing new economic opportunities throughout the country.

What does this geologist have against poor people? Times Live (4/13/11) reports: Fracking should not be allowed in South Africa. Ask just about any South African who’s heard about it – sheep farmers, rural labourers or even city-slicker geologists like myself – and they’ll tell you that fracking is dirty, wasteful of water and a solution to nothing but short-sighted corporate greed. It’s a no-brainer: we don’t want it… Fracking – oil and gas industry slang for “hydraulic fracturing” – is a technology used to extract natural gas trapped as tiny bubbles in underground layers of gas shale. After a well has been drilled into a stratum of gas-bearing rock, large quantities of fracking fluid, consisting of water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals, is pumped into it at high pressure, fracturing the source rock and allowing the gas to escape towards the surface.

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