In the Pipeline: 8/5/11

President Obama figured out how to drive down the price of gasoline by lowering demand. The downside? His policies have wiped out an entire year of wealth creation Fuel Fix (8/5/11) reports: Oil prices extended sharp losses, falling to near $85 a barrel today in Asia amid expectations a slowing global economy will weaken demand for crude…Benchmark oil for September delivery was down $1.31 to $85.32 a barrel at late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude tumbled $5.30 to settle at $86.63 on Thursday…In London, Brent crude was down $1.56 at $105.69 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange…Oil and other commodities were dragged down by a plunge in global stock markets as traders lost confidence in U.S. economic growth. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 4.3 percent Thursday and stock markets in Asia opened sharply lower Friday…Investors fled to lower-risk assets, such as the U.S. dollar, which exacerbated oil’s decline. Crude usually falls when the dollar gains since a stronger U.S. currency makes commodities more expensive for investors with other currencies…All eyes will be on Friday’s July jobs report for evidence about the strength of the U.S. economy. Economists expect that 90,000 jobs were created in the U.S. last month, which is not enough to lower the unemployment rate, currently at 9.2 percent.

‘Interior OKs Shell Arctic Drilling Plan’ — E&E had you fooled with that headline didn’t they?  Don’t worry greenies, Shell is still waiting on the Chukchi Sea permits…E&E News (8/5/11) reports: The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement today gave conditional approval for Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s revised exploration plan to drill up to four wells in Alaska’s Beaufort Sea over two years starting in July 2012…Shell for years has been working to start drilling in the region and has invested billions of dollars there. But regulatory and legal setbacks have prevented the company from drilling any wells so far….Today’s long-awaited conditional approval is contingent on Shell securing other permits from U.S. EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. But a spokesman for the company called it “welcome news and adds to our cautious optimism that we will be drilling our Alaska leases by this time next year.”…Environmentalists are concerned that the project could harm the fragile Arctic ecosystem….”The biggest problem with this plan is that it doesn’t contain any realistic oil spill-response plan,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director for the Center for Biological Diversity…She said Shell’s proposed plan to mechanically recover 95 percent of the oil would be impossible. She also noted the lack of spill-response infrastructure in the Arctic and unpredictable icy waters.

Wind tax credits are “not spending programs”.  Got it?  They just take money from taxpayers and give them to a favored few companies to produce very expensive, very unreliable electricity. This is his how politicians launder money E&E News (8/5/11) reports: The wind industry continued to boost capacity during the second quarter of this year, but its main trade group warned today that strong policy signals are needed to keep the industry on a strong growth pattern…In its latest market report, the American Wind Energy Association today said the United States wind industry installed 2,151 megawatts of electrical generating capacity in the first half of this year, up 72 percent from the 1,250 megawatts installed in the first half of 2010…But that growth could stall out soon because of uncertainty over federal incentives, the trade group said…”Clearly Congress cannot take for granted all the wind energy manufacturing and construction jobs that have been a bright spot through the recession,” said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA, in a statement…The group would like to see Congress extend a production tax credit that is set to expire in 2012.

Are you sure?  Because I thought you could get rid of nuclear power and run the whole world on wind.  Turns out I was wrong New Scientist (8/5/11) reports: FOR decades, Germany has had some of the most enlightened energy policies in Europe. It has long been admired for setting world-leading growth in wind and solar. But its decision to ditch nuclear by 2022 will set back efforts to decarbonise the electricity supply by 10 crucial years, and could prove expensive for every household in Europe…Germany’s abrupt about-turn, like all decisions on nuclear, was highly political. Last year the government, headed by Angela Merkel, made the sensible but unpopular decision to extend the life of Germany’s nuclear plants to 2036 as a “bridge technology” towards “the age of renewable energy”. But after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, public hostility intensified and Merkel retreated. The U-turn may help her in the 2013 federal elections but it is a major reversal for the climate…Around 23 per cent of Germany’s electricity comes from nuclear and 17 per cent from renewables. That’s a 40 per cent share for zero-carbon in total – one of the highest in the European Union…The German government has admirable plans to raise renewable electricity to 35 per cent of consumption by 2020. But even this planned increase falls 5 per cent short of filling the hole in zero-carbon electricity left by abandoning nuclear…How will Germany fill that hole? With coal and other fossil fuels. It has plans to build 20 gigawatts of fossil-fuel power stations by 2020, including 9 gigawatts of coal by 2013. The government now describes fossil-fuel power stations – apparently without irony – as “the new bridging technology”. Some of this may never be fitted with carbon capture and storage because German environmental campaigners don’t like this technology either.

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